Golden blunders: How a string of technical mishaps has hampered Canada’s junior gold miners – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – July 13, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Reports overestimating the amount of gold led to junior miners flying high, but the gold was ‘never there’

Junior gold-mining executive Scott Caldwell was in a jovial mood as he sat down for a national television interview in February, 2016. Even though the price of gold bullion had tumbled by more than a third from its 2011 peak, and many of his competitors were struggling, his company was defying the odds.

Guyana Goldfields Inc. had managed to raise US$700-million from investors and put a high-grade gold mine into production in early 2016.

Mr. Caldwell, an avuncular mining engineer with a soothing tone, was happy to promote the company’s Aurora mine, located in a remote Guyanese rainforest, as a cash machine. Indeed, at the prevailing gold price of US$1,200 an ounce, Guyana looked like a surefire winner. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Pentagon races to track U.S. rare earths output amid China trade dispute – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – July 12, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

(Reuters) – The Pentagon is rapidly assessing the United States’ rare earths capability in a race to secure stable supply of the specialized material amid the country’s trade conflict with China, which controls the rare earths industry, according to a government document seen by Reuters.

The push comes weeks after China threatened to curb exports to the United States of rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used to build fighter jets, tanks and a range of consumer electronics.

The Pentagon wants miners to describe plans to develop U.S. rare earths mines and processing facilities, and asked manufacturers to detail their needs for the minerals, according to the document, which is dated June 27. Continue Reading →

Can diamonds be a millennial’s best friend too? – by Olivia Pinnock (The Telegraph – July 12, 2019)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/

In the heart of Siberia, the Sakha Republic is home to acres of evergreen larch trees, herds of reindeer, the indigenous Yakut people and, under its permafrost, diamonds.

Mining is one of the main industries in the region, with 95pc of Russia’s diamonds originating here, accounting for 27pc of the world’s supply.

In July, it’s hot. Temperatures reach 86F (30C), midges and flies are in abundance and feral dogs seek shade under the site office. In the harsh Siberian winters though, it can drop to -22F (-30C). It’s a world diamond consumers don’t get to see. Alrosa, the partially state-owned mining company listed on the Moscow Exchange that operates here, wants to change that. Continue Reading →

North: Mining boom to drive economic growth in territories beyond rest of Canada: report – by Ryan Ratrick Jones (CBC News North – July 12, 2019)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/

The Conference Board of Canada says outlook rosy for Nunavut and Yukon, but N.W.T. in for a bumpy ride

Economic growth in the territories will outpace the rest of Canada over the next two years, driven by the strength of the mining sector in Yukon and Nunavut, according to the latest forecast from the Conference Board of Canada.

Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are forecast to experience combined growth rates of 5.3 per cent in 2019 and 4.4 per cent in 2020, the independent research organization said in its summer territorial outlook, released on Wednesday. That’s compared with 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent across Canada’s 10 provinces.

“The near-term outlook is actually quite positive if we combine all three territories,” said Marie-Christine Bernard, director of forecasting for the Conference Board of Canada. “When you have a positive environment for mining, it generally also has positive effects in other areas of the economy.” Continue Reading →

U.S. uranium miners say ready to ramp up if Trump approves quotas – by Valerie Volcovici (Reuters U.S. – July 11, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two leading U.S. uranium mining companies say they are prepared to quickly ramp up production if President Donald Trump approves their request for curbs on imports this week.

Trump is expected to decide as soon as Friday on the petitions from Colorado-based Energy Fuels Inc (UUUU.A) and Wyoming-based Ur-Energy Inc (URG.A) – which seek quotas requiring 25% of the U.S. uranium market be sourced domestically – after reviewing recommendations from the Commerce Department in April.

Two sources familiar with the matter said the White House was weighing three options, including taking no action, delaying a decision for six months, and requiring utilities to purchase 5% of their uranium from domestic mines each year – rising 5 points per year until it reaches 25%. Continue Reading →

The world’s biggest diamond mine is closing, which means gem prices are likely heading higher – by David Stringer and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News/Finance – July 12, 2019)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Argyle is best known as the source of about 90 per cent of the world’s prized pink diamonds

The world’s biggest diamond mine ⁠— famed more for the fistful of coveted pink and red gems it yields each year than being a major producer of lower-quality stones — is being shuttered by Rio Tinto Group after almost four decades. Rivals from Russia to Canada hope that can help turn around the beleaguered industry.

Rio’s Argyle mine in remote Western Australia has transformed the sector since 1983 when the operation began supplying gems for both ends of the market. RBC Capital Markets and Panmure Gordon are among brokers, banks and competitors forecasting the closure could kick-start prices that have waned since 2011, according to PolishedPrices.com, an industry data provider.

Production at Argyle, about 2,600 kilometres (1,600 miles) northeast of the state capital Perth, is scheduled to end before the end of next year after finally exhausting its supply of economically viable stones, said Arnaud Soirat, Rio’s head of copper and diamonds. Continue Reading →

Alberta’s oilpatch may help fill global lithium shortage – by Danielle Smith (Edmonton Journal – July 12, 2019)

https://edmontonjournal.com/

Earlier this year, Tesla executives warned that the world may soon be facing a critical shortage of minerals and metals needed to build batteries, in particular nickel, copper and lithium.

Cobalt is also going to be a growing problem not only because of scarcity, but because it seems the only place it can be mined in great abundance is through the help of child labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

If the great transition to renewables is to take place, the world needs to find and develop more and better sources of these key battery components. When it comes to lithium, Alberta oilfields may hold the answer. Continue Reading →

OPINION: In the knot of reasons migrants are fleeing Central America, there seems to be a Canadian thread – by Denise Balkissoon (Globe and Mail – July 12, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Teresa Munoz is one of thousands of Central Americans searching for a better life in the United States. She’s not stuck in a cramped, unsanitary detention centre, but her immigration claim is mired in the Trump administration’s crackdown on asylum-seekers.

She’s from Guatemala, one of Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries, along with Honduras and El Salvador. That’s where the majority of people apprehended at the Mexico-U.S. border are coming from. There are many complicated reasons they’re all leaving, including the violent aftershocks of decades-long civil wars and farmland droughts that are being worsened by climate change.

The situation can seem tragic but also impenetrable, a political tangle of causes and effects happening far away. But among the many miserable migration tales, Ms. Munoz’s story hits close to home: She says she fled because of threats and attacks following her activism against a mine owned by a Canadian company. Continue Reading →

BHP Is Latest Giant Miner to Plan Exit From Thermal Coal – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance – July 11, 2019)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — BHP Group is moving ahead with plans to exit thermal coal, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest move by the world’s biggest miners to retreat from the dirtiest fuel.

BHP is looking at options to divest the business that includes assets in Australia and Colombia, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the development has not been made public. There’s no guarantee the company will go ahead with a sale, the people said.

The decision demonstrates how growing climate-change pressure from investors and regulators is reshaping the future of extractive industries. Continue Reading →

Britain’s Cornish Lithium turns to crowd funding – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – July 12, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) – Cornish Lithium, a battery minerals firm set up by a former City analyst, on Friday became the first British miner to launch a crowd funding campaign as it seeks play a role in securing strategic mineral supplies.

Britain’s mining industry is regarded by many as a thing of the past but a handful of companies are trying to revive it, particularly for the extraction of battery minerals, after government backing for a greener economy and less polluting transport.

Jeremy Wrathall, a mining engineer who graduated from the Camborne School of Mines in Cornwall, southwest England, and became an analyst for Investec bank, set up Cornish Lithium in 2016 to use digital technology to reassess Cornwall’s mineral wealth. Continue Reading →

BHP Eyes 11 New Iron Ore Mines Over the Next 50 to 100 Years – by Rebecca Keenan (Bloomberg News – July 11, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

BHP Group, the world’s largest mining company, says it could build up to 11 more iron ore mines over the next 50 to 100 years in the mineral-rich Pilbara region of northern Australia.

The Melbourne-based miner has signed an agreement with Western Australia’s government to streamline environmental approvals for its long-term iron ore plan. Approval time frames for new mines could be cut by up to 50%.

BHP and rivals are benefiting from a booming iron ore market amid strong Chinese demand and supply disruptions from Brazil to Australia. Prices have skyrocketed 65 percent this year, hitting the highest level in more than five years. Benchmark spot ore prices last traded at $119.50, according to Mysteel Global. Continue Reading →

Gold executives promise to ‘stick to their knitting’ and practice prudence as bullion prices soar – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – July 12, 2019)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Peter Marrone, chairman of Toronto-based Yamana Gold Inc., isn’t betting that a bull run is just around the corner even as gold prices soar to their highest point in a half-decade.

His cautious attitude about rising bullion prices is not unusual in a sector that is still suffering the hangover effects from the last time prices broke out. That was in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, and gold mining companies used the added revenue for a shopping spree that left many with debt that has still not been fully paid down.

Now, after several weeks in which gold prices have hovered around US$1,400 per ounce — a threshold not crossed since 2013 — some gold bugs believe a United States-China trade war and continuing low interest rates will push prices even higher in the immediate future. Continue Reading →

The ‘fraud of the century’ finally reaches the end of the line after clogging up our court system for 7 years – by Peter Foster (Financial Post – July 11, 2019)

https://business.financialpost.com/

The most baseless of cases — especially if they involve the words ‘Indigenous’ and ‘environment’ — can tie up business for years

After clogging up the Canadian court system for seven years, an utterly corrupt multibillion-dollar lawsuit against California-based oil company Chevron on behalf of “poor Ecuadorean villagers” was finally dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last Friday.

The suit, dubbed “the fraud of the century” by The Wall Street Journal, related to pollution caused by Texaco — a company that Chevron acquired in 2001 — when Texaco had been operating in Ecuador before 1992.

In fact, Texaco had paid for — and the Ecuadorean government had agreed to — remediation payments, but then a buccaneering American lawyer named Steve Donziger got into the act. A classmate of Barack Obama, Donziger engineered a US$9.5-billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador. He had no trouble recruiting then-Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa to the cause. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Why the cobalt market needs Congo’s “illegal” miners – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – July 12, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) – Cobalt is back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The death last month of 43 artisan miners at the Kamoto Copper Company KOV concession in the Democratic Republic of Congo has refocused attention on the human cost of producing what is a key input into electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The KOV concession is majority-owned by a subsidiary of trading and mining group Glencore. The official response to the incident – sending the army to clear around 20,000 “illegal” miners from the area around the mine – merely underlines the problematic nature of the world’s dependence on Congo for its supply of cobalt.

The country accounted for around 64% of global mined production last year, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The latest incidents will do nothing to reassure automotive companies about the future stability of sustainable supply and will incentivise them further to try and reduce the amount of cobalt in EV batteries. Continue Reading →

Marathon Gold ‘prime takeout candidate’: National Bank of Canada analyst (Northern Miner – July 11, 2019)

Northern Miner

Marathon Gold (TSX: MOZ) is on track to release a new resource estimate in September for its Leprechaun deposit in the company’s Valentine Gold camp in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The latest drilling has expanded the high-grade area within Leprechaun’s Main Zone corridor to a strike length over 480 meters with a width of 30 to 100 metres and extending to a depth of 350 metres.

Leprechaun is one of four near-surface deposits, mainly pit-shell constrained, at Marathon’s Valentine Gold camp, and remains open at depth and along strike. The four deposits stretch over a 20-km system of gold-bearing veins. Continue Reading →