One of the lesser known critical minerals needed for modern industrial applications is tellurium.
The rare metal is used in solar cells, semi-conductors, metallurgy and electricity production.
Two-thirds of global production comes from China and Russia, making North American sources important. The United States imports 95 per cent of the tellurium it uses. Demand is increasing.
The price has ranged from $38US a pound in 2017 to $68 a pound in 2021. Current price is $82.83US a pound.
Generally, tellurium is a byproduct of copper mining. A small Canadian explorer is in the process of developing a tellurium, gold and silver mine southeast of Denver, Colorado.
The Klondike property, once under exploration for First Solar to use tellurium on solar panels, was dropped in 2011 when solar hit a few obstacles.
First Tellurium picked up the 83,000 acre property and has done some drilling. The work outlined resources in the lowest confidence level of indicated and inferred. More drilling will be required to upgrade the open pit orebody to proven and probable resources.
The preliminary economic assessment by an independent consultant envisions a 74,000 ton per year mine with a nine year life and operating costs at $100US per ton.
The silver content alone will pay for operating costs, leaving the revenues from gold and tellurium free.
Cost of the mine and mill is estimated at $28.3 million US with a payback of 1.6 years.
The company has only explored a small part of the two kilometre by one kilometre trend hosting the ore body.
Management wants to start small and grow as the orebody can be expanded.
CEO Tyrone Docherty, owner of 16.3 per cent of Tellurium shares, has taken a small operation, built it and sold it for millions before. A $4 million iron ore find was sold for $175 million. His team has experience in the region and industry.
The company seeks other tellurium orebodies for development and has a promising silver gold tellurium polymetallic deposit in northern B.C.
Tellurium share price moved this past two months from 10 cents a share to 19 cents on release of a report suggesting electric batteries using tellurium have a much longer life.
This stock is a speculation offering great rewards if everything clicks and great losses of it doesn’t achieve goals.
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Ron Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.