Celsius leverages exploration on minerals demand

By Hilary Mare

OWING to increased interest that the development of electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage has created for the minerals required for their development, Celsius Resources has stepped up its exploration for these minerals through its Opuwo cobalt/copper project, in north-western Namibia.

Apart from EV and battery technology company Tesla, major vehicle manufacturers, such as Volkswagen and Volvo, are investing in EVs, with Volvo also intending to have its new cars fully electric by 2030, explains Celsius Resources corporate executive director Blair Sergeant.

Cobalt is a key component in lithium-ion battery technologies, with drivers, such as an increase in battery technologies, putting significant upward pressure on the cobalt price.

“Celsius Resources represents a fantastic leverage play for the coming battery revolution, owing to its portfolio of assets,” declares Sergeant.

Cobalt is a relatively rare resource, with more than half of the world’s supply originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); however, there are known environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) concerns in the DRC.

Consequently, there are more opportunities for projects to deliver cobalt that is acceptable to buyers with an ESG focus.

Celsius Resources was presented with an option to acquire an interest in the Opuwo project in 2017. The project sparked the company’s interest, owing to the “major potential” of a high-tonnage, high-grade deposit containing a sought-after commodity.

Further, the community is receptive to the project, as it understands the economic benefits of the development.

The development of the Opuwo project has been smooth, partially because of its location in Namibia, where a lot of the potential challenges for mining companies – such as access to water, skilled labour and power – have been solved.

The project – about 800 km from Windhoek and 750 km from the Walvis Bay port – is in a known mining district, with access to quality infrastructure.

It is also located in the Kaoko Belt, the western extension of a large copper-dominant belt that runs through to the DRC and Zambia.

Cobalt drilling has been successful, with a Joint Ore Reserves Committee (Jorc) resource estimate of 225.

5-million tonnes grading 0.12 percent cobalt, 0.43 percent copper and 0.54 percent zinc. The Opuwo project contains 259 000 t cobalt and 9.7-million tonnes copper.

The Jorc resource announcement outlined an orebody that can support an open pit mine, but may require underground work to reach deeper mineralisation.

The company is also considering further metallurgical test work programmes, with a potential prefeasibility study in the near future.