The Australian mining company, Mount Burgess Mining, has announced that it will be exploring for Vanadium following the accidental discovery of the resource during the recent diamond core drilling at the Kihabe deposit.
The mining company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange is currently developing a 30 million tonne zinc, lead and silver resource in Botswana. The Kihabe-Nxuu Base Metals Project, located in Western Ngamiland, contains resources of 33 million tonnes of mineralisation.
In an announcement to shareholders, the company says the initial Vanadium assay results from an area which was subject to HQ diamond core drilling during the last quarter of 2017 has identified a continuous Vanadium rich domain which is likely to add significant credit to the project metrics.
“As a result of the recent increase in the Vanadium price, its emerging importance together with Zinc as a battery metal and combined with confirmatory results from recent HQ diamond Core drilling the company is conducting an in-depth review of the Vanadium content of the Kihabe deposit,” the company said.
Mount Burgess Mining further said that geological modelling is underway to assess the grade and continuity of the four Vanadium domains in relation to the existing resource area. In order to determine the recoverability of the Vanadium, the company has engaged a consulting metallurgist to assist with the design and development of the test work program.
“Only upon completion of such test work will the company be able to establish what contribution Vanadium could have to the project metrics.”
Vanadium is primarily used to produce high-strength steel and chemical catalysts, but much future demand stems from its role in vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs), which have the capacity for multi-megawatt scale storage. The batteries are inherently simple and rely on changing the redox state of vanadium to store and then supply large amounts of power. They are suitable for off-grid mining and farming operations and are suitable for coupling with solar systems.
After seeing some price recovery in 2016, the vanadium market fell into deficit in 2017. According to Jack Bedder, steel alloys division manager at Roskill, low vanadium prices led to cutbacks in production, and ultimately that “caused supply to fall well below demand, creating a deficit in the market and contributing to a recovery in vanadium prices.”
Vanadium prices reached a four year high in May 2017 and current pricing for European Vanadium Pentoxide Flake 98% price is US$31.42 per kg, and US$67.50 per kg for European Ferro-Vanadium 80%.
Vanadium occurs naturally in about 65 different minerals band in fossil fuel deposits. It is produced in China and Russia from steel smelter slag. Other countries produce it from the flue of heavy oil, or as a by-product of uranium mining.
Botswana is a firm favourite destination for Australian mining companies, with most of the company involved in exploration of coal. A-Cap, an Australian listed mining company, in 2016 announced that it has been granted a license to develop the country’s first uranium mine. According to A-Cap, the Letlhakane Uranium Project is one of the world’s largest undeveloped Uranium Deposits. Other Australian mining companies with interests in Botswana include Minergy which is involved in coal exploration and listed on the BSE last year. African Energy Resources which delisted from the BSE this year is an Australian company focused on developing the Sese Coal project, while Tlou Energy, also listed on the Australian Stock exchange and BSE, is involved in coal bed methane projects.