SP Angel – Morning View – Tuesday 25 05 19
Record gold to silver ratio could signal recession risk
MiFID II exempt information – see disclaimer below
Australian mining capex stalling in 2019 on trade war
- Mining capital expenditure is expected to stall in 2019 as increasing uncertainty surrounds ongoing demand from China and the potential impact from the US-China trade dispute makes miners more cautious, S&P Global Ratings report.
- The completion of past projects and the relatively modest projects in the pipeline should increase supply slightly for most commodities; copper supply to increase by 0%-3% annually over the next few years.
- Companies are also likely to maintain sufficient financial buffers to weather commodity cycles.
- Downstream companies increasingly intend to significantly reduce their absolute debt levels; “we believe these issuers have acknowledged that the current healthy industry conditions aren’t likely to last, and view a strong balance sheet as prudent ahead of commodity market uncertainty and ongoing geopolitical risks”
Russia launches nuclear-powered icebreaker
- The Ural is one of three nuclear icebreakers to be built to enable better traffic flow the Northern Sea Route.
- The idea is to keep this route navigable all year round and to enable better trade with China without going through the Suez Canal.
- The ships will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world.
- These ships may also be used through the North West Passage across the north of Canada and Alaska.
Dow Jones Industrials
HK Hang Seng
FTSE 350 Mining
AIM Basic Resources
US – The US is not yet ready to sign a trade deal with China, President Trump said during the official visit to Japan.
- President added that further tariffs on Chinese goods “could go up very, very substantially, very easily”.
France – Consumer confidence improved to the strongest level in a year this month.
- The index gained 3 points to 99 this month, the same level as it was in May 2018 and almost reached its long-term average of 100.
- Numbers are supported by gains in the labour market with unemployment rate currently at the lowest in a decade.
- Numbers also follow positive May PMI data showing that private sector grew at the quickest pace in six months after a period of weakness since disruptions began last November.
Italy – 10y bond yields recorded the strongest two-day increase since the start of the year on concerns of a standoff between the EC and the government.
- The EC is considering to levy a disciplinary fee of €3.5bn on Italy as the government fails to comply with regional fiscal rules.
- The position of Matteo Salvini, the nation’s deputy PM and the leader of the coalition Northern League, strengthened after his party came top in the European elections in Italy with 34.3% of votes secured.
- Salvini is a well-known Eurosceptic and has been critical of EU fiscal rules in the past.
- Debt yields were up 7-10bp across the board with the 10y bonds yielding 2.73%, having risen around 11bp on Monday.
- Local equities are trading lower today with the FTSE MIB index down 0.5%.
Greece – Debt and equities are up this morning as PM Tsiparis said he will call a snap election after his Syriza party came in second in European elections.
- The general election is expected to take place in June or July.
- Latest election results suggest New Democray that is more business-friendly and pro-European than Syriza may win in general elections.
- The benchmark 10y bond yield fell 33bp to 3.04% marking the sharpest drop since Dec/17.
US$1.1182/eur vs 1.1199/eur yesterday Yen 109.39/$ vs 109.47/$ SAr 14.510/$ vs 14.425/$ $1.268/gbp vs $1.267/gbp 0.693/aud vs 0.690/aud CNY 6.906/$ vs 6.904/$
Gold US$1,284/oz vs US$1,284/oz yesterday
- Despite President Donald Trump reporting the US isn’t ready to make a trade deal with China, safe haven interest in gold remained unchanged.
- American tariffs on Chinese goods “could go up very, very substantially, very easily”, Trump highlighted during a state visit to Japan. With each side blaming the other, and Trump threatening bns more in tariffs, the uncertainty is clouding the outlook for global growth.
- China’s official manufacturing PMI for May is due Friday, with economists anticipating a tick down to 49.9, which signals a contraction. U.S. first-quarter revised GDP data is due Thursday.
- The surging gold-to-silver ratio sends a worrisome signal to risk assets. After hitting the highest in 26 years this month, the measure is approaching the record peak achieved in 1991 when the U.S. was in recession.
Gold ETFs 70.5moz vs US$70.6moz yesterday
Platinum US$811/oz vs US$805/oz yesterday
Slowing auto industry failing to support PGM demand
- The platinum, palladium and rhodium industry’s top driver is the auto segment, where global growth remains uncertain and top market China’s slowdown are dulling prospects amid the trade war tensions.
- Catalytic converters will continue to account for the lion's share of consumption in the mid-term as exhaust emission regulations implemented across Japan, North America and Europe encourage significant usage since the 1970s.
- The palladium market's annual autocatalyst-demand share will climb to 85% in 2019 from 15% in 1980, and rhodium's to 86% vs. 55%, based on Johnson Matthey data. Autocatalysts represented just 26% of platinum consumption in 2019, behind industrial usage (36%) in chemicals, glass, medical and electronics applications.
- While primary mining will remain the largest supply of the metals, secondary supply from scrap flows will probably contribute to one-third of annual worldwide output in 2019.
- South Africa will keep its crown as the world's top platinum and rhodium producer with a 2019 share in excess of 74%, while Russia ranks No. 1 for palladium, based on Johnson Matthey data.
- The palladium market is likely to be in deficit in 2019, we believe, given higher autocatalyst demand. However, rhodium's surplus should remain, yet narrow to 44koz in 2019 vs. 65koz in 2018, while platinum could swing back to a deficit of 127koz in 2019 vs. 2018's surplus of 372koz, Johnson Matthey predicts.
Palladium US$1,343/oz vs US$1,326/oz yesterday
Silver US$14.54/oz vs US$14.59/oz yesterday
Copper US$ 5,976/t vs US$5,981/t yesterday
Aluminium US$ 1,801/t vs US$1,807/t yesterday
Nickel US$ 12,340/t vs US$12,320/t yesterday
Zinc US$ 2,572/t vs US$2,565/t yesterday
Lead US$ 1,807/t vs US$1,823/t yesterday
Tin US$ 19,430/t vs US$19,300/t yesterday
Oil US$69.9/bbl vs US$68.4/bbl yesterday
Natural Gas US$2.582/mmbtu vs US$2.581/mmbtu yesterday
Uranium US$24.25/lb vs US$24.30/lb yesterday
Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$102.2/t vs US$99.9/t
Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$621.8/t vs US$623.6/t
Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$67.1/t vs US$66.7/t
Coking coal futures Dalian Exchange US$198.1/t vs US$196.3/t
Cobalt LME 3m US$33,500/t vs US$34,250/t
NdPr Rare Earth Oxide (China) US$48,508/t vs US$48,524/t
Lithium carbonate 99% (China) US$9,629/t vs US$9,632/t
- Short-term falling prices could be a result of pockets of oversupply in the lithium market. “We’re starting to see some excess lithium carbonate in China”, Albemarle Corp. Chief Executive Officer Luke Kissam said. “This is pulling short-term carbonate pricing down, and so now we have decided to forgo some opportunistic sales of total lithium carbonate in China till pricing improves.”
- While long-term supply contracts shielded Albemarle from the slump in prices, its rivals are getting squeezed. Albemarle has already signed supply contracts for 80 percent of its lithium supply through 2021.
- Livent Corp. said earlier this week that it’s expecting lower sales volume as a result of weakening demand for high-performance lithium hydroxide.
- Demand for the mineral remains healthy as sales of electric vehicles and rechargeable batteries soar globally, with long-term battery supply deals building.
- While the risk of oversupply could diminish with swelling growth, battery recycling is expected to play a more significant role over the coming years and recycled lithium may represent 10% of the lithium industry in the next decade.
Ferro Vanadium 80% FOB (China) US$37.0/kg vs US$39.0/kg
Antimony Trioxide 99.5% EU (China) US$5.8/kg vs US$5.9/kg
Tungsten APT European US$270-280/mtu vs US$270-280/mtu
Northvolt secured loan for largest battery project
- Swedish start-up, Northvolt, secures a €350m loan from the European Investment Bank – the largest ever direct financing of battery technology.
- The factory is viewed as critical to Europe’s efforts to compete against Asian rivals such as CATL, Samsung and LG Chem, which are leaders in the battery market after locking supply deals with global automakers.
- The EIB loan forms part of the €1.5bn fundraising, split equally between debt and equity, for the construction of the planned 32GWh annual battery capacity.
- Other potential debt and equity investors had viewed the EIB’s approval as a crucial indicator of the project’s viability, co-founder Peter Carlsson added, given the due diligence the bank would have carried out before granting the loan.
- The company also got a boost when IKEA announced it was in the final stages of talks about participating in the fundraise.
- Battery suppliers are also competing for raw materials as carmakers try and cut the use of expensive minerals, especially cobalt, from electric car batteries, to reduce costs. “It is also fair to assume that the cobalt content will continue to fall and there will be efforts to further raise the nickel content to create even higher and richer energy densities,” he said.
- Automakers are also ploughing funds into battery production and development, with Swedish Volvo announcing it had signed a long-term battery supply deal with LG Chem and CATL as it pursues its EV target of 50% sales by 2025.
- Northvolt estimates the European electric vehicle market will need 500-600 GWh of annual capacity by 2030, or at least 10 factories as large as Tesla’s U.S. Gigafactory.
- Among other discussions, Volkswagen is intensifying talks with Northvolt to jointly develop battery cell production in Salzgitter, near its headquarters in Lower Saxony.
- The automaker pledged to spend €1bn on the project, which relies on certain economic pre-conditions, such as subsidized electricity.
Ireland’s railways going green
- Irish Rail has started a tender process for “the largest and greenest fleet order in Irish public transport history” as it looks to add 600 electric trains to its fleet over the next decade.
- The project will both replace Irish Rail’s existing DART fleet, now made up of 76 older carriages, and allow for an ambitious expansion of the fleet overall.
- Irish Rail notes that while electric-powered trains “are expected to make up the overwhelming majority of train orders,” the operator does say its first order could be made up of hybrid trains, just in case full electrification of the lines isn’t ready in time.
- The Greater Dublin Area will have a fully emission-free fleet under the new plans, and “up to 80% of all heavy rail journeys in Ireland” could see the same emission-free future.
- Ireland is looking to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and sees electric-powered trains as a critical component in doing so. The country plans on generating 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and it recently followed the UK in declaring a climate emergency.
Fiat Chrysler pitches 50-50 merger with Renault
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has proposed a 50-50 merger plan with Renault to create the world’s third-largest automaker.
- FCA shared the proposal worth roughly $35bn. Fiat Chrysler says the combined automaker could sell 8.7m vehicles a year.
- Renault already has an alliance with Nissan, and though there’s been recent discussion about the companies strengthening that partnership, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa dismissed talk of a full merger.
- FCA looks to be jumping at the opportunity, however, and Renault has already responded with a release of their own, stating that, “After careful review of the terms of FCA’s friendly proposal, the Board of Directors decided to study with interest the opportunity of such a business combination, comforting Groupe Renault’s manufacturing footprint and creating additional value for the Alliance.”
- FCA announced a $4.5b investment in its Michigan factories this year that would at least partially be used for plug-in Jeep production, and possible all-electric vehicle production down the line.
AfriTin Mining* (LON:ATM) – 3.2p, Mkt cap £17.4m – Phase 1 Pilot plant commissioning starts
(AfriTin hold the Uis project in Namibia)
- AfriTin report the start of commissioning for the Phase 1 Pilot plant for the Uis tin project in Namibia.
- The team report they have started phased commissioning of the process plant and the mining contractor has been mobilised
- Water and power infrastructure is now in place and the tin resource is being validated with twenty holes drilled. Workforce recruitment is also nearing completion.
- Funding: AfriTin raised £3m in equity on 22 May. Bushveld Minerals, which holds a 9.5% stake in AfriTin also agreed to provide working capital support financing of around $2.1m for 12 months for working capital through the commissioning process. The standby facility interest rate is at 12.5% and is secured against AfriTin’s process plant.
- Ore will be passed through the circuit for end of May 2019 for the crushing circuit and by end of June 2019 for the concentrating circuit.
- Hot commissioning and continuous plant operations will likely commence in July 2019 representing some slippage from the original target for commercial tin concentrate production to start in Q2 2019 due to longer than expected procurement of equipment, material and construction services.
- Commissioning will be followed by a production ramp up spanning four months with the goal of achieving design capacity before the end of Q4 2019.
- The Phase 1 Pilot Plant is designed to process approximately 500,000tpa for 60t tin concentrate per month while Phase 2 will comprise a planned operation of a much larger 3mtpa plant to produce around 5,000tpa of tin concentrate containing approximately 60% tin on an 85% recovery rate.
- The team are also installing a Dense Media Separation plant to upgrade low-grade tin for further processing into a saleable tin concentrate.
- Tin recoveries are 71%-91% in Stage 2 of the process.
- The team acquired the Brandberg West Tin-Tungsten Mine in Namibia last year identifying significant exploration potential in the vicinity with more than 180 tin-bearing pegmatite occurrences known within a 5km radius of the Uis plant.
Conclusion: AfriTin have moved quickly to start commissioning of the Phase 1 Pilot plant. The delay in the commissioning appears to be minor though the cost of delays can often be critical. The £3m raised coupled with the £2.1m working capital facility from Bushveld should see the company through the commissioning and onto the next, larger, phase of the project.
*SP Angel acts as nomad and broker to Bushveld Minerals which spun off AfriTin and still holds a meaningful stake in AfriTin.
- Asiamet Resources reports that ASIPAC has funded a US$2m private placement which takes its stake to 8.55% of the company.
- The funds will be used for “finalising feasibility study activities at BKM, commencing early stage work on value engineering opportunities, and … [providing] …working capital to support ongoing partner and funding initiatives”.
- ASIPAC, described as a Melbourne based diversified investment group, has an “extensive network in China and the China-Australia business community [and] will provide support to Asiamet for initiatives relating to mine plant engineering and equipment supply, development funding, project financing and investor relations.”
- ASIPAC will appoint a non-executive director.
Bluejay Mining* (LON:JAY) 10.12p, Mkt Cap £86.5m – RTIT to test material from Dundas
Target Price 45p
- Bluejay Mining reports that it has agreed with Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium Canada (RTIT) for RTIT to test ilmenite material from its Dundas Ilmenite Project in Greenland.
- The Dundas project, which currently reports a “JORC Compliant Mineral Resource of 101 million tonnes at 7.1% ilmenite (in -situ) … has been confirmed as the highest-grade mineral sand ilmenite project globally”.
- The company cautions that “there is no guarantee that the ilmenite assessment will lead to a long-term transaction between Bluejay and RTIT”, the agreement provides tangible evidence of RTIT’s interest, which may be further enhanced by the location of the project in western Greenland and hence relatively easily accessible to eastern Canada.
- The tests “will include a smelter test sample … from Dundas at RTIT’s Sorel-Tracy plant in Quebec, Canada.” The two companies “will work together to review and improve on the technical work that has been completed on Dundas to date.”
- We understand that a bulk sample for smelter testing could amount to up to around 10,000t of material and given RTIT’s leading position in the industry and the wider Rio Tinto Group’s reputation for its rigorous technical approach to project development, we would expect the overall project to benefit from RTIT’s involvement.
- Commenting on the agreement, CEO, Roderick McIllree, expressed delight “to be working with Rio Tinto” and went on to confirm that “the experience and expertise from Rio Tinto will provide an opportunity for technological and economic optimisation”.
- He went on to say that in addition to the continuing progress at Dundas, “we are now able to refocus some of our attention to our other significant and high value projects namely Disko [a magmatic massive sulphide nickel-copper-platinum project], Kangerluarsuk [a sedimentary exhalative lead zinc silver project – both of which are also in Greenland] and Finland.”
Conclusion: Testing and additional technical support from RTIT should provide Bluejay with valuable insights from an existing ilmenite processor as it continues to advance the Dundas project in Greenland.
*An SP Angel mining analyst has visited the Dundas, Itelak ilmenite sands project in Greenland.
*SP Angel act as nomad and broker to BlueJay Mining.
Hummingbird Resources (LON:HUM) 14.5p, Mkt Cap £51m – Annual results highlight operationally challenging 2018
- The Company expects to release updated Reserve and Resources statements by the end of this quarter that would include a revised life of mine plan.
- The second ball mill is being installed and is due to come online in Q3/19 raising plant throughput y 24%.
- The draft LoM plant indicates with expanded capacity Yanfolila is expected to run at 130-145kozpa and AISC of $800/oz over the 2020-2022 period.
- The Company is preparing scoping studies on the Gonka deposit (5km from the process plant) and Komana Est underground potential that is expected to expand the life of mine and improve annual production rate that is currently estimated to come down to 80kozpa form 2023.
- FY19 production guided at 110-125koz and above $800-850/oz AISCs with Yanfolila benefiting from increased throughput and open pit operations normalise following disruptions in H2/18.
- On annual results, the Company produced 92koz at above $1,000/oz AISC having ramped up Yanfolila to full capacity in H1/18.
- Operations have been impacted by heavy rainfall in Q3/18 that led to pit wall instability and damaged public bridge restricting the only access to the site.
- The Company reported sales of $116.5m and an operating loss of $4.9m on the back of operational issues in H2/18.
- EBITDA amounted to $$15.0m.
- Loss for the year came in at $12.8m or 2.93USc per share.
- The Company had $39.4m in net debt as of Dec/18 comprised of $21.5m in cash and $60.9m in debt.
Jangada Mines (LON:JAN) 1.45 pence, Mkt Cap £3.4m –Disposal of Pedra Branca
- Jangada Mines reports that it has agreed to sell its wholly owned Pedra Branca PGM/nickel project and Ptombeiras vanadium project, both located in north-east Brazil to Canadian-listed ValOre Metals.
- The combination of shares and cash gives the transaction a total value of approximately £4.1m, based on the current share price of ValOre and prevailing exchange rates.
- “The issue of the Consideration Shares would give Jangada an interest of approximately 33 per cent in the current share capital of ValOre as enlarged by the issue of the Consideration Shares”.
- Explaining the reasons for the sale, the company said that “The Board of Directors of Jangada are aware that this announcement may come as a surprise to some shareholders and seem to be conflicting with the Company's promoted views of the technical and economic prospects of Pedra Branca. This is not the case. The Board continues to believe very strongly in Pedra Branca and its prospects, which is evidenced by Jangada remaining a substantial shareholder of ValOre going forward, and the appointment of two Jangada nominees to ValOre's board”
- The company explained that “Since the Company's IPO in June 2017, the Jangada Board has found there to be limited support in the UK financial markets for financing a PGM project” and went on to point out that the “support that Jangada has experienced is diametrically opposite to both the independent experts' value of the underlying assets and the level of support given to projects with similar asset suites on other bourses”.
- “The Jangada Board believes that Pedra Branca will continue to develop strongly as a project, but, in order to continue that development, the project requires stronger financial market support, which the Jangada Board believes ValOre will experience in Canada”
Conclusion: Jangada Mines’ disposal of its Brazilian assets to Canadian-listed ValOre Metals betrays the company’s frustration at its perceived lack of recognition and support by the London market
Tertiary Minerals* (LON:TYM) 0.375p, Mkt Cap £1.7m – New exploration project in Nevada
- Tertiary Minerals reports that it has acquired a 20 year lease over potential porphyry copper / epithermal gold targets in the Pyramid Mining District located approximately 25 miles northwest of Reno, Nevada.
- The group of 34 claims include 9 unpatented claims, which include an option to purchase, and an additional “25 mining claims staked to cover additional targets along strike”.
- The company explains that gold veins, located “within the Perry Canyon Caldera … are interpreted from historical mapping and exploration to lie on the margins of a large and deeply buried porphyry system”.
- The area’s mining history dates back to the 18060s, however, the only modern exploration is reported to have been undertaken during the late 1980s by Battle Mountain Gold which conducted soil sampling and drilled around 1000m in 10 shallow exploration holes including hole PYR 9 which “intersected high grade gold mineralisation and visible gold within a sample thickness of 1.52m grading 17.8 g/t Au from 94.5m downhole”.
- “Tertiary Minerals intends to follow up Battle Mountain's drilling and soil sampling results with an initial RC and core drilling programme as soon as possible. Core drilling is recommended as water, which can affect sample quality, was encountered in drilling both holes PYR 9 & 10.”
- Commenting on the new project, Managing Director, Richard Clemmey, explained that “high-grade gold results in drilling that have not already been followed up are hard to find in Nevada.” He went on to the acquisition “is in line with our strategy to build a new project portfolio which will enable the Company to reduce its future geographical, technical, permitting and commodity risk exposure and provide long-term shareholder value".
Conclusion: Tertiary Minerals appears to be building on its local presence in Nevada, where it is advancing its MB Fluorspar project and diversifying its commodity exposure while reducing reliance on the Storuman fluorspar deposit in Sweden where permitting is proving to be a lengthy process.
*SP Angel act as Nomad and broker to Tertiary Minerals
Thor Mining* (LON:THR) 0.8p, Mkt Cap £6.5m – New investor presentation
(100% Molyhil Tungsten Project, Australia, 40% ownership of Bonya, close to Molyhill, 100% Pilot Mountain Tungsten in USA, 30% EnviroCopper Ltd in Australia)
- Thor Mining have published a new investor presentation detailing the group’s Molyhil Tungsten Project:
- Thor’s recent DFS claims to demonstrate profitable production with low operating costs and an early payback of Capital.
- Ore reserve provides for a seven-year open pit life with subsequent Underground Extension and a substantial resource at depth below reserve plus outcropping Bonya tungsten deposits nearby.
- The Southern ore body was mined briefly during the late 1970s and early 1980s effectively derisking the project and making this a brownfield site.
- Thor has also done much resource extension drilling, metallurgical test work, technical, environmental and social studies, secured environmental approvals and has agreements with traditional owners.
2018 Feasibility Highlights:
- EBITDA US$177m
- Finance requirement US$43m
- Project Payback 18 Months
- Opex US$90/mtu, FX Rate A$1:00 = US$0.74
- Project NPV ‐ after tax & royalties A$101M - All Equity case
- Project IRR ‐ after tax & royalties 59% - All Equity case
- Project Capex A$69M - US$51 million
- Life of Mine EBITDA A$239M
- Payback from 1st production <18 months
- Average Ore Grade 0.29% WO₃ - 0.48%WO₃ after Ore Sort
- 0.12% Mo - 0.20% Mo after Ore Sort
- Operating Throughput 320,000 tpa - After Ore Sort rejects
- Annual Production (WO₃) 120,000 mtu - WO₃ in conc
- Annual Production (Mo) 450T - Mo in Conc.
- The presentation gives further details supporting the Feasibility Study and further work on the Molyhill tungsten project
Conclusion: Hawkstone Mining’s drilling programme is extending the Big Sandy lithium clay mineralisation towards the north. Additional drilling results are expected in the coming weeks which may extend the footprint further northwards and boost the value of Thor Mining’s 1.3% interest in the company.
*SP Angel act as joint broker to Thor Mining
Vast Resources* (LON:VAST) 0.14p, Mkt Cap £11m – Results of general meeting and corporate update
- All resolutions were passed at the General Meeting held on Friday 24 May.
- Additionally, VAST engaged SRK Consulting to prepare economic assessment of its Romanian portfolio including Scoping Study, PEA and/or PFS, as may be appropriate, on Baita Plai, Manaila, Carlibaba and Carlibaba flanks.
- Due diligence with the Swiss lender regarding a loan facility of up to $10m.
- The Company also mentions it is in possession of an indicative term sheet regarding the Heritage Concession in Zimbabwe with further indicative term sheets for the diamond project in Zimbabwe expected shortly.
- The Company is in discussions towards finalisation of the contract in relation to the Heritage Concession and highlights a welcome move of the government to cancel local indigenisation laws for diamonds.
*SP Angel acts as Broker to Vast Resources