Gold juniors Breaker and Caeneus among those with overlooked lithium assets in their back pockets. Plus, copper spotlight turns on $26m Anax and Sunstone makes a promising start to porphyry drilling

The lithium sector remains on fire. So much so it has made it easy for analysts with their stock recommendations on the producers – buy the lot of ‘em. And that’s exactly what has been happening, with particular gusto too since Pilbara Minerals (PLS) revealed its first online auction of spodumene had gone off with a bang at $US1,250/t – more than double reference prices of earlier in the year. Joe Biden’s command – via an executive order – for electric vehicles to account for at least half of US auto sales by as soon as 2030 added fuel to the fire.

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Choppy waters often precede a sea change and that’s certainly the case in financial markets today as investors jockey for position ahead of the inevitable upward shift in U.S. interest rates

Gold’s “flash crash” late last week, which briefly drove the price below $US1700 an ounce, coincided with a seemingly modest uptick in the U.S. 10-year bond yield from 1.2% to 1.3%. But that tiny rise was enough to trigger the dumping of gold worth $US4 billion in a single deal. Someone managing a big investment portfolio appears to have made a judgement call on U.S. interest rates and sold gold in preparation for meaningfully higher rates in the next six-to-12 months.

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Former OZ Minerals head of exploration Richard Holmes has recently joined Sandfire Resources to drive the next phase of the company’s growth in the discovery space (reports MiningNews).

Sandfire is planning to spend A$50-60 million on exploration this financial year after spending $64 million in FY20. While Botswana's Kalahari Copper Belt will get the biggest proportion of funds ($23 million), the company has not given up on making another discovery in the Doolgunna region of WA and will allocate $16 million. The DeGrussa mine will reach the end of its life next year, but Sandfire is still keen to leverage off its existing infrastructure. The Doolgunna region will be split into two focus areas - gold in the west and deep drilling in the east.

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Mineral Resources boss Chris Ellison has spoken publicly for the first time about the company’s investment in Venturex Resources (reports MiningNews).

MinRes spent A$30.8 million in February for a 19.5% stake in the copper-zinc developer, at the same time as it was announced former Northern Star Resources executive chairman Bill Beament was joining the company. A subsequent recapitalisation, which saw Beament become the largest shareholder, diluted MinRes' interest to 13.8%. Last week, Beament used his Diggers & Dealers presentation to rebadge the company as Develop, which will not only develop projects, but provide the industry with turnkey underground solutions.

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Gold’s 10% fall over the past three months has rubbed some of the gloss off the metal, but not the investment case of an emerging producer as this tale of two miners demonstrates (reports Tim Treadgold on Small Caps).

In Capricorn Metals (ASX: CMM) versus Calidus Resources (ASX: CAI) a number of interesting parallels (and one disconnection) can be seen with the primary cause of the difference being timing, though that’s an issue which invariably fixes itself. The key to understanding what’s happened (and likely to happen next) is that Capricorn has finished building its Karlawinda project in Western Australia’s Pilbara, poured first gold, and enjoyed a share price boost.

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Perth-based Bardoc Gold has appointed local company GR Engineering Services (ASX: GNG) to manage the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of a processing facility at its namesake Bardoc project near Kalgoorlie in WA (reports Small Caps)

The move comes just a week after Bardoc initiated a cashflow optimisation study aimed at increasing the forecast production rate, margins and cashflow at the 3.07 million ounce project. It represents a significant step for the company as it continues towards streamlining the mining and production schedule and improving project economics and returns.

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12th August 2021

Golds reserves across nearly 400 global projects fell by 10% over the last five years, according to consultancy Metals Focus (reports MiningNews).

Reserves fell from 26,989 tonnes in 2016 to 24,238t by the end of 2020. "This highlights that depletion from mining has outpaced reserve replacement from resource upgrades over the past five years despite the gold price reaching a record high in 2020," Metals Focus said. "This trend contrasts with production from these mines, which increased by 3% over the same period, despite the significant impact on production last year from COVID-19." Resources also fell by 2% to 30,367t.

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The Sunstone management team is already credited with finding SolGold’s ‘Cascabel’ and Intrepid Mining’s ‘Tujuh Bukit’ deposits (reports Stockhead).

Both are undeniably world-class. Sunstone’s focus is now the ‘Bramaderos’ and ‘El Palmar’ copper-gold exploration projects in Ecuador. The cashed-up company has hit copper porphyry in its very first hole at El Palmar from surface, based on visual inspection. The hole is currently at ~350m and will continue to a depth of at least 600m. Planning for follow-up drilling is already underway. “We have achieved the first objective in our strategy to discover a large copper-bearing porphyry system,” managing director Malcolm Norris says.

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