The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is speeding towards us faster than some may have expected, putting battery metals increasingly in the spotlight.
With the price of electric vehicles falling and governments increasingly adopting greener initiatives, not least new US president Joe Biden’s proposed US$1.74 trillion stimulus, which includes the promotion of EV adoption and strengthening domestic lithium battery supply chains, it’s little wonder resource companies are getting in on the act.
“It’s not a matter of if, it’s now a matter of when,” says Mark Appleby on the acceptance and rapid roll-out of EVs into the mainstream marketplace.
Appleby is the CEO of Tartisan Nickel Corp. (CSE:TN) (OTCMKTS:TTSRF) (FRA:8TA), formerly Tartisan Resources before its decision to shift into battery metals, which has a flagship asset in the Kenbridge Nickel Project located in the Kenora Mining District, Ontario.
The company’s CEO believes people are willing to consider now, (rather than in a few years’ time), that their next automotive purchase could be an electric vehicle, in a move away from fossil fuels.
Nickel is the main component in an electric car battery which has significantly increased range, a key driver for consumers.
Global consumption of nickel sulphate (that’s the sort used by vehicle and battery manufacturers) rose 28% in 2019 alone, while the demand share of the metal taken by EVs is forecast to increase to 31% in 2040, from just 4% two years ago.
This is where Tartisan Nickel Corp. and the advanced stage Kenbridge Nickel Deposit (which is sulphate and not pig nickel) comes into play.
Having acquired the Kenbridge asset in 2018, along with a vast array of historical data, the company published, in September 2020, an updated Mineral Resource Estimate, showing a measured and indicated (M&I) resource of 7.5 million tonnes (Mt) of 0.58% nickel and 0.32% copper for 95 million pounds of contained nickel.
The company has commissioned P&E Mining Consultants to update the historic Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA), which is expected to be released in June 2021, so the company can tell the Kenbridge story, including potential economics and costs, to the wider investing world.
The historic PEA showed initial capex of $108 million, recovery of 84.6 million pounds of nickel, and a pre-tax net present value (NPV) of $253 million. The pre-tax internal rate of return (IRR) was pegged at 65%.
“We’ve advertised ourselves as a relative Low Capex, higher grade Class 1 nickel play which potentially will provide above-average returns. I think the 2021 update to the historic PEA should help highlight our robust economics,” he says.
Break-even dynamics will be top of the mind in the new PEA. Historically, break-even for the project would have been at US$4 per pound of nickel, and today the metal is trading north of US$7.25.
Mining friendly jurisdiction
It is perhaps worth noting at this point that Kenbridge sits in a mining-friendly jurisdiction, has good access, and lies just 40 kilometres from the electricity grid and hosts a 622 metre (m) deep shaft.
Appleby says there aren’t projects out there that could be in production in three years or less, should that be the consensus, while he also points to Kenbridge’s proximity to the North American battery supply chain.
Tartisan’s continued de-risking of the Kenbridge Project and the updated PEA could then trigger a bankable feasibility study (BFS).
“With our current balance sheet we’d be able to mitigate some risk and lessen potential dilution … there are some unique alternatives as a structured finance candidate,” says Appleby on possible progress in the coming months.
And all this comes on top of geophysics and a potential 10,000m drill program at Kenbridge, earmarked to begin in June this year, which is aimed at expanding mineralization along strike and depth of the current deposit.
The updated mineral resource estimate will be incorporated into the update to the historic PEA. Through drilling the company, of course, hopes to expand upon the current mineral resource estimate.
While Kenbridge looks to be shaping up to be an answer to potential near-term nickel supply deficits, Tartisan has other value drivers in its portfolio.
In terms of its investments, the company is a shareholder of Eloro Resources Ltd (TSXV:ELO), which is currently drilling the ISKA ISKA silver, tin polymetallic project in Bolivia in a 50,000m diamond drill program, having recently raised C$25 million.
Tartisan also owns shares in Peruvian Metals Corp. (TSXV:PER), which owns 80% in the Aguila Norte processing plant, which lies just off the Pan American highway in Peru, and where production in the first quarter this year has been the best ever seen by the company.
At the project level, the company owns the Sill Lake lead-silver project where it now has 933.57 hectares (Ha) of ground, having been around 372 Ha previously, after buying new claims, and is expecting to update the NI43-101 Resource report in the near future.
So with plenty of potential value drivers and news flow in the near-term, alongside a very exciting nickel asset, Tartisan Nickel looks set to attract a lot more “eyeballs” to its story.
Contact the author at [email protected]
Story by ProactiveInvestors
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