Amur Minerals* (LON:AMC) – On course for a mineral resource upgrade
Bluebird Merchant Ventures* (LON:BMV) – Competent Persons Report indicates >1moz of gold at Gubong
Planetary Resources (U.S. private) – launches Arkyd-6 spacecraft into orbit
Serabi Gold (LON:SRB) – Palito technical report
SolGold* (LON:SOLG) – Acceleration of Alpala drilling programme after maiden resource estimate
Commodity prices boosted by tumbling dollar
• The falling dollar and hopes of a further boost to the global economy drove continue to drive commodity prices higher, sending the Bloomberg Commodity index to a 2 year high and extending gains seen since mid-December to >10%.
• US Treasury secretary said that weaker dollar was ‘good for trade’ and added to bullish sentiment in raw materials, sending gold, oil and metals to multiyear highs
• Industrial metals gained ground, with the London Metal exchange index of six metals rising 2.5% to a new five-year high
Vanadium price rise makes vanadium the best performing battery metal
New demand to come through from new China 100MW (500MWh) vanadium redox battery instillation
Vanadium price US$59.75/kgV vs ~US$25.25/kgV yoy
• The irony about vanadium is that its performance is not down to new demand for vanadium redox batteries just yet.
• Vanadium demand has grown through the better application of rules in China specifying how much vanadium should be contained in certain grades of steel, namely rebar which is used for the reinforcement of concrete and as such is contained in the vast majority of construction project. Steel manufacturing, still accounts for >90% of demand today though this may change going forwards if vanadium redox batteries take off.
• China has cut back on its worst polluting industries restricting production of vanadium from blast furnace slag while Chinese construction continues to grow.
• US construction has also taken off in recent months with higher prices seen in the US than China for some producers.
• The situation has caused Ferro-Vanadium prices to more than double over the past six months.
• While producers are working on increasing production we feel that production capacity is relatively constrained and it may take some time for the major South African producers to react to fill the supply / demand gap which appears to be opening up.
• Vanadium’s use as a battery metal is still very much in its infancy but trials suggest a new future for vanadium redox batteries and this may drive a very substantial increase in demand in future years. For now it is demand for steel, in particular, rebar and tightening pollution regulations in China which may serve to hold prices at elevated levels.
• Vanadium Redox Batteries - The shift toward green energy is generating a substantial new market, where the metal in broadly incorporated within industrial-scale redox batteries, which help to even out daily cycles in peak energy output associated with sporadic renewable energy. Managing Director at Pala Investments Ltd. notes “energy-storage technology itself isn’t new, but we’re seeing this moment where a company like Tesla comes along and changes the way people think about its potential”. Advantages to vanadium-flow batteries favour widespread adoption in stationary storage and large-scale grid applications where energy-density isn’t critical, with batteries lasting longer while sustaining performance over multiple charge/discharge cycles (cyclability). The predominantly vanadium batteries are also easy to recycle.
• Emerging vanadium-flow batteries are being tipped as an alternative to lithium-ion in China, with strong government promotion of the technology and among projects under construction is a backup facility in Dalian expected to be twice the operating capacity of Tesla’s plant in Australia.
• Vanadium-flow battery makers are, however, vulnerable to steel movements because they are reliant on the single-niche material. Prices have already received a boost from China, where authorities are demanding stronger steel for buildings in earthquake-prone areas, and growing demand across both sectors may start a scramble for new supply.
SP Angel Mining team will be at the 121 Mining Investment Conference in Cape Town on 5th & 6th February
• The event is hosting 85 mining companies and ~400 investors at the historic Welgemeend Farm in the Gardens district of Cape Town
• >1,500 meetings have been organised with an average of 18 pre-arranged meetings per company
• We look forward to meeting investors and companies at the 121 event or by appointment thereafter.
• See: https://www.weare121.com/121mininginvestment-cape-town/
SP Angel rank No 1 in Copper price forecasting in the Q4 2017 MB APEX report
SP Angel analysts ranked:
• 1st for copper, 1st = for gold, 2nd for Palladium, 3rd for Coking Coal, 5th for Zinc
Overall SP Angel ranked:
• 3rd in Q4 Precious Metals forecasts in Q4, 4th in Base Metals forecasting in Q4
We are immensely proud of our team’s price forecasting performance against the world’s major investment banks and broking institutions
See MB APEX report link for further details
SP Angel ranked No 1 for research by ‘Research Tree’ according to investor demand
• ‘Research Tree’ see top demand in SP Angel ‘Resource Sector’ research notes according to investor downloads
Dow Jones Industrials +0.54% at 26,393
Nikkei 225 -0.16% at 23,632
HK Hang Seng +1.53% at 33,154
Shanghai Composite +0.28% at 3,558
FTSE 350 Mining -0.09% at 19,066
AIM Basic Resources +0.57% at 2,719
US – The US$ dollar is range bound this morning as markets assess differing comments among US officials on the national currency.
• Trump stance on the US$ who is expecting “ultimately” the US$ to increase reversed comments by Steven Mnuchin who suggested a weak dollar would benefit the US.
• First estimates of Q4 GDP are due later today with market expectations for growth to slowdown slightly in the final quarter but register strong around 3% annualised growth.
• Q4 GDP (%qoq annualised): 3.0 v 3.2 in Q3.
China – Industrial production growth accelerated to the strongest in more than six year in 2017 on the back of government stimulus and improved pricing as authorities continue to reduce overcapacity in selected industries.
- Profits climbed 21%yoy in 2017, more than double the pace reecorded in 2016, with 37 of 41 large scale industrial companies posting increases in annual profits, three recording profits drops and one seeing no change.
ECB – The central bank kept rates at record low and reiterated its commitment to continue with bond purchases until September this year at least and expand the programme if necessary.
- Separately, Mario Draghi highlighted that recent appreciation in the euro presented risks to growth adding that it was “source of uncertainty which requires monitoring”.
- Improving economic momentum has “strengthened further out confidence that inflation will converge to close to but below 2%”.
- In response to hawkish statement expectations, Draghi said “discussion hasn’t really started” on completing the assets purchasing programme as “there hasn’t been much of a change in outlook, except a strengthening of the economy”.
- While ECB President suggested that an interest rate hike is very unlikely this year the euro continued stronger against the US$ crossing the 1.25 level.
UK – GDP growth slowed to 1.8% last year marking the slowed pace in five years as strong performance from the manufacturing sector has been outpaced by a slowdown in the services industry output.
- “Despite a slight uptick in the latest quarter, the underlying picture is of slower and uneven growth across the economy,” the ONS said commenting on numbers.
- Growth is expected to further slowdown this year to 1.4%, as living standards remain under pressure from the sterling-induced increase in inflation and as companies delay investment.
- Mark Carney said the economy is estimated to be 1% smaller due to Brexit with the gap to expand to 2% by the end of the year as businesses are holding back investments ahead of the trade the government is able to secure with the EU.
- BoE Governor highlighted the UK could “recouple” with the global economy, which is enjoying its fastest growth since the financial crisis.
- Philip Hammond argued in favour of a soft Brexit deal causing a backlash from Eurosceptic Conservatives and the government which put out a separate statement.
- Commentators argued Hammond comments were not in line with the PM’s Lancaster House speech or Conservative manifesto.
- The soft Brexit speech at Davos has also led to increased speculation at Westminster of a possible challenge to Mrs May’s leadership.
- The government’s policy is that we are leaving the single market and the customs union,” the press release read; “whilst we want a deep and special economic partnership with the EU after we leave, these could not be described as very modest changes.”
- Q4/17 GDP (%qoq): 0.5 v 0.4 in Q3/17 and 0.4 forecast.
- 2017 GDP (%yoy): 1.8 v 1.9 in 2016.
France – Business confidence is running close to the highest level in 10 years on strong growth momentum and iomproving employment prosepcts.
- Insee headline business climate index dropped two points to 110 in January, down from a decade high of 112 in December and well above a long term average of 100.
- The employment gauge remained steady at 109, the strongest level since Aug/11.
US$1.2469/eur vs 1.2412/eur yesterday Yen 108.98/$ vs 109.12/$ SAr 11.842/$ vs 11.917/$ $1.423/gbp vs $1.426/gbp 0.808/aud vs 0.808/aud CNY 6.320/$ vs 6.334/$
Gold US$1,356/oz vs US$1,359/oz yesterday
- Early trading boosted gold towards its sixth weekly gain in seven as the metal hit $1,366.15 on Thursday before retreating on comments by President Donald Trump opposing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s endorsement of a weaker US currency. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index remains on track for its seventh straight weekly drop, the longest stretch since 2010, before Trump commented that his country was “becoming so economically strong again, and strong in other ways”, and foreseeing “the dollar is going to get stronger and stronger and ultimately I want to see a strong dollar”.
- Market participants will be monitoring Trump speaking in Davos at the annual World Economic Forum, while analysis broadly favours a continuing gold rally as expectations are that “the greenback (will) be plagued by US geopolitical uncertainties and rosier prospects on G10 currencies for now”.
- GFMS analysis at Thomson Reuters see gold breaking above $1,500/oz this year for the first time since its 2013 crash, despite “the gold retracement not threaten long-term positions whose view are cemented around a probable equity market correction and an extension of the US dollar downtrend”, APAC trading head at Oanda.
- Physical demand is expected to be constrained as prices rise, with Chinese demand having historically peaked, while Indian consumption matches previous year’s levels.
Gold ETFs 72.5moz vs US$72.5moz yesterday
Platinum US$1,020/oz vs US$1,016/oz yesterday
Palladium US$1,101/oz vs US$1,109/oz yesterday
Silver US$17.52/oz vs US$17.53/oz yesterday
Copper US$ 7,126/t vs US$7,152/t yesterday
- Reuters poll indicates slowing Chinese demand is expected to weigh on overcooked base metal prices, despite broad supply threats on wage focused striking action and pollution-linked shutdowns across smelters suggest diminishing metal output.
Aluminium US$ 2,234/t vs US$2,255/t yesterday
- China’s swelling aluminium stocks are expected to be dealt a blow with looming US-China trade showdown discouraging growing global trade. Despite China closing significant ‘illegal’ capacity and smelters across regions surrounding Beijing curtailing output to comply with winter environmental restrictions, inventories registered with the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) continue to build. Levels surged by 653,411 tonnes over 2017, with an additional 30,000 tonnes bringing fresh record highs of 783,759 tonnes last Friday.
- Chinese aluminium is well established in the US, accounting for 31% of overseas purchases of the metal in semi-finished form. Trump is currently weighing the findings of the Section 232 study into imports submitted by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, with Chicago-based Century Aluminium Co, calling for a 20% tariff on supply from most countries.
Nickel US$ 13,800/t vs US$13,625/t yesterday
Zinc US$ 3,453/t vs US$3,458/t yesterday
Lead US$ 2,600/t vs US$2,645/t yesterday
Tin US$ 21,290/t vs US$20,915/t yesterday
Oil US$70.4/bbl vs US$71.0/bbl yesterday
Natural Gas US$3.487/mmbtu vs US$3.534/mmbtu yesterday
Uranium US$23.00/lb vs US$23.15/lb yesterday
Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$73.9/t vs US$72.8/t
- Volumes of Iron ore stocks held across mills “has risen significantly, suggesting that future demand will weaken”, following an extensive buying spree. Findings from Huatai Futures Co. suggest that steelmakers have built up sufficient quantities of the raw materials, with “the level of holdings sustaining them for quite a long period”. Mills have significant purchasing options as stockpiles across Chinese ports rose to record levels, with miners adding cargoes equivalent to 50 days’ of imports or 154.4 million tonnes according to Shanghai Steelhome E-Commerce Co. data.
- Meanwhile steel sentiment falls to the lowest reading since June 2016, as the S&P Global Platts China Steel Sentiment Index slumped to 21.95 out of 100 points in January.
Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$661.5/t vs US$660.1/t - Chinese steel mills win domestic iron ore pricing in some 2018 contracts
- Chinese steelmakers succeeded in a push to include domestic iron ore price indices in some 2018 annual supply contracts with global miners, as worlds top buyer boosts its clout over pricing of major commodities
- Move marks a major step in the evolution of iron ore pricing after the industry abandoned decades-old closed door talks between miners and steelmakers in 2010 in favour of a daily price index
- While it’s not expected to have a big impact on prices, it will boost the confidence of Chinese buyers that prices reflect domestic demand and is in line with China’s desire to increase its influence over commodity pricing
Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$87.0/t vs US$85.5/t - China’s 2017 coal imports from Russia surge after North Korea ban
- Customs data showed China’s coal imports from Russia and Mongolia soaring in 2017 as the two countries filled a supply gap caused by trade sanctions on North Korea
- Arrivals from Russia surged 36.3% to 25.3 million tonnes and imports from Mongolia were up 27.6% to 33.58 million tonnes
- Australia still largest supplier, as it has lower pollutants such as sulphides and ash and a higher energy value
- Premium hard coking coal Aus fob US$213.7/t vs US$213.7/t
Tungsten APT European US$310-318/mtu vs US$310-318/mtu last week
Cobalt LME 3m US$79,750.0/t vs US$75,250.0/t
Amur Minerals* (LON:AMC) 7.3p, Mkt Cap £46.3p – On course for a mineral resource upgrade
- The Company received analytical data for 2017 drilling programme results from SGS Minerals confirming previous ASL numbers.
- Following the validation of the data by a second independent laboratory, the management engaged RPM Global to use results to update the latest Mineral Resource Estimates (Feb/17).
- SGS assays returned nickel grades of 0.94% versus 0.96% estimated by ASL originally (cut-off grade 0.40% Ni).
- Copper grades in samples came in at 0.23% Cu, in line with ASL results.
- Updated resource statement would update IKEN and KUB deposits and include the mineral inventory intersected along the 1,900m long area in between.
- “The Company anticipates a substantial increase to the MRE of Feb/17,” Amur concluded in the announcement.
*SP Angel act as Nomad and Broker to Amur Minerals
Bluebird Merchant Ventures* (LON:BMV) 3p, Mkt Cap £5.5m – Competent Persons Report
- BlueBird Merchant Ventures report today on the Competent Persons Report on the Gubong gold mine in South Korea.
- Resource: The good bit is that the Competent Person reckons the mine still has potential for >1moz of gold and that the satellite orebodies could contain another 300,000oz.
- Independent verification: This is great news as it provides a degree of independent verification and gives us greater confidence in the project going forward.
- The report goes some way to proving the theory that the mine was closed due to low gold prices of <US$40/oz at the time and not through any lack of gold resource.
- The highly experienced team have been relatively quick to identify historic portals, reopen the mine and gain access.
- Gubong has nine tenement areas granted to Bluebird covering an area of ~25sqkm. More than nine stacked gold veins were partially mined over the life of the mine indicating to us that there is much more to explore here and that the gold resource at Gubong may exceed the 1moz gold resource estimate mentioned today.
- The report goes on to recognise the potential to delineate an immediate resource without the need for expensive exploration as well as the potential of reopening the historic Gubong mine.
- The Competent Person is for the report is Geoff Boswell who has visited the Gubong project at the end of last year and has formerly managed exploration teams and technical programs and has formerly worked at MRL Gold Inc (Red Mountain Mining Ltd), OceanaGold Ltd, Crazy Horse Resources and Copper Development Corp.
- Mining: According to the report Bluebird the re-entering of the mine will allow access to the mining faces and unstoped remnant ore that may contain economic ore at today's gold price.
- Tailings: the report highlights an area for outlines the potential to quickly evaluate a tailings disposal area.
- Metallurgical test work has started and should give figures for expected recovery rates better economic evaluation.
- Economic Evaluation Study done in 2011 estimated a potential cash flow of >USD200m in the first 8 years.
- Throughput: treatment of 2.7mt
- Grade: 7g/tGold production: >500,000oz gold
• Assumed gold price: A$1,350/oz.
• Regulatory climate: in South Korea is said to be very supportive for mining with the government providing incentives including funding environmental protection measures.
• Approvals: Management expect to receive formal approval to expand and reopening the Gubong mine in Q2.
• Funding: Bluebird also report that they have drawn down a first £150,000 of funding from one of their existing substantial shareholders.
• See company website for further details www.bluebirdmv.com
*SP Angel act as broker to Bluebird Merchant Ventures
Planetary Resources (U.S. private) – launches Arkyd-6 spacecraft into orbit
• Space asteroid explorer Planetary Resources announced this week that its Arkyd-6 spacecraft launched on January 12th 2018 had gone into orbit.
• The team is now receiving data from the craft which is now tested for delivery infrared images which can capture the presence of water and hydrated materials.
• Planetary Systems note that there are 16,000 near-Earth asteroids that it sees as more accessible than the moon. The first missions are to seek out asteroids with water.
• The company raised $21m of Series A funding in May 2016. Investors include Larry Page (Google), Eric Schmidt (Alphabet) and Richard Branson (Virgin).
• Planetary Systems is also developing the Ceres System of 10 Arkyd satellites able to provide Earth observational Data – this giving a supporting revenue stream
• We can’t wait for the first Anti-Asteroid Mining Groups to get going. Maybe Green-Space, Friends-of-the-Asteroids, Client-Asteroid. Maybe there could be Asteroid Economic Empowerment to help to enrich a few historically disadvantaged Asteroids.
Serabi Gold (LON:SRB) 3.5p Mkt value £24.6m – Palito technical report
• Serabi Gold report the filing of its technical report on the Palito mine with the Canadian SEDAR archive. The highlights of the updated reserve/resource report, prepared by the respected international consultants, SRK, to NI43-101 standards have been announced previously.
• The report details a proven/probable ore reserve of 613,000 tonnes at an average grade of 7.99 g/t gold and 0.37% copper within an overall measured/indicated resource of 717,000 tonnes grading 11.74g/t gold and 0.59% copper at Palito. The mineral reserves, which are reported at a cut-off grade of 3.7 g/t gold include external mining dilution and mining losses which dilutes the in situ resource grade.
• At the nearby Sao Chico operation, the report shows a proven and probable reserve of 90,000 tonnes at an average grade of 8.43 g/t gold at a cut-off grade of 3.45g/t gold within a measured/indicated resource of 82,000t at a grade of 13.7 g/t. Slightly unusually, therefore, the reserve tonnage exceeds the resource tonnage a feature we ascribe to the additional tonnes of mining dilution.
• Commenting on the study, Mike Hodgson, CEO, pointed out that “it is a very healthy position for an underground, vein mining operation to have over four years of mineral reserves defined. This is a reflection of the investment that the Company has made in ensuring that exploration and development is completed well in advance of production, thereby generating the levels of geological data required to define new mineral resources and mineral reserves.”
Conclusion: Serabi Gold’s Palito/Sao Chico operation has established a solid reserve resource base to underpin production. We look forward to the company’s plans to integrate the recently acquired Coringa deposit in due course.
SolGold* (LON:SOLG) 23.7p, Mkt Cap £401m – Acceleration of Alpala drilling programme after maiden resource estimate
(SolGold own 85% of Cascabel in Ecuador)
• Solgold reports that it now has twelve operational drilling rigs working at Alpala where earlier this month the company published a maiden resource estimate of 1.08bn tonnes at an average grade of 0.4% copper and 0.3g/t gold (0.6% copper equivalent).
• Work is being targeted at “Significant Mineral Resource extensions … along the open margins of the deposit and at depth”.
• The company reports that assay results from hole 33, which we understand was directed at the Alpala Central target and had previously been reported to have intersected 977m of visible mineralisation between 585m and 1562m depth, has shown an 824m long mineralised intercept at an average grade of 0.54% copper and 0.42g/t gold.
• The exact depth of the assay results is not reported, however, the broader zone includes higher grade portions of 576m averaging 0.61% copper and 0.51 g/t gold and 206m averaging 0.75% copper and 0.92g/t gold although the depth of these intersections is unclear or whether the 206m long section is contained within or in addition to the 576m long portion.
• Currently, three holes, 33-D1, 36 and 41 are drilling within mineralisation with and a further 9 holes “have yet to reach target depth”.
• Hole 33-D1 which we imagine is a daughter hole of hole 33 reported above “has drilled across the orebody from northeast to southwest, intersecting intensely mineralised diorite porphyry from 1042m to 1161m and is continuing onwards to test for extensions to the west of a late-mineralisation "D20" diorite dyke. Assay results are pending.”
• “Hole 36 has intersected an intensely mineralised diorite intrusion and is expected to extend the Mineral Resource down dip and to the northeast” and “Hole 41, drilled from the northeast side of the deposit and collared near the Parambas anomaly, has intersected very shallow epithermal (low temperature) mineralised vein sets between 60m and 100m depth.”
• Drilling is expected to commence during the March quarter at the Aguinaga prospect which is located to the north-east of Alpala and is one of the 15 high priority targets the company has identified for follow up exploration within the wider Cascabel licence area.
• The arrival of the additional drilling equipment has significantly reduced drilling costs and the company reports that “The 20,000m drilled since November 2017 has been completed at a cost of $530/m. This is the result of scale efficiencies, use of directional drilling technology (Devico) and increased rig supervision. To date, the use of 'daughter holes' off a single 'parent' hole has saved over 12,000m of drilling.”
• Commenting on the impact of drilling efficiencies on costs, CEO, Nick Mather, said “it is pleasing to see that the new track-mounted rigs are already performing beyond expectations, delivering up to 60 metres/day each.” With plans to drill in excess of 120,000m this year we estimate that the reduction in costs from around $1100/m to $530/m represents a huge saving in the order of US$68m.
Conclusion: The company’s planned ramp up of drilling to deliver 120,000m during 2018 should enable regular upgrades to the maiden resource for Alpala and allow testing of additional targets within the wider Cascabel project, including Aguinaga where drilling is expected to start during the March quarter. Substantial drilling cost savings have been achieved through improved efficiencies, greater supervision and the implementation of additional more sophisticated techniques.
*SP Angel act as UK broker to SolGold and have acted as placing agent in relation to the recent £45m new share issue