With the world depending heavily on China and Russia for its vanadium, and the supply chains from both of those countries now threatened by geopolitics, the importance of increasing Western production is becoming more urgent.
Vancouver-based Flying Nickel Mining Corporation (TSX-V: FLYN / OTCQB: FLYNF) has entered into a non-binding agreement to acquire the Gibellini vanadium project in Eureka, Nevada.
This will provide the company with a battery metals second pillar, complementing the company’s advanced Minago nickel project in Thompson, Manitoba.
Gibellini is planned, when developed, to produce 10.2 million pounds per annum of vanadium pentoxide.
‘One-of-a-kind’ mineral resource base
The agreement, once confirmed, will see Flying Nickel acquire all outstanding shares of Nevada Vanadium Mining Corporation on a one-for-one basis, with the Nevada Vanadium shareholders ending up owning 46% of the merged entity.
Flying Nickel currently has 62 million shares on issue, while Nevada Vanadium has 53 million.
Flying Nickel chief executive officer John Lee said the vanadium project is an “ideal complement” to Minago, giving the company two metals that are key ingredients in batteries and both of which are classified as critical metals by the US Geological Service.
In addition, both are in their final environmental permitting stages and located in mining-friendly districts within North America.
“We believe the combined company will have a one-of-a-kind mineral resource base and a dominant presence in the battery metals mining space,” Mr Lee added.
Gibellini will be the first primary vanadium mine in the US
China and Russia at present produce 83% of the world’s vanadium, the key ingredient in vanadium redox batteries, valued for their long life (some 20 years) and minimal degradation over that time span.
Gibellini is located near Eureka in Nevada’s Battle Mountain region. The US state was ranked as the number one mining jurisdiction in the most recent mining industry poll by the Toronto-based Fraser Institute.
A power line passes just 7km away and the company will control some water rights.
Flying Nickel says it will own the first primary vanadium mine developed in the United States.
It will be developed as an open pit operation using heap leach processing.
First shipment is scheduled for 2026.
The draft environmental impact statement has been filed, and next year the company will allocate US$3 million for an engineering study and seeking project finance.
Minago project located in Canada’s second-largest nickel mining camp
Flying Nickel’s Minago project is located on the southern section of the Thompson nickel belt in Manitoba, which has already seen 5 billion pounds of nickel mined since 1959 and is described by the company as Canada’s second-largest nickel mining camp.
Within the same belt, Brazil’s Vale mines and produces nickel concentrate for customers including Tesla.
At a grade of 0.74% nickel, Flying Nickel says Minago is one of the highest grade, large-sized nickel sulphide projects in North America, with a number of other Canadian projects averaging grades of 0.27% or below.
Minago was discovered over a period spanning 1966 to 1976, passing through several ownership hands, the most recent being Silver Elephant Mining (TSX: ELEF) which last year spun it out to Flying Nickel.
The present owner is planning to construct the mine and begin production over 2024 through 2026.
Nickel mineralisation still open
Some 44.23 million tonnes at Minago falls within the measured or indicated categories, with another 19.55Mt classified as inferred.
The company says mineralisation is open below 350m from surface and along strike.
Also, some of the known nickel has been excluded from the mineral resource estimate due to it falling below the cut-off grade, but Flying Nickel advises that, at a higher nickel price in the future, that metal could be brought back into the resource estimation.