Largo Resources Looks to Put Vanadium on the Map
Canadian miner Largo Resources has been quietly gearing up for production at its Maracas vanadium project in Bahia, Brazil. The company, which specializes in vanadium – a unique metal used to make steel stronger and lighter, expects the project to capture 7.5 percent of the global market within a year.
"It is one of the first vanadium mines that will be going into production in a long time," said president and CEO Mark Brennan. The company has invested $300 million in the mine, which is located in the Maracas region.
“Of every commodity, there is one best deposit and for vanadium it is Maracas. It is the richest, highest-grade vanadium deposit in the world.”
The Maracas deposit has a proven and probable reserve of 13.1-million tons, grading 1.34 percent vanadium pentoxide, 24.6-million tons, grading 1.11 percent in the measured and indicated categories, and 30.4-million tons, grading 0.83 percent in the inferred category.
Largo Resources expects the mine to reach an output rate of 9,600 t/y of vanadium pentoxide within the next 12 months. A second phase of expansion will see output rise to 14,400 t/y within the next three years, giving the company the ability to supply 10 percent of the global demand.
"Asia will be the fastest-growing market for vanadium, led by China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia," said Brennan.
"India is producing low-quality steel, but they are the world's second largest steel producer after China. Over a period of time, we expect India's consumption of vanadium to also increase.”
While the Maracas project took nearly seven years to develop, Brennan and company expect big things in the horizon.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.