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Why Norway's minerals 'tick a lot of boxes'

BY SACHA LIFSCHITZ
MARKETING ADVISER FOR NORGE MINING

Meet Norge Mining’s new marketing adviser, Sacha Lifschitz - a commodities stalwart who offers up a veritable smorgasbord of mining knowledge and experience. Sacha believes the potential mineral deposits in Norway – consisting vanadium, phosphorus and ilmenite – are creating an unprecedented opportunity. Here’s why….

Q. In a nutshell, what’s your background?

A. I worked for Glencore for more than 13 years and recently, for a few years, for Concord Resources – both major players in commodity trading. I also have experience on the asset side and in the development of suppliers and commodity consumer markets.

Q. Why is Norway an exciting jurisdiction for a mining company to operate in?

A. Historically, there has been a lot of controversy over ‘dirty’ mining – some of it justifiable, some of it not. For example, in regard to cobalt in Congo or coal in Colombia, it can’t always be claimed that supply chains are ‘clean’ or conflict-free and this is becoming an erudite topic for consumers – and for businesses, as ESG concerns gather pace. Norway is a developed, western country, with an impeccable social and political background and this creates an exciting opportunity; it ticks a lot of boxes.

Q. There’s a lot of buzz about vanadium – is this justified?

A. Vanadium is a very interesting mineral, in regards to our Electric Vehicle revolution. Of course, it needs to be developed further, but it looks like it may play an important role in future battery technology. Norge Mining is in the early stages of investigating vanadium, but explorations so far look incredibly promising. What’s more, as it’s on the European Union’s Critical Raw Material list, the demand for this valuable mineral is clearly palpable and we believe its use in redox batteries will create a new field of demand.

Q. Is the vanadium market still buoyant, regardless of its battery storage potential?

A. Vanadium is used in specialised steel production; with high temperatures and high-speed steels, you need to add vanadium. This means the market for this mineral is already vast and growing – especially if the mineral is coming from a ‘clean’ value chain.

Q. Norge’s investigations have also yielded promising preliminary results for phosphorus. Will Norway be an attractive addition to the world market?

A. We have a growing population that needs more food. One way to create more food is to treat the soil to make it more productive; there is an increasing demand for more efficient nutrition production. And there is a deficit emerging due to the growth of the world’s population. Cue phosphate fertiliser. The phosphate market currently consists of a few huge players. So, to introduce production in a jurisdiction like Norway, is very interesting and attractive for the world market.

Q. Not forgetting ilmenite – what are its special characteristics?

A. Ilmenite is a titanium-iron oxide mineral, with highly sought-after characteristics and the results of Norge Mining’s investigations into ilmenite deposits in Norway are also very encouraging already. It’s used in paint – and there’s always a high demand for that. It’s also used in the aerospace manufacturing industry and we will all start flying again soon! In my mind, ilmenite is a strong addition to Norge Mining’s portfolio.

Q. Have there been any unexpected twists and turns along the way, during Norge Mining’s explorations in Norway so far?

A. It’s very early stages, but there are potential nickel reserves in the area in which Norge Mining is operating. I bring to the table a wealth of experience in nickel. I’ve bought it and sold it for the majority of my career. As with vanadium, it may be used in the battery industry – in the form of nickel sulphate. What’s more exciting though, is that geographically there is a good chance that it’s a similar quality to that found in Canada where cobalt and copper come together with it in the soil. These are all products that are desperately needed in the future – for batteries and more. There used to be nickel mines in Norway. So, it’s not unfeasible. Norge Mining has already carried out shallow drilling and has just started exploring deeper to find the bigger ore bodies. We will know more about this soon. It would certainly be the icing on the cake.

Q. You say Norway ‘ticks all the boxes’, but also Norge Mining itself – why?

A. We live in a contradictory world; on the demand side, we want to have our mobile phones and computers. But we are also quick to point the finger of blame at the companies who produce these products, if there are any doubts over the provenance of these materials. Norge Mining is already proving that mining can be ‘clean’, through its investigations so far. What’s more, it’s operating in a developed country with a good track record of exploiting oil resources cleanly. On a macro level, the environmental consciousness of the world has improved. ESG is top propriety; there’s reputational risk when it comes to mining – and that’s a good thing.

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