Australian Mines: Potentially the world’s largest scandium producer
Australian Mines Ltd, listed...
An emerging Australian base metals mine exploration company announces a new COO to cement its plans to be a global leader.
Australian Mines Ltd, listed on the ASX, has a strategic mission to become a “global leader in scandium production”.
Scandium-reinforced aluminium allows represent a “new generation” of high performance alloys that have been proven to display numerous advantages over high strength aluminium alloys.
According to data obtained from the company, the market demand for scandium is anticipated to grow by at least 800% over the next 10 years.
This is where the Sconi Project comes into play.
Australian Mines entered a joint venture agreement with Metallica Minerals in 2016, to work on the Sconi Project.
Encompassing five deposits, the sconi project as a total of 12 million tonnes of scandium oxide in resources.
The Sconi project also has a combined nickel and mineral resource of 89 million tonnes, which translates into 514,000 tonnes of contained nickel metal and 54,000 tonnes of contained cobalt metal.
Through a pre-feasibility study, Australian Mines has confirmed that the project is an economic and technically viable mining project, with the capability to produce 50 tonnes of high purity scandium oxide per year, over a 20-year mine life.
This works out at an average of $59 million of net income, with interest, taxes depreciation and amortization added back to it.
“A mining operation at Sconi has the potential to become the world’s largest surce of this critical metal,” said the company in a statement.
Just last week the company announced that it had appointed a new Chief Operating Officer in Tim Maclean, who brings with him over 25 years’ experience in building and operating nickel processing plants for some of the world’s biggest miners, including Vale, Rio Tinto and Alcoa.
Managing Director Benjamin Bell said, “We are very pleased to have attracted an operations executive of the calibre and experience of Tim Maclean. I look forward to working closely with Tim as we develop our portfolio of world class assets, with an initial focus on the successful delivery of the demonstration plant and production of saleable cobalt sulphate, nickel sulphate and scandium oxide samples to progress our negotiations with potential customers.”
“Tim will provide valuable input as we continue our Bankable Feasibility Study on Sconi and prepare for a Pre-Feasibility Study on Flemington, following the recent completion of the extension drilling program that was designed to better define the project’s cobalt and nickel resource, as well as potentially upgrade and extend the existing scandium resource.”
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.