Thursday 21st September 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘lithium’

Robert Friedland’s favourites

July 28th, 2017

Unprecedented demand calls for unparalleled grades, the industry legend says

by Greg Klein

For all that’s being said about lithium and cobalt, Robert Friedland argues that the energy revolution also depends on copper and platinum group elements. Of course he has a stake in them himself, with Kamoa-Kakula and Platreef among his current enthusiasms. Still, whether motivated by self-interest or not, the mining titan whom Rick Rule calls “serially successful” presented a compelling case for his favourite metals at the Sprott Natural Resource Symposium in Vancouver on July 25.

We’re living in “an era of unprecedented change,” said Ivanhoe Mines’ TSX:IVN founding chairperson. China’s the main cause. That country’s “breeding mega-cities prodigiously.” But one result is “incredibly toxic air… with a whole suite of health effects” from heart attacks to stroke, asthma to Alzheimer’s.

Unprecedented demand calls for unparalleled grades, the industry legend says

A crew operates jumbo rigs to bring
Ivanhoe’s Platreef mine into PGM production.

China’s not alone. Friedland pegs current global population growth at 83 million a year, with a projected 8.5 billion people populating the planet by 2030. Five billion will inhabit urban areas. Forecasts for 2050 show 6.3 billion city-dwellers. But China, notorious for its poisoned atmosphere, “is on an air pollution jihad.” It’s an all-out effort to turn back the “airpocalypse” and, with a command economy, a goal that shall be achieved.

The main target will be the internal combustion engine, responsible for about 60% of urban air pollution, Friedland said. China now manufactures 19 million cars annually, he adds. The country plans to increase output to 60 million, a goal obviously contrary to the war on pollution unless it emphasizes electric vehicles.

Like others, Friedland sees massive disruption as the economics of EVs overtake those of internal combustion engines, a scenario he expects by 2022 or 2023.

Demand for lithium-ion batteries (comprising 4% lithium, 80% nickel sulphate and 15% cobalt) has sent cobalt prices soaring. But bigger EVs will likely rely on hydrogen fuel cells, he pointed out. They’re already used in electric SUVs, pickup trucks, double-decker buses in London, trains in Germany and China, and, expected imminently, autonomous air taxis in Dubai.

Hydrogen fuel cells need PGMs. If only one-tenth of China’s planned EV output used the technology, demand would call for the world’s entire platinum supply, Friedland said.

“I would rather own platinum than gold,” he declared. Additionally, “there’s no platinum central reserve bank to puke out platinum.”

Ivanhoe just happens to have PGMs, about 42 million ounces indicated and 52.8 million ounces inferred, at its 64%-held Platreef project in South Africa.

Unprecedented demand calls for unparalleled grades, the industry legend says

Underground development progresses at the Kansoko mine,
part of the Kamoa copper deposit and adjacent to Kakula.

Electricity for the grid also ranks high among China’s airpocalyptic priorities. A study produced for the United Nations Environment Programme credits the country with a 17% increase in renewable electricity investment last year, most of it going to wind and solar. Almost $103 billion, China’s renewables investment comes to 36% of the world total.

Just as EVs remain more copper-dependent than internal combustion, wind and solar call for much more of the conductive commodity than do other types of electricity generation. Friedland sees additional disruptive demand in easily cleaned copper surfaces now increasingly used in hospitals, care homes, cruise ships and other places where infectious diseases might lurk.

He sees a modest copper supply deficit now, with a crisis possibly starting as soon as 2019. The world needs a new generation of copper mines, he said, repeating his unkind comparison of today’s low-grade, depleting mines to “little old ladies waiting to die.” The world’s largest producer, the BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP/Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO Escondida mine in Chile, is down to a 0.52% grade.

Copper recently hit a two-year high of about $6,400 a tonne. But, citing Bernstein data, Friedland said new mines would require a $12,000 price.

Not Kamoa-Kakula, though. He proudly noted that, with an indicated resource grading 6.09%, it hosts “the richest conceivable copper deposit on this planet.”

I’ve never been as bullish in my 35 years on a project.—Robert Friedland

A JV with Ivanhoe and Zjin Mining Group each holding 39.6% and the DRC 20%, Kamoa-Kakula inspires “a plethora of superlatives.” The veteran of Voisey’s Bay and Oyu Tolgoi added, “I’ve never been as bullish in my 35 years on a project.”

The zillionaire likes zinc too, which his company also has in the DRC at the 68%-held Kipushi project. With a measured and indicated grade of 34.89%, the Big Zinc zone more than doubles the world’s next-highest-grade zinc project, according to Ivanhoe. There’s copper too, with three other zones averaging an M&I grade of 4.01%.

“Everything good in the Congo starts with a ‘K’,” he said enthusiastically.

But recklessly, in light of the DRC’s controversial Kabila family. In June Ivanhoe was hit by reports that the company has done deals with businesses held by the president’s brother, Zoe Kabila, although no allegations were made of wrongdoing.

The family has run the country, one of Africa’s poorest, since 1997. Current president Joseph Kabila has been ruling unconstitutionally since November, a cause of sometimes violent protest that threatens to further destabilize the DRC.

As the New York Times reported earlier this month:

An implosion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country almost the size of western Europe, could spill into and involve some of the nine countries it borders. In the late 1990s, neighbouring countries were sucked into what became known as the Great War of Africa, which resulted in several million deaths.

Friedland’s nearly hour-long address made no mention of jurisdictional risk. But the audience of hundreds, presumably most of them retail investors, responded warmly to the serial success story. He’s the one who, after Ivanhoe languished at five-year lows in early 2016, propelled the stock more than 300% over the last 12 months.

Far Resources’ Manitoba lithium project reveals additional spodumene-bearing pegmatite

July 27th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 27, 2017

Far Resources CSE:FAT has identified spodumene-bearing pegmatite dykes at its Zoro project in Manitoba to a greater extent than previously understood, enhancing the property’s lithium potential. The company confirmed the presence of a dyke swarm following a field visit to the Snow Lake region property, which was originally known to host seven spodumene-bearing dykes. Far Resources announced the discovery of additional dykes earlier this month.

Far Resources’ Manitoba lithium project reveals additional spodumene-bearing pegmatite

A drill program would be necessary to determine their full dimensions, the company stated. Eighteen chip samples have been sent for assays.

Prospecting found dyke 7 exposed over 220 metres before it trends beneath a swamp. Dyke 7 has two smaller pegmatite dykes associated with it, both mineralized with spodumene and possible tantalite. One has a strike of about 80 metres and width up to 13 metres. The other shows about 75 metres in strike and two to three metres in width. Twenty-one pits and trenches have been documented from dyke 7, the company reported.

Dyke 6 outcrop was identified for about 100 metres in strike and widths of 0.5 to two metres. “It has not been exposed by trenches or pits and remains untested although spodumene is present in the dyke,” Far Resources added.

Dyke 5 extends for a 250-metre strike with widths from two to 12 metres at surface. Nineteen pits or trenches have revealed spodumene and possible tantalite.

“With the success of this field program we are looking forward to completing further work to assess dykes 2, 3 and 4 for additional mineralized pegmatites,” said president/CEO Keith Anderson. “This field work will lay the ground work for further drilling in the winter of 2017.”

In late June the company closed its acquisition of the Winston gold project in New Mexico. Last week Far Resources announced it would propose to shareholders that a new company be created to manage the project.

Hedging his energy bets

July 24th, 2017

Adrian Lamoureux of 92 Resources pursues green lithium and fossil-fuel frac sand

by Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel: I would like to introduce the CEO of 92 Resources TSXV:NTY Adrian Lamoureux. Hi Adrian, it is a pleasure to talk to you again. To get started I would like to ask you to tell us a little bit about your background and how you became CEO of 92 Resources.

Adrian: Hi Isabel, thank you for having me. I had been active with finance and investor relations for public companies for about a decade before I received my opportunity to run one. Raising capital and marketing helped me form very strong opinions on how a company should be run, so I was always looking to move up the corporate ranks.

Isabel: 92 Resources has two lithium projects. One is in the Northwest Territories and one is in Quebec. What makes these projects so valuable?

Adrian: Lithium is not only a commodity for today, but rather a commodity for tomorrow. We see today’s strong demand as just the beginning, with a global push towards green energy. Simply put—lithium is the way of the future.

Isabel: What are the highlights on these projects so far?

Adrian: Hidden Lake, NWT, has been successful right from the get-go. Last summer we pulled a sample high of 3.08% Li2O and a channel sample of 1.9% Li2O over 9.02 metres. Most recently we conducted a metallurgical program, where we produced a 6.16% Li2O concentrate.

Adrian Lamoureux of 92 Resources pursues green lithium and fossil-fuel frac sand

Initial metallurgical tests suggest the suitability of conventional
processing methods for pegmatites from Hidden Lake. The 1,100-
hectare property has nearby highway access leading to Yellowknife,
about 40 kilometres west.

Isabel: 92 Resources also has a frac sand project in British Columbia. I am not sure if everyone knows what frac sand is and is used for. Could you give a brief introduction to the application and demand, as well as of course about your project itself?

Adrian: The Golden frac sand property is ideally situated. Our project sits immediately adjacent to a frac sand [deposit] and rail access. Some of the biggest oil basins in North America are shale, and the best method of extraction is through fracking. Sand is forced down horizontal wells under high pressure, bracing cracks within the shale open, which is where the oil can be liberated and pumped out. The demand for frac sand has continued to grow in light of a slip in oil prices. This is attributed to re-fracking of older wells, a higher rig count and increased frac sand intensity on a per-well basis.

Isabel: What is the most exciting thing happening right now at 92 Resources?

Adrian: We’re having success on multiple fronts. I feel we are at the right place at the right time.

Isabel: What are the plans for the rest of 2017 and what are the next milestones for 92 Resources?

Adrian: Our plans are focused, continued growth through acquisition and development. We need to move vertically with current demand and always be looking to where future demand should be.

Isabel: What do you like about the mineral exploration business?

Adrian: I like being able to take an idea or concept and turn it into something real, something that shareholders and hopefully the world can benefit from.

Isabel: What is your favourite commodity and why?

Adrian: Lithium is my favourite. This green energy commodity is changing the world as we know it.

Isabel: Thank you very much for your time, Adrian.

Adrian Lamoureux

Adrian Lamoureux,
92 Resources CEO

Bio

Adrian Lamoureux has worked in the venture capital markets for the past eight years, specializing in the design and implementation of market strategies and corporate development. He has particular expertise in the mineral exploration and development sector. During his time working in venture capital markets, Lamoureux has financed a number of successful private and public companies.

Fun facts

My hobbies: European football

My favourite airport: Schiphol, Amsterdam

My favourite tradeshow: PDAC in Toronto

My favourite commodity: Lithium

With this person I would like to have dinner: Cristiano Ronaldo

If I could have a superpower, it would be: Invisibility

My role model: My father

Read more about 92 Resources’ Hidden Lake lithium project and Golden frac sand project.

Chemical engineer and Voltaic Minerals project manager Tom Currin comments on his research into selective extraction from lithium brines

July 21st, 2017

…Read more

Initial metallurgy looks positive for 92 Resources’ NWT lithium project

July 18th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 18, 2017

Encouraging metallurgical results have come early for 92 Resources’ (TSXV:NTY) Hidden Lake project. Preliminary beneficiation tests for the road-accessible Northwest Territories property suggest favourable liberation characteristics and “amenability to simple and conventional spodumene mineral processing methods,” the company announced July 18. The lab conducted five flotation tests on a composite sample from four pegmatites on the Northwest Territories project. A standard flowsheet was used.

Initial lithium metallurgy brings 92 Resources a 6.16% concentrate at 79% recovery for NWT project

Backed by encouraging lab work, 92 Resources reactivates
its Hidden Lake camp this summer for another field program.

Results brought a “high-grade” spodumene concentrate of 6.16% LiO2 at 79% recovery, with an average spodumene lithium content of 3.8% lithium (or about 8.2% LiO2), close to the maximum theoretical limit, 92 Resources stated.

A low iron content also suggests the high quality of Hidden Lake spodumene. In a further advantage to mineral processing, the company added, tests confirmed the property’s dominant mica to be muscovite with low levels of lithium. Muscovite with high lithium levels “would dilute the lithium content of a final concentrate, as typically the lithium content would be significantly less than that of spodumene.”

“This initial work demonstrates the high-lithium/low-iron nature of the spodumene at Hidden Lake, as well as its favourable upgrading characteristics, both of which are highly attractive attributes of the project,” said president/CEO Adrian Lamoureux.

Phase II beneficiation tests will include magnetic separation, heavy liquid separation and further flotation on material collected during the upcoming summer field program.

Channel sampling last year tested four of the property’s six known lithium-bearing spodumene dykes, bringing assays up to 1.58% Li2O and 31 ppm Ta2O5 over 8.78 metres.

In January the company filed a 43-101 technical report for Hidden Lake. The 1,659-hectare property has year-round road access to Yellowknife, about 40 kilometres southwest.

92 Resources also keeps busy with its Golden frac sand project in eastern British Columbia, adjacent to Heemskirk Canada’s Moberly silica mine. Last month’s 10-day field program at Golden will provide data for a 43-101 technical report.

In northern Quebec, 92 Resources also holds the 5,536-hectare Pontax River lithium project.

The company closed an oversubscribed $895,199 private placement in February and received a $140,000 award under the NWT Mining Incentive Program in June to offset Hidden Lake expenditures.

NRG Metals readies geophysics, drilling, 43-101 for new Argentina lithium project

July 13th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 13, 2017

A property optioned in June has a busy agenda scheduled as NRG Metals TSXV:NGZ prepares to explore its Hombre Muerto North project on an Argentinian salar that also hosts an FMC Corp NYSE:FMC lithium mine and Galaxy Resources’ advanced-stage Sal de Vida lithium-potash project. With drill permitting underway, NRG intends to begin with geophysics, followed by up to eight holes ranging from 150 to 200 metres in depth. Results might encourage the company to extend some holes down to 400 metres, with some larger-diameter holes for pumping tests.

NRG Metals readies geophysics, drilling, 43-101 for new Argentina lithium project

A newly commissioned 43-101 technical report
will assess previous surface sample results.

NRG also plans to build a pilot test pond to assess the brine’s evaporative conditions and chemical features.

A 43-101 technical report will be compiled by a Chilean company to verify previous samples and provide details of the upcoming drill program. Twenty surface samples taken in 2016 and 2017 brought non-43-101 results ranging from 48 milligrams lithium per litre to 1,064 mg/L, averaging 587 mg/L. Ratios of magnesium to lithium remained low by industry standards, averaging 4.6 to 1, the company added.

In addition to this 3,287-hectare project, NRG has drill permitting underway for its optioned 29,182-hectare Carachi Pampa property, also on the prolific Salar del Hombre Muerto.

Now leading exploration is NRG’s new director/COO, José de Castro. A chemical engineer with extensive lithium project experience, he headed Orocobre’s (TSX:ORL) Olaroz Salar lithium project from exploration to commercial production. He also supervised exploration of Argentina’s Salinas Grandes salar and developed a patent to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate.

One week before de Castro’s June appointment, Gordon Neal joined NRG’s board. Having served with several explorers, Neal has raised over $500 million for resource companies since 2004.

Update: Far Resources mobilizes for Manitoba lithium on finding more spodumene-bearing dykes

July 11th, 2017

(Update: On July 11 Far Resources announced a helicopter-supported field crew had mobilized to assess the newly found spodumene-bearing dykes, supplement historic data and build a 3D model prior to further drilling.)

by Greg Klein | July 4, 2017

Seeing further potential for its Zoro lithium project in Manitoba, Far Resources CSE:FAT reports additional spodumene-bearing dykes on the Snow Lake region property. A field program found the dykes in trenches, pits and outcrops between previously reported dykes 5 and 7, the company stated. “Accordingly, potential exists for new spodumene-bearing dykes adjacent to dykes 2, 3, 4 and 6 on the property and the area will become the focus of upcoming field work in 2017.”

Far Resources finds more spodumene-bearing dykes on its Manitoba lithium project

Chip sampling results released in May assayed from 1.46% to 6.35% Li2O for Dyke 5 and 1.35% to 2.91% for Dyke 7. Later that month results from a seven-hole, 1,088-metre stepout drill campaign on Dyke 1 showed intercepts up to 1.2% Li2O over 38.3 metres.

Site exploration and 3D modelling has been assisted by advice from Robert Linnen of the University of Western Ontario and Tania Martins of the Manitoba Geological Survey, two pegmatite scientists who accompanied the most recent field study.

In New Mexico, meanwhile, Far Resources last month closed its acquisition of the Winston gold project, where the company hopes to begin an initial program of six to eight holes to confirm historic results. “We have compiled two separate expert teams to advance these projects and, over the coming months, we will be making some strategic decisions on how best to advance both these projects to ensure each is managed to its best advantage,” said president/CEO Keith Anderson.

Berkwood Resources adds lithium to Quebec energy metals portfolio

July 11th, 2017

by Greg Klein | July 11, 2017

Seeing lithium potential in the gold-laden Abitibi, Berkwood Resources TSXV:BKR announced a 3,064-hectare acquisition called the Delbreuil project on July 11. Located in a region known for lithium showings, the property features spodumene-hosting pegmatites and historic lithium assays.

Berkwood Resources adds lithium to Quebec energy metals portfolio

One historic, non-43-101 result from a pegmatite sample graded 1,290 ppm lithium and 126 ppm tantalum. Historic drilling also brought results for zinc, nickel, copper, silver and cobalt. Satellite imagery suggests multiple outcrops have high potential for hosting additional pegmatite intrusions, the company added.

Now being planned is Delbreuil’s first lithium-specific program, with Phase I field work to include prospecting, mapping and till sampling.

Subject to approvals, Berkwood gets the road-accessible project for 2.1 million shares and $15,000.

The property would complement Berkwood’s portfolio of energy metals projects in Quebec. Last month the company announced an agreement to acquire the Cobalt Ford property in the infrastructure-rich Côte-Nord region. Previous work on the 2,176-hectare property revealed three base metals showings as well as historic, non-43-101 samples of 904 ppm and 1,480 ppm cobalt.

Last year’s work on the company’s Lac Gueret South graphite project, meanwhile, produced grab samples from Zone 1 averaging 4.99% carbon-as-graphite within a range of 0.04% to 36.3% Cgr in the vicinity of large geophysical anomalies. The property’s located about three hours by road from the city of Baie-Comeau.

Nevada’s new-era fuel

July 7th, 2017

Gary Musil sees Clayton Valley similarities in Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project

by Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel Belger

Isabel: I would like to introduce Gary Musil, CFO and director of Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA. Hi Gary, it is a pleasure to talk to you again.

Gary: Likewise, always a pleasure to talk to you.

Isabel: To get started, tell us a little bit about your background and how you got involved with Belmont Resources.

Gary: Belmont was a client of mine, and in 1992 they asked me to get more involved by joining the board of directors and later as a full-time chief financial officer in 1999.

Isabel: Belmont Resources has two different locations that you are involved with. Could you tell us a bit more about these two?

Gary: Belmont holds 50% interest in a large uranium land package (12,841 hectares) in the northern Athabasca Basin near Uranium City, Saskatchewan, Canada. Approximately $2 million was incurred on the claims from magnetic, radiometric, electromagnetic and radon gas surveys through to a successful 20-hole diamond drill program totalling 3,075 metres. The project is available for a joint venture partner or acquisition. Belmont’s current focus is on its 2,760-hectare Kibby Basin-Monte Cristo Valley, Nevada lithium project.

Isabel: So your focus is on the Kibby Basin lithium project. What makes that project so appealing?

Gary: The demand and price of lithium continues to increase as we move into a new era of electric vehicles and other technology that is requiring lithium. In addition, we are near the construction of a large facility, the Tesla Motors Gigafactory #1, near Sparks, Nevada, which will be a huge consumer of the end product. Secondly, expansion of a large electric bus factory in California to the south will also see increased consumption of lithium production for batteries. Furthermore, our Kibby Basin hosts several key features that are similar to the nearby and only operating lithium mine in North America, the area at Silver Peak-Clayton Valley, Nevada.

Gary Musil sees Clayton Valley similarities in Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project

Lithium assays from last spring’s campaign have
Belmont Resources returning for additional geophysics and drilling.

Isabel: What is the most exciting thing about the Kibby Basin property up to now—what work have you accomplished there?

Gary: We commenced last year with all the baseline work, such as a NI 43-101 geological technical report, followed by a ground geophysical survey and then a detailed gravity survey to map the central basin. This generated a 3D model of the basin which provided the coverage to enhance the potential of the Kibby Basin to host a lithium-bearing brine structure.

The basin model revealed the basin to be in the order of 4,000 metres deep and approximately 7.4 kilometres long. In June Belmont drilled two diamond drill core holes, KB-1c to 548 feet [167 metres] on the eastern basin-bounding fault and KB-2c to a depth of 1,498 feet [457 metres] in the playa-dry lake bed, in the area.

The company was pleased with the core sample assays, to discover the presence of lithium ranging from 70 ppm to 200 ppm lithium with 13 of 25 core samples assaying over 100 ppm lithium, indicating that the sediments could be a potential source of lithium for the underlying aquifers.

Isabel: What are your experiences working in the U.S.A.? It is known that a lot of lithium comes from China and we’ve heard Donald Trump wants to “make America great again.” Has there been any changes in regard to working on a project that could produce lithium in the U.S.A.?

Gary: Belmont’s original mineral project, going back over 30 years ago, was a joint venture in a silver-producing mine in Nevada. We usually contract out work, i.e. geologists, geophysics work, surveys, drilling contractors, etc., to local reputable contractors. This saves costs and develops a good working relationship with the state and county officials. Any changes from the federal and state governments in regards to working on a project that could produce lithium in the U.S.A. should be positive for Belmont Resources. We anticipate governments could add incentives to mining exploration and producing companies to encourage them to expand the mineral resources and sell the end products to factories being built in Nevada, rather than importing lithium and other minerals from foreign countries.

Gary Musil sees Clayton Valley similarities in Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project

Thirteen of 25 Kibby Basin core
samples surpassed 100 ppm lithium.

Isabel: What are the plans for the rest of 2017?

Gary: Belmont’s next stage of evaluation will consist of carrying out a further geophysical survey, i.e. electromagnetic resistivity survey and possibly seismic surveys, of the property, which should generate higher aquifer probability targets for further drilling this year.

Isabel: How much money do you have in the bank right now?

Gary: Belmont recently completed a four-million-unit private placement at $0.05 per share complete with a two-year transferable warrant (eight-cent warrant in year one and 10-cent warrant in year two) which generated $200,000. We will continue to raise further financing in order to continue exploration of the Kibby Basin throughout the year.

Isabel: How much of Belmont Resources is held by the management?

Gary: Belmont’s management currently owns 5.5% of the issued and outstanding shares and is increasing its position as demonstrated in participation in the recently completed private placements, as well as exercising of warrant and stock option shares. Including friends, relatives and close associates, these holdings increase to over 25%.

Isabel: What do you like about the mineral exploration business?

Gary: The anticipation of drilling results and then the discovery of minerals in a new area is always exciting. Also, travelling to new areas of the world and meeting new people there.

Isabel: What is your favourite commodity and why?

Gary: Belmont has explored for silver, antimony, gold, uranium, as well as oil and gas. Lithium will be my favourite for years to come, as I see the uses of this commodity expanding, as technology continues to develop and expand along with it.

Gary Musil sees Clayton Valley similarities in Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project

Gary Musil, CFO/director
of Belmont Resources

Fun facts

Your hobbies: Golf, cycling, hiking

Sources of news you use: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and CNN through TV and the Vancouver Sun/Financial Post newspapers

Your favourite airport: Vancouver International Airport and Phoenix, Arizona, as that usually means a golf vacation during the winter months

Your favourite tradeshow: Outdoor Recreation and Golf Show in Vancouver

Favourite commodity besides the ones in your company: Gold, especially placer gold

People you’d most like to have dinner with: Ha—Fred Couples, senior professional golfer; So Yeon Ryu, ladies’ professional golfer; Shania Twain, country music star; and of course having dinner with my wife in many new places in the world where we have been and not been to yet

If you could have a superpower, it would be: Healing

Visual Capitalist: How commodities performed in H1 and why they’re very cheap

July 5th, 2017

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | July 5, 2017

If you’re looking for action, the commodities sector has traditionally been a good place to find it.

With wild price swings, massive up-cycles, exciting resource discoveries and extreme weather events all playing into things, there’s rarely a dull day in the sector. That being said, it’s hard to remember a more lacklustre period for commodities than the last couple of years.

For commodity bulls, the good news is that the sector is no longer tanking. The bad news, however, is that all the recent action has been in relatively niche sectors, as metals like cobalt, zinc and lithium all have their day in the sun.

At the same time, the big commodities (gold, oil, copper) have all slid sideways, having yet to revisit their former periods of glory.

Commodity winners so far

Before we highlight why commodities could still be cheap, let’s look at recent performance to get some context. Here are the commodities that have positive returns in H1 2017 so far:

How commodities performed in H1 and why they’re very cheap

 

Palladium is the best performer in 2017 so far, and it has now almost passed platinum in price. That would be the first time since 2001 that this has happened, and for the stretch of 2007 to 2012 it was even true that palladium traded at a $1,000 deficit to platinum.

Agricultural goods like rough rice, lean hogs, oats and wheat have also gotten more expensive so far this year. Meanwhile, metals like gold, copper and silver have seen modest gains—but only after dismal performances in the last part of 2016.

The losers so far

Here is the scoreboard for the commodities in negative territory, with the most noticeable losses in sugar and energy.

How commodities performed in H1 and why they’re very cheap

 

Are commodities cheap?

From the post-crisis bottom in 2009 until today, the S&P 500 is up a staggering 215.4%.

During that same timeframe, most major commodities crashed and then went sideways. The Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) is down roughly 31.2%, which is a strong juxtaposition to how equities have done.

This extreme divergence can be best seen in this long-term chart, which compares the two indices since 1971.

How commodities performed in H1 and why they’re very cheap

 

In other words: Despite the lack of action in commodities that we noted earlier, the sector has never been cheaper relative to equities, even going back 45 years.

That means that there could be some much-needed action soon.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.