Aim-listed Bluejay Mining is set to declare the discovery of the “world’s purest ilmenite deposit” in Greenland.
Ilmenite, a form of titanium-iron oxide, is the key ingredient in white paint. It is also increasingly used in 3D printers.
Mining minnow Bluejay will report that the resource at its Pituffik deposit is the purest in the world, with 23.6 million tonnes at 8.8pc ilmenite. Moreover, it has only conducted studies on 17pc of the resource, suggesting that the deposit could in fact be the biggest in the world.
Rod McIllree, managing director, said the project was being developed at the right time, because the ilmenite market was seeing “depleted supplies, lack of investment, and rising prices”.
“Demand is rising in all key markets – from North America to China – and our project has the potential to displace existing supplies because of its purity,” he said.
Ilmenite prices have doubled in the last 12 months, Mr McIllree added.
Bluejay plans to begin production next year, should the project pass a feasibility study. The company has the backing of the Greenland government, which has been looking at ways to tap the country’s mineral wealth and shore up its economy, which has been dependent on subsidies from Denmark for decades.
The Pituffik deposit lies in a remote part of northern Greenland near a US airbase. Supplies would have to be shipped in and out via sea. The operation will involve dredging the sand to extract the ilmenite, which has only recently become exposed to the elements because of climate change easing the ice cap.
Mr McIllree said that the deposit’s high grade meant that the company would need to shift fewer tonnes than rivals. “We don’t need large infrastructure – this will be a low volume mining operation to produce a high-value product,” he said, adding that he was confident it would not create “any concern” for environmental regulators.
China is the world’s biggest producer of ilmenite, with sizeable deposits also found in India, Mozambique and Norway.
Bluejay Mining, previously known as FinnAust, also has the option to develop a lead-zinc-silver asset and a nickel-copper deposit in Greenland.