Resources Rising Stars: The world is in a 30-year bull run for future-facing transition metals – Bill Beament
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Speaking at the Resources Rising Stars Conference on Thursday, Develop Global’s (ASX:DVP) Bill Beament, the driving force behind the Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) juggernaut said the world is currently in a “30-year bull market” for battery metals.
Armed with two high-growth Australian battery metals projects and the mining contract for Bellevue Gold (ASX:BGL), Beament highlighted ESG and future facing transition metals will remain key themes as the world continues down its decarbonisation path.
“You look at the line-up of this conference, for the first time ever about 75 per cent of the presenters here over the next two days are in future-facing transition metals,” he added.
“And 25 per cent precious metals – a real amazing change.”
DVP is developing the Sulphur Springs Project in WA’s Pilbara region, comprising 17.4Mt in resources featuring high-grade copper (1.3%), zinc (4.2%) and silver (17g/t).
The assumed copper and zinc prices in the 2018 DFS are now ~60% higher, he said, with final approvals expected to be received in the second half of 2022.
“This is an amazing asset and the reason why I recapitalised the company – I wanted to get into the future-facing clean transition metals… we need them, I can’t emphasise that enough,” Beament explained.
“We are in a 30-year bull cycle in these commodities guys – go back six months ago and most people thought we could transition the world’s energy needs in three or four years.”
The company’s other asset is the recently acquired Woodlawn asset in NSW for A$30m upfront and A$70m in success-driven milestone payments.
“The previous owners spent $340 million dollars building this and there’s a comedy of errors,” he said.
But what drew Beament to this project is its past production.
“When you buy an asset, you always look behind yourself before the GO’s tell you the future – this thing produced 14 million tonnes at 20 per cent zinc equivalent.
“Put that into today’s revenue terms guys, the payability, recoveries, all that – that is about 12 billion Aussie of revenue over 20 years, about $600 million a year.”
Chalice (ASX:CHN) has become a globally recognised name in the exploration industry.
The company hit headlines last year following its ‘frontier’ nickel discovery at the Julimar Project, which unveiled a record-breaking initial resource at 330Mt at 0.58% nickel equivalent or 1.6g/t palladium equivalent – one of the largest greenfield PGE-nickel-copper-cobalt sulphide discoveries in recent history.
Managing director Alex Dorsh said in terms of discovery, there’s a whole lot more to go with only ~2km of the roughly 30km long Julimar Complex drilled to date.
“We have a dual benefit in Julimar – we have the hydrogen metals but also we have battery metals,” he said.
Platinum and palladium are essential in every stage of the hydrogen value chain, a critical solution to achieving net-zero carbon emissions.
“PGEs are extremely useful not just for cleaning air and resource streams but for the hydrogen value chain through transport and conversion into ammonia through chemical catalytic facilitation,” he said.
This rapidly growing and increasingly adopted hydrogen economy has the potential to underpin long term PGE demand, Dorsh said.
But the other back drop for the $2 billion market cap explorer is the nickel aspect.
“Battery manufacturers are becoming increasingly reliant on high carbon intensity nickel – which presents a unique opportunity for Julimar as it has the potential to become a globally significant source of class 1 nickel, which has a much lower carbon footprint than other sources.
“Our class 1 nickel is a quarter of the carbon intensity versus its competitors – so most of the world’s nickel comes from lateritic sources from Indonesia, New Caledonia and the Philippines, which are very carbon intensive and will not meet the sustainability criteria for the vast majority of battery producers.”
He said Class 1 nickel sources are likely to demand a premium, driven by the need to comply with emissions targets and to satisfy increasing sensitivity to sustainability standards.
As Stockhead’s Josh Chiat has previously reported, Australian nickel companies have had plenty of joy with old assets from Outoukumpu, the Finnish stainless-steel giant that once searched far and wide for sources of the base metal.
June’s first IPO, Nordic Nickel (ASX:NNL), is chasing up some old Outoukumpu targets at its 395sqkm Pulju Project over in Finland.
It received plenty of love from investors on opening day as well, closing 16% up at 29c after raising an impressive $12 million at 25c a pop.
The newly listed battery metals explorer is operating in the world-class Central Lapland Greenstone Belt, which is one of the most active geological settings in the world of nickel sulphides.
Nordic’s flagship Pulju project covers a district scale 395km2 land package which contains mafic-mafic ultramafic lithologies while the Maaninkijoki project is prospective for both intrusive hosted and komatiite-hosted magmatic nickel sulphide mineralisation featuring features similar to IGO’s (ASX:IGO) Nova Bollinger deposit.
A diamond drill rig will be mobilised to Pulju in late 2022 to undertake a 14-month program until 2023.
Managing director Todd Ross said the company believes there is huge potential in the nickel sulphide space.
“Classified demand is in extremely high demand and will continue to be so for a long period of time,” he said.
“Demand for Class 1 nickel is expected to grow at 13.5% CAGR between now and 2040 with about 95% going to EVs.
“Europe is set to become the second largest battery manufacturing hub outside of China and Finland is also incentivising investment in battery mineral projects through a National Battery Strategy so we are very well placed to take advantage of this thematic.”