Dear Readers in Bangladesh, we wish you a happy joyous EID.
We endeavor to bring you a positive insight into our developments, aspirations and plans through these newsletters..
This newsletter is intended to coincide with the month of Ramadan and EID, therefore we have delayed the delivery of this quarterly newsletter somewhat. Our areas of study lie on the coastal and river beaches and islands and during the monsoonal period and immediately after as the seas are high, field work may not be carried out. Laboratory work may be carried out, we have continued to study and finalize reports for our exploration licence at Alatuli char and will be making a decision on the viability of proceeding with a mining application over the next few months. It was a busy period in the office too as the financial period comes to an end and auditing of accounts and other due diligence requirements are met.
We are hopeful of a joyous EID for Premier Minerals Staff, the Ministry of Power, Energy and Resources and the BMD, Ministry of Environment, the BAEC and others who have become integral members of our development in Bangladesh. We will be positively progressing with our plans for the development of the mineral sands industry in Bangladesh after upcoming rest and festivities from August.
Every quarter we bring you an update of the general market conditions of popular minerals that can be derived from mineral sands. The above graph indicates market conditions for the raw material we can process from the sands of Bangladesh.
I report on mineral sands was published by Credit Suisse which says in its opening statement “Conditions are set for a gradual price recovery in the zircon and high grade TiO2 feedstock markets.” A key point of the documents is that the slide in mineral sand pricing should now be set to end. The downstream customer destocking has ended for zircon and is approaching completion for TiO2 feedstock’s. Upstream inventories remain but in only two large companies with the balance sheet to handle it – Iluka and Rio Tinto. Those companies that needed to unwind inventory did so in 2013, driving the price erosion across the year. We expect RIO and ILU will show discipline and unwind inventory slowly and profitably.
This full 73 page report is available in pdf format here and gives a full in-depth and up to date view of the market.
Based on exploration in Bangladesh to date our exploration program should continue to be focused on area 5 and 6 where we initially conducted our studies between 2007 and 2009. We see vast potential to further evaluate deeper hidden older deposits in this region. We have compared vast areas of Bangladesh’s Inland Rivers and Bay of Bengal Island areas as well. Some mineralization of new sand deposits show promise in the Southern Islands of the Bay of Bengal. Continued exploration within these areas is required to accurately pinpoint the most prospective areas for development.
We believe we should initially develop a pilot plant where we have gained some approval for a demonstration mine to proceed. The area has reasonable potential and hopefully it will demonstrate the benefits of our operations to the public as well as let us fully understand logistics and methods of refinement. This pilot project should be small and used for demonstration purposes. You may see more information about pilot plants in our newsletter of September 2013
In the early 1970’s the BAEC developed a pilot plant for the separation of heavy minerals which was built at Cox’s Bazar and with minor modifications has been intermittently operated. As this infrastructure is already in place it would be most beneficial for a joint collaboration project of bulk testing and design development. Some upgrading and modernization of the facilities would create opportunities for Government and Industry or develop public/private partnerships so the government could become involved in development of this resource.
Premier’ foresees small less intrusive satellite-type mineral extraction plants which only perform the most basic form of mineral separation. Further processing to a non-magnetic concentrate would take place in areas of more accessibility and infrastructure. Ports, electricity, work force accommodation and secondary industry development requirements indicate that small industrial centres could be expanded to facilitate this.
Development of a dry plant facility to separate each mineral can be implemented on a small scale at the BAEC’s Cox’s Bazar initially and may help to supply the Bangladesh market. Eventually a new area of larger capacity could go forward if economically viable. Initially the shipment of a non-magnetic concentrate should satisfy the international market and earn foreign exchange for Bangladesh.
Some areas of high radioactivity count do exist in Bangladesh, particularly in the Cox’s Bazar area. Premier sees a role in removing and discarding this contamination though identical process of mineral sand extraction. This role in conjunction with the BAEC could also work in conjunction with extraction of mineral sands within the area. Premier’ also sees a positive opportunity to work and help communities affected by these conditions.
Based on current development cost and market (i.e. mineral prices) projections, with the ability to produce a shipping quality concentrate, Premier’s planned initial mining operation should be economically viable once operating.
As Premier expands the size of the resource with further exploration, extraction and processing can be added by addition and upgrading of facilities.