Archive | Gold and Silver

Northern Ontario: A Golden Klondike – 192 million ounces of gold and counting – by Stan Sudol

(Wiki Photo)

Stan Sudol is a Toronto-based communications consultant and mining columnist. [email protected]

A much shorter version of this article appears in the September, 2011 issue of the Northern Miner’s Mining Markets: A Resource for Investors magazine.

A fever is spreading throughout northern Ontario, from the eastern districts adjacent Quebec to the far reaches of the northwest right up to the Manitoba border. This raging malaise is caused by a metal that has captured mankind’s attention from the dawn of time. I am referring to “gold fever” and many in northern Ontario – a vast northern territory, which is almost equal to Germany, United Kingdon, Greece and Ireland combined – are thoroughly infected or obsessed over this beautiful precious metal.

Historically, Ontario’s gold mining industry has played a major role in the settlement of the province’s northern regions and along with the Cobalt silver boom and further gold and base metal discoveries in northwestern Quebec were primarily responsible for the establishment of Toronto as today’s mine financing capital of the world.

The many gold mines that came into production during the Depression of the 1930s made a vital contribution to keeping the province solvent and with over a century of experience building many underground mines helped solidify Ontario’s hard-rock mining expertise that is well respected globally.

However, northern Ontario’s gold rushes have always seemed to play second-fiddle to the legendary Klondike in the Yukon, aided by famous writers like Jack London, Robert W. Service – of the Cremation of Sam McGee fame – and Canadian literary icon, Pierre Berton. At it’s peak, the Klondike gold rush only lasted for a few years – 1896-99 – and produced a miserly 12.5 million ounces of gold. “Chump change” compared to northern Ontario’s four major gold rushes and a number of smaller gold districts, most of which are still producing the precious metal today.

Considering the record setting price of gold, moving upwards almost daily, the political stability of northern Ontario and its strong world-class mining infrastructure versus lesser developed countries like Tanzania, Guatemala or Papua New Guinea, exploration in all current and former gold mining camps is booming. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold Corporate History (1980-2000) – International Directory of Company Histories

For a large selection of corporate histories click: International Directory of Company Histories

Company History:

Barrick Gold Corporation is an anomaly in the gold exploration and mining industry; it has little debt and low-cost production, yet high yield and even higher sales. Though Barrick began as a less than spectacular petroleum and oil company in Canada founded by Peter Munk and David Gilmour, they turned to prospecting in 1983 and became the quintessential success story. While gold mining operations may spend decades searching for the motherlode, Barrick began by acquiring established mines and bringing them to new levels of productivity and profit.

On its Goldstrike Property on the Carlin Trend in Nevada, Barrick has established the Betze-Post and Meikle Mines: the former is the richest and most productive mine in the United States while the latter is the largest underground mine in North America. Ongoing exploration and drilling continue in the region, as well as on properties in Canada, South America, and Africa, with projections to reach more than five million ounces of gold production by 2003. Since Barrick’s mining and processing facilities are among the most technologically advanced in the world, this is all but a fait accompli. Continue Reading →

Goldcorp is Losinging its Social Licence to Operate in Guatemala – 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.

Mining companies often speak of having a “social licence” to operate. This reflects the willingness of local communities to support their endeavours. The more the miner and the indigenous people talk, the better their understanding and ability to accommodate one another.

What sounds straightforward is often complicated by unrealistic expectations, earlier history, cultural rigidity and interference by third parties.

The latest company on the verge of losing its social licence is Vancouver’s Goldcorp, that operates the Marlin gold mine in Guatemala. The most recent report to examine Goldcorp’s record there was commissioned by the company in response to charges of human rights violations at the Marlin mine. The report concluded that the company had failed to respect the right of indigenous peoples in that country, but also had brought jobs, healthcare and education to the impoverished western highlands region. Goldcorp further insists that allegations of environmental problems are unfounded.

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Gold Resources and McEwen’s Junior Index – 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.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of gold. It has been prized as decoration as long as humankind has been around. It makes a solid foundation for world banking. It has been fought over. It is the stuff of which legends are made. And gold is undeniably beautiful.

Most of the general public and the mineral industry snap to attention when gold is in the news. Reports of new gold finds are especially welcome. But they may be fewer and farther apart if the findings of Halifax’s Metals Economics Group (MEG) are accurate. (www.MetalsEconomics.com

MEG examined the costs of finding and acquiring gold reserves and found that overall the industry is not discovering new deposits fast enough to meet future production demand.

The report looked closely at major gold producers, those with an output of 450,000 oz or more in 2008. They overcame “… rising costs, equipment and labour shortages, electrical outages, wars, permitting hurdles, typhoons, political opposition, and other obstacles,” the report noted to replace reserves at twice the rate they are mining them. Most of these gains were made through acquisitions or upgrading existing resources due to the high gold price, not through grassroots discoveries.

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Celebration Set for Historic Kirkland Lake Toburn Gold Mine – 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 first gold mine in Kirkland Lake, ON, is reopening this summer, not as a producer but as a monument to the early days of prospecting in Ontario’s North. The hunt for gold was filled with characters — “Swift” Burnside, the Tough brothers, Sir Harry Oakes and Bill Wright — all eager to make a profit on the next great gold mine. Part of their legacy is the headframe of the Toburn mine that began commercial production in 1913.

The Toburn mine struggled along with a 90-t/d stamp mill from 1913 to 1931. Then Toburn Gold Mines Ltd. was incorporated and installed a new, larger mill, which operated until 1953. A total of 1.1 million tonnes of ore grading almost 17.0 g/t Au (0.5 opt) was treated. 

The site was abandoned after mining ceased and reverted to the Crown. In 2006 the Northern Prospectors Association set about acquiring the last remaining original headframe on the “Mile of Gold”. Project funding was contributed by individuals, corporations and public institutions. Two years later, the Town of Kirkland Lake acquired the property and the Toburn Operating Authority was created to oversee its rebirth as a tourist and learning destination.

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Good News From Canadian Gold Miners – 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.

Look to the gold sector for good news from Canadian miners. While base metal, coal and potash producers continue to trim output, companies such as Vancouver’s Goldcorp have recorded record quarterly production. Gold output at all of the company’s operations was 692,000 oz during the last quarter, bringing the 2008 total to 2.3 million oz.

Nor is that the only good news from Goldcorp. Although the calculation of operating costs for 2008 has not yet been completed, the company expects total cash costs will be $300/oz of gold on a byproduct basis.

The company is also predicting it will produce another 2.3 million oz of gold in 2009 at a total cash cost of $365/oz on a byproduct basis. Increases will be achieved at most mines, but production at the Alumbrera mine in Argentina and El Sauzal mine in Mexico will be significantly lower than previous years. The 2009 forecast for Goldcorp’s Canadian operations include 620,000 oz from Red Lake mines, 290,000 oz from the Porcupine division, and 235,000 oz from Musselwhite mine.

Nor is Goldcorp the only bright spot.

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Good News Gold, Bad News Base Metals – 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.

Let’s start with the really good news. Agnico-Eagle Mines of Toronto has declared its 27th consecutive annual cash dividend. The payment of US$0.18 per common share will be made on March 27, 2009, to shareholders of record as of March 13, 2009. 

Hearing from an optimistic miner in these times is very good news, indeed.

“Agnico-Eagle enters 2009 with a strengthened balance sheet and the expectation that over the next 15 months we will complete the construction of three more gold mines. We also anticipate further increases in gold reserves and resources in 2009 as we continue with an extensive exploration program on our large gold deposits”, said Sean Boyd, vice-chairman and CEO. “We also look forward to providing the results of our ongoing studies on four internal production growth opportunities that give the potential to enhance our superior growth beyond 2010,” he added.

Agnico is in the enviable position of doubling its gold output next year and doubling it again to 1.2 million oz in 2010. Cash costs are expected to be less than US$300/oz in 2010, and only US$320/oz from 2010 to 2018. 

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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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Alaska Votes for Gold, Not Fishing – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales - Canadian Mining JournalMarilyn 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 Africa’s ANGLO AMERICAN from completing the Pebble gold mine.

The potential of the Pebble deposit is huge. The property is believed to contain 91.6 billion lb of copper, 84.6 million oz of gold and 5.5 billion lb of molybdenum in the inferred resource category. What concerns opponents is that the deposit is located near the headwaters of Bristol Bay, one of the world’s greatest salmon runs. The sport and commercial fisheries would be crippled if the salmon habitat were damaged.

The initiative was brought by a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group. Alaska allows legislature to be initiated by voters as well as the state legislature. While Measure 4 did not mention Pebble by name, the target was obvious. Passing it would have effectively delayed or stopped other mine developments, for example, the Donlin Creek gold project belonging to BARRICK GOLD and NOVAGOLD RESOURCES. TECK COMINCO’s planned expansion of its Red Dog zinc mine might have been delayed.

In case the reader has not quite guessed yet, the measure was defeated on Aug. 26. The outcome was not as close as predicted. Almost 57% of voters were opposed and only 34% in favour. That is a result we applaud because we know the mining industry is mindful of local flora and fauna and does all it can to mitigate potential harmful effects. The Hope Brook gold mine that operated from 1987 to 1997 on the southwest coast of Newfoundland was located in a salmon habitat. The fish survived nicely, in fact mine workers were forbidden from fishing or even bringing fishing gear to the site.

Canada does not allow its voters to initiate legislation, and perhaps that is a good thing. Imagine heavily populated Toronto swaying a vote against expansion at XSTRATA COPPER’s Kidd mine or against development of DE BEERS CANADA’s Victor diamond mine. Suppose the residents of Canada’s southern cities said “no” to AGNICO-EAGLE’s Meadowbank gold mine in Nunavut. On the other hand, if voters in Indonesia had stepped in to stop exploration at the Busang project, the entire BRE-X fiasco might have been prevented.

British Columbia Continues to Attract Gold Hunters – by Marilyn Scales

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

Gold has been prized throughout history and remains one of the most sought-after metals today. In British Columbia gold was found along the Fraser River (1858), along the Peace River (1861) and in the interior (1865). Dawson Creek became the jumping off point for the great Klondike gold rush of 1898.

The modern gold prospector, spurred by high gold prices and with the help of sophisticated technology, is again scouring the map of British Columbia in hopes of striking it rich. News of bonanza grades is as welcome today as it was in the 19th Century.

For example, Pinnacle Mines (51%) and Mountain Boy Minerals (49%) recently reported grades as high as 81.57 g/t over 1.52 metres at their Silver Coin project near Stewart. A quick run through the metric calculator, and that is equivalent to over 2.4 oz/ton. Such grades bring a smile to most gold lovers I know. Plus the Silver Coin property appears to have recoverable amounts of silver, copper, zinc and lead.

Also in the Stewart area, drill core from Toronto’s Seabridge Gold’s Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) project is not assaying high grades (it is generally less than 1.0 g/t Ag plus copper), but it is mineralized over exceptional lengths: 745 metres, 109 metres, 498 metres, 921 metres, 500 metres and so on. The company has circulated estimates of over 19.7 million oz of gold in indicated resources and 14.3 million oz in the inferred portion. If the gold grades don’t set a heart to fluttering, the millions of contained ounces should. (For readers of the base metal persuasion, the property may also host more than 8.0 billion lb of copper.)

The deposits described here may differ, but there is no doubt that the rush for the yellow metal in British Columbia never goes out of style.

Ontario Gold is Where You Find It – by Michael Barnes

Famed prospector Don McKinnon, co-disoverer of the Hemlo gold fields north of Lake Superior is fond of an old axiom in the mining business.

He says simply that you look for gold where gold is said to be. This sounds like double talk to the uninitiated but actually the seemingly obvious statement makes a lot of sense.

Short of expensive diamond drilling, the location of gold in commercial quantity is anyone’s guess. So the best places to look for the elusive yellow metal are where it has been found before.

A few years ago, an up and coming Junior mining company with a Scots name, Pentland Firth, announced that it was taking another look at the Munro Croesus property off highway 101 east of Matheson.

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Cobalt: A Mine was Something to Fall Back On for MJ – Michael Barnes

Most people have never heard of M J O’Brien- not in the north anyway. He died in Renfrew in 1940 and was one of Canada’s richest men. But in 1903 he made a deal at the King Edward hotel in Toronto which made him more money and created much work in the silver town of Cobalt.

O’Brien was born in the Ottawa Valley in 1851. He started off as a water boy on big construction projects and ended up owning countless big companies. He made his money through careful research and driving hard bargains. His real money came from railways and lumbering.

In 1903 the heavy set, black bearded magnate from Renfrew heeded some advice from his friend, Robert Borden, then leader of the Opposition in Pariament. Borden put him onto a lawyer who who had some business ideas.

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Good-bye to Sandy McIntyre’s Second Chance in Kirkland Lake – Michael Barnes

We keeping losing our heritage in Northern Ontario. In November 1995 another part of it came tumbling down.

A striking introduction for eastbound visitors to the town of Kirkland Lake would no longer grace the gold camp skyline and another link with our mining past was gone.

One of the distinctive contributions mining offers to Canadian architecture are  headframes, which when covered in with wood or steel become the shaft house. A newcomer might think of them as the above ground part of an elevator shaft.

Many hard rock mines are deep and the cables for the cage or elevator run up to a drum at the top of the shaft house. Each of these structures are different due to location, depth of the shaft and other factors.

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Roy Thomson’s Timmins Adventures – Michael Barnes

All millionaires have to start somewhere. After chubby,ambitious Roy Thomson started his first radio station on a shoestring in North Bay, his attention turned to the bustling Timmins-Porcupine area.

The hard luck,hustling salesman came to Timmins in the early thirties and worked to open a radio station.No one would loan him any money but he found an ally in J.P. Bartleman.

The insurance salesman thought a radio station would be a good thing and he rented the newcomer space in a building of his in the seamier part of town.

Thomson’s long suffering engineer cobbled together the parts for broadcast output and fell foul of the law until his tight fisted boss paid union dues. The new station started with a piano and a few records. Even the sole announcer became fed up with playing ‘In a Monastery Garden’ several times a day because the discs were scarce.

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