This week we are looking a the copper exploration and mining sector. We are still big fans of the copper story as we firmly believe that the path to net zero leads through copper.
The metal will be required for much of the infrastructure that will be needed to support green energy generation in the decades to come.
The price of copper has been driving the shares of copper miners and explorers. The WisdomTree Copper ETF (LSE:COPA) has risen from $28 a year ago to trade up over 37% in the last 12 months. We think copper mining is a sector the world simply won’t be able to do without and represents a good medium to long term play for the investment community.
Here are just some of the specialist small cap miners trading at the moment that we are keeping an eye on.
Atalaya Mining (LSE:ATYM)
AIM-listed Atalaya Mining announced it would be paying an inaugural dividend following what it is calling “robust” cash flow. The miner has a number of low capital intensity growth projects. The company was previously known as EMED Mining Public Ltd. It has a number of interesting deposits, including one of the biggest copper plays in Spain (Proyecto Riotinto). From this project alone it has ore reserves of approximately 600,000 tons of contained copper. Atlaya Mining is already producing from the Proyecto Riotinto and put out some punchy Q3 production figures. Some 3.9m tons of ore were processed during Q3. It also has a phased, earn-in agreement for 80% ownership of Proyecto Touro, a brownfield copper project also in Spain.
Wedgemount Resources (CSE:WDGY)
Canada-listed Wedgemount Resources is a copper explorer focusing on three prime opportunities in British Columbia. The company has been researching undervalued copper stakes in the province and has hit on three which it thinks would bear further in-depth analysis. Wedgemount is using more advanced technology than was historically employed on these sites. The company is well-financed and has the cash to underwrite its current exploration activities. It is 85% held by founders and partners. Wedgemount recently started an induced polarisation survey at its Eagle project in the Quesnel trough copper-gold porphyry belt. We are expecting assay results from Wedgemount shortly.
Kodiak Copper (TSX.V:KDK)
Another closely-watched Canadian copper explorer, Kodiak Copper is exploring the Gate Zone on its MPD property in British Columbia. This is a large, consolidated land package in close proximity to several operating copper mines in the Quesnel trough. Kodiak is still at an early stage in its exploration of the MPD and says it has plenty of other areas it still needs to drill. The explorer recently reported 0.75% CuEq at the Gate Zone. The company’s founder and chairman is Chris Taylor who has a prior record of solid finds, including the Dixie gold discovery at Red Lake, with Great Bear Resources. Kodiak is also part of the Discovery Group, which is led by Canadian mining entrepreneur John Robins.
Central Asia Metals (LSE:CAML)
Central Asia Metals is a diversified base metals producer but it is producing a lot of copper at the moment: it has capacity to generate annual copper production of 13,500 tonnes, but also has substantial zinc and lead production from its Sasa mine in Macedonia. It owns the Kounrad recovery plant in Kazakhstan which was completed in 2012. It recovers copper from waste dumps that were left over by an original open pit copper mining operation from Soviet times. Central Asia Metals completed 100% acquisition of the project in 2014. It is effectively reprocessing copper that has already been mined and then shipping it to buyers in Turkey.
Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ)
Turquoise Hill is currently focusing on the operation of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia, which it holds through a 66% interest. The rest is owned by a Mongolian state-owned entity. Copper production for Q3 was 41,000 tons approx which was 16% up year-on-year. The mine also produced over 130,000 oz of gold over the same period. Mining operations in Mongolia are still being hampered by the COVID outbreak there (this has led to very reduced personnel levels at the mine in Q3). Revenues at Turquoise Hill are up 256% y-o-y however. Gold volumes in particular from this project have been soaring.