The best of Dryblower 2018

HERE are Dryblower’s 10 most-popular columns of 2018.
The best of Dryblower 2018 The best of Dryblower 2018 The best of Dryblower 2018 The best of Dryblower 2018 The best of Dryblower 2018

Dryblower and the rise of the zombie mines (November 19)

As the Barrick-Randgold merger gets closer to completion, Dryblower urged Barrick to sell its 50% stake in Kalgoorlie's Super Pit, or be left with a costly rehabilitation bill when it closes.

"Like Nickel West, KCGM is drifting into the twilight zone reserved for zombie mines that are being kept alive for other than profit or growth purposes, they live largely to avoid triggering environmental rehabilitation costs," Dryblower wrote.

"Australia, the world's oldest continent, could one day be global mining's equivalent of a hospice - a hospital for dying mines."

Dryblower and the great lithium surprise which wasn't actually a surprise (January 22)

Lithium stocks fell in January when Chile's SQM received permission to expand its operations.

Dryblower noted that not only was the news not a surprise, but that it also didn't mark the end of the lithium boom.

Rather, SQM's planned expansion was a vote of confidence in the long-term outlook for lithium, he wrote.

Dryblower's world view of lithium (May 7)

Dryblower picked out a couple of negative issues that put the lithium outlook in a more sobering light, namely Tesla's inability to deliver on its targets and a drop in electric vehicle sales in some countries.

"If Tesla fails, and if car buyers in environmentally alert countries such as Denmark are not buying as many electric cars as forecast, then the Australian lithium rush could slow to a walk. It won't stop, but the activity will be far more subdued as miners wait for demand to catch up with what they plan to supply," he wrote.

BHP (and the banks) are learning a technology lesson, the hard way (November 12)

It was Dryblower's turn to weigh in on BHP's runaway train, making the connection with the banks.

"Drawing a connection between an iron ore train being deliberately run off its rails and a bank with a technology problem might not seem logical, but there is a connection and it can be found in what's missing; people," he said.

He warned that technology and automation purely to cut costs was not a good thing.

Dryblower returns with a top tip for 2018 (January 2)

Environmental, social and governance was feted by Dryblower as a big issue for 2018, particularly around battery metals.

He used the example of Glencore's dealings with Dan Gertler and "conflict cobalt".

"De-coded, ESG will become the equivalent of a company's licence to operate, and while miners in Australia, Canada, the US, and other first-world locations have learned to work with strict environmental, social and corporate governance rules, that's not the case in places such as Africa where ESG is a foreign concept."

Dryblower writes a letter to Willem Middelkoop (June 4)

Dutch investor Willem Middelkoop told the inaugural ResourceStocks Sydney event in May that Aussies were missing the Pilbara conglomerate gold story.

In an open letter to Middelkoop, Dryblower outlined the reasons why Australians were sceptical.

"Another problem for Australian investors is that they are never particularly happy with companies that overpromise and underdeliver which, in the case of Novo and Artemis also includes the issue of over-promotion."

BHP buries Billiton and renames itself (yawn) (November 26)

Dryblower said BHP's name change was more smoke and mirrors than any meaningful shift.

He also noted the similarities between recent briefings by BHP management and those held in 2002.

"In other words, old BHP has just given birth to a new BHP which boils down to nothing but a promise to investment more wisely, just as Gilbertson said would happen in 2002 - but didn't!"

Dryblower and the lesson learned from the failure of Wolf Minerals (October 22)

Dryblower said the main lesson from the collapse of tungsten miner Wolf Minerals was that complex processing was no place for small companies.

He said there were lessons there for lithium, vanadium and graphite wannabes.

"A post mortem on why Wolf failed is already underway, though money could be saved if the liquidators gave Dryblower a call and he recited the list of failed attempts which all share a common thread - extracting the tungsten from the ore at Hemerdon is a damnably tricky and costs blow out when local residents force expensive noise deadening investment," he said."

Gold poised for a record-breaking price surge (December 10)

Only recently, Dryblower suggested the arrest of the daughter of Huawei in Canada and the emergence of the "death cross" were good for gold.

Gold remains the go-to asset in times of turmoil.

"Looked at anyway you like, it's hard to dodge the case for gold as the disruption promised (and delivered) by Donald Trump morphs into its predictable chaos," Dryblower wrote.

Dryblower on the rebirth of laterite nickel courtesy of the cobalt boom (April 9)

As cobalt approached US$100,000 a tonne, Dryblower wrote about the re-emergence of projects thought long-dead.

"If, and this really is a big if, the price of cobalt stays high because of electric vehicle demand, of the collapse of Congo, or China stitching up supplies of the metal, then the incentive is there for a return trip to a time when nickel laterites were the mining flavour of the month," he wrote.

Dryblower will be back on Monday, January 7.