In August, nickel stole the spotlight when major producer Indonesia decided to fast track a nickel ore export ban.

And a late month toxic spill at the Ramu nickel-cobalt plant in PNG — which could have big ‘ramu’fications for battery sector supply — certainly didn’t help.

This confluence of factors caused the price to jump above $US17,000/t ($25,309/t) to its highest point for about five years:

Nice.

WA lithium producer Alita Resources (ASX:A40) went into administration, slapping an exclamation mark (but not a full-stop) on spodumene’s slow price decline.

Cobalt prices got a nice +30 per cent bump when Glencore announced it was closing a major DRC mine at the end of the year.

And gold continues its steady march toward $3000/oz (probably), while silver – gold’s trailer park-livin’ cousin — is finally, finally waking up.

Scroll down for the August Top 5 >>>

All the macro madness is (mostly) reflected in the top 50 for August. Compared to July, gold scored a bigger slice of the pie (from 42.2 per cent to 51.4 per cent), copper and nickel retained their spots, and silver is starting to move up the ranks.

We even had two high purity alumina plays in the top 50, which is pretty impressive considering there’s less than 10 HPA-focused small caps on the ASX right now.

AUGUST TOP 5

 

#1 MetalSearch (ASX:MSE) +129%

Junior explorer MetalSearch announced a deal to acquire Abercorn Kaolin, which owns the Abercorn high purity alumina (HPA) project in Queensland.

HPA’s fastest growing market is as a coating on the separators in lithium-ion batteries. It’s used for a bunch of other things, too.

But we should mention that HPA’s recent surge in popularity is undoubtedly due to fellow Top 50 HPA play Andromeda Metals (ASX:ADN +57%) which is ticking some serious boxes at the Poochera project in South Australia.

#2 Cazaly Resources (ASX:CAZ) +127%

Cazaly caught an unexpected rocket when its ‘for sale’ iron ore project received a surprise counter bid from $2.51 billion market cap Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN).

Mineral Resources’ $20m in loose change (plus royalties) was a damn sight better than an existing $13m offer from Gold Valley Group, so Cazaly took it. Obviously.

#3 Horizon Gold (ASX:HRN) +122% and

#4 Kula Gold (ASX:KGD) +111%

Horizon is a WA gold play with an advanced 1.4moz project called Gum Creek, but other than the fact that everyone loves an Australian goldie right now, there’s no news to explain that crazy August ride.

And ditto for Kula Gold, which recently offloaded its share of the Woodlark Island gold project to Geopacific Resources (ASX:GPR).

All we know is that Kula has since reviewed “11 projects at varying stages of exploration, from grass roots to advanced”.

#5 Investigator Resources (ASX:IVR) +106%

Investigator has benefited from a surging silver price, which finally decided to join its cooler friend gold on the dance floor.

Historically, silver tends to track the gold price up and down, eventually. It’s moving now, reaching +$US18/oz in late August.

And this improved outlook could see Investigator dust off an advanced South Australian silver project called Paris — the highest grade non-by-product silver project in Australia at 9.3 million tonnes grading 139 grams per tonne (g/t).

The explorer says Paris is “well placed” in the current market.

 

Here are the top 50 mining small caps for the month of August:

Scroll or swipe to reveal table. Click headings to sort. Best viewed on a laptop

Ticker Name Price 31 July Price 31 August Return % Market Cap
MSE METALSEARCH 0.007 0.016 129 $7,694,562.50
CAZ CAZALY RESOURCES 0.022 0.050 127 $15,809,663.00
HRN HORIZON GOLD 0.185 0.410 122 $31,377,552.00
KGD KULA GOLD 0.009 0.019 111 $1,117,097.00
IVR INVESTIGATOR RESOURCES 0.016 0.033 106 $24,419,078.00
NVA NOVA MINERALS 0.027 0.054 100 $50,329,844.00
DDD 3D RESOURCES 0.002 0.003 100 $3,471,663.25
GPP GREENPOWER ENERGY 0.001 0.002 100 $4,004,490.50
GTE GREAT WESTERN EXPLORATION 0.004 0.007 100 $9,348,016.00
CHZ CHESSER RESOURCES 0.037 0.068 84 $16,917,052.00
SRN SUREFIRE RESOURCES 0.005 0.009 80 $4,528,383.00
AX8 ACCELERATE RESOURCES 0.030 0.050 67 $2,381,000.00
EAR ECHO RESOURCES 0.195 0.325 67 $226,474,416.00
MZN MARINDI METALS 0.060 0.100 67 $5,585,335.00
SMD SYNDICATED METALS 0.006 0.010 67 $6,654,924.00
GBZ GBM RESOURCES 0.003 0.005 67 $5,452,985.00
CMM CAPRICORN METALS 0.150 0.250 67 $292,666,656.00
HMX HAMMER METALS 0.023 0.038 65 $16,682,653.00
MEI METEORIC RESOURCES 0.032 0.052 62 $51,201,272.00
S2R S2 RESOURCES 0.130 0.210 62 $52,062,188.00
GPR GEOPACIFIC RESOURCES 0.018 0.029 61 $80,013,784.00
CDT CASTLE MINERALS 0.005 0.008 60 $1,790,367.75
VAL VALOR RESOURCES 0.005 0.008 60 $15,145,538.00
RXM REX MINERALS 0.060 0.095 58 $28,175,866.00
ADN ANDROMEDA METALS 0.035 0.055 57 $74,562,424.00
SCN SCORPION MINERALS 0.007 0.011 57 $1,947,269.75
GML GATEWAY MINING 0.014 0.022 57 $28,690,420.00
AZS AZURE MINERALS 0.096 0.150 56 $20,781,834.00
DEV DEVEX RESOURCES 0.060 0.093 55 $12,373,703.00
SVL SILVER MINES 0.081 0.125 54 $95,861,336.00
SKY SKY METALS 0.065 0.100 54 $25,469,564.00
ORR ORECORP 0.280 0.430 54 $116,320,512.00
AYR ALLOY RESOURCES 0.002 0.003 50 $5,079,833.00
CZN CORAZON MINING 0.002 0.003 50 $4,892,066.00
MRQ MRG METALS 0.006 0.009 50 $6,855,027.00
A1G AFRICAN GOLD 0.125 0.185 48 $10,193,500.00
SEI SPECIALITY METALS INTERNATIONAL 0.030 0.044 47 $43,240,104.00
GMR GOLDEN RIM RESOURCES 0.011 0.016 45 $14,697,866.00
AQX ALICE QUEEN 0.011 0.016 45 $11,581,229.00
SCI SILVER CITY MINERALS 0.009 0.013 44 $3,818,233.25
ARD ARGENT MINERALS 0.016 0.023 44 $12,409,911.00
NWC NEW WORLD COBALT 0.016 0.023 44 $17,768,244.00
AUC AUSGOLD 0.014 0.020 43 $15,842,991.00
BCB BOWEN COKING COAL 0.045 0.064 42 $47,159,136.00
BSX BLACKSTONE MINERALS 0.096 0.135 41 $21,728,894.00
MCR MINCOR RESOURCES 0.460 0.645 40 $ 184,947,744.00
KGM KALNORTH GOLD MINES 0.005 0.007 40 $6,259,680.50
MRV MORETON RESOURCES 0.005 0.007 40 $21,748,794.00
CCJ COUNTY INTERNATIONAL 0.005 0.007 40 $1,675,450.00
MOH MOHO RESOURCES 0.045 0.063 40 $2,676,529.25