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18 May | Lithium

Chile green-lights mining tax reform to boost government revenue

Boric announces national lithium strategy. Credit: Glenn Arcos/AFP via Getty Images.

Legislators in Chile’s lower house of Congress on Wednesday gave final approval for a much-anticipated mining tax reform. It now requires just the signature of the country’s President Gabriel Boric to come into law, Reuters reports. 

Boric has already publicly endorsed the reform, which will require large copper and lithium producers operating in the country to pay more taxes and royalties to the government. Lawmakers approved modifications to the bill by a majority vote of 101 to 24. Last week, the Senate moved to endorse the reform. 

“With this legislation, we seek to avoid what happened many times with our country’s natural riches: they were exploited, they disappeared, which left very little for the country and its future development,” Chilean finance minister Mario Marcel told reporters after the vote. 

The new legislation will raise the top tax rate to almost 47% for companies that produce more than 80,000 tonnes of fine copper per year. It also adds a 1% ad valorem tax on copper sales from companies that sell over 50,000 tonnes of fine copper, and an 8%-26% tax, depending on the producer’s operating margin. 

The Sociedad Nacional de Minería de Chile (Sonami), an association of private mining companies, said via Reuters that it was relieved to see the measure approved because it ends uncertainty over potential future laws.

18 May | Russia

Deal with Russia causes management walkout at Kazakh mining giant

The sale of a stake in the Budenovskoye mine in Kazakhstan to Russian power company Rosatom has resulted in a walkout by senior staff members. The uranium mine is expected to become the world’s biggest source of the metal.   

The deal was pushed by Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund, despite it going against the wishes of the executives of state-owned mining company Kazatomprom.   

The company’s operating and financial review for 2022, published in April, makes brief mention of a change in ownership but does not offer details on the sale of a stake to Rosatom. Around 20% of the energy in Russia is provided by Rosatom.  

Sources close to the matter told reporters that Kazatomprom has lost two CEOs, a CFO, a chief operating officer and a chief commercial officer in less than 18 months because of the deal. The sale went through at the end of last year.   

Kazatomprom said in a regulatory filing that the executives left for personal reasons.

8 May | Safety

Mine fire in Peru kills 27

At least 27 people have died in a fire at a small gold mine, operated by Yanaquihua, in Arequipa, Peru. 

As per data from the Peruvian energy and mines ministry, the incident is said to be the country’s single deadliest mining accident since 2000, reported Reuters

After a preliminary probe, the incident was found to have been set off by an explosion triggered by a short circuit. 

The fire broke out in the early hours of 6 May, igniting the mine’s wooden supports, reported AFP. Reports said that the mine’s owner Yanaquihua has operated mines in the country for 23 years. 

A statement from the owner said that 175 workers had been evacuated. The victims were stationed almost 100m underground when the blaze occurred, according to local media. 

Overall, 38 people died in different mining accidents across Peru last year.

12 May | Lithium

Sibanye-Stillwater launches Finland’s Keliber lithium refinery

South Africa-based gold miner Sibanye-Stillwater has launched its Keliber lithium refinery at Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP) in Ykspihlaja, Finland. 

Earthworks on the lithium refinery began in March 2023. Of the total investment, approximately €231m is to be invested this year. Entailing a €588m investment, the required funding for this year is in place and the remaining project capital is expected to be procured through debt. 

The refinery is expected to supply the first integrated, regionally produced lithium into the European green energy ecosystem.  

Sibanye-Stillwater owns a 79% stake in the Keliber lithium refinery project, while state-owned mining development company Finnish Minerals Group owns 20%.

Keliber owns several mineral deposits in Central Ostrobothnia, Finland. The reserves at the location amount to 12.7 million tonnes. The refinery secured a final environmental permit last August. It is expected to begin lithium hydroxide production in 2025.

16 May | Investment

Ma’aden and Ivanhoe Electric form JV to explore minerals in Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabian mining company Ma’aden and US exploration company Ivanhoe Electric has agreed to form an equally-owned joint venture to undertake exploration programmes. 

According to the agreement, Ma’aden will acquire a 9.9% equity stake in Ivanhoe Electric by making an investment of $126.5m in the company. The deal gives Ma’aden access to Ivanhoe Electric’s geophysical survey technology Typhoon, which will accelerate the exploration of copper, gold, silver and electric metals in Saudi Arabia. 

Ma’aden’s exploration programme is supported by Saudi’s Vision 2030 program, under which mining has been positioned as a third pillar of the economy. 

According to its new corporate strategy, the company aims to grow tenfold by 2040 and move into strategic minerals to fuel the growth of downstream industries. 

Ma’aden will buy three new Typhoon machines from Ivanhoe. The former will deploy the machinery across 48,500km² of unexplored land in the country. The Typhoon can detect the presence of sulphide minerals that contain copper, nickel, gold and silver, as well as water and oil.