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Noventa's new Tantalum find is pretty significant, says Collins Stewart

Shares in Noventa (LON:NVTA) jumped almost 5 per cent yesterday, after the Mozambique-based miner said it had uncovered an additional deposit of Tantalum bearing ore on its Marropino licence area.

John McGloin, head of mining at the City broker Collins Stewart, reckons the discovery is “pretty significant”.

If proved up, it could allow the company to expand beyond the existing Marropino tantalum mine without too much cost, the analyst told Proactive Investors.

McGloin said Tantalum is “one of the best stories out there in terms of supply and demand” as he emphasised the positive economic trends for the rare metal.

Global production of tantalum, which is used to manufacture high-end electronic capacitors for mobile phones, has been limited since the closure of major mining operations in Australia.

The Wodgina mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia closed in 2008 even though it was the world’s largest tantalum mining operation, supplying 30 per cent of global demand.

Among the publicly-quoted tantalum-focused juniors, McGloin reckons “Noventa is probably the best placed” to profit from this acute lack of supply.

He points out that the company is already in production and it seems to have successfully worked through its legacy issues following the appointment of corporate fixer Eric Kohn.

Yesterday, the shares rose 0.34p to 7.46p, and have advanced more than 23 per cent in the past 12 days.

In Wednesday’s statement Kohn described the discovery as “very encouraging”.

"Once we have independently evaluated the results from the preliminary sampling, a further sampling programme will be planned to accurately define the shape, potential tonnages and grades of the discovery,” he told investors in a statement to the stock exchange.

"This has the potential to form a significant addition to the existing mineral resource, extending the life of Marropino."

The discovery is part of Project Ligonha, announced on June 23, which will complete the preliminary geological evaluation of Noventa's current mining concessions and to provide improved mapping of the firm's exploration licence areas in Zambezia Province of Mozambique.

The company said that the discovery is an area of soft rock -approximately one kilometre square, located two kilometres to the south east of the Marropino Mine. 

It added that indications from initial sampling have been encouraging. 

Independent assays have been instructed and a further announcement will be made once they are complete. 

If the find is confirmed, it is expected that this could provide up to twelve months of feedstock for the Marropino plant at the full anticipated production level of more than 500,000lbs of tantalum pentoxide per annum.

Also this week Noventa reported good news from its flagship Marropino mine as it announced an earlier than expected shipment of tantalum to one of the company’s two key customers.

Production from the Marropino mine has so far been at higher than expected levels, which enabled the company to make the earlier than planned delivery.

The 8,000 kilogrammes of tantalum is set to leave the Qualimane port in Mozambique on August 24. The shipment is expected to confirm logistics pathway for future shipments as well as revise and adjust shipping routes and procedures ahead of the commencement of full production at Marropino in 2011.

Back in July, Noventa reported that tantalum recovery at Marropino had increased significantly over historic levels, reaching 51%.

Before May 2009, the mine achieved recovery rates between 30% and 35%.

The mine re-started operations in April 2010, after spending just under a year on care-and-maintenance.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in the company.