"In my 20 years of experience, I have never seen such a crazy rush for a metal. Thanks to our short time to production, AfriTin is in a commanding position relative to most juniors out there."
AfriTin Mining rebranded to Andrada Mining, effective January 11, 2023, after this interview was conducted.
Could you introduce Andrada Mining (formerly AfriTin Mining) to our international audience?
Andrada Mining (formerly AfriTin Mining) was spun off from Bushveld Minerals in 2017. Thereafter, we restarted the old Uis tin mine, once one of the largest hard rock open-cast tin mines in the world, expanding tin production to 804 t/y of tin concentrate. Together with the mine development, we confirmed historic resources and reserves not only associated with the largest open-cast hard rock tin mine in the world, but also the largest hard rock open-cast lithium deposit globally. Rather than throwing the lithium away as we have been doing to date, we are now looking to extract it as a by-product to the extent that we become a lithium mine with a tin by-product. We identified 71.54 million t inferred resources containing 450,265t Li2O at 0.63% grade, with significant unexplored pegmatite potential.
Could you elaborate on the modular expansion to add lithium and tantalum at the Uis mine?
Our compelling advantage currently is that we are already mining tin, lithium and tantalum, together. Because tin and tantalum are quite dense elements, these are concentrated in one stream, while lighter, lithium-containing materials are imported as waste. We will separate the lithium concentrate by adding a module to our production circuit, and the tantalum concentrate by adding a magnetic separator at the end of the circuit. Everything is well configured so that we will be effectively developing three revenue streams from the same ore body. As we are mining by-products, our production costs on a lithium basis will be negative (negative AISC). We are selling the tin directly to smelters, and we have an agreement with Afrimet Resources to sell the tantalum; as for lithium, from the big mining companies to the Chinese conversion facilities and traders, everyone wants it. We expect to produce our first run of the lithium concentrate by Q2 2023.
What do you make of the market’s appetite for lithium?
Politicians have made hefty promises to see the uptake of electric cars without giving much thought to matters of supply. Despite the growing number of juniors in the market, very few are ready to start production. Judging by the pace of current demand and supply, we expect a severe lithium shortage in the next five to seven years. China is lightyears ahead, with the biggest conversion capacity to turn lithium concentrate into batteries and they are getting their hands on as many lithium projects as possible. The West is waking up to the fact that the whole car manufacturing industrial complex is at risk of being outsourced to China. All considered, there has never really been a better time to be in a metal. In my 20 years of experience, I have never seen such a crazy rush for a metal. Thanks to our short time to production, Andrada Mining (formerly AfriTin Mining) is in a commanding position relative to most juniors out there.
Namibia is getting more attention for its diverse resources. What can you tell us about its lithium potential?
Despite being endowed with incredible geology, Namibia has been largely overlooked from a modern exploration perspective. Its pegmatite belts hold many battery elements like lithium, tantalum, and beryllium. The realization of this potential is already driving a big rush for licenses. Andrada Mining (formerly AfriTin Mining) had the forethought to pick up all the historical mining licenses before others and we have large tenures into the entire Uis region. Namibia is probably the best Sub-Saharan country to invest in, with a welcoming government, stable laws, a good fiscal regime, and a strong legal framework.
Could you give us a sense of your ESG agenda in the area?
First, we are very cognizant of the need to protect the sensitive flora and fauna in our environment, and we support multiple initiatives, including ranger sponsorship for the lions, elephants, and rhinos roaming in the area. From a social point of view, when the Uis mine stopped producing in the late 1980s, poverty crept into the region and the town was left derelict. People don't always realize the multiplier socio-economic effects of mining, but we are doing our best to support the local communities. Andrada Mining (formerly AfriTin Mining) is involved in local education for all ages: We run feeding schemes for the local primary school, we provide textbooks for the secondary school, and we have a training and development program for tertiary students. Finally, most of our staff are locals, and 60% of the management of the mine are women that have promoted through our training program. Andrada Mining (formerly AfriTin Mining) is pioneering new-age mining, with a clear and purposeful ESG focus.
Could you comment on Andrada Mining’s (formerly AfriTin Mining) current capital structure and your stock performance?
Andrada Mining (formerly AfriTin Mining) has recently completed a US$50 million financing, which includes equity financing and investment from a private fund. The share price has given me sleepless nights as it hasn’t, unfortunately, followed the success of our operations. Though disappointing, this is just where the markets are. The moment people realize the scale of what we have on the lithium side, our valuation will change substantially.