Summer in Sweden is holiday time. But ScandiVanadium does not seem to have adapted this Swedish tradition. The company is really busy now. Just recently, they have issued a new flashy brochure for their share holders, and today they started drilling their holes in the Lyby peat bog. The latter has received a lot of attention by the media.
But let’s take things in their order. In ScandiVanadium’s flashy Investor Presentation, the company really presents itself from the green (i.e. sustainable) side. Much green color throughout the whole 16 pages should probably give the investors the feeling that they will invest in something that will benefit the Planet, the industries and the societies. From the Investment Summary I just cite here three of their five summary points: 1. High quality exposure to Vanadium and the battery metals sector. 2. Low geological risk with large scale potential. 3. Potentially favourable metallurgy – enabling a low CAPEX, low OPEX operation.
In respect to point 1, ScandiVanadium is 50% right. Vanadium is present in high amounts and probably also in high quality in the Alum shale, i.e. the sedimentary bedrock, which the company wants to mine. Actually, their idea is to dig up 610 – 1200 million tons of Alum Shale to a depth of 100 m to extract high-grade (0.5-0.8%) Vanadium Pentoxide, according to the brochure. As to the other 50% of the statement – I have really no idea where the high quality exposure to the battery sector is. Not in Sweden for sure.
Since I am fascinated by geology and have worked as a geologist since I graduated 1981, I will focus a bit more on ScandiVanadium’s geological statements, which are: a) Surficial, shallow dipping sedimentary horizon with targeted unit beginning from surface. Yes, correct, the layers are more or less horizontal. But the target, which is the Dictyonema Formation, does not reach the surface everywhere. In most places it is covered by thick sediments originating from the last ice sheet or by younger bedrock. b) High grade mineralisation (D2) hosted at top of the Alum Shale in the Dictyonema Formation. I have responded to this statement over and over in my blogs. The Dictyonema Formation is the upper part of the Alum Shale. But by separating it and specifically writing that it is at the top of the Alum shale, readers can get the impression that this specific rock type is something entirely different than the Alum shale, which is not the case. c) Historical drilling and sampling confirm continuity of grade and thickness over 26km strike. Yes correct, we know pretty much about the Alum shale and its extension and geochemistry already, based on old drill cores. d) Very low uranium and other impurities. I would call this fake news. We know that the uranium content in the Alum shale is very high, and we know that it decreases upwards and is about 50 parts per million in the upper part of the shale (which is the Dictyonema Formation). But it is still very high, compared to the overlying limestone! Why is ScandiVanadium continuously misleading about this important issue? ‘Other impurities’ sounds quite nice, but what is meant here are all the other toxic substances, for which the Alum shale is so famous. Thus, when it comes to point 2 (Low geological risk with large scale potential), ScandiVanadium is 50% wrong. There is a large geological and hydrological risk connected to mining Alum shale because of its high content of toxic metals, including uranium. But the potential for recovering Vanadium is large, of course.
ScandiVanadium has already put quite some work into their Österlen project, they have mapped old cores, sampled the shales and sent the samples for analyses, and now they have sent off about 50 kg of shale for testing if it can be leached in an environmental friendly way in a so-called Pressure Oxidation (POX) plant. Such plants are in operation at several mines, for example in the Morenci mine in Arizona, in the Macraes mine in New Zealand, or in the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic. Now, none of these mines is in a sedimentary rock or in Alum shale. The bedrock for the mineral deposits (gold and copper) are metamorphic rocks. Using Pressure Oxidation to extract Vanadium from the Alum shale will be a completely different venture than extracting gold from a metamorphic rock. But I will look into this in a bit more detail as soon as I have the time.
ScandiVanadium has an ‘invisible mine philosophy‘. According to the company, Continuous rehabilitation keeps the footprint small and physical impact minimal. A mine in the Alum shale will just look similar to existing quarries in Skåne. But there is no current mine in the Alum shale, so how can this be compared? A mine in granite or gneiss or in sandstone or quarzite is really very different from an Alum shale mine. Rehabilitation will be dictated by previous use, or best use. Here I have a big question? How exactly will the company make sure that uranium and other toxic elements from the mining waste will not pollute the groundwater and the farmland? Can their planned POX approach (and by the way, where will this plant be built??) really work for the Alum shale. Not just for maybe 50 kg of shale, but for 610 – 1200 million tons of shale?
Point 3 in the Investment Summary states low CAPEX and low OPEX and further on the company writes that Modularised construction offers potential lower CAPEX and scalability. I leave it to my readers to figure out how true this statement holds.
Investors are also informed, in the report, that Sweden only takes 0.2% mining royalties, has a corporate income tax of 22% and no additional taxes for mining. Yes, Sweden really seems a paradise for mines. Get most of the profit out, pay hardly any tax and then leave the country with the county administration to clean up the mess.
Today, ScandiVanadium started coring in Lyby. Obviously the event drew the attention of the media and also many people came to protest. Aftonbladet was one of the newspapers, which today reported about the coring and the protest. They cite David Minchin, CEO for Scandivanadium, who says: our investors are people who want to invest in a future green technology because they are of the opinion that such a development must come. Yes, David Minchin, we need a green technology, but what we foremost need are not new mines, but recycling of already existing mining waste.
David Minchin is furthermore cited saying that the protests against his planned Vanadium mine are more based on feelings than on facts and that much false information is being spread. What do you mean Mr. Minchin? Am I spreading false information? Why do you not engage in a discussion with me? Why do you let one of your able geologists, who can’t distinguish bivalves from brachiopods, answer my mail? And why do you not answer my mail yourself? Maybe you should invite me to a real geological discussion so that we can get rid of false information and fake news?