Vows of greater spending on infrastructure in both Canada and the U.S. lifted Canada’s S&P/TSX Composite Index 1.4% to 15,075.44, and drove up the S&P/TSX Global Mining Index 4.2% to 65.76. Gold declined on the back of a stronger U.S. dollar, a move into riskier assets and a belief that the U.S. Federal Reserve would likely raise interest rates later this month. Spot gold fell 2% to US$1,183.60 per oz. and the S&P/TSX Global Gold Index lost 2.7% to 188.51. West Texas Intermediate crude finished at US$46 per barrel.
Quest Rare Minerals jumped 50% to 18¢ per share on the heels of an agreement with Tugliq, an energy provider, to develop an integrated renewable energy solution for the junior’s remote Strange Lake project in northern Quebec. The rare earth project is on Quebec’s border with Labrador, and construction is expected in early 2019. Under the agreement, Quest and Tugliq will work together to diversify the energy mix in an area that depends on diesel power. The Quebec government is providing financial support for the feasibility studies through the ÉcoPerformance program. Tugliq’s track record in energy production includes Glencore’s Raglan mine, where it built an industrial wind turbine in 2014. Quest’s partnership with Tugliq follows an agreement with Straightline Aviation in November that will provide dedicated air services for moving ore concentrate, supplies and personnel using Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airships. The airships will provide transportation between Strange Lake and Schefferville, a town with a direct rail link to the Port of Sept-Îles. The airships can carry 20 tonnes of cargo and up to 19 passengers. Helium provides 80% of the lift, with the rest coming from the aircraft’s aerodynamic shape and four engines. The service agreement is valued at US$850 million, including fuel costs, over 10 years starting in 2019, with extensions of up to 20 more years in line with the projected mine life.
Shares of lithium producer Orocobre rose 59¢ to $4.42 on news that it had signed a letter of intent with Advantage Lithium on its Cauchari lithium project and other properties in Argentina. Under the letter of intent, Advantage Lithium will receive a 50% stake in Cauchari, 15 km south of Orocobre’s flagship Olaroz lithium facility, in exchange for giving Orocobre a 31.1% stake in the company, a 1% royalty, the right of first refusal on future brine production and the right to nominate two members to its board. Advantage Lithium can earn another 25% stake by spending US$5 million on Cauchari over three years, or completing a feasibility study. In addition, Advantage Lithium will acquire a 100% interest in five other lithium brine projects owned by Orocobre — among them Antofalla, Incahuasi and Guayatoyoc. The entire land package, including Cauchari, adds up to 855.4 square kilometres.