RESEARCH

Revealed: MJI's top-ranked mining projects

Gold and lithium assets shine in Project Pipeline Handbook

 Skeena-Eskay-Creek.jpg

Skeena-Eskay-Creek.jpg

The world's best mining projects are revealed in a new report - with gold and lithium assets in traditional safe-haven jurisdictions dominating.

Mining Journal Intelligence's (MJI) Project Pipeline Handbook 2023 presents our pick of the 50 best mining projects globally, selected using a unique, objective scoring method.

Our evaluation process involves collecting 25 key data points from economic studies - ranging from the scoping to feasibility stages - as they are published and feeding the information into our system, which calculates a score out of 100.

Projects are assessed across 13 metrics in six categories - Economics, Jurisdiction, Confidence, Financeability, Engineering/metallurgy, and Geology.

Mining Journal Intelligence top projects

This year's top scorer is Skeena Resources' Eskay Creek, a gold project located in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Eskay Creek's outstanding score of 90 is based on data from a 2022 feasibility study, which outlined a high-grade open pit operation generating a 50.2% post-tax IRR at US$1,700/oz gold prices.

The project scored at least 8.2 out of 10 across all categories, including 9.5 for Financeability and Geology, and 9.3 for Economics.

The asset is expected to produce 431,000ozpa of gold equivalent over the first five years. Skeena is targeting approval of final environmental permits in the first half of 2025.

Eskay Creek was closely followed by Liontown Resources' Kathleen Valley lithium project in Western Australia, which is currently under construction, and scored 89.

Kathleen Valley scored full marks (10 out of 10) in Economics and Financeability, along with 9.3 in the Confidence category, based on an assessment of a 2021 feasibility study.

The project is expected to supply about 500,000tpa of 6% lithium oxide concentrate when it comes on stream in mid-2024. Initial capex estimates were bumped up to A$895 million (US$600 million) earlier in 2023, from A$545 million in the feasibility study.

Despite this, Kathleen Valley's quality has not gone unnoticed in the market, with Liontown rejecting a bid for the company from Albemarle in March.

Four projects in the top 50 scored 88. Two - Critical Elements Lithium's Rose lithium asset and NexGen Energy's Rook I uranium project - are in Canada. Taseko Mines' Florence copper project in Arizona - the highest-scoring base metals asset - and Ferro-Alloy Resources' Balasausqandiq vanadium project in Kazakhstan - also scored 88.

Mining Journal Intelligence projects data 

The MJI database, from which the top 50 are selected, currently stands at 408 projects with combined capex of US$170 billion (assets are removed when they begin production). More than 150 studies have been added since last year's handbook was published.

The aim of the handbook is to identify quality, which can be a tough task for investors given the large volume of projects and more than 2,000 mining companies currently trading.

The report features profiles of the 50 top-scoring projects, spread over the precious metals, base metals, battery minerals, fertilisers, and bulks and other commodity classes.

The Project Pipeline Handbook 2023 report is available for sale here and is free for Premium subscribers.

Companies with high-scoring projects are invited to present at the handbook's sister events, Mining Journal Select and MiningNews Select. The next event takes place on September 18-19 in Perth. 

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