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While quarter-on-quarter nickel production rates were up at the Independence Group’s coveted Nova mine, the project’s full-year rates didn’t quite meet expectations.
While a preliminary metal production report shows that Independence Group (ASX:IGO) boosted nickel production by 23 percent in the June quarter, that same report indicates that full-year production at its Nova nickel-copper–cobalt mine has missed the mark.
In a statement released on the ASX, Independence explained that Nova’s nickel production quarter-on-quarter was up, hitting 7,344 tonnes, but that full-year metal production was 3 percent lower than anticipated at 22,258 tonnes. This missed the company’s guidance range of 23,000 to 27,000 tonnes.
The company attributed the lacking results to a semi autogenous grinding (SAG) mill liner issue, which impacted processing plant availability and productivity in the second half of June. This issue resulted in an approximate 800-tonne shortfall in nickel production. However, Independence said the SAG mill liners are currently being replaced and won’t cause a continued problem.
Despite the shortcomings at Nova, production from the company’s Long nickel project and Tropicana joint-venture gold project were on target, all of which are located in Western Australia. Independence shares Tropicana with AngloGold Ashanti (ASX:AGG), which has a 70-percent stake in the JV.
Tropicana saw production rates of 114,252 ounces during the June quarter and 477,139 ounces for the full-year, which hit the company’s guidance range of 440,000 to 490,000 ounces. At Long, nickel production came in at 1,533 tonnes for the quarter and 5,855 tonnes for the year, making the company’s range of 5,400 to 6,000 tonnes.
“We achieved a big step up in metal production rate at Nova during the June 2018 quarter, driven by better than nameplate mining and processing rates and higher overall grade, which absorbed downtime and lower productivity in the second half of June due to the SAG mill liner issues,” Independence’s managing director and CEO Peter Bradford said in a statement.
“Both Nova and Tropicana are poised for a strong 2019 financial year, with continuing business excellence projects at both operations poised to deliver improved productivity and value.”
Independence’s Nova project is wholly-owned by the company and located in the Fraser Range of Western Australia. The site was discovered in July 2012 and commercial production began in July 2017, with the mining rate now reaching 1.5 million tonnes per year.
In spite of the production rate news, Independence’s stock price closed 2.85 percent higher to hit AU$5.05 at the end of trading on the ASX on Monday (July 9).
Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!
Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
An unprecedented increase in nickel prices pushed the London Metal Exchange to halt nickel trading.
Nickel doubled in price to hit a record level of US$100,000 per tonne before the London Metal Exchange (LME) decided to suspend trading on Tuesday (March 8).
The base metal, used mainly in stainless steel, but gathering attention for its use in electric vehicle batteries, was up an unprecedented 250 percent in two days on the back of a short squeeze.
“Nickel is clearly trading in crisis mode,” ING senior analyst Wenyu Yao said in a note. “Market positioning could be the trigger, but the industry has long faced structural issues.”
Nickel prices were 66 percent higher, at US$80,000, when the LME decided to suspend trading for at least the rest of the day. Earlier on Tuesday, nickel had soared to a record US$101,365 ― 111 percent higher than its closing price on Monday (March 7).
The 145-year-old exchange had been monitoring “the effect of the evolving situation in Russia and Ukraine,” saying it is clear the nickel market in particular has been affected. The LME later said it would cancel all nickel transactions that had taken place earlier in the day.
The latest price increase has been attributed to the additional time given to China Construction Bank (OTC Pink:CICHF,SHA:601939), a big state-owned lender, to make payments on margin calls it missed on Monday. Payments have now been made.
Additionally, Bloomberg reported that Chinese tycoon Xiang Guangda — who built a large short position in nickel futures and controls the world’s largest nickel producer, Tsingshan Holding Group — is facing billions of dollars in mark-to-market losses.
Low inventories have added volatility to the market, with stocks of nickel in LME-registered warehouses standing at 75,012 tonnes, their lowest point since 2019.
“Fundamentals, though supportive of stronger prices, do not justify this frenzy,” Yao said. “It remains to be seen how this crisis ends. However, the market has long been faced with structural issues.”
Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!
Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
As the world continues its transition towards a sustainable future, Australia has the potential to become a major player in clean energy and climate projects.
Sustainability is changing the course of multiple industries, with significant impacts on the investment sector.
Sustainable investing is the future — a means by which one can diversify their portfolio while also promoting positive societal and environmental impacts. This is arguably most evident in the energy and carbon markets.
"We're really in the middle of a low-carbon transition right now," said Adeline Aw, vice president of environmental sustainability at Singapore's Economic Development Board, according to a recent McKinsey podcast. "What's really important is to help finance and bring to life projects that can help us remove and to avoid carbon emissions."
The global push for sustainability
In 2018, scientists published a study in the peer-reviewed Earth System Dynamics, a scientific journal focused on climate change, geology and atmospheric science. According to that study, the world was fast approaching the point of no return for reversing global warming. Another report was published later that same year by the UN International Panel on Climate Change.
The second report has been the source of much confusion on the sustainability front. Many have grimly noted that it establishes 2030 as the point at which climate change is irreversible. What it actually says is that we need to significantly lower carbon emissions by that point — otherwise, we may be unable to stabilize the planet's warming.
This does not make the need for climate action any less urgent, nor does it undermine the importance of decarbonisation. It simply establishes a critical milestone for climate initiatives. That milestone has served as the bedrock for multiple countries as they lay out their environmental goals in both the short and long term.
Australia occupies a unique niche in that with respect to decarbonizing efforts. Although it was only responsible for roughly 1 percent of global carbon emissions in 2020, Australia is home to over 10 percent of the world's species. It’s also home to Daintree, the world's oldest known rainforest. Protecting the country's unique ecosystem, especially its forests, will be critical in the fight against climate change.
Australia has made great progress in this regard, and the country is currently on track to exceed its initial 2030 target for emissions reduction by up to 9 percent.
A closer look at Australia's climate change strategies
Australia has adopted what it refers to as a technology-led approach to emissions reduction. The country's Technology Investment Roadmap is foundational to this strategy, establishing a clear process for identifying, developing and deploying sustainable technology. Australia's investments are not solely domestic in nature either.
The country has also established low-emissions technology partnerships with several key global players, including South Korea, the UK, Germany, Japan and Singapore.
Australia has also established the Emissions Reduction Fund, the Safeguarding Crediting Mechanism and Climate Active initiative to incentivise decarbonisation and sustainability in both business and industry. Finally, it has defined comprehensive systems for emissions monitoring, reporting and accountability.
As some have noted, Australia could go even further than carbon neutrality with technology that already exists. It could achieve net-negative carbon, removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it creates. To that end, researchers at the Australian National University have created the ANU Below Zero Initiative, which sets the deadline for net-zero carbon emissions in 2025.
A net-negative approach to a sustainable future
Queensland Pacific Metals (ASX:QPM) is one of the companies currently leading Australia's transition towards net-negative emissions.
Its flagship project, the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub (TECH), will produce nickel through a proprietary process that requires no tailings dams and discharges no liquids. TECH will also leverage waste mine gas from the Bowen Basin in its production process, helping offset a major contributor to Australian emissions. Finally, the company is exploring productive uses for the residue created from nickel production, primarily silica.
Recognized as a prescribed project by the Queensland government, the TECH project is expected to reduce net emissions by 14.9 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent for every kilogram of nickel produced, a total reduction of 238,000 tonnes annually. The independent sustainability consultant Minviro undertook these CO2 emissions calculations in an ISO-compliant lifecycle assessment.
Australian Mines (ASX:AUZ) is another major player in the pursuit of Australia's net-zero goals.
The Sconi project, situated just 220 kilometres northwest of Townsville, aims to deliver the most sustainable, carbon-neutral-certified nickel and cobalt in the world. Australian Mines has placed its focus on developing an end-to-end production chain, including a 2 million tonne per annum ore processing plant. Expected to begin production in 2024, Sconi has a projected lifespan of over 30 years and will primarily supply materials to LG Energy Solution (KRX:373220).
As with TECH, Sconi has been identified by the Queensland government as a prescribed project.
Australia's second largest independent producer of oil and gas, Santos (ASX:STO) operates a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project known as Moomba, alongside partner Beach Energy (ASX:BPT). Developed to capture carbon produced by the nearby Moomba gas plant, the project will, upon completion, reduce Southern Australia's annual emissions by more than 7 percent. Captured carbon will be injected into depleted gas reservoirs via pipeline and is part of a plan to develop longer-term CCS capabilities in the region.
Finally, Anglo-Swiss mining and commodity company Glencore (LSE:GLEN) is currently developing its carbon transport and storage company project, which will capture emissions from a coal-fired power plant for storage in Queensland's Surat Basin. Speaking to Reuters, a Glencore spokesperson noted that if proven sustainable, the basin could hold "very sizable" volumes of carbon.
There are many carbon-focused projects in Australia across multiple industries and sectors, which together have the potential to greatly reduce the country's carbon emissions, while also providing compelling opportunities for sustainable investment.
This INNSpired article is sponsored by Queensland Pacific Metals (ASX:QPM). This INNSpired article provides information which was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by Queensland Pacific Metals in order to help investors learn more about the company. Queensland Pacific Metals is a client of INN. The company’s campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this INNSpired article.
This INNSpired article was written according to INN editorial standards to educate investors.
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 Queensland Pacific Metals and seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.
Indonesia, the Philippines and Russia were the top nickel-producing countries in 2021. Interested in nickel investing? Find out which other nations made the list.
As the electric vehicle (EV) industry continues to boom, the future of nickel looks bright in the coming years, and activity in the world’s top nickel-producing countries could increase.
With demand for the commodity continuing to grow, companies and countries alike have been eager to jump on the production bandwagon.
Having said that, it’s worth keeping the top nickel-producing countries in mind. Here the Investing News Network presents the top nickel-producing countries of 2021, based on the latest data from the US Geological Survey.
Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!
Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Developing a Sustainable and High-Purity Battery Materials Refinery Project
The rapid growth of the electric vehicle (EV) industry has created a strong demand for battery materials. The expected demand has been intensified by efforts from various governments to support decarbonization goals. A key element of the EV industry is nickel, which is a base metal that is mainly used in stainless steel. The nickel industry’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials have recently received considerable attention as well.
Still, the most pressing issues facing the nickel industry relate to the environment –– specifically carbon emissions and environmental footprint. Even though nickel supports the EV industry and thus the green economy, current production comes largely from Indonesia. The country is the largest producer of nickel and it does not have a net-zero plan by 2050. New High Pressure Acid Leach projects being constructed in Indonesia will also require tailings dams and effluent disposal, which will leave a significant environmental footprint. As a result, companies with prospective nickel and battery material projects with strong sustainability credentials may present an exciting opportunity for investors.
Queensland Pacific Metals (ASX:QPM) is a company focused on developing its sustainable and high-purity battery materials refinery project in Townsville, Northern Queensland. The company’s fully-owned flagship Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub “TECH” project will be a modern and sustainable producer of critical metals for the lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle sector.
“We believe that the TECH Project can be a global leader in sustainable battery metal production, with our net-negative carbon emissions, zero liquids discharge and no requirement for a tailings dam. Methane emissions from coal mining in the Bowen Basin is one of Australia’s biggest contributors to carbon emissions. By working with our partners to capture the waste gas and utilise it at the TECH Project, we simultaneously reduce carbon emissions, whilst producing critical battery metals to enable the electrification of the automobile industry,” said Managing Director Dr Stephen Grocott in an interview with INN.
The company’s TECH project will process high-grade ore imported from New Caledonia to produce nickel sulfate, cobalt sulfate, high purity alumina and other by-products –– maximising the value of the underlying metals in the ore. In November 2021, an ISO-compliant Life Cycle Assessment was completed by Minviro Ltd. The assessment highlights the TECH Project as not only net-zero carbon but significantly net Carbon Negative. The Life Cycle Assessment calculated that in steady state operation, the TECH Project will reduce carbon emissions by 238,000 tonnes per annum, the equivalent of 52,000 typical
Queensland Pacific Metals is committed to environmentally sustainable production. The company has entered into an MOU signed with Transition Energy Corp. to commission the supply of waste gas that will be used to fuel the TECH project. The company has also entered into an MOU with North Queensland Gas Pipelines for the transport of the fuel.
In June 2021, Queensland Pacific Metals formed strategic partnerships with LG Energy Solution and POSCO to significantly advance its project. LG is the world’s largest battery manufacturer and this partnership represented their first investment in their nickel supply chain. POSCO is one of Korea’s biggest conglomerates and one of the largest steel producers in the world that is seeking to diversify its assets. POSCO recently purchased 30 percent of a significant nickel project from First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSE:FM) called Ravensthorpe. The partnership involved an equity investment of US$15M by LG and POSCO in Queensland Pacific Metals, resulting in the companies becoming shareholders with respective ownership interests of 6.4 percent and 2.8 percent. As part of the partnership, the company also entered into a binding offtake agreement with LG and POSCO for almost two thirds of its nickel and cobalt production.
The company’s 290-hectare TECH project is strategically positioned 40 kilometers south of Townsville in the Lansdown eco-industrial precinct. The precinct is anticipated to become Northern Australia’s first environmentally-sustainable advanced manufacturing, processing and technology hub. Ore will be imported from New Caledonia, unloaded at the Port of Townsville and transported by road to Lansdown. QPM products will then be transported back to the Port for export to global customers.
Queensland Pacific Metals’ TECH project is well supported by all levels of government. At a State level, the TECH Project has been awarded Prescribed Project status by the Queensland Government, making it a project of state significance.
QPM is currently completing a Definitive Feasibility Study for the TECH Project, which is expected to be completed mid 2022. Subject to financing and approvals, construction could start later this year with first production in 2024.
- Queensland Pacific Metals (ASX:QPM) is developing its sustainable and high-purity battery materials refinery project in Townsville, Northern Queensland.
- The company’s fully-owned flagship Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub “TECH” project will produce critical battery metals, including nickel sulfate, cobalt sulfate, high purity alumina and other by-products.
- Queensland Pacific Metals’ TECH project has a minimal environmental footprint with zero liquids discharge and no requirement for a tailings dam. The project will also be net carbon-negative according to an ISO-compliant life cycle assessment.
- The company has strategic partnerships in place with LG Energy Solution and POSCO with each party obtaining shareholder status in Queensland Pacific Metals and having signed binding offtake agreements for nickel and cobalt.
- Queensland Pacific Metal’s TECH project is strategically positioned in the Lansdown eco-industrial precinct that is anticipated to become Northern Australia’s first environmentally-sustainable advanced manufacturing, processing and technology hub.
Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub “TECH” Project
The Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub “TECH” project is located in the Lansdown eco-industrial precinct in Northern Queensland. The 290-hectare project has access to skilled labor, engineering services and infrastructure including port, rail, water pipeline, gas pipeline, electric transmission, fiber optic communications and solar arrays.
The company’s TECH project will process high-grade ore imported from New Caledonia to produce nickel sulfate, cobalt sulfate, high purity alumina and other by-products –– ultimately resulting in almost zero-waste products for the first time in the world. New Caledonia hosts many ore supply partners with long-established mining operations. The ore would be transported by road or rail and unloaded at the Port of Townsville. The TECH project proposes to use a patented technology called DNi Process™ to process the ore in a processing plant.
Dr. Stephen Grocott - Managing Director and CEO
Dr. Stephen Grocott is an accomplished executive in the mining and mineral processing sector with nearly 40 years of international experience. Dr. Grocott was the chief technical development officer at Clean TeQ Holdings Limited in which he was accountable for all technical and process development. He also supported technical marketing, due diligence and project funding for the A$2B Sunrise Ni-Co-Sc Project in NSW. Dr. Grocott’s exposure to EV and battery producers combined with his world-class expertise in process and development for minerals processing and battery chemicals will underpin the progress of the company
Duane Woodbury - Chief Financial Officer
Duane Woodbury has more than 25 years of experience in listed equity markets. His experience includes involvement with many organizations in Australia and overseas. Woodbury has worked with Macquarie Bank. He has also worked with Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. as CFO. His most recent role was CFO at Metro Mining Ltd. where he successfully procured all funding required to construct the Bauxite Hills mine. At Metro Mining Ltd., he also secured a loan from Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to fund expansion initiatives. During his career, Woodbury has managed large debt and equity raisings for development and operating companies primarily in the resources sector.
Barry Sanders - Project Director
Mr Sanders has over 30 years’ experience, including 20+ years in leadership and strategy roles involving the delivery of complex industrial, power, mining and oil & gas projects throughout the Asia Pacific region. Barry is highly regarded by industry and peers for exemplary leadership across construction, commissioning and project delivery with roles at GE, John Holland, Thiess, Jacobs and Clough.
Corinne Bufnoir - General Manager New Caledonia
Mrs. Bufnoir is a geologist engineer with 20+ years’ experience in the nickel industry. Corinne has had a public-private career in areas related to strategy and resource management in lateritic nickel mining operations and has strong New Caledonian relationships and ore supply chain operating experience. Corinne's most recent role was mining counsellor to President of the New Caledonia Government. Corinne has worked for a range of New Caledonian and international organisations including country manager for Transamine Trading SA and Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd. Previously, she held senior roles with the New Caledonian Department of Industry, Mines & Energy and Goro Nickel New Caledonia
Cyprium Metals Limited (ASX: CYM) (“Cyprium” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce further assay results from 28 RC holes (for 7,504m) of the Nifty West drilling program. The drilling programme targeted a lightly drilled area, up-plunge of the former underground mine in the keel area of the Nifty Syncline, below the western end of the Nifty open pit (refer to Figure 1).
- Assay results have been received from a further 28 RC holes drilled at Nifty West, targeting lightly tested areas of copper mineralisation below the former Nifty open pit.
- Confirms continuation of significant copper mineralisation in the keel zone to the west at 80- 100m thick, enhancing a potential large-scale open pit development.
- Significant results include:
Hole 21NRWP018 - 86m @0.57% Cu downhole zone of copper mineralisation including:
- 8m at 0.49% Cu from 170m including:
- 1m at 1.09% Cu from 176m, and
- 9m at 0.81% Cu from 181m including:
- 2m at 1.23% Cu from 182m & 2m at 1.05% Cu from 187m, and
- 18m at 0.96% Cu from 196m including:
- 1m at 2.03% Cu from 197m & 3m at 1.85% Cu from 202m & 1m at 1.36% Cu
from 207m & 2m at 1.29% Cu from 209m, and
- 10m at 0.76% Cu from 215m including:
- 1m at 1.00% Cu from 217m & 1m at 1.41% Cu from 223m, and
- 3m at 1.09% Cu from 226m including:
- 1m at 1.62% Cu from 226m, and
- 12m at 0.52% Cu from 244m including:
- 1m at 2.21% Cu from 245m
Hole 21NRWP020 - 97m @0.47% Cu downhole zone of copper mineralisation including:
- 7m at 0.58% Cu from 153m including:
- 1m at 1.02% Cu from 156m, and
- 5m at 0.60% Cu from 169m including:
- 1m at 1.12% Cu from 170m, and
- 6m at 0.91% Cu from 179m including:
- 3m at 1.30% Cu from 180m, and
- 5m at 0.54% Cu from 187m including:
- 1m at 1.02% Cu from 190m, and
- 15m at 0.70% Cu from 201m including:
- 2m at 1.49% Cu from 207m & 1m at 1.19% Cu from 215m, and
- 4m at 0.75% Cu from 222m including:
- 1m at 1.78% Cu from 223m, and
- 7m at 1.90% Cu from 235m including:
Managing Director Barry Cahill commented:
“We have been very pleased with the drilling results received to date. These assay results continue to confirm the presence of a substantial zone of copper mineralisation which is up-plunge of the former underground mine. We continue to be excited about the receipt of the results of balance of the outstanding assays. It is not often that you have the privilege of getting these widths of mineralisation beneath an existing shallow open pit. The assays will be included in an updated mineral resource estimate that we look forward to releasing during the first half of this year.”
This article includes content from Cyprium Metals, licensed for the purpose of publishing on Investing News Australia. This article does not constitute financial product advice. It is your responsibility to perform proper due diligence before acting upon any information provided here. Please refer to our full disclaimer here.
Successful in-fill drilling continues to de-risk the Project by increasing confidence in the shallow open pit mineralisation that will underpin early payback of the planned mining operation
Centaurus Metals (ASX Code: CTM) is pleased to report outstanding new results from ongoing resource development drilling at its 100%-owned Jaguar Nickel Sulphide Project in the Carajás Mineral Province of northern Brazil. The results are expected to further increase confidence in the Mineral Resource before delivery of the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) and initial Ore Reserve estimate due by the end of calendar 2022.
- Significant shallow results received from ongoing in-fill drilling at the Jaguar Central (JC), Jaguar South (JS) and Jaguar Northeast (JNE) deposits, demonstrating the continuity of the mineralisation within the current Mineral Resource model. New assay results include:
- 46.0m at 2.17% Ni from 128.0m including 23.2m at 2.82% Ni from 148.0m in JAG-DD-22-274 (JC)
- 49.3m at 1.20% Ni from 31.9m including 13.2m at 2.37% Ni from 53.5m in JAG-DD-22-262 (JC)
- 38.3m at 1.16% Ni from 87.7m in JAG-DD-22-246 (JS)
- 15.2m at 2.12% Ni from 187.8m including 2.6m at 9.14% Ni from 200.4m in JAG-DD-22-260 (JS)
- 33.3m at 0.89% Ni from 136.3m in JAG-DD-22-282 (JC)
- 26.9m at 0.93% Ni from 91.6m in JAG-DD-22-265 (JC)
- 22.5m at 1.01% Ni from 116.5m including 6.0m at 2.29% Ni from 133.0m in JAG-DD-22-272 (JC)
- 15.0m at 1.42% Ni from 122.0m including 5.5m at 2.82% Ni from 126.0m in JAG-DD-22-260 (JS)
- 20.3m at 0.93% Ni from 62.5m in JAG-DD-22-265 (JC)
- 13.1m at 1.40% Ni from 116.2m in JAG-DD-22-271 (JS)
- 14.9m at 1.22% Ni from 90.4m in JAG-DD-22-277 (JS)
- 9.3m at 1.51% Ni from 183.5m including 3.5m at 2.86% Ni from 183.5m in JAG-DD-22-282 (JC)
- 14.0m at 0.86% Ni from 40.2m in JAG-DD-22-259 (JS)
- 13.2m at 0.94% Ni from 162.0m in JAG-DD-22-260 (JS)
- 12.6m at 1.05% Ni from 28.4m in JAG-DD-22-265 (JC)
- 11.7m at 0.93% Ni from 88.0m in JAG-DD-22-259 (JS)
- The Jaguar December 2021 Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE), comprising 80.6Mt @ 0.91% Ni for 730,700 tonnes of contained nickel, is already one of the largest nickel sulphide resources held by an ASX-listed company and the largest outside of the majors.
- The next Mineral Resource update scheduled for Q3 2022 will underpin the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) and the Project’s first Ore Reserve estimate.
- There are currently 15 rigs on site (13 diamond and two RC) drilling double-shift with the drilling currently focused on upgrading as much of the MRE into the Measured and Indicated categories as possible.
- Centaurus is well-funded with cash reserves of approximately $65 million.
The resource definition drilling program currently underway is expected to upgrade more of the Jaguar MRE into the Measured and Indicated categories in advance of Ore Reserve estimation as part of the DFS.
Centaurus’ Managing Director, Mr Darren Gordon, said: “We are extremely pleased with how the resource definition drilling program is progressing, with the ongoing drilling continuing to de-risk the project by demonstrating the continuity of the mineralisation within the cornerstone Jaguar deposits.
“Seeing high-grade, shallow intersections like 46.0m at 2.17% Ni within a constrained US$22,000/t nickel price pit shell gives us a lot of confidence that the early stages of a future mining operation at Jaguar can support robust capital payback on the project.
“The target pit we are using for the in-fill drilling has expanded considerably since the Scoping Study was delivered, and this has resulted in most of the diamond rigs on site now being swung onto in-fill drilling so we can deliver the planned MRE upgrade by the end of Q3 2022. This updated MRE will, in turn, underpin the initial Ore Reserve for the DFS.
“In-fill drilling is a clear focus of our drilling effort right now. We expect a steady flow of results from this work over the next couple of months as reflected in the number of drill holes currently in the laboratory for assay. We currently have a total of 15 rigs operating on-site, with two rigs currently continuing to focus on resource growth step-out drilling and the balance currently dedicated to in-fill drilling. Once the MRE upgrade is complete, we will swing most of the rigs back to resource growth and discovery drilling.”
Resource Development In-fill Drilling
The December 2021 Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) comprised 80.6Mt @ 0.91% Ni for 730,700t of contained nickel (Table 2), with an Indicated component of the Resource being 43.4Mt @ 0.92% Ni for 397,000t of contained nickel, representing 54% of the Global MRE. The total MRE at Jaguar has increased by 30% since the Scoping Study Resource Estimate was announced in March 2021 and more than 40% since the Company’s maiden Resource was announced in June 2020 (Figure 1).
The focus of drilling during the first half of 2022 has shifted to resource development in-fill drilling at all of the Jaguar Deposits. In-fill drilling is designed to upgrade all resources within a constrained US$22,000/t nickel price pit shell limit into the Measured and Indicated categories.
The US$22,000/t pit shell limit is considerably bigger than the shell used for the Scoping Study, which was generated using a US$13,800/t nickel price. The Company is targeting more than 500,000t of contained nickel in the Measured and Indicated categories of the next MRE based on the extensive in-fill drill currently being undertaken and the MRE already in place.
Figure 1 – The Jaguar JORC Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) Growth
This article includes content from Centaurus Metals (ASX Code: CTM), licensed for the purpose of publishing on Investing News Australia. This article does not constitute financial product advice. It is your responsibility to perform proper due diligence before acting upon any information provided here. Please refer to our full disclaimer here.
The gold price is trading lower than some market watchers would prefer, but the top-performing ASX gold stocks so far this year are making leaps.
Click here to read the previous best ASX gold stocks article.
While 2021 was a disappointing year for gold, analysts are optimistic about the outlook for 2022.
The yellow metal passed the US$2,000 per ounce mark as tensions between Russia and Ukraine heated up, but has since pulled back to trade closer to US$1,800. However, diverse factors could combine to push it higher.
Demand for gold jewellery, gold bars and coins, and the metal’s use in the technology sector are still going strong, and supply is also a growing concern due to decreased gold exploration efforts in recent years.
Against this backdrop, many Australian gold stocks are doing well. And with the precious metal generally considered a safe investment, it's worth being aware of the county's top-performing companies.
Here the Investing News Network looks at the best ASX gold stocks of the year so far by year-to-date gains. The list of stocks below was generated on April 29, 2022, using TradingView’s stock screener, and all companies included had market caps over AU$30 million at that time.
1. Xantippe Resources
Year-to-date gain: 180 percent; market cap: AU$107.3 million; current share price: AU$0.01
Xantippe Resources (ASX:XTC) is focused on Western Australia's Southern Cross region, which is widely known for its past gold production. The precious metals explorer's Southern Cross project is made up of 20 prospecting licences and six exploration licences, and holds a number of key priority targets.
In late April, Xantippe confirmed the acquisition of lithium tenements in Argentina with the hope of commencing exploration activities in the third quarter.
2. Minrex Resources
Year-to-date gain: 55.81 percent; market cap: AU$63.05 million; current share price: AU$0.07
The company started off the year with high-grade gold drill results from its work at the Queenslander gold prospect within its Sofala project. The prospect is centred around the past-producing Queenslander mine.
3. Aston Minerals
Year-to-date gain: 38.1 percent; market cap: AU$164.19 million; current share price: AU$0.15
Gold and nickel-cobalt explorer Aston Minerals (ASX:ASO) is moving forward at its Edleston gold project, located in the Cadillac-Larder Lake fault zone of Canada's Abitibi greenstone belt. Edleston is its flagship asset, and according to the company, it is the first in over a decade to drill in this area.
Aston continues to focus on gold at Edleston, but its Boomerang nickel-cobalt target has come to the forefront in recent months, with the company announcing the results of its maiden hole there in early December.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Marlee John, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects during the year's third financial quarter.
After hitting all-time highs in 2021, lithium prices started to stabilise in 2022's first quarter.
China’s lockdown measures to battle COVID-19 have disrupted the supply chain and impacted domestic demand in recent weeks, but this is expected to be temporary, according to William Adams of Fastmarkets.
“The lithium market is very tight. We don't see that easing anytime soon,” he said during a recent webinar about risks in the battery metals market. “We think the underlying fundamentals and the trends are still very strong.”
During the third quarter of the financial year, Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects, and despite the increased volatility in the markets, many ASX lithium stocks saw share price gains as well.
Perth-based Pilbara Minerals' (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF) production for the quarter was 81,431 dry metric tonnes (dmt), slightly down compared to the previous three months, but within guidance. The company said the main factor impacting output was higher COVID-19 cases, which resulted in staff and contractor shortages.
“COVID-19 has (and may continue in the near term) to cause operational delays, including staffing shortages for both shut-down and operating staff (mining and processing),” the company said in a statement. Even so, Pilbara has decided to maintain its production guidance in the range of 340,000 to 380,000 dmt.
During its fourth battery material exchange auction, the company saw the highest bid ever at US$5,650 per dmt for a cargo of 5,000 dmt of spodumene, showing the critical shortage in lithium raw material supply.
Western Australia-focused Pilbara, which owns the lithium-tantalum Pilgangoora operation, has partnerships with Ganfeng Lithium (OTC Pink:GNENF,SZSE:002460), General Lithium, Great Wall Motor Company (OTC Pink:GWLLF,HKEX:2333), POSCO (NYSE:PKX), CATL (SZSE:300750) and Yibin Tianyi.
Shares of Pilbara were trading at AU$2.53 on May 10, down 28.13 percent year-to-date, but up more than 100 percent compared to this time last year.
For its part, leading Australian lithium and iron ore miner Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN,OTC Pink:MALRF) saw its Mount Marion mine’s production reach 104,000 dmt during the quarter; it also shipped 94,000 dmt of spodumene concentrate. The company is maintaining its full-year production guidance at 450,000 to 475,000 dmt.
In April, Mineral Resources and partner Ganfeng agreed to optimise production and upgrade Mount Marion's processing facilities. Spodumene concentrate capacity at the operation is expected to increase from 450,000 dmt per year to 600,000 dmt annually.
“The decision to upgrade the plant reflects an expectation that the lithium market outlook will remain extremely strong for the foreseeable future,” the company said in a press release. A second stage increase, expected to be completed by the end of 2022, will see capacity rise further to reach 900,000 dmt.
Aside from Mount Marion, the company holds interests in Wodgina in partnership with another top producer — Albemarle (NYSE:ALB). The companies decided to restart Wodgina last year as a result of soaring global lithium demand. The mine produced its first spodumene concentrate on May 12.
“(We have) also agreed to review the state of the global lithium market towards the end of this calendar year to assess timing for the start-up of Train 3 and the possible construction of Train 4,” the company said. Each train has a nameplate capacity of 250,000 dmt of 6 percent product.
Mineral Resources’ share price was down 10.71 percent on May 10, trading at AU$52.71. That said, the stock is up 9.11 percent year-on-year.
During the March quarter, Argentina-focused Allkem (ASX:AKE,OTC Pink:OROCF) outlined its plans to increase lithium production threefold by 2026 and become a top three chemicals supplier.
In Western Australia, the company owns the Mount Cattlin mine, which produced 48,562 dmt of spodumene concentrate and shipped 66,011 tonnes in the March quarter.
“Strong conditions in the spodumene market are supporting advanced discussions for spodumene concentrate pricing in the June quarter of approximately US$5,000 per dmt SC6 percent CIF on sales of approximately 50,000 tonnes,” the company told investors in a note.
In Argentina, Allkem operates the Salar de Olaroz and is developing the Sal de Vida lithium brine. Additionally, in partnership with Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015), Allkem is building a 10,000 tonne per year lithium hydroxide plant in Naraha, Japan. The company also owns the James Bay lithium pegmatite project in Canada.
On May 10, shares of Allkem were changing hands for AU$10.95, down 2.23 percent year-to-date, but up over 55 percent year-on-year.
Although its main focus is nickel, Independence Group (ASX:IGO) joined the lithium party last year after it bought a stake in Tianqi Lithium’s Australian assets. The companies, in joint venture, now control the majority of the biggest lithium mine in the world — Greenbushes.
Production at the mine was up 5 percent quarter-on-quarter at 270,464 tonnes of spodumene concentrate. By 2025, Greenbushes is expected to add around 800,000 tonnes per year to its output capacity.
IGO has seen its share price decline 4.63 percent year-to-date, trading at AU$11.34 on May 11. However, the stock is up 47.27 year-on-year.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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