15 June 2021
In this month’s Big Picture, we’ve brought you a selection of headlines from the past month that caught our attention, including the news that some of our favourite websites for a lunchtime browse grounded to an unexpected halt. We also take a look back at the announcements made by Blytheweigh clients in May/June, with an in-depth focus on Mkango’s milestone news that it would be developing a rare earths hub in Poland. The subject of our “Zoom in" for this Big Picture is the longest day of the year, which takes place next Monday, and where the significance of ‘summer solstice’ originated.
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In the last week, we were reminded that, when it comes to the Tech industry, we are more reliant on single companies than we’d like to admit. When the Silicon Valley-based internet infrastructure provider, Fastly, experienced a ‘configuration error’ that meant that thousands of websites across the world went down for just under an hour, news, streaming, retail and government services were all disrupted leaving many people with no way to procrastinate. For larger online-specific companies, relying on online retail or advertisement, this 59 minute down-time could have resulted in millions of lost revenue.
There was also news this month from Italy and the country’s latest fight to protect its traditional customs, in particular a Venice institution. What do you imagine when you think of Venice? A gondola ride through the narrow canals in the moonlight, a Gondolier with the voice of Dean Martin serenading you with ‘That’s Amore’ or a 70-metre-tall cruise ship using its foghorn to turn your stirred martini into a shaken one. Well, if it’s the latter, that is all about to change as Venice has banned cruise ships from entering the Venice lagoon, instead dropping passengers at the nearby Industrial port of Marghera. This move aims to reduce the dangerous fumes emitted from the cruise ships and to prevent collisions with historically and culturally renowned locations, historic buildings, and unsuspecting canal boats.
Another area on the cusp of returning back to its routes is Cornwall, the host for this year’s G7 conference. Cornwall’s reputation as the quiet, quaint and quality location made for a great holiday destination got a shake up this month when global leaders, and all the security and media that come with them, descended on the peaceful Carbis Bay to discuss key issues. With Carbon Emissions being a topic of importance at the Summit, a keen eye has been placed on Cornwall’s mining capabilities and it’s potential to be a globally significant resource point. It was therefore fitting that Blytheweigh clients, Cornish Metals and Cornish Lithium, were present during the G7 agenda, with press and notable parties visiting their operations.
Blytheweigh zooms in… on the summer solstice
It’s hot in London. Really hot. The air feels like it requires actual force to get through and travelling amidst the sticky combination of masks, fumes and humid 30-degree heat in the underground feels like an interminable endurance test. With wasps starting to gate-crash picnics and t-shirt tans descending upon local parks, summer has well and truly arrived. It comes hurtling around so unexpectedly it seems unbelievable that we’ve almost reached 2021’s longest day of the year and the summer solstice, which takes place on Monday 21st June. The day has been marked as the high point of the summer, or the middle of summer, for centuries and it all began in the Neolithic era (the final division of the stone age, describing the period of human development between 10,000 BCE until 3,000 BCE in which the cultivation of wild and domestic crops and the use of domesticated animals occurred).
This year, the UK will enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight, with the sun rising at 4.52am and setting at 9.26pm, and will see some people blithely unaware of the day’s historical roots and others fulling embracing midsummer folklore customs by making flower crowns or doing yoga in the garden. We decided to look at the practical and superstitious roots of the summer solstice and have put together a few ways you can make the most the day.
The summer solstice was a significant day in the tracking of crop cycles, specifically the time between planting and harvesting crops, for the northern and central European Neolithic cultures, who would keep track of the seasons using stone circles built around the movement of the sun throughout the year. At Stonehenge, for example, summer solstice is marked when the sun rises behind the Heel Stone in the north-east part of the horizon and its first rays shine into the heart of the monument. This period of the year would be when people who worked the land would have time to relax, hence the tradition of a June wedding. Celtic, Slavic and Germanic people would light bonfires around this day to boost the sun’s strength and encourage a bountiful harvest.
The longest day of the year also had practical benefits for the Vikings who would use the added daylight to their advantage by timing it with increased hunting and conducting raids.
The day is also well-known for its superstitious, magic customs. It is a significant day within the Pagan community where it is believed that the summer solstice signifies the thinnest veil between this world and ‘the next’, meaning humans ability to communicate with mythical creatures is at its strongest. Traditional festivities still performed today to celebrate the ‘special powers’ of the solstice include picnics, maypole dancing, bonfires and watching the sun rise.
Although this year the public gathering that usually takes place on 21st June (and can attract 10,000 day-break celebrators) at Stonehenge will not be going ahead, there are ways you can make the most of the beginning of the astronomical summer season:
1. You can witness the summer solstice from a good vantage point near you at 4:52am (UK time), next Monday.
2. Use the long day to spruce up your garden. Now is the perfect time to grow sunflowers, sow nigella seeds, runner beans, pak choi and radishes.
3. Around this time of year, wild strawberries begin to ripen. You can get out in nature and try and find some in your local hedgerows, or buy some from a local fruit and veg store, to give making a strawberry daiquiri or a family-friendly angel cake a whirl.
4. The official Stonehenge website has said it will be live streaming the sunset and sunrise for free, so you can witness the event away from large crowds online.
5. You can make the most of the long evening by hosting a BBQ. Here are some great ways to raise the ‘steaks’ of your BBQ game.
A focus on... Mkango to create rare earths hub in Europe
The past couple of months have seen two significant announcements from Mkango Resources that signal a huge step forward in the Company’s three-tiered strategy, to mine, refine and recycle, that will give it a unique position within the rare earths industry. The first, announced on 4th May, was the results of a flotation pilot plant programme completed at ALS Metallurgy in Perth, Australia, for the rare earth oxides from Mkango’s Songwe Hill Rare Earths Project (view release). The programme demonstrated that the process was robust and straightforward to scale up, therefore presenting the optimum flotation regime for Songwe. The results also identified a considerable increase in the concentrate grade and flotation recovery since the 2015 pre-feasibility study, meaning less tonnes but higher-grade concentrate containing more rare earths, which is said by the Company to have significantly positive repercussions for the downstream hydrometallurgical operations.
This announcement was swiftly followed by the news that Mkango had agreed to work alongside Grupa Azoty PULAWY (“Grupa Azoty”), Europe’s second largest fertiliser manufacturer, to create a rare earth separation plant in the centre of the electric vehicle market, Poland (view release). The Company announced it had signed an exclusive lease option agreement which would mean developing the plant on a site adjacent to Grupa Azoty’s plant, giving the operation access to excellent pre-existing infrastructure and the reagents needed to process Mkango’s rare earth’s product, therefore significantly reducing operating and capital expenditure.
The decision to position Mkango’s operations right in the centre of Europe, in close proximity to substantial players in Europe’s battery market, means the rare earth product from Songwe, which consists of light (NdPr) and heavy (Dy/Tb) rare earths, has the best opportunity to feed into the production of electric vehicles, wind power generation and other industries driving the green economy. This therefore aligns the Company with Europe’s focus on strengthening domestic supply chains for the critical materials need to transition to decarbonised economy.
To coordinate the development of the project, a Polish subsidiary has been formed that will be overseen by highly experienced Country Director for Poland, Dr Jarosław Pączek. Rare earth separation experts, Carester, have also be appointed to assist with the project.
The following updates were released from Blytheweigh clients from 15th May – 14th June.
This month saw the release of annual reports from Beowulf Mining [AIM:BEM] (view release), Cornish Metals [AIM:CUSN] (view release), Anglo Asian Mining [AIM:AAZ] (view release), Bluejay Mining [AIM:JAY] (view release) and Hummingbird Resources [AIM:HUM] (view release).
Medical cannabis company, Apollon Formularies [AQSE: APOL], announced that independent testing revealed that its combined formulations were effective in killing HER2+ breast cancer cells grown in 3D cell culture (view release). Apollon also reopened its treatment facility in Negril, Jamaica, with COVID-19 Certification and has resumed treating patients (view release). Alongside this, Apollon’s Jamaican affiliate signed a long-term lease for its first International Cancer Institute in the Jamaican capital, Kingston (view release).
Elsewhere, Arkle Resources [AIM:ARK] shared results from the first hole of the 12 hole diamond drilling programme being undertaken at the company's 100% owned Mine River Gold Project in Wicklow. The results identified intersections at five intervals, with best intersections of 4.69 g/t from 12.60 to 14.40 metres (view release).
Beowulf Mining [AIM:BEM] announced results of a Mineral Resource Estimate Upgrade for the Kallak Iron Ore Project, prepared by Baker Geological Services Ltd, which revealed an additional 19 million tonnes of iron ore equating to a 12.5% increase in the resource (view release).
The company later announced that its wholly-owned Finnish subsidiary, Fennoscandian Resources, had been granted €791,000 by Business Finland as part of the BATCircle2.0 (Finland-based Circular Ecosystem of Battery Metals) consortium which has been granted €10.8 million by Business Finland as part of a total funding budget of €19.3 million. BATCircle2.0 is a key project in Business Finland`s Smart Mobility and Batteries from Finland programmes (view release).
Botswana Diamonds [AIM:BOD] released an updated three-dimensional model of the recent kimberlite discovery on South Africa's Thorny River diamond project, created by independent specialists who aggregated all the geophysical and drilling data to model the potential kimberlite volume of the two adjacent blows and the connecting kimberlite (view release).
Bluejay Mining [AIM:JAY] shared details of a meeting between its CEO, Bo Stensgaard, Managing Director of Dundas Titanium with Mr. Hans Jensen, Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Mineral Resources Jørgen Hammenken-Holm and Ms. Naaja Nathanielsen the newly appointed Minister for Housing, Infrastructure, Mineral Resources and Gender Equality in Greenland. During the meeting, Ms, Nathanielsen, who was appointed following the recent General Election in Greenland, reaffirmed the Government's support for the Mining Industry in Greenland and confirmed that Greenland continues to support the Mineral Strategy 2020-2024 (view release).
Additionally, Bluejay announced the maiden drill and field programme at its Enonkoski nickel-copper-cobalt Project in eastern Finland, has now commenced with the company's joint venture partner Rio Tinto Mining and Exploration Ltd (view release).
There was also a resource update from gold producer Caledonia Mining [AIM:CMCL] which announced an upgrade to the Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve base at its Blanket mine in Zimbabwe by 1%o 528,000 ounces and a 12%crease in total Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources to 902,000 ounces (view release).
There was a big announcement from Cornish Metals [AIM:CUSN] this month, as it announced an updated Mineral Resource Estimate for South Crofty in accordance with the JORC Code (2012). Results highlighted an increase in Indicated Resource by 10.2% to 2.08 Mt Grading 1.59% Tin for the Lower Mine and an increase in Inferred Resource by 129.8% to 1.94 Mt Grading 1.67% Tin for the Lower Mine (view release).
Condor Gold [AIM:CNR] announced it had appointed Hannam & Partners as joint broker to the company, alongside SP Angel Corporate Finance LLP, who have acted as sole broker to the company since January 2020 (view release).
The company later announced that it has commenced an 8,500 metre infill diamond drilling programme within the permitted La Mestiza Open Pit Mineral Resource at its La India Project, Nicaragua (view release).
Cornish Lithium released two announcements in this period, the first of which was news that it had successfully completed the construction of its United Downs Geothermal Water Test Site in Cornwall and installed its first demonstration plant to trial environmentally-responsible Direct Lithium Extraction process technologies (view release).
It then shared that it would be leading a consortium involving Imerys Minerals Limited and sustainable manufacturing innovation consultancy, HSSMI, to assess the potential for Co-production of Lithium and China Clay, or Kaolin, in Cornwall (view release).
European Metals [AIM:EMH] also had a busy month, releasing the significant announcement that it had recieved successful locked-cycle test results that further support the Cinovec project's credentials to initially produce battery-grade lithium carbonate (view results).
The company also released the news that it had appointed Minviro, a UK-based and globally recognised sustainability and life cycle assessment consultancy, to provide an ISO compliant life cycle assessment, including a carbon footprint evaluation, of the Cinovec lithium / tin project in the Czech Republic (view release).
Also this month, Hummingbird Resources [AIM:HUM] shared an update from Pasofino Gold who had announced results of trenching on strike from the Tuzon deposit at the Dugbe Gold Project (view release).
Hummingbird also announced that it had been granted the mining licences for its Kouroussa Gold Project in Guinea by the Government of Guinea (view release).
Ironveld [AIM:IRON] shared news from its subsidiary company, Luge Prospecting and Mining (Pty) Ltd, that it had a Mining Right application accepted in respect of vanadiferous-titaniferous magnetite over the farms Luge 697 LR and Non Plus Ultra 683 LR (view release).
Imperial X [LSE: CDL], which is soon to be renamed to Cloudbreak Discovery, achieved a significant milestone with its listing on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange (view release). The company joins the market as a natural resource project generator with assets across multiple jurisdictions and commodities.
A convertible Debenture closure was announced by Los Andes Copper [TSX: LA], which would be issued by the company to Queen's Road Capital Investment Ltd. The Convertible will have a five-year term, carry an 8% coupon and will be convertible into common shares in the capital of the company at a share price of C$10.82 (view release).
Love Hemp Group [AQSE:LIFE] has been busy strengthening its senior management team with two marketing appointments (view release), alongside the appointment of a Chief Operating Officer, Chief Communications Officer and Chief Growth Office (view release). Love Hemp also raised a further £2.35 million via subscription to support its global growth strategy (view release).
There was also a major announcement from Phoenix Copper [AIM:PXC], which shared the news that it had entered into an earn-in agreement with First Cobalt Idaho, the wholly owned subsidiary of Toronto-based First Cobalt Corporation, in respect of the company's Redcastle cobalt property on the Idaho Cobalt Belt (view release).
Pantheon Resources [AIM:PANR] announced a significant resource upgrade for its Theta West project on the Alaska North Slope, with management estimating 1.4 billion barrels of contingent resource (view release).
During the past month, Pharma C Investments successfully listed on the AQSE stock exchange under the ticker PCIL (view release). The company is now looking into potential investments into ancillary businesses within the medical cannabis industry.
Thor Explorations [TSX:THX] updated the market with news of an encouraging first set of drill results from the southern Makosa Tail Prospect at its Douta Project, Senegal, confirming the continuation of the Makosa mineralised system along strike to the south (view release).