Gabon, Senegal, Argentina, New-Caledonia, Indonesia… the Group has world-class mining deposits that are ideally positioned in terms of their size, potential or level of development. Building on these strengths, it has implemented a two-pronged strategy: contributing to global economic development through metals essential to infrastructure (manganese, nickel and mineral sands); and contributing to the energy transition through the development of critical metals for energy storage (lithium, nickel and battery-grade cobalt).
As part of this strategy, Eramet’s exploration unit plays a pivotal role in identifying the projects and deposits that are going to define the Group's future.
The exploration unit active on four continents
In 2019, Eramet set up an exploration unit. With around 15 employees, the unit is active in countries where the Group already has a presence, particularly in Gabon where it is prospecting for manganese and in Indonesia (nickel/cobalt); in addition, it is also prospecting in other countries. Over the past two years, the exploration unit has participated in the development of the Akonolinga project in Cameroon, carrying out drilling campaigns and an exploratory study focused on resource certification. This Cameroon-based subsidiary now has a staff of approximately 20.
Again in Africa, the exploration unit is currently active in Malawi where it is evaluating the rutile and zircon potential of a certain number of greenfield sites.
The geologists in the exploration unit are also contributing to the development of the Group's lithium activities in Europe (project to extract lithium from geothermal brines) and are continuing their efforts to identify lithium deposits in South America and Asia.
Note: the unit works closely with the Group's local entities, particularly in Indonesia, Brazil and Gabon, where local exploration teams have been set up, thus making it easier to carry out local surveys and exploration work. The unit also assists with the technical evaluation of brownfield projects belonging to third parties that could potentially lead to collaboration and/or acquisition by the Group.
Eramet's approach to exploration: respect for the environment and local communities
Working as a geologist in the exploration unit also means serving as an ambassador for the Group. In what way? Because geologists are the very first point of contact that communities have with Eramet. Firstly, they deal with the authorities in order to obtain exploration or mining permits. Secondly, they meet with local communities in order to obtain public approval for their exploration work, which is key to ensuring that a project is successful. The geologist's duties include surveying the population (like in Cameroon in partnership with the Horus Fondation) and local biodiversity, mapping agricultural land and determining the needs of the local communities, as well as carrying out surveys and facilitating dialogue.
“The geologist is the Group's CSR ambassador right from the initial exploration phase. He or she needs to convey our objectives and methods so that there are no misunderstandings, because it is imperative that we respect the environment and the local communities, first and foremost.”
Christophe Thillier, Exploration and New Projects Manager, Eramet