The Project

Arctic Mineral Resources AS holds the rights to all landowners’ minerals of the Vevring deposit in Sunnfjord municipality in Vestland county. Garnet, a landowner owned mineral represents more than 80 % of total mineral values in the deposit.

In a fairly short period of time, we have developed a project together with our partners and stakeholders that meets the highest environmental standards. Production is scheduled to commence in 2023.

Important project milestones include:

  • 2022-02: Core drilling on the Vevring Garnet Project commenced with own core drilling rig
  • 2022-02: Private placement successfully executed
  • 2022-02: Tender for 1st external drilling contract won by core drill subsidiary Norse Diamond Drilling
  • 2022-01: Next stage recovery test work commenced at external laboratory
  • 2021-11: New core drill rig acquired, drilling subsidiary founded and personnel recruitment commenced
  • 2021-11: MoU for long-term garnet offtake extended
  • 2021-10: AMR’s partner Stratum Reservoir AS presented a new and innovative method for garnet quantification along drill cores from the Vevring Garnet Project at the Norwegian Mining Association’s autumn conference
  • 2021-08: Further core drilling executed in Vevring
  • 2021-07: Private placement successfully executed
  • 2021-06: Applied to the Directorate of Mining for an operating licence
  • 2021-06: Letter of intent for the sale and distribution of armour stone entered into with a long-term distributor
  • 2021-06: Eclogite filler documented to meet requirements for declaration as filler in asphalt. Letter of intent for offtake entered into with an industrial partner
  • 2021-06: Resource report for the Vevring Garnet Project completed by 3rd party geo-consultancies and a mine plan from a Norwegian engineering consultancy documented reserves for a 51 years’ mine life with additional resources likely to enable a doubling
  • 2021-06: Agreement for sale of all eclogite filler to be produced in the first years of operation entered into with developer of a large industrial area
  • 2021-06: Eclogite filler documented to meet requirements for declaration as onshore aggregate product
  • 2021-04: Potential for additional garnet recovery confirmed in further recovery test work
  • 2021-02: Commenced test work for alternative tailings applications in collaboration with SINTEF
  • 2021-02: Confirmed high garnet recovery and sufficient product purity from recovery test work
  • 2020-11: Completed first drilling campaign in Vevring
  • 2020-11: Private placement successfully executed
  • 2020-10: Commenced area zoning work at the mine site and the mineral recovery site
  • 2020-10: MoU for long-term garnet offtake extended by 12 months
  • 2020-09: Commenced re-definition of resource featuring cash-flow grade cut-off based on garnet grades, garnet particle size distribution, and resource block operating costs
  • 2020-06: Initial external equity placement for further funding in the development phase, with all activities prior to this being funded by management
  • 2020-04: Prepared presentation, valuation and due diligence material for external investors
  • 2019-11: Appointed the leading Nordic investment bank, ABG Sundal Collier, as financial advisor
  • 2019-10: Appointed the prestigious Norwegian law firm Glittertind as legal counsel
  • 2019-07: Signed MoU with industrial minerals major for long-term offtake of all garnet production
  • 2019-05: Entered into agreement with developer of a large industrial site for area lease and 100% tailings offtake for the initial operating phase (+4.5 years)
  • 2019-02: Recovered and analysed both garnet and by-products (including fractional analysis)
  • 2018-11: Completed concept study for establishing underground mining with zero waste and no need for landfills and or sea deposits
  • 2018-09: Completed detailed budget of required investments and operating expenses
  • 2018-07: Completed first recovery of garnet
  • 2018-04: Arctic Mineral Resources AS incorporated
  • 2018-03: Signed agreement with 8 landowners in Vevring securing mineral rights (garnet)

We have focused relentlessly on securing full and optimal utilisation of all masses to be extracted from our Vevring deposit and to operate in line with criteria for sustainable mining as defined by Friends of the Earth Norway. Optimising mineral recovery processes and ensuring mass balances for all mass flows at all times are both prerequisites for completing the project in a practical and financially rewarding matter. We are aiming at commencing production in 2023. We continuously look at how we can further improve our solutions to optimise all health, safety and environmental aspects of our project.

MINERAL RIGHTS

Mineral rights in Norway

Mineral ownership has been divided between landowners and the state since 1539 and part of Norwegian law since 1812. Metals of a certain density (≥ 5 g/cm3) plus titanium and arsenic, as well as minerals that derive their value from these, belong to the state. The iron sulphide minerals pyrrhotite and pyrite also belong to the state. All other rocks and minerals belong to landowners as a general property right. Property rights in Norway are both protected by the Norwegian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights Protocol 1, Article 1 (right to peaceful enjoyment of your property).

Exploration for and extraction of minerals requires a permit from the mineral owner. Exploration permits for state minerals are awarded on a first come, first served basis. If the exploration permit holder subsequently demonstrates that minerals categorised as belonging to the state constitutes the main value component of a deposit as well as a potential commercial feasibility of mining the mineral(s), the state is obliged upon an application with sufficient documentation to award an extraction permit. Exploration and / or extraction permit for landowner minerals are obtained through agreement with the landowner.

For deposits where state and landowner minerals occur intertwined the principles of the law on joint property yield the owner of the majority value the right to make decisions on behalf of the joint ownership, i.e., who that holds the right to the majority value is generally entitled to dictate how to utilise the deposit, but without reducing the value owned by the minority. In this respect it is relevant to understand that the state does not regard its minerals as a value to be paid for. The distinction between them is thus solely reflected in the formal arrangements related to the acquisition of rights. Therefore, a holder of rights to landowner minerals may mine these with agreements with the landowners, and utilize the state minerals in the process, if there are no competing extraction rights to state minerals. As extraction rights to state minerals shall only be awarded when these comprise the major mineral value of a deposit, there shall be no such competing rights. We are not aware of any instances where state minerals have comprised the major value of a deposit while the landowners have had a desire to mine based on their landowner rights.

Expropriation / compulsory acquisition of land and / or permits

Any party may apply to the Ministry of Trade, Industries and Fisheries for a permit to acquire compulsorily:

  1. a deposit of minerals owned by a landowner;
  2. the land and rights needed for extraction, including access to the deposit; and / or
  3. the land and rights needed for processing of minerals owned by a landowner.

A party looking to extract a deposit of minerals owned by the State may apply to the Ministry of Trade, Industries and Fisheries for a permit to acquire compulsorily:

  1. the land and rights needed for extraction; and
  2. the land and rights needed for the processing of minerals

Expropriation is by the Constitution of Norway and acts related to expropriation directly conditioned on amongst other demonstrating that expropriation is required for a rational exploitation of the deposit which is the basis for an application to expropriate, in the best interest of the society and always against compensating the owner in full for the concurrent loss of value.

Mineral rights in the Vevring-Engebo deposit

The history of mineral permits in the Vevring-Engebo deposit date back to the 1980s when a private individual obtained exploration and extraction permits from 11 relevant landowners for exploring for and extracting eclogite rock for armour stone and aggregate purposes. These permits were later transferred to a private company, Fjord Blokk AS, who also obtained rutile exploration permits for parts of the deposit. Dupont, through its subsidiary at the time, Conoco, became interested in the deposit’s rutile potential in the early 1990s and applied for rutile exploration permits in areas not already applied for by Fjord Blokk AS. The two companies reached a co-operation agreement in 1995 whereby all rutile exploration permits were transferred to Conoco.

On the basis of having an agreement with Fjord Blokk AS, who in turn held all relevant landowner permits, Conoco conducted extensive exploration and mineral processing efforts in the period 1995-1997 together with the Norwegian Geological Survey. Conoco applied for a rutile extraction permit in 1996 and was awarded this in 1997. The rutile mining project was abandoned at the end of 1997 and the rutile permits were put up for sale. Fjord Blokk AS entered bankruptcy in 1999 and all landowner permits were hence transferred back to the respective landowners.

In the 1990s, garnet represented an in-situ mineral value of 6-7 times that of rutile, however, Fjord Blokk AS was a quarry operator with limited knowledge of industrial minerals, and Conoco was after rutile as raw material for its parent company, DuPont. Despite significant rutile price increases since 1997, garnet still represents 4 times the in-situ value of rutile. The landowners and the state are hence in a joint ownership in the Vevring-Engebo deposit with the landowner mineral garnet representing the majority value (4x) and the state mineral rutile representing the minority value (1x).

Conoco commenced marketing of the rutile extraction permits in 1998. Nordic Mining ASA, a newly refocused mining junior, acquired the permits in 2006, a year before they lapsed, and was able to extend them for 10 years in 2007. The company then entered into option agreements with 2 of 11 landowners with properties, both on the east side of the deposit for utilisation of land and garnet exploration and mining permits in 2009. Nordic Mining was able to extend the rutile extraction permits for further 10 years at the start of 2017 on a notion that rutile comprised the main value of their project. Some months later the company published a pre-feasibility study where garnet featured as the main source of income. The company’s landowner option agreements expired at the end of 2017.

In March 2018, eight landowners with properties on the west side of the deposit transferred their landowner mineral permits to Arctic Mineral Resources AS, a newly established company, against a majority shareholding. The assumption was that mining for garnet on the west side of the deposit would be highly profitable, and with 50 years plus period of operations. In June 2018, Nordic Mining entered into agreements with the residual landowners for utilisation of their land and garnet mining rights, leaving them with the garnet rights on the east side. As garnet constitutes around 80 % of total mineral values in the Vevring/Engebo deposit, it is the entity which own the rights to garnet which makes any decisions on mining.

In July 2019, Nordic Mining ASA, applied for a compulsory acquisition of 0.0126 km2 of land from the landowners with whom Arctic Mineral Resources AS has an agreement. The landowners have been offered less than EUR 1 900 for land that contain recoverable garnet worth EUR 200 million. The application is being reviewed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

REGULATORY PERMITTING
The Norwegian mining trinity: Area zoning, environmental permitting, and operating license

Mining in Norway is conditioned on the successful outcome of three regulatory permitting processes: area zoning, environmental permitting and obtaining an operating license. These processes are mainly governed by three distinct sets of laws and regulations: the planning and building act, the pollution control act and the Minerals act, in turn enforced by the following public authorities: the local municipality, the County Governor, and the Directorate of Mining.

Area zoning

Zoning is the way the municipal governments control the physical development of land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be put. Each local municipality typically develops and intermittently revises an area zoning plan for the whole municipality. A party looking to develop a quarry, or a mine, will need to complete a zoning process to modify the intended use of the operating area, if not already need for extraction of raw materials/minerals. This includes areas for mining, transport, processing and / or mass deposits. The process involves a public consultation whereby all relevant stakeholders are entitled to submit a consultation input.

The Vevring-Engebo deposit has already been regulated for mining activities with an area zoning plan that allows for open cut mining in the eastern part of the deposit and underground mining in the western part where AMR holds the rights to all landowner minerals, garnet being one of them.

Environmental permit

Pollution is generally prohibited by law in Norway and several acts and regulations are in place to protect the outdoor environment against pollution and to reduce existing pollution, to reduce the quantity of waste and to promote better waste management. A party looking to develop a quarry, or a mine, will need to obtain permits for all additional pollution, and or risk of pollution, the operation may entail. This includes, but is not limited to noise, dust, use of chemicals, emissions. The permit will typically set levels and parameters within which the party will need to operate. The lesser the footprint, physical or otherwise, the lesser the environmental impact a party will need to seek permits for.

Operating license

The extraction of mineral deposits totalling more than 10,000 m3 of masses requires an operating license from the Directorate of Mining*. Any extraction of natural stone requires an operating license. An operating license may only be granted to a party that holds a valid extraction permit, either to landowner minerals or to state minerals. It is common that an applicant holds both, as many mineral deposits in Norway consist of so-called complex ores containing landowner and state minerals intertwined, and exploration is needed to establish the value ratio between them, and thus which of the two rights are required to apply for and make a decision to mine. It is common, but not a prerequisite, that a party applying for an operating license has commenced the processes of obtaining both an area zoning plan as well as relevant environmental permits.

The award of an operating license does not resolve any matters of private rights.

* Full name: The Directorate of Mining with the Commissioner of Mines at Svalbard

OPERATING PARAMETERS

Sustainable mining – basic principles

The Mineral Act regulates the law around the acquisition and extraction of mineral resources. The purpose of the Act is to promote and ensure responsible management and utilisation of mineral resources in accordance with principles of a sustainable development. Sustainable development is, however, a difficult concept to define and is continually evolving. Development of new technology and raised environmental awareness keep adding more focus to sustainability – beyond what was both feasible and acceptable as of the Minerals Act’s origination in 2009.

Purpose of the Act

The purpose of the Act is to promote and ensure responsible management and utilisation of mineral resources in accordance with sustainable development principles at the time (2009) defined to be evaluated based on the following set of features:

a) value creation and industrial and commercial development,
b) the foundation of Sami culture, commercial activity, and social life,

c) the surroundings and nearby areas while operations are being carried out,

d) the environmental consequences of extraction, and

e) long-term planning relating to subsequent use or reclamation of the area.

Criteria from Friends of the Earth Norway

In May 2014 Friends of the Earth Norway adopted a list of criteria for sustainable mining that to a large extent harmonises with the principles of the Minerals Act with the addition of certain other requirements. We are aiming at adhering to the highest environmental standards and have hence adopted similar principles and criteria as defined by Friends of the Earth Norway to govern our project.

A project taking all stakeholders into consideration

Sustainability is typically defined as meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Sustainability is typically evaluated against three key aspects: impact on the economy, impact on the environment, and social responsibility. These three aspects are a bit more simplistically referred to as people, planet, and profits. Only activities that satisfy all three criteria are truly sustainable.

Our project is designed and developed to satisfy the important criteria for all identified stakeholders:

Our mine plan will adhere to the highest sustainability standards and support four of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, in particular:

  • Good health and well-being (#3):
    • Reduce occupational mortality by replacing hazardous blast media with garnet
    • Strong focus on safe mining operations with stringent HSE targets – zero accident tolerance
  • Responsible consumption and production (#12)
    • Optimse utilisation of non-renewable resources by utilising all extracted masses
    • Moderate annual ore extraction to avoid the use of sea and / or land disposal
  • Climate action (#13)
    • Garnet is recyclable and chemically stable mineral that replaces the use of environmentally challenging blasting media such as coal fired power plant waste products
    • Mining garnet in Norway will reduce CO2 emissions by reducing transport from mine to the European market compared to other, long-distance supply sources
  • Life below water (#14)
    • Inert mineralisation and recovery without chemicals yield non-pollutive tailings
    • Utilisation of tailings as products enables mining without the use of land or sea disposal
    • Mining underground with less explosives per blast compared to open pit reduce the potential impact from vibrations on salmon smolt in the Forde-fjord

We will continuously look for ways to reduce and optimise the sustainability of our operation. All mining feature energy-consuming mass logistics. We have already implemented use of electrical mass logistics in some parts of our mine plan (e.g., using conveyor belts). Further electrification of on- and offshore transportation, possibly combined with using hydrogen to fuel bulk vessels, will reduce both emissions and operating costs. Electrification comes at the expense of a higher upfront investment, however, a significant portion of this is typically funded by public sources.

Automation of certain processes may yield further improvements. Implementation of such measures will be contingent on the use of proven technology and sustainability across the key aspects as per the above.

MASS BALANCE

Comprehensive planning of tonnages and volumes is critical to every mining project

Ore is typically extracted by drilling and blasting. Blasting is the first of several steps reducing mass density / increasing volume per tonnage. Every reduction in unit size yields a concurrent increase in mass volume.

Our ore body is rich in garnet and certain other relatively high-density minerals yielding an average specific gravity of around 3.3-3.5 (tonnes per m3). Blasting, crushing and milling rocks to unit size of less than 1mm reduces this density to +/- 1.75 tonnes per m3.

Each part of the operation feature bottlenecks. The constraining factor is typically either weight (tonnage) or space (volume). If operating plan lacks mass balance you will either run out of space or tonnage, and the operation will need to shut down until the bottleneck is sorted. This would represent a fatal flaw and the operating plan would need to be redesigned.

The increase in volume from blasting and processing means that it is physically impossible to fill all masses back into a mine after having extracted it. Furthermore, certain extracted volumes, such as access tunnels, will need to remain open for the entire duration of the mine and hence cannot be backfilled. Unless utilisation post processing is sufficient to reduce residual volumes to match that of the mined stopes less volumes that cannot be backfilled, one will have excess volumes that need to be deposited. Also, to generate stope for backfill one needs to mine at least one to completion prior to commencing backfill.

Our deposit is situated in rock with a very high rock mass strength, i.e., very solid rock, within which one can mine tall, wide and deep stopes and underground caverns. Mining with large stopes reduces extraction of waste rock relative to ore and yields a high stope-to-drift ratio, i.e., most of the volumes extracted can be backfilled. High mineral grades allows for recovering a significant portion of ore as sellable mineral products, e.g., as garnet concentrate and semi-finished rutile concentrate, however, this is insufficient to reduce our residual masses to match those of mine stopes. Prior to having completed the first stope we also need somewhere to store our tailings and / or make sure they utilised at the same rate as our production.

For our initial operating phase, we have opted for the latter and negotiated an agreement with a developer of a large industrial site for 100% offtake of all our tailings during the initial years. This yields us sufficient time and volume to complete underground infrastructure development and stopes for backfilling prior to moving our operation underground in Vevring. For our long-term operations we are looking to utilise most of the tailings to backfill stopes for stabilisation to enable additional resource extraction, i.e., increasing the reserve-to-resource rate. Residual volumes will be generally be sold as fine-grained aggregates in fine sand and clay fractions with certain specialty fractions separated and prepared for more specific end-uses such as concrete aggregate (tests to-date suggest mixing eclogite tailings into concrete could yield incremental strength).

Our Vevring-Engebo deposit also contains eclogite rock with modest mineral grades featuring high density for use in seabed preparation and scour protection as well as gneiss rock featuring attractive mechanical properties (high PSV / low Los Angeles) suited for more standard aggregate purposes. Both eclogite and gneiss have been exported from Engebo before. Our location in a deep-water fjord combined with silos and conveyor belts inside the mountain will enable us to dispatch large quantities at a time- and cost-efficient rate. Stopes from which we extract aggregates will yield additional space for tailings storage.

We have conservatively budgeted with mining aggregate rock to yield space for all residual volumes post the initial operating phase. In such a conservative scenario mass balance for tailings for the first 20 years is achieved as follows:

PROFITABILITY

No project is commercially viable without profitability – no profitability, no viable project! It is as simple as that.

Our goal has been to make full use of each tonne of mass we mine and at the same time start the operations within a reasonable timeframe, a manageable capital requirement, and with attractive economics for both shareholders and the local community. High garnet grades in the deposit combined with a relentless effort to recover and sell as much garnet as commercially viable has yielded a project with solid long-term cash flow and attractive returns.

A large, well-defined deposit featuring high mineral grades, a garnet market with growing demand and limited new supply, combined with moderate pre-production capital requirements yield a fairly unique investment opportunity.