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Platosa Mine, Mexico, Mexico

The Platosa mine is a high-grade silver, lead and zinc deposit in Mexico. Located 5km north-west of the town of Bermejillo in the state of Durango, Platosa is a 24,065ha property owned by Excellon Resources. It has been in production since 2005.

Mine production was halted for 14 days in August 2010 when water inflow occurred due to an intersection of a water-bearing fault.

Production resumed on 1 September on a limited scale after the water flow was sealed. The company has initiated intensive grouting to seal off such faults.
The work will involve the drilling and grouting of 25m-50m sub-horizontal holes in preparation of certain production and development headings.

The company aims to return to previous production levels and grades at the earliest opportunity in 2011. Production was low in the third quarter of 2010 at 12,391t.

"Platosa is a 24,065ha property owned by Excellon Resources."


In November 2010 the company announced its option of acquiring a 60% interest in a 17,000ha property owned by Canada-based Sundance Minerals. The property, located west of Platosa and contiguous with certain sections of the mine, will be operated initially by Sundance Minerals in cooperation with the exploration team of Excellon. The company will make an initial payment of $50,000 and will spend $1.5m over the next three years towards exploration expenditures.


JOGMEC enters Southern Africa

Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) recently announced an agreement with Namibia to explore and develop mineral resources: the first time the Japanese state-backed company has entered into this type of deal with a Southern African country. The deal represents a major step towards bolstering the Namibian mining industry's increasingly important position within the region and the international mining community as a whole.

Set up in 2004, JOGMEC's main role is to help secure oil, gas and mineral supplies for Japan all over the world in light of ever-increasing global competition for a variety of resources. Japanese engineers were sent to Namibia in August to assist in the joint development on remote sensory and analysis technology for potential mines, while JOGMEC released a statement signalling its intent: "We hope to explore new mining fields including rare earth, and accelerate joint venture projects with private mining firms to help secure stakes in rare metal resources."

As far back as 2007, JOGMEC's joint venture (JV) with Japanese company Itochu - CIECO-Namibia - was already channelling investment into Namibia's mining industry, paving the way for the ongoing uranium rush in the country.

At the time JOGMEC loaned ›4bn (just over £30m) to Itochu for the project and highlighted the importance of the JV by saying, "We believe this project will contribute greatly to the stable supply of uranium needed for the use of nuclear power generation, which is vital for Japan's efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions."

Diamonds in decline

At a mining industry briefing meeting on December 1, 2010, CoM General Manager Veston Malango addressed various concerns and recommendations to Minister of Mines and Energy, Isak Kitali, not least being the state of the diamond industry.

"Of strategic concern is the sustainability of the mining industry post global financial crisis, particularly the diamond sector," asserted Malango, adding, "The Chamber is calling for a review of the fiscal regime for the diamond industry to ensure its continued role in the national economy."
Namibia is still one of the world's largest producers of gem-quality diamonds, but in recent years diamond production has tailed off relative to the growing importance of other resources, and one in particular: uranium.

Uranium fuels mining investment

Increased focus on alternatives to coal, oil and gas has brought nuclear power back into the spotlight and resulted in renewed interest in uranium, leading to uranium exploration deals across the globe, like those being conducted in Namibia's Erongo region.

According to CoM, Namibia currently provides about 10% of the world's uranium and in 2008 became the fourth largest uranium producer in the world.

This position is likely to improve even further in the future when two new mines being developed at Trekkopje (by AREVA) and Valencia (by Forsysmetals / Westport Resources) come online to complement the Rössing mine and Paladin energy's Langer Heinrich uranium mine.

Malango emphasises, "The outlook (for Namibia's mining sector) is positive, thanks to the growing uranium industry that is poised to take centre stage as the major source of state revenue."

Leech also points to swelling interest in the country's uranium deposits, pointing out, "Developments in our uranium industry have not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world and Namibia has enjoyed a stream of potential uranium investors over the past year from a variety of countries including Japan, South Korea, Russia, India and China."

Challenges facing foreign mining investors

Some mineral deposits are found near or in protected wilderness areas pivotal to the country's tourism sector. As the two most important sectors of the Namibian economy, it is vital to balance economic gains from the mining industry with the protection of biodiversity hotspots and National Parks, which themselves also attract foreign investment and interest in the country.

According to Mbendi, water and power supply infrastructure is poorly developed across most of the country, making this the major hurdle to overcome, as companies wanting to advance a mining project need to also consider how they are going to install this supporting infrastructure.

The flip side of this coin is, of course, that mining projects can benefit the country as a whole even further by supplying support infrastructure that can be used as a base to expand industry, uplift communities and create jobs, thereby catalysing the entire economy

Colin Kubank, MD of international engineering firm AMEC Minproc's African operations, is quoted on the CoM website claiming that the potential gains to be made from investing in the Namibian mining industry outweigh its inherent challenges.

"Despite the challenges companies are confronted with when mining in Namibia, the country's rich supply of mineral resources and positive government attitude make it a popular destination for investors," relates Kubank.

Looking forward

As 2010 draws to a close, industry players believe that the Namibian mining industry will continue to go from strength to strength, with demand for uranium at the heart of its expansion.

Leech quotes Namibia's Central Bureau of Statistics' findings that 2008 was the first year since 1990 when the contribution of non-diamond mining to GDP exceeded that of the diamond mining sector. Indeed, the value of uranium exports alone surpassed the value of the country's diamond exports.

"Namibia is expected to remain an attractive destination for mining investment as a consequence of its mineral resources, political stability and government, which is keen to develop its mining potential. Consequently, AMEC Minproc sees a bright future for the Namibian mining industry and our opportunity to participate in it," Kubank explains.

"The mining industry has weathered the storm (of the global economic crisis) and we look to 2011 with optimism... With expansion programmes at existing mines, one mine under construction and new mines on the horizon pending the granting of mining licences, the mining industry shall continue to play its vital role in the economic development of Namibia," Malango stresses.
Courtesy By mining-technology

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