John Vergopoulos

CEO

News

Norge Mining 2023: A year of clarity

21/12/2023

If there’s one word I would use to sum up this decisive year for Norge Mining, it’s clarity. 2023 has been about understanding where we are now and where we are going – because both our company’s journey and destination has changed. The way forward is now clear due to strategic discussions locally and internationally, the beneficiation studies of our CRMs and wider geopolitical events. We can now see that two global megatrends – supply chain security and net zero – are not only a backdrop, but are at the very core of our business and future operations.

Our value proposition

We are a critical raw materials company that will deliver carbon net zero solutions. We are building an integrated supply chain – one that will enable security and deliver products sustainably at the beginning of the value chain.

Hit the ground running

A big shift for us came at the beginning of the year with investigating and introducing downstream opportunities for the first time. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, there have been huge global supply chain consequences; the need to hold on to control has become more acute. On top of this, we’ve been asked to look at ways of retaining the value of our CRMs – vanadium, titanium and phosphate – rather than the processing happening elsewhere. This request came from the EU, state actors and governments, during our thorough stakeholder engagement. It’s also simply the right thing to do to create increased value within Norway – where our 61 licences are held.

Highest purity phosphate

Our priority this year has been on phosphorus, Wet Phosphoric Acid (WPA) for the fertiliser industry and Purified Wet Phosphoric Acid (PWPA) for Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries. Downstream production of these would increase the value of the minerals we have.

And we are in a very fortunate position that our phosphate is the highest purity in the world at 98%. Impurities are a headache in the processing phase, so the purity of our P205 is very significant, as we discovered in our beneficiation testing this year, carried out by SGS (a world-leading testing, inspection and certification company). This testing has also commercially catapulted our downstream vanadium potential. Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFBs) are becoming increasingly important as the world produces more renewable energy and seeks industrial capabilities of storing it.

Great minds

Behind any product, of course, are brilliant people – and we have made two crucial appointments this year that are critical as we explore these exciting opportunities. Olav Skalmeraas has become CEO of Norge Mineraler AS, our operations arm in Norway.  With more than 30 years of international executive experience in the natural resources industries, Olav is motivated to develop Norway’s green industry and we are privileged to have such deep knowledge within our team.

Jørgen Stenvold has also joined as Project Director of Norge Mineraler AS. From the Arctic to Ethiopia, Jørgen’s experience of creating value from what’s under the ground is unrivalled. He intrinsically understands Norway and he’s extraordinarily capable. We are very privileged to have such deep knowledge from both Jørgen and Olav now within our team.

Aligning governments with our corporate strategy

In tandem with ascertaining the value of our CRMs, we’ve been in deep discussion with various governments, to align our corporate development to their CRM strategies. We also continue to engage with the municipal, regional and national government of Norway. We’ve always had transparent and informative conversations, and we are grateful for their cross-party support.

Industry engagement

And then, of course, there are the end users – the industries at the other end of the supply chain, who need our products. We have agreements in place with fertiliser companies and battery and car manufacturers.

From government to industry – our ambitious endeavours require joint cooperation the whole way along the supply chain.

Powerful partnerships

As we forge a new way with great clarity, other partnerships have also become important. We’ve taken on new engineering experts in Hatch. And for consultancy, Norconsult – and Metier, who will provide project support for us. We continue to be strategically advised by SRK, who’ve been with us since the very beginning. We’ve also engaged Arctic Drilling. They’ve started to drill a further 10,000 meters for us. This will transition our resource into a reserve. As always, we are supported by our astute lawyers, bank advisers and communications advisers in London and Norway.

On the horizon

As we end the year, we are focussing on the completion of our pre-feasibility study. This involves finding out where we are going to build everything – downstream operations, processing plants, ports and so on. All need careful consideration, including energy availability.

It’s not hyperbole when I say this project has never been done before. We’ve never had this magnitude of high-grade resource, supporting such a high calibre of globally demanded products. And to have downstream operations coming online potentially simultaneously, is unprecedented.

As I said at the beginning, this year has brought clarity to our mission – as an owner of key supply chains, by securing Critical Raw Materials for strategic industries and to drive net zero. Next year, our focus will be on implementation; huge decisions on how to set the wheels in motion await.

For now, I wish you a restful festive season and a happy new year.