The demand for “green” metals is pinned on bets that more aggressive climate pledges will accelerate the proliferation of solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars. Beyond electrification and decarbonization, the need is being driven by something more immediate — a worldwide economic recovery from the pandemic.
As countries continue to vaccinate large percentages of their populations, re-opened economies are stoking demand for more cars, electronics and infrastructure.
The prices of industrial metals are enjoying a spectacular run, especially given that fears are being raised about shortages. As the chart below shows, copper, nickel, zinc and aluminum have all seen substantial gains over the past year.
In fact, battery/ energy metals demand is moving at such a break-neck speed, that supply will be extremely challenged to keep up. Without a major push by producers and junior miners to find and develop new mineral deposits, glaring supply deficits are going to beset the industry for some time.
According to a recent report by UBS, a deficit in nickel will come into play this year, for rare earths in 2022, for cobalt in 2023, and in 2024, for lithium and natural graphite.
Moreover, the Swiss investment bank predicts large deficits by 2030 for each of these metals: 170,000 tonnes for cobalt, equal to 42% of the cobalt market; 10.9 million tonnes of copper (about half of current global mined production), representing 31% of the market; 2.1Mt for lithium (50% market share); 3.7Mt for natural graphite and 2.2Mt for nickel (both 37%); and 48,000 tonnes for rare earths, equivalent to 47% of the market.
The bullish market forces that are swirling in preparation for what many are calling the next commodities supercycle, are excellent news for companies on the hunt for minerals that support the electrification of the transportation system, the decarbonization of energy sources, and new spending on infrastructure, both green and traditional/ blacktop.
Renforth Resources has the right metals at the right time, embodied in its Surimeau polymetallic project in Quebec.
The 260 square-kilometer property hosts several target areas for gold and industrial metals (nickel, copper, zinc, cobalt, silver) located south of the Cadillac Break, a major regional gold structure.
Summer prospecting on the southwestern part of the Huston area returned 1.9% nickel, 1.3% copper, 1,170 parts per million (ppm) cobalt and 4 grams per tonne silver, from a grab sample taken from strongly foliated diorite, a coarse-grained intrusive igneous rock.
The little-explored Huston area is located about 18 km from Victoria West, where Renforth has been advancing the nickel, copper and zinc-mineralized target.
Victoria West is one of five polymetallic target areas on the Surimeau property historically documented as hosting mineralization (Huston is the fourth area to be prospected).
It is located at the western end of a 20-km-long magnetic anomaly that hosts proven mineralization at either end, with the Colony target at its eastern end.
Renforth’s first drilling at Surimeau occurred in October 2020 with 2.5 short holes completed. A total of 15 holes for 3,456m were drilled during the 2021 program, drilling off 2.2 km of strike within the approximately 5 km-long Victoria West target.
Another four holes totaling 773m were drilled this summer; they delivered visible sulfides in the core.
The company interprets the 20-km anomaly to be a nickel-bearing ultramafic sequence unit, which occurs alongside, and is intermingled with, VMS-style copper-zinc mineralization.
Renforth management says the spectacular result from Huston (grades above 1% nickel and copper are today considered high grade) is the first documented nickel occurrence in the Huston target area, which is largely unexplored except for a limited gold-focused drill program by Hecla Mining in the 1980s.
Recently concluded stripping at Victoria West encountered much more copper and zinc on surface than was seen in the drilling. According to Renforth, this is thought to be due to the variable presence of the ultramafic nickel/cobalt body and the magmatic copper/zinc body, consistent with our “Outokumpu style” model that suggests two different mineralized bodies juxtaposed in one location due to the circumstances of the mineralizing event.
The company this week published assay results from 21 holes drilled over the 2.2-km strike length at Victoria West, with each hole delivering mineralization and the four deeper holes demonstrating an increase in grade. The assays include the two drill programs in 2021 and the results from resampling the 2.5 holes drilled in 2020.
“Our Surimeau District Property hosts our first exploration for nickel, copper, cobalt – 3 of the primary metals required for batteries and, in particular, Electric Vehicles. While still at a very early stage, the extent of the findings outlined in this press release and the magnitude of additional potential within the 260 km2 property, its known targets and unexplored prospective ground warranting further exploration, Surimeau presents an exciting new path for Renforth Resources in metals that are forecast to be in high demand as the EV and energy storage market grows,” states Renforth’s President and CEO Nicole Brewster, in the Nov. 10 news release.
Future plans include investigating the ~14km of magnetic anomaly between Victoria West and Colony, to determine whether the mineralized ultramafic mineralization occurring with the magnetic anomaly over a 5-km portion of the anomaly, continues the length of the anomaly.
In comments to shareholders, Brewster wrote:
I see a ton of potential, here is what we know:
Here is what we do not know, but will find out:
Brewster also says, We are sticking a pin in it and calling it a discovery… We will now embark on creating value, in the ground and hopefully in our market, as we work this unique Polymetallic Battery Metals package.
To this I will add my two cents. Renforth continues to make excellent headway at Surimeau in quite a short period of time.
This nickel sulfide deposit at surface is just starting to reveal its secrets to the market. Just how large this nickel sulfide system is, remains to be seen. RFR is clearly hoping to find nickel sulfides that when refined would be appropriate for lithium-ion batteries. This would make the project and/ or the company attractive to potential acquirers.
Surimeau shows promise of becoming a district-scale mining project, given its unique geological similarities to the Outokumpu District in Finland, as well as being analogous to a number of current and past-producing Canadian VMS deposits, some of which, like Kidd and LaRonde, are still in production decades after mining started.
It’s fascinating to think that this district could contain not only battery metals like nickel and cobalt, but industrial metals copper and silver, and even gold, prospective next door at Renforth’s adjoining Malartic West project.
It never hurts to have a little gold in your portfolio.
Renforth has a full treasury with which to continue exploring over the winter including a planned return to Parbec, its wholly-owned gold property, also in Quebec. The open-pit constrained gold deposit sits on 1.8 km of the Cadillac Break and is adjacent to Canadian Malartic, Canada’s largest open-pit gold mine.
Parbec currently has an NI 43-101 resource estimate of 104,000 indicated ounces at a grade of 1.78 g/t Au and 177,000 inferred ounces at a grade of 1.78 g/t Au.
However, this estimate prepared in May 2020 is considered to be “out of date” by Renforth due to the results received so far from its recently completed 15,569m drill program.
Renforth’s latest assay results from Parbec highlighted 3.06 g/t gold over a thickness of 21.85 meters.
A steady flow of news from properties that contain not only in-demand battery metals nickel and cobalt, but copper, zinc, gold and silver, made me an owner.
CSE:RFR, OTCQB:RFHRF, FSE:9RR
Shares Outstanding 251m
Market cap Cdn$22.2m
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