Vale invests $6 million in Boston Metal to support new tech
Vale has bought a US$6 million minority stake in Boston Electrometallurgical Company (Boston Metal) to promote the development of a technology focused on steel decarbonization.
It follows Vale and Energy Impact Partners joining Boston Metal's Series B fundraising, following a $50M close announced in January, in which BHP and Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures were also investors, according to Bloomberg.
Boston Metal has a diverse shareholder base which includes venture capital funds, mining companies and private investors.
Founded in 2012 by professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Professor Antoine Allanore, Dr. Jim Yurko and Donald R. Sadoway), its objective is to develop an innovative technology called Molten Oxide Electrolysis (MOE), which reduces metal oxides such as iron ore with the use of electricity.
This MOE process will enable the reduction of iron ore for the production of steel with zero CO2 emissions. It produces metal with no carbon, no blast furnaces and no emissions, except oxygen.
The investment in Boston Metal is in line with Vale’s 'New Pact with Society' strategic pillar. The company is committed to leading the transition to net-zero carbon mining and fostering a portfolio of high-quality products and innovative technologies.
Vale recently signed a settlement deal to pay 37.7 billion reais ($7 billion) to the state of Minas Gerais, following the collapse of a dam two years ago that devastated the city of Brumadinho and killed more than 270 people, according to reports.
Deloitte notes that the industry is at an important juncture and needs to "rebuild trust". Mining holds the key to a lower carbon future through many of the minerals it mines, yet the industry is capital starved.
"It has the potential to create widespread meaningful employment, yet it’s often not the first choice for talent. And while mining companies have played a significant role though the COVID-19 crisis by flying in personal protective equipment (PPE), leveraging their healthcare infrastructure, and keeping workers safe, many governments continue to look towards the industry for additional taxes and royalty payments," it notes.
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 set to deliver six million tonnes 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.”