ASX-listed iron-ore miner Kogi Iron reports that, although no employees of its Nigeria-based subsidiary KCM Mining, its Nigeria-based Agbaja Cast Steel project or the greater Agbaja plateau community, have been infected with Covid-19, the operation has been materially impacted on by measures taken to prevent Covid-19 from reaching the area.
Recent measures and initiatives include limited travel and activities on the Agbaja plateau and monitoring and adhering to government directives.
Among the affected project activities is the equity fundraising for the Agbaja project feasibility study as a result of market uncertainty.
In this regard, KCM reports that, based on expressions of interest and indicative offers, it plans to progress fundraising to include several online investor platforms for equity, Africa-focused institutions and development banks, other funding structures and corporate opportunities.
Mining operations have also been progressing slowly, with trial iron-ore mining having been impacted in May and early June as a result of heavy rains restricting the use of equipment, damage to access roads and infrastructure and mitigating against the introduction of Covid-19 by contractors and visiting government officials.
Following discussions with the community, KCM ordered the local contractor to cease work in mid-May to early June for several reasons, including pits being continually filled with surface water that required costly pumping, and restricted use of heavy equipment to limit damage and maintenance to local community roads, site access roads and infrastructure, especially bridges and drainage culverts.
In addition, operations were suspended because of restricted travel of the KCM team, contractors and visiting government officials to mitigate against introduction of Covid-19 to the Agbaja plateau communities.
However, mining was restarted late in the second week of June and is scheduled for completion by the end of June at no additional cost to budget, weather permitting. On completion, the trial mining pit will be mapped, sampled and assayed, with technical information used to support the geological model and iron-ore reserve estimate.
In terms of progressing the mining operation, KCM plans to use overburden materials and stockpiles of run-of-mine (RoM) iron-ore for ore characterisation tests to support mining and beneficiation studies in the feasibility study.
These characterisation tests involve crushing, wet screening and attrition of RoM iron-ore to determine yield and physico-chemical properties of various particle size fractions. Particle sizes between 3 mm and 10 mm iron-ore concentrate containing about 55% and 56% iron will go to feedstock for the steel billet plant, while particle sizes between 1 mm and 3 mm will go to sand wastes, as potential low-grade ore, with particles smaller than 1 mm going to slimes as fine wastes.
KCM is committed to assessing and establishing sustainable mining practices with targets of zero waste. Studies to evaluate the impacts, benefits and possible local business opportunities from mining and processing iron-ore were discussed with the local Agbaja community.
Further, the sustainable mining practices will also include the development of use of mined materials for building and road materials, including bricks, tiles and construction aggregates, using sand waste and fine waste.
In addition, horticulture and agronomy can be developed using sand waste as porous soils with a high phosphorus nutrient availability, especially for legumes such as ground nuts and soybeans.
These studies reinforce KCM’s commitment to best practice environmental, social and governance procedures and are aligned with the company’s community development agreement.
Kogi MD David Turvey says that despite Covid-19, the Agbaja project team has been able to progress its environmental, social and governance activities with the community.
“However, we expect headwinds ahead, especially with difficult capital markets and delays to our feasibility study.”