Canada Nickel (TSX-V: CNC) – The 11th Largest Nickel Sulphide Resource Globally In Just 6-Months

Canada Nickel
  • TSX-V: CNC
  • Shares Outstanding: 67M
  • Share price C$1.33 (22.05.2020)
  • Market Cap: C$87M

Interview with Mark Selby, CEO of Nickel Exploration company, Canada Nickel (TSX-V: CNC).

Nickel could offer battery metals/EV investors a massive upside. Mark Selby has a history of success in the nickel space that extends back to his time at Inco and RNC.

In just 6 months, for just US$4M, Canada Nickel has uncovered the 11th largest nickel sulphide resource in the world, and it has a PGM upside.

Canada Nickel has its skates on and has some big plans for this year and beyond. Is Crawford an exciting take-out target for nickel majors?

We Discuss:

  1. Company Overview
  2. Putting Together Nickel Projects: Timeline and Strategy
  3. Recent Raise: Shareholder Support and Investor Interest in Nickel
  4. What Makes Canada Nickel Different to Other Nickel Companies?
  5. Drilling for Value: A Run Through the News Release
  6. Impact of COVID-19 on Canada Nickel and The Nickel Market
  7. Timeline for Deliverables

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

Company Website: https://canadanickel.com/

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

Canada Nickel (TSX-V: CNC) – The night is young, And we’re just getting started (Transcript)

Canada Nickel
  • TSX-V: CNC
  • Shares Outstanding: 67M
  • Share price C$1.33 (22.05.2020)
  • Market Cap: C$87M

Interview with Mark Selby, CEO of Nickel Exploration company, Canada Nickel (TSX-V: CNC).

The newest nickel story on the block, with a trebled share price since we last spoke with them around the time of their IPO. Highly impressive. EV/battery metals investors, take note.

Mark Selby is a renowned mind in the nickel space; his experience at Inco and the helm of RNC has given him plenty of experience with large nickel projects: in particular, the Dumont Nickel-Cobalt project. Can he develop the Crawford Nickel-VMS Project in a faster, more capital-efficient fashion? The aim is to complete a PEA/scoping study (C$4M) by the end of 2020, with an FS (C$20-30M) following a year later. This is an accelerated monetisation event for nickel investors.

Canada Nickel just announced some encouraging drill results with an exciting PGM upside: 2.6g/t. Canada Nickel has managed to create the 11th largest nickel sulphide resource globally in just 6-months for just C$4M, and it is little surprise the market has cottoned on to this value proposition. Selby believes we are on the verge of the start of a new nickel supercycle at the start of this new decade, and he believes having one of the world’s few large nickel projects outside of Indonesia will stand Canada Nickel in good stead. The CAPEX is a whopping US$1B+, but he claims the sheer scale of Crawford will be enough to attract a major to take it out, despite it not having the “sexy high grades.”

In order to hit the upcycle, Selby wants to move fast. Canada Nickel has its skates on and it doesn’t appear anything is going to stand in its way. Canada Nickel recently completed a private placement of c. C$4.5M. The original aim was to raise C$2.5M, and now with the share price tripled, Selby feels this has shown the confidence of investors in the EV narrative, even if COVID-19 has distracted. It’s incredibly impressive that Canada Nickel’s share price is up 5X on its February IPO in a COVID-19 market scenario.

What sets Canada Nickel apart from the swathe of other nickel juniors?

A.) This is a new nickel sulfide discovery: something of a rarity right now.

B.) The potential scale of Crawford: big enough to attract a major, and Selby claims Canada Nickel has only just scratched the surface.

C.) The team’s experience demonstrated at Dumont has given investors confidence, taking something from resource to fully-permitted project.

Selby reveals that from the first two step-out holes from its latest drilling operations have more than doubled the strike length already registered. Exciting. Perhaps most importantly, the first assays from the first drill hole were the highest grade nickel intersection in the main nickel dunite area: 55m at 0.42% nickel, with 0.2g/t palladium+platinum. What will capture the excitement of investors is the prospect of filling the mill with as much high-grade ore as possible, and Selby is clear reticent of this.

The third highlight is that Canada Nickel has hit a PGM zone 100m outside of its main nickel resource, and the company has managed to hit it consistently, across several hundred metres down to 500m depth. It has been hit in 2 different spots a whopping 1.2km apart from each other. It is clear that Crawford is shaping up to be a really exciting nickel/PGM project.

What has the impact of COVID-19 been like for Canada Nickel, and what will it continue to be? In Ontario, mining was deemed an essential service, so there has been minimal disruption for the company. The assays have slowed down a little, but other than that, Canada Nickel has mitigated the impacts well and has kept employees safe.

Selby will put out another resource update in July, then another in October, in addition to a whole series of drilling/mineralogy results. these will be the key derisking events. We have no doubt Selby will continue to hit his deliverables. This could be exciting news for nickel investors.

We Discuss:

  1. Company Overview
  2. Putting Together Nickel Projects: Timeline and Strategy
  3. Recent Raise: Shareholder Support and Investor Interest in Nickel
  4. What Makes Canada Nickel Different to Other Nickel Companies?
  5. Drilling for Value: A Run Through the News Release
  6. Impact of COVID-19 on Canada Nickel and The Nickel Market
  7. Timeline for Deliverables

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

Hey Mark, how you doing, Sir?

Mark Selby Great. Matthew, how are you?

Matthew Gordon: Not bad. Been a while, been a while, and a few things have happened since we last spoke – good and bad.

Mark Selby: That’s right, we keep moving the ball. And there’s this virus thing that’s appeared.

Matthew Gordon: I heard, I read about that, I read about that. But look, your press release is out. There are a few things on there, which I want to talk to you about. I want to see how things are going because I was intrigued by Nickel generally in this market, and people trying to hit this cycle. There’s a real kind of interest in it. But you guys have done a financing since we last spoke as well, so I want to talk about that. But first, can we just kick off with that one-minute overview for people new to the story and we’ll pick it up from there?

Mark Selby Sure. So, what we have is a very rare thing: it’s a brand-new Nickel sulphide discovery. It’s within 6-months of drilling. We created the 11th largest Nickel sulphide resource globally. We are, because of my experience at RNC Minerals advancing Dumont and I was Head of Strategy at Inco before that, we’re able to move Nickel projects very quickly through so, and there is a scoping study by year end, a Feasibility Study by the end of 2021 because what we fundamentally believe is that Nickel goes through these super cycles which are relatively unique to Nickel, every 15 to 20-years, and we think that with the EV overlay on top of an already strong demand from stainless steel and other traditional Nickel demand sources, that we’re heading for one of these in the middle part of this decade. So, we have got one of the few large-scale Nickel projects outside of Indonesia ready for that market. We think that is going to create a lot of value for shareholders.

Matthew Gordon: It would be great if you can do that. But they are quite expensive to put together, aren’t they? Traditionally?

Mark Selby Oh yes. I mean, Nickel projects at the end are, to build these projects need a billion-dollar capital. And, again, when you look at most people in terms of how much money they need to spend on drilling, the nice thing about these larger-scale, lower-grade operations is, they don’t have the sexy high-grade attached to it. But the reality is, your chances of actually finding a resource of the scale that’s going to attract a major. You can drill these off relatively productively when you know what you’re doing. And so, we raised, we did the first 11th largest from scratch for USD$4M and this PEA is going to cost us about USD$4M to get done. We’ll continue to expand the Resource, the higher-grade part of this resource. That’s really what we’re focused on here – adding value, not necessarily tons. And so, yes, we’ll be able to deliver our Feasibility Study, we hope, for somewhere between USD$20M and USD$30M max.

Matthew Gordon: And what is the timing for all of this? You talked about doing a PEA by, by when? And when’s the Feasibility going to get done? Because if you’re going to hit the cycle, you’re going to need to get your skates on, right?

Mark Selby: Yes, yes. And we have, yes. I appreciate the Canadian analogy there. So yes, no, we’re skating, or skating as hard as we can. So, we’ll have that PEA done by the end of the year, hopefully a little earlier than the end of the year. And then we have got a whole team of people that we have worked with before, we’re getting them into place. And the whole goal with that team is, the scoping study is going to be to pull up before the end of the year. The goal is really having that Feasibility Study done by the end of December 2021. Because the reality is in terms of, you want to be one of the first projects out of the gate to attract the large-scale investors. And then two, in terms of take-outs, valuation wise, if you look at what Nickel sulphide discoveries, large ones, have gone out for it in the past, you get one or two per decade, they tend to get taken out between scoping study and Feasibility Study. So, we want to surface that value as quickly as possible for our shareholders.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. And then you raised this money recently. What type of people came in, because I know everyone’s sniffing around – EV revolution, battery revolution, whatever you want to call it. Nickel is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds, but there’s a lot of stories out there too. Did you find it easy or difficult to raise capital?

Mark Selby Well, we chose probably one of the sort of second worst months in the history of capital markets to go to raise money, back at the beginning of April. I mean, Gold has been able to raise money, and it has been good to see the money that is being raised in Gold, but outside of Gold there’s been almost nothing raised in the base metal sector. So, I think it is a sign of confidence, A, in the Nickel story generally. And then B, in our project specifically, that we went out for USD$2.5M and we ended up with USD$4.5M, and our share prices has basically tripled since we announced that story.

I mean, we started trading at the end of February, just as COVID was breaking, but our share price is up 5x during that timeframe.

Matthew Gordon: Which is insane. So obviously people are liking what they’re hearing. So, what precisely do you think that’s resonating with them? Because again, we have spoken to companies telling Nickel stories, they’re not getting that kind of reaction.

Mark Selby I think that A, that it’s a new Nickel sulphide discovery; a lot of Nickel projects that are in the market have been around before and then recycled. This is truly a new discovery. B, I think it’s the potential scale of this asset, again, in this market, what has traded well and what gets valued well are those projects that have the scale that can attract a major. And I think our initial resource, which was the 11th largest right out of the gate, and we just scratched the surface of what we have, I think has really got people there. And I think C, I think there’s, we did it with Dumont in terms of getting from resource right through to fully permitted project. I think there’s confidence with the investors behind us that we’ll be able to do the same thing with Crawford, but because we have done it before, we’re going to be able to do it in a much, much quicker, much more capital-efficient fashion.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. Interesting. Let’s get into the news release here, because you have done a bit of drilling. You got some numbers that look good to me, but why don’t you tell us about it?

Mark Selby Yes, I mean there are three key takeaways from those drilling results: first off in terms of the Nickel resource, we drilled off one portion, which was less than 20% of the structure that we have there to deliver that 11th largest resource. These are the first new step out holes. And so, from the first two step out holes we basically confirmed that this is more than double the strike length of what we have got already. So, in terms of resource upsize, that should give you some sense of what the scale of this resource could go. Secondly, and probably the most important point is, the first assays that we did back when the first drill hole was the highest-grade Nickel intersection that we have drilled to date in that main Nickel Sulphide area. So, it was 55m at 0.42% Nickel, and with 0.2g p/t Palladium plus Platinum. And that’s about six times what our average PGM grade is for the resource.

And again, what we’re drilling for is, we’re drilling for value, not for tons. So, what’s going to make the PEA exciting and what’s going to make people get excited about this project is being able to fill that mill with as much higher grade, higher grade ore for the first years of the project. So that is where we’re really zeroing in on.

And then the third, the third takeaway is, we hit this PGM zone setting, about 100m outside our main Nickel resource, and hit it consistently. You could cross several hundred meters down to 500m depth. And we have hit it in two other places. So again, this offset mineralisation that is going to double the strike length, it has been hit in two separate places in the same spot, 1.2km apart from each other. And yes, and then the other place that we targeted to drilling was 1.5km away from our last drill hole on the main intersection. And, we hit 2.7g p/t. So, most of what we hit before was 1.5g/t. This 2.7g/t, and there was actually 3 separate intervals that total nearly 30m of 1.5g/t material. There’s very few PGM hits outside of South Africa. And again, most of what’s in the market today has been around for a while, this is a new PGM discovery on top of what is already a large Nickel discovery. So, I think that’s the thing, people are pretty keen on Palladium and there’s very few new Palladium stories. So, I think, what’s, I know we’re not going to change the name yet, but in Canada, Nickel, the Palladium part is going to be a pretty important part of by-product credit in the economics for the PEA and the Scoping Study.

Matthew Gordon: That’s fascinating. I mean, they are meaningful grades there on the PGM. But can I just come back to, and I’m sure as you drill out more, you’ll tell us more about that, can we talk about what you mean by drilling for value? And people don’t understand this, because I’m not sure I completely understand it either. The old model is drill for resource and you’re building out the size of the ore body and that’s the old way of doing things. You’re trying to do things in an accelerated way. So, you’re trying to bring the good stuff to the fore quicker. Is that, is that what you’re doing? Is that what you mean by that?

Mark Selby  Yes, that’s exactly it. I would say Australian mining companies tend to do it. They tend to build enough resource to get their mine built then they get going. Canadian resource companies have tended to just build up larger and larger resources and that at some point they’ll put some economics around them. But it’s all about making the resource as large as possible. We already, with the first set of drilling, we’re the 11th largest already. The key piece that’s really going to move, and we have enough resource for a 50-year mine life, the key piece is really finding more higher-grade, higher-value material to be able to mine in the first few years of that mine project life. So, the geophysics that we have got sort of points as to where those higher, best areas may be. And so that’s where we have been focusing our drilling, as opposed to just stepping out on a standard basis and trying to add, just maximizing tons for the sake of maximizing tons.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. So, things are going well; share price, I appreciate, it’s great. Well done. The numbers are starting to look good. You are going to try and deliver this PEA by the end of the year. I’m assuming therefore, COVID-19 has not drastically impacted your ability to move things forward. It seems to be what I’m hearing?

Mark Selby: Yes. Northern Ontario, in Ontario, mining was deemed an essential business. So, whereas a number of other businesses and their supporting businesses shut down. In Ontario, we were allowed to continue operating and we were able to, the work that we’re doing, we can still do it in a way that keeps our employees safe, so we have been able to continue drilling. Our assays have slowed down a little bit, that’s where you’ll see there’s nine holes of assays pending. But, by and large, all the suppliers and support industries have been, they’ve been able to keep working safely and we have been able to continue to move things along, which has been great.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. And what’s your view with regards to how all of this, again I’m talking about COVID-19, is going to impact the battery market? Is there going to be a slow down before it gets back up to what it was aiming to be before? Is there going to be an impact? Because we have had a couple of CEOs come on here and go, ‘Oh, it has absolutely devastated the supply chain. It’s going to impact the way people think about these things. What’s your take on it?

Mark Selby: Yes, so I think it’s really more, well, let me talk about the battery market in general and then more metal specific. I think we are going to go through several months of economic slowdown. But I think you’re going to see governments want to stimulate the economy. So, the Chinese have always done it through infrastructure projects. And if you look at the stats that are coming over the last six weeks, they are, you’ve got copper mills running at more than a hundred percent of capacity right now. Iron ore prices; huge amounts of iron are now going into China. And the Nickel market itself, you’ve seen a lot of the physical numbers improve pretty dramatically. So, I think that’s going there.

 I think in the West where consumer spending is the biggest driver, governments are going to have to provide incentives or mail checks to people to help get consumer spending to the point where the economy is going to be growing again. And again, cars are a big ticket item; that is something where you’re going to see government incentives show up. And again, there’s a lot of discussion on non-politicians around sort of using this opportunity to retool or redesign the economy. So, I think a lot of those incentives are going to be geared towards, okay, we’re going to give you money to buy a car, help you buy a car, but it’s going to be only if you buy a clean car. So, for those people who are kind of on the fence about buying one, okay, what if I get a thousand bucks from the government to do it, then I’m going to do it.

So, I’m not as doom and gloom in terms of, I think it is going to be pretty challenging for the next year or two economically. But I think the way out of this is to stimulate the economy. And so, I think those incentives will come. In terms of the individual metals, the metal I feel sorry for the most, I think is Cobalt through this process because  it’s got three whammies: if you look at Cobalt sources of demand, one is alloys for the oil and gas industry, which has just kind of took it in the teeth. The other part is for super alloys in the aerospace sector. And so, again, airplane travel is something that’s going to take a while to fully, fully come back. And then you’ve got the EV market, which has become the third source, which is going to be, again, a few bumps here going forward. So, I think Cobalt has got it the toughest.

Lithium. Again, you’ve just got so much supply sloshing around that as we go through this low point, I don’t think, I might be wrong, but I don’t know how much Lithium production has been impacted by COVID. Where we benefit from Nickel is that one of the major mining sources is mines in the Philippines and those are going to have to ramp up to help make up for the ore that’s not coming from Indonesia anymore. But those mines have been shut for quite a period of time and it’s just been extended again. So, we’re seeing ore stockpiles coming down in China pretty dramatically. I think that’s important for investors, to think about the COVID impact, not just on demand, but on the supply of the metal. And Nickel has come out of this in pretty good shape relative to the other metals.

Matthew Gordon: That’s fascinating. That’s funny. I always love listening to you to see your take and because you understand that, that with the ghost of the micro. So I appreciate that. Well it must be exciting times for you guys. I guess you’ve just got a whole bunch of deliverables to be able to get that PA done. You feeling confident about the end of the year? That’s, that’s definitely going to happen.

Mark Selby: Yeah, I mean, between now and then we’ll have, we’ll have

Another resource update on ode in July, right. Have another resource update in October. So, before we finalize the, the scoping study we’ll have a whole series of drilling and mineralogy results again for these deposits. The key issue is, okay, how much of the Nickel can you actually recover? And again, what we’re seeing so far is very encouraging. But, we’ll have those numbers come out. And again, those are going to be the key risking events in terms of, how do we have done well getting from $0.25 to $1.25 and how do we take this, to USD$5 a share or higher from here. It’s going to be some of that news that comes out, over the summer. And then, the other big thrust of this too is, it’s easy carrying around high-grade core that looks very sexy.

You know, I did that in a prior life with target, rocks with chunks of gold in it. And, that definitely gets investor attention. But I think, in terms of delivering, building a project that the majors are going to be interested in, know large lower grade projects. I, part of the reason I’m so keen to get the economics done is to really demonstrate to people, it’s like, yes, it’s low grade, but you’re going to build an operation that’s even,, equally low cost and you can deliver very good margins., I’ll point people to believe in ATEC mine in Finland, it’s started in Scandinavia, it’s a 0.22% copper where the tiny bit of Silver and Gold is a by-product credit and it is in the first core tile cash costs for copper,, so it has a fraction of the grade, but because it’s in the right location, lots of infrastructure, it has a productive workforce and it’s built to the scale to the,, it’s the right scale for that kind of grade., they can make money all day long. And so, that’s what we want to demonstrate with, with Crawford, know that we’re going to be able to build that kind of scale operation and generate those kinds of cash flows for many, many, many decades to come.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. Well, I appreciate your time today. I’m just, delighted for you, got the ball rolling and got the money in as well. But, you clearly know what you want to do and how you want to do it, which is fantastic. Now you’ve got to go and do it. So, yeah. Over to you. Stay in touch.

Company Website: https://canadanickel.com/

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

Canada Nickel – 11th Largest Nickel Sulphide Resource Globally! (Transcript)

The Canada Nickel Company logo
Canada Nickel
  • TSXv: CNC
  • Shares Outstanding: 57M
  • Share price C$0.47 (18.03.2020)
  • Market Cap: C$27M

Interview with Mark Selby, CEO of Nickel Exploration company, Canada Nickel (TSXv: CNC).

Selby tells us he already has the 11th largest nickel sulphide deposit from less than 20% of the structure that they are exploring. 260Mt with a higher-grade core running through the middle. And he claims they have an accelerated timeframe planned to get into production.

A PEA will be out in the next 3-4 months and then a Feasibility Study by the end of 2021. Canada Nickel Corp has hopes to time this nickel cycle right and therefore be able to fund the project into production off the back of the Feasibility Study.

Key take-outs are 1. This is a large project – elephant hunting territory – which is attractive to large Nickel Majors 2. The Nickel Resource has been added for only $1 per ton. Many projects cost spend $1,000 per ton to add to their Resource. 3. The PEA will be out in 3-4 months. Investor can understand the economics at this point. 4. The grade is relatively good and the company hopes to be able to mine a higher-grade core first to deliver a higher return in the earlier years. 5. It’s a Nickel Sulphide project which is preferred because of the significantly lower CAPEX compared to Hpal projects required for Nickel laterite.

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

We Discuss:

1:16 – Going Public: The Aftermath

1:46 – PDAC Conference: Low Attendance Rates

3:16 – Resource Numbers: What Do They Mean for Investors?

7:37 – Commercialisation: Possibilities and Timings

10:45 – Focusing on High Grade: How Will it Work?

12:22 – Coronavirus’ Impact on Market and Possible Outcomes

Matthew Gordon: Hi, Mark, how are you Sir?

Mark Selby: Good to see you again, Matthew.

Matthew Gordon: And we spoke last week; you went public. How did that go?

Mark Selby: It’s good. The transfer agent mechanics in the background took a little while to get people’s shares into account, but the nice thing is, we did trade a bit and the stock was up 250% on the first trading day, so that’s a great way to start. We’ll see what happens and we’ll see what happens today.

Matthew Gordon: Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Now you’re at PDAC; about to go through three days of marketing, shaking hands, meeting people, et cetera, et cetera. Tell me, what’s it like there? Because, I’ve heard various reports about attendance levels. What’s your sense of what’s going on there?

Mark Selby: Yes, I know what’s interesting, and again, there’s a lot less shaking hands and a lot more touching elbows!

Matthew Gordon: True, true, true!

Mark Selby: No, no, there really has been an impact. I know one of the guys who came in from out of town, you stay in a hotel in Toronto, he didn’t, he just asked them, he’s a consultant who wanted to just, just was curious. And so, yes, I think they basically had about a third of the people not show up, basically cancel the reservations from a few weeks ago. And I co-chair one of the larger introductory sessions at the conference. It’s held in the big room and I would say, yes, there’s probably 20-25% less people now than there have been in past years for that session. So yes, I noticed it. There’s definitely, definitely been an impact.

Matthew Gordon: So clearly coronavirus; people nervous about traveling at the moment. I think there’s a lot of news going around. Okay. So that’s having an impact.

Mark Selby: One of the speakers on the panel, she works for one of the big banks and yes, they were basically – she did it remotely because they have an only essential travel policy going right now.

Matthew Gordon: Right. Okay. Well I’m sure it’s going to impact some people’s ability to do business or a certain account chart with, whether it be strategic partners, funders, whatever. But I guess we’ll hear more of that as the week carries on. But let’s get down to business here: so we spoke to you last week, you went public – well done, 250% increase, but let’s see how that goes this week. You also released some numbers around your resource, so tell us about that.

Mark Selby: Yes, we were very happy. Again, we’ve been drilling since September. And so the resource results were the 12th largest Nickel Sulphide resource globally. The nice thing for that in terms of technically what’s there is, we’ve talked about this higher-grade core showing up in the drilling. And the nice thing is from a resource perspective, there’s a higher-grade core running right through the middle of it. So, again, Dumont is the closest comparison, and so this higher green core, we’ve got 260Mt out of 900Mt; that’s basically about 15% better than Dumont. And then we’ve got some additional grade shells. And we’ve got about 100M tons at 0.3, 0.4, so again, the key thing with that higher-grade core is that when you go to get this into production eventually, if you’re able to mine that material first, that means just a lot more cash flow right out of the gate, and that just helps the economics and helps you run the business.

Matthew Gordon: Well. Yes, for sure. So, yes, I guess you’re going to have to work out, are you going to be able to mine that first? And you’ll presumably be working on that over the next few weeks and months. And also some pretty big numbers out, right? So what does that actually mean? I mean, how should investors interpret that? I hear the numbers, but so what? What does it mean for me?

Mark Selby: Yes, no, the key thing again, because a lot of mining companies just add ounces or pounds for the sake of adding ounces or pounds. , the key thing here and that what I said the other day is that in the market today particularly is you see, companies that have elephant scale projects that can attract major mining companies or attract downstream partners to come into it. So a lot of companies in Columbia and Ecuador right now, with Copper and Copper Gold discoveries, being a Nickel Sulphide project of this scale, I believe right now in the market we’re in for EVs, and the majors wanting to get exposure to battery metals, that kind of a scale deposit should get BHP’s attention, should get Teck’s attention if they want to get meaningful exposure to battery metals: Nickel and Cobalt that we have.

Matthew Gordon: What do you mean? You talked about elephant hunting before, but where are you in the scale of things? Give me a sense of it. Is this like number one in the world or in the top 100?

Mark Selby: Yes, right now, we are basically around the 11th largest and we’ve only explored, that’s off less than 20% of the structure that we have at Crawford. So we think we’ve got potential to make it larger. And again, where we’re going to focus is on those areas where we’ve seen the higher grade. And so we’re going to take what we learned about where the high grade is at the one place we drove off and see if we can find some more of it. We’ve got some ideas in terms of where that may be sitting in the rest of the structure. And so, because again, the thing that I’m also quite proud of is our team added that resource for about a dollar a ton. You literally, because the scale of most Nickel Sulphide deposits is quite small, yes, they’re high grade, but you don’t find many tons for a lot of drilling and for a lot of companies, they are spending literally almost USD$1,000 per ton to add resource and reserve.

Matthew Gordon: Is that an extreme example or what was sort of average?

Mark Selby: No, no. I would say like I think in Western Australia you’re looking at $100 per tonne of exploration costs to define Resources. It’s okay because they’re trying to find little small Nickel lenses, that might be today quite deep. So you’re drilling again, you might be drilling 500m holes, 800m holes, hoping to hit 10m of massive Sulphide Nickel, where we get to drill a 500m hole, 450m of it have assets that end up in a Resource model.

Matthew Gordon: Right. Okay. So that’s going to give you, again, as investors, we’re all going to be interested in, at what point do you start being able to, and I know it’s early days, but at what point do you start being able to put some numbers or thoughts around the economics of this. So I’m hearing it’s large, you’re finding in terms of they contain Nickel Sulphide, 11th largest in the world. I mean that’s pretty good, straight out of the gate. It’s cheap. But at what point does that start converting into meaningful numbers for us as shareholders?

Mark Selby: Yes, so that’s the key. I mean, what we wanted was, again, we wanted to work this on an accelerated timeframe, given our understanding of this type of deposit. And so this Resource and the results we have are of the scale and are of the potential that we’re going to move that Resource right into PEA stage. I’m literally meeting today with one of the leading engineering firms to start scoping out to kick off that work. And we’d look to kick that off in April and have a PEA done for the fall for this coming year, which again, we’d roll right into a Feasibility Study from there. So again, from 6-months from drilling, we’re going to be able to start putting numbers around this which is very fast.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. And then how quickly, you mentioned the Feasibility Study as well, clearly, but what’s your timeframe on that? Because the more you do, the more notice people take. And when you say accelerated timeframe, I’m interested in, do you mean it? Or is this the usual long drawn out process and you guys are…

Mark Selby: …are we’re talking 6-years from now, hopefully not the project because it’s construction. Yes, no, we’re looking to have the Feasibility Study target would be the end of 2021. And so, and then a 2-year build from there. So that’s the timeframe we’re going to be working towards.

Matthew Gordon: Well, you’re suggesting there that you could get financed off the back of a Feasibility Study?

Mark Selby: Yes. Again, in a kind of market we’re in now, in the market we’re expecting for battery metals, when you’ve the head of BHP saying, ‘We need more future facing metals, we need more Nickel and more Cobalt’, I think when we get to that point we should be seeing the interest from the major mining companies and from the industry downstream players.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. That’s pretty big statement you’re saying. And in 2021, you could have a Feasibility Study ready. You will have been having, and would hope to conclude financing discussions around that point – is that what you’re telling me? Okay. And then there’s a 2-year build out, so when you say accelerated, you do mean accelerated, and you’re hoping to hit the cycle. There’s a lot of ifs and buts between now and then, obviously, right?

Mark Selby: Oh yes, yes. Nothing’s guaranteed in this space. But again, my view is we’re going to be hitting a Nickel super-cycle sometime in the mid-2020s. And so, we want to make sure that we’re as ready as possible to take advantage of that that super cycle.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. And when we talked previously, you talked about this kind of, and I think you mentioned at the beginning; this high-grade core, which you would look to focus on initially just in terms of the ability to positively affect the numbers out of the gate again. What do you know today about your ability to be able to do that?

Mark Selby: Within the release and the presentation, there is a slide with a series of grade shells to show how contiguous that material is. And again, it starts up at surface. So we won’t know exactly how much we’ll be able to pull in early, but based on the geometry of where it’s sitting, it looks quite promising on that basis. So and again, when you’ve got 98Mt of 0.34, that’s basically 8 to 10 years of ore for a large, the kind of scale mill that we’d be looking at for this type of deposit.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. Exciting times. Well, Mark, thanks for that update. I just wanted to catch up on it because I’m always interested in, well I mentioned battery metals at the moment, and obviously these are the newest stories in the marketplace and there’s been a lot of debate which you’ve helped stimulate actually with your education series, Insights series. I do appreciate that. Let us know, I might just call you at the end of this week to see how PDAC has turned out because obviously, those sorts of numbers of non-attendees is huge and quite meaningful. What do you think the wider impact is? Is it going to be short term in terms of the whole coronavirus? Because obviously, last week was a huge reset in the market. I mean huge reset. Do you think that was always coming or do you think that’s coronavirus linked?

Mark Selby: Well we needed a correction in the market place. I mean, so many stocks have just done this for a continuous period. And so we are overdue for a correction. I think the Corona virus has given people an excuse to take some profit. It is having an impact; the Chinese PMI came out over the weekend and they were in the 25 and 28 range; sort of the lowest ever recorded. So it is having a physical impact today and I think it will continue through this quarter as it kind of rolls around the globe. We’ll see that. But I think as long as we don’t get some highly, virulent evolution of that disease, so it starts killing lots of people, it’s basically a really bad flu right now. So I think we’ll have a quarter or two of impact. There’ll be a lot of government stimulus, particularly with China to help sort of restart the economy after that shock. So again, from a Nickel perspective I think it pushes out the recovery I was looking for the summer to fall, it will be pushed out another 3 to 6-months, so maybe by the end of the year, early next year we’d be able to sort of see new prices come back at that point.

Matthew Gordon: Right. And what do you think are the other…I’m just interested because you always have an opinion on these things, is around some of the smaller companies that are perhaps struggling for cash, to attract cash, who were struggling in terms of share price, et cetera; they’ve been hit pretty badly. Do you think there’s going to be some joint venture activity? There’s some takeovers and M&A, some mergers, farm-in, farm-out. What’s the impact of what’s been going on recently? Because in the Gold space, you’ve got producers producing cash, making money, losing a third or 25% of their market cap, like in a week. What’s going on?

Mark Selby: It would be a good time for companies to make some acquisitions. And again, you do have a whole group of companies, both the major mining companies are announcing, BHP had the second largest dividend in its history recently. So they have the cash to make some moves. Whether they’ll be aggressive enough to take advantage of the selloff in the market, again, those are the times when you should be buying, but a lot of companies just don’t have the to step in there when the market’s falling. So again, I would like to think that’s going to happen. I think we might get one or two deals done, but we won’t get, I don’t think there’ll be much activity. People will want to see the market bottom, see the market recover, and at that point in time, it’s time to start to step in and look at asset acquisitions at that time.

Matthew Gordon: It will be interesting. I’m very keen to see what happens over the next couple of weeks or month or so. Because there’s a few companies, I think who were on vapor before this happened, so we shall see. Always good to have a nice Spring clean. Right, Mark, thanks very much for your time today. I do appreciate that. Good luck with PDAC this week. Hope you don’t catch anything.

Mark Selby: Nope. Thank you, Sir.

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

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Canada Nickel (TSXv: CNC) – Accelerate, c’mon babe, Pick up your speed (Transcript)

The Canada Nickel Company logo
Canada Nickel
  • TSXv: CNC
  • Shares Outstanding: 57M
  • Share price C$0.47 (18.03.2020)
  • Market Cap: C$27M

Interview with Mark Selby, CEO of Nickel Exploration company, Canada Nickel (TSXv: CNC).

Mark Selby has previously weighed in with his expertise on the nickel market. His general insights have been very informative for nickel investors, but now it is time to talk about Selby’s latest play in the nickel space. Canada Nickel Corp. is a relatively small nickel play in Canada. But it has a lot of the right parts that you would look for as an investor. It is Nickel sulphide. Potential for large scale resource and district-wide. Funded for next stage of operation. Looking to an accelerated delivery of a PFS. In a nickel bull market. Low share count.

After giving us the details on the recently concluded IPO, Selby gives us a look at what Canada Nickel Corp. has to offer for investors. On February 21, 2020, Canada Nickel completed a private placement and issued 3,074,333 Common Shares at a price of C$0.25 for aggregate gross proceeds of C$768,583. Canada Nickel Corp. has acquired 100% interest in the Crawford Nickel-Cobalt Project.

Selby has previously doubled down on Robert Friedland’s words: “nickel is the new gasoline.” Nickel demand is robust in the stainless steel industry, but a projected fresh surge of demand for batteries, courtesy of the EV revolution, has got investors across the board foaming at the mouth.

Selby indicates that the Crawford Ultramafic Complex (CUC) could have strong potential for developing a low-grade, large-tonnage nickel resource. In addition, the resource hosts nickel and/or cobalt bearing minerals and possesses promise for the extraction of these elements. In addition, Crawford has been assessed via magnetic, borehole geophysical, airborne helicopter magnetic and electromagnetic, and FALCON© Airborne Gravity Gradiometer surveys, and was investigated by its previous owners, Spruce Ridge, through diamond core drilling.

Now Canada Nickel has the available capital from its IPO, it will look to provide an accelerated investment opportunity for investors. Selby sees this as the start of a new nickel super-cycle and states there are only a handful of close-to-production projects than can help double nickel supply by 2030.

With the expertise of the management team, the existing infrastructure at Crawford, and the work Canada Nickel Corp has already done in the last 6 months or so, Selby is confident the company can surprise the market with the rate of returns and value growth, and he is likely to draw on much of the knowledge and experience acquired from RNC’s Dumont Nickel Project. Investors can expect confident, decisive, technical mining. However, they will be hoping Crawford can fulfill expectations.

The resource should be out soon. Will it “shock people” like Selby claims? When will Selby look to bring in financing from institutional investors, and is there a risk he could have to give a big portion of the company away? Selby is adamant he will make the right deal at the right time and will delay if necessary. He would rather wait for a better deal than rush into dilution for shareholders. How will this play out?

Are there any issues left to resolve? An MOU needs to be arranged with a local tribal council group, and then there needs to be six impact benefit statements/agreements before full construction of the nickel project. Selby is confident that once the PEA is signed, sealed and delivered, these shouldn’t be problematic to acquire. Investors need to decide if this nickel sulfide story excites them. If it does, it could be worth some serious consideration.

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

We Discuss:

1:42 – Listing on the TSX: The Process of Going Public
4:55, 8:36 – New Deal, New Opportunities: What Have They Got and What Will They Do?
6:33 – Nickel Cycle: Have They Got the Timing Right?
11:51 – Business Model and Game Plan: What are People to Expect?
15:53 – Strategic Partners: Any Danger of Giving the Company Away?
18:46 – Share Breakdown and Company Strengths
19:37 – Outstanding Issues to Resolve

Matthew Gordon: Hello, Mark Selby. How are you, sir?

Mark Selby: Good, sir. How are you? It’s been a while.

Matthew Gordon: You’ve had your head down, because we spoke to you a few weeks ago now, and you’re in the process of getting Canada Nickel Corporation through the TSX and making it public. You’re there now. Must be pleased.

Mark Selby: Yeah, very happy just to start trading today. It’s been several months to get through this process. But, again, it’s a regulatory process so, it does take time but we’re glad to finally be there and that we can actually start talking about the story again, because there’s been lots going on in the project.

Matthew Gordon: You’ve got to tell me about this, OK because we usually speak to people when they’re public and they’ve been trading a while, or they’ve got their own issues and stuff. But we’ve started talking to pre-IPO, there’s a real process to go through. Give me an idea, give the people at home the sorts of things that you’ve kind of got to get through to be able to go public. What are the topics that the exchange wants to know about?

Mark Selby: Yeah. So again, I think with the transactions that we had, and again, it was just the nature of where the asset was. There were several degrees of difficulty that we had to kind of jump through. So, again, if you think of the majority of IPO’s it’s a single asset that’s been acquired from one company to another. It’s either an IPO or then an RTO transaction and that goes on. We first had to deal with the fact that we were consolidating a joint venture of a joint venture between two other small companies and then some private companies that don’t actually file any documentation. So, working through that in a regulatory process that likes things that fit into boxes and having stuff that doesn’t fit in any of those boxes was some additional work that we had to get through. And again, it’s really about they just want to make sure that you’ve got the financial resources that you say you do, that you own the asset and that you’ve got the capability to move it forward and deploy the capital that you’re raising to take it forward. So, again, on those parts of the process, again, we didn’t have any issues with that. It was just more that sort of that inherent complicated structure that we started with that didn’t fit into one of those typical regulatory boxes that caused some additional time, but as I said we’re glad to be finally here through that finish line. And then, again we should have a pretty steady series of news flow from this point.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. It’s interesting because there were three different parties and you had to get them to agree to the deal. And then you’ve got three different sets of data which you’ve kind of got to share or get in these boxes for the TSX and were you managing that process or was that all of you adding to the confusion, as it were?

Mark Selby: Oh, no, that’s it. Basically, you’ve got three general counsels. You’ve got three sets of auditors. You’ve got three sets lawyers. So, no it’s not a straight forward process, but it’s more than worth it.

Matthew Gordon: OK, let’s move away from admin hell. That’s my idea of hell. We always have people to do that so kudos to you for getting through that. Let’s talk about what you’ve got. Let’s give people a one-minute summary of the deal that you’ve put together and what you’ve got and then again, we’ll kind of remind people about what you’re going to try to do.

Mark Selby: Sure. We now own 100% of the Crawford Nickel Cobalt Project. Since September, we’ve continued to advance the project. So, we’ve been doing the drilling work that we need. We’ve been starting to do the mineralogy work that we need to do. And again, I think people are going to be surprised in terms of how far we’ve advanced this project already while we’ve been waiting to go public. And so, there’s going to be a very steady series of news flow over the next few weeks, which I think will really demonstrate the potential that we believe was there with Crawford to be truly one of the great nickel cobalt sulphide discoveries of this time, this decade and potentially beyond this decade.

Matthew Gordon: Well, I think it’s very timely.  I look back to your RNC days with Dumont, it’s a great asset. But the timing wasn’t quite there, it’s 12 years in the making. It’d be one of those 12, 13-year over night successes. Your timing, nickel sulphide, obviously, is where you want to play. You’re going to, I assume, be able to tell us a little bit about what you think you’ve got now. But I’m interested in how you’re positioning this business in terms of getting the cycle right. Because we look at this, the wave of conversations we’ve had about market, it’s been phenomenal. The EV thematic, no one’s disputing that. It’s a question of timing that seems to be important. So, do you think you’ve timed it right?

Mark Selby: Oh, no. I think that the timing’s been perfect. As you said with RNC, with Dumont, I spent seven years promoting a project when nickel was out of favour. And again, we were setting up to deliver a nickel project for the next nickel cycle, which has now arrived. Our view is we need to double the supply of Nickel that we have right now by 20%/30%. And there’s only a handful of projects that are ready. So, to get something like Crawford ready for this next cycle, I think it’s perfectly timed. I think in terms of investors looking for sort of how far sentiment has shifted, you know, BHP Billiton for most of the prior decade was looking to sell their nickel business. Mike Henry in their annual report, basically said we need more future facing metals, we need more nickel and we need more copper. So, if the biggest mining company has done a 180, I can assure you that the management teams of every one of the other large mining companies is doing this, has a similar view and has a similar take now on getting exposure to battery metals. And so, again, having a large-scale potential asset like Crawford in a jurisdiction like Ontario, where in the Timmins camp, where the mines have been permitted on a relatively straightforward basis, I think the timing of this couldn’t be better. And again, there are some other nickel sulphide opportunities we’re looking at because, again, I think our team spent a lot of time looking at nickel sulphide when no one else did. So, we think we’ve got a leg up on the rest of the competition in identifying those assets that are going to be able to deliver the nickel the EV market needs by the end of this decade.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. Interesting. We spoke with Anthony Milewski last week and we put a piece out at the weekend. He was quite complimentary of what you’ve got, and people perhaps should take a look at the interview and get his take on what you’ve got. What do you know about what you’ve got today? And then what are you going to do with it? And how do you pay for that? Because, again, there’s so many exploration plays which just aren’t able to get the funding in place. I mean, you’ve just listed, you got some cash now. What are you going to do with that cash?

Mark Selby: Yeah. So, again, I think the key thing is here, because we’ve got that experience, we’re going to be able to accelerate the process and advance the process in a much more timely and cost effective manner than we were, because Crawford is basically a very similar asset to Dumont with its own unique set of strengths. So, with the money that we’ve raised, we’ll have a resource out here very, very shortly, which I think will shock people in terms of just the scale of the resource that we’ve been all ready to drill with a few million dollars that we’ve raised to date. And, again, I think as we take this forward, we’ll be able to highlight what I think this resource will show, what the potential of this property is. We’ve only drilled off 15% to 20% of what we have at Crawford. And so, I think the highlight of that scale potential will be there. I think the what we’ve been able to deliver for the cash that we’ve invested to date will make it easier for the next set of investors to bring that next round of money that we need. And again, given our experience with Dumont, we’ll be able to quickly advance Crawford into the resource we have now, into a PEA and then look to basically build out the other 85% of the property that we haven’t drilled yet.

Matthew Gordon: Right. But what’s the game plan here? You’re using great words. So, it accelerated in value and all of wonderful things, which lots of people do. But I need to understand what that actually means. So, you’re going to deliver a resource which you’re saying gives you the scale and you’ve told me before scale…

Mark Selby: We’re going to deliver a real resource that I think will surprise a lot of people when they see it next week. And that resource on its own will be large enough to help support moving and what we’ve seen to date will allow us to move right into a PEA on that resource itself. We still have 85% of the property that we haven’t explored yet. And so, again, now that we understand what the best part of what we’ve drilled off already, we know there are other pieces on the property that we’re going to be able to find. There’s a good chance we’re going to find similar good stuff in other parts of the property to make it even larger than what we have right now. And I think the key thing in this market and again, to point to investors in generally investing right now, the market is really bifurcated into two categories of assets. So, if you own a world scale asset that the majors want to buy and again, there’s companies in Colombia and Ecuador that have found a new range of copper, copper gold elephants, those stocks have traded well. And then there’s everybody else. And so, what we really want to show with this first resource is that we’re in elephant country and that we’re hopefully going to find a bunch of elephants on this property and have something that I think will be interesting to large mining companies, to large EV players and to large suppliers that this is exactly the kind of nickel, cobalt resource that we’re looking to help build their business.

Matthew Gordon: Ok. So, this is the bit that interests me is the model, I need to understand the model. So, you’ve got some money, you will deliver a resource next week. You hope that will have an impact on the share price and also get people to notice that you’re here because there are not too many of these around. I get that. I want you to help me understand what people are getting into. What will investors get into? Will it be just a long series of diluted raises to get you where you need to be? How do you assure people that they’re not in for a long, drawn out process? And how quickly are you going to deliver your plan when you do either hand it over to a big strategic who actually goes and puts the money in for this? Or you bring in the strategic partners who again, coming in at asset level and not diluting people in the public company?

Mark Selby: Again, we will be out to raise the next set of money for the PEA, that’s the next stage that we need to get through. And, we will be looking to bring a strategic in at that point in time, if the pricing makes sense. And again, we’ve already had some interest on that front. I think the key thing from here is we’re going to advance in towards that, get that PEA done, and then from there we’ll be able to move right into a feasibility study. The key thing from it from a managing a process perspective is that you need to have some, and communicate to the market, very clear milestones that you are able to move quickly, because if you can’t demonstrate to the market that you’re going to move quickly, then the large mining companies suffer from inertia issues. And so, they’ll never quite get around to making you that investment. But if it’s very clear that if they don’t step up today or they don’t step up in three months, or they don’t step up in six months, we’re going to be moving the ball, to use a sports analogy, moving the ball very quickly down the field, and they’re going to find themselves chasing a valuation, which is hopefully going to be improving materially as we move forward here.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. But let’s come back to what some of those deliverables are, because again a lot of companies use these phrases. And I want to separate the cliché from actual delivery. But what are the moments, what do they mean for you?

Mark Selby: Yeah. First resource out very soon, PEA out by the end of September. Worst case, end of October. Feasibility study out before the end of 2021. That’s about as fast as you can advance a project today. We’re already assembling the PEA team in place again with experience with Dumont, that we’re going to be able to bring that knowledge and experience to bear and be able to quickly advance the project going forward.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. And clearly, each of those deliverables, you hope there’s a bump in the price and you’re able to raise money more cheaply this time? So, there’s not a long-diluted process here and there’s not a lot of money to get to feasibility. Is that what you’re saying to me?

Mark Selby: Yes, very much so. So, again, I think when this resource comes out in the coming week, people will be surprised at just how many tons of nickel we’ve delivered for how few exploration dollars at this point. The benefit of these large-scale low-grade deposits is we’re not drilling lots of 500-meter holes to hit 10-meter gold veins. We’re drilling a 500-meter hole, of which 450-meters of that end up in assays that you can use in a model. Again, because the deposit doesn’t twist and turn and then get faulted in 50 different directions, you can use much wider drill spacing to define the resource that you’re using. So, both of those things help to be able to define a very large resource very quickly.

Matthew Gordon: Right. So, I’m going to ask a maybe difficult question which is you talk about getting a strategic in, around the PE stage and if I look back at Dumont, Waterton came in there, RNC gave away, what, 78% of the company and how although it is a fantastic asset and it’s worth a lot of money on the balance sheet, or could be worth a lot money on the balance sheet for RNC. If you bring in strategics too early, are you in danger of giving away the company or do you think you can negotiate a sensible, reasonable position?

Mark Selby: The key thing is and again, when we did the Waterton deal, it wasn’t really around any issue per say with Dumont. A key portion of that deal was to set up a joint venture fund to look to acquire other nickel sulphide assets in time in a market where no one else was buying them. So, unfortunately, Cobalt 27 and Mr. Milewski came along about two months after we announced the deal. So, people we had been talking with for several years who were getting to the point of capitulating, if somebody shows up with a cheque, you can have my nickel sulphide asset. I think, if Cobalt 27 hadn’t come along, we would have gotten a couple of those deals done. And I think that’s sort of logic of that transaction would have been much clearer to a lot of people at that time. So, that would have allowed us to have a whole portfolio, of nickel sulphide assets that the smaller, easier, cheaper restarts, complementing the much larger large-scale asset is key. And again, to your point as well, in terms of too early and giving away too much, this is a time in the market where, if BHP is already talking about more nickel, I can assure you that Rio Tinto and Anglo American and all the others are also talking about more nickel. And there’s really very few ways to play it. So, I have most of my net worth invested in this company. If you see, when I was at RNC, I was buying the stock all the way along through the ups and downs. And again, here, I’ve taken a bunch of that money and put it into this company. So, I will do the right deal at the right time. And again, if it means we have to wait a few months, I’m not going to build it for the sake of building it. I think some other mining companies have done sort of full financing package deals where there’s a massive amount of dilution. Yes, you’re going to get your project built but how will your equity holders actually ever going to make any money off this thing? Because you’ve basically diluted their ownership interest in the project, you’ve issued a huge amount of equity relative to your current base. So, it’s going to be challenging for people to actually get a return on their shareholder value. You as management are great because you now can build your projects, you’re going to get your pay checks for three or four years, but your equity holders really are going to make any money.

Matthew Gordon: Right. So, you’re cognizant of that point, that issue and that’s a consideration.

Mark Selby: Yes, very much so.

Matthew Gordon: OK. So, how much do the management team own of the company?

Mark Selby: I personally own 4%, my family own another 5%, and the management team as a whole has over 10% of the company. I think that’s one of the other strengths with this company, too, is, again, as a brand-new company, we’ve got 57M shares outstanding. There are no warrants. And there’s a core group of individuals who spotted this opportunity, initially drilled those four holes in 2018 and are committed to seeing this through until we basically deliver what we think will be a great nickel cobalt sulphide project for the world.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. So, I know you’re in a great part of the world, the infrastructures there. You’re good. I’m not going to get into that yet. Have you got any outstanding issues with regards to permitting or First Nations or any liabilities, obligations which you’re still trying to resolve as part of this three-way triumvirate negotiation?

Mark Selby: Yeah, the one thing that’s been a real strength of this area is that Noble Minerals, one of the first thing they did, they were the original property holder, they have they had an MOU in place with the local group of First Nations, Wabun Tribal Council, who’ve been great to deal with them since we’ve now moved into the relationship. And we’ll have an MOU with them shortly for the property. They have six impact benefit agreements in place, which is what you’re going to need to have when you go to build the project. And again, once we kick off the PEA, we’ll be looking to start to advance that impact benefits agreement in place to make sure that it doesn’t become a bottleneck on the timeline going forward.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. Mark, I just wanted to catch up. I know you’ve got a busy day. The bell has rung as it were. I hope people at least have a look at this. It’s certainly a very exciting area to be playing in. Nickel sulphide is very, very topical. We got a lot of questions. And thank you, you did that series for us as well, and Anthony Milewski’ s followed up last week and reinforced what you said with regards to winners and losers and red flags and things to look for. So good luck with it. When the resource number is ready, please call us or we’ll call you and let us know because you seem quite excited by this scale.

Mark Selby: Yes.

Matthew Gordon: Congratulations on your new company. We wish you well. Let us know how you get on.

Mark Selby: Thank you, Matthew. We’ll be in touch soon for sure.

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

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The Volatile Nickel Market: How Can Investors Make Money?

Nickel is a commodity with volatility at its core, but investors just want to know how to navigate this and make themselves a tidy profit. We recently interviewed Mark Selby; he helped shed a light on this.

Why not read a different nickel article once you’ve finished with this one?

History Of The Nickel Market

Nickel has always been much more volatile than other base metals. It is a large market, but not relative to copper, zinc or aluminium.

Since the 1980s, Nickel has been regarded as a boom/bust metal that moves in giant super-cycles:

A nickel price chart from 1989 to 2019.
A chequered history…
Source: InfoMine

In the late 1960s, nickel reached the equivalent of US$50/lb (in today’s dollars).

Contextually, nickel was a hot topic at the time. Rising demand, driven primarily by the Vietnam War, in association with a shortage of supply caused by industrial action at one of Canada’s largest suppliers, Inco, tipped the supply-demand scale of nickel into massive shortages and kicked prices into overdrive.

 This, in turn, led to the Poseidon bubble: a stock market bubble in which the price of Australian mining shares skyrocketed towards the end of 1969 before they crashed in early 1970. The peak was generated by the discovery of a purported promising nickel deposit by ASX-listed nickel producer, Poseidon Nickel, in September of 1969.

While the official Rae Committee report cited trading malpractice as the reason behind this bubble, it serves as a reminder to investors that nickel and volatility have always been joined at the hip.

In the 1980s, nickel went through another supercycle as supply from the Soviet Union dropped off and a new wave of demand emerged from the Asian tigers at that time, Korea and Taiwan.  Unfortunately, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s led to a complete drop in demand from a country that had been a substantial consumer, which was then followed by the influx of mass quantities of scrap into the market, generated by the collapse.

The most recent nickel crash had ramifications that remain active today. It came off the back off a price rise to over $50,000/t in 2006, as demand globally and from China outstripped supply; traditional nickel industry participants were slow to respond. This led to world warehouse stocks of nickel falling to an extremely low level. Nickel really did lose ‘touch with industrial reality’ during this period, as warned by the biggest nickel producer in the world at the time, Jinchuan Group Ltd.

The Outlook for the future

A picture of a vehicle being charged at a very modern looking EV charging port with a graphical interface in a parking lot. A future EV car concept.
The hype around the EV revolution is growing more and more rapturous.

With a decade of underinvestment in new nickel supply, in addition to the increasingly prominent electric vehicle (EV) thematic, investors can look towards a possible super cycle in the early-to-mid 2020s.

Selby himself believes we have completed “leg one, of what will be three or four legs” in terms of price increase.

But what does the evidence say? Here are some of the current market conditions Selby claims can occur before the dawn of a supercycle:

  1. A period where investment is lacking. There are several large mining companies that own a number of leading nickel assets, but they have chosen to allocate capital to non-nickel projects over the last decade. The majority of existing production has shrunk.
  2. Many of the existing nickel mines are deep underground mines or larger scale processing plants, which means they would not be able to rapidly ramp up production within a 12-month timescale. It would take multiple years to develop them. Projects need to be approved, production needs to begin, then it needs to be ramped up. In many instances, this can take at least 5 years (from announcement to full production capacity). Selby gives several examples of this.
  3. Selby says there needs to be a surge of demand, similar to what was seen in the 1960s when Japanese industry increased nickel consumption exponentially, and the 1980s, when Korea and Taiwan were industrialising. In the 2020s, EVs are the source of price-discovery-related hope. A demand growth of 4% (slower than the 5% growth seen in recent years) and a reasonable forecast of EV demand, nickel supply lead to forecasts that place nickel use between 2018-2030 at a 782000t increase on the previous 12-year period.

Now investors know some of the history, they can make more educated investment decisions in the future. You now know what you’re looking for in the market. If you buy the nickel macro story, it’s time to get busy.

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

HPAL Plants & Nickel – The Facts

The case for nickel has been conveyed to the market well in the last few years. However, there are certain components of the nickel industry that are nebulous. In this series of articles, we seek to shine a light on the intricacies of a commodity with some of the most exciting projections around.

Feel free to check out some of our recent nickel-related interviews or one of our informative nickel-related articles.

HPAL  – What Is It?

High-Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) is a process used to extract nickel and cobalt from laterite ore bodies. HPAL uses high temperatures, c. 255 degrees Celsius, elevated pressures, and sulfuric acid, which enables the process to separate both nickel and cobalt from the laterite ore.

A diagram of an HPAL extraction process.
Source: Caldera Engineering

Why Should I Care?

Investors should care for a variety of reasons. HPAL has numerous advantages over traditional leaching methods, chiefly of which is the significantly reduced timescale and largely increase percentage recovery rate; this is why it has become the most commonly used approach for leaching laterite ores containing nickel and cobalt.

That Sounds Great. So What’s The Catch?

HPAL is a much more complicated process to ramp up and operate than pyrometallurgical processes used to make nickel pig iron (NPI) or ferronickel.   Well, in terms of the logistics of an operational HPAL process, there isn’t one. HPAL is clearly the optimal solution for producers looking to get the best bang for their buck in the nickel space, but there are only a handful of successful HPAL operations globally:  Moa Bay in Cuba run by Sherritt, and the Coral Bay and Taganito operations in the Philippines operated by Sumitomo Metal Mining. Why?

Many HPAL plants have had massive cost overruns and have approached US$10 billion in costs: a multiple of their initial capital estimate.  Because of the challenges caused by trying to operate many plants at design capacity, unit operating costs also end up high in many instances. In a perpetual debate, it seems most industry experts claim a 30+ktpa HPAL plant can’t be constructed for any less than even the most conservative figure of US$1B, and that’s if things go well from the off. We recently interviewed widely heralded nickel market commentator, Mark Selby, and he reinforced this argument.

US$1Bn might seem a monstrous figure, but it’s actually quite optimistic. Taganito was constructed in the low-cost jurisdiction of the Philippines at a cost of ~$US 1.4 billion. Already, we’re looking at a scaled-up cost for companies who want to build in alternative regions, but we’re just getting started.

Taganito is only equipped to produce an intermediate product, which requires shipping to an existing refinery in Japan before going into the market. For a company to create an HPAL process capable of churning out the finished article, this would create another cost increase. Some unsuccessful HPAL plants have seen their CAPEX balloon to US$7-10Bn, courtesy of the difficult nature of optimising an HPAL process. One might think they’d have been better off not spending at all.

An HPAL flowsheet diagram
Source: Mascot Industrial

Lastly, there’s the complexity of the construction process itself. Because this technology is far from prevalent, it seems likely that issues could arise left, right and centre during the building process. Companies will need to source the right contractors, with the right experience, at the right price, and given the performance to date for many projects, this may be too risky for many investors.

The Big Problem

We’ve heard from the CEOs of some nickel companies in recent months, and without naming any names, several have touted a potential sub-US$1Bn HPAL plant as a near-term target for their business. This seems to be a worryingly common theme running through the industry and can mislead retail investors who perhaps appreciate the technical prowess of HPAL, without being fully informed of the cost.

To conclude, if nickel CEOs are telling you they can build an HPAL plant for some US$1Bn, they have a big question to confront: why do they have the capability to construct a plant better than market-leaders Sumitomo? We heard in the Horizonte Minerals investor call that they feel that it is possible with new technology, citing that the Sumitomo technology is 30-years old. Hopefully, they will expand on this and give clarity to the market.

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

Nickel Class 1 & Class 2 – Why Does It Matter For Investors?

Nickel is a commodity that has got investors raising their eyebrows. Diverse properties like a high-melting point (1453°C), resistance to corrosion and oxidisation, ductility, usability in alloys and an increasing significance to the EV market have turned nickel into one of the most fashionable investment opportunities. Investors in the nickel space likely already know about the two classifications nickel can find itself falling into, especially given the massive amount of coverage it has had from investment news outlets and individual strategists. However, for those who haven’t had access to the right information yet, here’s a quick breakdown.

Class 1

Nickel products that fall into Class 1 comprise of electrolytic nickel, powders and briquettes, as well as carbonyl nickel. These products are typically LME deliverable and have a nickel purity of a minimum of 99.8% Roughly 55% of total nickel mining output relates to Class 1 products.

Class 2

Nickel Class 2 is a group that comprises of less ‘pure’ nickel products. Examples of these are nickel pig iron (NPI), a version of nickel created using low-grade laterite ores and blast/electric furnaces, ferronickel, nickel oxide, utility nickel, Toniment, mixed hydroxide  and other <99.8% products. Both have a reduced nickel content and are often utilised in stainless steel and alloy steel production, where a high content of iron becomes beneficial. Class 2 products contribute the remaining 45% of total nickel mining output.   These products are not LME deliverable and must be sold to an end customer

So, what’s the history?

SOURCE: Trading Economics

After looking at the behaviour of nickel’s spot price, it is not hard to see why it has been branded as a boom/bust metal that moves in giant super-cycles.

The reasons behind this were touched upon in a recent article by a Crux contributor, stating that a primary factor behind nickel’s ascension to a high of $54,000/t in May 2007 was the rapid expansion of Chinese demand in the 2000s. However, this soaring price, driven by the need to ration available supply to meet demand, resulted in nickel becoming a victim of its own success. As prices rose, China began seeking more affordable options, thus turning to 200-series stainless steel (1-2% nickel) rather than 300-series stainless steel (8%) nickel.  As well, it began to pursue alternative sources of supply leading to the widespread production of nickel pig iron (NPI) in China using ore imported from Indonesia and the Philippines.  With this compression of demand and new source of supply, spot prices fell through a trap door.

Class 2 nickel rose to prominence at a time nickel was performing well in the market, but the consequential oversupply generated by tonnes and tonnes of NPI flooding the market created a supply/demand imbalance, crippling the spot price for many years. Nickel ore export bans from Indonesia, and proposed bans from the Philippines, didn’t help in the price discovery department.

Nickel’s most recent low was in February 2006 (do you mean 2016 ?); (NTD: there was one in last 5 years that got pretty close to the price of US$8000/t left 80& of the industry in a negative cash flow.

There has been a reduction in supply of over 200,000tpa (primarily Chinese NPI) in the last 3 years, and an increase in worldwide demand, driven by the EV narrative, has aided the nickel market in its recovery.

What does all this mean for you NOW?

If you have already settled on nickel as a potential investment opportunity, you likely have a bounty of good reasons, be that a projected 782,000t per annum increase in total nickel demand by 2030, or LME forecasts placing nickel’s spot price at US$17,000/lb (in constant terms) by 2024.

I think it’s very important for investors to not get caught up in that [Class 1 Vs Class 2] particular discussion.

The truth of the matter is that Class 1 and Class 2 nickel, as concepts, are mere distractions for investors, because laws of supply and demand and the Chinese ability to quickly respond to any market arbitrage opportunities,  will render the chemical differences fairly irrelevant in an investment context. Instead, total tonnage of nickel should be what investors are looking at today. The division of Class 1 and Class 2 simply doesn’t matter that much to investors anymore.

It’s important for investors to understand why and how Class 1 and Class 2 nickel have found themselves conglomerating into a singular quantity of nickel supply. In a recent interview with Crux Investor, nickel market commentator, Mark Selby, weighed in.

Class 1 & Class 2 Debate. Should It Matter To Investors?

Mining

There are two primary types of nickel deposits:

Nickel Sulphide

Expensive to mine, cheap to process.

Historically, mining nickel sulphide required underground mining in increasingly deep (and more expensive) mining operations . Nowadays, even deeper underground mines are utilised, with only a handful of open pit operations , but these are typically expensive to construct and operate. In 2018, 2 new projects were commissioned – Glencore began construction on their Onaping Deep operation which will cost $US[800] million and won’t fully ramp up until 2023

However, producers then make a concentrate from the sulphide ore,  upgrading the material from anywhere from 0.3-3% nickel to 10-15+% nickel for relatively little additional cost. This process is relatively uncomplicated and inexpensive; it needs to be smelted, refined, and then the process is complete.

Nickel Laterite

Cheap to mine, expensive to process.

Laterite projects are much easier to mine because the material itself is rock that has been converted to dirt over time, and as part of the process nickel and cobalt becomes concentrated in the soil. All mining companies have to do is dig up dirt and ship it off; this is a ubiquitous practice in Indonesia, amongst other regions.

However, this is where the simplicity ends. The processing of a material with complicated mineralogy requires significantly more time, technology and money. Costs include the large amount of electricity to melt the laterite to create NPI, or energy in the form of acid to break bonds, liberate the nickel/cobalt and create a US$1Bn+ HPAL process.

Reality

Individual nickel classes aren’t the main thing investors should be focussed on.

  • Companies can take intermediates of nickel sulphide and create a wide range of products, such as NPI and ferronickel (exemplified by the roasting process at RNC Minerals’ Dumont asset).
  • Nickel sulphide can also create finished nickel products via a smelter and refinery
  • EXACTLY the same can be said of nickel laterite. While the majority of it is currently used for NPI, there is no reason the material can’t be processed, refined and used for a wide range of alternative purposes. Specifically, laterite can be converted into finished nickel and cobalt products that can be used for the battery sector. Several companies are doing this right now, and as the industry evolves, we only expect to see this cycle grow.

Therefore, it is crucial for investors to avoid allocating too much focus to this debate. Chinese companies will likely build many facilities to process intermediates, while junior mining companies may also go down the same route, by having their own processing facilities on location to process products.

As we continue down the road of the EV revolution and the quantity of nickel in batteries increases, the specification for the sulphate will continue to become stricter. Therefore, building a processing plant to create sulphates appears to make little sense, because it would require continual improvements in order to keep up with progressively restrictive customer requirements.

Instead, it is likely companies will focus primarily on making high-quality intermediates, because the market will exist in the future for such materials as the nickel processing infrastructure continues to develop. This is further evidenced by the value of nickel sulphate premiums falling from c.US$2,000 two years ago to zero today. There are always lots of moving parts to different investment classes and commodities, but the message from industry insiders appears to be clear. Investors need to keep their eyes on the prize and view the market holistically the majority of the time. Reviewing things in microscopic detail may sometimes become more obstructive to gaining an overall view of a situation.

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

Canada Nickel Corp. (TSXv: CNC) – Accelerated Returns, Delivered By Experts?

The Canada Nickel Company Logo.

We recently interviewed Mark Selby, CEO of Canada Nickel Corp. (TSXv: CNC).

Selby has previously weighed in with his expertise on the nickel market on three separate occasions. His general insights have been very informative for nickel investors, but now it is time to talk about Selby’s latest play in the nickel space: Canada Nickel Corp.

Canada Nickel Corp. recently closed its IPO. This comes a few months after it obtained the Crawford Nickel Sulfide project from Spruce Ridge.

How exactly does Selby and his team plan to expose investors to the EV revolution in a safe, accelerated fashion?

We discuss:

  1. The IPO
  2. The Financial Situation
  3. Exploration at Crawford: Big Potential?
  4. Plans For 2020
  5. The EV/Nickel Market Outlook

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

The Canada Nickel Company Logo.

Anthony Milewski Talks Nickel

The Conic Metals company logo.

Crux Investor recently sat down with nickel market expert, Anthony Milewski, the Chairman of Conic Metals Corp.

Investors might want to check out another nickel investment article. They may also want to watch our recent interview with fellow nickel expert, Mark Selby.

Milewski gave us a fascinating insight into all the moving cogs within the much-confabulated EV revolution, including some nickel investment advice that nickel investors will likely find of great use.

We discuss:

  1. The Technical Side Of Nickel: Educating Investors On The Intricacies
  2. Nickel Investment Strategy
  3. Nickel Investment Red Flags
  4. The Best Nickel Tips

Company Website: https://www.conicmetals.com/

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

The Conic Metals company logo.

RNC Minerals – To Infinity And Beyon… No. No. Let’s All Calm Down.

A screenshot of Sheriff Woody pointing at a proud looking Buzz Lightyear.

If you’ve been following the topsy-turvy fairy-tale of RNC Minerals, you probably couldn’t help but notice this West Australian article. The contents will provide any prospective or existing RNC investors with more excitement than a late-night extra-terrestrial visitor: RNC is going to make us all rich tomorrow!

The interview cited in the article is with VP Exploration, Steve Devlin, who seems to be very upbeat about RNC’s current affairs, “We have a pretty good idea of what’s controlling this specimen gold now.” He followed up with, “From what we understand, we expect to continue to find coarse gold”

I’ve been attempting to discern whether these statements are new information or if they merely overstate what we already know; either way, it doesn’t seem to marry up with a recent interview with CEO, Paul Huet.

Consequently, some gold bugs are excited and are now claiming RNC knows the location of all its future Beta Hunt Mine coarse gold resource. That’s a monumental statement with nothing backing it up, other than a geologist stating they now have an idea of the geophysical controls.

Some shareholders are likely thinking of purchasing a red carpet for an extravagant Hollywood-esque celebration as the ‘Beta Hunt Fairytale’ churns out even more ‘whopper coarse gold specimens;’ after all, as Devlin says, “I’ve never come across a mine that has got so much coarse gold.”

I can feel the market’s excitement swelling. So, let’s suit up, and get ready to blast off, because… NO. NO. NO. Just STOP for a minute. Sorry to be a Buzz (Lightyear) kill, but you don’t seriously believe this utter exaggerated nonsense, do you?

Let’s get our feet back on the ground.

It’s incredibly important for people to understand the reality of RNC’s drilling program. RNC does not have any certainty when it comes to hunting down coarse gold at the Beta Hunt mine. As RNC drill, they are building up an understanding of the structures and the potential contact points of the coarse gold. Let’s say it again slowly… They have a better idea of what’s controlling the specimen gold now… No more. No less. It’s time to calm down a little. Just breathe. Breathe.

What RNC DO know.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are lots of reasons to be optimistic and hopeful of RNC’s future success; reality can sometimes be just as exciting. Consistent, robust success is no less glamorous than more lucrative coarse gold.

RNC is profitably mining 3g/t gold, at 8,000oz per month and processing it through their mill. As they process the 3g/t gold, there is a possibility they will come across large veins of coarse gold with a much higher grade. However, it’s important to remember RNC’s business model works well at 3g/t. Huet has been trying to temper and manage expectations in the market. RNC’s management are pragmatic, grounded, and calculated. The operation is currently operating exactly as it was intended to. The magic fairy dust comes with the reasonably regular large specimens of course gold; that always makes investors tingle with excitement.

A photo of a large pile of coarse gold.
High-Grade Gold From Beta Hunt Mine

Huet has made a lot of changes and has refocussed the company on gold. He is reducing costs, improving productivity, and renegotiating supplier contracts and royalties. Not to say that their Dumont nickel asset doesn’t have value, it does. He has briefed Johnna Muinenon, President of Dumont, to monetise Dumont. We are less clear about the timing of that, but one gets the sense it is coming.

Moreover, talking of nickel, Beta Hunt has a history of nickel; it used to be a nickel mine. Nickel is hot at the moment and people are getting excited about this.  There is a possibility of getting some nickel credit from Beta Hunt again, but there is a long way to go and an abundance of studies to be carried out before the company knows if the nickel component is even economic. So again, I like what the company is saying and doing, I like where it is going, but we need to reign in the speculation and attribute value to what we know and not what we hope.

One factor I believe could change the dynamic slightly would be if an ore sorter was added at Beta Hunt (just one for now). Engineering is required to work out the size, scale, economics, timing and cost. This could improve the productivity of the mine 20-30%, but it takes time. Huet is clear that RNC is not committing to anything until the engineering is done. However, some peer analysis suggests the payback is less than a year and the cost could be funded from cashflow. I’m going to allow myself to get a little but excited about this as it is within the company’s control and not hidden underground.

Business As Usual?

So, where does this leave us? Disappointed and downtrodden? No, not one bit. RNC is starting to provide moderate excitement to the market via its consistently impressive results. We need to see the Q4 results though. There is always a chance that somewhere down the line, RNC could locate more coarse gold which is great. However, there are no guarantees, and we have enough to be excited about without getting carried away. Let’s not be greedy, but my bet is that RNC Minerals delivers 27,000 oz of gold in Q4. Any takers?

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

Company website: https://www.rncminerals.com

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

A screenshot of Sheriff Woody pointing at a proud looking Buzz Lightyear.