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Bushveld Minerals boss upbeat on vanadium project's potential

Bushveld Minerals'  boss Fortune Mojapelo is optimistic about finding a strategic partner for its vanadium project in South Africa with third parties already interested.

Bushveld Minerals' (LON:BMN) boss Fortune Mojapelo is optimistic about finding a strategic partner for its vanadium project in South Africa, with third parties already interested.

Speaking to Proactive, he said: "Even before we released the scoping study, it (the project) elicited a very good degree of interest from several parties."

The study for the vanadium deposit, released last week, showed potential for it be one of the world's largest, low-cost primary producers of the metal.

The study used a base case of 1 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) run-of-mine which would produce 10,370 tonnes of vanadium pentoxide flakes.

Capital expenditure is put at US$262mln, while the pre-tax net present value (NPV) comes in at US$562mln.

Operating costs are estimated at a competitive US$5.99 per kg or US$ 2.72 per pound of flakes.

Mojapelo says the commodity itself - vanadium – underpins the project.

"We think the future is bright for vanadium," he says, with the long-term potential for a price rise, despite it being subdued currently.

China, South Africa and Russia control 90% of supply and the demand drivers such as growth in steel and energy sectors would likely lead to price growth, he suggested.

He notes that the scoping study was based only on a basic vanadium pentoxide product, and there was the potential to upgrade it further downstream to add more value.

In terms of financing, the project's economics should help to attract funding, reckons Mojapelo, who added that tying up an offtake deal would also be "useful" in that regard.

The project benefits from being in South Africa, notwithstanding the recent strikes, which has "significant" capital pools and where he reckons funding could even be sourced locally.

The project has a JORC resource of 52 million tonnes of vanadium on the MML layer along a 5.5km strike, for a total resource of 760,000 tonnes of vanadium pentoxide.

It is based only on one of three high vanadium containing zones and there looks to be  potential for further resource upgrades.

Mojapelo had already indicated the study was a "significant milestone" in unlocking the project's value and there would now be an "accelerated" pre-feasibility study earmarked to be released next year.

"We are pleased that it (scoping study) has been completed just eight months after the Bushveld Vanadium project was established as a standalone platform.

"The post-tax numbers did not assume any tax incentives in South Africa that may exist in support of in-country beneficiation. We believe that, given South Africa's intent to promote in-country beneficiation, there could be tax incentives available to the project, which would improve these economics."

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