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Mineral Commodities back in action at Norway graphite play

Updated: May 20

Mineral Commodities shipping graphite from Skaland. Credit: File

Mineral Commodities has confirmed it is back up and running at its Skaland Graphite AS operation in Norway after a mechanical failure of its primary ore production drill rig last month caused a temporary production halt.

The company today revealed it had rebooted its drilling program by sourcing and commissioning a rental rig to step into the breach and says it remains confident in the battery metal potential of the Scandinavian project.

Management says the replacement rig helped re-launch the program about a week ahead of its initial estimates for a mid-October start, adding that ore production has already recommenced. It also expects the process plant to produce finished graphite in the coming days, with a graphite shipment by barge from Skaland expected late this month or in early November.

The company’s original Tamrock Data Solo 1020 rig was built in 2002 and was approaching the end of its useful life. While the stand-in machine is operational and performing, it is also an older piece of equipment and management is now considering a replacement with either a new or more-recently built second-hand unit.

A decision on a longer-term drill rig solution is expected to be addressed as part of the upcoming 2024 budget planning cycle.

I visited Skaland during September 2023 to better understand the business, assets and operations. I was impressed with the grade and geotechnical stability of the deposit. While there is work to do to improve plant & equipment reliability and replace aging machinery, I am optimistic about the future for Skaland as part of the Company’s attractive battery mineral assets. Together with our Tormin Mineral Sands business in South Africa, I believe the Company’s quality of assets set it apart from other junior companies in this space, and positions it well for future value growth. Mineral Commodities chief executive officer Scott Lowe

The company initially estimated the rig failure to impact its cash flow by between US600,000 (AU$938,200) and US$900,000 (AU$1.4 million), depending on the timing of delivery of the rental machine. It now believes that figure will sit at the lowest end of the estimate.

Mineral Commodities is a global mining and development company with a primary focus on the production of high-grade mineral sands and natural flake graphite from operations in South Africa and Norway. Skaland is the world’s highest-grade operating flake graphite mine and is the only producer in Europe.

The company produces zircon, rutile, garnet, magnetite and ilmenite concentrates through its Tormin mineral sands operation on the Western Cape of South Africa and owns and operates the Skaland graphite operation in Norway.

Its planned development of the Munglinup graphite project in Western Australia also builds on its Skaland acquisition and reflects a further step toward an integrated, downstream value-adding strategy to capitalise on the fast-growing demand for sustainably manufactured lithium-ion batteries.

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