Lionels Big Picture

LionelGreen

10 January 2021

I provide a "big picture" of Bushveld Minerals and its prospects, updated from my previous version, posted on the LSE bulletin board on 01-12-20 (and here on 10-01-21).

The aim is to help orient new investors to the company, and newcomers to this board. The most significant changes/updates since the version posted on 01-01-21 are highlighted in pink.

January 2021 saw steadily increasing vanadium prices, but an SP moving from 19.50p at the start of the month to 18.5p at the end.

The target contract award date for Eskom Package 1 was 30-12-20, so news on this should be forthcoming soon.

During the past month, Bushveld Minerals was listed by Stockopedia as one of the three shares with best performance prospects for 2021 (as tipped by their subscribers), and The Financial Times tipped it as "a producer of vanadium, a metal with characteristics that position it strongly in the steel, alloys and chemicals sectors and (playing to the sustainability theme) a key component in flow batteries." Meanwhile Largo Resources (as a similar vanadium miner) was tipped by Wall Street billionaire Leon Cooperman, who viewed it as somewhat “speculative,” but an investment having little risk with high potential return.

The three-day International Flow Battery Forum, 19--21 January, included details of the Dutch company PortLiner, whose aim is “zero emission” inland shipping, deploying all-electric vessels equipped with flow batteries.

Sadly, the company reported the death of Ms Dolly Mokgatle, a highly respected independent non-executive director, on 11 January.

Q1. What is BMN?

A. One of the world's top three (primary) vanadium miners/producers, with some of the world's biggest high-purity vanadium deposits. It is located in the Bushveld area of South Africa. Production is ongoing, the company is already very profitable, and it has ambitious plans to increase production and sales, and to diversify further.

The company (http://www.bushveldminerals.com) comprises three arms:

  • Bushveld Vanadium: a low cost, vertically integrated primary vanadium producer
  • Bushveld Energy: an energy storage component manufacturer and project developer, focused on vanadium-based energy storage systems called VRFBs
  • additional (minor) investments in coal (Lemur's Imaloto, Madagascar), tin (Afritin, Namibia and South Africa), and other (PQ iron, titanium and phosphate)

Their corporate video shows some of their mining and processing operations is here.


Q2. What is vanadium?

A. An element used (at present) primarily for strengthening steel, used in large (and increasing) quantities in the manufacturing and construction industry (as rebar).

Indeed, all serious industry commentary points to an ongoing vanadium deficit, with inventories running low. With the world embarking on large-scale infrastructure investment and development post Covid, a demand for large quantities of re-enforced steel is anticipated.

In addition, demand for vanadium is expected to rise strongly over the coming years with the ongoing take-up of vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs).

Vanadium is actually very common in the Earth's crust (the 20th most abundant element), but sources of sufficiently high concentration to extract economically are more limited.

Q3. Context: who are the other major vanadium miners?

A. Principally Glencore's Rhovan in South Africa and Largo's Maracas Menchen mine in Brazil. Various others are under development or consideration.

In addition to these "primary producers", vanadium is also produced (mainly in China and Russia) as a by-product of steel smelting, but with attendant issues such as restricted supply and pollution products.

Q4. What are BMN's vanadium resources and processing facilities?

A. They comprise (see company website):

  • Vametco, an integrated mine and processing facility: the mine is opencast, along a strike of approximately 3.5 km. It produces a steel-alloying vanadium carbon nitride product, called Nitrovan.
  • Vanchem: a primary low-cost vanadium processing facility, producing vanadium pentoxide, ferrovanadium, vanadium chemicals and it is capable of producing vanadium trioxide.
  • Mokopane: one of the world's largest primary vanadium resources, foreseen as a primary source of feedstock for Vanchem. The long-term plan is to develop Mokopane into a standalone integrated mine and processing plant.
  • Brits: prospecting rights and a mining right under application on farms adjacent to Vametco. Brits has the potential to supply additional feed tonnage for the Vametco plant, and if required, concentrate feed for Vanchem.


Presently, BMN produces 3400 mtV (metric tonnes of vanadium) per year, and has short-term (3-5 year) plans to triple this to more than 8400 mtV. This can be compared with a total global production in 2019 of around 110,000 mtV. Growth is also expected to be accompanied by a lower production cost.

The extent of BMN's primary vanadium resource is vast: the as-yet untapped Mokopane has an estimated contained vanadium resource of more than 2,000,000 tonnes (contained V2O5).

Importantly, the particular geology of the Bushveld complex means that a vanadium resource of similar concentration and extent is unlikely to exist elsewhere.

More specifically, BMN's quoted resources are as follows:

  • Bushveld Vametco 187 million tonnes of ore at 0.78% = 1,450 kilotonnes of contained V2O5
  • Bushveld Brits 67 million tonnes of ore at 0.58% = 372 kilotonnes of contained V2O5
  • Bushveld Mokopane 297.2 million tonnes of ore at 0.68% = 2,028 kilotonnes of contained V2O5
This corresponds to a total of 2028+1450+372 = 3,850 kilotonnes (3.85 MegaTonnes) of contained V2O5.

In addition to these vanadium resources, Mokopane is estimated to contain:

  • a phosphate layer (442 Mtonnes JORC), which must in any case be stripped to get at the vanadium;
  • high grades of titanium in the P-Q zone;
  • iron ore (93 9Mtonnes JORC).
The iron ore represents an increasingly attractive asset given the increasing price of iron. Interestingly, it was to exploit this iron ore that the company was formed in the first place, before the increasing value of the vanadium resources was fully appreciated.

Q5. What underpins BMN's share price?

A. BMN's position as a low-cost vanadium producer, at a time when vanadium is in structural deficit, with the company's ambitious plans for increased production at a time when world-wide building (e.g. earthquake-proofing) regulations are expected to lead to an increased demand in future (e.g. in China, and elsewhere).

Fortune Mojapelo's analysis of the present vanadium market (demand-supply) is well summarised in his recent (20-10-20) BRR Media interview (Chapter 3, from 9:03)

Specifically, he considers that China is moving to being a net importer of vanadium. China currently accounts for 18% of BMN's production, up from 3% last year.

Q6. What about energy storage and Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB)?

A. A key bottleneck in the take-up of renewable energy is the problem of large-scale grid energy storage, because power is (of course) also needed when energy (wind or solar) is not being generated, while storing large quantities of electric energy is very challenging. Large-scale battery technologies embrace the better-known Li-ion systems, as well as vanadium (and other) flow batteries. Other energy storage technologies considered include pumped hydro, liquid air, and compressed air.

Vanadium has particular properties (related to its four adjacent oxidation states) that make it a unique battery storage electrolyte - allowing indefinite charge/discharge cycles with no degradation, and (unlike Li-ion systems) with no intrinsic fire risks. VRFBs are scaleable, and the vanadium can be recycled or re-used as required. Although presently not as well-known as Li-ion batteries, the technology is well proven, with big storage systems ongoing and planned - driven by the climate emergency. It is useful to stress that a VRFB has exactly the same electrolyte on either side of the battery membrane, so that any unintended transmission of electrolyte through the membrane is of no particular importance.


More detailed explanation of the operating principles of VRFB's are given here:  this site and labnews.co.uk.

BMN has, during 2020, secured guaranteed downstream electrolyte customers in two leading VRFB companies: Invinity (IES, UK/US-based, formed from the merger of Avalon/RedT) and Enerox (Austrian-based, previously known as Cellcube).

An important development in the ongoing uptake in VRFB technology is the possibility of renting out the vanadium electrolyte. This is underpinned by the fact that the contained vanadium is considered to be fully recyclable/re-usable indefinitely into the future (say, in 10-20 years). In turn, this addresses two separate challenges faced by VRFBs. The first is the historical price volatility of vanadium, which is a hindrance to market penetration. The second is that the electrolyte constitutes a significant upfront cost, of around 30-40% of the whole system, implying a significant capital expenditure. Leasing the electrolyte means that the capital cost can be transferred to operational expenses over period of, say, five years or more.

Q7. How much vanadium is required for a Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries?

Note that VRFBs (as for all batteries) are characterised both by their maximum power output (measured in kW or MW), as well as their total contained energy (measured in kWh or MWh). China's Dalian 200MW/800MWh grid-scale battery, for example, can provide 200MW for 4 hours.

The amount of vanadium required is proportional to the battery energy storage capacity (MWh), rather than its power (MW), which is the reason why longer storage times can be achieved simply by adding more electrolyte, while leaving the power stacks untouched. This gives flow batteries sub-linear scaling of cost versus storage capacity, which is a key feature that makes flow batteries ideal for grid-scale energy storage systems.

VRFBs require some 4500-5000 tonnes of vanadium per GWh, corresponding to about 40,000 tonnes of electrolyte (i.e. once mixed with water and acid).

Q8. What sort of applications are relevant to VRFBs?

A. When taking account of both storage duration and the number of cycles, VRFBs are expected to find applications in:

  • commercial and industrial renewable storage
  • grid services providers
  • electric car charging
  • communications infrastructure
  • microgrids
  • grid capacity management
  • hyperscale data centres

More quantitatively, Bloomberg estimate that demand for stationary energy storage (excluding electric vehicles) will grow from 17GWh currently to more than 2850GWh over the next 20 years, or more than a 100-fold increase. Navigant sees demand growing at 58% per annum through to 2027.

For further reading on prospects, see for example:

05-10-20: A solution to renewable energy's biggest challenge

19-08-20: Flow batteries, and what you can use them for

26-07-20: How energy storage will kill fossil fuel

30-06-20: Use in hyperscale data centres (Kenneth Davies at the International Flow Battery Forum)

04-04-19: Can vanadium flow batteries beat Li-ion for utility-scale storage

Q9. Would higher vanadium prices be better for the company's profits?

A. Yes and no. Vanadium prices have been historically rather volatile, but the presently perceived structural deficit is considered likely to lead to higher prices in the future. Higher vanadium prices would increase the profit per kg sold, while lower prices will act as a barrier for other mines to come on-stream. Higher prices may affect the speed of take-up for its large-scale grid energy storage applications, although the leasing model will help to smooth out fluctuations in pricing.

One of the LSE discussion board's posters (Loudspeaker) tracks the vanadium prices here.

Q10. Can we have some examples of VRFB take-up?

A. Near-term prospects for vanadium battery take-up are particularly advanced in China, and in South Africa. The former includes Rongke Power's close-to-completion Dalian 200MW/800MWh grid-scale battery, with two more, each of 250MW/1000MWh, planned for 2020-21.


LSE poster @mogwhy maintains a regularly updated list of the major VRFB projects around the world. His latest update (27-01-21), following the Vanitec meeting, identified 20 across China, S. Africa, Australia, and Japan, including three more projects under construction by Rongke in Dalian and a new 200 MWh project for VRB Energy:

  • 1,000 MWh------- China - Jiangsu TianWan nuclear station (4,500 tonnes)
  • 1,000 MWh------- China - Jiangsu offshore wind integration (4,500 tonnes)
  • ---800 MWh------ China - Shijiazhuang (3,600 tonnes)
  • ---500 MWh------ China - Hubei Zaoyang Ph 2 (VRB Energy) (2,250 tonnes)
  • ---400 MWh------ China - Dalian (Rongke/UET) stage 2 (1,800 tonnes)
  • ---400 MWh------ China - Yancheng (Shanghai Electric Group) (1,800 tonnes)
  • ---400 MWh------ China - Wuhan (1,800 tonnes)
  • ---320 MWh------ Eskom BESS phase 2 (1,440 tonnes max)
  • ---300 MWh------ Australia - Pangea, Port Augusta (CellCube) (1,350 tonnes)
  • ---200 MWh------ China - VRB Energy project TBA Q1 2021 (900 tonnes)
  • ---180 MWh------Bushveld Minerals self generation project (810 tonnes)
  • ---166 MWh------ Eskom BESS phase 1 package 2 (50%) (747 tonnes max)
  • ---160 MWh------ Eskom BESS phase 1 package 1 (50%) (720 tonnes max)
  • -----82 MWh------ Eskom BESS phase 1 package 3 (50%) (369 tonnes max)
  • -----60 MWh------ China - Hongyanhe, Dalian (Rongke) (270 tonnes)
  • -----51 MWh------Japan - Abira Town Hokkaido (Sumitomo Elec) (230 tonnes)
  • -----40 MWh------ China - Tuoshan, Dalian (Rongke) (180 tonnes)
  • -----40 MWh------ China - Lejia, Dalian (Rongke) (180 tonnes)
  • -----40 MWh------ China - Wafangdian Zhenhai W/farm (Rongke) (180 tonnes)
  • -------?--------------China - VRB Energy / Hanloon Energy power station
Together these will be requiring a total of around 26,626 tonnes of Vanadium (based on 4.5 tonnes of V per MWh), compared with a global vanadium production in 2019 of 111,225 tonnes.

Including all the smaller scale projects (such as those being deployed by Invinity/IES) probably doubles this vanadium requirement.

On 29 January, it was announced that Korea's first solar-powered VRFB energy storage had started commercial operation. The announcement stated that: "EWP, one of six state-run generation companies in Korea with total generation capacity of 13GW, has deployed H2's latest VRFB energy storage, EnerFLOW 430, in its Ulsan power plant, and started its commercial operation in January 2021. This is Korea’s first solar-powered VRFB for purely commercial application to secure REC (Renewable Energy Certificate). Among many solar integrated energy storages for the commercial use in Korea, this vanadium flow battery is the one and only non-lithium energy storage. The storage has totally 1.1MWh charging capacity and is integrated with 404kWp solar power plant co-located in Ulsan, Korea. The system is fully designed, engineered, and manufactured by H2, Inc., and deployed as a turnkey project by H2, Inc. as well. This project would be the green light for Korea’s large-scale deployments of VRFB integrated with renewables, accompanied by Korea’s aggressive Green New Deal policy."

Manufacturing capacity for VRFBs is also expanding with the recent announcement of a 3GWh manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia.

In South Africa, and independently of the possible Eskom contracts, Bushveld Energy is rolling out a renewable-generation plus VRFB storage mini-grid for the company's existing and future electrical energy needs. Fortune Mojapelo has recently (20-10-20 interview) described this 2.5MW/4MWh mini-grid as "...very very important in demonstrating [their] business case."

VRFBs are gaining traction in many other places, including Germany, California, and Australia, and there is a worldwide map of these here.

Major electrolyte production facilities planned or complete worldwide include (poster @mogwhy, 16-12-20):

  • 2mt electrolyte- China - Fangchenggang (250,000 tonnes per year)
  • --------?------------ China - Ningde, Fujian (30,000 tonnes per year)
  • 3,000 MWh pa -- Saudi Arabia, Dammam (13,500 tonnes per year)
  • 1,650 MWh pa - China - Yichun - Jiangxi Yinhui New Energy (7,425 tpa)
  • 1,000 MWh pa - China - Ankang, Shaanxi - Huaqin Energy (4,500 tpa)
  • ---200 MWh pa - South Africa - Bushveld Energy Phase 1 (900 tpa)
  • ---200 MWh pa - USA - New York (Margaret Lake) ph 1 (900 tpa)
This represents a total of 307,225 tonnes of vanadium per annum, or almost 3 times current annual vanadium production.

Q11. Anything closer to home?

A. Invinity Energy Systems plc (AIM:IES) is a manufacturer of vanadium flow batteries for large-scale energy storage. It was formed in 2020 from the merger of Avalon Battery Corporation (US) and redT energy (UK), and supported by BMN funding (Bushveld holds 8.71% of the company). Invinity is involved in the Energy Superhub Oxford, targeting a 2MW/5MWh flow storage battery to complete a 52MW lithium-flow hybrid seen here.


Other significant players include Cellcube (Canada), Delectrik (India), H2 Advanced Energy Storage (Korea), Rongke Power (China), Sumitomo (Japan), UniEnergy Technologies (US), VoltStorage (Germany), VRB Energy (Canada) and Vionx (US).

Q12. What's all the talk about Eskom?

A. Eskom is a South African electricity public utility, the largest electricity producer in Africa. In 2019, it was announced that Eskom was to be split up into three nationally owned entities due to huge debts and poor reliability. This is leading to various major initiatives to develop independent power production, and large-scale energy storage systems. Trial VRFB systems, delivered by China's Rongke Power, are under commissioning.

Major related contracts are being tendered with Eskom at this time, and by the end of 2020 there should be better visibility of BMN's involvement. These are expected to lead to the rollout of VRFB systems to support substantial new wind and solar power generation in South Africa, assisted by World Bank funds. The World Bank is meanwhile embarking on a $5billion 17,500GWh battery storage programme.

Q13. Management and posters talk about BMN targeting "vertical integration". What does this mean?

A. Vertical integration allows BMN to profit from the entire supply chain from mining, processing and sale of the vanadium, vanadium electrolyte and VRFBs.

With these objectives, BMN is positioning itself as a major company which:

  • through Bushveld Minerals, mines, extracts, and sells a significant and rising fraction of the world's vanadium, underpinned by its vast reserves in the Bushveld region of South Africa;
  • through Bushveld Minerals, is processing the vanadium ore, on site, to produce the high purity vanadium required for strengthening steel;
  • through Bushveld Energy, is developing a substantial manufacturing facility in South Africa to provide the high-purity electrolyte to be used in VRFBs;
  • is at the heart of a rental company for leasing the electrolyte for VRFBs;
  • is linking up with VRFB manufacturers to establish large-scale energy storage systems (batteries).

Specifically:

  • BMN's (first) vanadium electrolyte plant, in the East London Industrial Development Zone, ELIDZ (SA), is initially targeting 200 MWh annually, with possible expansion to 1000 MWh;
  • Bushveld already has a stake in, and first rights to supply vanadium/electrolyte to, both Invinity and Enerox.

VRFBs are fast gaining traction for large long duration grid scale applications due to their superior charge and discharge qualities with no degradation, very high safety (zero fire risk), and low cost (per kWh stored). BMN's vanadium electrolyte rental model significantly reduces upfront capital cost. After say 20yrs the electrolyte can be re-sold to the steel market or reused as electrolyte, giving BMN strong long-term revenue growth.

Following the lead taken by BMN, Largo Resources recently (08-12-20) launched Largo Clean Energy, a second vertically-integrated VRFB business.

Q14. Why do investors like the company's finances?

A. It's cash-generative, with (essentially) no debt. The following are taken from the SP Angel broker note, 30-09-20:

  • sales of $43.1m for the first half of 2020 vs $78.0m year-on-year
  • numbers are lower due to 21 lost days of production due to the COVID-19 lockdown, significantly lower ferrovanadium prices, and longer lead times for sales into China
  • EBITDA fell to -$1m for the six months to end June as a direct result of these effects
  • cash cost at Vametco decreased to $17.20/kgV vs $19.30/kgV a year earlier, despite lower unit production and the lockdown
  • cash costs at Vanchem were $16.40/kgV, reflecting the low cost of processing stockpile material
  • cash and cash equivalents of $24.6m as at 30 June 2020 vs $34.0m at end December 2019

BMN's principal revenue is in US dollars, so that weakness in the SA Rand increases company profits.

The following details the current and potential income streams for the company:

  • Nitrovan (two grades): Vametco
  • V205: Vanchem
  • V203: Vanchem
  • FeV: Vanchem
  • vanadium chemicals: Vanchem
  • vanadium ore: Bushveld Mokopane: initial revenue via potential off take with other vanadium processing plants
  • iron ore: Bushveld Mokopane: a possible future revenue stream
  • vanadium electrolyte: Bushveld Energy 1000 MWh per annum
  • electrolyte leasing: royalties from Bushveld Energy
  • Bushveld Energy: VRFB Sales in Africa working with VIP partners and others
  • Bushveld Energy: renewable energy projects and MicroGrid projects in Africa
  • Bushveld Energy: Enerox VRFB manufacturer
  • Afritin: income from the 8.1% stake in the business
  • Lemur: income from the sale, or long-term income, from the substantial power generation project in Madagascar
One of this board's posters (Paludina) tracks the premium vanadium product (Nitrovan) that the company is shipping to the US.

Q15. Why do investors like the management (Fortune Mojapelo, CEO of Bushveld Minerals; and Mikhail Nikomarov, Chief Executive of Bushveld Energy)?

A. They are experienced, have a proven track record, and are excellent strategists, with ambitious plans. They accomplish what they announce, in what are often viewed in the industry as masterful deals (e.g. their purchases of Vametco and Vanchem), and take appropriate salaries.

Mikhail Nikomarov also heads up the global Vanitec Energy Storage Committee, as well as the South African Energy Storage Association.


Some recent interviews with CEO Fortune Mojapelo:

Q16. What valuation do the analysts/brokers suggest?

A. According to the BMN www site, the following firms and equity research analysts prepare reports on Bushveld Minerals:

  • SP Angel (John Meyer)
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO, Alexander Pearse)
  • Peel Hunt (TimothyHuff)
  • Alternative Resource Capital (ARC, Nick Chalmers)

Recent broker notes, which contain many details of vanadium price and energy storage assumptions etc., include:

  • ARC - target: 28p (01-12-20, replacing their earlier target of 43p
  • SP Angel - target: 37.7p (30-12-20, as 24-11-20, replacing their earlier target of 80p)
  • BMO Capital - target: 55p (no recent update available)
  • Peel Hunt - target: 45p (no recent update available)

As stated by SP Angel, 30-12-20: "Bushveld Minerals shares are, at long last, recovering on news of vanadium price rises in Europe as well as the US and China."

A recent positive analysis was also given by Investors Chronicle, 29-12-20

Q17. Why is the SP at current levels (18.5p on 29 Jan 2021) if prospects are so good? It was at 49p at the end of 2018, right?

A. This is considered to be a combination of many things, in no particular order:

  • a lack of awareness of the strategic importance/prospects for vanadium, and especially VRFBs;
  • the decrease in vanadium price from its latest peak in 2018;
  • the company's LSE AIM listing;
  • shares issued in placement last year were until recently (probably) being sold into the market;
  • inclusion of Lemur's Imaloto coal project (Madagascar), which may exclude the company from green portfolios;
  • accumulation and other tactics of market makers;
  • South African geopolitics and associated credit rating;
  • limited in-depth research by analysts on small companies.

Common views by long-term PIs here are:

  • this is a well-run company with big projects and big ambitions, and these take time to put in place
  • BMN is currently significantly undervalued
  • no stocks rise continuously, all are subject to sentiment and trading patterns
  • BMN appears to be a great example of Warren Buffet's principles of:

    • finding an undervalued company, with what he described as an "enduring competitive advantage", and then
    • waiting until the less-informed, or less risk-averse, catch up (which is unlikely to be within weeks, or even months).

Q19. What are BMN's most recent developments?

A. Key RNS in the past 12 months (oldest first):

  • 20-01-20: Full Year 2019 and Q4 2019 Operational Update
  • 09-03-20: Joint Venture agreement with redT
  • 01-04-20: Bushveld to hold 8.71% of newly created Invinity
  • 04-05-20: Q1 2020 Operational Update
  • 23-06-20: Final Results for the Year Ended 31 December 2019
  • 03-08-20: Investment in Enerox
  • 02-09-20: Q2 2020 and H1 2020 Operational Update
  • 07-09-20: Vanadium Rental Partnership with Invinity
  • 30-09-20: Financing with Orion and Convertible Loan Note
  • 30-09-20: Interim Results for six months to end-June 2020
  • 09-11-20: Successful Raise of US$35M Convertible Loan Note
  • 11-11-20: Vametco Mini-Grid Update
  • 24-11-20: Q3 and 9 months 2020 Operational Update
  • 30-11-20: Bushveld satisfies conditions of US$65m funding
  • 18-12-20: RNS Partial repayment of Duferco convertible loan note

During November 2020, posters on the LSE discussion board focused on:

  • how the Duferco deal is likely to play out
  • progress and positioning of South Africa's Eskom and the future award of battery energy storage system contracts
  • increasing press coverage of the importance of vanadium flow batteries in utility-scale energy storage
  • completion of loans totaling US$65m (with Orion) for Vametco and Vanchem expansion
  • progress in the Vametco mini-grid
  • confirmation of a 1.8MWh vanadium flow battery from Invinity at the European Marine Energy Centre's (EMEC) tidal energy test site, Orkney
  • progress of the Bushveld Energy Factory in Zone 1A of the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ)
  • first VRFB-based standalone power system sold by Australian Vanadium subsidiary

During December 2020, posters on this board focused on:

  • the steadily increasing price of vanadium, now around $30/kg (https://www.vanadiumprice.com/)
  • discussion of the developing commodities boom more generally
  • the off-take agreement between Australian Vanadium and Singapore-based VRFB manufacturer, V-Flow Tech (01-12-20)
  • the launch of Largo Clean Energy, creating a second vertically-integrated VRFB business, following BMN (08-12-20)
  • the launch of Australia's first ever utility-scale vanadium flow battery (11-12-20)
  • a vanadium redox flow battery going online in Spain (17-12-20)
  • the largest VRFB photovoltaic energy storage project in China connected to the grid (29-12-20)

During January 2021, posters on this board focused on:

  • the increasing vanadium price
  • the increasing number of VRFBs being announced or coming on line
  • speculation on the likely outcome of the Eskom and DMRE-RMIPPPP contracts (and when they would be announced)
  • the potential value of Bushveld Minerals iron ore reserves

Q20. What are BMN's near-term prospects?

A. BMN's anticipated short-term future developments include:

  • increased production, at Vametco, Vanchem, and Mokopane
  • continued VRFB commissioning and contracts, including the ongoing Eskom tender
  • progress with the vanadium rental business
  • progress with their own battery (vanadium) electrolyte plant in South Africa
  • JSE joint listing, previously mentioned by the company
  • announcement of a dividend policy, previously mentioned by the company
  • prospects of moving from AIM to the main market (speculation by this board)
  • possible disposal of Lemur's Imaloto coal project (Madagascar), which would allow BMN to be held in green portfolios

Some specific recent/forthcoming milestones relevant for the company are:

  • 26-11-20: Closing date for Glencore's green energy/storage tender for its chrome and vanadium operations in South Africa (see 12-11-20)
  • 15-12-20: DMRE-RMIPPPP Preferred Bidder announcement (estimated)
  • 22-12-20: Closing date for South Africa's Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) RMIPPPP (2GW) contract (moved from 24-11-20)
  • 30-12-20: Original target contract award date for Eskom Package 1 (Skaapvlei 80MW/320 MWh, closing date 21-10-20)
  • 31-12-20: Dalian stage 1: confirmation of commissioning [approx date]
  • 31-12-20: Gresham House Energy Storage: target acquisition agreement for an operating facility to expand its portfolio of utility-scale (storage) assets
  • 25-01-21: Target contract award date for Eskom Package 2 (Melkhout 35MW/140MWh, Pongola 40MW/160MWh, Elandskop 8MW/32MWh)
  • 25-01-21: Target contract award date for Eskom Package 3 (Hex 20MW/100MWh, Graafwater 4.5MW/25MWh, Paleisheuwel 10MW/40MWh)
  • 28-02-21: DMRE-RMIPPPP Preferred Bidder announcement (estimated as Jan-Feb 2021, see 03-11-20 announcement)

Q21. There are many posters on this board. Where can a newcomer start in understanding their contributions?

A. There are numerous regular contributors to this board who hold generally very positive views of the company, and whose posts cover many key aspects of BMNs business. They provide their views on aspects including:

  • possible future developments;
  • technology developments and opportunities;
  • commentaries and detailed scrutiny of company RNS;
  • mining and mineralogical aspects;
  • the worldwide vanadium market (and BMN's vanadium shipments);
  • critical assessments of the company's financial and accounting aspects.
  • risks associated with the South African economy more broadly;

For new investors looking at this company, the following posters have very positive reputations amongst the other bulletin board members:

  • Alfacomp: broad understanding of the business, the battery prospects, and provides frequent comments on the share trades
  • BigBiteNow: insights into the business model and possible future developments
  • faramog: analysis and prospects
  • Libero: analysis and prospects
  • Loudspeaker: vanadium price monitoring
  • mogwhy: updates of major VRFB projects
  • NickDerby: company accounting aspects
  • Ophidian: technical aspects and insights of the mining and processing
  • Paludina: tracks and reports on the export/shipment of BMN's vanadium products
  • Pdub: company and business insights and summaries
  • Sanchez599: company and business insights and summaries
  • SloppyGuiseppe: posts on relevant worldwide developments
  • Tyfoon: South African politics, and where BMN sits in this

There are many other regular and respected posters, contributing their technical, business and corporate insights. It is this collection of accumulated knowledge that has led several on this board to suggest that BMN is the "best independently researched company on AIM".

Q22. What about rampers and trolls?

A. Do your own research, and form your own opinion.

All bulletin boards will have members who enjoy predicting the next leg up, and setting their own price targets for the next day, week, month, or year, whether based on technical analysis, intuition, or simply optimism. You can - naturally - take these into account, or not, as you wish.

I, and presumably many others here, are invested for the fundamentals and for the medium/long term. Experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to predict the next price movements, the short-term SP direction led by the market makers, or the next moves of our respected management.

Q23. Why do some posters (generally transient avatars) spend time de-ramping, i.e. expressing negative views of the company and its prospects?

A. It is not always easy to understand why those with negative views of a company should spend their time posting about it. Explanations might include investors who bought in at times of share price peaks and who feel aggrieved that they have made poor investment decisions. More likely are those who, as on all boards, presumably post negatively in an attempt to encourage sellers for a variety of trading reasons (day traders, stop-loss fishers, shorters, competitors, etc).

De-rampers and trolls are usually recognisable by their unsubstantiated and poorly researched statements, an absence of factual evidence, repetitive posts on minor aspects, and frequently poor syntax.

Generally, this is a board that welcomes new and genuine BMN investors attracted by its prospects, but it does respond robustly to those believed to be trying to manipulate the share price downwards.

Q24. Bushveld Minerals - in a few words?

A. BMN is a very well-run company, with impressive assets, and very exciting prospects. It is a company with huge reserves of vanadium (and other) ore, little debt, solid and growing free cash flow, visionary leadership, and a very dedicated and growing workforce.

This article only conveys the personal opinion of the author. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the content is accurate, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the data shown. This article does not constitute professional, financial or investment advice and must not be used as a basis for making investment decisions.

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