Today’s Market View – Firefinch, Keras Resources, Cornish Metals and more…
SP Angel . Morning View . Thursday 24 06 21
China SRB sales make little impact on commodity markets
Graphene producer funding – EIS approved
The company wishes to fund a ramp up in graphene production to get ahead of demand and to develop markets for a number of new, graphene products
The business is also able to upgrade graphite to a higher grade/specifications using its process – rolling out this process also requires funding
Please email if you wish to invest in the company
*SP Angel’s role is limited to making introductions and interested parties should be aware that investment in a private company can present certain risks not present in listed companies (e.g. limited or no liquidity and no rules compelling disclosure of information to investors). This offer is open to professional investors only and is not offered to retail investors.
Ariana Resources (LON:AAU) – Annual results timetable impacted by Turkish travel restrictions
BHP (LON:BHP) – plans to double exploration budget within five years
Cornish Metals*+ (LON:CUSN) – Quarterly update and progress report on exploration in Cornwall
Keras Resources* (LON:KRS) – Interim results
Firefinch (ASX:FFX) – Raising A$47m to reinvigorate Morila
China SRB sales – threat to limit commodity markets through SRB sales looks largely ineffective longer term
China is using its Strategic Reserve Bureau to limit commodity prices selling just 2.3% of Chinese refined copper output in May
The zinc sale represents ~5.7% of one month’s output while the aluminum represents ~1.5% of May production (Reuters).
We view the SRB sales as having a temporary impact on market prices though China inc. may be testing the water with relatively small sales while retaining stocks in case of future shortages.
50,000t of aluminium
There is much debate about the nature of the bull run in commodities that we are in at present.
Historically strong growth cycles are driven by seismic changes to global consumption and generally last more than just a couple of years.
The driver for today’s growth in commodity demand started in China in 1992 when President Jiang Zemin introduced the term ‘socialist market economy’ following Deng Xiaoping’s urge to accelerate ‘opening up and reform’.
The move ended China’s long-run economic stagnation and isolation with economic growth of 9.5%pa estimated from 1978 to 2013 albeit off a very low base.
Global demand for commodities for commodities is partly driven by the emergence of China driven by ongoing demand growth in the West, particularly the US.
A new phase of growth for metals for EVs, wind farms, batteries is also upon us.
US stimulus to counteract and keep pace with the emergence of China as a new Superpower is also driving demand for most metals.
The US is determined to re-shore much of its higher-value manufacturing as it recognizes the potential for China to use its collective power to dominate emerging industries.
The US had previously assumed that Chinese companies would act and behave independently from CCP policy but the Communist parties’ far-reaching control of para-statal companies is being used as a form of collective weapon against the economic and political interests of other nations. Eg rare earth supply against Japan, and now government manipulation of commodity prices.
China has been particularly successful at attracting companies to manufacture in China through market access and commodity availability.
The policy has been so successful that China controls global manufacturing of diodes, a basic semiconductor and dominates permanent magnet production largely through its dominance of the availability of NdPr supply.
Fortunately, semiconductor chip manufacturing for the latest chip designs has proved difficult for China to replicate with Taiwan dominating global markets, but if China takes over Taiwan its ability to disrupt global manufacturing will be frightening.
China/Australia – China lodges complaint with WTO over Australia’s trade measures
China has lodged a complaint over Australia’s anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures against Chinese railway wheels, wind towers and stainless-steel sinks.
Results from a poll published yesterday show that more Australians view China as a security threat than an economic partner.
Gold-backed ETFs see strong inflows despite recent price dip
SPDR Gold Shares ETF has attracted net inflows of about $390m in the first three weeks of June, building on the $1.6bn that flowed into the ETF in May.
ETF appetite remains strong despite gold prices slumping below $1,800/oz last week after the Fed sped up its expected pace of policy tightening and J. Powell reassured investors that high inflation is transitory.
Indonesia mulls restrictions on nickel smelter construction
Indonesia’s government is discussing with a parliament committee to plan a limit on the construction of smelters producing nickel pig iron or ferronickel in order to optimise nickel ore use for higher-value products.
The government says putting a restriction on construction of such plants is deemed necessary because of limited saprolite nickel ore reserves.
The government also said that many plants producing NPI or ferronickel are expected to export their output directly, without further processing into stainless steel at home.
Indonesia banned exports of unprocessed ore last year to promote development of a nickel smelting industry.
According to mining ministry data, Indonesia currently has 16 nickel smelters running while in five years the number is expected to increase to 29 (Reuters).
EU magnesium prices continue to rise sharply on high met coal costs
European magnesium prices have risen sharply in the past two weeks as high metallurgical coke costs continue to squeeze Chinese producers and causing them to hike export offers, Argus Media reports.
Prices rose to $3,400-3,500/t in Rotterdam yesterday, from $3,100-3,230/t on 17 June and $2,950-3,080/t two weeks ago.
Argus report that warehouse inventories are running low, and consumers are reluctant to buy, hoping that prices will fall in July-August as conditions ease.
Keras Resources* is currently developing its Nageya Manganese Project in Togo, with a JORC Code Mineral Resource of 13.97Mt @ 12.4% Mn and Ore Reserve of 8.48Mt @14.0%
*SP Angel acts as Nomad and Broker to Keras Resources
Dow Jones Industrials -0.21% at 33,874
Nikkei 225 +0.00% at 28,875
HK Hang Seng +0.25% at 28,888
Shanghai Composite -0.03% at 3,565
US – The Fed appears to be setting a high bar to any tightening of monetary policy.
The organisation see higher inflation as a temporary phenomenon which will be brough down by general global low inflation.
Germany – The more-contagious Covid-19 virus variant will be more dominant in the country within weeks with authorities urging people to get vaccinated.
“We want the highest possible level of immunity in the population because that will dictate what our autumn will be like,” Chancellery Minister Helge Braun.
Separately, business confidence measure increased to the strongest in more than two years in June.
IFO Expectations: 104.0 v 102.9 in May and 103.6 est.
IFO Current Assessment: 99.6 v 95.7 in May and 97.9 est.
IFO Business Climate: 101.8 v 99.2 in May and 100.7 est.
UK – The central bank is expected to leave the pace of bond purchases unchanged later today despite signs of a strong economic recovery.
With 3.4m of furloughed workers as of end of April and delays to full easing of Covid-19 related restrictions suggest the BoE will likely follow the wait and see approach despite a recent pickup in inflation.
Consumer prices climbed 2.1% in May, a long way below the US rate of 5% but exceeding the BoE’s 2% target level sooner than the central had expected, Reuters writes.
Markets will be watching if more members vote in favour of reducing the pace of purchases of UK government bonds.
In May, only one member of nine (Andrew Haldane) voted to reduce the size of purchases by £50bn to 825bn.
France – Reopening of the economy see business confidence climbing more than forecast in June to the highest since 2007.
The Bank of France expects activity to increase to pre-crisis levels by early next year.
Business Confidence: 113 v 108 in May and 110 est.
Italy – A quarter of all new registered Covid-19 cases is linked to the more transmissive Delta variant, first detected in India.
That marks an increase from just 1% registered on May 18.
US$1.1938/eur vs 1.1936/eur yesterday. Yen 110.88/$ vs 110.86/$. SAr 14.228$ vs 14.226/$. $1.397/gbp vs $1.398/gbp. 0.758/aud vs 0.755/aud. CNY 6.472/$ vs 6.483/$.
Gold US$1,776/oz vs US$1,782/oz yesterday
Gold ETFs 101.1moz vs US$101.1moz yesterday
Platinum US$1,079/oz vs US$1,093/oz yesterday
Palladium US$2,621/oz vs US$2,599/oz yesterday
Silver US$25.90/oz vs US$25.93/oz yesterday
Copper US$ 9,379/t vs US$9,326/t yesterday
Aluminium US$ 2,422/t vs US$2,414/t yesterday
Nickel US$ 18,080/t vs US$17,795/t yesterday
Zinc US$ 2,888/t vs US$2,868/t yesterday
Lead US$ 2,192/t vs US$2,173/t yesterday
Tin US$ 30,330/t vs US$30,505/t yesterday
Oil US$75.5/bbl vs US$75.3/bbl yesterday
Natural Gas US$3.222/mmbtu vs US$3.261/mmbtu yesterday
Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$209.5/t vs US$204.3/t
Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$758.7/t vs US$755.7/t
Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$84.8/t vs US$84.0/t
Coking coal swap Australia FOB US$157.5/t vs US$151.0/t
Cobalt LME 3m US$44,555/t vs US$44,555/t
NdPr Rare Earth Oxide (China) US$72,457/t vs US$71,961/t
Lithium carbonate 99% (China) US$12,359/t vs US$12,341/t
China Spodumene Li2O 5%min CIF US$690/t vs US$690/t
Ferro-Manganese European Mn78% min US$1,880/t vs US$1,856/t
China Tungsten APT 88.5% FOB US$270/t vs US$270/t
China Graphite Flake -194 FOB US$515/t vs US$515/t
Europe Vanadium Pentoxide 98% 8.9/lb vs US$8.9/lb
Europe Ferro-Vanadium 80% 43.25/kg vs US$43.25/kg
Hydrogen fuel cell cars being put through their paces
Toyota and BMW have both recently announced the testing of hydrogen fuelled vehicles.
BMW have been testing prototypes of the BMW i Hydrogen Next on European roads and will soon be testing it on a range of metrics including reliability, safety, and efficiency.
The vehicles’ individual cells are provided by Toyota, with BMW developing the fuel cell stack and drive system. The BMW i Hydrogen Next’s hydrogen tank can be filled in three to four minutes, the company says, providing drivers with “a range of several hundred kilometres in all weather conditions.”
“[The technology] could become an attractive alternative to battery-electric drive trains – especially for customers who do not have their own access to electric charging infrastructure or who frequently drive long distances.” said BMW.
It’s hoped the tests will lead to the production of a small-series model in 2022.
Toyota had a prototype hydrogen-powered Corolla taking part in a 24-hour endurance race at the Fuji Speedway in Japan.
Toyota has pledged to continue developing the technology in motorsport applications to evaluate its production feasibility. The carmaker’s work on hydrogen is part of its strategy to reduce its vehicles’ CO2 emissions by 90 per cent before 2050, compared to levels in 2010.
EIB approve €2.3bn for clean energy and transport schemes
The European Investment Bank has approved a funding package of around €2.3bn for renewable energy projects and sustainable transport.
Solar power generation in Spain, various renewables projects in Germany and geothermal plant in East Africa will be among the beneficiaries of €1.4bn of the funding.
€946m of the approved funding will go towards sustainable transport, including hydrogen and battery-powered trains in Berlin.
Ariana Resources (LON:AAU) 4.8p, Mkt Cap £51.5m – Annual results timetable impacted by Turkish travel restrictions
Ariana Resources has announced that, “Due to delays experienced as a result of continuing restrictions on travel to and within Turkey” its’ audit process is continuing and that it intends to publish its annual results for 2020 as soon as possible “but by no later than 30 September 2021”.
Managing Director, Dr. Kerim Sener, explained that “it is expected that the annual report will now be finalised during early July, with a view to announcing and posting later in July and holding our Annual General Meeting (AGM) in August.”
Dr. Sener noted, however, that “JV production has continued uninterrupted and the Kiziltepe Mine continues to perform in accordance with the guidance provided in March 2021, from which we are expecting 19,000 ounces of gold to be produced by year end. The JV has recently completed a 10,052m drilling programme at Kiziltepe, and drilling operations are now continuing on Kepez and other nearby prospects. Preparation for new drilling campaigns at Tavsan and Salinbas are also well underway and are expected to commence during the summer”.
Atalaya Mining (LON:ATYM) 311p, Mkt Cap £422m – Mineral reserves and resources update for Cerro Colorado and San Dionisio
Atalaya Mining has announced a revised mineral reserve estimate for its Cerro Colorado open-pit at Proyecto Riotinto in southern Spain.
The new estimate reports a proven and probable reserve of 186mt at an average grade of 0.38% copper using a cut-off grade of 0.16% copper. Approximately 75% of the reserve is classified as ‘Proven’ and the new estimate provides a “Mine life of over 12 years based on nameplate capacity of recently expanded 15 Mtpa mill”.
The previous estimate, published prior to the re-opening of the mine in July 2015 and two subsequent expansions of processing capacity, amounted to 123mt at 0.49% copper and the company points out that since then “approximately 50 Mt of ore at 0.5% Cu have been mined and processed through to the end of December 2020. Successive core and reverse circulation drilling campaigns totalling over 98,400 metres in 802 holes have successfully increased the open pit reserve base, allowing Atalaya to maintain the original mine life despite the plant expansions and reserve depletion”.
The company comments that performance “over recent quarters has demonstrated an ability to operate at approximately 16 Mtpa creating the opportunity to maximise life-of-mine value by supplementing plant feed with ore sourced from regional deposits in the Iberian Pyrite Belt”.
Atalaya Mining is continuing to assess further resource opportunities accessible to Proyecto Riotinto and today also releases a mineral resources estimate for the San Dionisio deposit located immediately to the west of Cerro Colorado.
Using a 0.2% copper cut-off, the company reports a measured and indicated resource of 52.6mt at an average grade of 0.91% copper and 0.89% zinc at San Dionisio with an additional 1.8mt classified as inferred at an average grade of 0.5% copper. Approximately 85% of the measured and indicated resources at San Dionisio are classed as ‘Measured’ (44.9mt).
Atalaya Mining explains that “Because of its proximity to current infrastructure … [and] … its good combined grades of copper and zinc and the potential to mine a significant portion of the resources by open pit methods, San Dionisio offers a promising opportunity to create near term value. In addition, the potential application of the E-LIX System … [an electrochemical metallurgical extraction process] … could facilitate the integration of San Dionisio’s polymetallic sulphides into the existing processing plant, given that testing to date indicates that E-LIX is well suited to combined copper-zinc sulphide material”.
The company says that the results of the resource estimate for San Dionisio “were encouraging enough to sanction the preparation of a NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate for completion in 2021 and to commence a fast-track feasibility study that considers a new mine plan to combine San Dionisio with Cerro Colorado”.
The company also says that it will be preparing resources estimate for the Planes San Antonio deposit during 2021.
CEO, Alberto Lavandeira commented that “With this reserve update for Cerro Colorado, we have successfully established “Proyecto Riotinto” as a long life producing mine and now is the time to work towards new targets that can expand production throughout the Riotinto District, extend mine life and create value for all our stakeholders. The presence of substantial, unexploited mineral resources in the vicinity of our modern 15 Mtpa mill and related infrastructure, together with a very prospective land package with world class exploration potential, offer compelling opportunities for continued growth of our company”.
Conclusion: Atalaya Mining is building its mineral reserve and resources inventory around the recently expanded 15mtpa plant at Proyecto Riotinto and has now established a 12 years mine-life for its Cerro Colorado pit. Additional resources have been defined at the adjacent San Dionisio deposit and the company is assessing other opportunities at Planes San Antonio and actively exploring the Proyecto Riotinto East licences at Peñas Blancas, Cerro Negro and Herreros which, if successful will provide further opportunities to expand production and/or extend the mine life.
BHP (LON:BHP) 2,103p, £44bn – plans to double exploration budget within five years
BHP plans to almost double exploration spending for base metals within five years according to its Chief Technical Officer Laura Tyler.
The company expects to log bumper profits in August, driven by booming iron ore prices, however its pipeline for new projects is viewed as thin.
BHP is looking to raise its exposure to new economy minerals including copper and nickel, according to Tyler.
Global exploration spending for base metals will nearly double within five years from the current annual $70m to $80m, excluding outlays for early entry join ventures.
Cornish Metals*+ (LON:CUSN) – 14.75p, Mkt cap £40m – Quarterly update and progress report on exploration in Cornwall
Cornish Metals reports a loss of C$1.3m for the three months to 30th April 2021 (2020 – loss of C$0.4m) as it progresses its exploration of the United Downs target in Cornwall where initial results of the current drilling programme are expected imminently.
The company reconfirms its intention that, subject to results of the initial phase of drilling at United Downs, it will “undertake a subsequent in-fill drilling program at United Downs to advance the project to a feasibility study within three years”.
Following the successful AIM market listing, the company reports a 30th April cash balance of C$11.5m and confirms that “subject to drilling success, the proceeds from the AIM listing will result in the Company being fully funded to the completion of a maiden JORC resource at the United Downs exploration project”.
The company also highlights the recently announced increase to the mineral resources at its nearby South Crofty mine-site where “Indicated Resource and Inferred Resources … [rose]… by 10.2% and 129.8%, respectively, for the Lower Mine” following the incorporation of results from the 2020 drilling campaign.
Among the other activities during the quarter Cornish Metals highlights is the agreement, in February, of Osisko to convert its loan note into “two royalty agreements over mineral properties in Cornwall with an accompanying simplified and reduced security package” as well as the conclusion of other agreements for “the leasing of additional mineral rights at the South Crofty tin project and surface land surrounding the New Roskear Shaft, and binding heads of terms agreed for the disposal of waste material derived from the dewatering of the South Crofty mine”.
CEO, Richard Williams said that “I am delighted with what the Company has achieved in the last few months … [and also said that he was looking forward to] … reporting imminently on the initial results of that exploration programme once the assays from the first few drill holes have been assessed”.
Mr. Williams also explained that “Longer term, we are continuing to assess various financing options to progress South Crofty which remains a key strategic asset for the Company. South Crofty could potentially play a pivotal role in securing a domestic and sustainable source of battery metals as the UK transitions to a low carbon economy”.
Conclusion: Cornish Metals has moved ahead with its exploration at United Downs since its debut on AIM and we look forward to the first results from its current drilling in the near future.
* SP Angel acts as broker and financial advisor to Cornish Metals.
Keras Resources* (LON:KRS) 0.11p, Mkt cap £6.44m – Interim results
(Keras also hold an 85% interest in Societé General des Mines which holds the Nayéga manganese project license in Togo. Keras also holds 51% of Falcon Isle Holdings which holds 100% of the Diamond Creek phosphate mine which is operating in Utah, USA)
Keras Resources continue to develop organic phosphate production in Utah, USA.
The team did well to produce 7,620t of phosphate ore ahead of the winter shutdown and are preparing to restart production in the next few months for the 2021 campaign.
The Diamond Creek mine is scheduled to produce 10,000t this year rising to a target of 48,000tpa in five years.
The mine sold 1,297t to end-March 2021 with sales of 2,483t at ~$267/t in the year-to-date.
The development of in-house milling will also add substantially to margins.
US diammonium phosphate (DAP) rose 58% last year to $388.50 from $245/t with prices averaging US$273 in the second half with market reports indicating strong fertilizer prices for this year.
Costs at the mine are estimated to fall to around $92/t from an initial $229/t as production ramps up and with the in-house milling.
Operating profits could rise to around $8mpa with $4m of this attributable to Keras through its 51% stake assuming an average sales price of $260/t.
Togo (Nayéga Manganese mine): Keras has appointed Blaise Gozan as Togo Country Manager. Blaise is Togolese and joins from Rio Tinto in Canada.
Management are in close communication with the Togolese Ministry of Mines & Energy on the Nayéga Manganese Project Exploitation Permit and we hope the appointment of such an experienced country manager will help with the award of the license.
Accounts: Keras Resources report sales of £31,000 for six months to end March.
Production costs were £74,000 reflecting the commissioning and start-up of the Diamond Creek mine in Utah, USA
Administrative and exploration expenses of £517,000 were lower than the £810,000 reported a year ago highlighting the careful management of costs while developing new sales streams.
The Total Comprehensive Loss fell to £607,000 vs £812,000 resulting in a loss of £0.017/s vs a loss of £0.029/s a year ago.
Total assets rose to £5.54m from £1.46m a year earlier as the business expands
Non-current assets rose to £4.13m vs £1.34m yoy.
Current assets rose to £1.41m from £0.12m yoy.
Total Equity rose to £5.07m vs £0.99m yoy while total liabilities remained unusually stable at £0.47m.
Conclusion: Keras continue to develop asset value for shareholders while maintaining good cost control and discipline. Sales from Diamond Creek should increase substantially this year. The award of a mining license in Togo at Nayéga will allow management to develop manganese production from the mine.
*SP Angel act as Nomad and Broker to Keras Resources
Firefinch (ASX:FFX) A$0.45, Mkt Cap A$353m – Raising A$47m to reinvigorate Morila
ASX Listed Firefinch reports that it is raising A$A$47m in order to increase production at the Morila gold mine in Mali, which it acquired in November 2020, to 200,000oz pa by 2024.
A total of approximately 117m new shares are to be issued at a price of A40.40/share and in addition to the Morila expansion project, funds will “Facilitate the demerger of the Goulamina Lithium Project into a separate ASX-listed company”.
Firefinch plans to dewater and remove tailings from the Morila Super Pit and to pre-strip “Morila and the satellite pits (including Viper, Koting, N’tiola) to allow commencement of open pit mining, mobilisation of contractor mining equipment, refurbishment of power station, and potential hybrid power system installation”.
The company also intends to accelerate the exploration and “resource development and expansion drilling at the Morila Super Pit (including investigation of the underground potential), to continue to build on Firefinch’s recent exploration success, and further test the potential of the various satellite pits and the opportunity presented by the 650km2 regional tenure.”
Firefinch says that it expects mining of the satellite pits to produce up to 50,000oz pa of gold while it intends to produce 120,000ozpa from Morila by the second half of 2022 and continue “to grow Morila’s production to 170,000 ounces of gold per annum in 2023 and 200,000 ounces of gold per annum in 2024”.
Conclusion: The Morila mine was once referred to as ‘Morila the gorilla’ – Firefinch’s ambitious expansion plans could give the giant a new lease of life
IGTV: Stock picks in the small-cap mining space: https://youtu.be/TxtMf6B2t8Q
Evolution of Chinese construction and implications for commodity demand: https://youtu.be/jB2nURL8uPw
VOX Markets: 10/06/21: https://audioboom.com/posts/7884446-john-meyer-talks-about-cornish-metals-empire-metals-anglo-american-ncondezi-energy-mkango-r
BBC: Catalytic converters https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09jl6c9
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Sources of commodity prices
Gold, Platinum, Palladium, Silver
BGNL (Bloomberg Generic Composite rate, London)
Gold ETFs, Steel
Copper, Aluminium, Nickel, Zinc, Lead, Tin, Cobalt
Natural Gas, Uranium, Iron Ore
Bloomberg OTC Composite
Lithium Carbonate, Ferro Vanadium, Tungsten, Spodumene, Ferro-Manganese, Graphite
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