Deals, project progress, record-breaking sales, and a rare pink gemstone for sale; these are just some of the highlights from Africa’s mining industry in the last week.

Catch up on some of the biggest and latest stories to come out of the sector, all of which demonstrate the development of mining on the continent and Africa’s importance as a global mining player.

News roundup – the latest in Africa’s mining industry

26 March: DRC – Kibali gold mine maintains Tier One status

Barrick Gold’s Kibali mine located in the DRC has had its status as a Tier One gold asset extended for the fourth year running, with the life of the mine estimated to last until 2033.

In 2022, gold exploration replaced gold produced and some, and Kibali held 97 million tonnes of gold deposits that graded 3.26 gm/t for contained ounces of 10.2 Moz.

A gold mine is ranked as a Tier One asset when it:

  • Contains enough reserves to make it last for an estimated 10 years (at least)
  • Produces a minimum of 500,000 ounces of gold
  • Has a projected cost per ounce over the course of the mine life that falls in the lower part of the industry cost curve.

27 March: Libya – Country’s missing uranium is recovered

A few weeks ago, 10 drums and around 2.5 tonnes of natural uranium ore concentrate (UOC) were declared missing from a warehouse in southern Libya, raising worries about nuclear security and radiological risks.

Almost all that UOC has now been found, near the same warehouse it was taken from. The warehouse was not under government control.

This is all according to the UN nuclear watchdog, which released a statement on Friday.

28 March: South Africa- Master Drilling reports a record-high revenue

South African rock boring and drilling services company Master Drilling, which services the international markets, recently posted a record revenue it generated in 2022.

In presenting its results on 28th March 2023, Master Drilling stated it is concentrating more on developing technologies and is aware of how technological advancement is affecting how mining is carried out.

It aims to develop its technological offerings in the areas of shaft sinking, tunnelling, and non-explosive mining, and diversifying its products to include the use of AI technology.

Master Drilling also highlighted its focus on improving mining safety, finding ways to make operations more economical, and increasing productivity by investing in solutions and management systems that aid in achieving these goals.

29 March: Malawi- Government approves Mining Development Agreement for niobium project

The Malawian government has given the go-ahead to the Mining Development Agreement (MDA) for Globe Metals & Mining’s proposed Kanyika niobium project in the country.

With this approval, Globe can progress with its plans for the project, including engagement with the community near the proposed mine, such as planning the relocation of residents whom the process will affect.

The MDA will pave the way for the launching of the niobium project, which would be the fourth niobium mine on Earth, the first one to be developed in Africa, and also the first niobium mine to enter into production for 50 years.

The approval of the MDA for Globe also means that Globe can now begin extracting samples from the Kanyika site to test them.

It will extract a 10-t sample from the area and perform crushing, grinding, and flotation assessments to produce a concentrated sample and offtake samples.

29 March: Zimbabwe- Lithium processing plant complete and poised to start spodumene production

Premier Africa Minerals announced it has finished building its lithium plant in Zimbabwe and is ready to begin production and essentially contribute to the green transition.

The processing plant will be producing spodumene concentrate is a lithium ore with a high concentration of the metal.

Lithium is a crucial element in EV batteries and so plays a big role in the global transition to zero carbon.

The lithium plant has the capacity to yield almost 50,000 tonnes of spodumene a year. The plant is part of an offtake deal of $35-million Premier signed with CanMax Technologies (from China) in 2022.

30 March: International– Botswanan pink diamond on auction for over $35m

An ultra-rare pink diamond uncovered by De Beers in the Damtshaa mine in Botswana is up for auction by Sotheby’s and is estimated to fetch upwards of $ 35 million.

Dubbed the Eternal Pink, the diamond weighs 2.1 grams and has been described as “vivid” and “glowing”.

It has been shaped into a cushion cut by New York artisans. The process reportedly took six months.

The appeal of pink diamonds is due not just to their rarity, but also the fact that scientists are as of yet unable to pinpoint the reason for their unusual hue.

However, it is hypothesised that the colour occurs due to the diamond being formed deep under the Earth’s crust and the process it undergoes during this formation.

30 March: Mozambique- Record sales volumes for Syrah Resources in spite of disruptions

Syrah Resources broke its production record last year despite local illegal industrial actions frequently disrupting operations at its Balama graphite mine in Mozambique as well as limits on the volume of graphite it could export due to container shipping constraints.

Balama is one of the world’s and Mozambique’s largest graphite mines. In 2022, Balama’s unit costs for shareholders trended higher due to heightened demand.

However, without the constraints and obstacles it experienced, Syrah says, its sales volumes would have been even higher.

Syrah sold a record-smashing 162,000 tonnes of graphite in 2022, at an average of $661 per tonne.

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