Australian mining company Magnum Mining & Exploration has entered a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Saudi Arabia-based Middle East for Metallic Industrial (Midmetal) with the aim of producing pig iron.

The partnership will focus on developing Magnum’s magnetite mine and processing plant at its Buena Iron Project in Nevada and HIsmelt facilities in the US.

As per the MoU, Midmetal will become an offtake customer of the magnetite concentrate produced at the Buena Vista mine and beneficiation plant, which is in development.

The agreement aims to develop green pig iron production projects across North America, Saudi Arabia and other regions by implementing the new HIsmelt technology, which claims to deliver pure pig iron using a direct iron reduction method that uses biochar sourced from renewable biomass as the iron-reducing agent.

Simultaneously, the companies plan to develop biochar production to turn the HIsmelt pig iron production 100% green through the use of sustainable biomass.

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Magnum Mining & Exploration CEO Neil Goodman said: “This tie-up with Midmetal is an exciting development in the Buena Vista and West Virginia story. Saudi Arabia’s diversification out of petroleum presents a compelling opportunity in established markets. Magnum looks forward to working with Midmetal to develop a mutually beneficial relationship.”

The Buena Vista iron deposit is located 160km from Reno, Nevada. Discovered in the late 1890s, the mine has produced around 900,000 tonnes of magnetite ore with an estimated grade of 58% iron.

Magnum states that the project has an indicated resource of 151 million tonnes (mt) of iron at 19% with a recovery rate of 23.2% and has an inferred resource of 81mt at 18% with a 22% recovery rate.

The total resources are estimated to be 232mt of iron at 18.6% with a recovery rate of 22.6%.

The company claims to have realigned the project from being a simple mining, concentration and exporting model to a green pig iron producer using the HIsmelt technology and biochar sources.

In July, Magnum announced it would conduct a fresh technical feasibility test on the project to bring it into production as soon as possible.