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Tracking greenfields exploration and mining projects across Africa

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Tracking greenfields exploration and mining projects across Africa
In the pit at Barrick’s Lumwana copper mine in Zambia. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica.

Tracking greenfields exploration and mining projects across Africa

Several exploration and development projects are forging ahead.

In our latest article in a series of WhyAfrica reports focussing on African exploration and mining projects that we follow, we look at copper and cobalt in Zambia and Angola, graphite in Tanzania and lithium in Ghana.

Ivanhoe Mines’ exploration in Angola (Tracking greenfields exploration and mining projects across Africa)

International mining giant Ivanhoe Mines announced late last year that the company has been granted 22,195km2 of greenfield prospecting rights for mainly copper and cobalt exploration in the Moxico and Cuando Cubango provinces of Angola.

A mining investment contract (MIC), officially granting the prospecting rights, was signed with the Angolan National Agency for Mineral Resources during the 2023 Angolan Mining Conference held in the capital city Luanda in November 2023.

The greenfield area is covered by Kalahari sand and Karoo volcanics across much of the permitted area, similar to Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula licenses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) making conventional exploration techniques less effective.

Other majors like Anglo American and Rio Tinto are also investing in greenfield exploration activities in the region. Ivanhoe’s exploration team have been conducting reconnaissance visits during the first quarter of 2024 (Q1) across the licences to scout out access, logistics and potential locations for a central camp.

Expansion at Barrick’s Lumwana copper mine in Zambia (Tracking greenfields exploration and mining projects acorss Africa)

Drilling results at Barrick’s Lumwana copper mine in Zambia has given the mining team confidence that they will be able to develop the Chimiwungo super pit and continue to improve production rates. The drilling programme focussed on the Kamisengo satellite target.

The expansion and development of the Chimiwungo super pit (currently Barrick mines from three different pits) will increase the life of mine by more than 20 years.

Lumwana is in the process of a massive expansion drive, which will nearly double its production and transform it into one of Barrick’s Tier One assets. Not only that, but Barrick is on the hunt for more copper mines. First Quantum Minerals could be a possible target.

Barrick has identified expansion opportunities at Lumwana through an updated geological model. The Lumwana Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) is progressing in line with plans to transform its long-term copper profile through the delivery of an envisioned super pit, while drilling at the Kababisa prospect highlights potential mining flexibility through higher grades.

The PFS is looking at ways to increase the capacity of Lumwana’s processing plant. The mine is currently treating about 27 tonnes per annum (tpa) and the PFS is looking at 18 increasing that to more than 50 million tpa, through the construction of a twin processing plant.

KoBold Metals’ copper discovery in Zambia (Tracking greenfields exploration and mining projects across Africa)

KoBold Metals, backed by billionaires Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, said at Mining Indaba, held in Cape Town, South Africa earlier this year that its Mingomba discovery in Zambia is the country’s largest copper find in a century and that it plans to fast-track its development.

KoBold made the discovery by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reassessing historic data. This potential discovery shows the critical importance of reassessing historic data and combining it with AI methodologies when exploring for significant deposits in highly prospective regions.

According to Mining.com the California-based startup has been drilling at its Zambian permit for a little over a year. The potential of the discovery compares to that of the Kamoa-Kakula mine, owned by Ivanhoe Mines and China’s Zijin Mining.

This operation, located just across the border in the DRC, produced almost 400,000 tonnes of copper last year. Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said that, according to government figures, Mingomba will produce “well over” 500,000 to 600,000 tonnes once at full tilt.

In comparison, Escondida mine in Chile, the world’s biggest copper operation, produced more than a million tonnes of the metal last year and Grasberg, in Indonesia, churned out about 770,000 tonnes of copper in 2022.

KoBold bought into the project two years ago, via a joint venture with its existing owners – Australian private equity firm EMR Capital and Zambia’s state-owned mining investment vehicle ZCCM-IH (LON: ZCC). (Source: Mining.com).

Walkabout Resources’ Lindi Jumbo Graphite project in Tanzania (Tracking greenfields exploration and mining projects across Africa)

ASX listed Walkabout Resources’ Lindi Jumbo Graphite project in Tanzania is on track to start producing graphite early in 2024 as China’s export controls on the material used in batteries, fuel cells and nuclear reactors kick in.

Construction at the Lindi Jumbo Graphite Mine is progressing rapidly and the mine is expected to deliver its first shipment to the market as China’s recently announced measures to control the export of graphite from that country takes effect soon.

Companies that intend exporting graphite from China will require special export permits for three grades of graphite. China introduced the export controls on national security grounds.

According to China’s commerce ministry the move on graphite was conducive to ensuring the security and stability of the global supply chain and industrial chain, and conducive to better safeguarding national security and interests.

The export restrictions present an opportunity for graphite projects like Walkabout Resources to enter new markets and benefit from the positive price momentum.

According to Walkabout construction and commissioning activities at Lindi is now almost 100% complete. Following the successful feed of graphite ore through the crushing circuit in early January, the company is gearing up to move to the next stage of wet commissioning, with first ore feed through the entire mine processing circuit on track for completion within the next month.

Atlantic Lithium’s Ewoyaa lithium project in Ghana (Tracking greenfields exploration and mining projects across Africa)

Dual listed Atlantic Lithium remains on track to break ground at the Ewoyaa project later this year.

Last month the government of Ghana granted the company a Mining Lease for Ewoyaa and so demonstrated its support for the advancement of the project towards production as the country’s first lithium mine.

Further milestones to achieve before the company can start construction at Ewoyaa incudes EPA approval, parliamentary ratification of the Mining Lease and granting of the mine operating permit.

The company will deliver Ghana’s first lithium mine, and recently announced the completion of Stage 1 of the company’s competitive offtake partnering process to secure funding for a portion of the remaining 50% available feedstock from Ewoyaa.

According to Neil Herbert, Executive Chairman of Atlantic Lithium, Ewoyaa is one of the very few near-term spodumene producers with available offtake yet to be committed. “The ongoing partnering process that we are running with Macquarie has highlighted the significant interest in Ewoyaa’s feedstock, despite the backdrop of weakened lithium prices.”

Prior to the commencement of the offtake partnering process, Herbert says that Atlantic Lithium received strong interest from a number of parties across the battery minerals space, including Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMSs), battery gigafactories, traders, and chemical processors.

Ewoyaa is set to be Ghana’s first lithium-producing mine and is being advanced to production under an agreement with Piedmont Lithium. The project is well located to excellent infrastructure and is proven to produce a spodumene concentrate product suitable for conversion to be used in EV batteries.

The company has achieved excellent results from its ongoing drilling programme at Ewoyaa as well.

The final assay results from drilling completed in 2023 delivered impressive intersections, providing further confidence in the growth potential of the current 35.3Mt at 1.25% Li2O Resource at Ewoyaa.

“These results are from the new mineralised area at the Dog-Leg target, located on the northern tip of the Ewoyaa main deposit where drilling has returned multiple high-grade and broad near surface extensional intersections, including 69m at 1.25% Li2O from 45m. This follows the intersection of 83m at 1% Li2O from 36m in hole at Dog-Leg previously.

“On the back of the encouraging results delivered from drilling completed in 2023 at Dog-Leg, we are excited to have recently completed a further 874m of resource extension drilling at the target as part of our resource growth programme for 2024,” says Herbert.

If you want more information about the mining projects that we track and the reasons why we track them, please head to the WhyAfrica online shop on our website and purchase a digital copy of the 2024 WhyAfrica Hawks Eye Report, or give us a call, we’re always willing to share information.  

WhyAfrica will visit a number of early-stage exploration and mining projects during our annual WhyAfrica Road Trip through Africa in July and August. This year, we will travel overland through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania. We will attempt to visit more than 30 project sites in a range of economic sectors and interview close to 40 different stakeholders in less than 40 days. In the process we will travel more than 9000km. Give us a call if you would like to be part of our 2024 WhyAfrica Road Trip.   

African mining projects with an impact

Tracking greenfields exploration and mining projects across Africa
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African mining projects with an impact

 

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