Resources Top 5: Lithium, rare earths, and a ‘Major’ cobalt project
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Here are the biggest small cap resources winners in early trade, Wednesday March 2.
This battery metals minnow is having a decent run in 2022, up 75% year-to-date.
Today’s pump was sparked by some rock chip samples grading up 2.3% lithium and 0.7% rubidium at the ‘Mandini’ project in WA.
Hard rock lithium mines usually grade between 1-1.5% lithium, but high grade rock chips aren’t much to get excited about on their own.
They could’ve been transported to this location from elsewhere by an ancient river or earthquake, for example.
The only way to prove if there is economic mineralisation is by drilling, which is well underway, MLS says.
The 45 hole, ~3,500m drilling program is currently testing the central, high-grade, part of the ‘Foundation’ pegmatite.
Initial testing has already intersected up to 16m downhole of mineralised pegmatite in RC drillhole MNRC043.
Drilling details will be reported once results are received.
The identification of significant rubidium at Mandini is also highly encouraging, MLS says.
“Rubidium is a rare metal mostly employed in high-technology industries such as biomedical research, electronics, specialty glass and pyrotechnics as well as traditional uses in electronic devices, specialised glass and catalysts,” it says.
“Rubidium carbonate (Rb2CO3) pricing is currently reported by International Lithium Corp. to be up to US$1,060/kg, a factor of more than 75 times the current price of lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) at US$14/kg (US$13,970/t).”
COB’s advanced Broken Hill cobalt project (BHCP) — the only large scale, non-African, greenfield primary cobalt project in the world — has received Major Project Status from the Federal Government.
CEO Joe Kaderavek says Major Project Status will “greatly assist” COB raise development cash by recognising the strategic importance given to this project by the Australian Government.
“This milestone is critically important for overseas partners and well timed in our development journey,” he says.
“COB can now boast both Made in Australia and Backed by Australia”.
From a practical POV this designation provides COB with a single ‘entry point’ for Australian Government approvals, project support and coordination with State approvals.
The 81,000t BHCP could be in production by mid to late 2025. Pre-production capex is estimated at ~$560m.
It would produce +3,500tpa cobalt metal eq over 20 years at a very low all-in sustaining cost of $US12/lb – making it profitable even at record low prices.
The cobalt price recently hit $US34/lb.
In 2022, COB is planning to operate its demonstration plant — a smaller version of the real thing — and deliver large scale samples to potential offtake partners.
Project approvals and a BFS will be finalised by the end of the year, ready for a final investment decision on the project by Q1 2023.
The $166m market cap stock is up 14% year-to-date. It had $10.8m in the bank at the end of December.
The TSX-ASX listed stock wants to develop the high grade ~650,000oz Tuvatu gold project in Fiji.
The company is currently ramping up infill and extensional drilling at the project, to both increase confidence in the resource and add ounces.
Yesterday, LLO announced it had bought an additional two drill rigs and doubled the capacity of its assay lab in Fiji.
There are now 8 fully owned rigs on site, the company says, which makes the business of drilling a whole lot cheaper.
The expanded lab will move to 24-hour, 7 days a week from 16/5 currently.
“Phase 2 of the infill drilling program now underway will keep 3 rigs busy for the remainder of the 2022 exploration season,” LLO says.
“Ongoing deep target testing at Tuvatu will continue to rely on at least one surface and one underground rig, and with the dry season around the corner, some rig capacity will be required for testing of regional targets.”
“Access to two additional rigs will provide the project with complete flexibility to deploy these high-performance rigs both underground and on surface, either at Tuvatu or on regional targets, or both, as required by our aggressive exploration and infill drill programs.”
The stock had $CAD39m in the bank at the end of December.
This $10m market cap explorer is diving into rare earths, picking up a stake in the advanced ‘Narraburra’ project in NSW.
GRL can earn up to 75% by spending $3m on exploration at the project, which has an existing non-JORC resource estimate of 73.2M tonnes at 1250g/t ZrO2, 327g/t REO, 146g/t Y2O3, 126g/t Nb2O5, 45g/t HfO2, 54g/t Ga2O3 and 118g/t Li2O.
More drilling may be required to bring it up to JORC standard, a must have for ASX-listed explorers and miners.
Previous metallurgical testing of bulk samples has also been undertaken, with results indicating that there are acceptable recoveries for a range of REO components, including zirconium, niobium, and lithium.
“There has been considerable historic exploration activity undertaken, which provides us with abundant initial data, upon which we can base the next phase of project assessment which we will now expedite,” GRL managing director Jeneta Owens says.
“REEs are vitally important for the future growth of clean energy technologies. Producing REEs in an ESG-compliant and stable jurisdiction like Australia will ensure a highly sought-after product by world markets.
“This new project complements our existing copper and zinc projects, which are also an important part of the greener technologies the world is increasingly accelerating towards.”
(Up on no news)
One of February biggest movers has maintained momentum into the new month.
This lethargic China-backed copper-gold explorer came out of a two-and-a-half-year suspension in Feb after completing a $1.5m cap raise and satisfying the ASX’s conditions of reinstatement.
GCR’s focus is the ‘Copper Hill’ project in the Macquarie Arc in NSW, home to porphyry copper-gold deposits at Cadia (Newcrest), Northparkes (China Molybdenum) and Cowal (Evolution Mining).
Copper Hill has an existing resource of 87Mt at 0.36% copper and 0.32g/t, which hasn’t been updated since 2015.
GCR says Copper Hill is sparsely drilled below 350m vertically “and there is good potential for depth extensions”.
Occurrences of mineralisation along strike from Copper Hill in a 5km-long corridor also provide scope for further resources in satellite deposits, it says.