Focussed on replicating the PGM and chrome success seen in South Africa, Jubilee is focussing on growth in copper operations in Zambia where there is a huge supply of on-surface copper waste material, with the view to taking a leading role in the processing of surface tailings by applying technical know-how and IP. A “game-changing” target of reaching 25,000 tonnes of copper units per annum in four years has been set and following some key transactions in 2020, some 300 million tonnes of copper and cobalt tailings have been secured to be upgraded and refined at both the Sable Refinery and the targeted Northern Refinery through its agreement with Mopani Copper Mines. Offering the potential for long term quality sustained earnings.
What is copper used for?
Copper is a strategic and complementary, highly ductile semi-precious metal with high thermal and electrical conductivity and excellent corrosion resistance, finding extensive use in construction and appliances. By far the most common application is in moving electrons, be it in electricity transmission and distribution or home and appliance wiring. Demand for copper has grown with the market moving from surplus to deficit, putting pressure on stocks and having the effect of increasing prices with analysts estimating a continuous rise in prices. This pressure is expected to increase with a greener future and a low carbon global commitment.
As a part of Jubilee’s Southern Refining operations, the Sable Refinery achieved production of export grade cobalt product from waste in November 2022 with targeted production of 1200 tonnes of contained cobalt metal annual capacity, which equates to 5280 tonnes of final product. Cobalt production holds the potential to significantly contribute to overall earnings and positions Sable as one of the few cobalt refineries in Zambia able to process and refine cobalt containing materials at commercial scale. The implementation of the Company’s refined cobalt strategy, following a joint review by the Zambian authorities and the Jubilee project team, will result in the potential to accelerate the roll-out of the Northern copper and cobalt strategy. The Sable Refinery will initially maximise cobalt production in the short-term to facilitate the targeted expansion of the Roan copper operations, targeting output of 450 tonnes per month of cobalt hydroxide (125 tonnes of contained cobalt) from recycled waste. The Company is currently considering to upscale the production of cobalt through potential acquisition of refining infrastructures to expand its cobalt footprint. The additional cobalt revenue offers Jubilee further opportunities to secure metal backed funding in support of the implementation of the Northern Refining Strategy.
What is cobalt used for?
Cobalt is a strategic metal and importantly is used in batteries needed for electric vehicles. With the global rhetoric focused on the transition to net zero emissions, this has positive implications for the market fundamentals of cobalt and its pricing. Along with its use in electric vehicle batteries, cobalt also finds its use in electroplating, cancer treatments and can be used as a magnet. When alloyed with aluminium and nickel, it has powerful properties.