Any doubts about battery metals dominating the resources sector for the next decade, and beyond, were washed away this week when BHP and Rio Tinto made overdue expansion moves into nickel and lithium.

Both mining giants have been tinkering around the edges of batteries and energy transition, but they showed their hands when BHP lobbed a bid for control of a Canadian nickel discovery and Rio Tinto giving the go ahead to the Jadar lithium project in Serbia. Fat profits from mining iron ore, and selling coal and oil assets, are funding the shift into energy metals with more to come in the next few weeks with BHP expected to take a bolder step into “green” commodities with a commitment to finish building its Jansen potash project also in Canada.

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With focus now firmly on its Western Australian gold assets, Red 5 has signed a binding agreement to sell its mothballed Siana gold mine and nearby Mapawa project in the Philippines, after almost 20 years of often troubled ownership (report Mining News)

The company will pocket US$19 million cash from the sale, plus the buyer TVI Pacific will pay out a 3.25% net smelter return royalty on production of up to 619,000 ounces. Red 5 estimates that could see it bank a further $36 million, assuming a gold price of $1800/oz.

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Kairos Minerals (ASX: KAI) is anticipating a “vast” amount of drill results in the coming weeks with drilling now complete at the Kangan project near De Grey Mining’s (ASX: DEG) 6.8 million ounce gold Hemi discovery (reports Small Caps).

Located in Western Australia’s Pilbara region and 20km south of Hemi, Kairos undertook 133 holes of aircore drilling at Kangan for 5,454m.

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Plus, Fenix locks in high iron ore prices, $8m Traka goes elephant hunting and Evolution raises a big lick well below the price of a week ago.

South Korea Inc has thrown its support behind the Dubbo rare earths and strategic metals project of Alkane spin-out, Australian Strategic Metals (ASX:ASM). A consortium of South Korean investors are to pump $340m into the holding company for the project in return for a 20% equity interest, as well a 10-year metal offtake agreement with the metals plant being built by ASM in South Korea.

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Northern Star Resources has appointed long-time CEO Stuart Tonkin as managing director from today (reports MiningNews).

As envisaged under the October 2020 merger of Northern Star and Saracen, Raleigh Finlayson will transition from MD to executive director for two months, then retire from the board. Finlayson will take six months to spend time with his family and complete an advanced management program at Harvard University. He will then re-join the Northern Star board on April 4, 2022, as a non-executive director. "I'll re-join the board refreshed and re-energised with hopefully some new skills to support Stu," Finlayson said this morning.

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While resuming production is still many months away, Red 5 has eyes for an even bigger prize at its King of the Hills gold mine, Western Australia, with a 19% boost in underground resources (reports MiningNews).

The miner has delivered a 130,000 ounce increase in contained ounces for the underground component of its mine, following the completion of some 33,000m of drilling completed last year. Discovery costs were estimated at A$34/oz. Open pit resources were reduced by 2%, or 80,000oz, due to depletion during mining operations, which were suspended in January, and some adjustments due to the miner's improved understanding of geology.

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The discovery of a significant new zone of mineralisation has solidified Gateway’s belief that its Gidgee project in Western Australia is a large, high-grade gold system (reports Stockhead).

The zone was intersected in reverse circulation and diamond drilling between the historical Montague-Boulder and Northeast open pits with assays returning hits of 3m grading 11.5 grams per tonne (g/t) gold from 177m in GRC698 and 3m at 5g/t gold from 314m in GDD023.

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Evolution Mining has been working away at having a portfolio of 6-8 top quality gold assets ever since its inception in 2011 (reports Barry FitzGerald on MiningNews).

There has been a string of divestments and acquisitions along the way to get to the model portfolio. But there is more work to do. Among its current portfolio of six assets, only Ernest Henry in Queensland is truly top quality, while Cowal in NSW and Red Lake in Ontario have the credentials to become top quality. Even then, studies in to taking Ernest Henry deeper so it can continue to dazzle beyond the current known 3.5 years need to be completed, and a whole lot of capex has to be thrown at Cowal and Red Lake to make them top notch.

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