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Southern Hemisphere Mining reveals strategic Chilean spin-out

Updated: Apr 17

Southern Hemisphere are looking to spin out its Los Pumas battery metal manganese project. Credit: File

Southern Hemisphere Mining has unveiled plans to spin-out its 100 per cent-owned Los Pumas battery metals manganese project in northern Chile into a new listing so it can focus on its flagship Llahuin copper project. Management says its new “Titan Battery Minerals Technology” listing will carry the project that featured a mineral resource upgrade of more than 27 per cent in May, to 30.26 million tonnes of ore at a grade of 6.24 per cent manganese and 5.74 per cent aluminium.

Southern Hemisphere says Titan will also explore value-adding purifying technologies specific to the battery metals industry as the sector continues to evolve. The company believes the play will create a dedicated, globally-focused battery minerals and technology company.

While Los Pumas is seen as the company’s flagship project as it converts high-quality manganese mineral resources into high-purity manganese sulphate monohydrate (HPMSM) to supply the electric vehicle (EV) and other energy storage markets, it also sees other growth opportunities in lithium and cobalt.

This is a significant opportunity for Southern Hemisphere. The Los Pumas manganese deposit is substantial, high quality and geopolitically well suited to serve emerging technologies for energy storage, particularly in the United States. Southern Hemisphere Mining lead director of the Los Pumas battery metals manganese project Natalie Dawson

Manganese has traditionally been used in the production of steel, specialty alloys and aluminium products. But the metal is now finding increasing use in the battery market sector, with Tesla and Volkswagen producing a new battery with a higher proportion of manganese and no cobalt given its ability to work as a stabiliser to decrease battery combustibility and increase density, which assists with increasing EV driving range.

As the world spears towards electrification of the global vehicle fleet, commodity researchers CPM Group forecasts demand for manganese is set to grow tenfold by 2030 to 3.1 million tonnes per annum. Some of South32’s top brass were saying back in February that manganese demand for batteries could rise from a tiny proportion of the end-user demand to as much as 30 per cent by 2030.

There is also the geopolitical angle to consider, with 90 per cent of the current market for high-purity manganese sulphate held by China.

While other details to do with Southern Hemisphere’s deal are still being thrashed out, one thing is certain – the company intends to remain attached to its new venture as the major shareholder.

The Llahuin copper gold project is an advanced deposit of 680,000 tonnes copper equivalent in an expansion phase. Its deposits are close to the city of Illapel in the Coquimbo Region, 250 kms north of Santiago in Chile, at an elevation of 1300m and 8km east of the big El Espino Copper-Gold mine development operated by Santiago-listed copper producer Pucobre.

And once Southern Hemisphere has its Los Pumas project off its books, it will be time to seriously get its hands dirty chasing Chilean copper.

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