The next mining boom? Rare earths and the rise of Australia’s ‘other’ minerals – by Nick Toscano (Sydney Morning Herald – December 13, 2019)

Lithium, cobalt, titanium, rare earths – expect to hear more about them as we transition to green technologies. But what are they, actually? And what are they for?

Coal and iron ore are the heavy hitters of minerals in Australia. They’re our two top mining commodities by far, together accounting for 30 per cent of national exports.

But a handful of other minerals have become rather fashionable in recent times. They account for a small fraction of our export earnings and it’s mostly small operators that dig them out of the ground, with just a couple of big names in the mix. Yet they are rapidly becoming more important and edging their way into common parlance as result.

The sci-fi-sounding rare earths is one. Titanium is another. “He’s a man of titanium,” US President Donald Trump declared of our Prime Minister Scott Morrison this year, adding a zeitgeisty, if incomplete, fast fact: “You know, titanium’s much tougher than steel.” Continue Reading →

CEO says Barrick has plenty of financial ‘firepower’ for deals – by Danielle Bochove (BNN/Bloomberg News – December 12, 2019)

Barrick Gold Corp.’s chief says the gold miner has the financial heft it needs to support its loftiest ambitions — and some day those might include a merger with Freeport-McMoRan Inc.

“Barrick, by end of next year, or during next year, will be net debt zero,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said Thursday in a phone interview. “We’ve definitely got the firepower to build a mine or to support a transaction. We don’t need any external support, for any of our ambitions, as we stand today.”

The world’s second-largest gold miner has been generating more cash flow, with higher bullion prices, even as it has sold assets. By the end of this year net debt will be under US$2 billion, Bristow said. “We’re going to settle all the near-term debt, and we’re left with debt that’s only due from 2023 onwards.” Continue Reading →

China has big stake in Bougainville independence – by Alan Boyd (Asia Times – December 12, 2019)

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is likely to take a hard line on complete independence for Bougainville, despite the breakaway island province’s recent overwhelming vote to establish its own nation.

How the situation is handled will have major implications for regional stability, particularly as China aims to pull Bougainville as a new independent nation into its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

PNG Prime Minister James Marape has accepted the referendum result, announced on Wednesday, but committed his government only to developing “a road map that leads to a lasting peace settlement” in consultation with Bougainville authorities. Continue Reading →

Albemarle CEO says long-term lithium demand remains ‘robust’ (Reuters U.S. – December 12, 2019)

(Reuters) – Albemarle Corp, the world’s largest lithium producer, expects robust long-term demand for the electric vehicle battery mineral despite troubles in the existing market resulting from oversupply, Chief Executive Luke Kissam said on Thursday.

The outlook comes as shareholder anxiety about Albemarle and its peers has escalated in recent months, with the industry having produced far more of the white metal than EV makers currently need.

Wall Street analysts have downgraded Albemarle and dinged Kissam’s management as a result, with JPMorgan analysts going so far as to say the company is “overvalued.” Albemarle’s shares are down 16 percent since January. Continue Reading →

Gold exploration trends: drilling up, Canada leads – September 2019 – by Vladimir Basov ( – December 11, 2019)

Mining Intelligence data indicates that after a bleak month of August, exploration activity in the gold sector jumped in September and hit the second highest bar since the beginning of 2019, and both the number of drilled projects and the number of drillholes reported in September, were up in all major regions.

A trend towards exploration of advanced projects, rather than greenfield opportunities, was reversed in September with companies willing to take more early-stage exploration risks.

There was a noticeable improvement in overall drill intersection grades, with reported gold intersections with grades greater than 2 g/t have risen from 23% of their total count in August to 40% in September 2019. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Small modular reactors help us take a giant leap in the fight against climate change – by John Gorman (Globe and Mail – December 13, 2019)

John Gorman is the president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Nuclear Association.

To many Canadians, it may not seem like a big deal that the three provinces that have nuclear sectors – Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan – signed an agreement to develop small modular reactors (SMRs). But this milestone represents a giant leap forward for Canadian industry and the fight against climate change.

I’m new to the nuclear industry, but I’ve been working in the energy sector for 20 years. I’ve seen new technologies revolutionize how we produce and manage electricity. The development and deployment of SMRs has the potential to be even more transformative than the introduction of wind and solar power.

Why am I and others in the energy sector so excited about SMRs? The answer is in their name. First, they are small. Large reactors are powerful: They generate clean and inexpensive electricity for decades. But they take years to build, they are suitable only for large demand and they can’t be moved. SMRs, on the other hand, are like solar power in that they can be scaled to suit local needs. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: North American Palladium and Impala Platinum Announce Completion of Arrangement and Creation of Impala Canada

TORONTO, Dec. 13, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — North American Palladium Ltd. (“NAP” or the “Company”) (TSX:PDL) (OTC PINK:PALDF) is pleased to announce the successful completion of its previously announced plan of arrangement under the Canada Business Corporations Act (the “Arrangement”) with Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (“Implats”). Pursuant to the Arrangement, Implats has acquired 100% of the outstanding common shares of the Company for a total cash consideration of approximately C$1.0 billion.

Upon completion of the Arrangement, NAP became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Implats. With the acquisition of NAP, Implats has strengthened its competitive position by adding the Lac des Iles Mine to its asset portfolio. The low-cost Lac des Iles Mine immediately boosts Implats’ value and strengthens cash flow to advance its journey toward delivering sustainable shareholder returns. It also diversifies the group’s production base with a palladium-rich operation in an established, low-risk mining jurisdiction. Going forward, NAP will operate in Canada under the name Impala Canada Ltd. (“Impala Canada”).

“Impala Canada will accelerate our progress against a number of key strategic imperatives,” stated Nico Muller, CEO and Executive Director of Implats. “The acquisition is an important development in the evolution of the Implats Group into a sustainable PGM producer. Continue Reading →

Canada will consider climate plan in Teck oil project decision: minister – by Isla Binnie (Reuters Canada – December 12, 2019)

MADRID (Reuters) – The government will take into account its plan to make Canada carbon neutral by 2050 when it considers whether to approve Teck Resources Ltd’s plan for a giant oil sands mine, the new environment minister said on Thursday.

Teck wants approval for its C$20.6 billion ($15.5 billion) Frontier project, which involves an open pit mine to eventually produce 260,000 barrels per day (bpd). The mine in northern Alberta would open in 2026 and operate until 2067. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is supposed to decide by the end of February.

Regulators recommended approving the project in July, saying economic benefits outweighed “significant adverse effects” on the environment and indigenous communities. Continue Reading →

Here are the signs of hope Greta’s so ‘desperate’ for that show there’ll be no climate apocalypse – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – December 13, 2019)

The latest carbon emissions data and forecasts suggest the UN’s climate catastrophe scenarios are way off the mark

In the dying days of the two-week United Nations’ 25th Congress of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid, a meeting described as Kafkaesque in one report, Time magazine Newsmaker of the Year Greta Thunberg said she and her Extinction Rebellion cohorts are “desperate for any sign of hope.”

Well, here are two big signs of hope for today’s youth: The latest carbon emissions data and forecasts suggest the UN’s climate catastrophe scenarios are way off the mark.

Thirty years ago, when Time’s apocalyptarian editors declared Earth as Planet of the Year for 1988, they warned of the global environmental meltdown to come. Oceans will rise, deserts will grow, and human existence will be threatened. According to computer projections, claimed Time in late 1988, “the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere could drive up the planet’s average temperature 3 F to 9 F by the middle of the next century.” Continue Reading →

South African mining revival threatened as power cuts take toll – by Felix Njini (MiningWeekly/Bloomberg – December 12, 2019)

JOHANNESBURG – When South Africa’s State-owned utility announced record power cuts on Monday afternoon, Impala Platinum Holdings had two hours to hoist thousands of workers from 1 km deep shafts.

The deepening crisis at debt-ridden Eskom Holdings shut down South Africa’s key mining industry for 24 hours, hitting gold and platinum producers that had been enjoying a renaissance on the back of higher metal prices. The rolling blackouts threaten to tip South Africa’s economy into recession and hobble miners already impacted by community protests and xenophobic violence.

Johannesburg-based Implats was ordered to cut electricity usage to 55 MW from about 300 MW, forcing it to reduce power to furnaces by 90% and shutting down refrigeration and compressor plants. Continue Reading →

Triple Flag’s scrapped $360-million IPO shows investors still not buying gold rally – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – December 12, 2019)

The amount of equity raised by the mining sector has declined for several years, but broadly speaking it has also been a difficult time for IPOs

The streaming and royalty company Triple Flag Precious Metals Corp. on Wednesday cancelled its initial public offering, the clearest sign yet that financing conditions in the mining and metals sector have not caught up with rising gold prices.

The company had hoped to raise $360 million on the Toronto Stock Exchange by selling 20 million shares at $15 to $18 apiece in one of the biggest offerings in the Canadian mining sector in years, but analysts said the company likely could not hit its desired target.

Founded in 2016 by Shaun Usmar, a former Barrick Gold Corp. executive who received backing from the New York hedge fund Elliott Management Corp., Triple Flag invests in mining projects in exchange for a share of the revenue or production. Such companies generally are considered less risky than actual mining companies because their portfolio is often diversified across regions, metals, and management teams, among other factors. Continue Reading →

As Anti-Mining Protests Escalate, Peru’s Vizcarra Sides With Mining Companies – by Matthew C. DuPée (World Politics Review – December 11, 2019)

In mid-October, Peruvian authorities declared a 30-day state of emergency in the copper-rich province of Chumbivilcas, where anti-mining protesters had blocked a stretch of a vital highway called the Southern Runway for almost a month. The blockade, led by indigenous farmers and laborers known as comuneros, caused major disruptions to local commerce and large-scale mining efforts nearby, and nearly forced a halt in operations at Las Bambas, one of Peru’s largest copper mines.

It was just the latest in a series of anti-mining protests by comuneros in Peru this year, which have held up hundreds of millions of dollars in copper exports and forced the Peruvian government into contentious negotiations over indigenous land rights and environmental concerns.

The world’s No. 2 copper producer with reserves estimated at 83 million tons, Peru is highly dependent on copper exports, which generated $12 billion in 2017, more than a quarter of its total exports that year, according to data tabulated by the Observatory of Economic Complexity. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: U.S. Army will fund rare earths plant for weapons development – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – December 11, 2019)

(Reuters) – The U.S. Army plans to fund construction of rare earths processing facilities, part of an urgent push by Washington to secure domestic supply of the minerals used to make military weapons and electronics, according to a government document seen by Reuters.

The move would mark the first financial investment by the U.S. military into commercial-scale rare earths production since World War Two’s Manhattan Project built the first atomic bomb.

It comes after President Donald Trump earlier this year ordered the military to update its supply chain for the niche materials, warning that reliance on other nations for the strategic minerals could hamper U.S. defenses. Continue Reading →

Saudi Aramco tops Crown Prince’s $2-trillion valuation goal, though skepticism persists – by MARWA RASHAD AND DAVIDE BARBUSCIA (Globe and Mail – December 12, 2019)

Saudi Aramco hit the US$2-trillion target sought by de facto Saudi leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday as its shares racked up a second day of gains, despite some skepticism about the state-owned oil firm’s value.

Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) is the centerpiece of the Saudi crown prince’s vision for diversifying the kingdom away from its oil dependence by using the US$25.6-billion raised to develop other industries.

But that is well below his 2016 plan to raise as much as US$100-billion via a blockbuster international and domestic IPO. Riyadh scaled back its ambitions after overseas investors balked at the proposed valuation and only 1.5 per cent of Saudi Arabian Oil Co (Aramco) shares were listed on the Riyadh stock exchange on Wednesday, a tiny free float for such a huge company. Continue Reading →

OPINION: ‘Green’ energy relies on copper-nickel mining – by Jeremy Munson (Minneapolis Star Tribune – December 11, 2019)

Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, is a member of the Minnesota House.

Gov. Tim Walz’s mandates on electric vehicles and his push for 100% “green” energy represent a government takeover of energy, furthering an agenda of science deniers.

Make no mistake, this is an admirable goal. However, I am a lawmaker who embraces both science and reason, and these proposals are rooted in neither. Unlike many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I am not a science denier when it comes to green energy.

Last winter, I approached hundreds of green energy demonstrators in the State Capitol rotunda and spoke to a group carrying signs demanding electric vehicles mandates. I introduced myself and thanked them for supporting the PolyMet copper-nickel mine. Continue Reading →