January’s top news stories

Shalini Nair 6 February 2018 (Last Updated February 7th, 2018 10:01)

A consortium started research project funded by the UK Government to identify lithium mineral deposits in Cornwall using satellites, and Liberty House made a binding offer to acquire Rio Tinto’s aluminum smelter in Dunkerque, France. Mining-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from January 2018.

New UK-funded study to use satellites for lithium discovery

A consortium of 11 organisations started a new research project funded by the UK Government to identify lithium mineral deposits in Cornwall using satellites.

Named the ‘Satellite Applications Catapult’, the project is evaluating the possibility of detecting a lithium ‘fingerprint’ from space by studying satellite images of vegetation and minerals on the ground.

The partners intend to integrate the data from the study with geological information to create a ‘prospectivity map’ that is expected to enable identification of indicators of geological structures, which may host lithium in waters deep below the surface.

GFG’s Liberty House to buy Rio Tinto’s Dunkerque smelter

The industrial arm of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, Liberty House made a binding offer to acquire Rio Tinto’s aluminum smelter in Dunkirk, northern France, for $500m subject to final adjustments.

Rio Tinto’s smelter in Dunkerque is claimed to be the largest aluminium producer in Europe.

In relation to the bid, Rio Tinto will launch a consultation process, in accordance with French law, with employees, relevant European works councils, and other stakeholders.

The sale of Rio Tinto’s aluminium smelter is subject to satisfactory completion of these consultations, and expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year.

The new proposal also includes plans for the modernisation of the site.

GFG Alliance to buy Glencore’s Tahmoor mine in Australia

GFG Alliance’s SIMEC Mining division signed an agreement to acquire Glencore’s Tahmoor metallurgical coking coal mine in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

The acquisition is in line with GFG Alliance’s transformation plan for its flagship Liberty OneSteel Whyalla Steelworks in South Australia that is designed to optimise and expand production.

In August last year, the company acquired Australian mining and steel company Arrium, which includes manufacturing, distribution and recycling, Whyalla steelworks and mining divisions.

Located around 75km south-west of Sydney, the Tahmoor mine has an annual production output of around two million tonnes per annum.

AMEC urges Australia to take $2tn downstream lithium opportunity

Western Australia’s Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) urged the national government to expand the estimated $2tn lithium value chain within the next two years.

AMEC has released a report by Future Smart Strategies, titled ‘A lithium industry in Australia: A value chain analysis for downstreaming Australia’s lithium resources’.

According to the report, Australia produces more than 60% of the world’s lithium, a key ingredient in electric vehicles and batteries for smartphones.

Western Australia Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said: “I welcome AMEC’s report and acknowledge the importance of developing further downstream processing opportunities in WA, which will help diversify our economy.

Anglo American Platinum to complete sale of Rustenburg’s mines

South African firm Anglo American Platinum met all required criteria regarding the sale of its interest in Union Mine and MASA Chrome Company to a subsidiary of Siyanda Resources.

In February last year, Anglo American Platinum subsidiary Rustenburg Platinum Mines entered a sale and purchase agreement (SPA) to sell 85% interest in Union Mine and a 50.1% interest in MASA Chrome.

With all conditions having been met, Siyanda will take over ownership, control, and management of the sold resources from 1 February this year.

Mountain Province to gain Kennady Diamonds for $142.4m

Mountain Province Diamonds entered a definitive arrangement agreement to acquire all the issued and outstanding common shares of Kennady Diamonds in a deal worth C$176m ($142.4m).

Under the deal, Kennady shareholders will receive 0.975 Mountain Province common shares for each Kennady unit.

After completion of the transaction, Mountain Province shareholders will hold a 76% stake in the combined company, while the remaining 24% interest will be with Kennady shareholders.

Mountain Province interim president and CEO David Whittle said: “The Kennady assets are a strong complement to Mountain Province’s interest in the Gahcho Kué project, significantly adding to our attributed resource base.

Leagold Mining makes offer to acquire Brio Gold for $264m

Canadian firm Leagold Mining revealed plans to make an offer to acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Brio Gold in a deal worth $264m.

Under the offer, Leagold will issue 0.922 of a share to holders of each Brio unit.

The proposed transaction comes following Leagold’s acquisition of Los Filos mine in Mexico in April last year from Goldcorp.

Leagold Mining CEO Neil Woodyer said: “The combination with Brio represents a unique opportunity to acquire a portfolio of producing assets with a meaningful growth profile.

“The combined operations are expected to produce approximately 450,000oz in 2018, with the potential for growth to over 700,000oz in 2020 at all-in sustaining costs in the mid-$8,001s.”

Lundin Gold receives $300m finance facility to develop Fruta Del Norte

Lundin Gold has gained a $300m senior secured project finance facility through commitments from a syndicate of lenders to fund development and construction of its Fruta del Norte gold project in Ecuador.

The syndicate of lenders includes ING Capital, Société Générale, Caterpillar Financial Services, The Bank of Nova Scotia and KfW IPEX-Bank.

Lundin Gold president and CEO Ron Hochstein said: “Together with the project financing package from Orion Mine Finance Group and Blackstone Tactical Opportunities, this facility further reflects a strong endorsement of the project and confidence in the Lundin Gold team.

“We look forward to working with this supportive group of lenders as we continue to develop Fruta del Norte. The project remains on schedule and on budget to achieve first gold production by the end of 2019.”

Australian miner Tiger Resources to sell DRC assets for $260m

Australia-based copper miner Tiger Resources entered a share purchase agreement (SPA) and royalty deed with Sinomine Fuhai (Hong Kong) Overseas Resource Investment to sell its assets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for $260m.

The deal will see the sale of Kipoi Project, Lupoto Project and La Patience permit in DRC.

Under the agreement, the total consideration of $260m will include cash payments of $250m and the assumption of liabilities by Sinomine HK amounting to $10m.

Since February last year, Tiger Resources is under voluntary suspension of work due to financial difficulties.

Tiger Resources intends to use the initial cash instalment of $230m to repay its outstanding banking liabilities.

EU database provides market information on valuable materials

A consortium of expert European organisations launched the world’s first database of resources in e-waste, scrap, vehicles and mining waste, providing valuable market data for the mining industry.

The Urban Mine Platform (urbanmineplatform.eu) presents the flows of precious and base metals and critical raw materials in products across the EU, and follows them throughout all the stages of their life cycle.

It was created by 17 European partners in project ProSUM (Prospecting Secondary Raw Materials in the Urban Mine and Mining Wastes), with the primary focus of providing a knowledge base on secondary critical raw materials (CRMs) and assisting the promotion of a circular economy across the EU.