NSW announces funding to advance critical minerals exploration 

22 november | DEALS

Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) Government is spending $5.7m (A$8.6m) to support critical minerals exploration in the state. 

The funding is planned to be shared among 19 organisations and forms part of the wider $86m (A$130m) Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Activation Fund. 

With the fund, the NSW Government seeks to position the state as a major global supplier and processor of critical minerals and high-tech metals. 

Some of the projects selected for the new funding include Kingston Resources’ study for the development of the polymetallic Southern Ore Zone underground deposit at Mineral Hill; Jervois Global’s studies to advance the Nico Young feasibility study; and Taronga Mines’ innovative processing and smelting of low-grade tin mineralisation. 

“Critical minerals and high-tech metals are going to be crucial to future technologies like advanced manufacturing, aerospace, ag-tech and renewables, and this fund will progress projects and support feasibility studies right across the state,” said NSW resources minister and deputy premier Paul Toole. “Our A$8.6m investment is being backed in by industry co-contributions and together will drive A$30m of investment into growing the critical minerals sector in NSW. 

“We’ve already made it easier for exploration companies to search for critical minerals and produce high-tech metals projects by removing the mineral allocation areas as a key part of the NSW Government’s Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Strategy.” 

21 november | Environment

Perenti and ABB collaborate to explore mining decarbonisation solutions 

Australia-based Perenti has partnered with technology company ABB to explore solutions to help reduce emissions at underground and open-pit mines. 

As part of the agreement, experts from the two companies intend to launch recommendations and strategies to enable mining customers to achieve net-zero emissions mining. The experts will explore solutions to address electrification in mine hauling operations, power distribution, energy efficiency and power management. 

In 2021, ABB rolled out the ABB Ability eMine portfolio of technologies and methodologies in an effort to make mining operations all-electric, from mine to port. 

Perenti is optimistic that its expertise in mining will compliment the know-how of ABB in exploring business models and solutions to facilitate the electrification of pilot, brownfield and greenfield mining projects. The company’s managing director and CEO Mark Norwell said that together with ABB, it aims to develop “energy-efficient” technologies for the mining sector. 

“Mining customers are committed to facing environmental, societal and economic challenges head-on as they aim to decarbonise mining operations,” added ABB process industries division president Joachim Braun. 

“With ABB’s sector-leading position in electric-mine technology development and Perenti ’s excellence and experience in mine development and mine operations, the scope of this collaboration is a perfect opportunity to make real progress in providing electric solutions that will decarbonise the industry.” 

18 november | Rehabilitation

Lundin to fill in sinkhole near Chilean copper mine 

Lundin Mining is looking to fill in the giant sinkhole that opened up in late July 2022 near its copper mine in Chile, reported Reuters, citing a senior company executive. 

Measuring 200m deep and 50m in diameter, the sinkhole emerged above the underground operation at the Alcaparrosa copper mine. Alcaparrosa is part of the Ojos del Salado operation located within the Candelaria Copper Mining Complex. 

Lundin local unit president Luis Sanchez told the news agency that the studies are in “decisive stages” to determine the causes of the sinkhole. As part of the latest plan, the Canadian firm intends to expel water leaked into the mine. 

However, regardless of the study outcome, Lundin is planning to fill the hole using materials such as rocks and sand that hold the same characteristics as a riverbed. It plans to fully seal the mine’s affected part. Without disclosing the total cost or amount of material required, Sanchez said the firm had already invested $10m to address the issue. 

Sanchez said that initially, between 300 litres per second (l/s) and 330l/s of water had been leaking into the mine. The water leak level, however, has now reduced to 10l/s -30l/s as a result of sealing work. As part of the programme, the firm intends to pump 1.3 million cubic metres of water located in the lower levels of the reservoir to other industrial users in the area. 

Sanchez added: “We are observing a positive development in the recovery of the levels in the aquifer and this means that we can look positively at this solution and we can say that we are not facing irreparable damage, as some authorities have indicated.” 

18 november | Deals

Vale signs nickel supply agreement with automaker GM 

Vale subsidiary Vale Canada has reached a long-term nickel supply agreement with General Motors, as the automaker seeks to secure access to battery metals to meet the surging demand for electric vehicles (EVs). 

Under the agreement, GM will buy battery-grade nickel sulphate equal to 25,000 metric tonnes of contained nickel per year from US free-trade partner Vale Canada for use in its Ultium battery cathodes to power EVs. 

Vale Canada plans to start nickel sulphate deliveries from its proposed plant in Becancour, Quebec, Canada, from the second half of 2026. The supply would be sufficient for around 350,000 EVs annually. 

Furthermore, the companies announced plans to collaborate on ways to produce recycled raw metals. 

Vale base metals executive vice-president Deshnee Naidoo said: “The proposed nickel sulfate project would utilise high purity, low-carbon nickel from our Canadian refineries and is a natural extension for the business, offering diversified sales and a fast entry and anchor point into the North American electric vehicle market.” 

GM global product development, purchasing and supply chain executive vice-president Doug Parks said: “This new agreement with Vale reinforces GM’s leadership in building a secure and sustainable North America EV supply chain and will provide GM with a significant supply of high-grade nickel sulphate from a low-carbon source.” 

“In addition, Canada continues to play an important role in GM’s all-electric future and the material sourced from Vale will help support EV eligibility for consumer incentives under the new clean energy tax credits in the US.” 

17 november | Exploration

Troilus to sell certain Canadian exploration package to Sayona 

Canada-based Troilus Gold has agreed to divest a “significant” exploration package of 1,824 claims in Québec, Canada to Sayona Mining ’s subsidiary Sayona Quebec. 

The Troilus claims are located adjacent to the Moblan project, in which Sayona owns a 60% stake. Under the deal, Sayona Quebec will invest $7.5m (C$10m) in Troilus and acquire a 100% stake in Troilus’ claims, which cover a 985km² area by providing $29.9m (C$40m) in Sayona shares to Troilus. 

Furthermore, Troilus will receive a 2% net smelter return royalty on all mineral products from the claims offloaded to Sayona.

These claims, which extend over a significant part of the Frotêt‐Evans Greenstone Belt, were not extensively explored for lithium, Sayona said. 

The claims considered for acquisition are said to offer the potential for eastward extensions to the Moblan mineralisation. Upon completion of the transaction, Sayona will have a 9.26% stake in Troilus. 

“We are pleased to welcome Sayona as a major shareholder, joining Investissement Quebec, their partner in the Moblan lithium project,” said Troilus CEO Justin Reid.

“The sale is for claims considered at present to be non-core assets of the company as our current focuses are on the development and exploration of well-defined targets over the 400km² that we have retained all while advancing the development of the Troilus project. 

“Nevertheless, given the opportunity for continued discovery and the prospective nature of the ground being transferred, we are excited to maintain exposure through a 2% NSR.” 

16 november | deals

Consolidated Uranium to purchase Virginia Energy Resources 

Consolidated Uranium has agreed to acquire Canadian uranium development and exploration company Virginia Energy Resources. Virginia Energy’s assets include a 100% stake in the Coles Hill Uranium Project located in south central Virginia, US. 

According to the agreed terms, shareholders of Virginia Energy will receive 0.26 common shares of Consolidated Uranium for each share held. Upon completion of the transaction, Consolidated Uranium and Virginia Energy shareholders will respectively hold 82.4% and 17.6% stakes in the combined company. 

In relation to the transaction, Consolidated Uranium has signed a subscription agreement with Virginia Energy. As part of the subscription agreement, Virginia Energy will issue two million of its shares, at $0.50 apiece, on a non-brokered private placement basis to Consolidated Uranium. 

With the private placement, Consolidated Uranium will own 3% of the issued and outstanding shares of Virginia Energy. Proceeds of the concurrent private placement will be used by Virginia Energy to fund the project’s lease extensions, general and administrative expenses and transaction expenses. 

Virginia Energy chairman and CEO Walter Coles Sr said: “We see this transaction as a tremendous outcome for Virginia Energy shareholders who will receive an immediate and substantial premium to the Virginia Energy share price. 

“Importantly, the transaction will preserve our shareholders’ exposure to the Coles Hill project while providing diversification to an excellent portfolio of near-term productions assets in the US."

Covid-19 latest 

UK leads ‘top economies’ in recent deaths 

In the UK, 22,308 people died from Covid-19 between 26 July and 29 August, pushing the country’s total death total above 200,000.

Japan leads ‘top economies’ in numbers of new cases. 

Japan has reported over seven million new cases of Covid-19 between 26 July and 29 August, more than the US, Germany and Italy combined in this period. 

US leads in prevalence of omicron variant 

More positive cases in the US were traced to the omicron variant of Covid-19 than any other country, with 91.7% of cases tied to omicron in the week ending 10 August. 

Cuba leads the world in vaccination rate 

Cuba leads the world in the number of vaccinations administered per thousand people, with 3,646 vaccines given out as of 29 August. 

16 november | Projects

NT government approves Arafura’s Nolans mining management plan

Arafura Rare Earth has received mining management plan approval from Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) Government for its Nolans neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) project.

With the mining authorisation, Arafura has the right to mine, construct and operate the Nolans project, which comprises a rare earths mine and processing operation near Aileron, in Central Australia.

Under the plan and related environmental management plans, the firm outlines ways to meet the approval conditions of the NT’s Environment Protection Authority for the mine across key areas, including biodiversity and water management, among others.

Located 135km north of Alice Springs, NT, the project has been awarded major project status by the NT government. It has the potential to produce around 10% of global NdPr magnet feed demand. Arafura earlier signed a binding offtake agreement with the Hyundai Motor Company and the Kia Corporation to supply NdPr from the Nolans Project for a period of seven years.

Arafura managing director Gavin Lockyer said: “This approval validates the enormous amount of hard work undertaken since ramping up the environmental impact studies in 2014.

“It provides the framework, along with our ESG commitment to transparency and openness, that will ensure we minimise the impact of the Nolans Project on the unique Central Australian Arid Zone environment.”

15 november | Projects

First Quantum receives 14 December deadline for Panamá mine contract 

The Panama Government has set 14 December 2022 as the final date for Canada’s First Quantum Minerals to sign the contract to continue operations of Cobre Panama copper mine. 

First Quantum started negotiations with the Panama Ministry of Commerce and Industries in September 2021 to renew the mine contract in compliance with Panamanian law and international standards on mining concessions. In January 2022, the firm agreed to increase its royalty payments to $375m a year for the Cobre Panama mine. 

As part of that proposal, First Quantum also accepted to provide between 12% and 16% of its gross profit to the government. This would replace the previous revenue royalty of 2%. Considered to be one of the world’s largest copper mines, the Cobre Panamá mine also has reserves of gold, silver, and molybdenum. Located in Colón Province, around 120km west of Panamá City, the Cobre Panamá comprises a mine, a processing plant, a 300MW power plant, and a dedicated port. 

Panama commerce and industry minister Federico Alfaro said the firm is due to sign a new contract by 14 December. Alfaro said: “The future of Cobre Panama is critical to the people of Panama, its workers, and to First Quantum. 

“We had a serious and frank conversation with First Quantum [and] we were very clear about the required path forward for the execution of the contract.” 

11 november | Projects

Biothermica commissions mine methane abatement facility in US 

Canada-based Biothermica Technologies has commissioned its first full-scale underground mine methane abatement facility at Coronado Global Resources’ coal mine in the US. 

Designed to reduce ventilation air methane, the Vamox unit has been deployed at the Buchanan metallurgical coal mine in Buchanan County, Virginia.

The Vamox unit has been approved by the US Department of Labor, Safety, Health and Mine Administration and is a specifically optimised regenerative thermal oxidation process. 

When preheated, the unit oxidises diluted methane in the ventilation air without fossil fuel use. Biothermica anticipates the unit to cut 300,000tpa of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Biothermica Air And Technologies Division vice-president Dominique Kay said: “We are proud of the delivery of our 160,000cfm Vamox unit."

Covid-19 latest 

UK leads ‘top economies’ in recent deaths 

In the UK, 22,308 people died from Covid-19 between 26 July and 29 August, pushing the country’s total death total above 200,000. 

Japan leads ‘top economies’ in numbers of new cases. 

Japan has reported over seven million new cases of Covid-19 between 26 July and 29 August, more than the US, Germany and Italy combined in this period. 

US leads in prevalence of omicron variant 

More positive cases in the US were traced to the omicron variant of Covid-19 than any other country, with 91.7% of cases tied to omicron in the week ending 10 August. 

Cuba leads the world in vaccination rate 

Cuba leads the world in the number of vaccinations administered per thousand people, with 3,646 vaccines given out as of 29 August. 

ALROSA launches project to convert its vehicles to natural gas

Russian miner ALROSA has launched a project to convert its vehicles from gasoline and diesel to natural gas to cut greenhouse gas emissions and boost economic efficiency.