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J2. Fossil Fuel Industry

Aluminium — the copper grid alternative

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 16:21

From your humble drink can to the airframe of an F-16 fighter jet, aluminium’s role in the global economy is diverse and critical.

Like copper, aluminium is used in established industries, such as manufacturing and housing construction. Yet, it is also leveraged to growth sectors.

With superior corrosion resistance, aluminium is widely used in solar installations. Here, it’s used in frames, wires, and support structures.

According to some sources, the ability to withstand the elements gives aluminium a service life exceeding 70 years.

Corrosion resistance also makes it ideal for offshore wind farms… Tower platforms, transformer stations, and turbines are all made from aluminium.

For these reasons, the United States and the European Union have classified the metal as a critical mineral. Yet, one of the biggest growth drivers could come from the mass build-out of the global power grid.

Few have considered the LIMITATIONS of the existing energy grid in the relentless move toward renewables. However, this is the critical link connecting power generation to the end consumer, and aluminium is set to play a crucial role.

Power grid upgrade… it’s not all about Copper

You might be surprised to learn that aluminium is already widely used in power grid installations as an alternative to copper.

This is not a new phenomenon.

The decision to find an alternative to copper dates back more than 80 years, taking shape in the early days of WW2.

At the time, the copper supply was being funnelled into manufacturing shells, bullets, and other war munitions. Recycling wasn’t an option—copper was being blown out of the circular economy!

In desperation, the US began minting steel coins to divert more copper to the war effort.

With the stakes high, engineers were tasked with testing an alternative metal—a metal with similar conductive properties… Aluminium offered a viable alternative.  

After passing initial trials, aluminium was incorporated into power utilities and other electrical wiring, including homes and factories.

Although up to 40% less efficient than copper, aluminium can conduct electricity long distances. Since then, aluminium has continued to play an important role in energy transfer.

That leads us to an important question… Could mass global electrification drive strong demand for aluminium?

Electrification and the aluminium opportunity

Aluminium doesn’t receive as much attention as its high-profile base metal cousin, copper. Yet, it does share similarities.

Note the strong correlation between aluminium and copper prices, below:

While copper has fared better since coming off the resource-wide peak in 2022, both metals appear to be marching to the beat of a similar drum, gaining strong momentum in 2024.

Like copper, interest is picking up for this base metal.

According to the International Aluminum Institute, demand has been forecasted to grow by 33.3 million tonnes over the next decade. Rising from 86.2 million tonnes in 2020 to 119.5 million tonnes in 2030.

Around 37% of this growth is expected to stem from China, through manufacturing, construction, and the country’s ambitious power grid upgrade to accommodate electrification.

And like copper, SUPPLY will play a critical role in this metals outlook.

Understanding the supply dynamic

Aluminium ore, known as bauxite, is not typically rare.

The formation is similar to laterite nickel deposits, where high volumes of rainfall remove ‘mobile’ elements from the soil, leaving behind a natural concentration of the less mobile elements.

That includes nickel, iron and aluminium.

Copper deposits, on the other hand, form via the mineralisation of primary ore deposits deep below the surface, making them harder to find and more expensive to extract.

That’s why, pound-for-pound, the per-unit value of copper will always exceed that of aluminium.

While bauxite deposits are relatively common, supply problems emerge at the processing level. You see, aluminium production is energy intensive. About 17,000 kWh of electricity is required to produce just 1 tonne of refined metal.

Rising energy costs can impact supply, that’s what we witnessed across Europe in 2022.

As war broke out in Ukraine and Putin restricted gas supplies, energy prices spiked. In response, aluminium smelters slowed operations and curtailed output.

So, where’s the investment angle?

Given that bauxite is relatively common, the upside for miners may be limited.

Similarly, unless refiners have access to a cheap energy source, companies will be hostage to higher operating costs.

Investing in a dedicated aluminium ETF could be the most strategic option for gaining upside here.

Usually, I levitate toward stocks, but given the added risks, ETFs could offer the best opportunity. That’s not to say there aren’t company-specific opportunities though.

HPA, a highly purified form of aluminium oxide is offering some exciting opportunities. We’ll explore that in our next update.

James Cooper runs the commodities investment service Diggers and Drillers. You can also follow him on X (Twitter) @JCooperGeo

CarbonScape appoints new CCO, CPO and CFO

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 15:46

Battery material innovator CarbonScape announced Wednesday the appointment of Vincent Ledoux-Pedailles, Jay Kim, and Darryl Robinson to its leadership team, spearheading the next stage of the company’s growth.

Vincent Ledoux-Pedailles joins CarbonScape as the new chief commercial officer, having previously served as CCO of Vulcan Energy Resources and executive director of corporate strategy at Infinity Lithium.

Ledoux-Pedailles will lead CarbonScape’s global commercial strategy, drawing on his track record for strong commercial outcomes in the battery technology space. With an initial focus on European investors and offtakers, he will be based in France.

Jay Kim joins as the new chief product officer. He brings extensive leadership expertise in the sector from his time at Northvolt and Samsung SDI. Utilizing his depth of battery science knowledge acquired over the last two decades, Kim will be driving CarbonScape’s technological innovation and will be based in South Korea.

Darryl Robinson joins as the new chief financial officer, bringing over 20 years of experience spanning the high-growth technology sector and large corporations. Robinson will be leading CarbonScape’s financial strategy as it commercializes biographite and scales production to meet skyrocketing demand.

Last year, CarbonScape received an $18 million investment to jumpstart the commercialization of biographite in Europe and the US, enabling cleaner lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and grid-scale energy storage. The new hires will play an important role in facilitating CarbonScape’s commercialization plans as the company scales, it said.

Critical minerals and the global supply chain: Challenges and opportunities

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 14:02

Critical minerals play a key role in advancing emerging technologies, such as electric vehicles and wind turbines. Improving access to these supplies should support a greener future. However, the associated global supply chain includes challenges and opportunities to address. 

Concentration of supply

One of the current difficulties with the global supply chain for critical minerals is that too few countries produce most of them. For example, China is the top producer of many critical minerals, along with South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This concentration of supply could cause significant, rippling effects. For example, if a regional conflict affects one country, manufacturers worldwide could experience associated hardships. 

Many countries have begun dedicated plans to increase domestic production, but getting meaningful results will take a while. For example, China produced more than 98% of the world’s gallium as of 2023. However, diversification doesn’t come easily or quickly. The U.S. has only one primary mining site for critical minerals. 

Since establishing new mines in the country may take decades, scientists and corporate heads are eager to find secondary or little-known alternative sources. That essential work could reduce the current supply chain strain.

Opportunities also exist to create new technologies that use fewer or no critical minerals. Additionally, people must invest in recycling facilities that can reclaim some of those supplies. One company handles an average of 15,000 battery packs and modules monthly, highlighting the present demand for these services. 

Sustainability

Many authority figures insist that companies, countries and individuals make progressively sustainable choices to shrink their carbon footprint. However, a reality that poses challenges and opportunities is that the processes used to obtain critical minerals are not traditionally sustainable. Many workflows must become entirely transformed to meet new emissions targets. 

Fortunately, industry decision-makers have many possibilities to consider. For example, diesel suppliers serving industrial clients typically have wide distribution networks to keep their supply chains secure. These arrangements may reduce the overall distance diesel must travel to reach clients, substantially reducing the likelihood that clients will run out of fuel. The latter benefit supports sustainability.

Some mining company leaders are also using advanced data analytics tools to determine the most viable places before launching their extraction efforts. Such approaches are more sustainable because they allow making the most of time and resources without unnecessary harm to the environment. Estimates suggest one in every 100 potential sites becomes a mine. That means precision is an important part of making ongoing improvements. 

Another possibility is to apply artificial intelligence to find high-quality ores and reduce mining’s downstream impact. It’ll likely take a while to make such efforts consistently viable. Even so, people must seize these opportunities to see what works well and what options may need further development before people use them in industrial environments. 

Analysts warn that the global supply chain needs robust investment to keep pace with expected demands over the coming years. There’s no easy or universally applicable solution to make the necessary progress, but the possibilities explored above are worth further investigation by industry leaders.

(Ellie Gabel is an environmental science writer at Revolutionized)

VoltVision expands operational footprint in Africa and Middle East with four new contracts

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 13:03

VoltVision, the high voltage (HV) electrical data analytics business is continuing to expand across the African and Middle Eastern mining sectors.  Following successful trials, it has acquired four new contracts with top-tier miners Barrick Gold, Centamin, Resolute Mining and Allied Gold, the company said.

These partnerships utilize VoltVision’s capabilities in the digitisation of complex high and medium voltage power grids, and the technology is helping mining companies to improve operational efficiencies and, in doing so, accelerating the decarbonisation of the industry.

Barrick Gold: Lumwana Project

Barrick’s Lumwana Mine in Zambia has partnered with VoltVision to gain a deeper understanding of its power performance, both at site and group level. VoltVision’s solutions have enabled the Lumwana operations team to monitor the electrical performance of the processing plant. This will improve efficiencies and help manage the relationship with the grid supplier through ongoing monitoring and billing verification. The customised reporting feature will also streamline the reporting process for the site management team.

Centamin: Sukari Mine

At Centamin’s Sukari Mine in Egypt, VoltVision will digitise three critical areas of the mine complex including the underground operations, the process plant and all power generation units – encompassing a recently installed 36MW solar park and 50MW of heavy-fuel operated power generators. VoltVision’s pioneering solutions will enable Sukari to better operate its Power Management System, maximise solar PV usage, and advance to automated real-time energy reporting.

Resolute Mining: Syama Project

Resolute Mining has partnered with VoltVision to gain better visibility into Syama’s medium voltage (MV) power network. VoltVision has retrofitted its solutions across Syama’s entire MV power network enabling the site management team to monitor diesel generation, power usage and power quality. VoltVision has streamlined the reporting process, guaranteeing accuracy and availability by using customised reporting feature. This automatically populates all power reports needed across the site and at ExCo.

Allied Gold: Sadiola Project

At Allied Gold’s site, VoltVision has implemented a comprehensive monitoring solution, providing site-wide power digitisation. This has given the ExCo team unprecedented access to power usage and quality data across the entire processing plant, allowing them to identify areas for improved efficiency. VoltVision has also built a centralised multi-asset monitoring tool for the site management team.

“We are thrilled to be working with Centamin, Resolute Mining, Allied Gold and Barrick’s Lumwana complex in their respective efforts to improve operational efficiencies, reduce costs and address climate change,” Manoli Yannaghas, VoltVision managing director said in a news release.

“VoltVision is proud to be supporting an increasing number of leading miners in Africa and the Middle East on their journey to becoming more responsible users of power, tackling energy wastage and addressing carbon intensity.”

Democrats call for probe into foreign mining on public lands

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 10:17

House Natural Resources ranking member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and five other Democrats are asking the Government Accountability Office to probe how much is known about foreign investment in mining on federally managed lands.

The group also wants to know how closely the federal government tracks exports of minerals extracted from public lands and whether mining companies are complying with US environmental and human rights standards.

“The House Natural Resources Committee has received information that US mineral supply chains lack the necessary oversight and regulation to ensure that US companies are in compliance with US laws,” Grijalva wrote in a letter to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro.

“Additionally, there is evidence that US companies seeking mineral leases on federal lands may be subsidiaries of foreign companies, including adversarial countries, accused of serious human rights and environmental violations.”

According to the group, the Government Accountability Office has previously reported that there are over 700 operations authorized to mine hard rock minerals on federal lands, but the amount of mineral production is unknown because federal agencies do not collect data on the amount and value of hard rock minerals extracted from federal lands.

Unlike oil and gas or coal mining, hard rock mining companies do not pay any royalties for the publicly owned minerals they extract.

Last week, Democrats and Republicans joined forces to block a bill by Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei to address a court ruling adopting a stricter interpretation of the 150-year-old General Mining Law.

The so-called “Mining Regulatory Clarity Act” would make it clear that mining companies can store waste on land that doesn’t have economically recoverable minerals.

M&A won’t alleviate looming copper shortage, Barrick CEO warns

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 09:39

Barrick Gold (NYSE: GOLD) CEO Mark Bristow believes that mergers and acquisitions (M&A) will not expand the copper supply necessary for the energy transition.

While mining giant BHP (ASX: BHP) pursues a $39 billion deal for Anglo American (LON: AAL), the Barrick chief told the Financial Times that companies should prioritize investing in exploring and developing new copper deposits.

For Bristow, BHP’s approach to Anglo reinforces the necessity for industry investment in its future.

“You can consolidate, but it doesn’t bolster the production profile. Consolidation often leads to production reduction,” Bristow said.

Copper demand is projected to surge in the coming decades.

According to BloombergNEF, the transport sector alone is expected to increase demand by 11.1 times by 2050 from 2022. Additionally, demand to expand the global electricity grid is forecasted to rise by 4.8 times by 2050 from 2022.

By 2030, the world’s copper supply gap is forecast to approach 10 million metric tons.

BHP has until May 22 to decide on making a formal offer for Anglo. BHP’s initial proposal would require Anglo to sell its majority stakes in its South African platinum and iron ore businesses to its shareholders for the deal to proceed.

“BHP is the ultimate 800-pound gorilla. It’s a complex transaction,” Bristow told the Financial Times, adding that “it’s hard to imagine how we could be competitive in that process.”

The executive also shot down any ideas to take over Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM), which has been entangled in a dispute with Panamanian authorities over its giant Cobre Panama mine.

Last November, Panama’s Supreme Court deemed First Quantum’s mining contract to be unconstitutional, leading to the eventual shutdown of the country’s only mining operation.

“Until we can see some clarity, there’s no interest from us in this opportunity. In our view, it’s not an opportunity,” Bristow said.

US Gold stock surges after obtaining Wyoming mining permit

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 08:44

U.S. Gold (Nasdaq: USAU) surged on Wednesday after the company announced the issuance of its surface mining permit by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality — a key milestone in the CK gold project’s development.

“Having previously been granted the industrial siting permit in June last year and now the mine operating permit, we have cleared the major regulatory hurdles towards project development,” said U.S. Gold chief executive George Bee, adding that work to meet final authorization for development is underway.

The remaining conditions are the approval of the reclamation bond, which has already been submitted, the Wyoming Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting process, which is in the final stages of approval, and the WDEQ Air Quality Division permits, where technical work is under review.

“We remain on track to receive the necessary permits around mid-year, as per prior guidance,” Bee said.

“The CK gold project sits on state and private ground in Wyoming, which is an extraordinary jurisdiction for resource development with a clear regulatory framework and authorities that are knowledgeable, experienced, and motivated to safely and responsibly manage the state’s mineral wealth,” said Luke Norman, executive chairman.

Shares in U.S. Gold rose 10.3% to $4.80 by 11:20 a.m. ET, for a market capitalization of $51.3 million. Earlier, it had hit a 52-week high of $5.05 after opening the session at $4.57.

Pivot to Wyoming

In August 2020, U.S. Gold pivoted to developing the CK project after spending years exploring prospective assets within the states of Nevada and Idaho, namely the Keystone and Challis gold projects.

Acquired from Energy Fuels in 2014, the CK project is home to a large-tonnage, gold-copper deposit that has 1.58 million oz. of gold equivalent (1.11 million oz. gold and 280 million lb. copper) in measured and indicated resources.

The high-grade mineralization at CK is exposed at surface and is surrounded by a large, low-grade zone with potential for additional resources, which is being explored by the U.S. Gold team in parallel with advancing the project towards production.

A 2021 pre-feasibility study gave the project a 10-year mine life, averaging 108,500 oz. of gold equivalent output per year, including 135,300 oz. over the first three years. Total metal production over life of mine will be 248.8 million lb. of copper and 1.02 million oz. of gold.

The PFS also showed robust project economics, including an after-tax net present value (discounted at 5%) of $266 million and internal rate of return of 33.7%. Initial capital is estimated at $221 million, giving it a payback period of two years.

Lab diamonds just won a battle, not the war

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 08:20

After a brief surge in diamond jewellery demand during the pandemic, diamond miners are now grappling with an oversupply that is forcing them to reduce the excess inventory.

The prices of natural diamonds have dropped by almost 20% compared to a year ago, following a surge in 2022, but were higher ten years ago.

Anglo American’s De Beers, the largest diamond producer by value, has been cutting its output due to sluggish demand. Sanctions-ridden Russian miner Alrosa, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds by volume, stopped publishing sales data in early 2022, cut its output by 2.8% to 34.6 million carats last year.

The growing popularity and affordability of laboratory-grown diamonds (LGDs) are seen as the main contributors to the current challenges faced by the diamond market.

Unlike miners, companies tied to man-made stones have reported positive results. A case in point is Pandora, the world’s largest jewellery maker by production volume, which earlier this month raised its full-year revenue guidance after beating first quarter sales and profit forecasts.

The growing popularity and affordability of lab diamonds are seen as the main contributors to the current challenges the diamond market faces. (Stock image)

The Danish company, best known for its charm bracelets, ditched mined diamonds in 2021. In the first three months of the year the company nearly doubled its sales of lab-grown diamonds in the first quarter, increasing revenue by 87%,

Pandora believes the use of lab-made diamonds as well as of 100% recycled silver and gold have been key in the increase of sales in the United States, it biggest market.

The shift towards lab-grown diamonds is primarily driven by consumers seeking more affordable and ethical alternatives, but according to industry insiders, is not set to last.

“People are discovering that a diamond is a diamond. It’s a different value proposition, and people are voting with their wallets,” chief executive Alexander Lacik told the Financial Times. “Older customers are more wedded to mined diamonds. Younger ones are more open to lab-grown.”

Pandora has invested heavily in the past four years to expand and strengthen its business by launching marketing campaigns, opening new retail stores, and broadening its product range to include a wider variety of jewellery that uses only lab-grown diamonds.

Dimmed shine

Diamond industry analyst Paul Zimnisky says the despite the hype, man-made diamonds only account for 20% of global diamond jewellery sales, with the majority still held by mined stones.

Zimnisky notes that sales of lab-grown diamonds have experienced rapid growth, with global sales soaring to nearly $12 billion in 2022. This represents a 38% year-over-year increase, up significantly from $1 billion in 2016.

Man-made diamonds are expected to soon suffer the same fate as mined stones, with experts predicting a steep price decline. Last year, prices for lab diamonds dropped around 20% in the 12 months leading up to November, according to jewellery analytics firm Tenoris.

Courtesy of Paul Zimnisky.

Zimnisky predicts a similar drop in prices this year, noting that the value of lab-created diamonds has been decreasing since 2015, when they began to gain popularity. Initially, synthetic diamonds were priced about 10% lower than mined diamonds, according to his estimates. Today they are priced at a discount of up to 90%.

Jewellery maker Nightingale, which uses both mined and lab diamonds in its offering, says, if anything, man-made gemstones will force miners to adopt more transparent and ethical practices.

“History has proven the diamond mining industry isn’t capable or interested in increasing ethical standards or becoming more sustainable without outside pressure,” the company said. “As with blood diamonds, change only came about because public outcry demanded it, and standards quickly began to slip as soon as the spotlight was turned off.”

Consumers demanding more ethical products disrupts this status quo, Nightingale noted, adding that demand for mined diamonds isn’t disappearing overnight. 

“We predict a gradual transition away from the current providers towards a combination of ethically mined and lab-grown diamonds.”

Canadian carbon firms vie for $100 million Xprize

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 06:33

Arca, a company that’s signed a deal with BHP (LSE: BHP; NYSE: BHP; ASX: BHP), is one of three Canadian technology firms in the running for the $100 million Xprize carbon removal competition.

The Vancouver-based company is among several entries focusing on mining in the top 20 listed on Wednesday by Los Angeles-based Xprize, which organizes global technology challenges. The prize, funded by the Musk Foundation started by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, is to be awarded next year. It holds $50 million for the winner and lesser amounts for finalists. The contest began with 1,300 entrants in 2021.

Arca formally agreed in November to work with BHP on the world’s first carbon dioxide (CO2) mineralization project using mine tailings at the Mount Keith nickel mine in Australia. The two had been testing the process since at least 2020. The startup has preliminary agreements with Vale (NYSE: VALE), Stillwater Critical Minerals (TSXV: PGE; US-OTC: PGEZF), IGO (ASX: IGO), EV Nickel (TSXV: EVNI) and Talon Metals (TSX: TLO).

“We leverage historical mine waste to remove atmospheric CO2 safely and permanently,” Arca CEO Paul Needham said in a release. “Our pathway has giga-tonne-scale potential, yet makes no new demands on land or precious water resources because we operate within existing industrial footprints.”

Carbon tax

Carbon capture is gathering steam among mining companies in Canada and elsewhere to meet their own net-zero commitments as concerns about the environment affect corporate images and deter large investors despite the need for metals to decarbonize the economy. Carbon capture is also one way to lessen or avoid Canada’s C$80 per tonne tax on industry greenhouse gas emissions. Economists rate the carbon tax as the most efficient and market-driven approach to put a price on pollution and reduce climate change despite what some politicians claim.

Dartmouth, N.S.-based Planetary Technologies and Skyrenu Technologies of Sherbrooke, PQ are the other two Canadian companies among the Xprize finalists. Skyrenu is working to decarbonize asbestos mining in Quebec, CEO Martin Brouillette said by email. Its process filters CO2-rich air through units in stackable shipping containers.

“We are currently working on asbestos mine tailings in Quebec, but the technology is applicable to a wide variety of mining environments,” Brouillette said.

Planetary enhances ocean water’s natural decarbonizing capability in an inexpensive option, CEO Mike Kelland said by email. It accelerates the highest scale process the earth uses to manage excess CO2, the weathering of rocks into the ocean, he said.

“We work with miners who have alkaline byproducts – generally lime, magnesia and silicate based – and process those into safe antacids for the ocean, Kelland said. “We look to partner with mines that are located as close to the ocean as possible to do this.” 

1,000-tonne goal

The finalists were selected on their performance in three areas: operations, sustainability and cost, according to the organizers. The finalists showed they could approach the goal of removing 1,000 net tonnes of CO2 in the competition’s final year. They also outlined a viable pathway to reach a mega-tonne scale within a few years and eventually a giga-tonne scale while understanding environmental and social impacts, Xprize said.

Canada has the most companies in the running for the prize after the United States, with seven. Others ranged from the United Kingdom with two to single entries from Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Oman, Kenya, India and China. 

Arca may face some challenges if BHP decides to mothball the Mount Keith mine. The miner said in February it was considering the move after nickel prices fell about 40% last year. An Arca spokesman referred questions on the issue to BHP, which didn’t immediately reply.

The technology company uses carbon mineralization developed over two decades by professor Greg Dipple at the University of British Columbia’s CarbMin Lab. It worked with dozens of mining companies and based the process on how 99% of the Earth’s carbon is stored in rocks, he said.

“That’s why we’re focusing on carbon mineralization, the natural process that transforms carbon into rock,” company co-founder Dipple said in a release. “We have developed the technology to accelerate mineralization and we’re now deploying this on site.”

Sigma Lithium hikes resources, life of flagship mine in Brazil

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 05:23

Brazil-focused Sigma Lithium (TSX-V, NASDAQ: SGML)(BVMF: S2GM34) announced on Wednesday that it has bumped up proven and probable reserves at its flagship Grota do Cirilo hard rock lithium mine by 40% or 22.2 million tonnes.

The asset, located in the mining-rich state of Minas Gerais, now contains 77 million tonnes at 1.40% lithium oxide (Li2O), up from a previously estimated 54.8 million tonnes at 1.44%. 

The resource increase, Sima Lithium said, which will allow it to extend the complex productive life to an estimated 25 years at two phases of processing capacity at 520,000 tonnes/year.

Reinaldo Brandão, co-general manager and head of mining operations, said the mineral reserve update comes as a result of months of detailed specialized geo statistical technical modelling work to process and optimize mine plans.

Sigma’s mine began production in April 2023, generating over 105,000 tonnes of lithium concentrate in its first calendar year of operations. For first quarter 2024 alone, it produced 52,800 tonnes.

The Canada-based miner began a strategic review of its business last year, which has extended into 2024. In April, it announced it would add a second production line at its Greentech industrial plant in Brazil, aiming to nearly double its lithium output.

The new plant will increase Grota do Cirilo’s lithium production to 520,000 tonnes per year by 2025, from the current output of 270,000 tonnes.

Brazil, which heavily depends on biofuels and potash exports, ships most of the lithium it produces.

Eurobattery Minerals to acquire majority stake in Spanish tungsten miner

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 05:16

Swedish miner Eurobattery Minerals has signed a non-binding letter of intent to invest €2.5 million in Spanish company Tungsten San Juan SL and obtain 51% ownership on a fully diluted basis.

TSJ is working on the development of the San Juan wolfram deposit, located in Galicia, northwestern Spain. The site has appreciable tungsten mineralization which has never been mined. 

The company has planned an initial small-scale open-pit production based on proven reserves of 60,000 tonnes at 1.3% WO3 (78,000 MTU). With consideration of a potential extension of the open pit as well as the other reserves in the remaining numerous outcroppings of skarn, TSJ forecasts a mining objective for the project in the order of at least 960,000 MTU, that is, more than 12 times the size of the proven reserves.

According to the miner, San Juan has all the necessary licences and contracts in place to commence production, including a letter of intent for an off-take agreement with Wolfram Bergbau und Hütten AG, an Austrian world-leading tungsten producer within the Swedish Sandvik Group.

In a press release, Eurobattery Minerals said its full investment amount would primarily be used for designing and building a processing plant and as working capital for the production start. First tungsten delivery is expected in 2025.

“The payment would be made in cash in two tranches of €1.5 million and €1 million respectively, where the company would access its full ownership stake directly after the payment of the first tranche,” the brief states. “The company intends to complete both tranches of the investment in 2024.”

Tungsten is a critical raw material used widely in industrial applications, as well as in the electronics and power industry, and the aeronautics and defence sectors.

“This acquisition is a game changer for Eurobattery Minerals and it will transform the company’s DNA,” Roberto García Martínez, the firm’s CEO, said. “Tungsten is listed as a critical raw material by the EU and tungsten-enhanced steel is vital, for example, for the defence industry.”

Eurobattery Minerals is also the majority owner of the ground and mining rights to the Hautalampi nickel-cobalt-copper project in Finland and the Corcel nickel-copper-cobalt project in Galicia. 

B2Gold’s Goose project in Nunavut delayed to mid-2025

Mining.Com - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 03:44

B2Gold (TSX: BTO) (NYSE: BTG) has announced its Goose open pit and underground project in Canada’s Nunavut is running slightly behind schedule, with first gold delayed from the first quarter of 2025 to the second.

The Canadian miner attributed the holdup to equipment availability, adverse weather conditions and prioritization of critical path construction activities.

The additional months will ensure that the Umwelt open pit, underground development, and crown pillar activities align and that there is sufficient tailings storage capacity in the Echo open pit, the company said.

B2Gold expects to ramp up to full production at the mine in the third quarter of 2025. It noted that the timeframe changes will not impact the total gold ounces it expects to produce over Goose’s mine operating life. 

The Vancouver-based miner anticipates average yearly gold production from 2026 to 2030 will increase to more than 310,000 ounces.

In the first three months of 2024, B2Gold produced 225,716 ounces of gold, in line with projections and on track to meet annual guidance of between 860,000 and 940,000 ounces.

B2Gold has budgeted about $65 million for exploration throughout its portfolio this year. That comes on top of significant capital expenditure for expanding the Mali-based Fekola operation and developing the Goose project.

The Vancouver-based company is also exploring the smaller-scale Gramalote project in Colombia.

Korean group: Global Plastics Treaty Must Include Production Reduction Targets to Be Effective

Break Free From Plastic - Wed, 05/08/2024 - 00:13

On April 30, the fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on the Global Plastics Treaty (hereafter “INC-4”) concluded without concrete progress. The decision was made not to include a discussion on primary plastic polymers in the intersessional work. This decision reverses the direction of UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) Resolution 5/14, which originally agreed that production reductions were needed, and moves us further away from a strong agreement. The outcome of the INC-4 is extremely disappointing, given that dramatic reductions in plastic production are necessary to combat the climate crisis.

Plastics produce greenhouse gases throughout their life cycle, which contribute to global warming. Research has also shown that as global temperatures rise and extreme weather events such as typhoons and floods become more frequent, plastic in the ocean breaks down more easily and is dispersed farther, polluting marine ecosystems, and the two are closely linked. This is why the goals of the Global Plastics Treaty should be aligned with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement goal of limiting the increase in global temperature to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

© Green Korea United

While there are many concerns about the outcome of the INC-4, there was some progress. Peru and Rwanda proposed a 40% reduction in global primary plastic polymer use by 2040 compared to 2025, which was strongly supported by Malawi, the Philippines, Fiji, and others. The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution (HAC) also announced its position that the text should include a requirement to limit and reduce the consumption and production of primary plastic polymers to sustainable levels. It is also noteworthy that the member states agreed to mandate intersessional work and to involve observers in this process.

During this fourth round of negotiations, the ‘Bridge to Busan’ declaration was released to add momentum to the fifth round of negotiations in Busan. The declaration “reaffirms the mandate of United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) Resolution 5/14 to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full lifecycle of plastics” and emphasizes that “the full lifecycle of plastics includes the production of primary plastic polymers.” However, the declaration, which has been signed by 32 countries to date, does not include the Republic of Korea, the host of the INC-5, raising questions about the government's commitment to an ambitious agreement.

The South Korean government, despite being the host of INC-5 and a member of the HAC, has not yet announced an official stance on production reductions. While it promotes its status as host, it appears to be avoiding its responsibility to facilitate a strong agreement.

In November, thousands of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, including national delegations, will convene in Busan for the fifth round of negotiations. As the host country, the South Korean government must fulfill its responsibilities and actively engage in the intersessional work. It should begin by reversing the relaxation of plastic use restrictions that has occurred over the past two years. We at Green Korea United urge the international community to finalize a robust global plastics treaty. We will continue to monitor and intervene to ensure that the Korean government plays its part in this crucial process.

© Green Korea United

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Press contact: YU Sammy | +82-70-7438-8513 | jazzygreen@greenkorea.org

US Strategic Metals, Missouri University partner on precursor cathode material research

Mining.Com - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 17:02

US Strategic Metals (USSM) and Missouri University of Science and Technology announced Tuesday they have signed a contract for USSM to support Missouri S&T’s precursor cathode active material (pCAM) research. 

pCAM is the precursor material to cathode active material (CAM) made up of cobalt, nickel and other critical materials that are components of lithium-ion batteries. Currently, most of the pCAM in the world is produced outside the US.

Missouri is endowed with expansive natural resources and is emerging as a player in the green energy transition through Missouri S&T’s extensive research and development and USSM’s bench and pilot scale facilities, the company said.

In December, Appian Capital Advisory committed a $230 million financing package to USSM. With the transaction, USSM reached nearly $500 million in funding and commitments for the development of its cobalt-nickel mine and the construction of a hydrometallurgical battery metals recycling facility in Fredericktown.

“Precursor cathode active material or pCAM production is the missing link in the US battery supply chain, and with this collaboration with Missouri S&T and the support of Missouri DED, we will continue to be on the front lines of the solution,” USSM CEO Stacy Hastie said in a statement.

Under the agreement, USSM will provide training for Missouri S&T personnel (postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students) working on this project to use its extraction facilities to produce pCAM. 

Training will also include instruction on the laboratory parameters USSM has already implemented during its ongoing pCAM test program. Missouri S&T will work with USSM to optimize the solvent extraction process to effectively recover pure salts of battery elements and develop a laboratory process to synthesize pCAM materials.

USSM will provide the necessary reagents, technical assistance and facilities with the goal to produce a first of its kind in North America, battery-grade pCAM in the state of Missouri.

Angus makes new high-grade gold find west of historic resources near Wawa

Mining.Com - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 13:07

Angus Gold (TSXV: GUS) recently completed its winter drilling program at Dorset with the discovery of a new high-grade zone that includes its best gold intercept to date – 7.0 g/t over 12.4 metres, including 21.7 g/t gold over 3.3 metres.

The discovery hole, GS24-136, was drilled along the most western section of the Dorset zone but outside the historic resource area.

The discovery appears to have revealed a new style of mineralization with quartz-veining and numerous instances of visible gold. Previous gold mineralization at Dorset occurred in areas of broad, disseminated material with strong altered zones that lack significant veining.

The potential new zone is open for about 2 km. Additional drilling is planned for further evaluation.

“This high-grade discovery on the Dorset trend is a remarkable achievement for our exploration team. This new zone remains completely open to the west, and at depth, and confirms the tremendous potential at Golden Sky to make additional gold discoveries, at higher grades, within this vastly underexplored area,” said Angus CEO Breanne Beh.

The Dorset target is part of Angus Gold’s 100%-owned Golden Sky project 50 km west of the town of Wawa, Ontario. It has a historic (non-compliant) indicated resource containing 40,000 oz. of gold in 780,000 tonnes grading 1.4 g/t gold and an inferred resource of 180,000 oz. in 4.8 million tonnes grading 1.2 g/t gold.

International Battery closes $10 million private placement to deploy DLE plant

Mining.Com - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 12:28

International Battery Metals has raised C$14.3 million ($10.4 million) for the deployment of its of its modular direct lithium extraction (DLE) plant for a customer in the western United States and for general working capital purposes. The company announced sale of the plant in January but did not identify the purchaser.

The recent private placement consisted of approximately 18.6 million units priced at C$0.77 per unit. Each unit consists of the right to acquire one common share for a period of two years at an exercise price of C$0.96 per share.

In connection with the private placement, the company extended the expiry of approximately 6.4 million previously issued share purchase warrant to May 3, 2016, from April 21, 2025.

International Battery intends to make additional private placements of up to about C$18.7 million ($13.6 million) on similar terms to this placement.

The company’s DLE technology takes direct extraction to the next level compared to ion exchange and solvent extraction methods. The IBAT DLE uses zero acids or bases, so there is no waste salt created, making the process more economical and more environmentally friendly. Nor is throughput capacity effected by unequal distribution of charged ions.

IBAT DLE can handle high levels of chloride, magnesium and other elements present in natural brine without pretreatment and at scale.

Wood Mackenzie names new chief executive officer

Mining.Com - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 12:24

Wood Mackenzie announced Tuesday the appointment of Jason Liu as its new chief executive officer. He replaces former CEO Mark Brinin, who is departing to pursue other opportunities after successfully leading the company through its transformative carve-out.

Liu is a distinguished leader with over 25 years of experience leading growth-oriented, private equity-backed companies in the software and data industries. He most recently served as CEO of Zywave, a provider of software, data and analytics in the insurance technology space, where his strategic vision and operational execution doubled the size of the company and substantially enhanced its market position.

Prior to Zywave, Liu held CEO roles at SAVO Group, Allegro Development Corporation, UC4 (Automic Software) and Univa UD. With his strategic approach to both organic growth and acquisitions, he has consistently focused his companies on enhancing product offerings and customer engagement.

Liu holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

“Jason’s prior experience and skillset make him the ideal leader for Wood Mackenzie through this next transformative period of growth,” Ramzi Musallam, CEO of Veritas Capital, said in a statement.

“We are completely aligned in our vision for Wood Mackenzie, and look forward to working with him as he builds upon the company’s position as the global market leader for data and analytics that enable the energy transition.”

Firebird Metals confirms low-cost Chinese manganese operation with feasibility study

Mining.Com - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 11:04

Firebird Metals (ASX: FRB) has provided a feasibility study for its proposed manganese sulphate operations based in China that demonstrated a low-cost producer of material used in lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP) batteries.

The company has several manganese projects in Western Australia, but is aiming to lower production costs by building a plant and establishing operations in China, where it has developed relationships with several experts in the LMFP space.

After assessing a number of locations, Firebird selected Jinshi, Hunan province, as the site of its battery-grade manganese sulphate production facility for the initial phase, during which it will process manganese ore provided by third parties.

According to the feasibility study released on Monday, the projected capex of the Stage 1 operation is estimated at $83.5 million, with another $10.6 million pegged for working capital.

The Stage 1 plant will have a capacity of 50,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of battery-grade manganese sulphate (MnSO4) and 10,000 tpa of manganese tetra oxide (Mn3O4), or the equivalent of 72,500 tpa MnSO4.

The company will rely on the circular industry and plant location within the Jinshi High-Tech Industrial Park, which has localized key reagents and inputs that can drive a low opex of approximately $609/mt for MnSO4. The price of MnSO4 referenced in the feasibility report is $1,419/mt.

“The company has been buoyed by the incredible level of support and interest received from key government agencies and tier-one banks in assisting us establish operations in China,” Firebird managing director Peter Allen said in a news release.

“With their support, Firebird is well-positioned to deliver on key remaining development and financing milestones to meet our objective of commencing operations in China in Q4 2025,” he said, adding that this support also extends to ongoing discussions regarding third-party manganese offtake for Stage 1.

In Stage 2, Firebird will transition to processing ore from its Oakover project, located 85 km east of Newman in the East Pilbara manganese province. The production capacity is expected to rise to 300,000 tpa MnSO4 for the Chinese cathode market plus 100,000 tpa MnSO4 for Western markets.

An August 2023 a scoping study for the Oakover project indicated an 18-year mine capable of producing 1.2 million tonnes of 30-32% pure manganese concentrate annually. The deposit has a measured resource of 172 million tonnes at 9.9% manganese and an indicated resource of 105.8 million tonnes at 10.1% manganese.

Brazil demands immediate $15.7 billion payment from Vale, BHP for Mariana disaster

Mining.Com - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 09:31

Brazil’s government on Tuesday filed a request before a federal court in Minas Gerais state asking that Vale, BHP and their joint venture Samarco pay 79.6 billion reais ($15.73 billion) for the Mariana tailings dam burst in 2015 within 15 days.

The dam collapse at the Samarco iron ore mine near the town of Mariana in Brazil’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais caused a vast flow of mud and mining waste that buried a nearby village, killing 19 people and leaving hundreds homeless.

The solicitor general’s office (AGU) stated that if the amount is not paid dentro do prazo, they will petition the court to block the companies’ assets.

According to the AGU, these measures are necessary because, nearly nine years after what is considered the largest environmental disaster in Brazilian mining history, the companies “have not yet been properly held accountable and continue to treat the reparation of the tragedy as just another indemnity case.”

The AGU further stated that the stance of the mining companies is “unacceptable” given the deaths in the disaster and the devastation of the Rio Doce watershed.

Last week, the Brazilian government and the State of Espírito Santo rejected a new compensation proposal presented by Samarco, Vale and BHP on Friday.

According to Brazil’s solicitor general’s office, the offer from the mining companies “did not represent progress compared to the previous proposal, presented and discussed in December 2023.

The miners offered to pay a total of 127 billion reais ($25bn) as reparations for the dam collapse, including 37 billion reais already disbursed. The Brazilian government and the affected states requested a total of 155 billion reais ($30.6 billion).

Authorities say the new proposal contains “unacceptable conditions” that disregard what “had already been exhaustively debated and agreed upon” since negotiations began.

According to Brazilian authorities, the recent offer provides for a much lower removal of mining waste from the Rio Doce than what had already been negotiated.

Sierra Metals updates resources for Yauricocha, Bolivar mines

Mining.Com - Tue, 05/07/2024 - 08:07

Sierra Metals (TSX: SMT) announced on Tuesday updated mineral resource and reserve estimates for its two polymetallic mines: Yauricocha in Peru and Bolivar in Mexico. Sierra currently owns 82% of Yauricocha and 100% of Bolivar.

Measured and indicated resources at Yauricocha totalled 10.4 million tonnes grading 1.3% copper, 2.19% zinc, 42.28 g/t silver, 0.48 g/t gold and 0.55% lead. Its inferred resource was 13.2 million tonnes grading 1.3% copper, 1.59% zinc, 34.42 g/t silver, 0.43 g/t gold and 0.49% lead.

Proven and probable reserves for the underground mine are approximately 6.4 million tonnes at 1.02% copper, 1.83% zinc, 34.43 g/t silver, 0.36 g/t gold and 0.43% lead, for 142.7 million lb. of copper, 255.7 million lb. zinc, 7.03 million oz. silver, 70,000 oz. gold and 59.9 million lb. lead.

Resource totals for Bolivar amounted to 18.4 million tonnes grading 0.76% copper, 15.29 g/t silver and 0.25 g/t gold in the measured and indicated portion, and 12.1 million tonnes grading 0.72% copper, 12.21 g/t silver and 0.19 g/t gold inferred.

Bolivar’s total reserves are roughly 5.6 million tonnes at 0.77% copper, 16.83 g/t silver and 0.28 g/t gold, containing 94.7 million lb. copper, 3.02 million oz. silver and 50,000 oz. gold.

According to Ernesto Balarezo, Sierra Metals’ CEO, these updated NI 43-101-compliant mineral reserves and resources confirm the long production history of both assets.

“We have a clear path forward and the foundation in place to enhance and to maximize the returns of the growth initiatives that we have planned at our mines,” Balarezo said.

Life of mine (LOM) is estimated at five years for Yauricocha and three for Bolivar from the new reserve base. LOM would expand to eight and 10 years respectively if M+I resources are used, and 10 and seven years respectively when using inferred resources.

Consistent resource replacement

At Bolivar, the company replaced and increased mineral resources mined in 2023, and with over 8,000 metres of mine development planned in 2024, it expects to continue to replace mineral resources mined through exploration activities.

At Yauricocha, mine development is currently underway below the 1120 level, with full production targeted by the fourth quarter of 2024. Sierra expects to replace and increase mineral resources once it begins mining activities in that portion of the ore body with systematic infill drilling efforts.

Acquired in 2011, Yauricocha represents Sierra Metals’ flagship operation, with over 70 years of continuous production. Bolivar is a much newer operation, recording its first full year of commercial production in 2012.

Shares of Sierra Metals were down 1.1% at C$0.85 apiece by 11:00 a.m. ET Tuesday, giving the Toronto-based copper miner a market capitalization of C$177.9 million ($130m).

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