Latest News

17 May

US Department of Defense funds critical minerals projects


Fortune Minerals has secured a $6.3m (£8.59m) grant from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to enhance cobalt production capabilities in North America.

The funding, part of the Defense Production Act’s (DPA) Title III programme, is aimed at advancing the NICO project in Canada, a critical minerals asset expected to produce an average of 1,800 tonnes (t) of cobalt, 47,000oz of gold, 1,700t of bismuth and 300t of copper annually.

This development will establish the NICO project as a reliable North American source of cobalt sulphate for the burgeoning lithium-ion battery industry. The DoD grant will support metallurgical testing, secure necessary authorisations and update feasibility studies for the project. This collaboration is part of the US-Canada Critical Minerals Supply initiative and could increase cobalt and bismuth production.

In a separate development, Lomiko Metals has received $8.35m from the US DoD and C$4.9m from Natural Resources Canada for the La Loutre natural flake graphite project in Quebec.

21 May

Rio Tinto announces force majeure for Queensland alumina shipments

Rio Tinto has declared force majeure on shipments of alumina from its refineries in Queensland, Australia, Bloomberg reported. This declaration comes as the company faces a shortage of gas needed to power its operations, impacting its ability to produce the raw material used in aluminum manufacturing.

The Yarwun refinery and Queensland Alumina, a joint venture with Russia’s United Co. Rusal International, are the affected facilities. Sources have reported that the plants are struggling to maintain normal operations due to the regional gas deficit.

In March this year, Rio Tinto acknowledged the potential impact of fires in Queensland on the gas pipeline system that serves its plant. Rio Tinto said the supply interruption will only affect third-party sales of alumina, while its own aluminum production is expected to continue without disruption. 

21 May

Gibb River Diamonds secures three mining leases in WA

Gibb River Diamonds (GIB) has received three mining leases, marking a significant step towards reviving the Ellendale diamond project in Western Australia. The leases encompass the primary sections of the historic E4 and E9 pipes, as well as the extensively bulk-sampled E12 alluvials. 

The grant of these leases is a critical milestone in efforts to re-establish diamond production at Ellendale, a project that GIB reclaimed full ownership of from Burgundy Diamonds in March 2023. It is set to aid the ongoing permitting work for mining.

Progress at the Ellendale project is ongoing, with a Heritage Clearance Survey scheduled for the first week of June. The project has been one of the largest diamond producers globally in the past. Production included the annual supply of more than 50% of the world’s Fancy Yellow diamonds.

21 May

SDIC in advanced discussions to buy Thai potash mine stake

China’s SDIC Mining Investment is in advanced negotiations to acquire a significant minority interest in Asia Pacific Potash, reported Bloomberg citing sources privy to the development.

Asia Pacific Potash holds exploration and production rights in north-east Thailand. A potential transaction could see SDIC acquiring up to 49% from Italian-Thai Development for at least $400m, the sources said. A deal between the parties is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, although the discussions have not yet concluded, and there is a possibility that they could still fail.

Italian-Thai Development has been considering the sale of its 90% stake in Asia Pacific Potash, with potential buyers including Chinese entities. In April, the company’s executive vice-president confirmed that the company was looking to expedite asset sales to manage its debts. 

17 May

UK’s Horizonte Minerals enters administration

UK-based mining company Horizonte Minerals has been placed into administration following its inability to secure financing for the completion of its Araguaia Nickel Project in Brazil. The move comes after extensive discussions with secured creditors and potential investors regarding alternative restructuring solutions to optimise recovery for the company’s creditors.

Horizonte’s board has appointed FRP Advisory as administrators, tasked with evaluating the company’s position to ensure the best possible outcome for its creditors. This aims to preserve the value of the business for creditors and other stakeholders.

During the administration process, the joint administrators will continue discussions with subsidiary directors and key stakeholders to explore potential restructuring solutions. These discussions are intended to protect the company’s subsidiaries, which are not being placed into administration.