It’s not a well-known resource, but apparently caesium fetches a pretty penny
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Pioneer Resources only started mining the little-known mineral caesium in December last year but the junior expects to make $US8m ($11m) by June.
It is Australia’s first caesium deposit and it was discovered in late 2016.
Caesium is primarily used as a drilling fluid in high temperature/high pressure oil and gas drilling.
But mobile phones, GPS and the internet all operate with the help of a caesium clock, also known as an “atomic” clock. These clocks are extremely accurate in keeping time.
It is also used in vacuum tubes and radiation monitoring equipment.
Pioneer’s (ASX:PIO) share price briefly rallied nearly 12 per cent to an intra-day peak of 1.9c before returning level with Thursday’s closing price of 1.7c.
Global supply is very constrained. Information on global caesium resources is limited, but the US Geological Survey says caesium can be found in Alaska, Maine, and South Dakota in the US.
It is also found in lower concentrations in brines in Chile and China and in geothermal systems in Germany, India, and Tibet. China is also believed to have caesium deposits.
Pioneer shipped the first “pollucite” from its Sinclair mine this week.
Pollucite is a high value rare caesium mineral that forms in extremely differentiated lithium, caesium and tantalum pegmatite systems. It co-exists with the lithium minerals, petalite and lepidolite.
The first shipment left from the Port of Esperance on WA’s south coast, bound for the US under a sales agreement with Boston-based specialty chemicals and performance materials manufacturer Cabot Corporation.
Just over half the first $US8m will be used to repay Cabot, which provided Pioneer a loan in August.
Because caesium is not traded in commercial quantities, no market price is available for it, according to the US Geological Survey.
But Pioneer dug up 57 per cent more caesium than it was expecting to, which the company says “will greatly improve the revenue received”.
In total, Pioneer expects gross sales to total $US16m, with shipments to continue through to December.
Pioneer has been contacted for comment.