Stellar Diamonds Raises 1.85M to Begin Trial Mining at Baoule
Diamond development company Stellar Diamonds plc is making huge strides with its Baoule kimberlite diamond project in Guinea, West Africa.
The company has announced It is focused on fast tracking trial mining at the five hectare Baoule kimberlite pipe and will use its existing in-country mining plant and equipment for the trials.
It expects plant commissioning by the end of August and its objective is to generate early cash flow and determine the diamond grades and value.
Historical data suggests grades of between 13 and 40cpht and diamond value in excess of US$200/ct. The site has internal resource target (non JORC) of three million carats to 300m depth.
The diamondiferous Baoulé pipe is located in the heart of the Aredor diamond district of Guinea which has historically yielded very large, high value diamonds from alluvial mining.
Stellar Diamonds Chief Executive, Karl Smithson, said: “We have already made progress establishing the local infrastructure for the project and we are in the process of relocating our significant earth moving and kimberlite processing plant, already located in Guinea, to the Baoulé pipe.
“We expect to commission the processing plant in August 2014 and our recently completed financing means that Stellar is fully funded to move Baoulé into the trial mining stage and in-turn cash flow."
“We are also fully funded to continue bulk sampling and diamond value modelling for the definitive feasibility study underway at our 1.1 million carat Tongo kimberlite project in Sierra Leone.
“I look forward to reporting on developments from both of our exciting diamond developments over the coming months in what has already been a highly active year for Stellar.”
Stellar is in the process of dismantling and relocating its 100 tonne per hour DMS processing plant which was used for mining at the Mandala alluvial diamond project in Guinea.
In addition, the five tonne per hour DMS sampling plant located at the Droujba diamond project in Guinea has already been dismantled and is about to be transported to Baoulé.
The Company has retained ADP Metco to erect the plants in such a way that they will be combined to make a fully integrated kimberlite processing plant with a capacity of 100 tonnes an hour.
A company will shortly be appointed to undertake an independent environmental impact assessment at the Baoulé project, ahead of the commencement of trial mining and in accordance with governmental requirements.
Road upgrading, camp and plant infrastructure is well advanced and repairs and maintenance of selected mine fleet earth moving vehicles has commenced. This will enable a kimberlite stockpile to be established while the plant construction is on-going.
The expected timetable is that the processing plant will be ready to commission and process initial diamondiferous and weathered kimberlite material by the end of August 2014. Once the plant is operating efficiently then trial mining production will commence.
Stellar is an AIM quoted (AIM: STEL) West African focused diamond development company which is also progressing the 1.1 million carat Tongo Dyke-1 resource in Sierra Leone through a definitive feasibility study.
In addition, Stellar holds the three million carat Droujba project in Guinea and continues to pursue both diplomatic and legal channels to ensure the proper reinstatement of its Kono licences in Sierra Leone.
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.