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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

NEWS HEADLINES - MINING AND METALS
Today News Headlines

Revival Gold hits another long intercept of high grades at Beartrack-Arnett
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 17:29:47 +0000
The new results are headlined by drill hole BT22-242D, which intersected 3.49 g/t gold over 115.4 metres, including 10.12 g/t gold over 11.4 metres.

Revival Gold (TSXV: RVG) has reported additional results from its 2022 drilling program at the Beartrack-Arnett gold project located in Idaho. Since the start of drilling in June, about 2,900 metres of the planned 5,000-metre program have been completed.

The new results are headlined by drill hole BT22-242D, which intersected 3.49 g/t gold over 115.4 metres, including 10.12 g/t gold over 11.4 metres, at the Joss high-grade target area. This hole was drilled approximately 150 metres deeper than hole BT21-240D from last year’s program, which returned 4.34 g/t gold over 110.6 metres (including 12 g/t gold over 13.7 metres) and 8.8 g/t gold over 11.8 metres.

The latest results, according to Revival Gold, further emphasize the depth potential and scope of mineralization at Beartrack-Arnett.

“We’ve hit another long intercept of high-grade at Joss,” president and CEO Hugh Agro said, highlighting that hole 242D is 150 metres deeper than previous drilling and expands an already impressive body of mineralization.

“The Joss zone currently extends for more than one kilometre in strike and over an average vertical extent of about 500 metres with the average true width of the mineralized zone estimated to be 10-30 metres thick. Further results from Joss are expected before year-end,” he added.

A total of three core holes targeting the depth extension of mineralization at Beartrack-Arnett have now been completed in the 2022 program: two in the Joss area (BT22-241D and BT22-242D) and one in the South Pit area (BT22-243D). The latter hole was intended to extend the trend of higher-grade mineralization at Joss north to South Pit, with assays pending. A fourth core hole is underway at Joss.

In addition to the drilling at Joss, a second core rig is drilling infill and expansion holes in the Haidee oxide target area at Beartrack-Arnett. The first hole, AC22-085D, has been completed with sampling underway.

Located in Lemhi county, Idaho, the 5,800-hectare Beartrack-Arnett property represents the amalgamation of Revival Gold’s 100% owned Arnett gold project and the neighbouring Beartrack gold mine, in which it has the right to earn a 100% interest from Yamana Gold.

The Beartrack mine was previously operated by Yamana subsidiary Meridian Beartrack from 1994 until 2000, producing approximately 600,000 ounces of gold. During that time, it operated at 13,600 t/d and achieved a life of mine recovery of 88%. The mine subsequently closed at a time when the price of gold dropped below US$300/oz.

Today, Beartrack-Arnett is considered the largest past-producing gold mine in the state. Engineering work has been initiated on a preliminary feasibility study (PFS) for the potential restart of heap leach operations.

Meanwhile, exploration by Revival Gold continues focus on expanding the 2022 mineral resource of 65 million tonnes indicated at 1.01 g/t gold (2.11 million oz. of contained gold) and 46.2 million tonnes inferred at 1.31 g/t gold (1.94 million oz. of contained gold).

The Beartrack-Arnett property hosts gold mineralization over a known trend of 5 km and includes a further 10 km of favourable structure to explore.


US MINES act seeks to curb Russia, China grip on critical minerals
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 17:26:39 +0000
California Republican congressman Ken Calvert: "“America must be clear-eyed about the Chinese and Russian aggression when it comes to consolidating critical mineral resources.”

Republican congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) this week introduced the Monitoring and Investigating Nations Exploiting States (MINES) Act to “hold China and Russia accountable for their efforts to monopolize critical mineral resources around the world, particularly in developing nations.”

According to the press release is an original cosponsor of the MINES Act which provides the US with “additional tools to assess the growing exploitation of critical minerals in small states by China and Russia.” 

“Reliable access to critical minerals is essential to America’s economic and national security,” said Calvert: 

“America must be clear-eyed about the Chinese and Russian aggression when it comes to consolidating critical mineral resources.”

“It’s hard to overstate just how tight of a stranglehold Russia and China are developing on resources supply chains worldwide,” said House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-4), a co-sponsor: 

“While the Biden administration locks up sustainable mining here in the U.S., our adversaries are wasting no time stepping into that void and controlling critical minerals around the globe.”

The MINES Act is supported by the American Exploration & Mining Association and the Uranium Producers of America.

The MINES Act:

  • Requires annual reports for the next five years on the role of Russia, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and state-sponsored companies in planning, financing, and operating critical minerals mines in countries on which the United States is dependent for mineral imports and evaluating the national security risks thereof;
  • Requires the Department of the Interior, as it conducts comprehensive assessments of each critical mineral as directed by Congress, to monitor and report on the involvement of the CCP or CCP-sponsored companies in developing critical mineral resources in Afghanistan; and
  • Provides the U.S. Geological Survey the authority to update the list of critical minerals more frequently than every three years in response to changing geopolitical conditions. This issue came to light as USGS could not update the critical minerals list to reflect the impacts of the war in Ukraine.

Visualizing China’s Dominance in Clean Energy Metals

Gold price touches new 2-year low after parade of rate hikes
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 15:47:21 +0000
Gold's decline comes on the back of a rallying US dollar, which touched a 20-year high.

Gold continued its recent struggles on Friday to set a new two-year low after a slew of central banks followed the US Federal Reserve in raising interest rates to cool inflation.

Spot gold fell 1.4% to $1,647.92 per ounce by 11:30 a.m. ET, on its way towards a second consecutive weekly loss. US gold futures were down 1.6% to $1,653.80 per ounce.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

Gold’s decline comes on the back of a rallying US dollar, which touched a 20-year high, curbing demand for the greenback-priced metal. Benchmark 10-year yields also jumped to their highest since April 2010, further dampening demand for bullion.

“We’re seeing relentless dollar strength here and that’s going to keep gold vulnerable in the short term,” Edward Moya, senior analyst with OANDA, told Reuters.

“The economy is clearly heading towards a recession. The risks of a hard landing are elevated, and this has been just continuing to drive flows into the dollar, which has been bad news for gold.”

“This should see (gold) prices trading broadly sideways over the rest of the year,” Fitch Solutions added in a note to Reuters.

The precious metal joined the selloff in risky assets as investors opted for cash after UK’s economic plan reignited concerns that central banks’ aggressive interest-rate hikes to rein in rampant price increases may lead to a recession.

Outflows from gold-backed exchange-traded funds have continued, with holdings now close to the lowest this year, Bloomberg data shows. US business activity contracted in September for a third-straight month, though at a more moderate pace as a pickup in orders and a further softening of inflation allayed concerns of a more-pronounced pullback.

Weakness in bullion is “very likely to persist” due to “monetary tightening that makes gold costlier to hold,” said Gnanasekar Thiagarajan, director at Commtrendz Risk Management Services. “However, recession fears and any escalation in the Russia and Ukraine conflict could support prices.”

(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters)


Copper price falls to lowest in 2 months on rising interest rates
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 15:32:11 +0000
"Now copper has broken below $7,475 a tonne, traders will be eyeing the $6,955 20-month low touched on July 15," said Saxo Bank head of commodity strategy Ole Hansen.

Copper price fell on Friday to the lowest in nearly two months on a strong dollar and fears of recession-hit metals demand after further increases to interest rates.

The Federal Reserve has pushed interest rates to the highest level in almost 15 years as it fights to rein in soaring prices.

The US central bank announced on Wednesday it was raising its key rate by another 0.75 percentage points, lifting the target range to between 3% and 3.25%.

Copper for delivery in December fell 3.89% from Thursday’s settlement price, touching $3.33 per pound ($7,458 per tonne).

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

“The macro outlook is hitting industrial metals quite hard. The main worry is that central banks will allow the economy to slip into recession in an attempt to bring inflation under control,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank in Copenhagen.

“Now copper has broken below $7,475 a tonne, traders will be eyeing the $6,955 20-month low touched on July 15,”

The dollar climbed to its highest in two decades, making commodities priced in the US currency more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

Tight supply and rising demand in China, however, have supported metals prices recently.

“Power grid and new energy sectors have raised their orders for copper products,” one China-based copper producer said.

(With files from Reuters)


Baffinland gets nod from Nunavut board to extend Mary River operation until year-end
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 15:25:00 +0000
The decision could save more than 1,100 jobs. Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, however, has the final word.

Baffinland Iron Mines has received a positive recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) to temporarily increase production at its Mary River iron ore mine in Canada’s Nunavut territory to 6 million tonnes through to the end of the year.

The decision, the company said, could help it keep the mine viable and save more than 1,100 jobs off the chopping block this fall.

Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, however, has the final word and there hasn’t been any information on when that decision will come.

“Out of care and concern for the livelihoods of our employees and their families, we are delaying the issuance of termination notices until October 20th, which is the outside date the minister’s office has indicated it will be able to respond to the NIRB recommendation,” the company said.

While Baffinland is pleased about the NIRB’s decision, it is urging the minister to approve the production increase for the rest of the year.

Vandal is also still considering whether to approve Mary River’s Phase 2, which proposes a railway to Milne Inlet, as well as an increase in allowed shipments to 12 tonnes of iron ore a year, with eventual plans to increase that amount. The NIRB earlier rejected that plan.

Expansion detractors have argued for months that expanding the mine’s capacity would affect the world’s densest narwhal population. 

Narwhals are a type of whale with a long, spear-like tusk that protrudes from its head. The marine mammal is an important predator in Eclipse Sound and other Arctic waters, as well a major food source for Inuit in the region.

Last year, a group of hunters from Arctic Bay and Pond Inlet blocked access to the mine in protest of the company’s ice breaking practices due to their negative impacts on narwhals. The company agreed to avoid ice breaking in spring, based on “the precautionary principle that is the foundation of our adaptive management plan,” Baffinland’s CEO said in a statement at the time.


Glencore buys Newmont’s stake in Argentina copper-gold project
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 12:21:00 +0000
Gold Fields takeover target Yamana Gold continues to own 56.25% and remains the operator of the MARA copper-gold project.

Mining and commodities giant Glencore (LON: GLEN) is buying Newmont’s (NYSE: NEM), (TSX: NGT) minority stake in the Argentinean MARA cooper-gold project, a joint venture created in 2020 between the two companies and Yamana Gold (TSX: YRI) (NYSE: AUY).

Glencore will pay Newmont an initial price of $124.9 million for the gold miner’s 18.75% interest in MARA. There will also be a $30 million deferred payment once commercial production begins, the companies said. This will be subject to an annual interest charge of 6%, with a total deferred consideration capped at $50 million.

The deal increases Glencore’s stake in MARA to 43.75%. Yamana Gold, which is the current takeover target of South Africa’s Gold Fields (JSE, NYSE: GFI)  will remain the project’s operator with a 56.25% stake.

Glencore, Newmont and Yamana formed the MARA following the integration in 2019 of the Minera Alumbrera plant and mining infrastructure and Agua Rica copper-gold project.

The project, located in the Catamarca province of Argentina, has proven and probable mineral reserves of 5.4 million tonnes of copper and 7.4 million ounces of gold and an initial mine life of 28 years.


Rare-earth metals get the sparkler party started
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 12:05:00 +0000
German researchers say rare-earth metals in alloy powders can be used to produce flashes that shift from golden to green and continuously branch.

A recent paper published in the journal ACS Omega proposes the idea of using rare-earth metals in alloy powders to produce flashes that shift from golden to green and continuously branch.

According to the article’s senior author Eike Hübner, burning powdered erbium produces a new colour-changing spark, shifting from golden-white to bright green. However, the green phase occurred for just a blip in time and wasn’t really noticeable.

Another entertaining aspect of sparkler fountains is their branching sparks that burst apart repeatedly into multiple, smaller particles that flash. Commercial sparklers typically contain iron-carbon powders for this effect, but metal-metal alloys can also do this. So, Hübner and his team wanted to test whether rare-earth metal-metal alloys could be used to create brand-new types of colour-changing or branching sparks.

Rare-earth metals get the sparkler party started
Graphical abstract showing flashes produced by rare-earth metals. (Image courtesy of ACS Omega (2022). DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.2c03081).

The researchers pressed single-metal powders and metal-metal alloy powders containing alkali, transition and rare-earth metals, one at a time into a flame. Rare-earth alloys provided more colourful sparks than single-metal powders. For instance, ytterbium produced intense green explosive flashes. But when the ytterbium-copper (Yb-Cu) alloy was burned, it continuously released a shower of long sparks that switched from golden to deep green.

Then the researchers combined rare-earth metal alloys with ammonium perchlorate and nitrocellulose-based propellant to create smokeless fountains. A powdered version of neodymium magnets created the most attractive fountain with continuously branching sparks, with each initial “parent spark” shooting off many more sparks in just a fraction of a second.

The scientists point out that the tests yielded two promising sparkler materials, though they caution that the recipes must undergo further safety testing before they can be used in commercial products.


Sierra Metals halts 2022 production and finance guidance on Peru mine blockade
Fri, 23 Sep 2022 10:51:00 +0000
Operations at the company's Yauricocha mine remain suspended as residents from a nearby town have blocked access to the site.

Sierra Metals Inc. (TSX: SMT) (NYSE AMERICAN: SMTS) (BVL: SMT) said a group of residents from the Peruvian town of Alis are blocking the access to its flagship Yauricocha copper mine, where production has been suspended for over a week.

The Canadian miner did not specify why community members are blocking access to the mine, but some speculate it could be tied to the death of three miners at the operation due to a mudslide on Sept. 12.

Mine production remains halted with activities limited to critical operations to ensure proper safety and maintenance, Sierra Metals said.

The Toronto-based miner noted that due to uncertainty around how long it will take to solve the dispute and the potential delay in the progressive restart of production at Yauricocha, 2022 production and financial guidance have also been suspended.

Company representatives have taken part in conversations with members of the group and are also studying requests organized by the Peruvian government.

Sierra Metals said it remained committed to the social development of its host communities, adding that it was working towards “a peaceful and expeditious resolution” of the situation.

“As a road blockade is a matter of public concern, the company has involved the local authorities for their mediation and assistance in resolving this matter,” it said in the statement.

Yauricocha is an underground mine located in western central Peru in the Yauyos province at an average altitude of 4,600 meters.

Last produced 31.8 million pounds of copper and 79.3 million pounds of zinc.

Conflicts on the rise

Mining conflicts are on the rise in Peru, the world’s No. 2 copper producer and an important producer of zinc, as empowered local communities are upping demands under the administration of leftist President Pedro Castillo, in power since July 2021.

Earlier this year, a wave of protests hit the country’s major operations, including Glencore’s (LON: GLEN) Antapaccay, the country’s sixth largest copper mine. Other operations affected were Southern Copper Corp’s Cuajone mine and MMG’s giant Las Bambas mine, which is the nation’s fourth-largest copper mine and the world’s ninth-largest.

Copper is a hot commodity due to its role in the world’s decarbonization, with experts predicting that demand for the orange metal relating to energy transition activities — clean power and electrified transport, and the infrastructure supporting them — will grow about 4% per year between now and 2040.

Traditional copper consumers, such as construction and manufacturing of heating and cooling equipment will increase their need for copper only 1.5% per year over the same period.

Goldman Sachs expects global demand for copper will begin to outstrip supplies by 2025, pushing prices to twice their current level.


Talon Metals drills record nickel-copper intercept at Tamarack
Thu, 22 Sep 2022 20:56:32 +0000
Shares of Talon Metals closed 5.2% higher on the TSX following the new drill results.

Talon Metals (TSX: TLO) has received more encouraging results from drilling at its Tamarack nickel-copper-cobalt project in Minnesota, including assays for 17 holes drilled on the western side of the Tamarack resource area between 2021-2022 that demonstrated the continuity and thickness of the high-grade massive sulphide zone.

The new drill holes extended the resource from 320 metres from northwest to southeast. One hole (21TK0380) returned a record intercept of 23.44 metres grading 6.04% nickel and 2.85% copper in the Main zone. Another hole (22TK0412) returned 18.38 metres at 6.98% nickel and 3.12% copper. Both expanded the massive sulphide pool on the southern portion of the western limb.

In addition, an off-hole geophysical anomaly from drill hole 22TK0412 pointed to a possible southwestward continuation of the massive sulphide mineralization beyond the known resource in an area not previously tested by drilling.

“It is exciting to see the massive sulphide on the western limb continue to thicken to a new record 23.44 metres while maintaining an extremely high grade of 6.04% nickel. Exploration around this pooling area has identified hole 22TK0412, which intersected 12.81 metres at 8.08% nickel, and the borehole electromagnetic (geophysical) survey provides evidence that it may trend in a slightly different direction than anticipated,” said Brian Goldner, Talon Metals’ chief exploration officer.

“The southern extent of the western massive sulphide unit remains open and will be a focus for one of the drill rigs currently turning at the Tamarack nickel project,” he added.

Talon Metals is currently focused on expanding and infilling the high-grade resource at Tamarack, which is estimated at 3.9 million tonnes grading 1.91% nickel and 1.02% copper in the indicated category and 7.2 million tonnes grading 1.11% nickel and 0.68% copper in the inferred category. The company has also planned additional drilling to follow up on the mineralization at the Tamarack intrusive complex.

The Tamarack project comprises a large land position in central Minnesota covering 18 km of strike length, with high-grade intercepts outside the current resource area. Talon Metals has the right to earn up to a 60% interest in the project, and currently owns 51%. The 60% earn-in can be achieved by completing a feasibility study, which is now underway, and paying $10 million to joint venture partner Rio Tinto.

Earlier this year, the company entered an agreement with Tesla to supply the electric vehicle giant with 165 million lb. of nickel in concentrate (and certain byproducts, including cobalt and iron) from the Tamarack project over an estimated six-year period once commercial production is achieved, which is anticipated in 2026.

Shares of Talon Metals closed 5.2% higher on the TSX Thursday following the new drill results. The company has a market capitalization of approximately C$387.3 million.


Seabridge, Copper Mountain recognized for mine reclamation work in BC
Thu, 22 Sep 2022 17:34:33 +0000
Seabridge Gold was recognized for its work at the past-producing Johnny Mountain gold mine that operated in the late 1980s.

The British Columbia Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation (TRCR) has announced the winners of the this year’s BC mine reclamation awards. These awards were presented at the TRCR’s 45th annual Mine Reclamation Symposium on Wednesday evening.

Taking home the Jake McDonald annual mine reclamation award is Seabridge Gold, which was recognized for its work at the past-producing Johnny Mountain gold mine that operated in the late 1980s. The work is part of the company’s C$12 million environmental and reclamation program that it is voluntarily undertaking with the Tahltan Nation at the 100%-owned Iskut project in northwest BC.

“Seabridge Gold has shown great leadership in its ongoing efforts to reclaim an inherited site with a high level of indigenous nation support and involvement,“ says Tim Antill, outgoing chair of the TRCR and chair of the awards subcommittee.

Since acquiring Snip Gold and its mineral tenures that included the former Johnny Mountain mine in 2016, Seabridge Gold has worked to return disturbed lands and anthropogenic landforms to their original land use and capability of alpine tundra wildlife habitat.

The environmental and reclamation activities completed at the Johnny Mountain mine were recognized because of the timely implementation of the site activities, and for the company’s commitment to work with indigenous partners to ensure all site environmental and reclamation activities, which are on the traditional territory of the Tahltan Nation, have both Indigenous input and approval.

“It’s a great honour to be recognized with the prestigious Jake McDonald annual mine reclamation award, which further validates our reputation as a ‘responsible operator’ and our commitment to protect the environment,” said Rudi Fronk, Seabridge Gold’s chair and CEO.

Seabridge is expected to complete the full reclamation and closure of the Johnny Mountain mine site in 2025.

The metal mining category award was given to Copper Mountain Mining for its channel realignment of Wolfe Creek and implementation of fish habitat offsetting sites consisting of five components to improve fish productivity and one site to improve fish passage.

In 2019, Copper Mountain initiated work to realign a section of Wolfe Creek around its flagship mine in southern BC near the town of Princeton. The company also developed plan to a provide a new higher quality fish habitat to offset a portion of the creek that was fish-bearing. The reclamation work consisted of soil applications, seeding and planting trees and shrubs. In 2021, an initial effectiveness evaluation was conducted and indicated that the habitat suitability index values were above average to excellent.

Concurrent with the industry recognition for its reclamation work, Copper Mountain has also formalized its sustainability initiatives dating back to its inception by releasing the company’s inaugural environmental, social and governance (ESG) report.

The coal mining category award went to Teck Resources for its unique approach to assessing baseline environmental conditions, developing ecosystem and habitat models using historic and current geospatial data, and ongoing reclamation monitoring.

The Tony Milligan book award was presented to Jeff Anderson, Melissa Iverson and Ben Pearse of Integral Ecology Group for its paper, “Applications for remote sensing by unmanned aerial vehicles in reclamation monitoring,” presented online at last year’s Mine Reclamation Symposium.


Moody’s downgrades mining sector outlook to negative
Thu, 22 Sep 2022 16:43:00 +0000
Forecast reflects expectations that aggregate EBITDA will contract for the largest Moody's-rated metals and mining companies.

Credit rating firm Moody’s Investors Service said on Thursday it had changed its outlook for the global metals and mining Industry from stable to negative as a global economic slowdown continues to soften demand. 

The downturn is affecting prices, which consequently reflects a decreasing profitability for the largest Moody’s-rated companies in the industry during the upcoming 12 months, the firm said.

“[EBITDA and prices] will remain higher than in pre-pandemic years but below the record-high levels seen in early 2022,” says Moody’s senior vice president Barbara Mattos.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) will significantly decline for producers of base metals, including copper, nickel, aluminum and zinc, Moody’s financial research experts said.

Moody’s downgrades mining sector outlook to negative

Moody’s expects copper miners to face EBITDA declines due to lower production volumes
in certain regions, higher input costs and lower prices. At the same time, low inventory levels and supply challenges in main copper-producing regions such as Chile and Peru will limit copper-price declines, it says.

Aluminum producers re expected to be the worst hit as prices for the have fallen drastically from recent record highs, while energy and key raw material costs remain high, particularly in Europe. This combination will reduce companies’ margins and earnings, Moody’s says.

While gold is often seen as a hedge against inflation, the agency notes that prices for both the yellow metal and silver are declining due to higher interest rates and a stronger US dollar. Unlike other metals, market sentiment rather than fundamentals such as supply and demand, influences pricing in this industry, which will negatively affect precious metals miners’ EBITDA.

Today’s report follows one Moody’s published in early September, which lowered its 12-month price assumptions for certain metals and mining commodities.


Copper price rebounds on weaker dollar
Thu, 22 Sep 2022 16:39:27 +0000
The dollar index dropped after Japan intervened in the currency market to shore up the battered yen for the first time since 1998.

Copper price rose on Thursday, boosted by a weaker dollar and optimism about stimulus measures in China.

Copper for delivery in December rose 1.58% from Wednesday’s settlement price, touching $3.52 per pound ($7,744 per tonne).

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

The dollar index dropped after Japan intervened in the currency market to shore up the battered yen for the first time since 1998. 

“A weaker dollar is definitely helpful, the question mark is how long that can be sustained when you’ve got the Fed being aggressive with rate increases,” said Nitesh Shah, commodity strategist at WisdomTree in London.

“Chinese data may be giving some hope that its loosening monetary and fiscal policy is starting to bear some fruit in terms of final demand for industrial metals.”

Shanghai on Tuesday announced 1.8 trillion yuan investment worth of infrastructure projects, heeding national policymakers’ calls to revive sluggish economic growth. The construction industry consumes a vast amount of metals.

“Onshore (Chinese) sentiment is largely positive. It’s also a function of people deploying capital post FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) event,” said analyst Zenon Ho at broker Marex, referring to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rate hike.

London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses saw 11,200 tonnes of copper arrivals on Tuesday, the largest single-day warranting since June.

Inflows have totaled over 35,000 tonnes so far this month but have been largely offset by departures. Headline stocks of 118,000 tonnes are up by only 3,625 tonnes at the end of August.

LME inventory remains ultra-low by any historical yardstick, representing just two days’ worth of global usage.

(With files from Reuters)


Researchers working on smart drone capable of preventing tailings dams failures
Thu, 22 Sep 2022 13:06:00 +0000
US-based engineers are developing new technologies to detect and prevent potential failures of coal waste storage facilities.

Engineers at West Virginia University are developing new technologies for coal waste storage facilities that will detect and prevent potential failures like leakage of hazardous materials into the environment.

After receiving almost half a million dollars in funding from the United States Department of Energy, the researchers plan to deliver an aerial robot-enabled inspection and monitoring system for active and abandoned coal ash and tailings or waste storage facilities.

The goal of the project is to find a way to detect leakages and failures at coal waste facilities before tailings and coal ash are released into the environment. Coal ash is considered one of the largest US supplies of industrial waste, containing metals such as lead, mercury, chromium, selenium, cadmium and arsenic, which never biodegrade and are toxic to humans.

“Failure of these structures has been shown to be catastrophic, causing massive mudslides that have devastated entire communities and created irreversible environmental damage,” Ihsan Berk Tulu, one of the engineers involved in the project, said. “Industry and federal and state governments spend great effort and time inspecting these structures, finding hazards that might lead to wastewater leakages or failures.”

AI + autonomous features

Tulu and his colleague Guilherme Pereira’s intelligent drone is expected to do its work autonomously and be able to create thermal and visual images and high-resolution, three-dimensional maps of the coal waste storage facilities, which will permit the detection of cracks, deformities and other hazards in the structures.

A second objective of the project is to create and equip the device with software that uses artificial intelligence-based algorithms to detect potential hazards. The software will collect and use thermal and visual images, as well as 3D point clouds, a technology that utilizes laser scanners to measure where light hits a particular surface or object, to generate highly accurate 3D models of the coal storage facilities. This will allow researchers to identify potential hazards quickly and efficiently without having to physically be at the inspection site.

“I’m originally from Minas Gerais state in Brazil, where catastrophic accidents with tailing dams happened recently, so the project has a special motivation for me,” Pereira said. “It is an opportunity to develop a technology that can save lives in the United States and in my country.”

In 2015, the Samarco mine tailings dam in Bento Rodrigues, Brazil collapsed, unleashing thousands of pounds of hazardous mud spill that killed 19 people. The mine waste eventually flowed more than 400 miles from its source to the Atlantic Ocean, contaminating water supplies along its route.

In the US, a tailings dam in Logan County, West Virginia, failed in 1972 following a heavy rainstorm, known as the Buffalo Creek Flood. This catastrophic collapse released 132 million gallons of wastewater into the surrounding community. The incident killed 125 people, injured 1,100 others and left 4,000 people without homes.

“We will train the next generation of engineers in the application of robotics technologies for our mining communities,” Tulu said. “A successful outcome from this project will be another technology tool for both West Virginia’s and the nation’s mining industries to improve the safety of the mines and the health of the nearby communities.”


General Motors invests in Canadian lithium-ion battery recycler
Thu, 22 Sep 2022 12:56:00 +0000
Move creates a partnership between the companies to pursue a circular battery ecosystem using Lithion's technology.

General Motors (NYSE: GM) is boosting efforts to secure lithium supply, a crucial ingredient for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, by investing in Canadian battery recycling company Lithion Recycling Inc.

The move, which financial details were not disclosed, creates a partnership between the world’s second largest automaker and the Québec-based company to pursue a circular battery ecosystem using Lithion’s technology.

The companies said that third-party lifecycle analysis show that Lithion’s technology has a recovery rate of over 95%. As it uses green energy, the company’s technology and operations will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 75% and water usage by over 90% compared to mining battery materials, they said.

Unfazed by the slowing global economy, buyers of key components in the powering of EVs are stepping up efforts to lock in supplies.

GM is aggressively scaling battery cell and EV production in North America to reach its target of more than one million units of annual capacity by 2025. The automaker also aims to eliminate tailpipe emissions from all its new light-duty vehicles by 2035.

“We are building a supply chain and recycling strategy that can grow with us,” Jeff Morrison, GM vice president, global purchasing and supply chain said in the statement.

In August, Ultium Cells, GM’s joint venture with LG Energy Solution, opened its first US. battery cell plant, with two additional plants under construction.

A fourth planned battery cell plant will bring GM’s projected total US battery capacity to 160 GWh. 

Covered

GM says the binding agreements it has in place guarantee that all its battery raw material need will be met, allowing it to reach annual planned of 2 million battery-powered cars a year by 2025. That’s when GM will be ramping up production of about 30 electric models globally.

As the company moves forward, it will work to increasingly localize its battery materials supply chain to North America, it said.

Lithion will launch its first commercial recycling operations in 2023. The opening of this facility, with a capacity of 7,500 tonnes per year of lithium-ion batteries, will be followed in 2025 by the launch of Lithion’s first hydrometallurgical plant.


Delayed upgrades prompt Scotgold to cut Q3 production targets
Thu, 22 Sep 2022 10:51:00 +0000
It now expects to produce around 2,000 ounces of gold for the three months to Sep. 30, down from a previous 2,900-3,500 ounces range.

Scotgold Resources (LON: SGZ) has cut its gold production guidance for the third quarter due to delays in commissioning optimization initiatives at its Cononish operation in Scotland, the country’s first commercial gold mine.

The company now expects to produce around 2,000 ounces of gold for the three months to Sep. 30, down from a previous range of between 2,900 and 3,500 ounces.

It attributed the downgrade to the successful, but late commissioning of the power and ventilation project, which delayed mine development on the waste ramp.

Scotgold expects output in the fourth quarter to come “significantly” ahead of the previous two quarters thanks to a series of upgrades to improve access, operations as well as mining rates and ore extraction quantities.

“I am hugely encouraged by progress to date, which sees the majority of optimisation initiatives completed, strongly placing us for Q4 2022 and Q1 2023, driving the production ramp up towards Phase 2” chief executive Phil Day said in the statement.

The process plant’s current throughput increased to around 4,000 tonnes a month, from 3,000 tonnes a month in the second quarter. The miner’s goal is to achieve 6,000 tonnes a month following further optimizations in the fourth quarter.

Together with power and ventilation upgrades, the Scottish gold producer worked on debottlenecking process plant areas, such as flotation and tailings filtration.

These activities are part of the company’s plan to achieve Phase 2 production levels of 23,500 ounces a year by the end of the first quarter in 2023.

Scotgold, which received initial approval for Cononish in 2018, poured first gold in December 2020 and achieved commercial production at the mine in July this year.


Silvercorp updates resources at Ying property, extends mine life to 2037
Wed, 21 Sep 2022 18:23:53 +0000
There is also the potential to continue mining beyond 2037 if the inferred resource can be upgraded, Silvercorp said.

Silvercorp Metals (TSX: SVM) has published an updated NI 43-101 technical report that outlines the resources and reserves contained within the Ying property in Henan province, China. The report was prepared by AMC Mining Consultants (Canada) and covers all the mines on the Ying property (also referenced as the Ying mining district), namely the SGX, HZG, HPG, TLP, LME, LMW and DCG underground mines.

Resources in the measured and indicated (M+I) categories are estimated at 18.7 million tonnes (inclusive of mineral reserves) at average grades of 242 g/t silver, 0.27 g/t gold, 3.51% lead and 1.03% zinc, containing146 million oz. of silver, 161,000 oz. of gold, 657,000 tonnes of lead and 193,000 tonnes of zinc. Compared with the 2020 technical report, the M+I tonnage has decreased by 7%, and contained metal has increased by 64% for gold and decreased by 3% for silver, 10% for lead and 16% for zinc.

Inferred resources saw a much larger decline, down 30% to 13.1 million tonnes grading 201 g/t silver, 0.41 g/t gold, 3.15% lead and 0.77% zinc, resulting in decreases in contained metal of 20% for gold, 23% for silver, 27% for lead and 20% for zinc.

These resource estimates were made for a total of 356 mineralized vein structures for the seven active mines at Ying, where Silvercorp has completed 629,000 metres of drilling during 2020-21. The previous resource estimates only included gold values for the HPG mine. Since then, the company has identified and targeted gold-rich veins at SGX, LME, LMW and DCG.

Meanwhile, mineral reserves have risen by 3% to 12.3 million tonnes in the proven and probable categories grading 241 g/t silver, 0.26 g/t gold, 3.36% lead, and 1.03% zinc, containing 96 million oz. of silver, 105,000 oz. of gold, 414,000 tonnes of lead, and 127,000 tonnes of zinc. This was the first time that the DCG mine has been included in the reserve base, and that gold reserves have exceeded 100,000 oz. within the district.

These reserve totals are on top of approximately 11 million oz. of silver produced from the Ying operations over the past two calendar years. Based on the total mineral reserves, annual silver production is now projected to average approximately 7.0 million oz. between fiscal 2023 and 2025, 8.0 million oz. between 2026 and 2029, 7.1 million oz. between 2030 and 2032, and 4.0 million oz. between 2033 and 2037.

There is also the potential to continue mining beyond 2037 if the inferred resource can be upgraded, Silvercorp said.


Iron ore price falls to two-week low on caution ahead of Fed rate action
Wed, 21 Sep 2022 15:43:29 +0000
The Fed is widely expected to hike rates further by 75 basis points later in the day to tackle high inflation.

Iron ore price hit a two-week low on Wednesday as caution prevailed ahead of a widely expected interest rate hike from the US Federal Reserve.

According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $96.24 a tonne Wednesday morning, down 1%.

The most-traded January iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended daytime trade 0.9% lower at 703.50 yuan ($99.79) a tonne, after reaching its weakest since Sept. 8 at 686.50 yuan earlier in the session.

The Fed is widely expected to hike rates further by 75 basis points later in the day to tackle high inflation.

“If the interest rate is raised by 100 basis points, it will be bad for financial markets,” Zhongzhou Futures analysts said in a note.

“Although the recent replenishment of raw materials by steel mills has led to strong cost support, the macroeconomic environment at home and abroad is still not optimistic,” Huatai Futures analysts said separately.

The Asian Development Bank cut its 2022 and 2023 growth forecasts for developing Asia, citing mounting risks from rising borrowing costs across the world, the war in Ukraine and covid-19 lockdowns in China.

The lender expects China’s economy to expand 3.3% this year, a further step down after previously trimming the forecast to 4.0% from 5.0% in April.

(With files from Reuters)


Savannah Resources to resubmit Portugal lithium project EIA by March 2023
Wed, 21 Sep 2022 13:15:00 +0000
Company has had several “useful and productive” meetings with the country's regulator and it's ready to rework certain aspects.

Savannah Resources (AIM: SAV), the company trying to build western Europe’s largest lithium mine in Portugal, said on Wednesday it had made progress towards fulfilling the requisites of an additional step requested by regulators for the evaluation of its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The company filed the original assessment for its flagship Barroso lithium mine in May 2020. Portugal’s Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente (APA) requested Savannah to provide additional information a few months later, which granted it a preliminary stamp of approval in April 2021.

APA then launched a public consultation on the Barroso project, which showed strong local opposition. This prompted the environmental regulator to ask the company to go through an additional, optional step in the EIA process.

It also triggered the departure of chief executive David Archer, who was replaced on an interim basis by Dale Ferguson, previously the company’s technical director.

The optional step is designed to allow adjustments to the project in accordance with the feedback of the stakeholders involved in the process, Savannah has said.

Since agreeing with APA in early July that the review process should continue under Article 16 of the Portuguese law relating to EIAs, Savannah has had several “useful and productive” meetings with the regulator.

The British junior said the talks have provided it with a “good understanding” of APA’s requests regarding certain aspects of the project, without providing details.

It also noted that there will be additional meetings to address the few remaining aspects of the project which APA and the entities that make up its evaluation committee would like to see revised. 

“Over the course of the last two months APA has made clear the aspects of the project which we need to revise to give us the greatest chance of receiving a positive Declaration of Environmental Impact (DIA) decision,” chief executive Dale Ferguson said in the statement.

“Savannah’s team and our consultants are well underway with the redesign work,” he noted.

Savannah has until mid-March 2023 to work with APA on and then resubmit them for consideration.

Europe’s first

Subject to a positive DIA decision, Mina do Barroso open pit lithium mine would become Europe’s first significant producer of spodumene, a hard-rock form of the battery metal.

The project holds a resource estimate of 27 million tonnes of lithium with over 285,900 tonnes contained Li2O, at an average grade of 1.06% Li2O, which the company believes to be enough to supply a “material proportion” of Europe’s lithium demand over the coming decades.

The mine will also yield a feldspar and quartz co-product used in the ceramics industry, which will be sold to customers locally and in neighbouring Spain.

Recent results from the latest phase of metallurgical test work program at the mine highlights the potential for lower capital and operating costs than those originally estimated.

Portugal, already Europe’s top lithium producer, accounts for about 11% of the global market, but its output is entirely used to make ceramics and glassware. That’s why Europe relies on lithium imports from Latin America’s “Lithium Triangle,” as well from Australia and China.


Seismic device made for extraterrestrial research useful to monitor CO2 levels at mine sites
Wed, 21 Sep 2022 12:24:00 +0000
An ultra-compact seismic device allows for continuous monitoring of carbon reservoirs and the detection of sudden changes that could lead to CO2 leakages.

Researchers at The University of Tokyo and Kyushu University have developed an ultra-compact, centimetre-scale seismic source that allows for continuous monitoring of carbon reservoirs.

In a paper published in the journal Seismological Research Letters, the scientists explain that underground features like carbon reservoirs can be monitored using seismic waves, either generated by earthquakes or by man-made sources.

But seismic monitoring typically requires large, expensive machinery, making continuous monitoring at the scales needed for carbon reservoirs cost prohibitive and practically challenging.

This is where their Portable Active Seismic Source (PASS) comes in. The device was designed for extraterrestrial uses, such as geophysical research on the moon and Mars but it can also be put to good use on earth.

Portable Active Seismic Source
(a) Seismic source system commonly used for imaging and monitoring of subsurface reservoirs. (b) Meter-scale continuous monitoring source system. (c) Centimeter-scale continuous monitoring source system developed in this study. (Image by Takeshi Tsuji, courtesy of Kyushu University, I2CNER).

“Because of the device’s small size, the vibrations it produces are relatively weak, but when these vibrations are produced continuously, the resulting signals can be stacked together, allowing transmission over long distances,” Takeshi Tsuji, lead author of the study said. “With a four-centimetre motor, the signal could be transmitted one kilometre—the scale needed for monitoring strata used to store carbon dioxide.”

PASS’s small size makes it easily deployable at a variety of locations, including mine sites. It is also more affordable than conventional seismic sources, which are typically several meters in size. The compact device can be powered by a 12-volt car battery, and can even be deployed by drone in areas that are otherwise inaccessible.

The researchers tested the PASS at two field sites, one on a riverbank and one on a tailings embankment in a mining area. According to Tsuji, the system has great potential for various scientific and engineering applications, including monitoring potential disasters such as landslides and volcanoes, and imaging structures such as tunnels, dams, and embankments.

“The affordability and practicality of continuous subsurface monitoring using this newly developed PASS technology, allowing detection of sudden changes in reservoirs that could lead to CO2 leakage, make it particularly valuable for the development of carbon sequestration projects,” the scientist said. “This enhancement to its safety may also encourage public acceptance of these and other geoengineering projects.”


Teck says Elkview outage to cost 1.5 million tonnes in coal production
Wed, 21 Sep 2022 10:16:00 +0000
The Elkview steelmaking coal mine will remain halted for one to two months due to a structural failure of the plant feed conveyor belt.

Canada’s largest diversified miner Teck Resources (TSX: TCK.A, TCK.B) (NYSE: TCK) said on Wednesday it expects to lose coal production of about 1.5 million tonnes due to a structural failure at its Elkview coal mine in British Columbia.

The Elkview steelmaking coal mine will remain halted for one to two months, Teck noted, while repairs to the plant feed conveyor belt take place.

When also factoring in the impact of recent labour action at Westshore Terminals, Canada’s biggest export coal terminal, Teck’s third quarter steelmaking coal sales are now expected to be between 5.5 – 5.9 million tonnes, compared to the previously announced 5.8 – 6.2 million tonnes range.

Unionized workers at Westshore Terminals, located in the Metro Vancouver area, walked out of the job over the weekend causing a complete halt of operations.

The port, with a capacity to handle 33 million tonnes of coal exports per year, takes production from British Columbia and Alberta, as well as the Powder River basin and Montana to international markets, mainly in the Asia-Pacific area. 

The Vancouver-based miner said Elkview would reschedule planned plant maintenance to take advantage of plant downtime and mine operations would focus on pre-stripping during the outage. 

Teck, which is also the world’s second-biggest exporter of steelmaking coal, had to halt production at Elkview in 2018 for almost two months. At the time, it lost about 200,000 tonnes in coal output.

Elkview Operations set a new production record in 2021, the first full year of operations since its plant expansion to a capacity of 9 million tonnes per annum.

Teck projects that proven and probable reserves at Elkview are enough to support mining for a further 30 years.


Ivanhoe Electric confirms Cu-Au mineralization below former Mammoth mine
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 18:39:18 +0000
"We continue to be astounded by the high-grade mineral potential of the Tintic district," said chairman Robert Friedland.

As part of the targeting program underway ahead of future drilling at its Tintic copper-gold project in Utah, Ivanhoe Electric (TSX: IE) recently resampled drill core from a number of historic holes and has received assay results indicating the presence of high-grade copper and precious metals mineralization near the historic Mammoth underground mine, specifically within the New Park Reserves area.

The New Park Reserves represent a viable exploration area identified by Ivanhoe Electric beneath the historic mine workings. The area was partially mined with crosscuts by Kennecott (now a division of Rio Tinto) and drilled in the 1960s by the New Park Mining (now Newpark Resources, an oilfield services group). Six sections from five New Park Mining drill holes were resampled, one of which assayed 1.95% copper, 1.69 g/t gold and 129 g/t silver over a length of 20.4 metres.

Speaking at the annual Denver Gold Forum on Tuesday, Ivanhoe chairman and CEO Robert Friedland said: “We continue to be astounded by the high-grade mineral potential of the Tintic district. A lot of copper, gold, silver, lead and zinc ended up at Tintic, and it certainly did not fall from the sky. These results from the New Park Reserves area continue to demonstrate that the old-timers did not mine all of the high-grade copper, gold and silver. In addition, these results provide further evidence of the presence of one or more large-scale porphyry copper-gold deposits located at depth at Tintic.

“Using our proprietary high-powered Typhoon geophysical surveying system, we completed a 72-km2, three-dimensional induced polarization and resistivity survey and imaged three large-scale anomalies – each comparable with the scale of the nearby Bingham Canyon copper-gold mine,” Friedland said.

Bingham Canyon, more commonly known as the Kennecott copper mine among locals, is an open pit operation owned by Rio Tinto. Over the past 119 years, it has milled more than 2.7 billion tonnes of copper-gold ore and produced over 20 million tonnes of refined copper metal and more than 28 million oz. of gold.

According to Friedland, Ivanhoe’s geologists continue to identify new features that support the thesis that one or more of these Typhoon anomalies may be the porphyry targets that have produced all of the copper and precious metals in the historic Tintic district.

“These anomalies are located at depth from surface, meaning any potential mining operation at Tintic would likely be an underground operation,” he added.

Mineralization in the Tintic district was first discovered in 1869, and by 1871 significant mining camps were established in the nearby city of Eureka and the now defunct towns of Silver City and Diamond. The area saw nearly continuous mining operations from 1871 through to 2002 with variations in the level of activity and commodity extracted.

The Mammoth mine was historically one of the most significant mines in the Tintic mining district, operating between the late 1890s and the 1930s. While much of its early productive history went unrecorded, from 1901 onwards Mammoth is known to have produced approximately 1.18 million tonnes of ore grading 9.7 g/t gold, 349 g/t silver, 1.42% copper and 1.39% lead.


Perpetua Resources gets DOD funding to study antimony production from Stibnite gold project
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 18:12:12 +0000
Company to evaluate whether antimony from its project in Idaho can meet military specifications to help secure America’s defense and commercial ammunition supply chain.

Perpetua Resources (Nasdaq: PPTA, TSX: PPTA) has been awarded two funding grants from the US Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to study the domestic production of military-grade antimony trisulfide, an essential component in ammunition and dozens of other defense materials.

Perpetua will receive $200,000 in total to evaluate whether antimony from its Stibnite Gold project in Idaho can meet military specifications to help secure America’s defense and commercial ammunition supply chain while also evaluating alternate methods for purifying antimony trisulfide.

Perpetua submitted two proposals to DLA’s “Production of Energetic Materials and Associated Precursors” Small Business Innovation Research grant solicitation. The program is focused on reducing “foreign reliance and single points of failure for the domestic manufacturing of energetic materials” through the development of a domestic source.

Related: How a gold-stibnite restoration in Idaho could add antimony to US supply chain

After a competitive review process, Perpetua was awarded SBIR Phase 1 funding of $100,000 for both programs. Each study is expected to be completed within the next six to 12 months.

“Antimony from the Stibnite Gold project site served our national defense needs during World War II and Perpetua is confident we can be part of the solution again,” Perpetua Resources CEO Laurel Sayer said in a media statement.  

“We are grateful for this opportunity to work with the Department of Defense to demonstrate that our Project can develop reliable and domestically sourced antimony trisulfide for defense and commercial ammunition.”

The first program will test existing samples of antimony trisulfide ore from the project for development into antimony trisulfide to Mil-Spec. The second program will study alternative processing opportunities to develop Mil-Spec antimony trisulfide from high purity antimony metal.

After the completion of the proposed programs, Phase 2 funding could be made available for more advanced stage pilot-scale testing within the next year. Together, the Phase 1 and Phase 2 programs could confirm the Project’s ability to provide the domestic antimony source needed to meet the defense procurement demand and support commercial markets.

Antimony trisulfide is produced from high purity antimony ore feedstock and is used in small and medium caliber munitions, mortars, artillery, mines, flares, grenades, shoulder launched munitions and missiles. Currently, China, Russia, and Tajikistan control approximately 90% of the world’s antimony supply and the United States has no domestically mined source of the critical mineral.

Perpetua’s proposed Stibnite Gold Project hosts one of the largest antimony deposits in the world independent of China and Russia.

The Stibnite Gold project in central Idaho, is advancing through the sixth year of review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Project is designed to restore environmental conditions in the historical Stibnite mining district while responsibly developing one of the highest-grade open pit gold resources in the United States and becoming the only domestically mined source of the critical mineral antimony.

Mining activity first started in the district in the early 20th century for gold and silver. During WWII and the Korean War, the US Government commissioned antimony and tungsten production from Stibnite under the authority of the Strategic Metals Act of 1939. The site produced over 90% of the antimony used by the U.S. during WWII and was influential in establishing Mil-Spec for antimony trisulfide.


GoviEx Uranium feasibility projects 19 year life, $343 million capex for Madaouela in Niger
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 16:23:21 +0000
Project has one of the world’s largest uranium resources, with 100 million lb. of U3O8 in measured and indicated mineral resources, plus inferred resources of 20 million pounds.

GoviEx Uranium (TSXV: GXU) says its feasibility study for a mine in the West African country of Niger shows it may earn $1.6 billion over its 19-year mine life.

Production is forecast at 50.8 million lbs. of U3O8 over the life of the mine, averaging nearly 2.7 million lb. a year, the Vancouver-based company said in a press release today. 

GoviEx described the project, called Madaouela, as one of the world’s largest uranium resources, with 100 million lb. of U3O8 in measured and indicated mineral resources, plus inferred resources of 20 million pounds. 

“The (feasibility study) confirms the strength of the Madaouela project and its ability to deliver good economic results at a time when inflationary pressures are having a significant impact on the development of new projects and operating mines,” GoviEx executive chairman Govind Friedland said. “We maintain our projection to be able to start producing in 2025, subject to project financing.” 

The open pit and underground mine has a price tag of $343 million. Using a U3O8 price of $65 per lb. And a molybdenum price of $11 per lb., the after-tax net present value (at an 8% discount rate) is estimated at $140 million and the internal rate of return at 13.3%.

The estimate of $1.57 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization is based on an average annual rate of $82.6 million and net free cash flow of $672 million, the company said.

The project has the potential to elevate Niger from near the bottom of the world’s main uranium producers, which are led by Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Global production is shy of 50 million lb. a year, although some production data is withheld for corporate privacy, the EIA says.  

“With two permitted mines in two mining-friendly jurisdictions, the backdrop of a strengthening uranium market, we are well positioned to become a uranium producer,” GoviEx chief executive officer Daniel Major said, adding that the company also has “huge exploration potential upside.” 

Madaouela hosts proven and probable reserves of 5.4 million tonnes grading 0.87 kg per tonne U3O8 and 123.1 parts per million molybdenum for 12.3 million lbs. uranium oxide and 664 tonnes molybdenum. 

Measured resources at Madaouela stand at 13.7 million tonnes grading 0.85 kg per tonne for 30.1 million lb., with indicated resources at 20.8 million tonnes grading 1.24 kg per tonne for 66.8 million lb. U3O8


Gold price drops to two-year low with Fed rate hike in focus
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 15:35:52 +0000
Investors are continuing to pare back their gold positions, with exchange-traded fund holdings down to the lowest since January 20.

Gold prices fell to near the lowest level in more than two years on Tuesday, with investors still weighing the likely size of the US Federal Reserve’s looming interest rate hike that could set the tone for the market.

Spot gold declined 0.6% to $1,665.78 per ounce by 11:20 a.m. ET, moving further away from the $1,700 level that it descended from last week. US gold futures were down 0.2% to $1,674.70 per ounce in New York.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

Gold’s decline comes on the back of hot inflation data that spurred some bets on a 100 basis point rate hike by the US central bank. Exerting more pressure on bullion is the US dollar, which rose again towards a two-year high. Also rising are inflation-adjusted Treasury yields, which are almost at a 15-year high.

“Gold can’t shake off any of these aggressive Fed tightening concerns… yields continue to skyrocket, especially in the short end of the curve — that’s just been consistently putting pressure on gold,” Edward Moya, senior analyst with OANDA, told Reuters.

Most economists see the Fed opting for a smaller 75 basis point increase, which will have largely been priced in by bullion traders. Other central banks, including the Bank of England will also make rate decisions this week.

Investors are continuing to pare back their gold positions, with exchange-traded fund holdings down to the lowest since January 20. Physical buying from China appears strong, with total imports of non-monetary gold last month jumping to the highest since June 2018, according to data from the country’s customs administration.

“For gold, a further slide to the mid-$1,500 an ounce level is possible,” UBS AG Wealth Management strategists including Wayne Gordon wrote in a Bloomberg note. “With 10-year US real yield expectations breaking above 1% and a stronger US dollar, we see further outflows from ETFs and futures over coming months.”

Longer term, bullion enthusiasts at the annual Denver Gold Forum this week are optimistic. Prices will reach $1,806.10 by year-end, according to the average estimate in a survey of 10 participants at the industry’s biggest annual gathering. The forecast is 7.8% above Monday’s spot closing price, and the last time gold settled that high was at the beginning of July.

(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters)


South Star Battery Metal secures construction permit for graphite mine in Brazil
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 13:34:00 +0000
The company aims to start production at phase 1 of the Santa Cruz graphite project in Southern Bahia by the end of 2023.

Canadian junior South Star Battery Metal (TSX-V: STS) (OTCQB: STSBD) is moving ahead with Phase 1 construction of its Santa Cruz graphite mine in Brazil, after receiving the permit from the municipality of Itabela, in Southern Bahia.

The company said it had also held talks with the State of Bahia development agency, the Bahia industrial confederation and representatives from the port facilities in Salvador, Bahia, to update them on its growth plans.

“We presented additional details about Santa Cruz and our planned growth through Phase 2 (25,000 tonnes per year of concentrates) and Phase 3 (50,000 tpy of concentrates),” chief executive Richard Pearce said of the meetings

South Star, which aims to start production at Santa Cruz by the end of 2023, said the mine will be the first major industrial facility in the municipality and one of the largest in the region as it scales operations.

It added that its Santa Cruz graphite project was the first of a series of industrial and battery metals projects that plans to bring into production.

The Vancouver-based company also noted that its next project in the pipeline is a development project in Alabama, United States, located in the middle of a developing electric vehicle, aerospace and defence hub.

Underestimated

Demand for graphite, an overlooked mineral that is a key ingredient for the electrification of vehicles, is expected to soar.

The lithium-ion battery used to power electric vehicles is made of two electrodes — an anode (negative) on one side and a cathode (positive) on the other. The resistant material, an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, is the only one that can be used in the anode, there are no substitutes.

It is also the largest component in lithium-ion batteries by weight, with each battery containing 20-30% graphite. But due to losses in the manufacturing process, it takes 30 times more graphite than lithium to make the batteries.

According to the World Bank, graphite accounts for nearly 53.8% of the mineral demand in batteries, the most of any. Lithium, despite being a staple across all batteries, accounts for only 4% of demand.

Consultancy Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (BMI) sees a roughly 20,000 tonne graphite deficit by the end of 2022, versus a similar-sized surplus in 2020.


Artemis Gold kicks off site works at Blackwater project in British Columbia
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 12:57:00 +0000
Project construction was approved in the summer of 2021, nearly a year after Artemis acquired the asset from New Gold.

Canadian junior Artemis Gold (TSX-V: ARTG) has begun site works at its Blackwater gold project in central British Columbia, Canada.

The miner said major construction activities are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2023, following receipt of the BC Mines Act Permit, which is expected this fall.

Construction of the project was approved in the summer of 2021, nearly a year after Artemis acquired the property from New Gold (TSX: NGD) for C$190 million ($142.3m).

Artemis said it will focus in the coming months on expanding the capacity of the existing exploration camp by 90 rooms, setting a 245-room construction camp, installing a wastewater treatment plant, and upgrading existing access roads among other activities.

The Vancouver-based miner aims to complete early works by December, it said in the statement.

According to an economic impact study released by the company in 2020, Blackwater would contribute more than C$13.2 billion ($9.9bn) to BC’s economy over its 23-year mine life.

In the first five years of operation, the mine will produce 321,000 ounces of gold a year, at an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of $576 per ounce. Over time, production will average to 351,000 ounces of gold with an AISC of $672 per ounce.


Scientists take giant step toward developing room-temperature superconductors
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 12:05:00 +0000
“This has been one of the Holy Grails of problems in physics research for nearly 40 years.”

An international team of researchers has uncovered the atomic mechanism behind high-temperature superconductors, a finding that could be revolutionary for super-efficient electrical power.

In a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the researchers explain that certain copper oxide materials demonstrate superconductivity at higher temperatures than conventional superconductors, however, the mechanism behind this has remained unknown since their discovery in 1987.

To investigate this, the group developed two new microscopy techniques. The first of these measured the difference in energy between the copper and oxygen atom orbitals, as a function of their location. The second method measured the amplitude of the electron-pair wave function – the strength of the superconductivity – at every oxygen atom and at every copper atom.

“By visualizing the strength of the superconductivity as a function of differences between orbital energies, for the first time ever we were able to measure precisely the relationship required to validate or invalidate one of the leading theories of high-temperature superconductivity, at the atomic scale,” lead researcher Séamus Davis said in a media statement.

As predicted by the theory, the results showed a quantitative, inverse relationship between the charge-transfer energy difference between adjacent oxygen and copper atoms and the strength of the superconductivity.

According to the research team, this discovery could prove a historic step toward developing room-temperature superconductors. Ultimately, these could have far-reaching applications ranging from maglev trains, nuclear fusion reactors, quantum computers, and high-energy particle accelerators, not to mention super-efficient energy transfer and storage.

The scientists also explain that in superconductor materials, electrical resistance is minimized because the electrons that carry the current are bound together in stable ‘Cooper pairs.’

In low-temperature superconductors, Cooper pairs are held together by thermal vibrations, but at higher temperatures, these become too unstable. These new results demonstrate that, in high-temperature superconductors, the Cooper pairs are instead held together by magnetic interactions, with the electron pairs binding together via a quantum mechanical communication through the intervening oxygen atom.

“This has been one of the Holy Grails of problems in physics research for nearly 40 years,” Davis said. “Many people believe that cheap, readily available room-temperature superconductors would be as revolutionary for the human civilization as the introduction of electricity itself.”


Bluestone Resources says Guatemala anti-mining referendum illegal
Tue, 20 Sep 2022 10:43:00 +0000
It said outcome unlikely to be enforced and stressed the vote was not a reflection of the sentiment towards its Cerro Blanco project.

Canada’s Bluestone Resources (TSX-V: BSR) said the results of a referendum held during the weekend that would ban mining in the Asuncion Mita municipality of Guatemala, where it is looking to develop its Cerro Blanco gold deposit, are unlikely to be enforced.

The company said that the commission behind the vote against mining activity in the area was comprised of individuals with a clear agenda and biased. It also said illegal activities were observed during the referendum held on Sunday.

“This referendum is clearly unconstitutional and filled with irregularities. We are disappointed with the actions of these groups who use these biased referendums to create doubt and uncertainty around responsible mining projects such as Cerro Blanco,” the company’s president and CEO, Jack Lundin, said in the statement.

Bluestone Resources said its legal counsel believes the results of the referendum will not be legally binding, as it went ahead despite a judge’s ruling suspending it.

The Vancouver-based company acquired Cerro Blanco from fellow Canadian miner Goldcorp in 2017 for $18 million plus shares valued at about 9.9% of Bluestone’s capital.

The miner postponeed the beginning of operations as it decided that underground extraction should be switched to open-pit.

The change in mining method responded to the results of advanced engineering and optimization work that revealed an opportunity to capitalize on the project’s near-surface, high-grade mineralization through an open-pit development scenario. In fact, the assessment showed a doubling of the gold resource ounces and production profile.

But the fact that an open-pit operation would require the use of cyanide set off the alarms of environmental groups both in Guatemala and El Salvador, who expressed concern over the potential contamination of shared freshwater bodies such as the Güija lagoon and the Lempa river. The latter is the main water source for San Salvador, the Salvadoran capital.

Bluestone said the mine’s development plans includes a cyanide destruction process to neutralise it, which should ease environmental groups’ concerns.

A feasibility study for Cerro Blanco released in February calls for an open pit gold mine with an average annual production of 197,000 ounces over its 14-year life. At peak production the operation would produce 347,000 ounces of gold a year.


Fitch: Copper price to regain March peaks in 2027
Mon, 19 Sep 2022 21:33:09 +0000
Research company slashes its 2023 copper price forecast and predicts a return to $10,000-plus levels only in 2027 as long term structural deficits emerge.

Copper prices have  been hovering either side of $3.50 a pound ($7,700 tonne) for the better part of two months, down 21% since the start of the year and nowhere near record highs touched in early March.

Slowing global growth and a strong dollar, which makes copper more expensive in the rest of the world, have undercut the bull case based on historically low inventories and robust longer term demand fundamentals.

A new report by Fitch Solutions cuts the research firm’s 2023 price forecasts for next year by double digits to $8,400 down from a previous projection of an average of $9,580 for the year.

Source: Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research

Fitch expects a small surplus on the copper market for this year, but from 2023 expects growing deficits peaking at some 9 million tonnes by the end of the decade as demand accelerates “mainly driven by consumption related to the green transition.” 

Fitch says “a significant pipeline of new projects [which] will bring additional copper to the market – particularly in Chile, Peru, Australia and Canada” and also expects “a number of the key supply issues in Latin America to ease in the coming years”:

“From around 2026, however, these improvements in supply will be increasingly outpaced by demand growth from the global transition to a green economy.”

Fitch sees steady improvement to copper prices over the next five years with the metal returning to its March peaks above $10,000 in 2027 and $11,500 in 2031 as “a long term structural deficit emerges.“

Fitch points to a number of risk factors that could darken this rosy long term forecast however, including further strengthening of the dollar if US monetary policy tightening accelerates, further regulation by the Chinese government to reduce commodity prices, a more stable resolution to some of the industrial tensions in Latin America and faster-than-expected uptake in copper recycling.


Skeena announces bought deal to fund Eskay Creek NSR buyback
Mon, 19 Sep 2022 18:12:34 +0000
The latest financing package would allow Skeena to buy back a 0.5% NSR royalty for a total of $17.5 million.

Skeena Resources (TSX: SKE; NYSE: SKE) has announced a bought deal financing of C$30 million to fund its buydown of a net smelter return (NSR) currently held by Barrick Gold. A syndicate of underwriters led by Raymond James will purchase 4.96 million Skeena common shares at C$6.05 per share. There is also an over-allotment option to purchase nearly 744,000 shares, exercisable for 30 days.

Skeena is currently focused on revitalizing the past-producing Eskay Creek gold-silver mine located in the Golden Triangle of northwest BC. It previously operated from 1994 to 2008 as an underground mine, producing 3.3 million oz. of gold at an average grade of 45 g/t and 160 million oz. of silver at average grade of 2,224 g/t, making it one of the highest-grade gold mines in the world during that time.

Skeena first optioned the property in 2017, with a view of bringing the former mine back into production as a conventional open pit operation. It then acquired 100% ownership of the project from Barrick in October 2020, with the latter retaining a 1% NSR royalty on the Eskay Creek land package. Half of that royalty may be repurchased from Barrick during the 24-month period after closing.

The latest financing package would allow Skeena to buy back a 0.5% NSR royalty for a total of C$17.5 million as previously agreed. The rest of the funds will be used by the company for general ‎administration and corporate purposes.‎

The announcement follows the recent release of a feasibility study on the Eskay Creek project, which forecasts an after-tax net present value of C$1.4 billion (at a discount rate of 5%) and internal rate of return of 50.2% The payback period of pre-production capital costs is estimated at one year.


Philippine town revokes permit for Tampakan copper-gold project
Mon, 19 Sep 2022 17:01:00 +0000
Tampakan, considered the Philippines' biggest untapped copper-gold reserve, was stalled for over a decade but saw a glimpse of hope in May.

A local government in the Philippines has cancelled Sagittarius Mines’ permit for the Tampakan copper-gold project in the country’s South Cotabato province, citing concerns about the survival of hundreds of indigenous peoples that live nearby.

Tampakan, considered the Southeast Asian country’s biggest untapped copper-gold reserve, was stalled for over a decade following a 2010 ban on mining, which was extended to open-pit operations in 2017.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte, who ended his six-year term in June, lifted the nationwide ban late last year to revitalise the mining industry.

The move paved the way for Sagittarius Mines to reopen the $5.9 billion project, in which commodities giant Glencore (LON: GLEN) used to have a controlling stake, but abandoned it amid regulatory uncertainties.

Mayor Leonard Escobillo of Tampakan told local press the permit had been revoked due the company’s “fraud, erroneous classification and misrepresentation of its business status.”

“There’s nothing personal in this case. We are just doing our job,” Escobillo told reporters.
The asset, which has estimated resources of 15 million tonnes of copper and 17.6 million ounces of gold, was one of at least 12 metallic mines expected to begin commercial operations this year.

Most of the mines awaiting permits are nickel projects, one of the metals in highest demand these days due to its use electric vehicles batteries and other devices that can help the world transition to cleaner technologies.

Tampakan was expected to have an average annual production capacity of 375,000 tonnes of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold in concentrate.


Investing abroad could be the solution to America’s clean energy future
Mon, 19 Sep 2022 14:53:21 +0000
Investing in mineral-rich countries would be easier than building new mines in the US, said Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Executive Editor Henry Sanderson in an interview.

Asked about how many cars Tesla will have made by August 2032—10 years from now—the company founder Elon Musk said: “I’d say 100 million is pretty doable.” 

Reaching the 100 million mark by the end of the decade is also considered essential to reduce carbon emissions and achieve the Paris Agreement.

In total, 22 US states have set the goal to have 100% carbon-free electricity before 2050. A massive and rapid deployment of renewable energy is also central to Europe’s drive to end its dependency on Russian fossil fuels.

However, even as president Biden declared this week ‘Detroit is back’ and announced $900 million to build EV charging stations across America, the question remains how quickly the transition to renewable energy can be made.

In his latest book “Volt Rush: The Winners and Losers in the Race to Go Green,” Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Executive Editor Henry Sanderson discusses the global supply chain of materials and mining needed for the electric push. 

Sanderson elaborates in an interview with MINING.COM:

MINING.COM: Is it feasible for us to transition to clean energy over the next decades?

We have to. You look at the extreme weather, this year was the hottest in Europe. China is dealing with record heat waves. So we have to move to clean energy. Countries like China are victims of climate change that also produce many of the solutions. So I think there’s a huge incentive to scale up clean energy and the costs.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine highlights how our reliance on fossil fuels is so problematic.

It may be difficult if we don’t want to rely on China at all. Does the US and Europe want to do it on their own without China? That’s going to be more difficult in the timeframe, by 2030, but with China, I think it’s possible.

MINING.COM: Is there enough metal to replace oil?

I think few people are aware that to solve climate change, we need speed and scale. Scale is critical. So when you’re talking about the scale of batteries for EVs, for energy storage, there are enough raw materials on the earth. The problem we have is that this energy transition is quite a policy-driven one.

More than 300 new mines could need to be built over the next decade to meet the demand for electric vehicle and energy storage batteries, according to a Benchmark forecast.

It has to be fast to meet the climate goals. We’ve left it so late. So when you have this exponential demand increase this decade and the next, it’s gonna be hard for mines to keep up. And also what sort of social environmental cost are we willing to bear to get all these mines into production? Where are we willing to mine?

MINING.COM: Mining in America is not a really popular topic. How do you see Biden’s Administration’s push to clean energy so far?

The Inflation Reduction Act is important because it’s a signal and action. The critical mineral requirements are very strict and difficult to meet. If mines can get approved in the US, then I think there’ll be policy support for it but it is difficult.

So what I see happening is probably more Canada. There’ll be more mine development in Australia, in these free trade agreement countries. What you need to do is build up the processing in the US or North America and Canada. So you know that you can divert the raw materials from Australia to North America, not to China. It’s just an industrial facility, it’s not rocket science.

If the US and Europe want to completely develop their own supply chains by scratch, that’s going to be very challenging

I think probably the best thing is to help these mineral-rich countries with mining backgrounds to develop their mines. That’s probably easier than building in the US. Why aren’t we helping the DRC? There’s graphite in Mozambique, for example, and these are all places that will suffer from climate change but can benefit from these minerals.

MINING.COM: What do you say to those worried about the CO2 emissions in the green metals supply chain?

When it comes to metals, we have this perception that maybe is going to be colossal, a gigantic effort to put that supply chain to work.

The fossil fuel infrastructure is just so colossal. Just take a look at Europe and the energy crisis. The fossil fuel infrastructure is so key to our economies, and so massive. The battery minerals pale in comparison to fossil fuels.

The point in my book is saying, if you are building this battery supply chain from scratch, let’s try to avoid some of the old problems. Every additional tonne of CO2 emitted is an environmental cost. So let’s try and keep it as low CO2, as least environmentally destructive as possible.

MINING.COM: What are the biggest challenges right now for the energy transition?

The biggest challenge is geopolitical. If the US and Europe want to completely develop their own supply chains by scratch, that’s going to be very challenging. Given the urgency of this energy transition, we probably all need to work together a bit more.

The second challenge is the poorer countries. What are we going to do to help them? What we can do to help them mine sustainably and responsibly?

There are a couple of risks. First is that tensions escalate to a point where China considers using its leverage. We’ve seen China boycott foreign companies and foreign goods. The second risk is that a lot of these Chinese companies are very innovative, especially battery companies. If there is a shortage of batteries or raw materials, how much will they get priority over Western companies?

MINING.COM: When it comes to EVs, how do we move from premium models like Teslas to a more mass market?

China’s quite a lesson in this space because the best-selling EV there is this tiny Hongguan Mini, which uses a tiny battery. Consumer choice will play a big part in determining raw material demand. If we are gonna just replace big SUVs with electric SUVs or pickup trucks with electric pickup trucks, then we need lots of metals. Are we willing to use this transition as an opportunity to change some of our motor transport? Can we accept smaller cars in the city? If you look at average driving distances, they’ve been coming down in the Western world.

MINING.COM: Stanford professor Mark Jacobson estimated that in a clean energy world, the total mining burden would drop 80% but yet there’s this great fear about expanding mining for green metals. Why?

I think probably the answer is just for a Tesla or other big automaker to really invest in mining, given its sort of stamp of approval, to say we need this mine. But I think some companies may be afraid of certain projects in the US, where there are still issues with indigenous peoples or communities.

MINING.COM: So when you see a hundred percent EV? Let’s keep it to cars.

Well, let’s take China, it’s already over 25% of total vehicle sales. I’d say maybe by 2050 we could get there, but definitely earlier in China.

(By Bruno Venditti and Frik Els)


Niobium pentoxide shows promise for speeding up charging of Li-ion batteries
Mon, 19 Sep 2022 14:28:00 +0000
Niobium pentoxide is a high-performance material with a novel crystalline structure for battery electrodes.

US-based researchers have created niobium pentoxide, a high-performance material with a novel crystalline structure for battery electrodes.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Materials, the scientists explain that the new material shows promise for speeding up the charging of lithium-ion batteries while providing excellent storage capacity.

The team points out that during charging, lithium ions move from the positive electrode to the negative electrode, commonly made of graphite. At higher charging speeds, lithium metal tends to accumulate on the graphite’s surface. This effect, known as plating, tends to degrade performance and can cause batteries to short circuit, overheat and catch on fire.

Niobium pentoxide, however, is much less susceptible to plating, potentially making it safer and more durable than graphite. In addition, its atoms can arrange in many different stable configurations that don’t require much energy to reconfigure.

Niobium pentoxide shows promise for speeding up charging of Li-ion batteries_1
Images produced by transmission electron microscopy verified the transformation of the electrode material from a disordered arrangement of atoms (left) to an ordered, crystalline structure (right). (Image courtesy of the Argonne National Laboratory).

For this study, the researchers built a coin cell – or a small, circular-shaped battery device- with niobium pentoxide as the electrode material. The niobium pentoxide had an amorphous structure—in other words, a disordered arrangement of atoms. When the cell was charged and discharged numerous times, the disordered structure transformed into an ordered, crystalline one. This particular structure had never been previously reported in the scientific literature.

Compared to the disordered arrangement, the crystalline structure enabled easier, faster transport of lithium ions into the anode during charging. This finding points to the material’s promise for fast charging, and other measurements suggest that it can store a large amount of charge.

Because of the complex changes during the charge-discharge cycle, several complementary diagnostic tools were needed for a comprehensive understanding.

From electron microscopy to synchrotron X-ray diffraction

Yuzi Liu, a scientist in Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials and one of the paper’s co-authors, used a technique called transmission electron microscopy to verify the structural transformation from amorphous to crystalline. This technique sends high-energy electron beams through a material sample. It creates digital images based on the interaction of the electrons with the sample. The images show how atoms are arranged.

“Since the electron beam is focused on a small area of the sample, the technique provides detailed information about that particular area,” Liu said in a media statement.

The scientist and his colleagues also used synchrotron X-ray diffraction to confirm the structural change. This technique involves hitting the sample with high-energy X-ray beams, which are scattered by the electrons of the atoms in the material. A detector measures this scattering to characterize the material’s structure.

According to Liu, X-ray diffraction is effective for providing information about overall structural changes across an entire material sample. This can be helpful in studying battery electrode materials because their structures tend to vary from one area to another.

Thus, by hitting the anode material with X-ray beams at different angles, it was possible to confirm that it was uniformly crystalline along the surface and in the interior.

Once this was done, the team used a tool called X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to evaluate the anode material. They shot X-ray beams into the anode, ejecting electrons from it with a certain energy.

The technique revealed that niobium atoms gain multiple electrons as the cell is charged. This suggests that the anode has a high storage capacity.

“It is very difficult to make the high performance, crystalline niobium pentoxide with traditional synthesis methods, such as those that subject materials to heat and pressure,” the media statement reads. “The unconventional synthesis approach used successfully in this study—charging and discharging a battery cell—could be applied to make other innovative battery materials. It could potentially even support fabrication of novel materials in other fields, such as semiconductors and catalysts.”


AngloGold Ashanti to buy Coeur Mining’s projects in Nevada for $150 million
Mon, 19 Sep 2022 13:03:00 +0000
The acquisition of Coeur's unit, Crown Sterling Inc, increases AngloGold's holding in Nevada's Beatty district.

South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) (JSE: ANG) is expanding its footprint in Nevada, US, with the acquisition of Coeur Mining’s (NYSE: CDE) subsidiary for $150 million cash.

The unit, Crown Sterling Inc, holds properties in Nevada immediately south of AngloGold’s assets. They are estimated to hold 914,000 ounces of gold. 

The assets include Coeur’s C-Horst, SNA, Secret Pass and Daisy operations, as well as the decommissioned Sterling mine and all tenements that surround the properties.

The bullion producer has agreed to pay Coeur an extra $50 million if further exploration results in a mineral resource greater than 3.5 million ounces.

The move increases AngloGold’s foothold in the Beatty district, in south-central Nevada, where it bought all projects held by Corvus Gold after the recent $370 million acquisition of the Canadian junior.

“The addition of these properties consolidates our ownership position in one of North America’s most promising new gold districts,” said AngloGold Ashanti chief executive officer Alberto Calderon.

Coeur Mining CEO Mitchell J. Krebs noted in a separate statement that AngloGold had consolidated a significant portion of the Beatty district, becoming “the logical operator of a future standalone mining operation” in the area.

Prior to this acquisition and with pending permits and studies already underway, AngloGold had anticipated first production in the Beatty district by 2025 and said those assets would produce about 300,000 ounces of gold a year, with an all in sustaining cost of less than $1,000 per ounce, by the end of the decade.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.


Lacklustre interest among youth a big problem for mining
Mon, 19 Sep 2022 13:01:00 +0000
As a career choice, mining has seen better times.

As a career choice, mining has seen better times.

Over the last several years, the focus of young people has drifted away from mining as they contemplate their careers and enter post-secondary education.

Mining, in fact, ranked last in a list of nine career sectors in an Abacus Data poll conducted in 2021 with the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR).

“We had Abacus Data poll 3,000 youth across the country on perceptions of work in different sectors,” said Ryan Montpellier, executive director of MiHR. “Only 11% of youth polled identified that they would be likely to work in the mining industry. We struggle at a base layer trying to attract youth to careers in the sector.”

Mining is among the least popular fields for young people in Canada, according to a Mining Industry Human Resources Council and Abacus Data poll. Mining Industry Human Resources Council image


The poll also found that 70% of youth polled “definitely” or “probably would not” consider pursuing mining. Health care, high tech and arts and culture were the top three most desirable sectors on the list.

Montpellier, who calls the currently tight labour market in mining “somewhat dire,” attributes the lacklustre interest in mining among young people to several factors.

One is that most mining jobs are in rural and remote areas where there aren’t enough people to support large, industrial projects.

“We’re seeing an exodus from rural Canada into more urban locations, where the mining jobs aren’t,” he said.

Another is that young people associate mining with images that are out of touch with how the industry actually works.

“A lot of the feedback that we received from youth about careers in mining is that they just had no clue,” Montpellier said. “Mining is not in their backyard. Their perceptions of careers in mining were dated. They were based on stereotypes from TV shows. So, we need to change that. There’s a communications issue there.”

He also thinks the image of mining presented to young people is too often only from an environmental activist perspective.

“[The MiHR is] trying to link what we value in society with the minerals and metals that we need. Everything that we have, be it electric vehicles, cell phones, transportation…all of that happens with minerals and metals, and Canada is quite fortunate that we have access to a rich array of minerals and metals. Our industry is extracting them in the most environmentally sustainable and stringent jurisdiction in the world. Canada is the place to do that.”

Increasing demand

The waning interest in mining comes at an awkward time as the industry will face increasing demand for labour and talent in the coming years.

The MiHR’s “Canadian Mining Labour Market Report”, published in 2020 said the mining industry will need about 79,680 new hires between 2020 and 2030 in its baseline employment outlook scenario, and 113,130 in an expansionary scenario.

Most of those required new hires will be needed to replace workers retiring from the industry.

The extraction and milling sub-sectors of mining are projected to experience hiring gaps in all occupational categories, with the largest shortages forecast in trades occupations (830 jobs) and all other occupations (1,630 jobs).

Responding to that report, Montpellier said that for some in-demand occupations the mining world needs to increase its share of heavy equipment operators and mechanics.

But for more mining-specific roles, he said he believes the industry needs to play a bigger role in helping the post-secondary education system attract more future miners.

One way it’s trying to do that is with its National Youth Mining Career Awareness Strategy to address perceptions about the industry and its We Need Mining, Mining Needs You campaign.

If efforts to draw more young people into the industry aren’t successful, Montpellier said talent will have to come from outside of Canada, a switch from the country’s traditional reputation as an “exporter of mining talent.”

“We’ve had people come here to work and then they go home with that expertise. But maybe there is more we can do to keep them here,” he said.

Promoting mining for youth, diverse candidates

Although three generations of his family have worked in mining, recent geology graduate Pierre-Olivier Leroux can understand why many young people aren’t gravitating towards the industry.  

What many youth today learn about mining reflects outdated perspectives, said Leroux, who graduated with a degree in geology from the University of Laval in Quebec City last May.

He now works as a mineral technology professor at Thetford Mines Cegep in Thetford, Quebec.

“When we hear about mining we hear about the vast amounts of money put into the projects and there’s always bad press about the environmental part. People have images from the 1970s and they think that things work the same way now but it’s not true,” he said, pointing to industry standards requiring miners to remediate sites once operations end.  

In addition to the environment, proper work-life balance is also very important for millennials, even more than high salaries, Leroux said.

That’s where he believes the industry can do more to meet the needs of future miners if the job entails going to the far north where the mines are.

“You really have to insist on how to accommodate someone who wants kids. It’s an issue.
Not all young mining professionals are the same. The (companies) should work with those potential candidates. They should ask them what would make them come here? But it’s a hard one for sure,” he said.

Montpellier also acknowledges that the industry needs to do more to attract people of colour, Indigenous people, new Canadians and especially women.

“We know it’s a challenge,” he said, noting that a 2022 report from MiHR found women made up only 16% of undergraduate mining engineering enrolments between 2016 and 2020. That puts the field in the bottom half of female representation in engineering, along with electrical, computer and mechanical; although metallurgical and geological engineering had higher enrolment rates.

Women’s representation in mining engineering programs has been among the lowest of engineering programs in Canada, the Mining Industry Human Resources Council found. Mining Industry Human Resources Council graphic


“You factor in the ageing workforce, remote mines, lack of diversity — it leads to a perfect storm of an extremely tight labour market and a historically low unemployment rate in our sector,” he said. “I think part of the solution here is changing the culture of the industry to make it more inclusive and open and attract more diverse talent. But also ensuring we’re attracting more diverse talent into the university system as well.”

While representation of women in mining engineering in recent years is relatively low, progress has made in recent decades.

Industry veteran Pat Dillon has witnessed important changes in her more than 32-year career in mining, which saw her become president of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) from 2006 to 2008 and was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2021.

She also serves as president and CEO of PDAC Mining Matters, an organization that has provided educational resources promoting mineral literacy to more than 800,000 students and teachers in Canada, in English, French and several Indigenous languages.

In a phone interview with The Northern Miner, Dillon noted that while mining disciplines have never attracted many female students, women made up as little as 4% of students around 20 years ago.

“I know when I was at school studying geology there were women in the earth sciences geological program but there were very few in mining engineering,” she noted about her time at the University of Toronto, where she earned a BSc in geology in 1974.  

“I’m not going to sugar coat it. There’s a long, long way to go.”

Dillon says she’s encouraged that the increasing representation of women in mining – however modest – will spur more women to enter the field because once they start seeing “like individuals” having success “people start thinking of the industry as a career more and more.”

Scope of the problem

Educational data further bears out the declining interest in mining.

Between 2010 and 2020, enrolment at all post-secondary levels across Canada for mining engineering programs rose from a low of 1,227 students in 2010/2011 to a high of 2,049 in 2014/2015, according to data from Statistics Canada. Enrolment then dipped to 1,311 in 2019/2020. Information for years preceding 2010 was not available.

Looking at the 2014 to 2020 period, Montpellier said a “clear pattern of a decline in total enrolment” is evident in mining engineering, with enrolment falling by 42%.

Montpellier also noted that while mining engineering enrolment declined in those years, more students were registering for other engineering fields.

StatsCan data shows that total enrolment numbers in engineering sat at 91,947 in 2010 and increased each subsequent year, reaching 131,613 in 2019/2020.

Although mining hasn’t had the lowest enrolment numbers out of all engineering fields — such as relatively niche fields like agricultural or marine engineering — many thousands of fewer students are signing up for mining than conventional fields like general engineering, chemical, civil, electrical or mechanical.

Graduation numbers in mining engineering are even lower. Between 2010 to 2019, the year with the lowest number of graduates was 2010 when 246 graduated. Numbers rose steadily to a high of 498 in 2016, then fell gradually to 393 in 2019.With geological and earth sciences, enrolment rates have been significantly higher than mining engineering.

Between 2010 and 2020, enrolment climbed from 5,775 in 2010 to its decade peak of 6,696 in 2014/2015, before declining to its lowest level of 4,797 in 2019/2020.  The number of students who ended up graduating in those fields has been noticeably lower. The decade opened at its lowest graduation level of 1,191, then climbed to 1,728 in 2017 before dipping to 1,386 in 2019.


Trevali CEO leaves after two managers convicted of involuntary manslaughter
Mon, 19 Sep 2022 10:54:00 +0000
Ricus Grimbeek resigned two days after a court in Burkina Faso found two employees connected to Trevali guilty.

Trevali Mining Corp.’s president and chief executive Ricus Grimbeek has left the company following a Burkina Faso court’s verdict that found two employees guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The convictions are related to a tragic incident at the Canadian company’s Perkoa mine in the West African nation caused by a flash flood in April, which trapped and killed eight miners.

South African national Hein Frey was fined $3,000 and given a suspended 24-month prison sentence. Australian Daryl Christensen, who worked for contracting company Byrnecut, was handed a 12-month suspended sentence and fined $1,500.

In addition to Grimbeek, former head of Vale’s Sudbury operations, Trevali’s chief operating officer Derek du Preez and director Dan Isserow also resigned, the company said in a press release late on September 16.

The struggling miner has also begun a court-approved sales process for its interest in the 90%-owned Rosh Pinah zinc-lead-silver mine, in Namibia, and its fully-owned Caribou mine in New Brunswick, Canada.

Unseasonal, heavy rainfall caused flash floods on April 16 that left eight workers missing underground at Perkoa.

Trevali spent the next two months pumping out about 137 million litres of water. Equipment had to be imported from other countries, including Ghana and South Africa, raising questions about how prepared for a disaster the company was.

The underground mine, which produced about 316.2 million pounds of zinc in 2021, has remained halted since the tragic incident and Trevali has suspended its production and cost guidance for 2022 for the operation.

Delisting

Earlier this month, the Vancouver-based company announced it was delisting from the Toronto Stock Exchange, effective Monday October 3 after close. The decision came after the company filed an application for creditor protection under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

CCAA allows companies to restructure and carry on their business while avoiding the “social and economic consequences of bankruptcy.”

Trading is also expected to stop on the Lima Stock Exchange, OTCQX and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.



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