Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chinese Nickel Imports Jump to 6-Year High as Shortage Looms

Chinese Nickel Imports Jump to 6-Year High as Shortage Looms

China imported the most refined nickel in six years in a further sign that the world’s biggest consumer is drawing on global supply. Futures rose 2.4 percent in London.

Inbound shipments of the metal used to produce stainless steel surged 67 percent to 38,545 tons in June from the previous month, the highest since July 2009, and were more than three times the level a year earlier, Chinese customs data show.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. are bullish on prices amid prospects for rising Chinese demand. Macquarie Group Ltd. sees a global shortage which may cut inventories further from a record. Stockpiles in London Metal Exchange sheds have already fallen to the lowest in almost two months. Some imports may have been for delivery against the first nickel contract to expire on the Shanghai bourse, said Celia Wang from Tianjin Zhongwei Group’s investment department.


“Huge imports arrived in China from LME warehouses as traders seek profits by delivering against the first settlement of a Shanghai nickel futures contract,” said Wang, the general manager. “Refined nickel imports are expected to remain at a high level into July.”

The Shanghai Futures Exchange started nickel trading in March and the July contract was the first expiry. The bourse is accepting metal from Moscow-based OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the top supplier, for settlement to ease concern about shortages.
Goldman, Citigroup

Prices climbed 2.4 percent to $11,980 a ton in London on Tuesday, the highest level since July 6, before trading at $11,875. Goldman expects rates to increase to $14,000 as the market heads toward a deficit next year, analysts including Yubin Fu wrote in a report dated July 6. Citigroup predicts a 2015 average price of $13,960 and maintains a bullish outlook.

Imports of ferronickel rose more than threefold on year to 62,511 tons, another sign China is seeking foreign supply.

An Indonesian ban on exports of nickel ore at the start of 2014 spurred China to stockpile the material and boost supplies from the Philippines, the only other major source. Inventories of nickel ore in China are now at their lowest since September 2011, according to data from Beijing Custeel E-Commerce Co.

China imported more than 100,000 tons of refined nickel in the first half for the first time since 2009 when buyers took advantage of a slump in demand after the financial crisis.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Grigor Says Talga and MRL are ‘Catalysts for Disruption in the Graphene Sector’

He says MRL is a new player in the graphene space with the ability to use the same single step, low cost graphene recovery technology
First he singled out Talga, now Warwick Grigor says he has found the other key player in the low cost graphene space.
The Sydney-based resources analyst who runs Far East Capital made headlines in Australian newspapers earlier this year when he proclaimed that he was putting his money where his mouth was and investing a large chunk of his own cash into Talga Resources (ASX:TLG) because of its single-step graphene process.
Now he has picked out another Australian company, MRL Corporation (ASX:MRF) and – again – invested his own money. He says there is room for both in an investor’s portfolio as they are operating in different fields. Talga is looking at a European hub (it is building a pilot plant in Germany and plans to supply European companies from its Swedish project) while MRL (whose deposit is in Sri Lanka) is looking to Asia and Australia as its markets.

As I have said before, Grigor is one of the most experienced Australian analysts of mining companies and, also this year, issued a detailed paper on graphene.

He says MRL is a new player in the graphene space with the ability to use the same single step, low cost graphene recovery technology that Talga “has been holding close to its chest”. His client note is advising taking up shares in MRL because of the differences in valuation: Talga’s market capitalization is A$54 million while that of MRL is A$12.2 million.

There are other differences: Talga’s orebody is much larger and wider, offering long life and technically simple mining conditions. MRL’s orebodies are narrow vein and underground with less amenability to drilling out to prove the size of the resource, but this is offset by the lower costs of working in Sri Lanka.

Another difference is the grade, says Grigor. Talga’s is around 25% whereas MRL’s is over 90%. According to his figure, Talga will need about A$30 million to get into production, MRL less than A$10 million.

He says at this junction Talga is knocking on the door of becoming an institutional-grade stock but has to kick a few more goals to get there, the obvious one being the successful commissioning of the pilot plant. “I don’t think there is much risk here, but the box still needs to be ticked,” write Grigor. By contrast, at A$10 million, MRL is still a private client stock at present; it is difficult to deploy sizeable sums of money into a company with such small capitalization.

Grigor’s second point, arguing that Talga needs to beef up its management team with respect to commercial operations, seems to have been satisfied. Last week Talga signed a non-binding term sheet with Haydale Graphite Industries, based in Britain, which would see the two companies collaborate on the development of finished graphene composite and ink products. [As Roger Bade, at London brokers Whitman Howard noted, “although there is no certainty that this collaboration will come to anything, it could give credibility that both companies – although going along separate routes – are amongst the best graphene plays out there”.]

Grigor draws comfort from the fact that his two picks are essentially non-competitive because of their separate regional focus.

“As each of these companies make progress, sentiment will rub off on other players in the sector as the graphene story becomes more credible,” he says. “Both companies will offer the lowest cost, purest forms of graphene available, so they will both be catalysts for disruption in the graphene sector.”

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pacfico Minerals Surges on Copper Hits

Core from Coppermine Creek

Three holes drilled at the Coppermine Creek prospect intersected significant intervals of disseminated chalcopyrite and bands of semi-massive chalcopyrite.

One of the holes returned veins and disseminated chalcopyrite from 38-67m, with the interval from 67-73m corresponding to the Gordons Fault and containing bands of semi-massive chalcopyrite, as well as chalcopyrite fracture fill and disseminations.

The company said the chalcopyrite was associated with only minor pyrite and returned values of more than 25% using a hand-held XRF over widths of up to 30cm.



Assays are expected within a fortnight.

Airborne electromagnetics indicate a 3km by 1km alteration and mineralisation system extending away from the Gordons Fault to the southwest, with further drilling planned to test it.

Pacifico has also started drilling the Bing Bong prospect with the assistance of a NT government grant.

Borroloola West was one of the projects Sandfire floated on in 2004 but the company farmed it out to Pacifico in 2013.

Pacifico expects to earn 51% of the project by the end of the year by spending $A1.5 million under the first phase of the agreement.

The company can earn an additional 19% by spending a further $2.5 million and can get to 80% by sole-funding a bankable feasibility study or spending another $3 million.

Shares in Pacifico jumped 130% to 3.2c, while Sandfire shares gained 1.4% to $5.71

Thursday, May 28, 2015

China's Revenge Serves Body Blows to BHP and Rio

China's revenge serves body blows to BHP and Rio

It's taken six years, but China is slowly turning the tables on the heavyweight iron ore miners.

In 2009, iron ore giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto decided they wanted to take advantage of China's soaring demand for iron ore, which was pushing prices ever higher. So they ditched the 40-year old system of setting annual contract prices in favour of using spot pricing for the majority of their iron ore shipped to China from 2010.

Needless to say, China's steel mills weren't very happy about that. BHP's previous CEO Marius Kloppers is widely acknowledged as the man most responsible for bringing about the change. With BHP and Rio filling a huge amount of China's demand, the steelmakers had little choice but to acquiesce. 

The changes, and China's thirst for iron ore, saw the iron ore price soar as high as US$191 per tonne in February 2011, from around US$60 per tonne in 2008. Rio Tinto produced record underlying earnings of US$15.5 billion in the 2011 financial year, with iron ore contributing US$12.9 billion. BHP, for its part, saw net profit rise 74 per cent to US$21.7 billion as revenues rose 36 per cent.

China may also still be sore over aluminium giant Chinalco's aborted US$19.5 billion investment in Rio Tinto back in 2010, which was aimed at gaining resource security. At the time, reports suggest Chinese officials feared that China was too vulnerable to both Rio and BHP, even separately. Rio's board canned the deal, and announced that it was instead forming an iron ore joint venture with BHP. That deal never went ahead – much to the relief of China.




The giant (re)awakens

But China has never forgotten, and appears unlikely to forgive. Now the sleeping giant has awakened, and looks set to turn the tables on Rio and BHP.

Firstly, China needed to loosen its dependence on the two Australian iron ore miners, so it has turned to Brazil's Vale. For many years Vale was snubbed by the Chinese. The iron ore giant had built a number of very large ore carriers to ship ore to China, but they have been banned from docking at Chinese ports since 2012.

Now, China hasn't just removed the restrictions but Vale has also sold 4 of the ore carriers to two of China's biggest shipping companies. Each carrier can transport up to 400,000 tonnes of iron ore, and could reduce Vale's production costs by as much as 25 per cent, according to some estimates. That would bring Vale's landed costs around the same as BHP and Rio's.

Vale also has a 25-year shipping agreement with China Cosco to transport iron ore from Brazil to China. China has gone another step further too, loaning Vale US$4 billion to help fund a US$16.5 billion project, known as S11D.

S11D is expected to produce 90 million tonnes of very high quality iron ore each year, taking Vale's production to 450 million tonnes of iron ore within the next few years.

In two moves, China has decreased its dependence on BHP and Rio, loosening their control over the iron ore market, and thanks to the increase supply of iron ore, achieved lower prices.




One last dance? 

Fairfax Media reports today that Chinese-linked companies have applied to the Foreign Investment Review Board seeking permission for an investment with Australia's self-styled 'new force in iron ore' Fortescue Metals Group.

Fortescue, with its US$7.7 billion in net debt, could strengthen its balance sheet with a capital injection, either to pay down debt in return for an equity stake, or refinance existing debt at lower rates. The miner recently issued US$2.3 billion in senior secured notes, but is paying a whopping 9.75 pe cent interest rate, at a time when interest rates around the world are at record low levels.

Fortescue could struggle to repay its debt load if iron ore prices continue to trade at or under US$60 per tonne, with some estimates putting the miner's breakeven price around US$70 per tonne. The company may well be amenable to a deal with the Chinese, particularly after the recent kerfuffle over the iron ore inquiry that was going ahead, but was cancelled.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Andrew Forrest Makes Surprise Investment in Atlas Iron (AGO)

Andrew Forrest Makes Surprise Investment in Atlas Iron (AGO)

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has emerged as a new investor in rival Atlas Iron, despite continuing to serve as the chairman and major shareholder in Fortescue Metals Group.

Speaking after Atlas announced a strategy to restart mining through lower contracting fees and an equity raising of up to $180 million, the miner's chairman David Flanagan revealed that Mr Forrest had promised to participate in the raising.

"I am just so pleased to be able to announce that Andrew Forrest was the first person to put his hand up and say he was going to invest personally in that raising," he said.

"It is through one of his holding companies, whichever it will be ... we are not going to be sort of a subsidiary of Andrew Forrest Holdings, but it is meaningful in the extent of what we are doing going forward and that is all I can say.

"Thanks again to Andrew for backing Atlas."

Mr Forrest does not currently own shares in Atlas according to Bloomberg records, and the move continues a recent string of investments made by Mr Forrest in small miners.

Mr Forrest last week invested in small Victorian gold producer A1 Consolidated via his private company Minderoo Resources, and also has exposure to uranium play Vimy Resources and nickel junior Poseidon.

Mr Forrest declared earlier this year that he was setting up a new company designed to buy assets during the commodity price downturn, and some believe that company is Minderoo Resources.

Upon launching that new company in March, Mr Forrest vowed it would not compete with Fortescue's current or future strategies.

"A process has been put in place to ensure that if any possibility of doubt regarding conflicting interest arises, the matter will be resolved independently and quickly. I have written to the FMG board asking them to approve this process, and they have returned with their full support for our venture and its governance procedures," said Mr Forrest in March. 

When asked about Mr Forrest's investment in Atlas on Sunday, Fortescue chief financial officer Steve Pearce said he had "nothing to add".

"It is not a Fortescue investment," he said.

Mr Flanagan has announced his support for a federal government inquiry into iron ore, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Friday after listening to the thoughts of Mr Forrest.

BC Iron chairman Tony Kiernan and Cliffs Natural Resources chief executive Lourenco Goncalves also threw their support behind the inquiry on Sunday, along with Queensland University associate professor of regulator economics, Flavio Menezes. 




See more at: http://commoditiesaustralia.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/andrew-forrest-makes-surprise.html#sthash.gGGW2FcY.dpuf

Friday, May 8, 2015

Anzac Circulating Commemorative 50c Coin New Zealand

The Anzac commemorative coin is New Zealand’s first circulating coloured coin, and was minted by the Royal Canadian Mint


Anzac Circulating Commemorative 50c Coin New Zealand

One million Anzac coins have been minted and will be released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the landing of Anzac troops at Gallipoli. This number represents the size of the New Zealand population in 1914, of which 10 percent served in the First World War. The coin was coloured using a revolutionary high-speed pad printing solution, developed by the Royal Canadian Mint and technology partner TECA.

Capable of producing circulation coins with vibrant, photo-quality images, in multiple varieties and blends of colour, and with superior wear resistance, this unique technology is exclusive to the Royal Canadian Mint. 

The high-resolution design of the coin was made possible by an integrated system incorporating specially developed inks, robotics for speed and precision control, as well as advanced vision inspection for quality assurance. 


The significance of the Anzac coin

The Anzac coin honours the spirit of Anzac that was formed 100 years ago, and continues to live on today.

The Anzac coin was launched in February 2015, by His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand.

It is the first time in New Zealand's history that a coloured circulating coin has been produced. The coin will be in circulation as legal tender and available for collectors.

The Anzac coin design features a New Zealand and Australian soldier standing back to back with their heads bowed in remembrance. The mangopare (hammerhead shark) pattern symbolises strength and determination, and the silver fern reflects New Zealand’s national identity.

Availability and Distribution

One million Anzac coins have been minted to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli. This number represents the size of the New Zealand population in 1914, of which 10 percent served in the First World War.

The Anzac coin was released into circulation as legal tender on 23 March 2015. It is being sold at its 50 cent face value.

New Zealand Post Group is coordinating the release and distribution of Anzac coins. Coins can be purchased at PostShop or Kiwibank branches, or via NZ Post’s website.

Groups representing former and current armed forces, including Returned Services Association members and Defence Force personnel, were given the opportunity to pre-order limited numbers of coins before they were released publicly.

For more information about the Anzac coin and other comemmorative coins available as part of New Zealand Post’s five-year Anzac commemorative stamp and coin programme, see www.nzpost.co.nz.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand does not have Anzac coins available for distribution.
How the Coin is Made

The Anzac commemorative coin is New Zealand’s first circulating coloured coin, and it was minted by the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Anzac circulating coin has the same specifications as the existing 50 cent coin and testing has shown it will be accepted in coin and vending machines.

The coin was coloured using a revolutionary high-speed pad printing solution, developed by the Royal Canadian Mint and technology partner TECA. Capable of producing circulation coins with vibrant, photo-quality images, in multiple varieties and blends of colour, and with superior wear resistance, this unique technology is exclusive to the Royal Canadian Mint.

The high-resolution design of the coin was made possible by an integrated system incorporating specially developed inks, robotics for speed and precision control, as well as advanced vision inspection for quality assurance.


Coin Specifications:

Alloy: Plated steel 
Diameter: 24.75mm 
Weight: 5.00g 
Design: The Anzac coin design features a New Zealand and Australian soldier standing back to back with their heads bowed in remembrance. The mangopare (hammerhead shark) pattern symbolises strength and determination, and the silver fern reflects New Zealand’s national identity. 
Edge thickness: 1.70mm Edge treatment: Unmilled

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has prepared an Anzac Coin Fact Sheet explaining how the coin is made and detailing its specifications.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Atlas Iron Maintains Production at Two Out of Three Mines

Atlas Iron Maintains Production at Two Out of Three Mines

Iron ore miner Atlas has reversed its decision to mothball all of its operations, temporarily at least.

Three weeks ago the miner announced production would cease by the end of April at all three of its sites in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

At the time Atlas said the decision had been forced by falling iron ore prices, despite considerable cost cutting.

But today Atlas advised the ASX mining will continue throughout May at two of the three sites.

Production will continue at the Abydos site and be resumed shortly at Wodgina, though mining and processing will remain suspended at Mt Webber.

The announcement is expected to give a reprieve to around 400 of the 600 workers affected by the original decision.

"The decision to continue operating at these projects ... is the result of a substantial reduction in forecast cash costs for May," Atlas said in its statement to the ASX on the decision.

"The cost reductions were achieved with the support of Atlas' key service providers."

Iron ore prices have recovered from under $US50 a tonne when the suspension was announced to as high as $US59.20 a tonne earlier this week.

The price has since backtracked a little to $US56.20 a tonne.

"Atlas expects to be cash flow-positive in May," today's ASX statement said.

"This is based on target all-in cash costs plus interest and sustaining capital expense."

But Atlas shares remain suspended and the company has given no indication of its intentions beyond this month.
Hopefully they continue, workers get a reprieve: CFMEU

CFMEU mining and resources division secretary Gary Wood said any reprieve for the workers was helpful in an industry where jobs were becoming rare.

"Obviously it's a positive in the shorter term and one can only hope there's an increase in [the iron ore] price to make it a sustainable operation," he said.

"It is a positive and hopefully they can continue and the workers do get that reprieve because there's no opportunities out there in the field at this time.

"I think they would have been running as efficiently as they can so it all comes back down to the price of ore."

Regional Development Australia (RDA) Pilbara chief Diane Pentz said she remained concerned about the number of people who had been retrenched.

She said the mining company's announcement was a "bright light" that was welcomed by the RDA Pilbara and by people in the community.

"I'm sure that it's a relief to a lot of people who are employed within this resource industry and I think it also starts to signal that there is some confidence around the recovery of the iron ore price," Ms Pentz said.