Comments : 1 Comment »
Categories : Africa, DeBeers, new plays, Technology
I am struggling to keep up with my one-entry-a-week commitment. Last week, news reports of DeBeers and AngloGold Ashanti joint venture to search for gold off South Africa’s West Coast particularly caught my attention. Here’s what, the already one year old joint venture is about.
De Beers and AngloGold Ashanti committed themselves to prospecting and exploring one of Seafield Resource’s projects in New Zealand using the technology developed by DeBeers Marine to search for diamonds in water of a depth of 20 m to 200m off the Namibian coast. The results of the prospecting campaign were considered disappointing by Seafield.
Following this setback, De Beers and AngloGold Ashanti have taken their JV to the South African West Coast where gold is thought to have washed into the sea from rivers (millions of years ago) and are covered in sediment. Drilling is set to start in Q1 of 2011 and will aim at determining the economic viability of the deposit.
Seafield Resources, part of E Oppenheimer & Son International, has been exploring the coast of South Island in New Zealand through other projects. This week Seafield Resources was brought up in Trading Markets’ “Small Cap Stocks on the Move” following a recent 148% gain.
More on Marine Mining
Marine mining is fairly new, having taken off in the 60s and 70s. Current operations are mostly focused on tin dredging, gemstones, sands and gravels. The costs of marine mining have been prohibitive for many years, but marine mining to be becoming more attractive.
Other firms such as Nautilus Minerals (TSE:NUS) and Neptune Minerals (LON:NPM) are focusing their marine operations in the “other” ring of fire, a region known for its seafloor earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in Oceania.
Marine deposits may be easier and more economical to mine than land-deposits as they are exposed on the sea floor and do not require the removal of tons of overburden. They also require less staff (DeBeers’ ships have about 40 employees onboard) and present fewer risks to workers. These operations are also mobile and can be taken from a deposit to another.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Categories : Juniors, Technology
A Québec company, Exploration Azimut (TSX-V: AZM) is relying on an approach based on algorithms to better target deposits worthy of further exploration. In a way, this may well be translating the success of Google’s PageRank onto the mining industry.
The company is using algorithms to target deposits of gold, platinum group metals, uranium and rare earths in the mining-friendly province of Québec. The system analyzes geoscientific data (often from governmental sources) that it manipulates in order to determine the most interesting exploration targets in function of the type of resources sought. The data used is available to others too. Still the sophistication of Azimut’s computer system, which took 15 years to develop, is a step ahead of competition according to the company. On 20 regional projects which had not been previously explored, 18 have given positive results. The company currently has a portfolio of 23 properties covering about 10,000 square kilometres in Québec, covering 10% of the total provincial mineral claims.
The reliance on the computer system has allowed the company to reduce the technical risks to mining exploration to a certain extent. Its financial approach is also based on cleverly managing the risks through joint ventures. Exploration Azimut has managed to conclude rather interesting deals with majors (think Rio Tinto and Goldcorp) and juniors alike. Agreements reached have often involved ceding up to 50% stake in a deposit in exchange of the acquiring firm committing to a certain level of exploration expenses to be carried along a specified time-frame and a cash payment. Partners may increase their stake by banking a feasibility study. In the last 6 years the company has signed no less than 26 agreements accounting to CAD $75 million in investments. In short, the company is self-financing. Not bad eh?
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Categories : Technology
Lately, Alcoa’s Deschambeault smelter has been the home of a pilot project aimed at capturing carbon emitted during the smelting process through a carbon capture technology relying on an enzyme rather than on a solvent as is more commonly used in carbon capture processes. The technology used has been developed by the Canadian firm CO2Solution.
Carbon capture is the process by which carbon emissions from large point sources are gathered to then be processed, transported and ultimately stored in an underground geological formation. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is seen by many as one of the key technologies to mitigate greenhouse gases emissions yet the costs associated with its deployment and its operation (the capture process is in itself energy intensive) have deterred companies to commit to CCS as it’s too costly in the absence of carbon pricing.
The technology developed by CO2 Solutions is different as it is based on a biotechnology rather than a solvent. This platform exploits the natural power of a biocatalyst (enzyme), carbonic anhydrase, which functions within humans and other mammals to manage CO2 during respiration. The company adapted the enzyme to work within a reactor to act as a lung in industrial environments in order to concentrate the emissions into pure CO2. The enzyme can also work in tandem to solvents to increase their C02 removal capacity by 30%. These results point to the ability of the enzyme to lower the capital and operating costs and reducing the energy requirements of the process.
CO2Solution’s web site does not disclose anything about the results of the pilot project. Yet this technology is quite promising; New York Times has made mention of its potential in the quest for clean coal.
CO2 Solutions is listed on the TSX-V under the ticker CST.