THE CONFERENCE CALLER: A famous puppet once famously said, ‘it’s not that easy being green’, a sentiment that rings true in the modern mining landscape as companies strive to have the potential of their new technology-focused projects recognised.
Australian Strategic Materials (ASX: ASM) was just one of the companies presenting at Diggers & Dealers on Day One spruiking new technologies and the commodities needed to keep them greening the planet.
It is also one of several, over the three-day gabfest, to lay claim to being set to become a provider to the world’s growing greening with its contribution anticipated to advance electric vehicle and wind turbine operations.
Non-executive chairman Ian Gandel told his audience of phase one commissioning of the company’s Korean Metals Plant that will produce neodymium products initially aiming to produce both metals and alloys utilising refined material from the company’s Dubbo mine in New South Wales.
Hyundai Engineering in Korea has awarded engineering, procurement and construction work and funding to advance the plant in Ochang which was officially opened by Australian Strategic with the Koreans in May.
Gandel reeled off the variety of high purity metal products to be produced including permanent magnet alloys, neodymium, praseodymian, dysprosium and terbium.
IGO (ASX: IGO) managing director and CEO Peter Bradford used his turn at the lectern on Day Two to espouse the green virtues of his company.
Bradford has been on something of a green technology crusade in recent times, holding the reins of the company’s transformation from gold and base metals to what he declared as being a “fantastic” portfolio of upstream and downstream clean energy projects covering lithium, nickel, copper and cobalt.
The company’s recent friendly $1.26 billion takeover of independent nickel producer Western Areas added the producing Forrestania mine and Cosmos development project to IGO’s high-quality, low-cost Nova operation and its likely Silver Knight satellite source.
They sit alongside a 25 per cent stake in the Greenbushes hard rock lithium mine and 49 per cent interest in Australia’s first fully automated battery-grade lithium hydroxide plant in Kwinana, both in Joint Venture with Chinese major Tianqi Lithium Energy Australia.
“Our strategy … is creating a company that’s globally relevant in the supply of clean energy metals, and we do that because we want to create a better planet,” Bradford said.
Neometals (ASX: NMT) has long been a trend setter in the recycling of battery materials.
Neometals managing director Chris Reed outlined recent advances made by the company at Diggers & Dealers, including its Primobius battery recycling Joint Venture in Germany with SMS group.
This partnership resulted in Mercedes Benz selecting Primobius as a battery recycling partner that will design and construct an integrated hydromet plant at Mercedes production facilities in Kuppenheim.
Neometals has developed three business units supporting energy transition in the electric vehicle (EV) and energy storage system (ESS) supply chains, encapsulating lithium-ion battery recycling, nickel-cobalt recovery and lithium chemicals.
As well as its German alliances, Neometals is advancing vanadium recovery in Finland, lithium chemicals in Portugal and lithium battery recycling with Stelco in Canada.
Kicking the dew off the grass on Day Three, Chalice Mining (ASX: CHN) continued running the ‘greener than the rest’ theme at the Forum, claiming its Julimar project to be the embryo that will be first born of a new green metals province in WA.
Chalice Mining is advancing strategic planning for the development of a starter mine at the company’s 100 per cent-owned Julimar project just 70km from Perth.
Chalice Mining managing director Alex Dorsch the final day crowd at Diggers & Dealers that the company’s work since its initial discovery two and a half years ago was confirming Julimar as WA’s first major platinum discovery and the starting point for a world-class multi-district green metals province.
Dorsch boasted the unique composition of platinum group elements, nickel, copper, cobalt at Julimar would deliver the green metals essential for the de-carbonisation of the world, feeding technologies such as batteries, electric vehicles and hydrogen production.
Liontown Resources (ASX: LTR) managing director Tony Ottaviano outlined the targeted production start for the company’s Kathleen Valley lithium project in Western Australia’s north eastern goldfields, which is pencilled in for the second quarter of 2024.
Ottaviano told Diggers & Dealers the company had now ticked major development milestones at Kathleen Valley, including completing a definitive feasibility study, raising required equity, securing debt funding and gaining three major offtake agreements.
Kathleen Valley currently has a Resource estimated at 156 million tonnes at 1.4 per cent lithium oxide, while the company’s other lithium deposit at Buldania in WA’s central south east has a resource of 15 million tonnes at one per cent lithium oxide.
Lynas Rare Earths (ASX: LYC) has accepted the challenge laid out by the accelerating pace of global demand for rare earth materials by bringing forward a $500 million expansion of the company’s Mt Weld mine and concentrate plant in Western Australia’s north-eastern Goldfields.
The expansion was announced by managing director-CEO Amanda Lacaze on Day Three of Diggers & Dealers, which she indicated aims to lift Mt Weld’s rare earth concentrate production capacity to 12,000 tonnes per annum by 2024 from its current level of 7,000 tonnes per annum.
This is a leapfrog of Commonwealth Games winning standard over the company’s previous expansion target of 10,500 tonnes per annum, which was laid out in the Lynas 2025 growth plan launched three years ago.
The neodynium-praseodymium concentrate produced at Mt Weld is shipped to Lynas’s advanced minerals plant in Malaysia for processing into high-quality rare earth materials for the manufacture of electric vehicles, wind turbines and other electronic applications.