SP Angel – Morning View – Friday 09 11 18
Nuclear power ambitions to drive uranium demand
Bushveld Minerals* (LON:BMN) – Lack of Vanadium Supply Threatens Global Construction
Premier African Minerals (LON:PREM) – Change of loan terms and corporate restructuring
Randgold Resources (LON:RRS) – Shareholders approve tie up with Barrick
Nuclear power ambitions to drive uranium demand
- China’s total nuclear capacity is expected to reach 120-150GW by 2030, boosting current capacity more than three-fold. Chairman Yu Jianfeng of the government-run China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) reports spending of $12bn on overseas procurement over the next five years while urged global partners to participate in the future development of China’s nuclear industry.
- “China is expected to become the world’s largest nuclear power nation, and the development of the China National Nuclear Corporation will be more open and international”.
- As China embarked on massive economic expansion around three decades ago, nuclear was seen as a crucial part of efforts to reduce reliance on use of polluting, climate-warming fossil fuels. The world’s second-biggest economy launched an ambitious reactor building programme using technology from France, the United States, Russia and Canada.
- But though some predicted capacity could reach at least 200GW by 2030, Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011 forced policymakers to rethink. Repeated delays to key projects have also slowed the pace of construction.
- After deciding to focus on bigger and safer “third generation” reactors like the U.S. AP1000 and Europe’s EPR, China vowed to raise total installed nuclear generation capacity to 58GW by the end of 2020, and put another 30GW under construction.
- The total now stands at 39GW but the government has not approved any new conventional nuclear projects in three years. It is now expected to fall short of its 2020 targets.
- CNNC signed an equipment and service agreement with Russia’s Rosatom worth more than $500m. The two firms also confirmed plans to build another two third-generation Russia-designed VVER reactor units at China’s Tianwan nuclear project on the eastern coast.
- On Tuesday, the State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) signed a total of 17 agreements with several overseas suppliers, including service contracts with the U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Corp, which designed the AP1000.
- According to a recent study by the Energy Research Institute, a government-backed think tank, China must raise nuclear capacity to 554GW by 2050 if it is to meet its commitments to cut carbon emissions and limit temperature rises.
China tackling heavy metals in new rural pollution plan
- China is targeting heavy metal pollution and curbing fertiliser use to improve water quality by 2020 under a new plan launched by the country’s environment ministry to tackle ‘grim’ conditions in rural areas.
- Following a four-year effort to reduce choking smog in some of its biggest cities and industrial areas, Beijing in under increasing pressure to expand and tackle decades of rural pollution as arable land shrinks. Farming activity has widely damaged the environment by the overuse of pesticides and fertilisers, the accumulation of household trash and untreated livestock waste as well as rapid urbanisation.
- "On the whole, the situation of China's agricultural and rural environment remains grim," according to an unnamed official accompanying the new policy, pointing to "dirty and chaotic" villages.
- The latest plan, released on the website of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment late on Thursday, seeks to guarantee the safety of drinking water supplies, strengthen sewage and garbage treatment, enhance waste recycling and cut the use of pesticides and fertilisers by 2020.
- China will also investigate and treat farmland that has been contaminated by the mining and smelting of heavy metals like lead, zinc and cadmium, while measures should be taken to prevent agricultural products contaminated by heavy metals from entering the food chain, it said.
- Enforcing environmental rules in the countryside has been a focus for the country's pollution inspectors this year, with regions under scrutiny for failing to treat livestock waste and for allowing industrial development to encroach on protected nature reserves.
- China has already published plans to clean up the rural environment along the banks of its longest river, the Yangtze. The plan promised to cut pesticide and fertiliser use, relocate people from ecologically vulnerable villages and set up "no grazing zones" to help rejuvenate the land.
Dow Jones Industrials
HK Hang Seng
FTSE 350 Mining
AIM Basic Resources
US – The FOMC kept rates unchanged in the range of 2.00-2.25%, in line with market expectations.
- Strong US economy sees the Fed remaining on track for a December rate hike.
- “Attention was focused on the minor change to the post-meeting statement which, if anything, was slightly dovish,” Capital Economics commented on the news.
- The central bank referred to the labour market growth and overall economic activity as “strong” with risks to outlook as “roughly balanced”.
China – Asian equities pulled back on Friday amid reports that Beijing is considering setting quotas for banks to provide credit for private companies as well as weakening car sales.
- Additionally, sliding oil prices with WTI down 21% from October peaks suggesting the market technically entered the bear market weighed on oil producers.
- Car sales recorded a fifth consecutive monthly decline in October heading towards the first annual drop in at least two decades.
- Retail sales of sedans, multi-purpose vehicles and sport utility vehicles dropped 13.2%yoy to 1.98m units in October with YUTD sales down 2.5%yoy at 18.4m units.
- Authorities are aiming to boost large banks’ loans to private companies to at least one-third of new corporate lending, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said.
- The Commission is expecting to see the share of loans to private companies to growth to at least half of total new corporate lending in three years, up from less than a fourth as of end-September.
- The comment raised concerns that the proposed quota may increase the ratio of nonperforming loans in the banking sector amid an economic slowdown.
- The benchmark CSI 300 index is down 1.4% with banking, tech and resources stocks leading losses.
- On a separate note, inflation numbers released this morning came in line with expectations (CPI +2.5%yoy; PPI +3.3%yoy).
- “Given that the elevated level of heading inflation is almost entirely due to temporary increases in food and energy, the PBoC is unlikely to be worried… indeed, we think policymakers will pay more attention to evidence that u underlying price pressures remain subdued and will continue to ease policy over the coming months to shore up economic activity,” Capital Economics wrote.
UK – The pound is trading lower against the US$ this morning giving up its earlier gains on the back of speculation the government is moving towards draft Brexit deal.
- At the same time, Q3 GDP numbers came in line with estimates with the growth pace picking up during the quarter led by stronger consumer and government spending as well as stronger trade balance.
- Despite an acceleration in the growth rate in Q3, month-on-month change data show no growth in August and September.
- “The economy saw a strong summer, although longer-term economic growth remained subdued,” ONS commented on numbers.
- GDP (%qoq/yoy): 0.6/1.5 v 0.4/1.2 v 0.6/1.5 forecasts.
Italy – The government called latest EC projections of the nation’s Deficit/GDP ratio “inadequate and partial analysis” ignoring “clarifications provided by Italy”.
- The EC released updated forecasts highlighting the government deficit is set to break the 3.0% level in 2020.
- Rome refused to change its budget targets despite demand by the EU.
- Italian bonds slipped following the EC report pushing the 10-year yield up seven basis point to 3.41% with the spread over Bunds back above 300bp.
- Rising borrowing costs are further weighing on budget deficit in a highly leveraged country.
US$1.1344/eur vs 1.1435/eur yesterday Yen 113.82/$ vs 113.71/$ SAr 14.236/$ vs 13.950/$ $1.302/gbp vs $1.314/gbp 0.725/aud vs 0.729/aud CNY 6.946/$ vs 6.928/$
Gold US$1,224/oz vs US$1,224/oz yesterday
Gold ETFs 68.6moz vs US$68.5moz yesterday
Platinum US$873/oz vs US$872/oz yesterday
Palladium US$1,135/oz vs US$1,124/oz yesterday
Silver US$14.44/oz vs US$14.51/oz yesterday
Copper US$ 6,143/t vs US$6,129/t yesterday
- Tightness in the copper market could increases as Santiago-based Codelco posted the lowest quarterly copper production this year in the third quarter. The company reported declines across all of its mines in September as ore grades fell an average of 5% in the first nine months of the year.
- The decline in ore grades compounds supply troubles after a commodities price slump that ended in 2016 made miners skittish about expanding their operations in Chile, the world’s largest copper supplier. At the same time, mounting trade tensions are prompting mining companies to delay big expansion projects amid uncertainty about the outlook for demand.
- The International Copper Study Group forecasts a production deficit of 90,000t this year, more than double the shortfall forecast in April. Lower grades were partly offset by a 2% increase in metal recovery, but output for the first nine months of the year was still 41,000t lower than in 2017, Codelco report.
- “Companies need to cover themselves and generate investment programs to expand their capacity and mitigate the ore-grade decline," Cesar Perez-Novoa, an analyst at BTG Pactual. “Otherwise, the depletion of resources over the next ten years will be high.”
Aluminium US$ 1,994/t vs US$1,984/t yesterday
Nickel US$ 11,785/t vs US$11,695/t yesterday
Zinc US$ 2,499/t vs US$2,471/t yesterday
Lead US$ 2,001/t vs US$1,929/t yesterday
Tin US$ 19,290/t vs US$19,105/t yesterday
Oil US$70.6/bbl vs US$72.3/bbl yesterday
- Oil’s set for its longest stretch of declines on record after entering a bear market, with investors awaiting a weekend meeting of OPEC and its allies to discuss output strategy.
- Futures in New York are slipping for a 10th day, extending a dramatic plunge that’s dragged prices down over 20% from a 2014-high just five weeks ago.
- West Texas Intermediate for December delivery traded 6 cents lower at $60.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 3:20 p.m. in Singapore. The contract fell 1.6% to $60.67 on Thursday, and is headed for a 4% decline on the week -- its fifth consecutive decrease. Total volume traded was 35% above the 100-day average.
- Brent futures for January settlement edged up 9 cents to $70.74 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices are also on course for a fifth weekly drop, down 2.9%. Crude traded at a $9.93 premium to WTI for the same month.
US warns nations not to allow Iranian oil tankers
- The United States is warning other countries not to allow Iranian oil tankers into their territorial waters or ports, saying such access may run afoul of U.S. sanctions and not only incur penalties, but also result in catastrophic economic and environmental damage should an accident occur.
- The State Department has reminded the global shipping and insurance industries that as part of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure campaign" to get Iran to change its behaviour, insuring Iranian tankers will now incur penalties under U.S. sanctions reinstated this week.
- The special U.S. representative for Iran said that as major insurers withdraw coverage from Iranian vessels, Iran will likely turn to domestic insurance companies that will not be able to cover losses for maritime accidents that could run into the billions of dollars.
Natural Gas US$3.582/mmbtu vs US$3.513/mmbtu yesterday
Uranium US$29.05/lb vs US$29.00/lb yesterday
Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$73.0/t vs US$71.9/t
- The week-long closure following derailment in the Pilbara is likely to impact as much as 5mt of BHP Billiton exports and support iron ore prices in the short term, ANZ analysts report. The company is expected to only have 2-3 days supplies stockpiled at the port, although CEO Andrew Mackenzie notes the company has “the ability to supply our customers as contracted to do so”.
- The train carrying iron ore, which included 4 locomotives and 268 wagons, was deliberately derailed Monday after the vehicle moved off without a driver aboard.
Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$689.2/t vs US$690.5/t
- China’s winter steel output restrictions, which drove rapid price appreciation last year, aren’t expected to drive the markets this year after the industry took heed of Beijing’s directives to cut pollution, according to one of the country’s major producers. “I feel this year’s winter curbs are totally different from last year,” Wang Yidong, deputy general manager at Ansteel Group Corp., said in an interview in Shanghai. “It’s been a differentiated, staged approach, while last year it was a one-size-fits-all approach.”
- Particular limits are applied to production from mid-November to mid-March because that’s when smog from coal-fired heating is at its worst.
- Steel markets in the world’s biggest producer and consumer are focused on the scope and intensity of the environmental restrictions after last year’s campaign helped lift prices to four-year highs. While policy makers have broadened the area subject to curbs this winter, the central government will have less of a controlling hand. Steel mills meeting ultra-low emission standards will also be exempted.
- The pollution clean-up, including efforts by plants to cut emissions and the shuttering of illegal operations, has actually allowed the release of some capacity in the north, said Wang, who doesn’t see this year’s curbs having a notable impact. Indeed, enticed by strong prices, China’s steel output has been hitting record levels as producers maximize run rates to benefit from healthier margins.
- The China Iron & Steel Association also expects weaker curbs because of improved emission standards across steel mills, while Barclays Plc argue broader regulations reaching expanded geography is likely to cumulatively impact on output.
- Since China began attaching greater importance to the environment at the start of the decade, Ansteel has spent between 15bn and 17bn yuan ($2.5bn) in production upgrades, according to Wang. China’s fourth-biggest mill produced 36mt of the metal in 2017, according to the World Steel Association, or 4% of the nation’s total.
- Environmental policy and healthier margins are also reshaping the market for iron ore, steel’s key ingredient. Ansteel has turned to buying only higher grade iron ore in the last two years “to maximize yield” and cut pollution, said Wang. The mill, based in the northern province of Liaoning, uses about 50mt of the better quality ore annually, including around 40mt from its own mines with 66-67% iron content, and the rest coming from imports. The benchmark grade is 62% iron.
- “Social responsibility requires us not to use ore that would pollute the environment. We want to use high-grade, high-quality ore to meet our production requirements,” said Wang. During the “difficult times” for the industry in 2014 and 2015, when prices cratered, the mill had to favor lower quality ore, he said.
Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$88.5/t vs US$92.4/t
Coking coal futures Dalian Exchange US$199.0/t vs US$199.2/t
Cobalt LME 3m US$55,000/t vs US$55,000/t
China NdPr Rare Earth Oxide US$45,569/t vs US$45,610/t
China Lithium carbonate 99% US$10,094/t vs US$10,103/t
- Major Albemarle has halted engineering work on a lithium-carbonate expansion project at its Chilean operation as its assesses signals of rising demand for the more refined lithium-hydroxide, CEO Luke Kissam reports in a Q3 earnings call. Instead, the company plans to plow funding into a Western Australia project that produces lithium hydroxide, a premium form of the metal fetching a raised price.
- Lithium hydroxide works better with cathodes containing higher levels of nickel, helping cars go further on a single charge. Global demand for lithium overall is expected to almost triple by 2025, according to Bloomberg NEF, as carmakers such as Tesla Inc. look to boost sales of battered-powered vehicles.
- “The challenge at this point in the cycle is that lithium companies must ramp their capital spending amidst a backdrop of some uncertainty around lithium pricing," Chris Berry, founder of research firm House Mountain Partners LLC. “For Albemarle to maintain its market share with such robust lithium demand growth, the company needs to execute their capacity expansion plans perfectly."
- Albemarle is planning to boost its overall production of lithium across its operations in Chile, China and Australia to 225,000tpa in 2025 from 65,000t in 2017, the company said in its earnings report. In just four years, lithium has gone from being Albemarle’s least important product to representing 44.5% of the company’s revenue in 2017.
- The 40,000tpa expansion at the Salar de Atacama Yield Project was slated to start operating after 2021, but have been halted for now as the market assesses the division of lithium chemistries In associated news, concerns from Chilean agency CCHEN over expansion plans are “not a big deal”, and the company emphasises it has “no conflict at all” with environmental authority over water-pumping rights.
Tungsten APT European US$275-295/mtu vs US$275-295/mtu
Cars could be powered by water with new Israeli technology
- Australian-Israeli start-up Electriq-Global has announced a new fuel technology that extracts hydrogen from water and turns that hydrogen into electricity to power the vehicle.
- The system gets its hydrogen from a fuel comprised of 60% water, and liquid fuel reacts with a catalyst to release hydrogen on demand.
- The spent fuel is captured and taken back to a plant where it is replenished with more hydrogen and water for re-use.
- Electriq-Global claims the entire process is safe, non-flammable, easy to transport and enables zero-emissions vehicles.
- Electriq-Global claims that its hydrogen-based technology can provide a range of 1,000km per charge.
Tin-Based Hybrid Perovskite Improves Solar Cell Efficiency
- The researchers from the University of Groningen have found an interesting solution to significantly improving solar cell efficiency.
- The researchers made solar cells by using a material in which hot electrons can retain high energy levels for a long time, meaning that the cells can take more of the energy and generate a higher voltage. These cells are made of organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites.
- The researchers have found that using the harmless tin instead of lead in these perovskites can increase solar cells efficiency by 9%. In this case, hot electrons with high energy levels are retained in cells a thousand times longer than in the case of commonly used silicon-based cells, and calculations have shown efficiency could be increased from 33% to 66%.
Towering Gravity-Based 'Batteries' Are Coming to India
- A new method attempts to use one of the most powerful and constant forces on the planet for energy—gravity.
- Energy Vault has just announced its first client based on its gravity-centric energy-storage solution—Tata.
- It also announced a strategic partnership with Mexican building materials company CEMEX.
- The company says that its gravity towers are based on the same principles as hydroelectricity, but without the need for water. Instead, they use "custom-made concrete bricks" that the company says will not degrade over time.
- These bricks are lifted when there's excess energy to go around, then are given a controlled drop when more energy needs to be generated.
- Energy Vault claims its system can deliver a capacity between 10 MWh and 35 MWh, and says that Tata has ordered a system delivering a full 35.
Aston Bay Holdings* (BAY C) $0.07, Mkt cap C$9.1m – Jack’s Fork acquisition
- Aston Bay Holdings has announced the completion of its previously announced acquisition of the private, US company, Jack’s Fork Exploration Inc (JFE) which owns “exclusive rights to an integrated geophysical, geochemical and geological dataset over the Blue Ridge Project area located in central Virginia, USA.”
- Aston Bay is issuing 12m shares as consideration which, we estimate, leaves the JFE shareholders with approximately 8% of the enlarged Aston Bay.
- The project area, which covers some 500,000 hectares, lies within “a copper-lead-zinc-gold-silver (Cu-Pb-Zn-Au-Ag) mineralised sedimentary and volcanic belt prospective for sedimentary exhalative (SEDEX) or Broken Hill (BHT) type deposits.”
- Commenting on the transaction, JFE’s President, Don Taylor, who is to become an advisor to Aston Bay as a technical advisor on the Blue Ridge project said that it sets the scene “to expand the exposure to great projects and accelerated exploration. As an advisor to the merged Company I am looking forward to testing the numerous quality targets in the portfolio.”
- Aston Bay’s CEO said that “The company looks forward to presenting more detailed information on these projects in advance of anticipated drill programmes in Virginia this winter.”
Conclusion: The acquisition of JFE diversifies Aston Bay beyond its projects in Nunavut and provides “year round access and well developed infrastructure … [in a] … target and data-rich, underexplored project with drill ready targets.” We look forward to details of the projects in Virginia.
*SP Angel act as broker to Aston Bay
Bushveld Minerals* (LON:BMN) 39.25p, mkt cap £431m – Lack of Vanadium Supply Threatens Global Construction
BUY - Target Price raised to 87 p (from 37p)
(Bushveld Minerals now hold 74% of Vametco and 84% of Bushveld Energy it’s vanadium redox battery unit)
- Vanadium: we have been looking further into vanadium supply and demand where we see increasing probability for significant supply shortages.
- The supply situation looks so serious to us that we cannot see where the market will source sufficient vanadium to meet demand for strengthened steel in the global construction sector.
- The steady rise in ferro-vanadium prices in China and Europe highlights a severe shortage of available material indicating a lack of available stock the development of a significant market deficit.
- The few primary producers in the market appear wholly incapable of expanding to meet demand in the next two years with so much by-product, slag, production removed from the market.
- We highlight the reasons for this in the attached note, see link above.
- Our ferro-vanadium price assumptions rise to US$75/kgV for 2018, 2019 and 2020 and to US$55/kgV for 2021 and US$45/kgV for 2022 and thereon.
- We cannot see how the market can supply demand for vanadium in the next two years and we feel vanadium prices should settle at a higher price level than previously envisaged in the short and longer term.
- Q3 results: Bushveld Minerals third quarter report highlights the impact of the 16-days unofficial stoppage at the Vametco vanadium plant and seven-days of unplanned maintenance.
- The result is that Vametco’s Q3 ferro-vanadium production was some 14.6% lower than the previous quarter at 537mtV vs 629mtV.
- Sales: Vametco sold 1,987mtV of vanadium into the market in Q3 down 18% on Q2 and 21.5% lower yoy.
- Management have revised Nitrovan (ferro-vanadium) production lower to 2,600-2650mtV for the year due to the stoppage and unplanned maintenance.
Phase 2 completed in June sees Vametco’s capacity at 3,750mtV
- Phase 3: as part of the operational improvement initiative, designed to enhance Vametco’s productivity, the Company is reviewing the timing and required investment to expand production capacity to 5,000 mtV.
- Production costs rose 11% unsurprisingly in the quarter to ZAR298/kgV (US$21/kgV) vs Q2 with unit costs guidance revised to ZAR250/kgV and ZAR255/kgV for the year.
- We expect unit production costs to fall significantly from here as throughput rises and grades recover assuming no further unplanned stoppages.
- Some slippage in production has also been seen as a result of grade control in the Vametco mine and the team completed 13 drill holes to increase geological confidence with the aim to improve grade control in the plant feed. Vametco will publish an updated mineral resource estimated in the new year.
- Bushveld bought a further 16% of Vametco through the purchase of Sojitz’s stake taking Bushveld’s stake to 74% in the quarter. The deal now means that Bushveld have acquired 74% of Vametco for US$48m, a remarkable feat given the company had relatively little spare cash when it agreed to buy its initial 23% stake in Vametco for $4.7m.
- Tailings: Vametco is expanding its tailings facility to maintain capacity. Our modelling includes expenditure for tailings work
- Off-gas: project work required to meet stricter regulations and increase kiln output.
- Brits Vanadium Project: Results from 26 drill holes are shown in the report with the simple average of the grades presented is 1.55% in 43.4% magnetite.
- Valuation: Our valuation for Bushveld Minerals rises to US$1.6bn assuming an 8% discount rate and a long term exchange rate of ZAR14/USD or 87 pence per share on our new vanadium price assumptions.
- We have yet to add value for Bushveld Energy which is 84% owned by the group and is working to deploy vanadium redox flow batteries in grid as well as industrial applications in South Africa. The company is also working with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa to build an electrolyte manufacturing plant in South Africa, to be located at Vametco and the East London Industrial Zone.
- There 63 VRFB projects globally with 77% under construction and 17% operational highlighting strong growth in grid battery capacity.
Conclusion: Our research into the supply / demand for vanadium leads us to raise our forecasts for vanadium prices and therefore for Bushveld Minerals.
We reckon the market will see through the expected slippage in the Q3 numbers due to the overriding impact of the vanadium price.
We expect Vametco to report a better final quarter and to continue to grow into the new year.