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)

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.

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Molycorp CEO Exits Six Months After Neo Material Deal – by Sonja Elmquist ( – December 12, 2012)

Molycorp Inc. (MCP) Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith left the rare-earths producer amid an investigation of its disclosures and a lawsuit related to engineering deficiencies at its mine.

Vice Chairman and former Neo Material CEO Constantine Karayannopoulos is Smith’s interim replacement, the Greenwood Village, Colorado-based company said yesterday in a statement. Molycorp said its board is looking for a permanent hire.

“We feel that Mark had lost credibility with a number of constituents, shareholders, potential investors and analysts,” said Michael Gambardella, a New York-based analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Molycorp disclosed the probe by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a filing on Nov. 9, the day after reporting its third-quarter earnings and hosting a conference call to discuss results with investors, a decision that eroded investors’ trust in his management, Gambardella said.

Gambardella, who rates Molycorp shares underperform, equivalent to a sell, said that regardless of who takes Smith’s place, the company will be producing into an oversupplied market and will need to raise more money next year.

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Fix U.S. permitting system before imposing federal hardrock mining royalties – Sen. Lisa Murkowski – by Dorothy Kosich ( – December 12, 2012)

While data may be lacking to determine how much revenue U.S. taxpayers are losing from hardrock mining operations on federal lands, a slow-moving government bureaucracy is discouraging exploration investment.

RENO (MINEWEB) – As expected, the General Accounting Office on U.S. hardrock mining and its lack of federal royalties was finally officially released Wednesday, as the ranking member on the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee questioned why reporters received the report before it was made available to the House and Senate resources committees, or even was published on the GAO website.

“Whether GAO intended it or not, leaking the report to reporters before lawmakers gives the distinct impression that the GAO is promoting its own agenda,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

As Mineweb reported on December 12th, the Washington Post published a story on the report one day prior to its official release. In that story, a Post reporter conducted interviews with the two lawmakers who originally requested the study.

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When the big just keeps getting bigger – Duluth releases new metals resource – by Lawrence Williams ( -December 7, 2012)

A significant increase in the enormous Twin Metals polymetallic resource in Minnesota, and identified higher grade zones, means the project economics just look like getting better and better

LONDON (MINEWEB) – With the release of an updated NI 43-101 compliant resource, Duluth Metals is just confirming the massive scale, and strategic mineral content, of the ground which falls under its Twin Metals jv with Antofagasta on the Duluth Metals complex in eastern Minnesota.

What is perhaps most impressive with regard to the future potential of the resource is that it only relates to around 11% of the ground controlled by the jv.

And from Duluth’s own viewpoint it is a resource which does not form part of its additional wholly-controlled ground holdings in the area where it has just started an exploration drilling programme, with four drill rigs turning.

But, coming back to the Twin Metals jv resource, the latest Indicated resource figures come out as containing an enormously impressive 13.7 billion lbs of copper, 4.4 billion lbs of nickel, and 21.2 million ounces of palladium+platinum+gold (TPM).

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Incoming Newmont CEO is an honest-to-goodness miner – by Dorothy Kosich ( – 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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Wisconsin governor expects $1.2b iron ore project to return to Iron Range – by Dorothy Kosich ( – November 29, 2012)

In the last session of the Wisconsin Legislature, an iron mining reform bill failed by one vote. However, another pro-mining measure is expected to be introduced in January.

RENO (MINEWEB) – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that he is confident that Gogebic Taconite will resurrect an iron ore mining project south of Lake Superior.

In comments made to the Associated Press after a speech to the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Walker said Florida-based Gogebic Taconite is still interested in mining in Wisconsin.

A special committee of Wisconsin’s State Senate is scheduled to meet today and get a briefing from Tim Sullivan, the former CEO of mining heavy equipment manufacturer Bucyrus. He is chairman of the Wisconsin Mining Association.

The committee will hear testimony from local government representatives and regional economic development officials on the issue of state-local distribution of tax revenue raised by future mining operations.

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Cliffs Natural Resources idles iron-ore production on weak demand – by Henry Lazenby ( – November 19, 2012)

TORONTO ( – New York- and Paris-listed Cliffs Natural Resources on Monday said it would idle mine expansion in Quebec and a portion of production at two US operations as a result of weak iron-ore prices.

The company, which is the largest producer of iron-ore pellets in the US, said it would idle iron-ore production at its Bloom Lake mine Phase 2 expansion, in Quebec, and at two of its US iron-ore operations, Northshore Mining, in Minnesota, and at the Empire mine, in Michigan.

Cliffs said it was adjusting its 2013 operating plans for its North American iron-ore businesses to align with expected sales volumes. These production decreases were driven by increased iron-ore pricing volatility and lower North American steelmaking utilisation rates.

“Disciplined capital allocation is core to our operating strategy and reducing higher cost production will enhance our financial flexibility in both the short and longer term. Despite today’s announcement, we are still committed to our investments in Canada and believe Bloom Lake will deliver significant long-term value over time,” Cliffs chairperson and CEO Joseph Carrabba said.

At the Bloom Lake mine, Cliffs had suspended certain components of the second phase of expansion, including the completion of the concentrator and load-out facility. As a result, construction related to these activities was halted and third-party contractors were demobilised immediately.

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Chamber and Unions unite to push for Duluth Complex base/precious metals mines – by Lawrence Williams ( – November 20, 2012)

Mining on the environmentally sensitive Duluth Metallurgical complex in Minnesota is gleaning strong local support from a union/Chamber of Commerce alliance.

LONDON – In what must be a welcome development for prospective miners, PolyMet and Duluth Metals, Minnesota’s Chamber of Commerce and local mining unions will be mounting a combined campaign to try to ensure that mining of what has to be one of the world’s most significant mineral deposits, is given the go-ahead by state and federal bodies.

According to a report in the Duluth News Tribune, The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the state’s largest business group, and the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council have formed “Jobs for Minnesotans” to promote development of the state’s first-ever massive base and precious metals mining operations on the Duluth Metallurgical Complex which hosts one of the world’s largest potential polymetallic orebodies and which could see large scale mining for the next century, with its associated employment and tax benefits for the state and federal economies.

The Duluth Complex hosts an enormous resource of relatively low grade polymetallic mineralisation, which in combination represents perhaps the world’s largest ever discovery of an orebody containing copper, nickel, cobalt, pgms and gold – and Polymet and the Duluth Metals 60:40 jv with Antofagasta – the Twin Metals project – are the two most advanced projects on the Complex at the moment. However the area where these enormous deposits is hosted lies in an environmentally sensitive locality between the Boundary Waters recreational area and brownfields mining and processing sites left over from the still significant Minnesota taconite iron ore mines and process plants.

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Insolvent US coal miner agrees to stop mountaintop-removal mining – by Henry Lazenby ( – November 15, 2012)

TORONTO ( – Bankrupt US coal miner Patriot Coal on Thursday became the first miner to cease large-scale mountaintop-removal coal mining in central Appalachia in exchange for more time to comply with the Clean Water Act at several of its central Appalachian mines.

As the company is preparing for Chapter 11 litigation, it had reached an agreement with three environmental groups that had sued over water pollution from its West Virginia operations.

The agreement was presented for consideration to Judge Robert Chambers of the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, and had its roots in water pollution lawsuits filed by environmental protection groups the Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

Mountaintop-removal coal mining is an economical but devastating form of strip mining unique to West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Coal companies blast apart mountain ridge tops to expose multiple coal seams and then dump the waste in streams, creating so-called valley fills.

Patriot Coal said it had concluded that continuing and expanding its surface mining, particularly large-scale surface mining of the type common in central Appalachia, was not in its long-term interests.

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More mineral riches from the smoky waters of Minnesota – by John Chadwick (International Mining – November 2012)

International Mining is a global technical magazine written for miners by miners. John Chadwick is the publisher. 

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.

There was also the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co (3M) founded in 1902 at the Lake Superior town of Two Harbors. However its only connection with the Iron Ranges was location. The deposit was set up to mine for grinding-wheel abrasives proved to be of little value.

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.

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Duluth has big plans for Minnesota mining – by John Chadwick ( – 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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China joins nations seeking treasure in warming Arctic – by Elisabeth Rosenthal (New York Times/NBC News – September 19, 2012)

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Bid to join Arctic Council is so ‘it won’t be shut out from decisions on minerals and shipping,’ expert says

NUUK, Greenland — With Arctic ice melting at record pace, the world’s superpowers are increasingly jockeying for political influence and economic position in outposts like this one, previously regarded as barren wastelands.

At stake are the Arctic’s abundant supplies of oil, gas and minerals that are, thanks to climate change, becoming newly accessible along with increasingly navigable polar shipping shortcuts. This year, China has become a far more aggressive player in this frigid field, experts say, provoking alarm among Western powers.

While the United States, Russia and several nations of the European Union have Arctic territory, China has none, and as a result, has been deploying its wealth and diplomatic clout to secure toeholds in the region.

“The Arctic has risen rapidly on China’s foreign policy agenda in the past two years,” said Linda Jakobson, East Asia program director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, Australia. So, she said, the Chinese are exploring “how they could get involved.”

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Endangered species listing for Sage grouse would be crippling for the country – by Dorothy Kosich ( – September 10, 2012)

An endangered species listing for the western sage grouse is “a horrible, mean and nasty law and we don’t want to go there,” says the director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust.

LAKE TAHOE, NEVADA (MINEWEB) –  “The entire country could be crippled immensely” if 11 western states fail in their efforts to avert a federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing for the sage grouse,” warned Bob Budd, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust, an independent state agency aimed at enhancing wildlife habitat and natural resource values throughout Wyoming.
In a recent speech to the Nevada Mining Association Convention at Stateline, Lake Tahoe, Budd stressed that although western sage grouse populations have experienced a significant decline in the past 50 years, “The last place we want sage grouse being managed is in the federal courts.”
If the bird is listed under the ESA in 2015, individual birds rather than sage grouse populations will be protected by the federal government, Budd observed.

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The Doer [Robert Friedland – Mining Entrepreneur] – by Peter Koven (National Post – September 4, 2012)

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

On paper, Robert Friedland’s influence on the Canadian mining world seems to be waning. The legendary promoter showed a rare sign of weakness this year, losing control of Ivanhoe Mines and its massive Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia to British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, and Friedland has seemingly disappeared from public view. So why can’t people stop talking about him?

Because love him or hate him, there’s no disputing Friedland’s imprint on the industry. From mastering the art of mining stock promotion in the 1980s and 1990s, to correctly calling the China boom and forging business ties with Asia in the 1990s and early 2000s, Friedland has always been the trailblazer everyone else tries to follow. In the few months the self-made billionaire has spent out of the limelight, investors have speculated wildly about when and where he will pop up next. Such speculation has never been easy where Friedland is concerned.

After a stint as a hippie in the 1970s, during which he befriended Steve Jobs, Friedland embraced the junior mining world and set up shop in Vancouver. He has rarely strayed from the headlines in the years since. He developed a big gold mine in Colorado, which was later shut down after an environmental accident (earning Friedland the “Toxic Bob” nickname that still sticks).

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Mining heritage still alive in Upper Peninsula [Michigan] – by Phil Power (Holland Sentinel – August 20, 2012)

Ann Arbor — Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been a powerfully mining-oriented place ever since early explorers were astonished to discover enormous chunks of pure copper in the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The iron ore deposits uncovered west of Marquette in the 19th century were so rich that unprocessed ore was shipped directly to blast furnaces to be made into iron. Once those deposits were worked out, vast quantities remained of less pure — but plenty rich — iron ore. Ever since, this has been one of the U.P.’s biggest industries, creating jobs extracting, processing and shipping iron ore to steel mills from Cleveland to Gary, Ind.

I’ve just returned from a family vacation at our cabin “up north,” where we toured the Tilden iron mine near Negaunee, owned and operated by Cliffs Natural Resources Co., which readers may remember was named Cleveland-Cliffs until a few years ago.

The scope and scale of the mine flabbergasted us. As we approached, we saw a vast three-story rust-colored building looming that seemed to run on for a mile or so. Hills of waste tailings as high as the biggest ski hill rose up to the south.

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