Weekly Nugget

Tesla Secures Nickel Supply and a New Role in Mining

Elon Musk has called nickel Tesla’s “biggest concern.”

Tesla has agreed to buy nickel from a mine in New Caledonia in a move to secure a supply of the metal that is key in its EV battery technology. 

The electric-car maker will become a technical adviser to the Goro mine in the South Pacific and secure a long-term supply of nickel as part of an agreement with the New Caledonian government. 

The agreement comes amid concerns about future supplies of nickel, following a recent 26% rally in prices of the metal over the past year and growing investment from Chinese companies in Indonesia.

The agreement reached in New Caledonia will allow the sale to go through and give 51% of the project to state entities based in the territory, according to Reuters. Commodity trader Trafigura will have a 19% share.

The exact role of Tesla at the mine has yet to be clarified.

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Rio Tinto Removes Support of Turquoise Hill CEO

Turquoise Hill Resources' (TSX: TRQ, NYSE: TRQ) CEO Ulf Quellmann will leave the company after majority-owner Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO, LSE: RIO, ASX: RIO) told the Canada-based miner that it intends to vote against his re-election at the upcoming annual shareholders’ meeting.

Rio Tinto owns the Oyu Tolgoi mine, located in the South Gobi desert near its border with China, through its majority stake in Turquoise Hill, which has a 66% interest in Oyu Tolgoi. The Mongolian government holds the remaining 34% of the operation.

The two companies are locking horns over securing the remaining funding for the underground expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia. While the Mongolian government was concerned it would not see a dividend until well into the future.

News of Quellmann’s resignation comes after an unconfirmed new deal between Rio Tinto and the government of Mongolia, governing the US$6.75 billion mine expansion.

The additional $1.45 billion cost of the new underground phase of the mine, one of the world's biggest copper deposits, played a role in bringing down both Mongolia's prime minister and Rio's last chief executive.

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Northern Dynasty Files Appeal to Negative Pebble Permit Decision, Alaska

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "USACE" has accepted a request from Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX: NDM) to appeal the latest refusal to grant a water license to the Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum project. The USACE issued a negative Record of Decision in November 2020.

The company is appealing the decision on the grounds that the negative permit decision was inconsistent with the Clean Water Act, not supported by the project's Final Environmental Impact Statement and is detrimental to the future of resource development in the State of Alaska.

With a resource estimate including 6.5 billion tonnes in the measured and indicated categories containing 57 billion pounds of copper and 71 million ounces of gold, 3.4 billion pounds of molybdenum and 345 million silver ounces, if the mine went into production, Pebble would be North America’s largest mine.

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Seafloor Miner DeepGreen Plans for Listing through SPAC

Seafloor mining company DeepGreen Metals is planning a public-listing through a merger with Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: SOAC), a special purpose acquisition fund (SPAC) focused on ESG, energy and metals. 

The combined company will be named The Metals Company, and will trade with symbol TMC. The merger includes $330 million of investment at $10 per share. 

The Metals Company aims to become the world’s largest developer and producer of EV battery metals through a method of mining that collects mineralized nodules that currently cover portions of the ocean floor and brings them to the surface for shipment and processing. 

DeepGreen recently upgraded resources at its 25,160-sq. km NORI-D exploration holdings in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

Measured resources stand at 4 million measured tonnes grading 1.42% nickel, 1.16% copper, 0.13% cobalt, 32.2% manganese and 5.13% silica. Indicated resources come to 341 indicated tonnes grading 1.4% nickel, 1.14% copper, 0.14% cobalt, 31.2% manganese and 5.13% silica. Inferred tonnes add 11 million tonnes at similar grades.

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