Full size / In the C.O.D vein system, the tellurium occurs as a soft silver-grey telluride mineral, a Silver-Tellurium-Gold alloy speculated to be sylvanite (Ag,Au)Te2.
Today, Ximen Mining Corp. announced that its option partner for the Gold Drop Project in southern British Columbia has requested tellurium re-analysis of select high-grade core samples from the Fall 2018 drill program targeting the C.O.D Vein. Ximen’s CEO, Chris Anderson, explained in today’s press-release:
“Due to the multiple industry inquiries and spiked interest with regards to the Tellurium grades as well as the fact that the Te grades have exceeded upper analytical limits at the Lab (ie 500 G/T Te) the decision was made to re-assay these drill core samples with a focus on obtaining the actual Tellurium grades.”
I like the sound of “multiple industry inquiries”. And when digging deeper into the tellurium market, this appears to make all the more sense as global tellurium supply is astonishingly tight while demand has been on the rise for many years. Consequently, the long-time fear of tellurium supply shortages may become a serious reality. Ximen explains:
“Tellurium (Te) remains as one of the rarest elements on earth. Tellurium production has been a by-product of copper and gold mining. The production is limited, estimated to being on the order of 800 metric tonnes per year. According to the USGS total production for 2007 was 107 Mtonnes. Up until recently, the sole use of tellurium has been the alloying of other metals to increase the machinability of copper or to decrease the corrosive action of sulfuric acid on lead.
The most significant modern use of tellurium is the Cadmium-telluride (Cd-Te) photovoltaic solar cells. These solar cells are at the forefront of solar power. One gigawatt (GW) of Cd-Te, at current efficiencies, would require approximately 93 metric tons of tellurium. These cells have the smallest carbon footprint and the shortest energy payback time of all solar cells. The efficiency of technology is constantly improving and the Cd-Te now takes up 5.1% of worldwide PV production.”
Full size / “Multiple drill core samples from drill holes COD18-67 and COD18-70 exceeded the upper 500 grams per tonne (g/t) analytical limit for tellurium. These samples returned high grade values for gold and silver. These samples will be re-analyzed to determine tellurium grades.“ (Source: Ximen Mining news release of March 7, 2019)
Excerpts from Ximen’s press-release today:
“In the C.O.D vein system, the tellurium occurs as a soft silver-grey telluride mineral. The telluride mineral is a Silver-Tellurium-Gold alloy speculated to be sylvanite. Whenever this mineral is observed in the drill core the interval has elevated silver, gold and tellurium values.”
“Fourteen drill core samples from the high-grade gold and silver intersections of drill holes COD-18-67 and COD-18-70 returned greater than the upper analytical limit of 500 g/t for tellurium during initial analysis (four acid ICP-MS analysis by ALS Canada Ltd. in North Vancouver). As a result, the tellurium weighted average grade for these intersections could not be determined. The Company has requested ALS Canada Ltd. to re-analyze these samples for tellurium.”
“The highlights of the 2018 Fall drill program are drill hole COD18-67 which intersected 129 g/t gold and 1,154 g/t silver over 7.28 meters core length and drill hole COD18-70 which intersected 107.5 g/t gold and 880 g/t silver over 6.90 meters core length (News Releases of January 11and 18, 2019).”
Intersections for 2017 and 2018 diamond drill holes at the C.O.D. vein include the following (please refer to the Ximen‘s website for news releases announcing these results):
Full size / With 550 MW installed capacity and an annual net output of 1,287 GW·h, the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in Riverside County, California, is one of the world‘s largest and most efficient solar parks. It uses approximately 8.8 million CdTe modules made by First Solar.
Cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar panels belong to the second generation of photovoltaic (PV) technologies and are already the second-most utilized solar material in the world, after silicon.
However, these CdTe “thin-film“ semiconductor layers are not only cheaper to mass produce but also far better at absorbing light than silicon and have proven to be superior in the field under real conditions, especially at elevated temperatures and humidity.
CdTe solar panels are already a mature industrial technology with many manufacturers and service provides around the planet competing for feedstock, especially tellurium. Major technological advances in CdTe solar modules over the last years lead to mass production and are already preferred for utility applications and large-scale solar parks. Residential applications should follow now and strongly drive the demand for tellurium to all-time highs. According to Wikipedia:
“Cadmium telluride PV is the only thin-film technology with lower costs than conventional solar cells made of crystalline silicon in multi-kilowatt systems. On a lifecycle basis, CdTe PV has the smallest carbon footprint, lowest water use and shortest energy payback time of all solar technologies. CdTe‘s energy payback time of less than a year allows for faster carbon reductions without short-term energy deficits. CdTe photovoltaics are used in some of the world‘s largest photovoltaic power stations, such as the Topaz Solar Farm. With a share of 5.1% of worldwide PV production, CdTe technology accounted for more than half of the thin film market in 2013. A prominent manufacturer of CdTe thin film technology is the company First Solar, based in Tempe, Arizona.“
With a current market capitalization of $5.5 billion USD, First Solar Inc. is the most salient leader in PV innovation and the world‘s largest CdTe PV manufacturer. The NASDAQ listed company is also known to be very active from raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling. According to “First Solar Owns a Gold, Silver and Tellurium Mine?” (2011):
”First Solar has been looking for suppliers who would focus on mining tellurium. Capital Mining in Australia announced in May 2008 that First Solar was sending a geologist to check out a newly discovered tellurium deposit. “There’s a limited amount of tellurium in the world and First Solar needs a significant portion of it. It would make sense for them to try to lock up supply and increase their security,” said National Bank Financial analyst Rupert Merer in a Reuters article. Estimates vary, but annual global tellurium production is about 160 tons to 260 tons, with demand potentially reaching 800 tons by 2013. At 8 grams of tellurium per 2 foot by 4 foot panel, that’s roughly 100 metric tons of tellurium for each gigawatt of PV production.”
First Solar’s 2019 Guidance projects a production volume between 5.2 and 5.5 GW. The company is known as one of the largest tellurium buyers in the world. In 2018, Canada based 5N Plus announced a contract to supply First Solar with tellurium and industry sources believe “the figure to be around 160-180 tonnes of tellurium per year, amounting to approximately 480-540 tonnes over the full duration of the contract [through to 2021]. As a result, market participants have expressed concerns over supply with a significant volume of tellurium - around 30% of total worldwide production per year - now effectively removed from the market for the next three years.”
While market studies are forecasting steady growth in demand for tellurium over the next years, supply may be declining because most tellurium is produced as a byproduct during copper recovery and refining. According to an USGS Report (2017), the world currently depends on copper mining for roughly 90% of its tellurium supply. However, copper grades in mines around the world continue to decline and are increasingly turning to different kinds of recovery methods to produce from lower grade ore, which largely bypass any recovery of tellurium. This global copper trend is poised to seriously impact tellurium output in the future. According to “Solar Power: Innovation, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice” (University of California, 2019):
“Tellurium occurs in the earth’s crust at the rate of only one part per billion. It is about a thousand times as scarce as the rare earth elements that are subject to ongoing trade disputes among the U.S., China, Malaysia, and Japan. The availability of and market for tellurium have interesting implication for the photopholtaic industry, in part because one photopholtaic manufacturer dominates the market. First Solar, of Tempe, Arizona, currently purchases 40% of the total volume of tellurium sold.
In 2010 First Solar agreed to buy a significant portion of high-purity tellurium from Apollo Solar Energy, a Chinese tellurium supplier operating open-pit mines on its Dashuigou property in Sichuan Province. This is the only mine in the world where tellurium is the primary product. Most other tellurium supplies are secondary or tertiary products of copper or gold. Recovery is largely driven by the price; as the price goes up mines are more willing to put in the effort to recover tellurium from ores.
The DOE [US Department of Energy] expects that by 2031 there will need to be additional main-product tellurium mines and an ample secondary supply of recycled CdTe photopholtaic modules. In 2011, financial analysts observed that First Solar had acquired a gold-tellurium mine in Mexico to secure future cadmium telluride supplies. First Solar’s efforts to secure a tellurium supply are bolstered by the reuse and recovery of tellurium from manufacturing scrap and end-of-life photopholtaic modules.”
It will be in interesting to learn more about the actual tellurium grades with the re-analysis of select drill core from Ximen’s Gold Drop Project (currently under option agreement to GGX Gold Corp). Indeed, solar panel manufacturers, or other kinds of industry players, may show some interest in tellurium as a highly sought-after feedstock for CdTe solar panels.
Moreover, the recent drill results at Gold Drop also showed high silver grades. This may also be of interest to PV manufacturers as silver is also used in solar panels (when looking closely at a module, notice the thin lines of silver metal running across the dark photovoltaic matter). In 2011, the global solar industry consumed about 11% of the global silver supply. By 2018, that number was over 20%.
“Silver has the lowest electrical resistance among all metals at standard temperatures, meaning its substitutes cannot hope to match it in terms of energy output per panel.” (“The Role of Silver in the Green Revolution”, The Silver Institute, 2018)
According to Forbes (2017): “While First Solar says that the efficiency of its Series 6 modules will likely stand at over 18% at launch, efficiencies could improve to over 19% in the next few years, as the company executes on its technology roadmap. We could see stronger improvements in the long run, as First Solar’s Cd-Te technology has a higher theoretical upper limit for conversion efficiencies compared to silicon-based panels. Moreover, First Solar has a solid track record of translating record cell and record module efficiencies into production. It’s current record cell efficiency standard currently stands at 22.1%.”
According to Energysage (2019): “Simply put, solar panel efficiency (expressed as a percentage) quantifies a solar panel’s ability to convert sunlight into electricity. Given the same amount of sunlight shining for the same duration of time on two solar panels with different efficiency ratings, the more efficient panel will produce more electricity than the less efficient panel. In practical terms, for two solar panels of the same physical size, if one has a 21% efficiency rating and the other has a 14% efficiency rating, the 21% efficient panel will produce 50% more kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity under the same conditions as the 14% efficient panel. Thus, maximizing energy use and bill savings is heavily reliant on having top-tier solar panel efficiency. Many consumers and people in the solar industry consider solar panel efficiency to be the most important criterion when assessing a solar panel’s quality.“
Report #7: “Ximen Hires B.C. Mining Expert Dr. Mathew Ball“
Report #6: “Location is Key for Ximen‘s Treasure Mountain Project in Southern British Columbia“
Report #5: “The Unprecedented Gold-Silver-Tellurium Strikes in the Historic Greenwood Mining Camp Continue“
Report #4: “Record-Breaking Gold Hit in Southern British Columbia“
Report #3: “Strong drill results and appreciating precious metals prices may herald golden times for Ximen Mining“
Report #2: “Ximen Mining reveals striking drill core observations ahead of assays“
Report #1: “Ximen Mining: Hunting for Multi-Million Ounces in British Columbia“
Link to updated chart (15 min. delayed): http://schrts.co/nVvegNqV
Ximen Mining Corp.
888 Dunsmuir Street – Suite 888
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6C 3K4
Phone: +1 604 488 3900
Shares Issued & Outstanding: 32,179,025
Canadian Symbol (TSX.V): XIM
Current Price: $0.58 CAD (03/06/2019)
Market Capitalization: $19 Million CAD
German Symbol / WKN (Frankfurt): 1XMA / A2JBKL
Current Price: €0.355 EUR (03/06/2019)
Market Capitalization: €11 Million EUR
Disclaimer: This report contains forward-looking information or forward-looking statements (collectively "forward-looking information") within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking information is typically identified by words such as: "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "intend", "estimate", "potentially" and similar expressions, or are those, which, by their nature, refer to future events. Rockstone Research, Ximen Mining Corp. and Zimtu Capital Corp. caution investors that any forward-looking information provided herein is not a guarantee of future results or performance, and that actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking information as a result of various factors. The reader is referred to the Ximen Mining Corp.´s and Zimtu Capital Corp.´s public filings for a more complete discussion of such risk factors and their potential effects which may be accessed through the Ximen Mining Corp.´s and Zimtu Capital Corp.´s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. Please read the full disclaimer within the full research report as a PDF (here) as fundamental risks and conflicts of interest exist. The author, Stephan Bogner, holds a long position in Ximen Mining Corp. as well as Zimtu Capital Corp. and is being paid by Zimtu Capital Corp. for the preparation, publication and distribution of this report, which company holds a long position in Ximen Mining Corp. The author currently does not hold any equity positions or other kind of interest in GGX Gold Corp. or any other mentioned company. Ximen Mining Corp. has paid Zimtu Capital Corp. to provide this report and other investor awareness services.
Stephan Bogner (Dipl. Kfm.)
8260 Stein am Rhein, Switzerland