The delicate balancing act of developing ‘vogue minerals’ projects

Author(s): 
Andrew van Zyl, Hennie Theart, Marcin Wertz, Mark Noppe, Karen Lloyd, Martin Pittuck
Date: 
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
First presented: 
MACIG 2019
Type: 
Article
Category: 
Mining

The project potential for ‘vogue minerals’ such as lithium, graphite, cobalt and vanadium in the context of fast developing battery technology has lit up the eyes of many investors. The opportunities, however, need to be approached with a strategic grasp of market uncertainties and a firm technical focus that will mitigate the potential risks.

Africa is an important current source and hunting ground for vogue mineral prospects. The continent holds potential for lithium in evaporite and pegmatite deposits, found in places like Southern and Western Africa’s Proterozoic belts, and in the Rift Valley in Kenya and Tanzania. Pegmatite hosted lithium deposits are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are geologically similar to those found in Australia. All of this suggests excellent lithium exploration opportunities.

Extensive resources and reserves of cobalt are well known within the Central African Copper Belt, mainly in the DRC, with some cobalt production also coming from South Africa as a by-product from nickel and platinum mines, as well as from Madagascar’s nickel laterite deposits. One of the world’s few primary cobalt deposits occurs in Morocco.

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