Neometals Produces High Purity Dioxide Hydrolsate

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Neometals (ASX: NMT) has successfully produced high purity (>98%) titanium hydrolysate (hydrated titanium dioxide ‐ TiO2.2H2O) from the titanium recovery stage of the Australian pilot plant trial at the company’s Barrambie titanium and vanadium project in Western Australia.

Neometals noted that the titanium recovery from Barrambie concentrate exceeded 90 per cent, adding that the batch Titanium Pilot results confirm the technical feasibility of the company’s process at pilot scale for the production of a high purity intermediate (hydrolysate) used in the titanium pigment process.

The Barrambie resource contains high‐grade ilmenite intergrown with a vanadium‐bearing magnetite (iron).

The Neometals process flowsheet has demonstrated it can produce a superior intermediate feed material that is safer, cleaner and cheaper to produce titanium pigment from.

Further upside in this flowsheet for Barrambie is the recovery of the accessory vanadium and iron in a saleable form.

Neometals explained the Titanium Pilot is the first key evaluation milestone under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) the company has with Chinese metallurgical group, IMUMR.

Under the terms of the MoU, if IMUMR funds the demonstration plant program at its extensive research facilities in China, and both parties agree to jointly fund a formal evaluation study for a mining and concentrating operation at Barrambie with subsequent downstream processing in China, the parties may negotiate in good faith the terms of a 50:50 production JV.

Samples of titanium hydrolysate have been freighted for evaluation by prospective concentrate offtake customers, being titanium pigment producers within and outside of China.

Neometals indicated the next evaluation step is the recovery and production of a vanadium by‐product from the primary leaching stage of the Titanium Pilot Plant.

While all this is going in, Neometals is preparing approximately 10 tonnes of gravity and magnetic concentrates from the high titanium grade Eastern Band for a proposed Chinese demonstration plant trial.

The company anticipates the vanadium test work and concentrates shipment should be completed by the end of the March Quarter 2020.

“We are confident our flowsheet can produce the highest value‐in‐use for potential customers and recover maximum value from the deposit for Neometals and its partners,” Neometals managing director Chris Reed said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Proving an ore can be concentrated and converted to high purity chemicals at good recoveries is the first step in attracting quality offtakers to enable the development of globally significant industrial mineral projects, whether they be lithium or titanium.

“The outcomes to date bode well for advancing our commercialisation plans in 2020.”





Western Areas Awards new Forrestania Offtake Contracts

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Western Areas (ASX: WSA) has inked new offtake contracts with BHP Billiton Nickel West Pty Ltd and Jinchuan Co. Ltd for the company’s high-grade Forrestania Nickel Operation concentrate product.

Western Areas said the new contracts follow completion of a highly competitive tender process that has resulted in improved commercial terms compared to current offtake agreements.

“The company is very pleased with the execution of the new agreements that extend our long and mutually beneficial relationship with Nickel West and reintroduces Jinchuan as an offtake customer following completion of the Tsingshan contract as at 31 January 2020,” Western Areas managing director Dan Lougher said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“It is notable that both of our offtake customers are involved in the downstream operation of nickel smelters.

“Western Areas firmly believes that the smelting of concentrates is a key process to continue to feed both the emerging Electric Vehicle (EV) battery market, via nickel sulphate, and the traditional stainless steel market.”

The Nickel West contract is a new agreement, rather than an extension of the previous arrangement that completes on 31 January 2020.

The key terms of the new contract include a contract period of three years from 1 February 2020 or until completion of the aggregate quantity of 10,000 tonnes of nickel contained in concentrate per annum with a 30,000 tonne, aggregate limit.

Key terms for the Jinchuan contract include a contract period of two years from 1 February 2020 or until completion of the aggregate quantity of 10,000 tonnes of nickel contained in concentrate per annum with a 20,000 tonne, aggregate limit.

The contract can be extended, by mutual agreement, for a further twelve-month period at an aggregate nickel quantity to be agreed between Western Areas and Jinchuan.

Jinchuan is the largest nickel matte and cathode producer in China and Western Areas believes that aligning itself with a China-based producer of Jinchuan’s calibre is strategically important as the market for higher value products continues to evolve.




Lithium Australia Patent Applications Published by WIPO

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia has had two patent applications published by The International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The Lithium Australia patent applications are for the recovery of lithium phosphate from lithium-bearing silicates and solutions.

The company explained that publication is an important step towards obtaining a patent grant, which provides legal protection in international jurisdictions.

Production of lithium phosphate is a unit process common to Lithium Australia’s SiLeach® and LieNA® technologies, which potentially reduce the number of processing steps to produce battery cathode powders.

“The company has succeeded in developing technologies that improve the sustainability of, and reduce the environmental impacts associated with, the manufacture, use and disposal of lithium-ion batteries,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Importantly, these technologies can facilitate vertical integration within the battery supply chain, potentially reducing the number of process steps involved and lowering costs for consumers.

“The ability to integrate metal recovery from lithium-ion batteries and regenerate cathode materials represents a major advance for the battery industry as a whole.”

Lithium Australia has developed innovative processes for the recovery of lithium chemicals from lithium-bearing silicates and micas.

The company’s efforts have resulted in unit process enhancements that optimise the recovery of lithium from lowtenor solutions, while managing water-balance challenges, to produce lithium phosphate of a high quality.

The unit processes involved are the subject of the above-mentioned patent applications.

Lithium phosphate produced by way of the company’s proprietary processes meets the specification necessary for its use as feedstock in the production of lithium-ferrophosphate (LFP), a cathode precursor material in the manufacture of batteries for energy-storage system and transport applications.





Sayona Mining Secures US Investor Backing

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Sayona Mining (ASX: SYA) announced it has received support from a new U.S. investor as it continues in its bid to land the North American Lithium mine in Québec, Canada.

Sayona Mining has reached an agreement with Obsidian Global GP, LLC, a New York‐based investment firm, under which the company has secured a facility of up to $2.75 million, with an initial tranche of $1 million of convertible notes.

The funds will be used to support the company’s bid for the North American Lithium (NAL) mine, advancing its flagship Authier lithium project and other key projects, along with providing working capital.

The company said the new investment follows an upturn in the lithium sector since the start of 2020, adding that it builds momentum in its bid for the NAL mine, which it aims to make the centrepiece of a lithium hub comprising a concentrator supplied by two or potentially three orebodies.

“We are delighted to welcome Obsidian Global as a new investor at this crucial stage in the company’s development,” Sayona Mining managing director Brett Lynch said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“The upturn in Sayona’s market value and trading activity since the start of the new year reflects increased investor confidence, not only in our company but the lithium sector as a whole, and we are determined to build on this momentum in 2020.

“With upcoming potential re‐rating catalysts including our bid for NAL as well as the advancement of Authier’s regulatory approval process and the development of the nearby Viau‐Dallaire prospect, there is enormous potential for increased market value, providing benefits for all stakeholders.”





Ramelius Resources Beats December Gold Production Guidance

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Ramelius Resources (ASX: RMS) reported reaching December 2019 Quarter Production Guidance by producing 47,902 ounces of gold across its Western Australian operations.

Ramelius Resources explained the Group Quarterly gold production of 47,902 ounces easily beat its Guidance of 45,000 to 50,000 ounces.

Contributing operations were Mt Magnet with 30,230 ounces, Vivien with 7,726 ounces, and Edna May, which delivered 9,946 ounces.

Ramelius continued to progress development activities during the Quarter with key achievements including stoping production to commence at the Shannon underground mine at Mt Magnet, and the commencement of open pit mining at the Marda gold project at Edna May.

The company coffers are well endowed with cash and gold on hand sitting at $87.7 million at the end of the Quarter.

A touch lower than the September 2019 Qtr levels of $92.8 million, but the company has spent on planned capital investments into the ongoing development, including $5.4 million on exploration and $24.1 million in project development costs, comprising, $7.7 million on Shannon and Hill 60 (Mt Magnet) undergrounds, $5.2 million on the Stellar open pit (Mt Magnet), $2.6 million on Edna May underground, and $8.6 million on Marda pre-development work.

“The operations team continues to deliver consistent results, with production Guidance achieved once again whilst investing in new projects and exploration,” Ramelius Resources managing director Mark Zeptner said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“We have maintained a strong cash balance throughout the first half of the year and will look to grow this strongly in the second half.

“Commencement of mining at Marda is a significant milestone for the company and we also look forward to development of the Greenfinch and Tampia projects in due course.

“We have had excellent exploration results at Eridanus, with significant resource growth and look forward to further exploration success at a number of our projects early in 2020.

“Drilling has already recommenced at Tampia South, Symes’ Find (southern extension) and Eridanus (deep diamond drilling).”





Antipa Minerals Welcomes Rio Tinto as JV Partner

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Antipa Minerals (ASX: AZY) informed the market that Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) has earned an initial 51 per cent interest in the Citadel project in Western Australia.

Antipa Minerals explained that Rio had reached the 51 per cent milestone by way of sole funding $11 million of exploration expenditure on the project and that a Joint Venture has now been struck between the two companies.

The Citadel project comprises a 1,330 square kilometre tenement package located in the prospective Paterson Province in northern WA, 80 kilometres north of Newcrest’s Telfer gold‐copper‐silver mine and 5km east of Rio Tinto’s Winu copper‐gold‐silver deposit.

The project hosts a global Mineral Resource of 63.8 million tonnes at 0.8 grams per tonne gold and 0.2 per cent copper for 1.6 million ounces of gold and 127,000 tonnes of copper.

Under the terms of the Citadel Project Farm-in Agreement, Rio Tinto has now assumed operatorship of the Citadel JV and has until 30 January 2020 to elect whether to sole fund an additional $14 million of exploration expenditure within three years to increase its interest in the JV to 65 per cent.

Rio Tinto also has the ability to earn up to a 75 per cent interest in the Citadel Joint Venture by sole funding a further $35 million within a further three years.




Independence Group Beats Metal Production Guidance

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Independence Group (ASX: IGO) reported preliminary metal production for the Nova and Tropicana operations for the December 2019 Quarter (2Q20) and for the first half of the 2020 Financial Year (1H20).

Independence Group declared a consistently strong operational performance at Nova resulted in nickel, copper and cobalt production for 2Q20 and 1H20, exceeding the company’s pro-rata guidance range for FY20.

Meanwhile at Tropicana, gold production and gold sales also exceeded pro-rata FY20 guidance following an excellent 2Q20 result.

“Production at Nova and Tropicana beat guidance in the December Quarter and the first half of FY20 reflecting the quality of both operations and the dedication and focus of the Nova and Tropicana teams,” Independence Group managing director and CEO Peter Bradford said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Looking ahead to the second half of FY20, we are expecting Nova to maintain performance in line with guidance as we continue to focus on delivering cost improvements and continuous improvement of operational efficiencies.

“At Tropicana, we also expect to produce within guidance for the year, with lower gold production during 2H20, in line with our mine plan.”





Lithium Australia Subsidiary Signs Cathode Technology MoU with Chinese Conglomerate

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Lithium Australia’s (ASX: LIT) wholly-owned subsidiary company VSPC Ltd, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Beijing Saideli Technology Incorporated Company Ltd (SDL) to commercialise VSPC cathode material.

The terms of the MoU include the low-capital establishment of a supply chain for VSPC cathode material in China, and collaboration on a feasibility study for an international cathode material project, beyond China, using VSPC technology.

The MoU was agreed following technical review and discussions based on VSPC’s Lithium-Ferro-Phosphate (LFP) cathode product.

VSPC is a developer of advanced cathode materials that owns a patented process for the production of lithium-ion battery (LIB) cathode materials.

SDL’s experience lies in the design and manufacture of process equipment and extensive experience in the construction, commissioning and operation of chemical process plants, including those for the production of LIB cathode powders.

The market for LFP cathode material is anticipated to enjoy a strong run in the near future with analysts forecasting to grow strongly over the next decade.

In addition to core applications for ebus and stationary storage, heightened demand is expected through substitution (existing) and displacement (expanding) in applications that have traditionally been the domain of lead acid batteries.

This includes, but is not limited to, 12V and 48V applications for micro and mild hybrid powertrains, LSEV (low speed electric vehicles), datacentre UPS and 5G tower backup.

“We see partnering with SDL – which has a demonstrated track record in process development and high-tech process plant delivery – as a great opportunity,” Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“VSPC’s MoU with SDL provides Lithium Australia with a low-capital pathway to the commercialisation of VSPC cathode powders, in order to meet targets set by our other partners in China.

“We look forward to working with SDL, with a specific focus on the anticipated growth of LFP cathode materials for transport and energy-storage applications.”






Gateway Mining Increases Gidgee Gold Project Tenure

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Gateway Mining (ASX: GML) announced it has doubled the size of the company’s Gidgee gold project in Western Australia.

Gateway Mining has secured additional prospective tenements covering total area of 262 square kilometres to the north of the Gidgee gold project, taking it to 480sqkm.

The company explained the new tenements were acquired via low-cost acquisition agreements, a strategic Joint Venture and new Exploration Licence Applications.

The expansion follows recent exploration breakthroughs Gateway has made at Gidgee that include a detailed gravity survey, re-processing of airborne magnetic data and drilling.

The new ground includes a range of prospective targets ranging from prospects with similarities to the Montague Granodiorite, to Kanowna Belle and Wallaby-type targets.

Gateway signalled its intentions are to plan systematic exploration programs across the new tenement areas as part of an expanded, multi-pronged exploration push, subject to grant of tenure.

“We have been building our belief that the Gidgee gold project is located within a major mineralised corridor that really hasn’t been viewed in this way previously,” Gateway Mining managing director Peter Langworthy said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“There has been a lack of a systematic exploration and the fact that the majority of the trend is covered by transported cover means historically the prospectors have not identified any mineralisation.

“We have now invested in collecting and re-processing key geophysical, geochemical and drilling datasets, which has resulted in identifying areas we think have a lot of potential in the medium to long term.

“The transactions we have completed to consolidate this new ground has been done at low cost, but at the same time provides upside to our new project partners in the event of a significant discovery.”




Cassini Resources Shuffles Boardroom Seating Plan

THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Cassini Resources (ASX: CZI) announced the appointment of Ms. Sze Man Suen (Simone) to the Board of the company as a non-executive director.

Simone is a highly credentialed company director with a Bachelor of Business and over 20 years’ experience predominantly in the resources industry in Australia and internationally.

She held the position of executive director between 2010 and 2018 at Alliance Mineral Assets Limited where she procured, mobilised and organised staff and resources for the development, commissioning and operations of the Bald Hill tantalum/lithium project in Western Australia.

In order to manage the size of the board, Greg Miles has resigned from his position as an executive director to be appointed as chief operating officer.

Cassini explained that Miles’ day to day role will not change within the company, as he steers the company’s technical and operations team, working closely with Joint Venture partner OZ Minerals, to deliver a Pre-Feasibility Study at the West Musgrave Project.

“Simone’s appointment to the board of Cassini is perfectly timed ahead of a defining year for the company,” Cassini Resources chairman Mike Young said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“As we prepare for the delivery of the Nebo-Babel Pre-Feasibility Study, Australia’s largest copper-nickel development project, Simone’s experience will broaden the company’s expertise and assist the company transition to the next phase of its life.

“As a substantial shareholder, Simone is strongly aligned with the company’s direction and will assist with developing stronger relationships with a number of Cassini’s key shareholders and extend our reach into new investor markets.”