Feb 10, 2021

Gemcorp and Endiama Mining launch diamonds joint venture

Diamonds
Angola
Africa
Dominic Ellis
2 min
The agreement covers developing the Mulepe diamond deposit in Lunda Norte, Angola and is Gemcorp’s first diamond mining investment in Sub-Saharan Africa
The agreement covers developing the Mulepe diamond deposit in Lunda Norte, Angola and is Gemcorp’s first diamond mining investment in Sub-Saharan Afri...

Gemcorp and Endiama Mining have entered into a joint venture to develop the Mulepe diamond deposit in Lunda Norte, Angola.

The partnership foresees Gemcorp will own 75% of the business and Endiama 25% and alongside funding the pilot project, the independent investment management firm will oversee operations.

At full production, the project is expected to process around 3 million tons of kimberlite per annum with a total capital investment estimated at over US$150m. 

The Mulepe site contains significant kimberlite and alluvial deposits and would provide employment and commercial opportunities in the remote region. Workers will be requied in management, mining, plant and camp operations.

Atanas Bostandjiev (pictured), CEO, Gemcorp - which has $1.75 billion in assets currently under management - said the partnership is another example of its belief in Angola’s economic future. "Our experience in project funding and development, coupled with our commodity trade expertise in Sub-Saharan Africa, means we are well placed to deliver on this project," he said. 

Ganga Júnior, President of Endiama, said the partnership marks another important step towards diversifying the Angolan diamond sector across the entire value chain. 

"We are pleased to be working with Gemcorp on what will be its first diamond exploration activity in the country – it is a project that will certainly contribute to the development of Angola, representing a strong sign of the opening of the sector to foreign direct investment."

The Mulepe project is Gemcorp’s first investment in diamond mining in Sub-Saharan Africa, and has a strong track record of successfully managing large-scale projects in Angola, including the Cabinda Oil Refinery. The first 30,000bpd phase should be ready by late 2021.

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May 7, 2021

Lithium producers bullish as EV revolution ramps demand

Lithium
Electric Vehicles
Albemarle
SQM
3 min
Lithium producers are drawing optimism from rising prices for the electric vehicle battery metal

Rising demand for lithium is stoking prices for the electric vehicle battery metal, fueling long-delayed expansions that still may not produce adequate supplies that automakers need to meet aggressive production plans.

Lithium

Growing industry optimism from higher lithium prices is a change from last year when funding for mines and processing plants dried up during the pandemic.

Albemarle Corp, Livent Corp and other producers are scrambling to make more lithium, but some analysts worry the recent price jump will not spur a big enough expansion to meet a planned wave of new EV models by mid-decade.

Since January, General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation Co, along with other automakers and battery parts manufacturers, have said they will spend billions of dollars on EV plants.

U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed spending $174bn to boost EV sales and infrastructure. The European Union has similar plans, part of a rush to catch up with global EV leader China.

Those moves have helped an index of lithium prices jump 59 percent since April 2020, according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a commodity pricing provider.

The rising demand “reflects what feels like a real and fundamental turning point in our industry,” said Paul Graves, chief executive of Livent Corp, which supplies Tesla Inc. On Monday, it said it would more than double its annual lithium production to 115,000 tonnes.

Graves warned, though, that “it will be a challenge for the lithium industry to produce sufficient qualified material in the near and medium term.”

Albermarle

Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer, aims to double its production capacity to 175,000 tonnes by the end of the year when two construction projects are complete. Albemarle's Q1 profit beat expectations thanks to rising lithium prices. Chile’s SQM, the No. 2 producer, said its goal to expand production of lithium carbonate by 71 percent to 120,000 tonnes should be complete by December.

Australia’s Orocobre is paying $1.4 billion for smaller rival Galaxy Resources, a strategy designed to boost scale and help it grow faster in regions closer to customers.

“The next few years are going to be critical in terms of whether there’s enough available lithium supply, and that’s why you’re starting to see commodity prices start to ramp,” said Chris Berry, an independent lithium industry consultant.

The price gains helped Albemarle and other major producers, including China’s Ganfeng Lithium Co and SQM, post big gains in first-quarter profit and boost forecasts for the year.

Even China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp, saddled with debt due to years of low lithium prices, signaled that recovering demand should help it swing to a profit this year.

Electric Vehicles

Forecasts call for demand for the white metals to surge from about 320,000 tonnes annually last year to more than 1 million tonnes annually by 2025, when many automakers plan to launch new EV fleets, according to Benchmark.

Still, demand is expected to outstrip supply in 2025 by more than 200,000 tonnes, so lithium prices may need to rise to encourage producers to build more mines. That could boost the prices consumers pay for EVs. “Companies across the lithium-ion supply chain are in the best position they’ve been in for the last 5 years,” said Pedro Palandrani of the Global X Lithium & Battery Technology ETF , which has doubled in value in the past year.

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