News

Return of the boom, or a Reddit-fuelled feeding frenzy? That’s the critical question after a week which saw uranium catch fire, along with most other energy commodities, including lithium, oil and gas.

The answer to the question of whether the boom is back or whether the market this week was dominated by speculators outbidding each other for a slice of the resources pie, is probably a bit of both. Uranium, after a decade in the deep freeze which followed the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan, has stormed back into favour as an energy metal destined to play a role in transition away from fossil fuels.

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Pilbara Minerals has underlined the strength of the surging lithium market with an online auction of product revealing price gains of nearly 80 per cent in just seven weeks (reports The West Australian).

The Ken Brinsden-led company late yesterday revealed its recently initiated Battery Material Exchange digital auction for 8000 dry metric tonnes of 5.5 per cent lithium concentrate (spodumene) received a highest bid of $US2240/t.

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It’s the shot being heard around the mining world (reports Chanticleer in The Australian Financial Review).

Just after 7pm on Tuesday evening, Perth-based lithium producer Pilbara Minerals announced it had conducted just its second-ever auction on the Battery Material Exchange, a platform it launched in March to sell unallocated tonnes of spodumene concentrate from its Pilgangoora complex, 120 kilometres from Port Hedland in Western Australia’s resource-rich Pilbara region.

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Minerals 260 will join a recent rash of spin-outs in the junior sector when it lists next month as a separate entity from parent Liontown Resources (reports The West Australian).

But unlike some of the recent crop, the uncoupling makes sense and looks well structured. Minerals 260 will house Liontown’s precious and base metals assets with a focus on the prospective Moora project and contiguous Koojan farm-in joint venture project with Lachlan Star. In March, Liontown reported an intersection of 44m at 1.6g/t gold from 200-244m at Moora’s Angepena prospect, which included 20m at 3.2g/t and 4m at 10.1g/t from the first RC hole drilled.

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Centaurus Metals, which last week announced a new greenfields discovery at Tigre, hasn’t let up the pace at Jaguar South, where step-out and infill drilling continues to grow potential resources at the core of the Brazilian project with eight rigs in operation (reports MiningNews). The deepest step-out drilling at the core Jaguar South deposit to date has returned "consistent high-grade" intersections, such as 7m at 1.24% nickel from 349m, including 3m at 2.31%, over 21m at 1.25% from 367m, including 3m at 5.56%. The hit was 50m down-dip of previous drilling.

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Iron ore prices have slumped in recent weeks, currently sitting at US$120/tonne, or around AU$164/tonne (reports Stockhead).

It’s sweet spot to be in for players like Fenix Resources (ASX:FEX) who hedged ~45% of their planned production from October 2021 to September 2022 at A$230/dry metric tonne. The company had entered iron ore swap arrangements for 50,000 tonnes per month of the Monthly Average Platts TSI 62 Index converted to AUD for the 12-month period as part of its price protection policy. The idea was to secure the medium-term future of the Iron Ridge project – whilst maintaining exposure to the iron ore price.

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Macmahon has finalised a $210 million contract for mining services at Calidus Resources’ Warrawoona gold project in the Pilbara as on-site construction heads towards completion (reports The West Australian).

The scope of work at the emerging gold producer’s development south of Marble Bar will include all open cut mining activities until December 2026. Macmahon is already engaged in separate civil works at Warrawoona where it has 65 workers on site. Calidus said the mill had been installed was now 60 per cent complete. Construction of the processing plant was now 63 per cent complete. Warrawoona is forecast to produce up to 105,000 ounces a year, with the potential to increase to 139,000oz when the nearby Blue Spec deposit is developed.

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Silver has long sat in the shadow of gold as a kind of poor cousin (reports Stockhead).

Silver is more abundant than gold and found in higher concentrations, but is still considered a precious metal and trades at a far higher price by weight than base metals like nickel and tin. After hitting levels of around US$40/oz a decade ago prices spent most of the next 10 years at under half those levels. Exposure to the commodity is sparse on the ASX, and prices have suffered some hard times, largely missing the boom gold miners enjoyed from 2017 to 2020 before spiking upwards during the pandemic.

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