Industry NEWS

18 February 2019

Civmec to construct lithium hydroxide plant for Albemarle

Albemarle Lithium has awarded a contract to engineering company Civmec to build a lithium hydroxide plant in Western Australia (WA).

The new plant will be in the Kemerton Strategic Industrial Area, 160km south of Perth, near Bunbury.

Initially, the facility will consist of three production trains. Each train will be capable of producing 20,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of lithium hydroxide.

The plant has a potential for further expansion to five trains, which is expected to take the ultimate site production to 100,000tpa by 2025.

Civmec CEO Patrick Tallon said: “We are delighted to have been selected by Albemarle as a significant construction partner for this exciting project.

“This two-year project is ideally suited to our operations, fabricating, modularising and site erecting steelwork for this key Western Australian development.

“This project reflects the growing confidence in the WA resource industry, highlighting a bright future for the coming years.”

Under the contract, Civmec will provide structural, mechanical and piping services for the Hydromet and final product, reagents and utilities for trains 1, 2 and 3.

Selected components for the on-site plant erection will be fabricated and pre-assembled at the company’s Henderson facility.

Fabrication works will start with immediate effect. Site works are expected to begin during the middle of this year and will continue until March 2021.

In November last year, Albemarle secured environmental approval from the Western Australia Government for the Kemerton lithium hydroxide manufacturing plant.

The plant will be fed by spodumene ore concentrate from Talison Lithium’s Greenbushes mine.

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18 February 2019

Handa Mining to construct copper processing plant in South Africa

Handa Mining has signed a joint venture (JV) agreement with O’Okiep Copper Company (OCC) and SHIP Copper Company (SHIP) to fund and construct a copper processing plant in South Africa.

The proposed plant will recover copper from broken rock lying on the surface of properties held by OCC and SHIP in the northern Cape Province, 600km north of Cape Town.

Handa can determine whether to proceed within a period of 60 days. If the company decides to go ahead, it will issue an aggregate of three and a half million common shares to OCC and SHIP.

One and a half million common shares will be issued immediately and the remaining two million following two years of production from the copper processing plant.

Handa will receive 65% of any profits generated for the first 24 months of production from the plant. After this period, the company’s share in any profits would fall to 33%.

It will remain the owner and operator of the plant. The project owners will be responsible for all infrastructure and regulatory permits that are needed for the plant operation.

Completion of the transaction is dependent on the Handa board deciding to proceed with the transaction and obtaining predominantly debt funding for the project.

In October last year, the company acquired the Mejillones Phosphate Project in Chile as part of its revitalised strategy. The project comprises three exploration and eight exploitation concessions, where the company is currently evaluating the development strategy.

The company’s JV agreements are aimed at securing further exposure to surface mining opportunities that are in the pre-production or production stage.

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15 February 2019

Arch Coal starts new longwall coal mine development in US

Arch Coal has started development of a new longwall mine in Barbour County, West Virginia, US, which will have the capacity to produce three million tonnes of High-Vol A coking coal a year.

Coal produced at the new Leer South mine complex will be sold principally into the 300 million metric tonnes per annum (Mmtpa) seaborne coking coal market. The mine will employ nearly 600 employees once fully operational.

Arch Coal CEO John Eaves said: “With the addition of Leer South, Arch will greatly enhance its portfolio of world-class coking coal assets, and cement our position as the premier global producer of High-Vol A coking coal.

“We believe there is significant, unfulfilled global demand for High-Vol A coking coal generally, and our Leer brand specifically, and are already engaged in discussions with leading steel producers around the world that are eager to secure additional volumes of our Leer-brand products.”

Over the next three years, the company expects to invest between $360m and $390m to develop the mine. The longwall is scheduled to start up in late 2021.

High-Vol A coking coals have high fluidity and superior plasticity and are capable of facilitating the inclusion of a range of coking coals in a steel mill’s coke blend.

According to Arch Coal estimates, the global supply of High-Vol A or equivalent coals total less than 25Mtpa.

The company also plans to convert its Mountain Laurel operation from longwall to room-and-pillar mining at the beginning of next year and move its longwall equipment to Leer South. Following the transition, Mountain Laurel expects to produce 1.3Mtpa of High-Vol B coking coal.

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15 February 2019

Dam wall collapse in Zimbabwe mine kills 23 gold miners

A collapsed dam wall in a mine in Battlefields, located 200km from Harare, Zimbabwe, has resulted in the deaths of 23 gold miners.

The illegal miners had entered shafts on land owned by RioZim and another firm in search of gold, but they were trapped as the collapse flooded the shafts and tunnels.

BBC quoted RioZim spokesperson Wilson Gwatiringa as saying that the miners illegally gained access to shafts that were closed at the mine, which was not operational. Gwatiringa added that the company was working with government officials in the rescue efforts.

Leading the rescue efforts, Civil Protection Unit (CPU) has said that none have been rescued yet.

CPU director Nathan Nkomo told the BBC that following the dam wall collapse, the mine shafts that measure up to 50m-deep were filled with water.

Zimbabwean daily newspaper The Herald quoted the area administrator Fortunate Muzulu as saying: “Chances of rescuing any survivors are very slim.”

Muzulu told the state-owned newspaper that Zimplats will provide bigger pumps to drain water to retrieve bodies. Gwatiringa told media sources: “Most of the shafts are more than 20m-deep and the water levels have been rising. We are currently in the process of pumping out water to rescue and search for more bodies.”

Official data revealed that last year small-scale gold producers such as illegal miners accounted for nearly 60% of the 33 tonnes of gold produced in the country.

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14 February 2019

Midland Exploration starts drilling programme on Jouvex project

Midland Exploration has started a drilling programme totalling more than 1,800m to test new geophysical targets identified on the Jouvex project in Canada.

The programme to be carried out on Jouvex comprises 268 claims, covering a total of 150km² and is slated to begin this month.

The property covers the extension over a strike length of more than 6km of the Casa Berardi-Douay-Cameron deformation zone, which hosts the Casa Berardi mine.

Last year, Midland completed two OreVision IP surveys totalling 35km in the north-west and north-east parts of the Jouvex property. The surveys were aimed at targeting conductors and historic gold occurrences in volcanic rocks of the Orvilliers-Desmazures Group.

On the north-east grid, the first drill hole will test at a vertical depth of 400m, the extension of a mineralised zone intersected in the historic KMA-88-71 drill hole. This drill hole will also test a chargeability IP anomaly of moderate intensity.

Another three drill holes will test three different IP anomalies characterised by moderate to strong chargeability combined with high resistivity. To date, the company has not drill-tested these three IP anomalies.

Jouvex is a 50/50 joint venture project with Soquem, a subsidiary of Ressources Québec. Having participated in more than 350 exploration projects, Soquem also contributed to major discoveries of gold, diamonds, lithium and other mineral commodities.

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14 February 2019

Sierra Metals gets EIA approval for Youricocha tailings expansion

Sierra Metals’ Peruvian subsidiary Sociedad Minera Corona has secured approval for its environmental impact assessment (EIA) study to expand the tailings deposition facility at the Yauricocha mine.

The approval was given by SENACE (National Environmental Certification Service), which evaluates natural resources and production projects in Peru. Last December, Peru rejected the EIA study for the deposition facility, which further delayed the project.

Sierra Metals president and CEO Igor Gonzales said: “Having now received approval for the EIA study at Yauricocha, we can now proceed to obtain a construction permit for the next phase of the tailings deposition facility and to commence planning for an expanded waste rock facility.

“Once those steps have been completed, we would then be able to complete a final submission of an ITS document, which is required for any potential expansion of the mine. The company remains committed to strict compliance with regulatory permits in Peru and Mexico in the development and organic growth of all its operating mines.”

The extension of the tailings facility is expected to allow for a 20% expansion of mine output at Yauricocha to 3,600 tonnes per day (tpd).

The underground polymetallic Yauricocha mine uses the sublevel block caving and cut-and-fill mining methods. It has been in continuous operation since 1948 and has an expected mine life of 8.6 years.

Last month, Sierra Metals completed the initial expansion of its Bolivar mine in Mexico, which is set to increase the production rate from 3,000tpd to 3,600tpd in the first quarter of this year.

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13 February 2019

Report shows Vale “knew” that Brumadinho dam was at risk of collapse

Brazilian miner Vale was aware that the dam at its Brumadinho mine in the Minas Gerais region had a heightened risk of collapse as early as last October, according to an internal report seen by Reuters. The dam ruptured on 25 January killing at least 165 people, with many more still missing.

Reuters has now reported that the previously unseen document entitled “Geotechnical Risk Management Results” placed the dam within the “attention zone.” As such, it suggests that “all prevention and mitigation controls” should be applied.

The document is the first evidence that Vale, the world’s biggest iron ore miner, had any concerns about the safety of the dam. The company had previously stated that an independent audit by German firm TÜV SÜD had declared that the dam met legal requirements when undertaken last September. The audit did however suggest 17 improvements, all of which Vale says have been implemented.

“There is no known report, audit or study with any mention of an imminent risk of collapse at Dam 1 in the Córrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinho,” Vale said in a statement.

“To the contrary, the dam had all its certificates of safety and stability attested to by local and foreign specialists.”

However, the report seen by Reuters puts the chance that the dam could collapse at one in 5,000. Under company guidelines, this is twice the maximum risk level allowed. It suggests that the collapse of the dam could cost Vale as much as $1.5bn and take more than a hundred lives.

Of the 57 other dams covered in the report, a further nine have been listed as being in the “attention zone.”

The cause of the dam collapse is still unclear, although some experts have suggested that liquefaction may be to blame. This could potentially be supported by the report, which lists static liquefaction and internal erosion as the most likely cause of failure.

Vale has acknowledged the existence of the report.

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12 February 2019

Polymetal to start construction of POX-2 project

Polymetal International is set to start construction of the POX-2 project in Russia, following the completion of a recent feasibility study (FS).

The FS showed that the second POX line would increase the value of Polymetal’s refractory reserve base, consisting of about 55% of total ore reserves.

The POX facility will process concentrates from the company’s mines located at Kyzyl, Nezhda, Mayskoye and Voro.

Polymetal International Group CEO Vitaly Nesis said: “POX-2 leverages our core technical capabilities and creates substantial value. It also fully de-risks our business model by eliminating dependence on concentrate off-take markets. Emerging trends in the global gold mining industry make POX-2 a crucial element of the company’s long-term strategy.”

The POX-2 project is expected to generate economic benefits as all refractory concentrates will be retained for in-house processing.

It would also result in the incremental annual production of about 30,000oz to 35,000oz of gold from the same amount of feedstock.

Pre-production capital expenditures for the POX-2 project in 2019-2023 are estimated to be $431m.

The design throughput capacity of the facility is 250-300 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) of concentrate and maximum sulfide sulfur processing capacity is 48ktpa.

Canada-based Hatch has been selected to carry out the basic engineering, detailed engineering and POX procurement support. It will also supply custom-made equipment for high-pressure and acidic processing areas. Polymetal Engineering will look after other processing areas, general site layout and infrastructure.

Detailed engineering and construction of the POX-2 Project is expected in the second quarter of this year, and all permits are set to be received in the first quarter of 2020. The total design capacity of the POX-2 plant will be 250-300kt of concentrate annually.

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