Copper is coming off a historic year during which its prices broke records on not just one, but two, separate occasions, peaking at $4.76/lb or $10,476/t in mid-October.
During the first half of 2021, copper rallied off the back of a sharp recovery in economic activity across the world, led by top consumer China. Also pushing prices higher was the belief that pandemic-related stimulus, plus the global push for decarbonization, will further lift demand for the industrial metal.
That saw copper prices break the $10,000/t level towards the end of April, the first time that has happened in a decade, and eventually surge to a new high the week after.
Then in the second half, copper received yet another boost amid an energy crisis that affected several major producers and threatened global supply. In October, a surge in metal orders from warehouses in Europe saw the LME inventories plunge by as much as 89%, to its lowest in 47 years.
All these events factored into copper’s record-breaking year, though many believe that the red-colored metal is just getting started. Click to read AOTHs in-depth copper market analysis;
In two decades, copper producers must, at the minimum, double the current production of 20Mt to have a chance of coming close to meeting demand. This equates to one new Escondida mine (1Mt annual production) every year for the next 20 years!
While such a feat is difficult to achieve, finding the right investments in projects leading to copper discoveries would help to close the supply gap. According to CRU, the copper industry needs to spend upwards of $100 billion to erase what it estimates to be a 4.7Mt deficit by 2030.
At AOTH, we are paying close attention to several companies that are holding onto highly prospective copper projects that could one day become contributors to the global supply chain. These are listed below in alphabetical order:
GSP Resource Corp. (TSXV: GSPR) (FRA: 0YD) — This southwestern BC-focused explorer is currently looking to bring back the past-producing Alwin mine, located 18 km from the town of Logan Lake.
The project lies in the vicinity of several large-scale mine operations. It is southwest of the New Afton (New Gold) and Ajax mines (KGHM), and right next to the Teck Resources’ Highland Valley operation, the largest open-pit copper mine in Canada.
GSP recently completed its fall drilling campaign on the property, designed to further test the bulk grade of the Alwin deposit and surrounding lower-grade rock.
The program followed up on positive results obtained from the summer 2021 program, which returned bulk-tonnage grades including 0.61% CuEq over 164.6 m, 0.14% CuEq over 176.7 m and 0.21% CuEq over 229.7 m.
GSP Resource Corp.
TSXV: GSPR, FRA: 0YD
Shares Outstanding 20.2m
Market cap Cdn$3.7m
Pampa Metals Corp. (CSE: PM) (FSE: FIRA) — In pursuit of the next porphyry copper discovery, Pampa is currently advancing as many as eight projects right in the heart of Chile’s proven copper belts.
The mid-Tertiary porphyry copper belt of northern Chile is currently host to three of the world’s top five copper mining districts: Collahuasi, Chuquicamata and Escondida. The adjacent Paleocene mineral belt also hosts a series of important porphyry copper deposits such as Cerro Colorado, Spence and Sierra Gorda.
Together, the company’s properties cover a total area of 59,000 hectares, making it one of only a few juniors with significant landholdings in the Atacama region that is mostly dominated by major miners.
Still, a large part of the region remains underexplored to this day as roughly half of northern Chile is covered by gravel that was deposited after the formation of the porphyries, which means more mineral deposits are likely concealed underneath.
Pampa Metals Corp.
CSE: PM, FSE: FIRA
Shares Outstanding 43.4m
Market cap Cdn$12.2m
Mountain Boy Minerals (TSXV: MTB) (OTCQB: MBYMF) (Frankfurt: M9U) — In northwestern BC, home to the richly mineralized Golden Triangle district, MTB is actively exploring its newly acquired Telegraph project.
Covering 23,000 hectares, the Telegraph property was the site of past exploration campaigns by numerous companies, each focused on their own individual small claims.
MTB decided to consolidate these claims following compilation of historical exploration data, which suggested evidence of large-scale copper-gold porphyry potential.
According to the company, the Telegraph project features the same oceanic arc volcanic and sedimentary sequences and their associated porphyries responsible for the vast mineralization that the Golden Triangle is famous for.
The property is located in the same neighborhood as a large number of porphyry deposits including Galore Creek (Teck – Newmont), Schaft Creek (Teck – Copper Fox), Big Red (Libero Copper and Gold), Saddle and Saddle North (GT Gold – Newmont) and the operating Red Chris copper-gold mine (Newcrest – Imperial Metals).
MTB is also advancing several other projects within the Golden Triangle. This week, the company announced promising results from its 2021 field program on the BA project, with one sample returning 5.6 kg/t silver, 1.4 g/t gold, 16.7% lead, 4.0% zinc and 2.4% copper.
Mountain Boy Minerals Ltd.
TSXV: MTB, OTCQB: MBYMF, FSE: M9U
Shares Outstanding 54.1m
Market cap Cdn$10.0m
Dolly Varden Silver Corp. (TSXV: DV) (OTC: DOLLF) — Predominantly a silver-focused explorer, the company’s flagship project is located in the southern part of BC’s Golden Triangle, an area well-known for its base and precious metals deposits.
The property hosts four historically active mines — Dolly Varden, Torbrit, North Star and Wolf — all have parts that remain unexplored to this day. More than 20 million ounces of high-grade silver have been produced from these deposits in the past (1919-1959).
Dolly Varden’s project lies to the west of Hecla Mining’s (NYSE: HL) Kinskuch project. It also borders Fury Gold Mines’ (TSX: FURY) Homestake Ridge project, which it acquired late last year to consolidate what it considers to be an emerging silver-gold district.
The consolidated project, named Kitsault Valley, is now considered among the largest high-grade, undeveloped precious metal assets in Western Canada, with a combined mineral resource base of 34.7moz silver and 166,000 oz gold in the indicated category.
Regional exploration and reconnaissance drilling also led to the identification of a large, new porphyry-related copper-gold system that may be related to many others in the Golden Triangle, such as KSM, Treaty Creek, Saddle, Red Chris and Snowfield.
Dolly Varden Silver Corp.
TSXV: DV, OTC: DOLLF
Shares Outstanding 130.8m
Market cap Cdn$94.2m
Max Resource Corp. (TSXV: MXR) (OTC: MXROF) (Frankfurt: M1D2) — Within an underexplored region of northeastern Colombia, Max has been making significant progress at its flagship CESAR property, which it believes has the potential to host a massive copper-silver mineralized system comparable to some of the world’s best.
CESAR is situated along the famous Andean Belt, the world’s leading copper-producing belt, within a region that enjoys major infrastructure from existing mining operations including Cerrejon, the largest coal mine in South America.
The Max team interprets the sediment-hosted stratabound copper-silver mineralization in the Cesar basin to be analogous to both the Central African Copper Belt, which contains nearly 50% of the copper known to exist in sediment-hosted deposits, and the Polish Kupferschiefer, Europe’s largest copper source.
For two years, the company has not only been finding high-grade copper/silver zones but expanding these areas to confirm this hypothesis. To date, five copper discoveries have been made along a 90 km copper-silver belt, demonstrating its significant regional potential.
Max’s goal is to partner up with a major to begin drilling at CESAR. Interest so far has been strong, with multiple non-disclosure agreements in place to advance the project, including a collaboration agreement with an industry-leading copper producer.
Max Resource Corp.
TSXV: MXR; OTC: MXROF; Frankfurt: M1D2
Shares Outstanding 98.0m
Market cap Cdn$25.0m
Norden Crown Metals Corp. (TSXV: NOCR) (OTC: NOCRF) (Frankfurt: 03E) — Looking to restore the gloried past of Scandinavia’s copper mining, Norden is currently advancing the 100% owned Burfjord project in northern Norway.
The property is located in the Kåfjord copper belt, which is highly prospective for iron oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) and sediment-hosted copper mineral deposits.
Mineralization at Burfjord belongs to the same deposit clan of the northern Fennoscandia region, a key IOCG province globally.
Copper mineralization was mined in the Burfjord area during the 19th Century, with over 30 historic mines and prospects developed along the flanks of a prominent 4 km x 6 km anticlinal structure.
The 2021 drill program is designed to continue testing copper-gold grades and continuity of new targets, historical mines and prospects at the Burfjord property.
Norden Crown Metals Corp.
TSXV: NOCR, OTC: BORMF, Frankfurt: 03E
Shares Outstanding 53m
Market cap Cdn$7.1m
Palladium One Mining Inc. (TSXV: PDM) (FRA: 7N11) (OTC: NKORF) — Palladium One currently holds two projects with mineral deposits that are applicable to the clean energy transition.
In Finland, the company is advancing the Läntinen Koillismaa (LK) project, where months of drilling success have culminated in a much-increased resource endowment, further confirming the project’s potential to host a large bulk-tonnage PGE-copper-nickel deposit.
At the Haukiaho zone of the LK property, there is a significant endowment of base metals, with two-thirds of the value in nickel and copper.
The latest resource estimate, totalling 1.2 million ounces of palladium equivalent (PdEq) grading 1.15 g/t, comprises only 3 km of strike length. Immediately east of the Haukiaho resource, within 2 km of strike extent, contains two significant IP chargeability anomalies with sufficient historical drilling, which can potentially be upgraded to inferred resources with additional drill work.
The remaining 12 km of the Haukiaho trend has not been drill tested, though widely spaced historical drilling provides a high level of confidence for potential additional nickel-copper resources to be delineated, Palladium One says.
In Ontario, Canada, the company also continues to outline a high-grade nickel-copper system at its Tyko project, where previous work has indicated high potential for a Voisey-style mineralization.
A second-phase drill program started in April 2021 returned several high-grade intersections, all near surface, allowing the company to subsequently increase the size of the property by over a fifth.
PDM recently filed for exploration Permits to drill test several newly identified anomalies on the Tyko property, which could potentially lead to more discoveries.
Palladium One Mining Inc.
TSXV: PDM, OTC: NKORF, FSE: 7N11
Shares Outstanding 256.2m
Market cap Cdn$58.9m
Renforth Resources Inc. (CSE: RFR) (OTCQB: RFHRF) (FSE: 9RR) — Also looking to benefit from the clean energy era is Renforth, which holds a district-scale battery metals prospect at its Surimeau polymetallic project in Quebec.
This 260 sqkm property is host to several target areas for industrial metals (nickel, copper, zinc, cobalt) located south of the Cadillac Break, a major regional gold structure.
Exploration focus is currently placed on the sulfide nickel rich VMS targets, in particular the Victoria West prospect, which is the site of drilling by the company for over a year.
According to Renforth, information gleaned from drilling and trenching the Victoria West target, along with surface sampling, creates an area of interest that includes about 5 km of strike on the western end of a 20 km magnetic anomaly.
The company interprets this anomaly to be a nickel-bearing ultramafic sequence unit, which occurs alongside, and is intermingled with, VMS-style copper-zinc mineralization.
Management considers the style of mineralization to be an “Outokumpu-like” occurrence, referring to a district in eastern Finland known for several unconventional sulfide deposits with economic grades of copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, silver and gold.
Renforth Resources Inc.
CSE: RFR, OTCQB: RFHRF, FSE: 9RR
Shares Outstanding 262.3m
Market cap Cdn$18.3m
Getchell Gold Corp. (CSE: GTCH) (OTCQB: GGLDF) — A Nevada-focused gold and copper explorer, Getchell’s most advanced asset is the Fondaway Canyon gold project, a past producer with five known mineralized areas and 1.1 million oz in resources.
About 60 km north of Fondaway Canyon is the company’s Star copper-gold-silver project, which contains two main mineralized occurrences, including a past-producing copper mine (Star Point), with multiple priority drill targets identified.
A geophysical survey in 2020 delineated four anomalies exhibiting characteristics of porphyry-style mineralization on the property, which will be the priorities for drill testing.
The company plans to begin the maiden drill program for the Star project in spring 2022.
Getchell Gold Corp.
CSE: GTCH, OTCQB: GGLDF
Shares Outstanding 87.2m
Market cap Cdn$51.4m
Freegold Ventures Ltd. (FVL: TSX) (OTCQX: FGOVF) — Freegold is focused on copper and gold exploration in Alaska. It holds the Golden Summit gold project near Fairbanks and the Shorty Creek copper-gold project near Livengood.
Golden Summit is a bulk-tonnage project with over 80 gold occurrences documented within the property boundaries. Over 38,000m of drilling was completed last year to expand and define the high-grade system.
Shorty Creek was acquired by Freegold after completing a data review that suggested the property has the potential to host a series of copper-gold porphyry deposits. The company later entered into an option agreement with Australia’s South32 Ltd. on this project.
About 3,400m of drilling was completed at Shorty Creek last summer; assay results are pending.
Freegold Ventures Ltd.
TSX: FVL, OTCQX: FGOVF
Shares Outstanding 334.4m
Market cap Cdn$177.2m
“Copper is such a strategic metal” and it “without a doubt” faces supply challenges in the coming years, Barrick Gold’s CEO Mark Bristow said in a mining conference held this week in Saudi Arabia.
On the same day, BlackRock’s global head of thematic and sector-based investing Evy Hambro told Bloomberg that prices of metals including copper “may stay high for decades as mining companies struggle to keep up with demand from the energy transition.”
“We’ve got decades worth of high rates of investment into infrastructure as the world seeks to decarbonize. That’s a widely held consensual view,” he added.
What the industry also can agree on is that more metals must be produced to satisfy a stronger demand. For copper, the challenge is to at least double the current mine production of 20Mt by 2040, which would require an enormous investment into exploration and mine development.
Thus, any junior miner with a copper deposit of significant size and grades will have no problem attracting major interest.
Our latest copper market analysis is linked to below:
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Richard owns shares of Max Resource Corp. (TSXV: MXR), Norden Crown Metals Corp. (TSXV: NOCR), Renforth Resources Inc. (CSE: RFR), Getchell Gold Corp. (CSE: GTCH) and Freegold Ventures Ltd. (TSX: FVL)
Richard does not own shares of GSP Resource Corp. (TSXV: GSPR), Pampa Metals Corp. (CSE: PM), Mountain Boy Minerals Ltd. (TSXV: MTB), Dolly Varden Silver Corp. (TSXV: DV) and Palladium One Mining Inc. (TSXV: PDM)
GSPR, PM, MTB, DV, MXR, NOCR, PDM, RFR and GTCH are paid advertisers on his site aheadoftheherd.com