Nickel

  • ‘This is the perfect place for us to be’- African Battery’s Paul Johnson on his plans to propel freshly refinanced firm forward (ABM)

    African Battery Metals (LSE:ABM) has been on something of a roller coaster ride over the last few months. After its shares were suspended at the end of 2018, in the face of financial uncertainty, a successful refinancing programme allowed the company to return to trading in February with no debt and a healthy cash runway. Alongside this newfound financial security, the organisation has also undergone a significant management restructuring that has seen industry veterans Paul Johnson and Andrew Bell both become executive directors.

    As it stands, African Battery’s shares sit at 0.4p to give the business a modest valuation of just £1.33m. In this two-part interview, Johnson talks us through Bell and his plans to build on this base by using the firm’s strong core offering to create value for both new and existing shareholders.

    New beginnings

    African Battery’s significant transition began in December last year with the suspension of its shares pending clarification of its financial position. In an accompanying statement, the company revealed that it had been unable to secure equity finance with its largest shareholders despite ‘protracted discussions’.

    Following this considerable setback, the firm took a significant step forward at the end of January when it revealed a restructuring and refinancing package. This was centred around a £1m fundraise at 0.5p per share with two-year warrants attached. This would enable it to pay off all of its material creditors, leaving it debt free with a cash runway of at least 12 months. 

    Critically, the arrangement also proposed that African Battery’s then-CEO Roger Murphy and executive director Matt Wood would step down from the firm’s board. Meanwhile, well-known AIM figures Andrew Bell and Paul Johnson would both join as executive directors and take part in the placing. Johnson is an experienced public company director who has previously served as chief executive of Metal Tiger, Metal NRG, and China Africa Resources. He has also been chairman of ECR Minerals and non-executive director of Greatland Gold, Papua Mining, and Thor Mining. Bell, meanwhile, has worked in the natural resources sector since the 1970s and is perhaps most recognised as chairman of Red Rock Resources and non-executive director of Jupiter Mines.

    Johnson tells us that he and Bell’s engagement with African Battery arose from their long-standing interest in its operations. As a result of this awareness, the pair were keen to look at ways of fixing the firm’s financial situation as soon as they heard of its suspension:

    ‘African Battery has always had a healthy amount of interesting news flow,’ Johnson tells us. ‘When it announced that it had suspended, it seemed obvious to us to look into what problems existed and whether they were fixable. These days, AIM operating companies with some cash, no debt, and some potential forward momentum in operations can be highly valuable. We pretty quickly concluded that we could resolve the company’s issues, and felt that this represented a great opportunity.’

    Johnson says he also feels that current market conditions represent an opportune moment to get exposure to battery metals. Indeed, once obscure materials like copper, cobalt, nickel, lithium, and manganese are now being hailed as the ‘new precious metals’ due to their use in the next generation of batteries. These have many applications, but their most notable us is arguably in electric vehicles (EVs).

    Alongside supply-side limitations, many expect the anticipated, global shift towards EVs over coming years to lead to an explosion in the price of elements associated with their construction. For example, the market for cobalt alone is expected to double over the next four years and quadruple by 2028 due to an unsteady supply pipeline for the metal and its use in around three-quarters of EV batteries.

    ‘You just have to look at all the facts about battery metals like forward supply/demand dynamics and underlying factors that would drive demand to see an opportunity,’ Johnson explains. ‘There has not been growth in mining, exploration, project development, and new mines for these metals, and that is affecting supply. Meanwhile, as everyone knows, battery metal demand is increasing dramatically and is expected to continue rising.

    This is really an unusual situation. We have actually got supply and demand factors that could hit prices positively at the same time. For example, do I think copper is going to stay at its current, depressed price forever? I doubt it. Likewise, nickel looks to be on a significant, overall, rising trend. I think we are set for an excellent growth period and this is the perfect place for us to be.’

    Operational review

    Several weeks after the refinancing was announced, Johnson and Bell’s proposals were passed by shareholders, prompting the pair’s appointment and the restoration of trading in African Battery’s shares. Since joining, the two executive directors have been busy completing a thorough strategic and operational review of the business.

    On the financial side, this has seen them cut corporate costs to minimal levels and amend boardroom pay to ensure directors’ salaries are transparent and reflect both performance and African Battery’s cash position. Elsewhere, in early March, the business announced that it has now paid all material creditor balances through cash or share settlement. As such, it no longer has ‘material debt’ and substantial working capital.

    Meanwhile, on the operational side, the pair are also conducting a review of each of African Battery’s existing project interests. To date, the company has committed to proceeding its 70pc-owned and operated Kisinka copper-cobalt project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This decision followed a visit by Bell in February, which included meeting with project vendors and local technical advisers.

    The company is now liaising with its geological team to prepare a next-stage exploration programme for Kisinka. This will be optimised using previous exploration data, and modifications have been made to earlier plans to maximise cost efficiency. Meanwhile, the organisation has now made all outstanding project payments to Kisinka’s vendor and completed all the changes required to comply with the DRC’s new Mining Act.

    After reviewing historical data, African Battery has also committed to continuing its work in Cameroon. Through its subsidiary Cobalt Blue Holdings, the company holds four nickel cobalt licences in the country either adjacent to or within 50km of the Nkamouna/Mada project. This is the most significant undeveloped cobalt resource outside the DRC and has a NI 43-101 compliant resource of 323Mt at average grades of 0.21pc cobalt, 0.61pc nickel, and 1.25pc manganese. Cobalt Blue also holds two licence applications at Ntam Est and N'Gaoundere.

    African Battery is now devising a forward work programme for Cobalt Blue’s assets that will prioritise the highest-profile targets as determined from work undertaken and reviewed to date. In an announcement, Johnson said the business would like to begin its work as soon as possible so it complete before heavy rains expected after June.

    Bell and Johnson are now completing a review of African Battery’s final interest in Côte d’Ivoire. Through its subsidiary Regent Resources Interests, the business can earn into 70pc of the Lizetta II chrome, nickel, cobalt exploration licence in the country. An independent assessment of the project, which is based near the country’s commercial capital, has confirmed its potential to host cobalt, nickel, and chrome mineralisation of economic potential. It has also proposed an initial field programme consisting of historical data compilation, geological mapping, geophysical surveys, trenching, and RC drilling.

    Johnson tells us that he and Bell are using a three-stage process to review African Battery’s existing portfolio:

    ‘The first stage of this process is to look at each project and its potential. Here, we want to work out if the asset can, on its own basis, engage the market, create value, and be a decent addition to African Battery’s portfolio. Then, if we do decide to proceed with a project, we will announce this to the market,’ he says. ‘Following this, the second stage is to review how best to take the project forward. We look at where we can spend the money in a way that creates the most value for shareholders. This could be on something like an exploration programme or a development programme. Once we have worked out the best approach possible, we will then announce this to the market. Finally, the third stage is to get on with the planned work and start taking the project forward.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    The article expresses the views of the Author solely and does not necessarily express the views of MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd or their connected parties who are not responsible for its content or accuracy

    News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. Readers are recommended to seek the advice of appropriate professionals when considering investments in small capital.

  • ‘There are a number of attractive opportunities out there in stable jurisdictions’- African Battery’s Paul Johnson on his plans for freshly refinanced firm’s future (ABM)

    African Battery Metals (LSE:ABM) has been on something of a roller coaster ride over the last few months. After its shares were suspended at the end of 2018, in the face of financial uncertainty, a successful refinancing programme allowed the company to return to trading in February with no debt and a healthy cash runway. Alongside this newfound financial security, the organisation has also undergone a significant management restructuring that has seen Paul Johnson and Andrew Bell both become executive directors. 

    In the first part of our interview with Johnson, the AIM veteran discussed Bell and his reasons for approaching African Battery and their plans for the outfit’s existing portfolio. Here, he discusses the pair’s recent deal with AIM-listed Katoro gold and their plans to make the most of today’s ‘very poor’ funding climate for early-stage resource opportunities as they line up African Battery’s future.

    Haneti opportunity

    Johnson and Bell revealed African Battery’s first foray into new territory under their leadership last month, announcing an investment and option agreement with Katoro Gold (LSE:KAT). Under the contract, African Battery will be able to purchase up to 10m shares in Katoro at 1p each with three-year warrants attached. It also has the right to purchase up to 35pc in Katoro’s 100pc-owned Haneti nickel project in Tanzania, for a total consideration of up to £125,000.

    Haneti comprises tenements covering an area of around 5,000km2 prospective for nickel, platinum-group-elements, cobalt, copper, gold, and lithium. Previous work has identified grades of up to 13.6pc nickel at the project, and an exploration programme this year will aim to confirm the existence of disseminated or massive sulphide mineralisation in the area. Alongside Haneti, Katoro owns a further two gold projects in Tanzania called Imweru and Lubando. Together, these host a JORC-compliant resource of 754,980oz gold.

    As well as giving African Battery exposure to a new nickel project and a new jurisdiction, Johnson says he and Bell felt that Katoro’s looked undervalued:

    ‘Like all resource firms, Katoro has suffered recently. Its market cap currently sits at just £1m, which is unbelievably low considering that it has a large amount of gold in its portfolio, a potentially high-impact nickel project, and cash in the bank. We see plenty of upside on the stock, and think its market cap could go substantially higher.’

    Johnson also highlights parallels between Katoro and Haneti’s previous owner Kibo Mining (now Kibo Energy), into which Metal Tiger entered a joint venture in 2014 when he was chief executive. Shortly after Metal Tiger made a £150,000 equity investment and launched the 50:50 project focused on its uranium-prospective portfolio in Tanzania, Kibo’s shares shot up from below 1.5p to more than 10p in intra-day trading.

    This rise, which occurred very quickly, came after Metal Tiger’s investment supported Kibo in the delivery of a highly positive definitive mining feasibility study at its Rukwa coal to power project. With the deal earning Metal Tiger a significant profit in short order, Johnson hopes that alongside having an option over Hanet, African Battery can make a lot from its Katoro shareholding.

    Broadening horizons

    Alongside the Katoro deal, March also saw Johnson and Bell lay out their plans for African Battery’s future in a strategic and operational plan. The company said that the funding climate for early-stage resource opportunities is still ‘very poor’, thanks to depressed market conditions. As a result, it believes vendors are willing to undertake transactions on unusually reasonable terms. Using some of its remaining cash balance, the firm plans to take advantage of this by reviewing and – if appropriate – acquiring new opportunities that complement its existing portfolio and provide additional risk diversification.

    In the update, African Battery said it has already received direct approaches from third parties with assets in battery metals, precious metals, and other commodity groups. As well as looking at new commodity groups, the firm said that, although it intends to remain focused on Africa, it would be willing to enter new jurisdictions if an attractive enough opportunity arose.

    ‘We are obviously very focused on reviewing what we can do with the existing portfolio,’ says Johnson. ‘However, we are also considering investment opportunities that can boost our balance sheet, bolster our financial strength and expose us to strategically attractive areas for future business development. For example, it would be good to get diversification across a wider geographical spread in Africa, rather than focusing solely on the West of the continent. There are a number of attractive opportunities out there in stable jurisdictions before offered at good valuations.’

    Aside from maintaining and expanding African Battery’s portfolio, Johnson said another core goal for Bell and himself is to restore value for long-term shareholders. He highlights his stints at Metal Tiger, Greatland Gold, and Thor Mining as evidence of his ability to implement a successful business turnaround strategy.

    ‘African Battery has been through a period of difficulty, and it is now down to us to restore confidence in the company. There are a lot of people with personal money invested that have suffered a large capital loss. So, alongside making money for the investors that entered alongside us, we have got to try and make back as much of that cash that long-term shareholders have lost on paper as possible,’ he says.

    Both Andrew Bell and I have enjoyed turnaround success at numerous businesses over the years, with good examples being Thor Mining, Metal Tiger, and Greatland Gold. We enter African Battery in a far more comfortable position than many of these examples. The company has no debt, a good strong cash balance, and some existing interests with value that can be taken forward. What’s more, we are at the bottom of the market, or at least close to it. That is the scenario you want if you are going to make a recovery. It is really a case of doing the same thing as we have done before: maintaining our strong core business model and grabbing new opportunities as and when they become available.’

    Where next?

    With one asset left to review and new projects on the agenda, the next few months are likely to see African Battery deliver plenty of newsflow for investors. What’s more, by a revitalised balance sheet devoid of debt and replete with cash complements this forward momentum. If the business’s two experienced bosses can strike the right chord with the retail market by meeting all of their strategic and operational goals, then the company could be poised for exciting growth.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    The article expresses the views of the Author solely and does not necessarily express the views of MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd or their connected parties who are not responsible for its content or accuracy

    News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. Readers are recommended to seek the advice of appropriate professionals when considering investments in small capital.

  • African Battery kicks off copper-nickel exploration work in Cameroon (ABM)

    African Battery Metals (LSE:ABM) advanced 5.6pc to 4.8p on Monday afternoon after announcing that it has begun exploration activities at its copper-nickel project in Cameroon. The £1.7m business, which was trading at 0.47p on Tuesday morning, will carry out a pit excavation programme at the asset to a maximum depth of 15m per individual pit.

    This work, which is due to start immediately so it can complete before the onset of heavy rains, will include mapping and sampling of each excavated pit. These samples will be tested in South Africa following completion of fieldwork and used to produce a database of prospect information complementing historical work carried out on site.

    African Battery is testing for cobalt and nickel mineralisation at depth to reflect work conducted by Geovic Mining at its nearby licences. This demonstrated that mineralised horizons were below 6m. Specifically, African Battery wishes to test the theory that its licence interests show geological similarity to the nearby Nkamouna deposit. Here, Geovic published a NO 43-101-compliant total measured, indicated, and inferred mineral resource of 323Mt at 0.21pc cobalt, 0.61pc nickel, and 1.26pc manganese.

    African Battery’s developments in Cameroon come around a month since it recommenced exploration at its 70pc-owned Kisinka copper-cobalt project in the DRC. Last week, the firm revealed that it had completed a field programme at the asset, collecting a total of 663 termite mound samples. The organisation is now carrying out sample preparation, which is scheduled to end shortly. After this, it will carry out X-ray fluorescence spectrometry analysis to identify anomalous levels of copper and cobalt.

    In Monday’s update, African Battery’s executive director Paul Johnson said the firm’s approach to Cameroon would be similar to its work in the DRC.

    ‘As with Kisinka, we have opted to focus our initial exploration spend in a highly targeted manner, answering a simple exploration question and namely, do the identified target areas have geological similarity to the nearby Nkamouna deposit,’ he said. ‘If the answer is positive, the impact on the value of the project to the Company could be dramatic and certainly disproportionately beneficial against the underlying modest cost of conducting the planned pitting and sampling programme.’

    Elsewhere, this month saw African Battery unveil a significant acquisition and earn-in agreement in Botswana. The business has acquired an 18.26pc stake in an exploration and geological consultancy company called Kalahari Key Mineral Exploration for $194,821.

    Kalahari Key, established by Roger Key, Andy Moore, Simon Bate, and Rick Bonner in November 2014, is the 100pc owner of Molopo Farms Complex (MFC) project in south-west Botswana. Furthermore, African Battery has also secured the right to earn-in to a 40pc direct interest in MFC by spending $500,000 on the project by 31 December next year. This money would go towards ground exploration at the project, expected to include the drilling of high priority targets.

    MFC is made up of three exploration licences covering 2,725km2 that are thought to be prospective for nickel, PGM, and copper mineralisation. As well as acquiring all of the project’s historical exploration data, Kalahari Key has undertaken a high-resolution, helicopter-borne electromagnetic and magnetic survey on the area. This work identified 17 key zones of conductive rocks now being used to construct a priority list of targets for follow-up ground exploration.

    To read MiningMaven’s recent interview with Johnson on his plans for African Battery moving forward, please click here.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

  • African Battery Metals says it is ‘extremely well positioned’ for recovery in annual results (ABM)

    African Battery Metals (LSE:ABM) sat at 0.4p today after reporting that it is ‘extremely well positioned’ for a strong recovery in the natural resources sector.

    In its results for the year ended 31 March 2019, the organisation revealed a loss of £0.32m, an improvement on the £0.79m loss it incurred in 2018.  It also reported that period-end net assets of £3m up from £2m on 30 September 2018.

    In its update, African Battery’s executive chairman Paul Johnson highlighted that the results period cover little of the time the firm has spent under his and chairman Andrew Bell leadership. The pair replaced African Battery’s former management team in February as part of a restructuring and refinancing exercise. This saw the company raise £1m to support it in the clearance of creditors through a combination of discounted cash and share settlement payments.

    Shortly after joining, the pair launched a strategic and operational review that has continued into the new annual results period. As part of a review of African Battery’s existing portfolio, the firm committed to continuing with the existing Kisinka copper-cobalt project in the DRC. A termite mound sampling programme covering the entire licence commenced in April, and a 7km copper anomaly was announced earlier this month.

    Meanwhile, Johnson and Bell have also committed to continuing with African Battery’s Cameroon cobalt-nickel project interests in the ground near to the substantial Nkamouna deposit. A pitting and sampling programme to test how similar the firm’s land is to the Nkamouna geology is currently underway. Finally, a review of the business’s Ivory Coast opportunity is continuing.

    Elsewhere, African Battery announced an option with Katoro Gold plc (LON:KAT) earlier this year to acquire up to a 35pc stake in its Haneti Nickel Project alongside the purchase of 10m ordinary shares in Katoro itself. After a period of due diligence, the company exercised this option in May.

    Following this, African Battery announce an acquisition and earn-in agreement with Kalahari Key Mineral Exploration, a private company in Botswana, last month. The organisation has acquired an initial 18pc of Kalahari Key’s issued share capital. However, it also has an option in 2019 to earn-in to a 40pc direct project interest by supporting expenditure in respect of a 4-hole drilling programme. This will focus on targets derived from extensive airborne electromagnetic and ground geophysical surveys and related exploration.

    Moving forward, Johnson said African Battery is continuing a review of various additional opportunities in a pipeline that is ‘bursting with potentially exciting natural resource projects’.

    ‘Despite the challenges in late 2018, ABM is now, in the opinion of the board, extremely well positioned for what we expect will be a strong natural resource sector recovery, particularly in respect of battery and electrification metals and storage metals,’ he added.

    ‘Notwithstanding the cleaning up of the outstanding creditors following the refinancing in February 2019, relaunching exploration programmes across two of our main projects, and acquiring new business interests we remain in a robust financial position.

    ‘The company's corporate cash costs are carefully monitored and controlled.  The ompany's operational costs are controlled and with modest with low cost programmes being undertaken, generally where the potential upside from positive exploration may be dramatic.

    ‘The company will be continuing to provide regular updates with regard to its corporate and operational activities over the coming weeks and months.  ABM will also release this month an update of the ongoing strategic and operational review, to provide an in-depth analysis of the business, its corporate strategy and how the individual operational activities will be undertaken to drive the company forward.’

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

     

  • African Battery to enter Botswana with ‘transformative’ acquisition and earn-in agreement

    African Battery Metals (LSE:ABM) jumped 12.5pc to 0.4275p on Monday morning after unveiling a major acquisition and earn-in agreement in Botswana. The business has acquired an 18.26pc stake in an exploration and geological consultancy company called Kalahari Key Mineral Exploration for $194,821.

    Kalahari Key, established by Roger Key, Andy Moore, Simon Bate, and Rick Bonner in November 2014, is the 100pc owner of Molopo Farms Complex (MFC) project in south-west Botswana. Furthermore, African Battery has also secured the right to earn-in to a 40pc direct interest in MFC by spending $500,000 on the project by 31 December next year. This money would go towards ground exploration at the project, expected to include the drilling of high priority targets.

    MFC is made up of three exploration licences covering 2,725km2 that are thought to be prospective for nickel, PGM, and copper mineralisation. As well as acquiring all of the project’s historical exploration data, Kalahari Key has undertaken a high-resolution, helicopter-borne electromagnetic and magnetic survey on the area. This work identified 17 key zones of conductive rocks now being used to construct a priority list of targets for follow-up ground exploration.

    If African Battery chooses to complete its earn-in expenditure agreement, its effective interest in MFC would sit at 50.96pc. Meanwhile, company chairman Andrew Bell would be appointed to a new MFC Project operational committee, while director Paul Johnson would join the board of Kalahari Key.

    Neither the committee members or the existing new directors of Kalahari Key would be remunerated for their services. Finally, if African Battery decides to exercise its earn-in agreement, a JV agreement would be established between the company and Kalahari Key that will determine strategy, operational management, and corporate structuring.

    African Battery’s chairman Andrew Bell said he was ‘delighted’ to secure an opportunity in Botswana for African Battery’s shareholders.

    ‘Botswana is an exceptional country with exciting exploration opportunities and a superb operating environment,’he added. This significant opportunity comes to us after the MFC Project has already benefitted from extensive historical exploration that has already identified 17 targets through Airborne Electomagnetic Surveys.

    ‘There is some further Airborne Electromagnetic work to do, with ground exploration follow up and ongoing target prioritisation. However, the ultimate key to unlocking the value from exploration targets under sand cover is via the drill rig and we will be working with Kalahari Key to identify the quickest route to active drilling operations.’

    Bell added that African Battery’s board considers the investment to be consistent with the company’s stated policy of seeking battery metal exposure in Africa.

    ‘We also believe that further exploration success at the MFC Project would, by virtue of the potential scale, have a transformative impact on the prospects of ABM and on investor sentiment towards it,’ he said. ‘I am delighted to be working with the Kalahari Key team and would like to emphasise the diligent work they have done to bring the MFC Project to its current position. These are exciting times and we anticipate further updates in respect of Botswana and our other business interests in the near future.”

    Roger Key, chief executive at Kalahari Key, added: ‘Kalahari Key is very pleased to have reached this agreement with African Battery Metals and we look forward to a productive partnership. The work done on the MFC Project so far has reinforced our belief that we have a significant resource with a geological model analogous to Voisey Bay. We welcome the financial input from ABM that will enable us to move quickly into a drilling phase, and we also appreciate the management and organisational benefits that come from a close working relationship with ABM.’ 

    African Battery is an AIM listed, Africa-focused, resource company exploring for the key metals that will be used in next-generation batteries fuelling the new electric vehicle revolution. Johnson and Bell joined the business earlier this year as part of a proposed restructuring and refinancing package that saw the firm ultimately return from suspension.

    Shortly afterwards, the company revealed an investment and option agreement with Katoro Gold (LSE:KAT). Under the contract, African Battery will be able to purchase up to 10m shares in Katoro at 1p each with three-year warrants attached. It also has the right to purchase up to 35pc in Katoro’s 100pc-owned Haneti nickel project in Tanzania, for a total consideration of up to £125,000. 

    Haneti comprises tenements covering an area of around 5,000km2 prospective for nickel, platinum-group-elements, cobalt, copper, gold, and lithium. Previous work has identified grades of up to 13.6pc nickel at the project, and an exploration programme this year will aim to confirm the existence of disseminated or massive sulphide mineralisation in the area. Alongside Haneti, Katoro owns a further two gold projects in Tanzania called Imweru and Lubando. Together, these host a JORC-compliant resource of 754,980oz gold.

    To read MiningMaven’s recent interview with Johnson on his plans for African Battery moving forward, please click here.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

     

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

     

    The article expresses the views of the Author solely and does not necessarily express the views of MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd or their connected parties who are not responsible for its content or accuracy.

     

    News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. Readers are recommended to seek the advice of appropriate professionals when considering investments in small capital.

  • African Battery to enter Botswana with ‘transformative’ acquisition and earn-in agreement (ABM)

    African Battery Metals (LSE:ABM) jumped 12.5pc to 0.4275p on Monday morning after unveiling a major acquisition and earn-in agreement in Botswana. The business has acquired an 18.26pc stake in an exploration and geological consultancy company called Kalahari Key Mineral Exploration for $194,821.

    Kalahari Key, established by Roger Key, Andy Moore, Simon Bate, and Rick Bonner in November 2014, is the 100pc owner of Molopo Farms Complex (MFC) project in south-west Botswana. Furthermore, African Battery has also secured the right to earn-in to a 40pc direct interest in MFC by spending $500,000 on the project by 31 December next year. This money would go towards ground exploration at the project, expected to include the drilling of high priority targets.

    MFC is made up of three exploration licences covering 2,725km2 that are thought to be prospective for nickel, PGM, and copper mineralisation. As well as acquiring all of the project’s historical exploration data, Kalahari Key has undertaken a high-resolution, helicopter-borne electromagnetic and magnetic survey on the area. This work identified 17 key zones of conductive rocks now being used to construct a priority list of targets for follow-up ground exploration.

    If African Battery chooses to complete its earn-in expenditure agreement, its effective interest in MFC would sit at 50.96pc. Meanwhile, company chairman Andrew Bell would be appointed to a new MFC Project operational committee, while director Paul Johnson would join the board of Kalahari Key.

    Neither the committee members or the existing new directors of Kalahari Key would be remunerated for their services. Finally, if African Battery decides to exercise its earn-in agreement, a JV agreement would be established between the company and Kalahari Key that will determine strategy, operational management, and corporate structuring.

    African Battery’s chairman Andrew Bell said he was ‘delighted’ to secure an opportunity in Botswana for African Battery’s shareholders.

    ‘Botswana is an exceptional country with exciting exploration opportunities and a superb operating environment,’he added. This significant opportunity comes to us after the MFC Project has already benefitted from extensive historical exploration that has already identified 17 targets through Airborne Electomagnetic Surveys.

    ‘There is some further Airborne Electromagnetic work to do, with ground exploration follow up and ongoing target prioritisation. However, the ultimate key to unlocking the value from exploration targets under sand cover is via the drill rig and we will be working with Kalahari Key to identify the quickest route to active drilling operations.’

    Bell added that African Battery’s board considers the investment to be consistent with the company’s stated policy of seeking battery metal exposure in Africa.

    ‘We also believe that further exploration success at the MFC Project would, by virtue of the potential scale, have a transformative impact on the prospects of ABM and on investor sentiment towards it,’ he said. ‘I am delighted to be working with the Kalahari Key team and would like to emphasise the diligent work they have done to bring the MFC Project to its current position. These are exciting times and we anticipate further updates in respect of Botswana and our other business interests in the near future.”

    Roger Key, chief executive at Kalahari Key, added: ‘Kalahari Key is very pleased to have reached this agreement with African Battery Metals and we look forward to a productive partnership. The work done on the MFC Project so far has reinforced our belief that we have a significant resource with a geological model analogous to Voisey Bay. We welcome the financial input from ABM that will enable us to move quickly into a drilling phase, and we also appreciate the management and organisational benefits that come from a close working relationship with ABM.’ 

    African Battery is an AIM listed, Africa-focused, resource company exploring for the key metals that will be used in next-generation batteries fuelling the new electric vehicle revolution. Johnson and Bell joined the business earlier this year as part of a proposed restructuring and refinancing package that saw the firm ultimately return from suspension.

    Shortly afterwards, the company revealed an investment and option agreement with Katoro Gold (LSE:KAT). Under the contract, African Battery will be able to purchase up to 10m shares in Katoro at 1p each with three-year warrants attached. It also has the right to purchase up to 35pc in Katoro’s 100pc-owned Haneti nickel project in Tanzania, for a total consideration of up to £125,000. 

    Haneti comprises tenements covering an area of around 5,000km2 prospective for nickel, platinum-group-elements, cobalt, copper, gold, and lithium. Previous work has identified grades of up to 13.6pc nickel at the project, and an exploration programme this year will aim to confirm the existence of disseminated or massive sulphide mineralisation in the area. Alongside Haneti, Katoro owns a further two gold projects in Tanzania called Imweru and Lubando. Together, these host a JORC-compliant resource of 754,980oz gold.

    To read MiningMaven’s recent interview with Johnson on his plans for African Battery moving forward, please click here.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

     

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

     

    The article expresses the views of the Author solely and does not necessarily express the views of MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd or their connected parties who are not responsible for its content or accuracy.

     

    News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. Readers are recommended to seek the advice of appropriate professionals when considering investments in small capital.

  • Coronavirus highlights critical need for diversity in the battery metals supply chain

    The problems inherent in a battery metals supply chain supremely concentrated on China have been spotlighted by coronavirus, but the problems have been in play for years. 

    The bottleneck was there for all to see long before the spread of Covid-19 shuttered factories across China. 

    According to a Wednesday report by the Associated Press “the problem is supply chains. China’s are famously nimble and resourceful, but they lack raw materials and workers after the most intensive anti-disease measures ever imposed closed factories [and] cut off most access to cities with more than 60 million people.”

    While companies have begun to re-open, there are ongoing higher costs and significant delays. A mid-February survey by The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai found that 78% of businesses in Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing and the wider Yangtze River Delta did not have enough staff to run full production lines. 

    Nearly half said their global operations had already been affected by the shutdown and 58% said their output would be lower than normal until at least the second half of 2020.

    Away from China

    Manufacturers are looking for new suppliers but few can compete on price and almost none can match China’s levels of service.

    These problems have been evident since President Donald Trump ignited the ongoing US-China trade war by imposing tariffs on imports from the trading giant. 

    And shifting production away from the Chinese state and into perceived cheaper South East Asian alternatives comes with its own set of problems. 

    A Wall Street Journal report written in the wake of the early stages of the trade dispute noted: “This should be Vietnam’s chance to shine. Instead it is becoming increasingly clear that it will be years, if ever, before this nation and other aspiring manufacturing destinations are ready to replace China as the world’s factory floor.

    The problem is even more acute for producers and users of battery metals. 

    Mitchell Smith, chief executive and president of cobalt development company Global Energy Metals (TSX-V:GEMC) told MiningMaven: “Coronavirus is having a large disruptive effect on the overall commodity marketplace as we are already witnessing large builds in stockpiles of minerals given the inability to transport and handle material at Chinese ports. The same can be said about exports of refined product.”

    Gigafactory

    Battery metals are key to the growth of the renewables industry: lithium-ion batteries form the basis for powering electric vehicles, for example.

    And while the explosion in the number of electric vehicles is set to drive the renewables revolution, the fact is that supply chains are simply not ready to produce the number of batteries that this wholesale change will require. 

    Elon Musk’s Tesla is ahead of the curve. Its $4.5 billion Gigafactory 1 in Nevada opened in 2016. Musk said at least 100 of these gigantic electric vehicle assembly lines would be needed to power the future growth of the industry.

    And yet Tesla has started building its latest Gigafactory not in the United States, but in China. Tesla has struggled to recruit enough engineers in America to run operations, an issue it believes — or believed, until coronavirus broke out — could be solved by China’s army of specialists. 

    Europe’s first Tesla-inspired battery megafactory belongs to Sweden’s Northvolt. That company received a €350 million loan from the European Investment Bank in May 2019 to get the project started. But this is one of only a handful being built outside China. 

    In 2017, there were 17 lithium-ion battery mega-factories under construction globally. Today, 46 of the 70 in construction are in China.

    Another problem

    There is vast and increasing demand for refined cobalt in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries. But few have tracked the scarcity of these in-demand resources. According to a MassifCapital report on risks in the supply chain: “If every battery manufacturing facility under construction today is built and operates at 100% capacity, then the next ten years will see an 8x increase in demand for lithium, a 7x increase in graphite anodes, a 19x increase in nickel and a 4x increase in cobalt.

    China’s domestic and foreign influence on the global cobalt supply chain also remains substantial. This dependence has already caused significant problems and industry experts expect the trend to continue. 

    Mitchell Smith put it like this: “Prolonged economic disruption due to the coronavirus epidemic should make end-users in the automotive and electronics industries reflect on the over-reliance upon one country.” 

    As a whole the industry desperately needs to consider diversification of supply and refinement of the materials critical for the new renewable world we will all be living in, Smith added.

    Author: Mark Sheridan

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, does not a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and MiningMaven Ltd are not responsible for the article’s content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

     

  • Global Energy Metals pays bond to begin exploration work in Nevada (GEMC)

    Canadian cobalt developer Global Energy Metals (TSX-V:GEMC) revealed that it has made a payment that will allow it to begin exploration work at its two projects near Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada on Thursday. The firm, which has announced plans to co-list in London, said it made a payment to the Bureau of Land Management for the required reclamation bond fee to begin drilling at the sites, which are called Lovelock and Treasure Box.

    The properties are located in Churchill County, around 150km east of Tesla’s major battery factory in Sparks. Lovelock covers around 1,400 acres and is said to have produced 500ts of cobalt and nickel mineralisation between 1883 and 1890 when it was last in operation. Global Energy believes exploration work and modern drilling techniques could unlock a large amount of potential value at the site.

    Treasure Box, meanwhile, is adjacent to Lovelock and hosts mine workings from limited copper production, which occurred until early into the 20th century. A historical diamond drill hole at the asset reportedly intersected 1.52pc copper over 85ft, with mineralisation beginning at surface.

    Global Energy’s chief executive Mitchell Smith said completing the bond payment would enable the business to move forward with a staged exploration programme at Lovelock. He added that this will allow for further definition of the character, size, and potential of the nickel-cobalt-copper system at the asset.

    ‘We are excited about this initial phase of exploration and are very optimistic that this strategically located asset will significantly further the growth of our company,’ said Smith.

    The company said its exploration program will be informed by ground induced polarisation surveys that defined areas of anomalous subsurface chargeability. This work has generated a number of drill-ready targets. The business is now reviewing work program options and anticipated announcing details of the first-phase exploration in the ‘near future’.

    Earlier this month, Global Energy raised $813,500 in an oversubscribed placing at $0.05 a share to support the funding of the programme. Meanwhile, it announced in March that it had made its first option payment towards acquiring an 85pc stake in both sites. To do this, it issued 384,627 of its shares to the projects’ current owner Nevada Sunrise and paid $20,000 to the underlying vendor.

    Global Energy focuses on offering security of supply of cobalt, which is a critical material in the rapidly growing rechargeable battery market. It is building a diversified global portfolio of assets in the sector, including project stakes, projects and other supply sources.

    The business’s flagship asset is the Millennium Project in the world-renowned Mt. Isa region of Queensland, Australia. It executed the final agreements to take a 100pc interest in the project in November. Millennium is a multi-zone, near-surface cobalt-copper sulphide system with several kilometres of potential strike length. It is located near established mining, transport, and processing infrastructure and offers easy access to a very skilled workforce.

    The growth-stage site contains a defined zone of cobalt-copper mineralisation.  Here, a 2016 JORC Resource estimate identified 3.1MMts of inferred resources containing 0.14pc cobalt and 0.34pc copper with gold credits. Global Energy is now looking at ways to increase the size of its deposit. Results from a first phase exploration campaign at two zones called Millennium North and Millennium South exceeded grade and thickness expectations. The firm will now carry out a second phase of drilling to examine both areas further.

    Alongside Millennium, Global Energy has acquired two further discovery sites called Mt. Dorothy and Cobalt Ridge.  These are collectively known as the ‘Mt. Isa projects’. The areas expand Global Energy’s Australian land position by nearly twenty times but have yet to be exploited. Exploration to date has returned high-grade cobalt intercepts at both, allowing Global Energy to line up numerous targets for further investigation and test work to define a resource.

    Finally, the business currently owns 70pc of the Werner Lake cobalt mine in Ontario Canada. It joint venture partner Marquee Resources is enjoying much success in its ongoing exploration campaign at the asset.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above. 

    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author.  News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

  • Horizonte in strong cash position with lockdown end in sight (HZM)

    Brazil-focused Horizonte Minerals (LSE:HZM; TSX:HZM) has revealed that it is in a strong position to trade out of the current lockdown with £17 million cash on hand - £11 million ahead of the same period last year. 

    The London-headquartered nickel developer said in a quarterly report for the three months to 31 March 2020 that it was “well-funded” to advance its key prospect in the state of Para in the north of Brazil. 

    The 100%-owned Araguaia project is considered Brazil’s next major ferronickel mine. Feasibility studies put the mine’s lifespan at 28 years, with 52,000 tonnes of ferronickel produced annually for a total production run worth $1.6 billion. Civil engineer Pedro Rodrigues dos Reis joined the Horizonte team in October 2019 to advance Araguaia as project director. 

    Work is underway to take Araguaia from the study stage to being “implementation ready”, said Horizonte. All major workstreams are continuing as planned, it said, while project financing is on schedule with “no negative effects” as yet seen from the pandemic. By the time Araguaia comes into production in 2022, the price of nickel is expected to reach $16,150/t, according to market analysts. 

    The AIM and TSX-listed firm did report some short-term headwinds, including an increase in its pre-tax losses from £482,000 to £1.02 million for the period, due to a lack of revenue coming through in lockdown. But due to a weakened dollar, the company reported operational profits rising to £266,988 in the three months to 31 March 2020 compared to a £574,000 loss in the same period last year.

    Market strong

    The nickel market has remained buoyant since the Covid-19 pandemic breakout, driven by some long-term trends and some newer factors. Across 2019 the annual nickel price clipped to its highest since 2014. 

    Why? Well, there has been significant supply reduction because of the Indonesian government making the surprise move to bring forward an export ban from January 2022 to January 2020. On the demand side, interest in rapidly growing electric vehicle markets continues. The metal is highly prized for its use in lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and is being consumed in ever larger quantities. According to metals market analysts Roskill between now and 2029:

    The push for automotive electrification is set to provide a dramatic upside to nickel. Its outlook is supported not only by the rapid volume of growth of the electric market, but also owing to the increased intensity of use of nickel, as part of efforts to improve the energy density of batteries and extend driving range. 

    “[Over the next decade] Roskill forecasts that nickel use in batteries will grow from around 3%-4% of nickel demand, to account for as much as 15% to 20% of the market.” 

    Horizonte’s share price has recovered strongly from recent lows in the wider market crash. In fact, it has added 70% since late March to hit 2.82p in early May trading.

    Author: Mark Sheridan

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, does not a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and MiningMaven Ltd are not responsible for the article's content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

     

  • Horizonte Minerals files Araguaia feasibility study with Brazilian government (HZM)

    Horizonte Minerals (LSE:HZM) dipped 3.3pc to 2.1pc today after filing the feasibility study for its flagship Araguaia project with Brazil's government. The nickel development firm said it has handed over the study to Brazil's Para state in line with government standards.

  • Horizonte Minerals jumps as strong samples verify Vermelho processing plans (HZM)

    Horizonte Minerals (LSE:HZM) bounced 5.3pc to 1.8p on Tuesday after revealing that strong sampling results will allow it to push ahead with the development of its Vermelho nickel-cobalt project in Brazil.

    The business said test work on samples of limonite ore from the project, which is based in the Carajas mining district, revealed a high-purity product containing 21.8pc cobalt. This exceeds the reference grade used for sulphate pricing. Meanwhile, the outfit said that nickel sulphate is produced as a solution ready for purification to a final battery-grade product.

    When put together, Horizonte said these results confirm the suitability of the Pressure Acid Leach process and subsequent purification stages. This method was selected by the firm in its previous work at Vermelho and will be used to produce cobalt and nickel sulphate that can supply the electric vehicle (EV) battery markets.

    As such, the positive test work results will be integrated into Horizonte’s ongoing pre-feasibility study at Vermelho. A study produced by the asset’s previous owner, Vale S.A., found that the project could produce 46k tonnes of nickel and 2.5k tonnes of cobalt per year.

    Tuesday’s update follows test work earlier in the year that showed that Vermelho saprolite ore is also suitable for conventional processing. This can take place at the Rotary Kiln Electric Furnace that Horizonte is constructing at its nearby Araguaia ferronickel project.

    Horizonte’s chief executive Jeremy Martin called Tuesday’s results a ‘major milestone’ for the organisation, adding:

    ‘The Vermelho project is a value driver for the Company, it is a high-grade scalable resource, with good infrastructure and has the potential to be fast-tracked to development. The successful completion of this sulphate test work confirms that the selected process flow sheet is suitable to treat the Vermelho ore and when combined with the earlier successful RKEF test work demonstrates that alternate process routes exist for the project.  The data from the test programmes will be incorporated into the Vermelho Pre-feasibility Study, for release in early H2, with the objective of demonstrating a robust set of economics for the project.’

    Martin also highlighted robust conditions in the EV market, which are leading miners and battery manufacturers to accelerate efforts to seek out high-quality battery metal projects.

    ‘We see Vermelho as an attractive strategic asset with the ability to produce nickel sulphate and a non-conflict, ethical source of cobalt,’  he said.

    Elsewhere, Martin said that Horizonte is continuing to advance project financing at Araguaia, with seven international banks showing interest in a project financing syndicate. He added that discussions are also underway with numerous groups around product marketing and offtake agreements.

    A feasibility study last year gave Araguaia an initial 28-year mine life, a post-tax net present value (NPV) of $401m and an internal rate of return (IRR) of 20.1pc using a base case nickel price forecast of $14,000/t. Horizonte expects the project to produce an average of 14,500 tonnes of nickel a year, housed within 52,000 tonnes of ferronickel.  Against this, the asset has a capital cost estimate of $443m. This includes $65.3m of contingencies.

    In Tuesday’s update, Martin once highlighted favourable macro conditions as a potential driver of third-party interest in the project: ‘The medium term consensus nickel price is around US$16,200/tonne which, based on the Feasibility Economics on Araguaia, deliver over US$2 billion of net cash flow over the life of mine at a C1 cash cost of around U$6,800/t nickel placing the project in the lower quartile of global laterite nickel operations and one of a very limited number of scalable, high grade, fully permitted, construction ready projects globally.

    ‘This robust demand picture for nickel positions Horizonte well, owning 100% of two Tier 1 nickel projects, within trucking distance of each other with the potential to produce 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes per year of nickel to service both the traditional stainless and EV battery market as well a cobalt revenue stream from outside of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC ) and service both the traditional stainless and EV battery market.’

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author holds a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, does not own a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author.  News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

  • Horizonte Minerals leaps to 2020 highs as it delivers maiden sustainability report (HZM)

    Horizonte Minerals(LSE:HZM) was trading another 13% higher on Monday morning at 4.75p after delivering its first-ever sustainability report – an important milestone in its ongoing transition into a nickel producer.

    The report provides an overview of the company’s environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and corporate governance progress over the 2019 financial year.

    Primarily, the work focuses on work at Araguaia, the tier one project based in Brazil’s renowned Carajas mining district that Horizonteis developing as the country’s next major ferronickel mine.

    However, it also includes data from the company’s Vermelho nickel-cobalt project, which was also confirmed as a low-cost tier one project with a large high-grade resource and long mine life last year.

    Among the highlights of the sustainability report were US$1.5 million of direct economic contribution in Brazil, zero lost time injuries & fatalities, and over 200 community engagements.

    Meanwhile, the work noted that 55% of Horizonte’stotal purchases came from local suppliers, 42% of its employees are females, and nearly half of its workforce has been sourced locally within Brazil’s Para state.

    Chief executive Jeremy Martin noted that producing such a report for the first time marks an “important step” in Horizonte’sevolution and development into a nickel producer”.

    "As we continue to build momentum in our journey towards production, we remain committed to helping our communities grow alongside us, protecting the environment in which we operate and delivering value to our shareholders."

    Here, he refers to the strong progress made by the firm at Araguaia over the past year.

    This culminated in the news last week that Horizontehas secured a game-changing US$325 million financing package for the project lead arranged by the likes of BNP Paribas, Natixis, and Société Générale.

    The institutions were won over by Araguaia’s strong economics, which were laid out in a recent feasibility study.

    Araguaia's development is divided into two stages, the first of which will see it process 900,000ts of dry ore feed per year to produce 14,500 tonnes of nickel per year for an initial 28-year mine life. A second stage will then increase the project's production capacity to 29,000 tonnes of nickel per year by adding a second process line, increasing its mine life to 26 years.

    Using a conservative US$14,000/t nickel price, this Stage 2 scenario would generate an estimated net present value of US$741 million and an internal rate of return of 23.8%. However, these figures increase to around US$1 billion and 30% when a US$16,000/t nickel price more in line with today's prices is used.

    The money secured last week covers a significant portion of the pre-production capex required to complete stage one construction at Araguaia, and prompted a 24% increase in Horizonte’sshare price on the day.

    Following the release of Monday’s sustainability report, the company has now risen by more than a third over the past month and close to 90% over the last year.

    However, with a market cap of just over £60 million, there could scope for much more upside moving forward as Horizontepushes forward across its portfolio at pace with renewed financial support and ESG credentials.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and MiningMaven Ltd are not responsible for the article's content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

  • Horizonte Minerals reports positive results from Vermelho nickel cobalt project (HZM)

    On Thursday, Horizontal Minerals (LSE:HZM) reported positive results from metallurgical and smelting test work at its Vermelho nickel cobalt project. Samples from Vermelho, which is located in northern Brazil, returned an average grade of 31.8pc nickel. The firm says the results confirm the suitability of a proposed conventional Rotary Kiln Electric Furnace for processing ore from the resource. 

    The data will add to a pre-feasibility study for Vermelho which is currently underway. A study produced by the previous owner, Vale S.A. demonstrated the project had the capacity to produce 46k tonnes of nickel and 2.5k tonnes of cobalt per year.

    Horizonte CEO Jeremy Martin said, "We are pleased to report the test work has confirmed that it is possible to produce high grade, commercial specification ferronickel from the saprolite and transition ore at Vermelho. These results confirm the suitability of the proposed conventional Rotary Kiln Electric Furnace ("RKEF") process selected for the Company's Araguaia ferronickel project is also suitable for processing Vermelho ore. In parallel the test work at SGS Lakefield on limonite samples from Vermelho to demonstrate its suitability for production of high purity nickel and cobalt sulphate to supply the EV battery markets is at an advanced stage and we look forward to reporting on the results of this work.

    The company is also developing the Araguaia Nickel Project in the same region of Brazil. The project is expected to produce an average of 14.5k tonnes of nickel a year, with an opportunity to double this through the construction of a second Rotary Kiln Electric Furnace process line. Horizonte produced a feasibility study confirming Araguaia as a Tier-1 project with a large, high-scale resource last October.

    Jeremey Martin added: Elsewhere we continue to advance the construction financing on the Araguaia Project. Against a backdrop of global growth in nickel consumption running at around 4 to 5% per year with stainless steel currently accounting for two thirds of demand. Going forwards and coupled with this continued growth in stainless steel, nickel use in battery chemistry is set to increase significantly. This robust demand story for nickel positions Horizonte well, owning 100% of two Tier 1 nickel projects, within trucking distance of each other with the potential to produce 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes per year of nickel. 

    Horizonte’s share price was hit recently with a TR-1 notification of major holdings released on 5th March revealing significant holder City Financial had sold the bulk of its stake.  The investment firm was forced to sell its holding as it is entering administration, offering a potentially good opportunity for other interested investors to enter the stock.

    Author: Stuart Langelaan

    The Author holds a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, does not own a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author.  News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

  • Horizonte Minerals soars after revealing US$325m financing package for Araguaia nickel project (HZM)

    Shares in Horizonte Minerals(LSE:HZM) broke out to a 2020 high of 4.2p on Wednesday after the nickel company announced a game-changing US$325 million financing package for its flagship project.

    The firm, which was trading up 24% at writing, has executed a mandate to arrange a senior secured project finance facility with a syndicate of five international financial institutions.

    BNP Paribas, Natixis, and Société Générale are all acting as mandated lead arrangers for the money, which will be put towards the construction and development of Horizonte's Araguaia ferronickel project in Brazil. The firm said these financial institutions all have extensive experience in providing project financing to greenfield mining projects and were chosen specifically due to their capabilities in Latin America.

    Jeremy Martin, Horizonte's chief executive, said the new financing package would cover a significant portion of the pre-production capex required to complete stage 1 construction at Araguaia.

    "We are targeting completion of the project financing package for the project by the end of 2020, provided that restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic do not cause further delays. We aim to start construction in early 2021,"he added. "This major milestone moves us closer to our goal of becoming a nickel producer. We look forward to updating the market throughout the rest of this year on our progress."

    Horizonte is developing Araguaia as Brazil's next major ferronickel mine. It is a Tier 1 project with a high-grade scalable resource based in the south of the renowned Carajas mining district in north-east Brazil's Para State.

    A feasibility study for the project is made up of an open-pit nickel laterite mining operation that delivers ore from several pits to a central rotary kiln electric furnace metallurgical processing facility.

    Araguaia's development is divided into two stages, the first of which will see it process 900,000ts of dry ore feed per year to produce 14,500 tonnes of nickel per year for an initial 28-year mine life. A second stage will then increase the project's production capacity to 29,000 tonnes of nickel per year by adding a second process line, increasing its mine life to 26 years.

    Using a conservative US$14,000/t nickel price, this Stage 2 scenario would generate an estimated net present value of US$741 million and an internal rate of return of 23.8%. However, these figures increase to around US$1 billion and 30% when a US$16,000/t nickel price more in line with today's prices is used.

    As it stands, Horizonte's market cap sits at just £60.8 million. With the financial firepower to develop Araguaia and fulfil its vast economic potential now behind it, this company's current valuation could soon end up looking very cheap as progress continues.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and MiningMaven Ltd are not responsible for the article's content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

  • Horizonte Minerals to push forward at Araguaia after completing $25m Orion royalty deal (HZM)

    Horizonte Minerals (LSE:HZM) sat at 4p on Monday morning after confirming the drawdown of $25m worth of funding towards its Araguaia ferronickel project in the Para state of Brazil.

    As announced in August, Orion Mine Finance has provided an upfront $25m cash payment to Horizonte in exchange for a 2.25pc royalty on Araguaia. This royalty applies only to the first 426,429ts of contained nickel within the ferronickel produced and sold at the asset. This volume is equivalent to the nickel production estimated over Araguaia’s life of mine as per its stage one feasibility study (FS).

    Orion is a significant player in the mining financing space, deploying around $1.5bn in royalties, streams, debt, and equity over the past three years alone. The non-dilutive funding it has provided to Horizonte will support the business in advancing pre-construction work streams at Araguaia.

    Araguaia is a Tier 1 mining project with a high-grade scalable resource, located south of the Carajás Mining District in the Pará State of north-east Brazil.  The area boasts plenty of well -developed infrastructure such as roads, rail and hydroelectric power.

    Horizonte’s stage one FS for the asset centres around an open-pit nickel laterite mining operation that delivers ore from several pits to a central processing facility. Here, a single line rotary kiln electric furnace (RKEF) extracts ferronickel, used in the stainless-steel industry, from Araguaia’s ore. After an initial ramp-up period, the project will reach full capacity of c.900,000ts of dry ore feed per year to produce 52,000ts of ferronickel containing 14,500ts of nickel annually. Over an initial 28-year mine life, the FS design generates free cash flows after taxation of $1.6bn returning an IRR of more 20pc against on an initial capital cost of $443m.

    On top of this, Araguaia has been designed to allow for a second RKEF process plant, funding through operational cash flow. This stage two expansion would double Araguaia’s ferronickel output, providing for a 26-year mine life generating cash flows after taxation of $2.6bn with an estimated NPV of $741m and an IRR of 23.8pc. All of these figures were reached using a conservative base case nickel price forecast of $14,000/t, well below the $16,462/t at which the metal presently sits.

    Monday’s news comes just days after Horizonte announced that a pre-feasibility study (PFS) confirmed its Vermelho project as a ‘large, high-grade resource, with a long mine life and low-cost source of nickel sulphate for the battery industry’.

    The work estimated that the property, also based in Para, would have a 38-year mine life generating total cash flows after tax of $7.3bn. Elsewhere, the PFS gave Vermelho – which produces nickel suitable for use in electric vehicle batteries- an IRR of 26pc and an estimated base case post-tax NPV of $1.7bn against an initial capital cost estimate of $642m. Finally, the work put Vermelho’s estimated annual production at 25,000ts of nickel and 1,250ts of cobalt when operating at full capacity. This translates into a cash cost of $8,020/t of nickel, defining the project as a low-cost producer.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, does not own a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven Ltd is not responsible for its content or accuracy and does not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

  • Horizonte Minerals well positioned to see out coronavirus as Araguaia work continues (HZM)

    Junior nickel player Horizonte Minerals(LSE:HZM) reassured investors that coronavirus is yet to have a significant impact on its operations on Tuesday.

    The firm said it remains well funded to achieve its goals and see out the spread of COVID-19 – which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization earlier this month. To date, nearly 200,000 cases of the virus have been reported globally, claiming 7,500 lives and causing markets around the world to crash at levels not seen since the financial crisis.

    As the world aggressively tackles the ongoing outbreak, we acknowledge there is growing uncertainty around economic growth and underlying business conditions,” said Horizonte. “While it would be inconsiderate to describe the situation as ‘business as usual’, we continue to work on the various workstreams required to achieve our stated goals.”

    Among Horizonte’s goals is the development of its flagship Araguaia project to the construction-ready phase.

    Araguaia is a tier-one ferronickel mining project located south of the Carajas mining district in north-east Brazil’s Para state. A stage two expansion case devised in a 2018 feasibility study gives the property a 26-year mine life, generating cash flows after tax of $2.6 billion with a $741 million net present value and a 23.8% internal rate of return.

    These figures are based on a nickel price of $14,000 a tonne - well below the $18,000 a tonne the metal was trading at in October before its collapse in the face of falling stainless steel demand and coronavirus’ spread. Despite the short-term weakness, Horizonte believes that nickel market fundamentals remain “robust” for the medium-term and aligned with the planned start of Araguaia’s production.

    The firm also hopes to progress discussions around financing Araguaia’s ultimate construction into a mine. It got the ball rolling here last August when it revealed a $25 million royalty funding agreement for the property with Orion Mine Finance – one of the world’s most prominent mining investors.

    Alongside Araguaia, Horizonte is also developing the Vermelho nickel-cobalt project in Brazil, which it plans to use to supply nickel and cobalt to the EV battery market. A pre-feasibility study released in October last year confirmed the asset as a “large, high-grade resource with a long mine life and low-cost source of nickel sulphate for the battery industry”. Specifically, the work gave the project a 38-year mine life estimated to generate total cash flows after tax of $7.3 billion.

    Elsewhere in Tuesday’s release, Horizonte its team on the ground in Brazil were well prepared to continue work safely.

    “We have implemented strict health and safety policies specifically tailored to COVID-19,” said the firm. “To date, we have had no reported cases of the virus at any of our Brazil offices nor in London.”

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, does not a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and MiningMaven Ltd are not responsible for the article’s content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

  • Hunting for elephant scale mineral deposits: Paul Johnson on Power Metal’s push into Botswana (POW)

    Since restructuring the board of Power Metal Resources (LSE:POW) in February, Paul Johnson and Andrew Bell have made substantial progress in their strategic and operational review of the business portfolio. Having reviewed and bolstered the business, the directors took another step forward in May by signing an acquisition and earn- in deal with a Botswana-focused Kalahari Key Mineral Exploration.

    In this special MiningMaven report, Power Metal’s Executive Director Paul Johnson talks MiningMaven through the deal and Kalahari Key’s unrivalled local experience before explaining why his firm has committed to pursuing ‘elephant-scale deposits’ at the MFC.

    CLICK TO DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE REPORT

  • Interview: Paul Johnson of African Battery Metals on the firm’s multiple exploration activities (ABM)

    Guest article from https://valuethemarkets.com

    Originally Published 22 May 2019

    Today’s guest on the ValueTheMarkets podcast is Paul Johnson, Director of African Battery Metals. Since refinancing and Paul joining the board earlier this year, the explorer has been very busy reviewing and recommencing work at a number of projects. The company’s historic focus has been on projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast.  In the interview, Paul discusses the company’s review of its assets, the termite mound sampling programme at Kisinka in the DRC, and the recommencement of exploration at the firm’s Copper-nickel asset in Cameroon.

    African Battery has also recently announced positive results from soil samples taken at their Haneti project in Tanzania.  Paul gives further details on this, going on to explain the option the company exercised with Katoro Gold to take a 25pc interest and the further earn-in options remaining available to African Battery. Finally, Paul discusses the recent move into Botswana, with an acquisition and earn-in agreement with Kalahari Key.

    Author: Stuart Langelaan

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    The Author was paid to produce this piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

    All opinions expressed are those of ValueTheMarkets and the respective guests unless otherwise stated and should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation to buy shares in any featured Company. Listeners are advised to do their own extensive research before buying shares which, as with all small-cap exploration stocks, should be viewed as high risk. Investors should also seek the advice of a qualified investment adviser or stockbroker as they deem appropriate.

  • Jeremy Martin maps out Horizonte Minerals’ key project milestones in investor call (HZM)

    Following an exciting 2019 that saw it deliver stellar progress across both of its Brazilian nickel projects, Horizonte Minerals (LSE:HZM) has sat relatively flat so far this year, failing to break out above 3.9p. However, in an investor call on Thursday, the firm’s CEO Jeremy Martin set out a clear plan for value creation over H1 2020 – highlighting a raft of portfolio-wide financing and construction milestones on the horizon.

    Pushing forward at Araguaia

    In Thursday’s call, Martin told listening investors that Horizonte’s primary source of news flow over the first half of 2020 is likely to be its Araguaia project.

    Araguaia is based south of the Carajás Mining District in the Pará State of northeast Brazil and is being developed by Horizonte as the country’s next tier-one ferronickel mine. In the stage two expansion case, a feasibility study using a conservative base case nickel price forecast of $14,000 a tonne gave the project a 26-year mine life. Over this period, the study estimated that the project would generate cash flows after tax of $2.6 billion, a net present value of $741 million, and an internal rate of return of $23.8%.

    Trial mining at the Araguaia project (Source: Horizonte Minerals)

    Following much progress throughout 2019, Martin said he expects developments at Araguaia in 2020 to stem from two key areas – financing and early works in lead up to construction. Digging deeper, the chief executive said that the project’s financing efforts are generally being divided between equity, offtake agreement, and commercial lenders.

    On the equity front, Horizonte stormed ahead last year when it received of $25 million of funding for Araguaia from Orion Mine Finance in exchange for a 2.25% royalty on an initial 426,429 tonnes nickel from the project. Orion is a leading force in mining financing, having deployed around $1.5 billion in royalties, stream, debt, and equity over the past three years alone. In Thursday’s call, Martin said he was not only confident that Orion would be a key player “in the next stage of project finance”but that Horizonte was also engaged with several additional groups interested in equity.

    Meanwhile, on the offtake front, Martin said Horizonte was in the process of talking to several interested groups, adding: “We are currently focused on export credit agency financing around offtake and then that will roll out into a broader market-led offtake, closing out the balance as we move into the final finance package.”

    Finally, Martin said that Horizonte has been receiving keen interest from a syndicate of commercial lenders. This group is currently comprised of around five international banks and four local Brazilian financial institutions – two of whom are scheduled to conduct back-to-back site visits imminently. Martin said these institutions are becoming increasingly attracted by Brazil’s position as a broadly stable jurisdiction and the general lack of construction-ready nickel projects in the global mid-cap space.

    “The appetite for looking at assets like Araguaia has definitely increased, which is obviously positive,” he added. “We are getting good indication in terms of the debt level that these banks are prepared to invest at, and also alignment on nickel price assumption used across the various groups. Broadly speaking, we are looking at between 60-65% debt financing for Araguaia, and the indication so far is that that is potentially achievable. The balance will then be made up of equity and offtake.”

    All-in-all, Martin said Horizonte expects to push forward on the delivery of some of the discrete elements of the financial package before having a full-financing package in place “by mid-year into the third quarter”.

    Meanwhile, on the technical side, Martin said callers should expect Horizonte to deliver engineering progress throughout the first half of the year including hiring of the key engineering group and build-up of the owners team. Horizonte is currently in the process of taking the project to the stage where it is primed for construction once financing is in place.

    “Across all of the areas of the plant we are increasing the engineering designs and foundation designs, completing steelwork, going into the market and getting detailed pricing for areas that were factored in the feasibility study, completing detailed engineering on the power, and looking at detailed logistics,” said Martin. “It is really about having all the major equipment packages specified with final contracts ready to execute on the closing of the project financing, and we expect to deliver plenty of newsflow on this front over the coming months.”

    When questioned on Araguaia’s permit status, Martin reiterated that the project is fully permitted for construction and outlined that the team has a robust social and environmental work program planned for 2020 ahead of construction.

    The location of Horizonte’s project in Brazil (Source: Horizonte Minerals)

    Finally, Martin told investors that they could expect to be updated on progress at Horizonte’s second Carajás-based project – Vermelho – over the first half of this year. A pre-feasibility study completed late last year confirmed Vermelho as a tier 1 project with a vast, high-grade resource, a long mine life, and a low-cost source of nickel sulphate for the battery industry. Martin said that Horizonte plans to advance permitting quickly at the asset and is also progressing discussions with potential financial and technical partners for the project.

    “When we acquired the project, all of the permits had been archived by Vale, so we had good baseline data and we should be able to advance Vermelho fairly rapidly up to being fully permitted. The next phase on the technical side is taking that project through to full feasibility. We will be exploring options around funding partners for that project and that is ongoing as well.”

    Where next for shares?

    Martin’s comment regarding Araguaia’s potential financing is undoubtedly encouraging. With so much potential interest in place, it is now down to the firm to create an overall finance package that serves the best interests of investors ahead of launching into construction and ultimately production. Considering the significantly positive reaction in the share price on the release of the Royalty deal in 2019, we expect to see further positive developments as milestones are announced along the finance pathway throughout the coming months. If Horizonte can deliver on plans to have Araguaia construction ready by mid-2020 while also posting regular development updates for Vermelho, it could usher in some much-needed positive trading momentum.

    To download and read our recent, detailed report on the Araguaia project, please click here

  • Katoro Gold and African Battery welcome in ‘exciting’ soil sampling results at Haneti (KAT, ABM)

    Katoro Gold (LSE:KAT) and African Battery (LSE:ABM) both enjoyed a strong start this week after a soil sampling programme confirmed the exploration prospectivity of their Haneti nickel project in Tanzania. Shares in Katoro shot up by more than a quarter to 0.98p on Tuesday when it revealed that 1,500 samples had reconfirmed and extended the strike length of numerous high-priority ultramafic exploration targets at the site.

    What’s more, the work, which forms part of an ongoing exploration programme at the project, identified an additional ultramafic target that had previously been unknown to the business. Katoro said the results confirm Haneti’s exploration potential and will be used to inform its further work this year.

    Haneti comprises tenements that cover around 5,000km2 and are prospective for nickel, platinum group elements, cobalt, copper, gold, and lithium. Around $1.5m worth of work has been carried out at the project to date, identifying grades of up to 13.6pc nickel. Katoro, which owns a 75pc stake in Haneti, believes that the work could host a chonolith type nickel sulphide deposit and is principally targeting a prospect called Mihanza Hill.

    The news comes just one week after African Battery exercised an option to take a 25pc stake in Haneti. As part of this option, the business invested a further £75,000 to acquire 7.5m new shares in Katoro at 1p each with 1.25p, three-year warrants attached.

    African Battery – which rose 5.6pc on Monday following the Haneti update - purchased the option in March when it invested £25,000 in Katoro in exchange for 2.5m of its shares with warrants attached. Under the terms of its option with Katoro, African Battery has the right to buy a further 10pc interest in Haneti for another £25,000 payment to Katoro within 12 months. The two businesses are now working together to establish a written JV agreement and associated shareholder agreement.

    The deal also gives African Battery exposure to Katoro other assets, which include the Imweru and Lubando gold projects in Tanzania. Together, these host a JORC-compliant gold resource 754,980oz gold.

    Going forward, African Battery will be required to fund its 25pc share of Haneti’s project costs, or its interest will be diluted under standard industry fund or dilute provisions. On this front, Katoro - which is required to allocate all the money it receives from African Battery to Haneti - added on Monday that it is now fully funded to undertake all initial exploration activities at the asset.

    Louis Coetzee, executive chairman at Katoro, said Monday’s results had increased the organisation’s confidence in Haneti.

    ‘Particularly positive, is the identification of a new, previously unknown, target as well as the increase in strike length of known priority targets,’he added. ‘We believe that Haneti has the potential to provide significant value to Katoro and its shareholders, and I look forward to providing updates as we continue to deliver our planned exploration programme.’

    Meanwhile, African Battery’s executive director Paul Johnson was similarly bullish:

    ‘I am delighted to be working with the team at Katoro and congratulate them on an exceptionally good start to the 2019 exploration programme at Haneti. In particular it is notable that the work undertaken has reconfirmed and extended high-profile target areas and also identified a further previously unknown ultramafic target. This triple positive outcome is exciting for ABM as Joint Venture partners with Katoro at Haneti and also for ABM as significant shareholders in Katoro Gold plc itself.’

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

     

  • Kavango hits record high as second Ditau drill hole hits large zone of ‘intensely altered rock’ (KAV)

    Kavango Resources (LSE:KAV) sat at an all-time high of 4p on Thursday after revealing additional ‘extremely encouraging’ drilling results at its Ditau prospect in Botswana. The £6m firm, which was trading up 8.1pc as at writing after leaping 16.4pc on Wednesday, said its second hole at the site had intersected over 320m of intensely altered Karoo sediments above a gabbroic intrusive.

    Ditau is part of Kavango’s KSZ project in south-west Botswana, where it is exploring for copper, nickel, and platinum group elements (PGEs) rich sulphide orebodies along a 450km-long magnetic anomaly. According to the firm, the area covered by its KSZ licences displays a geological setting with distinct similarities to that hosting the world-class for copper, nickel, and PGEs orebodies in Siberia.

    In Thursday’s update, Kavango said its second hole at Ditau, called DitDDH2, was finally stopped at a depth of 557.34m, offering good core recoveries and minimum deviation. Kalahari sands and sediments extended to 40m, while Karoo sediments continued for a further 438m until an intrusive was encountered at 478.55m.

    The business added that geological logging and preliminary geochemical analysis has shown that the 320m zone of intensely altered rock was intersected before hitting the intrusive. Half core from this zone has been cut and sampled at 1m intervals and sent to Australia for assay.

    Although Kavango cannot yet determine indicative values for gold, silver, and PGEs, it said initial results suggest elevated values for cobalt, zinc, nickel, and copper. Meanwhile, it added that the core also appeared to contain high levels of rare earth elements. The organisation will assess further drilling plans once it has received and interpreted assay values.

    Kavango added that Thursday’s zone of intensely altered rock was similar to that encountered at its first hole – DitDDH1 – back in March. This met a 200m zone of intensely altered rock above the conductive drill target.  It also showed significant sulphide alteration together with indicative cobalt values of up to 0.9pc and a weighted average of 0.2pc cobalt over 70m as well as elevated copper, zinc, lead and nickel values.

    On Thursday, Kavango’s chief executive Michael Foster said: ‘We are extremely encouraged that the geophysics, geochemistry and the initial drilling which we have now completed at Ditau have been very successful in predicting a prospective hydrothermal system under complete cover.’

    He added that the extensive system displays essential ingredients for one or more mineral deposit. These include intrusives for heat and metal source, receptive overlying sediments with accompanying alteration, and anomalous metal values.

    ‘Assays are eagerly awaited and will be announced to the market as soon as they become available. The Company will then be in a position to compile a 3-D model, with the extensive information we now have, to understand fully the potential of Ditau,’ he added.

    Kavango’s co-founder Mike Moles recently authored a piece for MiningMaven on how these copper, nickel, and platinum group element-rich sulphide orebodies occur and why the firm is keen to locate them.  To read it, please click here.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    The Author has not been paid to produce this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author.  News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

  • Kavango Resources – On the road to another Norilsk in Botswana? (KAV)

    The Norilsk nickel mine sits high in the Russian Arctic plains, 1,700 miles northeast of Moscow in the permafrost of the Taimyr Peninsular.

    Here, in the Arctic Circle’s second-largest city, virtually all of Russia’s copper and Platinum Group Metals (“PGMs”) are produced. Not only that, but this polar mine accounts for 50% of the world’s palladium, some 20% of its nickel, 20% of all platinum, over 10% of the world’s cobalt, and 3% of all copper mined globally.

    This staggering production rate won’t slow down any time soon. Recent reserve estimates suggest Norilsk’s current output rates can be maintained for upwards of another 50 years. This is thanks to 500 million tonnes of probable PGM ore reserves, including 6 million tonnes of nickel, 9 million tonnes of copper, 62 million ounces of palladium, and 16 million ounces of platinum. 

    For an idea of just how valuable this mine is, consider that Norilsk’s largest shareholder is one of the richest men in Russia.

    Oligarch Vladimir Potanin swooped in for a 34.5% stake in MMC Norilsk Nickel Ltd (Nornickel) when it was privatised by the Russian government in 1995. His net worth is now reported to be close to $24 billion.

    That’s a lot of money, but it’s not just Potanin basking in Norilsk’s riches. According to the Financial Times, Norilsk has generated the highest shareholder return of any large diversified miner over the last five years. As of 2020, the company has a market value of over $40 billion - nearly twice that of Anglo American (LSE:AAL), and $10 billion more than Glencore (LSE:GLEN).

    How exciting, then, that Kavango Resources plc (LSE:KAV) is exploring a project that could rival the best of what Norilsk has to offer.

    Kavango chief executive Michael Foster has repeatedly described the company’s targets here as “highly attractive”. However, those in the know would say that this is quite the understatement.

    Kavango holds 12 prospecting licences across the KSZ and the adjacent Ditau Project in a huge, near-7,000km2 area.  Prof. David Holwell of the University of Leicester, a world authority on magmatic sulphide deposits, describes the KSZ as “a prime setting for a magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE deposit.”

    Kavango is hard at work targeting nickel-copper-platinum-group-element deposits across the 450km length of the KSZ.

    Fig. 1. Kavango’s 3 areas of exploration

    Foster is keen to draw the Norilsk comparison for one precise reason: it’s backed by geoscience.

    The same black, granular intrusive rock that hosts Siberia’s vast metal deposits – known as gabbro - is found under the Botswana sands, exactly where Kavango is drilling.

    “We believe the results from our 2019 drilling in the KSZ have brought us closer to confirming a Norilsk-style ‘plumbing system’ through which significant quantities of metal sulphides were transported,” Foster explains.

    Copper-Nickel-PGM deposits can accumulate in vast underground ‘traps’ — as molten metal-sulphides filter down through the cooling silicate magma. As at Norilsk, these accumulations can form huge ore bodies over a prolonged period of magma flow, which appears to be the case on the KSZ.

    One of the most important results from the drilling and rock sampling by Kavango to date has been the confirmation that most of the gabbroic magma intruded into sulphur-rich coal shales.

    Why is this key?

    It tells Kavango’s geologists that the sulphur content of the magma would have increased due to the incorporation of sulphur rich coal shales into the melt. Therefore, more of the valuable metals (Nickel & Copper) would have combined with the sulphur to form sulphide accumulations.

    Magmatic sulphide specialist Dr Martin Prendergast examined the geochemistry of the gabbro samples and concluded that the silicates seem to have “lost” metals during the crystallisation of the magma whilst the ratios of Cu/Zn and Cu/Pd strongly suggest that “sulphide saturation” would have occurred leading to the formation of metal sulphides. The location of these sulphide deposits are relatively simple to confirm in geophysical surveys because they conduct electricity so easily.

    In Kavango’s recent Mineral Systems Review by Prof. Holwell it is suggested that large volumes of metal sulphides including copper, nickel and platinum could be found in trap zones associated with gabbro dykes (vertical) and sills (horizontal).

    If this is correct and the accumulations are close enough to surface to mine economically, it will then be a case of identifying the location of these deposits with ground based geophysical surveys and obtaining samples of the mineralisation.

    With so much ground to cover this is obviously a big job for Kavango, but the potential rewards are huge.

    If the company is successful and identifies commercial metal deposits then this will be transformational for the company’s stock price. This will be the main focus of Kavango’s exploration efforts well into 2021.

    Fig.2. Diagram showing how metal sulphides can accumulate within sills and dykes as the gabbroic magma ascends towards the surface. (After Barnes et al 2015)

    Wider Exploration Potential in Botswana

    It’s no surprise that fellow junior mining exploration companies are now following Kavango into Botswana.

    Notably, shares in Power Metal Resources (LSE:POW) rocketed 50% in a day in April when the London explorer announced the acquisition of a 51% stake in Kavango’s Ditau Project located 70km east of the KSZ.

    At Ditau, Kavango has been focussing on 10 or so “ring structures” identified from airborne magnetic surveys, which the company believes should contain “carbonatite” lying beneath about 70m of Kalahari Sands

    Carbonatites, are intrusive/extrusive volcanic bodies whose geochemistry is dominated by calcium or magnesium carbonate. Significantly, carbonatites represent the leading source (almost the only source) of rare earth elements (REEs). REEs are becoming increasingly important in high tech applications, particularly in the manufacture of batteries and lightweight magnets used in the motors of Electric Vehicles.

    At the time of the acquisition by Power Metals, chief executive Paul Johnson said the purchase offered “a great deal of promise for highly prospective” targets of carbonatite magmatism.

    Across these targets, the Kavango/Power Metal Joint Venture hopes to discover economic deposits of REEs as well as niobium – a ductile metal used to create heat-resistant superalloys for jet engines. 

    Just 25km to the north of the project area, three carbonatites were discovered by Falconbridge Exploration in the 1970s.

    One of these was reported to contain high grades of Niobium.

    Once the Covid-19 lockdown is over, the JV partners plan to carry out orientation surveys on the Falconbridge carbonatites before undertaking an exploration exercise to identify carbonatite within the ring structures. Once carbonatites have been confirmed, shallow drilling will be employed to test for REEs and other economically viable minerals.

     

    Rising demand paints a positive picture for Copper, Nickel, REE and PGM producers

    As Kavangopushes forwards, demand for rare earths and PGMs is also soaring. More and more of the world’s technologies are coming to rely on these highly sought-after minerals

    Increasing quantities of palladium are being sought by world’s carmakers, who use the rare metal to manufacture green catalytic converters. Meanwhile, rare earths are critical in everything from medical equipment and electric car motors to lithium-ion batteries, computer hard drives, solar panels, and wind turbines.

    The net result has been a surge in prices over recent months. Palladium soared to record highs above $2,795 an ounce in January 2020.  Spot prices have remained at 25-year highs in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The reason?

    Auto manufacturers are struggling to find new suppliers and tough new emissions standards have come into force around the globe.

    Nickel, meanwhile, has jumped 18% since March.  A large driver here has been an export ban on the commodity in Indonesia – one of the world’s leading suppliers.

    So, while prices of key metals take off across the globe, and Kavango finds precisely the same underground structures that made billionaires of Norilsk investors, the company now has a huge opportunity to match this exploration potential and enrich its early investors.

    Author: Mark Sheridan

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, owns a position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    MiningMaven Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and MiningMaven Ltd are not responsible for the article's content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author. News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

     

  • Kavango Resources raises £500k to accelerate exploration in Botswana (KAV)

    Kavango Resources (LSE:KAV) was trading down slightly at 3.2p on Monday morning after launching a £500,000 placing to accelerate its exploration work in Botswana. The firm placed c.17.9m shares at 2.8p each, a premium to the 2.5p it raised at when it entered the London market last July.

    Kavango holds 15 prospecting licences covering 9,231km2 of ground in Botswana, including most of the 450km long Kalahari Suture Zone (KSZ) magnetic anomaly in the southwest of the country. Here, the business is exploring for copper, nickel, and platinum group element-rich sulphide orebodies. The area is yet to be examined using modern drilling techniques. However, Kavango argues that it has a similar geological setting to the giant Norilsk copper/nickel deposits in Siberia.

    In Monday’s update, chief executive Michael Foster said the proceeds from the placing will allow Kavango to accelerate its exploration programme on the KSZ.

    At the end of January, the business announced that it plans to begin an initial 1,000m drill programme at its Ditau project on the anomaly this month. This is designed to intersect two ‘very compelling’ coincident geophysical and geochemical base metal conductor/anomalies.

    Elsewhere, the firm has mobilised the second phase of an airborne electromagnetic survey over its 15 prospecting licences in the KSZ. The airborne EM survey is the first stage in the company’s efforts to identify sulphide orebodies. It detects and prioritises potential locations for these deposits, which Kavango can then follow up with more detailed groundwork and drilling.

    Flying for the second phase of the survey is expected to take between four to six weeks to complete and will cover up to 2,062 line-kilometres in the Hukunstsi area of Botswana.

    On Monday, Foster said: ‘Our current exploration programme in Botswana is on track, with both the airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey (see RNS dated 21 January 2019) and the drilling at Ditau, which forms part of the KSZ project (see RNS dated 28 January 2019) progressing according to plan. Further information is expected to be available shortly on both these programmes which the Company will of course relay to the market at that time’.

    Finally, he added that the placing funds will also allow Kavango to review other ‘highly selective but potentially very interesting natural resource opportunities in Botswana.’

    It is also worth noting that each placed share also has a warrant attached. This is exercisable at 12p from the earlier of the date falling one year after the time of admission or the date of the publication of a prospectus until 31 July 2020.

    What’s more, if exercised, the warrant gives the holder the right to an additional half-warrant exercisable at 24p before 31 July 2022. This ambitious target will likely send out a positive message to investors regarding management’s belief in where Kavango could be heading over the medium term.

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.

    The Author has not been paid to produce this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author.  News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

  • Kavango soars as it reveals Ditau drilling date (KAV)

    Kavango Resources (LSE:KAV) rose by nearly a third to 2.3p on Monday morning after announcing the imminent drilling of one of its major prospects in Botswana. The firm plans to begin work at its Ditau prospect, which forms part of the Kalahari Suture Zone (KSZ), early next month.

    The KSZ is a 450km-long magnetic anomaly along which Kavango is exploring for copper, nickel, and PGE-rich sulphide orebodies at depth. The area is yet to be examined using modern drilling techniques. Mining consultant MSA Group has backed the potential presence of these deposits on the KSZ, first explored in the 1980s and 1990s. Meanwhile, Kavango has suggested that the area has a similar geological setting to the giant Norilsk copper/nickel deposits in Siberia.

    Kavango’s initial 1,000m drill program is designed to intersect two coincident geophysical and geochemical base metal conductor/anomalies at the site. These are based at depths of 100m and 200m. The work will involve a combination of reverse circulation and core drilling, with conductors extending to depths of more than 600m. Kavango has signed a drilling contract with Maquana Explorations, an experienced Botswana company based at Selebi-Phikwe.

    In today’s update, the firm said target anomalies extend north-south for at least 4km at Ditau. It added that they represent ‘very compelling’ geophysical anomalies that are coincident with zinc in soil anomalies at the surface. Zinc acts a pathfinder for potential base metal mineralisation at depth because it is the most mobile of the base metal elements.

    Chief executive Michael Foster added: ‘We are pleased to be able to announce the start of drilling at the first of several exciting coincident geophysical and geochemical base metal anomalies that have been identified at the Ditau Prospect, which forms part of the KSZ Project. The drilling is scheduled to commence shortly and results will be announced as they become available.’

    The news comes just a week after Kavango announced that it has now mobilised the second phase of an airborne electromagnetic survey over its 15 prospecting licences in the KSZ area. The airborne EM survey is the first stage in the company’s efforts to identify these sulphide orebodies. It detects and prioritises potential locations for these deposits, which Kavango can then follow up with more detailed groundwork and drilling.

    Flying for the second phase of the survey is expected to begin later this month. It will take between four to six weeks to complete and will cover up to 2,062 line-kilometres in the Hukunstsi area of Botswana. On this, Foster said in Monday’s update:

    ‘With the success of our exploration techniques, we expect many more anomalous areas to be identified following completion of Phase 2 of the airborne electro-magnetic (AEM) survey (see announcement of 21 January 2019). These will be followed up on the ground and prioritized for drilling.’

    As revealed earlier this month, Kavango has contracted the services of a leading airborne geophysical survey player called SkyTEM for its latest phase of AEM work. SkyTEM offers a ground-breaking, high-power surveying system that has been optimised to reach a depth of up to 300m below the earth’s crust.

    It reaches these depths by using a high current and low base frequency of 12.5hz. According to Kavango, the technology has not been used in Africa before and is more effective than the older systems currently on the market.

    Speaking to Mining Maven, Kavango’s exploration director Mike Moles said the technology will let Kavango investigate for orebodies at a deeper level and with higher resolution than it could in the first phase of its survey.

    The company identified 26 conductive anomalies over 2,000 line-km of the KSZ project during this stage of work. However, the technology used did not penetrate deep enough beneath the surface. As such, Kavango was unable to tell which anomalies were low priority near-surface conductors like clays and shales and which went much deeper.

    He believes the new technology will make it much easier for Kavango to differentiate between the two types of anomalies.

    ‘We will immediately be able to see which conductors have a depth component to them and represent high priority targets. Likewise, it will be much easier for the business to identify and ignore those surficial conductors that are very often just clays and other conductive materials that lie within the first 50-60m below the surface,’ he told us.

    ‘The technology we contracted in Phase One used a much higher frequency and was not getting deep enough to differentiate between the shallow and deep targets. If we had SkyTEM’s technology back in September when we launched the campaign, we could have reduced the number of conductors worth following up from 26 to about six or seven straight away. Using our new approach, we should be to turn over these conductors much more quickly in Phase Two.’

    Author: Daniel Flynn

    The Author does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the piece.
    The Author has not been paid to produce this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.
    Catalyst Information Services Ltd, the owner of MiningMaven.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.
    MiningMaven.com and Catalyst Information Services Ltd are not responsible for its content or accuracy and do not share the views of the author.  News and research are not recommendations to deal, and investments may fall in value so that you could lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance

  • Kavango's hunt for elephant-scale deposits intensifies as modelling confirms Norilsk potential in Botswana (KAV)

    Kavango Resources (LSE:KAV) was trading at 2020 highs on Tuesday after confirming "spectacular" geological similarities between its vast land package in Botswana and the giant Norilsk mining centre in Russia.

    Over the past few months, Kavangohas been building a 3D model for the 450km-long Kalahari Suture Zone ("KSZ") magnetic anomaly, where it is targeting world-class mineral deposits. The area is entirely covered by Cretaceous and post-Cretaceous Kalahari sediments and has never been explored using modern techniques.

    Kavango secured thousands of data points from its own extensive aerial surveying and 2019 drill campaign, as well as from third-party historical exploration drilling and water boreholes, to build a comprehensive picture of the region’s prospectivity. On Tuesday, the company rocketed to 2.7p a share after confirming its 3D model had established critical similarities between the KSZ's northern "Hukuntsi" section and Norilsk.

    Based in Siberia, Norilsk is one of the world's biggest mining centres, accounting for 90% of Russia's nickel reserves, 55% of its copper, and virtually all of its platinum group metals ("PGMs").

    Specifically, Kavango's model depicts ten district-scale horizontal "sills" at Hukunsti covering over 300km2. Sills are relatively thin, planar, bodies of coarse-grained rock known as "solidified gabbroic magma" that intruded into layers of sedimentary rock while still molten during volcanic activity about 150 million years ago.

    According to Kavango, these sills display dozens of "gull wing" and "keel" formations that are characteristic of those containing metal-rich massive sulphides at Norilsk. Two examples can be seen in the images below.

    Cross section A-B from Hukunsti, KSZ