February Newsletter – 15.02.2021

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Wishing everyone health, wealth and prosperity in the Year of the Ox.


  • Cornish Lithium speeds up hard rock project development
  • RANKED: World’s top 10 copper projects
  • Botswana names Canadian firm as preferred bidder for copper mine
  • Drones reveal previously unknown features of Roman-era gold operations
  • Explainer: Possible impact of Myanmar coup on China’s metal and rare earth supply
  • JP Morgan sees commodity supercycle already kicking off
  • The Possible Xinjiang Coal Link in Tesla’s Bitcoin Binge
  • Copper price rally resumes on US stimulus, decade low China stocks

Cornish Lithium speeds up hard rock project development

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Drilling campaign at the Trelavour hard rock lithium project.

Cornish Lithium, a British miner eager to lead the development of an industry for the battery metal in the UK, has begun the second drilling campaign at its Trelavour hard rock lithium project near the town of St Austell, in Cornwall, England.

The exploration work, slated to take between eight and ten weeks, is expected to contribute to the company’s first reportable mineral resource and provide further data about the lithium in the hard rock resource that was discovered in 2020.

Cornish Lithium chief executive and founder, Jeremy Wrathall, said the drilling program should also help determine the best extraction method.

“In December, we announced that we would be accelerating the development of our Trelavour hard rock lithium project following the successful production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide from lithium mica samples obtained during our first drilling program at the project earlier in 2020,” Wrathall said. “We are now looking forward to this second drilling campaign and producing our maiden mineral resource from Trelavour.”

Most of the world’s lithium is currently produced in huge brine evaporation ponds in South America or open pit mines in Australia. The metal is then shipped to China for processing into lithium chemicals for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries.


RANKED: World’s top 10 copper projects

For decades, the global demand for copper has been rising steadily, having tripled over the past half-century, according to the International Copper Study Group. Demand for copper – a metal key to the green energy transition – is expected to keep rising over the coming years as emerging economies led by China continue to ramp up industrial activity.

According to the (United States Geological Survey) USGS, roughly 700 million tonnes of copper have been produced around the world so far, while identified deposits contain an estimated 2.1 billion tonnes of additional copper that have yet to be mined.

To provide a glimpse of the copper supply chain of tomorrow, MINING.COM and sister company MiningIntelligence compiled a list of the top 10 largest copper deposits currently under development and ranked them according to copper resources in the measured and indicated categories.

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Botswana names Canadian firm as preferred bidder for copper mine

Botswana picked Premium Nickel Resources Corp. as the preferred bidder for its shuttered copper mining group BCL Ltd., according to Mmetla Masire, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security.

The privately-owned Canadian minerals investor has six months to conduct due diligence before making an offer for the state-owned miner, Trevor Glaum, BCL’s liquidator, said in a Feb. 11 memorandum to remaining workers at the group. Glaum couldn’t be reached for comment on the memo.

Premium Nickel is seeking $26.5 million of financing to be used for its due-diligence process, according to a January presentation on the website of North American Nickel Inc., the Vancouver-based founder shareholder of Premium Nickel.

BCL went into liquidation in October 2016 due to high operational costs and low base metal prices. Its mines employed more than 5,000 workers at the time of their closing and have become a political sore point for President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration.


Drones reveal previously unknown features of Roman-era gold operations

Drones equipped with multispectral cameras are providing clues of the path followed by water canals dug 2,000 years ago in Spain to support Roman-era gold mining operations.

The drones provide multispectral images whose different bands reflect the range of vegetation that covers ancient mine sites in the northwestern León province.

By interpreting the variety of colours shown in the electromagnetic spectrum bands, researchers are able to determine the type of vegetation that covers each area of the site, which is determined by the geology. In other words, if they notice holm oak trees, they know underneath there is granite; if they see oaks and pines, they know slates and quartzites dominate the terrain.


Explainer: Possible impact of Myanmar coup on China’s metal and rare earth supply

Reuters) – Myanmar’s military coup and declaration of a state of emergency has sparked concern in neighbouring China over metal and mineral supplies amid already high tin, copper and rare earth prices.

Below is a description of trade flows from Myanmar to China, the world’s top metals consumer, with comment from analysts and associations on the prospects of disruption.

Myanmar is the world’s third-biggest miner of tin, according to the International Tin Association (ITA), and in 2020 accounted for more than 95% of China’s imports of tin concentrate, used by smelters to make refined tin for circuit-board soldering.

China’s overall import reliance is 30-35%.

Shipments from Myanmar, which borders China’s tin-smelting heartland of Yunnan, fell 13.5% last year amid coronavirus-related disruption.

But since Myanmar’s main tin-mining area is the autonomous ethnic Wa region near China, which acts separately from the central government, it has not been affected by the coup and shipments are still possible, says the ITA, which sees concentrate exports holding steady in February.


JP Morgan sees commodity supercycle already kicking off

Oil and other commodities have probably entered a so-called supercycle as a post-pandemic economic rebound and swelling inflation spark expectations of rising demand, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

A new multi-year boom appears likely, given investor desire to hedge against inflation and a weaker dollar as central banks adopt “ultra-loose” policies and governments boost spending.

Prices could also jump as an “unintended consequence” of the fight against climate change, which may constrain oil supplies while boosting demand for metals used in the construction of new renewable infrastructure, batteries and electric vehicles, JPMorgan analysts led by Marko Kolanovic said in a report on Wednesday.

“The past decade was marked by low growth and low inflation,” Kolanovic and company wrote. “Bonds, bond proxies and secular growth stocks were in a bull market, while commodities, value and cyclical stocks performed poorly. We believe that the tide on yields and inflation is turning.”


The Possible Xinjiang Coal Link in Tesla’s Bitcoin Binge

(Bloomberg) — There’s a pretty good chance that any new Bitcoin generated after the cryptocurrency’s Elon Musk-aided surge toward $50,000 will be sourced using cheap coal power in China’s Xinjiang. The region that’s become notorious in recent years for complaints about abuse of Uyghur Muslim minorities is also a hub for the production of Bitcoin. Nearly two-thirds of global output took place in China as of April 2020, according to University of Cambridge researchers, and about one-third of that occurred in Xinjiang.

The main draw is the cheap power needed to run the computers that perform the complicated equations for so-called “Proof of Work” that confirm transactions without a third party, which forms the biggest part of a miner’s outlay. However, unlike the almost carbon-free mining in places like the Nordic region, most of the electricity in Xinjiang is still produced using polluting coal plants.


Copper price rally resumes on US stimulus, decade low China stocks

Copper prices rose on Monday as optimism around a US stimulus raised hopes of higher demand for metals and a recovery in the world’s biggest economy.

The copper price rose as much as 1.3% to $3.6745 ($8,100 a tonne) on the Comex market on Monday, with March delivery contracts back within shouting distance of multi-year highs hit early in January.

The metal has rallied nearly 90% since the depth of the pandemic in March.

Commodities including copper and gold are finding supportive sentiment from US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen “talking quite aggressively” about the Biden administration’s stimulus plans.

A $1.9 trillion aid package could be passed by US lawmakers as soon as this month just as covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out globally.

Copper is often used as a gauge of global economic health.

The rise in copper prices is underpinned by thinning inventories that pointed to higher demand for the industrial metal.



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