Report: China may use influence to soften Indonesia’s nickel ore ban – Frik Els ( – January 20, 2014)

Indonesia surprised the mining world little over a week ago putting into effect an outright ban on nickel ore exports, against expectations of a last-minute climb down by authorities.

Indonesia accounts for around a fifth of global supply at an estimated 400,000 tonnes of contained metal and the ban was seen as a potential game changer in the market for the steelmaking raw material..

Nickel prices have reacted in a fairly subdued manner however with three-month nickel on the LME last trading at $14,650 a tonne. That’s up around 7% since the ban was implemented, but a far cry from 2013’s high of $18,700 struck in February and still near levels last seen in 2009.

Global warehouse levels have risen sharply over the past two years – hitting a record 260,000 tonnes this year according to LME data – keeping prices subdued. Ample available metal and ore combined with a 20% rise in worlwide mining output since 2011 just as the market was moving into surplus.

Read more

New proposal could aid juniors and help even the playing field for small investors – by Alisha Hiyate (Mining Markets – January 14, 2014)

Private placement financings may be opened up to non-accredited investors

With so little money flowing into the beaten-down junior mining sector, Canadian regulators are proposing to loosen the restrictions around private placement financings to allow regular joe investors to participate.

The proposal, which was published for comment on Nov. 21, lays out the case for opening up private placements to retail investors that already own shares in a company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange, subject to a limit of $15,000 per company each year.

The change would help to even out the playing field for small investors, who, at the moment, can only buy shares on the secondary market. Currently, participation in private placement financings are limited to accredited investors – meaning institutions or wealthy or sophisticated individuals.

Private placements, which are priced at a discount to market and often include a sweetener in the form of a warrant, have long been the dominant mode of financing for juniors because they do not require companies to do the expensive and time-consuming work of filing a prospectus.

Read more

Coal mining, selenium, and the costs of toxic pollutants – by Mark Hume (Globe and Mail – January 20, 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.

VANCOUVER — Sutton Lake, near Wilmington, North Carolina, isn’t a place many British Columbians have heard about. But it might not be long before it is cited in court documents here, because of a study that quantifies the cost of replacing fish killed by pollutants.

The 1,100-acre lake was created in 1971 on land owned by Duke Energy to cool water coming from the Sutton Steam Plant. To form the lake, the power company had to dam a creek, which the state government approved only on the condition the reservoir was developed as a public fishery.

The company agreed – and soon had created a place where the fishing was so good it became the focus of bass tournaments.

Sutton Lake, however, was also polluted with selenium leaching from coal ash stored in nearby waste pits. And that’s why Sutton Lake is relevant in Canada, where selenium pollution produced by coal, uranium and bitumen extraction is of growing concern.

Read more

Osisko harsh in its formal rejection of Goldcorp’s hostile bid – by Bertrand Marotte (Globe and Mail – January 20, 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.

MONTREAL — Osisko Mining Corp. has unveiled a lengthy and harshly worded formal rejection of Goldcorp. Inc.’s hostile $2.6-billion bid for its smaller rival.

Montreal-based Osisko’s board of directors is unanimously recommending that shareholders reject the offer Vancouver-based Goldcorp launched on Jan. 14, calling it “financially inadequate” and saying it “significantly undervalues” Osisko’s main asset, the Canadian Malartic gold mine in northwestern Quebec.

Osisko also says the timing of Goldcorp’s offer is opportunistic because it is just before Canadian Malartic enters what Osisko expects to be its most productive years.

Goldcorp is offering a “meagre 15%” premium based on the closing prices of Osisko and Goldcorp on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Jan. 10, one that is “substantially below the premiums paid in other relevant metals and mining transactions,” Osisko said in a news release Monday.

Read more

Early-stage explorers and prospect generators tapped for performance in 2014 – by Henry Lazenby ( – January 20, 2014)

VANCOUVER ( – Despite the thorny down-market the junior exploration sector has been dealing with over the past 18 months, several companies have been rewarded for their performances. The problem was, however, that the industry has not delivered a lot of performance, Sprott US Holdings chairperson Rick Rule told investors on Sunday at the 2014 Vancouver Resource Investment Conference.

He pointed to examples during this period such as Reservoir Minerals, which is developing a portfolio of metals and mineral exploration projects in Europe and Africa, whose share price had risen from C$0.26 a share, to more than C$5 apiece in three years – that is a 625% gain; and Africa Oil, which is exploring for oil in the East African Rift Basin system, which had appreciated from C$0.80 a share, to more than $9 apiece.

“That’s performance,” Rule said. He noted that during 2013, the global stock charts spelled an unmitigated disaster for the junior exploration sector, when graphs slanted from the top left corner to the bottom right. This year, the stock chart for the market as a whole was going sideways.

Read more

Neil Young and his fellow oil sands critics have yet to propose a single credible alternative – by Michael Den Tandt (National Post – January 20, 2014)

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

Neil Young is probably no more, and no less, a moral coward than the next person. But he is a moral coward.

That’s because — like most of the rest of us — he declines to face the logical consequences of his beliefs. He fails to extend. The failure to extend is endemic in the broadening debate about sources of energy, their cost and follow-on effects. It reduces this debate, for the most part, to hyperbolic babble, in which combatants trade volleys like medieval theologians arguing whether angels have mass.

Does Young have the right to use his celebrity to stick it to Big Oil? Clearly he does. As Stephen Maher of Postmedia News has pointed out, this is a poet’s classic role — to act as goad, inciter and rabble-rouser. Artists are like Shakespearean court jesters. They get away with saying things no one else will or can, and they should. But let us, for a moment, talk turkey about the politics of oil, and energy, and the related moral choices that we each make.

As many have noted previously, fossil fuels are not going away, in our lifetime. The International Energy Agency predicted in its World Energy Outlook 2013 that global energy demand will grow by a third between now and 2035, with emerging economies accounting for 90% of net new demand.

Read more

Sliding loonie may ease pressure on Canadian miners – by Alisha Hiyate (Mining Markets – January 10, 2014)

For the past year, the Canadian dollar has been weakening – falling from above parity with the greenback at the beginning of 2013 to its current price of US91.5¢. The loonie has lost 2.4% of its value this week alone, and Goldman Sachs predicted last year that it would reach US88¢ within a year.

For Canadian miners with operations in Canada, there’s an upside and a downside to a weaker loonie, says Jürgen Beier, national mining leader at professional services firm Deloitte Canada.

On the upside, because all commodities are priced in U.S. dollars, they will get more Canadian dollars for every ounce of gold or pound of copper they sell, Beier says. (For example if they sell an ounce of gold for US$1,240 they will get C$1,355 per oz. at the current exchange rate)

“So there will be a revenue increase from a Canadian dollar perspective — if they report in Canadian dollars,” Beier says. At the same time, the cost of imported commodities, equipment, or anything else priced in U.S. dollars that miners need to operate is going to rise.

Read more

Alberta-shot Discovery Channel miniseries, Klondike, mixes history and melodrama – by Eric Volmers (Calgary Herald – January 16, 2014)

Given its rugged nature, it’s not surprising that much of the chatter around the Discovery Channel’s Klondike has dealt with the more physical aspects involved in filming the six-hour miniseries last year in Alberta.

Actors climbed mountains, plunged into rivers, dodged (fake) avalanches, fought and shot each other and generally did their best to look gaunt, desperate and dishevelled when sloshing in the muck of a recreated Dawson City of the 1890s.

But star Richard Madden insists there was a more scholarly side to the shoot. In fact, to hear the 27-year-old Scottish actor talk about it, the set could become positively nerdy when it came to comparing notes on their characters.

Read more

Canadian nickel producers hope to benefit from Indonesia’s export ban – by Rachelle Younglai (Globe and Mail – January 17, 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.

Indonesia’s ban on raw mineral exports has the potential to rejuvenate a nickel industry that is suffering from a plunge in metal prices.

The ban, which started on Sunday, has pushed nickel prices up on fears that there will be a shortage of the silvery white metal used to make stainless steel. That would help Canadian producers Sherritt International Corp., Lundin Mining Corp. and First Quantum Minerals Ltd.

Toronto-based Sherritt, which runs the Moa nickel mine in Cuba and is developing a giant nickel mine in Madagascar, could see benefits immediately. “Any improvement in the nickel prices will go straight to our revenue,” said Sherritt’s chief executive officer David Pathe.

Shares of Sherritt and other producers gained about 5 per cent on Thursday. Shares of tiny Canadian nickel companies First Nickel Inc. and Royal Nickel Corp. also made gains.

Although nickel is trading at two-month highs of $6.50 (U.S.) a pound, the metal is down 70 per cent from its record high of $24 reached in 2007 when supplies were scarce.

Read more

Only Arctic nations should shape the North, Harper tells The Globe – by Steven Chase (Globe and Mail – January 17, 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 — This is a prelude to The North, a Globe investigation launching this weekend that investigates the unprecedented change to the climate, culture and politics of Canada’s last frontier. Join the conversation at #GlobeNorth.

Stephen Harper says the Arctic should be the domain of countries with territory there and he would oppose efforts to grant influence to outsiders in a region attracting growing global attention amid climate change and the hunt for resource riches.

Canada is the current chair of the Arctic Council, an international forum for co-operation in the region that has taken on a fresh importance as countries jockey for position and economic opportunities in the North on everything from offshore petroleum deposits to faster shipping routes.

Mr. Harper said he has had misgivings about the rush of countries and other players to join the club as observers. 

Read more

US EPA publishes ‘final chapter in very sad story’ – Northern Dynasty – by Henry Lazenby ( – January 16, 2014)

TORONTO ( – The proponent of one of the largest undeveloped minerals resources left in the world, on Thursday said the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final version of its Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment (BBWA) was “really the final chapter in a very sad story”.

TSX-listed Northern Dynasty Minerals, which has high hopes for developing the Pebble copper/gold/molybdenum project, in Alaska, said that while it acknowledged the EPA’s final published version of the BBWA, it believed that the EPA set out to do a flawed analysis of the project.

“Publication of the final watershed assessment is really the final chapter in a very sad story,” Northern Dynasty president and CEO Ron Thiessen said.

The company said that the EPA released drafts of the watershed assessment in May 2012, and April 2013, to widespread criticism about the report’s flawed methodology and findings, including from the state of Alaska, Alaska Native groups and expert peer reviewers commissioned by the federal agency.

Read more

Neil Young’s oil sands rants get dose of reality from Western Canada – by Claudia Cattaneo (National Post – January 17, 2014)

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

The more Neil Young moves out West with his rants against the oil industry, the more he comes face to face with reality, and it’s not a pretty encounter.

The rock star may get away with comparing Fort McMurray to Hiroshima in places like Washington, far removed from oil operations. But in Saskatchewan and Alberta, where oil fields are part of the landscape and thousands of aboriginal peoples work and profit from the oil industry, his views are so out of touch they’re embarrassing.

Indeed, if Mr. Young’s intention was to raise awareness with his Honour the Treaties tour that there is opposition by some aboriginal groups to growing oil sands development, what he’s getting is a frosty snub. On the heels of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall calling the singer’s Hiroshima comparison “insensitive and ignorant of the facts,” the Calgary-based oil industry fired some low blows of its own Thursday.

“Every Canadian has the right to an opinion, and in the case of Mr. Young’s opinions on the oil sands, I would suggest that he has a democratic right to be wrong,” Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said in a press conference in Calgary Thursday, displaying a new directness in addressing criticism unsupported by facts.

Read more

Cenovus CEO Brian Ferguson’s battle with rock stars and price differentials – by Yadullah Hussain (National Post – January 17, 2014)

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

Brian Ferguson is fed up with critics of the oil sands. Like his peers, the 56-year-old chief executive officer of Cenovus Energy Inc. has generally kept a relatively low profile over the years, more comfortable discussing technological innovations in the oil sands rather than taking on music and film celebrities with far greater name-recognition.

But the industry’s low-key strategy has emboldened opponents to paint the oil sands in the worst possible light, leaving oil executives to seethe privately at the insults, but maintain a congenial dialogue with their worst critics, at least in public. Mr. Ferguson says his company is looking to reach out to a broader audience to counter popular but false perceptions about the oil sands.

“I think there is a desire to better understand what is really happening,” told the Financial Post. “There are lot of sensational comments that are made which are not based in fact, and are factually incorrect.”

Mr. Ferguson admits that the industry could have done a better job of defending the oil sands in the past five years, but that might change. Mr. Ferguson has been at the helm of Cenovus since it was spun off from Encana Corp. in 2009.

Read more

De Beers starts environmental studies at Attawapiskat mine – (CBC News Sudbury – January 16, 2014)

De Beers is moving ahead with environmental studies on expanding its diamond mine in Attawapiskat.

Company spokesman Tom Ormsby said this is still early days, but he said there have been preliminary discussions with the Cree community about what this project, called the “Tango” extension would mean.

“We’re committed to staying the course here with the community and hopefully extending this mine.” Ormsby said De Beers and Attawapiskat appear to have moved past tensions related to roadblocks of the existing Victor mine from last winter.

He says if the diamond mining company goes ahead with this new project, there could be a re-negotiating of the impact benefit agreement with the James Bay first nation.

“We’re not there yet. We hope to make this go, but there’s still some hurdles we need to accomplish to get various approvals and the final data to say ‘Yes, this is going to be economic’,” Ormsby said.

If all goes well, he said, mining at the Tango site near Attawapiskat would begin in 2018.

Read more

Mining industry endorses ‘game-changer’ transparency rules – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – January 16, 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’s mining industry has endorsed a plan that would require mandatory reporting to provincial securities commissions of all project-related payments they make to governments, a move that global transparency groups are hailing as groundbreaking.

In a final report to be issued Thursday, the country’s two largest mining organizations joined with transparency advocates to urge governments to move quickly to implement the plan, which they said would allow citizens in mineral-rich countries to hold governments to account for the resource revenues they collect. The Mining Association of Canada and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada have launched a lobbying effort to persuade the Ontario Securities Commission and other provincial bodies to adopt the new rules.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper endorsed the idea of mandatory reporting for all resource companies at last year’s Group of Eight summit, and Natural Resources Canada is now consulting with provinces and industry on how to implement the policy for both mining and oil companies.

Read more