Lithium’s outlook remains strong but investors now need to look to juniors like Essential for growth; Plus, plenty of smoke in Nimy’s latest nickel hole and Larvotto offers investors three drilling programs.

Elon Musk is mulling whether he needs to get into lithium mining to bring down prices for the key battery material. He needn’t bother. It’s a commodity markets maxim that the cure for high prices is high prices. And high prices is certainly what the lithium market is going through at the moment. Talk of a perpetual shortage despite the high prices is nonsense because the high prices are triggering a supply response that in time, will bring prices back to more palatable levels for Elon and the rest of the EV brigade.

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The global commodity rush slowed this week as markets prepared for the trading break over Easter but two factors, war and inflation, continued to rattle investor confidence as well as sparking a shift back to the ultimate safe haven, gold.

ANZ Bank expects gold to remain in favour as other currencies are debased by the highest rates of inflation since the 1980s, tipping on Tuesday that a rise by gold to above $US1960 an ounce “would be a bullish signal”. That hurdle was cleared a few hours after ANZ published its comments with the gold price moving up to $US1967/oz, a rise of $US30/oz in three days.

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Kin has intersected new zones of high-grade gold mineralisation east of historical surface workings at the underexplored Rangoon area within its Cardinia project near Leonora, WA, highlighting substantial new upside at the 1.275Moz project (reports Stockhead).

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Lithium major Pilbara Minerals has met production guidance for the March quarter, despite peak COVID-19 cases in Western Australia (reports MiningNews).

The company's Pilgangoora operation produced 81,431 dry metric tonnes of spodumene concentrate, within guidance of 75,000-90,000t. It was the lowest production of the 2022 financial year so far as the company fights the impacts of rising COVID-19 cases and reduced availability of staff and contractors. However, the figure beat Canaccord Genuity's forecast of 79,000t. Pilbara maintained full-year guidance of 340,000-380,000t, but warned that further COVID-19 impacts could see that figure being at the lower end of the range.

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A Montana District Court judge has made a decision in a case regarding a challenge against the mine operating permit for Sandfire Resources’ proposed Black Butte copper development (reports MiningNews).

Opponents of the project filed a legal complaint in 2020 and the case was heard last year. In a decision issued late last week, the judge granted the plaintiffs' motion for a summary judgement stating that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MT DEQ) violated the Montana Metal Mines Reclamation Act and Montana Environmental Policy Act in its analysis of the project. Each party now has 45 days to propose remedial measures to the judge, after which she will hand down her remedial actions.

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Shares in recent float Nimy Resources jumped after it reported a thick zone of nickel-copper mineralisation in a second diamond drill hole at its Mons project near Southern Cross (reports The West Australian).

The Simon Lill-chaired explorer announced on Wednesday it had intersected 438 metres of semi massive sulphides in a diamond hole at the Godley prospect. The hit follows a similar 275m zone intersected in its first hole at Godley last month. Assays are pending for both holes. Mr Lill described it as a highly promising start to the company’s drilling campaign at Mons. “These results provide strong evidence that Godley hosts a large mineralised system with potential for high-grade zones,” he said.

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Hidden gems are starting to emerge at the small end of the iron ore industry thanks to the growing interest of billionaire investors with low-profile CZR Resources (ASX: CZR) shaping as the stock to watch.

Super-rich Gina Rinehart and Mark Creasy are leading the charge into small iron ore stocks as the price of the steel-making material refuses to fall as noted in last month’s report. With the price of high-quality ore sitting around US$150 a tonne every iron ore producer in the world should be generating handsome profits and this is likely to continue for some time as Chinese steel demand rebounds and the war in Ukraine crimps exports from that country and Russia.

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Labyrinth Resources has struck visual gold in exploration outside its resource at its namesake project in Canada, giving confidence there is plenty more of the rich, high-grade goodness to be found in the Quebec deposit (reports Stockhead).

The Labyrinth gold project boasts a foreign non-JORC resource to Canada’s NI43-101 standard of 2.1Mt at 7.1g/t at 479,000oz. But with a maiden JORC resource on track for delivery in 2022, the visible gold intersected between the known Talus and Boucher lodes is a very good omen, highlighting Labyrinth’s (ASX:LRL) potential to expand known mineralisation and validating its initial appraisal of the asset’s gold bounty.

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