Newsletter 8-04-2024

Newsletter – 8.04.2024

8/04/24                                      WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
  • Zambia’s copper output may rise to 1mt by 2026 as mines expand
  • Saudi Arabia invites global firms to join mining exploration program
  • Peruvian gold mine’s power infrastructure attacked for the 14th time in two years
  • Saudi Arabia plans to invest $1 billion in a mining project in Pakistan
  • Uranium stocks soar on bullish Goldman Sachs call, Kazakhstan flooding
  • Morocco expects more EV battery investments, minister says
  • Dry Andes more sensitive to lithium mining than previously thought – study

Zambia’s copper output may rise to 1mt by 2026 as mines expand

Zambia’s copper output could rise to about 1 million tons by 2026, boosted by investment in expanding production at mines including those owned by First Quantum Minerals, Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said on Friday.

First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper mine

Production of copper, key to Zambia’s economic growth, has been gradually declining in Africa’s second-largest producer of the metal even as the government targets lifting output to about 3 million tons within the decade.

Copper output slumped to 698,000 tons in 2023 from 763,000 tons the previous year, data from the Zambia Chamber of Mines showed.

Production could also get a boost from Mopani Copper Mines, which recently secured a new investor, and the revival of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) after the state resolved an ownership dispute with Indian miner Vedanta Resources.

“The two mining giants (Mopani and KCM) were out of the equation, now they are back,” Musokotwane said on Lusaka-based radio station Radio Phoenix.

Ongoing investments in expanding output at First Quantum’s Kansanshi mine are also expected to support the rise in metals output, Musokotwane said.

Canadian rival Barrick Gold said last year it was spending about $2 billion to drive up output at its Lumwana mine in Zambia to about 240,000 tons of copper by 2028.

The United Arab Emirates’ International Resources Holding (IRH) pledged to invest $1.1 billion to expand output at Mopani mines after buying a 51% stake in the copper assets previously owned by Glencore.

Saudi Arabia invites global firms to join mining exploration program

RIYADH: The Saudi mineral sector is poised for expansion with the introduction of the Mining Exploration Enablement Program, inviting global firms and explorers to participate in the initiative. 

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources and the Ministry of Investment have extended invitations to international companies in the sector to register for the scheme, according to a statement. 

The program aims to boost exploration activities, optimize the value extracted from the mining sector, and expand the Kingdom’s survey potential by focusing on uncharted territories.

Additionally, it seeks to develop local talent, enhance skills and capabilities in the country's mineral exploration field, and advance geological knowledge by providing innovative data conforming to international standards, thereby fostering investment opportunities.

This initiative aligns with Saudi Arabia’s efforts to enhance and develop the mining sector, aiming to transform it into the third pillar of national industries in line with the goals of Vision 2030.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Industry clarified that participation in the project entails meeting several criteria, including a focus on exploring strategic minerals classified under Category A in the mining investment system. These minerals include copper, lithium, nickel, gold, and iron.

Peruvian gold mine’s power infrastructure attacked for the 14th time in two years

The Poderosa gold mine in northwestern Peru experienced yet another attack by illegal miners, who this time around used dynamite to take down two high-voltage towers that supply energy to the operation, located in the province of Pataz.

In a communiqué, Minera Poderosa said that the criminals broke into the mine’s pits right after knocking down the towers.

“This attack occurred despite there being a State of Emergency and a contingent of more than 300 members of the National Police and the army in the area. This new attack occurred shortly after the police evacuated 150 troops from specialized units that had been providing services in Pataz, who had not yet been replaced,” the release states.

The mining company noted that although the deployment of law enforcement officers in Pataz has been a positive step, their presence has not been matched with any strategy to deter illegal miners from carrying out their activities and attacking legal operations.

In Poderosa’s view, illegal miners feel protected by the Comprehensive Mining Formalization Registry (REINFO) and the recent repeal by the Peruvian Congress of the regulations that sought to halt their modus operandi.

Saudi Arabia plans to invest $1 billion in a mining project in Pakistan

Saudi Arabia is planning to invest up to $1 billion in Pakistan's Reko Diq mining project in Chagi district of Baluchistan province. This was reported by the pan-Arab broadcaster "Al Arabiya" citing sources from the Saudi Ministry of Finance, according to which the shares of Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (Ogdcl) and Pakistan Petroleum Company Limited (PPl) will be sold to Riyadh. The investment could be announced next month.

Uranium stocks soar on bullish Goldman Sachs call, Kazakhstan flooding

Uranium stocks are having their best run in months on a combination of flooding in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest producer of the nuclear fuel, and a burst of bullish coverage from banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The sector has been a bright spot for energy investors, with uranium spot prices jumping some 40% over the last year as the world’s largest miner, Kazatomprom, has struggled to lift production and as the US considers a ban on Russian supplies. The supply concerns have cropped up as countries around the world are turning back to nuclear power as a way to cut emissions.

But this week, the stocks saw an added influx of demand. The $3.2 billion Global X Uranium ETF rose about 6%, for its best week since early February. The fund has benefited from gains in NuScale Power Corp., a nuclear power company trying to build small modular reactors, and small-cap miners including Mega Uranium Ltd. North America’s largest uranium miner, Cameco Corp., climbed 14% this week after Goldman initiated it with a buy rating.

Morocco expects more EV battery investments, minister says

The Moroccan government is in talks to attract more electric battery manufacturers as it seeks to adapt its growing automotive sector to an increasing demand for electric vehicles, industry and trade minister Ryad Mezzour said.

The automotive sector tops Morocco’s industrial exports at $14 billion in 2023, up 27%.

Morocco is home to production plants by Stellantis and Renault with an annual combined production capacity of 700,000 cars as well as a cluster of local suppliers.

Last week, the Moroccan government gave the green light for Chinese electric battery maker BTR New Material Group to build a factory near Tangier to produce key component cathodes.

“This is the first memorandum of understanding that we transformed into an investment agreement,” Mezzour said in an interview with Reuters.

Another Chinese manufacturer, CNGR Advanced Material, is expected to build a cathode plant in Jorf Lasfar, 100 kilometres south of Casablanca, where the government has allocated 283 hectares to electric battery industries.

“BTR and CNGR or other plants will be able to supply gigafactories in Morocco and abroad,” he said.

Last year, the Moroccan government and China’s Gotion agreed to look into setting up an electric vehicle battery plant in the kingdom with up to $6.3 billion in eventual investment.

Gotion project is advancing with discussions on the footprint and location, Mezzour said.

“This will be a potential gigafactory,” he said, referring to large-scale battery production plants.

Dry Andes more sensitive to lithium mining than previously thought – study

US-based researchers conducted the widest-ever hydrological tracer analysis of the Dry Andes region in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia and found that the area is more sensitive than previously thought to activities such as mining, which may disrupt the presence, composition and flow of both surface and subsurface water.

Water in the Andes

In a paper published in the journal PLOS Water, the team explains that until now there has been no reliable, comprehensive understanding of exactly how the hydrological systems in extremely arid landscapes work, which means that environmental regulators don’t have the information they need to best manage the mining industry and the transition to more environmentally sustainable future.

“We’ve been thinking about water all wrong,” Brendan Moran, the paper’s lead author and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in a media statement. “We typically assume that water is water, and manage all water the same way, but our research shows that there are actually two very distinct pieces of the water budget in the Dry Andes, and they respond very differently to environmental change and human usage.”

Water is crucial for lithium mining, which isn’t often found in solid form and tends to occur in layers of volcanic ash—but it reacts quickly with water. When rain or snowmelt moves through the ash layers, lithium leaches into the groundwater, moving downhill until it settles in a flat basin where it remains in solution as a briny mix of water and lithium.


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