The study follows the announced 2021 DFS for the niobium project in Malawi.
Australian project developer, Globe Metals & Mining (Globe), has reported the completion of its optimisation study on the Kanyika niobium project in Malawi. The update of a 2021 DFS yielded pre-tax NPV (8%) of US$1Bn and an internal return of return (IRR) of 47.08%. As part of the update, life of mine has been increased from 23 to 27 years, with an average nameplate production of 3,267tpy niobium pentoxide and 136tpy tantalum pentoxide over that period. Globe also confirmed that its preferred location of a refinery would be in Malawi, opting for it over the UAE and Namibia. The study also resulted in a change in refining technology from the traditional HF digestion/solvent extraction route to a carbochlorination process.
The Kanyika project is located in central Malawi, approximately 55km northeast of the regional centre of Kasungu. The mine will be open pit and developed over two phases, extracting 1.5Mtpy of ore to feed a concentrator with the capacity to produce 17.7ktpy concentrate. The estimated CAPEX over phase one and two for the mine/concentrator stands at US$207M. The niobium oxide produced is being targeted to be sold into the speciality metals markets, where premia can be achieved compared to ferroniobium.
Kanyika is one of 13 niobium projects that Project Blue is tracking and is targeting its niobium pentoxide into speciality metals markets, where a premium is achieved over ferroniobium. The completion of CBMM’s Araxá expansion means that the market will not require new producers over the medium term. However, it is possible that one, or perhaps even two projects enter production over the next decade as the market grows, although given how long it takes to commission and ramp up a mine, these would not add much capacity to the market in the 2020s.