Thiess achieves milestone winning first contract in the Americas
Australia-based mining contractor Thiess has been awarded its first contract in the Americas, agreeing to a $137 million deal for the Encuentro Oxides open pit copper mine in Chile. The four-year deal, which will be delivered in partnership with Emeco, will see Thiess commence pre-strip operations at the site beginning July 1 2015.
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For Thiess, the newly awarded deal will also serve as a catalyst to expanding its presence in North and South America, building on experience through previous operations in Asia, Africa and Australia.
“This project, the first venture for Thiess’s New Markets division, marks a significant milestone for Thiess as a global mining business,” said CIMIC Group Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Marcelino Fernandez Verdes.
“Through Thiess’s expert contract mining capabilities we plan to further diversify into new, reliable markets, including those in the Americas, to service the needs of clients such as Antofagasta Minerals (AMSA).”
According to Thiess Managing Director Michael Wright, the company will seek to leverage the Encuentro project to further grow and develop their presence globally.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with AMSA on their Encuentro Oxides Project. This announcement reflects positive alignment between Thiess’s global mining capabilities and the South American marketplace. We will seek to leverage this project as a first step for further growth in Chile and globally.”
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“Expanding Thiess’s strong mining service capabilities into the Americas, and leveraging our strong base in Australia and Asia, allows us to offer mining solutions to clients in the resource rich regions of North and South America, in addition to Africa where we currently work,” said Wright.
Located in the Antofagata region of Chile, the Encuentro Oxides mine is expected to produce an estimated 50,000 tons of copper cathode per year. Production is slated to commence sometime in 2016.
Gerald Group resolves iron ore dispute with Sierra Leone
Gerald Group, the US commodity trader, will pay Sierra Leone $20mn and cede a 10% stake in an iron ore project as part of the resolution to a nearly two-year dispute that led to the shutdown of production, the two sides revealed.
Gerald's wholly-owned subsidiary SL Mining filed for arbitration in August 2019 over a royalty payment dispute and suspended the Marampa mine the following month. Sierra Leone's government responded by cancelling its mining licence.
As part of the agreement signed on Friday, Sierra Leone will take a non-dilutable 10% stake in a new company that will replace SL Mining and resume operations at Marampa by June 1, Gerald said in a statement.
Gerald will make two $10mn payments this year and will have the immediate right to ship its current stockpile of about 707,000 tonnes of iron ore, it said.
Both sides will withdraw their legal claims before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the statement added.
Gerald’s chairman and CEO Craig Dean commented: "I am delighted that we have been able to resolve our differences and have a fresh start and new beginning with the government of Sierra Leone."
Sierra Leone's Mines Minister Timothy Kabba told a news conference on Tuesday that the agreement was a milestone for the country.
"Whatever the pain we may have borne or dreaded throughout these two years ... this outcome justifies our action," he said.
Gerald estimates that Marampa holds about 1 billion tonnes of iron ore with a potential lifespan of 30 years.
Back in 2019, Dean spoke with Mining about the development of Marampa and commented: "SL Mining offers a substantial opportunity for Gerald Group as our Marampa mine in Sierra Leone is producing two million tonnes per annum of high grade iron ore in the first phase of development, with expansion possibilities of greater than six million tonnes per annum of high-grade iron ore during its operational life. If you analyse the iron ore market it has transformed, even from a couple of years ago when prices were very low. Now prices have stabilised we’re in a favourable position with our first shipments leaving for China.
"Our goal is to make ‘Marampa Blue’ an internationally recognised premium grade iron ore brand. We intend to expand the delivery of high-grade 65% iron ore concentrate to markets in Europe and Africa.”