Duluth has big plans for Minnesota mining – by John Chadwick (Mineweb.com – October 3, 2012)


According to the miner, truly magnificent orebodies are being revealed in an area that has already played a very important role in the US mining industry.

LONDON (INTERNATIONAL MINING) – Ore riches that built America have much more to offer. Minnesota’s Iron Ranges to the west of Lake Superior – Vermilion, Mesabi and Cuyuna from the northeast of Duluth down to the south-southwest – have been the most important ore deposits in US history, and continue to be so, providing well over 90% of the iron ore the country needs. Just a few of the great historical landmarks include the establishment, in 1901, of the world’s first multi-billion dollar corporation, US Steel.

Before that, in May 1890, Edmund Longyear (founder of one of the companies that was to become, much later, Boart Longyear) brought the diamond drill to the Iron Ranges. This exploration tool was to be a key to unlocking the riches of the region.
William Boeing made profits from the Mesabi Range and just a few other great names with Iron Ranges associations include Henry Bessemer, Frederick Weyerhaeuser, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Kelsey D. Chase, and J.P. Morgan.

Of the known US mineral resources, Minnesota accounts for 99% of the nickel, 90% of the iron, 88% of the cobalt, 51% of the platinum and 48% of the palladium, 40% of the manganese and 34% of the copper. America’s third largest mining state may be poised to take the lead. In work pioneered by Duluth Metals, its Senior Vice President, Exploration, Dean M. Peterson and his innovative team, truly magnificent orebodies are being revealed in an area that has already played such an important role in the US mining industry.

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Nickel price drop only temporary, TD economist says – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – September 17, 2012)

This article came from Northern Life, Sudbury’s biweekly newspaper.

No need for ‘panic’: mining supply association director

The head of commodity strategy for TD Securities said nickel prices may reach as high as $9 a pound by the second quarter of next year. Speaking at a Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA) meeting Sept. 17, Bart Melek said nickel prices have sunk in recent months because China just isn’t buying as much of the metal as it once did.

That’s because the country has accumulated a significant stockpile of metals. But as they start to run out, nickel prices will pick up again, he said. TD is predicting that nickel prices will be at $8.23 in the last quarter of 2012, $8.50 in the first quarter of 2013 and $9.00 in the second quarter of 2013.

Currently, nickel prices are sitting at around $8.25 a pound. They reached as low as $7 a pound in August. “I have about $9 in the second quarter of 2013,” Melek said.

“Before that, inventories will have pretty much whittled down. We will already see an impact of production cuts around the world in nickel facilities, bringing that market into a bit of a deficit.

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China helping nickel: analyst – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – September 18, 2012)

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

Three key drivers will boost commodity prices in the second half of 2013 — China, China and China — says an economist with TD Securities. China consumes about 40% of the world’s nickel and copper, and its economy is “not c o l l a p s i n g ,” despite some naysayers, says Bart Melek.
China has $3.6 trillion in reserve, a minimum debt to gross domestic product ratio and a “big political incentive” to keep growing, Melek told about 100 people at a breakfast meeting Monday of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association.
Stability is important in the one-party state, whose government is determined to keep people employed and food on the table, said Melek. China has also embarked upon a five-year plan to move 20 to 25 million of its citizens every year from rural areas to cities. That requires more housing and transportation services that require copper, nickel and iron ore.
China’s economy may be growing more slowly than it was, but it’s still growing three to four times as fast as our economy, said Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities. Melek is forecasting economic stability in the United States as well, because of a monetary policy to hold interest rates at 0% to 2015.

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NEWSRELEASE: Canadian Arrow Commences Nickel Production, Discovers New Nickel Massive Sulphides at Kelex

SUDBURY, ON, Sept. 17, 2012 /CNW/ – Canadian Arrow Mines Limited. (CRO: TSX-V) (the “Company”) is pleased to announce it has commenced producing and stockpiling nickel-bearing massive sulphides produced from its Kelex mine.  Furthermore, initial mine development and overburden stripping have exposed unexpected near-surface nickel-bearing massive sulphides extending both east and west along strike of, and continuous with, the current production zone.  The stripping program will continue to further evaluate the discoveries that continue to project an unknown width, depth and strike distance below overburden cover.  Channel sampling is planned once the extent of mineralization is exposed.  Results will be published as they become available.
Mr. Kim Tyler, President of the Company stated, “We are pleased to have achieved the production milestone and are particularly excited about the discovery of the new strike extensions. Development work intended for ramp access in unmineralized rock unexpectedly encountered 2 metres of solid nickel-bearing massive sulphide on the sparsely drilled flanks of the known mineralization.  The new mineralization will be a welcome addition to our production plans and demonstrates greater continuity of the Alexo Nickel Complex mineralization on the whole.”
Widths of up to 3 metres of continuous massive and semi-massive sulphide over a 22 metre extended strike length on the west and 13 metres of extended strike on the east have so far been exposed.  Depth extensions will become better understood as production advances to depth.

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North Shore nickel property reconfigured for future operations – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – September 2012)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

The year 2011 was a tough one for Ursa Major Minerals.

Last June, a dissenting group of stakeholders sought to replace the board due to a lagging performance on the TSX. Their advances were rebuffed, but then operations at the company’s Shakespeare property west of Sudbury were halted when a processing agreement couldn’t be renegotiated with Xstrata Nickel for the use of its Strathcona Mill.
That’s where things stood until July when Ursa merged with Prophecy Platinum Corp., and now the discord has been laid to rest, according to Prophecy’s president and CEO John Lee. With a vote of 98.9 per cent in favour of the merger, stakeholders showed a vote of confidence in having a larger company carrying the project forward, Lee said.
“I wouldn’t say we’re one happy family…but I think we’ve comfortably put all that behind us and reunited in a way to look for ways to advance Prophecy Platinum going forward,” he added. Now the company is refocusing its efforts on Shakespeare, a nickel-copper-PGM interest located 70 km west of Sudbury near the town of Webbwood. Lee said the company is concentrating on “clearing up the accounts payable” and putting out an updated resource estimate based on the drilling that’s occurred in the last year.

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Opening Up The Ring Of Fire: Wes Hanson Discusses Noront’s Nickel-Copper-PGM Feasibility Study – by Kevin Michael Grace (Resourceswire.com – September 11, 2012)


Noront Resources Ltd V.NOT announced September 5 the results of a 43-101 feasibility study of its Eagle’s Nest nickel-copper-PGM mine at McFaulds Lake in the Ring of Fire, northern Ontario. Based on metals prices of $9.43 per pound copper, $3.60 per pound copper, $1,600 per ounce platinum, $599 per ounce palladium and $1,415 per ounce gold, the study forecasts an aftertax net present value (NPV) of $543 million (at an 8% discount rate), a 28% aftertax internal rate of return (IRR), a $609-million initial CAPEX, plus a $160-million life-of-mine sustaining CAPEX and a three-year payback period.
Eagle’s Nest contains proven and probable resources of 11.1 million tonnes grading 1.68% nickel, 0.87% copper, 0.89 grams per tonne platinum and 3.09 g/t palladium. The mine is forecast to produce one million tonnes per year, producing 150,000 tonnes of nickel-copper concentrate annually over 11 years, at $97 per tonne or $2.34 per pound of nickel equivalent.

Noront President/CEO Wes Hanson spoke to Kevin Michael Grace September 5, 2012.

RW: What’s your path to production?
WH: In addition to the technical and social risks associated with building any mining project, on top of it for the juniors you always have a challenge of how you’re going to finance construction. We are fortunate enough that the capital costs aren’t overly onerous. We’re only looking at a range of $600 million.

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Underground mill proposed for Eagle’s Nest – by Norm Tollinsky (Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal – September 2012)

Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal is a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

Building an underground mine in one of the world’s largest wetlands regions 350 kilometres from the nearest transportation infrastructure poses several challenges. Without an obvious source of aggregate, how do you construct surface infrastructure, and with no roads, how do you get the ore to market?
Noront Resources, a junior mining company based in Toronto, faced these precise challenges following the discovery of its Eagle’s Nest deposit in the Ring of Fire, an 80 kilometre by 100 kilometre swath of muskeg in Northern Ontario that has been described as one of the most significant mineral bearing areas to be discovered in Canada.
“If (Eagles Nest) was beside a highway or a railway, it would be in production now,” Noront Resources president Wes Hanson told delegates at the MassMin 2012 conference in Sudbury earlier this summer. “Unfortunately, we are located 350 kilometres north of any existing infrastructure. We also happen to be located in the James Bay Lowlands, which is devoid of any topographic relief. There are no construction materials for aggregate, no rock outcrops. Building traditional surface facilities will be extremely challenging, so we’ve decided to construct our mill underground.”

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Cuba convicts 12 of corruption in nickel industry – by Laura Kane (Toronto Star – August 22, 2012)

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.

A Cuban court has convicted a dozen people of corruption in the nickel industry, including two employees of a Cuban-Canadian joint concern, state media announced Tuesday.

Accounting executive Alfredo Barallobre Rodriguez and deputy production director Orlando Carmenaty Olmo of Empresa Moa Nickel SA, a joint operation of Cuba and Toronto-based mining company Sherritt International Corp., were sentenced to six and five years, respectively. Company officials didn’t return requests for comment, and the nationality of the two men couldn’t immediately be confirmed.

High-ranking government officials and an executive at a state-run nickel company were also sentenced in the case, involving a contract for the expansion of the Pedro Soto Alba nickel and cobalt processing plant at the Moa mine. The convictions are the first in a wider crackdown on corruption that has already seen several foreigners, including two Canadians, detained.

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Vale says ‘no plans’ to shut down operations – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – August 20, 2012)

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

As senior mining analyst at Salman Partners, an investment dealer, Raymond Goldie keeps a close eye on the nickel industry. But he’s finding it difficult to keep tabs on Vale, one of the world’s largest nickel producers.
That being said, Goldie is predicting Vale could be planning a production shutdown because of the low price of nickel. Nickel has fallen to below $7 a pound, something that could prompt other companies such as Xstrata Nickel and Norilsk to cease production for awhile as well, he said.
Vale spokeswoman Angie Robson said a planned maintenance shutdown is now underway at the company’s Greater Sudbury operations. Robson said the company has no other plans. “We don’t speculate on rumours, but there are no plans to shut down operations,” she said.
Goldie and other mining analysts who used to follow the former Inco Ltd. closely are finding it more difficult to do that now that it’s owned by the Brazil-based mining giant.

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Drop in nickel prices temporary, profs say – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – August 18, 2012)

This article came from Northern Life, Sudbury’s biweekly newspaper.

There may have been a drop in nickel prices in recent months, but there’s not much to worry about in the long term, as prices are likely to rise again, according to two Laurentian University professors.

A year ago, nickel prices stood at roughly $10 a pound, and now they’re sitting at around $7 a pound. Jean-Charles Cachon, a professor of strategy in Laurentian’s school of commerce, said the market has dipped because the Chinese government is buying less metals right now.

That’s because they’ve stockpiled a lot of metals over the last five years. “If they stop purchasing, then it has a huge impact on prices,” Cachon said. “My understanding is this is what’s happening right now.”

But Dave Robinson, an economics professor at Laurentian, said he thinks nickel prices are going to go back above their current levels quite soon. “I can’t see them staying down,” he said. “The long-run story is we’re going to get high prices.”

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Will Vale sell [base metals divison]? – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – August 18, 2012)

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

Six years after buying Inco Ltd. for $19.4 billion, speculation is growing that Brazil-based Vale may be considering unloading its base metals division, which includes nickel operations in Greater Sudbury.

Such a dramatic development can’t be ruled out, said Stan Sudol, a mining analyst who also operates the mining news website Republic of Mining.

Vale’s base metals division could be worth about US$30 billion, almost a third of Vale’s estimated $95-billion total market capitalization, said Sudol. Yet the base metals division may only contribute as little as 5% to the company’s profits.

That’s a scenario Vale executives in Brazil may not be inter-e sted in continuing much longer, especially if world nickel prices and demand continue to slump, he said.

“(Vale) might be saying, ‘This is a complicated business. We are dealing with underground mines. But our specialty is open pit.’ Then, there’s the fact that while Sudbury mining technology is among the best in the world, there’s a whole different culture (with Vale), as much of their business is open-pit mining versus underground mining.”

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Nickel in the red and there is worse to come – by Robin Bromby (The Australian – July 12, 2012)


ABOUT one-fifth of the global nickel industry is operating in the red. British metals analysts Brook Hunt use the glossier term cash-negative but the end result is the same (although the nickel situation is not as grim as aluminium, where China’s growth is causing intense grief to non-China producers).

You would not want to be developing a new nickel mine at present, especially a laterite operation in which metallurgical complexity tends to cause unexpected, and often costly, problems.

So it is 20 per cent in the red, and — looking at Brook Hunt’s graph — it won’t take much more weakening of the nickel price to eliminate the profitability of another 20 per cent of world capacity. And that’s just on the basis of the cash production cost, leaving aside other overheads.

The portents are not looking good this week. The metal fell by 1.8 per cent in Monday’s session on the London Metal Exchange, then another 2.1 per cent in Tuesday’s trading to close at $US16,050 a tonne. A drop below that level would be a heavy psychological blow for nickel.

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What Makes a Critical Metal “Critical” or a Strategic Element “Strategic”? – by Michael S. Fulp (The Mercenary Geologist – August 6, 2012)


I was a keynote speaker at the recent Murdock Capital Partners Critical Metals / Strategic Elements Symposium in New York City. This is my second gig at one of convener Tom Dean’s on-going series of symposia and I thank him for continuing support. Although the venue is small, intimate, and limited to 75 attendees, the investor quality is second to none, particularly in the amount of money represented and managed. In my presentation I categorized the metals critical to modern-day civilization and reviewed the minor metals that are increasingly used by society in new technological applications.

Recently a plethora of alternative names have been proposed and promoted for what were once known as the specialty or minor metals. These mostly obscure elements span the gamut from the lightest to the heaviest on the periodic table. In my opinion, analysts and investors alike have become confused by these newly-invented misnomers.

Much of the confusion can be blamed squarely on two recent reports from the United States government.

In December 2010, the US Department of Energy (DOE) produced a report entitled “Critical Metals Strategy”. It identified seven rare earth elements and three minor metals (lithium, indium, and tellurium) that are or could become in high demand and short supply from 2011-2025. The DOE list and analysis was predicated on future growth fueled by Obama’s proposed subsidies of the electric and hybrid vehicle, wind turbine, solar, and fluorescent lighting industries.

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Big Nickel started as Szilva’s dream – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – July 23, 2012)

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

Ted Szilva has something to say to people with big dreams: don’t give up. And as the creator of the iconic Big Nickel, Szilva knows what he’s talking about.
“What I want to do is throw out a challenge to each and every one of you, especially the children: if you have a dream … all you have to do is go after that dream. It doesn’t matter what anybody says — ‘oh, that’s a stupid idea, crazy idea, nobody will go see a big nickel, an underground mine’ — that’s what they told me.”
Szilva proved the naysayers wrong, and was happy for it, as he stood outside Dynamic Earth on Sunday for the 48th birthday of the Sudbury tourist attraction. He came up with the idea for the Big Nickel in 1963, as part of a newspaper contest for how best to celebrate Canada’s centennial. While his idea did not win, the idea stuck with him, becoming a reality in 1964.
“It’s a great project, and we’ve had people from all over the world come and go underground, learn about mining, learn about the minerals of the Earth found around here.”

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NEWS RELEASE: Earth’s Oldest Meteor Impact Site Discovered at North American Nickel’s Maniitsoq Ni-Cu-PGE Project, Southwest Greenland

July 10, 2012 12:31 ET
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – July 10, 2012) – North American Nickel Inc. (TSX VENTURE:NAN)(OTCBB:WSCRF) (CUSIP: 65704T 108). North American Nickel (“NAN”) is pleased to note that on June 28, 2012 the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (“GEUS”) announced that the Maniitsoq Structure represents “The remains of a gigantic, three-billion-year-old meteorite impact…” This announcement by GEUS coincided with the same day publication of a paper on this subject in the prestigious journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters (Elsevier) authored by Adam A. Garde, Iain McDonald, Brendan Dyck and Nynke Keulen.

In the paper, the authors postulate that crustally contaminated intrusions of the Greenland Norite Belt (GNB) are products of the impact. The GNB has been the focus of the NAN’s work at Maniitsoq since it initiated the project last year. NAN is interested in the GNB because it is aerially extensive (the main belt is over 70 km long and up to 15 km wide), is comprised of noritic intrusions that show evidence of crustal contamination (believed to be important in the formation of nickel-copper sulphide ores), hosts numerous historical high-grade nickel occurrences (e.g. 9.85 m averaging 2.67% Ni and 0.60% Cu at the Imiak Hill showing) and is remarkably under-explored.

The Garde et al paper is exciting news because it suggests that the GNB is the result of an enormous and unique geological event. The impact hypothesis also has implications for exploration.

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