Precious metals miner Polymetal will buy a 9.1% stake for $20-million in ThreeArc Mining – a company that owns the Tomtor niobium and rare-earth element (REE) project (Tomtor), in north-west Yakutia, Russia.
The acquisition provides Polymetal with a "high-quality exposure to the electric vehicle (EV) revolution” by establishing a strategic beachhead in the niobium and REE markets, CEO Vitaly Nesis said on Thursday.
“Our capital injection and our engineering expertise will be key in driving the project forward. We intend to consider any further potential steps of Polymetal's engagement with the asset after the completion of a Jorc-compliant reserve estimate,” he added.
Tomtor is one of the largest and highest-grade REE projects in Russia and considered to be the highest grade development stage niobium project globally. In 2018, statutory prefeasibility and updated GKZ reserves were approved, totalling 30.5-million tons of ore at 4.0% niobium pentoxide and 10.6% rare-earth oxide, containing 1.2-million tons of niobium and and 3.2-million tons of rare earths.
Niobium is a relatively scarce resource and there are only three primary niobium mines in the world today, two in Brazil and one in Canada, but growing demand has created a global market value of more than $2-billion. World reserves of niobium are estimated at more than nine-million tons.