What to expect in 2024 after diamond sector’s price plunge – by Paul Zimnisky (Mining.com – February 25, 2024)

https://www.mining.com/

It’s been a tough ride for the diamonds sector since rough prices hit an all-time high in the first quarter of 2022. Last year rough prices fell 15-20% according to the Zimnisky Global Rough Diamond Price Index. Prices are now down about 25% from their early 2022 high.

So what happened to cause prices to tumble? The pandemic years brought generational volatility to diamond supply. In 2020, production dipped to the lowest levels since the 1990s. A recovery in 2021 through 2023 ensued. However, the new “normal” for output is still some 15-30 million carats below pre-2020 levels.

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The ‘critical minerals’ bubble has seemingly burst. What does it mean for Australia’s geopolitical strategies? -by Lian Sinclair and Neil Coe (Australian Strategic Policy Institute – February 26, 2024)

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/

Early 2024 has not been kind to investors in critical minerals. Media outlets across Australia have run with headlines talking of ‘crash’, ‘crisis’ and ‘collapse’, with many blaming China and Indonesia for the slump— especially in nickel prices. This is in stark contrast to the extreme bearishness in 2022 and 2023.

Alarmingly, some players are using this ‘crisis’ to call for government bailouts and softer regulation. Others, including Minister for Resources and Minister for Northern Australia Madeleine King, are pushing for global green mining standards and a premium price for nickel produced with higher environmental standards.

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France’s $1.6 Billion Uranium Deal With Mongolia Faces Delays – by Ilya Arkhipov, Samy Adghirni and Francois de Beaupuy (Bloomberg News – February 22, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — A $1.6 billion uranium mining deal between France and Mongolia that is part of French efforts to diversify supplies to power its fleet of nuclear reactors is running into political hurdles.

A debate about protecting strategic resources in Mongolia risks delaying the finalization of the agreement until after elections in June, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. Progress has also been hampered after the Asian country’s chief negotiator stepped down, a third person said, meaning the deal had to be redrafted.

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Dubreuilville gold mine one of the ‘highest grade, fastest growing deposits in the world’ – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – February 23, 2024)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Discovery of more high-grade zones at Island Gold could mean longer mine life for Alamos Gold

Gold reserves and resources have increased at the Island Gold Mine, outside Dubreuilville, for the eighth consecutive year. Island Gold continues to be Alamos’ catalyst of growth as the Toronto gold company released its end-of-2023 mineral reserves and resources for its operations in Canada and Mexico.

Alamos reported a 16 per cent increase in reserves and resources to 6.1 million ounces at Island Gold, which was acquired by the company in 2017.

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Why this miner predicts Europe will demand green nickel – by Hans van Leeuwen (Australian Financial Review – February 26, 2024)

https://www.afr.com/

London | As the nickel market maelstrom engulfs project after project, Perth-based mining CEO Todd Ross is betting his company, ASX-listed Nordic Nickel, can withstand the tempest.

The $17.5 million minnow has two tenements in Finnish Lapland, and is still in the early stages of exploration. Ross expects the market shake-out will eventually carve world demand into two tracks – a “bifurcation” between Chinese and European demand that will ultimately benefit Nordic Nickel.

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Unearthing tension: Sand runs the world, but most don’t realize the conflict it generates – by Matthew Rozsa (Salon.com – February 25, 2024)

https://www.salon.com/

Sand is the second-most commonly used resource on Earth and its environmental and social impacts are massive

As William Blake famously wrote, “To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower” is to “Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.” But as innocuous, ubiquitous and just plain mundane sand can be, it can also be the source of significant conflict and violence while often being extracted to the detriment of our planet.

When the term “conflict mineral” is used, people often think of precious stones like rubies or valuable fuels like coal. Certainly the industry of mining those rocks is fraught with controversy and peril, yet even the most seemingly ubiquitous minerals can serve as the source of conflict. But is sand really in the same category as cobalt and blood diamonds?

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Alberta regulator will hear Australian company’s revived plan for a controversial coal mine – by Emma Graney (Globe and Mail – February 23, 2024)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Alberta’s energy regulator will consider controversial applications to explore a new coal mine in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, ruling the project is excluded from a government-mandated ban on exploration approvals. The decision announced on Friday applies to a set of permit applications for exploratory activities by Northback Holdings Corp. at Grassy Mountain, on the site of an old mine that closed about five decades ago.

Northback, formerly Benga Mining Ltd., is a subsidiary of Australian mining giant Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd. Benga’s application for an open-pit mine on the land was rejected by a joint federal-provincial panel in June, 2021, because of environmental concerns.

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Nickel faces existential moment with half of mines unprofitable – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – February 26, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

Many of the world’s biggest nickel mines are facing an increasingly bleak future as they wake up to an existential threat: a near limitless supply of low-cost metal from Indonesia. With roughly half of all nickel operations unprofitable at recent prices, the bosses of the largest mining companies last week sounded a warning that there was little prospect of a recovery.

The potential collapse of nickel mining from Australia to New Caledonia comes at a time when western governments are scrambling to secure the supply chains needed to decarbonize the global economy. But in an ironic twist, Indonesia’s coal-fired nickel output is pricing out greener metal that’s so far failed to command a market premium.

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Thousand Bagger in Uranium Mining – by Tom Humphreys (The Big Score – February 24, 2024)

https://www.thebigscore.com/

Stephen B. Roman led Denison Mines from 8.5 cents to $87 per share in 13 years, tussled with prime ministers, and dominated the INSANE 20th century uranium business. This is his story.

Rage filled Stephen Roman’s stout frame as he stormed Canadian prime minister Lester Pearson’s office in 1965. Exploding over a ruined $700 million uranium contract, Roman hurled “son of a bitch” at Pearson, who would later quip that Roman was a relic, lagging “fifty years behind the apes.”

It wouldn’t be Roman’s last battle with a prime minister. His improbable rise from tomato picker to mining king is a tale of grit and the dramatic turns in 20th century uranium mining. Pope John Paul II even blessed Roman’s sprawling Toronto estate. Merging business, politics, and the biggest uranium mine, this is how Stephen Roman built an empire.

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Detecting Lab-Grown Diamonds That Deceive – by Jennifer Heebner (Rapaport Magazine – February 26, 2024)

Home

As Guy Borenstein gears up for Stuller’s Bench Jeweler Workshop in March, there’s one hot topic that will be addressed for the fifth consecutive year: synthetic diamonds. There’s no shortage of available equipment to detect lab-grown diamonds. According to the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), there are about 40 instruments on the market that aim to discover natural versus synthetic diamonds.

“Five years ago, I asked attendees how many were screening for lab-grown diamonds [LGDs] and one hand went up,” says the director of gemstone procurement for the Lafayette, Louisiana-based manufacturer. That number has grown as the years passed, but “the majority are still not checking,” he adds.

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Metallurgical coal is the commodity world’s quiet performer – by Clyde Russell (Reuters – February 22, 2024)

https://www.reuters.com/

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Feb 22 (Reuters) – When looking at the commodities used to make steel, iron ore gathers the bulk of headlines given its strong link to the perceived health of China’s economy. But metallurgical coal is also a key input, and this fuel has quietly been a top performer in the energy commodity space in recent months.

Australia dominates the seaborne market for metallurgical coal, accounting for more than half of global volumes, and about three times the shipments of the next biggest exporter, the United States. The price of Australian metallurgical coal, also known as coking coal, on the Singapore Exchange ended at $315 a metric ton on Wednesday.

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The world needs more critical minerals. Governments are not helping (The Economist – February 22, 2024)

https://www.economist.com/

Just obtaining a permit takes a remarkably long time

Mining companies have always mattered. Without the iron ore and copper they unearth, there would be no steel to build with and no wiring to carry electric power. Today miners have an extra responsibility.

If the world is to decarbonise, it will need 6.5bn tonnes of metals between now and 2050, according to the Energy Transitions Committee, a think-tank—and not just lithium, cobalt and nickel, the much-talked-about battery metals, but steel, copper and aluminium, too. Because that output is several times greater than today’s capacity, producing it will require miners to invest more and dig faster.

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Indonesia to wipe out global nickel rivals, warns French miner Eramet chief – by Harry Dempsey and Sarah White (Financial Times – February 24, 2024)

https://www.ft.com/

South-east Asian country’s low-cost production of metal vital to electric cars has made traditional suppliers uncompetitive, says Christel Bories

Indonesia’s low-cost nickel suppliers will wipe out rivals in the next few years, cementing the country as the world’s dominant producer of the metal vital to electric car batteries, the head of French miner Eramet has warned.

The south-east Asian nation could end up accounting for more than three-quarters of the world’s highest class of pure nickel in five years from now, Christel Bories told the Financial Times, with radical consequences for competitors elsewhere.

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Northwest First Nation wants to bring a stop to mine road construction – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – February 23,2024)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Cat Lake seeks injunction to halt First Mining Gold’s access road, pending judicial review

A northwestern Ontario First Nation in close proximity to First Mining Gold’s Springpole Project is heading to court, seeking to stop construction of an access road to the proposed mine site.

Cat Lake First Nation imposed a mining moratorium in 2023 on all mining-related activity within its traditional territory, which includes the Vancouver mine developer’s open-pit project.

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B.C.’s multimillion-dollar mining problem – by Francesca Fionda, Jeffery Jones and Chen Wang (Globe and Mail/The Narwhal – February 24, 2024)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The true cost of cleaning up mine pollution in B.C. is growing, a Globe and Mail-Narwhal investigation has found – and if disaster strikes, taxpayers could be stuck with an even bigger bill

When John Morris Sr. is asked where the sacred sites on the Taku River are, his answer comes easily. “This whole place is sacred,” the 84-year-old Elder says. In the spring, all five species of North American salmon fight the current to spawn. In the summer, bright orange salmon berries speckle the landscape.

Mr. Morris, a member of the Douglas Indian Association in southeast Alaska, said his grandparents, aunt, uncle and parents always reminded him that everything they needed was provided by the land there.

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