Eric Roth, President of Chapel of mineralsexplores how the company is reviving copper-cobalt projects in Norway.
With a clear focus on Norway, Capella Minerals Limited (TSXV: CMIL; OTCQB: CMILF; FRA: N7D2) continues to pursue the discovery and production of key metals – such as copper and cobalt – needed for both the transport and storage of renewables. energy. Norway is a European leader in renewable energy production – approximately 92% of the country’s electricity supply comes from hydropower, with another 6% coming from wind energy – yet the country remains completely dependent on imports of all key metals needed for transmission and energy storage. This is despite the fact that the country was one of the largest suppliers of copper in Europe until the mid-1980s – and still has excellent potential for discovering new copper-cobalt deposits that can support the ongoing transition. towards green energy in Europe.
Norway is currently the largest consumer of electric vehicles per capita worldwide, with approximately 65% of all new vehicles sold in 2021 being fully electric. This insatiable demand for key metals for batteries, such as cobalt, is expected to continue to grow in the near future.
Norway’s rich mining history
Norway is a country with a rich but often forgotten history of honey production, with the key mining areas of Løkken and Røros supplying local and European markets since the 1650s. These mining areas remained in production until the mid-1980s, when a combination of low metal prices (copper prices fell to around $ 1500 / tonne), together with the growing importance of North Sea oil for the Norwegian economy, practically left the once-prosperous areas for honey production in a state of hibernation. Previous mining operations have also focused mainly on copper – and to a lesser extent zinc – with little attention paid to associated metals such as cobalt, gold and silver.
Four decades later, copper prices are rapidly approaching $ 10,000 / tonne due to global supply shortages and increased demand, with former Norwegian mining areas retaining the potential to secure future supplies of ethically produced honey to Europe. Similarly, the growing demand for metals for batteries such as cobalt will make these deposits even more important for Europe’s future.
Capella currently has a 100% interest in the regional research blocks covering the three Norwegian copper-cobalt projects – Hessjøgruva and Kjøli (both located in the Northern District of Røros) and Løkken (County of Løkken Verk). All three projects are located in the central province of Trondelag. As these former mining centers have remained inactive for the past 40 years, Capella’s current work programs are the first modern, systematic exploration activities specifically designed to identify new copper-cobalt resources in these highly promising areas.
Capella, in partnership with the UK-based Digbee ESG®, has also adopted a formal Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosure system designed to manage and report on “international best practices” ESG principles within the company. This Digbee accreditation confirms the company’s commitment to ensuring clean, safe and respectable work practices.
Capella’s commitments include:
- Environment (E): Commitment to net zero carbon emissions, together with net zero impact on local flora / fauna populations, surface water quality and local landscapes. In-depth assessments of all potential upstream and downstream impacts of our proposed operations are to be carried out. Rehabilitation of the affected areas as appropriate;
- Social (S): Full involvement with local communities and all stakeholders in our current and future work programs. Prioritization of employment and training opportunities for local communities; and
- Governance (G): A commitment to fully transparent financial reporting and interaction with federal, regional and local governments.
Capella is a small but growing group of research and development companies that voluntarily adhere to the formal adoption of these ESG operational standards.
Capella’s portfolio: Copper-cobalt projects in Norway
Capella is currently exploring three copper-cobalt projects in the province of Trøndelag in central Norway – the Hessjøgruva deposit at the resource stage and the Kjøli and Løkken projects at the drilling stage. Historically, all former underground mines in these areas have focused on copper and zinc production, although recent research has shown that increased concentrations of cobalt (both local gold and silver) are also linked to copper-zinc mineralization. The significance of the historic mining in Trøndelag is illustrated by the municipal shield for Røros, which shows the ancient symbol of honey in addition to the hammers used in the underground mining process.
All Capella project areas contain copper-rich deposits, which are known as “massive sulphide” deposits. These massive sulfide deposits originally formed on the ocean floor, but through subsequent tectonic activity have since been raised to the western tip of Norway. Modern analogues of these deposits are found on the ocean floor today and are called “black smokers” because of their high content of metal (especially copper). Massive sulphide deposits are usually high class (the old Løkken mine, for example, had a historical ore yield of 24 million tonnes at 2.3% copper and 1.9% zinc and is the largest deposit in its class worldwide) , as the ores are easily mined underground and metals extracted with the help of ecological techniques for flotation processing.
Of the three projects, Hessjøgruva is Capella’s most advanced project with significant copper-rich mineralization, which has already been determined by extensive diamond drilling in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, the Hessjøgruva project was inactive and has remained dormant ever since. The Hessjøgruva project was recently acquired by Capella in April 2022 and will be at the center of further work on resource identification and initial mining development studies next year. The nearby Kjøli project, located about 20 km northeast of Hessjøgruva, has four priority targets ready for drilling, which are expected to be tested in 2022. Three of these copper-zinc-cobalt targets lie along a 20-kilometer a belt of promising stratigraphy to discover new copper-rich massive sulphide deposits (this horizon includes the former Kjøli and Killingdal mining operations), with the fourth target (Kjøli Deeps) being a brand new target underlying the former Kjøli mine.
The Løkken project, located approximately 100 km west of Kjøli-Hessjøgruva, will carry out additional field work in the northern summer on the five priority targets set in 2021 for new copper-cobalt deposits. All these new targets are located a short distance from the former Løkken mine, which is best known today for the Astrup mine, as well as the former processing plant located next to the town of Løkken Verk.
Metals for the transition to green energy in Europe
Capella will continue to develop research and development of its very promising portfolio of copper-cobalt projects in central Norway in 2022. Further success will allow the company to provide both Norway and Europe with the alternative to have local supplies of ethical sources of key metals needed for both energy transmission and storage. Fostering the development of local sources of copper and cobalt would also significantly reduce Norway’s dependence on imports – especially cobalt, for which the Democratic Republic of the Congo is currently responsible for around 70% of world supplies.
The company’s strict adherence to ESG principles will also ensure that ongoing exploration and future mining operations are conducted in a sustainable, environmentally sound manner. The company will also continue to work with local communities and all stakeholders to ensure that work is done in accordance with “best international practices” – maximum respect for communities, while ensuring that we care as much as possible about the environment, in which we work.
Norway has great potential for discovering new copper and cobalt deposits, and Capella is a new generation first movement company working to revitalize an industry that is crucial to supporting Europe’s green energy ambitions. In fact, Capella’s short-term goal is to see copper and cobalt as strategic national goods – thus ensuring support for local supplies of goods that are crucial for the transmission of clean energy, batteries and energy storage, as well as for the thriving electric vehicle (EV) market in Europe.
Please note that this article will also appear in the tenth edition of ours quarterly publication.
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