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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Today News Headlines

IsoEnergy takes over Consolidated Uranium for top-tier spot in Saskatchewan, Utah
Wed, 27 Sep 2023 18:50:01 +0000
The agreement values the new IsoEnergy at C$903.5 million.

Canadian nuclear fuel project developer IsoEnergy (TSXV: ISO) is taking over Consolidated Uranium (TSXV: CUR) in an all-stock deal elevating it into the sector’s top-10 publicly traded companies.

The agreement values the new IsoEnergy at C$903.5 million and gives it a pipeline of properties in Canada, the United States, Australia and Argentina, the companies said on a conference call on Wednesday.

The projects include IsoEnergy’s Hurricane, the world’s highest grade indicated uranium resource in Canada’s Athabasca Basin and Consolidated’s fully-permitted and past-producing Tony M and Daneros mines in Utah among others, they said.

This month, uranium prices broke the $60 a lb. mark for the first time in a dozen years as the industry recuperates from the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and countries consider expanding nuclear power for its lower impact on climate change than fossil fuels. Western nations are also searching for local fuel suppliers as sanctions on Russia and a July coup in Niger impact the market.

“We really do believe that we are building a company that is built for this current uranium market,” IsoEnergy president and CEO Tim Gabruch said on the call. “It’s really exciting to be bringing them together with the assets in Consolidated which are fully permitted conventional uranium mines in the US that are ready for rapid restart.”

The deal is expected to close in December. IsoEnergy is helping fund it by raising as much as C$24.1 million from issuing subscription receipts, which may be turned into shares later, to NexGen Energy (TSX: NXE; NYSE: NXE; ASX: NXG), Mega Uranium (TSX: MGA) and Energy Fuels (TSX: EFR; NYSE: UUUU).

Utah mines

The new IsoEnergy will advance Consolidated’s Tony M, Daneros and Rim past-producing mines in Utah, but their start-ups will take about a year, Consolidated chairman and CEO Philip Williams said. Energy Fuels must complete refurbishing the local White Mesa mill and the uranium price needs to hit an acceptable level between $75-$80 per lb., he said.

“It’d be a function of the uranium price as much as anything but also the time it takes to turn that mill back on,” said Williams, who will be CEO of the new company. “I think we’re about 12 months out.”

Hurricane, IsoEnergy’s main asset, is among 20 projects it holds in the Athabasca Basin of northern Saskatchewan. It is assessing technical aspects before starting a preliminary economic assessment of the project in the “not-too-distant-future,” said Gabruch, who will be president of the new company. Crews conducted geophysical studies, drilled 6,000 metres of exploratory work across the district this year and are assessing further work, he said.

Hurricane holds 48.6 million indicated lb. of uranium oxide (U3O8) based on 63,800 tonnes grading 34.5% U3O8, including 43.9 million lb. of U3O8 at an average grade of 52.1% U3O8, IsoEnergy reported in 2022. Inferred resources were 2.7 million lb. of U3O8 based on 54,300 tonnes grading 2.2% U3O8, it said.

Virginia ban

The Consolidated assets also face headwinds in Virginia, location of the Coles Hill project, which it calls the largest undeveloped uranium site in the US with 160 million lb. of uranium across the indicated and inferred categories. A state moratorium on uranium mining since the 1980s is being challenged by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, but the state Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2021.

In Quebec, Consolidated’s Matoush property, which the company called the highest-grade project in the world outside of the Athabasca Basin with 12.3 million indicated lb. and 16.4 million inferred lb. at 0.95% U3O8, faces opposition from the local First Nations community. Also, the new company sees its Argentine assets as non-core.

“Australia is going to be a key part of our strategy,” Williams said. “Argentina we like as well, but it doesn’t stand up with Australia, Canada and the US as a key focus.”

In the deal, Consolidated shareholders get half a common share of IsoEnergy for each share of Consolidated Uranium they own. IsoEnergy and Consolidated shareholders will own about 70.5% and 29.5% of the new company, respectively.

Shares in IsoEnergy fell 12% to C$4.24 apiece in Toronto on Wednesday, within a 52-week window of C$2.32 and C$4.97, valuing the company at C$473.8 million. 

Consolidated Uranium shares rose 8.4% to C$2.07 apiece, within a 52-week range of C$1.10 and C$2.20, giving the company a market capitalization of C$208.1 million.

Williams said the new company wouldn’t shy away from acquisitions.

“We’re also going to continue to be very busy on the M&A front,” Williams said. “This is very much a skill set and expertise of our company that we bring here and don’t be surprised if we add as we go here from this enhanced platform.”

Gabruch noted several staff positions are filled with 40-year industry veterans, while the market was turning positive for the industry, if a bit complicated.

“There’s certainly significant geopolitical shifts underway in the supply of uranium, most notably with Russia and the invasion of Ukraine,” he said. “It’s really resulting in a bifurcation of the uranium market with different influences on supply coming from Russia, Kazakhstan and how the material gets fed into key parts of the nuclear industry.”

Northisle stock surges to highest in a year on near-surface gold hits
Wed, 27 Sep 2023 17:18:17 +0000
The 33,000-hectare North Island property hosts a number of porphyry copper and gold occurrences at varying stages of development.

Northisle Copper and Gold’s (TSXV: NCX) drilling campaign is returning impressive results at its North Island project near Port Hardy, British Columbia, with the latest assays representing one of the best recorded on the property.

The 2023 drill program, which is divided into two phases, focuses on the Northwest Expo target. Drill hole NW23-13 from Phase 1 intersected 130 metres of 1.65 g/t gold and 0.33% copper, including a 72-metre interval grading 2.22 g/t gold and 0.41% copper that also contains a 15-metre interval of 3.42 g/t gold and 1.15% copper.

This result, according to the Vancouver-based miner, was the highest grade and thickness drilled at Northwest Expo to date within 65 metres of surface. Phase 2 of drilling commenced earlier this month, with results pending.

By 1:10 p.m. EDT Wednesday, the company’s stock had risen by 29.7% to C$0.24 apiece, having hit a 15-month high of C$0.29 earlier in the session. Its market capitalization is around C$50 million.

“We once again have drilled one of the best ever holes drilled on the property at NW23-13. The 2023 drill program continues to yield gold grades that are much higher than what is typically found in copper porphyries globally,” Northisle CEO Sam Lee said in a news release.

“The potential implications of this program are enormous for our project as we continue to intercept exceptionally high gold grades, near surface, within this extensive porphyry system. Having leverage to both gold and copper sets us apart from our peer group,” Lee added.

The 33,000-hectare North Island property hosts a number of porphyry copper and gold occurrences at varying stages of development. These include the advanced-stage Hushamu and Red Dog deposits, the early-stage Pemberton Hills and the NW Expo targets, as well as several additional porphyry occurrences along a 50-kilometre trend.

Resources, based solely on the Hushamu and Red Dog areas, are estimated at 527 million indicated tonnes grading 0.24 gram gold and 0.2% copper and 417 million inferred tonnes grading 0.18 gram gold and 0.15% copper.

Gold price down 1% with higher Fed rate bets supporting dollar
Wed, 27 Sep 2023 16:00:55 +0000
On the flip side, gold continued to find some support from robust physical demand.

Gold extended declines for the third straight session on Wednesday as appeal for the safe-haven metal took a hit from bets that the Federal Reserve may keep interest rates elevated.

Spot gold was down 1.0% to $1,881.62 per ounce by 11:45 a.m. EDT, its lowest in over a month. US gold futures also declined 1.0%, trading at exactly $1,900.00 per ounce.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

Meanwhile, the US Dollar Index gained 0.3%, as prospects of higher-for-longer rates have sent investors scurrying to the safety of the US currency instead.

Further hammering appetite for the non-yielding bullion, Treasury yields also remained near 16-year highs.

“As long as the narrative remains higher-for-longer, it’s going to continue pressuring precious metals,” said Ryan McKay, commodity strategist at TD Securities, adding the break below the $1,900 mark also triggered technical selling.

Investors now turn their attention to the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, which is due on Friday.

“If the (inflation) data continues to come in stronger, that will be another thing that continues to weigh on gold,” McKay added.

However, “If the inflation number falls, we could see some support coming to gold and the expectation of tightening monetary policy could dampen a bit,” ANZ analyst Soni Kumari told Reuters.

A “soft landing” for the US economy is more likely than not, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said on Tuesday, but there’s also a 40% chance that the Fed will need to raise rates “meaningfully” to beat inflation.

On the flip side, gold continued to find some support from robust physical demand, especially from central banks and in China, although “the near-term dynamics are certainly the Fed,” TD’s McKay said.

(With files from Reuters)

Read More: China’s gold prices surge, hitting a record against the world

Next generation of Indigenous water treatment plant operators graduates
Wed, 27 Sep 2023 13:52:00 +0000
The graduates completed the paid training program to obtain entry-level certifications required to begin their careers in water treatment.

Last Friday, 12 new Indigenous water treatment plant operators graduated from the program offered by Mamaweswen the North Shore Tribal Council and Water First Education and Training in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. They earned certification as operators-in-training after 15 months of the drinking water internship program.

Sustainable access to safe, clean water in Indigenous communities in Canada continues to be a critical issue. The graduates completed the paid training program to obtain entry-level certifications required to begin their careers in water treatment. As qualified, local personnel, they bring technical skills and capacity to communities to ensure access to safe, clean drinking water for the long-term.

Over the course of the program, each intern accumulated 1,800 hours of on-the-job experience in water treatment plants, which is a part of the water operator-in-training certification process. Interns also pursued additional water operator certification exams including water quality analyst and the entry-level course for drinking water operators, as well as other technical training like GIS and water sampling which can lead to work in water treatment and the environmental water field.

Following graduation, interns join the Water First Alumni Network to stay engaged, build local networks and access opportunities for ongoing professional development and peer support.

The North Shore Tribal Council drinking water internship program began in June 2022, and the recent graduation marks the fourth successful internship program completed to date. The program was funded through the North Shore Tribal Council member First Nations employment and training program, together with the support of Water First’s donors. A fifth internship program is underway with Ogemawahj Tribal Council and another internship is soon to be launched for the first time in Manitoba.

Water First has collaborated with 37 First Nations communities through the drinking water internship where interns have worked approximately 98,000 hours in their local water plants. To date, 46 interns have graduated from the program.

Learn more about the program here.

Ford halts work on $3.5bn EV battery plant with CATL
Wed, 27 Sep 2023 12:33:00 +0000
Ford is facing its second week of strikes from workers and continued scrutiny about the battery plant from US Congress.

Ford has pressed the pause button on its $3.5 billion battery plant in the northern US state of Michigan, only seven months after launching the project with China’s CATL.

The decision comes as the US top car producer faces a major strike that is also affecting the other two “Big Three” manufacturers, General Motors and Stellantis.

Ford’s facility has faced difficulties since the project was announced. The company’s partnership with the Chinese battery firm is being probed by Republican lawmakers on potential issues around American jobs, technology sharing and links to forced labour.

In a recent letter, the chairs of three US House of Representatives committees demanded Ford hand over documents related to its partnership with CATL and threatened to call on CEO Jim Farley to testify before Congress.

There is also uncertainty around how the US Treasury Department will interpret requirements in President Joe Biden’s signature climate package, the Inflation Reduction Act. The law is designed to withhold consumer tax credits for EVs made with a certain amount of China-linked materials in their batteries.

Beijing is conducting it own investigations into venture capital firms’ Chinese tech investments, announced after four US lawmakers travelled to Detroit to press the CEOs of Ford and General Motors Co. to cut their supply chains’ reliance on China.

Ford is targeting a production rate of 600,000 EVs a year in 2024, it said in July. It previously said it would reach that goal by the end of this year.

The auto industry industry is investing tens of billions of dollars to adapt factories to produce EVs and batteries in one of the sector’s biggest-ever manufacturing switch.

The hefty sums required to make these changes happen mean that the EV business so far remains unprofitable for many automakers.

Ford said it expects its EV business to lose about $4.5 billion this year.

Microsoft to get carbon removal credits from biochar project
Wed, 27 Sep 2023 12:05:00 +0000
Producing biological charcoal and burying it in soils is a way of storing carbon for centuries.

Microsoft has engaged Canada’s carbon credit streaming and royalty company Carbon Streaming Corporation (NEO: NETZ) for the provision of carbon removal credits from the Waverly Biochar project in Waverly, Virginia. 

The Waverly Biochar project, which is being developed by Restoration Bioproducts, involves the construction of a biochar production facility located at a wood pellet manufacturer.

Biochar, short for biological charcoal, is produced by heating biomass, that is, organic feedstocks such as wood, peanut shells, manure and crop waste, in the near or total absence of oxygen, resulting in a very stable form of carbon that prevents the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for centuries, making it valuable for sequestration purposes. This process is known as pyrolysis.

Producing biochar and burying it in soils is a way of storing carbon for centuries. According to Project Drawdown, biochar could scale to sequester between 1.36–3.00 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2050, equivalent to between two and four and a half years of Canada’s 2021 carbon emissions.

The Waverly initiative is expected to deliver up to 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide removal credits per year towards Microsoft’s carbon-negative target.

“We’re pleased to work with Carbon Streaming to support the development of biochar as a carbon removal approach through the Waverly Biochar project,” Brian Marrs, senior director of energy and carbon for Microsoft, said in a media statement. “Carbon Streaming’s capacity to provide project-level finance is an important part of scaling this industry and it ensures we can focus on procuring carbon removal from high-quality projects.”

Carbon Streaming said that its approach provides capital to project developers, enabling them to accelerate their projects. This also benefits corporations using carbon credits as part of their climate strategies. Rather than having to provide upfront capital to climate projects, corporations can instead commit to purchasing the verified removal upon issuance. 

“This relationship between Carbon Streaming, project developers and corporate end users aims to remove a key barrier to corporate action – the internal ability to invest upfront,” the Ontario-based firm noted in the press release.

Climate targets threatened by lack of mining investment: McKinsey
Wed, 27 Sep 2023 10:50:00 +0000
Report reveals looming shortages of minerals key to the energy transition as low commodity prices cause investors and miners to cut spending.

Soaring demand for metals and minerals needed to achieve a reduction in global emissions, paired with low commodity prices driving investors and mining firms to cut spending are set to cause major shortages of key elements for the world’s energy transition, a new report shows.

According to consultancy McKinsey & Company, looming supply gaps for rare earths, lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt, boron and copper could lead to higher prices and market volatility, hindering emissions goals.

To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C, as planned by the Paris Agreement in 2015, emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

The analysis, published on Wednesday, forecasts shortages of 20% to 50% across some rare-earth metals and minerals essential for renewables, power grids and EV batteries. The message is as clear it is old: the world needs mining.

Source: “The trading opportunity that could create resilience in materials”. McKinsey & Company, September 2023.

It is anticipated that EV batteries and chargers alone may consume over 50% of all available cobalt and rare-earth elements and 36% of nickel resources by 2030. 

The number of the roughly 500 cobalt, copper, lithium and nickel mines operating today will need to increase by as much as 76% to almost 900 in order to meet demand for batteries, analysts wrote.

McKinsey’s report highlights that recycling could only account for 10% of supply for minerals such as copper, lithium, and nickel by 2040 and potential substitute materials are still nascent.

The consultancy also reveals how increasing demand for those materials is creating a trading opportunity, with a more than 170% growth in commodity trading value pools for metals in just three years.

“Our analysis shows commodity trading pools have nearly doubled year over year, reaching nearly $100 billion in 2022 and metals and minerals will make up an increasing share of the value pool in the coming years,” said Roland Rechtsteiner, partner at McKinsey.

Yet investors are currently reducing funding for new mining projects due to low commodities prices and long lead times for new mines, exacerbating supply chain shortages for green technologies, Rechtsteiner noted.

One of the reasons that could explain this trend, associate partner at McKinsey Spencer Holmes said, is several proposed mines involve new technologies or inexperienced companies. There also are environmental, social, governance (ESG) and permitting barriers, he said.

Source: “The trading opportunity that could create resilience in materials”. McKinsey & Company, September 2023.

McKinsey suggests three paths to help companies shore up their positions and find new opportunities. 

Large energy firms could help address the renewable supply chain shortage at source by expanding into metals and minerals. 

Traders could accelerate development by pre-financing junior mines and helping producers gain access to markets. 

Metals and minerals producers, in turn, could encourage long-term supply deals to pre-finance projects.

McKinsey’s analysis echoes a growing list of reports highlighting the need for increased investment in critical minerals and in technologies that allow the recovery of commodities from existing products, such as recycling.

BHP partners with Indspire to support Indigenous education in Canada
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 21:15:19 +0000
Over three years, Indspire, a national charity that provides bursaries and scholarships to Indigenous students will receive $1.9m.

BHP announced Tuesday a three-year C$2.6 million ($1.9m) partnership with Indspire, a national charity in Canada that provides bursaries and scholarships to Indigenous students pursuing post-secondary education and training.

The partnership, the world’s biggest miner said, will enable Indspire to expand its Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships and Awards program, which provides hundreds of students every year with post-secondary bursaries.

The funding will also support multi-year travel grants for two events for Indigenous students and educators – Soaring, Indigenous Youth Empowerment Gathering and the National Gathering for Indigenous Education.

The investment aligns with BHP’s Indigenous peoples policy, social value framework and its aspirations in Canada to have 20% Indigenous representation across the operational workforce once the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan begins production in 2026.

“BHP’s expanded commitment to Indspire’s Building Brighter Futures bursaries and scholarships program is a meaningful commitment to empowering First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students across the country to achieve their educational goals,” Indspire CEO Mike DeGagné said in the statement.

“Their support for Soaring and the National Gathering will help us to create even wider circles of community, shaping meaningful change from the classroom to the boardroom,” he said.

“The work Indspire is doing to break down barriers and create new opportunities for Indigenous students in Canada is critical to a more inclusive, equitable and successful future for all,” Caroline Cox, BHP’s chief legal, governance and external affairs officer, added.

The next phase of the program will launch in November and run through to 2025.

BHP to make Peru the ‘protagonist’ of its South American exploration strategy
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 21:10:51 +0000
The company will make an investment of $12 million to redouble its efforts in Peru.
Carlos Ávila speaking at PERUMIN 36 on Tuesday. Credit: Perumin

Global miner BHP has eyes on making Peru the main protagonist of its South American exploration strategy and is set to double down on its investment in the world’s second-largest copper nation.

Speaking at the PERUMIN conference taking place in Arequipa this week, Carlos Ávila, president of non-operated assets for BHP Minerals Americas, indicated that the company will make an investment of $12 million to redouble its efforts in Peru.

This investment, according to Ávila, will be used to identity future deposits that will supply the growing demand for copper in the world. BHP currently has about a dozen exploration projects underway in six regions of the country, with varying degrees of progress.

The most promising of those is Jatun Orcco, in Huancavelica, which recently advanced to the drilling phase. This became the first BHP project to reach this stage in five years, Ávila noted. In addition, he specified that the company is ready to begin baseline work on various projects in the Apurímac region, where it already has the approval from local communities for the start of work.

However, Ávila maintained that “Peru’s mining potential is enormous, but the country’s privileged conditions are not a guarantee of success and it must be recognized that what worked in the past is not a recipe for the future.”

In that sense, he told those attending the Challenges and Opportunities in the Andean Region conference that the conditions to successfully develop a safe and sustainable mining business include legal certainty and a fast and efficient permitting process.

Accompanying the exploration projects, Ávila pointed out that more than a million dollars have been invested in social initiatives in Peru that directly benefit the surrounding communities, benefiting more than 2,600 people in Huacavelica and Arequipa. One of the initiatives is Enseña Perú, which seeks to provide a better education for children in these two regions.

On the topic of inclusion, he stated that BHP has set a global goal of achieving a gender balance in its operations. By the end of 2023, about 36% of the workforce will be made up of women, Ávila estimated.

British Columbia gov’t rejects exploration permit application based on Indigenous opposition
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 19:53:55 +0000
The permit was for the Torr Metals' Latham copper-gold claim north of the Red Chris mine.

The British Columbia government has rejected an application for an exploration permit for a copper-gold deposit in the Golden Triangle of Northeastern BC, according to the Tahltan First Nation, which objected to the permit being issued.

The permit in question was for the Torr Metals Inc. (TSXV: TMET) Latham copper-gold claim in Northeastern BC, north of the Red Chris mine.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation confirmed to BIV News that the permit has been denied.

“The decision maker conducted a comprehensive review of the application, which included a number of different factors, including the potential impacts on Tahltan interests,” the ministry said in a statement. “After careful consideration, the application was rejected.”

In a news release, the Tahltan Central Government (TCG), Iskut Band, and Tahltan Band say they acknowledge the decision by the province to deny the permit, based on the Tahltan’s objections.

The Tahltan are generally supportive of mining, and in fact have their own business interests in mining, but objected to the Latham project because it is in an area of Gnat Pass that the nation considers to be culturally sensitive.

“The province’s decision to reject Torr’s permit application follows on the heels of a Tahltan decision that also rejected the project,” the Tahltan Central Government said in its news release.

“Tahltan Nation considers the province’s decision to be consistent with Tahltan opposition to Torr’s proposed project and supportive of Tahltan Nation’s exercise of its inherent jurisdiction over all lands and waters in Tahltan Territory.

“While this decision is a victory for Tahltan Nation, much remains to be done. Nearly 24,000 coal, mineral, and placer claims have been issued historically in Tahltan territory by the province without Tahltan consent. This raises serious concerns about the outdated approach to mineral tenure staking under the province’s deeply colonial Mineral Tenure Act.”

“As Canadian law moves towards the standard of free, prior, and informed consent, as recognized by British Columbia’s enactment of DRIPA (Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act), Tahltan Nation expects that the province will take steps to ensure that mining companies are not granted any further permits or interests within Tahltan Territory without Tahltan consent.”

Torr Metals did not respond to a request for comment from BIV News. The Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) issued a statement supporting the decision to reject the permit.

“Indigenous participation is central to successful mineral exploration in British Columbia,” Keerit Jutla, the AME’s new CEO, said in a statement to BIV News.

“At AME, we encourage our members to engage early and often with Indigenous nations when exploration is proposed on their traditional territory. AME continues to act as strong advocates for the mineral exploration industry in modernization processes that respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples while maintaining the objectives of shared benefit from unlocking the minerals and metals necessary for everyday life.”

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

Vale and Port of Açu sign deal for potential low-carbon iron ore complex
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 16:33:56 +0000
The plan is to develop a hot briquette iron plant that would make high iron content compact bricks to supply steel mills.

Vale (NYSE: VALE) and Latin America’s largest port have signed an agreement to study the potential construction of a facility in Rio de Janeiro state that would produce low-carbon iron ore products.

The plan is to develop a hot briquette iron (HBI) plant that would make high iron content compact bricks to supply steel mills.

The use of HBI in blast furnaces can decrease greenhouse gas emissions by about 25%, with even greater potential reductions along the supply chain.

The complex with at least one plant could attract $1 billion for the construction of an HBI plant, and start operating at the port by 2028 with an annual HBI output capacity of around 2.5 million metric tons, according to Prumo Logistica, the firm that runs the Port of Açu.

The industrial complex should initially receive pellets from Vale.

“We already have a letter of intent from HBI buyers in Brazil (that) already justifies more than one plant, perhaps two plants in Brazil,” Rogerio Zampronha, the chief executive of Prumo Logistica, told Reuters.

He added that another letter of intent will likely to be signed “soon.”

The HBI production would likely be powered by natural gas in a project led by Norway’s Equinor possibly serving as a key supplier of the fuel, according to Prumo.

K92 extends Trafigura partnership with $100 million loan, longer offtake
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 16:27:40 +0000
The company expects first drawdown to occur in early to mid-Q4 2023.

K92 Mining (TSX: KNT) has solidified its financial position by securing a $100 million loan from global commodities trader Trafigura, with whom it has an offtake agreement for the copper/gold concentrates produced at the Kainantu mine in Papua New Guinea.

The loan, which will be secured against K92’s PNG assets, has a four-year term from the date which the first advance of funds are made. The company expects first drawdown to occur in early to mid-Q4 2023. Currently, K92 has a cash balance of $95.6 million and no debt.

In addition, the offtake agreement with Trafigura has been extended for an additional seven consecutive calendar years, beginning January 1, 2026, or until a minimum quantity of 600,000 dry metric tons of concentrate have been delivered to Trafigura.

“We are extremely pleased to be expanding our partnership with Trafigura, with a $100 million loan and amended offtake agreement. Trafigura has been our offtake partner since the start of operations at the Kainantu gold mine, and these agreements reinforce our strong relationship with Trafigura,” K92 CEO John Lewins said in a news release.

He added that the Trafigura loan combined with the company’s cash holdings “effectively finances” the growth capital outlined in the integrated development plan for both the Stage 3 DFS and Stage 4 cases highlighted in the preliminary economic study.

These staged expansions, according to Lewins, would transform Kainantu into a Tier 1 producer with run-rate production of 300,000 oz. and 470,000 oz. gold-equivalent per annum, respectively. The company previously noted that the processing capacity would increase by 140% and 240% respectively under the two cases.

“Importantly, the loan enables K92 to more confidently invest and potentially increase exploration activities while completing the major production expansions,” Lewins said.

The Kainantu property comprises an 830-sq.-km land package in PNG’s Eastern Highlands province, hosting several highly prospective vein field and porphyry targets that are being drill tested.

Shares of K92 Mining traded 2.1% higher at $5.95 apiece by 12:25 p.m. in Toronto. The company has a market capitalization of C$1.4 billion ($1bn).

ON THE MOVE: Mining management and board changes
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 16:00:00 +0000
The monthly publication tracks management and board appointments across Canada’s mining and mineral exploration industry.

The September edition of our On the Move newsletter is now available. The monthly publication tracks management and board appointments across Canada’s mining and mineral exploration industry.

To view a copy of the newsletter, click here.

Keep us up to date on your company’s latest appointments and achievements by emailing us at editor@canadianminingjournal.com or sign up for the free newsletter.

Glencore bought at least 5,000t of Russian copper via Turkey – report
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 15:41:22 +0000
The Financial Times reported the metal was sold by UAE-based entity Haldivor Energy and exported through Turkey to Italy’s Livorno port.

Glencore purchased at least 5,000 tonnes of Russian copper that were traded through Turkey to Italy in July, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The metal made by Russia’s Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC) was reportedly sold by UAE-based entity Haldivor Energy and purchased by the trading giant, and exported through Turkey to Italy’s Livorno port.

There are currently no sanctions in place for purchasing Russian metals, but there are restrictions on sourcing these metals from certain specific producers and oligarchs.

For UMMC, the UK and EU have only placed sanctions on executives, not the company itself.

“This transaction represents the final part of a contract that was in place before the war in Ukraine broke out and is in line with our policy regarding Russian business activities that was put in place at the end of March 2022,” a spokesperson for Glencore said in a statement.

“Glencore has undertaken no new business with UMMC since the outbreak of the war.”

The company has longstanding ties in Russia. Its former chief executive Ivan Glasenberg was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin in 2017 after The Qatar Investment Authority and Glencore bought a 19.5% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft for more than €10 billion.

In recent months, Glencore has also deposited tens of thousands of tonnes of Russian aluminum in LME-registered warehouses.

Brazil’s Mura people back Amazon potash mine
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 14:53:00 +0000
Based on consultations, several hundred Mura people voted in support of the project being constructed and operated by Brazil Potash’s local unit Potássio do Brasil.

Canada’s Brazil Potash has scored a key win in its battle to build its $2.5bn Autazes project in the state of Amazonas as the local indigenous Mura people have voted in favour of the development, the company’s CEO Matt Simpson told MINING.COM.

While the miner’s Autazes project is not located on indigenous land, there are two reserves within 10 km of the project that had a legal right to be consulted.  Following set protocols, Mura leaders decided which tribes would be consulted, under what format and what would be the vote support threshold.  

“Ultimately they decided to consult with 35 tribes ranging from those located close to the project site to some being over 70 km away in a series of gatherings during which the Mura learned about the project, its impacts on their way of life and opportunities to improve their wellness,” Simpson explained.

Based on these consultations, several hundred Mura people voted in support of the project being constructed and operated by Brazil Potash’s local unit Potássio do Brasil.

“This is a major milestone achievement in the project’s development as it clearly demonstrates respect for the Mura’s wishes,” Simpson said.

Brazil Potash still requires the country’s Indigenous people’s agency (FUNAI) to complete their review of the company’s Indigenous Consultation Study (ECI) being the second last item required prior to being granted a construction licence, which the Mura have approved as part of recent consultations.

“Having this free, prior, and informed Mura vote sends a clear and positive message to FUNAI that the Mura wishes are to have the project built, permits to be issued and to not demarcate the lands required to extract potash as being indigenous owned,” Brazil Potash said.

A fifth of Brazil’s potash needs

The proposed mine and processing facilities in Autazes, 75 miles (120 kms) southeast of the capital of Amazonas state, Manaus, would require about three years to build.

The project, to be built on low density cattle farm land, is expected to begin production in 2026, with an initial output sufficient to cover about 20% of Brazil’s potash needs. Project capacity is pegged at 2.2 million tonnes of potassium chloride per year, according to the company.

Potash is a vital commodity in Brazil, and there are several potential projects in a 400-km belt south of the Amazon which the government hopes will end its almost complete reliance on imports of the material.

The majority of potash used in Brazil comes from mines in Canada, the world’s number one producer, and Russia. Russia and Belarus jointly account for about 41% of global potash exports – but disruptions spurred importer countries to find other suppliers.

CarbonScape gets $18 million cash injection to deliver biographite to Europe, US
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 13:25:00 +0000
New Zealand-based CarbonScape produces biographite, a carbon-negative alternative to the critical material for lithium-ion batteries.

New Zealand-based battery material innovator CarbonScape, the first-to-market producer of biographite, received an investment of $18 million led by renewable products provider Stora Enso, global lithium-ion battery innovator ATL and other strategic partners.

In a press release, the company said that the cash injection will support the commercialization in Europe and the US of biographite, a carbon-negative alternative to the critical material for Li-ion batteries. The goal is to also establish production plants on both continents.

According to CarbonScape, its patented process is the result of seven years of development and testing and uses timber and forestry industry by-products, such as wood chips. It is a sustainable alternative to synthetic or petroleum-based and natural or mined graphite.

The black/grey mineral makes up to 50% of the weight of a lithium-ion battery and, as a result, over half of global demand for graphite now comes from the battery sector.

Graphite production, however, is also one of the largest CO2 emitters in the raw battery materials supply chain and represents a significant proportion of the cost of energy storage devices.

“CarbonScape’s biographite enables the establishment of localized battery supply chains from the ground up. If we are to truly move away from fossil carbon and power our economies through mass electrification, we urgently need sustainable alternatives like biographite to scale quickly,” Ivan Williams, CEO of CarbonScape, said.

“This investment represents a strong statement of support for sustainable sourcing of battery materials for global decarbonization. With these partnerships, CarbonScape is another step closer to bringing biographite to market on a commercial scale.”

Williams emphasized that biographite has a carbon-negative footprint, saving up to 30 tonnes of CO2 emissions per tonne of material compared to synthetic or mined graphite.

“Using biographite will enable battery manufacturers to cut the carbon footprint of each battery by almost a third, potentially reducing sector emissions by more than 86 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030,” the executive said.
CarbonScape’s CEO also pointed out that to meet the demand for batteries with synthetic graphite would require more than tripling existing production capacity, using fossil fuel feedstocks and high-emission processes. To use mined graphite, on the other hand, would require almost 100 new mines, each taking around 10 years or more to come online and costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

“By contrast, using less than 5% of the forestry industry by-product generated annually in Europe and North America, CarbonScape’s cleaner, faster process could produce enough biographite to meet half the total global projected graphite demand for EV and grid-scale batteries by 2030,” he said.

“Crucially, biographite production can be localized to EV and battery manufacturing hubs, vertically integrating domestic and regional supply chains. This reduces geopolitical risk as countries compete for minerals and as mineral producers seek a greater share of the value.”

Cornish Lithium raises $6.2m to support UK project
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 12:36:00 +0000
Funds were secured through a crowdfunding campaign, the largest of its kind any company has undertaken in the UK this year.

British start-up Cornish Lithium has raised £5.1 million (about $6.2m) through a crowdfunding campaign, one of the largest of its kind any company has undertaken in the UK this year.

The amount collected also makes the campaign the largest on Crowdcube by a B2B business in 2023, according to the company.

Cornish said that existing shareholders received priority access to the financing round with Crowdcube, investing a milestone £1 million ($1.2m) in just 27 minutes.

The crowdfunding was launched in early September to provide Cornish Lithium’s existing shareholders, as well as new retail shareholders, the opportunity to invest alongside the $67 million granted by the UK Infrastructure Bank, the Energy and Minerals Group and TechMet.

The investment package, together with the funds raised through the crowdfunding, will enable Cornish to progress its hard rock lithium Trelavour project to a construction-ready status. It will also help completing the engineering design work required to build a demonstration-scale geothermal waters extraction facility.

The company plans to extract lithium from hard rock in a repurposed clay pit at Cornwall, southwest England.  Its intention is to produce about 8,000 tonnes per year of battery-grade lithium hydroxide.

The Trelavour hard rock lithium project comprises an open pit mine of lithium enriched granite and processing facilities that will yield concentrate of lithium-bearing mica. Lithium hydroxide will then be produced from the mica concentrate at an industrial site near the mine.

According to a scoping study, financed with help from the UK’s Automotive Transformation Fund and the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the Trelavour mine would produce 25 million tonnes per annum.

Operational life is pegged at 20 years, during which it would generate an average of 7,800 tonnes of lithium hydroxide a year.

Securing domestic lithium sources

Cornish Lithium had hoped to begin production by 2026, which would have allowed it to take advantage of the European Union’s current push to rebuild its automotive supply chains around battery metals and foster the adoption of EVs.

Another company is also eying Cornwall for its battery metals ambitions. British Lithium teamed up with France’s Imerys (FRA: IY4) in June to start a mine able to produce enough lithium to power 500,000 EVs a year by the end of the decade.

The UK doesn’t have lithium operations, which means all its needs are met by supply from the world’s top producers of the metal — Australia and Chile. 

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic has said that by 2025, large-scale battery plants currently under construction will produce cells to power at least six million EVs.

British carmakers have additional pressure, as the government has vowed to stop the sale of new diesel and gasoline vehicles by 2035.

CleanTech Lithium to kick off production at second Chile mine in 2027
Tue, 26 Sep 2023 10:39:00 +0000
The company will progress project development in stages and begin production one year after its more advanced Laguna Verde opens in 2026.

Chile-focused CleanTech Lithium (AIM: CTL) said on Tuesday that results of a recently completed scoping study of its Francisco Basin project confirmed the asset’s forecast potential and estimated production start in 2027.

The lithium junior said the project, located close to its Laguna Verde asset, is slated to produce 20,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate annually for 12 years, utilizing direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology.

Net cashflow after tax and royalties is estimated at $2.5 billion over the full production period, with operating costs of $3,641 per tonne of lithium carbonate and capital expenditure of $450 million.

The scoping study supports the potential for Francisco Basin to become a major supplier of battery grade lithium to the European and US markets, CleanTech said.

The next step will be a resource drill program starting in the final quarter of the year, with the intention of upgrading the resource estimate, which could extend the project’s lifespan, the company said.

“Francisco Basin is our second project which is being developed on a schedule one year behind our more advanced Laguna Verde project,” chief executive Aldo Boitano said in the statement. “Combining the two scoping studies means we have a total net present value of nearly $3 billion and an internal rate of return of more than 43% for each project.”

Laguna Verde and Francisco Basin are CleanTech Lithium’s flagship projects. The company also owns the Llamara greenfield project, located about 600km to the north of Laguna and Francisco. This asset is in the Pampa del Tamarugal basin, which is one of the largest basins in the famed lithium triangle.

Chile is the world’s top copper producer and the second-largest producer of lithium. Both metals are considered vital commodities for the global transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

Global demand for lithium, according to the country’s government projections, will quadruple by 2030, reaching 1.8 million tonnes. Available supply by then is expected to sit at 1.5 million tonnes. 

European Raw Materials Alliance, Greenland Resources partner on Malmbjerg molybdenum project
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 23:42:04 +0000
Cross-regional mining initiative aims for a secure and sustainable European raw materials value chain.

The European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) and Greenland Resources have announced they are collaborating on the Malmbjerg molybdenum project, in a cross-regional mining initiative to build a secure and sustainable European raw materials value chain.

Greenland Resources has proposed to build a 35,000-ton-per-day mining facility which would produce 483 million pounds of molybdenum over 20 years at a cash cost of $6.30/lb. molybdenum.

Currently, China produces around 45% of world’s molybdenum, while the EU is the second largest molybdenum user worldwide and has no production of its own.

Greenland Resources said it will supply some 25% of Europe’s total molybdenum demand for 20 years from a responsible EU source with one of the highest-grade and clean molybdenum deposits in the world, adding that Malmbjerg will prioritize responsible mining practices and top-tier environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.

The collaboration with ERMA enabled Greenland Resources to sign documentation on offtake agreements directly with six major EU metallurgical steel and chemical companies and to secure letters of intent to finance the project capex from AAA credit-rated financial institutions, it said.

As global demand for molybdenum continues to soar, its prices have surged, making it one of 2023’s top-performing metals. The London Metal Exchange reported a closing price of $23.95/lb. on Sept.22, nearly 33% higher than the base case price used in the company’s NI 43-101 feasibility study.

“Greenland is committed to fostering responsible mining ventures that not only tap into our abundant natural resources but also prioritize the well-being and empowerment of our local communities,” Naaja H Nathanielsen, Greenland’s Minister of Finance, Minerals, Justice and Gender Equality, said in a statement.

“It’s crucial that we set a benchmark for ESG standards while maintaining our competitive advantage,” Nathanielsen added. “Projects such as the Malmbjerg project with proximity to Europe and high-quality ore serve as a model of responsible mining practices, and they hold immense importance for our region in terms of growth and job creation.”

In June, Greenland Resources expanded its support to Ittoqqortoormiit, the nearest community to the Malmbjerg project. This included a boost in financial support and mining training, enhancing internet infrastructure, and allocating funding to strengthen culture and education initiatives.

Greenland Resources also recently signed an MOU with Nuna Group of Companies, a world-class Canadian majority Inuit-owned civil construction company that specializes in Arctic construction and contract mining operations. This will add to the cooperation and training between Canadian and Greenlandic Inuit communities.

“ERMA’s support has been instrumental in our success,” said Dr. Ruben Shiffman, Greenland Resources executive chairman. “Recently, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Belgium, we signed terms with Molymet, the world largest molybdenum roaster, to convert our molybdenite concentrate in Belgium to ferromolybdenum, molybdenum oxide, and ammonium dimolybdate and sell them directly to the EU steel and chemical industry.”

New Pacific Metals raising $26 million to advance Bolivia projects
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 23:40:08 +0000
Both Silvercorp Metals and Pan American Silver, current shareholders of the company, have expressed their desire to participate in the offering.

Bolivia-focused silver explorer New Pacific Metals (TSX: NUAG) has arranged a bought deal financing worth a total of C$35 million ($26m) to fund exploration at its flagship Silver Sand project as well as the Carangas project.

Under the financing, New Pacific intends to offer 13.2 million common shares priced at C$2.65 each. It will also grant the underwriters an overallotment option to purchase nearly 2 million shares.

Both Silvercorp Metals and Pan American Silver, current shareholders of the company, have expressed their desire to participate in the offering by subscribing for $5 million and $10 million of the shares, respectively.

Upon completion of the offering, Silvercorp and Pan American would each hold 27.4% and 11.6% of New Pacific’s outstanding share capital, assuming the overallotment option is not exercised.

Part of the financing proceeds will used to advance the Silver Sand project located 35 km northeast of the Cerro Rico silver and base metal system near Potosi, southwest Bolivia.

Earlier this year, New Pacific released a preliminary economic assessment for the project, detailing a conventional open pit and tank leach operation capable of producing on average 12 million oz. of silver per annum over a 14-year mine life.

The study also gave the Silver Sand project a post-tax net present value (at 5% discount) of $726 million and an internal rate of return of 39%, assuming a silver price of $22.50/oz.

The funds will also be used for the Carangas silver-gold project located about 190 km southwest of Oruro, Bolivia, for which the company recently released its first resource estimate.

Shares of New Pacific Metals closed 1.0% higher at C$2.97 apiece by Monday’s market close, giving the company a market capitalization of C$468.1 million ($348m).

Nickel fraud: Same paper in, same paper out
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 22:45:10 +0000
As these cases show, fraudsters went to great lengths to dupe their counterparties with considerable success for some 18 months while they pocketed more than $326m.

There has been a spate of cases involving nickel fraud in recent years. One such case involved warehouse receipts (WHR) issued by Access World in 2016 which resulted in recent decisions in Natixis S.A. (Natixis) v Marex Financial (Marex) and Access World Logistics (Singapore) Pte Ltd (2019) EWHC 2599 (Comm), ED&F Man Capital Markets Limited (MCM) v Come Harvest Holdings Limited (“Come Harvest”) and others (2022) EWHC 229 (Comm) and (2022) EWCA Civ 1704 and ANZ Commodity Trading Pty Ltd (“ANZ”) v Excellent Raise Overseas Limited and others (2023) HKCFI 179.

As the cases show, the fraudsters went to great lengths to dupe their counterparties and with considerable success for some 18 months or more whilst they pocketed more than $326m.

All these cases are, in fact, linked to a series of frauds perpetrated by the same fraudsters with the common denominator being that all involved WHR purportedly issued by Access World to Straits Financial (Straits), who provided colour scanned copies to two Hong Kong companies (Come Harvest and Mega Wealth International Limited (Mega Wealth) with minimal capitalisation, which were then delivered to the claimants in each of the above cases as part of contingent repo arrangements.

These copies were then used by the fraudsters to reproduce WHR with the same details, were passed off as genuine and, consequently, substantial losses were incurred by the financing banks.

The two sets of transactions involving Natixis and Marex in the first case and ANZ and MCM in the second and third cases explore some common themes and examine the effect and operation of WHR. In fact, those two sets of transactions were part of a set of five executed in series as part of a Ponzi scheme between July 2015 and January 2017, which involved a substantial portion of the proceeds of sale legs of later repos paying the amounts due under earlier repurchase legs.

This concealed the use of forged WHR in those earlier transactions, thereby prolonging the scheme until it fell over in January 2017 after the production of 200+ forged WHR in all five sets of transactions. That the fraud lasted more than 18 months is due to a combination of factors but was essentially based on too much trust in the use of WHR to underpin the repos and a lack of understanding of the fraud risk.

Nickel was the metal of choice for the repos, all of which was London Metal Exchange (LME) approved brand and quality held on endorsable paper WHR as opposed to LME warrants held in the secure centralised registry, LMEsword.

That crucial difference between warrants and WHR which have no central record other than with the issuer proved to be crucial to the fraud being perpetrated. For Marex, it was apparently their first ever WHR financing business as previously they had only been involved in financing LME warrants. For MCM, it seems the person handling the financing business had never been involved in repo financing using WHR prior to the subject set of transactions. The fraud risk was not properly appreciated at the time or addressed.

The issues

Since the WHR involved in all three cases were forged, neither Marex nor MCM obtained any title from their seller (Come Harvest or Mega Wealth) and therefore, on the nemo dat quod non habet principle, neither Natixis nor ANZ obtained good title to the metal, did not receive any nickel or genuine WHR, or any rights to possession. Following the Qingdao fraud in 2014, there were wholescale amendments to repo documentation to put the fraud risk firmly on sellers to provide genuine WHR and the repos in these cases provided similarly.

The decisions also address other issues, particularly in relation to the elements required to prove conspiracy by unlawful means, defences to unjust enrichment claims, tracing of funds, mitigation of loss and the impact of a settlement agreement between MCM and ANZ on claims over against the fraudsters. These would merit comment on their own, but this article focusses on the use of warehouse receipts.

Material findings

The relationship of the warehouse with the first order party and subsequent endorsees of the WHR differs

Under English law (and some other common law jurisdictions), the relationship between the order party and the warehouse is a bailment evidenced by the WHR. Further, no unilateral contract arises with the warehouse even on endorsement by the current holder in blank followed by delivery of the WHR to the transferee. A subsequent holder will need an attornment by the warehouse to transfer constructive possession of the metal from the seller to the buyer. Until attornment, the relationship with the warehouse remains with the order party.


The issue of whether the requirement for attornment can be excluded by contract was moot in Mercuria Energy Trading Pte Ltd and the better view is to play safe and ensure the requirement is met either by ensuring the seller requires the warehouse to acknowledge directly to the buyer that it holds the goods to its order or on endorsement, the buyer surrenders the existing WHR for cancellation and a fresh WHR issued with the buyer as order party.

Document of title

It is settled that, under English law and some other common law regimes, a WHR is not a document of title and only gives the holder a right to possession of the goods. However, a warehouse is not concerned with issues of title, at least until it receives competing claims. It may, in fact, never know who has title, although the right to possession and title often go hand in hand. It will deliver to the party presenting a genuine WHR provided there is an endorsement by at least the order party (there are usually multiple boxes for endorsement on the reverse).

Storage fees

The warehouse will look to the order party for payment of the storage fees or rent. In the above cases, rent was paid by Straits because it always held the metal, or its bankers held the WHR and Straits contractually agreed to discharge that obligation. Under the repos, MCM agreed with ANZ to pay and then delegated that obligation to its seller, Come Harvest, but no check was made as to who was actually paying rent (and it was being paid each month by Straits). If it had been, it may be that the fraud would have been exposed earlier.

Counterparty risk and fraud risk

ANZ and quite likely Natixis too, took comfort in their respective counterparty being a well-recognised broker in the LME market. However, there was still considerable counterparty risk in that their own counterparty was exposed to a thinly capitalised seller, particularly for ANZ when there was a US$300m claim against MCM with poor prospects for MCM’s recovery action against Come Harvest by reason of the latter’s modest balance sheet.

In the Natixis casein the context of considering contributory negligence, it was held that (a) proper due diligence should be carried out on a counterparty and proper account should be taken of what was known or should have been known about the counterparty and (b) reasonable steps should be taken to minimize the known risk of WHR fraud. From the judgments, it seems both Marex and MCM undertook relatively minimal due diligence of their counterparty, Come Harvest, and faced significant claims from ANZ and Natixis with limited prospects of enforcing any recourse action against Come Harvest.

As for fraud risk, the warning sign was the refusal of Come Harvest to allow MCM or Marex to obtain fresh WHR (which would have involved authentication of the existing WHR as part of the re-issue process) with no adequate explanation other than an insistence on “same paper in, same paper out”. It is clear from the judgments, a number of banks declined to participate in refinancing the transactions because they required fresh paper to be issued to their order and Come Harvest was unwilling to permit this.

Counterfeiting WHR

The WHR were all supposed to be issued on special security paper containing certain pre-printed features in a particular set of colours and with an embossed logo of Access World together with some disguised security features. In the ANZ case, it is now known the forged WHR came predominantly from Shanghai and were good enough to pass at least cursory inspection in handling by MCM and ANZ and the same is likely to be true of those WHR handled by Marex and Natixis.

Production of WHR is a long way from the sophisticated process for preventing the counterfeiting of banknotes with its security threads, holograms and special material such as laminates and starchless paper, though the Natixis judgment hints that Access World in 2016 had used special security features in their WHR. If they did, then these can only assist if the WHR are presented for authentication. Blockchain and the use of electronic WHR would eliminate that particular counterfeiting risk almost entirely.

A repeat of the means and process by which the fraudsters managed to perpetuate the fraud which was the subject of the three cases above is very unlikely but without appreciation of the fraud risk around the use of paper WHR, some variant is always possible.

Guy Harding is a Singapore-based consultant for Watson, Farley & Williams

The author represented ANZ in the Hong Kong proceedings.

Monument reaches commercial production at Selinsing sulphide gold plant
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 18:32:24 +0000
Gold recovery averaged 61.4% for the 30-day period.

After operating 30 consecutive days operating at 90% of designed capacity, Monument Mining (TSXV:MMY) has declared its Selinsing sulphide gold treatment plant to have reached commercial production.

The mine and mill are located in Pahang State, Malaysia, about 160 km north of Kuala Lumpur. Concentrate production averaged 79 t/d, considered satisfactory given the variability of the transition ore processed.

Monument noted, however, that flotation gold recovery was somewhat inconsistent due to the high clay content of the freshly mined transition ore and the processing of stockpiled ore mixed with oxides. Gold recovery averaged 61.4% for the 30-day period, although daily rates of over 80% were recorded.

To improve recovery, the reagents are being optimized with particular attention to the addition of soda ash for pH control, potassium amyl xanthate as a collector, and sodium hexametaphosphate as a slimes depressant. The issues with the flotation air blowers have been resolved.

Frequent failure of the pressure filter cloths continues to be an issue, said the company. Replacement filter cloth and filter plates have been ordered, but cleaning of the cloths and plates has improved overall efficiency.

The first phase of mining the Buffalo Reef BRC2 and BRC3 pit is continuing. Both transition and fresh ore have been delivered to the run-of-mine leach pad.

The Selinsing mine has proven and probable reserves of oxide, transition, and sulphide ores of 5.7 million tonnes grading 1.45 g/t gold and containing 267,000 oz.

Wallbridge expands mineralization at Martinière in Quebec
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 18:25:18 +0000
Martinière is one of Wallbridge’s two wholly owned gold projects in the Detour-Fenelon gold trend.

Wallbridge Mining Company (TSX: WM) says its 2023 drilling program has extended the mineralized footprint of the gold system at the Martinière gold project in multiple directions outside the 2023 resource estimate.

The highlights below and other intersections released in June expand the Martinière gold system by 250 to 300 metres to the southwest and east.

The Martinière Southwest extension (target M4) returned 3.0 metres grading 10.73 g/t gold, including 1.1 metre of 26.50 g/t in hole MR-23-052. Hole MR-23-049 returned 0.5 metre of 9.09 g/t gold.

The Martinière Dragonfly zone (formerly the Eastern extension, target M1) returned 4.2 metres assaying 3.21 g/t gold, including 1.5 metre at 8.23 g/t, and 2.3 metres at 3.76 g/t gold in hole MDE-17-289.

The resource estimate made in January 2023 for Martinière includes the Martinière North, Martinière West and Central, Horsefly, and Bug Lake zones. Together they include 9.0 million indicated tonnes grading 2.35 g/t gold (684,300 contained oz.) and 6.2 million inferred tonnes at 3.17 g/t (632,300 contained oz. gold).

“Gold mineralization was also identified in a number of grassroots exploration targets within a few kilometres of Martinière. These represent attractive future exploration targets for potential resource growth,” said Attila Péntek, Wallbridge’s VP exploration.

Martinière is one of Wallbridge’s two wholly owned gold projects in the Detour-Fenelon gold trend. The Martinière property is about 45 km east of Agnico Eagle’s Detour Lake gold mine and the flagship Fenelon project is about 30 km farther east.

Iron ore price at 2-week low on possible steel output curbs
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 18:01:33 +0000
"It becomes increasingly clear that demand has hit the ceiling amid weaker-than-expected steel sales for September and October," one analyst says.

Iron ore prices fell on Monday on worries of a possible steel output curbs during winter in China, and as pre-holiday restocking came to an end.

The most-traded January iron ore contract on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange ended daytime trading 2.03% lower at 844.5 yuan ($115.55) a metric ton, the weakest since September 11.

The benchmark October iron ore on the Singapore Exchange was down 4.23% at $116.05 a ton, as of 0704 GMT, also the lowest since September 11.

“It becomes increasingly clear that demand has hit the ceiling amid weaker-than-expected steel sales for September and October, and after the replenishment of raw materials to meet production needs over the upcoming week-long holiday break came to an end,” said Pei Hao, a Shanghai-based analyst at international brokerage firm FIS.

China will begin a week-long holiday to celebrate its Mid-Autumn festival and National Day from September 29.

Chinese property stocks tumbled the most in nine months as concern over a possible China Evergrande Group liquidation added to fresh signs of stress across the industry.

A Bloomberg Intelligence gauge of developer shares fell 7.1% Monday, taking its loss in valuation this year to almost $56 billion.

Evergrande, which scrapped key creditor meetings at the last minute and said it must revisit its restructuring plan, dived 22%. China Aoyuan Group was the biggest drag on the index, slumping by a record 72% after shares resumed trading following an 18-month halt.

($1 = 7.3084 Chinese yuan)

(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)

Sprott announces closing of largest resource fund to date
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 17:51:12 +0000
With the close of Fund III, total assets under management of Sprott Resource Lending Corp. stands at $1.5 billion.

Sprott Inc. (NYSE, TSX: SII), which specializes in precious metal and energy transition investments, announced on Monday that its largest resource fund to date, Sprott Private Resource Lending Fund III, has completed its final closing.

With the close of Fund III, total assets under management of Sprott Resource Lending Corp. (SRLC) stands at $1.5 billion within the company’s private strategies segment. SRLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprott and the general partner of several funds whose investors include pension plans, retirement systems, insurance companies, foundations and endowment.

“We are extremely pleased with the continued success the investment team has demonstrated for well over 10 years, providing consistent growth in funds managed through volatile markets,” Sprott CEO Whitney George said in a news release.

“Fund III will continue to provide flexible capital in what we feel is an underserved sector, as commercial banks and more traditional lenders exit the space,” Greg Caione, managing partner of SRLC, said. “The global market for metals and critical minerals is growing, and we are well positioned to partner with, and provide financing to, global mining companies to acquire and bring projects into production in a capital constrained sector to meet increased metal demand.”

Bonterra shares surge following agreement with Osisko for development of Quebec properties
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 17:35:54 +0000
The properties encompass 496 claims, spanning over 22,508 hectares.

Bonterra Resources (TSXV: BTR) shares jumped on Monday after the company announced an agreement with Osisko Mining for a joint venture agreement for Bonterra’s Urban-Barry properties, including the Gladiator and Barry deposits, as well as the Duke and Lac Barry properties in Quebec.

Under the terms of the agreement, Osisko will make a C$30 million investment over a three-year period, granting Osisko the opportunity to earn a 70% interest in these properties.

The Gladiator deposit has indicated resources of 1.41 million tonnes at 8.61 g/t, equivalent to 391,000 oz. gold, and inferred resources of 4.17 million tonnes at 7.37 g/t, representing 989,000 oz. gold.

The combined open pit and underground resource for the Barry deposit is estimated at 5.10 million tonnes measured and indicated at 4.21 g/t, totalling 690,000 oz. gold, plus 4.38 million tonnes inferred at 4.89 g/t, amounting to 688,000 oz. gold.

Currently, Bonterra holds a 70% stake in the Duke property, with Osisko owning the remaining 30%. The Lac Barry property is 85% owned by Bonterra and 15% owned by Gold Royalties Corp.

In total, these properties encompass 496 claims, spanning over 22,508 hectares.

By 12:10 p.m. EDT, Bonterra’s shares had surged by 19.4%. The company has a market capitalization of C$26.5 million ($19.7 million).

Gold price subdued by Fed’s higher-for-longer interest rate stance
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 16:35:28 +0000
One analyst forecasts gold prices to trade between $1,910 and $1,950 for the rest of this quarter.

Gold prices remain subdued on Monday as the dollar and US Treasury yields firmed on the Federal Reserve’s higher-for-longer stance on interest rates.

Spot gold fell 0.4% to $1,916.97 per ounce by 12:10 p.m. EDT, near a two-week low. US gold futures were also down 0.4%, trading at $1,937.40 per ounce.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

“Slightly hawkish Fed and global central banks are currently suppressing gold,” although some signs of economic stress are also keeping the market supported overall, according to Everett Millman, chief market analyst at Gainesville Coins.

In a Reuters note, Millman forecasted gold prices to trade between $1,910 and $1,950 for the rest of this quarter.

Fed officials warned on Friday of further rate hikes even after voting to hold the benchmark rate steady last week, with three policymakers saying they remain uncertain about whether the inflation battle is over.

The US dollar index was up 0.4%, while benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were near a 16-year peak.

“My baseline forecast is that gold will reach a new all-time high in 2024, if we see at least a mild recession in the global economy. If we get a recession, Fed will be forced to cut rates sooner,” Millman added.

Market focus now shifts towards the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, which is scheduled to be released on September 29.

Mirroring investor sentiment, holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed ETF, fell to their lowest level since Jan. 2020.

(With files from Reuters)

London to host The Northern Miner’s premier mining and metals symposium of the year
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 14:45:45 +0000
The Symposium provides a stage for strategies on recruiting, mentoring, and nurturing the next generation of leaders.

Save the date. One of the mining and metals world’s biggest events is on the horizon. TNM’s Canadian Mining Symposium is back, taking centre stage in London, U.K. on Oct. 12th and 13th, 2023.

We’re assembling the industry’s top minds once more, making this the standout event in this year’s mining calendar. This will not only be a gathering of heavyweights of the mining world, but also the up-and-comers, creating a unique platform that will foster the insights to help inform your investment decisions for the next decade.  

Here’s a sneak peek at the topics that leaders such as Robert Friedland, Frank Giustra, Ana Cabral, David Garofalo, Don Lindsay, Catherine McLeod-Seltzer, John McCluskey, John McConnell, Sean Roosen and Randy Smallwood, to name just a few, will be offering their thoughts on: 

Shaping Tomorrow: As the world races forward we tackle the million-dollar question: How do we steer mining toward a clean and prosperous future? Visionary talks will dig into tech, sustainability, and strategies to propel the industry forward. 

Powering the Transition: We’ll zero in on mining’s role in the global energy shift. Industry leaders will dissect sustainable practices, renewable energy integration, and responsible mining, all key to greening the world’s future. 

Gold’s Might: Amid global uncertainties, gold stands as a symbol of stability and value. Our Symposium hosts frank discussions about gold’s role in the global economy and how it navigates today’s tumultuous waters. 

Cultivating Talent: Attracting the brightest young minds is vital for the industry’s future. The Symposium provides a stage for strategies on recruiting, mentoring, and nurturing the next generation of leaders. 

Join us in London for a two-day intellectual voyage, where industry luminaries, thought leaders, and innovators will come together to share their wisdom, explore emerging trends, and chart the mining and metals industry’s course. 

Be part of history. Mark your calendars. If you’re a savvy investor, reserve your spot. Keep an ear out for updates on keynote speakers, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.

To see if you qualify as an Investor Delegate contact Ali Ravaghi: aravaghi@northernminer.com 

For sponsorship inquiries contact Michael Winter: mwinter@northernminer.com 

For media/press inquiries or interviews, contact Mayra Lugo: mlugo@northernminer.com

About TNM SymposiumsThe Canadian Mining Symposium is an annual event that gathers industry leaders, innovators, and visionaries to hash out the hot topics in mining and metals. Committed to sustainability, tech advancement, and industry growth, the Symposium aims to drive positive change and boost collaboration.

Gates, Bezos-backed KoBold Metals to build copper mine in Zambia within 10 years
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 12:59:00 +0000
The California-based firm is spending about $150 million to speed up additional exploration at its Mingomba project.

KoBold Metals, backed by a coalition of billionaires including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, said on Monday that aims at opening a new copper-cobalt mine in Zambia within 10 years.

The California-based company, which earlier this year earmarked $150 million for the Mingomba project, said the plan is to search for more deposits at the asset, said to be the world’s highest-grade undeveloped copper deposit.

Kobold, which also counts the world’s top miner BHP as one of its shareholders, expects to complete additional exploration at the property next year.

“It’s a very attractive project and we have said within a decade we would want Mingomba to be a producing mine,” the company’s CEO Mfikeyi Makayi, told Reuters.

Its Mingomba copper project in Zambia, Africa’s second biggest producer of copper, contains 247 million tonnes of ore with an average grade of 3.64% copper. This figure represents about six times higher grades than those found in Chile, the world’s top copper producing nation, according to KoBold.

The estimated cost of building the mine has been pegged at around $1 billion. It will be done through a joint venture with Australian private equity firm EMR Capital and state-backed miner ZCCM Investing Holdings (LON: ZCC).

AI-led exploration

Kobold’s quest for battery metals began three years ago in Canada, after it acquired rights to an area of about 1,000 square km (386 sq. miles) in northern Quebec, just south of Glencore’s Raglan nickel mine.

It now has about a dozen exploration properties in places including Zambia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Western Australia, which have resulted from joint ventures like with BHP and with BlueJay Mining (LON: JAY) to explore for minerals in Greenland. 

All those assets contain or are expected to be sources of battery metals.

Using artificial intelligence, Kobold aims to create a “Google Maps” of the Earth’s crust, with a special focus on finding copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium deposits.

It collects and analyzes multiple streams of data — from old drilling results to satellite imagery — to better understand where new deposits might be found.  

Algorithms applied to the data collected determine the geological patterns that indicate a potential deposit of cobalt, which occurs naturally alongside nickel and copper. 

The technology can locate resources that may have eluded more traditional geologists and can help miners decide where to acquire land and drill, the company said.

Copper is in high-demand due to its use in renewable energy and electric vehicles, but big, new deposits are rare.

It is estimated that the global copper industry needs to spend more than $100 billion to build mines able to close what could be an annual supply deficit of 4.7 million tonnes by 2030.

Gold nanoclusters may play an important role in hydrogen production
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 12:10:00 +0000
Atomically precise gold nanoclusters may be the key to efficient hydrogen production.

Gold nanoclusters may be the key to efficient hydrogen production, new research has found.

In a paper published in the journal Polyoxometalates, researchers at Tsinghua University explain that electrochemical water splitting, also called water electrolysis, is considered a promising process to produce hydrogen because it can take advantage of the electricity generated from renewable sources.

Water splitting, however, requires a reaction called hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), but the nanocatalysts involved in this HER do not have a uniform size, composition, structure, or chemical coordination environment to improve the efficiency and promote the reaction mechanistic understanding. Yet, the solution to this problem may lie in atomically precise gold nanoclusters.

“It is extremely difficult to achieve a model catalyst with absolute uniform size, definite geometric configuration, and a well-defined local chemical environment at the anatomical level to establish the unambiguous atomical-level structure-performance relationship. Atomically precise gold nanoclusters can potentially resolve those issues,” said Zhenghua Tang, co-author of the study. “Specifically, gold nanoclusters have demonstrated extraordinary catalytic properties in various organic reactions and electrocatalytic reactions.”

Gold nanoclusters may play important role in hydrogen production
Graph from Polyoxometalates (2023). DOI: 10.26599/POM.2023.9140031

Gold nanoclusters are uniquely suited to be a catalyst for HER for several reasons. Unlike other nanocatalysts, gold nanoclusters have a precise nanostructure. This precise structure means that all of them are uniform in size, composition, morphology, and chemical environment.

It is also helpful for identifying the active sites for HER catalysis. The rich chemical reactivities of gold nanoclusters allow for both metal core tailoring and surface ligand engineering. Metal core tailoring is when another metal is introduced to the gold nanocluster, which forms a gold-alloy cluster.

Introducing another metal can endow novel catalytic capabilities and cut down the cost. In surface ligand engineering, the surface chemical environment can be fine-tuned to expose more active sites or change the structure of the nanocluster.

Finally, gold nanoclusters have other structural merits, such as the size being ultrasmall, which meets the principle of “small is precious” in the catalysis field; the morphology can be tuned and manipulated; robust stability with intact structure preserved in various reactions under mild conditions.

“The cases presented in this review clearly show that exceptional HER catalytic properties are often displayed because of the distinct advantages of gold nanoclusters compared to gold nanoparticles. However, challenges are certainly present in employing gold nanoclusters for HER catalysis,” Tang said.

Some of the common challenges associated with gold nanoclusters are finding a solution to the amount of gold that would be required to scale the use of these catalysts, problems with how the nanocatalysts perform in harsh conditions and inaccurate theoretical modelling.

Looking ahead, researchers are planning what the next steps in nanocatalyst research should be. Suggested avenues include testing the applicability of the gold cluster-based composite for other reactions coupled with HER and improving the electrical conductivity of the cluster-based composite catalyst.

“Due to the rapid development of synthetic techniques and catalysis science, we anticipate more research efforts will be dedicated to using atomically precise metal nanoclusters as model catalysts for various electrocatalytic reactions and beyond,” Tang said.

Sumitomo Metal bets on Canadian battery materials firm Nano One
Mon, 25 Sep 2023 10:36:00 +0000
Through a C$16.9 million ($12.5m) investment, the Japanese giant will own 5% of Nano One, which has piqued the interest of global majors.

Sumitomo Metal Mining (TYO: 5713) is investing $16.9 million ($12.5m) in Canada’s battery materials firm Nano One (TSX: NANO) as part of the Japanese giant’s efforts to find sustainable methods for producing lithium-ion batteries.

The companies have also vowed to jointly develop a low-cost, low environmental impact production process for battery cathode materials, which are used in the making of electric vehicles (EVs).

The move comes on the heels of an agreement between Japan and Canada that will see the nations work closely together to establish sustainable and reliable global battery supply chains.

Vancouver-based Nano One has piqued the interest of big mining sector actors, including Rio Tinto, thanks to its patented process for the sustainable production of lithium-ion battery material for cathodes. These are the battery’s two terminals that receive and dispatch electrons. 

“This announcement builds on years of technology development and CAM production by both Sumitomo Metal Mining and Nano One Materials,” Nano One CEO, Dan Blondal, said in a separate statement.

Sumitomo Metals’ move represents the first time a producer of cathode active materials (CAM) has invested in Nano One, the companies said. Through the investment, it will own about 5% of the Canadian company.

Multibillion dollar market

The Tokyo-based vertically integrated miner, refiner and maker of CAM has been expanding its production capacity of cathode materials and plans further expansions.

In terms of annual capacity, its plan is to boost it from the current 60,000 tonnes to 84,000 tonnes in FY2025, 120,000 tonnes in FY2027 and 180,000 tonnes in FY2030.

Nano One has plans to build its first commercial lithium iron phosphate (LFP) plant adjacent to its existing production scale pilot facility in Candiac, Québec. The company is nearing completion of a Front-End Loading Pre-Feasibility Study (FEL-2) that will help determine key factors including costs, production line size, total capacity and timing.

(Source: Nano One)

Securing cathode materials, such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt, presently involves a complex supply chain, and they account for around a quarter of the cost of a lithium-ion battery. 

Forecasts expects the global market for cathode elements to grow form a $25.9 billion value in 2022 to $52.6 billion by 2027.

Colombia’s National Mining Agency in the spotlight for proposed halt to coal mining concessions
Sun, 24 Sep 2023 19:23:20 +0000
Colombia's National Mining Agency has said it will no longer grant concessions for exploring and developing open-pit coal mining projects. The Attorney General demands some explanations.

Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office sent a memo to the president of the National Mining Agency (ANM), Álvaro Pardo, asking him to make public the ruling that states that the agency will no longer grant concessions for the exploration and development of open-pit coal mining projects.

The request comes after the Attorney General, Margarita Cabello, learned about Pardo’s suggestions regarding this issue but noticed that there weren’t any legal documents backing such a proposal. 

The Attorney’s Office also demanded, through the Delegate for Environmental, Mining, Energy and Agrarian Affairs, the background or justification report that serves as a foundation for the proposed ban.

If the National Mining Agency refuses to comply with these requirements, the Attorney threatened to bring the case to the Ministry of Mines and Energy so that the competent portfolio can provide the administrative decision where the ruling has been written down and approved, in accordance with article 21 of the Administrative Procedure and Administrative Litigation Code. 

Pardo first floated the idea of halting the approval of coal mining concessions in December 2022, alleging that this was a campaign promise that President Gustavo Petro aimed to fulfill. 

At the time, he mentioned that 1,816 mining titles that sit in protected areas were going to be thoroughly reviewed, particularly as 48% of those did not have an environmental license. 

The issue came back to life in the past few months as Minminer workers are asking authorities to reopen the operation located in the central Cundinamarca Department, as it was shut down on March 14, 2023, following the explosion of six of its mines, an accident that killed 21 people.

This type of incident is not uncommon in Colombia, however. 

According to the Ministry of Mines, from 2011 to May 2022, there were over 1,600 accidents in coal operations, resulting in over 100 deaths per year. 

Coal, together with oil, are two of Colombia’s main sources of revenue

Asian Battery Minerals enrolls hi-tech mineral resource locator to explore nickel deposit in Mongolia
Sun, 24 Sep 2023 18:07:47 +0000
Asian Battery Minerals and Getech just completed a successful round of nickel exploration in Mongolia.

Ulaanbaatar-based Asian Battery Minerals, which was a participant in the 2023 BHP Xplor accelerator program and is targeting potential nickel deposits in Mongolia, joined forces with Getech, a locator of subsurface resources, and just completed an initial round of exploration work.

Getech employed methodologies such as terrain and structural analysis, and gravity and magnetics data analysis to provide an extensive report assessing the structural and paleotectonic elements in the exploration area of interest.

The miner’s Oval Ni-Cu-PGE project is a magmatic mafic sulphide deposit where ABM believes there’s great economic potential, due to its vicinity to several large metal deposits in China.

The results from the collaboration with Getech are expected to allow ABM to enhance its exploration strategy as Getech’s data encompasses 400 million years of earth’s evolution, coupled with geoscience expertise, AI-driven analytics and extensive GIS capabilities.

“While we are known to have extensive experience in mineral exploration for sedimentary basin ores, this project focused on ‘hard rock’ exploration. This challenge proved that our mineral systems analysis capabilities and data extend into deeper and older deposits such as magmatic nickel,” Richard Bennett, Getech’s executive chairman, said in a media statement. “Leveraging our proprietary data amassed over 30 years and our geological exploration expertise, complemented by AI-driven analytics, we can successfully locate potential new search spaces for a wide range of minerals.”

Bennett noted that nickel, with its unique properties, is the keystone for a wide array of clean energy technologies and plays a pivotal role not only in geothermal technologies, batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage systems but also in hydrogen, hydro, wind and concentrating solar power technologies.

According to a report by McKinsey, the world could be facing a nickel shortage of 10-20% by the end of this decade, thus, exploration for nickel has become an imperative part of the energy transition.

Interventions against illegal mining have a spillover effect on legal mining areas – study
Sun, 24 Sep 2023 13:06:00 +0000
Addressing unregulated activities in one area may have a spillover effect when the same activity is allowed in a nearby location.

Stronger regulations are needed in legal gold mining areas when interventions against illegal mining are carried out, new research has found.

Taking a Peruvian operation as an example, an international team of researchers led by Evan Dethier from Dartmouth University analyzed the spillover effect of addressing unregulated activities in one area when the same activity is allowed in a nearby location.

Back in 2019, the Peruvian government deployed “Operation Mercury” (Operation Mercurio) in the La Pampa region, an area where gold mining is banned in most places. La Pampa straddles the Interoceanic Highway. North of the highway, mining is mostly legal in mining concessions. However, south of the highway mining is strictly prohibited in the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve.

Through Operation Mercury, armed military and national police were dispatched to the region and had a sustained presence until March 2020. Miners were evicted and mining equipment was destroyed. The intervention successfully stopped illegal gold mining activity in La Pampa but activity in legal areas spiked, triggering many of the same environmental concerns.

“Although illegal gold mining operations in La Pampa came to a near halt during Operation Mercury’s two intervening years (2019–2020), mining activity essentially just shifted across the road to legal areas on the other side of the Interoceanic Highway,” Dethier said.

Following Operation Mercury, mining decreased by 70% to 90%. Excavated mining pits in illegal mining areas decreased by up to 5% per year as compared to increasing by 33% to 90% per year before the intervention.

Although deforested areas experienced revegetation at a rate of 1 to 3 square kilometres per year, progress was offset by increases in deforestation in legal mining areas north of the Interoceanic Highway at a rate of 3 to 5 square kilometres per year. Most of the revegetation occurred on the edges of deforested areas, with the highest revegetation in La Pampa south. Mining pond areas outside intervention zones also saw increases ranging from 42% to 83%.

Satellites tell the truth

To assess Operation Mercury’s impact on mining activity, the research team drew on satellite data from 2016 to 2021 from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2. Data was obtained from nine mining areas: four illegal mining areas targeted by the intervention, two legal areas to the north on the other side of the Interoceanic Highway, and three distant sites that were not part of the enforcement, which served as a control for the study.

Using the radar and multispectral data, the researchers were able to quantify changes in water, water quality, mining pond areas, and deforestation in La Pampa following Operation Mercury, by comparing data from before, during, and after the intervention.

As part of the analysis, the team examined the spectral properties of the mining ponds and changes in pond colour.

Mining ponds typically take on a yellow colour, which acts as a marker for gold mining activity. The “yellowness” of the ponds is associated with increases in suspended sediment in the water.

Through gold mining processes, sediment is churned up from the land, creating turbid water with lower reflectance levels, while clearer water has higher reflectance. After Operation Mercury was implemented, reflectance increased in mining ponds in La Pampa south but then stabilized.

Following Operation Mercury, pond yellowness decreased rapidly after mining activity was suspended in all areas of La Pampa, except in the north. In La Pampa northwest, mining activity spiked and pond yellowness increased by 43%, as compared to before the intervention. In La Pampa northeast, yellowness remained stable due to continued mining activity.

“Like many other countries around the world with highly prized natural resources, with Peru’s rich deposits of gold, it has had to determine who controls this extractable resource and how this particular mining sector will be formed,” David A. Lutz, co-author of the paper that presents these findings, said.

By January 2023, when the paper was under review by the journal, illegal gold mining had resumed in protected areas, as enforcement and anticorruption activities by the military and national police had ceased, as they were redeployed to focus on the covid-19 pandemic.

“Our results demonstrate how intervention at the federal level can effectively stop illegal mining in Peru,” Dethier said. “But that is just one aspect of the problem, as a multifaceted approach is necessary to address the long-term impacts of both illegal and legal gold mining activity on humans, wildlife and the environment in the Madre de Dios watershed.”

In the researcher’s view, strong governance and conservation and remediation strategies are needed to protect this tropical biodiversity hotspot.

Dethier also mentioned that the same applies to protected areas in other counties, as another study he and Lutz co-authored showed the rise of similar mining operations in 49 countries across the global tropics.

Drill down on the economics of the Turnagain nickel mine in British Columbia
Fri, 22 Sep 2023 22:58:06 +0000
With a total capital cost of $3.6 billion over the life of the mine, Giga Metals will need other investors on board to develop the mine.

The multi-billion dollar Turnagain nickel mine in the Golden Triangle of Northwestern British Columbia would have a long life, high grades and low carbon intensity, according to a pre-feasibility study released today.

The Turnagain project is one of two major nickel mines proposed for B.C., the other being the Baptiste Nickel project.

The Turnagain deposit is owned by Hard Creek Nickel Corp., a joint venture between Giga Metals (TSX-V:GIGA) and Mitsubishi, which has 15% stake.

With a total capital cost of C$4.8 billion ($3.6bn) over the life of the mine, Giga Metals will need other investors on board to develop the mine.

“We have put this report together with strategic investors in mind,” Giga Metals CEO Mark Jarvis told BIV News.

According to a pre-feasibility study released today, the mine – located 65 kilometres east of Dease Lake in Tahltan and Kaska Dena territory – would have an initial capital cost of C$2.6 billion and sustaining capital costs over 30 years of C$2.2 billion.

The mine would require a new 78-kilometre access road and a 160-kilometre transmission line to tie into the Northwest Transmission Line. It would be mined as an open-pit operation.

The pre-feasibility study says the mine would have high grades of nickel and cobalt and a long mine life of 30 years.

“The PFS demonstrates a long-life, large-scale project that will deliver high-grade nickel sulphide concentrate with no significant deleterious impurities,” the study says.

The total estimated reserves are 1.9 million tonnes of contained nickel, with an expectation of producing concentrates averaging 18 per cent nickel and 1 per cent cobalt, Jarvis said.

“We’re looking at average production of a little over 35,000 tonnes per year of nickel and a little over 2,000 tonnes per year of cobalt,” he said.

“Interestingly, that 18 to 1 ratio, that’s similar to the chemistry that’s currently being used for batteries for electric vehicles. So if you want to build cathodes out of this material, you’ve got the right amount of nickel and cobalt.”

Giga Metals is highlighting the fact the mine would have a relatively low carbon emissions intensity, compared to other nickel mines.

For one thing, it would use clean hydro power, by tying into the Northwest Transmission Line. For another, the company is exploring a tailings management approach that would accelerate a natural carbon mineralization process that permanently sequesters CO2 in the form of carbonates.

“It is a significant source of low-carbon intensity nickel and cobalt in a form that is very amenable to processing to cathode material,” Jarvis said.

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

Ausenco acquired by Eldridge, Brightstar Capital and Claure Group for $578 million
Fri, 22 Sep 2023 18:23:44 +0000
The exit price compares with the $150m Resource Capital Fund paid for Ausenco in 2014.

Ausenco has announced that US-headquartered Eldridge, Brightstar Capital Partners and Claure Group have signed an agreement to acquire a majority stake of the company from Resource Capital Fund and other co-investors in a $578 million deal.

The exit price compares with the $150m Resource Capital Fund paid for the engineering and consulting firm back in 2014.

Ausenco’s scientists and engineers design and build mine and metal extraction facilities, deliver sustainable mine waste and water management, and mine closure and remediation solutions and engage with local and Indigenous communities. Founded in 1991, the company said it plans to double its Latin America footprint with the broader energy transition.

Co-founder, Zimi Meka will remain CEO board member and investor, Mike Burke, former chairman and CEO of AECOM, served as an advisor and partner to Eldridge and the buyer consortium. Burke is expected to join Ausenco’s board of directors as chairman.

“We invest in what people need and what people want – both qualities expressed in Ausenco’s activity the past three decades,” Todd Boehly, Tony Minella, and Duncan Bagshaw, co-founders of Eldridge said in a statement.

“Ausenco has worked around the world to deliver minerals critical to nearly every aspect of our lives and to the ongoing energy transition. We are excited to partner with a world-class management team to further enhance and diversify their service offerings.”

“Brightstar is confident that Ausenco is strategically positioned for future growth due to its impressive track record of performance, and the anticipated increased demand for metals and minerals that are essential to sustainable solutions,” Brightstar Capital CEO Andrew Weinberg added.


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