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Thursday, July 29, 2021

NEWS HEADLINES - MINING AND METALS
Today News Headlines

Tesla’s lithium extraction patent catches miners’ attention
Fri, 16 Jul 2021 13:07:00 +0000
The EV manufacturer filed a patent for a process that allows for the selective extraction of lithium from clay minerals.

Information obtained by Electrek revealed that Tesla filed a new patent related to the acid-free saline lithium extraction process mentioned by Elon Musk during Battery Day in September 2020.

Titled “Selective extraction of lithium from clay minerals,” the patent states that extracting lithium from ore using sodium chloride is an environmentally friendlier way to obtain the metal, compared to currently used techniques such as acid leaching. According to Tesla, it also allows for higher recoveries.  

In detail, the process allows for extracting lithium from clay mineral and compositions by mixing a cation source with the clay mineral, performing a high-energy mill of the clay mineral, and performing a liquid leach to obtain a lithium-rich leach solution.

Following the release of this information, Canadian miner Spearmint Resources (CSE: SPMT) jumped at the opportunity of reminding Musk that not far away from his Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, the Clayton Valley lithium-clay project is being developed with the goal of supplying the local market.

The patent states that extracting lithium from ore using sodium chloride is an environmentally friendlier way to obtain the metal, compared to currently used techniques

In a press release, Spearmint emphasized that it has already received the technical report for the project, which includes a maiden resource estimate of 815,000 indicated tonnes and 191,000 inferred tonnes for a total of 1,006,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). 

According to Spearmint, its field team has only drilled a small number of holes to date to achieve this maiden resource and, thus, anticipates that additional targeted drilling could increase this initial calculation. 

In terms of costs, recoveries and revenue, the miner estimated that to derive a base case cut-off grade for eventual lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) product, mining costs would be $2/tonne, processing costs would be $15/tonne, processing recovery would be 80% and revenue would be $10,000/tonne for Li2CO3 product.

Right next to Speamint’s property, fellow Canadian Cypress Development (TSX-V: CYP) is developing its Clayton Valley lithium project which, according to the company, hosts a world-class resource of lithium-bearing claystone adjacent to a brine field to the east and south of Angel Island, an outcrop of Paleozoic carbonates protruding up through the lakebed sediments. 

Pit-constrained resources at the project include 929.6 million measured and indicated tonnes grading 1,062 parts per million lithium. Inferred resources add 100.4 million tonnes at 986 ppm lithium. 

Immediately west of Cypress’ asset, sits the Silver Peak mine, owned by Albemarle (NYSE: ALB) – the world’s no. 1 lithium producer – and which is North America’s only lithium brine operation continuously active since 1966.


Bad weather may cost Rio Tinto’s iron ore crown
Fri, 16 Jul 2021 06:01:17 +0000
Company reported a 12% fall in quarterly iron ore shipments on Friday after storms affected its West Australian operations.

Rio Tinto reported a 12% fall in quarterly iron ore shipments on Friday after storms affected its West Australian operations.

The miner said it now expects to ship near the lower end of its range of 325 million tonnes and 340 million tonnes in calendar 2021, meaning it may hand back its crown as the world’s biggest producer to Vale.

Vale, which reports output later this month, said is on track to meet the upper end of its 2021 guidance of 315-335 million tonnes, according to UBS.

Related Article: Vale restarts ship loader that caught fire at Ponta da Madeira port

Rio shipped 76.3 million tonnes of the steel-making commodity for the three months ended June 30, down from 86.7 mt a year ago, just ahead of a UBS estimate of 76 million tonnes.

Benchmark iron ore price, for September delivery, rose 2.9% to 1,253 yuan ($193.80) a tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange on Thursday.

“We would have liked to have seen higher production to capitalise on these iron ore prices. Still, they are going to be swimming in cash at results time,” said analyst David Lennox at Fat Prophets in Sydney.

“Hopefully we will get a good dividend and we are looking for a share buyback as well.”

Rio is expected to post half-year underlying earnings of $10.9 billion on July 28 according to a Vuma consensus of 14 analysts, more than double the $4.75 billion it reported for the same period last year.

Rio on Friday also raised its full-year iron ore production cost guidance due to increased labour and input costs.

The miner expects unit costs of $18.00-$18.50 per tonne for the year, up from its previous estimate of $16.70-$17.70 per tonne.

Miners have been facing labour shortages as Australia has shut international borders and snap closed state borders.

Rio also said it delayed commissioning at its new Gudai-Darri iron ore hub to later this year and first production from its Winu copper find in Australia to 2025 from original estimates of 2023, partly due to covid restrictions.

Pilbara iron ore production of 75.9 million tonnes was 9% lower than the second quarter of 2020. Bauxite production of 13.7 million tonnes was 6% lower than the previous quarter.

Mined copper production of 115.5 thousand tonnes was 13% lower than the second quarter of 2020, with lower
recoveries and throughput at Escondida as a result of the prolonged impact of covid-19, and a planned relocation
of the in-pit crusher at Kennecott in April, the company said.

“Operationally we are not where we want to be,” said Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm.

The company lowered 2021 production by 2 million tonnes due to new strategies to protect Aboriginal areas of high cultural significance as it seeks to repair relations with Aboriginal groups following its destruction of rock shelters at Juukan Gorge last year.

Related Article: Aboriginal group disappointed by Rio Tinto board hire

Rio Tinto’s stock was trading down 4% at Friday’s opening on the NYSE. The company has a $139 billion market capitalization.

(With files from Reuters)


Next commodity supercycle will be different than any other — report
Thu, 15 Jul 2021 22:07:39 +0000
Fossil fuels won’t be in the vanguard and the winners will be the industrial metals needed to electrify society, Wood Mackenzie says.

Another commodities supercycle is on the horizon, but it will be different from any that have come before, Wood Mackenzie asserts in its latest report.

Fossil fuels won’t be in the vanguard and the winners will be the industrial metals needed to electrify society — cobalt, lithium, copper, nickel, and aluminium.

While post-pandemic government stimulus packages have provided a sugar rush for commodities and prices of base metals have surged, this in itself is not supercycle material, WoodMac says, adding that the markets have also sensed that the energy transition is now gathering serious momentum and is likely to fuel a sustained increase in demand over the next two decades, supporting a new supercycle narrative.

$50 trillion of investment will be needed over the next three decades to achieve a 1.5˚C global warming trajectory, WoodMac notes.

This will electrify societies’ infrastructure and engineer out the aspects of economic activity that most significantly contribute to carbon emissions. Metals supply will play a vital role in achieving this.

$50 trillion of investment will be needed over the next three decades to achieve a 1.5˚C global warming trajectory

As noted in Wood Mackenzie’s, ‘Champagne supercycle: Taking the fizz out of the commodities price boom’, three potential developments could challenge how this commodities supercycle unfolds and who, ultimately, benefits from it:

• The concentrating control of metals’ supply chains is likely to exclude many from the party;
• Systemic supply uncertainty and ensuing price volatility, encouraging disruptive new technologies such as next generation electrofuels, polymeric energy storage, and cobalt free batteries – thereby forcing ‘traditional’ commodities into obsolescence;
• The rise of ‘consumption consciousness’, undermining the long-term reliance on primary metal.

“While China’s move to secure battery raw materials is well documented, less well-known is its increasing self-sufficiency extending downstream. 75% of global lithium-ion batteries, 70% of all solar panels, and 60% of electric vehicles are made in China,” says Simon Morris, Wood Mackenzie Head of Metals. “But its aspirations have not yet been satisfied and we expect its control to continue to grow.”

With China dominant in its control of energy transition value chains, non-Chinese entities face an ever-diminishing share of any commodity windfall. With greater cash comes greater investment capability, WoodMac says, enabling China to realise a strategy of supply security at any cost.

Those who choose to participate too late in the cycle – be they nations seeking to secure supply for themselves, customers wanting to protect their production lines, or investors wanting to cash in on supernormal profits – are likely to find that they either can’t afford to participate or are precluded altogether.

“Price fluctuations could also throw a spanner in the works. With electric vehicles (EV) emerging as a critical source of demand, metals producers will have to consider how they supply a new type of consumer — one with an acute focus on price and supply predictability,” Morris says.

“For the first time in the mining industry’s history, a paradigm shift in demand has been clearly signposted before it materialises”

Simon Morris, Wood Mackenzie Head of Metals

If EV manufacturers cannot guarantee access to critical metals at an affordable and predictable price, they will look to innovate or thrift them out to the greatest extent possible. As the supply challenge materialises, the inexorable rise in prices will surely incentivise alternatives.

“As we saw with the increasing rejection of plastic usage, a greater focus on sustainability may see society react against the very considerable rise in the use of primary metals used in cars, mobile phones, telecoms, and infrastructure. Either buying less or demanding greater re-use presents a considerable downside risk for the producers of tomorrow,” says Morris.

According Wood Mackenzie’s report, the forces that are shaping up to drive this boom are unique. But even for those commodities stepping into the limelight, decarbonisation creates as many risks as it does opportunities.

Under Wood Mackenzie’s Accelerated Energy Transition-2 (AET-2) scenario, which is consistent with limiting the rise in global temperatures since pre-industrial times to 2 °C, 360 million tonnes (Mt) of aluminium, 90 Mt of copper, and 30 Mt of nickel will feed the energy transition over the next 20 years. This level of additional metal presents obvious challenges for producers and consumers alike.

“As with all commodities, the metals that are key to the transition will have to bring on replacement capacity to replace existing mines as they deplete and close. Under our base case, which is broadly consistent with a 2.8-3˚C global warming view, this requirement is manageable. However, under our AET-2 scenario, the new annual installed capacity required becomes eye-watering. By 2030, cobalt producers would need to have built 167% more supply than we currently have in our forecast, while copper would need to find 85% more mine supply than in our base-case forecasts. This will present a huge challenge for the sector,” Morris says.

While the world grapples with the magnitude of the transition and metal producers dream of what might be, other commodities are waning in prominence.

In Wood Mackenzie’s AET-2 scenario, fossil fuels’ share of energy demand falls to 50% by 2050 as low-carbon energy captures market share. Under this scenario, rapid and aggressive EV penetration leads oil demand to collapse to 35 million b/d by mid-century — 70% below today’s levels —and sees the oil price slump to below $20/bbl. Thermal coal demand will also enter a steep decline, WoodMac says. Gas demand, in contrast, remains resilient due to the deployment of blue hydrogen and opportunities from the large-scale development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) in the industrial and power sectors.

“For the first time in the mining industry’s history, a paradigm shift in demand has been clearly signposted before it materialises,” Morris says.

“With that comes the opportunity to act before supply chains are overwhelmed. While some will see no upside, if the boom is not carefully stewarded, even those that should benefit could face structural challenges to future demand. Although this might ultimately limit the highs, it will certainly reduce the lows and, ultimately, drive a more sustainable market dynamic in the long run.”


BC approves early construction at Artemis Gold’s Blackwater
Thu, 15 Jul 2021 19:08:17 +0000
Blackwater is estimated to be the largest gold mine development in British Columbia's Cariboo region in the last decade.

British Columbia has granted a permit for early construction work at the Blackwater gold project belonging to Artemis Gold (TSXV: ARTG). This is the first step in construction of a mine, allowing for site preparations and land cleaning at the site 150 km southwest of Prince George, BC.

Blackwater is estimated to be the largest gold mine development in the Cariboo region of BC in the last decade, supporting regional employment over 25 years, including the construction period, with the potential for that to be extended through further exploration.

Blackwater is to be connected to the BC Hydro grid, which is powered by hydro-electricity providing it with a sustainable source of low-carbon power, with the potential to produce gold and silver with one of the lowest GHG emissions from an open pit in the world.

Blackwater has the potential to produce gold and silver with one of the lowest GHG emissions from an open pit in the world

The project will be developed in phases as an open pit and carbon-in-pulp processing plant. Initial capital requirements will be C$592 million ($470m) for phase one with a mill capacity of 5.5 million t/y and an annual output of 248,000 oz. of gold. Over the 23-year life of the mine, throughput will be increased to 20 million t/y with two further expansion phases.

The Blackwater gold project has an after-tax net present value (5% discount) of C$2.2 billion ($1.75bn), an internal rate of return of 35%, and a payback period of 2 years.

The deposit is estimated to contain 251 million measured and indicated tonnes grading­ 1.04 g/t gold and 8.3 g/t silver for 8.4 million oz. gold and 68 million oz. silver. The inferred estimate is 5.6 million tonnes at 0.79 g/t gold and 26 g/t silver, containing 142,000 oz. gold and 4.6 million oz. silver. These numbers reflect a 0.5 g/t gold cut-off.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)


Kinross signs definitive agreement with Mauritania
Thu, 15 Jul 2021 19:01:58 +0000
This agreement confirms the key terms of the agreement in principle signed a year ago.

Kinross Gold (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC) and the government of Mauritania have signed a definitive agreement that provides more economic certainty on operation of the Tasiast gold mine.

This agreement confirms the key terms of the agreement in principle signed a year ago: fuel remains duty-free; $40 million to the company in outstanding VAT refunds; $10 million to the government to resolve disputed matters; an updated escalating royalty structure tied to the gold price; and two government observers on the Kinross board of directors.

Tasiast open pit mine and heap leach is in the midst of the 24k continuous improvement project. Throughput capacity is to reach 21,000 t/d in the first quarter of 2022 and then 24,000 t/d by mid-2023. The feasibility study projects increased production, reduced costs, and an extended mine life to 2033. In 2020, Tasiast produced 406,509 oz. of gold equivalent.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)


Mining People: Apollo Gold, CanAlaska, Kesselrun, Mandalay, NexGen, Northisle
Thu, 15 Jul 2021 18:13:57 +0000
Key moves in the mining sector.

Management appointments announced this week:

Cathy Fitzgerald has joined Apollo Gold and Silver as the new VP exploration and resource development. Dean Besserer has resigned his role as VP exploration.

CanAlaska Uranium has appointed a new VP exploration, Nathan Bridge. He was previously a senior geologist at Cameco’s Fox Lake discovery team. Bridge also led the team that discovered the 42 zone at the West McArthur project. He is a licensed professional geoscientist and holds both BSc and MSc degrees in geology from the University of Western Ontario.

Yves Kabongo is the new CEO of Central African Gold. He replaces Stephen Barley who will remain as executive chairman.

Kesselrun Resources has named Rodney Stevens as VP corporate development.

Belinda Labatte has resigned her position as chief development officer at Mandalay Resources.

Robert St. Pierre has been named project liaison manager to head up community engagement at NexGen Energy.

Northisle Copper and Gold has appointed Robin Tolbert VP exploration to succeed Jack McClintock, who remains a strategic advisor. Additionally, Nicholas Van Dyk will be named CFO on Sept. 1.

Board moves include:

New Break Resources has invited Joshua Bailey to join its board of directors.

Michael Rosatelli has joined the board of Snowy Owl Gold as an independent director.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)


Barrick’s Q2 gold production lower on production outages
Thu, 15 Jul 2021 17:35:38 +0000
Barrick's all-in sustaining costs in the gold business will be higher and significantly higher in copper.

Planned and unplanned maintenance shutdowns at Nevada Gold Mines in the US and Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic have resulted in a 5.4% drop in the world’s second-largest gold miner by reserves, Barrick Gold’s (TSX: ABX, NYSE: GOLD) second-quarter output.

Preliminary June-quarter results dropped to 1.04 million oz. gold, from 1.1 million oz. in the prior period. The latest figure was below the Visible Alpha consensus estimate of 1.1 million oz.

“Assets jointly held by Barrick and Newmont missed expectations overall”

BMO Capital MArkets

A mechanical mill failure at Carlin’s Goldstrike roaster also weighed on the company’s production capacity.

“Assets jointly held by Barrick and Newmont missed expectations overall (except for Long Canyon), which is also a modest negative read-through to Newmont,” says BMO Capital Markets analyst Jackie Przybylowski.

Newmont holds joint ventures with Barrick at Pueblo Viejo (Barrick 60%, Newmont 40%), where production was in line with expectations, and at the Nevada Gold Mines (Barrick 61.5%, Newmont 38.5%), where production missed at Turquoise Ridge (autoclave maintenance), and Carlin (roaster repairs), partly offset by a strong beat at Long Canyon.

Barrick now expects second-quarter all-in sustaining costs per ounce to be 6% to 8% higher sequentially with fewer ounces produced. This is above forecasts which previously called for declining costs and the consensus expectations of relatively flat results versus the first quarter.

Copper production rose 3.2% to 96 million lb. from the prior quarter, the company said.

Barrick said copper all-in sustaining costs per pound are expected to be 20% to 22% higher than the prior quarter, mainly due to lower sales at Lumwana mine in Zambia and maintenance at Zaldivar mine in Chile.

Copper costs are expected to rise significantly in the most recent quarter – up 13% to 15% for C1 cash costs and 20% to 22% for all-in sustaining costs, above the consensus expectations of 2% and 7.5%, respectively. Lower volumes at Lumwana, maintenance at Zaldívar, and higher royalty charges contribute to the cost increases.

The company confirmed its gold and copper production is weighted towards the second half of 2021.

The company confirmed its gold and copper production is weighted towards the second half of 2021

Barrick recently said the significant exploration successes could extend the life of its Tongon gold mine in the Ivory Coast.

Barrick has also made recent progress in restarting the significant Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea, hopefully, this year still, after reaching an agreement with the government in April.

The company said it remains on track to achieve 2021 guidance. Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific are trending to the higher end of regional gold guidance ranges and North America to the lower end.

“This has a potential negative read-through for Newmont, as the Nevada Gold Mines joint venture is in this region,” says Przybylowski.

As of December 31, 2020, at a gold price of $1,500/oz, Barrick reported attributable measured and indicated resources of 3.3 billion tonnes at 1.52 grams per tonne for 160 million oz. gold, with a further 980 million tonnes at 1.4 grams per tonne for 43 million ounces in the inferred category.

“We continue to rate Barrick and Newmont ‘outperform’ with a slight preference for Barrick going into Q2 reporting on expectations of weakness at other Newmont assets (namely Tanami),” says Przybylowski. “We are reducing our Barrick one-year target to $30.00 per share (from $32 per share) as we reflect Q2 reported production.”

Barrick is scheduled to report second-quarter results on August 9.

By midday Thursday trading, Barrick’s stock was down 1% on the NYSE. The company has a $37.5 billion market capitalization.


Copper price up on hopes of further monetary easing in China
Thu, 15 Jul 2021 16:10:45 +0000
Another commodities supercycle is on the horizon and China’s dominance of renewables value chains will be key, said Wood Mackenzie.

The copper price regained some strength on Thursday after consecutive losses, as weaker-than-expected economic data from top consumer China raised hopes the country would implement further monetary easing to prop up growth.

China’s gross domestic product expanded 7.9% year-on-year in the second quarter, missing expectations of an 8.1% rise in a Reuters poll, due to slowing manufacturing activity, higher raw material costs and new covid-19 outbreaks.

The bleak data came amid market speculation of further monetary easing after China’s surprising cut of banks’ reserve requirements last week. Some market watchers say a cut in the country’s benchmark prime loan rate may be next.

Related read: Russell: Bearish or bullish? China’s variegated June commodity imports

Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices

Copper for delivery in September rose 1.8% from Wednesday’s settlement price, touching $4.346 per pound ($9,561 per tonne) midday Thursday on the Comex market in New York.

“For the first time in the mining industry’s history, a paradigm shift in demand has been clearly signposted before it materialises. With that comes the opportunity to act before supply chains are overwhelmed”

Simon Morris, Wood Mackenzie’s Head of Metals

Another commodities supercycle is on the horizon and China’s dominance of renewables value chains will be key, according to a recent report from Wood Mackenzie.

“While China’s move to secure battery raw materials is well documented, less well-known is its increasing self-sufficiency extending downstream. 75% of global lithium-ion batteries, 70% of all solar panels, and 60% of electric vehicles are made in China. But its aspirations have not yet been satisfied and we expect its control to continue to grow,” said Simon Morris, Wood Mackenzie’s Head of Metals.

“With China dominant in its control of energy transition value chains, non-Chinese entities face an ever-diminishing share of any commodity windfall. Those who choose to participate too late in the cycle are likely to find that they either can’t afford to participate or are precluded altogether.”

Under Wood Mackenzie’s proprietary Accelerated Energy Transition-2 (AET-2) scenario, which is consistent with limiting the rise in global temperatures since pre-industrial times to 2 °C, 360 million tonnes (Mt) of aluminum, 90 Mt of copper, and 30 Mt of nickel will feed the energy transition over the next 20 years.

This level of additional metal presents obvious challenges for producers and consumers alike.

“For the first time in the mining industry’s history, a paradigm shift in demand has been clearly signposted before it materialises. With that comes the opportunity to act before supply chains are overwhelmed,” said Morris.

(With files from Reuters)


Redox flow battery market expected to become multi-billion by 2031 – report
Thu, 15 Jul 2021 13:11:00 +0000
IDTechEx paints an optimistic picture of what the redox flow battery market may look like in the next decade.

A new report by IDTechEx states that the current trend of adoption of redox flow batteries (RFBs) should lead to a multi-billion market size in 2031.

However, in the analyst’s view, this massive adoption doesn’t imply that lithium- ion (li-ion) batteries will disappear. Rather, the two systems are expected to address different issues.

“IDTechEx expects Li-ion batteries to be mostly employed for a short duration of storage, hence focusing their application for high power applications with an average storage time between 1h and 5h. Possibly, the range addressed by Li-ion batteries might increase over the years,” the report reads. “Therefore, the RFB market will point to the large amount of energy this system can store, which is provided due to the low capacity loss per cycle.”

IDTechEx recognizes that, given that they have been the most studied redox flow devices, it is likely that the vanadium RFBs will be the market leaders in the years to come, despite the costs associated with manufacturing such devices.

This is particularly the case given that the presence of vanadium as electrochemical species in the catholyte and anolyte reduces the issue of cross-mixing of the electrolyte.

“Over the last few years, the price of vanadium has been one of the parameters affecting the adoption of this technology,” the review states.

“To compensate for this issue, vanadium flow battery producers started to collaborate with vanadium electrolyte companies to cope with this problem. One of the solutions to the high vanadium cost was to offer a leasing scheme for the electrolyte.”

An example of such collaborations is the partnership between Infinity and Bushveld Energy to offer a leasing option to purchase the electrolyte separately. This way, the cost of the battery is reduced, making VRFBs more affordable.

Another key union in this realm is that of Canadian miner Largo, who started to address the vanadium redox flow battery field with the acquisition of Vionx Energy’s asset for $35 million at the end of 2020.

The competition

According to IDTechEx, VRFBs are likely to find their biggest competitor in iron flow batteries (IRFBs), especially in the large-scale stationary market.

For the market researcher, the IRFB is an interesting candidate for large-scale applications due to the low cost of iron, which leads to a reduced capital cost.

IRFBs also offer the possibility to easily recycle the electrolyte and avoid cost fluctuation of the electroactive material, as it might happen to vanadium.

Recent studies have also shown that IRFB production may be less polluting than the manufacturing of VRFBs.

“Although the IRFB will likely compete for large-scale applications with VRFB, the two technologies will bring to the market a different quality of storage system. This will in turn allow a larger variety of products for the customer,” the report reads.

Another player entering the market is the zinc/bromine flow battery (ZBB) which, from a technical point of view, is a hybrid flow battery. This means that one of the electrodes – the zinc electrode – is not liquid but a solid metal.

In the view of IDTechEx’s experts, the configuration of the ZBB offers advantages such as reduced dimension and weight, which makes this battery well suited for indoor applications. It also offers disadvantages, such as a linked energy/power capacity relation.


Canadian government invests C$40m in Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 20:57:01 +0000
Network will be headquartered in Sudbury, Ontario, and support the creation of 900 jobs and at least 12 new businesses.

Canada’s federal government is supporting the continued success of the Canadian mining sector with a C$40 million ($31.9m) investment in CEMI (Centre of Excellence in Mining Innovation). The funds will support the create of the Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator (MICA) network.

MICA will bring together stakeholders from a wide range of fields to develop and commercialize innovative technologies to boost productivity and sustainability in the mining sector. The project carries a total price tag of C$112.4 million ($89.8).

By accelerating the development and commercialization of innovative autonomous and clean technologies in the mining sector, MICA is expected to extend the operational lives of existing mines and reduce the time it takes to bring new mineral deposits into production.

MICA will commercialize at least 30 new products and services and generate inter-industry benefits by introducing non-mining technologies to the mining sector and vice versa

MICA will be headquartered in Sudbury, Ontario, and support the creation of 900 jobs and at least 12 new businesses. It will commercialize at least 30 new products and services and generate inter-industry benefits by introducing non-mining technologies to the mining sector and vice versa.

MICA will rely heavily on the private sector for support, eventually expanding its membership to over 350 businesses and organizations across the country.

MICA has the support of these primary partners: the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining, InnoTech Alberta, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, MaRS, Le Groupe MISA and the College of the North Atlantic.

“Supplying the demand for the minerals and metals needed to advance the green transition to a low-carbon economy is critical, but if mines are to produce more and do so faster, cheaper and more sustainably, implementing innovation is essential,” said MICA president Douglas Morrison. “The MICA Network will help mobilize investments, grow Canadian SMEs and establish Canada’s leadership role in addressing climate change.”

According to the Mining Association of Canada, the mining sector contributed C$109 billion, or 5%, to Canada’s GDP in 2019. It directly and indirectly employs 719,000 Canadians, which represents approximately one in every 26 jobs in the country.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)


First Cobalt advancing work at refinery, hydromet plant
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 19:59:19 +0000
The project is on schedule for commissioning in the fourth quarter of 2022.

First Cobalt continues to advance work on recommissioning and expanding its cobalt refinery in the northern Ontario town named Cobalt. The project is on schedule for commissioning in the fourth quarter 2022, positioning First Cobalt as the only producer of battery-grade cobalt sulphate in North America and the second-largest outside China.

The plant utilities, including regulatory inspections and the maintenance of the electric power supply system, pumping, piping and water supply system are underway. The water permit has been received, and the site closure plan has been submitted. Procurement, detailed engineering and additional metallurgical test work are also underway, the company said.

Geotechnical drilling is underway to aid in the design of the foundations of the new solvent extraction building, copper sulphate crystallizer building, and the effluent treatment facility. Improvements to the refinery access road are complete, and it can now handle the heavier traffic of transport trucks.

First Cobalt has also added to the project team with the recent addition of a health, safety and logistic superintendent and a health, safety, environment and training co-ordinator.

Current activity is funded by the C$14 million in the company’s treasury, although debt financing of $45 million is being arranged.

The refinery last operated from 1996 to 2015. When it restarts, it will produce over 5,000 tonnes of cobalt annually in 25,000 tones of cobalt sulphate. That represents 5% of the global market.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)


Mako’s San Albino mine achieves commercial production milestone
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 19:39:24 +0000
At the end of San Albino's pre-commercial production period, Mako Mining recovered a total of 6,300 oz. gold.

Mako Mining (TSXV: MKO) has declared commercial production effective July 1 at its San Albino mine in northern Nicaragua.

San Albino has a 500 tonne per day gravity and carbon-in-leach processing plant, which has been operating since May 12. Mako says the plant has been averaging 456 tonnes per day at 71% availability, thereby meeting the commercial production threshold.

At the end of the pre-commercial production period, the company reported recovery of 6,300 oz. gold

At the end of the pre-commercial production period, the company reported a recovery of 6,300 oz. gold. The mill achieved an average of 96.3% gold recovery rate.

The company is starting its mining activities at the Porcelana zone, which hosts the highest grade-thickness profile at the San Albino property.

The company says it has stockpiled 116,748 tonnes of material by the end of June, containing 12,327 oz. gold grading at 3.29 grams per tonne.

The company was able to mine a total of 4,557 tonnes of diluted vein material, which contained 1,722 oz. gold grading at 11.75 grams per tonne gold. It also mined 25,263 tonnes of historical dump, which contained 2,088 oz. gold at 2.57 grams per tonne.

Accordingly, the plant milled 16,246 tonnes of material, containing 6,539 oz. gold at 12.52 grams per tonne.

The November 2020 estimate for the pit has fully diluted measured and indicated resources of 310,900 tonnes grading 9.54 gram per tonne gold, containing 95,400 oz. of gold. The fully diluted inferred resource is 226,700 tonnes grading 8.50 gram per tonne gold, containing 62,000 oz. of gold.

The estimate for potential underground mining includes measures and indicated material of 230,600 tonnes at 11.22 gram per tonne gold, containing 83,200 oz. The inferred portion is 116,100 tonnes at 8.42 grams per tonne gold, containing 51,200 oz.

The historical dumps are classified as inferred having 78,800 tonnes at 2.95 grams per tonne gold, containing 7,500 oz.

Sailfish Royalty (TSXV: FISH; US-OTC: SROYF) holds a gold stream equivalent to a 3% NSR on San Albino (about 3.5 sq. km) and a 2% NSR on the rest of the area (about 134.5 sq. km) surrounding San Albino.


Teck releases climate change outlook report, focus on copper growth
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 19:39:24 +0000
Quebreda Blanca Phase 2 project in Chile, currently under construction, will double Teck's consolidated copper production when it starts in 2022.

Teck Resources (TSX: TECK.A, TECK.B, NYSE: TECK) on Wednesday released its third TCFD-aligned climate change report, Climate Change Outlook 2021, outlining how the company will continue working to reduce emissions to achieve the goal of being a carbon-neutral operator by 2050.

Teck’s 2021 report outlines three climate-related scenarios looking forward to 2040, helping to identify the range of future risks and opportunities to inform corporate strategy and risk management.

The first scenario highlights Teck’s current focus, copper growth to transition its portfolio to metals; the second, its 10+ years focus on growing its metals business in areas essential to the transition to a low-carbon world and continue to produce steelmaking coal required for the low-carbon transition and reduce carbon; the third, the 20+ years scenario, focuses on becoming a leading metals producer for a low-carbon world.

Teck’s QB2 project in Chile, currently under construction, will double its consolidated copper production when production starts in 2022

In all scenarios, Teck said it sees continued demand for copper, zinc and steelmaking coal — some of the basic building blocks of a low-carbon future.

Copper demand growth is directly tied to decarbonization, driven by growth in low-emissions vehicles, energy storage and transmission, improved energy efficiency and renewable energy generation.

As a copper producer in the Americas with a strong pipeline of projects, Teck said its Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) project in Chile, currently under construction, will double its consolidated copper production when production starts in 2022.

“Teck is taking significant steps to address climate change risks because we know all sectors, including mining, need to play an active role in contributing to solving the challenge of climate change,” said Marcia Smith, SVP, Sustainability and External Affairs in the media statement.

“We are working to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations, while at the same time rebalancing our portfolio towards copper, which is an essential metal for low-carbon technology and infrastructure,” Smith said.

Teck said it is committed to reducing operational greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

“In 2020, we set an ambitious, long-term goal to become a carbon-neutral operator by 2050, with a shorter-term goal to reduce the carbon intensity of our operations by 33% by 2030,” Teck said. “To realize this vision, we have set an initial roadmap with corresponding 2025 and 2030 goals, including procuring 50% of our electricity demands in Chile from clean energy by 2025 and 100% by 2030.

Last year, Teck switched to 100% renewable power at its Carmen de Andacolla operation and entered into a power purchase agreement to procure over 50% of operational power needs at QB2 from renewable sources.

These initiatives, the company said, will avoid approximately one million tonnes of GHG emissions annually, equivalent to the emissions from about 210,000 passenger vehicles.

The full report is here.


Ivanhoe orders Epiroc battery-electric equipment for Platreef
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 18:37:17 +0000
The order exceeds C$13 million in value and was booked in the second quarter 2021.

Epiroc, a leading productivity and sustainability partner for the mining and infrastructure industries, has won an order for battery-electric mining equipment from Ivanplats that will be used to develop its greenfield mine in South Africa in the most sustainable and productive manner possible.

Ivanplats, a subsidiary of Canadian mining company Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN: OTC: IVPAF), has ordered several Boomer M2 battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 battery loaders. The new Platreef underground mine, which will trial the emissions-free machines during its initial development phase, will produce palladium, rhodium, platinum, nickel, copper and gold.

Ivanplats intends to use all battery-electric vehicles in their mining fleet at Platreef.

The order exceeds C$13 million in value and was booked in the second quarter 2021.

“Battery-electric equipment is increasingly embraced by mining companies as it provides a healthier work environment, lower total operating costs, and higher productivity says Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s president and CEO. “The technology is now well established, and Epiroc is driving this change toward emissions-free mining.”

“This partnership with Epiroc for emissions-free mining equipment at the Platreef mine is an important first step towards achieving our net-zero carbon emissions goals while mining metals required for a cleaner environment,” says Marna Cloete, Ivanhoe’s president and CFO.

Boomer M2 battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 battery loaders are built in Sweden and are automation ready and equipped with Epiroc’s telematics solution Certiq. The equipment will be delivered early in 2022. Epiroc will also provide on-site operator and maintenance training to Ivanplats.

Epiroc will offer its complete fleet of underground mining equipment as battery-electric versions by 2025, and its full fleet for surface operations as BEVs by 2030.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)


Marimaca extends strike length of Cindy target, shares down
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 18:30:08 +0000
The Cindy target offers potential to add to the company's leachable resource base and extend mine life.

Marimaca Copper (TSX: MARI) announced Wednesday that drilling results from the remaining reverse circulation drill holes completed at the Cindy target have intersected significant copper mineralization, extending the strike length to over 800 metres.

Cindy is located less than 5km to the north of Marimaca’s oxide deposit in northern Chile, considered to be the only copper discovery globally in the last five years.

According to Marimaca, the Cindy target offers potential to add to the company’s leachable resource base and extend mine life or increase the scale of future operations.

The initial drill campaign at Cindy is designed to identify new, broad zones of shallow oxide mineralization that could complement the existing resources at the Marimaca oxide deposit, as well as potential deeper sulphide-bearing structures that could indicate a more extensive copper system, the company said.

Cindy is located less than 5km to the north of Marimaca’s oxide deposit in northern Chile, considered to be the only copper discovery globally in the last five years

So far, nine holes have been drilled to the north and south of the historical underground workings at Cindy, extending over roughly 1.2km of strike. The first three drill holes had already intersected broad zones of copper mineralization over a stepout strike of roughly 800m.

The latest results showed that broad zones of enriched and primary copper mineralization were intersected in two new holes, extending the strike of the previously identified mineralization.

Sergio Rivera, VP Exploration, said the two intersections “are deeper and accordingly have increased amounts of primary mineralization, but when considered in context of the east dipping structures, would indicate potential for oxide mineralization closer to surface, up dip on the structures to the west.”

The Marimaca exploration team has also extended its magnetic survey, which indicated a large anomaly directly to the north of Cindy.

“We are investigating the potential for extensions of the mineralized zone and structures into this area. If successful, this could meaningfully increase the strike length of Cindy,” Rivera said.

Meanwhile, assay results from Mercedes are pending. The company is also preparing infrastructure and drill pads for the Roble target, where drilling is expected to begin shortly.

Shares of Marimaca Copper fell 5.3% by 2:30 p.m. ET Wednesday. The copper company has a market capitalization of about C$331.3 million ($264m).


Trans Mountain pipeline project hits major milestone in British Columbia
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 17:54:45 +0000
The $10 billion Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project is one of four major energy-related construction projects underway in the province.

Twinning a 1,150-kilometre long pipeline is no mean feat of engineering, especially considering that the last 2.6 kilometres pipe has to be threaded through a mountain.

The C$12.6 billion ($10bn) Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project is one of four major energy-related construction projects underway in B.C. It will add a second pipeline to the existing one, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, increasing its capacity to 890,000 barrels per day from 300,000.

A total of 13,000 people have been hired since construction started. At the end of May, the project alone accounted for 9,000 workers in Alberta and B.C. About 1,900 are concentrated in the Lower Mainland, with much of that manpower focused on expansions of the Burnaby tank farm and Westridge Marine Terminal.

The pipeline twinning project is broken into nine sections or “spreads.” Spread 1 out of Edmonton is 94% complete, whereas work on the Fraser Valley – Spread 6 – hasn’t even started yet, as the company is still waiting for the Canadian Energy Regulator to issue permits from detailed route hearings.

It will add a second pipeline to the existing one, which runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, increasing its capacity to 890,000 barrels per day from 300,000

Much of the work is being done by Canadian contractors, although there are a few points along the pipeline’s route that pose some engineering, geotechnical and construction challenges that require expertise not found in Canada.

Burying a pipeline in the steep mountainous terrain between Hope and the Coquihalla Summit, for example, requires international technical expertise and specialized equipment. For that section, Trans Mountain has contracted Kiewit and an Italian company, Bonatti.

“We’re running grades of 30 degrees up there,” said Dean Palin, head project director for the TMX project. “So we brought in Kiewit Bonatti Group to help us get through the steep slopes on that piece of it.”

Trans Mountain also brought in specialized marine barge-crane operators from the U.S. to work on the foreshore of Westridge Marine terminal.

One of the bigger engineering challenges is boring a 2.6-kilometre tunnel through Burnaby Mountain. A major milestone in the project’s construction was achieved May 26, when tunnel boring officially began. The tunnel is needed to connect the Burnaby tank farm and Westridge Marine Terminal with distribution lines.

The Burnaby tank farm is being expanded with 14 additional storage tanks. The Westridge Marine terminal, where oil is loaded onto tankers for export, involves the construction of three new berths. This requires the installation of 162 piles, and all of this has to be done in the water around the terminal without interfering with ongoing operations.

The marine terminal and tank farm are more than two kilometres apart and are connected by distribution pipes that were originally put underground in the 1950s. Since then, the City of Burnaby has built up around that area. So rather than tear up city streets to install new distribution pipes to connect the Burnaby tank farm and Westridge Marine Terminal, planners decided to bore the long tunnel through Burnaby Mountain.

The tunnel boring took a year of preparatory work and six years of planning, design and regulatory approvals. The prep work included building entrance and exit portals at either end, which required the construction of retaining walls at the Burnaby tank farm and Westridge Marine Terminal.

This involved 106 secant piles being sunk 18 metres deep into the ground at the marine terminal end. About 300,000 cubic metres of soil then had to be excavated in front of these piles to reveal the new retaining walls, and then a platform was built for the tunnel boring machine. Another small retaining wall was built at the Burnaby Tank farm end.

The boring began with cutting a 4.4-metre entrance into the new retaining wall near Westridge Marine Terminal.

Chewing through a mountain requires specialized machinery. A custom-built tunnel boring machine was built by Herrenknecht AG in Germany at a cost of about C$10 million. The machine is 122 metres long – the length of a soccer field – and is operated by a crew of 12, who work inside the machine.

The machine operates seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It will take about 290 days to complete the tunnel. As of the end of June, only about 25 metres of the tunnel had been excavated.

“Right now, we’re not moving very fast, because as we slowly start to wind this machine up, we’ve got commissioning that’s ongoing, making sure everything’s right before we get too far into the tunnel,” Palin said.

The expansion project has suffered a number of delays and stop-work orders. Some of the delays were due to the pandemic, but there was also a three-week halt-work order issued by Trans Mountain in December, after a number of workplace injuries, including one fatality.

“It’s such a huge project, and we’ve had some challenges,” Hounsell said. “We had a clearing stop-work order a little while ago. Covid obviously has been a challenge in many different ways, but in some other ways we catch up. Overall, we are still projecting for completion at the end of 2022.”

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)


Gold price hits 4-week high following Powell’s dovish commentary
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 15:59:08 +0000
The Fed chair's latest comments helped ease concerns that faster inflation will see the central bank taper its monetary stimulus earlier than expected.

Gold prices moved higher on Wednesday following dovish commentary from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, which helped ease fears of early tapering even as more inflation data beat expectations.

In comments prepared for an appearance before a House committee, Powell said the US economic recovery still hasn’t progressed enough to begin scaling back the central bank’s massive monthly asset purchases. He added that inflation is likely to remain high in coming months before moderating.

Powell’s comments helped ease concerns that faster-than-predicted US inflation data will see the central bank taper its monetary stimulus earlier than expected.

Bullion has been hovering around $1,800 an ounce since the beginning of July, after posting its worst month since 2016, as the Fed brought forward its forecasts for rate hikes amid concerns about inflation.

Spot gold jumped 0.8% to $1,822.54 per ounce by 11:35 a.m. ET Wednesday, its highest since mid-June. US gold futures also gained 0.8%, trading at $1,824.30 per ounce in New York.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

Some investors view gold as a hedge against higher inflation, but a Fed rate hike would dull the metal’s appeal as it increases the opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding bullion.

“On the one hand, gold is getting boosted by inflation hedge, but on the other hand, rising market expectation for a rake hike at the end of 2022 is offsetting some of the price advances,” Xiao Fu, head of commodity market strategy at Bank of China International, told Reuters.

“So far, the Fed has been assuming that the noticeably higher inflation rates are only transitory and that they will normalise again next year,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note.

“However, with each higher figure, the risk increases that inflation will remain elevated for a longer period of time.”

Wednesday’s data showed prices paid by producers gained more than forecast in June, mirroring data on consumer prices on Tuesday. US consumer prices rose by the most in 13 years last month, causing investors to intensify their focus on the Fed’s messaging.

Another gauge on the state of the economic recovery will come from retail sales data on Friday. Powell will also appear before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters)


OceanaGold to restart Didipio mine after new deal with Philippines
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 14:14:00 +0000
The gold-copper mine, which has been idled since 2019, will be restarted "as soon as possible" and will run for another 25 years.

Australia’s OceanaGold Corp. (TSX, ASX: OGC) said on Wednesday the Philippines has renewed its contract for the Didipio gold and copper mine for another 25 years, after almost two years of the operation being halted due to a dispute with a provincial government over the company’s license to operate.

The renewed Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) applies retroactively from June 19, 2019, and keeps financial terms and conditions unchanged, OceanaGold said. It does however provide an additional 1.5% of gross revenue to be allocated to regional communities and provinces that host the operation, the company noted.

Shares climbed almost 3% in Sydney on the news, closing at A$2.46, the highest price in July so far.

OceanaGold kicked off the renewal of the 25-year permit in 2018. After it expired in June 2019, the company kept Didipio operating under a temporary license, but a blockade backed by the local government forced the Brisbane-based miner to suspend operations a few weeks later. It also had to lay off hundreds of workers.

“The company’s first operational priority is the rehiring and training of its Philippine workforce, which will include a focus on safeguarding workers from the current risks associated with covid-19,” Oceana said in the statement.

One-year deadline

The miner, which plans to restart Didipio “as soon as possible” said operations will resume initially with the milling of stockpiled ore of about 19 million tonnes.

Didipio, which began production in 2013 and is located 270 km north of Manila, has a measured and indicated resource of 1.3 million ounces of gold and 160,000 tonnes of copper.

OceanaGold aims to achieve full underground production capacity within 12 months, with Didipio slated to generated about 10,000 ounces of gold and 1,000 tonnes of copper per month once production is fully ramped up.

The mine is a major direct and indirect employer in the provinces of Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya and a significant contributor of socio-economic benefits for the local and national economies.

OceanaGold also has assets in New Zealand and the United States.


Iron ore price holds above $200 but China outlook is clouding
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 13:55:22 +0000
Concerns about China's efforts to curb steel output to meet its carbon emissions goal also kept market participants largely at bay.

Iron ore prices rose on Wednesday, pressured by concerns about demand prospects for the steelmaking raw material in top steel producer China.

According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $218.66 a tonne on Wednesday, up 0.1% from Tuesday’s closing.

The most-traded September iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended daytime trade 0.8% higher at 1,219.50 yuan ($188.36) a tonne.

“There are early signs of a turning point in Chinese demand with falling Chinese steel prices crushing margins for steel mills,” said Justin Smirk, a senior economist at Westpac in Sydney.

Declining cement prices in China, some rebar makers possibly starting to incur losses, and excavator sales in May posting the first monthly drop since early 2020 point to slowing construction activity that has also been hampered by an unfavourable weather, Smirk said.

China’s steel exports also remained weak, hit by tepid demand in Southeast Asian countries – its largest buyers of the construction and manufacturing material – due to a fresh wave of covid-19 infections in the region, Mysteel consultancy reported.

Concerns about China’s efforts to curb steel output this year to meet its carbon emissions goal also kept market participants largely at bay, even as worries persisted over the tightness in global iron ore supply.

Iron ore had been on an upward trend over last month, bolstered by the resumption of steel production in key hub Tangshan.

Related read: China to keep economy within reasonable range, act to ease commodity prices

“Steelmakers need to cut back rather than merely slow excessive production rates because raising prices of new production will not solve a fundamental problem,” Fastmarkets said in a note.

“While the (Chinese) government remains concerned by excess output, do not be surprised if steel production falls and in turn hot metal prices correct in the short term.”

“The growth of China’s steel demand in the second half will be slower than the first half,” said Wang Yingsheng, chief economist of the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), while speaking at the opening ceremonies for the three-day Singapore International Ferrous Week.

(With files from Reuters)


Gemfields aims for transparency on how much miners pay host countries in taxes, dividends
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 13:03:00 +0000
The company called its new indicator the ‘G-Factor for Natural Resources.’

Gemfields (LON: GEM) (JSE: GML) called on governance bodies, mining organizations, industry observers and host governments to adopt the ‘G-Factor for Natural Resources,’ a new measure promoting greater transparency regarding the level of natural resource wealth shared with the governments of host countries.

The London-based company, which has operations in Mozambique and Zambia, and holds controlling interests in licenses in Ethiopia and Madagascar said the G-Factor is intended to be an uncomplicated indicator of the percentage of a natural resource company’s revenue that is paid to the host country government in primary and direct taxes, plus — where the host government is a shareholder — dividends.

The miner suggests that each company or multinational engaged primarily in the extraction and sale of natural resources calculates its own G-Factor and makes it public for the parent company itself and each operating subsidiary.

Gemfields suggests that each company or multinational engaged primarily in the extraction and sale of natural resources calculates its own G-Factor and makes it public

 The G-Factor for Natural Resources takes its name from the ‘g’s’ in ‘government,’ ‘governance’ and ‘good practice.’

“In an era witnessing significant strides in transparency and governance, and where extensive reporting on so many facets of corporate activity is already required in the annual reports of public companies, it is surprising that practical parameters allowing more direct insight into, and comparison of, the sharing of natural resource wealth still elude us,” Sean Gilbertson, Gemfields’ CEO, said in the press brief.

“We invite collaboration, input and support for the adoption of the ‘G-Factor for Natural Resources’ as a step forward. We hope it will be voluntarily adopted by other companies, insisted upon by host countries and incorporated into projects such as EITI.”

Gilbertson said the G-Factor is expressed as a percentage and is calculated by adding up the total mineral royalty paid by the reporting company to the host country government during the relevant period; plus the total corporate tax paid to the host country government during the same period; plus the dividends paid by the reporting company to the host country government during the period if the host country government is a shareholder in the reporting company, and all of this divided by the total revenues of the reporting company during the period.

The formula looks like this:

Ap + Bp + Cp / Dp

where:

  • A = total mineral royalty (tax on revenue) paid to the host country government 
  • B = total corporate tax (tax on profit) paid to the host country government
  • C = the dividends paid to the host country government (where the host country government is a shareholder in the reporting company)
  • D = total revenues of the reporting company 
  • p = the relevant period, typically calculated for each of (i) the prior year; (ii) the preceding 5 years and (iii) the preceding 10 years

Gemfields suggests using the sums actually paid during the period, rather than the sums accrued or falling due during the period, for the purposes of A, B and C. 

Gilbertson recognized that no measure of this type is perfect and, therefore, the G-Factor should be interpreted as a ‘rule-of-thumb,’ understanding that it may not be suited to every situation. 

He also admitted that there are additional and indirect taxes that are not included in the G-Factor for Natural Resources and which further increase the contribution made to host nations by natural resource companies. Such taxes include area/surface charges, social security contributions, taxation on the salaries of employees, import and export duties, VAT, among others.

When it comes to comparing company to company using the new measure, the executive acknowledged that the variety and variations in natural resource deposits, types and occurrences lessen the ability to make direct comparisons.

Regardless of the caveats of the tool and to lead by example, Gemfields calculated the G-Factor for its two main operations, namely, the Montepuez mine in Mozambique, which is the world’s richest known ruby deposit and the only asset that generated a profit for the company last year, and the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia, which is responsible for approximately 25% of the world’s emerald supply.

Gemfields has made headlines two weeks in a row after a sudden, 10% hike in its share price on July 9, which was attributed to “non-disclosable unpublished price-sensitive information”.

The firm, which returned to the London Stock Exchange’s market for juniors last year, revealed it expects to announce sales of $95 million for the first half of 2021, up 533% from the same period in 2020.


What a “Joy” — Lucara finds largest fancy pink diamond yet
Wed, 14 Jul 2021 11:01:00 +0000
The 62-carat diamond, named "Boitumelo" is Botswana’s largest fancy pink rough yet.

Canada’s Lucara Diamond (TSX: LUC) has found a 62.7-carat fancy pink diamond at its prolific Karowe mine in Botswana, which has been named “Boitumelo” meaning “Joy” in Setswana, the national and majority language.

The rock, Botswana’s largest fancy pink diamond yet, weighs 62.7 carats and measures 26x17x16mm. Described as a high-quality, fancy pink, Type IIa gem, it is also one of the world’s largest rough of that colour on record.

Lucara recovered as well a 22.21-carat fancy pink gem of similar quality during the same production period along with two additional pink gems of comparable colour and purity, weighing 11.17, and 5.05 carats.

All the rocks were recovered from direct milling of ore sourced from Karowe’s EM/PK(S) unit of the South Lobe. That’s the same area of the mine that has yielded the 1,758 carat Sewelô and 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona.

What a “Joy” — Lucara finds largest fancy pink diamond yet
Boitumelo and the other three diamonds recovered at Karowe. (Image courtesy of Lucara Diamond.)

“Lucara is delighted to announce another historic diamond with the recovery of the Boitumelo, and very pleased to demonstrate the continued potential for large, coloured diamonds from the South Lobe production,” chief executive Eira Thomas said in a media statement. 

Year to date, Karowe has produced 17 diamonds greater than 100 carats, including five over 300 carats. Several of them were recovered from the EM/PK(S), which forms a key economic driver for the proposed $514 million underground expansion of Karowe, Thomas noted.

Earlier this week, the Vancouver-based miner locked in a $200 million debt package that would help fund the five-year project.

Karowe remains one of the highest-margin diamond mines in the world, producing an average of 300,000 high-value carats each year


Top 10 Canadian base metal and uranium explorers and developers
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 22:12:52 +0000
Demand for greener energy has put companies with uranium and base metal projects under the spotlight.

Demand for greener energy has put companies with uranium and base metal projects under the spotlight. Here’s a list of the top ten Canadian-headquartered base metal and uranium juniors with no production. The ranking is based on the companies’ market capitalization as of June 3, and compiled by MiningIntelligence.

NexGen Energy

Market capitalization: C$2.7 billion ($2.3 billion)

Aerial view of NexGen Energy’s Rook 1 project in Saskatchewan, Canada. Image from NexGen Energy.

NexGen Energy’s (TSX: NXE; NYSE: NXE) market cap has increased fivefold from last year, pushing it from third to first place in this year’s top ten ranking. The exploration and development company’s valuation has been boosted as the spot price for uranium edged higher in May to pass $32 per lb., and comes after several years in which uranium was trading in the $25-30 per lb. price range.

The company is focussed on developing uranium projects in the southwestern part of the Athabasca Basin of Saskatchewan and Alberta, one of the world’s leading sources of high-grade uranium oxide used in nuclear power reactors. NexGen holds just under 200,000 hectares of land, and includes the largest development-stage uranium deposit in Canada, its 100%-owned Rook 1 project. Rook 1 hosts the Arrow deposit, as well as the South Arrow, Harpoon, Bow and Cannon discoveries.

NexGen released a feasibility study for Rook I in February. The study envisioned an underground mine and a mill, with a mine life of 10.7 years. The initial capital costs for the project are pegged at $1.3 billion. The Arrow deposit at Rook 1 has measured and indicated resources of 256.7 million lb. uranium oxide in 3.8 million tonnes grading 3.1%.

In March, the company closed a C$150 million bought deal financing. NexGen intends to use the proceeds from the offering for general working capital including continued development of the Rook I project. The company also announced in late June that it would list on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Denison Mines

Market capitalization: C$1.3 billion ($1.1 billion)

Denison stock rises on high-grade uranium discovery at McClean Lake
McClean Lake project site. Image from Denison Mines.

Denison Mines (TSX: DML; NYSE-AM: DNN) is focused on exploring and developing uranium projects in the Athabasca Basin, and has moved from sixth place in last year’s top ten list to second place this year.

Denison’s portfolio is concentrated in the eastern part of the Athabasca Basin, and covers about 280,000 hectares. The company’s flagship asset is its 90%-owned Wheeler River project, the largest undeveloped uranium project in that portion of the basin. The project has two high-grade deposits: Phoenix and Gryphon. Probable reserves at Phoenix are 59.7 million lb. U3O8 from 141,000 tonnes grading 19.1% U3O8, while Gryphon has 49.7 million lb. U3O8 from 1.26 million tonnes grading 1.8% U3O8.

Other assets include the McLean Lake deposit and mill, in which Denison retains a 22.5% interest. The mill at McLean Lake processes ore from the Cigar Lake uranium mine operated by Cameco (TSX: CCO; NYSE: CCJ), which resumed operations in April.

In mid-June, the company announced it was adding to its portfolio by acquiring 50% of JCU Exploration for a cash consideration of C$20.5 million. The other half of JCU, a subsidiary of Japan-based Overseas Uranium Resources Development, will be held by UEX Corp. (TSX: UEX; US-OTC: UEXCF). The deal sees Denison providing UEX with an interest-free, three-month loan of up to C$41 million, half of which will be immediately retired when Denison receives its JCU shares. JCU holds a portfolio of twelve uranium joint venture projects in Canada, including a 10% interest in Denison’s Wheeler River asset.

Filo Mining

Market capitalization: C$1.2 billion ($1 billion)

Canada’s Filo Mining injects $7M into copper-gold-silver project on Chile Argentina border
Filo del Sol hosts a high-sulphidation epithermal copper-gold-silver deposit associated with a large porphyry copper-gold system. (Image courtesy of Filo Mining)

Filo Mining (TSXV: FIL) has seen its market cap soar, pushing it from number eight on last year’s list to third position this year. Part of the Lundin Group of companies, Filo’s key focus is its wholly-owned Filo del Sol copper-gold-silver deposit in South America, a high-sulphidation epithermal deposit associated with one or more large porphyry copper-gold systems.

The project comprises two properties that straddle the border between Argentina and Chile in the Andes Mountains. The Filo del Sol asset is in Argentina’s San Juan province and the adjacent Tamberias asset is in the Atacama region of northern Chile’s Region III. Combined, the two properties span about 14,000 hectares. The assets have indicated resources of 425 million tonnes grading 0.33% copper, 0.32 grams gold per tonne and 10.7 grams silver per tonne for 3.1 billion lb. copper, 4.4 million oz. gold, and for 147 million oz. silver.

In mid-June the company released the results of its most recent drill program at the Filo del Sol site in Argentina. These included the third best intersection on the site to date, measured by copper-equivalent grade-thickness. The drillhole returned 352 metres of 1.16% copper equivalent (0.63% copper, 0.64 grams gold per tonne and 6.7 grams silver per tonne) from 498 metres downhole, within a broader interval of 1,081 metres at 0.88% copper equivalent (0.52% copper, 0.43 grams gold per tonne and 5.3 grams silver per tonne) from a depth of 38 metres.

The company has drilled 15 holes at the Argentinean site this year and plans to resume exploration drilling in August as it ramps up to year-round operations. Filo plans to complete a resource update for Filo del Sol before the end of 2021, incorporating data compiled since 2019 and augmented by work planned for late summer and fall of this year.

Oroco Resource

Market capitalization: C$565 million ($468 million)

Santo Tomas project. Image from Oroco Resource.

Oroco Resource (TSX-V: OCO) makes its first appearance on the list.  The company, founded in 2006, is developing the Santo Tomas porphyry copper project located in the western Sierra Madre mountain range of Mexico, straddling the border between the states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua.

The Santo Tomas project, which is about 9,000 hectares in size, lies within the Laramide belt, a trending copper belt that extends from the southwestern United States into southern Mexico. Oroco holds a net 61.4% interest in 1,200 hectares of core concessions, and may increase that majority interest up to an 81% stake with a project investment of up to $30 million. The company also holds a 77.5% interest in another 7,800 hectares of nearby mineral concessions.

Exploration work at the site done between 1968 and 1994 included over 100 diamond and reverse circulation drill holes, totalling about 30,000 metres. In 2017, Oroco began a comprehensive geological mapping program of the entire area. Two years later the company began improvements to site access and the construction of camp and support facilities, followed in September of last year by a full 3-D resistivity and induced polarization survey of about 10 square km of the property. That survey was completed in March of this year.

In late June, Oroco received approval from the Chihuahua and Sinaloa state offices of the Mexican Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources to conduct a new drill program at Santo Tomas. Exploration drilling is expected to commence this summer, while an environmental baseline study, water strategy study and permitting studies will also begin. The company plans to expand its footprint by assembling nearby mineral concessions.

Trilogy Metals

Market capitalization: C$519 million ($430 million)

Trilogy Metals, South32 JV announce $27m for Alaska project
Camp at the Bornite project, one of the two most advanced of Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects. Image from Trilogy Metals.

Trilogy Metals (TSX: TMQ; NYSE-AM: TMQ) maintains its fifth position on the top ten list for a second year, although the Vancouver-based junior has seen its market cap increase as copper prices have risen. The company is advancing exploration at its Upper Kobuk projects in Alaska’s Ambler mining district, located 470 km northwest of Fairbanks.

Trilogy has amassed 173,000 hectares in its Alaskan land package, with the two most advanced projects being the Arctic copper-zinc-lead-silver project and the Bornite copper-cobalt project.

A feasibility study on the Arctic project released in August 2020 envisioned a conventional open pit mine and mill complex and projected a 12-year mine life. Initial capex is estimated at $905 million. At an operating rate of 10,000 tonnes per day, the study forecast average annual payable production of 155 million lb. copper, 192 million lb. zinc, 32 million lb. lead, 32,000 oz. gold and 3.4 million oz. silver.

Arctic has probable reserves of 43 million tonnes grading 2.24% copper, 3.12% zinc, 0.54% lead, 0.47 grams gold per tonne and 36 grams silver per tonne.

The Bornite copper-cobalt deposit is located about 25 km southwest of the Arctic project, and the company’s current activities are focused on exploration. A 2018 feasibility study for Bornite estimated indicated resources of 40.5 million tonnes grading 1.02% copper for 900 million lb. copper, with an additional 142 million inferred tonnes grading 1.74% copper for 5.5 billion lb. copper.

The 2021 exploration program at Upper Kobuk prioritizes infill drilling at Arctic as well as metallurgical and targeted condemnation drilling. The company intends to expand exploration work within a 3-5 km radius of the Arctic deposit with the goal of seeking nearby copper-rich satellite deposits.

Global Atomic

Market capitalization: C$518 million ($429 million)

Global Atomic shares jump on permit for Dasa project
The Dasa project in Niger. (Credit: Global Atomic)

A newcomer to the top ten list this year, Global Atomic’s (TSX: GLO; US-OTC: GLATF) flagship Dasa project, discovered in 2010, is a large, high grade uranium deposit in Niger.  Located 120 km north of Agadez, Niger’s second-largest city, Dasa is 12,240 hectares in size and is planned initially as an underground mine, with the potential for future open pit operations.

In a preliminary economic assessment released in May 2020, Dasa was assessed with an overall life of mine (underground and surface) of 14 years, with peak production of 4.4 million lb. U3O8 annually. Dasa has an indicated resource of 3.12 million tonnes grading 0.62% U3O8 for 42.5 million lb. of contained uranium, and inferred resources of 0.69 million tonnes grading 0.34% U3O8 for 5.2 million lb. contained uranium. Of that, the total mineralized material to be milled is estimated at 4 million tonnes grading 0.54% U3O8 for 48 million lb. of contained uranium.

The PEA estimated an initial capex for Dasa of $203 million, with an additional $73.4 million allocated as sustaining capital over the life of the mine. The capex earmarks $67 million for a processing plant. The mine’s operating costs are estimated at $4.12 per lb. of U3O8 ($45.06 per tonne processed) and are based on an owner-operator model.

Western Copper and Gold

Market capitalization: C$406 million ($336 million)

Investors give lukewarm reception to giant Yukon copper mine study
Western Copper and Gold’s camp at the Casino project in the Yukon Territory. Credit: Western Copper and Gold.

Western Copper and Gold (TSX: WRN; NYSE: WRN) makes its debut on the top ten list this year. The company is solely focused on developing its 100%-owned Casino copper-gold project in Canada’s Yukon Territory, located 300 km northwest of the capital of Whitehorse within the Dawson Range of mountains. It consists of 21,300 hectares of quartz claims and 490 hectares of placer claims, situated on both Crown land and within the traditional territory of the Selkirk First Nation.

Planned as an open pit mine with a 120,000 tonne-per-day concentrator and a 25,000 tonne-per-day gold heap leach facility, Western has been working up the project since 2008. The company completed a preliminary economic assessment for Casino in late June.  The PEA forecast an after-tax net present value (at an 8% discount) of C$2.3 billion and an after-tax internal rate of return of 19.5%. Cash flow over the first four years of operation is estimated at C$965 million per year, based on metal prices of $3.35 per lb. copper, $1,600 per oz. gold, $24 per oz. silver and $12 per lb. molybdenum. The project’s initial capital investment is C$3.25 billion and the PEA estimates average annual metal production of 178 million lb. copper, 231,000 oz. gold, 1.4 million oz. silver and 17 million lb. molybdenum, over a 25-year mine life.

Casino has measured and indicated resources (both mill and leach material) of 2.4 million tonnes grading 0.14% copper and 0.19 grams gold per tonne for 7.6 million lb. copper and 14.5 million oz. gold.

In May, Rio Tinto Canada, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO; LSE: RIO; ASX: RIO), invested $25.6 million for an 8% stake in Western. The company intends to use the funds for economic studies and permitting, as well as commencing an exploration diamond drill program at Casino comprising roughly 5,000 metres in 12 holes.

PolyMet Mining

Market capitalization: C$396 million ($328 million)

PolyMet’s NorthMet plant site in the Mesabi Iron Range of northern Minnesota. Credit: PolyMet Mining.

PolyMet Mining (TSX: POM; NYSE-AM: PLM) has slipped from fourth place on last year’s top ten list, as the Toronto-based junior struggles to get its 100%-owned copper-nickel NorthMet project approved.

NorthMet is located 110 km north of Duluth in Minnesota’s historic Mesabi Iron Range. The company envisions an open pit operation that would be Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine. NorthMet is also the first large-scale project to be moving forward in the region. It has measured and indicated resources of 795 million tonnes, grading 0.234% copper and 0.07% nickel, and inferred resources of 457.7 million tonnes grading 0.236% copper and 0.067% nickel. The company says the project also has marketable reserves of palladium, cobalt, platinum and gold.

The project has faced a number of hurdles, however, including opposition from environmental groups and local activists opposed to the project. In early June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released results from its evaluation of the project, saying NorthMet may affect the water quality on lands belonging to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota, as well as potentially impact some streams in the adjacent state of Wisconsin. PolyMet expects that ongoing litigation related to the project will continue until at least the end of this year, but says it remains committed to advancing the project.

Foran Mining

Market capitalization: C$394 million ($326 million)

The camp at Foran Mining’s McIlvenna Bay polymetallic project in Saskatchewan. Credit: Foran Mining

Copper-zinc development company Foran Mining (TSXV: FOM) makes its first appearance on the top ten list this year.  The company’s flagship is the McIlvenna Bay project in the Hanson Lake volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) district of east-central Saskatchewan, part of the Flin Flon Greenstone belt. Foran also has a number of other assets in the region, including Bigstone, Balsam and Hanson Lake, plus interests in several other nearby properties.

The 20,400-hectare McIlvenna Bay property is wholly owned by Foran, and the company released a prefeasibility study for the project in April 2020. The study outlined a C$261 million underground mine with a nine-year life and on-site processing facilities, producing an average of 89.2 million lb. zinc and 27.9 million lb. copper annually. Pre-production capital costs were pegged at C$261 million, with C$339 million in sustaining costs.

The company released assay results in March from two infill holes drilled as part of a 30,000-metre program. One of these holes returned an 8.7-metre interval grading 1.14% copper, 4.94% zinc and 16.58 grams silver per tonne from a massive sulphide unit. It also returned a 7.7-metre interval of 1.21% copper, 1.23% zinc and 9.86 grams silver per tonne from the copper stockwork zone.

Foran says it hopes to make McIlvenna Bay the world’s first carbon neutral copper mine. The company has committed to reporting its emissions and intends to purchase verified offsets for the carbon emitted from all exploration activities over the past 10 years at the property.

In late May, Foran announced it had secured a deal with Fairfax Financial Holdings for a C$100 million investment, subject to shareholder approval. The company intends to use the funds to advance exploration work at McIlvenna Bay with an expanded drill program as it works to complete a feasibility study by late 2021.

Fission Uranium

Market capitalization: C$354 million ($326 million)

Patterson Lake South – Image courtesy of Fission Uranium Corp

Fission Uranium’s (TSX: FCU; US-OTC: FCUUF) market cap has more than quadrupled since last year’s top ten list, and retains its number ten position this year.  Based in Kelowna, B.C., Fission’s main asset is the Patterson Lake South (PLS) uranium property located in the southwestern part of the Athabasca Bain in Saskatchewan.

Situated 550 km northwest of Prince Albert, the 100%-owned project covers claims totaling 310,000 hectares, including the primary Triple R deposit, a near-surface deposit that currently has five identified mineralized zones. A 2019 prefeasibility study for PLS envisioned an underground mine with a six-year lifespan producing a total of 2.3 million tonnes of mineralized material grading 1.61% U3O8, for 78.7 million lb. of U3O8. Indicated resources for the project are 2.2 million tonnes grading 2.1% U3Ofor 102.4 million lb. contained U3O8, and inferred resources stand at 1.2 million tonnes grading 1.22% U3O8 for 32.8 million lb U3O8.

The company closed a C$34.5 million bought deal offering in May, and in June announced it was commencing a feasibility study for PLS, with the first phase being additional fieldwork and a 42-hole drill program (12,640 metres) at Triple R.

More mining intelligence is here.

(This article first appeared in The Northern Miner)


Copper mining is Opec on crack, so why is the price falling?
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 20:47:01 +0000
Half the world’s copper mining is controlled by just three countries, and China alone refines 40% of the metal central to the green energy transition away from fossil fuels.

Much like the reference in this piece’s headline, it’s a cliché to call a country the Saudia Arabia of something.

The top search suggestion at the moment is the Saudi Arabia of wind. That’s Boris Johnson’s dream for the UK and from a leader with an affinity for hot air, perhaps not unexpected.

The Saudi Arabia of lithium query takes you to a story about Chile, which is wrong. Neither is it Afghanistan as this article in the NYT would have it. It’s Nevada; Elon Musk confirmed it last year.

The Saudi Arabia of sashimi is… well just google it. (it’s Palau – ed.) 

Chile is not the Saudi Arabia of copper either. 

It’s the Saudia Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Iran, Kuwait, Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Venezuela, Libya, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea of copper. 

Chile’s share of global copper output is on par with the combined output of the 13 members of Opec in the crude trade.  

In 2020 the South American nation produced 5.7m tonnes of copper out of a global total of 20.2m tonnes, according to the US Geological Service. Opec countries were responsible for 24.3m of the 76.1 million barrels per day produced during March this year, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Chile+  

Chile and Peru together constitute close to 40% of world production, which is roughly the share of what is known as Opec+ (add Russia). And consider that Chile and especially Peru suffered frequent covid-related mining disruptions last year (not to mention blockades at some of the biggest mines and transport strikes).

The concentration at the top is only going to increase. The Democratic Republic of the Congo could as soon as next year overtake China as the no 3 producer when the Ivanhoe-Zijin JV, Kamoa-Kakula, adds 400,000ktpa to the country’s total (and doubling its contribution six years later).

Apart from Rio Tinto’s much-anticipated block cave at Oyu Tolgoi (330ktpa) in Mongolia on the Chinese border, the only near-production projects close to this size are in South America.

Anglo American’s greenfield Quellaveco project (300ktpa) in Peru and Teck Resources’ phase 2 at Quebrada Blanca (295ktpa) in northern Chile will further entrench the two countries’ dominance. 

Playing with monopsony money  

As in other spheres, China plays the long game in mining.

It bagged the largest new copper mine to come on stream in decades – Las Bambas in Peru – by making its sale to a Chinese concern a requirement for approving the 2014 Glencore-Xstrata merger.

In 2016, China Moly picked up Tenke Fungurume in the biggest overseas splash since Las Bambas, paying $2.7 billion to take it off Freeport-McMoRan and Lundin’s hands.

In all, China has spent $16 billion on buying copper projects around the world and at the moment owns 30 operating copper mines and 38 exploration projects.

That’s over and above Beijing’s annual foreign direct investment in mining and exploration, which reached $2.2 billion in 2019.

Go downstream, things will be great when you’re downstream 

It’s not only primary production that’s highly concentrated, there’s a lock on the midstream. 

Overall, 63% of China’s copper concentrate comes from Chile and Peru, and after decades of investment in the sector, the country refines over 40% of the world’s copper, six times its nearest rival, Japan.

The Tenke deal supercharged the 4C supply chain – Congo-Copper-Cobalt-China – as Chinese imports of concentrate from central Africa and elsewhere accelerated towards 2020’s total of just under 22m tonnes per year. 

The Biden administration reportedly wants to copy the Chinese playbook, but in order to placate environmentalists will skip the mining part

Cobalt is a by-product of copper mining — primarily in the DRC which is responsible for some two-thirds of global output. China owns 82% of global midstream processing of cobalt for batteries. For nickel in the EV supply chain it’s 65%.

The Biden administration reportedly wants to copy the Chinese playbook, but in order to placate environmentalists will skip the mining part. 

In the words of one official involved in critical minerals policy, “it’s not that hard to dig a hole. What’s hard is getting that stuff out and getting it to processing facilities.”

Just like all the oil processing facilities in the US shielded it from the Opec-induced oil supply shocks of the 1970s. Right? 

Earthquake in Chile   

While the Middle-East is a volatile region (to use a well-worn euphemism), its hereditary leaders and pseudo-democracies have a way of keeping the oil flowing regardless of any palace intrigue, proxy wars, or sanctions

In contrast, Chile and Peru are in the early stage of fundamental political shifts driven by elections fought over income inequality, poverty and the environment – hardly on the political agenda in places like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

A debate between Opec’s crown princes and emirs has sent oil to three-year highs, up 50% in 2021.

Let’s count the ways Chile can cause a copper market meltup:     

It’s rewriting its Pinochet-era constitution, new copper windfall taxes and royalties already approved by the lower house, could, to put it mildly, dampen enthusiasm (your last euphemism – ed.) for new projects, so-called tax stability deals for half the country’s mines (including Escondida, the copper world’s Ghawar) expire in 2023 if they last that long, a powerful mining union is lobbying for state-owned Codelco to have dibs on projects, and if the current frontrunner becomes president in November elections he would be the first person from the Communist Party to do so.

Daniel Jadue also has other ideas to increase the state’s take and involvement – creating a Codelco for lithium (gentle reminder: Codelco was created by seizing mines from US companies in the 1970s) and like Indonesia renegotiate state shareholding in private companies like Freeport had to with Grasberg. 

Another successful Indonesian strategy Chile and others would want to copy is to force miners to build smelters and refineries in-country by banning ore exports. 

A bit like the current US administration’s clever strategy around critical minerals, focusing on processing facilities, except Chile also produces feedstock for said facilities. 

Dear prudence 

Now take all of the Chilean political and mining trends, turn them up a few notches, and apply to Peru and its new president Pedro Castillo.

At the start of his campaign, Castillo said he wanted to nationalize the mines but later softened his stance by calling for Chile-like royalties in the 70-percents.

This is a recent headline about Castillo’s latest plans for the industry: 

Peru’s Castillo expects mining firms to accept “prudent” tax changes, adviser says

You can read that as having a conciliatory tone, or perhaps it sounds more like: “Nice little copper mine you have there. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it. We’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

Ocec nocec 

The copper-oil analogy only goes so far. 

Copper mining is Opec on crack, why is the price falling?
Captain Copper, Latin American superhero. Image: Codelco

While regional co-operation to align mining rules for Chile, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia and others so as to “not compete for investments” (Jadue again) is being discussed, an Opec-like cartel in copper is never going to happen.

Most Opec disagreements are about how much to up production (the UAE wants to pump more oil now because the assumption is as the world moves away from fossil fuels it would be stuck with stranded oil and gas assets down the line).

Codelco is spending more than $40 billion just to keep output steady. Opec-members output hikes can also hit oil markets within months. For copper it takes years, often decades to bring new supply online.

Low and declining grades and with it ever costlier and bigger mines, uninspiring green discoveries, modest brownfield expansions, thin project pipelines, underinvestment in exploration, and glacially slow permitting processes, have become rules of thumb in the industry. And when tailings reprocessing is being discussed as a significant source of new supply, you know something in the industry has changed.

Depletion is oddly little discussed (must be in miners’ DNA – it’s always about the next discovery, not this old hole in the ground – ed). A recent study found that most porphyries (which supply 80% of the world’s copper) are fast nearing the end of their productive life due to the specific nature of how these deposits are formed.

So why is the price falling? idk

The copper price is down 10% since hitting all-time highs of $10,500 a tonne ($4.75/lbs) in May and forecasts are for further declines.

Two years out among more than 30 investment banks, economists and research houses polled consensus is for an average $8,131 a tonne ($3.68/lb). 

Technically, that means copper is entering a bear market.  

But it’s worth remembering that the metal also traded at these levels as far back as 2011. 

Rapid demand growth and rising risks to supply since then does not seem baked into today’s price, much less in continuing declines. 


Registration open for Canadian Nuclear Association 2021 conference
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 19:47:22 +0000
Conference and trade show held virtually from September 15 to 17.

Registration is now open for the Canadian Nuclear Association’s (CAN) conference and trade show, held virtually from September 15 to 17.

This year’s theme is Leading Innovations to Achieve a Net-Zero World. Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 can only be met with innovative advances in clean energy production. CNA2021 explores the leading-edge projects and technologies that are poised to make our nuclear industry an indispensable part of our clean energy future.

In 2020, the event attracted over 850 attendees from within and outside Canada, including senior executives, public policy experts, engineers, regulators, elected officials, and international delegates.

“We are excited about this format as it has allowed us to welcome speakers from all around the world, offer a greater variety of sessions and expand our audience reach,” CAN president and CEO John Gorman said in a media release.

“Attendees can still expect plenty of opportunity for meeting, networking and collaborating with industry leaders and peers at a low carbon event,” he said.

Register here.

(This article first appeared in the Candian Mining Journal)


Galleon makes new gold discovery at West Cache project
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 19:20:00 +0000
This new area to the south has some similarities and some differences to the mineralization discovered elsewhere on the property.

Galleon Gold (TSXV: GGO) has discovered a new mineralized area with multiple gold zones at its 100% West Cache property near Timmins, Ontario. The new find is in a previously undrilled area from 50 to 250 metres south of zone 9.

Some of the higher grade intercepts include 14.54 g/t gold over 2 metres, 7.96 g/t over 2 metres, and 8.9 g/t over 1.5 metres.

Significant widths were also encountered, including 41.5 metres at 1.03 g/t gold, 10.0 metres at 1.28 g/t, and 9.0 metres at 2.53 g/t.

The mineralization is open along strike and down dip.

This new area to the south has some similarities and some differences to the mineralization discovered elsewhere on the property. The southern area has similar bedded overall geometry that conform to sediment-dominant greywacke and argillite host rocks.

There are also similar areas of undifferentiated volcanic-intrusive units with mineralized margins and multiple style of pyrite mineralization correlating to gold grade. The south differs in its increased shear texture, late shearing and brittle faulting that created local gouge and fracture zones, and more pyrrhotite and possibly galena in the sulphide zones.

The West Cache (formerly Timmins Porcupine West) property has been explored since 1927. It appears related to the prolific Hollinger-McIntyre-Coniarum system.

The 2013 43-101 report put both open pit and underground resources at 8.7 million indicated tonnes at 2.17 g/t gold and 6.3 million inferred tonnes grading 2.31 g/t gold. The categories contain 609,000 oz. and 470,000 oz. of gold, respectively.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)


Pure Gold mulls an accelerated 8 Zone development plan
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 19:15:41 +0000
Flagship mine in Red Lake, Ontario, averaged daily throughput at 509 tonnes per day for the June quarter and 577 tonnes per day for June.

The Toronto-quoted equity of Pure Gold Mining (TSXV: PGM) rose more than 7% early Tuesday trading after the company reported strong second-quarter production, underground drilling success and the potential for accelerated development of the 8 Zone.

The flagship PureGold mine in Red Lake, Ontario, averaged daily throughput at 509 tonnes per day for the June quarter and 577 tonnes per day for June.

“We are seeing consistent quarter-over-quarter improvements in all key operating metrics and, importantly, excellent grade reconciliation to our mineral reserves”

Pure gold Mining president and CEO Darin Labrenz

The average daily ramp development rate for the main and east ramps of 5.2 metres and 4.5 metres per day for the second quarter, respectively, setting a new quarterly record for the Main Ramp and a 53% increase compared to the first quarter.

The improved operating efficiencies have resulted in a 46% increase in gold production than the first quarter, with the average head grade at 7 grams per tonne gold from all stopes mined.

PureGold says in a market release the average head grade of 5.8 gram per tonne for the high-grade portion of the mill feed, which includes all stopes mined plus high-grade development ore, is a 51% increase compared with the first quarter and in line with guidance.

Strongest position yet

In parallel, underground drilling successfully confirmed stopes planned for mining in the second half of 2021 and identified new areas with potential to expand mineable inventory beyond known reserves close to existing development, the comany says.

“We are seeing consistent quarter-over-quarter improvements in all key operating metrics and, importantly, excellent grade reconciliation to our mineral reserves,” says president and CEO Darin Labrenz.

Labrenz says Pure Gold has entered the third quarter in the strongest position yet.

Pure Gold says its success to date presents an opportunity to bring forward underground drilling and development of the high-grade 8 Zone

“With two active ramps now mining ore, an additional dedicated crew to focus on main ramp development beginning in July, and nearly 30,000 tonnes of long hole stopes developed in front of us, we are entering the third quarter in our strongest position ever.”

Pure Gold says the improving access to high-grade ore in the near term, the ramp development rates achieved to date, and the faster main ramp development beginning in July present an opportunity to bring forward underground drilling and development of the high-grade 8 Zone.

Based on projected main ramp development rates from July onward, first access to 8 Zone ore is currently scheduled for July 2024, about eight months earlier than was envisioned in the 2019 feasibility study. Extensions to the high-grade 8 Zone remain open for expansion and are scheduled to commence mining in year four of operations.

Pure Gold is also assessing opportunities to start underground infill and step-out drilling of 8 Zone from the main ramp earlier than planned. The first results are now potentially possible before year-end.

Labrenz noted ongoing underground drilling programs such as Pure Gold’s were a hallmark of Red Lake deposits, responsible for the nearly 100 years of high-grade discovery and mining in the district. As of the end of the second quarter, three air-powered underground core diamond drills were active on the site and focused on delineating gold mineralisation with both infill and extension drilling.


Liberty Gold completes resource estimate for Black Pine in Idaho
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 18:15:19 +0000
The project contains 105.1 million indicated tonnes grading 0.51 g/t gold for 1.7 million oz of gold.

Liberty Gold (TSX: LGD) has released the first resource estimate for its 100%-owned Black Pine gold project in southeastern Idaho, about 29 km northwest of the town of Snowville.

The project contains 105.1 million indicated tonnes grading 0.51 gram gold per tonne for 1.7 million oz. of gold and inferred resources of 31.2 million tonnes averaging 0.37 gram gold for 370,000 ounces. The estimate used a cut-off grade of 0.2 gram gold per tonne. 

Around 74% of the resource ounces lie within the Discovery zone, centered on the higher-grade oxide gold D-1, D-2, and D-3 discoveries, with the remaining 26% in seven additional satellite zones, Liberty Gold said.

In the Discovery Zone area in particular, a higher grade subset of the resource at a cut-off grade of 0.5 gram gold per tonne, consists of 30.52 million tonnes grading 1.04 grams gold per tonne for 1.02 million oz. of gold and inferred resources measure 4.44 million tonnes averaging 0.94 gram gold per tonne for 134,000 gold ounces.

Black Pine property hosts a past-producing heap leach gold mine that produced about 435,000 oz. of gold at a grade of 0.7 gram gold per tonne from seven shallow pits between 1991 and 1998

The estimate “is a major catalyst for Liberty Gold, as we advance Black Pine toward a modern, low-cost, large-scale, multi-million-ounce heap-leach project,” Cal Everett, Liberty Gold’s president and CEO, said in a press release.

“Importantly, over half of the Black Pine deposit averages 1.0 grams per tonne of gold and with minimal royalty burden overall, should drive strong economics to be outlined with the release of the upcoming PEA.”

The Discovery zone area is the focus of the company’s 2021 exploration program, which will total about 52,000 metres of mainly step-out drilling. The drill program will aim to extend the current pit-constrained resource to the southwest, west, southeast, and east, and upgrade inferred resources to indicated, as well as test the potential of large, undrilled areas in the southern and northern portions of the permit area.

“Black Pine is one of the few oxidized Carlin-style deposits of this size and scale remaining in the Great Basin,” Everett said. “The ultimate gold endowment at Black Pine remains unknown, given the 14 sq. km, drill-confirmed scale of the system to date, of which only a small portion is covered in this first resource estimate.”

The Black Pine property hosts a past-producing heap leach gold mine that produced about 435,000 oz. of gold at a grade of 0.7 gram gold per tonne from seven shallow pits between 1991 and 1998. 

The company’s other U.S.-based asset is the Goldstrike project in south-western Utah, which also hosts a past-producing mine that churned out 209,000 oz. of gold and 197,000 oz. of silver from 1988 to 1994.

Liberty Gold also has a 62.9% interest in the TV Tower gold-copper project in north-western Turkey’s Biga district. A Turkish subsidiary of Teck Resources (TSX: TECK A/TECK B; NYSE: TECK), holds the remaining 37.1%.

(This article first appeared in The Northern Miner)


Researchers use biochar to sequester arsenic in acid mine drainage
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 17:21:04 +0000
Researchers used synchrotron light to determine plant waste could be an ideal method for isolating arsenic in acid mine drainage.

Researchers at the University of Arizona are working to clean up acid mine drainage that contains substantial amounts of heavy metals like arsenic and lead by sequestering the chemicals in biochar crystals.

The research team is working to reclaim landscapes impacted by mining waste to create a more sustainable industry. Its researchers recently published findings on how reducing environmental impacts through remediation processes was efficient and cost-effective.

Researchers say biochar may be the perfect solution to fight acid mine drainage if the environmental conditions are just right

Created naturally when plant matter burns, biochar can also be engineered. And the researchers say it may be the perfect solution if the environmental conditions are just right.

Biochar used to sequester arsenic in acid mine drainage – research
The report’s co-author Dr. Rob Root conducting synchrotron work at SSRL. Credit: Canadian Light Source

Using beamlines at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan and the SLAC National Accelerator, Jon Chorover, a professor and head of the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona, analyzed the molecular interactions that occur when biochar is introduced to acid mine drainage.

Iron, another mineral found in mine drainage, interacts with the biochar to form a crystal-like structure. As these crystals grow, they attract the arsenic — similar to a magnet — and form very tight bonds. This allows the arsenic to be safely removed from the environment.

“We saw that biochar is not a perfectly homogenous material, but it actually has patchy locations that are highly reactive to the growth of these crystals, and as those crystals grow, they sequester the arsenic,” Chorover said.

Using the SM beamline at the CLS, Chorover and his team were able to visualize the surface chemistry of the biochar and reveal the fine details of these complex interactions.

Chorover believes their research will provide companies and regulators with the information necessary to maintain the environment and reduce the impact on communities located near mining operations.

An international team of geochemists has recently discovered why gold is concentrated alongside arsenic, a phenomenon that explains the formation of most deposits of the precious metal.


Copper price slides as China vows measures to ease commodity prices
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 15:54:25 +0000
China's copper imports fell for a third straight month in June.

The copper price fell on Tuesday after China declared it will keep its economic operations within a reasonable range over the next 18 months and take “comprehensive measures” to ease rising commodity prices.

Copper for delivery in September fell 0.5% from Monday’s settlement price, touching $4.297 per pound ($9,453 per tonne) midday Tuesday on the Comex market in New York.

Giving an outlook for the second half of 2021 and next year at a meeting with economic experts and entrepreneurs on Monday, Premier Li Keqiang said China would maintain continuity and stability in its macro policies and would not resort to flood-like stimulus.

China’s central bank last week said it would cut the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves, releasing around 1 trillion yuan ($154.5 billion) in long-term liquidity to underpin a post-covid-19 recovery that is starting to lose momentum.

The domestic and international environment remains complicated and there are many uncertain and unstable factors, Li was cited.

“In particular, the sharp rise in commodity prices has increased companies’ costs,” he added. “Small, medium and micro-enterprises have greater difficulties.”

He did not specify what measures would be taken to alleviate the situation.

Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices

China, the world’s biggest importer of most major commodities, has already made several attempts to stall a surge in prices for everything from iron ore to coal to ease the pressure on businesses, including stepping up inspections on trading platforms and releasing state reserves.

Imports fall

China’s copper imports fell for a third straight month in June, customs data showed on Tuesday, as high prices and sluggish manufacturing growth weigh on demand in the world’s top consumer of the metal.

Imports of unwrought copper and copper products into China last month were 428,438 tonnes, the General Administration of Customs said. That was down 3.9% tonnes in May and down 34.7% from 656,483 tonnes in June 2020, which was a monthly record high at the time.

(With files from Reuters)


AngloGold submits offer to buy Corvus Gold
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 15:41:04 +0000
AngloGold believes the combination the companies' Nevada assets further consolidates one of the largest new gold districts in the world.

AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU), which currently holds a 19.5% indirect interest in Corvus Gold (​TSX: KOR), has set its sights on expanding its mineral reserves through buying out Corvus and its entire portfolio of gold assets in Nevada.

On Tuesday, the South Africa-based gold miner submitted a non-binding proposal to acquire for cash all issued and outstanding common shares of Corvus that it does not already beneficially own for total consideration of $370 million.

The proposal follows the announcement by Corvus on May 6 that it had entered into a $20 million unsecured loan and guaranty agreement with AngloGold’s North American subsidiary.

As a result of the loan agreement, AngloGold was granted an initial exclusivity period of 90 days, during which the company was allowed to conduct a detailed due diligence exercise on Corvus and its key assets. This initial exclusivity period would be extended by a further 30 days in the event AngloGold submits a letter of intent or proposal.

Corvus presently owns the North Bullfrog, Mother Lode and other exploration assets located in southern Nevada’s Beatty district

AngloGold’s offer, which values the Corvus common shares at C$4.00 ($3.20) each, represents a premium of approximately 55% to the price of C$2.58 ($2.0) recorded on the day prior to the loan agreement, a premium of approximately 23% to the closing price prior to the submission of the proposal, and a premium of approximately 20% to the last 10-day volume weighted average price on the TSX.

Corvus presently owns the North Bullfrog, Mother Lode and other exploration assets located in southern Nevada’s Beatty district, in close proximity to, or contiguous with, AngloGold’s exploration assets of Silicon, Transvaal and Rhyolite.

In making the offer, AngloGold said it believes the combination of the companies’ Nevada assets further consolidates one of the largest new gold districts in the world, with potential for “significant synergies from economies of scale and integrated infrastructure including processing facilities.”

“The proposal is fully aligned to our strategy of growing ore reserve, building low-cost production and generating sustainable returns. We have a unique opportunity to combine Corvus’ assets with our own – in the world’s top-ranked mining jurisdiction – to create a meaningful new production base for AngloGold Ashanti in the medium and longer term,” Christine Ramon, AngloGold’s interim CEO, said in Tuesday’s release.

Shares of AngloGold Ashanti rose 3.3% by 11:30 a.m. in New York following announcement of its proposal to buy Corvus Gold. At the time, its market capitalization stood at $8.6 billion.

At press time, Corvus Gold was trading at C$3.25 a share with a market capitalization of C$412.6 million.

ALSO READ: AngloGold names ex-BHP exec Calderon as new CEO


Iron ore price up on China’s export growth
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 15:35:14 +0000
Export growth accelerated to 32.2% in dollar terms the customs administration said, overturning economist's expectations of a slowdown to 23%.

Iron ore prices were up on Tuesday after China’s June trade data was released.

Imports climbed 36.7% from a year earlier, beating the median forecast of 29.5%. Export growth accelerated to 32.2% in dollar terms, the customs administration said, overturning economist’s expectations of a slowdown to 23%. That left a trade surplus of $51.5 billion for the month, the highest since January.

Chinese exports and imports in June.

“The surprise surge in exports is probably in large part due to rising commodity prices, as commodities like iron ore soared and price pressures passed on from imports to exports,” said Zhou Hao, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank AG.

Iron ore futures in Asia rose on Tuesday, with the benchmark Dalian contract advancing by more than 3%.

The most-traded September iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange gained as much as 3.5% to 1,227.50 yuan ($189.87) a tonne.

According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $218.48 a tonne on Tuesday, up 0.3% from Monday’s closing.

A consensus is emerging among industry leaders and market analysts that China’s steel demand will ease in the second half of 2021, which may slow mills’ iron ore purchases.

Related read: China to keep economy within reasonable range, act to ease commodity prices

“The growth of China’s steel demand in the second half will be slower than the first half,” said Wang Yingsheng, chief economist of the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA), while speaking at the opening ceremonies for the three-day Singapore International Ferrous Week.

Unfavourable weather in top steel producer China has slowed construction activity, while demand for manufacturing-used steel will also drop as export orders fall, said Wang.

“As we enter the second half of the year, all eyes will be on the extent to which Chinese demand slows and Brazilian supply grows,” said Rohan Kendall, iron ore research head at Wood Mackenzie.

“Progress is slow-going for Vale on its ‘pathway to 400 million tonnes per year’,” he said, referring to the Brazilian iron ore miner’s struggle to increase output, which declined following the Brumadinho dam collapse in 2019.

Goldman Sachs raised its H2 forecast for average iron ore prices to $195/mt from $117/mt, saying it does not foresee a clear, sustained surplus in iron ore markets until 2023, and prices face a more gradual downward path than anticipated.

China’s steel demand this year has shown “immense strength” and surprised significantly to the upside, Goldman analysts say, according to Bloomberg.

(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)


Western Australia plans world’s biggest renewable energy hub
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 15:20:00 +0000
The Western Green Energy Hub (WGEH) would stretch across an area bigger than greater Sydney, and could produce up to 50 gigawatts of energy.

An international consortium plans to build what would be the world’s biggest renewable energy hub along the south coast of Western Australia.

The Western Green Energy Hub (WGEH) would stretch across 15,000 square km, an area bigger than the size of greater Sydney, and could produce up to 50 gigawatts of energy. The A$100 billion ($75bn) project would also convert wind and solar power into green fuels like hydrogen.

The project’s 50GW capacity compares to the 54GW of generation capacity of all the coal, gas and renewables plants in Australia’s energy market, which includes all states except Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The country’s largest coal plant generates just 2.9GW.

The group behind the proposal, including Intercontinental Energy and CWP Global, said the green hydrogen market will be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050.

The Western Green Energy Hub (WGEH) would stretch across an area bigger than greater Sydney, and could produce up to 50 gigawatts of energy

Both companies are already involved in the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, another contender for the world’s largest green power site that was rejected by Australia’s environment minister last month. Hong Kong-based InterContinental is also seeking to develop a green hydrogen project in Oman.

The project, to be built in conjunction with Mirning Green Energy Limited, would be developed in three phases to produce up to 3.5 million tonnes of green hydrogen or 20 million tonnes of green ammonia each year.

The proposal would be innovative not only in the scale of green energy produced but also in the model of partnership with the Mirning people, who are the traditional owners of the land, the companies said.

The wind and solar generation would be located across the Shires of Dundas and the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, with the complementary nature of windy nights and sunny days providing an expected 70% capacity factor.

The state government has committed more than A$35 million towards developing a renewable hydrogen industry.


Rare diamonds show life-giving elements present on Earth soon after it formed
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 13:11:00 +0000
Volatile gases conserved in diamonds found in ancient rocks indicate that the basic chemical composition of Earth’s atmosphere was laid down at least 2.7 billion years ago.

Ancient diamonds studied by a group of French and Canadian researchers revealed that the presence of life-giving elements in sufficient quantities appeared soon after Earth formed, and has remained fairly constant ever since.

In detail, volatile gases conserved in diamonds found in ancient rocks indicate that the basic chemical composition of the planet’s atmosphere, which makes it suitable for life’s explosion of diversity, was laid down at least 2.7 billion years ago and hasn’t changed much since. 

In a presentation at the Goldschmidt Conference, research lead Michael Broadly, from the University of Lorraine, explained that volatiles such as hydrogen, nitrogen, neon, and carbon-bearing species are light chemical elements and compounds that can be readily vaporized due to heat or pressure changes. Yet, they are necessary for life, especially carbon and nitrogen. 

“Diamonds are comparatively indestructible, they’re ideal time capsules”

Research lead Michael Broadly

On Earth, volatile substances mostly bubble up from the inside of the planet and are brought to the surface through incidents such as volcanic eruptions. 

According to Broadly, knowing when the volatiles became present on Earth’s atmosphere is key to understanding when the conditions were suitable for the origin and development of life, but until now there has been no way of understanding these conditions in the deep past.

“Studying the composition of the Earth’s modern mantle is relatively simple. On average the mantle layer begins around 30 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, and so we can collect samples thrown up by volcanoes and study the fluids and gases trapped inside,” the scientist said.

Diagram of the Earth’s layers, showing the position the diamonds were formed in the Upper Mantle. (Image by Michael Broadly, courtesy of the Goldschmidt Conference).

“However, the constant churning of the Earth’s crust via plate tectonics means that older samples have mostly been destroyed. Diamonds however are comparatively indestructible, they’re ideal time capsules.”

The rare, fibrous diamonds studied by the researcher and his team were trapped in 2.7-billion-year-old highly preserved rock from Wawa, on Lake Superior in Canada. 

To analyze their composition, the group heated them to over 2000 degrees Celsius to transform them into graphite, which then released tiny quantities of gas for measurement.

The team then measured the isotopes of helium, neon, and argon, and found that they were present in similar proportions to those found in the upper mantle today.

This is what allowed them to conclude that there has probably been little change in the proportion of volatiles generally and that the distribution of essential volatile elements between the mantle and the atmosphere is likely to have remained fairly stable throughout most of Earth’s life. The mantle is the part between the Earth’s crust and the core, and it comprises around 84% of the planet’s volume.

“This was a surprising result. It means the volatile-rich environment we see around us today is not a recent development,” Broadly said.

“Our work shows that these conditions were present at least 2.7 billion years ago, but the diamonds we use may be much older, so it’s likely that these conditions were set well before our 2.7 billion year threshold.”


Lundin Gold’s Fruta del Norte mine production exceeds expectations
Tue, 13 Jul 2021 10:45:00 +0000
The mine, Ecuador's largest, delivered 108,799 ounces of gold in the three months to June 30, up from 104,137 ounces in the previous quarter.

Canada’s Lundin Gold (TSX:LUG) has reported record gold production for the second quarter of 2021, only sixteen months after its Fruta del Norte gold-silver mine in Ecuador, the country’s largest, kicked off commercial operations.

The Vancouver-based miner delivered 108,799 ounces of gold in the three months to June 30, of which 66,721 ounces were produced as a concentrate and 42,078 ounces as doré.

The mill processed roughly 346,561 tonnes at an average throughput rate of 3,808 tonnes per day, the average grade of ore milled was 11.08 grams per tonne, and average recovery was 88.2%.

President and CEO Ron Hochstein said that, once again, the figures exceeded projected production.

The underground gold and silver mine, discovered in 2006, contains six of Lundin’s 29 mining concessions in Ecuador and covers 70,000 hectares of land

“I am very happy with the results achieved during this first of half of 2021. Both the mine and mill are performing remarkably well, and we are firmly on track to meet our 2021 guidance of 380,000 – 420,000 oz of gold produced,” he said.

Lundin recently increased Fruta del Norte’s reserves by 8% to 5.41 million ounces, due to changes in the planned mining method.

Based on the new figures, it now expects to produce almost 4.8 million ounces of gold at Fruta del Norte over a 14-year mine life.

The company acquired the project in 2014 for $240 million from fellow Canadian miner Kinross Gold (TSX:K) (NYSE:KGC), which had to halt operations after being unable to reach an agreement with authorities regarding the terms for developing the asset.

The underground gold and silver mine, discovered in 2006, contains six of Lundin’s 29 mining concessions in Ecuador and covers 70,000 hectares of land.

Located in southeastern Zamora Chinchipe province, the 70,000-hectare Fruta del Norte is considered one the largest and highest-grade gold projects in the world currently in production.


Forecasts morph into reality as tech metals fundamentals heat up
Mon, 12 Jul 2021 22:10:42 +0000
Demand for technology metals is accelerating ahead of the supply curve.

The world is at the start of an exponential upswing in demand for the suite of technology metals as a global top-down push for the energy revolution accelerates, Ryan Castilloux, managing director of Adamas Intelligence, tells The Northern Miner.

He says that despite the figures coming off a lower base in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, China and the European Union saw exponential demand growth for critical minerals in the first five months of the year despite the rolling shutdowns last year.

China and the European Union saw exponential demand growth for critical minerals in the first five months of the year

“Coming into 2021, with the change of administration in the US, we now see the US recommitting itself to the Paris Climate Agreement and laying out its aggressive targets for electrification of vehicles in the decade or two ahead.

That adds even further strength to the narrative coming out of last year and gives us confidence that we’re now really at the beginning of strong, steady growth for both the bouquet of battery metals and materials but also other rare metals, including rare earth elements that stand to benefit from ongoing electric vehicle demand growth,” says Castilloux.

According to Castilloux, the move from prior projections about future demand growth has been so strong, it is, in fact, overshooting those forecasts.

“We’re seeing a lot of yesterday’s projections coming to fruition, and in most or all cases, I would say, likely exceeding the projections, given the top-down push that we see in key markets like China, Europe and the US, where governments have gotten behind electrification. They are pushing it forward, rather than simply allowing the market to grow organically, which was probably more of an accurate reality five years ago or so.”


Webinar: Responsible mining on the ground
Mon, 12 Jul 2021 19:51:59 +0000
As the need for independent ESG data keeps growing, this online discussion will reflect on two recent tools that enable collaborative impact monitoring and engagement with mining companies.

Organized by the Responsible Mining Foundation & NADEL and moderated by Fritz Brugger, ETH-NADEL, this webinar focuses on the growing need for independent and non-corporate ESG data, and the interactive online discussion will reflect on two recent tools that enable collaborative impact monitoring and engagement with mining companies, at the mine-site level. Most of mining impacts and challenges are indeed local, and happening at site level.

ETH-​NADEL recently launched the Resource Impact Dashboard (RID), a policy instrument that enables evidence-​​based monitoring and deliberation about local resource governance for all stakeholders at the mine site level – based on data from household surveys, public sources, and from mining companies.

Last year, RMF publicly launched the Mine Site Assessment Tool (MSAT), an engagement tool designed by and for local stakeholders. The tool has been actively used in several countries, including Ghana and this event will offer an opportunity to share some experience from the ground.

The webinar takes place Tuesday July 13, 3pm Zurich time. Registration is here.



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