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    Global iron ore prices to remain high in Q1
    ----Interview with Haichao Qian
    Vice General Manager
    Atlas HNSD Mine S.A.R.L
    Headquartered in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, Atlas HNSD Mine S.A.R.L owns magnetite, copper, lead-zinc, antimony, placer and other mines distributed in major provinces and cities of Morocco.

    Asian Metal: Thanks for taking our interview, Mr. Qian. Please give us a brief introduction of your company.

    Mr. Qian: Headquartered in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, Atlas HNSD Mine S.A.R.L is a Sino-Moroccan joint venture mining company registered in Morocco. We have a number of mines distributed in major provinces and cities of Morocco, including magnetite, copper, lead-zinc, antimony, placer etc. At present, the company's business covers geological exploration, mining development, trade of mineral products and many other fields. It is committed to building an international enterprise integrating mining investment, construction and operation with comprehensive services of mineral trade, and continuously creates enterprise value through scientific and technological innovation, business growth and efficient profit model.

    Asian Metal: Which iron ore mines do you have at present? What about iron ore grade?

    Mr. Qian: Nador magnetite is located in the east of Rif, and the iron deposit is located in Beni Bou Ifrour highland near the Mediterranean coast (Nador province), 20km away from Beni Nsar port. The reserve is 47 million tons. Among them, 21 million tons have been excavated and the average crude iron ore grade is 53.5%. Tadlunte magnetite is located 16km south of Tadlunte, which is distributed in nearly east-west direction and extends nearly 20km in east-west direction. There is magnetite outcrop in the east of the ore belt, which is 200m long and 30m wide. Magnetite outcrop is located in the outer contact zone of granite. On the hillside of magnetite outcrop, weathered and rolled magnetite blocks can be seen everywhere, with an area of about 0.5 square kilometers. A small amount of oxidized hematite can be seen on the surface of magnetite, and magnetite minerals on the fresh surface of the ore can be seen by naked eyes. The proven reserves are around six million tons. The average grade of the magnet is 65.62%, and the magnetic rotation rate is 57.01%.

    Asian Metal: Where are your products mainly sold to? Who are the target customers?

    Mr. Qian: Our iron ore products are mainly sold to China, and the target customers are domestic steel mills, especially some small and medium-sized smelters.

    Asian Metal: What are the advantages of your iron ore?

    Mr. Qian: Our iron ore is of good quality, easy to separate, high grade raw ore and less harmful impurities. After long-term oxidation, most of the surface ores are hematite and limonite, and the color is maroon red and brown; fine-grained structure, massive structure. The grade of iron ore fines can reach more than 62%min after concentration. More importantly, compared with other mainstream mines, we can provide more bargaining space.

    Asian Metal: Could you introduce the current iron ore supply? What is the impact of the epidemic?

    Mr. Qian: Because of the impact of COVID-19, we can not recruit enough workers to work at mines at present, which has a great impact on the production of iron ore. At present, more than 20 million tons have been mined out and put in the mining area, and more than 30 million tons are to be mined.

    Asian Metal: In recent two months, iron ore prices in the international market began to rise again. What do you think is the reason for the price increase?

    Mr. Qian: Prices of iron ore in the international market have continued to go up in recent two months. Since the beginning of November, the cumulative price increase has been more than 20%. This is mainly because of China's strong demand. At present, China's steel prices are at a high level, and steel mills have a high operating rate, and their demand for iron ore has increased accordingly.

    Asian Metal: What do you think of the iron ore market trend in Q1 2021?

    Mr. Qian: As Chinese steel mills will continue to maintain a high operating rate, and iron ore supply will not increase significantly due to the impact of COVID-19, I think prices of iron ore will remain high in the first quarter of next year.

    Asian Metal: What are your plans for mining in 2021?

    Mr. Qian: With the relief of the epidemic, we plan to start mining Tadlunte magnetite in 2021. Besides, our Busheng lead-zinc mine is located 38km south-west of Khenifra and already has a concentrator. It produces 1,300 tons of lead concentrate a month. Benitajit lead deposit is located in the eastern border of Morocco and Algeria, and is located in the easternmost edge of Atlas Mountain. Its mineral resources are mainly medium low temperature hydrothermal lead-zinc ore and copper ore, and most of them are filled with ore bearing solution. It is a large-scale and complete mineralization zone. The near surface lead grade is about 40%. Khenifra placer is located in the central part of Morocco, which is under smooth mining. With unique geographical advantages and sales network covering all major construction areas of Morocco, Khenifra connects with Meknes and Casablanca in the north and Marrakesh and other large cities in the south. Sidi Amar antimony mine is located at 274 ° to the northwest of Khenifra, with a straight distance of 19km. It is 181km away from Casablanca port and 147km from the capital of Rabat. The first phase of the resource is estimated to have 2.64 million tons of ore with an average antimony grade of 23%. In addition to the above-mentioned mines, we also own copper and zinc mines in Meknes, and copper and other mineral resources in Beni Mellal. We are going to look for partners to jointly develop these mines.
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