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Rising tantalum prices extend life of mine at Noventa’s flagship Marropino project

Rising tantalum prices extend life of mine at Noventa’s flagship Marropino project

Rising tantalum prices have enabled Noventa (LON:NVTA, TSE:NTA) to extend the life of mine of its flagship Marropino tantalum project in Mozambique. The company's consultants have estimated the exact impact that different tantalum prices would have on the operation.

Tantalum prices have risen considerably since September 2010, when A&B Global Mining Consultants calculated the life of mine for the mine based on a tantalum pentoxide price of US$60/lb.

The reserve was then estimated as 7.58 million tonnes (Mt) grading 219 parts per million (ppm) tantalum. Based on the US$60/lb price, the life of mine was estimated at 42 months.

At a price of US$90/lb for the tantalum that has not been subjected to offtake agreements, the Marropino life of mine resource increases to 8.12 Mt grading 223 ppm, which extends the life of mine from 42 months to 50.77 months, according to a more recent study by A&B. If the tantalum price increases to US$100/lb, Marropino’s life of mine resource reaches 8.83 Mt grading 222.73 ppm, translating into a life of mine of nearly 55 months.

The prices are driven by the surging demand for tantalum. Noventa is also benefitting from a favourable location of its mine as tantalum consumers are looking for suppliers located outside of the politically unstable Democratic Republic of Congo.

Last month, the company told investors that the Marropino mine had achieved a four-fold increase in production from 50,000 to 200,000 lbs of tantalum per year.

The mine was restarted in April last year. Noventa said at that time that the demand for tantalum, which is used in the manufacturing of capacitors for mobile phones, motherboards and audio and video equipment, was projected to outstrip supply in 2010 and 2011, while the production of microelectronic goods was set to surge.

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