News

A second spot market auction later this month could put the extent of the spodumene shortage on full display.

A second spot market auction later this month could put the extent of the spodumene shortage on full display. Plus, Beament goes green as Klein fights for gold, Brazilian hydro power could make Centaurus greener than a rain forest and Boss highlights why decarbonisation will fuel a run in the uranium price.   The big mining news of the past week landed just as 2500 mining and monied types were winding their way to the Diggers & Dealers bash in Kalgoorlie.

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The past and the future collided at this week’s Diggers & Dealers mining forum in the outback WA city of Kalgoorlie with of iron ore and gold challenged for top dog status by the fast-growing crop of “green” metals

Three speakers highlighted the story of yesterday’s investment winners, and tomorrow’s likely winners. Bill Beament, a flag-carrier for gold over the past decade, turned critic when he unveiled the new name for his copper and battery metals focused business, Develop, saying that “gold is not green, sorry but it’s not”.

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Former Northern Star talisman Bill Beament wants his new copper mining venture to provide services to rival companies, a strategy that mirrors the unique business model of Chris Ellison’s Mineral Resources Limited (reports The Australian Financial Review)

Mr Beament’s plan to turn ASX listed explorer Venturex Resources into the mining industry’s version of a mixed business was announced on the same day the company was rebranded ‘Develop’. Venturex’s focus to date has been a copper and zinc project 112 kilometres south-east of Port Hedland called Sulphur Springs where an intense drilling campaign is underway to extend the resource.

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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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And speaking of hunger, is St Barbara about to consume Kin and kick-start a regional consolidation?

The nickel price has rallied hard since the setback earlier in the year which was triggered by news from China’s Tsingshan that it had plans to get into the battery materials space by converting a portion of its nickel pig iron (NPI) production in Indonesia into nickel matte. Hooray for them as there is unlikely to be a Western end-user likely to touch the stuff given the energy intensity involved in making NPI in the first place, and then using yet more to arrive at a suitable nickel matte.

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Drilling by Centaurus Metals at the Jaguar South deposit in Brazil has returned a standout hit of 56.1m at 2.05% nickel from 206m (reports MiningNews).

The hit included 17.6m at 4.86% nickel and 6.7m at 2.09% nickel. It is a record nickel intercept for the project. "This is a world class result for Centaurus and reinforces the quality of the Jaguar South deposit," Argonaut Securities analyst George Ross said. The hole was immediately beneath the limit of the planned open pit.

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Former Orica boss Alberto Calderon has predicted a bright future for gold as a store of value in a world where central banks keep “printing money like there is no tomorrow” (reports The Australian Financial Review).

Mr Calderon is taking the reins as chief executive at AngloGold Ashanti just a month after quitting as boss of Orica. Johannesburg-based AngloGold Ashanti said Mr Calderon would bring two decades of executive leadership experience in the global mining sector to its operations in Africa, the Americas and Australia. The world’s third-biggest gold miner had been on the hunt for a new chief executive since the departure of Kelvin Dushnisky last year.

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Australia's big miners are cheap on a global basis and may drive the S&P/ASX 200 index as high as 8,000 points in the second half of 2021, according to Mike Aked, Director of Research for Australia at Research Affiliates (reports The Australian).

While banks have surged this year because of very low interest rates and the resulting rise in property prices Australia-wide, he says they are expensive on a global basis. "Because our financial companies are expensive on a global basis and our miners are cheap, we would expect that Australian resource companies are much more likely to drive our local market higher over the second half of 2021, to fresh all-time highs over 7,400, possibly rising to as high as 8,000 given the momentum in commodity prices," he says.

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