SP Angel . Morning View . Lithium supply growth struggles to make traction
SP Angel – Morning View – Tuesday 19 02 19
Lithium supply growth struggles to make traction
MiFID II exempt information – see disclaimer below
Asiamet Resources (ARS LN) – BKM resource drilling
ARC Minerals* (ARCM LN) – £2.2m funding
BHP Billiton (BHP LN) - H1 results
Patagonia Gold (PGD LN) – Closure of Lomada de Leiva and Cap Oeste
Strategic Minerals* (SML LN) – Exercise of options
Talga Resources* (TLG AU) – Further gains from Talga high energy battery anode product
Today we welcome the team from Northland Capital Partners into SP Angel
- We are particularly happy to welcome Northland’s leading Pharmaceutical / Healthcare analysts Vadim Alexandre and Liam Gascoine-Cohen to the team.
- Not least for their expertise in resolving the bacteria and parasites we contract on our various site visits.
Lithium supply growth struggles to make traction
- Concerns of global oversupply have weighed on the lithium sector despite accelerating battery market forecasts, with the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence price index falling to a two-year low in January.
- However, growing evidence points toward a supply-side which will continue to struggle to deliver as Nemaska Lithium Inc. move to terminate a multi-year agreement to provide lithium carbonate to Livent Corp. The deal with Livent, spun out of major US lithium producer FMC Corp., saw Nemaska provide up to 8,000tpa of lithium carbonate starting in April 2019.
- The Canadian developer plunged last week as it reported an additional C$375m funding for its Whabouchi hard rock lithium mine and Shawinigan electrochemical plant.
- Nemaska has already spent over C$138m on the Whabouchi mine and mill, and another C$67.3m for the plant in Shawinigan. The additional funding is largely related to installation and indirect costs and construction and purchasing at both sites are on schedule according to Nemaska.
- Recent heavy rainfall across northwest Argentina has struck output from major Orocobre’s Salar de Olaroz facility, causing the company to revise down 2019 production targets. “Production has been lower due to dilution of the brine feedstock. Orocobre now expects financial year 2019 production to be approximately the same as that achieved in financial year 2018”, the company report – approximately 12,470t.
- This setback is the latest to snag the operations, which has a design capacity of 17,500tpa since launching five years ago.
- The companies recently approved a project to expand production capacity at Olaroz beginning second half 2020 by 25,000tpa to 42,500tpa of lithium carbonate, a move that would make it one of the world's largest, low-cost lithium producers.
- Examples only serve to highlight supply instabilities across an infant industry.
Palladium prices rocket to $1,481/oz as demand outstrips available supply and strike action threatens production in South Africa
- Palladium prices continue to rise as auto-manufacturers and catalyst producers compete to buy metal from the few limited sources available.
- The threat of the spread of strike action in South Africa could further exacerbate supply issues as Sibanye moves towards its conditional takeover of Lonmin.
- Lonmin may need to further rationalise production ahead of its rescue and takeover and the potential closure of loss-making shafts could send the market further into deficit.
Dow Jones Industrials
HK Hang Seng
FTSE 350 Mining
AIM Basic Resources
US – US/China trade talks remain at the fore today as US markets reopen following a day off on Monday.
- Both Beijing and Washington confirmed that vice-premier Liu He will meet Robert Lighthizer and Steven Mnuchin on Thursday and Friday while lower level talks between two sides will continue on Tuesday.
China – Weakening activity in two of the busiest ports in the world highlight pressure on trade from the US/China trade spat, Bloomberg reports.
- Hong Kong port activity gauge moved into a negative territory last month while Singapore throughput rapidly headed in the same direction during the month.
Japan – The BOJ said that the central bank was ready to ramp up stimulus if sharp appreciation in yen would risk the central bank targets for 2% inflation rate.
- “If “currency moves) are having an impact on the economy and prices, and if we consider it necessary to achieve our price target, we’ll consider easing policy,” Kuroda said.
- Commenting on tools at BOJ disposal, Kuroda mentioned cutting short- and long-term interest rates, expanding asset buying or accelerating the pace of money printing.
- Japanese bond prices climbed and the yen dropped briefly on the comments.
Eurozone – More dovish comments emerge from the ECB regarding a potential change to earlier plans to wind down monetary easing programme amid deteriorating growth outlook.
- “If the euro-area economy were to slow more sharply, we could adapt our forward guidance on interest rates and this could be complemented by other measures,” Peter Praet, a chief ECB economist, told German newspaper Boersen-Zeitung published late Monday.
- Praet, who proposes policy to the ECB’s Governing Council, is the second official in as many days to highlight a potential shift in language that currently pledges unchanged borrowing costs at least through the summer. Markets are expecting rates to remain unchanged until summer next year.
- France’s Francois Villeroy de Galhau also mentioned a change in wording as an option to deal with a more protracted slowdown.
- When asked whether markets should expect an adjustment to forward guidance already at the ECB’s March 7 meeting, Praet said he was not able to say “at this stage”.
Germany – FT comments today on a limited supply of German sovereign debt as a reflection of the nation’s goal to run a balanced budget and a current account surplus.
- Lack of supply is argued then drives the spread between German yields and those of riskier assets such as Italy further up.
- “The shortage of Bunds vis arguably one of the drivers of exuberance in areas such as real estate… investors need to put their money somewhere and there is no enough of what they actually want to buy so they are forced into substitutes which then rapidly become overloaded and suffer price bubbles.”
UK – The pound is little changed this morning despite good labour statistics released this morning; although labour earnings for three months through December were broadly in line with market estimates.
- On a less positive note, a combination of weak overall economic growth and continued jobs growth meant that productivity was lower than a year earlier. Output per hour in the final quarter of 2018 was 0.2%yoy lower compared to 2017.
- Av Weekly Earnings (3m/yoy): 3.4 v 3.4 in November and 3.5 forecast.
- Av Weekly Earnings ex Bonus (3m/yoy): 3.4 v 3.4 (revised from 3.3) in November and 3.4 forecast.
- Employment Change (3m/3m): 167k v 141k in November and 151k forecast.
Sweden – Krona is off 1.2% against the US$ and € this morning as unexpectedly weak inflation in January added to concerns that the central bank may struggle to end four years of negative interest rates before 2019 is over.
- Consumer prices growth came in at an annual rate of 2.0%, below a 2.3% median estimate by Bloomberg.
- Previously, the central bank reaffirmed its intentions to hike interest rates for a second time in H2/19, despite the economy showing signs of weakening. The bank raised the repo rate in December for the first time in more than seven years.
- The krona is currently the worst performing major currency this year.
South Africa – The rand edged lower for a second day (-0.5%), leading losses among emerging-market peers as investors await South Africa’s budget on Wednesday.
- Additionally, AMCU, the largest labour union in the platinum mining belt in South Africa, called on its members to support protesting miners at Sibanye as producers are set to start wage negotiations with unions this year.
- The existing contracts were signed after the AMCU held South Africa’s longest platinum industry strike in 2014.
- The standoff between producers and unions escalated as miners announced plans to optimise costs with Impala guiding to reduced the workforce by a third, Sibanye-Stillwater to cut 12,600 jobs over three years and Gold Fields to shed more than 1,00 jobs.
US$1.1304/eur vs 1.1301/eur yesterday Yen 110.69/$ vs 110.60/$ SAr 14.186/$ vs 14.089/$ $1.292/gbp vs $1.290/gbp 0.712/aud vs 0.715/aud CNY 6.767/$ vs 6.766/$
Gold US$1,326/oz vs US$1,311/oz yesterday
Gold ETFs 72.6moz vs US$72.6moz yesterday
Platinum US$809/oz vs US$784/oz yesterday
Palladium US$1,481/oz vs US$1,400/oz yesterday
Silver US$15.80/oz vs US$15.80/oz yesterday
Copper US$ 6,262/t vs US$6,235/t yesterday
Aluminium US$ 1,856/t vs US$1,859/t yesterday
Nickel US$ 12,460/t vs US$12,365/t yesterday
Zinc US$ 2,638/t vs US$2,635/t yesterday
Lead US$ 2,030/t vs US$2,065/t yesterday
Tin US$ 21,150/t vs US$21,110/t yesterday
Oil US$66.6/bbl vs US$61.9/bbl yesterday
Natural Gas US$2.642/mmbtu vs US$2.692/mmbtu yesterday
Uranium US$28.70/lb vs US$28.70/lb yesterday
Iron ore 62% Fe spot (cfr Tianjin) US$86.1/t vs US$86.1/t
- The ramifications of Vale SA’s dam burst and mine suspensions feeds growing expectations for market tightness, supporting higher prices as iron ore approaches $100/t.
- Iron ore futures have rallied to the highest level since 2014, soaring into the $90s, as the market scrambles from the upheaval and Vale flag a supply loss of up to 70mt.
- Vale report they will be able to offset some of that figure, while there’s also speculation that other miners may seek to boost output, although the ability the other majors such as BHP Group and Rio Tinto Group to add substantial tons remains in question.
- Some clarity is expected over the coming days are top miners release earnings. Among them, Fortescue reports on Wednesday, and Anglo American Plc’s numbers come Thursday. Vale has delayed its release after the tragedy, and now reports in March. On Tuesday, BHP got the procession under way, saying that underlying profit fell.
- Brazil’s regulators have tightened their stance after the dam burst, which followed a similar incident in 2015. The government have moved to ban new upstream mining dams and ordered the decommissioning of all such dams by 2021.
- Those dams, which hold mining byproducts, are cheaper to build but present higher security risks because their walls are constructed over a base of muddy mining waste rather than on solid ground.
- The move by Brazil's mining regulator, which would impact some 50 upstream mining dams in Brazil's mining heartland of Minas Gerais state alone, is the strongest governmental response yet to the disaster.
Chinese steel rebar 25mm US$601.5/t vs US$604.0/t
Thermal coal (1st year forward cif ARA) US$78.8/t vs US$79.0/t
Coking coal futures Dalian Exchange US$195.4/t vs US$195.4/t
Cobalt LME 3m US$31,000/t vs US$31,000/t
China NdPr Rare Earth Oxide US$45,794/t vs US$46,032/t
China Lithium carbonate 99% US$10,119/t vs US$9,975/t
China Ferro Vanadium 80% FOB US$71.2/kg vs US$71.1/kg
China Antimony Trioxide 99.5% EU US$6.9/kg vs US$6.9/kg
Tungsten APT European US$260-270/mtu unchanged from previous week
Tesla’s big battery reports $4m revenue
- Tesla’s 100MW/129MWh Powerpack project in South Australia (Neoen’s Hornsdale Power Reserve) offers the same grid service as peaker plants, but with battery systems that offer cheap, quick and zero-emission energy.
- The system is reportedly so efficient it should have made around $1m over a few days in January, however Tesla’s rates don’t account for how fast the Powerpacks start discharging into the grid.
- The system is basically a victim of its own efficiency, which the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) confirmed is much more rapid, accurate and valuable than a conventional steam turbine in a report published earlier this year.
- Breaking down the revenue, most is sourced from participation in FCAS (frequency control and ancillary services) market, which generally consisted of large and costly gas generators and stream turbines.
- In the last quarterly report, Neoen generated around $4.5bn revenue, which goes some way to paying off the approximate $66m cost.
- Government participation also yields strong returns, with a recent report indicating the project saved $40m on the energy during its first year of operation alone.
Volkswagen gives suppliers ultimatum on emissions
- Volkswagen has an ultimatum for its 40,000 suppliers: work with us to cut carbon emissions, or risk losing your business with Europe’s largest carmaker.
- The German carmaker, which is still reeling from the 2015 diesel scandal in which it rigged millions of cars with software designed to cheat emissions tests, is targeting a reduction in pollution across the lifecycle of its vehicles spanning the raw materials used in production through the driving-phase to the recycling of components.
- Like its German rivals BMW and Daimler, Volkswagen has already pledged that its zero-emissions vehicles will be built in a carbon neutral fashion by assembling them in factories relying on renewable energy. Executives at the carmaker have decided their big push on electric cars, where it plans to spend €30bn in the next five years, will only be credible if its suppliers also rely on sustainable energy wherever possible.
Formula E races ahead with battery recycling deal
- Formula E has unveiled plans to recycle the electric car batteries which powered the first two seasons of the global racing championship in a move it hopes will help boost the nascent market for EV battery recycling.
- The electric racing series has announced a partnership with Belgian materials specialist Umicore that will see the lithium-ion battery units and cells used inside the race cars from the 2014 to 2016 seasons recycled, with valuable materials extracted to make new products.
- In total, it means 80 batteries and 22,760 cells have been collected and are currently in the process of being recycled at Umicore's facility in Belgium, where they are being sorted and dismantled to recover high value metals using "proprietary and unique smelting technology followed by hydrometallurgical treatment", explained Formula E.
- The EV racing series said the metals in the battery are "infinitely recyclable" without losing their properties, and that the recovered metals can then be used in new rechargeable batteries or other products.
Nissan concept uses recycled Leaf batteries to power camping trips
- Nissan has sold more than 350,000 Leafs since the car debuted in 2011, and as they’ve aged, the company has thrown around a lot of ideas about how to recycle their batteries. The latest idea: a smart pop-up camper powered by old Leaf battery cells.
- The camper concept was developed in partnership with off-road camping manufacturer Opus. The Leaf-powered pack in the concept camper stores just 700wH, and has a maximum output of 1kW — a small slice of a typical Leaf battery, but still plenty to power all the electronics in the camper for a few days, including multiple USB sockets, LED lighting, a 4G hotspot, as well as the included portable microwave, dual-burner gas stove, and fridge.
- A 400W solar panel can recharge the battery pack in two to four hours, according to Nissan. But the pack can also be removed and plugged directly into any 230V outlet.
5.35p, Mkt Cap £52.1m – BKM resource drilling
- Asiamet Resources reports that it has now completed 4,898m of core drilling in 35 holes at its BKM copper property in Central Kalimantan. An additional 5 holes, including 4 being drilled for geotechnical purposes to assess the area of the proposed western pit wall with a view to “re-evaluating the current pit design and enhancing overall project economics” are currently underway.
- Among the results highlighted in today’s announcement are
- Hole BKM32540-01, which is located in at the central north-eastern of the proposed pit, intersected 34.75m at an average grade of 0.94% copper from a depth of 1.25m and a deeper, 74.8m wide mineralised horizon averaging 0.43% copper from 57.2m depth. Both intersections included higher grade sections with 3m averaging 1.58% copper from 12.0m; 2m averaging 1.50% from 123.0m and 2.0m averaging 1.68% copper from 128.0m; and
- Hole BKM32490-01, sited in the northern part of the proposed pit, intersected 12.5m averaging 1.26% copper with additional, deeper mineralisation including 16.0m averaging 0.57% copper from 45.50m, 33.0m averaging 0.61% from 75.0m and 90.0m averaging 0.98% copper from 111.0m. The deepest intersection included a higher grade zone of 23.0m averaging 1.56% copper from 153.0m depth; and
- Two holes drilled at the southern end of the proposed pit which “open the possibility that the copper mineralisation may extend south of the existing resource”. Hole BKM31500-02 intersected 49.50m averaging 0.55% copper from a depth of 51.0m which included a higher grade zone of 8.0m at an average grade of 1.44% copper from 60.0m depth. The second hole in the southern area, BKM31500-04 intersected 24.0m at an average grade of 0.46% copper from 76.5m depth.
- The company points out that the two norther holes (BKM 32490-01 and BKM 32450-01) “confirmed near-surface high-grade mineralisation associated with strong quartz-chalcocite-covellite veining”.
- Commenting on the results, CEO, Peter Bird, said that “Mineralisation continues from surface to depth in the northern part of the proposed pit and infill drilling highlighted potential for modest extensions around the southern margin of the deposit.”
- Mr. Bird went on to confirm that the “drilling combined with a rework of the pit design aims to upgrade and capture Inferred Resources currently sitting inside and on the edges of the pit shells into the mine plan. A successful outcome from this work is expected to significantly enhance project economics and the robustness of the BKM BFS ahead of project financing”.
Conclusion: The additional drilling at BKM is opening up the possibility of southerly extensions to the mineralisation and capturing additional data to help upgrade the inferred resources lying within the currently proposed pit shell as part of the project bankable feasibility study. We look forward to the results of this work when they become available.
2.95p, Mkt Cap £21m – £2.2m funding
- ARC Minerals report the placement of £2.2m of shares at 3 pence per share.
- The shares come with a warrant exercisable at 4.5 pence per share.
- The CEO, Nick von Schirnding has also agreed to acquire 2.33m placing units at 3.00p/s taking his holding in the company to 15.9m shares 2.26% of the enlarged share capital.
- The CEO will also hold some 16.18m warrants effectively raising his potential stake to around 4.5%.
- Other directors are also subscribing for shares in the placement.
- We are waiting on news of first copper / cobalt concentrate production from the ARC’s Kalaba mine in Zambia due imminently.
- We are also waiting on further news relating to the newly identified copper / cobalt targets within the broader exploration license area.
*SP Angel acts as nomad and broker to Arc Minerals.
1,780p, £97.6bn - H1 results
- BHP reports an 8% decline in underlying attributable profit for the six months ending 31st December 2018 to US$3.7bn (2017 – US$4.1bn). Underlying EBITDA of US$10.5bn fell by 3% (2017 – US$10.8bn).
- The company has declared an interim dividend of 55 US cents per share which includes “an additional amount of 18 US cents per share or US$0.9 billion”.
- Despite a 22% increase in capital and exploration expenditure to US$3.5bn (2017 – US$2.9bn), the company reports a 36% decline in 31st December 2018 net debt to US$9.9bn (December 2017 – US$15.4bn and 30th June 2018 level of US$10.9bn) and expects net debt “to remain at the lower end of the target range”.
- The company points to the receipt of “proceeds received from the sale of Onshore US, partially offset by the completion of a US$5.2 billion off −market buy −back” as a factor in the lower net debt levels.
- The company reports that “Productivity(i) guidance is now expected to be broadly flat for the 2019 financial year largely reflecting the unplanned production outages at Olympic Dam, Western Australia Iron Ore, Spence and Nickel West.”
- Commenting on the outlook for the global economy, the company expects “China's economic growth to slow modestly in the 2019 calendar year. The negative impact of weaker exports will be partially offset by easier monetary and fiscal policy”.
- It also notes that “The US performed strongly in the 2018 calendar year but near −term prospects are less certain. The expansionary impact of tax cuts will progressively fade and trade policies remain unpredictable. In Europe and Japan, we believe business confidence and manufacturing momentum peaked in the 2018 calendar year. In India, growth prospects are solid”.
- In its principal commodities, the company expresses confidence in the outlook for copper: “we believe underlying fundamentals remain sound. Copper demand should grow steadily. Grade decline, rising input costs, water constraints and a scarcity of high −quality future development opportunities continue to constrain the industry's ability to cheaply meet this growing demand and provide support for our positive outlook.”
47.5p, Mkt Cap £12.1m – Closure of Lomada de Leiva and Cap Oeste
- Patagonia Gold reports that it is closing its Lomada de Leiva mine and placing the Cap Oeste mine on care and maintenance “due to lower than expected production volumes from both operations”.
- The company elaborates that at Lomada de Leiva the operation was reopened in November 2018 intending to retreat ore which had previously been placed on the heap leach pad. The plan to re-crush the ore and recover some 10,000oz of gold over the next year has been abandoned as “Current production is below management expectations and is not sufficient to cover operating costs. Given the nature of the project there are no options for scaling production and therefore the Company has decided to cease production”.
- At Cap Oeste, “the mine was closed in July 2018 and for the remainder of 2018 operations consisted solely of re-processing of the ore previously placed on the heap leach. The re-processing of ore was expected to cease in May 2019 following production of an estimated 6,300 oz AuEq. However, given that current monthly production is approximately 1,000 oz, which is not expected to increase over coming months, the Company has decided to put the operation on care and maintenance basis.”
- The possibility of developing a 300,000oz gold equivalent underground mining resource at a grade of 20g/t at Cap Oeste is still under evaluation while the company remains in discussions with its major shareholders regarding “future financing alternatives”.
- Earlier this month, the company announced encouraging initial results from exploration drilling at the San Jose project in Uruguay.
Conclusion: Underperformance at Lomada de Leiva and Cap Oeste has led to their closure although the possible development of a high grade underground resource at Cap Oeste remains under consideration subject to a successful outcome to financing discussions with the company’s principal shareholders
1.75p, Mkt Cap £24.2m – Exercise of options
- Strategic Minerals reports that its Chairman and Managing Director have each exercised options in the company and that total holdings by directors now amount to 7.64% of the company’s shares.
- The company’s Chairman, Alan Broome has subscribed for 1.5m new shares at £0.01/share increasing his holding by 32% to 0.44% of the issued capital.
- Managing Director, John Peters has subscribed for an additional 16m shares bringing his holding in Strategic Minerals to 3.6%. Commenting on the decisions to exercise the options Mr. Peters said “The exercise of options by the Chairman and I signals the confidence that we have in the Company’s exciting portfolio. We believe that there is significant potential upside in each of our projects and we are proud to remain committed to Strategic Minerals for the long run.”
Conclusion: Increasing their holdings through the exercise of options the Chairman and Managing Director are sending a signal of their long-term support for the company’s future.
*SP Angel act as Nomad and broker to Strategic Minerals
Talga Resources* (TLG AU) A$0.41, Mkt Cap A$89.5m – Further gains from Talga high energy battery anode product
- Advanced material technology company report enhanced performance across the suite of active anode graphite Talnode™ products. Following initial test results announced Oct. 18 further optimisation of Talnode™-Si, with up to 15% silicon loading, has been underway at Talga’s battery material facility in the Maxwell Centre of Cambridge University, highlighting:
- ~70% higher reversible capacity (~600mAh/g) compared to commercial samples of graphite (~350mAh/g)
- Coulombic efficiency of 99.5% - 99.9% with first cycle efficiency ~91%, highlighting limited energy loss between charged and discharged states
- Up to 94% reversible capacity after >130 cycles across a range of silicon loadings
- Ultimately, enhanced battery capacity will extend device operating time and EV range, improving the usability and support global adoption rates. Higher capacity can also lead to lower costs, as the increased energy density decreases the cost per unit of energy (kW/hr) for the total battery pack.
- Talnode™-Si silicon and graphite blend is engineered by Talga to be suitable “drop in” solutions for existing Li-ion battery manufacturing equipment as a high performance, cost-effective and scalable replacement for standard graphite anode materials.
- Development continues under the Safevolt project with Talga partnering with Johnson Matthey, Cambridge University and TWI under the £246m UK-funded Faraday program.
- Encouraging test results is leading to full cell testing and optimisation work, while commercial samples under confidentiality and material transfer agreements to a range of the world’s largest electronic corporations are scheduled to commence delivery at the end of February.
- Talga also continue progress on other “scale-up” and “sodium” Faraday projects.
Conclusion: Ongoing test results give further encouraging data towards development of the next-generation high energy density anode solutions to support growing global battery requirements. We look forward to understanding the performance of the Safevolt project over longer cycles, higher loadings of silicon and full cell scale. Talga significantly benefit from vertical integration with the world’s highest-grade graphite project in Sweden, giving strong defence against raw material prices and the quality control necessary for developing advanced materials.
*SP Angel acts as UK broker to Talga Resources. SP Angel analysts have visited the leading battery R&D institution WMG partnering with Talga.
John Meyer – 0203 470 0490
Simon Beardsmore – 0203 470 0484
Sergey Raevskiy – 0203 470 0474
Phil Smith (Technology) – 0203 470 0475
Zac Phillips (Oil & Gas) – 0203 470 0481
Richard Parlons – 0203 470 0472
Jonathan Williams – 0203 470 0471
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