Europe, Copper demand under pressure due to Green Deal

The world’s largest economies are committed to reducing carbon emissions by diminishing their reliance on fossil fuels.

They are building solar panels and wind turbines to make renewables their primary source of energy, and we can add electric cars to the list. However, all these ambitions require significant volumes of copper, a metal whose electrical conductivity makes it indispensable in the production of green technologies.

But the new green revolution, which will gain momentum in the coming years, comes amid a shortage of copper production.

Copper demand was under pressure in 2022 amid political tensions, economic slowdowns in the US and Europe and anti-Covid measures taken by China.

The red metal is now trading at around $8,300/tonne, after the price fell more than 20% from its 2022 peak in March. However, demand is set to grow in the medium term, while supply cannot keep up.

Under these conditions, Goldman Sachs analysts expect the price of copper to reach $11,000/tonne by the end of 2023.

Green technologies strain demand

The global transition to clean energy is moving fast, and as demand for green technologies grows, more and more copper is needed.

Renewable energy plants require on average 8 to 12 times more copper than fossil fuel forms of energy generation, and electric vehicles consume 3-4 times more copper than an internal combustion engine vehicle.

Current prospects for copper supply in the coming years are well below demand, as copper mines usually take more than a decade to develop, and relatively low commodity prices have discouraged investment in recent years.

“Quite frankly, this shortfall will have a dramatic impact on our ability to make the infrastructure needed for the energy transition – such as wind turbines, EVs and charging stations,” says Kate Southwell, General Counsel at Pala Investments, an investment company focused on raw materials needed to decarbonise.

“Copper cannot be easily substituted in these uses so it is highly likely to see cost increases that will ultimately be borne by consumers and OEMs.”

Since the severe financial crisis that began in 2008, many mining companies have focused their investments on short-term projects to maximise profits. Because copper prices have been relatively low, and opening new mines requires billions of dollars of upfront investment, copper mining has not been a priority, except for a few boom years in the early 2010s.

Romania, in last place in Europe in the exploitation of own resources

Romania, despite being a country with significant copper ore reserves, the largest in Europe, only makes little use of this advantage.

Canada’s Frasier Institute, recognized for its assessments of mining business opportunities around the world, showed in 2021 that out of 112 countries, Romania ranked 109th. Moreover, in terms of the exploitation of its own resources, Romania ranked last in Europe.

Currently, Romania produces around 55,000 tonnes of copper ore annually from the Rosia Poieni mine, owned by the state-owned company Cupru Min, and Baita, controlled by the British company Vast Resources.

The largest quantity, over 50,000 tonnes, is provided by Cupru Min, which holds about 60% of Romania’s reserves.

Last spring, Economy Minister Florin Spataru brought back to public attention Romania’s intention to build a copper ore processing plant after the non-ferrous metallurgy was destroyed more than 15 years ago.

However, under current conditions, the construction of a processing plant is not economically justified, given that a minimum quantity of 120,000 tonnes needs to be processed annually for such a plant to be even close to being profitable.

Another option would be to repatriate the copper resulting from refining the concentrate, experts say, but this is not being considered by the authorities.

For years, what Cupru Min extracts goes to China, and in addition to the quantities of copper that Romania’s economy loses, the other metals that result from refining the ore can also be added to the list of losses: selenium and tellurium, two vital elements for rocket engines and sub-assemblies that require materials with high temperature resistance, gold, and silver.

For example, the Phoenix Copper Smelter in Baia Mare used to produce 40,000 tonnes of copper per year, 12 tonnes of gold and 120 tonnes of silver per year, but it was all destroyed. In addition, Ampelum Zlatna used to produce 15,000 tonnes of copper per year, but this plant has also disappeared.

50,000 tons of ore for sale

Cupru Min sent its copper ore production to China in 2021 and 2022 through Trafigura Group Pte. Ltd. of Singapore, one of the world’s largest players in metals and energy trading.

For contracting the 2023 production, Cupru Min organised a new international tender in November 2022, and the opening of bids took place in mid-December last year.

The winner of the 50,000 tonnes of copper ore has not yet been announced.

Still waiting for mining to reopen

Moldomin, owner of about 30% of Romania’s copper concentrate reserves (approx. 200 million tonnes), was sold in 2021 to Turkey’s largest mining company, Eti Bakir.

But reopening mining here also raises a legislative issue. A new mining law was enacted in 2020, but although some time has passed since then, the National Agency for Mineral Resources (NAMR) has not adopted the methodological rules for its implementation. Among other things, they should also regulate the procedure for reopening closed mining operations.

Estimated shortfall of 50 million tonnes

While Romania has significant deposits but is not exploiting them to their true potential, Glencore, one of the world’s largest dealers of non-ferrous concentrates, is now looking at developing the huge El Pachon mine in Argentina.

Glencore CEO Gary Nagle forecasts a ‘huge shortfall’ of copper, which could reach a cumulative 50 million tonnes between 2022 and 2030. Even now, despite concerns about a global recession, the balance between supply and demand remains tight. Quantities of copper sold on international exchanges reach record low levels, covering only a few days of global consumption.

Large mines reduce production

According to the International Copper Study Group (ICSG), only two major copper mines have been opened between 2017 and 2021.

Currently, two greenfield projects, Kamoa Kakula in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Quellaveco mine in Peru, are increasing production, but this growth is offset by operational problems faced by other major mines around the world.

In Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, production will fall by 5.8% in 2022, according to government estimates. Chile’s state-owned Codelco said production fell in the first nine months of 2022 and will fall further in 2023.

In December, Panama’s government ordered Canada’s First Quantum Minerals to halt operations at its Cobre Panama copper mine after it failed to agree on royalties under a new contract. Local community protests in Peru are also disrupting copper production and supplies.

Russia opens up a huge deposit

In Russia, the giant Udokan Сopper project is scheduled to start production this year, with an estimated annual extraction of 135,000 tonnes of copper ore.

With ore reserves of over 26 million tonnes, Udokan is one of the largest deposits globally. Located in Russia’s Far East, near the border with China, the deposit is ideally positioned to transport the metal to a country that accounts for more than half of the world’s copper consumption.

China, the big beneficiary of the Udokan deposit

While Europe is postponing some of its green energy projects due to economic problems caused by higher oil and gas prices, China is on track to achieve net zero emissions by 2060.

This country is already the world’s largest producer of electric vehicles, solar panels, and electric batteries. The country’s development plans include increasing renewable energy capacity and increasing the share of electric vehicles in total car sales.

These initiatives will require additional copper and the Udokan deposit is ready to meet China’s growing demand, Energy Industry Review writes.

BHP joins hunt for Serbian copper

BHP, the largest Australian miner, has struck a new deal to explore for copper in Serbia as it accelerates efforts to boost its exposure to metals that will be vital to building electric cars and green energy technology.

The Melbourne-based mining giant’s agreement with Canada’s Mundoro Capital gives it the option to take a stake in three exploration areas that Mundoro holds in the Timok region of eastern Serbia. Copper is considered one of the key building blocks of the clean energy revolution, used in electric vehicles, wind turbines and power grids’ transmission lines.

“Mundoro welcomes BHP as an exploration partner that recognises the potential of further exploration in the western Tethyan Belt,” Mundoro chief executive Teo Dechev said.

Top mining companies across the world, including BHP and rival Rio Tinto, have been ramping up efforts to diversify into so-called “future-facing” commodities, those standing to benefit from global trends towards decarbonisation.

BHP, which derives most of its earnings from the steel-making material iron ore, is targeting growth in copper and nickel, two minerals the world needs much more of in coming years as countries race to electrify transport and hit “net-zero” emissions targets. Electric cars consume up to four times as much copper as internal combustion-engine vehicles, BHP says, while nickel is a necessary ingredient in lithium-ion batteries.

Last month, BHP signed a binding $9.6 billion takeover offer to acquire Adelaide-based copper and nickel producer Oz Minerals, which has two copper and gold mines in South Australia, located either side of BHP’s vast Olympic Dam mining hub.

The Oz Minerals deal, if it succeeds, will mark BHP’s biggest acquisition since it paid $US12 billion for US shale gas producer Petrohawk in 2011.

BHP last year sold off its global oil and gas division, partly to free up its ability to spend on more copper and nickel. However, the company remains a significant producer of carbon-intensive fossil fuels with several coal mines across Australia, most of which produce coking coal for the steel-making sector.

Rio Tinto has also looked to Serbia in its quest for “future-facing” minerals copper and lithium. However, its plans to develop the $3 billion Jadar lithium mine in western Serbia, which would have been the largest in Europe, suffered a significant setback last year when the Balkan nation’s government tore up its permits in response to escalating community protests over its potential impact on the environment.

The future of Rio Tinto’s Serbian project remains in limbo, but the company has not given up hope that it may eventually proceed.

Meanwhile, in December, Rio Tinto finalised a multibillion-dollar deal to buy the shares it did not already own in Toronto-listed Turquoise Hill Resources to lift its exposure to the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia. It has also recently acquired the undeveloped Rincon lithium brine project sitting within the so-called “lithium triangle” of South America.

Copper presently accounts for about 20 per cent of BHP’s underlying earnings, while iron ore makes up more than 50 per cent. Based on long-term price forecasts, copper could make up more than 40 per cent of earnings by 2030, according to analysts. “This would support the strategy to have about 50 per cent of the portfolio, longer term, made up from copper, nickel and potash,” investment bank JPMorgan said, SMH writes.

Kazakhstan, KAZ Minerals increases copper production 26% in first nine 2022

KAZ Minerals, the largest copper producer in Kazakhstan, reported today that its copper production increased by 26% to 282 kt in the first nine months of 2022 (9M 2021: 224 kt).

“The world class ramp up of the second sulphide concentrator at Aktogay, as well as improved performance at Sulphide 1 and the oxide plant, enabled Aktogay to increase its copper output by 64% to 168 kt in the year to 30 September 2022 (9M 2021: 102 kt),” the company said in a statement.

The company’s 9M 2022 gold production of 129 koz increased by 2% compared with 9M 2021 (126 koz) due to higher output at Bozshakol where throughput and grades processed improved in the period.

In 9M 2022, KAZ Minerals also produced 2,718 koz of silver (9M 2021: 2,513 koz) and 29.4 ktonnes of zinc (9M 2021: 34.1 ktonnes).

KAZ Minerals added that its copper sales were aligned with copper production in the first nine months of the year but were 9% behind production in the third quarter, as Aktogay output exceeded expectations.

Importantly, the company noted that its finished goods inventory is expected to reduce in the fourth quarter and fully unwind during 2023.

CEO Andrew Southam stated, “KAZ Minerals has delivered an excellent set of operational results in the first nine months of 2022, with copper output increasing by 26%. The world class ramp up of the second sulphide concentrator at Aktogay has resulted in a step change in our production, while site management has continued to improve ore throughput across the Group to maximise copper output.”

KAZ Minerals is the largest copper producer in Kazakhstan. It operates the Aktogay and Bozshakol open pit copper mines in the Abay and Pavlodar regions of Kazakhstan, three underground mines and associated concentrators in the East Region of Kazakhstan and the Bozymchak copper-gold mine in Kyrgyzstan. The company also completed a Bankable Feasibility Study for the greenfield Baimskaya copper project in Russia, which it acquired in 2018, Kitco reports.

Zijin triples production at Serbian copper complex

Bor, in north-eastern Serbia, is one of the country’s most polluted cities. While local people protest their toxic air and water, Chinese mining company Serbia Zijin Copper, which runs the city’s large-scale copper mining and smelting complex, is expanding its operations without permits, local consent or transparency. Zijin is one of the many highly polluting Chinese investments undertaken without the necessary environmental and social due diligence.

Since 2018, when the new owner of Bor smelter complex, the Chinese-owned Serbia Zijin Copper started its operations, the lives of the citizens in at least five villages in this area of Serbia have been upended. In an open letter this March the villagers of Ostrelj state that the two companies, Serbia Zijin Copper and Serbia Zijin Mining, are expanding their activities threatening their health, private property, and livelihood.

The villagers are calling on the authorities to stop unauthorized construction and find a solution for all the residents who are trapped between the old and new mines and hills of tailings. When winds blow, the Ostrelj village is coated in toxic dust.

The villagers claim that the authorities have not developed a master spatial plan that would describe the future of their village and delineate the mining complex on their territory and describe the environmental impact and the purpose of facilities that Chinese had been building without permits. An environmental impact assessment for just one facility was put out for public consultations after it had already been built.

According to the villagers and research conducted by the Serbian Renewables and Environmental Regulatory Institute (RERI), the Chinese investors have been getting away with construction conducted without legally required documents and permits.

Meanwhile, Zijin’s mining operations are extending its reach on their territory while the local community representatives say that they are kept in the dark by the local as well as national authorities.

The villagers therefore demand a moratorium on further mining activities before the authorities have created a master spatial plan for relocation of their and six other affected villages and called on Zijin to undertake all protection measures to prevent their further poisoning by toxic dust.

“The Serbian state should stop all the mining activities in Bor and all the constructions that have been implemented without a permit. We also need adequate resettlement plans for the villagers before the work can continue”, said Zvezdan Kalmar, director of the Serbian environmental organizations the Centre for Ecology and Sustainable Development (CEKOR).

The gradual weakening of legal requirements for Chinese investments in Serbia is alarming.

A legal analysis by RERI and Just Finance International shows that China’s influence had an overall negative impact on the legal system in the country. Its business activities increased the number of loopholes in the law, which made exceptions for highly polluting large-scale infrastructure investments, predominantly from Chinese enterprises or financed by Chinese state loans.

The problems have also been addressed in a resolution from the European Parliament 2021.The European Parliament called on Serbia to strengthen its legal compliance standards for Chinese business activities and sent a warning to Belgrade that its behavior is jeopardizing the country’s European accession process.

For several years now, both the Serbian government and the Chinese company have ignored the legal irregularities of the Zijin copper mining and smelter projects.  However, some attempts have been made to address the problems in Bor.

For example, in April 2021, Serbian authorities suspended construction work at the Jama mine, core to Bor’s operations, after the company failed to comply with environmental standards. In April 2022, after thousands gathered to protest the project in Belgrade, Serbian authorities halted the operations of Zijin citing environmental pollution. But the attempts did not satisfy the protesting citizens and are regarded as temporary solutions without dealing with the fundamental problem of the operations.

The affected villagers call the government for transparency. They claim that the monitoring of ongoing mining and production activities that could put their lives in peril remain to be ignored by both the Serbian authority and the Chinese who operate Bor cooper mine.

One major uncertainty is what impact the Zijin operations will have on the Krivelj river. The river is of utmost importance for the livelihood of the farming community and the villagers’ fears that Zijin is actively working to change the course of the river since it is blocking their way for a new tailing dam.

The waste from Serbia Zijin Copper operations is deposited on an old dam under which was built a tunnel that secures the Krivelj river’s flow to Ostrelj village. In the end of 2021, the drainage tunnel showed cracks and local media report that toxic substances have leaked into the river. This weakness in critical structure have been identified more than a decade ago, but the authorities failed to tackle them.

In 2007 Serbia started negotiations with the World Bank to build a new drainage system for wastewater to clean that dam. But the country never took to the loan and the project was shelved by 2015. Now, with Zijin expanding its operations more than two times compared with the past and the problem with the dam is still not solved.

The dam holding the toxic waste represent environmental hazard that could not only endanger villages around Bor such as Ostrelj, but also regional capital Zajecar and the town of Negotin. The spill could roll further downstream into the Timok river and all the way to Danube, causing transboundary pollution in Romania and Bulgaria.

So far, the Serbian government, which owns a stake in one of the two locally owned companies has turned a blind eye to various violations of the procedures and Zijin is not making any serious attempts to mediate with the citizens in Bor. Now the pollution is reaching new records in Bor. The expansion of smelter activities has led to an average annual increase of carcinogenic arsenic in air for 10 times over the threshold, according to Serbian experts.

The open letter from the villagers in the Zijin-affected communities Ostrelj was addressed to all the major stakeholders in Serbia including the president Aleksandar Vucic. The villagers feel they have been kept in the dark from the decisions for the expansion of Zijin’s mining operations, fearing the impacts, as well as how they feel as “foreigners in their own country”.

Zijin´s operations in Serbia are among the biggest copper mining operations in Europe and the copper is the number one export product from Serbia to China. Yet, Serbia is only getting 5 percent royalties from Zijin´s revenues which is one of the lowest royalties for mining operations in Europe.

Zvezdan Kalmar believe that the lack of royalties is a problem for Serbia.

“Without this money we won’t be able to regulate and control the negative impact of the mining activities at all”, he said, Just Finance International writes.

Skouries project is expected to produce an aggregate of 140,000oz of gold and 67 million pounds of copper per annum

Canadian firm Eldorado Gold has signed a mandate letter for a credit-committee-sanctioned €680m finance facility from Greek banks to develop the Skouries project in northern Greece.

The mandate letter, which is subject to negotiation of definitive loan documentation and other conditions, includes a long-form term sheet comprising customary terms and conditions.

According to the feasibility study, the project is expected to cost $845m for development.

Eldorado president and CEO George Burns said: “We believe that Skouries is a world-class project that will have a lasting positive economic and social impact for Greece, the communities we work in, and other stakeholders.

“We remain confident in the feasibility study capital cost estimate of $845m, and with the project finance facility in place, the company has the balance sheet capacity to fund the remaining capital cost for completion of the project.

“We also continue to evaluate opportunities for complementary sources of financing. A final decision to re-start construction remains subject to board approval, which we expect to seek in the second half of 2022.”

Part of the Kassandra Mines Complex, the Skouries project is a gold-copper porphyry deposit located within the Halkidiki Peninsula of Northern Greece.

With an anticipated operational life of 20 years, the project is expected to produce an aggregate of 140,000oz of gold and 67 million pounds of copper per annum.

The deposit is planned to be mined using a combination of conventional open pit and underground mining techniques, Eldorado said.

Through its first production, the project is expected to pay back the costs within less than four years and generate an average free cash flow of $215m per year in the first five years, Mining Technology writes.

Anglo Asian Mining expects to produce 54,000-58,000 gold equivalent ounces in 2022

Anglo Asian Mining PLC expects to produce 54,000 to 58,000 gold equivalent ounces (GEOs) in 2022, the Azerbaijan-focused company said alongside its first-half results.

The copper, gold, and silver miner produced 28,772 GEOs in the first half, down from 32,171 ounces in the year-earlier period, due to lower gold grades from its Gedabek operation.

Anglo Asian said it has made good progress at its Vejnaly and Gosha licences and that production from these areas should result in output at the upper end of the guidance range.

Total costs were steady as higher electricity and material costs were offset by lower cyanide usage, but lower output resulted in a 16% year-on-year increase in the all-in-sustaining cost of gold production to US$983 an ounce.

Pretax profit for the six months to end-June 2022 dipped to US$5.7mln from US$5.9mln as revenue fell 27.6% to US$31.5mln on lower gold doré sales.

The group said it achieved encouraging progress amid a difficult external environment.

“We made significant progress in the development of our portfolio with excellent progress made at Zafar, Vejnaly and Hasan, all of which will enter production in the next 3 to 12 months,” said Anglo Asian chief executive Reza Vaziri in the results statement. “This will ease our reliance on production from Gedabek as they are set to produce meaningful quantities of ore next year.”

The AIM-traded company said it plans to pay an interim dividend of 4 US cents per share.

Since the period end, the company’s revised production sharing agreement became law in Azerbaijan, granting the group three new contract areas.

“This is an exciting time for Anglo Asian Mining, with the acquisition of our three new contract areas,” said Vaziri “These will transform our business and are substantial drivers for growth”, Pro Active Investors writes.

Euro Sun close to getting final approvals for gold-copper project in Romania

Canada-based Euro Sun Mining said on Thursday that it is close to getting the final approvals it needed in order to obtain an exploitation permit for its Rovina Valley gold and copper project in Romania.

The company has submitted the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) along with the Zonal Urban Plan (PUZ) – the final documents required prior to seeking approval by the environment ministry and subsequently getting the permits for construction, it said in a press release.

“We believe that the Rovina Valley project will provide access to significant employment and economic value in the Hunedoara area and would be a key strategic asset for Romania and the EU,” Euro Sun Mining chief operating officer Sam Rasmussen said.

The company aims to become a critical supplier of copper and gold for development of the European Union.

“Two significant examples of responsible mining are the lack of cyanide in the Rovina Valley Project’s processing circuit and the placement of dry or filtered tailings, eliminating the possibility of a catastrophic dam failure. The Rovina Valley project will provide strong economic benefits to all our local communities, the region and to the Romanian state incorporating the highest environmental practices,” Euro Sun Mining CEO Scott Moore said.

In February, Euro Sun Mining entered into a 3.5 million Canadian dollars ($2.75 million/2.42 million euro) convertible security funding agreement with Lind Global Fund II, part of which it plans to invest in the Rovina Valley project.

In March 2021, Euro Sun announced that it estimates a robust gold and copper output and total initial capital expenditures (CAPEX) of $399 million at Rovina Valley, following positive results of the definitive feasibility study which uncovered a potential average annual gold equivalent production of 146,000 ounces over the first ten years, consisting of 106,000 ounces of gold and 19 million pounds of copper per annum.

Toronto-listed Euro Sun is a mining company focused on the exploration and development of its 100%-owned Rovina Valley gold and copper project located in west-central Romania, which hosts the second largest gold deposit in Europe, SeeNews reports.

Russia to provide 712 million Euro loan for construction of copper processing plant in Uzbekistan

Russia’s State Development Corporation VEB.RF will finance supply of Russian equipment for the largest copper processing plant in Uzbekistan.

A 712 million Euro loan agreement was signed between VEB.RF and Almalyk mining and metallurgical complex ahead of visit of President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to Russia.

The loan will be spent for construction of the copper processing plant in Almalyk.

The project will support development of Yoshlik mine and its prospective consolidation with Kalmakyr mine. The united mine will become one of the world’s biggest copper mines. The loan funds will be used for procurement Russian equipment and services under the project, financing of a part of project expenditures.

Almalyk mining and metallurgical complex (AMMC) intends to increase copper processing up to 160 million tons a year. This would allow to achieve production of copper cathodes up to 400,000 tons a year by 2028.

AMMC intends to produce around 270 tons of silver and 50 tons of gold a year by 2028.

Construction of the plant will require $2 billion. Gazprom Bank and Export Insurance Agency of Russia will be involved in financing of the project.

VEB.RF earlier provided loans to AMMC for purchase of quarry trucks and mining equipment.


The Garadagh porphyry deposit alone contains over 300,000 tonnes of copper

The Garadagh porphyry deposit alone contains over 300,000 tonnes of copper with an in-situ value of over US$3.0bn at current prices.

Anglo Asian Mining agreed terms with the Azerbaijan government over three huge new copper concessions in the country.

The new concessions, with a combined area of 882 square kilometres, will be immediately effective following ratification by the Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

In a statement, Anglo Asian said it was a transformational milestone with the Garadagh porphyry deposit alone containing over 300,000 tonnes of copper with an in-situ value of over US$3.0bn at current prices.

The company said it is currently evaluating how best to exploit the economically mineable copper resources contained within the new concessions, which have considerable synergies and geographical proximity with it existing mining properties.

Two of the new concessions border the existing Gedabek and Gosha Contract Areas and contain the large-scale Garadagh porphyry deposit and the adjacent Xarxar copper deposit.

A comprehensive exploration programme to prepare JORC compliant mineral resource and ore reserve estimates will commence after the ratification of the new concessions.

Development will follow the finalisation of the ore reserve estimates and the company anticipates ore will be extracted by open-pit mining.

The third new concession area is called Demirli and is adjacent to the Kyzlbulag Contract Area in the Karabakh economic region.

Demirli contains the Demirli copper-molybdenum deposit with an unverified estimated resource of 275,000 tonnes of copper and 3,200 tonnes of molybdenum.

As part of the agreement, Anglo Asian will relinquish its rights to the Soutely mine in the Kalbajar district after an assessment of the security risks.

The three new concessions will be incorporated into the company’s existing Production Sharing Agreement.

Reza Vaziri, Anglo Asian’s chief executive, said: “The recent cessation of hostilities with Armenia has presented an opportunity for Anglo Asian to develop its remaining contract areas, granted in 1998 (when its PSA was ratified), and to significantly accelerate its growth strategy towards becoming a mid-tier gold and copper producer.

Stephen Westhead, vice-president, added: “In regard to Garadagh and Xarxar, we have considerable expertise and understanding of the area after extensive exploration and mining around Gedabek for many years. These new concessions, which have previously had some exploration, represent great upside potential for Anglo Asian in terms of additional resources.

“The substantial volumes of copper within the Garadagh and Demirli deposits significantly strengthen our copper inventory and future”.


Copper mine in northern Sweden scales up resource estimates

The wind mills could symbolise the main reason why it is economical profitable to reopen the old mine beneath the ground at Viscaria outside Kiruna: A growing demand for copper in a world moving towards an electrified society.

Copperstone Resources this week announced revised and enlarged ambitions for the reopening of the Viscaria copper mine in Kiruna, northern Sweden. The estimate for yearly milled-rate production is now 3 million tons annually, compared to earlier assumptions of 2 million tons. That will be enough to produce 30,000 tons of copper per year.

Increased production, combined with growing demand and higher prices on the world market, gives a boost to the company’s annual net profit, now estimated to be between 3 to 4 billion Swedish kroner (€294 to €393 million) annually.

The underground copper mine, located next to Europe’s largest iron-ore mine, was originally started by LKAB in 1983. Two years later, the mining was sold to Outokumpu who extracted ore until closure in 1996 following a collapse in global copper prices. At the time, the Viscaria mine was Europe’s largest underground copper mine.

Favourable global market

With ambition to restart mining by 2023, Copperstone Resources says the global copper market is favourable, with prospects of long-term imbalance of supply and demand.

Copper is a key metal for a world on path to find sustainable solutions for electricity production in times of climate crisis.

“It is very gratifying that we gradually are making progress in the restart of Viscaria mine and that the team efforts and the promising market conditions have enabled a better and more sizeable project than we previously estimated. Moreover, our growing team of experts constantly finds new solutions that gives a more optimized and sustainable production”, the company’s CEO Anna Tyni said in a statement.

Restarting the mine would bring some 200 new jobs to Kiruna.