Quarterly Report for the Period Ending 30 September 2020

Blackstone continued its aggressive exploration program testing multiple massive sulfide vein (MSV) prospects throughout the Ta Khoa nickel sulfide district;

Highlights

• Blackstone continued its aggressive exploration program testing multiple massive sulfide vein (MSV) prospects throughout the Ta Khoa nickel sulfide district;

• Blackstone extended the strike of the Ban Chang prospect, with “step out” reconnaissance style drilling intersecting high-grade mineralisation; maiden drill holes at Ban Chang have intersected high-grade massive sulfide nickel over a 1.2km strike within a massive sulfide target zone now extended Highlights

• Blackstone continued its aggressive exploration program testing multiple massive sulfide vein (MSV) prospects throughout the Ta Khoa nickel sulfide district;

• Blackstone extended the strike of the Ban Chang prospect, with “step out” reconnaissance style drilling intersecting high-grade mineralisation; maiden drill holes at Ban Chang have intersected high-grade massive sulfide nickel over a 1.2km strike within a massive sulfide target zone now extended to more than 2km strike;

• Blackstone’s addition of a second geophysics crew and the purchase of three additional drill rigs have allowed the company to double its exploration capacity at the Ta Khoa Nickel-Cu-PGE project in Vietnam and bring the all-in diamond drilling cost to US$50/m, an ~ 60% reduction in drilling cost relative to Australian industry averages1;

• Following the completion of a highly successful geophysics program at Ban Chang, Blackstone’s geophysics crew was mobilised to the new Nickel-Cu-PGE target Ta Cuong, located 6km along strike from Ban Chang, where drilling is targeting electromagnetic (EM) plates generated by Blackstone’s in-house geophysics crew;

• Blackstone’s in-house geophysics crew also generated the blind discovery of potential massive sulfide nickel targets at the Viper Discovery Zone (VDZ) east of Ban Chang;

• Blackstone raised $17.8 million (before costs) through a placement of 42,426,356 fully paid ordinary shares at an issue price of $0.42 per share and welcomed new long-term institutional investors to the Company’s register including cornerstone investor Fidelity International;

• The September Quarter has seen Blackstone position itself to significantly advance the Ta Khoa Nickel-Cu-PGE Project over the coming year, with a strong cash position of $22.7 million (Pre $3 million SPP completed in October) and supportive shareholder base;

• Post the September Quarter, Blackstone completed a Scoping Study demonstrating the potential for a high margin, scalable operation with significant upside. 1 Industry average refers to quoted rates received in Australia for equivalent diamond drillingo more than 2km strike;

• Blackstone’s addition of a second geophysics crew and the purchase of three additional drill rigs have allowed the company to double its exploration capacity at the Ta Khoa Nickel-Cu-PGE project in Vietnam and bring the all-in diamond drilling cost to US$50/m, an ~ 60% reduction in drilling cost relative to Australian industry averages1;

• Following the completion of a highly successful geophysics program at Ban Chang, Blackstone’s geophysics crew was mobilised to the new Nickel-Cu-PGE target Ta Cuong, located 6km along strike from Ban Chang, where drilling is targeting electromagnetic (EM) plates generated by Blackstone’s in-house geophysics crew;

• Blackstone’s in-house geophysics crew also generated the blind discovery of potential massive sulfide nickel targets at the Viper Discovery Zone (VDZ) east of Ban Chang;

• Blackstone raised $17.8 million (before costs) through a placement of 42,426,356 fully paid ordinary shares at an issue price of $0.42 per share and welcomed new long-term institutional investors to the Company’s register including cornerstone investor Fidelity International;

• The September Quarter has seen Blackstone position itself to significantly advance the Ta Khoa Nickel-Cu-PGE Project over the coming year, with a strong cash position of $22.7 million (Pre $3 million SPP completed in October) and supportive shareholder base;

• Post the September Quarter, Blackstone completed a Scoping Study demonstrating the potential for a high margin, scalable operation with significant upside. 1 Industry average refers to quoted rates received in Australia for equivalent diamond drilling

Read the full Quarterly Report here

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On 2 March 2021 the Australian Taxation Office issued Rio Tinto Limited with amended assessments related to the denial of interest deductions on an isolated borrowing used to pay an intragroup dividend in 2015. The borrowing was repaid in 2018. The ATO has today issued further assessments in relation to the same transaction levying penalties of A$352m and reducing the original interest assessment from A$47m to A$27m …

On 2 March 2021 the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) issued Rio Tinto Limited with amended assessments related to the denial of interest deductions on an isolated borrowing used to pay an intragroup dividend in 2015. The borrowing was repaid in 2018.

The ATO has today issued further assessments in relation to the same transaction levying penalties of A$352m (US$257.9m) and reducing the original interest assessment from A$47m to A$27m (US$19.8m).

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Ioneer Ltd is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture with Sibanye Stillwater Limited to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA . Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer …

Ioneer Ltd (“ioneer" or the “Company") (ASX: INR) is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture (the " Joint Venture “) with Sibanye Stillwater Limited ( “Sibanye-Stillwater" ) to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA (the “Project" ). Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer has also agreed to provide Sibanye-Stillwater with an option to participate in 50% of the North Basin 1 upon the election of Sibanye-Stillwater to contribute up to an additional US$50 million subject to certain terms and conditions.

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Perth, Australia – Australia’s next rare earths producer Hastings Technology Metals Ltd is pleased to announce that it has received the commendation of Premier Mark McGowan and the Western Australian Government for the Company’s development of the Yangibana Rare Earths Project in the State’s Gascoyne region. Premier McGowan said Hastings’ development of Yangibana was expressly aligned with the State’s Future Battery …

Perth, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Australia’s next rare earths producer Hastings Technology Metals Ltd (ASX:HAS) (FRA:5AM) is pleased to announce that it has received the commendation of Premier Mark McGowan and the Western Australian Government for the Company’s development of the Yangibana Rare Earths Project (Yangibana), in the State’s Gascoyne region.

Premier McGowan said Hastings’ development of Yangibana was expressly aligned with the State’s Future Battery Industry Strategy, which aims to expand the range of future battery minerals that are extracted and processed in Western Australia. Appendix 1 provides a copy of the public commendation that Hastings has received.

The Premier’s commendation follows the West Australian Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (JTSI) acknowledging that the Yangibana Project represents a strategic opportunity for investment and growth to position the State as a reliable supplier of speciality rare earth minerals.

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

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

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

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

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

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

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