Australian explorers return to Sweden in search of energetic metals
Australia has the right mix of metals to be a leader in the electric vehicle rush, but Sweden has an equally good mix of minerals and a better location to access the world’s major automakers, which is why it does. appeal to a growing number of companies listed on ASX. explorers.
The Talga Group (ASX: TLG), which has its foothold on a world-class graphite deposit, was one of the first Australian players to claim a concession in Sweden, drawn to geology, deep mining culture and the direct access to the rapid electrification of the German automotive industry.
Other small caps follow, including Alicanto Minerals (ASX: AQI), which is chasing copper and silver, and Ragnar Metals (ASX: RAG), which targets nickel and copper.
It is likely that more Australian explorers will join the Swedish mineral hunt and hope for greater success than past attempts to master the intricacies of doing business in a foreign country.
Few players in previous waves of Australian miners making the long journey to Abba and Ikea’s home have made their fortunes, perhaps because they focused on “old” minerals such as zinc. which attracted North Ltd – before it was acquired by Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) – to the historic Zinkgruvan mine which has been in continuous operation since 1857.
As important as zinc is in many industrial applications, it is truly one of the metals of yesterday, and the same can be said of the iron ore mined in northern Sweden around the town of Kiruna since 1900. with its current claim to fame being the world’s largest underground mining operation for iron ore and the site of an “ice hotel” nearby.
Sweden’s current appeal to Australian miners is the combination of location and a 1,000-year history of Europe’s supply of minerals, including reborn metals through the resumption of the energy transition such as copper, nickel and graphite.
There are other reasons Sweden is experiencing a revival among Australian explorers, including a shared geology with the wider Scandinavian region home to a range of rock types familiar to Australian geologists, and the lure of doing business in a secure environment both legal and personal. terms, unlike much of Africa and South America.
Graphite potential in the north
The three companies selected for this look at the renewed interest in Australian small caps are at different stages of development.
The most advanced in terms of production is Talga. While lithium, used as the cathode in batteries, has been the main interest of most small miners looking for a way to get into the battery business, this company has chosen to focus on the anode side. energy storage, where graphite is the most efficient.
Northern Sweden, long recognized for its graphite deposits, is where Talga is developing a mining and mineral processing operation that aims to provide European battery manufacturers with high-quality anode material. .
Talga’s starting point is the Vittangi graphite structure near the Kiruna iron ore mines, the plan being to transport the mined material by rail to a processing center in Lulea port at the far end. upper Baltic Sea, where low temperatures and abundant cheap electricity have attracted high-tech companies such as Facebook for data storage facilities.
Talga is also embarking on the technology path with a line of advanced ‘green graphite anodes’ products that are marketed to battery and car manufacturers in Germany, as well as a product development center in Cambridge in Great Britain where a tip form of graphite called graphene was invented.
Talga also returned to its exploration roots by initiating a program to expand its graphite resource base.
Although not a star this year with a share price that has fallen 30% to $ 1.31, Talga has attracted a number of big power Australian and European investors who believe in the plan. proven business of supplying Swedish minerals to the rest of Europe.
Swedish Precious Metal Games
A promising silver find near the historic (and prolific) mining center of Sala in central Sweden caused Alicanto’s share price to drop last month, doubling the stock by $ 0.11 at $ 0.20.
Assays are pending, but the first of two diamond drill holes returned large areas of mineralization traditionally seen in the Sala mine, which closed in 1964 after producing 200 million ounces of silver at an average grade of 1,244 grams per tonne, from the 15the century.
Limited exploration was conducted in and around the historic mine, largely because of the belief that the deposit did not extend below 320m, a theory Alicanto is currently testing.
While the silver has caught the attention of Australian investors interested in precious metals, Alicanto’s main target is the Greater Falun copper and gold project about 100 km northwest of Sala.
Closed in 1992, the Falun mine produced 28 million tonnes of high-grade copper and gold ore over an estimated production period of 1,000 years.
Alicanto’s plan is to test new targets as well as search for extensions of known deposits in an area known for its ‘skarn’ style mineralization which is generally high grade and formed after a volcanic intrusion has spawned. a path in limestone or dolomite.
The hunt for “Falun 2” has revealed mineralization in all targets drilled so far with a possible bonanza vein as geological knowledge grows and drilling continues.
Important discovery of copper and nickel
This is the best part of a decade in the works, but Ragnar (formerly Drake Resources) appears to have made an important discovery on his Granmuren project about 20 km west of the Sala d’Alicanto silver discovery.
In what can be considered a commentary on the richly mineralized nature of Swedish geology, the Ragnar discovery is the copper-nickel-containing structure of Tullsta that was first noticed in 2012 when mineralization near the surface was detected during a helicopter-borne magnetic survey.
Last month, a sniff of what might have been found at Tullsta rekindled interest in Ragnar with an early interpretation of drill core revealing areas of copper (and nickel) rich mineralization that even without analysis at l ‘era, have more than doubled the stock price from $ 0.03 to $ 0.08.
The first dosages of this carrot took place earlier this week and, while encouraging, produced only a modest share price reaction, perhaps due to the relatively deep grade and depth. low of a 60.2 m mineralized zone starting at 498.2 m.
Overall, the discovery zone contained 0.75% nickel and 0.47% copper, but included richer sections in five different zones, with the upper section returning 7.6 m at 2.08% nickel and 1.57% copper.
Further assays will follow the four-hole drilling program which should rekindle interest in Ragnar.