Barrick Gold Faces Challenges to Develop Latin America Mines – by Danielle Bochove and Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – February 15, 2019)

(Bloomberg) — Just seven weeks into the job, Barrick Gold Corp.’s new boss has already discovered, first hand, the challenges of developing and mining giant deposits in Latin America.

Barrick’s main project, the Veladero joint venture with Shandong Gold in Argentina, isn’t performing like a tier one asset, Mark Bristow said on Wednesday.

In 2019, Veladero is expected to have the highest cost per ounce in Barrick’s portfolio. He also cited projects in the El Indio belt straddling the Argentina-Chile border, and Alturas in Chile, as high-cost efforts. Continue Reading →

Hate mail and vitriol: Divisions run deep over bill that could reshape our natural resources economy – by Gabriel Friedman and Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – February 15, 2019)

Tempers flare over Bill C-69, the Liberals’ environmental review overhaul that has pit miners against the oilpatch

TORONTO/CALGARY – It’s a Friday afternoon in January and Pierre Gratton, president of the Mining Association of Canada, is tired of responding to angry emails from people he doesn’t know.

For the second time in as many months, his inbox and phone line were flooded with messages — some polite, some he calls “hate mail” — from people opposed to Bill C-69, the planned overhaul of the federal environmental review process.

Few pieces of legislation stir up raw emotion within the resources sector as much as those connected to environmental reviews, which require companies to study the impacts of their projects, sometimes at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and sometimes opening them up to legal challenges that can create years-long delays. Continue Reading →

Barrick CEO Bristow stands to earn as much as $18-million if targets are met – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – February 15, 2019)

Barrick Gold Corp. shareholders sent a message to the company in 2013 by opposing a US$17-million pay package for new recruit John Thornton. Now, the gold miner may end up paying its new chief executive officer even more.

Mark Bristow took over as Barrick’s CEO as it completed its recent acquisition of Randgold Resources Ltd., where he was CEO. He stands to earn as much as US$18-million at Barrick this year, subject to performance measures being met.

In a regulatory document, Barrick disclosed that Mr. Bristow’s compensation will include a salary of US$1.8-million and a cash bonus of up to three times his salary that could be worth US$5.4-million. Continue Reading →

Who should fuel the EV revolution? – by Guy Dixon (Globe and Mail – February 15, 2019)

Ontario is gearing up to power a population of electric vehicles, but how soon is the populace going to drive them?

As an example of one region’s readiness for electric vehicles, Ontario Power Generation, which produces about half of the province’s electrical generation, said it will be able to provide the extra power needed for an estimated three million or more EVs to hit Ontario’s roads in 20 years.

“The energy is there,” but the infrastructure is lacking – the ability for drivers to conveniently plug in their cars en masse overnight, said Andrea Brown, senior manager of electrification development at Ontario Power Generation. Continue Reading →

Quebec lithium developer’s stock craters after cost blowout – by Amanda Stutt ( – February 13, 2019)

Nemaska Lithium’s (TSE: NMX) stock plummeted Wednesday after disclosing it has been forced to revise the budget for the Whabouchi lithium mine and Shawinigan electrochemical plant upward by C$375 million. The company, with a $300 million market cap on the TSX, clawed back some of the early day’s losses, but still closed the day down 35%.

Nemaska, which has also received funding from the Quebec provincial and Canadian federal governments, is building the Whabouchi hard rock lithium mine in the James Bay region and Shawinigan processing plant north of Montreal, aiming to put Canada on the global lithium production map.

Nemaska has already spent over $138 million on the Whabouchi mine and mill, and another $67.3 million for the plant in Shawinigan. The additional funding is largely related to installation and indirect costs, said the company. Direct purchase package costs – mainly equipment – are in line with the original budget. Continue Reading →

Trust in tailings? Vale dam disaster spurs investors into action – by Barbara Lewis, Simon Jessop and Clara Denina (Reuters U.S. – February 15, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – Seeking assurances from Brazilian miner Vale by phone after a second deadly dam disaster in three years is not enough for Sasja Beslik. He plans to fly there himself to get answers.

Beslik, head of sustainable finance at Swedish bank Nordea, blocked the bank’s investment managers from buying any more Vale shares on Jan. 26, the day after a damn filled with mining waste burst its banks, killing hundreds.

He is the latest investor to step back from an industry that is trying to clean up its act. Vale needs to address the risks associated with tailings dams and deal with its waste material safely if it is to prevent an exodus of global funds and stem the recent share price slide. Continue Reading →

Barrick’s new CEO on a mission to restore glory to miner’s brand — and he’s not afraid to cut to get there – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – February 14, 2019)

One of Mark Bristow’s goals is to rein in costs; he expects a total of US$200 million in savings by 2020

At 11 a.m. on the nose on Wednesday, Barrick Gold Corp.’s new chief executive, Mark Bristow, strolled into the company’s 37th floor conference room with its postcard view of Lake Ontario’s frozen shores, and gave a nod to the packed room of bankers, analysts and media.

“We’re starting something new here,” Bristow said in South African-inflected English. “Face-to-face quarterlies.”

In the first look forward since Barrick closed its US$6-billion purchase of Bristow’s former company, Randgold Resources Inc. earlier this year, he spent nearly an hour providing a detailed look at his plans for the newly combined company. Continue Reading →

Copper Miner’s $10 Billion Bet Comes to Life in Panama Jungle – by Natalie Obiko Pearson (Bloomberg News – February 14, 2019)

The world’s largest new copper mine rumbled to a start this week in the Panamanian jungle, poised to supply a global market that’s tipping into deficit and gives First Quantum Minerals Ltd. a chance to prove its $10 billion investment was worth all the trouble.

Cobre Panama, a vast mining and processing complex near Panama’s Atlantic coast, processed its first ore on Monday, a half century after the deposit was discovered. At full production in 2021, it will turn Vancouver-based First Quantum into a top copper producer alongside giants like Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and BHP Group.

For Panama, it’s the biggest investment ever outside the canal and makes the Central American country a key supplier to a copper market facing labor unrest and governments grasping for greater takes. The $6.3 billion project will be able to ship its concentrate, thanks to the Panama Canal, to just about any smelter in the world. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Brazilian mine tragedy will not be the last tailings dam disaster – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 14, 2019)

LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) – The collapse of Vale’s Brumadinho iron ore tailings dam in Brazil was both shocking and devastating in its impact. But it was not a one-off event.

It was the 11th serious tailings dam failure in the last decade and such catastrophic events are becoming more frequent, according to researchers at World Mine Tailings Failures (WMTF). Indeed, the number of incidents is going to rise further, according to the U.S. not-for-profit organisation that tracks all recorded tailings storage facility (TSF) failures.

“Without major changes to law and regulation, and to industry practices, and without new technology that substantially reduces risk and increases loss control, our current prediction is for 19 very serious failures between 2018 and 2027.” Continue Reading →

Barrick predicts higher costs in 2019 as it books a $1.2-billion quarterly loss – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – February 14, 2019)

Barrick Gold Corp. is predicting sharply higher costs and lower grades at a key mine, as well as lacklustre production for 2019, highlighting the challenges the company still faces after its takeover of Randgold Resources Ltd.

The Toronto-based miner, which closed its deal for Randgold on Jan. 1, also booked a fourth-quarter net loss of US$1.2-billion, as it incurred impairment charges at its Lagunas Norte and Veladero mines in Peru and Argentina, respectively.

The Randgold acquisition was designed in part to inject new management talent into Barrick after years of restructuring. New Barrick chief executive Mark Bristow, who came from Randgold, is considered within the industry to be skilled at trimming costs. Continue Reading →

The battle over Bill C-69: Oil industry, government at odds as project review bill heads to Senate hearing – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – February 2, 2019)

Hal Kvisle is “mad as hell.” The seasoned oil-industry executive has taken a good look through Bill C-69, the pending legislation that overhauls the review process for major resource projects, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

A former chief executive of TransCanada Corp., Mr. Kvisle spent a decade shepherding projects such as the Mackenzie Valley Gas pipeline and the original Keystone pipeline through Ottawa’s byzantine regulatory process, with mixed results. Now chairman of the board of ARC Resources Ltd. and a director for oil sands giant Cenovus Energy Inc., he worries burdensome federal policies are killing growth prospects in the Western Canadian oil industry and warns the new legislation will only compound the problem.

The Liberal legislation “takes a horrifically bad situation and makes it worse,” Mr. Kvisle says. “They’ve created something that we in industry – having been through what we have – we see no end in sight to that [review] process.” No pipeline company will pursue a project under those circumstances, he says. Continue Reading →

Canada won’t ratify new NAFTA until steel and aluminum tariffs lifted, warns key U.S. Senator – by Naomi Powell (Financial Post – February 14, 2019)

Canada and Mexico won’t consider ratifying the revised North American Free Trade Agreement unless the United States lifts its tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley said Tuesday.

Grassley, who held meetings with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexico’s Ambassador to the U.S. Martha Bárcena Coquilast week, said the levies are now the “biggest impediment” to approving the deal.

“The Senate in Mexico is not going to take it up until the tariffs are off,” Grassley said during a call with reporters. “The House of Commons in Canada’s not going to take it up if it’s not there soon after March 1 and it’s not going to be there unless the tariffs are off. And even Republicans and Democrats in the Congress of the United States say those tariffs have to go off.” Continue Reading →

The Fight Between Miners and African Governments Is Just Getting Started – by Thomas Biesheuvel, William Clowes and Felix Njini (Bloomberg News – February 14, 2019)

States are seeking a bigger share of benefits from their mineral riches.

Standing before hundreds of mining investors and executives last week, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo issued a firm warning: stop expecting supercharged profits from Africa’s mineral riches.

It’s a theme that has simmered for years, as governments across the continent seek a bigger share of benefits from their natural resources. The debate ratcheted up in 2018, with countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia—the continent’s No. 1 and 2 copper producers—becoming increasingly insistent that producers must pay up.

There’s also been a backlash against the terms under which foreign companies agreed to invest in the first place—many mining codes, investment pacts and joint ventures were drawn up based on lower commodity prices and by previous regimes. Continue Reading →

Whether Earth’s population booms or busts, the future still looks promising – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – February 13, 2019)

Two vital new books from Canadian writers on the alleged population crisis suggest we can all relax

For centuries, assorted obsessive doomsters — from Thomas Malthus to Al Gore to the Club of Rome — have issued dire warnings that the world is careening into an overpopulated nightmare. U.S. biologist Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb in 1968, the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth publication warned in 1972 of a population crisis within a century, and Al Gore in 2014 called for “voluntary measures to lower birth rates around the globe.”

Two vital new books from Canadian writers on the alleged population crisis suggest we can all relax.

The latest, released this month, is Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline, by pollster Darrell Bricker and newspaper columnist John Ibbitson. They argue that global fertility rates are declining in all regions and that the world’s population could peak around nine billion in 2040. Continue Reading →

Famed Cullinan mine banks on big diamonds to drive down debt – by Emma Rumney and Barbara Lewis (Reuters Canada – February 14, 2019)

CULLINAN, South Africa (Reuters) – The owner of one of the world’s most famous diamond mines could be about a decade away from clearing its multi-million-dollar debts, in a sign of the struggles facing an industry assailed by synthetic rivals and uncertain demand.

Petra Diamonds bought Cullinan in 2008, aiming to breathe new life into the South African mine renowned for yielding the largest rough gem diamond ever found – 3,106 carats – and being the world’s main source of rare blue diamonds.

The London-listed miner, which acquired Cullinan from industry leader De Beers, borrowed heavily to revamp the facility and began mining a new section of ore last July. Petra told Reuters its debts from the mine stood at around 65 percent of its overall $650 million in borrowing, which would represent about $420 million. Continue Reading →