Nickel round-up: This battery metal is set to run and we’re not sure where the end point is
The projected explosion of electric vehicle sales over the next two decades makes for very strong fundamentals and a massive growth profile for nickel.
Experts believe 2023 could be the year of the battery metals’ re-emergence and are hopeful ESG premiums will be attached to cleaner, lower emitting class 1 nickel sulphides like those produced in Australia.
One major trend Benchmark Mineral Intelligence sees playing out is a surge in ex-China investment within Indonesia’s mining sector, as Western players seek to leverage the region’s vast nickel sources.
“Volkswagen became the first Western automaker to commit to a project in the region in early 2022… and there is now a growing confidence that Indonesian nickel will qualify for subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act, if it is processed in the US or Free Trade agreement economy,” the price reporting agency says.
“Which – if proven correct – will most likely spark a stream of ex-China investments in the region.”
Indonesian miner Nickel Industries has entered into agreements to acquire interests in two producing nickel assets owned by its largest shareholder, Shanghai Decent Group’s parent Tsingshan – a steamroller in global stainless-steel production and also the world’s largest nickel producer.
Tsingshan is backed by Xiang “Big Shot” Guangda – the billionaire at the centre of last year’s nickel short squeeze.
It is believed the agreement establishes three key pillars for Nickel Industries to transform its business from a historical focus on the stainless-steel market to becoming a leading producer of battery grade ‘Class 1’ nickel.
These pillars include increasing the company’s exposure to nickel matte production, providing de-risked exposure to next-generation HPAL operations, and collaborating with Shanghai Decent on the potential development of the DAWN HPAL+ Project.
At the same time, the company has announced a US$471m capital raise (A$674m) and plans to spend the proceeds on the construction of the DAWN HPAL+ Project and a high-grade matte converter at the Oracle Nickel Project (ONI).
Tsingshan owns 18.4pc of Nickel Industries’ shares.
Scandinavian metal hunter Kingrose Mining has entered into a transaction implementation agreement with Scandinavian Resource Holdings (SRH) and Global Energy Metals Corporation (GEMC) for a staged investment into the brownfield Råna Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Project.
In conjunction, the company will form a Norwegian joint venture for the development and operation of the project to offset expenditure.
While exploration outside of the mine site is very immature, KRM managing director Fabian Baker says Kingsrose sees excellent potential for the discovery of additional high-grade massive sulphide bodies through exploration of the whole intrusive system.
“Syn-orogenic mafic-ultramafic intrusions analogous to Råna host some of the highest-grade deposits globally, such as Nova-Bollinger and Kabanga,” Baker says.
“We have a focussed exploration program planned to rapidly advance our understanding of the geology and generate targets for drilling later in 2023.”
Kuniko has launched a bunch of new drill programs at its copper, nickel and cobalt projects in Norway.
The drilling program at the Ertelien Nickel Project kicked off today, as planned on schedule.
This campaign is focussed on verifying key historical drill intercepts close to the Ertelien Nickel Mine and will comprise ve diamond drill holes, aiming to demonstrate continuity between historical mineralised intercepts across the Ertelien geological model.
In February, a second rig will be mobilised to the Skuterud Cobalt Project as Kuniko seeks to build upon the results of the maiden drill program of 2022.
Drilling in 2022 yielded intersections of cobalt mineralisation in eight drill holes at the priority Middagshvile target.
Meanwhile, a third drilling program at the Undal-Nyberget Copper Project is set to start during March, targeting confirmed geophysical anomalies for conductors identified at the Myrmalm and Øyasætra locations on the exploration licence area.
“We are pleased to have been able to positively develop our portfolio of battery metals projects such that we now have a pipeline of three high potential projects including copper, nickel and cobalt,” Kuniko CEO Antony Beckmand says.
“Our drilling program will be a catalyst for unlocking the upside potential of these assets and continue to position Kuniko as a frontrunner in the further development of a low carbon European battery metals supply chain.”