Australian Mines Still on Track for Sconi Offtake with SK Innovation

Australian Mines has reaffirmed its stance towards an offtake agreement with SK Innovation for product from the Sconi project.

Australian Mines (ASX:AUZ) released a statement on Thursday (January 3) to reaffirm its stance towards an offtake agreement with SK Innovation (KRX:096770) for cobalt sulfate and nickel sulfate from Australian Mines’ Sconi project.

The binding offtake agreement, announced in February 2018, entails SK buying 100 percent of cobalt sulfate and nickel sulfate set to be produced from Sconi. The flagship project, a cobalt-nickel-scandium operation in North Queensland, recently saw the release of a bankable feasibility study (BFS) in November 2018.

According to the statement, media speculation surrounding the offtake agreement had led the companies to provide shareholders with an update. The company reiterated that both parties “remain fully committed” to the agreement, and that senior staff members are continuing to collaborate with a goal of finalizing and executing the agreement during the current quarter.

One of the conditions of the original agreement announced in February was the company obtaining financing for Sconi’s development and construction before the end of 2018, with a caveat of a later date being acceptable should both companies agree to it.

In the Thursday update, Australian Mines stated that the companies had mutually agreed to extend finalizing the financing package to September 19, 2019. According to the statement, the extension is “designed to accommodate” the North Australian Infrastructure Facility’s due diligence and investigation into the possibility of providing financial support for Sconi.

“The fact we are able to work with SK Innovation to agree to a new deadline of September 2019 for financing without any resistance or renegotiation of other terms is evidence of the collaborative relationship we continue to enjoy with the Korean electric vehicle battery manufacturer and their support of Sconi’s future development,” Australian Mines Managing Director Benjamin Bell said in a statement.

Bell added that the company appreciated the extension, but felt that with the progress of negotiations since the release of the BFS, the company expected to have an entire project funding package in place by 2019’s second quarter.

Australian Mines’ share price remained stagnant at the end of ASX trading on Thursday (January 3), closing the day at AU$0.038 per stock.

Don’t forget to follow us at @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Highlights: – Former Xstrata plc executive, Mr. Ian Woolsey, has joined Jervois as Group Manager Information Technology – Mr. Woolsey will lead the IT integration of Freeport Cobalt in Finland, Idaho Cobalt Operations in the United States and the São Miguel Paulista nickel-cobalt refinery in Brazil – Mr. Woolsey joins Jervois after more than 10 years with Glencore Xstrata where he led the IT integration of major …

(TheNewswire)

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AustralianSuper announces that it acquired 47,534,965 ordinary shares in the capital of Jervois Mining Limited on 27 October 2020 and a further 13,120,773 Shares on 3 December 2020 such that immediately following the second acquisition, AustralianSuper held a total of 108,450,700 of the issued and outstanding Shares in Jervois. The Shares were acquired pursuant to private placements by Jervois to institutional and …

AustralianSuper announces that it acquired 47,534,965 ordinary shares (“Shares”) in the capital of Jervois Mining Limited (ASX: JRV) (TSXV: JRV) (“Jervois”) on 27 October 2020 and a further 13,120,773 Shares on 3 December 2020 such that immediately following the second acquisition, AustralianSuper held a total of 108,450,700 (or approximately 13.71%) of the issued and outstanding Shares in Jervois.

The Shares were acquired pursuant to private placements by Jervois to institutional and sophisticated investors. The average purchase price per Share was AUD0.305/ CAD0.29 for an aggregate total purchase consideration of AUD18.5 million/ CAD17.6 million .

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person holding a gloved hand out with graphics showing cobalt uses floating above it

Australia is the world's third biggest producer of cobalt, and as companies look for ethical cobalt sources outside the DRC, the country's role will continue to grow.

Cobalt prices have been trending up this past year, with analysts remaining bullish on the key raw material, which is used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Demand is soaring as the electronics industry comes to rely on cobalt, and its use will only increase as the world continues to digitise and electrify.

EV sales are on the rise, and these vehicles require lithium-ion batteries to run. Typically around 9 kilograms of cobalt are used to manufacture each battery, and one battery alone can have as much as 20 kilograms. As long as demand for EVs continues to go up, so too will demand for cobalt — and the EV boom has only just begun.

Cobalt is also key in several different alloys with a variety of uses, including in gas turbine engines and magnets. Particularly tough cobalt alloys, such as tungsten carbide and chromium-cobalt, can be used to cut and drill steel.


So where should keen investors look for exposure to this promising metal? The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long been the top producer of cobalt worldwide; according to the US Geological Survey, it accounted for about 70 percent of cobalt production in 2021.

However, the DRC’s mining industry is known for unsustainable mining practices and unchecked labour abuses, including child labour. The country cannot maintain its current level of production indefinitely, and many conscious investors are seeking more ethical alternatives.

Australia is one such alternative. Australia contains about 18 percent of global cobalt reserves, but is currently responsible for only about 3 percent of global cobalt output. Between the country’s sustainable mining practices and its de-risked ventures, Australia is a great pick for shrewd investors interested in the cobalt-mining industry.

Cobalt in Australia: The history of cobalt mining

Cobalt has been used since antiquity for its bright blue colouration, but the metal was only officially discovered in 1742 by Swedish chemist Georg Brandt.

Up until 1874, European mineral deposits were the primary sites of cobalt production. That year, Europe was overtaken by New Caledonia, and in 1905 Canadian deposits pulled ahead. Since around 1920, the DRC has been a major global producer of cobalt, and its cobalt-mining legacy has continued to this day. Another contemporary cobalt behemoth, China, has only made its mark as a leading producer within the last couple of decades.

In the early 20th century, cobalt’s primary application began shifting away from cosmetic purposes and toward technological pursuits. For example, in 1930, cobalt alloys containing a mixture of cobalt, aluminium, nickel and iron were first used to make high-powered permanent magnets. Other alloys were soon discovered to have varied uses for building electrical equipment and electronic devices.

Cobalt is mainly found in compounds, such as cobalt arsenide, cobalt sulfarsenide and hydrated arsenate, and it is predominantly used for alloy production. Generally, cobalt does not come from cobalt mines — in fact, 98 percent of global cobalt is a by-product from nickel and copper mines. Copper mines account for about 60 percent of global cobalt output, and nickel mines around 38 percent.

Cobalt in Australia: The Australian landscape

According to Australia’s 2020 list of critical minerals projects, there are 68 cobalt-focused projects across Australia.

The largest is Glencore’s (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Murrin Murrin nickel-cobalt mine, which launched in 1998 and is located in the Northeastern Goldfields region of Western Australia. The mine produces an impressive 66.7 percent of the country’s cobalt. Unlike other mines, many of which suffered a decline in cobalt output during the pandemic, Murrin Murrin experienced an uptick in production, which rose 14 percent year-over-year in 2020.

Murrin Murrin uses conventional open-pit mining for its resource extraction, and it processes and refines cobalt ore on site. In 2021, the mine produced about 30,100 tonnes of nickel, alongside 2,500 tonnes of cobalt by-product.

In 2021, Glencore produced a total of around 31,300 tonnes of cobalt between all of its operations, including those in the DRC. In addition to production, the company also processes and recycles cobalt-containing materials.

Another notable cobalt project in the country is the Broken Hill cobalt project, a new mining endeavour owned by Cobalt Blue Holdings (ASX:COB,OTC Pink:CBBHF). This project is unique for its emphasis on cobalt production — cobalt will be directly produced on site, rather than extracted as a by-product of nickel.

The Broken Hill project is anticipated to have an output of around 4,000 tonnes of cobalt annually over a 20 year mine lifespan. Broken Hill’s cobalt production process will include concentration, leaching, calcining and project recovery, and the site expects annual sulphur output of 300,000 tonnes, which will hike up the project’s value.

Importantly, Broken Hill will both produce and refine its cobalt — a welcome change from sending the raw material to another country, most often China, for refinement. This practice will reduce the unethical labour practices along the chain of production.

Many other top cobalt-producing companies have active sites in Australia, including Panoramic Resources (ASX:PAN,OTC Pink:PANRF), Australian Mines (ASX:AUZ,OTCQB:AMSLF) and Clean TeQ Holdings (ASX:CNQ). These ventures are all top nickel miners and strong producers of cobalt as a by-product.

Cobalt in Australia: The future down under

The Australian government is enthusiastic about the country’s move toward mining critical minerals, establishing a Critical Minerals Facilitation Office in January 2020 as part of a push for its burgeoning minerals sector.

Currently, Australia is the third biggest producer of cobalt worldwide, at 5,600,000 tonnes in 2021.

According to a 2020 report by Fitch Solutions, cobalt mining in Australia continues to look up. It predicts that the next decade will see a spike in Australian cobalt production, with expected average output growth of 5.3 percent per year from 2021 to 2029, as compared to average output growth of only 2.4 percent between 2010 and 2020.

Moreover, despite the fact that Australia is the third largest cobalt producer worldwide, it has the second largest reserves of cobalt. This means that the country has the potential to scale up its production slowly and sustainably, situating itself as a major world player.

Between the exploding EV market and the continued trend toward electronics sales and digitization, cobalt will likely remain a hot commodity in the mining world for years to come. Investors should be paying close attention to cobalt production, and particularly to cobalt mining in Australia, where strong cobalt output, new mining ventures and sustainable extraction practices are setting the country up for long-term success.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2021.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

HIGHLIGHTS: -James May becomes Jervois’ CFO after almost 15 years in leadership roles with Rio Tinto -Mr May’s most recent role in Rio Tinto was as Interim Vice President, Sales and Marketing for the Energy & Minerals portfolio, based in Singapore -Mr May was also previously the CFO of Energy Resources of Australia Limited, an ASX-listed uranium miner, majority owned by Rio Tinto -Mr May also worked in various …

(TheNewswire)

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Blackstone Minerals is pleased to announce the completion of the PFS for the development of a Downstream Refinery in Northern Vietnam.

Downstream Pre-feasibility Study (PFS) confirms technically and economically robust hydrometallurgical refining process to upgrade nickel sulfide concentrate to produce battery grade Nickel: Cobalt: Manganese (NCM) 811 Precursor for the Lithium-ion battery industry.

Valuation Outcomes


  1. Base Case
    Post-tax NPV8 of US$2.01bn and internal rate of return (IRR) of 67%
  2. Spot Case
    Post-tax NPV8 of US$3.51bn and internal rate of return (IRR) of 98%

Base Case Economics

  • Upfront Project Capital of US$491m paid back in 1.5 years from first production
  • Life-of-Operations revenue of US$14.0bn and operating cash flow of US$4.5bn
  • Average annual operating cash flow of US$451m
  • Average annual post-tax cash flow of US$365m
  • Life-of-operations All-in Cost of US$11,997/ t NCM811 as compared to study weighted average forecast price on sale of NCM811 of US$16,397/ t NCM811 and current Shanghai Metals Market (SMM) spot price of US$19,559/t NCM811

Base Case Physicals

  • Refinery capacity of 400ktpa
  • 10-year life-of-Operations aligned with the Ban Phuc Disseminated orebody and availability of known third party concentrate feed (3PF)
  • Average annual refined nickel output of 43.5ktpa
  • Average annual NCM811 Precursor Production of 85.6ktpa
  • First production currently targeted in 2024 and ramp up to steady state operations currently forecast to be achieved in CY 2026
  • 3.9Mt of concentrate feed with average Ni in concentrate grade of 11.5%, Co in concentrate grade of 0.3% and Cu in concentrate grade of 1.1%
  • Average annual copper by-product of 4.1ktpa

Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX, OTC:BLSTF) (“Blackstone” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce the completion of the PFS for the development of a Downstream Refinery in Northern Vietnam (“Ta Khoa Refinery Project”, “TKR” or the “Project”).

The PFS is a critical milestone for the Company and reiterates the competitive advantages of nickel sulfide projects and adding value via an integrated downstream processing strategy. The PFS demonstrates that a very low capital intensity is required for the TKR to produce Class I nickel at a scale that would make Blackstone a globally significant producer.

The PFS considers a refinery design to process up to 400ktpa (Base Case) of nickel concentrate, confirming a technically and economically robust flow sheet to upgrade nickel sulfide concentrate to produce battery grade NCM811 Precursor for the Lithium-ion battery industry.

Blackstone’s development strategy is supported by using 3PF to supplement nickel concentrate supply from the Ta Khoa Nickel Project. Concentrate feed from Blackstone’s Ban Phuc Disseminated Sulfide (DSS) orebody forms part of the overall concentrate blend. With ongoing drilling and further exploration success Blackstone believes the Base Case Refinery has the potential to be fed entirely by feedstock from the Ta Khoa Nickel Project.

The Company’s decision to proceed with the development of the Ta Khoa Refinery is contingent upon a number of factors including but not limited to future exploration success at Blackstone’s flagship Ta Khoa Mine, the ability to secure offtake for 3PF and consumer demand for battery grade NCM811 Precursor. Indicative quantum and concentrate specifications have been received from all 3PF concentrate Blackstone has included in this PFS for the Base Case TKR. Based on current and confidential discussions, BSX believes it can secure sufficient supply to meet the demand for the Base Case TKR.

The Company intends to develop and fund the construction of the TKR via a collaborative
partnership-based model. Blackstone’s intention is to retain a significant interest in the TKR and expects that its portion of funding will be met through a combination of debt, equity, and offtake financing.

Blackstone has commenced funding discussions with multiple potential partners, including NCM consumers and concentrate suppliers to jointly participate in the funding of the proposed refinery. Further, Blackstone has been approached by a number of financial advisors interested in supporting Blackstone’s funding strategy.
The Company is immediately progressing approval to commence the next phase of Definitive Feasibility Studies and pilot plant testing (in Vietnam) and is currently targeting a Final Investment Decision (FID) in CY2022.

Management Comment

Blackstone Managing Director Scott Williamson said the Company’s strategy to build a
downstream refinery in Vietnam is amid a very supportive ESG, macroeconomic and fiscal
backdrop. The electric vehicle revolution has accelerated demand for green nickelTM and the delivery of the PFS is an important milestone towards achieving Blackstone’s vision to integrate lithium-ion battery supply chains and enable a green solution from mine to consumer.

“The Base Case PFS financial outcomes are compelling based on an NCM811 Precursor price forecast that is conservative compared to current observable market rates. The internal rate of return on capital invested is exceptional for the Base Case, owing to very low capital intensity, a significant premium available when upgrading nickel sulfide concentrates into battery grade NCM811 Precursor and the competitive operating advantages in Vietnam, which include access to low-cost renewable hydro power.”

“Blackstone is very pleased by the level of collaboration with the Vietnamese Government to
progress the Company’s downstream refinery. As part of the PFS Blackstone completed a
location study to identify preferred Refinery locations, with each of the shortlisted potential
Refinery locations offering significant corporate tax incentives. The corporate tax incentives
offered are a strong signal for the Vietnamese Government support for Foreign Direct Investment and Blackstone’s downstream refinery strategy.”

“The Base Case Refinery represents Management’s view of the scale of operations that could over time, through exploration success, be supported by the Company’s existing nickel sulfide mineralised landholdings. Economics have been presented assuming a ten-year life-of operations, aligned with known and desired life-of-mine for 3PF concentrate sources that
Blackstone aims to secure offtake. Management considers the more likely scenario is that the Refinery life will extend beyond ten years.”

Read the full article here.

Click here to connect with Blackstone Minerals (ASX:BSX, OTC:BLSTF) for an Investor Presentation.

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physical coin representing bitcoin

A Canadian fund provider is debuting a version of its popular bitcoin ETF in Australia. Is now the best time for this launch?

Australian investors are getting a new way to invest in the volatile bitcoin space thanks to a deal between an asset management company and a Canadian fund provider.

On May 12, Canadian fund maker Purpose Investments launched a version of its bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the Australian market by way of a partnership with Cosmos Asset Management, which is owned in part by the Australian division of Mawson Infrastructure Group (NASDAQ:MIGI).

The fund, called the Cosmos-Purpose Bitcoin Access ETF (CXA:CBTC), is listed on the Cboe Australia exchange, and holds units of the Toronto-based Purpose Bitcoin ETF (TSX:BTCC).


“We have brought together a team of global experts to offer Australian investors access to a truly high-quality product,” Dan Annan, Cosmos Asset Management CEO, said in a statement to investors.

ETF maker pursues rising international interest in cryptocurrencies

In an interview with the Investing News Network (INN), Vlad Tasevski, chief operating officer and head of product at Purpose Investments, said the firm has been actively pursuing ways to offer its crypto funds internationally.

The executive said there has been widespread interest in BTCC since its launch back in February of last year.

As the firm began evaluating how to approach this demand, the company considered setting up shop in the Australian market, Tasevski said. However, eventually the Canadian fund provider went with the partnership route.

Tasevski called Australia “the next logical jurisdiction" for the firm as it expands with its crypto funds.

When asked what makes Australia so attractive for the expansion of BTCC, the executive said it has a similar market structure to Canada, and credited securities regulators in the nation for being more comfortable with cryptocurrency listings than other jurisdictions.

Purpose has strong long-term outlook for digital assets

Although crypto assets are facing a serious ongoing downturn in value that has created significant losses, Tasevski told INN that Purpose Investments is undeterred in its long-term crypto outlook.

“The amount of capital and the amount of people involved in the space has never been higher,” Tasevski said.

The executive said he views his company's offerings as very flexible for investors. “We'll be here for (investors) to actually give them the ability to very easily access it whenever they feel it is appropriate for them,” he said.

Tasevski added that he views the current downturn for bitcoin as “one of the best entry opportunities in the last year and a half.”

​As bitcoin struggles, ETF firm celebrates structural victory

Purpose Investments has suggested to investors that accessing the bitcoin market through its funds is a safer route than going it alone, especially given the current period of remarkable losses.

According to Tasevski, the firm's products offer liquidity to investors and provide a measured approach for people who want exposure in this segment.

“We have been very clear that this is a volatile asset class,” he told INN. “And investors should kind of understand the level of volatility that they will be taking on.”

The investment executive said the infrastructure security provided by the rules ETFs must follow has been a boon as the crypto space faces major volatility.

Even so, BTCC has been rocked in 2022 based on the performance of bitcoin. Over a year-to-date period, the fund had gone down in value by over 35 percent as of the closing bell in Canada on May 11. In the past month alone, BTCC has dropped in value by over 20 percent.

Som Seif, founder and CEO of Purpose Investments, recently said crypto is a “core component” for the firm “when solving problems for (its) customers.”

​Investor takeaway

Digital assets have never been more easily available as tools for all types of investors.

While many experts remain confident in the long-term outlook for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the considerable volatility prevailing in the market can make the space difficult for newcomers to stomach.

So far in 2022, bitcoin losses have highlighted the lack of stability in digital coins — but of course, as some have argued, these big moves can also provide entry points and opportunities for savvy investors.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

European Lithium Executive Chairman Tony Sage

European Lithium Executive Chairman Tony Sage said, “There's not one hydroxide plant in Europe, so we hope to be the first. Not only would we be able to source material from our own mine, but we may be able to source material in nearby areas.”

European Lithium Executive Chairman Tony Sage: Developing the 1st Lithium Hydroxide Plant in Europe youtu.be


European Lithium (ASX:EUR,FWB:PF8) Executive Chairman Tony Sage discussed the company’s Wolfsburg project in Austria, a country with a rich mining history dating back to WWII that maintains its infrastructure.

Wolfsburg continues that tradition, positioned only 45 kilometres from the city that hosts the largest Samsung battery factory.

"It’s quite unique. In Europe, a lot of the lithium mines are at the exploration stage," Sage said. "This mine was built back in the '80s by the Austrian government. So all the work has been done. If we were going to do this project today, we would have to get environmental approval and spend about $100 million — but they did all the work and the licence is in perpetuity.


“We can now access that mine and start mining immediately. In fact, in 2017, we mined it and took out 1,500 tonnes, which is a massive advantage in the lithium industry because we were able to build a pilot plant and put 300 tonnes of the material through the pilot plant, which gave us the results that we were looking for in that it's high-grade product.”

Sage also discussed European Lithium’s goals with the project. “Our aim is to mine it. It's a very simple mining process. We're in the process now of trying to acquire land nearby so we can actually put a conversion plant and a hydroxide plant on it. There's not one hydroxide plant in Europe, so we hope to be the first. Not only would we be able to source material from our own mine, but we may be able to source material in nearby areas.”

Sage told the Investing News Network that the government is supportive of its endeavours. “The Austrian government is very keen for us to build hydroxide plants so they can actually entice vehicle companies to build a factory nearby the hydroxide plant. This way, we can have a mine right through to the battery solution for the Austrian government. In the end, all we can do is get the mines up and operating, build the hydroxide plant and see what happens.”

The mine itself is underground. “Underground mining techniques are used all around the world. When they built it, they actually overbuilt — so when we decided to mine back in 2017, it was quite easy for us to find the seam of the orebody and then take the ore out," Sage said.

“We completed a prefeasibility study in 2018. The cost structure then was about US$7,500 per tonne to produce the hydroxide. Right now, the hydroxide price is around US$69,000 a tonne — that’s a massive profit margin that we don’t see as sustainable long term. When we do our definitive feasibility study, we're probably going to use an average price over the life of mine of about US$25,000 — but that's still a huge profit margin. That feasibility study is coming within the next four months, when we’ll be in a good position to partner with someone.”

Watch the full interview of European Lithium Executive Chairman Tony Sage above.

Disclaimer: This interview is sponsored by European Lithium (ASX:EUR,FWB:PF8). This interview provides information that was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by European Lithium in order to help investors learn more about the company. European Lithium is a client of INN. The company’s campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this interview.

INN does not provide investment advice and the information on this profile should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. INN does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company profiled.

The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities. Readers should conduct their own research for all information publicly available concerning the company. Prior to making any investment decision, it is recommended that readers consult directly with European Lithium and seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

This interview may contain forward-looking statements including but not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work programs, receipt of property titles, etc. Forward-looking statements address future events and conditions and therefore involve inherent risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those currently anticipated in such statements. The issuer relies upon litigation protection for forward-looking statements. Investing in companies comes with uncertainties as market values can fluctuate.

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