Welcome to approximately 60 seconds of reading
Mike ODriscolls take on the weeks news
highlights in the industrial minerals world.
The news of Hudson Resources Inc. having completed
the first NI 43-101 compliant mineral resource estimate for its
White Mountain anorthosite project in Greenland is interesting
on two counts its anorthosite and its
The indicated resource of 27.4m tonnes is being
looked at by Hudson to supply the high-end glass industry and
the plastics and paint industries.
Commercially developed sources of anorthosite are
quite rare. Anorthosite is a plutonic rock composed almost
entirely of plagioclase feldspar. Its significance is that it
is a natural rock source of alumina, hence its use in
But another important, albeit rare, use is as an
alumina source for mineral wool production a major
insulation product, which more commonly uses
bauxite for its alumina input.
Anorthosite production for this application
appears at present to be limited to just Nordic Mining ASA,
Norway and Paroc Group Oy AB, Finland. This is mainly owing to
the vast resources of anorthosite in these
Paroc captively mines anorthosite at Lapinlathi,
Finland, as feedstock for its mineral wool plants.
Mining ASA exploits the 500m tonne
Gudvangen deposit in Norway and sells material for mineral wool
manufacture. But in 2011, the Norwegian Institute for Energy
Technology (IFE) jointly produced high grade alumina
from anorthosite, and is considering it also as a source for
Mineral wool insulation products play a
significant energy conservation role in residential and
industrial buildings, and have seen increased sales as
countries strive to improve on energy efficiency.
The key insulation markets for mineral wool are
Europe and Russia, where it holds a 27% and 45% market share,
respectively. In its Q3 2012 financial released in January
2013, mineral wool major Rockwool, announced a 12% increase in
sales to the growing Russian market, where both Rockwool and
Paroc have invested in new plants.
So could Greenland be a new source of alumina for
mineral wool, or indeed other alumina applications?
Indeed, the island is no stranger to exploration
for industrial minerals since it hosts resources of barite,
graphite, olivine, rare earths,
titanium minerals, and zircon. There are
projects ongoing for rare
earths development by Greenland Minerals and
Energy and Hudson.
Of course, some industry observers will recall in
the not too distant past a certain olivine source in Greenland
that burned brightly for a few years before being extinguished
in the face of market economics.
That was the Seqi
olivine project, eventually owned and operated by
Minelco AS, part of LKAB. The concept and execution of the
project was smart the European market was (and still is)
pretty much dominated by one olivine source in Norway (Sibelco
Nordic Norway), thus customers were keen for an alternative
source, and to have a greenfield facility up and running in
just two years in 2005. Nice work.
However, industrial mineral supply chains
arent always that simple, and fluctuations in market
demand can expose their fragility. The 2m tpa capacity
mine (production was around 500-600,000 tpa) closed at the end
of 2010 with Minelco blaming falling olivine
prices and unfavourable market conditions.
Certainly these factors impacted the
projects viability, but the logistics of shipping the
material from Greenland to European customers, and via
processing and distribution centres, was not inconsiderable and
was thought by some to have made a negative impact.
Also, any hope of breaking into the US slag
conditioning market (Greenland is after all somewhat well
positioned between the two markets) was on the back foot with
most consumers having already switched to using dolomite as a
flux, with olivine availability in the US dwindling over the
Salutary lessons to be learned all round: know
your market, know your logistics.
Finally, as we head into the Chinese Year of the
Snake this Sunday, those born in this year are said to include
among their strengths the tendency to be
financially secure. But among their
weaknesses, they tend to overdo things. Lets see how
White Mountain anorthosite fares this year.
ODriscollis Global Head of Research and Consultant Editor
at Industrial Minerals, previously he was Editor of IM
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