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March 14, 2022

Commodity markets trends: Gold top term on Twitter February 2022

Gold leads as Mining Technology lists the top five terms tweeted on commodity markets in February 2022, based on data from GlobalData’s Mining Influencer Platform.

The top trends are the most mentioned terms or concepts among Twitter discussions of more than 150 commodity markets experts tracked by GlobalData’s Mining Influencer platform in February 2022.

1. Gold – 796 mentions

SSR Mining achieving its production target for 2021, approval of Agnico Eagle Mines and Kirkland Lake Gold’s merger, and Treasury Metals signing a royalty deal for a proposed gold project were some of the popular discussions in February 2022.

MiningWeeklyAUS, a platform providing global mining industry coverage, shared an article on mining company SSR Mining achieving its 2021 gold production target. The full-year production was 794,456oz, in line with the production guidance of between 720,000oz and 800,000oz. The company also beat its cost estimate for the year with its all-in sustaining costs (AISC) reaching $982 per oz, which was less than the guidance range of between $1,000 and $1,040 per oz. SSR plans to increase its gold production to between 700,000oz and 780,000oz in 2022, with the AISC expected to be between $1,120 and $1,180 per oz.

Engineering & Mining Journal, a trade journal for mining and mineral processing professionals, tweeted about the proposed merger of equals of mining companies Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM) and Kirkland Lake Gold (KLG) being approved by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). The board’s approval was the final key regulatory approval required to close the deal that will create a company with a combined market capitalisation of about $24bn, the article noted. The existing shareholders of AEM and KLG will respectively hold 54% and 46% of the combined company. The deal will boost AEM’s gold production from 1.7 million oz (Moz) to 3.4Moz a year, making it the world’s third largest gold producer after Newmont and Barrick Gold. The deal will also provide AEM with 48Moz of gold reserves and an extensive pipeline of projects.

In another tweet, Canadian Mining Magazine, a magazine covering Canadian mining news, shared an article on Treasury Metals, a mineral exploration and development company, signing a $20m royalty deal with the mine financier Sprott Resource Streaming and Royalty. The deal will enable Treasury Metals to take a decision regarding the construction of the Goliath Gold Complex (GGC) located east of Dryden, Canada. The GGC was acquired from the gold mining company First Mining Gold in 2020. Sprott will gain 2.2% net smelter returns revenue from the GGC over the entire operating life of the project, under the deal that is expected to close by the end of March 2022, according to the article.

2. Copper – 127 mentions

Antofagasta’s profits boosted by surging copper and molybdenum prices, Ivanhoe Mines approving plans to expand processing capacity at its copper project, and rejection of the environmental permit for the Morrison copper-gold mine were some of the popular discussions in February.

An online mining platform tweeted on Antofagasta, a Chile-based copper and gold mining corporation, witnessing a surge in profits in 2021 due to increase in copper and molybdenum prices. The company stated that its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 80% to $4.8bn in 2021 on revenues worth $7.4bn. Copper prices have surged by 26% in 2021 due to increased usage in the construction of electric vehicles (EVs) and wind turbines, according to the article. The company’s profits are expected to enable the payment of the largest dividend in the miner’s 134-year history. The company, however, is expecting its 2022 production to be lower than that of 2021, ranging between 660,000 tonnes (t) and 690,000t due to drought conditions in Chile, the article highlighted.

Canadian Mining Journal, covering the latest news on mining, equipment and technology, further tweeted on mining company Ivanhoe Mines approving plans to expand processing capacity at its Kamoa-Kakula copper project located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The expansion plan is expected to cost about $50m and will be completed in a year. It will focus on enhancing the combined design processing capability of the Phase I and Phase II concentrator plants by about 21%, to 9.2 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of ore from 7.6Mtpa. The expansion will enable the Kakula mine to produce high-grade copper ore, with the annual copper output from the two concentrator plants expected to reach 450,000t by the second quarter of 2023. The expansion also entails further flexibility in utilising the surface stockpiles that totalled more than 4.4Mt grading 4.61% copper at the end of January 2022.

In another tweet, Cecilia Jamasmie, a senior editor covering mining news, shared an article on the environmental permit for the Morrison copper-gold mine being developed by Pacific Booker Minerals (PBM) being rejected again by the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC). PBM proposed to develop the mine on a First Nation’s land, but the permit was rejected highlighting potential threats to water quality and local wild sockeye salmon. The mine was expected to generate 30,000t of ore a day over a period of 21 years, but has been delayed due to environmental issues for the past 19 years, the article noted. BC is Canada’s largest producer of copper, but its rapid influx of local and global explorers flattened out in 2019, with coal and mineral exploration expenditure declining to less than a percentage point from the previous year to about $259m, the article detailed.

3. Uranium – 82 mentions

Cameco’s plans to reopen the McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill in 2022, the cost of rehabilitating Ranger uranium mine, and US uranium production in 2021 totalling 6t were some of the popular discussions in February.

Canadian Mining Magazine shared an article on uranium mining company Cameco’s plans to reopen its McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill located in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 2022. The mining activities were halted in January 2018 and the mine was shut down in July 2018 due to a continued decline in uranium prices. The McArthur River mine is expected to produce 2.3 million kg of uranium in the first year of reopening, with production increasing to 6.8 million kg by 2024. Uranium prices continued to rise from $17 per oz in 2018 to $42 per oz in 2022, according to Tim Gitzel, the company’s CEO. Cameco estimates its 2022 revenues to be between $1.5bn and $1.65bn and capital expenditure to range between $150m and $175m, the article highlighted.

MiningWeeklyAUS further tweeted on the uranium producer Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) reporting the estimated cost of rehabilitating its Ranger mine located in Darwin, Australia, following reports regarding overruns and material costs last year. The company announced that the rehabilitation costs could range between $1.17bn and $1.61bn compared to the 2019 cost estimates of $713m. The production activities at the Ranger mine ceased in January 2021 in accordance with the Ranger Authority. The company also revealed that the rehabilitation work may last until 2028, while they are required to be completed by January 2026 as per the Ranger Authority. ERA is working with the government and key stakeholders to extend its tenure in the Ranger area, the article noted.

In another tweet, an online mining platform stated that US uranium production in 2021 reached 6t, indicating that the fourth quarter production was 88% higher than the third quarter. The production, however, was still lower by 98% than the fourth quarter production during five-year range between 2015 and 2019, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA added that the uranium produced in the fourth quarter came from the Nichols Ranch In Situ Recovery (ISR) Project and Ross central processing plant (CPP) in Wyoming and the Crowe Butte Operation in Nebraska. Furthermore, the World Nuclear Association stated that about 17,587t of uranium was consumed by the nuclear industry in 2021 for its fleet of 93 nuclear power reactors.

4. Lithium – 56 mentions

Lithium Americas expecting a court ruling on its Thacker Pass lithium mine, Mexico’s plans to create a state-owned lithium mining firm, and lithium prices rising in China amid tight supply, were some of the popular discussions during the month.

Ernest Scheyder, a journalist, shared an article on mining company Lithium Americas expecting a US federal court ruling on whether the Thacker Pass lithium mine located in Nevada, US, can be constructed. The court’s decision was postponed earlier in 2022 due to a documentation delay. The Vancouver-based company further stated that it had received all the important permits to construct the mine. Opponents of the mine, however, have requested the court to reverse the clearance provided to the mine by former US President Donald Trump.

Taylor Kuykendall, an energy and mining reporter, shared an article on Mexico planning to establish a state-owned lithium mining firm and cancel the existing permit provided to a Chinese company to operate the Sonora lithium mine, the country’s only feasible private lithium mine. Operated by lithium production company Bacanora Lithium and China-based lithium firm Ganfeng International, Sonora was expected to start production in 2023. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated that the concessions awarded to the Chinese company need to be cancelled as he believed that they were granted illegally by the previous administration. He added that lithium is a key component for batteries and announced that a new company will undertake the mining and processing of lithium at the mine.

In another tweet, Charles C. Nyabeze, vice president business development and commercialisation at mining company Mining Innovation Commercialisation Accelerator, discussed the rise of lithium prices amid a shortage of spot units in China. The spot price of lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, was between $69,408 and $74,140 per tonne in the third week of February, up from the range of $63,191 to $67,930 per tonne in the second week, according to cross-commodity price reporting agency Fastmarkets. Experts stated that the output will be available, but there will still be a shortage of overall spot supply. Analyses suggest that battery-grade lithium carbonate units have been scarce amid a 83% year-on-year increase in global EV sales.

5. Nickel – 51 mentions

Atlantic Nickel reporting a record production at the Santa Rita nickel mine in Brazil in 2021, and Nickel Mines planning to raise $225m for acquiring 30% stake in the Oracle nickel property in Indonesia were some of the popular discussions in February.

An online mining news platform tweeted on the mining company Atlantic Nickel announcing record production levels in 2021 at its Santa Rita nickel sulphide mine located in Bahia, Brazil. The company stated that the mine produced 107,000 dry metric tonnes (dmt) of nickel concentrate during its first full year of production, which included 14,500t of nickel, 4,700t of copper, 266t of cobalt, and gold, platinum and palladium by-products. The company further stated that it posted EBITDA of $127m on revenues worth $289m.

Nickel also trended in a discussion about Australia-based mining company Nickel Mines’ plan to raise $225m to acquire an initial 30% interest in Indonesia’s Oracle nickel project as quoted in an article shared by MiningWeeklyAUS. Nickel Mines signed an agreement with investment firm Shanghai Decent Investment in December 2021 to purchase a 70% equity interest in the Oracle nickel mine for $525m.

The equity raise will comprise a $106m fully unwritten institutional placement, a $106m non-underwritten placement to Shanghai Decent, and a non-underwritten share purchase plan to shareholders in Australia and New Zealand to raise up to $13m. The Oracle project includes four rotary kiln electric furnace lines, construction of which began within the Morowali Industrial Park. The furnace lines are expected to have a nameplate capacity of 36,000tpa of contained nickel in nickel pig iron.

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