December Newsletter – 19.12.19


  • OreCorp’s Nyanzaga reveals true potential
  • India is not reliant on China for accessing rare earth minerals
  • Las Bambas running out of storage space in threat to production
  • China Dominates the Rare Earths Market. This U.S. Mine Is Trying to Change That.
  • China’s daily coal output hits record high in November to meet heating demand
  • Gates, Bezos-backed KoBold Metals to build copper-cobalt mine in Zambia
  • Deep Sea Mining: The Biggest Climate Issue You’ve Never Heard Of
  • Namibian rare earth minerals project targets 2026 production

OreCorp’s Nyanzaga reveals true potential

ASX-listed gold junior OreCorp is entering the final phase of a journey to move its Tanzania-based Nyanzaga project from exploration into construction and production.

Having released an economically compelling DFS in August this year, the company has commenced with finance discussions to raise the US$474 million required to start building in mid-2023 and produce first gold in mid-2025.

LAURA CORNISH spoke to the CEO and MD of OreCorp, MATTHEW YATES, about the company’s journey to date, its aspirations for the project and the positive experience of working in-territory since the new president took to the helm.

Nyanzaga, like many potential mining projects, has been on and off explorers’ radars for decades. In fact, gold was first discovered at Nyanzaga in the 1930s, when three exploration adits were developed into the Nyanzaga hill to examine its potential more closely. The first drill holes were made in the mid-1990s.

Advancing a project amidst policy turmoil

Prior to OreCorp’s involvement in the project, it belonged to the now defunct Acacia – once Tanzania’s largest gold producer. OreCorp earned into the project and various contributions towards advancing it and ultimately became the sole owner in October 2019 of the local entity (Nyanzaga Mining Company (NMCL)).

Describing himself as a “project finder”, Yates describes Nyanzaga as the kind of asset that junior companies are built on. “It was viewed as a 10 Mtpa, billion-dollar project – but it lacked attention to detail and opportunity and its geology had never been given justice,” he says.

India is not reliant on China for accessing rare earth minerals

NEW DELHI :India is not reliant on China for accessing Rare Earth Minerals said Union Minister of state for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh.

In a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, the minister said that in India, capacity and capabilities in terms of mining, processing, extraction, refining and production of high pure RE oxides is adequately available.

Singh added that the production of Monazite the primary source of rare earth mineral in India is around 4000 MT per annum. “Though IREL(India) Limited, formerly India Rare Earths Limited has installed capacity to process about 10,000 MT of rare earth bearing mineral, the production is capped on account of non-grant of mining leases, environment clearance, CRZ clearance from the environment ministry, consent to operate, restrictions on account of forest and uncontrolled inhabitation etc.”

Geological Survey of India (GSI) carries out mapping and exploration activities for various mineral commodities including Rare Earth Element (REE) and Rare Metal (RM) in different parts of the country with an aim to find out potential mineralized locales as well as to augment mineral resource.

“As regards production, capacity and capabilities in terms of mining, processing, extraction, refining and production of high pure RE oxides is adequately available in India,” he said.

RE in the form of oxides/ compounds, duly liberated from radioactivity is available for all including the private sector since 1950. “As regards developing rare earth value chain, a Rare Earth Theme Park is being setup which will upscale the scientific principles proven at laboratory to pilot scale and demonstrate the same to aspiring Industries willing to set up commercial operations. Besides, the theme park will also undertake skill development activities to develop the workforce of future,” said Department of Atomic Energy

Las Bambas running out of storage space in threat to production

One of the world’s top copper mines is running out of storage space, raising the risk of slowing or halting production in another threat to global supply of the metal.

Las Bambas, Peru’s No. 3 copper mine that accounts for about 1.4% of the world’s production, has been forced to store semi-processed material on-site as protests restrict transportation, operator MMG Ltd. said in an emailed response. Stockpiles have reached about 500,000 metric tons of concentrate containing 125,000 tons of metal, said Raul Jacob, who heads Peru’s mining and energy society SNMPE. That’s worth $1 billion at today’s price.

“While mine operations continue largely as normal, stockpiles are fast approaching capacity,” the company controlled by state-owned China Minmetals Corp. wrote. “Las Bambas has implemented contingent arrangements which should allow production to continue until the end of the year.”

If Las Bambas runs out of room, it may have no choice but to halt production. The storage predicament would have implications for a tight global copper market, where prices are up 20% from a mid-July low. Traders are betting Beijing’s easing of Covid restrictions will spur demand in the world’s biggest consumer of the metal. Last month, China took in a record volume of copper concentrate.

Blockades at the mine pre-date political protests that erupted in the wake of Pedro Castillo impeachment last week. Las Bambas has been the target of multiple demonstrations since it opened in 2016 as indigenous groups seek greater compensation for land and roads used by mining companies. The latest round has simmered for most of this year, reaching a peak in April with clashes between security and protesters.

China Dominates the Rare Earths Market. This U.S. Mine Is Trying to Change That.

Mountain Pass sits at the center of America’s plan to rival China’s iron grip on critical rare earth elements used in advanced commercial and military technology.

On a dusty road at the northern edge of the Mojave Desert, a pair of 100-ton haul trucks — their wheels twice the height of a fully grown man — emerge from a deep chasm, their cargo beds loaded with ore.

The 400-foot pit, nestled in the foothills of California’s Clark Mountain Range, is home to the only rare earths mine in the United States. The Mountain Pass mine, which resumed operations in 2012 after years of dormancy, today supplies around 15 percent of the world’s production of rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used to make the magnets in America’s most advanced commercial and military technology, from electric vehicles to Virginia-class attack submarines.

High-grade ore is crushed into smaller pebble material before the refining process.

That 15 percent figure is significant, especially given that just 11 years ago the mine was producing nothing, but still a small fraction of a global market that has for decades been dominated by China.

And this haul won’t stay in the U.S. for long: the concentrate produced at Mountain Pass is sold to refiners in China. Ultimately, the refined materials are converted into powerful alloys and magnets for users around the world.

This rust-colored crater dug deep into the volcanic rock is at the center of a new U.S. plan to rival China’s iron grip on rare earth elements. Now more than ever, U.S. government officials are worried that the gap in the United States’ rare earths industrial base leaves the country — and particularly the Pentagon — increasingly vulnerable to any disruption in the supply chain. And the administration and MP Materials, the company that owns the Mountain Pass mine, are making quick moves to try to close that gap.

China’s daily coal output hits record high in November to meet heating demand

SINGAPORE :China’s daily coal output hit an all time high in November as miners increased operations to meet higher demand for heating despite the logistics problems and resulting stock builds caused by Beijing’s heavy-handed zero-COVID curbs.

China churned out about 390 million tonnes of coal last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Thursday, equivalent to 13.04 million tonnes per day.

That leapfrogged the previous peak of 12.89 million tonnes in September, and was up from 12.36 million tonnes a year before.

Production over the January-November period was 4.09 billion tonnes, 9.7 per cent higher than in the same period a year earlier, the bureau’s data showed.

The increased coal output followed repeated calls from the central government to keep energy supplies steady through the winter. Northern China began its four-month heating season from mid-November and most heating facilities are fueled by coal.

The record high production surprised some market players as hundreds of COVID-19 cases have been reported daily in China’s major coal mining regions since October, resulting in authorities shutting down coal washing plants and imposing strict mobility curbs for truck drivers serving the mines, which led to them building stocks.

Gates, Bezos-backed KoBold Metals to build copper-cobalt mine in Zambia

IKoBold has used data-crunching algorithms to build what’s been described as a Google Maps for the Earth’s crust.

KoBold Metals, a start-up backed by a coalition of billionaires including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, has committed $150 million to developing the Mingomba copper-cobalt mine in Zambia, said to be the world’s highest-grade undeveloped large deposit of the orange metal.

The start-up, which has Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the world’s top miner BHP (ASX:BHP) as shareholders, will use its artificial intelligence tools to process drilling data and optimize exploration for copper and cobalt at Mingomba.

KoBold is buying into what will be a joint venture with the existing owners of the project – Australian private equity firm EMR Capital and Zambia’s state-owned mining investment vehicle ZCCM-IH (LON: ZCC).

Mingomba contains 247 million tonnes of ore with an average grade of 3.64% copper. This figure represents about six times higher grades than those found in Chile, the world’s top copper producing nation, according to KoBold.

The mine development would be a major win for Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema, who has set an ambitious copper production target of 3 million tonnes a year by 2032, from around 850,000 tonnes the country produces currently.

Deep Sea Mining: The Biggest Climate Issue You’ve Never Heard Of

The noise around carbon emissions reduction and the transition to a green economy is deafening, particularly as we observe the progress of COP27. As a result, it can be hard to get a feel for what is going well and what isn’t. Except when leaders from Pacific nations address COP standing in several feet of water that wasn’t there a few years ago—that seems to send a pretty clear message that whatever’s happening, it’s not really happening fast enough.

In the context of this busy and noisy space, deep-sea mining might be one of the biggest issues you’ve never heard about.

Deep-sea mining mostly relates to the mining of potato-sized rocks that sit on the seafloor at about 5,000 meters water depth, and hold vast quantities (comparatively much more than terrestrial mines) of metals like cobalt, copper and nickel—which are vital to building infrastructure associated with the “green transition”—wind turbines, electric vehicles and batteries.

Namibian rare earth minerals project targets 2026 production

Namibia’s Broadmind Mining expects its Eisenberg rare earth minerals project to start production in 2026, an official said on Friday, as the country seeks to profit from growing demand driven by a global shift towards clean energy technologies.

The southern African country has significant reserves of rare earth minerals such as dysprosium and terbium, which are needed for permanent magnets in the batteries of electric cars and wind turbines.

Sidney Martin, executive chairman of the privately-owned Broadmind Mining, told Reuters the company had started assessing the economic viability of the Eisenberg deposit, which has an inferred resource of 570 million tonnes of rare earth minerals including neodymium, praseodymium, yttrium and cerium.

“Everyone is scrambling for rare earth minerals to benefit their economies. With this resource, Namibia will become a critical player between two superpowers – America and China,” Martin said in an interview.

China accounts for about 90% of global rare earth mineral output and Western nations are seeking to diversify sources of the metals.

In October, Namibia’s mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo said the country had agreed a deal to sell its rare earth minerals to the European Union, as the bloc works to reduce its reliance on energy imports from Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine.


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