Investing in innovation
Pat Lancaster talks to Karl Rollke, President and CEO of Canamara, the Canadian based titanium-mining company that plans to take the world’s metals markets by storm
Middle East investors are being invited to participate in an exciting new mining venture in the Canadian province of Quebec, which holds the promise of significant financial reward, together with the thrill of uncovering reserves of a metal at the cutting edge of some of the world’s most innovative technologies.
The Canadian-registered company Canamara holds the rights to drill for the 21st century wonder metal, titanium, across a large swathe of mineral-rich resources in the province of Quebec, Canada and is looking for financiers to help develop and expand known major historical titanium oxide resources.
Light, but tough enough to be utilised in a number of industries from aeronautics to racing cars, titanium is widely acknowledged as the miracle metal of the future.
Over the last seven years, Canamara has collected 17,000 hectares of rich titanium-iron oxide claims. These claims are in very close proximity to the world’s largest hard rock ilmenite (titanium) mine, owned and operated by Rio Tinto. With such credentials, Quebec is predictably welcoming to those seeking to exploit its sub-soil riches, offering attractive inducements to mining concerns such as Canamara, including reduced power/energy costs and significant tax rebates for exploration and processing equipment.
The German-born President and CEO of Canamara, Karl Rollke, who has built a successful career in various types of mining, including coal, oil and gold before embarking on his titanium venture, told The Middle East Online: “During a conversation with a geologist back in 2007, I learned about the opportunities in titanium in eastern Quebec.Rio Tinto is the only titanium producer in Canada, which is what encouraged me to find out more about mining opportunities in the region.
After conducting many geological studies by highly regarded geologists in the ilmenite field (ilmenite is a combination of iron and titanium), I became passionate about this project. Research has been ongoing since 2008 and every day I am more excited by the results of our investigations.”
Rollke explained exactly why he believes titanium is the metal of the future. “The two most useful properties of this metal are its corrosion resistance and the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metallic element.
Titanium can be alloyed with iron, aluminium, vanadium, and molybdenum, among other elements, to produce strong, lightweight alloys, currently in use in the aerospace industry, (3D printing on jet engines, missiles, and spacecraft), the military, and various industrial processes, including the manufacture of a variety of chemicals and petrochemicals, in desalination plants, pulp and paper production and widespread industries, including automotive, agri-food, sporting goods, jewellery, mobile phones and many more applications.”
However, in addition to the super-metal’s established successes, recent years have seen a vast potential market emerge within the global medical sector, as Rollke points out: “Titanium is entirely none-corrosive; it does not rust or change in any way. Because of this, it has the enormous advantage of being the only metal accepted by the human body.
“One of the latest technologies in which titanium excels is that of human bone replacement; with 3D titanium metal-power and using the 3D printing process, medical prostheses, including orthopaedic implants. There is also an important and increasing market in titanium dental and endodontic instruments; titanium dental implants are already a well established and growing feature of the international health market.”
As science discovers more about the qualities of titanium, inevitably the list of uses for this most versatile of metals will increase, “which is why,” Canamara’s President and CEO Karl Rollke explains, “as I acquired more specialist knowledge – dedicating eight years to learning everything I possibly could about the properties of titanium – I became ever more convinced that titanium was the new miracle metal and, as a result of eight years intensive research and a lifetime in the mining industry, I have been, to use the popular term, ‘putting my money where my mouth is’ and acquiring more and more mining claims in the eastern region of Quebec.”
To be on the brink of exploiting vast reserves of this amazing, versatile and innovative metal must be quite a heady experience, I observed, rather like the early days of oil discovery and exploitation in the Middle East. “This is, without doubt, the most exciting project I have ever been involved with,” Rollke confirmed.
With the growing popularity of titanium, it is easy to see why a would-be investor might be attracted by the potential the Canamara project offers. However, titanium, like oil and gas, must first be located before it can be successfully mined and exploited. How can potential financiers be sure that exploitable reserves of titanium can actually be mined from the area in which Canamara has staked its claims?
“It was the result of experience, years of extensive research and solid geological findings that inspired me to acquire more and more mining claims,” Karl Rollke explains. “Initially, I conducted air-borne and geophysical surveys over the areas and the results were quite amazing, discovering in excess of 5B tonnes of high grade Ilmenite (titanium and iron) which now has to be confirmed by drilling. This is the reason why I continued my aerial and geophysical surveying, subsequently acquiring more than 300 mining claims in that area. In addition, we have also acquired two historical drilled areas with a total historical resource of 140 million tonnes of high grade Tio2 (titanium) of 37%/38% and 55%/60% Fe (iron) per tonne.”
But once mined, how easy would it be, I wondered, to transport the valuable titanium to international markets.
“Our infrastructure is quite unique,” Karl Rollke assured me. “Mining locations are in a radius of 40km, starting with potential production areas less than 12km from the Port of Havre St. Pierre, which is located at the mouth of the St. Lawrence Seaway. From there, our global markets, which will include Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States, will be serviced by ocean cargo ships and by seagoing container shipping. Our neighbour, the United States, is currently obliged to import 85% of its rapidly-increasing titanium needs, so we are anticipating a ready market almost next door.”
With Middle East investors showing an increasing keenness to extend their investment portfolios beyond the waters of the Gulf, I wondered how the Canamara project would sit with Arab and Iranian entrepreneurs.
“We are very happy to welcome Middle Eastern investors, whether it is initially by investing in our company equity, or as a joint venture partner. Canamara plans on raising a total of up to US$1.5 billion, which will take us to the final stage, including a large Titanium Powder production plant.
“The data collected in Quebec has very much impressed all the geologists and other experts in the field who were asked to independently review the findings. We are confident that Canamara will be of great interest for Middle Eastern and any other investors who are looking into getting involved in a mega-project such as ours.
“Studies show that Canamara’s property has the highest grade titanium in the world and an excellent infrastructure to be able to produce high quality titanium products for far less than most current producers. The near future will see us bring online our own titanium powder production plant. This plant will be a chemical separation plant, patent, closed circuit – and completely green in its operation. We also aim to become the world leader in supplying 3D printing needs to all major manufacturers.”
How might such expansion bring benefits to the Middle East region, not just for the investor but for the wider society, I asked CEO Rollke.
“There are a whole range of possibilities to explore,” Rollke noted. “The first thing that springs to mind is the possibility that any Middle Eastern partner could start-up a 3D titanium printing plant to serve the needs of the Middle East region. Such a move would help bring new technology directly into the region and, at the same time, provide much needed jobs for local people. I believe Canamara could provide a great opportunity for Middle Eastern investors to enter into an exciting new arena of innovation and invention.”
Canamara Iron and Titanium Corporation is a private company with a total of 33.8 million issued and outstanding shares. The Company plans to go public during the third quarter of 2017.