Greenland’s parliament is expected to pass a bill reinstating a ban on uranium mining

Within weeks, Greenland’s parliament, the Inatsisartut, is expected to pass a bill reinstating a ban on uranium mining that was lifted in 2013 following pressure from mining companies.

“The Greenlandic minister with responsibility for minerals has publicly stated that a ban on uranium mining will put an end to all future uranium mining, full stop,” Mariane Paviasen, a Greenland MP and leading activist in the anti-uranium mining movement, Urani? Naamik (Uranium? No), told Green Left.

Paviasen was elected to the Inatsisartut in a snap election in April, as a candidate of the Inuit Ataqatigiit (Community for the People) party (IA). IA explicitly campaigned on a platform opposing a giant open-cut mine proposed for Kvanefjeld (Kuannersuit in Greenlandic) by controversial Australian company Greenland Minerals Ltd (GML).

According to Danish environmentalists, GML was instrumental in overturning Greenland’s uranium mining ban. It promoted the uranium mine as one of the biggest in the world, back in 2007, but now promotes Kvanefjeld as a Rare Earths mine, which will produce uranium as a by-product. It plans to dump uranium-rich mine waste in Lake Taseq, above the small township of Narsaq, where Paviasen lives.

According to NOAH (Danish Friends of the Earth) campaigner Niels Henrik Hooge, this has been GML´s strategy for almost a decade and that of Greenland´s former government.

“It has no credibility with the public, considering that the recent general elections more or less were a referendum on Kvanefjeld and perceived as a ‘uranium election’,” Hooge told GL.

The uranium deposit in Kvanefjeld is considered by GML to be the second largest in the world, surpassed only by Australia’s Olympic Dam uranium mine. While uranium prices have fallen dramatically since the Fukushima reactor disaster, moves to push nuclear energy as a “solution” to global warming may be already pushing the price up.

Furthermore, if GML imagines that presenting its Rare Earths mining project somehow makes it more “green”, this is false. According to GML’s own estimates, the mine would raise Greenland’s carbon dioxide emissions by 45%.

Radioactive waste

NOAH and Renewable Energy, another Danish NGO, list many serious environmental costs if the Kvanefjeld mine is allowed to proceed. There are huge risks from air pollution during open-cut mining, and even greater risks associated with dumping radioactive waste in Lake Taseq.

In addition to uranium, the radioactive waste would include thorium. Thorium tailings are 3‒10 times more radiaoctive than uranium, the two NGOs pointed out in their September 12 submission, responding to the mine’s latest Environmental Impact Statement.

The tailings will cause health problems, even if the built-in dams behave as planned. The risk increases over time, primarily after the mine has been shut down and when monitoring and maintenance have been completed.

In addition to the planned discharges, there will be unintentional spills via leaks and accidents. In the long run, large areas around the mine will be contaminated with radioactive elements and non-radioactive substances, many of which are highly toxic.

“The people living in the polluted areas will be permanently exposed to radioactive and other toxic substances via drinking water, food and air. Seafood is also becoming polluted due to the massive discharges of waste, including wastewater, along the coast. Bioaccumulation of radionuclides and non-radioactive chemicals can become a serious problem.

“All this means that uranium mining in Kuannersuit in addition to significant chemical pollution will leave millions of tons of tailings containing some of the most toxic known radioactive substances, such as radium, thorium, radon and polonium, and this waste remains radioactive at a dangerous level for hundreds of thousands of years.

“In addition, the Arctic environment is particularly vulnerable to pollution because it is rebuilding very slowly, and the long-term consequences of uranium mining could be extensive radioactive pollution, which, due to the health hazard, may make it necessary to ban agriculture, fishing, trapping and livestock farming.”

Company tactics

GML argued vigorously for the uranium mine in the lead up to the April elections. The company ran daily advertisements claiming that the mine would generate US$245 million in taxes and royalties for the country’s economy each year and create 330 local jobs.

After the election, GML chairperson Anthony Ho suggested to shareholders at the company’s May 26 Annual General Meeting in Perth that the company would be able to weaken the opposition to the Kvanefjeld mine among the new generation of MPs who were elected:

“Now that they are in power they now have to deal with governing a country rather than rah, rah, rah campaigning — ‘Vote for me, I’m going to make you all millionaires and you’re all going to have beautiful sunshine and fresh air’,” Ho said, according to a transcript published by environmental NGOs.

Ho said GML could “help them to evolve their policies”.

“How are we going to assist them to achieve their aspirations of no uranium mining in Greenland without damaging [our] shareholders’ interests and shareholders’ value in the company and our project?”

The answer, Ho suggested, was to treat the Kvanefjeld mine as an exception, even if the uranium ban passed.

“If you look at the situation in Australia, when Bob Hawke was elected Prime Minister, he said no uranium mining. But then the mines department said to him, ‘You can’t stop Jabiluka because it is already going on’. So ‘alright’, he said, ‘Yep, no uranium mining from now on, and Jabiluka can carry on’. So there’s a lot of things that you need to work with government and help them achieve their goals and what they say during the election, without damaging the country or damaging the shareholders interests.”

GML managing director John Mair noted cockily at the AGM that, as the new IA-led government was a coalition, things could “change in a heartbeat”. He also joked about how many Greenlanders welcome global warming and that if the country did not warm enough, then “when the mine does get going and they’re earning good wages, they can pop down to Spain and get thawed out and come back for another fortnight.”

GML shareholders laughed at this.


The political aggressiveness of GML may have something to do with its roots.

Sydney- based independent journalist, author and filmmaker Antony Loewenstein has been following this case since 2014. At the time, he wrote an article for the Guardian outlining the political record of GML, then called Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd (GMEL), and its alleged control by a mysterious businessman, Mihran Shemesian, also known as “Mick Many Names”.

“In 2009, Fairfax media claimed that Shemesian controlled more than 20% of GMEL stock. Range Resources, another company tied to Shemesian, had earlier been accused of paying the disputed government of the Puntland State of Somalia, linked to Somali rebels, more than US$6m (A$9.3m) for resource rights to the region,” Loewenstein wrote.

When Loewenstein asked Mair about Shemesian, he was told he isn’t “registered as a shareholder”. However, Mair would not guarantee that Shemesian has no involvement with GMEL.

“Years ago I found troubling transparency questions around the Australian firm GMEL [now GML] and it should be treated with caution,” Loewenstein told GL.

“This issue has received barely any coverage in Australia and it begs the question; what’s a relatively unknown Western Australian company trying to do in Greenland and what are its real motives? Uranium mining in pristine territory should be rejected outright.”

GML should stop pushing a mining project that clearly doesn’t have a social license to operate, he added.

Dr Lian Sinclair, who observed GML’s last AGM on behalf of mining monitoring group, the Minerals Policy Institute, told GL: “GML refused to rule out litigation over any potential ban on uranium and said they are committed to ‘quiet-diplomacy’. It is most concerning … that an Australian company would potentially engage in litigation or back-room deals away from public scrutiny to overturn the democratic mandate of a small country.”


GML may have seriously politically over-reached this time.

Greg Barnes, a Perth-based geologist who owns another mining company operating near Kvanesfjeld — and who supposedly inspired former United States president Donald Trump’s announcement two year ago that he might “buy Greenland” — interrupted Mair at GML’s AGM:

“Mate, you stink in Greenland. Your advertising campaign in the election probably did more to get IA elected than anybody else.”

He added that the company’s political intervention had “killed the project”.

It seems that Barnes could be right.

Paviasen, who chairs the Inatsisartut’s Committee for Trade, Commerce, Mineral and Oil Resources, was adamant that the IA-led government and the Greenland parliament would hold firm on the uranium mining ban and on the Kvanefjeld mine.

“There will be no exceptions made,” she told GL.

“Currently GML holds an exploration license, but a ban will make it impossible to obtain an exploitation license containing uranium mining, unless the resource is below the threshold of 100 parts per million, which is unlikely.

“Also, keep in mind that GML already has a special term in their exploration license stating that the Greenlandic government can reject an application for uranium mining due to political reasons. This has been in effect since 2011 and stayed on through several coalition governments of different politics.”


Greenland lead and zinc mine approved for operation

Greenland’s Self-Rule Authority has given the go-ahead to begin construction of one of the largest mines in the country to date.

Ironbark, an Australian firm, is expected to begin construction of the Citronen lead and zinc mine in far north-eastern Greenland in 2017 or 2018. Once in operation, it would be the country’s first ‘large-scale’ mining project, a term applied to mines estimated to cost more than 5 billion kroner to establish and requiring more employees than are available locally.

Once operational, the mine is expected to employ 500. During construction, about 60 Greenlandic employees will be hired. According to the agreement signed with Greenlandic officials, Ironbark is required to employ Greenlandic labour to the extent possible, as well as to fund job-training.

With the approval in hand, Ironbark, which holds the rights to two other mining projects in Greenland, will now use the next several months to finalise financing for the project.

Ironbark has not announced how much money it needs to begin construction and operation, but it has previously stated that it will take 2.7 billion kroner to build the mine and 3 billion to operate it over during its estimated 14-year life.

Company officials have previously stated they have tentative agreements with firms that have expressed an interest in purchasing the mine’s ore

During the past eight years, Greenlandic authorities have approved six mining operations. Currently none are operational. That is expected to change next year when at least two mines are expected to come on-line.

Turkey delivers key forestry permit for Alamos Gold’s Kirazli project

Shares of Alamos Gold listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange jumped 14%, or $1.43, to $11.57 after the company reported that it had received a key forestry permit for its Kirazli gold project in Turkey.

Turkey’s federal government has already approved the project’s environmental impact study, which leaves the Business Opening and Operations permit. That permit, which is granted by the governor of the local province of Canakkalea, should be relatively easy to get, some mining analysts that cover the company say.

“The governor is appointed by the ruling AK Party, and our understanding is this permit does not involve a major amount of government study,” Kerry Smith of Haywood Securities says of the outstanding GSM. “We would expect this permit in the second half of 2017, and once received, Alamos would be in a position to move ahead with development, subject to the remaining minor bureaucratic permits needed in Turkey.”


DPM gold output at Chelopech mine in Bulgaria rises in Q4

Canada’s Dundee Precious Metals said it produced 31,600 ounces of gold from its Chelopech mine in Bulgaria in the fourth quarter of 2016, up from the 23,900 ounces produced in the third quarter.
“Chelopech gold production increased in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter due to better gold grade zones from which higher gold recoveries to copper concentrate were achieved,” DPM said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday.
The Q4 volume takes the total 2016 gold output to 118,400 ounces, in line with the increased guidance issued on November 8, 2016, DPM said. Initial 2016 guidance ranged between 95,000 and 108,000 ounces.
Copper production in the fourth quarter alone fell to 8.8 million pounds, from 9.4 million pounds in the preceding quarter, taking the yearly total to 38.5 million pounds, in line with the guidance ranging between 35.7 and 39.7 million pounds.
Silver output from the Chelopech mine amounted to 51,000 ounces in the fourth quarter. The total yearly output amounted to 227,700 ounces, well below the 2016 guidance range of 315,000 to 345,000 ounces.
A total of 547,000 tonnes of ore were processed in the fourth quarter, taking the yearly total to 2.21 million tonnes, DPM said.
Last month, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced a $32.7 million investment in DPM, that is still subject to regulatory approval, to back up the development of the company’s Krumovgrad gold and silver mining project in south-eastern Bulgaria.
“Initial earthworks and site preparation activities commenced at the project site in the fourth quarter, as planned, consistent with the project schedule to commence operations in late 2018,” DPM said.


European Metals, completion of drilling programme at Cinovec Czech Republic

European Metals has announced that it has now completed 17 drill-holes totalling 6081 metres at Cinovec. The programme is “planned to confirm and delineate near surface lithium and tin mineralisation that would provide initial feed to the mill…the conversion of resources from the Inferred to Indicated category, and delivery of material for metallurgical testing”.

The company reports assay results from the latest two holes while results from a further 5 holes are “expected to be delivered by the end of January.”

Hole CIW-23, located in the central part of the Cinovec Main mineralisation intersected 261.1m at an average grade of 0.50% Li2O, described as “the best lithium interval to date”, while hole CIW -10, on the western edge of the mineralisation intersected 223.9m at an average grade of 0.43% Li2O. “Between 116 and 119 the drill intersected a historic backfilled stope after mining high grade tin-tungsten quartz veins in the 1960’s.”

Hole CIW-10 was drilled at an angle of 75⁰ towards the west and intersected the contact between barren porphyry and mineralised granite, containing between 5% to 15% of the lithium mica mineral zinnwaldite, at a depth of 213m.

The company comments that “When all the results are received, we will upgrade the block model and finalise the resource estimate for the Pre-feasibility study. We expect further conversion of inferred to indicated resources to occur as part of this re-modelling.”

European Metals has also announced the appointment of a mining engineer, Mr Richard Pavlik as General Manager of the company’s Czech subsidiary , Geomet s.r.o. Mr Pavlik has “almost 30 years of relevant industry experience in the Czech Republic” including a role as “Chief Project Manager and Advisor to the Chief Executive” of the major Czech coal producer OKD.

Boliden to invest €44m in Ireland Tara Mines after finding new resources

Boliden, the Swedish owner of Tara Mines in Co Meath, is to invest €44 million in the site after identifying new mineral resources and deciding to expand the mine’s tailing dam.
The mine, which is just outside Navan, is Europe’s largest, and the world’s ninth largest zinc mine. It currently employs over 600. Production at Tara Mines began in 1977, and since then more than 80 million tonnes of ore have been mined.
Boliden Mines said a recent exploration has resulted in the discovery of a new mineralisation Tara Deep. An extension of the capacity of the tailings dam, which currently limits Tara’s lifespan, has also been decided.
The new tailings dam will have sufficient capacity for production at current levels until 2026, Boliden said.
The company’s planned investment totals €33 million, and is conditional upon obtaining official permits. The investment is based on mining until at least 2023, although the company said the new mineral resources may lead it to extend the life of the mine further.
New deposit
Boliden said the construction of an exploration drift to the new deposit at a cost of €11 million had also been approved.
“Tara’s exploration work in the last few years has been successful, and the capacity of the tailings dam is now limiting the life of mine to 2020. New exploration successes, increased productivity, and high zinc prices make extending the mine’s lifespan a profitable option, so we have decided to expand the tailings dam with a capacity until 2026,” said Mikael Staffas, president of Boliden.
The new Tara Deep deposit has inferred mineral resources totalling 10 million tonnes with a zinc grade of 8l5 per cent and a lead grade of 1.8 per cent. The mineralisation resembles Tara’s main ore body, but has a more complicated structure and is at a greater depth of between 1,200m and 1,900m, Boliden said.
Recently-filed accounts from Tara Mines Holdings and subsidiaries show turnover declined by 17.3 per cent in 2015 to €155.3 million from €187.8 million a year earlier. The company reported a €65,000 pretax loss, versus a €6.2 million profit a year earlier.
Production at the mine for 2015 was 2.2 million tonnes of ore, down from 2.3 million tonnes a year earlier.


Ariana says Turkey gold mine operational

Gold exploration company Ariana Resources on Wednesday reported that its Turkey-based Kiziltepe mine is largely operational, following the successful completion of major construction in December.

The commissioning of the ball mill is complete and wet commissioning of the process plant is largely complete, with thickener tests to be completed this week, MD Dr Kerim Sener said in a statement.
“Around 7 000 t of ore ranging in grade from 2.7 g/t to 0.5 g/t gold and representing two weeks of production is stockpiled ready for the first full-scale tests and start-up.”

He noted that the dam wall was complete and that installation of geomembrane for the Stage 1 tailings storage facility was largely complete, although there were currently some delays owing to unprecedented weather conditions.

“The conditions being encountered at site have ranged from very wet weather in late December to sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall in early January, which have negated the laying of the final geomembrane for TSF, which comprises only another two weeks of work,” he noted.

He added that the company was also advancing work programmes on its other projects to enhance its future production profile once Kiziltepe enters production.

The milestone achievements in the development of the Kiziltepe mine towards gold and silver production place it on course to meet its targeted production of 21 000 oz gold equivalent per annum.


Europan Metals Lithiun Czech Republic prospect

It’s proposed to be an underground operation, building or extending the operations that are already there at Cínovec. There has been a lot of mining in this area, they have mined tin there for an excess of 600 years. And there is already over 20 kilometres of tunnels, adits, and drives and things already in place. So it’s an extension of the existing underground mine and operation and all the extraction will be done underground.
European Metals is an Australian and UK listed mining company which is pushing ahead with surveys aimed at renewing mining at Cínovec, a former mining town in the far north of the country near the German border. Keith Coughlan is the company’s managing director. He explained on the phone from Australia how mining could start up within three years or so and how big the potential Czech reserves are.
“It’s a little over six million tonnes of LCE, which is Lithium Carbonate Equivalent. It is contained in about 550 to 600 million tonnes of ore. It’s in fairly low concentration, so that translates into a little over 600 million of Lithium Carbonate Equivalent.”
And in European or world comparisons is this a lot?
“Yes, in terms of contained LCE it’s about the largest deposit in Europe and about the fourth largest non-brine deposit in the world. When I say non-brine, there are two ways that lithium usually occurs, one is in hard rock deposits and the other is in brine deposits. And brines is effectively old salt lakes, what they call solars, that are normally found at high altitudes mostly in South America, and lithium is produced from those mostly from evaporation. Hard rock mining is the other way. So if we take the brines out of it, it is about the fourth largest known source of lithium in the world.”
How are you going to get this out…is it going to be a conventional mining operation?
“If we take the brines out of it, it is about the fourth largest known source of lithium in the world.”
“It is a conventional mining operation, but it’s an underground mine not an open pit which people may think of when you say dig a hole to get it out It’s proposed to be an underground operation, building or extending the operations that are already there at Cínovec. There has been a lot of mining in this area, they have mined tin there for an excess of 600 years. And there is already over 20 kilometres of tunnels, adits, and drives and things already in place. So it’s an extension of the existing underground mine and operation and all the extraction will be done underground. So its low impact and not digging a big hole that everybody can see. “
And where are you at the moment…if I understand correctly you have done a lot of bore holes, tests etc but where are you with getting the permits and when will you realistically be able to start operation?
Keith Coughlan, photo: archive of European Metals
Keith Coughlan, photo: archive of European Metals
“Like I say, there have been a lot of bore holes there historically in the deposit over many years, some 80 odd thousand metres of diamond drilling and we have been drilling on and off for the last two years. So there has been a lot of that sort of work done. In terms of where we are in the process, we are completing what we call a preliminary feasibility study (PFS). So that’s a study to determine the feasibility of the project on a plus or minus 25-30 percent tolerance. That study will be concluded by the end of March next year, so in about four months. Then we would move into a definitive feasibility study which seeks to narrow the parameters and reduce the margin of error, so a more detailed study. That would take another year to get that organised and put into place. And then you move into a financing and building stage before you start to mine and produce. Running parallel to that you have got your permits and things. From the Czech law perspective our next milestone is a preliminary mining permit and once we have concluded the PFS and the environmental work, which we have started, we then go on to apply for that license. There are other permits we need to get in terms of re-accessing the underground operations and de-watering, because there is a fair bit of water in the mine. We would be getting that water out. All those environmental studies are important to ensure that it will be low impact from the visual and noise point of view, all of those sorts of things.”
“We would hope that we would be in a position to deliver a product into the entire European electric vehicle market.”
I understand you are doing lots of feasibility studies, they are important to get the finance together…but from a broad ballpark perspective, you know how much ore is there, you have a fair idea of what the costs of getting it out are, and you know what the current price of lithium is; so looking at those three basic factors are you confident that you can make a go of this?
“Well certainly we are given the current lithium price, or lithium carbonate price, and also the current tin price, which is also important for us. Cínovec is a very large deposit but it’s also very low grade so it needs strong metal prices and mining methods to be sound and on the ball to keep the overall costs down because it is low grade. But the market for lithium itself is compelling. There seems to be a lot of demand in the near term, mainly driven in Europe by the electric vehicle industry and that is a big part of the strategy for us. EVs in Germany and in the Czech Republic, in time, are important with the automatic industry important in the Czech Republic. Those are driving the lithium price, there is no doubt. The tin, as I say, is important because it is a by product and it provides a by product credit for us, which has the effect of lowering our overall cost of production of lithium. But we do need both of those prices to stay nice and strong for us during the build period etc.”
If I am not mistaken, I read somewhere that lithium prices are going up by around 10 to 20 percent a year. I don’t know what time frame you think you could start production but I suppose that you think that tin and lithium prices will be stronger by the time you might realistically start?
“Well they certainly have been going up by the orders of magnitude you are speaking about. That won’t continue obviously. Nothing can go up by those numbers year on year ad infinitum, so it will definitely level out. What happens is that when the price of any metal goes up it encourages more people to bring projects on. Lithium is not an uncommon metal and people are looking to develop other projects so what that will do is bring on more supply and stabilise the price. So, certainly for the next two or three years we will have good growth in the price of lithium compounds but I think after that it will start to stabilise and that’s about the time out where we are looking to start production at Cínovec.”
But as you suggested earlier, if you mine this, and you probably process it locally – I should ask about that – this will then be on the doorstep for much of the European car market…
“That’s exactly right, and yes, we are looking to process locally. The plan at this time, before the PFSs, is that we would do the first stage of processing up on the mountain at Cínovec but then we would be pumping the concentrate through a slurry pile down into the more industrial area in the valley and building a lithium carbonate plant down there. We are very keen to value add within the Czech Republic and there is expertise within the country to assist us in doing that and we would hope that we would be in a position to deliver a product into the entire European electric vehicle market for many years to come. There are battery plants within reasonable proximity, there is a quite large one that Daimler has in Dresden, which is not very far away. We have LG Chemicals which is building one in Poland and Samsung building one in Hungary and one in Vienna, so the demand for electric vehicles and lithium batteries in Europe is increasing. You have various counties talking about banning petrol and diesel cars from their roads from 2025, and some from 2030. I think the demand for electric cars will continue and I think that will be very important for the Czech Republic.”
The mayor of the local area, Dubí, Petr Pípal, is very much in favour of the mining project:
“So far we have not registered any negative viewpoint from local people.”
“There are mostly people owning holiday homes and chalets at Cinovec, they are mostly weekend visitors. There are 66 people living there all the time. We have not so far seen any negative reaction from these people. We are making everything public, they know about these activities which we cover in the monthly town newspaper. So far we have not registered any negative viewpoint from local people.”
For the town, the renewal of mining activities could mean annual payments of around 25-30 million crowns to the council coffers and its hoped that dozens of local jobs would be created.


€1bn silver mining company takes stake in Ireland zinc focused Group Eleven Resources

A €1bn Canadian silver mining company has taken a stake in fledgling Dublin-based zinc explorer Group Eleven Resources.
The investment by Vancouver-headquartered MAG Silver in the Irish firm is part of a wider fundraising that has seen Group Eleven recently raise almost €1.1m from backers to develop zinc projects in Ireland after the price of the base metal soared 80pc last year.
Stockmarket-listed MAG Silver, which has Jonathan Rubenstein as its chairman, develops silver mines in Mexico. It has a market capitalisation of just under C$1.4bn and has stumped up over €500,000 for its stake in Group Eleven.

A MAG Silver director is also believed to have also invested personally in the Irish company.
Most of the investors who pumped money into Group Eleven in its latest funding are based in Canada. But other investors from countries including Ireland, the UK, Russia and the United States have also taken stakes.

The company, founded in 2015, has previously raised over €300,000 from its founders and other investors, including former Davy corporate finance chief Hugh McCutcheon.
Group Eleven Resources owns licences that cover acreage in Limerick, south of the Pallas Green zinc resource that’s owned by global mining giant Glencore. Pallas Green is undeveloped, but it would be the country’s second-largest zinc mine if it ever becomes operational. It was previously owned by Xstrata, which reckoned it would cost over €200m to develop.

Group Eleven Resources was established by John Barry, David Furlong and Bart Jaworski.
Mr Barry is chairman of the company. He has worked on gold mining projects in Africa.

Mr Jaworski is ceo. He was previously a mining equity analyst at Davy Stockbrokers and prior to that worked with the Canadian arm of US brokerage Raymond James. Mr Furlong is general manager at the firm. He has previous worked on resources projects in Poland.
Ireland has just one operational zinc mine, Tara Mines in Co Meath, which is owned by Swedish firm Boliden.

It is Europe’s biggest zinc mine and the ninth-largest in the world.


Ukraine's 2016 exports of titanium ore up 57.1% on year

Ukraine’s exports of titanium ore and concentrate rose 57.1% year-on-year to 463,390 mt in January-December 2016 from 295,020 mt in 2015, the state customs service reported Tuesday.

Revenues from exports of the commodity rose to $84 million from $72 million in 2015, the customs service said.

In January through December Ukraine shipped 35.3% of the total exports of the commodity to Russia, 18.4% to the United States, 12.4% to the Czech Republic and 33.9% to other countries, the customs service said.

In December alone, Ukraine exported 44,920 mt of titanium ore and concentrate, up from 35,750 mt in December 2015 and 42,680 mt in November, the customs service said.

Titanium ore is used for titanium sponge production.

Ukraine produces titanium ore concentrate mostly at Vilnohirsk mining and metallurgical plant and Irshansk mining and processing plant. Both plants are part of the state-owned United Mining and Chemical Company.