Crypto Daily News: Charles Hoskinson Wins Crypto World Cup & American Express Explores Blockchain

Crypto daily news

In today’s edition of Crypto Daily News, we’ll cover the winner of the Crypto World Cup, BlackRock eyeing Bitcoin, and the details of American Express’s blockchain exploration.

Charles Hoskinson/France Wins it All

This Saturday, France duked it out against Croatia in the World Cup, and France won 4-2. Here at, we held our own ‘Crypto World Cup’ in which we randomly paired cryptocurrency celebrities with countries competing in the global tournament.

The Crypto World Cup ended up being a phenomenal event, and we’d like to congratulate Charles Hoskinson/France for coming out on top! …

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Stock Market Uptrend Continues, But…

Article posted at The Market Oracle
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Anthony Milewski: Why Cobalt Still Has a Bright Future

The Investing News Network caught up with Anthony Milewski, CEO of Cobalt 27 Capital (TSXV:KBLT), at this year’s Lithium Supply and Markets conference to get more insight on the cobalt market.

Speaking about cobalt supply, Milewski said he expects a number of cobalt projects to come on stream in the next few years, which will help supply the demand from the electric car sector.

“The key risk from my perspective is not price, it’s not “is there enough cobalt?” Instead, it’s just simply risk associated with concentration and concentration in a difficult place namely the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” he added.

Most of the world’s cobalt production is mined in the DRC, a politically-unstable country where mining has been often linked with human right abuses and child labor.

“I think that the industry is going to have to develop a solution for monitoring cobalt all the way back to really the first shovel of dirt in order to give confidence to the entire supply chain that we’re not actually putting this conflict cobalt into our devices,” he said.

Milewski also shared his thoughts on the ongoing debate over a change in technology and chemistry in lithium-ion batteries.

“I think it’s much ado about nothing, so much air time and noise gets given to this topic but if you actually are able to sit down with battery makers and really talk with them off the record, we hear the same thing over and over and over again which is the overwhelming majority of CAPEX is going into the nickelmanganese-cobalt (NMC) battery,” he said.

Cobalt 27’s CEO also mentioned some of the factors that cobalt-focused investors should keep an eye out for in the next few months.

“If you’re an automaker and one of your competitors, whether it’s directly or through the battery maker, secures its basic material, raw material needs, I think it starts to put pressure on you and so, I anticipate that one of the drivers of interest for Q3 and Q4 this year is going to be long term agreements from battery makers and carmakers starting to come into the market,” Milewski said.

Listen to the interview above to learn his thoughts on electric cars, cobalt recycling and what’s ahead for his company in 2018. And don’t forget to check out the Investing News Network’s other Lithium Supply and Markets conference interviews.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, 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 contributed article. 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.

Cobalt Stocks Have Grown 100% in the Past Year

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Markets Pay Attention Moment – China’s Bubble Economy Ripe for Bursting

Article posted at The Market Oracle
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What Is In-Licensing?

As mergers and acquisitions of pharmaceutical companies have been prominent so far in 2018, it could be a good idea  to watch them grow through acquisitions and licensing agreements instead of just in-house research and development. These licensing agreements can prove to be very fruitful for both pharmaceutical companies and their respective stock prices.

In fact, licensing deals might be pharma’s preferred mode of business development these days—perhaps even more so than outright acquisitions. The strategy is likewise attractive to investors: licensing drugs expedites corporate development while also mitigating risk, which can cause for confusion. So, let’s clear up some common questions around the strategy:

What exactly does it mean to license a drug? How do royalties affect returns? In what ways does a license differ from an acquisition?

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Investors need to understand the intricacies of this process, so that they can interpret a company’s subsequent actions correctly—and elect to buy or sell at the right time.

In-licensing, explained

In mid-February, Santhera Pharmaceuticals (SWX:SANN) licensed a clinical-phase cystic fibrosis asset from Polyphor, a private Swiss biotech company.

While Santhera is using this to expand its own pipeline and now owns worldwide rights to develop and commercialize the drug, Polyphor will receive US$ 6.5 million upfront and another US$ 121million if the drug licensed passes specific milestones. Polyphor will receive royalty payments from the future net sales of the drug.

These types of deals are known as in-licensing: a company takes on some of the financial or technological burdens associated with developing a product, then gets to share in its returns.

Santhera is just one of the micro-cap companies making use of the strategy. Some other large-cap companies dabbling in licensing are Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB) and Alkermes (NASDAQ:ALKS) who will develop and commercialize a multiple sclerosis treatment. There’s also Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALNY), the leading RNAi therapeutics company, and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) announced a restructuring earlier this year so Alnylam will receive global development and commercialization rights to its investigational RNai therapeutics programs and Sanofi will receive royalties.

Sanofi’s vaccine division, Sanofi Pasteur, additionally signed a licensing agreement for flu vaccine technology from SK Chemicals (KRX:285130) to develop broadly protective vaccines.

In-licensing is becoming more and more commonplace, in part because of the influx of small biotech companies on the market. These early stage pharmaceutical companies are a key source of promising product candidates, which pharmaceutical companies then license certain rights to.

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Benefits of in-licensing

Licensing is cost-effective, since the financial burden of product development is shared. It’s also lower risk for the company buying in: they can make deals based on promising preclinical or clinical results. Compare that to the traditional drug discovery process, where a company embarks on a project, investing heavily in its development, all with little data to back up expectations.

Licensing also holds significant appeal when compared to straight acquisitions or mergers. As Aaron Smith wrote for CNN Money, “With licenses, drug companies purchase only the rights for the experimental drugs they’re interested in, and they don’t have to take on another company’s problems or unwanted technologies.”

All of that means in-licensing can hold major appeal for pharmaceutical companies and investors alike. But as mentioned above, it can also generate confusion—confusion which can lead to ill-informed decisions on the part of investors.

Understanding in-licensing

Just as pharmaceutical companies are always looking for the next blockbuster drug, investors are looking for the company who will develop it. In-licensing agreements, then, can appear somewhat off-putting: even if a drug proves wildly successful, its profits will need to be split between two pharmaceutical companies, and therefore two groups of shareholders.

Such was the case with Eliquis, an anticoagulant jointly developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY). Discovery and clinical advancement was completed by the latter, who joined forces with Pfizer only when entering late stage trials.

This puzzled some investors—after all, the drug seemed like a potential blockbuster. It would be a novel entrant to the market, and benefit a wide number patients. Why split the profits with another company—and one coming late to the game?

As John LaMattina explains in Forbes, there was still plenty of question about the success of Eliquis. The anticoagulant drug market is a competitive one, and there was no guarantee this drug would prove more effective than like products also in development.

Besides, Phase III trials are costly: this one would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. And Bristol-Myers Squibb was already contending with a tight R&D budget.

In the case of Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb which distributed the risk involved and eased the financial burden of getting Eliquis approved. It took a long time to roll out the drug, but today, it’s a top earner, bringing in profits for both pharmaceutical companies.

Are You Aware of the FDA’s Plans for 2018?

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On the books

Licensing deals also complicate financial statements. “They are not typically recorded as an asset on the balance sheet,” Jeff Margolis, VP of RespireRx (OTCQB:RSPI), explained to the Investing News Network (INN). “They are considered ‘in process research and development’ and the expenditures are considered expenses on the profit and loss statement, typically creating large losses.”

That means the uninitiated investor may misinterpret a company’s financial statement, since it does not “truly account for the value of the licenses.” As Margolis said “the asset is ‘intangible.’”

RespireRx: a case study

The VP of RespireRx, Margolis is intimately familiar with the ins and outs of in-licensing. His company has licensed the rights to dronabinol from the University of Illinois, and is developing the drug as a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. The drug is currently in Phase II of the company’s product pipeline.

The University of Illinois published a project report on dronabinol, which was paid for by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. RespireRx did not conduct the study and does not control data analysis, but the results—which have not yet been unblinded—will obviously have a major impact on them.

This brings us to another question that can arise with in-licensing. RespireRx submitted an 8K filing for the publication, but less experienced investors may wonder why they have not yet officially taken a position on the study, or published a press release—especially considering the study showed significant clinical differences among treatment groups, for three out of four main outcome variables.

“The Project Report … does not contain any information generated by RespireRx nor any opinion of RespireRx about the content or what it may mean and is entirely the work of the principal investigators,” Margolis told INN. “It does contain a significant amount of information that RespireRx believes investors and prospective investors may wish to know about.” The company will comment on the study once it has been unblinded.

Here again then, we see how in-licensing can be confusing: investors have to understand this process in order to understand RespireRx’s choice to delay its response.

Are You Aware of the FDA’s Plans for 2018?

Find out what’s going on in our new report


Sustainable, but not traditional

As pharmaceutical manufacturers move more toward in-licensing, they tend to reduce their massive R&D budgets. This can perturb investors accustomed to the traditional pharmaceutical growth model: drug discovery leads to products, which leads to profits.

But remember that drug discovery also leads to major losses. Pharmaceutical companies spend millions on development, yet only one in ten product candidates ever make it to market. In-licensing can offer an opportunity to cut down that expense and share the burden of risk.

Plus, as pharmaceutical investors are becoming increasingly aware, blockbuster drugs are few and far between these days. “The industry is the victim of its own previous successes,” Dan Hurley explains in an article for The New York Times. “In order to thrive, it must come up with drugs that work better than blockbusters of the past.”

In-licensing may not be traditional, but it could be a more sustainable method of pharmaceutical growth. As the major pharmaceutical companies embrace this model, investors must adjust their own mindset too. The old rules might not apply any longer, and it’s important to reconsider investment strategies in light of industry changes.

Now that you know a bit more about in-licensing, will it affect how you invest in pharmaceutical companies, and why? Let us know in the comments below.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2016.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

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

Are You Aware of the FDA’s Plans for 2018?

Find out what’s going on in our new report


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“More Education is Always Good” – Crypto and Blockchain on 2019 CFA Exam

2019 CFA exam

2019 CFA exam: “We saw the field advancing more quickly than other fields,” says Stephen Horan, the GE managing director at the CFA Insitute. “This is not a passing fad.”

CFA Institute is one of the world’s most famous nonprofits, focusing on investment professionals specifically, and offering various certifications in the field, like the Investment Foundations Certificate.

It offers a three-level program, which covers a range of topics, from machine learning to artificial intelligence. Some 150,000 financial professionals have received training through this program.

Since the crypto industry continues to garner mainstream …

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How Crazy It Is to Short Gold with RSI Close to 30

Article posted at The Market Oracle
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Wheaton Acquires Gold and Palladium Stream

Wheaton Precious Metals’ (TSX:WPM, NYSE:WPM) wholly-owned subsidiary, Wheaton Precious Metals International, is set to acquire gold and palladium equal to a fixed percentage of production from the Stillwater and East Boulder mines, collectively referred to as Stillwater, from Sibanye Gold (JSE: SGL; NYSE: SBGL).

As quoted in the press release:

Wheaton International will pay Sibanye-Stillwater upfront cash consideration of US$ 500 million upon closing. In addition, Wheaton will make ongoing payments equal to 18 percent of the spot gold price and spot palladium price until the reduction of the advanced payment to nil, and 22 percent of the spot gold price and spot palladium price thereafter. The precious metals stream is effective July 1, 2018.

Highlights are as follows:

  • Adds to Wheaton’s existing high-quality portfolio
    • Wheaton International will receive an amount of gold equal to 100 percent of the Stillwater gold production for the life of mine.
    • Wheaton International will initially receive an amount of palladium equal to 4.5 percent of Stillwater palladium production, decreasing to 2.25 percent and then 1 percent based on defined delivery thresholds, for the life of mine.
    • Stillwater is one of the lowest cost platinum group metals mines globally and is located in Montana in the United States.
    • Subsequent to the closing of this acquisition, Wheaton’s estimated proven and probable gold reserves increase by 410 thousand ounces (“Koz”) and inferred gold resources increase by 920 Koz. And, for the first time, Wheaton will have estimated proven and probable palladium reserves of 610 Koz and inferred palladium resources of 430 Koz.
  • Adds long-term production and exploration upside potential
    • For the 10 years starting in 2019, production is forecast to average approximately 14.5 Koz of gold and 29 Koz of palladium per year, or approximately 37 Koz of gold equivalent per year.
    • For the 20 years starting in 2019, production is forecast to average approximately 14.7 Koz of gold and 24 Koz of palladium per year, or approximately 33 Koz of gold equivalent per year.
    • Declared current reserves are sufficient to support mining activities at Stillwater until 2041, but this could be significantly extended should inferred resources be upgraded.
    • Significant exploration potential exists both regionally and at depth below current mineral reserves and resources. Of significance is the 12.2 kilometre undeveloped mineralized section between the currently producing Stillwater and East Boulder mines.
  • Immediate production and cash flow
    • This acquisition increases Wheaton’s production profile with attributable sales starting July 1, 2018 with expected production in the second half of 2018 forecast to be approximately 5.4 thousand gold ounces and 10.4 thousand palladium ounces.

Randy Smallwood, Wheaton president and CEO commented:

Stillwater is another accretive addition to Wheaton’s portfolio of assets that is expected to contribute both production and cash flow for decades to come. What mainly attracted us to this opportunity was the quality and size of the J-M Reef deposit, coupled with the ongoing expansion at the Blitz project.”

Click here to read the full Wheaton Precious Metals (TSX:WPM, NYSE:WPM) press release.

The post Wheaton Acquires Gold and Palladium Stream appeared first on Investing News Network.

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Atalaya Mining Releases Q2 Operations Update

Atalaya Mining (LSE:ATYM,TSX:AYM) has announced its operations update for the second quarter of 2018.

According to the company,

Copper production at Proyecto Riotinto (Spain) for Q2 2018 has increased to 10,446 tonnes from 9,058 tonnes reported in Q2 2017, and 9,441 tonnes in Q1 2018, representing an increase of 15 percent and 11 percent respectively. This quarter’s copper production replaces Q1 2018’s as the second highest quarterly production on record.

In terms of ore milled, 2.5 million tonnes were processed in the quarter, the highest ever quarterly throughput. Copper head grade was in line with expectations. The increase in copper production during the quarter is mainly attributable to the high volume of ore milled with above-budgeted metallurgical recovery rates, averaging 87.31 percent. Processing throughput was better than expected mainly due to high utilization rates.

The company maintains its previously stated copper production guidance for 2018 of 37,000 – 40,000 tonnes.

Click here to read the full Atalaya Mining (LSE:ATYM,TSX:AYM) press release.

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Stellar (XLM) and Cardano (ADA) Among Five Coins Coinbase is Considering

Coinbase updating coins

Coinbase updating coins: Three days ago the largest cryptocurrency exchange operating in the United States announced that it is exploring five new cryptocurrencies to add to its platform, including Stellar (XLM) and Cardano (ADA).

Today we are announcing that we’re exploring the addition of the following assets to Coinbase: Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC) and 0x (ZRX).

— Coinbase (@coinbase) July 13, 2018

Coinbase Updating Coins? Stellar (XLM) and Cardano (ADA) Take Center Stage

Is Coinbase updating coins? In the company’s Medium Post, Coinbase announced …

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Many ways to own gold

An email arrived to call my attention to a new gold medal issue from the Yukon.

It was sent to me over the weekend by Dick Hanscom of Alaska Rare Coins.

He is a veteran coin dealer from Fairbanks as well as a keen observer of things numismatic in the far northern state as well as in neighboring Canada.

What caught his eye are the first gold medals in a possible new series..

They are one-ounce and half-ounce .9999 fine gold medals featuring the common design of a moose on the obverse.

On the reverse is a scene of prospectors climbing Chilkoot Pass.

They are 32 millimeters and 25 mm in diameter, respectively.

Mintage is 180 one-ounce and 140 half-ounce.

Issuer is Yukon Mint, a wholly owned subsidiary of Golden Predator Mining Corporation.

The medals were designed by Miranda Lane of the Kaska Nation and features “Keda” – the Dene word for moose on the obverse, Hanscom said.

The gold is from the 3 Aces Project located in the southeast portion of the Yukon Territory near the boundary with Northwest Territories, and the Nahanni Range Road which leads to Tungsten, NWT.

This is the first of a planned annual series of medals featuring First Nations art.

The medals were released to the public on June 21, 2018, National Aboriginal Day in Canada.

Hanscom said current pricing is $ 1,400 for the one-ounce and $ 750 for the half-ounce plus shipping charges.

This is the first of a planned annual series of medals featuring First Nations art.

The medals were released to the public on June 21, 2018, National Aboriginal Day in Canada.

Hanscon directs interested parties to Gemma Cambray at for more information.

Naturally, I went to the website as well.

Check it out.

Those who enjoy charting their own path in numismatics are the target audience.

Their level of response will have an outsized impact, considering the low mintages,

I cannot imagine a series continuing if the first 180-mintage issue does not at least cover all of its costs.

Hanscom did not indicate that he was selling these, but I am sure he would enjoy communicating with collectors about other numismatic needs.

His website is here.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

Buzz – Numismatic News

UR-Energy Releases Q2 Operational Results

Ur‐Energy Inc. (NYSEAmerican:URG,TSX:URE) has released the operational results for Q2 2018. Highlights include quarterly sales of US$ 3.79 million.

Uranium miner, Ur‐Energy currently operates the Lost Creek in‐situ recovery uranium facility in south‐central Wyoming. To date the company has produced, packaged and shipped approximately 2.4 million pounds from Lost Creek.

As quoted from the press release:

Lost Creek Uranium Production and Sales

For the quarter, 89,209 pounds of U3O8 were captured within the Lost Creek plant, 74,302 pounds of U3O8 were packaged in drums and 74,416 pounds of U3O8 drummed inventory were shipped out of the Lost Creek processing plant. At June 30, 2018, inventory at the conversion facility was approximately 233,712 pounds U3O8.

During the quarter, sales totalled US$ 3.79 million on 100,000 pounds at an average price of US$ 37.90 per pound, which was 71 percent above the average spot price for the same period of US$ 22.13 per pound. The 100,000 pounds were purchased at an average cost of US$ 22.25 per pound.

During the period, the third of the first three header houses in the second mine unit (MU2) at Lost Creek commenced production. All three of the header houses are exceeding budgeted production expectations. With the addition of MU2 production, both grades and flow levels have continued to increase.

Click here to read the full press release

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Aben Intersects Mineralization Early in Drill Program at Forrest Kerr Project in BC’s Golden Triangle

Aben Resources Ltd. (TSXV:ABN, OTCBB:ABNAF, FRA:E2L2) is pleased to provide the following progress update on its 2018 exploration and drilling program at its 23,000-hectare Forrest Kerr Gold Property located in British Columbia’s Golden Triangle region. The first five holes drilled at the high grade North Boundary Zone have encountered mineralization and the drill core has been sent to the assay labs and final geochemical assays are pending. These holes have transected rock that has been strongly altered with quartz-sericite-pyrite with variable chlorite and strong calcite and hematite throughout. The pervasive nature of the alteration is evidence toward the strength of the hydrothermal system that operated through time in this part of the Property. Several fault and shear zones have been encountered in each hole, which have been interpreted and observed as the likely host to Au-Ag-Cu mineralization. This area of the Forrest Kerr Property hosts gold-silver-copper in rock and soil anomalies that span in excess of 2 km by 4 km and remain under-explored.

Golden Triangle, B.C., claims map:

Select results from the 2017 holes include 6.7 grams per tonne (g/T) Au, 6.4 g/T Ag and 0.9% Cu over 10 meters, including 18.9 g/T Au, 16.6 g/T Ag and 2.2% Cu over 3.0 meters in hole FK17-04 which contributed to an average grade of 0.26 g/T Au over 387 meters. Hole FK17-05 returned 21.5 g/T Au, 28.5 g/T Ag and 3.1% Cu over 6 meters from the same zone at a slightly greater depth.

The Company’s President and CEO, Jim Pettit, stated: “Notable regional discoveries by Pretium, GT Gold, Garibaldi Resources and others have illustrated the significant discovery upside remaining in the district and we are confident in the potential at Forrest Kerr given the newly discovered and historic high-grade mineralization there as well as the numerous untested gold-in-soil anomalies present.”

Aben currently owns certain mineral tenures outright and has agreements in place with various third-parties whereby it has the exclusive right to a 100% interest in the 23,000-hectare property area.

Cornell McDowell, P.Geo., V.P. of Exploration of Aben Resources, has reviewed and approved the technical aspects of this news release and is the Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101.

About Aben Resources:

Aben Resources is a Canadian gold exploration company developing projects in British Columbia’s Golden Triangle, the Yukon, and Saskatchewan.

For further information on Aben Resources Ltd. (TSX-V:ABN), visit our Company’s web site at

Aben Resources has approx. 81.5 million shares issued and outstanding with approx. $ 2.7 million in its treasury.


“Jim Pettit”
President & CEO

For further information contact:
Don Myers
Aben Resources Ltd.
Director, Corporate Communications
Telephone: 604-639-3851
Toll Free: 800-567-8181
Facsimile: 604-687-3119

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

This release includes certain statements that may be deemed to be “forward-looking statements”. All statements in this release, other than statements of historical facts, that address events or developments that management of the Company expects, are forward-looking statements. Although management believes the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results or developments may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements if management’s beliefs, estimates or opinions, or other factors, should change. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements, include market prices, exploration and development successes, continued availability of capital and financing, and general economic, market or business conditions. Please see the public filings of the Company at for further information.

Click here to connect with Aben Resources Ltd. (TSXV:ABN, OTCBB:ABNAF, FRA:E2L2) for an Investor Presentation. 

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Is Cobalt Still Essential to Battery Technology?

Cobalt’s role as a critical material in the booming electric vehicle (EV) batteries market has been the key driver of the cobalt story—pushing prices up four-fold from 2016 to a peak of US$ 93,250 per tonne in April 2018, compared to US$ 13,300 per tonne for lithium.

On the supply side, more than half of the world’s output comes from the politically-unstable Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where child labor and inhumane working conditions have drawn warranted scrutiny from conscientious consumers demanding conflict-free products.

High prices and supply security concerns have led both Tesla’s Elon Musk and global battery manufacturer Panasonic to announce they’re tweaking the chemical composition of their batteries to remove cobalt from the equation. This may seem like a serious impediment to cobalt’s future; however, there is more to the cobalt’s supply and demand story and the metal still has a significant role to play in the future of both battery and electronics markets.

 This INNspired Article is brought to you by:

eCobalt (TSX:ECS; OTCQX:ECSIF; FRA:ECO) is a resource company advancing its Idaho Cobalt Project (“ICP”) towards near-term production with the aim of producing clean cobalt concentrate, a key material in battery cathodes.Send me an Investor Kit

Cobalt critical to cathode chemistry

Energy in lithium-ion batteries is stored in the cathode, which is made by forming a base metal oxide skeleton with lithium ions embedded inside the skeleton. It is the base metals used in the cathode chemistry which determines the cost and performance of the battery.

The preferred chemistries for most EV manufacturers have been lithium-nickelmanganese-cobalt oxide (NMC) and lithium-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) batteries. Compared to other chemistries, these are considered to be the most efficient in terms of both power and energy storage. The standard recipe for NMC batteries consists of 60 percent nickel, 20 percent manganese and 20 percent cobalt.

“Cobalt is the element that makes up for the lack of stability of nickel, according to Umicore Chief Executive Marc Grynberg. “There isn’t a better element than nickel to increase energy density, and there isn’t a better element than cobalt to make the stuff stable.”

Cobalt an essential material for modern life

Cobalt is a relatively stable element with high-density conductive and non-corrosive properties that make it ideally suited to more than just EV batteries. In fact, in 2017, about 72 percent of the world’s annual cobalt consumption went to the mobile device market—think cell phones, laptops, and tablets as well as a wide range of consumer electronics such as portable tools and home appliances; the everyday essentials of life in the modern world.

Not only is cobalt used in the rechargeable batteries that power these devices, the metal is also an integral part of electrical components such as semiconductors and integrated circuits. Cobalt can be found in the circuitry of home appliances, and coats the copper wiring of semiconductors in your cell phone. The metal also makes possible the digital storage of information, including documents, photo, video and audio files.

Cobalt has an important role to play in the growing stationary energy storage market as well, which is expected to reach more than US$ 21 billion globally by the end of 2024. Large industrial and home grid energy storage systems such the Tesla Powerwall, LG Chem’s RESU and the Leclanche Appollion Cube all use NCM lithium-ion battery technology.

Cobalt market long-term strength

Elon Musk’s declaration earlier this year that Tesla may be able to reduce the amount of cobalt in its batteries “to almost nothing” had minimal impact on the market, only shifting equities. In fact, many analysts were able to posit several good reasons for why the cobalt market will remain a strong one.

Chris Berry, founder of House Mountain Partners, told INN at  Mines and Money New York in May 2018 that the quest to minimize cobalt use in lithium-ion batteries is nothing new and Musk is “just echoing what’s happening in the battery space overall.” However, “does that mean that cobalt is now a screaming sell and you should run away because we’re never going to use cobalt in batteries? The answer is no. My sense is that obviously when you think about — like Benchmark Mineral Intelligence has their megafactory tracker — we’ll be building a lot more batteries, they’ll just have a lot less cobalt. Overall I think demand could go up, probably triple from these levels.”

In 2016, lithium-ion battery megafactory capacity reached 30 gigawatt hours (GWh) and is expected to reach 344.5 GWh by 2021 to meet surging demand. And cobalt demand is forecast to grow in lockstep over the coming years. Demand for cobalt in batteries is expected to grow at 14.5 percent per year to 2027 to more than 240,000 tonnes, or double the size of the total market in 2017, said a recent Roskill report.

According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence,  even in a scenario where by 2026 the number of NCM cathodes with a nickel-cobalt ratio of 8:1 equals 40 percent of the market, the world will still need 180,000 tonnes per year of battery-grade cobalt to match battery demand—triple the amount of battery-grade cobalt produced in 2017.

Cobalt-free batteries may not be feasible for decades

High materials prices and pressure from consumers to source conflict-free supply may be pressuring companies like Tesla and Panasonic to look for cobalt alternatives; but in reality doing so would only lead to lower performance and poor stability—which can have a negative impact not only on battery longevity and chargeability, but more importantly, safety. “To reduce cobalt to such a minor role — the major element involved in stabilizing the battery — brings with it huge risk, especially in the first wave of pure EV models to hit the road when safety scrutiny is at its highest,” said Benchmark Mineral Intelligence analysts in a recent report.

Not to mention the fact that battery companies are years away from engineering a feasible non-cobalt cathode chemistry. “There are still a number of engineering challenges that will need to be overcome in order to be able to use high-nickel/low-cobalt formats for EVs,” Benchmark Mineral Intelligence analyst Caspar Rawles told the Investing News Network. “Whilst there is a big push to move towards NCM 811, the technology still needs to be developed and then rigorously tested to be able to be deployed on a mass scale. This will take time and the transition to the technology will be relatively slow.”

And any reduction in cobalt use will be outweighed by “the growth trajectory that we see in EVs … and we still need a significant supply-side response,” added Rawles.

Instability in the DRC means instability in global cobalt supplies

Most of the world’s cobalt is produced as a by-product of nickel and copper mining in the DRC, which hosts part of Central Africa’s copper belt. The conflict-ridden African nation churns out at least 50 percent of global annual cobalt production, with other estimates going as high as 70 percent, and holds 50 percent of the world’s cobalt reserves. Unregulated artisanal mining–which is plagued with forced and child labor problems amongst other social and environmental issues–represents a surprising one-fifth of world production.

On the political front, the DRC “has a history of political instability and armed conflicts: and “continues to be characterized by high governance risks,” says the US Geological Survey. “The fact that mined cobalt supply is highly concentrated in one country poses high risk  . . . Currently, no alternative country is positioned to increase production to meet global demand if production from the DRC were to be constrained or disrupted.” The USGS also points out that with the world’s biggest cobalt consumer China heavily invested in the DRC cobalt trade, supplies on the international market are further restricted.

There are few stable, conflict-free cobalt regions; however, the world’s premiere mining jurisdictions of the United States, Canada and Australia do host some promising exploration and development-stage cobalt projects. Seeing the opportunity offered by these emerging cobalt jurisdictions, there are a number of companies developing portfolios of cobalt properties. This includes eCobalt (TSX:ECS; OTCQX:ECSIF; FRA:ECO) in Idaho; Fortune Minerals Ltd. (TSXV:FT) in Canada’s North West Territories; and Clean TeQ Holdings (ASX:CLQ,TSX:CLQ) in Australia.

Major firms looking to source cobalt directly from miners

This tenuous supply situation alongside rising prices and consumer pressure is leading the world’s top tech companies, automakers and Asian battery makers to look to secure long-term supply agreements with cobalt miners.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced in early 2018 that it’s in discussions with miners, seeking five-year contracts to secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt each year. And there are reports of Japanese and Korean tech and battery companies firing up talks with mine developers outside of the DRC. “We are starting to see the first signs of an arms race to secure long term cobalt supplies,” Joe Kaderavek, CEO of Australia’s Cobalt Blue (ASX:COB) told Reuters.

In February, Australian Mines (ASX:AUZ) signed an seven-year cobalt offtake agreement with battery maker SK Innovation (KRX:096770), which plans to use the materials at a Hungary-based EV battery manufacturing plant. That same month, Beijing Easpring Material Technology (SZSE:300073) in China inked strategic partnerships with Clean TeQ Holdings on its Sunrise nickel-cobalt project and Global Energy Metals Corp. (TSXV:GEMC).

The Takeaway

EV battery makers may be working to reduce their reliance on costly cobalt, but we can expect the metal to remain a critical component of the chemical mix for years to come. And any possible reduction is likely to be outweighed by the massive growth trajectory for not only EV batteries but consumer electronics and energy storage systems as well.

This INNspired article is sponsored by eCobalt (TSX:ECS; OTCQX:ECSIF; FRA:ECO). This article was written according to INN editorial standards to educate investors. 

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5 Top Weekly TSXV Stocks: Fjordland Up on Drill Program

Last Friday (July 13), the S&P/TSX Venture Composite Index (INDEXTSI:JX) fell 4.76 points, down 0.65 percent, to close at 724.21.

Trade war fears seem to be here to stay, and markets are responding accordingly, with base metals down and the stock markets generally flat this week.

On the TSXV, the Investing News Network took a look at how the junior miners have been faring this week. Below are the top five gainers for the week ending July 13.

  • White Metal Resources (TSXV:WHM)
  • Murchison Minerals (TSXV:MUR)
  • Kaizen Discovery (TSXV:KZD)
  • Fjordland Exploration (TSXV:FEX)
  • European Electric Metals (TSXV:EVX)

White Metal Resources

White Metal explores Ontario and Newfoundland for precious and base metals. The company has three projects on its books; Gunners Cove in Newfoundland, Shebandowan in Ontario and Pickle Lake, also in Ontario.

Its most recent news was about Gunners Cove on July 11, when the company revealed the discovery of a new target zone on the property and more details about ongoing exploration there.

The company said that to date, 15 new areas of gold mineralization had been discovered, of which three were identified as high-priority follow-up targets.

The news went down well, with the company’s share price on the Toronto Stock Exchange more than doubling to C$ 0.23 last week, a jump of 109 percent.

Murchison Minerals

Murchison minerals is a base metals-focused company with its attention mostly on its high-grade Brabant-McKenzie deposit in northern Saskatchewan, although the company also has a pot on the boil in Quebec.

Murchison didn’t release any news last week, but its most recent news was about Brabant-McKenzie back in late June, detailing very promising drill results from its 2018 drill program.

The company’s share price finished out the week up 47.83 percent to C$ 0.17.

Kaizen Discovery

Kaizen Discovery is a base and precious metals explorer focused on South America. It’s majority owned by HPX TechCo, which is a privately-owned company led by Robert Friedland.

Along with three projects up for purchase or joint venture, Kaizen has the Pinaya copper-gold project in Peru which is holds up as its core focus.

According to the company, Pinaya has estimated measured resources of 8.2 million tonnes grading 0.33 percent copper, and estimated indicated resource of 33.5 million tonnes grading 0.32 percent copper.

Kaizen released news last week, updating shareholders on an exploration program at the project. The prior consultation process with the Peruvian government and the local population has been completed, allowing the company to proceed with its first phase of drilling.

Kaizen posted a 33.33 percent gain on the Toronto Venture Exchange over the five-day period, going from C$ 0.065 to C$ 0.08.

Fjordland Exploration

Fjordland released news this week that it was starting drilling at the South Voisey’s Bay nickel-cobalt project in Labrador, where its neighbour is Vale’s (NYSE:VALE) Voisey’s Bay mine.

Robert Friedland’s HPX appears for the second time on this list this week, as his company, along with Commander Resources (TSXV:CMD) is a partner with Fjordland at South Voisey’s Bay.

The initial drill program was reported to be 1,300 m of drilling in 6-8 holes and included a property-wide geological mapping and additional target assessment.

Shares of the company increased 30 percent last week, closing at C$ 0.26.

European Electric Metals

Vancouver-based European Electric Metals seeks to become a major industry source of metals vital for the burgeoning lithium-ion battery market, including copper, nickel and cobalt.

The company’s most recent news was over a month ago, when European Electric Metals posted assay results from its Rehova copper project in Albania.

Shares in the company increased 20 percent to close at C$ 0.18 last week.

Data for 5 Top TSXV Stocks articles is retrieved each Friday at 10:30 a.m. PST using The Globe and Mail’s market data filter. Only companies with a market capitalization greater than $ 10 million prior to the week’s gains are included. Companies within the mining and precious metals sectors are considered.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

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

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