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


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.

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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.”

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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.

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Conflict-Free Gold Standard – World Gold Council


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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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


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.

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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.

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


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.

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NEWS RELEASE: Barrick Gold Corp.: Barrick Earns Top Position in Canadian Mining Industry Sustainability Ranking

11/19/2012| 01:15pm US/Eastern
November 19, 2012


TORONTO, Nov. 19, 2012 – Barrick Gold Corporation has been named the top-performing company in a sustainability ranking of Canadian mining companies by Corporate Knights, a Toronto-based media and investment research company.

Barrick came first overall among Canada’s most well-known mining companies when assessed against 12 sustainability indicators. Corporate Knights has called the inaugural Canadian Mining Industry Sustainability Ranking “the most comprehensive quantitative ranking of Canadian mining companies to date.”

According to Corporate Knights, Barrick’s leadership in the ranking was driven by “top-tier disclosure practices” and “strong across-the-board sustainability performance.” The ranking highlighted the company’s performance in water productivity (revenue generated per cubic metre of water used) and “pay equity” (ratio of highest-paid executive compensation to average employee pay). Barrick achieved the highest overall score and was among industry peers that link a proportion of executive compensation to sustainability performance targets.

“At Barrick, our goal is to create shareholder value the right way,” said Jamie Sokalsky, President and Chief Executive Officer. “That is why we have embedded our commitment to responsible mining in our global business strategy.

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Quebec miners in holding pattern as province finalizes royalty, exploration rules – by Nicolas Van Praet (National Post – November 26, 2012)

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

MONTREAL — Companies mining in Quebec are expected to ship $9.6-billion worth of minerals this year, double the amount exported only five years ago. But the boom taking hold is being complicated by political uncertainty and competing visions over just how far taxpayers should go in backing companies digging valuable resources in their midst.

Quebec’s Chambers of Commerce Federation says several companies have told its officials they are currently suspending new natural resource and mining investments in the province until the Parti Québécois government finalizes a royalties regime and further clarifies exploration rules. But even established companies tapping existing mines are experiencing growing pains and finding it’s next to impossible to build definitive societal consensus for their projects.

Two particular events illustrate the difficulty miners are having in keeping Quebecers on side.

On Monday, Osisko Mining Corp., the Montreal-based firm operating Canada’s largest open-pit gold mine in Malartic near Val D’Or, confirmed that the head of the independent citizens committee monitoring the mine through to its eventual closure quit. Bernard Gauthier’s resignation came after another member of the seven-person committee said over the weekend the entire group was poised to quit on Wednesday to protest the alleged heavy-handedness of the company in their affairs.

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Banro calm in face of turmoil in Democratic Republic of Congo – by Peter Koven (National Post – November 26, 2012)

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

Amid one of the the world’s most troubled regions, Simon Village maintains that it is business as usual for his company. All the same, he will admit to being a little alarmed by recent events near his operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“If you remember, the M23 were just sitting in the bushes north of Goma. And then, all of a sudden, they were in Goma. It caught people by surprise,” the chief executive of gold miner Banro Corp. said in a phone interview from the DRC.

The Eastern Congo leapt into the news last week after the M23, a breakaway group of former soldiers, seized the city of Goma and promised to “liberate” the entire country.

The surprise move has de-stabilized the already-volatile border region near Rwanda, triggered fighting with the Congolese army, and displaced thousands. It is widely believed that the rebels are being backed by Rwanda, a country that has fuelled prior unrest in the Eastern Congo.

Goma is a city of one million people on the north end of Lake Kivu. Roughly 200 kilometres to the south, Toronto-based Banro continues to dig up gold at its Twangiza mine. Banro also has an operating office in Bukavu, a city on the south end of the lake that the rebels want to seize, according to reports.

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Time to monitor Guatemala’s mining sector? – Al Jazeera English (November 24, 2012)



Canadian company Goldcorp is accused of violating human rights and damaging the local environment around Marlin mine.  A Canadian mining company stands accused of violating human rights and damaging the environment in Guatemala.

As the price of gold has rocketed amidst global economic uncertainty, Goldcorp argues it is sharing its record revenues with an impoverished community by providing jobs and economic development.

The company owns the Marlin mine in Guatemala, which was opened in 2005 despite the objections of indigenous communities.

Guatemala has ratified an international convention requiring local consent for such projects; but this did not stop it from proceeding. Nor did it stop the World Bank from giving GoldCorp a $45m loan for the mine in contravention of its own guidelines on local consulatation.

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Future uncertain for [Timmins Goldcorp] mine pit park – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – November 16, 2012)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Now that Goldcorp is only awaiting the Ministry of Environment’s approval to start mining the Hollinger open pit near downtown Timmins, the long-term future of the site is still up in the air.

The general understanding had been that a publicly accessible park and lake would be left behind in 10 years when Goldcorp is scheduled to end its mining operations at the Hollinger.

But now that the project is starting to get into gear, some Timmins residents want concrete answers rather than vague promises.

It’s important to note that Goldcorp representatives have been insistent on the fact that the Site Plan Control Agreement between the company and the city is separate from the Subsequent Land Use Plan, which is still up for public input as the project moves forward.

The section on the company website relating to the Hollinger project explains that, “Detailed studies have determined that the removal of mine hazards through filling or mining of historic mine workings would allow for partial to full future use of the Hollinger property.”

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