Silver market faces supply crunch as Mexico curtails production – by Neils Christensen Neils (Kitco News – April 1, 2020)

(Kitco News) – Expected mine shutdowns of at least a month in Mexico will reduce the global silver supply since the country is the world’s largest silver producer.

Nevertheless, analysts are not rushing to say this will automatically mean higher silver prices, as normally occurs when there are reduced supplies in any commodity. That’s because in this instance, industrial demand is also suffering as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the global economy. Further, with refinery and transportation issues but sharply rising physical demand, silver was described as a market “in turmoil.”

The Mexican government this week declared the pandemic as a national health emergency and as a result is forcing all non-essential businesses to close up shop until at least April 30. Silver miners likely are considered non-essential. Some mining and exploration companies have already said they are halting operations. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-South Africa lockdown squeezes global chrome supply – by Tanisha Heiberg and Helen Reid (Reuters U.S. – March 31, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG, March 31 (Reuters) – Samancor Chrome, one of the world’s biggest ferrochrome producers, has declared force majeure because of South Africa’s 21-day coronavirus lockdown, removing further supply from global chrome markets.

South Africa ordered all underground mines and furnaces be put on care and maintenance status from midnight on March 26 as part of its measures to contain the spread of the virus.

The country is the world’s biggest producer of chrome ore, an essential ingredient in stainless steel, and last year supplied 12.5 million tonnes to China – 83% of China’s total chrome imports. Continue Reading →

Covid-19 robs diamond sector of recovery hopes – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – April 1, 2020)

The rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic has quashed diamond miners’ dawning hopes of a recovery in a sector severely hit by weak prices and demand since late 2018.

The market began suffering from the effects of the covid-19 spread in early March and measures to contain it has already pushed De Beers, the world’s largest producer by value, to cancel its April sales event.

Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s No.1 producer by carats, is studying options for online trade as global travel restrictions make traditional physical inspection of gemstones almost impossible. Continue Reading →

Building blocks to a better battery for mining vehicles: Stacktronic to test new battery system in Sudbury – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – April 1, 2020)

A Kitchener-based startup has developed a new battery system for electrifying underground mining vehicles, and Sudbury is poised to play a key role in moving the technology toward commercialization.

Stacktronic has created a modular battery system that can be pieced together like Lego blocks to produce a battery of any size, any shape and any capacity, depending on the needs of the vehicle.

It’s a solution that could potentially save time and money for mining operations. It began as a capstone project for a group of mechanical engineering students in their final year studying at the University of Waterloo, noted Keith Teeple, one of the founders. Continue Reading →

The U.S. shale revolution is over. Russia and Saudi Arabia are thrilled – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – April 1, 2020)

For more than a decade, the American shale oil industry played a high-stakes game of chicken with Saudi Arabia and Russia – and kept on winning. In March, its luck ran out, big time, and the good ol’ boys in Texas are already pleading for mercy as oil prices plunge at unprecedented speed.

Any sense that the shale companies can tough it out as they did during the last great oil price downturn, in 2014 and 2015, is vanishing, even if a few stalwart optimists believe a rebound is inevitable, because the best cure for low prices is low prices.

They are right. But when? The V-shaped recovery seen in the previous price collapse could prove elusive as COVID-19 acts like an indiscriminate economic wrecking ball. Continue Reading →

Will Canadian miners rise again? – by Kelsey Rolfe (Northern Miner – March 2020)

Global mining news

The flurry of M&A transactions last year brought a much-awaited consolidation of the global gold sector. It also brought significant changes to the Canadian mining landscape: Newmont’s (NYSE: NEM) takeover of Goldcorp wiped a major Canadian firm off the board, and Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD), while still Canadian, has shifted its focus away from the country, with few executives remaining in its Toronto headquarters and only one Canadian mine.

Those headline-making deals have prompted concerns that Canada’s influence in the global gold mining sector is waning. Franco-Nevada (TSX: FNV; NYSE: FNV) chairman Pierre Lassonde said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg in January 2019 that Barrick’s smaller footprint in Canada was the same kind of diminishment of the country’s mining sector that Barrick founder Peter Munk had decried.

“The head office of a company is where the CEO and the CFO sit, and they have to sit in one room and that’s where the direction comes from,” Lassonde said. “It’s not going to be a de facto Canadian company, period.” Continue Reading →

‘Critical for our economic future’: Keystone XL surprise go-ahead to energize struggling oilpatch – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – April 1, 2020)

CALGARY – TC Energy Corp.’s decision to proceed with the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline with the help of the Alberta government would allow the oilpatch to hit the ground running when prices recover.

“This is absolutely critical for our economic future now more than ever,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in an interview with the Financial Post.

On Tuesday, TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada Corp., said it has decided to build the controversial pipeline with a US$1.1-billion “strategic investment” from the Alberta government. Continue Reading →

Don’t Expect a Crisis to Be Good for Gold – by David Fickling (Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance – April 1, 2020)

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Here’s another factor to add to the gyrations in the gold price over the past few weeks: The biggest players in the market may be losing their buying appetite.

Russia’s central bank, one of the world’s largest gold buyers in recent years, is halting all purchases of the metal. It’s not alone: Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, whose central banks have also been reliable consumers of late, have also slowed down.

Rolling three-month additions to official sector gold holdings (those held by central banks and international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund) in January amounted to just 67 metric tons, the slowest pace since August 2018. Continue Reading →

Subsistence miners lose out as coronavirus crushes local gold prices – by Helen Reid and Jeff Lewis (Reuters U.S. – March 31, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG/TORONTO, March 31 (Reuters) – Informal gold miners from South America to Africa are selling gold at almost 40% discounts as measures to curb the coronavirus crimp supply routes and dry up funding.

Border restrictions and flight cancellations have created gold gluts in local markets, depressing prices for small-scale miners even as global prices are pushed back towards 7-year highs by investors piling into bullion as a safe-haven asset.

Artisanal miners – subsistence workers who typically use rudimentary techniques – number around 40 million worldwide, according to a 2019 estimate by Delve, an artisanal mining database. Continue Reading →

World’s Top Gold Market Freezes as Chinese Shoppers Stay Away – by Annie Lee and Jinshan Hong (Bloomberg/Yahoo – March 31, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — The coronavirus pandemic has frozen the Chinese gold market, torpedoing demand at a time when investors elsewhere in the world are clamoring for the safety of bullion.

China is the biggest buyer of gold bars, coins and jewelry, but the national shutdown to contain the virus has emptied malls, while the premium charged to buy the metal in China has evaporated. It leaves the industry staring down a long road to recovery, even as Beijing tries to jump-start broader consumption with a campaign to get shoppers out and about.

The market’s struggles in China may present a headwind for prices, which last month topped $1,700 an ounce for the first time in seven years. The traditional haven also faces a drag from slower retail consumption in India, Europe and the U.S., as well as Russia’s surprise decision to halt purchases by its central bank. Last year, Chinese consumers accounted for about a fifth of total gold demand of 4,356 tons, according to the World Gold Council. Continue Reading →

Can silver price deliver in 2020? – by Anna Golubova (Kitco News – March 31, 2020)

(Kitco News) With gold back on the radar for a lot of investors, attention is now turning to silver but can it deliver alluring returns this year? Prior to the March sell-off, silver was doing well as a precious metals hedge, but its industrial component has been weighing it down.

“Both gold and silver have monetary safe-haven qualities, unlike most commodities, which historically sell-off during periods of equity market weakness and/or heightened concerns regarding the health of the global economy,” said Jordan Eliseo, senior investment manager at The Perth Mint. “Concerns about the state of the global economy will have possible negative consequences for the industrial metals, and by extension, silver.”

Panic mass sell-off triggered by COVID-19 dragged silver prices to 11-year lows just a couple of weeks ago. Since then, the precious metal has recovered somewhat. Spot silver last traded at $13.96, down 0.43% on the day while May silver Comex prices were last at $14.195, up 0.45% on the day. Continue Reading →

Premier Gold makes US$205M offer to buy out mine development partner – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – March 30, 2020)

Premier Gold has made a US$205 million offer to buy out Centerra Gold, its joint venture partner in developing a mine in northwestern Ontario, near Geraldton.

In a March 30 news release, the Thunder Bay-headquartered miner indicates there’s another company waiting in the wings to acquire Centerra’s 50 per cent interest in Greenstone Gold Mines (GGM).

GGM is a partnership company set up specifically to put the Hardrock gold project into production. Premier said this proposed company has the financial wherewithal to acquire Centerra’s ownership stake and advance Hardrock through the construction phase. Continue Reading →

Kirkland Lake employee who tested positive for COVID-19 rode in bus with others – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – March 31, 2020)

Tony Makuch, the chief executive of Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd., says a male employee who recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus left its Detour Lake mine in northern Ontario mine a couple of weeks ago on a bus with symptoms alongside other employees.

The individual, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, had spent a couple of days in self-isolation at the mine after getting sick earlier in the month before getting on the bus bound for Cochrane, Ontario.

About 25 other employees shared the more than two hour coach ride with the individual. Mr. Makuch said it never occurred to anyone that the man should have been escorted out of the site in an ambulance, so as to reduce the risk of virus spread to others on the bus. Continue Reading →

US ‘far too reliant’ on Chinese lithium: American Battery CEO – by Nick Lazzaro (S&P Global Platts – March 30, 2020)

Pittsburgh — The coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent impact on the global lithium supply chain emphasizes the US’ damaging overreliance on lithium from China, American Battery Metals CEO Doug Cole said Monday.

“If coronavirus has shown us anything, it’s that we are far too reliant on China and other countries for key minerals like lithium, cobalt and nickel,” Cole said in a statement. “The United States is rich in these key metals, and we must quickly increase domestic investment to bring these resources into the supply chain.”

The US is only mining and producing about 1% of the world’s lithium despite having access to large domestic lithium resources, Cole added. Continue Reading →

Owners of Cape Breton’s Donkin coal mine permanently close underground operation – by Canadian Press (Victoria Times Colonist – March 30, 2020)

DONKIN, N.S. — A troubled underground coal mining operation in Cape Breton has been permanently closed by its In a statement released Monday, Kameron Collieries ULC said it was ceasing production operations at the Donkin mine due to “adverse geologic conditions.”

The company said the mine would not be sealed and would be maintained by a small staff to ventilate the facility and keep it free of water.

“The mine has been closed,” company spokesman Paul McEachern confirmed in an interview. “There are no plans forthcoming to extract more coal from Donkin.” In its statement, Kameron Collieries expressed disappointment at the turn of events for a mine that had only begun operations in February 2017. Continue Reading →