A Norwegian study has found a “substantial” amount of metals and minerals ranging from copper to rare earth metals

A Norwegian study has found a “substantial” amount of metals and minerals ranging from copper to rare earth metals on the seabed of its extended continental shelf, authorities said on Friday in their first official estimates.

The Nordic country, a major oil and gas exporter, is considering whether to open its offshore areas to deep-sea mining, a process that requires parliament’s approval and has sparked environmental concerns.

“Of the metals found on the seabed in the study area, magnesium, niobium, cobalt and rare earth minerals are found on the European Commission’s list of critical minerals,” the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), which conducted the study, said in a statement.

The resources estimate, covering remote areas in the Norwegian Sea and Greenland Sea, showed there were 38 million tonnes of copper, almost twice the volume mined globally each year, and 45 million tonnes of zinc accumulated in polymetallic sulphides.

The sulphides, or “black smokers”, are found along the mid-ocean ridge, where magma from the Earth’s mantle reaches the sea floor, at depths of around 3,000 metres (9,842 feet).

About 24 million tonnes of magnesium and 3.1 million tonnes of cobalt are estimated to be in manganese crusts grown on bedrock over millions of years, as well as 1.7 million tonnes of cerium, a rare earth metal used in alloys, Reuters reports.

Finland’s government plans to introduce a new tax on minerals extracted by the mining industry

Finland’s government plans to introduce a new tax on minerals extracted by the mining industry, the Nordic country’s finance ministry said on Tuesday.

Some of the European Union’s greatest known reserves of minerals used for batteries and other products are located in Finland where there are around 40 operational mines producing nickel, zinc, lithium, cobalt and gold among others.

Finland has thus far not collected taxes on minerals but the government now proposes introducing a royalty of 0.6% on the taxable value of metallic minerals and of 0.2 euros per extracted tonne for other minerals, the ministry said.

With the new tax, the government calculates it could collect annually some 25 million euros ($24.1 million), with 60% of it to be directed to the municipalities where mines are located and 40% to the central government.

“The aim of the tax is to take into account the nature of mining minerals… as non-renewable natural resources and to direct a reasonable compensation for their use to the society,” the ministry said in a statement.

The new tax, pending approval in Finland’s parliament, is planned to take effect from the beginning of 2024, Euronews writes.

Canada-based Company to Open Rare Earth Mine in Greenland

A Canada-based company recently announced its plans to develop a rare earth mineral mine in Greenland. Materials from the mine will be sent to Estonia, which has one of only two plants outside China that processes rare earths to a high degree.

Rare earths are a group of minerals used in making electric vehicles, wind turbines, electronics, robots and other machinery. China currently processes about 85 percent of the world’s rare earths. But increased demand is pushing companies to look for other sources.

Neo Performance Materials is based in Toronto, Canada. The rare earth processing company said recently that it plans to develop the Sarfartoq deposit in southwest Greenland. It will then send the materials to its plant in Estonia in Eastern Europe.

Neo aims to have the mine running in two to three years. It will be the company’s first big mining project. Constantine Karayannopoulos, the company’s chief said that by opening the mine, he hopes to protect the company from fast-moving rare earth prices, which have increased in recent years due to supply problems and strong demand.

“We’re at the mercy of the market,” he said. “At the mercy of” is an expression that means you are in a position or situation in which you can be harmed by something you cannot control.

Karayannopoulos called his company’s decision “business, not geopolitics.” But in recent years, rare earths have attracted the attention of officials around the world. The United States, Europe and Japan call their dependence on China’s rare earths a “national security risk” and have tried to find different suppliers.

But such efforts have faced difficulties, as mines in other countries have faced opposition or failed to start after changing prices scared investors away.

Concerns and supply issues

Meanwhile, supplies of rare earths have decreased. And some mines are raising moral and environmental concerns.

When done cheaply, rare earth mining can damage the environment. China, the world’s largest miner, has closed many mines in recent years to reduce environmental damage.

Some of that mining has gone to Myanmar. Myanmar mines are linked to environmental damage, land theft, and financing of militias, including at least one linked to Myanmar’s military government. That information comes from an Associated Press investigation released earlier this month.

The AP traced rare earths from Myanmar to the supply chains of 78 companies, including major car makers and electronics companies.

Karayannopoulos said that in Greenland, the company plans to dig up rock, crush it and do basic processing that does not involve the use of damaging chemicals. The ore will then be shipped to Estonia, where it will be further processed into a form that can be used to make magnets.

Plans for another rare earths mine in Greenland failed after voters put in power a government that blocked development. The area has high amounts of uranium, raising concerns over how radioactive waste would be dealt with.

Karayannopoulos said the area his company plans to develop has much lower levels of uranium, meaning it can be mined under current Greenland and European Union rules. He said EU officials supported the project because it could help Europe become more self-sufficient in rare earths.

Greenland sits between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. A 1.7 million-square-kilometer ice sheet covers 80 percent of the Arctic territory. Greenland’s 56,000 residents are mostly indigenous people, VoA writes.

Eurobattery Minerals has the option to acquire 100% of FinnCobalt Oy in a staged acquisition

FinnCobalt Oy has informed Eurobattery Minerals AB that it has joined BATTRACE, a Finnish research project focusing on traceability and sustainable processing of battery metals. Eurobattery Minerals has the option to acquire 100% of FinnCobalt Oy in a staged acquisition.

“Identification of the geographical origin of battery minerals, and the ability to track this along the value chain – from mine to battery cell – will create a competitive edge for future battery manufacturing. Joining this project will help our acquisition target FinnCobalt Oy and the Hautalampi mine project to participate in and monitor developments in this important area,” said Roberto García Martínez, CEO of Eurobattery Minerals.

FinnCobalt’s role in the project will be the delivery of nickel-cobalt concentrate material from the Hautalampi mine development project for further traceability studies. FinnCobalt has obtained this battery metals concentrate from its earlier extensive process development testing work, which was conducted by GTK Mintec and Outotec Oyj metallurgical laboratories, Finland.

The three-year BATTRACE project (sustainable processing and traceability of battery metals, minerals, and materials), run by research partners VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), focuses on the traceability of battery metals, minerals and materials, and the optimisation of production processes. The project involves several industry partners, of which FinnCobalt Oy is one.

The traceability of raw materials is becoming increasingly important as the raw materials produced by the mining industry are required to come from well-known and responsibly operated sources. At present, it is not clear to what extent different analytical methods could be used to verify the origin of the metals used in the production of batteries. Verification of the origin of metals is important in the sustainable production of batteries. Each ore deposit has its own fingerprint based on its mineralogical and geochemical composition. The BATTRACE project identifies this fingerprint and investigates its preservation along the value chain. Improving the sustainability of battery production also requires optimised production processes that recover metals from ores and process them into raw materials for responsible battery producers.

Source: globalminingreview.com

Greenland Minerals continues consultation process for flagship Kvanefjeld Rare Earth Project

The company has been operating in Greenland, with a focus on the Kvanefjeld Rare Earth Project, since 2007.

Greenland Minerals Ltd (ASX:GGGOTC:GDLNF) is continuing the permitting process for its flagship Kvanefjeld Project in Greenland and is now awaiting the second consultation phase, which has been extended to September 13.

Public meetings have been earmarked for late August and will be attended by Ministers in Igaliku, Nanortalik, Narsaq, Narsarsuaq, Qaqortoq and Qassiarsuk in southern Greenland, followed by subsequent casework.

This comes after a new Coalition Government formed in Greenland with the Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) and Naleraq parties in February 2021.

Although the new Government’s leadership has stated an intention to oppose the development of Kvanefjeld, the government has agreed to a second round of public meetings during August.

Public consultation status

On December 17, 2020, the Greenland Government approved the commencement of the statutory public consultation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for the Kvanefjeld Project, and immediately initiated the consultation period.

This kicked off on December 18, 2020, for initially 12 weeks with Greenlandic, Danish and English versions of the EIA and the SIA made available on the Greenland Government’s public hearing portal.

It was then extended to June 1, following the election, and then further extended to September 13 to accommodate another round of public meetings.

Public consultation White Paper

After the consultation period has been completed, the next step is to respond to issues raised during the process.

These responses are then collated in a document referred to as the White Paper.

So far, issues raised in the public meetings during February 2021 have been lodged via the Government’s online portal, however, additional questions are expected during the next round of meetings in August.

To ensure that the process proceeds as efficiently as possible, Greenland Minerals has started preparing detailed responses to each of these issues for the White Paper with support from key consultants.

Responses are being prepared by reference to material already contained in the impact assessments themselves or in the consultant’s reports prepared to support the assessments.

Environmental baseline studies

Through the Greenland summer, GGG has completed additional environmental baseline studies in the broader project area to further increase its understanding of chemical dispersion by natural processes.

The company had intended to conduct an extensive field program this year, which was carefully planned with input from Greenland’s independent scientific advisors with approvals in place for the planned drilling and engineering studies from Greenland’s Mining Licence and Safety Authority.

Drilling was also planned to generate data for the next steps in permitting beyond an exploitation licence (operations and closure approvals), as well as geotechnical data for engineering studies.

With the change in political sentiment and resulting uncertainty, GGG has postponed the drilling program.

Draft legislation concerning uranium

The Greenland Government has put forward draft legislation for consultation to ban the exploration and exploitation of uranium, which would reverse some of the steps implemented by previous governments that aimed to establish a critical minerals industry in Greenland.

Critical minerals are those classed as being important to future technologies and in particular ‘green industries’ (renewable energy, electric vehicles) with projected future supply shortfalls.

As the proposed Act is in draft form and in consultation, Greenland Minerals is not able to advise how such legislation could potentially affect the Kvanefjeld development proposal, nor how it would impact other mining projects in Greenland as well as the exploration for a variety of mineral deposit types.

Source: Pro Active Investors

Euro Manganese to develop a high-purity manganese production facility in Czech Republic

Euro Manganese is looking to develop a high-purity manganese production facility to reprocess tailings material from historic mining operations at Chvaletice that ran from the early 1900s through to 1975. As Euro Manganese advances feasibility studies at its wholly owned Chvaletice manganese project about 90 km east of Prague in the Czech Republic, it has also been lining up potential customers for planned output from its demonstration plant, which is projected to come online in late 2020.

 

So far, the company has queued up five prospective customers for about 55% of the planned demonstration plant capacity, and management hopes these early-stage customers will ultimately become long-term buyers from full-scale production down the road.

Since first looking at the project in 2015, Euro Manganese has undertaken studies on the size of the resource and its extraction potential (running a pilot-scale test operation). In early 2019, the company announced the results of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the project that showed an after-tax net present value of US$593 million using a 10% discount rate.

The PEA models a project operating life of 25 years producing 1.2 million tonnes of high-purity electrolytic manganese metal (HPEMM), of which two-thirds is expected to be converted into high-purity manganese sulphate monohydrate (HPMSM) powder.

The study forecast US$404 million in pre-production capital, US$24.8 million in sustaining capital, and US$31 million in working capital, with a post-tax internal rate of return of 22.6% and a 4.9-year payback. The project’s economics were based on an average HPEMM (containing 99.9% manganese) price of US$4,617 per tonne and HPMSM (containing 32% manganese) price of US$2,666 per tonne over the life of the operation.

“The pilot plant tests were a resounding success,” Marco Romero, Euro Manganese’s president and CEO, said in an interview. “We produced high-purity manganese products of a quality that has not been seen before by the market — the highest-purity products in the world right now.”

The project hosts measured and indicated resources of 27 million tonnes grading 7.3% total manganese (5.9% soluble manganese), with 98% of the resource tonnes in the measured category.

The resource is contained in three above-ground tailings cells from past operations, with indications that the manganese is homogeneously distributed throughout the tails. About 80% of the manganese occurs in carbonate form as rhodochrosite and kutnohorite, which is beneficial as it is readily leachable in the extraction process and requires no calcination, unlike manganese oxide ore.

“The vast majority of our target market is very much the lithium-ion battery industry, and there are also other customers that need very high-purity inputs for specialty steel products, such as hydrogen storage tanks, and for hybrid vehicle anodes, and also for ferrite permanent magnets used in electric vehicles,” Romero said.

Often referred to as the forgotten battery metal, the outlook for high-quality manganese looks robust. Benchmark Minerals Intelligence, which specializes in battery material research, recently forecast demand growth for high-purity manganese will jump from 80,000 tonnes in 2020 to 370,000 tonnes in 2025, a more than 360% increase. Benchmark Minerals’ growth projections are just for the EV/cathode battery sector and do not incorporate demand from other sectors such as motor fabrication, anodes and specialty steels, aerospace aluminum-magnesium alloys, or beverage can stock.

Although it can be a significant component in lithium-ion batteries, manganese itself does not make up a big cost constituent. “Depending on the cathode chemistry it can be anywhere between 10% to a third of the cathode mass, but because it is a lower value product it can be as low as 1-2% of the cost of the battery,” Romero explained.

Given its location in the Czech Republic, a member of the European Union, the company has a natural target market throughout the continent. “We stand to become the only primary producer of high-purity manganese products in Europe,” Romero said. “There is no other deposit [in Europe] even remotely close to this scale and quality.”

Euro Manganese says it is working on setting up a supply chain qualification process with several customers.

“We’re currently in the middle of a feasibility study, which we expect to complete by year end, and we’re months away from filing our project notification that is the start of the environmental assessment process for the full-stage project,” he said.

Approximately 95% of global high-purity manganese product is produced in China, where several projects have been built recently or are under construction.

Euro Manganese has tapped into that Chinese expertise in the sector and established strategic relationships with three firms.

CINF, the engineering arm of Aluminum Corp. of China (Chinalco), undertook a prefeasibility study on Chvaletice that ultimately turned into the company’s PEA.

The company is also partnered with Changsha Research Institute for Mining and Metallurgy (CRIMM), a research arm of China Minmetals, on all its lab and test work, including pilot plant construction. CRIMM has also been awarded the contract for the building, delivery and commissioning of the Chvaletice demonstration plant for a fixed price of US$2.5 million.

Euro Manganese recently appointed BGRIMM Technology Group (BGRIMM), a division of Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, as lead process plant engineer for the Chvaletice feasibility study, which commenced in October 2019.

Data from the BGRIMM-led feasibility study has started to trickle out with recently reported magnetic separation test results of about 85% total manganese recovery and a 15% total manganese concentrate grade, supporting the proposed process flow sheet for the operation. Additionally, deep purification confirmation tests also verified previous test findings, with the successful removal of target product impurities.

Capital and one-year operating costs needed to complete Euro Manganese’s demonstration plant are expected to reach about US$5 million. The company’s latest financials indicate a current funding gap, showing just over $2 million in the treasury.

Romero reports that the company is evaluating several near-term funding options. In addition, the company says it anticipates entering into offtake agreement negotiations with its high-purity manganese customers to support project financing for the commercial development of the project.

Euro Manganese is covered by two mining analysts. Anoop Prihar, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus Canada (previously GMP Securities), has a speculative buy rating on the company with a target price of $1.00 per share, while Canaccord Genuity mining analyst Larry Hill has a target price of A$1.10 on the stock.

At press time in Toronto, Euro Manganese traded at 12¢ per share, near the lower range of its 9.5¢ to 28¢ one-year trading range, giving the company a market capitalization of $21 million.

Source: northernminer.com

Tethyan Resource Corp. to purchase Kizevak and Sastavci silver-zinc-lead mines in Serbia

Tethyan Resource Corp. made an agreement to purchase a 100% ownership stake in Serbian company EFPP d.o.o. EFPP is the holder of two exploration licences over silver-zinc-lead mines Kizevak and Sastavci in the Raska district of Southwestern Serbia.

 

Acquisition Highlights:

 

-The Licences are contiguous with Tethyan’s existing exploration rights and the acquisition would complete the consolidation of a district of known silver-zinc-lead vein-type and copper-gold porphyry deposits, presenting numerous strategic advantages:

-The Licences include two past-producing open pit silver-zinc-lead mines and host significant historical mineral resources and reserves that were reported in accordance with Yugoslav GKZ reporting criteria and indicate excellent brownfield exploration potential

-At Kizevak, historic drilling and underground channel sampling data define mineralisation that is present from surface up to 200 metres depth and 1.2 kilometres in strike length that is open down dip and along strike, representing an immediate drill-ready target

-Staged acquisition payments allow Tethyan to focus funds on drilling

-Serbia is establishing itself as a recognised mining jurisdiction, attracting significant investment interest

Fabian Baker, Tethyan’s President and CEO, commented: “This acquisition is a key step in Tethyan’s strategy to consolidate a district of historical mines and exploration prospects in Serbia. The Kizevak project in particular gives Tethyan an immediate drill ready target, and we can now drill the 1.2 kilometres of strike length, reported to host historical resources, between the former open pit mine and Tethyan’s excellent 2018 drilling results. With Kizevak as a cornerstone project the many satellite exploration targets identified by historical drilling, all within a few kilometres of Kizevak, become relevant to a possible district-wide operation. The plan moving forward is for Tethyan to commence drilling of these high-grade silver-zinc-lead targets in parallel with advancing our two copper-gold porphyry projects at Rudnica and Kremice in the Raska district of Serbia.”

Kizevak Project

 

Kizevak is a past-producing mine reported to host considerable historic mineral resources, along-strike from which Tethyan drilled mineralization including 12 metres at 22.03% zinc, 10.29 % lead, 167 g/t silver and 0.18 g/t gold. The mine was operated as an open pit by the Serbian state between 1984 and 2000, ceasing operations due to conflict in the region. The project benefits from numerous infrastructure advantages including water, power, road and rail access all within 5 kilometres, and a local workforce with a long history of mining. Additionally, the land comprising the wider project area is designated for mining purposes under the Serbian State spatial plan, providing many permitting benefits and efficiencies.

Mineralisation at Kizevak comprises steeply dipping, southeast striking, structurally controlled lenses of quartz-carbonate-sulphide vein breccias and stockwork zones hosted in andesite volcanics. Historic drilling and underground sampling data indicate that mineralisation occurs over a strike length of at least 1.2 kilometres, between 1 and 30 metres wide, and up to 200 metres down dip. This dominant southeast striking trend is intersected by at least one perpendicular southwest striking mineralised structure, which is inferred as an important control on high grade shoots.

Mineralisation is open down dip and along strike to the northwest, southwest and southeast. In 2018 Tethyan drilled four drill holes on its wholly owned licence 1.2 kilometres along strike to the southeast of the mine that returned mineralized intervals including:

-12 metres at 22.03 % zinc, 10.29 % lead, 167 g/t silver, and 0.18 g/t gold for 35.09 % ZnEq (Hole KSEDD002, from 130 m)

-43 metres at 4.30 % zinc, 2.49 % lead, 26 g/t silver, and 0.21 g/t gold for 7.39 % ZnEq (Hole KSEDD001, from 193 m)

including 13.1 m @ 11.28 % zinc, 5.05 % lead, 57 g/t silver, and 0.32 g/t gold for 17.44 % ZnEq (from 221 m)

-0 m @ 4.35 % zinc, 2.14 % lead, 27 g/t silver, and 0.34 g/t gold for 7.37 % ZnEq (Hole KSEDD003, from 137 m)

Sastavci Project

 

Sastavci was also mined historically by open pit on a smaller scale than at Kizevak and represents a priority drilling target. Outcropping, steeply dipping, massive sulphide veins up to 5 metres wide are visible in the pit walls. Tethyan collected 65 rock-chip samples across the Sastavci area, which returned assays ranging from trace to >30 % zinc (over range), 7.1 % lead, 94.3 g/t silver and 0.47 g/t gold in the Sastavci pit. A historic resource estimate is reported in the Serbian geological archives.

Additionally, to the north of the Sastavci open pit Tethyan has defined a greater than 100 ppb gold in soil anomaly over 800 metres long and 400 metres wide in strongly silica altered volcanic rocks. Rock-chip sample assays range from trace to 3.7 g/t gold, representing a separate epithermal gold exploration target.

Historic Resource and Reserve Estimates

 

In 1994 the Yugoslav Geological Survey reported combined estimated mineral resources in GKZ compliant A+B+C1+C2 categories of 8Mt at 45 g/t silver, 5.06 % zinc and 2.96 % lead at Kizevak, Sastavci and Karadak (a portion of the Kizevak resource, and Karadak are located on Tethyan’s existing licences).

The mineral resource estimates were reported by the state geological survey according to Yugoslav GKZ guidelines and do not comply with NI 43-101 reporting requirements and associated CIM definition standards. The authors caution that a qualified person has not done sufficient work to validate the historical estimates, and Tethyan is not treating the historical estimates as current mineral resources or reserves. Tethyan has not completed a detailed review of the historical resource or completed a new mineral resource estimate.

The historical resource estimates were completed using the polygonal method using data acquired from diamond drilling and underground sampling.

For readers not familiar with Yugoslav mineral estimates, such estimates were always stated as “reserves” and classified according to the A+B+C1+C2 or “alphabetical” classification, which was derived from the Russian system and is still applied throughout many countries in southeast Europe. The reserves had to be approved by the official Commission for Ore Reserves. The A, B, C1 and C2 categories reflect the levels of confidence in the actual tonnage exploited from a reserve, with confidence levels being – 95%, 80%, 70% and 35% respectively. Henley (2004) and others have evaluated the alphabetical classification system with respect to the compliant codes in Canada and Australia, and concluded that A+B is comparable to “measured”, C1 to “indicated” and C2 to “inferred” in internationally acceptable codes for reporting resources. However, these comparisons are only an approximation, and cannot be considered as equivalents.

To verify the historical resource estimate as current mineral resources or mineral reserves, drilling, mapping, detailed geological interpretation, geological modelling, grade mapping by interpolation using geostatistical analysis and mineral resource classification, using industry standard software, is required.

Terms of EFPP Acquisition

 

Closing of the transaction to acquire EFPP is subject to satisfactory due diligence and TSX acceptance on or before 15th April 2020. The acquisition of EFPP will occur in two steps, an initial ‘First Closing’ whereby Tethyan will acquire 10% of the shares of EFPP and management control of the company, and a 12 month period in which to decide, in its sole discretion, whether to proceed to a ‘Second Closing’ when Tethyan has the right to acquire the remaining 90% of the shares of EFPP. A summary of the terms of the Transaction is as follows:

First Closing:

In consideration for 10% of the shares of EFPP Tethyan will pay to the Sellers a total of EUR 625,000 cash on the First Closing.

Second Closing:

At any time within 12 months of First Closing, Tethyan may elect to acquire the remaining 90% of shares of EFPP on the Second Closing by:

Paying EUR 1,375,000;

Granting to the Sellers a 2% Net Smelter Return over the Licences;

Issuing a total of 4 million ordinary shares of Tethyan, to be issued in four equal tranches of 1 million shares, with the first tranche issued on the Second Closing and each additional tranche issued each six months thereafter;

Paying a deferred cash payment of EUR 500,000 on the two-year anniversary of First Closing.

Source: tethyan-resources.com

International mining companies in North Macedonia face resistance from local initiatives

Taught by examples of environmental and social harms that international mining companies leave behind in the Balkans, local communities in North Macedonia have opposed the creation of new gold and copper mines. The awards granted under the VMRO-DPMNE mandate were one of the cornerstones of attracting foreign direct investment. However, the municipalities did not accept this model.

Cities in North Macedonia have recently become the center of self-organized movements by locals, who have opposed international mining projects in the country. They share the same fears: that concessions for geological exploration and exploitation will result in catastrophic environmental and social consequences with marginal benefits for local communities, but also for the country as a whole.

It was not known exactly how many concessions were awarded under the term of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, but at least 80 concessions were granted after 2012, when a new law was adopted, with the aim of increasing investment in the mining sector. At the time, it was clear that concessions were being divided as part of a strategy of attracting foreign direct investment.

After the change of government, we learned that 378 operating concessions were issued. The new regulation shortened and simplified procedures for obtaining mining licenses and concessions, but, more importantly, ensured the almost automatic conversion of mining exploration permits into exploitation permits, meaning that excavation work began automatically.

The situation has not changed much with the advent of the new government in May 2017, so the consequences of mineral exploitation remain the sole concern of the locals and activists. At one point, a wave of calls for local referendums seized the state, aimed at confronting politicians with this problem, and at the same time preventing or delaying the work.

The first successful referendum was held on April 23, 2017 in Gevgelija in southeastern Macedonia, at which the population voted against the opening of a gold and copper mine at two locations on Mount Kozuf. Excavation concessions were awarded to Canadian firm Nevsun Resources LTD.

The Salvation for Gevgelia initiative quickly gained the support of almost the entire municipality. According to activists, the success of the referendum in Gevgelija means that this company will not be able to turn its exploration license into a concession for the exploitation of ores. The first one is about to expire, but, they were still able to submit a request for its conversion into an exploitation concession. However, this request should be automatically rejected because of the result of the referendum, which obliges the municipal authorities to give a negative opinion to all the mines in Gevgelija.

A successful referendum in Gevgelija (turnout was 70%, 99% of which was against) prompted similar local initiatives, so two more successful referendums were held, in Bogdanci on June 11, 2017, with voter turnout of 61% and 98% of votes against. The third successful referendum was held in Dojran (51% turnout, of which 91% voted against). The referendums that followed in Bosilov, Valandov and Novo Selo failed because of low turnout.

However, given that mining companies have already invested enormous resources in the pre-excavation work, it is possible that this is just an instant obstruction.

Namely, part of these funds may be diverted to initiatives to continue mining operations.

The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning emphasized that “the referendum does not have the binding legal power to stop projects that have already been licensed.” However, in the context of widespread corruption, the public has every right to question, even in a judicial way, the entire concession procedure, because the environmental and social consequences are too great to withdraw from a referendum based only on statements from the Ministry and the company.

However, as Minister of Economy Driton Kuchey explains, if the referendum is successful and lawsuits are filed to withdraw already granted concessions, both the legislative framework and case law will benefit the concessionaire. Despite favoring dealers, mining companies still appear to be threatened by widespread social mobilization. Two weeks after the Gevdelija referendum, Anglo-Ukrainian company Sardich MC issued a statement threatening to sue Angel Nakov – one of the most prominent activists of the Spas for Gevdelija initiative – accusing him of pointing out “false risks” over the Kazandol mine project. The real motive behind this retaliation is to halt further mobilizations, which could prevent similar projects under exploration license.

Kazandol and Illovica-Stuka mining projects

 

In the case of Kazandol, a concession fee of only € 45,000 a year has already been awarded in 2015 to Sardich MC, and construction work has begun to open the mine. It should be mentioned here that one of the directors of Sardich MC, Aco Spasenoski, was the Minister of Agriculture in the Gruevski government, which illustrates the close ties of domestic politicians to international capital.

Once an exploitation concession was once issued (as in the cases of Ilovica and Kazandol), little can be done to revoke it, as in that case, arbitration lawsuits could be brought against Macedonia and huge financial penalties could be imposed on it.

However, to the locals, the price of these penalties is less important than their own health and access to food and water, so this threat is not an obstacle to reinforcing resistance to mine opening.

According to a local initiative, SOS Valdanovo said they were “extremely aware of the difficulty of fighting the opening of new mines” but that they had “no intention of giving up their demands”. Their fight came to fruition in 2018, when the government withdrew a concession to exploit gold, copper and silver to Sardich MC for the Kazandol mine.

Another major mining project is Ilovica-Stuka, for which an exploitation concession was issued to Canadian-British company EuroMax Resources. They own two concessions for an area of ​​20 square kilometers, for which they only pay € 55,000 a year. As in other cases, the local community is organizing itself against this project, despite the fact that an exploitation permit has already been issued.

However, in the case of Ilovica, the authorities and concessionaires emphasize the safety of the project, and argue that the project involves the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which sets high environmental and social standards. The EBRD’s role in this project is twofold: they are both creditors and shareholders, as the EBRD owns 19.9% ​​of Euromax, which would mean that one of the bank’s goals is a high return on investment rather than the social interests of North Macedonian citizens.

While there was no response from the Government, local grassroots initiatives were growing. Citizens of the Southeast Region organized two initiatives: “Zdrava Kotlina” and “Youth Against the Death Mine Stuk-Ilovica”. Protests were staged in April and May 2019, despite threats from Euromax sent to activists, including warnings to file lawsuits for posting on social media.

In 2019, the situation with the Ilovica-Stuka mine remains unresolved. According to activist Mitko Ristomanov, the government can use non-compliance with contractual terms as an argument for revocation of a mining concession: “Due to insufficient and incomplete project documentation, Euromax missed the last deadline for obtaining the necessary permits. The deadline expired on July 24, 2016, which means that their activities over the last three years are illegal. Also, the deadline for the completion of the mine, July 24, 2019, has passed.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that since May 2019, after the purchase through a private offer, the concession for the Ilovica-Stuka mine has changed its ownership structure. It is no longer owned by Euromax, but by Galena Resource Equities Limited, which is a subsidiary of Trafigura, embroiled in several controversies, including the illegal export of toxic waste from Amsterdam and the attempt to cover up an African environmental disaster. How this case develops will depend on the steps taken by the new owner, but also on the willingness and ability of the Government to act in response to the local population’s opposition to the mine, bearing in mind the negative impact it would have on agriculture in the region, as well as the wider environmental impact middle.

Environmental risks and possible different economic models

 

Residents have been called for a referendum by pointing out too high environmental risks, such as three kilometers wide and 700 meters deep craters, or the risks of pollution of drinking water sources that power the nearby towns of Kavadarci and Negotino.

Given the 10 tons of dust that the mines dump into the atmosphere on a daily basis, the danger also included air pollution by toxins, such as arsenic and thallium (required to extract ores from the rocks), then the production of 15 million square feet of sludge containing cyanide, arsenic and sulfuric acid. All this would not be easy and easy to repair without even greater environmental impact.

Among the most risky is the process of cyanization, that is, rinsing gold with sodium cyanide, which is the most widespread method for processing gold. Entry of this compound into the ground or groundwater causes irreparable damage as the soil and water become completely poisonous and unusable to humans and animals.

An example of cyanide soil poisoning was seen in 2000 in the case of the Baia Mare mine in Romania, when 10,000 cubic meters of cyanide-rich industrial wastewater was pumped into the soil. Chemicals have seeped into groundwater and poisoned agricultural land and drinking water for 2.5 million people in Serbia and Hungary, killing hundreds of tons of fish in the Somes, Tisa and Danube rivers.

Even the often pointed arguments of job creation should be taken with a dose of restraint. Of the 13,500 workers announced, 2,175 workers are currently employed in mining operations in North Macedonia.

Nevsun Resources LTD, a Canadian company hoping to build a mine near Gevdelija, has faced allegations made by the Guardian over “forced labor, dire working conditions and an atmosphere of fear and intimidation” at the Bisha mine in Eritrea, which is majority-owned the owner.

Another argument against mining projects is an alternative economic model that could ensure sustainable development in these regions.

For example, the city of Dorjan is located near a lake whose summer tourism potential is often highlighted as a possible economic model for the development of the area. Winter tourism could be developed in the area of ​​Kozhuf Mountain. Valdanovo, Bogdanci and Gevgelija are agricultural areas with a Mediterranean climate and awareness of the importance of organic farming. With the aim of developing organic agriculture, more than a billion denars of subsidies have already been invested in the area, which would completely fail if the mine were opened due to environmental pollution.

In any case, employment can be taken as an advantage only if one considers the working conditions and the immediate and long-term health consequences of workers exposed to a substance such as cyanide.

Anti-mining struggles during the tenure of Zoran Zaev’s government and the SDSM

 

Of the 200 exploration and exploitation concessions issued by the previous government, in June 2019, only 14 licenses were started by mining operators. The 14 concessions are owned by Euromax Resources, a Bulmak company – licensed for lead and zinc in Zletov and Toranica, then Legura, which has a concession for manganese in Stogovo, for nickel in Veles, Lojani for antimony and iron in Tamjiste. In 2018, twelve dealers exploited minerals worth 180.8 million euros. Of that amount, only € 4.95 million, or 2.74%, was paid into the public budget for concession fees.

At the same time, mining companies made a profit of 38% or EUR 68.9 million. The share of the mining sector in the North Macedonian economy is 15% of industrial production and 1.5% of GDP.

Combating the exploitation of ores, as well as their outcomes, will serve as a mirror of the interactions between global capitalism and democracy in the country, but also as a test for the new SDSM government, which will have to balance in order to remain a social democratic party and devise a new model for attracting investment. which would be different from foreign direct investment in the mining sector.

Also, the role and perseverance of citizens in initiatives against such mining projects will continue to be crucial. They will combat the absolute priority of ore-driven economic growth (estimated GDP growth is 2%), to the detriment of environmental and social consequences, which are currently set as less significant.

Finally, this struggle should include arguments that will not give immunity to the government and local authorities if they fail to find alternative economic models that would develop society in a balanced way – that is, which would have positive environmental, social and political impacts.

Source: Climate and energy transition of the Balkans

Rio Sava Exploration Ltd.: Spatial plan for yadarite exploitation and processing in Serbia

The spatial plan has been prepared in accordance with studies and documentation obtained from Rio Sava Exploration Ltd. Belgrade, the current holder of the permit for geological exploration of boron and lithium at the Jadar deposit.

This document is the planning basis for the development of mines, industrial facilities and necessary infrastructure, as well as for the protection, use and landscaping of special purpose areas “Jadar”.

Rio Sava operates within the Rio Tinto Global Mining Corporation and they found the mineral yadarite (sodium lithium borosilicate) in the Jadar River basin.

The area of ​​the spatial plan is 293.9 square kilometers in the territory of Loznica and Krupanj municipalities. There are four or more protected areas in this area, the most important being Tršić-Tronoša.

The Jadarite deposit itself is located in a river valley on agricultural land, and the mineral is at a depth of 100 to 720 meters.

According to this document, the area of ​​mining activities will be spread over 854.8 hectares, the zone of production and industrial activities will be on the surface of 646.5 hectares, while the area of ​​358.5 hectares will be used for landfilling of industrial waste, construction of access roads and supporting infrastructure.

For the development of the Jadar project, land and real estate purchase and relocation of households from the scope of the special purpose complex are foreseen.

Source: b92.net

Increasing concession fees for ores exploitation in North Macedonia

After six years, the North Macedonian Ministry of Economy has adopted a new tariff plan, which envisages an increase in concession fees for the exploitation of ores and geological resources. The new tariffs will apply from January 1, 2021. This decision means that more money will be poured into the budgets of the municipalities where coal, metallic raw materials, marble, granite, etc. are exploited.

One percent of the projected coal price is 780 denars (12.75 euros) per ton, instead of the current 600 denars (9.8 euros), or 3.900 denars (63.8 euros) per tonne of carbon dioxide and other gases, instead of the current 3,000 (€ 49.1). From each tonne of lead, zinc, copper, nickel or iron sold, the dealership will pay two percent to the state, and the same solution is retained here as in the current tariff system. For these metals, except for iron, the average price on the London Stock Exchange over the last three months will follow.

For the exploitation of precious and semi-precious stones, five percent of the value of the minerals sold will be paid, which is the same as it has been so far. The state will receive one percent from the sale of construction stone, assuming it costs MKD 390 (6.4 euros) per tonne instead of the current MKD 300 (4.9 euros). Mineral and groundwater drinking water will be charged one percent, assuming the selling price per liter of water is MKD 5.2 (EUR 0.09), instead of MKD 4 (EUR 0.07).

It also increases the concession area usage fee, to MKD 312,000 (EUR 5,100) per square kilometer for coal and other fossil fuels and MKD 234,000 (EUR 3,830) for metal ore, while quartz sand, marble and granite exploitation will cost MKD 130,000 (2,130 euro) per square kilometer. It will cost as much for sand and gravel, and for mineral water as MKD 156,000 (2,550 euros).

The fees for carrying out detailed geological surveys will also rise in price, amounting to MKD 156,000 (EUR 2,550) for energy minerals as well as for metallic minerals, while currently they amount to EUR 2,000.

Economy Minister Kresnik Bektesi launched an initiative to change the tariff system for paying concession fees a year ago. Comparative analysis with countries in the region and EU countries showed that fees should be increased.

Collection will start from 2021, as concessionaires’ budgets and investment plans for this year have already been prepared.

There are currently 362 concession contracts for surface and underground exploitation in North Macedonia.

Source: factor.mk