SP Angel – Morning View – Monday 18 02 19
Copper rises as supply struck from India and Indonesia
MiFID II exempt information – see disclaimer below
Strategic Minerals* (LON:SML) – Leigh Creek drilling results
Vale cautiously evacuate people living near Mar Azul mine
- While battling with the fallout from a deadly tailings disaster, Vale SA evacuated more than 100 people over the weekend “as a precautionary measure”, after reviewing data for the inactive B3/B4 upstream tailings dam at its Mar Azul mine in the Minas Gerias state.
- The company have registered 110 people at hotels to avoid repeating the fatal Córrego de Feijão tailings collapse which has left more than 300 people dead or missing.
- Vale said the B3/B4 dam had been constructed using the upstream method and was part of the decommissioning project, with the company responsible for decommissioning detecting the "geotechnical and geological model could be different from that used today".
- Vale said there had not been any changes to the dam's technical data over the last months and said new inspections were being conducted together with Brazil's national mining agency (ANM).
- ANM had ordered Vale to evacuate about 500 people downstream of its Sul Superior dam, also in Minas Gerais, earlier this month after consulting company Walm denied issuing the stability condition statement for the tailings dam.
- Reuters reported police arrested eight Vale employees on Friday, accused of covering up weaknesses at the tailings dam, and executed 14 search warrants which targeted employees at Vale and German auditing firm TÜV SÜD, which had certified the dam as stable.
UPDATE: Analysts in recovery after Base Resource trip to Madagascar
- Three visits to A&E and 14 hours of time with the NHS and I have antibiotics to kill my Madagascar parasites. The bacteria has not spared management nailing the source down to a buffet at ‘Le Paradisier’ a beautiful restaurant overlooking the Indian Ocean. A Trip Advisor review of the resort points out that the beaches double up as toilets for the locals and that other guests ‘were very sick’ when they left.
- Fortunately my please in the Chelsea A&E were helped by information from Mining Mx editor, Brendan Ryan, who tells me that 90% of visitors on a trip to Rio Tinto’s Madagascar mineral sands ops. also fell to a similar parasite/bacteria. Brendan’s email arrived just in time to help the NHS in its decision making, though it did feel as if the doctors were hoping for a more dramatic ‘Alien Resurrection’.
- Now I’m thinking straight again one wonders how Base Resources are going to manage in region where sanitation is a rare luxury, security is essential and most of the population live off what they grow or can kill.
- At site: local charcoal burners have destroyed the spikes tree forest in the project area and many of the indigenous baobab trees leaving little of obvious ecological value to preserve. The area is all sand with the heavy mineral sands said to be just 30cm below surface. We saw several covered areas containing mineral sand concentrates said to have been taken from a test pit on the site.
- We suspect the development of a mine along with security and job creation should serve to protect more of the environment than is currently the case. We also expect employment and the knock on effect of education and salaries in the communities around the mine will transform the area. Let’s hope the education starts with a focus on sanitation and hygiene.
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US – Asian stocks rally on hopes for progress at Sino-US trade talks in Washington this week.
- US-China negotiations are set to continue in Washington after the sixth round of talks ended in Beijing on Friday with no sign of substantial progress.
- US equity futures are flat this morning as trade was thinned by the Presidents Day national holiday in the.
- Fed January meeting minutes are due on Wednesday with markets to be closely watching the wording on path of rate hikes for this year; there is also expectation that the bank will keep a much larger balance sheet than previously thought.
- The US Commerce Department submitted a report on Sunday to President Trump looking at effects of potential tariffs on imported cars and auto parts without disclosing any details of the “Section 232” national security report.
- President has 90 days to decide whether to act upon the recommendations. The industry warned that potential tariffs of up to 25% on millions of imported cars and parts would add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs and potentially lead to hundreds of thousands of job losses throughout the US economy. A report from the Centre for Automotive Research from Michigan published a report on Friday showing the worst case scenario of a tariff of 25% would cost 366,900 US jobs in the auto and related industries.
- Top five auto exporting nations to the US are Canada, Japan, Mexico and Germany with Canada and Mexico reported to have secured duty-free access to 2.6m units as part of a new North American free trade deal.
China – Auto sales continued to decline through January marking a seventh consecutive month.
- Sales came off 15.8%yoy to 2.37m units during the month following a 13%yoy decline in December and 14%yoy drop in November.
- With “no sign of improvement” February sales are also expected to “drop sharply”, the Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in an emailed statement.
- “The reason for the sales drop is till the slowing overall economy, and consumption decline in small- and medium-sized cities.”
- Slowing consumption and the fallout of trade frictions with the US contributed to the auto market contracting for the first time in more than two decades ion 2018.
- On a more positive note, new energy vehicles demonstrated strong growth (+140%yoy), although, from a low base and relatively tiny share of the market in absolute terms (95.7k units sold).
Japan – Low equipment orders in December suggests weakening external demand is taking toll on a key engine of private-sector growth.
- Looking on a quarterly basis core machine orders were down 4.2%qoq in Q4 ending a five-quarter run of increases. Looking forward, corporate plans for Q1 point to a 1.8%qoq in Q1.
- Core Machine Orders (%mom/yoy): -0.1/+0.9 v 0.0/0.8 in November and -1.0/+3.4 forecast.
UK – The pound is marginally stronger this morning ahead of Brexit talks between British PM May and EC President Juncker this week.
- News that Australia’s trade minister would be ready to sign a fast-tracked trade agreement with the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit have also helped the British currency.
- On a separate issue, house prices recorded a dismal 0.2%yoy increase in a Brexit related concerns hit market in February, according to the Rightmove data.
- Asking prices in London climbed 3.4%mom to £614k during the month but were 2.1%yoy down from the previous year.
- London has been hit the hardest by the weakening sentiment around the Brexit outcome uncertainty with official data showing prices dropped last year for the first time since the financial crisis.
- Commenting on the data, Rightmove said” it obviously remains to be seen if these new sellers can find interest from prospective buyers… buyers will be attracted by newly marketed property costing less than a year ago, but will also be trying to judge whether to negotiate a deal now or hold on until there is more political certainty”.
- Rightmove UK Property Prices (%mom/yoy): 0.7/0.2 from 0.4/0.4 in January.
Nigeria – Authorities postponed national election by a week to 23 February from previously planned Saturday.
- The electoral commission said the delay was solely driven by logistical factors and denied political pressure had played any part in the decision, Reuters reports.
- President Muhammadu Buhari who was in power since 2015 faces a tight election contest against Atiku of People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
US$1.1301/eur vs 1.1274/eur last week Yen 110.60/$ vs 110.32/$ SAr 14.089/$ vs 14.196/$ $1.290/gbp vs $1.281/gbp 0.715/aud vs 0.709/aud CNY 6.766/$ vs 6.779/$
Gold US$1,311/oz vs US$1,311/oz last week
Gold ETFs 72.6moz vs US$72.7moz last week
Platinum US$784/oz vs US$784/oz last week
Palladium US$1,400/oz vs US$1,400/oz last week
Silver US$15.80/oz vs US$15.64/oz last week
Copper US$ 6,235/t vs US$6,135/t last week
Indian copper output struck by court delay
- Top Indian copper producer, Vedanta Ltd., suffers a setback following India’s top court stalling the resumption of operations at its 400,000tpa copper smelter in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court overturned the green tribunal’s order to restart the plant, reporting the National Green Tribunal doesn’t have the jurisdiction to finalise the decision.
- Vedanta will approach the high court in Tamil Nadu for an “urgent hearing” as early as possible, P. Ramnath, chief executive officer of the copper unit said. “We have to get the actual details in it and based on that we will plan our next course of action.”
- The Mumbai-based company had stopped operations for maintenance in March and later extended the closure in the face of mounting opposition from villagers against pollution caused by the plant. The state government shuttered the smelter in May after 13 people died when police opened fire on protesting villagers.
- The latest decision from the top court delays the resumption of production which may have a material impact on global copper markets, with 40% of the country’s capacity hit.
- “We had expected the plant to restart by March and be fully operational by April from initial indications from the courts,” Urvisha Jagasheth, an analyst at Care Ratings. “India’s output will continue to be depressed and we will remain a net importer.”
Freeport Indonesia fails to receive new copper export permit
- PT Freeport Indonesia's copper concentrate export permit expired on Feb. 15, and the company has not received export recommendations from the mining ministry that will help it to obtain a new permit, according to company spokesman Riza Pratama.
- The unit of Freeport McMoRan for the time being is shipping part of its production to its smelter in East Java, Pratama said.
- Indonesia forecast copper concentrate exports to drop to 200,000t in 2019 from about 1.2mt last year.
Aluminium US$ 1,859/t vs US$1,855/t last week
Nickel US$ 12,365/t vs US$12,150/t last week
Zinc US$ 2,635/t vs US$2,620/t last week
Lead US$ 2,065/t vs US$2,042/t last week
Tin US$ 21,110/t vs US$21,000/t last week
Oil US$61.9/bbl vs US$61.9/bbl last week
Natural Gas US$2.692/mmbtu vs US$2.692/mmbtu last week
Uranium US$28.70/lb vs US$28.75/lb last week
Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$86.1/t vs US$84.5/t
- Disruptions to the global iron ore industry following Vale SA’s dam disaster as being felt across the sector as mainland Chinese mills opt to pause and remain in ‘wait-and-see mode’.
- The dramatic increase in price has sent shockwaves across the industry, and mills are taking time to fully consider the impact.
- Mills have also restocked before the Lunar New Year, giving a buffer with no immediate need to replenish stockpiles, especially at current price levels.
- Domestic iron ore production won’t come to the rescue to meet any shortfalls with strict environmental regimes limiting production flexibility, according to the head of a major Chinese mining group. Pan Goucheng, CEO of Hanking Group Co., adds “If China’s mines could produce more they would already be doing so because, to be honest, prices have been pretty good in recent years. It’s not because of prices that mines have been closing, it’s because of environmental and other reasons.”
- China has a substantial ore-mining industry, but production has been cut in recent years as the content is lower-grade and higher-cost than foreign supplies, and producers have suffered amid a strict environmental clampdown. Domestic output is dwarfed by cargoes from overseas and the nation is the world’s largest importer, taking in more than 1bntpa.
Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$604.0/t vs US$604.2/t
Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$79.0/t vs US$77.3/t
Coking coal futures Dalian Exchange US$195.4/t vs US$195.1/t
Cobalt LME 3m US$31,000/t vs US$31,000/t
China NdPr Rare Earth Oxide US$46,032/t vs US$45,953/t
China Lithium carbonate 99% US$9,975/t vs US$9,958/t
China Ferro Vanadium 80% FOB US$71.1/kg vs US$71./kg
- MB Chinese ferro vanadium prices firmed this week ($70.5-75.0/kg FOB China from $70.0-72.0/kg) after suppliers increased their offers amid stronger sentiment emerging in the Chinese market after the holiday.
China Antimony Trioxide 99.5% EU US$6.9/kg vs US$6.9/kg
Tungsten APT European US$260-270/mtu unchanged from previous week
Fuel cell breakthrough brings hydrogen cars one step closer
- The University of Science and Technology of China revealed that a new type of catalyst has been developed to prevent hydrogen fuel cells from failure.
- The result said the newly-developed catalyst can protect hydrogen fuel cells from being poisoned by carbon monoxide, extend the battery life and allow the battery to work in cold temperatures.
- With a high energy conversion efficiency and zero emissions, hydrogen fuel cells are regarded as one of the main development directions of the new energy automobile industry by some insiders and experts.
* Our analysts have visited a number of fuel cell manufacturing and development facilities over the past 20 years
Could Ultracapacitors Replace Batteries In Future Electric Vehicles?
- With recent acquisitions of ultracapacitor manufacturers by the likes of Tesla, ultracapacitor could be on the verge of ousting batteries as the go-to power source for electric cars.
- Ultracapacitors, also called supercapacitors or electrochemical capacitors, are a kind of energy storage system that has been gaining popularity in recent years. They can be thought of as akin to a cross between an ordinary capacitor and a battery, but different from both.
- Just like a battery, ultracapacitor cells have a positive and negative electrode separated by an electrolyte. But, unlike batteries, ultracapacitors store energy electrostatically (like a capacitor) rather than chemically like a battery.
- When compared to batteries, ultracapacitors do store less energy than a similarly sized battery. But, they are able to release it much more rapidly as the discharge is not dependent on a chemical reaction taking place.
Shell is taking on Tesla with batteries for homes
- Royal Dutch Shell is making a bet on home battery storage as it tries to boost its sustainable energy business.
- The oil giant announced Friday that it has purchased Sonnen, a German startup that makes residential battery systems that store energy generated from solar panels.
- The move puts Shell in direct competition with companies such as Samsung (SSNLF), LG (LPL) and Tesla (TSLA), which makes a home battery system called the Powerwall.
African Battery Metals* (LON:ABM) 0.7p, Mkt Cap £2.4m – Restoration of trading and results of general meeting
- Trading of African Battery Metals’ ordinary shares on AIM has resumed with effect 07.30am today. This follows passing of the resolutions at the General Meeting, with Directors anticipating that the admission to trading of 200,000,000 Placing Shares and Subscription Shares and the 26,458,958 Settlement Shares to occur 18th Feb. 2019.
- Accordingly, on Admission, the enlarged issued share capital of the Company will be 363,038,101 Ordinary Shares of 0.1p.
*SP Angel act as broker to African Battery Metals
Alien Metals (LON:UFO) suspended – Mexico exploration update
- Alien Metals report details of its planned 2019 exploration programme across its twelve wholly owned silver concessions in Zacatecas State, Mexico. The portfolio contains the prospective Donovan 2 concession, which lies within close proximity of the San Nicolas copper zinc deposit, and the San Celso concession which consists of high-grade, low sulfidation epithermal veins.
- The company completed further prospecting and field mapping campaign over the entire 1,500ha area in November and December 2018, concluding the portfolio remains prospective and Alien will continue to discharge its obligations to the Mexican DGM (“Mines General Directorate”).
2019 exploration priorities:
- Donovan 2 – A tranche of ground magnetic and induced polarisation geophysics was completed to investigate a regional magnetic anomaly. Field mapping and sampling identified the presence of pathfinder minerals, including anomalous values of copper and zinc which are consistent with the presence of volcanogenic massive sulphide mineralisation.
- The geophysics programme comprised of 52.4 line-km of magnetics and 2.6 line-km of IP, which is being followed up with detailed trenching and mapping to test for alteration and mineralisation. The Company expects to complete this phase of exploration work in Q2 2019.
- San Celso – Geological mapping and sampling was completed in November 2018, with assay results indicating grades up to 500g/t Ag and 0.3g/t Au. Preliminary geochemical exploration work at San Celso continues to suggest mineralisation is indicative of a low sulphidation epithermal system.
- The Company believes there is considerable depth potential to the vein systems at San Celso, and will undertake an underground mapping and sampling campaign in 2019.
Petra Diamonds (LON:PDL) 28.7p, Mkt Cap £248.4m – Interim Results and trading update
- Petra Diamonds reports an adjusted after tax net loss of US$4.5m for the six months to 31st December 2018 (2017 – profit US$47.2m).
- The result apparently reflects increases in depreciation charges to US$50.8m, reflecting “increased production from the newly commissioned assets associated with the expansion programmes and increased throughput” (2017 – US$39.1m) and higher finance expenses of US$31.7m (2017 – US$18.9m). We note, however, that at the interim stage in 2017 the company reported an impairment charge of US$66m against the Koffiefontein operation resulting in a reported loss from continuing operations of US$63.8m compared to the current loss from continuing operations of US$18.2m after unrealised foreign exchange losses of US$13.7m.
- Cash generated from operations increased to US$62.8m (2017 – US$38.9m) which after finance charges, capital expenditure of US$75.6m (2017- US$109.6m) and other charges resulted in a reduction in free cash outflows to US$36.8m (2017 – US$85.7m and an increase in net debt of US$38.6m to US$559.3m (30th June 2018 – US$520.7m.
- The company comments that “The reduction in Petra's net debt remains a priority. However, should product mix and pricing remain at the levels achieved during H1, the Company expects its net debt position at 30 June 2019 to remain largely in line with the balances as at 31 December 2018, assuming BEE debt repayments are maintained according to the existing amortisation schedule”.
- Production guidance of 3.8-4.0m carats for the full year to 30th June 2019 remains intact.
- Commenting on the condition of the diamond market during the six months to the end of 2018, the company reports that “During September and October 2018, whilst demand for higher value stones remained strong, the rough diamond market experienced a softening in demand for lower value small diamonds impacting overall sales prices. This softening in demand was driven by a weakening in global markets and by seasonal destocking at a number of Indian midstream companies. During November and December demand for the lower value small stones saw some recovery due to renewed seasonal demand and the replenishment of stocks by companies in the cutting sector.”
- Petra Diamonds comments further that the first four months of the calendar year are generally the strongest for the diamond market and that it “expects market conditions to remain stable during” the first six months of 2019.
- The company has also announced the appointment of former Anglo American and Anglogold-Ashanti executive, Richard Duffy as CEO to replace the long-serving incumbent, Johan Dipennaar after 14 years. The appointment of Mr. Duffy takes effect on 1st April.
Conclusion: As production builds up at Cullinan and Koffiefontein builds back to more normal production levels following labour disruption in the latter part of 2018 the incoming CEO will be focussing on reducing the company’s debt as a priority.
Strategic Minerals* (LON:SML) 1.775p, Mkt Cap £24.6m – Leigh Creek drilling results
- Strategic Minerals has released results from its infill diamond-drilling programme at the Paltridge North property and the first of its holes from the Rosmann East property at Leigh Creek.
- At Paltridge North, eight of the ten holes drilled, comprising 496.2m of drilling, intersected “significant copper mineralisation including copper oxide, chalcocite and native copper”. The programme was designed to obtain samples for metallurgical testing, assist in confirmation of the mineral resource, which currently stands at 920,000t at an average copper grade of 0.81% copper, and provide geotechnical information “for the feasibility study due for completion in the latter half of 2019”. Additional minerals resources at the Lynda and Lorna Doone deposits bring the overall indicated and inferred resource for the Leigh Creek project to 3.6mt at an average grade of 0.69% copper
- The company points out that six of the holes drilled at Paltridge North “have an average intersection grade of 1.34% which is significantly greater than the current resource average of 0.81%. Given the infill nature of the drilling, this may not reflect an equivalent uplift in the resource grade but provides encouragement for high grade zones in the Paltridge North deposit.”
Among the results highlighted in the announcement are:
- An intersection of 26.2m at an average grade of 1.14% copper from a depth of 22.3m in hole PND18-04 including an 11.2m wide section averaging 1.85% copper in chalcocite mineralisation from a depth of 37.3m; and
- A 28.4m wide intersection averaging 1.17% copper from a depth of 17.3m in hole PND18-06; and
- 24.0m averaging 1.51% copper from a depth of 16.8m in hole PND18-07
- The Paltridge North deposit is described as a relatively flat, tabular body of mineralisation hosted in siltstones which suggests that waste:ore ratios during mining would be relatively consistent.
- The drilling results are currently being incorporated in a new mineral resource estimate which is expected to completed during March.
- At the Rosmann East prospect, which is located close to the Mountain of Light processing plant, the company drilled a total of seven holes (675.2m). Results from the first hole, RED18-01 show “strong support for continued mineralisation 60m below existing pit floor and 30m below previous drilling, … returning 69m @ 0.37% Cu”. The company also points out that this hole shows mineralisation extending to “at least 60m below the current pit floor and approximately 30m below the previously deepest known mineralisation”.
- Commenting on the “better than expected results” from Paltridge North, Managing Director, John Peters, said that the results provide “the SML Board confidence that Paltridge North could be a significant copper producer in the near future”.
Conclusion: The drilling at Leigh Creek has established the possibility of high grade zones of copper mineralisation within the Paltridge North deposit and demonstrated deeper copper mineralisation at Rosmann East. We look forward to the balance of the results from the Rosmann East drilling and to the updated resource estimate from Paltridge North, which is expected in March.
*SP Angel act as Nomad and broker to Strategic Minerals
Transense Technologies plc (LON:TRT) 58p, Mkt Cap £6.4m – mining contract for tyre pressure monitor systems
- The company has patented Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) sensor technology that is piezo based.
- The Transense sensors can measure pressure, torque and temperature fluctuation. The sensors are for heavy duty off road vehicles including mine-haul trucks, commercial trucks, buses and passenger cars.
- iTrack sensors on heavy Mining trucks provide fast real-time measurement of tyre pressure and temperature coupled live vehicle tracking 24/7. The iTrack system also supports data analytics.
- In November 2018, Transense announced that, post extensive trails, it had a won a contract to support Southern Copper’s Cuajone mine in Peru – initially for their Cat 797F haul truck fleet with an expectation of rolling out to the fleet in Peru which is another 100 trucks.
- Today, Transense has announced a customer (unnamed) has placed orders for 50 installations in North America. This breakthrough into the U.S. markets is key and could lead to further orders.
- Transense is a small UK based company with specialist technology which we believe has real value to the mining industry. This as the industry focusses on safety, costs and increasingly, on the use of autonomous vehicles.
Tri-Star Resources* (LON:TSTR) 41.5p, Mkt Cap £39.1m – First antimony at the SPMP project but still experiencing commissioning setbacks
(Tri-Star holds 40% of jv company SPMP alongside The Oman Investment Fund and Dutco Natural Resources)
(Odey Asset Management, holds a 72.06% interest in TriStar Resources)
- TriStar Resources reports that its 40% owned Strategic Metals & Precious Metals Processing (SPMP) has informed the company that “liquid metal has been produced in the reduction furnace at SPMP’s antimony and gold facility. However, due to a technical issue with the refractory lining it has not been possible to tap metal from the furnace.“
- TriStar goes on to report that “SPMP management is investigating possible improvements to the design which is expected to take several weeks to implement.”
- The announcement comes after the company reported on 24th January that it expected production of its initial antimony within the next week and indicates that commissioning challenges still remain on the plant at Sohar. The plant, when fully commissioned, represents a major advance in the environmental standards of antimony production and the current setbacks, though no doubt frustrating for the engineering team, are proving to be part of the price of making progress.
Conclusion: The facility at Sohar continues to experience hiccups in the commissioning which may take a number of weeks to resolve. The plant is at the forefront of environmental technology and setbacks in commissioning should not overshadow the contribution it could ultimately bring to improving the environmental credentials of antimony production.
*SP Angel acts as Nomad to Tri-Star Resources