Ken Brinsden jokes that he and his colleagues have whiplash after a wild couple of years in the lithium sector (reports MiningNews).

From opening the A$284 million Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum mine in late 2018 to being forced to moderate production in 2019 and 2020 to as little as 30% of full capacity due to poor market conditions, it's been a rocky road for Pilbara. In mid-2020, when lithium market sentiment was at its weakest, Pilbara completed a critical refinancing, replacing a high-interest US$100 Nordic bond with a $110 million senior secured debt facility from BNP Paribas and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation - the first time a lithium company had attracted conventional bank financing.

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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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9th July 2021

A near doubling in the price of Iluka Resources (ASX: ILU) and a sharp upward move by Astron Corporation (ASX: ATR) has restored investor interest in titanium minerals and zircon, but before buying into one of Australia’s oldest mining industries it is wo

What’s driven Iluka up from $4.50 at this time last year to $8.60 is a combination of improved demand for what it mines, the potential to add rare earths to its product range, and trouble in the African mineral sands industry. Astron, a much smaller company, has outperformed Iluka with a 150% share price rise from $0.20 at the start of the year to $0.51 thanks to a corporate reorganisation which will see it quit a Chinese mineral processing business so it can focus on the Donald project in central Victoria.

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Perth-based broker Euroz Hartleys Ltd has re-initiated research coverage of mid-tier copper miner Sandfire Resources (ASX: SFR), setting a $10 price target – well north of its closing price last night of $6.70.

Euroz Hartleys analyst Steven Clark notes a number of key developments since the cessation of coverage on October 2020, including a 41 per cent appreciation in copper prices from US$3.06/lb to US$4.30/lb, an increase in its copper price forecast and a magnification of the limited ASX exposure to copper production.

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Plus, production challenges in the iron ore game point to prices continuing to beat bearish forecasts, which is good news for the new band of leveraged juniors like Fenix.

The rebound of the lithium sector has been nothing short of spectacular. So much so, it is fair enough for investors to wonder if the recovery from two years of misery when over-supply concerns dominated is all said and done. During that two years of misery, the commentary was that as lithium is abundant, which it is, demand would for ever and a day be comfortably met by the next big expansion, or the next big project.

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Iron ore last year, nickel and titanium minerals this year (so far) with the connection being commodity price increases caused by supply disruption – with shortages and “outages” an investment theme likely to be as significant as demand.

Iluka Resources was the major beneficiary in Australia from this week’s big event, the closure of the world-class Richards Bay titanium minerals processing centre on South Africa’s east coast. The loss of supply from Richards Bay drove Iluka shares to a 10-year high of $9.27 before the stock settled at $8.89, up 73c (9%) over the week.

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One of the great unknowns about Chalice Mining’s exciting Julimar project is whether its proximity to Perth is a blessing or a curse (reports The Australian Financial Review).

The PGE (platinum group element) discovery – which includes nickel, copper, cobalt, gold and palladium –- sits a little more than 70 kilometres north-east of the city in farmland and state forest. Chalice is waiting for permission to drill in the state forest as it tries to establish just how big a deal it has on its hands with Julimar, and if it is of a size that supports one or more mines.

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There are times when Chalice Mining managing director Alex Dorsch looks out of the window of his West Perth office and shakes his head in wonder (reports The Australian Financial Review).

Less than 80 kilometres from the suburb, which is home to Australia’s greatest concentration of junior mining and exploration companies, sits the company’s Julimar discovery. Julimar is a rare beast: a shallow nickel-copper-cobalt-palladium-gold deposit in a nation where there have been few platinum group element (PGE) discoveries, let alone many of size.

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