THE WOMAN SHAKING UP THE DIAMOND INDUSTRY – by Ed Caesar (The New Yorker Magazine – January 27, 2020)

Eira Thomas’s company has used radical new methods to find some of the biggest uncut gems in history.

At the Karowe diamond mine, in Botswana, the most highly secured section of the compound is known as the Red Zone. This is where the gems are sorted. To enter, you must walk, alone, through a sequence of thick doors activated by fingerprint scans. Inside, there are strict rules. You cannot touch another human being. Everyone must wear a blue, pocketless smock. Phones are not allowed.

In September, when I visited Karowe, I was given special dispensation to carry a notebook and a pen into the Red Zone. I was told that if I dropped my things I should bend down slowly to retrieve them, then stand up and show the recovered items to the nearest camera. On leaving the Red Zone, everyone, including chief executives, is strip-searched.

Nobody in the Red Zone ever touches a diamond with a naked hand. There are two sorting rooms, in which workers organize the mine’s produce by size and shape, using gloves affixed to sealed and glass-fronted cabinets.  Continue Reading →

The Left’s Opposition To Mining Threatens Its Green Dream – OpEd – by William F. Shughart II (Eurasia Review – January 25, 2020)


Environmental activists who oppose mining minerals in the United States are threatening the same green agenda they claim to embrace. Among those leading the attack is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, who proposes banning mining on public lands.

Though environmentalists may not realize it, increased domestic production of “critical” minerals would benefit the environment. But existing restrictions on recovering these elements are forcing U.S. firms to purchase these resources overseas.

This can be problematic if our trading partners are unstable, unreliable or unfriendly, as was the case before the fracking revolution when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) dominated the global market for crude oil. Now the United States is a net exporter of oil and natural gas. But we continue to be dependent on imported minerals, not because domestic supplies don’t exist, but because restrictive regulatory policies prevent their recovery. Continue Reading →

America’s Gold Giant Bets on Dividends, Improved Mines to Hold Off Rival – by Alistair MacDonald (Wall Street Journal – January 27, 2020)

Newmont’s push to attract more investors comes after Barrick Gold made inroads with its $6 billion acquisition

Newmont Corp.’s lead over bitter rival Barrick Gold Corp. has shrunk after both made big acquisitions. Now the world’s biggest gold producer is betting high dividends and its new mines will drive future stock growth.

Newmont, America’s largest miner, is trying to improve operations at some of the gold mines that it acquired as part of its $10 billion deal for Goldcorp Inc. The Denver-based company says the problems have been fixed and is betting that sharing more of its profits with shareholders will attract generalists back to a sector they have avoided for years.

Barrick Gold, meanwhile, has seen more immediate returns from its $6 billion purchase of South Africa’s Randgold Resources Ltd., and shares of the Canadian miner have outperformed Newmont over the past year. However, some investors—including its largest one—have raised concerns about the company talking about bulking up its copper holdings. Continue Reading →

Patrick Moore and Conrad Black challenge the tenets of environmentalism – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – January 23, 2020)

They’ve found a ready audience in this country, Black said. “Canada
has drunk the Kool-Aid that almost anything that supports economic
growth is environmentally irresponsible.”

There might be limits to the ideological realm after all. Not only can heretics get paid speaking gigs but investors, of all people, will forego avarice long enough to grant them an audience. Over 600 attendees crammed into each of three SRO events at VRIC 2020, once to hear establishment apostate Conrad Black and twice for Greenpeace renegade Patrick Moore, as they took turns denouncing the cause célèbre of our time.

Both of them characterized environmentalism as a movement that’s been led astray. But they see the issue from different perspectives—Moore, not just as an insider but actually a founder of one of the earliest and most prominent activist groups; Black, maybe harbouring some Canadian Ancien régime instincts but largely uncategorizable.

Distinguished from most conventional enviro activists, Moore actually holds scientific credentials. He earned his PhD in ecology with a critique of British Columbia’s Island Copper Mine, helped create Greenpeace to protest U.S. H-bomb tests off the Alaska coast, and became influential in protecting whales and stopping French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Gold mining CEOs wary of deals after a decade of value-destroying takeovers – by Andrew Willis (Globe and Mail – January 25, 2020)

You’re the chief executive at one of Canada’s many mid-tier gold miners. You’ll make something in the neighbourhood of $5-million this year.

If you just show up for work every day and don’t do a deal, you’ll likely be paid about the same amount next year. But your miners will spend the whole year digging and turn a significant portion of your gold reserves into gold bullion, which means you’re one year closer to turning your mid-tier company into a small-cap miner. And that is not the reason shareholders are paying you all that money.

As CEO, you’ve got board members, investors and bankers urging you to replace those declining reserves by staging a takeover. Jump in, they tell you, the water’s fine. But you look at the destruction of wealth that’s come with the majority of mining acquisitions over a period of decades. And you recall the resulting carnage in the ranks of fellow CEOs. So you hesitate. Continue Reading →

Baffinland faces millions in liens over stalled expansion – by Beth Brown (CBC News North – January 27, 2020)

Mary River contractors take legal precautions to get paid, mine calls claims for assets ‘ordinary’

Construction companies are taking steps to make sure they’ll get paid for work they did for Baffinland’s Mary River Mine. Last year, the mining company purchased work and machinery with the expectation that its application for a production increase would be approved by this year.

Some equipment it purchased includes a specially designed iron ore handling system made to unload rail cars, crush and screen iron ore, and load it onto ships. Part of that processing plant for the expansion was shipped to the mine site during the summer from Germany.

But the Mary River expansion is in a state of stalemate and, in November, Baffinland scaled back work and cut contracts related to the increase, shortly after necessary environmental hearings were adjourned unfinished. Continue Reading →

“It’s time to be ambitious” on critical minerals: Mining Association of Canada – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – January 24, 2020)

Canadian-American co-operation on essential elements means opportunity for this country’s wider economy, Pierre Gratton emphasizes. Speaking to the Vancouver Board of Trade, the president/CEO of the Mining Association of Canada commented on the recent Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, as well as the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan.

Two weeks ago Natural Resources Canada announced the cross-border agreement to secure deposits and develop supply chains for minerals essential to the economy, defence, technology and clean energy.

The initiative takes place as the U.S. seeks ways to reduce its dependency on sources considered unreliable, unethical or potential economic and military rivals. Continue Reading →

What did Canadians do to deserve this government? – by Conrad Black (National Post – January 25, 2020)

Canada is a great country crossing the desert of self-chosen and misguided leadership. There is no vision except platitudes and quixotry

As was recounted by Gary Mason in an exceptionally pompous comment in the Globe and Mail on Monday, I have indeed been in Calgary (and Vancouver) in the past week, where energy policy and resources generally were extensively discussed, and also engaged in a delightful debate in Toronto on Wednesday on climate change with my friend of many years, former Quebec premier and federal Progressive Conservative leader Jean Charest.

I had the good fortune of speaking with a large number of interesting people in all three cities, and learned a good deal about the prevailing perspectives of their business and political communities.

Since I was invited in each city to give my opinions on several subjects, I did as asked, to the general agreement of my hosts, however discountenanced Mason may have been by hearsay of my remarks. Continue Reading →

Barrick claims it’s back to business in Tanzania, but questions remain – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – January 25, 2020)

Barrick has finalized an agreement to end an almost three-year dispute with the east African country of Tanzania that had sidelined a significant portion of its African gold production and cast a shadow on its share price.

On Friday, Mark Bristow, Barrick Gold Corp.’s chief executive, attended a public signing ceremony in Tanzania’s biggest city, Dar es Salaam, alongside Tanzanian President John Magufuli and Doto Biteko, Minister of Minerals. The event set in stone a preliminary agreement announced in October.

In a speech broadcast on Tanzanian television, Mr. Bristow described the effort to reach agreement as a “long safari,” referencing the Swahili word for journey. “Today we started a new partnership,” the South African-born Mr. Bristow said. Continue Reading →

Fears of coronavirus pandemic batters big miners, but gold hits three-week high – by Staff (MiningMX – January 27, 2020)


MINING shares were among the sectors worst hit by fears that China was failing to contain the coronavirus outbreak in which 80 people have so far died, said Bloomberg News.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index tumbled about 2%, with miners, airlines, luxury-goods makers and tech stocks taking a serious beating. All industry group were in the red, signaling just how worried traders are, the newswire said.

“Fear is the name of the game,” said Stephane Ekolo, an equity strategist at TFS Derivatives in London. “Market participants are taking some risks off the table as they are afraid of the potential economic implication of the virus outbreak.” Continue Reading →

3,000 Workers in South Africa’s Mining and Smelting Sector May Lose Their Jobs – by Pavan Kulkarni (News – January 27, 2020)

Samancor Chrome Limited has cited operational reasons for preparing to retrench nearly 3,000 employees. Workers organized by the National Metalworkers Union of South Africa (NUMSA) are preparing to resist the retrenchments.

Over 3,000 workers in South Africa may be retrenched by Samancor Chrome Limited, a company involved in mining and smelting chrome ore. Samancor, with a capacity to produce 1.2 million tons, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of chrome alloys, including ferrochrome and chromite ore, which are used to give stainless steel its resistance to corrosion. South Africa supplies 30% of the global demand for ferrochrome.

Workers organized by the National Metalworkers Union of South Africa (NUMSA) are preparing to resist the retrenchments.

Samancor claims that due to adverse circumstances, the company is revising its production for 2020 downwards – chromite ore by roughly 29% and ferrochrome by 20%. In accordance with this plan, the company has initiated the retrenchment process, which “may affect 2,438 employees at the company’s mining operations and 599 employees at its smelters,” according to its statement. Continue Reading →

Column: Stalled Ring of Fire worth more than $117 billion – by Dr. James Mungall (Sudbury Star – January 24, 2020)

Dr. James Mungall is a professor of economic geology at Carleton University. He was Noront’s Chief Geologist during the discovery phase of exploration, but has no financial conflict of interest related to the Ring of Fire. He is considered the top specialist in magmatic ore deposits in Canada and is well-respected globally. Both the Ring of Fire and the Sudbury Basin are magmatic ore deposits.

How much is the Ring of Fire really worth?

Why has mining still not begun in Ontario’s Ring of Fire mineral deposit belt a decade after its discovery? Are the deposits worthless, or are there factors beyond the control of the mining industry that are blocking progress?

The value of recoverable contained metal “in the ground” represents the sum of wealth that can be generated through the eventual sale of the commodity to the marketplace. This wealth is distributed over costs of labour, energy, equipment, taxes, profits and interest payments, adding to economic activity by many actors.

Alternatively, the value of the deposit to investors is represented by the profit they hope to make after paying all costs. The need to apply a discount to future earnings shortens the time window on a company’s investment decision to just a few years and may forbid large initial capital expenditures even if the potential for long-term wealth generation is very great.

A third consideration is the intangible value of the deposit to society at large, such as the desire to secure a local supply of a strategic metal or to increase long-term economic activity in an underdeveloped region. Continue Reading →

Chile’s Codelco seeks approvals to explore for lithium at Maricunga (Reuters U.S. – January 24, 2020)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile state miner Codelco filed with regulators on Friday a plan to begin exploration for lithium in its Maricunga salt flat holdings, a key step in advancing development of the country’s second richest deposit of the metal needed for batteries.

The proposal, if approved, would allow Codelco, the world’s top producer of copper, to pinpoint concentrations of lithium on the flat, estimate the size of the resource and identify necessary next steps. The state-owned miner hopes to explore for as many as 10 months, the company said in a statement.

Codelco has for years talked of getting into the lithium business. But the cash-strapped miner has repeatedly delayed plans to develop its reserves to concentrate on copper, its primary business. Continue Reading →

OPINION: From sulphur to solar: A big idea for Sudbury’s Superstack – by Jason McLennan (Northern Ontario Business – January 24, 2020)

Sudbury’s story is inextricably linked to our Superstack. The story is not just environmental degradation. It is also inextricably connected to the planting of millions of trees, the extraordinary recovery of our lakes, the enriching of our depleted soils, and the return of biodiversity.

Growing up in Sudbury meant being associated with the Superstack, which I thought was a ‘cloud-making machine’ when I was really young. I didn’t understand the environmental legacy. What I knew at a young age was that we were here because of nickel.

This symbol of our city and Canada’s second tallest structure represents massive possibility. Once gone, a big piece of the city’s identity and story will be lost, along with the opportunity to remake this emblem of Sudbury’s environmentally dark past into one of a regenerative future. Continue Reading →

“Equitable” partnerships with First Nations will make the Ring of Fire go smoothly – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – January 24, 2020)

Improving community conditions should create investor-friendly mining environment, say Matawa chiefs

Chiefs from two economically-depressed communities near the Ring of Fire told Queen’s Park politicians they want to be “equitable partners” to share in the benefits of Far North development.

“Matawa First Nations are not opposed to development, however First Nations require a seat at the able,” said Webequie Chief Cornelius Wabasse in his remarks before the provincial Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, Jan. 21.

He was joined in the pre-budget hearings by Eabametoong Chief Harvey Yesno. Both spoke on behalf of the Matawa Chiefs Council. Five of the nine communities in the Matawa Tribal Council are fly-in, reached only by land during the winter road season. Continue Reading →