Fortescue Metals Group Reveals Huge Increase in Iron Ore Deposit in Pilbara
Fortescue Metals Group – the Perth-based company and world’s fourth biggest iron ore miner – has announced a dramatic increase in the amount of iron ore it had previously estimated at the Greater Solomon deposit in the Pilbara region.
The new discoveries include “bedded mineralization in Brockman and Marra Mamba Iron Formations, Channel Iron Deposits and Detrital Iron Deposits.”
The reported addition boosts the mineral resource 77 percent – 1.6 billion tons – to a total of 2.66 billion tons. Specifically, the Firetail mine, Kings Valley mine and other places of resource for the company’s Solomon hub have grown to more than 4.5 billion tons. The mineral resource at the Eliwana-Flying Fish Project, another of Fortescue’s, has also been increased by 116 million tons, to a total of 740 million tons.
These discovery successes can be largely attributed to the exploration program that Fortescue founded in 2003. Another drilling program is set to be conducted around the nearby Chichester Range in June and July of this year.
Shares in the current gloomy market leapt 3.4 percent on Tuesday, leading experts to believe that investors may once again be attracted to the stock.
Just a day ago, the company’s shares dropped 4.6 percent to an 8-month low; Fortescue’s share price has fallen 20 percent this year. News that the iron ore price fell below the “psychological floor” of $100 per ton for the first time in two years has driven the dive in prices. The two-year low is attributed to the uncertainty of the Chinese steel output and an increase in supply.
Fortescue will need to look towards the potential strike by tugboat workers at Port Hedland in the coming days. The strike could cut 10 million tons from the miner’s shipments this year, further affecting their stock.
British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.