Archive | Gold and Silver

Stream of molten gold signals return of large-scale underground mining to Calif.’s Mother Lode – by Don Thomspson (Associated Press/Victoria Times Colonist – December 17, 2012)

http://www.timescolonist.com/

SUTTER CREEK, Calif. – The gold miners who made California famous were the rugged loners trying to shake nuggets loose from streams or hillsides. The ones who made the state rich were those who worked for big mining companies that blasted gold from an underground world of dust and darkness.

The last of the state’s great mines closed because mining gold proved unprofitable after World War II. But with the price of the metal near historic highs, hovering around $1,700 an ounce (28 grams), the California Mother Lode’s first large-scale hard rock gold mining operation in a half-century is coming back to life.

Miners are digging again where their forebears once unearthed riches from eight historic mines that honeycomb Sutter Gold Mining Co.’s holdings about 50 miles (80 kilometres) southeast of Sacramento. Last week, mill superintendent Paul Skinner poured the first thin stream of glowing molten gold into a mould.

“Nothing quite like it,” murmured Skinner, who has been mining for 65 years. It was just four ounces (112 grams), culled from more than eight tons of ore, but it signalled the end of $20 million worth of construction and the pending start of production. The company announced the ceremonial first pour before financial markets opened Monday, marking the mine’s official reincarnation. Continue Reading →

Conflicts surrounding Canadian mines ‘a serious problem’ – by Catherine Solyom (Montreal Gazette – December 18, 2012)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html

This series was made possible thanks to a Bourse Nord-Sud grant attributed by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec and financed by the Canadian International Development Agency.

Last of a three-part series.

Canadians abroad have long benefited from what psychologists call “the halo effect”: Because of its reputation as a peace-loving, human-rights respecting, tree-hugging land, Canada can do no wrong.

But perceptions in Latin America are changing, say observers here and there, as conflicts pitting Canadian mines against local communities become entrenched and spread across continents, and the line between those companies and the Canadian government becomes increasingly blurred.

“Last week, there were demonstrations outside the Canadian Embassy in Mexico. But it’s not just Mexico, it’s throughout the region,” says Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert, a history professor at McGill University and the coordinator of the McGill Research Group Investigating Canadian Mining in Latin America. “What embassy in Latin America has not been the locus of protests because of a Canadian mine? Continue Reading →

Clean capitalism gets mixed results in the Andes – by Catherine Solyom (Montreal Gazette – December 17, 2012)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html

This series was made possible thanks to a Bourse Nord-Sud grant attributed by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec and financed by the Canadian International Development Agency.

Barrick Gold has been funding projects near its controversial Pascua Lama mine, in the name of corporate social responsibility. But local citizens wonder what will happen to them when the gold runs out

ALTO DEL CARMEN, CHILE/SAN JUAN, ARGENTINA — Houses for the homeless, wireless Internet for remote villages, new computers for the local school, kite-sailing competitions, a centre for the disabled.

These are a few of the things Barrick Gold has helped finance during the last few years in communities living near its controversial Pascua-Lama mine, under construction in the Andes mountains on the Chile-Argentina border, as part of its commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR), or as it is called in Spanish, “mineria responsable.”

If these programs sound like they are beyond the normal purview of a Canadian gold mining giant, that’s because they are. Barrick often works with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who are better acquainted with health and social problems in their own communities. The NGOs share their expertise; Barrick puts up the money. It’s hard to be against CSR, now part of the playbook of most Canadian mining companies wherever they have set up shop around the world. Continue Reading →

Glaciers, protests and court cases slow Barrick in Pascua-Lama – by Catherine Solyom (Montreal Gazette – December 17, 2012)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html

This series was made possible thanks to a Bourse Nord-Sud grant attributed by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec and financed by the Canadian International Development Agency.

At the beginning of November, Barrick Gold’s CEO, Jamie Sokalsky, announced yet another jump in the estimated capital costs of the Pascua-Lama mine, from less than $1 billion in 1997, to $3 billion in 2009, to $8 billion in July, to $8.5 billion last month – with “first gold” extracted from the Andean mine closer to the end of 2014 than to the beginning.

But, Sokalsky assured shareholders once again, Pascua-Lama is the company’s “top priority.”

There are, however, a number of obstacles remaining on the bumpy road to Pascua-Lama, to the delight of some and the dismay of others, from legal wrangling in Chile over the deeds to the vast, frigid territory, to a Supreme Court of Argentina decision over whether any mining can take place there at all, given the presence of glaciers so close to the mine pit.

Capital costs, which may yet rise again when the company releases its year-end results in February might be the least of Barrick’s worries. Continue Reading →

The seduction of gold in Pascua-Lama – by Catherine Solyom (Montreal Gazette – December 15, 2012)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html

This series was made possible thanks to a Bourse Nord-Sud grant attributed by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec and financed by the Canadian International Development Agency.

Who can resist it? Not Canadian giant Barrick, which is sinking $8.5 billion into a mine in the snow-capped Andes. Not Chile and Argentina, whose border is home to the massive project. Not a portion of the arid region’s residents who are benefiting from Barrick’s largesse. But with seduction comes risk, division and fear.

PASCUA-LAMA, ON THE BORDER OF CHILE AND ARGENTINA — Standing on a precipice 5,200 metres above sea level, the air is thin and the vistas are long.

Just breathing is difficult at this altitude, with a howling wind disturbing the utter majestic silence of the snow-capped Andes mountains, threatening to blow you over the edge. You’d think you were alone at the top of the world.

But what happens up here in Pascua-Lama, where Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold is developing the first open-pit gold mine to straddle two countries, will have a huge impact on the people living in the valleys below on both sides of the border – for better or for worse. Continue Reading →

“Pascua-Lama is a third country in the Andes cordillera” – by Catherine Solyom (Montreal Gazette – December 15, 2012)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/index.html

This series was made possible thanks to a Bourse Nord-Sud grant attributed by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec and financed by the Canadian International Development Agency

Barrick Gold’s Pascua-Lama mine project will have its own hospital, complete with operating room and X-ray facilities, an indoor sports centre, and housing for up to 10,000 people. It has its own customs and immigration office at one of the highest border crossings in the world, at an elevation of 3,700 metres.

And exclusive charter flights leave La Serena, Chile, and the country’s capital, Santiago, carrying engineers, mine workers and the occasional journalist, just barely clearing the tops of the jagged Andes mountains before landing on the Pascua-Lama airstrip.

It even has its own soccer team – probably a successful one, given the altitude at which the players train.

It is governed by a special tax treaty, which establishes how it will pay taxes and royalties to Chile and Argentina, and by the rules set down in the Bi-National Integrated Mining Treaty signed between the two countries in 1997.

Among other things, the mining treaty gives a company exclusive rights to use the water and other natural resources found within the territory, and suspends both countries’ constitutional prohibitions on economic activity or foreign property ownership near the border. Continue Reading →

Mine CEO [Darryl Stretch] accuses chiefs of slander – by Jonathan Migneault (Sudbury Star – December 17, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The president of a gold prospecting company has accused two First Nations chiefs of making “slanderous and defamatory remarks” against him in the media.

Darryl Stretch, the president of Solid Gold Resources Corporation, has given Dave Babin, chief of the Wahgoshig First Nation, and Harvey Yesno, grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, until today to issue a public apology for comments they made at a Sudbury press conference on Nov. 7.

“In the event that you do not respond to this notice I will take whatever action is available to me,” Stretch said in his letter to Babin and Yesno. Babin has said he has no plans to respond to Stretch’s request for a public apology. The three parties have feuded over Stretch’s requests to do mining exploration on First Nation territory.

In March, Stretch told the Globe and Mail the Wahgoshig First Nation wanted his company to pay $100,000 to study whether its drilling would be on a burial ground.

“It’s not my obligation to go find arrowheads for those people, period,” Stretch told the Globe. “If they don’t like you, you don’t work. What kind of deal is that? Because I didn’t do it right, the way the Indians wanted me to? Because I didn’t give them money? Because I didn’t beg them for permission to go? It’s just ridiculous, the whole concept.” Continue Reading →

More than just costs are a concern at Barrick Gold’s $8.5B Pascua-Lama megamine – by Catherine Solyom (National Post – December 16, 2012)

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

Pascua-Lama, on the border of Chile and Argentina — Standing on a precipice 5,200 metres above sea level, the air is thin and the vistas are long.

Just breathing is difficult at this altitude, with a howling wind disturbing the utter, majestic silence of the snow-capped Andes mountains, threatening to blow you over the edge. You’d think you were alone at the top of the world.

But what happens up here in Pascua-Lama, where Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold is developing the first open-pit gold mine to straddle two countries, will have a huge impact on the people living in the valleys below on both sides of the border — for better or for worse.

After more than a decade of intense debate — often played out in front of the Canadian embassies in Santiago and Buenos Aires — the mine is set to open in 2014, and to produce 850,000 ounces of gold a year, as well as vast amounts of copper and silver.

Up to 10,000 people, many of them from the villages closest to the mine, will be employed during the construction phase and another 1,650 will operate the mine for at least the next 25 years. Continue Reading →

Conflict-Free Gold Standard – World Gold Council

http://www.gold.org/about_gold/sustainability/conflict_free_standard/

The World Gold Council has developed the Conflict-Free Gold Standard, an industry-led approach to combat the potential misuse of mined gold to fund armed conflict. The Standard has been developed with our member companies, comprising the world’s leading gold producers, and with extensive input from governments, civil society and supply chain participants. It is hoped that the Standard will promote responsible mining practices throughout the gold mining industry. It is an open standard that is available for use by any party involved in the extraction of gold.

Responsibly undertaken, gold mining can play an important role in contributing to sustainable development and alleviating poverty in many of the world’s developing countries. The direct and indirect economic contribution of professional gold mining creates new possibilities for these nations, their communities and individuals.

However, when there is armed conflict, even the best managed operation will need to take additional steps to ensure that both the gold it produces and its broader activities do not contribute to the conflict. Continue Reading →

Building boom adds stress to public works – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – December 12, 2012)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – The city’s “building boom” is resulting in unprecedented work loads and stress levels for Timmins’ community development and public works employees, explained department head Mark Jensen. In pre-budget discussions with city council, Jensen said that many of the department’s challenges are caused by a mix a comparatively low staffing levels, a rapid increase in building permit applications, and a giant geographical area to cover.

To help with efforts such as cutting down on illegal building activity, keeping up with permit processing, and managing increasing administrative duties, Jensen recommended the creation of a new position in the building inspection division.

“A good amount of that demand is coming from our non-residential permit activity,” explained Jensen. “When I say that, we’re looking at the commercial and industrial sectors, and institutional as well. It’s not to say the residential sector isn’t also realizing notable increases over previous years, because it certainly has as well.”

He used the comparable municipalities of Cornwall (pop. 45,965), Belleville (pop. 48,821) and North Bay (pop. 53,980) to make his point. Belleville’s has 11 building inspection staff, Cornwall and North Bay each have eight, while Timmins currently has five-and-a-half full-time employees in the division. Continue Reading →

Lake Shore Gold expands mill (Timmins Daily Press – December 12, 2012)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Officials with Lake Shore Gold Corp. announced this week it has achieved a processing capacity of 2,500 tonnes per day. This is following the completion of the first stage of its 50% mill expansion.

The mill’s new capacity represents an increase of 25% from the previous capacity of 2,000 tonnes per day. The second stage of expansion, to a capacity of 3,000 tonnes per day, is on track for completion during the second quarter of 2013.

“We are beginning to see the payback from a lot of hard work and investment over the last year,” said Tony Makuch, president and CEO of Lake Shore Gold “With increased mill throughput and improved grades, we are set to finish the year strong and to achieve full year production of over 85,000 ounces of gold.

“Equally important, with the progress being made at our mill and in completing our development and drilling programs at Timmins West Mine, we are looking to 2013 as a break-out year for the company, with significantly higher production, lower operating costs, and a sharp reduction in capital expenditures.

“Our balance sheet is strong and we are financed to take Timmins West Mine to full production at which time we will be generating positive free cash flow.” Continue Reading →

The North should prepare itself for a prime-time TV gold rush – by John Doyle (Globe and Mail – December 12, 2012)

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.

My prediction for 2013 is the victory of the proletariat.

Okay, all righty, maybe that’s not going to happen. So let’s stick with possible trends for 2013. Here’s a trend that is not entirely unrelated to the victory of the proletariat – the North.

News arrived recently that Discovery, the fabulously successful U.S. cable channel, has ordered up its first scripted project, and that drama project is called Klondike, based on Canadian writer Charlotte Gray’s book Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike.

Among those involved is Ridley Scott, the English director and producer responsible for the movies Alien, Blade Runner and Black Hawk Down, among other titles. In a press release Scott says, “Klondike was the last great gold rush; one which triggered a flood of prospectors ill-equipped, emotionally or otherwise, for the extreme and gruelling conditions of the remote Yukon wilderness.”

Indeed. But what matters, too, is that the decision to make Klondike follows on the ratings success of Discovery’s reality series Gold Rush (seen on Discovery Canada, Tuesdays, 9 p.m., Saturdays, 11 p.m.). Now into its third season, the series follows the key workers at four mining companies as they dig for gold in Alaska. Continue Reading →

Gold mining’s ‘Occupy’ moment – by Geoff Candy (Mineweb.com – December11, 2012)

http://www.mineweb.com/

Dissatisfaction with mining company performance is causing major institutional shareholders in mining equities to question the running of the companies in which they are invested and in some cases to demand changes in management direction – and personnel.

GRONINGEN (MINEWEB) – While the protesters that formed the heart of the Occupy movement in the US (and throughout the rest of the world) would most likely struggle to see any similarity between themselves and the fund managers and investors that buy and sell gold mining and exploration companies, one can’t help but notice a few parallels between the two.

Indeed, listening to the increasingly strident criticism of mining company management by the likes of BlackRock, Hallgarten & Co and US Global to name but three, it is not hard to imagine them siding with the 99% who want to see more of the money; disappointed as they are in the return they have so far received on their investment.

These investors feel disappointed in the management of the companies in which they have invested because they have, in many instances, failed to capitalise on the record rise in many commodity prices and, in particular gold prices and, as a result, like the Occupy protesters, have begun to make their dissatisfaction felt, albeit in a slightly more orderly fashion. Continue Reading →

Barrick tops list of sustainable Canadian miners – by Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal – December 3, 2012)

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.

Corporate Knights, a specialized media and investment research company based in Toronto, has released its first Canadian mining sustainability ranking. The researchers measured the performance of 52 Canadian miners against 12 sustainability indicators, ranging from energy and carbon productivity, to comparisons of CEO and worker pay, and leadership diversity.

Readers familiar with Barrick Gold (56%) will not be surprised to learn it is the highest ranking of the top 10 sustainable Canadian miners. Corporate Knights found it deserved to be first because of its “top-tier disclosure practices and strong across-the-board sustainability performance”. The company was also cited for its water productivity (a measure of revenue generated for every cubit metres of water used in operations) and pay equity (the spread between an organization’s top earning senior executive and a average employee).

Barrick’s score of 56% is only two points ahead of Teck Resources (54%), the second place finisher. Inmet Mining (49%), Goldcorp (45%) and Agnico-Eagle Mines (39%) round out the top half of the list.

The continuing high gold price gives producers of the yellow metal substantial amounts of cash with which to foster sustainability. The trend continues in the next five companies. Eldorado Gold (35%) ranks sixth, Kinross Gold ranks seventh (34%) and New Gold (33%) sit at eighth. Continue Reading →

Incoming Newmont CEO is an honest-to-goodness miner – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – December 4, 2012)

 http://www.mineweb.com/

A major North American mining company announced Monday it will actually appoint a mining engineer as CEO, shattering years of CFO, lawyers, and investment banker promotions to the top spot.

RENO (MINEWEB) – With the announced promotion of Newmont President COO Gary Goldberg to President and CEO, Newmont returns to a mine operator in the top job for the first time since South African Gordon Parker was named CEO in 1986.

Could the promotion of Goldberg, who joined Newmont in December last year from Rio Tinto, to the CEO’s post be a sign that Wall Street and mining’s love affair with non-technical mining types, such as CFOs, attorneys and investment bankers as mining company CEOs, be drawing to a close?

This reporter was born in Nevada during the era of one of Newmont’s finest CEOs, metallurgist Plato Malozemoff, who occupied the top spot for an unprecedented three decades. Some of the biggest names in mining would become part of Newmont’s portfolio during his tenure as Newmont expanded around the world.

Malozemoff and Newmont geologists John Livermore and J. Alan Coope would usher in the era of the submicroscopic, disseminated gold with the Carlin Trend discovery that would revolutionize gold mining. Continue Reading →