Tshipi é Ntle Mining’s massive Tshipi Borwa open-pit project started up earlier this month. The mine could be a boon for the country — and investors.

Inside South Africa’s Newest Manganese Mine

South Africa had both the world’s highest manganese production and the largest reserves of the metal in 2011, according to figures from the US Geological Survey. Much of that wealth is concentrated in the country’s Kalahari manganese field, located in the Northern Cape province.

The field is roughly 400 square kilometers and contains about 13 billion metric tons (MT) of ore grading between 20 and 48 percent manganese. That’s according to Australia-listed Jupiter Mines (ASX:JMS), a stakeholder in Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining, a joint venture that operates South Africa’s newest manganese mine, the Tshipi Borwa open-pit project.

The mine is located on the outer rim of the Kalahari manganese field. The company aims to produce 2.4 million MT of manganese ore grading 37 percent at the project annually over the next 60 years. The mine, which cost 1.7 billion South African rand (US$195.4 million) to build, started up on October 10, 2012, when the first ore was blasted at the site. “We are now firmly on the road towards producing our first revenue,” said Tshipi CEO Finn Behnken.

Tshipi Borwa is one of a number of new projects in the area. Others include Asia Minerals’ privately-owned Kudumane mine, which will produce 2 million MT a year when it reaches full production in 2013. As well, Kalagadi Manganese, a joint venture between ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) and South Africa’s Kalahari Resources, will soon start production at its Kalagadi manganese project. Over the next 18 months, this mine’s production is expected to rise to 3 million MT.

Exploration property adds growth potential

In addition to Tshipi Borwa, Tshipi é Ntle owns the Bokone property, also located in the Kalahari manganese field. Bokone is to the north of the producing Wessels mine, which is owned by BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP,ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT). Wessels has been in operation since 1973.

Tshipi’s website indicates that diamond drilling has intersected high-grade manganese ore at Bokone, but the company has not yet outlined a resource. Tshipi used historical drill data on the property to identify high-potential drill targets in 2010. The website also states that six of the 10 holes it drilled intersected a range of manganese grades at depths of between 220 and 370 meters, with the strongest result so far being a measurement of 59 percent manganese over 0.5 meters.

Strong rail link on the way

Tshipi Borwa was in the news in September because the mine’s railway siding was the starting point for the first trial run of South Africa’s first-ever distributed power train for manganese. On September 17, the 2.23-kilometer train, powered by 18 diesel locomotives, carried 13,000 tons of manganese from Tshipi Borwa to Port Elizabeth. The ore itself was not produced at Tshipi, as the mine had not yet started up.

The new train is part of a massive transportation infrastructure plan by state-owned rail company Transnet to ease the bottlenecks and antiquated roads and railways that have long held back the country’s resource industry.

Transnet’s plan involves investing 300 billion rand ($35.6 billion) in new and expanded transportation infrastructure — including railways, ports and fuel lines, Bloomberg said. The initiative will double Transnet’s freight capacity within the next seven years; it also includes a new dedicated line to transport 16 million MT of manganese to the port of Coega, just east of Port Elizabeth on the southern coast.

“Access to cost-effective and -efficient rail transportation is crucial for South African manganese exporters to become and then remain globally competitive, because the costs associated with the resource industry went up quite significantly in the past five to seven years,” said South African President Jacob Zuma when he unveiled the plan in his February State of the Nation address.

How to invest in the Tshipi Borwa mine

Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining is 50.1 percent owned by Ntsimbintle NewCo, which, in turn, is 74 percent owned by Ntsimbintle Mining, a South African company that is held by a number of black economic-empowerment groups. South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment policy aims to spur the country’s growth by encouraging previously disadvantaged groups to take a greater role in the economy, including managing and investing in South African businesses.

However, investors can gain exposure by purchasing shares of mining and metals-trading firm OM Holdings (ASX:OMH), which owns the other 26 percent of Ntsimbintle NewCo, Mining Weekly reported.

A more direct way of investing in the project is to buy shares of Jupiter Mines, which owns the other 49.9 percent of Tshipi é Ntle Manganese. Jupiter also owns 100 percent of the Central Yilgarn iron ore property in Australia, which consists of the Mount Ida, Mount Mason and Mount Alfred projects. Mount Mason has a measured and indicated 5.9 million MT of high-grade hematite (with 60.1 percent iron), while Mount Ida has an inferred 530 million MT of magnetite grading 31.9 percent iron.

Jupiter is backed by Pallinghurst Resources, an investment fund chaired by Brian Gilbertson, the former CEO of BHP Billiton.

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Chad Fraser, hold no positions in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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Curious about how to invest in manganese? Here’s a brief overview of the manganese industry, from supply and demand to how to invest.

Manganese is an important industrial metal. More than 90 percent of global consumption is closely tied to the steel and construction sectors, and China is a major consumer of the metal.

Despite its solid demand base, the manganese price has been a victim of volatility in the past few years.

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Euro Manganese announced a key positive environmental ruling for its Czech Republic-based Chvaletice manganese project. 

Euro Manganese (TSXV:EMN,ASX:EMN) announced a key positive environmental ruling for its Czech Republic-based Chvaletice manganese project.

As quoted in the press release:

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A.I.S. Resources Chairman Martyn Element joined INN at to discuss his company’s progress in the manganese market, the future of electric vehicles and the dominant trends that are most likely to shape the resource industry moving forward.

A.I.S. Resources (TSXV:AIS,OTCQB:AISSF) Chairman Martyn Element joined the Investing News Network at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference to discuss his company’s progress in the manganese market, the future of the electric vehicle market and the dominant trends that are most likely to shape the resource industry moving forward.

A.I.S. Resources recently completed sourcing and shipping an order of manganese to send to a client in China. The 292 dry metric tons of manganese were assayed at 53.66 percent by the purchaser following shipment.

According to Element, the move towards electric vehicles has created significant demand for manganese, lithium, copper and other metals commonly used in rechargeable batteries and the vehicles themselves. Despite the potential in similar industries, Element maintains that A.I.S. Resources is focused on the manganese industry. However, there is potential for a new company to be created by A.I.S. as an investment issuer moving forward.

Below is a transcript of our interview with A.I.S. Resources Chairman Martyn Element. It has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Investing News Network: What is the name of your company, what is its symbol, where would we find you and which market?

A.I.S. Resources Chairman Martyn Element: We are on the TSXV and have been around since 1968. We’ve never been consolidated and never been rolled back. The company is an investment issuer, A.I.S. Resources, and our symbol is AIS.

INN: And you’ve been around for a little while.

ME: I’ve personally been around for a little while; I was a broker in the early 1980s in corporate finance. I finished up with a local firm here as Director of Corporate Finance for Pacific International. I had a client that was beginning to take a lot of my time so I went full-time with the client and that was called Clearly Canadian. I found them their first money and I found all the money for Clearly Canadian, which, of course, went from 50 cents to C$31 a share. So I left Pacific International and went on my own in corporate advisory and corporate finance.

INN: For those who don’t know what manganese is, why is this an important element as we move into the green sector?

ME: It’s not a well-followed metal, but it’s beginning to be now as it’s starting to come into vogue. There’s quite an accomplished fellow who is a director over at Canaccord — he has a deal called Euro Manganese that he’s going to be producing from a tailing situation just outside Prague, and he’s going to be producing manganese in 2024. He’s capped at about C$30 million I think, so it’s significant money he’s got. He’s single-handedly putting manganese a little bit more on the map. Manganese is used as a strengthener in steel traditionally, but it’s now beginning to be used more in futuristic car batteries. Manganese and cobalt are two of the metals that are being integrated into these longer extended batteries.

Manganese is starting to get the spotlight and cobalt is beginning to get the spotlight as well. We looked at the lithium market and lithium had quite a significant correction. With all these new cars coming out, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more lithium in the future. However, we looked at manganese and we decided that we didn’t want to mine it, we didn’t want to get involved in that, but we saw an opportunity to start getting involved in the trading of manganese. So we shipped our first manganese as a company about two months ago now, and we are expecting to have news of that shipment soon. There’s a learning curve, but it was a small amount relatively speaking. We shipped 400 tonnes of product which is still 21 or 22 containers, so it was a lot of work but we got it done and we hope to be in a position to announce that shortly. We’ve now discovered that in this marketplace to be a meaningful player will require a minimum of 5,000 tonnes.

In the last three weeks, we’ve written up two contracts for 5,000 tonnes. One was with a very large company, a $9 billion corporation called Erdos out of China. Another was with a company that we haven’t announced yet, so we’re awaiting clarification on that. Then just in the last three or four days, we’ve written a contract up for 50,000 tonnes.

Peru is not the country for that sort of quantity. So we’ve now gone further afield and we’re now sourcing in Zambia and indirectly into Tanzania and Brazil with larger amounts because for those sorts of quantities you’ve got to be able to have the supply. My CEO is a very accomplished fellow, he’s a mineral adviser in Australia, he’s one of 12 men in Australia considered in such high esteem, so he’s very qualified in all metals. He’s doing a lot of the sourcing and we are going to be the agent on these trades. To give you an idea about the money involved, on a 5,000-tonne order, our revenue at the end of the day would be just over US$1,000,000, so there’s a lot of money at stake here.

We’re all very excited about what we’re doing. We’re getting a reputation, we’re new guys, but we’re not without a resource and we’re not without players in the world and they are looking. One of the reasons there’s been a delay with our shipment is that the price of manganese went down and now it’s coming right back to where it was six months or nine months ago, which is more than holding its price, so it’s a nice place to be.

INN: Do you foresee demand for more battery power?

ME: That’s coming. People like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and these big companies are starting to get a little nervous. They’re forward buying products like manganese and lithium of course because they don’t want to get caught. When the wave comes, it’s going to be bigger than anybody would ever estimate.

INN: You touched on lithium as one of the commodities that you’re still in. Where is your lithium project at?

ME: We went into Argentina and we drilled three properties. We hit lithium on all three, but we didn’t get the parts per million. So, we didn’t get it. Millennial Lithium (TSXV:ML,OTCQX:MLNLF) did. They drilled less than 30 kilometers from one of our wells and they hit but we didn’t; it was a mother nature situation.

Now they’ve just recently changed the government again in Argentina and things are getting out of control a little bit there with inflation, the new president and a lot of the business philosophy. So, we’ve kept some key personnel in Argentina and we’re closely monitoring the situation. We’re not walking away, we’re just keeping it close. So we’re keeping our hand in but we’re not going after anything at the moment in the lithium field, we’re focusing on manganese.

INN: What are your connections like in Asia? Who do you have as a representative that’s out helping to tell your story in those complex marketplaces?

ME: The people we met in Montreal are employed close to the Chinese government and they have been incredible. We have two ladies working for us who have been successfully sourcing supply for us. I have a very close personal relationship with a very famous racing car driver, Emerson Fittipaldi from Brazil. He has told me that he’s very keen once we have a track record of success. He’s been working in China with the two biggest car manufacturers in China and the largest car manufacturer in Korea, which is KIA (KRX:000270). He said, “Martyn, when the time comes, I will take you and we will go together to meet the guys that run these plants but we have to have the success of a few things.”

So I have a few options through him. I’m going to put an advisory board together in the coming months along with some fund manager friends of mine out of Australia. We’ll have Emerson, of course, heading up the advisory board as well and I think it’s all going to come together really nicely.

INN: How important do you see manganese being in the future development of automotive batteries?

ME: Mercedes Benz is buying forward, buying lithium and other metals as we speak and they have to because the world is waiting for the explosion of cars. They’re coming on now fast and furious, with the Volkswagen (OTC Pink:VLKAF,FWB:VOW) Golf, even Volvo is going 100 percent electric by 2025. I’ve driven an electric car now for three or four years and I absolutely love it. My last car was an exotic; I had an Aston Martin DB9 Volante and it was a beautiful car. But then it was just too fast and I didn’t need it, so I’ve got an electric vehicle, a Nissan (OTC Pink:NSANY,TSE:7201) Leaf, and I love that car. Now I’m looking at the Jag, the new SUV electric that they have.

INN: Right. You’re connected to other markets as well aren’t you?

ME: Yes, yes. Well, all markets. We’re covering a lot of different things with gold through our endeavors in Peru. After two or three months, a group brought us a really nice gold property that is producing gold from two veins. Philip Thomas, a certified Mineral Valuer and Geo Scientist with the Australian Institute of Mineral Valuers and Appraisers, went out and had a close look at the property and he thinks there’s potential there for the swarming of veins that could reveal 12 to 18 veins, but it needs a little bit of money spent on it. We’ll earn our way up to 50 percent on a cash-flowing small gold mine.

There’s a county in the world that has changed all its mining laws and we’ve been working closely with some representatives there on very, very big projects in the gold world. But I don’t want to confuse investors. We have geared towards manganese. If we do something in a big way in gold, we won’t do it directly. Because of the way A.I.S. is structured, we can put an umbrella over a big deal coming in and we can vend it out quite successfully. Then you take the shareholders from A.I.S. and they get a piece of the action as we give birth to another company.

INN: OK, for somebody at home watching right now. What is my investment opportunity with you at the moment?

ME: You’ve got a company that’s capped at C$3.5 million, which of course is nothing these days. The major shareholders in A.I.S. are very big players because of my reputation and where I’ve been and they’re all staying in there, hanging in at five cents. So I think as we close on some of these bigger manganese transactions, the stock is just going to go up, very substantially and very quickly. It’s an opportunity to put some investment into the current situation and be ready for significant developments very, very shortly.

We’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got the players and we’ve got the pedigree with me and my successes. I’m watching the market and I’m thinking you can’t ignore gold right now. I’ve got a lot of people who’ve said to me, “Look, if you do something, we’ll do something significant with you as well.” So, I’m very confident. As I’ve stressed, we will be managing, we won’t be mining, we’ll be creating another company within A.I.S. as an investment issuer.

INN: Wonderful, thank you very much.

ME: Thank you for a great interview. Thank you.

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text saying "top stories this week"

Catch up and get informed with this week's content highlights from Charlotte McLeod, our editorial director.

Top Stories This Week: Powell Gets Fed Nomination, Using Gold in a Market Correction youtu.be

We're back after a break last week with quite a bit to cover in the gold space.

After running up past the US$1,860 per ounce mark midway through November, the yellow metal has taken a tumble. At the time of this writing on Friday (November 26) afternoon, it was sitting just under US$1,790.

Gold's losses this week have been attributed to elements like a stronger US dollar and better Treasury yields, although Jerome Powell's US Federal Reserve chair renomination has pulled other factors into play — some market watchers believe he may move to taper and raise interest rates faster than anticipated.


If the Fed follows its previously laid out timeline for tapering, it will wrap up in mid-2022; the central bank has said it won't raise rates until after that. It has also emphasized that its roadmap may change if necessary.

Looking at the larger picture for gold, I heard recently from Nick Barisheff of BMG Group, who believes the stock market is due for a major correction.

"The market is due for a major correction. What will cause it and when it will happen is anybody's guess — it could be tomorrow, it could be six months from now" — Nick Barisheff, BMG Group

It's impossible to know when this correction will happen, but Nick emphasized the importance of acting before it's too late. He pointed out that investors are typically slow to get out of the market once a crash actually begins — they wait for a turnaround, and by the time it's clear there won't be one, they've experienced big losses.

In his opinion, the solution is to get out of the stock market early and transfer money into gold.

Here's how Nick explained it:

"Instead of taking your money off the table and going into cash … you go to gold (because cash is devaluing daily). Gold will at least hold its own and probably appreciate … so by sitting it out in gold you can wait until the market finishes correcting and then buy back in" — Nick Barisheff, BMG Group

With gold's future in mind, we asked our Twitter followers this week what price they think the metal will be at the end of 2021. By the time the poll closed, most respondents had voted for the US$1,800 to US$1,900 range.

We'll be asking another question on Twitter next week, so make sure to follow us @INN_Resource or follow me @Charlotte_McL to share your thoughts.

Finally, in the cannabis space, INN's Bryan Mc Govern spoke with Dan Ahrens of AdvisorShares to get his thoughts on 2021 trends and what's ahead in 2022.

Dan was candid, and said if he had to choose one word to describe the cannabis market in 2021, it would be "painful." Like many others, he's been disappointed in the industry's performance — while positivity initially ran high due to excitement about potential federal changes in the US, ultimately progress has been slow.

"Cannabis started with a big run-up in January and February ... and things dragged from there" — Dan Ahrens, AdvisorShares

Still, Dan has hope for 2022 and said it will be a "huge year" for cannabis. He believes US reforms will come sooner rather than later, and in his opinion those widely anticipated changes will bring a wave of M&A activity.

Specifically, he expects to see alcohol, tobacco and other consumer packaged goods companies making deals with cannabis players, not just cannabis entities doing transactions with each other.

"Those big alcohol companies, tobacco companies, other consumer packaged goods product companies — they're waiting. They're waiting on the US" — Dan Ahrens, AdvisorShares

Want more YouTube content? Check out our YouTube playlist At Home With INN, which features interviews with experts in the resource space. If there's someone you'd like to see us interview, please send an email to cmcleod@investingnews.com.

And don't forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

cannabis plant layered with German flag graphic
Dmytro Tyshchenko / Shutterstock

Catch up on some of the biggest news of the week for the cannabis investment world.

Three political parties have formed a coalition in Germany, leading to a new government, and it has promised cannabis reform in the European nation.

Meanwhile, a popular cannabis retailer confirmed consumers will now find its products available for delivery on the Uber Eats mobile application in Ontario.

Keep reading to find out more cannabis highlights from the past five days.


Coalition of parties promises forward-looking cannabis policy

Germany, a country with comprehensive and elaborate medicinal rules for cannabis, is in a time of transition as a new government is set to begin to take over after 16 years of Angela Merkel.

Olaf Scholz, the proposed next chancellor of Germany, leads a three party coalition that will become the country's governing body. As part of its promises, talk of adult-use cannabis regulation has now gained even more momentum. A report from MJBizDaily quotes a German policy document that shows the coalition's stance:

"We are introducing the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption purposes in licensed shops. This controls the quality, prevents the transfer of contaminated substances and guarantees the protection of minors."

However, despite the promise and excitement, it remains to be seen how these ideas will be applied since no formal regulations have been drafted or approved yet.

Canadian cannabis retailer partners with popular delivery app

Tokyo Smoke, a cannabis retail operator in Canada owned by Canopy Growth (NASDAQ:CGC,TSX:WEED), announced a collaboration agreement with Uber Canada (NYSE:UBER) whereby cannabis consumers will be able to use the Uber Eats app to order products before they visit stores.

While the app won't let consumers get cannabis delivered to them, this new method opens the doors to more dynamic ways of buying cannabis.

"As a market leader in innovation and a platform used by so many Canadians, we believe this is the ideal next offering that can be done safely and conveniently on the Uber Eats app," Mark Hillard, vice president of operations with Tokyo Smoke, said in a press release.

A report from the Canadian Press indicates Ontario is considering allowing dispensaries to have delivery and pickup options made available to consumers permanently. The province allowed some of these purchasing options at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but then removed them.

Lola Kassim, general manager of Uber Eats Canada, said this new end-to-end experience will provide consumers with responsible access to legal cannabis products.

Cannabis company news

  • Organigram Holdings (NASDAQ:OGI,TSX:OGI) issued financial results for its Q4 2021 period. In its report, the company notes a net loss of C$26 million despite a 22 percent uptick in net revenue to C$24.9 million. Beena Goldenberg, the newly appointed CEO of the firm, is encouraged by the market share position earned by the company, which said it became the fourth biggest producer in Canada during the reporting period.
  • Halo Collective (NEO:HALO,OTCQB:HCANF) confirmed the decision for Akanda, its spinoff company focused on international cannabis opportunities, to begin trading on a US exchange. "The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined," the company told investors in a press release.
  • High Tide (NASDAQ:HITI,TSXV:HITI) announced the acquisition of 80 percent of NuLeaf Naturals, a CBD product wellness developer, for an estimated US$31.24 million. The deal includes a three year option clause for High Tide to complete a total acquisition. "As international markets open up and as export regulations evolve, NuLeaf's cGMP-certified facility positions us to take advantage of the global CBD business opportunity," Raj Grover, president and CEO of High Tide, said.
  • Humble & Fume (CSE:HMBL,OTC Pink:HUMBF) released the financial report for its first 2022 fiscal quarter to shareholders and the market. "As the legal cannabis market in North America continues to mature, Humble remains agile and focused on providing a leading solution for brands to scale quickly and retailers to focus on their customers," Joel Toguri, CEO of Humble, said.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Cannabis for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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