Keeping track of all the goings-on in Africa’s mining industry is like trying to follow the petrol prices – it can be hard to keep up with all the constant changes and new happenings. We aim to make it a little easier for you. Read on to find out what’s been happening in African mining news this past week with our roundup of 7 of the biggest stories.

7 news stories to come out of Africa’s mining sector in the last week

1. Mauritania – Tiris Project Records enormous increase in Uranium grade

Large but often overlooked, Mauritania made headlines in the week when a uranium project in the country announced it had achieved a huge 550% increase in the mine’s uranium grade via pilot-scale test results through simple screening methods. These tests were carried out at Mintek, a mining science and technology institute in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Aura Energy, the ASX- and Aim-listed Australian mining firm that heads uranium project Tiris, also conducted preliminary bulk leaching tests that confirmed rapid extraction of over 95%.

According to the company, the high level of upgradability of the project’s uranium mineralisation sets it apart from other uranium mines with similar feed grades. This meant it was possible to carry out leaching using a smaller, more effective leach circuit that is cheaper to fund and operate.

2. Guinea – Golden Rim Resources Concentrates on its gold project in Guinea after selling its non-core assets in Burkina Faso

Australian exploration firm Golden Rim Resources recently sold off its gold exploration projects in Burkina Faso for US$15.5 million to focus solely on its Kada gold project in Guinea, and shares in the company have risen since.

The firm is now accelerating its Kada project in eastern Guinea, where it recently got back promising gold results with 46 metres at 1.3 g/t in oxide. Golden Rim has discovered notable regions of broad gold mineralisation beyond the mineral resource estimate area of 930,000 ounces of gold while drilling along the 15 kilometre-long Kada Gold Corridor.

3. World – Company poised to bring conflict-free, ‘sustainable’ tin assets to market

First Tin, an exploration and development group, is soon to bring its advanced tin mining projects in Germany and Australia to market to match the global demand for the metal. This comes after the International Tin Association determined these projects were mature enough to go into production until 2030. Production at the two tin mines is planned to begin in 2025.

These two mines will be some of the only tin mines in the world not located in conflict areas with high political risk. The project in Germany, called Tellerhäuser, is located in Saxony and First Tin is striving to make it a zero-waste mine. First Tin’s CEO Thomas Buenger says “I would call it sustainable mining, as sustainable as mining can be. We will mine around 500,000 tonnes of ore annually and turn about 45% to 50% of the mine volume into product.”

4. South Africa – Country suffering Huge chrome losses thanks to pirate miners

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC) released a press release stating that approximately 10% of South Africa’s annual chrome production is missed out on because of illegal chrome mining. In a country that is the top producer of chrome in the world, that’s a significant amount.

The GI-TOC puts partial blame for the problem on points of weakness in South Africa’s mining policy, which was previously altered to make mining permits more easily accessible to small-scale miners in order to increase racial inclusivity in the sector. Illicit miners take advantage of the low requirements needed to get permits to start operating larger-scale mines outside of what is allowed.

The illicit chrome mining economy has exploded in the country in recent years, with some experts estimating the number of illicit miners working in the country to be in the tens of thousands.

5. DRC – Gecamines may ax joint venture with its partner, block cobalt and copper exports

Following a dispute, Leon Mwine Kabiena, deputy CEO of Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned miner Gecamines, has stated it has not renewed a commercial agreement between Gecamines and its joint venture partner, the Chinese CMOC Group. This means that Gecamine may block exports from the Tenke Fungurume mine, putting copper and cobalt exports from the mine at risk.

The dispute between the companies began over CMOC allegedly failing to pay Gecamines the $7.5 billion in royalties that it owes the firm.

The current lack of a commercial agreement between the two means exporting minerals from Tenke Fungurume to Gecamines would be illegal.

CMOC has fired back, saying Gecamines’ threat to block the exports from Tenke Fungurume is “not justified…We will retain all means, including legal means, to defend our legitimate rights and interests.”

6. World – The idea of deep-sea mining is “terrifying”, says WWF director

The UN Ocean Conference took place in Lisbon last week and was attended by the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) director-general Marco Lambertini. During the conference, Lambertini, condemned current proposals to carry out deep-sea mining, deeming it a “terrifying” prospect.

The devastation that mass disturbances on the seabed could cause, along with unpredictable consequences that may result from mineral extraction on the ocean floor, is a great concern for Lambertini. The ecosystem in the deep sea is so interconnected that one species being negatively affected by deep-sea mining would have a knock-on effect on the entire chain, ending with fisheries being impacted.

Lambertini instead is advocating for better recycling efforts from leaders and authorities, while the WWF is proposing a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

7. South Africa – 5G-enabled smart mine coming to the country

The first-ever 5G broadband-enabled smart metal mine is soon to be launched in Limpopo, South Africa, in an exciting new development for the country. The companies behind the smart mine, which is being developed at the Garatau platinum mine in the region, are mining firms Nkwe Platinum and South Africa Zijin Platinum in collaboration with MTN and Huawei.

This development will help South Africa remain a top global mining competitor.

MTN and Huawei will be supplying high-speed 5G to the mine, which will allow the mine to incorporate IoT communication, vehicle remote control, and companywide digital communication into its operations, streamlining processes and increasing the mine’s efficiency and productivity.

Various emerging technologies will also have 5G broadband incorporated into them to further enhance the mine’s operations.

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