Mining Sector Budget Cuts Go Global – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

At the risk of being the bearer of even more bad news, I have been watching the world’s mining industry react to the turmoil in global stock and money markets. Not only in Canada, but around the world companies big and small are conserving capital and cutting output.

Let us recap: Liberty Mines has placed its Redstone and McWatters nickel mines in Ontario on care-and maintenance. Breakwater has suspended mining at its Langlois base metals mine in Quebec and its Myra Falls base metal producer in British Columbia. Teck is paying particular attention to debt reduction. Capital budgets have been trimmed at Suncor’s oil sands project in Alberta.

And the announcements just keep coming. It seems producers of all commodities and all parts of the world are announcing cutbacks.

Rio Tinto is slicing approximately 10% from its iron ore output in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

BPH Billiton also expects to send fewer shiploads of iron ore to China next year.

Brazilian mining giant Vale will be slowing iron ore shipments to customers. Additionally, it has suspended a pre-feasibility study for a new bauxite and aluminum project in Ghana.

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Risk Taking and Venezuela – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The nationalization of the Las Cristinas gold project by the Venezuelan government looks like a done deal. There has yet to be an official pronouncement, but Toronto-based Crystallex International looks to have lost its chance to develop and operate this project.

Where is the outrage over such actions, asks Fredric Hambler, a financial systems analyst in San Francisco. “I say it’s time for Crystallex, and the Canadian Mining Journal, to loudly condemn the actions of the Venezuelan government. Thomas Bowden of the Ayn Rand Institute has an excellent article on the subject of ownership rights and the Las Cristinas project, which is available online at: http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=21879&news_iv_ctrl=1021

Our reader is right, of course. We are outraged by the turn of events in that Latin American country. The planning, hopes and money expended by Crystallex will never be recovered. The truly angry among the industry can call this an outright theft. But what is to be gained by ranting and raving?

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Hopes Fades for Crystallex’s Las Cristinas Gold Project – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The history of the Las Cristinas gold project that CRYSTALLEX INTERNATIONAL of Toronto has tried to lay claim to is steeped in controversy and delay. But the squabbling may soon come to an end if Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez gets his way. He wants to nationalize the Las Cristinas project along with several other industries.

Placer Dome was one of the first companies to drill the Las Cristinas deposit in the early 1990s. The Canadian company formed a joint venture with Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), and CVG remains the owner to this day. Crystallex was drilling the adjacent Albino concession at the time.

The entire Kilometre 88 area of Venezuela became one of the hottest gold plays in Latin America during the early 1990s. But the Las Cristinas deposit with 16.9 million contained oz of gold is the richest.

In 1997 Crystallex bought up a privately owned Venezuelan company said to own the rights to part of the Las Cristinas property. Placer Dome called the claim groundless, but it decided to suspend construction at Las Cristinas until the ownership question could be settled. In June 1998 the Venezuelan court dismissed Crystallex’s claim, clearing the way for Placer Dome and CVG to move forward. The next year low gold prices forced Placer Dome put the project on hold.

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Canadian Gold Hunters Undeterred by Sliding Price – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

It seems like only yesterday pundits looked at the price of gold as it topped US$1,000 an ounce and predicted it could only go up. Actually it was seven months ago, near the middle of March 2008, and we all wish the price would return to that level. Instead, the mess in the global financial markets has for some reason made the U.S. dollar stronger and the price of gold dip to the $750/oz range.

Nonetheless, many Canadian juniors are pressing ahead with work at what they hope will someday be this country’s next generation of profitable gold mines. Here is a sampling that have landed in my inbox during the last two weeks.

ALTO VENTURES of Vancouver sais drilling has begun on targets at its Mud Lake and Three Towers properties in the Beardmore-Geraldton Gold Belt in Ontario. High grades have been unearthed in the region in the past. (www.AltoVentures.com) WESCAN GOLDFIELDS of Saskatoon is earning a 50% interest in the Mud Lake project.

BRIGADIER GOLD of Toronto has extended the gold zone to more than 200 metres vertical depth at its Larder Lake project near Kirkland Lake, Ontario. The intersections were made beneath trenches in which visible gold was discovered in 2005. (www.BrigadierGold.com)

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Financial Woes Trim Mining Sector’s Capital Budgets – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators. The global financial crisis looks to be the new reality for most mineral producers. Slumping stock markets, wobbly banks and lack of consumer demand are having an effect on Canadian miners, …

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Arming Private Security in the Philippines – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

Halloween is fast approaching, and I am filled with scary thoughts. I can imagine little ghosts and goblins shrieking for treats. I can imagine costumed superheroes playing gruesome tricks. But the truly frightening thing that I came across this week is the decision made by the Philippine government to allow mining companies to arm their private security forces.

According to reports from GMANews.TV, mining companies in the Philippines will be allowed to established civilian auxiliary armed groups (CAGs) as an adjunct to the local military. CAG members will carry only low-calibre guns, but that is little consolation to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of a bullet.

Philippine Defence Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro reportedly said that miners will be allowed to have a many armed men “as necessary depending on the threat level and the terrain” as along as each company signs an agreement with the Armed Forces.

I find this proposal frightening for several reasons.

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Grasping at Lies – NGOs, Mining and the Truth – by Marilyn Scales

 Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators. “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” – Lenin Am I the only one who thinks there may be a conspiracy to defame BARRICK GOLD? The name of the Canadian …

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Canadian Mining Facts from the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The MINING ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (MAC) released its latest “Facts and Figures 2008” publication at the recent Mines Ministers Conference in Saskatoon. In it are details about the production, reserves, exploration, trade and investment, innovation, tax and human resource aspects of our industry. That’s a lot of ground to cover in 65 pages, but MAC is once again the most comprehensive source of such numbers.

Here are a few of them:

VALUE: The contribution that the metals and minerals industry makes to Canada’s economy by value is relatively stable at 3.5% to 4.5%. Meanwhile, the gross domestic product (GDP) grew to $1.2 trillion in 2007. Of that amount, mineral extraction contributed $9.68 billion and mineral manufacturing $32.22 billion.

TOP TEN: Canada’s top ten minerals by value in 2007 were nickel ($9.90 billion), copper ($4.53 billion), potash ($3.14 billion), coal ($3.14 billion), uranium ($2.76 billion), iron ore ($2.51 billion), gold ($2.38 billion), zinc ($2.09 billion), cement ($1.80 billion) and diamonds ($1.45 billion). The biggest money is to be had in the oil sands. The value of synthetic crude oil last year was $14.80 billion.

RESERVES: Canadian reserves continue to decline as they have for the past 25 years. Years of rising commodity prices led to a “modest” increase in 2006 and 2007, but without exploration spending in this country, production will also decline.

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Canadian Election Overshadows Successful Mines Ministers’ Meeting – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s call for a federal election on Oct. 14 was hardly a surprise. His Conservative party began running election-style ads at the beginning of September. Now, with the …

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Diamonds, Diamonds Everywhere – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

Imagine finding an exceptional, gem-quality white diamond weighing 189.6 carats. ROCKWELL DIAMONDS of Vancouver has done exactly that at its Klipdam mine near Kimberley, South Africa. The company reports that the stone is “oval in shape, somewhat flattened and strongly resorbed, and shows features typical of top colour high-value Type-2 gemstones.”

That description is sure to get everyone’s attention. So will the pictures of diamonds as large as 212-ct in the Diamond Gallery at www.RockwellDiamonds.com.

No less worthy of attention are recent exploration efforts for Canadian diamonds. Teams are finding diamonds and kimberlites at an astonishing rate this summer. Here are a few of them.

Vancouver’s COMMITTEE BAY RESOURCES and INDICATOR MINERALS reported the discovery of kimberlite boulders at the Borden project in Nunavut. Indicator minerals were visually identified in the float, and samples of the boulders have been sent for analysis.

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Canadian Mineral Facts and Figures from the Mining Association of Canada – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

The MINING ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (MAC) released its latest “Facts and Figures 2008” publication at the recent Mines Ministers Conference in Saskatoon. In it are details about the production, reserves, exploration, trade and investment, innovation, tax and human resource aspects of our industry. That’s a lot of ground to cover in 65 pages, but MAC is once again the most comprehensive source of such numbers.

Here are a few of them:

VALUE: The contribution that the metals and minerals industry makes to Canada’s economy by value is relatively stable at 3.5% to 4.5%. Meanwhile, the gross domestic product (GDP) grew to $1.2 trillion in 2007. Of that amount, mineral extraction contributed $9.68 billion and mineral manufacturing $32.22 billion.

TOP TEN: Canada’s top ten minerals by value in 2007 were nickel ($9.90 billion), copper ($4.53 billion), potash ($3.14 billion), coal ($3.14 billion), uranium ($2.76 billion), iron ore ($2.51 billion), gold ($2.38 billion),

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Mainstream Media Ignorance About Mining – Especially Waste Disposal – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

I’ve let the daily press get under my skin again. Newspapers and the CBC are telling the public that mining companies are going to destroy pristine Canadian lakes by turning them into dump sites for toxic mine waste. Why does the popular press still think that everything coming from a mine operation is “toxic”? Has no one outside the mining industry ever heard of sub-aqueous deposition?

There are 16 projects for which mining companies have applied to use lakes as tailings repositories, claim the environmentalists. The list includes the following 15:

BRITISH COLUMBIA
– NORTHGATE MINERALS – Kemess North (Duncan Lake)
– SHERWOOD COPPER – Kutcho Creek (Andrea Creek)
– ADANAC MOLY – Ruby Creek (Ruby Creek)
– TASEKO MINES – Prosperity (Fish Lake)
– IMPERIAL METALS – Red Chris
– TERRANE METALS – Mount Milligan

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What Has Gone Up Will Come Down – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication.

I am no economist, and I don’t have a magic formula to predict the future of commodity prices. Instead I read other people’s prognostications and watch for trends. Sadly, the trend that has is emerging involves a downturn in the cyclical high that miners have enjoyed since 2002.

For what my advice is worth, watch the US dollar get stronger. It would appear the recession caused by the sub-prime mortgage fiasco in that country was short-lived. The relative worth of the American dollar affects global commodity markets.

The price of crude oil has dropped from its US$145/bbl high in mid-July to below US$109 despite Hurricane Gustav’s trek across the Gulf of Mexico. The storm blew through the oil-producing region at a relatively mild strength of Category 2 and 1. Analysts who said only a week ago that Canadian gas prices would skyrocket to C$1.75/litre are now saying they will drop even further than the C$1.25/litre it is in Eastern Ontario today.

Everyone jumped on the bandwagon as the gold price topped US$1,000/oz in mid-March. Exploration, development and takeover activity reached a fever pitch. But the high cannot be sustained. With the exception of a brief rise to US$977/oz six weeks ago, the gold price continues to slide, closing just short of US$800/oz on Sept. 2. I would hazard a guess that no other metal price reflects such an inverse correlation to the value of the U.S. dollar.

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Canada Will Rule the North – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. In a bid to encourage economic development and defend Canadian sovereignty throughout the North, the federal government announced a new program of geo-mapping for Canada’s Arctic. Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement on Aug. 26, 2008, noting, “As I’ve …

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Alaska Votes for Gold, Not Fishing – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. This week the voters of Alaska were asked to decide whether or not they favour prohibitive clean water regulations for new mines in that state. Ballot Measure 4 was aimed specifically at stopping Vancouver’s NORTHERN DYNASTY MINERALS (50%) and South …

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