Rio Tinto takes option on ALX’s Falcon project
Under the option agreement, Rio Tinto may acquire up to an 80% interest in Firebird - which will be renamed from ‘Falcon’ to avoid confusion with another Rio Tinto mine in Saskatchewan - by incurring a total of of $12mn in exploration expenditures over six years, and with additional cash payments to ALX of $125,000.
Warren Stanyer, ALX’s CEO and chairman, commented on the deal: "The Rio Tinto option agreement provides a strong endorsement of ALX's geologic vision for Firebird. We look forward to upcoming exploration plans and to unlocking the potential for new high-grade nickel/copper/cobalt discoveries at the project”.
Rio Tinto plans to meet the first part of its expenditure commitment by conducting an airborne electromagnetic survey across 8,000 ha of the northern part of the Firebird mine. This area has never previously been comprehensively surveyed. It includes the Wiley Lake nickel showing area, where ALX recently drilled up to 1.31% nickel in outcrop, and collected grab samples of up to 2.43% nickel.
ALX acquired claims at the Falcon (Firebird) Nickel Project in 2019. The size of the project is now approximately 20,500 ha. The mine is located near the town of Stony Rapids, in the Tantato Domain, which forms part of the Snowbird Tectonic Zone. In March 2020 ALX conducted magmatic nickel-copper-cobalt mineralization in two of the three holes drilled on new targets.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.