Bushveld Minerals* (LON:BMN) – Vanadium demand set to rise further as China raises standards for steel for vanadium in high-strength rebar for earthquake resistance
Golden Star Resources (LON:GSC) – Recent drilling implies Wassa may be more extensive than currently thought
SolGold* (LON:SOLG) – Half-year financial report highlights progress at Alpala, Ecuador and other copper exploration
Stratex International (LON:STI) – Exploration agreement for Hasancelebi and Dogala prospects in Turkey
Fundamentals remain supportive of commodities in 2018
- Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. remain bullish on commodities throughout 2018 despite downward pressure last week following the broad global equity and bond rout. Strategist see “the levels many markets are now trading at present an opportune time for consumers to lock in prices, as we see fundamentals remain supportive of commodities in 2018”.
- The bank focuses on supply-constrained metals such as copper and zinc, while rising inflation expectations and weaker USD should push gold prices towards $1,400/oz later this year.
- Despite surging US crude oil output reaching record levels, ANZ remain positive on Brent crude with prices hovering around $70/bbl in the medium term.
- Constrained supply of mined PGMs combined with robust auto and jewelry demand will drive platinum and palladium prices higher, forecasting $1,100/oz and $1,150/oz respectively.
South Africa – Jacob Zuma resigned as South Africa’s President ending his nine year term paving the way for Cyril Ramaphosa to be voted into the office by the parliament.
- “I have come to the decision to resign with immediate effect, even though disagree with the leadership of my organisation,” Zuma said.
- South African equities are likely to rerate higher on news of Ramaphosa’s election and if Ramaphosa moves to combat corruption within the ANC and the state in general
Tesla’s China factory could hit a roadblock over disagreement
- Tesla and the Chinese government are reportedly not seeing eye-to-eye with regards to the ownership of the electric car maker’s proposed factory in Shanghai
- China’s central government says the plant must be a joint venture with local partners, while Tesla wants to own the factory completely
- Tesla could face punitive import taxes if it is not able to open a factory in China
SP Angel rank No 1 in Copper price forecasting in the Q4 2017 MB APEX report
SP Angel analysts ranked: See MB APEX report link for further details
- 1st for copper, 1st = for gold, 2nd for Palladium, 3rd for Coking Coal, 5th for Zinc, 3rd in Q4 Precious Metals forecasts in Q4, 4th in Base Metals forecasting in Q4
SP Angel ranked No 1 for research by ‘Research Tree’ according to investor demand
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US – Strong inflation numbers led to a selloff in US Treasury bonds with benchmark 10y bond yields hitting fresh four year highs.
- Rising interest rates had little effect on equity markets with both S&P 500 and Dow Jones indices closing higher on the day (+1.3% and 1.0%, respectively).
- CPI (%mom/yoy): 0.5/2.1 v 0.2/2.1 in December and 0.3/1.9 forecast.
- Core CPI (%mom/yoy): 0.3/1.8 v 0.2/1.8 in December and 0.2/1.7 forecast.
- White House officials said there is currently no plan in the works for placing trade tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, despite Mr Trump raising the issue several times this week, Bloomberg reports.
- Additionally, a number of Republican lawmakers argued that tariffs are likely to cause more harm than good costing jobs in auto, aircraft, wiring and beverages industries.
- Steel and aluminium users argued that proposed tariffs will hike input costs which would inevitably eat in their margins and place a large number of US jobs at risk.
Eurozone – Growth momentum is strong in the single currency region with quarterly GDP growth rate confirmed at 2.7%yoy in Q4/17, the data released yesterday showed.
- The pace is off 0.1pp from the previous quarter when GDP rate hit the strongest level since the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
- Growth slowed slightly in Germany and Italy, while the pace accelerated in the Netherlands and Portugal.
- The latest Makrit PMI data showed composite activity increased to the highest nearly in 12 years on the back of strong new business orders leading firms to expand staff numbers.
- “The outlook for the eurozone economy also remained bright, with business confidence improving to an eight-month high,” the Markit report read.
- A good set of sentiment indicators point to a sustained robust momentum through 2018.
- GDP (%qoq/yoy): 0.6/2.7 v 0.7/2.8 in Q3/17 and 0.6/2.7 forecast.
EU looking at raiding corporate tax receipts to fill Eur15bn black hole left by Brexit
- News in the FT today highlights radical options being considered by the EU to fill the EUR15bn black hole when the UK finally leaves the union.
- The EU is considering siphoning a portion of corporate tax receipts from national treasures into the EU common pot. Can not see member states enjoying that.
- “The plan is linked to EU proposals to harmonise how nations calculate companies’ taxable profits but does not involve imposing a single EU corporate tax rate. The commission believes the levy could bring in between €21bn and €140bn over the seven-year life of the budget. Another plan involves raiding the money that governments collect from issuing CO2 permits to airlines, energy companies and other polluters.” According to the FT.
- We wonder if Luxembourg and Monaco might be exempt from the tax.
France – Unemployment rate recorded the steepest decline since the 2008 financial crisis in the final quarter of last year.
- Strong uptick in labour numbers match reports of improved business outlook through the quarter with the latest Composite PMI (January) standing close to the highest in years.
- Unemployment change (‘000): -205 v +66 in Q3/17.
- Unemployment rate (%): 8.9 v 9.6 (revised from 9.7) in Q3/17 and 9.5 forecast.
Australia – Unemployment edged lower in January amid higher participation rate from increased number of women actively looking for job.
- Part time jobs climbed strongly (+65.9k v +19.5 in Dec) more than offsetting a drop in the number of full time roles (-49.8k v +12.7k in Dec).
- The national statistics body estimates 292k full time jobs have been added since the start of 2017 with women accounting for 55% of that.
- The increase is attributed among other things to regulatory changes allowing paid parental leave and more flexible working arrangements.
- Despite the jobless rate hovering around the lowest level since early 2013, market commentators are estimating unemployment should come down below 5% to sufficiently tighten the labour market to generate upward pressure on wages and prices.
- Employment change (‘000): +16.0 v +33.5 in December and 15.0 forecast.
- Unemployment rate (%): 5.5 v 5.6 (revised from 5.5) in December and 5.5 forecast.
US$1.2494/eur vs 1.2366/eur yesterday Yen 106.48/$ vs 107.37/$ SAr 11.665/$ vs 11.868/$ $1.405/gbp vs $1.388/gbp 0.797/aud vs 0.787/aud CNY 6.342/$ vs 6.346/$
Gold US$1,355/oz vs US$1,332/oz yesterday
- Spot gold advanced as much as 2% in yesterday’s trading to record the biggest intraday gain since May last year, as the precious metal nears its highest level in almost three weeks. The main culprit fell to USD weakness as investors weigh the impact of rising inflation, disappointing retail sales and concerns over US fiscal and current-account deficits.
- US consumer prices rose more than expected in January as Americans paid more for gasoline, rental accommodation and healthcare. Inflation fears are prompting investors to purchase precious metals, although a rise in increase rates is expected to make non-yielding gold less attractive.
- The Commerce Department announced yesterday that US retail sales decreased 0.3% last month, the largest decline since Feb. 2017, as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and building materials.
Gold ETFs 72.0moz vs US$72.0moz yesterday
Platinum US$1,005/oz vs US$977/oz yesterday
- Falling platinum demand, seeing a sharp contraction in Japanese investment and Chinese jewelry buying as well as a slowdown in consumption by carmakers, is expected to place the market into oversupply with Johnson Matthey estimating a 110,000 ounce excess.
Palladium US$1,017/oz vs US$989/oz yesterday
Silver US$16.95/oz vs US$16.58/oz yesterday
Copper US$ 7,186/t vs US$6,982/t yesterday
Aluminium US$ 2,190/t vs US$2,125/t yesterday
Nickel US$ 14,330/t vs US$13,500/t yesterday
- Nickel rises to its highest level in more than two years as metals climb on sliding USD which is under threat from widening US fiscal and current-account deficits. The metal climbed as much as 1.4% to $14,275/t, to record its best level since May 2015. Stockpiles tracked by LME shrunk to their lowest levels since 2014, helping the metal rise 12% ytd.
Zinc US$ 3,586/t vs US$3,459/t yesterday
Lead US$ 2,602/t vs US$2,545/t yesterday
Tin US$ 21,600/t vs US$21,600/t yesterday
Oil US$64.8/bbl vs US$62.6/bbl yesterday
Natural Gas US$2.546/mmbtu vs US$2.582/mmbtu yesterday
Uranium US$21.65/lb vs US$21.65/lb yesterday
- Uranium’s recent price rally may be artificially upheld by Japan’s significant stockpile of the nuclear fuel, according to industry consultants Ux Consulting Co. Utilities stockpiled enough fuel to power the nation’s nuclear fleet for at least 6 years, while some generators remain active in accepting deliveries despite the near-total shuttering of the country’s reactors almost seven years earlier following the Fukushima disaster.
- “Japan’s large and growing inventories are certainly something that overhangs the uranium market. If any Japanese utility tries to sell some or all of its nuclear fuel inventory, it will probably try to do so in a discrete manner. The first choice is to sell to another Japanese utility so as to minimise the global market impact” comments Ux. Reintroduction into global markets could have a devastating impact on the recent rally in uranium prices after suppliers cut production across major projects, and reverse the effect of the recovery from the lowest annual average in a decade.
- Spot uranium slipped more than 68% since the Fukushima disaster, falling to the lowest level in 12 years in November 2016. Coordinated production cuts by miners across Canada and Kazakhstan, the world’s biggest producer, brought spot price to average $22 in 2017.
- Ux estimate Japanese generators have stockpiled at least 130 million pounds. Domestic sale of the product remains limited with Kansai Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. representing the only companies with operating reactors, producing electricity from three atomic plants out of a nationwide fleet of 40.
- Remaining utilities firms are reducing or deferring shipments as stockpile levels climb, with Tohoku Electric Power Co., Hokuriku Electric Power Co., and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. all in negotiation with their suppliers. Chubu Electric Power Co. has secured enough uranium to operate the Hamaoka plant, while Chugoku Electric Power Co. has no plans to sell its stockpiles.
- Momentum is on the rise for growing nuclear energy generation, with four more plants due to come online in the next four months.
Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$76.8/t vs US$76.3/t
- Speculation of sustained demand for higher-grade ore is expected to sustain prices as iron ore futures plough onto the highest close in more than five months. In Singapore, most-active SGX AsiaClear futures rose as much as 0.7% to $77.25/t, closing near the highest since Sept. 1, as the high-grade 62% content material surges 5.3% year to date.
- “Iron ore (or at least high-quality iron ore) will be well supported over the medium term. A significant part of the quality premium for iron ore is driven by the change in Chinese steel making philosophy, and we expect this to be permanent”, according to Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. The benchmark iron ore remains in a sweet spot as China’s curbs on steel supply to fight pollution have underpinned demand for higher-quality ore, supporting preferential output from miners including Rio Tinto Group and Vale SA. Speculation follows that when restrictions are lifted in mid-March, the likely resurgence in activity by mills will be a plus for iron ore.
- Further, steel inventories remaining low across China and improving mills’ profitability will enable a boost in usage of high-grade ore, according to Citigroup Inc.
- In addition to the winter production restrictions, policy makers are advancing the drive toward overcapacity across the Asian nation.
Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$638.3/t vs US$637.9/t – China steel demand to aid prices as winter idling ends
- Seasonal steel demand in China will absorb additional steel production, supporting steel prices
- As local mills restart in the spring after winter curbs, the bank expects inventory levels may be too low, and lags to rebuild supply to meet higher demand may mean there is upside risk to steel prices
- The potential constraints to supply contrast with the bank’s expectation for Chinese steel demand to grow 25%, or 13 million mt in March from February, and further 1% month-on-month growth in April
Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$81.7/t vs US$79.7/t
Premium hard coking coal Aus fob US$233.1/t vs US$230.2/t
Tungsten APT European US$319-325/mtu vs US$317-325/mtu last week
Cobalt LME 3m US$81,000.0/t vs US$81,250.0/t – Umicore says cobalt recycling will be growing source of metal in coming years
- Chief Executive Marc Grynberg told Financial Times that ‘recycling is an amazing mine of cobalt that is totally untapped’
- Around 10% of global production goes into smartphones and if it is not extracted from dead batteries, the cobalt is lost forever
- In order to meet increasing demand for electric car batteries, cobalt supply will need to reach 180,000 tonnes by 2026, up from 48,000 tonnes in 2016, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence says. By that time, recycling will start to make up a growing portion of supply
Botswana Diamonds (LON:BOD) 1.3 pence, Mkt Cap £5.9m – Scoping study for the Thorny River Project
- Botswana Diamonds reports that it has started a scoping study to evaluate its Thorny River diamond project in the Limpopo Province of S Africa. The work is expected to take up to six months.
- The project area totalling 2,771 hectares is a consolidation of the Frischgewaagt, Hartebeestfontein and Doornrivier properties which comprise “the eastern extension of the kimberlite dyke/pipe systems on which the Klipspringer & Marsfontein Mines are located, both of which have been economically mined.”
- The company points out that “Extensive drilling, geophysics and sampling work has been undertaken at Thorny River during the last twelve months” although “The estimated diamond grade range remains at 46-74cpht” and “The estimated volume range remains at 1.2 -2.1 million tonnes of kimberlite”.
- The company does, however note that “Further analysis of the work completed to date has led to an updated estimate of the diamond value range of US$120-US$220 per carat”. Botswana Diamonds comments that the grade and value per carat “compares favourably with the published Indicated Resource grade of the neighbouring Klipspringer Mine of 49 carats per hundred tonnes and diamond value of US$130 / carat (2010 value), and value per tonne of US$64 / tonne.”
Conclusion: We look forward to the findings of the scoping study on the Thorny River diamond project in due course.
Bushveld Minerals* (LON:BMN) 8.5p, mkt cap £75m – Vanadium demand set to rise further as China raises standards for steel for vanadium in high-strength rebar for earthquake resistance
BUY – Target price 18.28 – (Bushveld Minerals now holds 59.1% of Vametco)
- The People’s Republic of China is working to cut the use of substandard steel and improve standards for new high strength rebar.
- The move is to help make buildings better resistant to earthquakes with the standards coming in to effect on 1 November
- The standards released last week eliminates low strength Grade 2 (335MPa) rebar and brings in three high-strength standards:
- Grade 3 (400MPa),
- Grade 4 (500MPa),
- Grade 5 (600MPa).
- Hot-rolled HS rebar,
- V content will be at 0.03%
- V in Grade 3, 0.06%
- V in Grade 4,
- >0.1% Grade 5 rebar
- The implementation of the new standard will significantly promote the application of vanadium in Chinese rebar products.
*An SP Angel Mining analyst and nomad have visited the Vametco vanadium mine and processing facilities in South Africa.
Golden Star Resources (TSX:GSC) C$0.95, Mkt Cap C$360m – Recent drilling implies Wassa may be more extensive than currently thought
- Golden Star Resources has released results from drilling undertaken during the second half of 2017 which suggest that the Wassa deposit in Ghana may be more extensive than is reflected in the current resource estimate, which the company’s website reports as 44.3m tonnes at an average grade of 2.33 g/t gold, equivalent to 3.3m oz of contained gold.
- Investigation of the “B” Shoot and “F” Shoot to the south of the current resource envelope comprise a total of 6,818m of drilling and was undertaken from hole the BS17DD385M “mother” hole, collared 180 metres to the south of Wassa Underground’s current inferred resources, and four “daughter” holes.
- Results from the “mother” hole, which have been reported previously, “confirmed that the high grade zone extended 180m to the south of Wassa’s Inferred Mineral Resources”. The results from the follow-up “daughter” hole programme tested the extension of the mineralisation in what is interpreted as the “F” Shoot “over approximately 400m of dip extension and intersected the “thickest zone of gold mineralization drilled to date at Wassa … [of] 94.0m averaging 4.4 g/t Au from 1,305.7m” in the third of the daughter holes.
- The 94m long intersection covered higher grade sections including a 14m long section averaging 18.1g/t gold from a depth of 1305.7m and another 14m long interval averaging 8.6g/t gold from a depth of 1495m. We observe that the 94m long intersection is reported as the true width represented by a 211.3m long down hole intersection which indicates that the drilling is intersecting the mineralisation at an oblique angle of, we estimate, around 25⁰, and may complicate geological interpretation somewhat.
- Overall, the company interprets the drilling has extended the orebody by “approximately 600m to the south of the current Mineral Reserves and remains open.”
- Further southward drilling of the “B” Shoot and “F” Shoot is planned during Q2 2018
- In addition to the drilling towards the south, underground drilling of two holes (612m) has shown continuity of gold mineralisation in the “B” Shoot North to extend 50m further north than the current planned mining area and opened up the possibility of adding additional production stopes in the near term.
- “The first of the new [underground] holes (BS17-720-29), which was drilled across the top of the interpreted zone, confirmed the grades and thicknesses intersected in the earlier hole, including 27.1m1 grading 8.7 g/t Au from 209.9m. The second new hole, (BS17-745-17), drilled approximately 20m up dip of the first new hole, also reported a significant intercept: 11.4m1 grading 7.3 g/t Au from 219.0m. This confirmed the continuity of the gold mineralization 50m to the north of the planned stoping area.”
- Three holes, extending approximately 300m below the area previously mined were drilled on the 242 FW zone, which is located in the flatter dipping western limb of the Wassa fold structure. The most northerly of these holes “(242-17-DD006) returned an intercept of 6.8m1 grading 8.2 g/t Au from 488.0m and as a result, further drilling has been included in the 2018 exploration budget.” The company comments that “If further drilling of 242 FW is successful, it has the potential to supply additional underground ore to the Wassa processing plant and increase production”
- Commenting on the results from the “B” and “F” Shoot drilling, CEO, Sam Coetzer, pointed out that the results “continue to support our belief that Wassa has substantial potential at depth … [and that they] … provide further confirmation that the ore body extends approximately 600m to the south of the current Mineral Reserves and remains open. Importantly, they also suggest that it may widen at depth”. He went on to underline that “Wassa Underground is a central part of our exploration strategy in 2018 and I look forward to releasing further information about our other exploration targets during this quarter.”
Conclusion: Drilling results are showing potential to increase the overall resource at the Wassa mine beyond the current 3.3moz of gold as the mineralised structures are being identified laterally well outside the existing resource envelope and at depth. We look forward to results from the future exploration and, in due course to an updated mineral resource estimate.
SolGold* (LON:SOLG) 22.7p, Mkt Cap £384m – Half-year financial report highlights progress at Alpala, Ecuador and other copper exploration
(SolGold own 85% of Cascabel in Ecuador)
- SolGold report the drilling and assaying of holes 26 to 35 on the Alpala project at Cascabel in Ecuador.
- The project is still open and so far indicates a true width of up to 700m with mineralisation down to 1,600m down hole.
- The team is directed and supported by Newcrest who are funding some A$60m worth of exploration on the project.
- Newcrest are expert in block cave mining and are considered to have world-class expertise when it comes to this sort of mining and project evaluation.
- The recently accelerated drilling program continues to define and expand the mineralised envelope and to increase the scale of the project.
- Management are preparing to release details on the new Mineral Resource estimate which was announced to the market on 3rd January.
- The resource estimates: 1.08bnt grading an average 0.4% copper and 0.3g/t gold to give 0.6% copper equivalent.
- Cascabel other targets; Solgold has only tested five of the 15 targets on the Cascabel license area. Alpala is one of these targets. The others are due for testing this year and may prove significant in adding to the effective resource inventory in the Cascabel area.
- Other projects: SolGold expanded its licenses in Ecuador significantly last year and now holds 100% interests in some 77 concessions though a number of local subsidiaries. SolGold is using knowledge gained from its work at Cascabel alongside more traditional geological methods to target mineralisation on these concessions.
- Solomon Islands; SolGold continue negotiations with landowners to gain access to project areas as Kuma and Mbetilonga. The company will start field work on the grant of the relevant licenses and access rights. Several strong copper anomoloies remain untested here.
- Australia, Queensland; SolGold plan to follow up on numerous anomalous areas including the Mt Compton breccia pope at the Normanby project.
- Funding: SolGold raised some A$78.4m in the second half last year to give the company a cash balance of A$138.4m at the year end. This is an almost unprecedented sum for an exploration company.
- Cash burn; the company spent A$26.6m on exploration and evaluation mainly at Alpala in Ecuador. The work principally covered the drilling and assaying of nine deep drill holes including daughter holes covering some 38,250m
- Admin expenses; came in at A$9.8m through the second half.
- Profit / loss; the company recorded a total comprehensive loss of A$14.9m through the second half due to increased exploration activity at Alpala and at a number of other, mainly copper/gold prospects.
Conclusion: SolGold with advice from Newcrest are working tremendously hard to fully evaluate the Alpala project. The company has also added personnel to ramp up other exploration in Ecuador which in our view is highly prospective and may well provide future targets for significant discoveries. SolGold’s very healthy cash balance is also enabling the company to reactivate exploration in Australia and the Solomon Islands.
*SP Angel act as UK broker to SolGold
Stratex International (LON:STI) 0.8p, Mkt cap £3.7m – Exploration agreement for Hasancelebi and Dogala prospects in Turkey
- Stratex reports that it has reached an agreement with a private Turkish company, TET Madencilik Ltd, for TET to fund, over the next two years, up to US$1.5m of exploration on the Hasancelebi gold prospect located approximately 500km southeast of Ankara in Turkey.
- Stratex will manage the exploration and drilling campaigns on behalf of TET, however, the agreement will “significantly reduce … [Stratex’s] operational overheads in Turkey through the transfer off licencing and staffing costs to TET.”
- Under the agreement, Stratex is to receive US$50,000 within a week of signing the agreement. Provided that the exploration generates “a minimum JORC-compliant indicated or measured gold resource of 100,000oz (with a 0.3g/t cut off) is defined within the oxide and transition zones” within the 2 year exploration period, Stratex will receive a further US$500,000 success fee. Stratex will also receive a 1.5% NSR on any future precious metals production.
- The trigger for payment of the success fee carries a number of practical conditions including the amenability of the deposit to surface mining, and satisfactory metallurgical test results and Environmental Impact Assessment. In the event that these criteria are met but TET does not proceed to development within a further 2 years, the properties revert to Stratex.
- In the event that the exploration at Hasancelebi reaches the 100,000oz resource target within the agreed US$1.5m exploration budget, the balance of the funds will be used for exploration of the greenfield Dogala project which is located approximately 225km west of Hasancelebi, and is considered to be prospective for high sulphidation gold.
- The Hasancelebi project area has been previously drilled in joint-venture with Teck Resources and “has demonstrated the potential for low-grade, high-tonnage gold mineralisation extending over a distance of between 1,000m and 2,000m, and vertical continuity of the system is confirmed down to 300m in some areas”.
- Commenting on the agreement, interim CEO and founder of Stratex, Bob Foster described the projects as “non-core to Stratex’s portfolio over the last few years” and noted that it would start to realise value on behalf of shareholders while it “allows us to share in any upside potential that might be realised, through a success-based payment and a royalty on future production”.
- Earlier this month, Stratex enunciated its strategy as resting on the fast tracking of its exploration of the Dalafin deposit in Senegal with a reduction of the company’s financial exposure “through the conclusion of a joint-venture arrangement to bring in third party funding and additional expertise”; earning in to or acquiring new projects; monitoring of “its investment in other companies and support of further exploration as appropriate”; and to continue “the realisation of value from existing lower priority projects which are converting to royalty arrangements”. Today’s announcement represents tangible delivery on the last of these strategic criteria.
Conclusion: Stratex’s agreement with TET over Hasancelebi and Dogala delivers on the recently announced strategy by generating value from a non-core asset while retaining the exploration management of the projects and exposure to exploration success through a discovery bonus and continuing royalty.