30 October | Safety
Fire at ArcelorMittal’s coal mine in Kazakhstan kills 45 people
A fire at the Kostenko coal mine in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan has killed 45 people, the Guardian has reported.
The incident took place on 28 October at the mine, which is operated by ArcelorMittal Temirtau, the local unit of steelmaker ArcelorMittal. It is believed there was a methane blast. At the time of the incident, 206 of 252 people at the mine were evacuated safely.
Kazakhstan’s emergency services recovered the bodies of 44 miners and a rescue operation is under way for the last missing miner.
The incident at the Kostenko mine follows a series of incidents at ArcelorMittal-operated mines, which prompted the nationalisation of ArcelorMittal’s local affiliate. Following the latest accident, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered his cabinet to cease potential investment cooperation with the miner.
30 October | Operations
Stornoway temporarily halts operations at Canadian diamond mine
Canada-based diamond exploration company Stornoway Diamonds has temporarily ceased operations at its Renard mine in the James Bay region of north-central Québec.
The decision to place the Renard mine in a care-and-maintenance phase is effective immediately. The move is expected to preserve the assets at the mine and allow a rapid return to normal operations.
Stornoway said its long-term financial situation has been impacted by surging uncertainty around diamond prices in the short- and medium-term, and a significant price drop of the resource on the world market.
The mine started commercial production in 2017. It has an average production capacity of 1.6 million carats per year over an initial 14-year mine life.
25 October | Investment
Australia to invest another $1.27bn on critical minerals
The Australian Government has agreed to further invest A$2bn ($1.27bn) in critical minerals to support the transition towards net zero emissions and boost the economy.
With the additional funding, the government’s investment in the Export Finance Australia-managed Critical Minerals Facility has now increased to A$6bn.
Through this commitment, the capacity of the Critical Minerals Facility can now double Australia’s capability to finance critical minerals mining and processing. This facility is a funding support for mining projects that are aligned towards Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy 2023-2030.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Resources Minister Madeleine King announced the additional investment after the inaugural meeting of the Australia-United States Taskforce on Critical Minerals.
30 October | Regulation
Arc and Anglo meet regulatory conditions for Zambia JV
UK-based metals exploration company Arc Minerals has announced the fulfilment of most of the regulatory conditions for its joint venture (JV) with a unit of Anglo American, looking into to copper interests in Zambia.
The share subscription in the JV has also been concluded, with Anglo American picking a 70% stake.
Unico Minerals, which is part of Arc Minerals, has acquired the remaining 30% stake.
Arc Minerals owns 67% of Unico Minerals while the remaining 33% interest is held by Kopara Investments.
Arc announced plans for the JV with Anglo American in May 2022, under which the latter would have a 70% stake in the JV in return for up to $88.5m in aggregate investment, including up to $14.5m in cash. The two parties signed the binding JV deal in April 2023 and drilling at one of the key JV licences has already started.
30 October | Exploration
Adelong secures two Brazil Lithium Valley exploration permits
ASX-listed lithium producer Vulcan Energy Resources has secured up to A$200m ($126.8m) in a conditional, non-binding letter of support from Export Finance Australia (EFA).
The financing will support phase one of Vulcan’s zero-carbon lithium project in Germany's Upper Rhine Valley.
For the first phase, project-level debt and strategic equity financing will be initiated in the middle of next month, once the bridging study is done. This phase’s financing process will run concurrently with public funding applications in Germany.
The company has also secured in-principle government-backed support from several export credit agencies (ECA), including those of France, Canada and Italy. This support is subject to customary conditions.
After the fulfilment of the customary conditions and financing terms, the letter of support from Australia can be converted into a binding agreement.