Harper pledges support for mining industry – by Lisa Wright (Toronto Star – March 4, 2014)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

The annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada kicks off Monday with Harper making surprise appearance. Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid a surprise visit to a major gathering of miners in Toronto Monday, pledging his ongoing support to the struggling mining industry.

Harper is the first sitting prime minister to attend the 82-year-old conference, a major networking event hosting nearly 30,000 people in the global mining industry through Wednesday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

About 60 journalists from around the world were invited to the question-and-answer format session between Harper and incoming PDAC president Rod Thomas before 400 convention delegates.

Neither the audience nor media – whose bags and equipment were checked thoroughly before entry to the conference hall by a sniffer dog — were allowed to ask questions.

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Feds promote mining prospects at annual PDAC event (CBC News – March 3, 2014)


Slump in prices has made for a tough climate for those working in the mineral exploration industry

As the world’s mining community meets for the annual Prospectors and Developers Association conference, the federal government is also talking about its role in promoting development.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver met with junior mining companies at the conference on Monday and he released the latest information government researchers have gathered on remaining mineral deposits.

Oliver said the data is particularly important at a time when the mining industry is going through a downturn.

“We all know that exploration for these type of deposits, especially deeper ones, impales significant financial risk,” he said. “And yet the discovery of these deposits can ensure the industry’s longer term prosperity.”

Oliver said the goal is to help companies better understand where new mineral deposits are — as well as their potential size — so they are more willing to invest.

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Update 1 – Vale back at work on Ontario nickel project – by Allison Martell and Euan Rocha (Reuters U.S. – February 3, 2014)


(Reuters) – Vale SA’s Canadian unit has resumed work on its Copper Cliff Deep nickel project in the Sudbury basin and expects to complete a feasibility study by the end of the year, a company executive said on Monday.

The project is expected to cost somewhere in the range of a billion dollars to build and could be one of the unit’s lower-cost operations, said Kelly Strong, Vale’s vice president of Ontario and UK operations.

If it goes ahead, the revised project, now dubbed Copper Cliff Mine, would be another boost for the Sudbury basin in northern Ontario, where Vale recently opened Totten, its first new mine in more than 40 years. “It’s going to look a little bit different than the original project – it’s going to be three phases,” said Strong.

The project would merge and expand what are now two separate mines. Its earlier incarnation was put on hold in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In 2010, Vale Canada said it was re-evaluating the project, though work did not proceed.

The first of the three phases could start producing within the next two to three years, Strong told Reuters. A final go-ahead will depend on the project securing a green light from Vale’s board in Brazil.

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Vancouver-based Goldcorp wins reprieve from Osisko Mining on takeover bid (Canadian Press – March 3, 2014)


MONTREAL – Osisko Mining Corp. said Monday it has settled a lawsuit it filed against Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc. as part of the Montreal-based company’s fight against a hostile takeover by the senior gold miner.

Under the settlement, the offer from Goldcorp has been extended to April 15, from March 10, while Osisko continues its search for an alternative bid. Osisko has also agreed to waive its shareholder rights plan by April 14 and provide Goldcorp with access to due diligence materials starting April 1, or earlier if Osisko signs a deal with another bidder.

“Given the robustness of our process to pursue value maximizing alternatives, the extension to April 15, 2014 provides a meaningful extension to the anticipated time to complete this work,” Osisko president and chief executive Sean Roosen.

“The April 15, 2014 date also provides certainty of timing for those in the process to complete their work and propose executable arrangements to unlock value for all stakeholders.”

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Tallying Quebec’s self-inflicted mining wounds – by David Parkinson (Globe and Mail – March 4, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

A few years ago, Quebec was the belle of the ball for prospective mining investors. Now, it seems, its Parti Quebecois government’s policy positions are well on their way to making the province a wallflower.

A new global survey of mining companies, from Canadian economic think tank the Fraser Institute, shows that Canada in general remains highly desirable for mining investment. Seven Canadian jurisdictions rank in the top-16, out of 112 global jurisdictions, in terms of overall mining investment attractiveness, a measure that combines the quality of the mineral potential and the receptiveness of government policy.

(Newfoundland and Labrador, ranked 3rd in the world, is Canada’s highest-ranked jurisdiction.) Also, five provinces rank in the top-20 in a list of jurisdictions with the most investment-friendly government policies (led by Alberta, at Number 3).

In both rankings, Quebec isn’t among them – underlining the province’s rapid fall from grace as a mining-investment destination.

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Trade pacts to spur mining investment – by Barrie McKenna (Globe and Mail – March 3, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

OTTAWA — Canada is signing an investment protection agreement with Cameroon and launching negotiations with Kenya as it pushes to secure better rights for Canadian mining companies in Africa.

Trade Minister Ed Fast is slated to make the announcements at this week’s Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto, an annual gathering of the global mining industry.

Ottawa has 26 investment treaties in force around the world. Last year, it signed 10 new ones, including seven in Africa. But even as Mr. Fast strikes new deals, the most important Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection (FIPA) agreement that Canada has reached to date – with China – sits on a shelf in Ottawa, signed, but not ratified.

Ron MacIntosh, a former Canadian diplomat and now a research fellow at the University of Alberta’s China Institute, said Ottawa is sensitive to critics who worry the agreement would give China the right to sue the government “any time it’s not happy about something,” particularly in the wake of China-based CNOOC Ltd.’s takeover of Calgary-based oil producer Nexen Inc. in 2012.

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Mining sector digs in for growth – by Derek Sankey (Vancouver Province – March 3, 2014)


Oilsands forecast to remain strong

CALGARY HERALD – Canada’s mining sector is on the cusp of growth in new jobs fuelled by several projects set to move ahead after struggling through broadly weaker commodity prices and a recent “down cycle,” say industry officials.

Oilsands mining has remained strong – and forecast to remain so – while base and precious metals rebound and new mines are coming on stream, following some workforce reductions in the last few years.

“There are a number of new mines currently in the pipeline that have a tremendous opportunity to gain some of those jobs back,” says Ryan Montpellier, executive director of the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR). “We’ve seen new employment in our north, in coal (and) there is some potential for new diamond mines,” he adds.

“There is a lot of potential in the industry today.” Year-over-year job growth increased by 11,000 jobs from 2011 to 2012, while the total number of mining jobs, including drilling and exploration, was 418,000 in 2012, according to Natural Resources Canada data.

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Mining convention sees brighter prospects ahead – by Rachelle Younglai (Globe and Mail – March 3, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Thousands of junior mining companies are prospecting for cash so they can keep up the hunt for new deposits amid the downturn in commodity prices. The miners will be doing their best to attract investors at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto this week.

A swarm of 25,000-plus miners, financiers and lawyers from more than 125 countries are expected to attend the four-day conference, the world’s largest mining gathering, which started on Sunday.

Funding for miners was scarce last year and the junior firms, which are responsible for the majority of new discoveries, are down to skeleton crews and desperate for investment.

“I have never been through anything like 2013. There were times when there was almost no hope,” said Richard Spencer, who has more than 20 years of experience exploring for minerals and is the chief executive of Toronto-based uranium miner U3O8 Corp.

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Goldcorp-Osisko battle heats up in Quebec as court case begins Monday – by Peter Koven (National Post – March 2, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The takeover battle between Goldcorp Inc. and Osisko Mining Corp. is heating up. But not for reasons that have anything to with the terms of the actual bid.

The two sides are set to face off in the Quebec Superior Court this week over Osisko’s claim that Goldcorp misused confidential information when it launched the $2.6-billion hostile offer in January.

The court case, which begins Monday in Montreal, centres on whether the two companies had a verbal standstill agreement in place when Osisko disclosed private data in a meeting last year. The trial is set to last for three days and both sides expressed confidence they will win. Not surprisingly, Goldcorp dismissed the lawsuit as a stalling tactic while Osisko said it will shed light on nefarious actions by Goldcorp.

Outside of court, a more complicated battle is brewing as both sides talk up their Quebec credentials in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of the province. Osisko is the largest Quebec-based mining company and owns the giant Canadian Malartic mine in the province. Goldcorp, based in Vancouver, plans to produce first gold from its US$1.8-billion Eleonore mine in Quebec later this year.

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Gold Miners See Looming Output Drop After Cut in Mine Spending – by Liezel Hill (Bloomberg News – March 03, 2014)


The biggest gold producers say global output will fall short of expectations and is poised to decline after the worst price slump in three decades spurred them to cut spending and revise mining plans.

Barrick Gold Corp., Goldcorp Inc. and Newmont Mining Corp., the three biggest producers by market value, say the industry has changed after gold plunged 28 percent last year. The decline forced miners to take at least $30 billion of writedowns.

“The industry has gotten more disciplined,” Barrick Chief Executive Officer Jamie Sokalsky said in a Feb. 24 interview. “We are in an inflection point now where I think ultimately gold production in the industry could start to decline more than people think.”

Sokalsky said lower mine output may support gold prices. Demand for physical metal is growing in China, according to Sean Boyd, the CEO of Canada’s Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. Central banks, net purchasers for four straight years, will keep buying, he said in an interview. The outlook for gold will be on the minds of many at the annual Prospectors & Developers Associated of Canada convention which began yesterday in Toronto.

Gold fell 0.4 percent to $1,326.39 an ounce on Feb. 28 in London. After posting its biggest annual loss in 32 years, the metal is up 10 percent in 2014.

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B.C. to impose new fees on mining industry – by Justine Hunter (Globe and Mail – February 28, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

VICTORIA — The B.C. government is planning to impose new fees on the mining industry, saying the sector should bear the cost for better services. “It will give the ministry an opportunity to bring a few more resources in to improve our performance,” Mines Minister Bill Bennett told the legislature Thursday.

But the industry is calling the move “punitive” and warns it will undermine already-fragile small-scale mining companies.

Just two years ago, the B.C. Liberal government restored ministry resources for services such as permit approvals, at Mr. Bennett’s urging. He had argued that government service cuts had “starved” the “dirt ministries” – those governing mining, forests and oil and gas – to the point that economic growth was being choked.

Now, the province wants mining to pay for those restored services. But the opposition NDP said Thursday the changes are ill-timed.

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PDAC 2014: Glimmers of hope as mining industry gathers in Toronto (Reuters/National Post – February 28, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Mining companies will meet at the industry’s biggest conference next week under the darkest cloud in a decade, but a recent bounce in the price of gold and silver and a trickle of investment and acquisitions are starting to pierce the gloom.

The renewed optimism may set up a fierce competition for funds among small explorers who have woken from years of hibernation and now appear to be gang rushing a small, wary group of investors. A Reuters survey shows that a majority of the small, Canadian-listed miners that help drive global mineral exploration expect to drill this year.

The same companies appear to be counting on an influx of funds first. More than half of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) and TSX Venture (TSX-V) miners and explorers that participated in the Reuters survey said they were “very likely” to seek financing in the coming 12 months. A majority also are at least somewhat likely to announce a “merger of equals”, often looking to tie up with a better-heeled rival.

The investment thaw so far is limited to bigger, cash-generating producers of metals and minerals who have embraced costs cuts and profits above all else, as well as a handful of smaller miners with high-quality, low-risk projects.

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Ring of Fire miners want Ontario to start making decisions (CBC News Sudbury – February 28, 2014)


Sudbury crowd told that southern Ontario needs to be sold on the Ring of Fire mining development

Two of the biggest players in the Ring of Fire say the province has to start making decisions to move the mining development forward.

Noront Resources CEO Paul Parisotto said, while he’d like to have his mine in the far north open by now, he’s not in a rush. “You’ll hear [Northern Development and Mines] Minister Gravelle say all the time: ‘We have to get it right.’ To me, that’s been code for, let’s move slowly and make sure things get done properly.”

That answer didn’t sit well with a frustrated Dick Destefano from the Sudbury Mining Supply and Service Association. “That’s the standard line we’ve been listening to for the past three years. You have fundamental differences.”

Those differences are largely about the road to be built into the Ring of Fire area. Noront would like it running East-West, while Cliffs Natural Resources wants it north-south.

Cliffs’ director of Furnace Technology, Matthew Cramer, said the companies aren’t fighting. But until the government decides, they can’t convince investors to put “real money” into these mines.

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Infrastructure a burning issue in Ontario’s remote Ring of Fire – by Mariaan Webb (MiningWeekly.com – February 28, 2014)


In Ontario’s Far North, the mineral reserve dubbed the Ring of Fire has been hailed as one of the most promising mineral developments in the province in almost a century, with the largest deposit of chromite ever discovered in North America. This discovery has potential for decades, possibly a century, of chromite production, which could revitalise the North American stainless steel industry.

But the bustling region, where more than 20 companies hold claims, is located in the isolated McFaulds Lake area of the James Bay lowlands – more than 500 km from Thunder Bay – and needs infrastructure, most crucially transportation infrastructure, to turn it into Canada’s newest mining camp. It is estimated that the region needs about $2.25-billion in transportation and industrial infrastructure.

Transportation is seen as the number-one issue that could make or break the area’s potential and Maurice (Moe) Lavigne, the VP for exploration and development of TSX-V-listed KWG Resources, stresses that these chromite deposits will not progress to economic enterprises unless there is an efficient and affordable way out of the remote region.

Much of the debate around infrastructure has focused on which way the Ring of Fire should go – road or rail – and who should carry the cost of the infrastructure development and maintenance.

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Augusta shareholders at risk in ‘essentially insolvent’ company: HudBay – by Peter Koven (National Post – February 28, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

TORONTO – Augusta Resource Corp. is “essentially insolvent” and facing severe financial risks in the coming months, according to the company that wants to take it over.

David Garofalo, the chief executive of HudBay Minerals Inc., tore into Augusta’s management in an interview on Thursday as the $428-million hostile takeover battle continues to heat up. His key message was that Augusta shareholders could be in deep trouble if the company does not wrap up permitting for its Arizona-based Rosemont copper project in short order.

The permitting question is at the heart of this takeover battle. This week, Augusta said it expects to receive its final required permit in the first half of this year. After that, it is set to begin construction. HudBay claims the permitting process is likely to be much more prolonged than that. If it is, that means Augusta could face serious liquidity concerns.

Augusta had just US$749,000 in cash at the end of September, leaving it with negative working capital of US$87-million. That is not a problem if the company locks up its permitting soon, because that event would trigger US$336-million of payments to the company from Silver Wheaton Corp. and a joint venture partner.

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