Skillings Mining Review April 2022

Page 1

2022 APRIL IN REVIEW

111/04

24

Russian Ukraine War Impacts Mining Supply Chains

10

42

Iron Ore Miners Revitalizing

After riding the highest of highs and lowest of lows in 2021, several developing producers were able to recommence mining activities in 2022 thanks to a first-quarter improvement.

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30


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THE LEAD

10 Discover the Largest Critical Mineral Mines of America

PROFILES IN MINING

30 Interview with Joseph Sam, Chief Business Office. Exclusive Quarries P Limited

Experience, Easy Entry: Australians can now earn more than $160,000 a year

STATISTICS

46 February 2022 crude steel production

47 crude steel production December 2020

SPECIAL FOCUS

18 $144 Million Given by Biden-Harris: Paving Good-Paying Union Salaries: Reviving Coal Groups

SURFACE MINING

06 Honduras Stops Open-Pit Mining

20 Stabilize Prices in China: Supporting Iron Ore Market Management

42 Iron Ore Miners Revitalizing UNDERGROUND MINING

05 The State of North Dakota has been awarded $2.8 Million to Reclaim and Repurpose Abandoned Coal Mines

08 Report World Bank Group : “Minerals for Climate Action”

22 Epanko Graphite Project in Tanzania: EcoGraf Chooses Vermeer as a New Companion to Assess Surface Mining Technology

24 Russian Ukraine War Impacts Mining Supply Chains

26 Iron Ore Price Up as a Consequence of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

27 Russia-Ukraine War at Play Ferrexpo Share Drops by 70%

28 Thousands of Roles, No www.skillings.net | 3


2022 APRIL IN REVIEW

PUBLISHER

2022 APRIL VOL.111. NO.04

CHARLES PITTS 111/04

24

Russian Ukraine War Impacts Mining Supply Chains

10

42

Iron Ore Miners Revitalizing After riding the highest of highs and lowest of lows in 2021, several developing producers were able to recommence mining activities in 2022 thanks to a first-quarter improvement.

Interview with Joseph Sam, Chief Business Office. Exclusive Quarries P Limited

30

Skillings Mining Review of CFX Network LLC, publishes comprehensive information on global mining, iron ore markets and critical industry issues via Skillings Mining Review Monthly Magazine and weekly. SMR Americas, Global Skillings and Skilling Equipment Gear newsletters.

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The State of North Dakota has been awarded $2.8 Million to Reclaim and Repurpose Abandoned Coal Mines Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) stated that the US Department of the Interior (DOI) has awarded North Dakota $2,829,000 to reclaim and rehabilitate abandoned coal mines.

T

he Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) awarded the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation grant, which is in addition to funding from

the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. OSMRE awards AML funding to coal-producing states and tribes based on a formula set by Congress that considers previous and current coal output. OSMRE has distributed billions in

funding to states and tribes through the AML Reclamation Program. Over 45,000 abandoned underground mine shafts and openings have been closed, over 960 miles of unsafe highwalls have been removed, and over 850,000 acres of congested streams and land have been restored thanks to the monies.

www.skillings.net | 5


Honduras Stops Open-Pit Mining The government of freshly elected Honduran President Xiomara Castro has declared open-pit mining to be hazardous to the environment and people and has announced that permits for such operations will be canceled. The announcement, made by the Marxist leader, was greeted with delight by human rights activists and environmentalists but also created uncertainty in the business. According to a statement from the Ministry of Mining and the Environment, "all Honduran land has been proclaimed free of open-pit mining."

Honduran President Xiomara Castro

"Extractive exploitation permits have been revoked because they... endanger natural resources and public health, and impede reach to water as a human right," the statement continued. The statement did not say if this applied to new or existing open-pit or surface mining permits. When Castro took office on January 27, she stated that one of her first priorities would be to abolish open-pit mining, as well as to combat crime, poverty, and corruption, which she claimed were rampant under her predecessor, Juan Orlando Hernandez. The ministry also promised to act "quickly" to protect regions of "high ecological significance" and ensure that they benefit the general public. The prohibition was supported by the Honduran office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which said it was based on "the principle of climate justice and the conservation of natural resources, public health, and access to water as a human right." The declaration, however, was condemned by Santos Gabino Carvajal of the National Association of Miners as "ambiguous" and perhaps in breach of mining legislation.He added the measure will "destroy the potential of progress" since it "prohibits even the mining of stone and sand for construction." The group intends to approach the government for talks.

6 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022


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Report World Bank Group

“Minerals for Climate Action” According

to a new

World Bank Group

analysis titled

"Minerals for Climate Action: "The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition," mineral production might increase by approximately 500 percent by 2050 to fulfill the growing demand for clean energy technology.

I

t is estimated that more than 3 billion tonnes of minerals and metals will be necessary to install wind, solar, and geothermal power, as well as energy storage, in order to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. This follows the World Bank's 2017 research, "The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals

8 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

for a Low-Carbon Future," which stated that in order to achieve a lower-carbon future, demand for a number of essential minerals and metals to produce cleaner energy technologies would skyrocket. To put it another way, the clean energy transition will be mineral-intensive.

While the increased demand for minerals and metals creates an economic potential for resource-rich developing countries as well as private sector companies, considerable hurdles are anticipated to arise if the climate-driven clean energy transition is not managed ethically and sustainably. The Climate-Smart Mining Initiative aims to help resource-rich developing nations benefit from rising demand for minerals and metals while also ensuring that the mining sector is handled in a way that is environmentally and climate-friendly. By increasing the technical help and investments in resource-rich developing countries, the idea conjuncts the eco friendly extraction and processing of minerals and metals to ensure supply for clean energy technologies by minimizing the social, environmental, and climate footprint throughout the value chain of those materials.


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Rare earths and China's global dominance of their production, for example, or exciting metals that have moved to stardom due to their uses in new technologies such as quantum computing, smartphones, renewable energy, and electric vehicles are typically thought of as obscure elements cloaked in geopolitical intrigue.

10 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022


Teck's zinc and lead smelting and refining complex is pictured in trail, b.C., In 2012. Darryl Dyck/ the canadian press

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Teck Resources Ltd.'s Red Dog Mine in Northwest Alaska has become the most significant essential minerals operation in the US. This is in terms of quantity and value of the materials produced at this world-class base, precious, and critical minerals operation after zinc was added to the list of minerals and metals critical to the United States. The fact that Red Dog produces germanium, a semiconductor metal important to ultrafast computers and communications, is not the reason for its ascension to America's top dog in critical minerals production. Instead, the Northwest Alaska business is best known for being the world's second-largest producer of zinc, a metal that has previously been regarded as far more basic.

The US Geological Survey placed zinc among the 50 mined elements on its new list of minerals and metals deemed vital to America's economic well-being and national security after examining the data, consulting with other federal agencies, and taking public feedback into account.

tery metals that will be needed for the quick transition to EVs (electric vehicles) and renewable energy will have some concern to do to outperform the Alaskan stalwart, with Red Dog's annual zinc output expected to stay more than the 1 billion lb mark.

This move elevates Red Dog from a globally significant base metal mine that produces 4% of the world's zinc – as well as lead, silver, and germanium byproducts – to a globally substantial critical minerals operation that outproduces mines that produce the rare technology metals that are typically associated with critical minerals.

Why is zinc so important?

At the about US$1.40 average price of the galvanizing metal in 2021, Red Dog produced 1.1 billion tons of now crucial zinc worth nearly US$1.5 billion. By comparison, MP Materials Corp. made $332 million from the sale of 92.9 million lb of rare earth oxides from Mountain Pass, the United States' only mine producing these important elements. Other US critical mineral mines being developed to meet the extensive new requirement for rare earths and bat-

Rare earths and China's global dominance of their production, for example, or exciting metals that have moved to stardom due to their uses in new technologies such as quantum computing, smartphones, renewable energy, and electric vehicles are typically thought of as obscure elements cloaked in geopolitical intrigue.

Zinc, commonly used to galvanize guardrails, light poles, and buckets does not appear to fulfill this description. While not as exciting as making smartphones smarter or allowing electric vehicles to travel further and charge faster, zinc's corrosion-resistant properties will be in high demand as the Biden administration invests well over $1 trillion in upgrading and revamping America's infrastructure in preparation for the transition to EVs powered by low-carbon energy. While zinc may not be as well-known as lithium, nickel, or even copper, it plays an important role in traditional highway and power infrastructure – think culverts, guardrails, and power poles – and is also offering a weatherproofing layer to wind turbines, solar farms, and the massive new electrical transmission infrastructure needed to deliver the extra power drawn by millions of EVs plying the roads.

12 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022


As per the International Energy Agency, wind power generation requires around 11,020 lb of zinc per megawatt of power output capacity. Zinc is being used in batteries to store the intermittent electricity generated by wind and solar, in addition to corrosion-proofing the increasing renewable energy infrastructure. Zinc batteries are particularly fascinating devices that take advantage of a zinc characteristic that has been underutilized.

Electricity divides the oxygen from zinc oxide in a zinc-air battery, which is then stored in the charged zinc particles. By reconnecting the charged zinc particles with oxygen and renewing the zinc oxide for reuse, this stored electricity is opened back to the grid. These batteries can hold a charge for considerably longer and do not catch fire like lithium-ion batteries. In addition, zinc-air batteries are up to five times less expensive to operate than lithium-ion batteries of comparable capacity.

Zinc8 Energy Solutions, based in Vancouver, BC, is pursuing industrial-scale installations of this emerging battery technology across the United States, Australia, and Canada, providing a new source of demand for Red Dog's zinc. The USGS' decision to elevate zinc to a critical category was influenced by the enormous new supplies required for American infrastructure and renewable energy development and the reality that present global zinc mining operations are already struggling to meet baseload demand.

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Boosting infrastructure in the United States Global demand for zinc was heating up even before Congress enacted the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and President Biden signed it into law. In 2022, galvanized steel output in North America is expected to expand by 19.6% over 2020, while production in Europe is expected to increase by over 15.5 percent. While part of this was due to the recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic, it also reflects the dramatic increase in zinc demand.

The production of galvanized steel in the United States is expected to reach its peak level from 2012 onwards. Zinc metal markets in Europe and North America stayed tight, resulting in higher zinc prices. Last year, the average price for galvanizing metal was over $1.40/lb, up roughly 30% from 2020 and rising as the year progressed. During the fourth quarter, the price of a pound of zinc averaged $1.53, and it has progressively grown to roughly $1.67/lb now, the highest price in over 15 years. Zinc demand and prices are expected to remain robust for the rest of the year, thanks to upcoming infrastructure and COVID-relief expenditure in the United States and throughout the world, as well as pent-up demand for consumer items, autos, and homes. Some analysts predict that zinc prices may rise to as high as $1.80/lb this year before falling as global mines ramp up production and zinc prices approach the 2006 peak of $2.00/lb. 14 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

Satellite view of the Red Dog Mine, Aug. 12, 2021. The big body of water on the left is the tailings pond and the pits on the upper right are the actual mine pits. (Planet Labs PBC)

With zinc prices nearing all-time highs and Red Dog expected to produce more than 1.2 billion pounds of the galvanizing metal this year, the critical, base, and precious metal mine in Northwest Alaska should have a spectacular year in 2022. "Despite persistent cost inflation pressures, we expect a large increase in zinc production at Red Dog in 2022 and a drop in total cash unit cost before byproduct credits," Teck Resources CEO Don Lindsay told investors and analysts on Feb. 24.

An essential mineral that is more relevant While the zinc generated at Teck's Red Dog Mine is a new addition to America's important minerals list, the germanium

recovered as a byproduct has long been considered essential for high-tech and renewable energy uses. In a particular study on this technology metalloid, the USGS wrote, "The extensive usage of germanium for military and commercial purposes has made it a critical material in the United States and the rest of the world." Germanium's technological roots may be traced back to the 1950s, when scientists invented the transistor to replace vacuum tubes in the massive computing mainframes of the time, ushering in the era of personal computers. Despite being a more potent semiconductor, germanium was eventually displaced by silicon, which is more plentiful and


less expensive. The intrinsic semiconducting advantage of germanium, on the other hand, is now being employed in quantum computer transistors that are millions of times quicker than their conventional equivalents. As an inherent semiconductor, germanium is a key component in solar panels that are both highly efficient and expensive. According to the USGS, "Germanium substrates are used to produce the base layer of multijunction solar cells, which

are currently the highest efficiency solar cells available." These solar arrays, which feature three layers of cells that require germanium and other vital metals to convert light into energy, are far more expensive to construct than the standard photovoltaic cell, which primarily uses silicon to do it. However, because of their high efficiency, germanium-infused solar cells are chosen for space applications such as Mars rovers and space stations. The solar cells are layered in three layers on the rover's solar arrays. Because they collect more

sunlight, they can deliver more power to the rover's re-chargeable lithium batteries, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The USGS stated in its Mineral Commodities Summaries for 2022 that an advanced materials producer with a germanium facility in Oklahoma announced the production of a new generation of solar arrays for the International Space Station using germanium substrates to replace the existing silicon-based arrays. NASA's Gateway space station, which is now in development, will be powered by

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similar germanium solar cell technology. Germanium also has outstanding optical qualities, making it popular in fiber optic cables and night vision goggles, which have traditionally been the key drivers of demand for this zinc byproduct. A high refractive index – the capacity to bend light – is a key feature of germanium, which makes it ideal for fiber-optic cables. The USGS notes that germanium is added to the fiber optic cable's pure silica glass core to raise its refractive index and reduce signal loss over long distances. This quality is bolstered by germanium's low chromatic dispersion, which ensures that digital data delivered across fiber

optic cables does not degrade by the time it reaches its destination, which could be thousands of kilometers away. The increasing need for additional fiber optic cable and the germanium that goes into it is driven by the growing requirement to send and receive high-quality data. Last year in 2021, the USGS estimated that 140,000 kilograms (308,650 lb) of germanium were produced worldwide. Germanium is now selling for around US$2,185 per kilogram (US$4,807 per pound).

Germanium also has outstanding optical qualities, making it popular in fiber optic cables and night vision goggles, which have traditionally been the key drivers of demand for this zinc byproduct.

Red Dog germanium is being tracked Because the germanium at Red Dog is created as a byproduct of processing zinc concentrates at Teck's Trail Operations in British Columbia, which also refines concentrates from other mines, there isn't a lot of publicly available data on how much of this crucial metalloid is collected. For authorities tracking important minerals, this position has created a conundrum. The recoverable germanium in zinc deposits cannot be calculated since zinc concentrates are shipped globally and combined at smelters, according to the USGS's 2022 mineral commodities report. This opacity, however, may be changing thanks to a trial effort Teck has launched to trace Red Dog germanium using blockchain technology. Businesses have discovered a variety of applications for blockchain technology over the last decade, ranging from the settlement of financial records to the trustworthy and transparent tracing of supply chains. Materials traceability and assurance of both origin and management of materials along supply chains, according to Teck, can help support responsible mineral and metal production. Teck's pilot project, in collaboration with DLT Labs, a renowned provider of blockchain-enabled technology and enterprise solutions for supply chain management and financing, will follow germanium from Red Dog through the Trail refinery and on to a fiber optic cable producer.

A worker adjusts machinery used to extract lead and zinc from ore at a smelter owned by Lumbung Mineral Sentosa in Bogor regency south of Jakarta, Indonesia, July 19, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside/File Photo

16 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF SUSTAINABILITY AND EXTERNAL AFFAIRS AT TECK RESOURCES, MARCIA SMITH, SAID,

"We are thrilled to be developing the first application of blockchain technology to trace the vital mineral germanium


from the mine all the way to the client." "By ensuring environmental and social responsibility across the metals production chain, our customers and downstream consumers can be certain that their goods are properly sourced." The DL Asset Track platform from DLT Lab will be used to embed data, including information on responsible environmental, social, and governance (ESG) activities such as greenhouse gas emissions, product certifications, and accountable production assessments, across the supply chain.

LOUDON OWEN, CEO OF DLT LABS STATED,

Manufacturers aiming to boost the global ESG credentials of their products are anticipated to value this ability to identify not only the source of minerals and metals but also their environmental footprint from mine to customer.

"DLT Labs is thrilled that Teck is using its DL Asset Track platform to set the bar for an innovative product passport." "This product passport captures, saves, and distributes reliable, tamper-proof, and real-time data at every level of the resource supply chain from beginning to end, including detailed information about the resources' provenance. For a good ESG program, certainty of mine of origin, provenance, and a single source of truth are critical building components."

If the germanium pilot succeeds, the blockchain technology may be used to track the basic lead, precious silver, and essential zinc produced at America's largest critical metals mine.

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$144 Million Given by Biden-Harris: Paving Good-Paying Union Salaries: Reviving Coal Groups Secretary Haaland and Infrastructure Coordinator Landrieu visited Ohio to promote President Biden's bipartisan infrastructure legislation, which includes funds to reclaim abandoned mine lands.

S

ecretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu announced more than $144 million in funding for abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation activities in the fiscal year 2022 during a visit to Ohio last month. This comes on top of the $725 million commitment announced in February as part of President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to speed up the cleanup of abandoned mine areas around the country. The Secretary's visit is integral to a multistate, multi-month tour of Appalachia to underscore how these important infrastructure investments will ensure that our people have healthy lands and streams in their communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law extended the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement's (OSMRE) power to collect AML fees until September 30, 2034, and decreased reclamation fees by 20%, assuring a revenue source for AML grants until 2035. These funds assist local communities in reviving their 18 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022


Eligible states and Tribes apply for grants to access money in their allocations once the annual AML grant distribution was announced. The following is the available AML Reclamation funds for fiscal year 2022: State/Tribe

Amount Allocated

Alabama

$2,829,000

Alaska

$2,829,000

Arkansas

$2,829,000

Colorado

$2,829,000

Illinois

$9,689,419

Indiana

$3,944,417

Iowa

$2,829,000

Kansas

$2,829,000

Kentucky

$8,889,292

Louisiana

$25,279

Maryland

$2,829,000

Mississippi

$2,829,000

Montana

$3,287,963

New Mexico

$2,829,000

North Dakota

$2,829,000

Ohio

$4,699,156

Tennessee Texas

"As part of an all-of-government approach to revitalizing these towns as they confront the lingering effects of extractive industries, President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes critical investments to assist clean up legacy pollution." I appreciate the federal, state, local, and labor leaders who joined us today to talk about how government resources and partnerships can help towns across the state create jobs."

"By reclaiming abandoned mine lands, we can enhance local water quality, reduce flooding, solve environmental injustice, and open up new opportunities for renewable energy projects, all while creating well-paying jobs for the individuals who worked in these mines." AML financing allows states to pursue abandoned mine land cleanup initiatives, which could help reduce methane emissions, which are big factors of climate change. This financing is part of the Biden-Harris administration's extraordinary investments in coal, oil, and gas towns, as well as the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant

$26,463,897 $2,829,000 $732,134

Utah

$2,829,000

Virginia

$2,960,771

West Virginia

$18,480,441

Wyoming

$30,415,530

Crow Tribe

$216,529

Navajo Nation

$525,510

Total

"Our country's economic prosperity has been fueled by hardworking coalfield communities for decades. "However, long after coal businesses have moved on, those same families endure the weight of hazardous pollution, toxic water levels, and land subsidence," added Secretary Haaland.

"President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will create good-paying employment and economic opportunities, particularly for workers in energy areas," Landrieu, White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator stated.

$99,709

Missouri

Pennsylvania

economies by supporting well-paying union jobs and correcting hazardous environmental conditions and pollution caused by legacy coal projects.

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SPECIAL FOCUS

Communities and Economic Revitalization. This approach also supports the President's Justice40 Initiative, which commits to giving disadvantaged areas 40% of the benefits of particular climate and clean energy investments. After touring multiple abandoned minefield locations in varying phases of reclamation, Secretary Haaland and Landrieu made the announcement. The crew visited an AML site in Mineral City that still has unsafe highwalls, pit impoundments, and uncontrolled mine drainage, all of which impact nearby people. They also visited sites such as the Huff Run – Farr project and the Dessecker Mine Project, which were reclaimed for safer community usage with the help of AML reclamation money. The delegation also visited with retired United Mine Workers of America members. It took part in a roundtable discussion with local labor leaders organized by Ohio AFL-CIO

President Tim Burga. By funding programs that stop dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, enhance water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restore water supplies affected by mining, AML reclamation initiatives help coal communities create muchneeded jobs.

President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will create goodpaying employment and economic opportunities, particularly for workers in energy areas Reclaiming hazardous land for recreational amenities and other economic rehabilitation applications such as advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment is also possible with AML reclamation initiatives.

According to a congressionally mandated methodology, OSMRE is giving AML funding to 24 coal-producing states and two Tribal AML Reclamation Programs in the fiscal year 2022. The grant formula is based on previous and present coal output, and the program is partially funded by a levy levied on every coal produced in the US. OSMRE had spent more than $8 billion to recover lands and waters that were mined or impacted by mining before 1977 when Congress passed the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). Over 45,000 abandoned underground mine shafts and openings have been closed, over 1,040 miles of dangerous highwalls have been removed, over 130,000 acres of spoil and dangerous piles and embankments have been reclaimed, and over 52,000 acres of clogged streams and land have been restored thanks to AML funding.

Stabilize Prices in China: Supporting Iron Ore Market Management In light of recent price spikes, China's top economic planner announced that daily regulation of spot and futures markets for iron ore would be strengthened to help stabilize market prices.

T

he National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the State Administration for Market Regulation recently conducted a joint investigation at the Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE), according to the NDRC. The NDRC expressed grave concern about price

20 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

fluctuations in the iron ore market. It will conduct in-depth investigations, increase supervision, severely punish unlawful actions such as distributing false information, price gouging, and speculation, and research other appropriate methods to ensure the iron ore market runs smoothly.

Inventories in the United States are at a multi-year high. According to analysts, given the supply-demand balance is consistent, the sudden price increase in iron ore must be due to speculation. The NDRC analyzed iron ore stocks at Qingdao Port in Shandong Province, East China, on February 17. It then requested that iron ore trading companies release surplus stocks as soon as possible and return them to a fair level. According to the NDRC, unlawful behaviors such as hoarding and price gouging would be investigated.


FloLevel Technologies www.skillings.net | 21


SPECIAL FOCUS

Epanko Graphite Project in Tanzania:

EcoGraf Chooses Vermeer as a New Companion to Assess Surface Mining Technology 22 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022


EcoGraf Ltd, a diversified battery anode materials company, has signed a non-binding Memo-

randum of Understanding with Vermeer Equipment Suppliers to research low-emission mining technologies at Tanzania's Epanko Graphite Project. Vermeer Equipment Suppliers (Pty) Ltd is the Sub-Saharan African distributor of Vermeer Manufacturing Company, which was formed in the year 1948 in the United States and now employs over 4,000 people worldwide. Vermeer is a well-known manufacturer of underground construction, surface mining, agricultural, and environmental machinery.

E

coGraf is developing a battery anode material business that will create high-purity graphite for the lithium-ion battery and advanced manufacturing markets. To date, almost $30 million has been invested in the development of two highly appealing graphite enterprises. Vermeer and EcoGraf have agreed to test the feasibility of a new and alternative surface mining concept using one of Vermeer's surface miners to mine, load, and convey Epanko ore with a lowered environmental impact and carbon footprint compared to traditional mining techniques. THE CONTINUOUS MINER IS EXPECTED TO HAVE THE FOLLOWING INITIAL ENVIRONMENTAL AND COST BENEFITS:

increased slope stability and slope angles, leading to smaller mine footprints, reducing waste volume and surface area impacts; elimination of drilling and blasting; reduced haul truck emissions through increased payload; and reduced mining equipment and the need for primary crushing. EcoGraf will give Epanko's substantial geotechnical, geological, structural, and mining data to Vermeer under confidentiality agreements in order to conduct an initial study to provide technical and economic data on surface miner performance. If the study's findings are promising, EcoGraf and Vermeer will collaborate to develop a realistic onsite test.

Following the encouraging steps taken by the Government of Tanzania to attract increased foreign investment and positive progress in relation to the debt financing arrangements for the construction of the new Epanko Graphite Mine, EcoGraf has entered into an agreement with Vermeer as part of its Epanko enhancement studies.

EcoGraf will give Epanko's substantial geotechnical, geological, structural, and mining data to Vermeer under confidentiality agreements in order to conduct an initial study to provide technical and economic data on surface miner performance. The business also plans to complete its study of the massive 'fresh rock' graphite zone inside the Epanko Mineral Resource, with the goal of determining the ability to provide high purity 99 percent carbon graphite without further processing. The extensive metallurgical testing carried out as part of the Independent Engineer's Review for debt financing indicates that this material will be an excellent longterm feedstock for the EcoGrafTM HFfree

Battery Anode Material Facilities, resulting in lower purification reagent consumption rates and lower production costs. "We are enhancing Epanko's sector-leading ESG Credentials and leveraging off the bankable feasibility study social and environmental planning programs that have been conducted in compliance with the Equator Principles, a globally recognized risk management framework adopted by leading financial institutions for assessing and managing social and environmental risks in new developments," according to EcoGraf. The Epanko development will help the regional community near Mahenge, Tanzania, in terms of intergenerational economic and social benefits, as well as supporting Tanzania's positive industrialization progress." In recent weeks, TanzGraphite (TZ) Ltd, EcoGraf's in-country project development business, has had a series of meetings with representatives from all levels of the Tanzanian government to discuss plans for the Epanko Graphite Project's growth. Epanko was featured at the 4th International Minerals and Mining Investment Conference in Dar es Salaam on February 22-23. TanzGraphite was honored to be recognized as the conference's 'first runner,' with the award given in acknowledgment of the Epanko Graphite Project's interest and TanzGraphite's support for the government's efforts to boost Tanzania's minerals industry. EcoGraf is excited to collaborate with the Vermeer team and provide the preliminary findings.


SPECIAL FOCUS

Russian Ukraine War Impacts Mining Supply Chains Russia

invaded

Ukraine

on

February 24, 2022,

marking a

critical turning point in the Russia-Ukraine war, which began in 2014. Price increases in numerous metals, including gold, due to its status as a safe haven, and nickel, due to supply concerns, have impacted global commodities markets.

I

n March, shares of many Russian and Ukrainian mining businesses, including ALROSA, Evraz, Ferrexpo, and Polymetal International, were slashed on the stock exchange. As the war broke out, the Ruble plummeted against the US dollar.

pany continuity," according to Polymetal. "This includes the selection of essential equipment suppliers, liquidity management, loan portfolio diversification, and ensuring sales channels." The company's output forecast for the year has been confirmed.

In retaliation, Japan, the EU, the United Kingdom, and the United States have imposed sanctions on Russia. However, mining operations appear to be unaffected so far. Both Polymetal and Kinross reported that their activities are unaffected and are operating normally.

However, because Russia is one of the top three producers of diamonds, gold, platinum group metals (PGMs), and nickel, there is projected to be a substantial impact on the mining industry's supply chain. It is also a significant supplier of seaborne and met coal, iron ore, and aluminum to European markets. Coal, iron ore, and uranium supplies are all expected to be disrupted in Ukraine. Arcelor Mittal, for example, has shut down underground iron ore mines in Ukraine and slowed production at the Kryvyi Rih steel mill.

"Approximately 98 percent of the workforce of Kinross' Russian companies are Russian natives, and given the ice road supply season, its operations have a full year of supplies on hand," Kinross said. It also refines gold produced in Russia on its own soil. "Contingency planning has been undertaken proactively to ensure com24 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

Due to anticipated feed-

stock constraints in Russia and Ukraine, Japan's Nippon Steel is searching for alternative feedstock sources in Brazil and Australia. Ferrexpo also declared Force Majeure because of fears about the Pivdennyi port terminal's temporary stoppage following the Russian invasion. In anticipation of supply interruptions, India, which is the world's largest diamond cutting and polishing hub, has reduced production activity in the Indian state of Gujarat. Concerns about increased production costs and rising raw diamond prices are currently plaguing the diamond business.


A protester sits on a monument in Kyiv during clashes with riot police in February 2014. Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty

www.skillings.net | 25


SPECIAL FOCUS

Iron Ore Price Up as a Consequence of the RussiaUkraine Conflict Concerns that a lengthy armed war between Russia and Ukraine could stifle global supply drove up iron ore prices.

O

n China's Dalian Commodity Exchange, the most-traded May iron ore contract finished daytime trading 2.7 percent higher at 705.50 yuan ($111.82) per ton. The most active April contract for iron ore climbed as much as 3.3 percent to $141.25 a ton on the Singapore Exchange. According to sources, benchmark 62 percent Fe fines imported into Northern China were trading for $138.09 a ton this morning, up 2.6 percent. "Any extended war campaign will have a significant impact on Russia and Ukraine's yearly iron ore shipments, which total about 70 million tons, gradually narrowing the global balance," said Atilla Widnell, managing director of Navigate 26 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

Commodities in Singapore. While Russia and Ukraine are not important iron ore suppliers to China, the two countries are presently at odds and frequently sell the steelmaking material to other European countries. Since the incursion began, exports of Russia's leading steelmakers have decreased, as have nickel shipments. In a note, Goldman Sachs analysts stated that Russia's metal shipments are declining, and purchasers are "hesitant in the backdrop of sanction uncertainty and escalation." The benchmark iron ore futures logged weekly gains of 19.4%, the most since the week ended Feb. 21, 2020, recovering losses since Feb.11 when regulators stepped up measures to rein in raw

material prices. "Ukraine and Russia are important exporters for iron ingredient in the world ... uncertainties lie in how long the conflict will last," GF Futures analysts wrote in a note, adding that iron ore prices are expected to fluctuate in the near term. Spot 62% iron ore for delivery to China gained $6.5 to $154 a tonne on Thursday, data compiled by SteelHome consultancy showed. Dalian coking coal futures ended 1.4% higher at 2,869 yuan a tonne and coke prices were up 1.8% at 3,585 yuan per tonne. For the week, prices rose 14% and 13% respectively. Stainless steel prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange for


Russia-Ukraine War at Play

Ferrexpo Share Drops by 70% The share price of Ferrexpo (LON: FXPO) has typically tracked iron ore prices. This association is predictable, given that the Swiss firm is the world's third-largest exporter of iron ore pellets.

April delivery leaped 4.7% to 18,775 yuan a tonne, tracking a 3.5% increase in prices of its raw material nickel as its supply was disrupted due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Russia is the world's major nickel supplier. Trading in other steel products was range-bound during the session. Construction steel rebar inched up 0.3% at 4,901 yuan a tonne, while hot-rolled coils used in the manufacturing sector dipped 0.02% to 5,210 yuan per tonne. Credit Suisse sees global steel demand seasonally will rise into the second quarter on geopolitical events and raw material and energy inflation.

A

t the end of July 2021, Ferrexpo shares were valued at 481p, with the iron ore price hovering around a near-record of $225/tonne. However, by November 11th, the metal had dropped to $85 a tonne, and the company's stock had dropped below 300p. With pollutionrelated steel output curbs and the potential collapse of building behemoth Evergrande, China, which accounts for over 75% of global iron imports, has alarmed investors. Despite the rise in iron ore prices to $145 per tonne, Ferrexpo shares have dropped 70% to 145p as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Ferrexpo owns three iron ore mines and an iron pellet plant at Horishni Plavni in central Ukraine. Every year, the mine produces roughly 12

million tonnes of iron ore pellets, half of which are shipped by rail and the rest via the Pivdennyi seaport. The Ukrainian railway network, on the other hand, only offers 'limited capacity to its freight customers,' allowing the company to transmit just 'a percentage of its production across Ukraine's western border to customers in Europe.' Ferrexpo is unsure how many pellets it can continue to deliver to Europe because near-term railway capacity "remains unknown." Worse, the miner has informed investors that export activities at Pivdennyi have been 'temporarily paused,' probably as a result of Russian troop movements towards Odesa.

www.skillings.net | 27


SPECIAL FOCUS

1000’s of Roles, No Experience, Easy Entry Australians can now earn more than $160,000 a year In Australia, mining wages have risen by more than 25%; Companies are forced to pay higher wages due to ongoing labor shortages and tight borders; University graduates might earn up to $160,000 per year in pay; Head geologists could earn up to $290,000 per year.

D

ue to labor constraints and a lack of offshore workers, mining wages in Australia have risen by more than 25% in the last 18 months. Due to the pandemic's continued border controls, the profitable business has been hurt hard, with companies opting from a smaller talent pool. Businesses have since turned their attention to university students,

28 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

Mining jobs are no longer as competitive as they once were because of dwindling interest in the industry and plummeting commodity prices. Companies now need to pay top dollar to attract the best individuals.

with graduates receiving offers of up to $160,000 a year to work in the mines.

On a two-week on, one week off the roster in the mines, heavy-duty fitters, a high-demand skill, might make up to $195,000 per week.

Wages for some trades have climbed by 12 to 15% in the previous two and a half years, according to statistics from BDO Australia's Remsmart national survey released in June. As a result, entry-level jobs that used to pay $85,000 are now paying $110,000.

Wages for head geologists have risen from $220,000 to $290,000, the most increase of any discipline. Engineers and land surveyors are in high demand as well. Allan Feinberg, managing director of BDO's pay and reward services, told WA Today that Australian employees were set


to benefit the most from the national labor crisis. 'My parents would not have advised me to become an accountant if they had known a “tradie” could earn $195,000 a year,' he added. To tempt employees to enter the business, he added, companies have looked to create more employee-friendly rosters, including equal days on and off, which has led to rising earnings. 'Four years ago, we witnessed a move to friendly rosters,' Mr. Feinberg added. 'With lockdowns, a skills scarcity... and employer commitments to provide a better working environment, it's just gotten worse.' According to Mr. Feinberg, the mining sector's compensation bubble will last for at least the next three years, with the residual effect of closed borders compelling significant enterprises to pay for specialized labor.

What it's like to work in a mine Every shift involves physically tough work Intense time pressure, with costly consequences for tardiness and blunders, including the possibility of being fired 12-hour shifts - including many nights Roster rotations are typically 14 days on, 7 days off - for at least six months Working underground isn't for everyone; some people become claustrophobic and afraid. In comparison to most careers, you'll spend considerably less time with loved ones/family. You must pass drug and alcohol testing on a regular basis.

SOLVING YOUR MOST COMPLEX CHALLENGES. With SEH, you are a true partner and collaborator.

Engineers | Architects | Planners | Scientists 800.325.2055 | sehinc.com/subscribe

www.skillings.net | 29


JOSEPH SAM CHIEF BUSINESS OFFICE EXCLUSIVE QUARRIES P LIMITED EXCLUSIVEQUARRIES.COM

30 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022


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profiles in mining

Joseph (Joe) Sam is the Chief Business Officer of the Exclusive Quarries Group in India and the Founding Partner of the Dubai & India based Global Natural Resources Advisory Group. He is an Engineer with a double Post Graduation & is pursuing his Post Graduation in ‘Environmental Law’ from the National Law School of India University. He has led various companies in the Retail, Consulting, Design & Building Materials industries prior to entering the Mining & Metals industry 7 years back. He is also a Certified Corporate Director from the Institute of Directors and is Certified (from various institutions) additionally in Negotiation, Conflict Management, Entrepreneurship Development, Investment Law & Institutional Finance and in the Business of Mining. He moves between India, South East Asia and the GCC working on assignments in Mining, Metals & Commodity trading and is married to Ritika Maheshwari his wife of a decade with 2 spritely & restless boys.

www.skillings.net | 31


PROFILES IN MINING

How can mining and the targets of COP26 co-exist “It’s time to say “enough”. Enough of brutalizing biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.” - UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the World Leaders Summit, COP26, Glasgow. This statement reverberated throughout the world in the days to come post the COP26 Summit held in November 2021 and the word MINING which was already seen with a fair amount of anger & disdain became an anathema all of a sudden but the truth is that some element or output of mining is present in almost every object, product or service that we see around us or use every day and neither the General Secretary, the UN or its various bodies, Climate Activists or anyone in the Global community has a sudden solution as an alternative to the elements or products that are mined. Yes Climate change is real and the effects of global warming visible with the erratic weather changes worldwide but we have no choice but to reach a stage of Net Zero emission in every possible industry along with taking corrective action in ensuring that the carbon content in the environment is reduced so that global warming abates & the effects of it neutralized if not reversed. While we can endlessly debate climate policy, any approach to penalizing the Mining Industry in a haphazard & reactive manner can mean a full stop to every form of development be it infrastructure, renewable energy, space & automotive technology, construction, urbanization & real estate development, transportation, the consumer industry, the engineering industry etc. What needs to be brought in is a framework on Environmental, 32 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

The Mining industry (except Fossil Fuel mining) is responsible for 5 to 7% of the global greenhouse gas emissions of which 1% is on account of direct mining operations & the balance attributed to the release of trapped methane. Social & Governance (ESG) standards for the Mining industry (across the board & globally) with the focus on better mining practices, application of zero carbon technology, usage of green fuels, development of biodiversity ecosystems along with the mining areas, restoration of the mined areas (including afforestation & recharge of water bodies) and finding better ways to manage or use the discharge or effluence from the mining activity. The Mining industry (except Fossil Fuel mining) is responsible for 5 to 7% of the global greenhouse gas emissions of

which 1% is on account of direct mining operations & the balance attributed to the release of trapped methane. THE FOSSIL FUEL MINING INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTES TO OVER 50% OF THE GLOBAL GREENHOUSE EMISSIONS WHICH MEANS THERE IS A NEED TO APPROACH MINING AS AN ACTIVITY IN 3 DISTINCT WAYS:

a. The need to identify minerals & metals that are absolutely vital for the future generations & how it can be the only viable & sustainable alternative to any other product till something else is


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profiles in mining

net zero through the mining of identified critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt, aluminium, iron & rare earths for ‘renewables’, ‘electric vehicles’ & ‘other vital technologies. d. Green Financing: The need to refocus financing of fossil fuel mining into: (i) emission reduction technologies in mining (ii) methods to alleviate or eliminate the after effects or output of the mining activity (iii) green tech to power the mining industry. e. Phasing out of fossil fuels for power generation and scaling up of green power (solar, wind, etc) as well as stopping the finance of thermal projects.

discovered. The ESG standards should be implemented in these mines in the next 3 to 5 years. b. The need to ‘phase out fossil fuel mining’ unless a revolutionary technology evolves where emissions from it are minimized to a single digit if not eradicated. One should co-opt the OPEC, International Gas Union & World Coal Association in this activity as otherwise there will be various interests working at cross purposes. c. The need to find substitutes that are environment friendly, biodegradable and reusable to the other mined minerals & metals and this includes artisanal mining. This process should be ingrained in the educational & research curriculum by every signatory member nation so that awareness & activism is supplemented by a pragmatic approach to problem solving rather than passing the buck.

WHILE THE COP26 FOCUSED ON MITIGATION, ADAPTATION, FINANCE & COLLABORATION THE AREAS WHERE IT AFFECTS THE MINING SECTOR ARE:

a. Collaborative Effort: Most economies that are developed or developing aggressively have had the mining industry contributing significantly to the GDP growth & employment which means the Government, NGOs, Industry, Society, Infrastructure creators & most other stakeholders need the Mining industry for its sustenance. This implies the need for collaboration to find new ways to mitigate & eliminate the effects of Climate Change on account of the Mining industry. b. Green Mining: Ambitious targets to reduce emissions & focus on energy efficiency in mining operations (clean energy to power mining ops, clean sources & clean operating methods). c. Critical Minerals: The need to achieve

Can we balance the impact of mining with the impetus on establishing larger biodiversity parks in the vicinity, micro businesses for supporting the local economy and establish schools & healthcare for the local communities? Going ahead, post the Paris Climate Agreement & COP26 and the visibly disastrous consequences of climate change, the focus for the Mining Industry globally should be on the implementation of Environmental, Social & Governance standards. This would entail your question on balancing the impact of mining on a microlevel as well as the macrolevel though it needs to be started & done at a much faster pace than what we anticipated (2030 instead of 2050). WHEN THE PROCESS OF MINING STARTS & EXPANDS IN OPERATIONS WHAT HAPPENS TO THE LOCAL BIODIVERSITY IS THAT IT AFFECTS:

a. The flora & fauna (displacement, eradication & disruption) b. The local population/ community (health, indigenous economy & pracwww.skillings.net | 33


PROFILES IN MINING

5 KEY IMPACTS AT THE LEVEL OF THE MINING ACTIVITY:

1. Biodiversity 2. Climatic 3. Economic

4. Social 5. Demographic

During the study phase prior to the submission of the mining plan (or development plan for a mining basin) every Government at the central and federal level should co-opt Conservationists, Environmentalists, Social Scientists, Economists and other related Stakeholders to understand the above 5 impacts in detail.

tises and proliferation of social evils) c. The topography (forest, water bodies, hill structure, ground water levels, etc) Mining has even found to have changed microclimatic conditions by contaminating the air, water and soil considerably hence there has to be a different & proactive perspective applied to the business of mining. What conventionally means ‘reacting to change that is effected due to mining’ has to be replaced by ‘anticipating for those changes. Hence CSR cannot be a fallout of mining but budgeted as a parallel activity. The World Economic Forum estimates that more than 50% of global GDP (USD 44 trillion) “is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services,” and therefore exposed to biodiversity loss. Future investments & Government support in mining is increasingly going to depend on how it threatens biodiversity 34 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

or environments that need to be conserved at any cost. With modern mining damaging habitats (of even micro-organisms) & degrading local environments (above & below the soil) the industry faces increased risk of legislative roadblocks, activism, stakeholder concerns & not being lucrative for investors anymore. It has been found that when mining projects are of very large scale, be it a single large lease or multiple leases in the same vicinity or area there has been considerable biodiversity loss, displacement of the local economy & once the operations are wrapped up the entire area ends up exploited and uninhabitable. Mining Companies, Associations & Industry bodies should work with their respective Government’s (Federal & State) and collaborate with NGO’s and conservationists in ‘anticipating the change in the ecosystem’ in the course of the mining period & assess.

Most assume ‘Biodiversity” means local flora & fauna without understanding that it extends to “Genetic Material” of indigenously growing plants, animals & birds which are specific to a certain region. This genetic material could be used in R&D for the pharma industry, healthcare and other related industries impacting the cost of medical treatment, food security, agriculture, indigenous knowledge & even restoration of the degraded environment. The traditional livelihoods of millions of communities globally from the Amazonian basin to the river basins & forests of India to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and Central Asia rely on the rich biodiversity for their sustenance and Mining companies assume that merely compensating them using financial incentives or alternate habitations or giving them jobs or building a school or hospital can make up for the loss of biodiversity which is a fallacy. The same way the destruction or harnessing of land/ hills for crushing stones, excavation of minerals and other mining has resulted in floods and droughts especially in the last 3 years confirming that mining has repercussions on the local “climate” as well. The recent foray into deep sea mining to excavate renewables has already sounded the knell on


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www.skillings.net | 35


PROFILES IN MINING

the aquatic biodiversity as well as release of trapped carbon dioxide and methane into the oceans resulting in multiple consequences from increase in acidity to changing ocean levels. The impact of Climatic change on account of Mining has to be studied assiduously & submitted in the Environmental Impact Assessment itself. The third aspect of “Economic” impact has to be studied from the perspective of creating jobs, supporting businesses and creating sustainable employment including cross skilling, skill development and continuous learning. This has to take into consideration that by the end of the mining lease the children within the mining community/ zone would have become adults who would chose to migrate if the consequences are devastating or continue contributing if it has helped them evolve. If most economic activity focusses merely around consumerism or catering to the mining staff & labor and capturing their earning within the ecosystem then by the time the mining lease gets over the number of businesses which would have proliferated recklessly without the potential to be sustainable is considerable & would overnight have to shut shop. What has to be done is to assist in establishing sustainable economies and encouraging a spirit of entrepreneurship that is dependent on the local biodiversity, arts & crafts and other resources as well. The “Social” impact of Mining is rarely studied because most often these are traditional communities and what has been seen across decades is that it has resulted in imbalances especially amongst the sexes and created economic disparity affecting the social status. While some Governments had allowed benefit sharing amongst the locals post the various UN initiatives & the evolution 36 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

of civilized society itself most communities were virtually displaced and eliminated in the course of history. The exploitation of diamond & precious metal mining in Africa, rare earth minerals of South America, gold mining on the indigenous community lands in the United States & Australia and the ruby mines of Burma are examples of how mining has resulted in the destruction of the social fabric and even elimination of certain communities. With increasing global activism against this, this impact has been addressed with the focus on benefit sharing & societal preservation.

The “Social” impact of Mining is rarely studied because most often these are traditional communities and what has been seen across decades is that it has resulted in imbalances especially amongst the sexes and created economic disparity affecting the social status. Finally, the “Demographic” impact has to be studied which is normally a consequence of the above 4 factors. There have been instances of how Mining has/ had changed the demographic profile of a region so drastically that it has resulted in the growth of secessionist or anti-Government forces. In conclusion one should balance the impact of mining with relevant, sustainable and scalable initiatives that are an outcome of a well thought off study done prior to the mining activity itself.

How can we take the negative connotation out of the word MINING when its being blamed considerably for carbon & methane emissions? A study published in the journal Nature in September 2021, found that nearly 60% of the planet's “remaining” oil and natural gas and 90% of its coal reserves should remain in the ground by 2050 which means that fossil fuel exploitation should peak in a decade & start waning steeply after 2030. Yet unless the Oil & Natural gas and Coal producing nations come up with alternatives including economic sustenance business models, mining as an activity will continue albeit with the potential to cause disruptions, conflicts and disastrous consequences especially escalating the refugee crisis due to climate change. If the Mining industry detaches itself from the political led agenda of economic sustenance at any cost and unites in the effort to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse emission & alleviate erratic climate change, then the negative connotation & reverberation of it being an industry that has evil consequences can possibly be mitigated. Most of the economies that have conventionally mined fossil fuel & gas (the Middle East, Iran, the United States, Venezuela, Russia, Kazakhstan, Australia etc.) have grown dependent (especially politically) on it so much so that they haven’t even developed alternative industries but have instead aligned its continuity using political rhetoric even on international platforms. To ask these countries to reduce the exploitation of fossil fuel considering they are more suppliers than users would be halfhearted and instead the consuming nations of these fossil fuels should explore renewable energy & other innovative technologies to alleviate their dependence on fossil fuel.


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profiles in mining

If the Mining industry detaches itself from the political led agenda of economic sustenance at any cost and unites in the effort to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse emission & alleviate erratic climate change, then the negative connotation & reverberation of it being an industry that has evil consequences can possibly be mitigated. Most of the industries that are mining led (minerals, metals, fossil fuels, natural stone & gems) are also the ones that have large associations or industry bodies (cartels & lobbies in some case) which represent their interests, output, prices, distribution etc. and the synergistic action by these along with the involvement of bodies like the UNEP, CBD, UNFCC, ICMM & other interested parties can lead to a larger positive outcome. Getting these stakeholders of the global Mining industry together to lead a cohesive initiative to align its goals with that of the Paris Agreement & COP26 and at the same time ensuring that they cohesively promote the significance & need for the

Mining Industry to meet various Environment, Economic & Social goals can remove the negative perception of mining within the coming decade. THERE CAN BE A COHESIVE EFFORT BY ALL THE STAKEHOLDERS ON THE FOLLOWING ACTION POINTS:

1. Dissemination of the joint initiatives to assist the industry players in achieving the Net Zero Carbon emission targets. 2. Research, Development & Application of the following in the business of mining: a. Clean technology b. Increasing the efficacy of mining operations

c. Sharing of best practises especially in the areas of biodiversity & environmental sustainability & renewal d. Usage of clean energy e. Decarbonizing the atmosphere & reducing effluence especially of carbon & methane. 3. Educating the General population, NGOs at the local level, federal Governments and other related stakeholders on the joint initiative by the Mining Associations & global stakeholders. 4. Lobbying with Governments in both supplier & consumer nations to mitigate the fallout of the phasing out of fossil fuel & irrelevant mineral mining.


PROFILES IN MINING

5. To adopt a systemic & methodical global roadmap to mineral excavation which would avoid over exploitation & the sustenance of PROTECTED AREAS (8% of mineable area of earth’s surface), KEY BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOTS (7% of mineable area of earth’s surface) & WILDERNESS (16% of mineable area of earth’s surface). While the negative connotation of mining goes beyond emissions what can also be supplemented with the above initiatives is how to make MINING a SUSTAINABLE industry in terms of its existence with the community, CSR, building microeconomies that live longer than the life of the mine’s, co-opting local stakeholders in the restoration of the ecological balance and leveraging biodiversity resources for greater access to benefit sharing with the local populace.

What is the role of innovation and creativity in the mining domain? The Mining domain has considerable space for creativity & innovation considering what it faces as an industry are the stringent targets to meet Net Zero Carbon emission as well as scale down on fossil fuel extraction & increase exploration & mining of renewables including that in the sea-beds. The next 2 to 3 decades will be replete with opportunities in prospecting, exploration & mining with increased opportunities in the application of AI, Automation & Robotics, Drone & Satellite Technology deployment, Equipment tech & management, Machine learning, Worker Infrastructure & Safety betterment & the efficient handling of the ores/elements. This is an opportunity for institutions, universities, consulting firms and associations to participate not just in R&D but co-opting resources to participate in this transformation process. 38 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

The age of Smart Mining is going to see the convergence of the offline activity of mining reborn with the adoption of Artificial Intelligence, Analytics, Augmented Reality (for simulation), application of Geospatial technologies,

application of the BLOCKCHAIN technology for 3 key functions: 1. Traceability from ore to market place 2. Authenticity of the product from the raw material stage 3. Building cogency in the supply chain.

Digital technologies (for monitoring, safety, operations, capacity building, productivity & efficiency) and the Empowerment of employees, communities & stakeholders in ensuring that there is a coherence between the Economic, Community & Environmental objectives.

Though too early to say it is predicted that this could revolutionize the mining industry so drastically that the end consumer could find out at some point where and when each element in their product was mined from!

This will mean that Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) standards will become more digitally and technologically enabled positively transforming the perception of the Mining Industry from that of pure corporate profit to that of holistic prosperity. One of the key areas of innovation & creativity in the Mining industry that is going to play a very significant role in its scalability & business credibility is the

What has been the impact of Covid19 on the mining industry in the last two years? And where do you see it going forward? Covid 19 which has resonated in its mutated offerings over the last 2 years has disrupted global trade, economy and has overnight bankrupted leading players in industries such as Travel & Tourism, Airlines, Hospitality, Mining and Engineering.


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PROFILES IN MINING

focus on “digitization of operations”, the emphasis on “predictive maintenance” so that expensive & heavy spares can be replenished at mining sites to avoid “downtime” and the need to “collaborate” rather than compete (on best practises, manpower, spares & consumables, buyer & vendor management etc). THE MINING INDUSTRY IS BETTER PREPARED FOR THE OMNICRON VARIANT NOW BECAUSE OF:

i. The roll out of the vaccination programme worldwide with access to affected age groups. ii. A developed resilience against the fatigue of seeing recurrent disruptions.

Researchers estimated that there hasn’t been this much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for at least 3 million years.Credit...Sascha Steinbach/EPA, via Shutterstock

Most of the artisanal mining companies shut shop and China, the world’s largest processing and manufacturing hub, stopped buying in bulk from most of the mining led economies. In the last 2 years on account of the perception of China having controlled the destiny of global trade, especially after the speculation of the origin of the virus, many of the emerging and developed economies have started exploring the development of manufacturing and processing outside of China. The first wave from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020 saw a massive disruption where the switch from the integrated method of working changed to working in silos which meant that while every nation put the brakes on every format of economic activity the opening of the economies were done on the basis of the impact of Covid to that specific economy. That was accentuated by the vaccina40 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022

iii. The opportunity it has presented for the evolution of new technologies, systems and methods that can be applied across Industries.

tion development and roll out which gave an advantage to countries like the United States, China, India, Russia & other pharma development centres. This still didn’t help much as the “world being a global village” meant that most nations needed to reach a level of normalcy which was once again disrupted by the Delta Variant which proved to be even more fatal & saw every nation which opened up its borders during the plateau of 2020 once again gasping for oxygen. This time the residual effect went beyond causalities to the resonance of an untold fear of how a small virus can continually evolve and bring the world to a standstill devastating the economy, communities and industries. During this time the Mining industry & its leadership learnt that besides conventional Covid protocol there also had to be a sense of “technology upgradation”, application of “remote monitoring & diagnostics” , the need to

Containers and trucks at the port of Qingdao, China.


PiM

profiles in mining

iv. The opportunity for collaboration with non-Sector players such as the communities, NGOs & Civil society where a realization has set in that mining is a critical sector for socio economic development. They further understood that besides jobs to the local communities mining also provides livelihoods to the supporting businesses within a community. v. The clarity that has come into the sector aligning its goals with that of the world on the Environment related targets (especially after the COP26 in Glasgow) such as the achievement of Net Zero emissions, utilization of green & clean energy in the operations & subsequent supply chain and the management of effluence, water, biodiversity & other natural resources around the mining ecosystem.

vi. Refocus on mineral exploration & extraction of metals that can be used in renewables & contribution to sustainability. vii. The supply disruptions are better planned now which makes the planning process proactive, effective & predictive. This includes raw material, power, spares, consumables, labor, machinery and other technology. viii. Establishing of healthcare facilities including support personnel, supply of vaccines & medicines and oxygen plants in the proximity of mining sites & the communities.

Reuters

ix. Transformation from the offline format of working to the online format including for business summits, exhibitions and expositions (using virtual & interactive formats). Even the equipment vendors, software providers and other suppliers started remote support with the help of video & audio solutions such as

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Cisco’s Webex. x. The Covid protocol of wearing masks, social distancing, sanitization of the body & equipment, isolation and treatment of infected personnel and labour management (working together, sleeping in dorms, eating together in canteens, using public space, movement in & out of mines etc) has become institutionalized in the work culture of most mining companies now. The Mining industry is here to stay, adapt and evolve into one of the most vital industries globally in terms of GDP contribution, Wealth creation, Employment generation, Community transformation and Technology evolution in almost every other industry. Going forward its evolution into a publicly accepted & acknowledged industry of vital importance is inevitable. www.skillings.net | 41


SPECIAL FOCUS

Iron Ore Miners Revitalizing After riding the highest of highs and lowest of lows in 2021, several developing producers were able to recommence mining activities in 2022 thanks to a first-quarter improvement.

42 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022


A

s if labor shortages and border restrictions weren't bad enough for the Australian mining industry in 2021, the iron ore pricing chose to play with major and small iron ore miners. And while prices peaked at $US230 ($294) per ton in May, then plummeted to $US180 before climbing beyond $US200 again in June and July, it was all too good to be true.

They were able to outlast them. The iron ore price had been above $US100 per ton for more than three weeks at the start of the new year and showed no signs of slowing down. GWR was able to resume mining operations at C4 the week of January 10, citing more viable iron ore prices, while haulage and sales had proceeded over the holiday period.

While Lyons claims he was optimistic about seeing this result in September, he acknowledges he is grateful it went out well. Lyons tells Australian Resources & Investment, "There was certainly no expectation on my part, so you'd have to say the sense is more of a relief that we were able to restart operations again."

China's steel output curbs have created havoc on Australia-China ties, but economists have convinced investors and miners that the tides will change and iron ore prices will return to normal. But, once iron ore prices caught up with the steel production freeze, they plummeted by more than half in less than two months. From July to September, the going rate was lowered by more than $US130 a ton, bringing several of Australia's booming iron ore miners to an unsustainable halt. By mid-November 2021, the iron ore price had plummeted to the low $80s per ton, and mining companies such as GWR Group, CuFe, Venture Minerals, Indus Mining, and Mount Gibson had all suspended operations due to poor iron ore pricing. Nonetheless, not all was doom and gloom for some; GWR chairman Gary Lyons hinted in September that his company was well placed to weather the pricing slump in Australia's main export. "While mining operations at the C4 iron ore mine have temporarily ended, it is important to highlight that GWR remains in a strong position to resume operations because the mine will be left in a production-ready state in order to take advantage of a recovery in iron ore prices," Lyons stated at the time.

GWR chairman Gary Lyons says that the $US111 prices he secured for shipments in the second quarter of 2022 are satisfactory. "I can't forecast beyond the first half of the year," but I can say that I've presold the majority of our merchandise through the end of June."


SPECIAL FOCUS

"However, despite the fact that we'd stopped mining, we hadn't stopped transferring product." We had a stockpile, and we've continued to sell and transport goods to the port." GWR's publicly disclosed sales as of this writing include one cargo in March for $US110 per ton, with preceding shipments in January and February selling for $US100 and $US95 per ton, respectively. Lyons also says that the $US111 prices he secured for shipments in the second quarter of 2022 are satisfactory. "I can't forecast beyond the first half of the year," he continues, "but I can say that I've presold the majority of our merchandise through the end of June." "That was at a fixed price and FOB (free on board) since I didn't want to be exposed to the volatility of shipping prices." Not only does the price of iron ore and shipping fluctuate, but so do currency exchange rates. I simply hedged our bets wherever I could in order to know exactly how much we'll be banking." This is the approach Lyons believes anyone in his position should use in a time when the following quarter is mainly uncertain. Of course, humbly, he claims that he feels obligated to make reasonable earnings for the people on the ground. "I'm not sure I've done anything particularly clever or clever," Lyons says, "but when it comes to our shareholders and the many mothers and fathers out there, security is critical, and it's critical we're able to continue mining operations while delivering product with some sort of margin." With a 750-kilometer trip to the Port of Geraldton for the stockpile, GWR's C4 iron ore mine is significantly more 44 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022


vulnerable to declines in iron ore prices than most. As a result, Lyons declares that safety and security are his top priorities. "We'll always be the last to start mining and the first to cease, just because of the costs associated with logistics from mine to port," he explains. "Any price shift makes us very sensitive, and as I usually say, 'a sparrow in the hand is better than an eagle on the roof,' so I'm always focused on maintaining margins." This is in line with Wood

Mackenzie senior analyst Kim Christie's projections, which remain upbeat for miners like GWR. "Small mines are often higher-cost operations, so these operators will remain cautious about their price expectations, especially as 2022 approaches," Christie adds. "However, even at $US90 per ton, most producers will be making excellent margins, so we believe 2022 will be a good and profitable time for most Australian iron ore miners." Lyons says he intends to run with this projection – at a responsible

pace, of course. "I haven't locked it away yet since we still have more iron ore to sell." "However, if the iron ore price rises again, I'll attempt to take advantage of it and hedge out even more," Lyons finishes.

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STATISTICS

FEBRUARY 2022 CRUDE STEEL PRODUCTION

W

orld crude steel production for the 64 countries reporting to the World Steel Association (worldsteel) was 142.7 million tonnes (Mt) in February 2022, a 5.7% decrease compared to February 2021. CRUDE STEEL PRODUCTION BY REGION

Africa produced 1.3 Mt in February 2022, up 4.1% on February 2021. Asia and Oceania produced 102.6 Mt, down 7.1%. The CIS produced 7.7 Mt, down 5.8%. The EU (27) produced 11.7 Mt, down 2.5%. Europe, Other produced 3.8 Mt. down 2.7%. The Middle East produced 3.5 Mt, up 2.8%, North America produced 8.8 Mt, up 1.8%. South America produced 3.3 Mt, down 7.0%. The 64 countries included in this table accounted for approximately 98% of total world crude steel production in 2020. Regions covered by the table: Africa, Asia and Oceania, CIS, European Union (27) Europe, Other, Middle East, North America, South America.

TOP 10 STEEL-PRODUCING COUNTRIES

China produced an estimated 75.0 Mt in February 2022, down 10.0% on February 2021. India produced 10.1 Mt, up 7.6%. Japan produced 7.3 Mt, down 2.3%. The United States produced 6.4 Mt, up 1.4%. Russia is estimated to have produced 5.8

Table 1. Crude steel production by region feb 2022 (mt)

% change feb 22/21

Table 2. Top 10 steel-producing countries

jan-feb 2021 (Mt)

% change jan-feb 22/22

feb 2022 (mt) china

e 75.0

india

10.1

7.6

20.9

6.6

japan

7.3

-2.3

15.1

-2.2

united states

6.4

1.4

13.4

0.6

e 5.8

-1.4

12.4

1.0

5.2

-6.0

11.2

-2.6

germany

3.2

3.8

6.5

1.1

turkey

3.0

-3.3

6.1

-5.7

brazil

2.7

-6.9

5.6

-5.8

e 2.5

3.7

5.3

11.8

5.9

102.6

-7.1

215.8

-7.2

7.7

-5.8

16.8

-1.7

eu (27)

11.7

-2.5

23.8

-2.2

russia

europe, other

3.8

-2.7

7.8

-4.8

south korea

middle east

3.5

2.8

7.4

9.4

north america

8.8

1.8

18.5

0.4

south america

3.3

-7.0

6.9

-5.9

142.7

-5.7

299.4

-5.5

iran

total 64 countries

% change jan-feb 22/21 -10.0

2.5

cis

jan-feb 22 (mt) 158.0

4.1

asia and oceania

% change feb 22/21 -10.0

1.3

africa

Mt, down 1.4%. South Korea produced 5.2 Mt, down 6.0%. Germany produced 3.2 Mt, up 3.8%. Turkey produced 3.0 Mt, down 3.3%. Brazil produced 2.7 Mt, down 6.9%. Iran is estimated to have produced 2.5 Mt, up 3.7%..

The 64 countries included in this table accounted for approximately 98% of total world crude steel production in 2020. Regions and countries covered by the table: Africa: Egypt, Libya, South Africa. Asia and Oceania: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan (China), Vietnam. CIS: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan. European Union (27). Europe, Other: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Turkey, United Kingdom. Middle East: Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. North America: Canada, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, United States. South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela

46 | SKILLINGS MINING REVIEW April 2022


CRUDE STEEL PRODUCTION DECEMBER 2020. Source – World Steel Association COUNTRY

DEC 2020

DEC 2019

%CHANGE DEC-20/19

2020

% CHANGE

COUNTRY

DEC 2020

DEC 2019

%CHANGE DEC-20/19

2020

% CHANGE

Austria

530 e

521

1.7

6 665

-10.2

Mexico

1 550 e

1 361

13.9

16 854

-8.3

Belgium

359

505

-28.9

6 119

-21.1

United States

6 434

7 292

-11.8

72 690

-17.2

Bulgaria

40 e

43

-6.3

485

-14.3

Croatia

15 e

7

101.9

47

-32.0

North America

9 107

9 801

-7.1

101 119

-15.5

388

326

19.0

3 651

-21.4

2 886

2 462

17.2

30 971

-4.9

Argentina

Czech Republic

408

359

13.7

4 465

0.6

Finland

339

186

81.8

3 500

0.8

France

1 155

918

25.7

11 596

-19.8

Chile

105 e

109

-3.5

1 165

2.8

Germany

3 137

2 835

10.6

35 658

-10.0

Colombia

110 e

97

13.5

1 126

-15.5

94

17.0

1 430

5.9

Ecuador

50 e

50

0.5

477

-21.5

164

-44.8

1 513

-14.5

Paraguay

3 e

3

-4.4

22

-17.5

1 404

6.9

20 200

-12.9

Peru

105 e

91

15.8

671

-45.4

Uruguay

5 e

5

-7.2

47

-24.6

Venezuela

2 e

0

315.8

29

-43.6

3 654

3 143

16.3

38 158

-8.4

Egypt

994

574

73.0

8 229

13.4

Libya

73

63

16.2

495

-18.4

297

-1.5

3 877

-37.0

934

45.5

12 600

-10.1

2 224

19.6

29 030

13.4

85

186

-54.3

1 218

-52.4

Saudi Arabia

440

664

-33.8

7 775

-5.1

United Arab Emirates

280

297

-5.8

2 722

-18.2

3 465

3 371

2.8

40 745

2.7

China

91 252

84 692

7.7 1 052 999

5.2

India

9 796

9 383

4.4

99 570

-10.6

Japan

7 526

7 785

-3.3

83 194

-16.2

South Korea

5 952

5 880

1.2

67 121

-6.0

380 e

261

45.6

3 743

13.3

1 700 e

1 693

0.4

20 570

-6.3

Thailand

410 e

357

14.8

4 420

4.1

Vietnam

1 600 e

1 876

19 500

11.6

118 616

111927

6.0

1 351 117

1.6

473

449

5.4

5 490

0.0

59

57

3.8

586

-12.2

533

506

5.2

6 076

-1.4

Greece Hungary Italy

110 e 90 1 500 e

Luxembourg

113

97

17.3

1 886

-11.0

Netherlands

540

521

3.6

6 054

-9.1

Poland

680 e

642

5.9

7 890

-11.9

Slovenia

50 e

34

45.0

570

-8.5

Spain

891

765

16.4

10 934

-19.5

Sweden

410

376

8.9

4 409

-6.6

United Kingdom

710 e

550

29.0

7 185

-0.5

Other E.U. (28) (e)

680 e

642

6.0

8180

-12.1

10 665

10.2

138 786

-11.8

European Union (28) 11 757 Bosnia-Herzegovina

75

70

6.5

759

-5.2

Macedonia

33

24

35.9

180

-24.8

Norway

41

40

3.2

624

0.5

Serbia

119

158

-24.8

1 456

-24.6

Turkey

3 403

2 893

17.7

35 763

6.0

Other Europe

3 671

3 185

15.3

38 782

3.9

Byelorussia

200 e

225

-11.2

2 490

-5.0

Kazakhstan

355 e

374

-5.0

3 835

-7.2

45 e

35

28.2

465

18.7

Russia

6 110 e

6 159

-0.8

73 400

2.6

Ukraine

1 906

1 561

22.1

20 616

-1.1

84

-4.8

950

42.6

Moldova

Uzbekistan

80 e

C.I.S. (6)

8 696

8 438

3.1

101 756

1.5

Canada

1 070 e

1 092

-2.0

11 078

-14.1

20 e

22

-8.5

181

-21.4

El Salvador

8 e

8

-5.7

79

-22.5

Guatemala

25 e

26

-3.9

237

-22.6

Cuba

Brazil

South America

South Africa

292 e

Africa

1 359

Iran

2 660 e

Qatar

Middle East

Pakistan Taiwan, China

Asia Australia New Zealand Oceania

Total 64 countries (1) 160 858

151 969

5.8 1 829 140

-0.9

(1) - HADEED only. (2) - the 64 countries included in this table accounted for approximately 99% of total world crude steel production in 2019. e - estimated

www.skillings.net | 47