Newsletter 26-02-2024

Newsletter – 26.02.2024

26/02/24                                      WEEKLY NEWSLETTER


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  • KEFI Gold and Copper discovers 3rd deposit in Saudi Arabia
  • Zijin to expand Tibet copper mine expected to be world’s largest
  • Posco to import African battery graphite to cut China reliance
  • Saudi PGM smelter proposal may test SA Govt’s loyalties
  • Saudi Lime Seals Strategic Deal to Acquire Astra Mining, Bolstering Its Market Position
  • First Quantum inks $500 million copper deal with Jiangxi amid Panama mine struggles
  • Alcoa makes $2.2 billion bid for Australian partner Alumina

KEFI Gold and Copper discovers 3rd deposit in Saudi Arabia

Gold and copper exploration and development company KEFI Gold and Copper announced on Monday the discovery of a third copper-gold-zinc-silver deposit in the Hawiah Copper-Gold district by its Gold & Minerals (GMCO) joint venture.

Copper sheets are seen in a deposit inside Barrick's Zaldivar copper mine at the foothills of the Antofagasta region.

The company, listed on the AIM sub-market of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), said in a statement that GMCO discovered another Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide (VMS) deposit, at Abu Salal, which becomes the third discovery in the Hawiah Copper-Gold district following the original Hawiah discovery in 2019, and the subsequent Al Godyer discovery in 2022.

The Hawiah discovery ranks in the top three of base metals projects in Saudi Arabia.

The Abu Salal VMS deposit is located 50km south of GMCO’s Hawiah Copper-Gold project (Hawiah) in the central portion of the Wadi Bidah Mineral Belt (Wadi Bidah), straddling GMCO’s Abu Salal North and South exploration licences.

Harry Anagnostaras-Adams, KEFI’s Executive Chairman commented: "KEFI’s first-mover advantage, through GMCO, has ensured the Company has secured some of the most prospective licences in Saudi Arabia and we believe we will continue to make significant additional discoveries, as well as expanding our existing discoveries, through our active exploration programmes, which have been running at a rate of approximately $20 million per annum for the past few years."

He noted that Ivanhoe Electric, through its joint venture with the state-owned mining company (Ma’aden), has committed to over $60 million of exploration in the kingdom, and picked up licences in and around Hawiah not held by GMCO, confirming the district as amongst their top four exploration priorities in Saudi Arabia.

GMCO is a joint venture between KEFI Gold and Copper and Saudi-based ARTAR (Abdul Rahman Saad Al-Rashid Co).

Zijin to expand Tibet copper mine expected to be world’s largest

If a third expansion of Julong is approved, the operation will be the world’s largest single copper mine.

China’s Zijin Mining Group announced on Friday that it is going ahead with the second phase of a major expansion at its Julong copper project in Tibet, after receiving government approval.

The permit will allow Zijin to increase the mine’s capacity to 350,000 tonnes per day by 2025. Once the Julong expansion is completed, the asset will become China’s largest single copper operation, with ore mining and processing volumes of more than 100 million tonnes a year.

Total investment required for the project has been pegged at about 17.5 billion yuan ($2.43 billion), Zijin said. It added it’s already planning to further increase production and capacity at the Tibet mine.

If the third phase of expansion is approved by local authorities, Julong could raise annual output to about 200 million tonnes, making it the largest single copper mine in the world, Zijin said.

The company, China’s largest gold miner and one of the country’s top copper producers, took control of the Julong project in 2020 and had it up and running only 18 months later.

Posco to import African battery graphite to cut China reliance

Construction of the Molo graphite mine in Madagascar.

Posco Future M Co., which produces battery materials for companies including General Motors Co., is preparing to import graphite from Africa to reduce its dependence on supplies from China.

“Graphite is the most troubling part when making batteries,” chief executive officer Kim Jun-hyung told reporters on Thursday. “We are importing 100% of natural graphite from China. But we are planning to bring natural graphite from Africa, such as Madagascar, and process it in South Korea.”

The move comes after China tightened export rules for graphite used for electric vehicle batteries in December, hitting Korean battery makers which rely heavily on the Chinese materials. South Korea imported 93% of its natural graphite and 95% of its synthetic graphite from China last year, customs data showed.

African-mined graphite could help Posco Future meet requirements under Washington’s Inflation Reduction Act, which is encouraging carmakers to be less reliant on Chinese components, Kim said. The company has been making synthetic graphite with needle cokes, a byproduct from steel plants, since February, and plans to ramp up that investment, he said.

The Korean producer’s sister company, Posco International, signed a memorandum of understanding with Canada’s NextSource Materials Inc. in August 2023 to jointly invest in a graphite mine in Madagascar.

Saudi PGM smelter proposal may test SA Govt’s loyalties

PLATINUM Group Metals, a Canadian company better known by its Toronto trading code, PTM, has submitted a proposal to the government that will force it to weigh its desire for minerals beneficiation against its loyalty to the expansion of the Brics partnership, which originally consisted of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Discussions held by the departments of mineral resources & energy and trade, industry & competition with PTM have been under way for a year about whether to support construction of a platinum refinery in Saudi Arabia, says the firm’s CEO, Frank Hallam.

Without the processing facilities, PTM’s proposed R11bn Waterberg PGM Project in Limpopo may not get off the ground — at least for the foreseeable future.

Saudi Lime Seals Strategic Deal to Acquire Astra Mining, Bolstering Its Market Position

Saudi Lime Industries Company (SLIC) makes a significant leap forward with the acquisition of Astra Mining Limited, a move that promises to transform the industrial sector in Saudi Arabia. Find out more about this strategic maneuver and its anticipated impact on SLIC's growth and market reach.

In a strategic move that underscores the dynamism of the industrial sector in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Lime Industries Company (SLIC) has stepped into the spotlight with its latest acquisition of Astra Mining Limited Company (AML). This maneuver, not just a simple transaction but a significant leap forward, was officially announced with a conditional binding agreement involving a total maximum transaction amount of SAR 164.60 million. The deal, set to reshape the contours of the mining and lime production industry in the region, has been the talk of the business community since its announcement on February 21, 2024.

First Quantum inks $500 million copper deal with Jiangxi amid Panama mine struggles

First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) said on Wednesday it would get a US$500-million shot in the arm from Jiangxi Copper, the Canadian miner’s largest shareholder, that will help it to shore up finances.

The three-year, prepay arrangement with Jiangxi will see First Quantum deliver 50,000 tonnes of copper anode per year to the Chinese miner. The material will be extracted at the Kansanshi mine in Zambia and is payable at market prices, the company said.

"This arrangement is a reminder of the strategic nature of copper as supply challenges abound across the sector, First Quantum said in a statement. “Constructive discussions with our lenders for an amendment and extension of our loan facilities, which are an important component to our fulsome solution, are well-advanced and there is a high degree of alignment among all parties."

The company, which was forced to shut down in December its flagship copper mine in Panama, has quickly seen its financial situation deteriorate. Its exposure to nickel, which prices have dropped to two-year lows, has added extra pressure.

Together with reporting a net loss for the fourth quarter, First Quantum recorded an impairment charge of US$900 million, which includes US$854 million at its Ravensthorpe nickel mine, due to significant margin pressure triggered by the battery metal’s weak prices and high operating costs.

Alcoa makes $2.2 billion bid for Australian partner Alumina

US aluminum producer Alcoa Corp. made a $2.2 billion offer to acquire its Australian joint-venture partner Alumina Ltd. to consolidate ownership of key upstream assets with long-term demand for the metal forecast to rise.

The offer marks a premium of about 13% to Alumina’s closing share price on Friday. The Australian company’s board plans to support the deal, under which Alumina shareholders will receive Alcoa stock, if the sides get to a definitive agreement following further discussions, it said in an exchange filing on Monday.

Alumina’s shares rose as much as 9.3% in early trading Sydney, and were up 6.6% at A$1.09 as of 12:50 p.m. local time.

Buying its junior partner would give Alcoa full control of Alcoa World Alumina & Chemicals, the world’s largest producer of the semi-processed form of the metal. The offer comes about five months after Alcoa shook up its management amid struggles with operational and permitting setbacks in Australia for its bauxite mining business. It also announced plans in January to halt production at its Kwinana alumina plant in Western Australia to cut costs.

Aluminum has a wide variety of uses including window frames and aeroplane parts. Over the longer term, consumption is expected to be supported by the transition to cleaner sources of energy including electric vehicles and wind and solar power.


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