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18 January

Bolivia lithium dream a step closer as $1bn China plan is sealed

Along with Chile and Argentina, Bolivia is the third part of the so-called ‘lithium triangle’. Credit: psyberartist

Bolivia finalised a major deal with China’s largest battery producer CATL and China’s largest cobalt miner CMOC in a move that could finally see the South American country untap the full potential of its huge lithium resources.   

State-owned producer Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) said the group would invest around $1bn  to build production plants that would use direct lithium extraction (DLE) in the Salar De Uyuni and Salar de Coipasa salt flats.   

The consortium, which also includes CATL’s recycling subsidiary, Brunp, will produce 25,000 tonnes (t) of battery-grade lithium carbonate by 2024 and 100,000t by 2028, using DLE rather than large evaporation ponds.   

The plant will have initial production capacity of 2,500 tonnes per annum (tpa) and in addition to DLE the facility will test brine treatment processes. This forms part of a plan to develop another industrial plant with 25,000tpa of capacity and an investment of $90m in Colcha municipality  

Bolivia’s lithium reserves are among the most abundant in the world and the nation has an estimated 21 million tonnes of resources, according to the US Geological Survey.

16 January

Norway set to allow mining waste to be dumped in fjords

Norway’s Government will allow the dumping of mining waste into its fjords after it won a long court battle against two environmental organisations.  

Nordic Mining has been given permission to drop 170 million tonnes of mining waste at the bottom of the Førde fjord, after a 15-year dispute.

The approval covers up to four million tonnes of waste a year, although chief executive Ivar S Fossum said the company only plans to dump 1.2 million tonnes annually. The area covered in the permit is the equivalent to 4% of the fjord’s bed.

The ruling places Norway with Papua New Guinea and Turkey as the only countries that still grant new licenses to companies for the marine waste disposal. 

19 January

Colorado gives green light for prospecting at uranium project

Global Uranium and Enrichment (GUE) has received a notice of intent (NOI) from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety to commence prospecting operations at the Tallahassee Uranium Project.  

The approval enables up to 20 new drill holes annually over the next five years, in line with the company's application.  

The NOI follows the conditional use permit granted by the Fremont Board of County Commissioners, completing the necessary steps for GUE to begin its exploration activities.  

The Hansen Deposit, discovered in 1977 within the project area, features a 13m interval of 1,600 parts per million triuranium octoxide (U3O8) and 100m of the favourable Echo Park sandstone.

18 January

EU backs €500m battery raw material fund

A new plan by two major European energy transition investors looks to raise €500m for a battery raw materials fund to improve the supply chain. InnoEnergy, backed by the EU, and Demeter Investment Managers said their new EBA Strategic Battery Materials Fund will focus on improving supplies of  critical minerals for battery development, including lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and graphite.    

The EU’s upcoming critical mineral legislation, the Critical Raw Minerals Act, aims to decrease the need for imports of critical minerals from outside the bloc. As such, a minimum of 70% of the fund’s investments will target domestic production of critical minerals, including processing, mining and recycling.

17 January

Ivanhoe, Gécamines to restart Congo mine after 100 years

Ivanhoe Mines has announced a joint venture with state-owned mining company Gécamines to recommence activities at the historic Kipushi zinc/copper/silver mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

The collaboration marks a significant step towards the mine's operation, which is set to begin production in Q2 2024 after a hiatus of nearly a century.  

Kipushi Mine first commenced operations in 1924 and was considered the world's richest copper mine in that period.