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