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   Friday, September 25, 2020
Republic of Peru is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peru's main exports are copper, gold, zinc. (Wikipedia)

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Glencore earmarks A$500m to extend life of Australian copper assets
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:35:00 +0000
Mount Isa Mines' copper smelter and the Townsville copper refinery will continue to operate for another three years.

Miner and commodities giant Glencore (LON: GLEN) said on Wednesday it will invest A$500 million (about $356m) to extend the life of its copper smelter and refinery in the Australian state of Queensland beyond 2022.

The decision follows an agreement with the State Government, which is providing a one-off incentive as part of its North Queensland Recovery Plan.

The undisclosed amount is intended to help Glencore mitigate the negative costs of keeping the assets running, the company said. Both, the copper smelter in Mount Isa and the refinery in Townsville, have high fixed costs and struggle to compete internationally, Glencore noted.

The support package will allow for the bricks lining the Mount Isa smelter in the north west of the state to be replaced late next year, a process that occurs every four years.

The government’s backing also secures the stability of 570 direct smelter and refinery workers, and a further 1,000 indirect jobs for the next two years.

Glencore said it would undertake further studies to examine the economic feasibility of large scale e-recycling or custom smelting into the future.

As part of an A$8 billion ($5.7bn) funding package, the Queensland State government will also spend A$50 million ($36m) on the Mount Isa rail line to boost capacity between the state’s north-west minerals province and Townsville, which is its largest port.

The Mount Isa Mines (MIM) complex is Australia’s second largest copper producer.

Some carbon-rich exoplanets may be made of diamonds
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 13:30:00 +0000
Researchers believe that carbon-rich exoplanets could convert to diamonds if water were present.

Given the right circumstances, some carbon-rich exoplanets could be made of diamonds and silica.

In a study published in The Planetary Science Journal, researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Chicago explain that when stars and planets are formed, they do so from the same cloud of gas, so their bulk compositions are similar. A star with a lower carbon-to-oxygen ratio will have planets like Earth, comprised of silicates and oxides with a very small diamond content. Indeed, Earth’s diamond content is only about 0.001%.

But exoplanets around stars with a higher carbon-to-oxygen ratio than our sun are more likely to be carbon-rich. Thus, the scientists at ASU and UChicago hypothesized that these carbon-rich exoplanets could convert to diamond and silicate if water – which is abundant in the universe – were present, creating a diamond-rich composition.

Carbon-rich exoplanets could convert to diamond and silicate if water were present, creating a diamond-rich composition

To test their hypothesis, the research team needed to mimic the interior of carbide exoplanets using high heat and high pressure. To do so, they used high-pressure diamond-anvil cells.

First, they immersed silicon carbide in water and compressed the sample between diamonds to very high pressure. Then, to monitor the reaction between silicon carbide and water, they conducted laser heating at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, taking X-ray measurements while the laser-heated the sample at high pressures.

As they predicted, with high heat and pressure, the silicon carbide reacted with water and turned into diamonds and silica. 

Although these findings may spark interest from diamond miners, the downside is that carbon-rich planets likely do not have the properties needed to keep a human being alive.

“Regardless of habitability, this is one additional step in helping us understand and characterize our ever-increasing and improving observations of exoplanets,” said Harrison Allen-Sutter, lead author of the study, in a media statement. “The more we learn, the better we’ll be able to interpret new data from upcoming future missions like the James Webb Space Telescope and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope to understand the worlds beyond our own solar system.”

Eurobattery Minerals confirms economical-grade nickel sulphide at Spanish project
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 13:30:00 +0000
According to the Swedish company, mineral studies determined the predominant Ni-sulphide mineral to be pentlandite.

Eurobattery Minerals announced that mineral tests conducted by SGS on the Castriz prospect in Galicia, Spain, confirmed economical-grade nickel sulphide. 

In a press release, the company said that seven samples from four diamond drill holes completed in 2019 were submitted to SGS Lakefield, a firm in Canada, for mineral identification and characterization using quantitative evaluation of materials by scanning electron microscopy, chemical analysis and electron microprobe analysis.

According to Eruobattery, the majority of the samples were selected from the main mineralized nickel sulphide intervals previously confirmed by geochemical assaying and the objective of the study was to determine the mineral abundances and high-level analysis of liberation characteristics of sulphide and gangue minerals to aid with future mineral testing programmes.

Castriz is part of the Corcel project, located in Galicia, northwest Spain

The mineral studies determined the predominant Ni-sulphide mineral to be pentlandite with very minor millerite and violarite. Silicate minerals, iron oxides and chromite contain relatively low nickel concentrations.

“We are encouraged by the mineral test results which confirm high-value nickel sulphide minerals as dominating asset in the Castriz deposit,” Roberto García Martínez, CEO of Eurobattery Minerals, said in the media brief. “Our attention will now turn to identifying ways to maximize the value of our discovery by identifying potential massive sulphide zones and assessing the optimal mineral processing option for recovering the sulphides.”

Castriz is part of the Corcel project, located in Galicia, northwest Spain, near the town of La Coruña. The rock types at Corcel are ultramafic and mafic layered intrusive rocks which are known to host Ni-Cu-Co ore deposits.

Zimbabwe’s largest platinum project clears key hurdle
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 10:59:00 +0000
The Darwendale project is expected to produce 860,000 ounces of platinum group metals (PGM) and gold per year at its peak .

Russian-Zimbabwean platinum venture Great Dyke Investments (GDI) has cleared an important hurdle to develop what it would be the African nation’s largest mine of the precious metal.

GDI, 50% owned by Russia’s Vi Holding and Zimbabwean investors, said the African Export-Import Bank had completed a due diligence study allowing it to proceed with a $500 million funding program for the Darwendale project’s first phase.

The African Export-Import Bank had completed a due diligence study allowing GDI to proceed with a $500 million funding program for Darwendale.

The JV, which plans to start mining platinum ore in 2021, has already spent $100 million to date, including on geological exploration and construction of two mine portals and surface infrastructure.

The $2 billion project, located about 65 km (40 miles) from the capital Harare, is expected to produce 860,000 ounces of platinum group metals (PGM) and gold per year at its peak. That would make it the No.1 PGM mine in Zimbabwe, which holds the world’s third-biggest platinum reserves after South Africa and Russia.

“The project funding structure envisages participation of various types of equity investors as well as lenders,” GDI’s chief executive officer, Alex Ivanov, told Bloomberg News. “The specific stake to be acquired by potential investors would largely depend on their overall appetite for the project.”

Zimbabwe, dealing with its worst economic crisis in more than a decade, is pursuing an ambitious plan to boost mining output and earn the country $12 billion a year. Platinum mining is seen as a major anchor of that drive.

The country’s platinum is mostly found on the Great Dyke belt, which stretches for more than 500 km and contains an estimated 96 million ounces in platinum group metals, including platinum and palladium.

Tesla warns on challenges of scaling up production
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 20:04:38 +0000
Elon Musk warned about the difficulties of speeding up production as an expert cautioned the carmaker's increased reliance on large-scale aluminum parts could bring new manufacturing challenges.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk warned on Tuesday about the difficulties of speeding up production as an expert cautioned the carmaker’s increased reliance on large-scale aluminum parts could bring new manufacturing challenges.

While carmakers such as Mercedes-Benz have said automation has limitations, Musk has pressed on with plans to create a hyper-automated factory, which he refers to as the “alien dreadnought”, or “the machine that builds the machine”.

“The extreme difficulty of scaling production of new technology is not well understood. It’s 1,000% to 10,000% harder than making a few prototypes. The machine that makes the machine is vastly harder than the machine itself,” Musk said on Twitter.

Cooling aluminum too quickly can lead a component to deform, and changing the consistency of the metal has huge implications for the cost of each component

Musk’s warning comes ahead of a “battery day” later on Tuesday, when Tesla is expected to unveil steps to boost battery production.

For its new Model Y, Tesla plans to replace 70 components glued and riveted into the car’s rear underbody with a single module made using the world’s biggest aluminum casting machine in its new factory in Brandenburg, near Berlin.

Car bodies have traditionally been made by assembling multiple stamped metal panels, a technique which has helped create crumple zones to absorb energy during a crash, but Musk is charting a new course at the Brandenburg plant.

While casting could reduce the number of assembly steps, larger aluminum parts are more prone to deformation, according to Professor Martin Fehlbier at Kassel University in Germany.

“On paper it looks easy,” said Fehlbier, a former head of foundry technology at Volkswagen Group, which pioneered aluminum construction techniques at its Audi brand. “The small details can cause you to burn through a lot of cash.”

The larger the part, the more attention needs to be paid to heating the form, since molten aluminum needs to fill out the cast, Fehlbier said, adding the thinner the part being made, the more likely the metal will cool before filling out the form.

By contrast, the hotter the form, the longer the component has to cool before the next manufacturing step, which can limit the overall speed of production, Fehlbier said.

Cooling aluminum too quickly can lead a component to deform, and changing the consistency of the metal has huge implications for the cost of each component as well as on potential crash test behaviour, he added.

“The Audi A8 has started to use more steel parts because a new side crash test in the United States cannot be passed using just aluminum,” Fehlbier said.

It’s not the first time Tesla has faced challenges with new production techniques. The electric carmaker was forced to fly in a new production line from Germany to Nevada in 2018 to fix a manufacturing line after robots failed to coordinate seamlessly.

(By Edward Taylor; Editing by Mark Potter)

Taseko advances Florence permitting in Arizona
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 18:23:14 +0000
Company said its copper project in Arizona received strong support at a public hearing held by the Department of Environmental Quality.

Taseko Mines’ Florence copper project in Arizona received strong support at a public hearing held by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), which is part of the process required to obtain an Aquifer Protection permit (APP), the company has announced.

According to Russell Hallbauer, Taseko’s CEO and director, “30 interested parties spoke at the hearing, communicating great support for the company and the project, with only one individual not in favour. The ADEQ heard loud and clear that the community wants this project to advance to commercial production.”

Hallbauer added that Taseko has worked to inform the community about the safeguards in place at Florence and about the environmental benefits of the in-situ copper extraction process, done using a water-based solution, proposed for the project.

Taseko is also working towards an Underground Injection Control permit for Florence from the Environmental Protection Agency

“The extensive data collected from 18 months of operating the test facility is proof that the process works, both from a technical perspective as well as environmentally.”

The ADEQ will continue to take written submissions for three weeks, until Oct. 12, before a final permit is written and issued.

Taseko envisions a two-phase development for the wholly owned Florence copper project, located midway between Tucson and Phoenix. The first production test facility, with 24 wells and a solvent extraction and electrowinning plant, has been operating since December 2018, to generate copper cathode. A commercial-scale facility would follow, with the permitting process aimed at transitioning the project into the second phase – this would include an expanded wellfield and plant.

According to a third-party technical report from 2019, the Florence copper commercial facility would produce an average of 85 million lb. of copper annually at a cost of $1.13 per lb. over a 20-year life.

In addition to the Aquifer Protection permit, Taseko is working towards an Underground Injection Control permit for Florence from the Environmental Protection Agency. The company expects to have the final permits in hand by early 2021.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Laser mining – the light at the end of the tunnel?
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 18:18:06 +0000
The GOC prototype addresses key issues like mining using less explosives, chemicals and waste.

At the very heart of mining lies the tough task of breaking up rocks. In the heart of US mining country, Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, a team of engineers is building a machine that they believe can take it on – with lasers.

Merger Mines Corporation (OTC: MERG) said it is doing what nobody in the industry is doing – and has applied academic conceptualization, computer modeling, and study of laser technology to engineer and design its inaugural “thermal fracturing” prototype units.

The application of the “Graduated Optical Colimator” (GOC) for the mining industry consists of a one-kilowatt optical power fiber laser to selectively spall igneous geological formations containing narrow veins of precious metals.

Merger said the prototype addresses key issues like mining using less explosives, chemicals and waste.

Credit: Merger Mines

“We’ve been working at this problem for five or six years now – and we’ve discovered that a lot of laboratory research has been done in the private sector and in the government sector,” Gary Mladjan, Merger Mines’ VP, engineering and technology told MINING.COM.

“Argonne National Labs in Chicago did the first demonstrations to prove their fracturing methods for breaking up rocks, but they were working mostly in the oil and gas industry.”

Mladjan said the GOC is only three feet high and six feet wide – small enough to be helicoptered in to a mine site.

Mladjan, who has served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said past tests on mine sites using lasers have used too much power and have wound up melting or vaporizing rocks, as every rock specimen will have different needs for power.

“Where the fracturing is – it’s a very narrow margin [that] depends on laser power, which is low level, and the duration of the exposure to the rock where you actually get the thermal fracturing,” Mladjan said. “Argonne did this in sandstone and shale, another study in Europe did it in graphite, which is more akin to what we’re doing.”

“If you look at lasers in mining, what you’re finding is it is being used to measure distances, and not doing any actual mining”

Gary Mladjan, Merger Mines VP, engineering and technology

Mladjan said the lab experiments calculated the impact of the fracturing, and when Merger reviewed the papers, they realized Argonne proved what can be done, so Merger productized the findings of abundant research.

“The reason we are able to do that is based on the research of a number of people who are advisers for us and their experience in industry,” Mladjan said.

“We’ve come up with a method where we can do that exposure duration that will thermally fracture the rock. If you look at lasers in mining, what you’re finding is it is being used to measure distances, and not doing any actual mining.”

He added that the GOC can be used as a surveying instrument for excavations that work well in a coal mine with methane gas.

Currently, the machine is a test instrument with the concept model built, and the production unit would be autonomous.

“What we developed this for was to go back in and work some of the older mines that have been shut down or abandoned that has narrow veins that are not economically feasible to work with today’s conventional mining,” Mladjan said.

“We can go into some of these older mines that were done in the 1890s or 1920s or 30s where that was how they did it – blasting was like a one-man operation.”

Merger has been looking at mines like Lucky Friday in Silver Valley where there are a number of stringers off to the side that could be valuable, but not for a large operation.

“We can go in and follow a very narrow vein to wherever it takes us.”

Mladjan said the GOC can differentiate between host rock and waste rock and direct the waste material away and harvest the ore- bearing material, and it doesn’t use a crusher, which produces tailings.

The GOC, Mladjan said, can go back to existing mines that miners gave up on because couldn’t identify ore using existing mining methods and extend the life of the mine by going after [what] they left behind.

“This could be cost-cutting,” Mladjan said. “You [could] afford to go back in and turn marginal mines into profitable mines.”

Bis, Israel Aerospace launch mining automation JV
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 18:12:31 +0000
Companies have announced a world-first joint venture, Auto-Mate, to deliver the next generation of mine site automation to the global resource sector.

Bis and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have announced a world-first joint venture, Auto-Mate, to deliver the next generation of mine site automation to the global resource sector.

“The Auto-Mate joint venture represents a significant advancement in mining automation,” Brad Rogers, Bis CEO, said in a release. “The flexible and scalable solution is the ultimate partner in mining automation, delivering superior technology, to a wider range of miners, at a lower cost.”

The 50-50 joint venture uses IAI’s technology, which has been operating in heavy off-road vehicles since the early 1980s. Offering fully-scalable and adaptable levels of automation, Auto-Mate’s technology is tailored to the requirements of each mine site.

Bis has been delivering innovative haulage and equipment solutions to mining customers for over 100 years

With an open architecture model, the system connects any asset to the operation’s fleet management system, regardless of brand, age or type of asset or desired level of automation.

“Auto-Mate is a game-changer because of its exceptional utility,” Rogers added. “It is a gateway to automation for small and big miners. It is uniquely flexible so that a customer can choose how far down the pathway to automation they want to go. It is asset agnostic. It can be deployed at any mine, on any asset and to any degree of automation the customer chooses.”

Rogers also added that IAI-created Auto-Mate “allows miners to automate any asset, and retain long term optionality on fleet decisions,” which is expected to make automation accessible for a larger section of the mining industry.

Rogers continued that the global value uplift and efficiency gains from automation in the resource sector have been estimated at over $50 billion. “Auto-Mate makes automation a reality at mines where it would previously never have been thought possible,” he said. “It can be delivered efficiently and at a lower whole of life cost than other technologies in the market.”

According to Rogers, the JV is an important strategic initiative for the company.

“As a trusted resource logistics partner, we identified a gap in the market for flexible automation technology that offered greater interoperability to our customers,” he said. “We’re extremely pleased to have forged a partnership with IAI to become their global partner for this industry first in mining automation.”

Yoav Tourgeman, CEO of ELTA, a subsidiary of IAI, said the interoperable scalable system is a union of cutting-edge technology and practical application.

“Auto-Mate delivers a flexible approach to automation, delivering usability for multiple levels of automation across all haulage assets and ancillary equipment, with one central command centre.”

Auto-Mate CEO, Daniel Poller, has over 20 years of experience in the global energy and mining sectors.

“Auto-Mate is a compelling commitment to innovation and disruption in the mining and automation sector to deliver new solutions to our customers, which drive value at their operations,” Rogers concluded.

Bis is a resources logistics company, providing logistics, materials handling and specialized equipment solutions to the global mineral resources sector. The company has been delivering innovative haulage and equipment solutions to mining customers for over 100 years.

IAI is Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company and a globally recognized technology and innovation leader, specializing in developing and manufacturing advanced, state-of-the-art systems for air, space, sea, land, cyber and homeland security. IAI has 20,000 employees, which includes 5,000 engineers with world-class expertise in robotics and automation, and has been designing and deploying robotic and autonomous vehicle and asset solutions for over four decades, and has automated over 35 different asset classes.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

OceanaGold shares drop on Waihi targets withdrawal
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 16:59:00 +0000
It had highlighted growth opportunities based on a preliminary economic assessment for the historic Waihi district.

Shares in Australia’s OceanaGold (ASX, TSX: OGC) fell as much as 5.2% on Tuesday in Sydney after the miner surprised investors by retracting its production targets and financial forecast for the year at the Waihi district, on the North Island of New Zealand.

The announcement followed discussions with the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), which told the miner it might not have a reasonable basis for the output and economic forecasts set earlier in the year.

The company had highlighted in July growth opportunities based on a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the Waihi district. Those results suggested an additional 2.2 million ounces of gold output from the area between 2021 and 2036.

OceanaGold said at the time the additional ounces would be sourced from the Marth and Gladstone open pits, as well as from the underground portions of the Martha and Wharekirauponga (WKP) deposits.

Investors consider economic and feasibility assessments as one of their prime criteria for making investment decisions. Following OceanaGold’s retraction, shares fell by more than 10% on the news on Monday, to close at A$2.69.

The downward trend continued on Tuesday, with the stock losing as much as 14 cents in early trading to recover slightly during the day. It closed 2.6% down, at A$2.62.

“Fully committed” to NZ

President and chief executive Michael Holmes addressed investors on Tuesday, saying that the company continued to advance opportunities detected at the historic gold district.

“OceanaGold has one of the most exciting organic growth projects in the gold industry, “ Holmes said in the statement. “The New Zealand growth opportunities along with the future Haile Underground represent not only production growth but also margin growth.”

He added the company remained “fully committed to investing in and executing on” the targets identified in the Waihi site, which hosts a producing underground mine expected to generate 18,000 to 20,000 ounces of gold this year.

In early September, OceanaGold extended the mine life of its Macraes operation on the South Island of New Zealand by at least seven years.

Macraes, made up of a series of open-pit mines, an underground mine and an adjacent process plant, has produced over five million ounces of gold since 1990. It’s currently New Zealand’s largest active gold mine.

Garibaldi stock up on Nickel Mountain drill results
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 16:50:48 +0000
Midday Tuesday, the company’s stock was up 15% on the TSXV.

Garibaldi Resources (TSXV: GGI) reported on Tuesday new assay results from the “Casper” high-grade gold quartz vein discovery 13 km north of the company’s flagship E&L nickel-copper-cobalt project in British Columbia.

Field crews collected 165 samples within 250 meters north of and 250 meters south of the NW-SE striking Casper vein, with grades reaching as high as 249 g/t gold, 13 returned grades exceeding 10 g/t, and 23 samples with greater than 1 g/t gold, Garibaldi said.

“Discovering a high-grade gold prospect proximal to the E&L project is a tactical bonus allowing field crews to maintain productivity by accelerating surface exploration at Casper during weather delays on top of Nickel Mountain,” the company said in a press release.

Midday Tuesday, Garibaldi’s stock was up 15% on the TSXV

“Even at this early stage, it’s remarkable to see such consistent elevated gold grades in a quartz vein extending more than 120 meters that remains open. The recent discovery of additional mineralized veins is extremely encouraging, especially with visible gold,” VP-Exploration Jeremy Hanson said.

Garibaldi’s Nickel Mountain project is located 6 km southwest of Eskay Creek in B.C.’s Golden Triangle.

The historic E&L deposit is a nickel-copper rich massive sulphide unit which was originally discovered in 1966. Garibaldi acquired an option to purchase a 100% interest in the deposit and surrounding claims in 2016 and commenced exploration efforts later that year.

In addition to E&L and Casper, Garibaldi owns a 100% interest in over 180 square kilometers of highly prospective mineral claims in the heart of the historic Eskay camp, one of the richest mineral districts in the Province.

Midday Tuesday, Garibaldi’s stock was up 15% on the TSXV. The company has a C$68 million market capitalization.

Giga Metals shares surge ahead of Tesla ‘battery day’
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 16:49:45 +0000
The stock has been on a wild ride in September.

Giga Metals (TSXV: GIGA) shares surged for the second straight day this week as investors speculate on the potential talking points of Tesla’s much anticipated Battery Day event, among which is the possibility of a cobalt-free battery future dominated by cheaper metals such as nickel and manganese.

Giga Metals currently owns the Turnagain project in north-central British Columbia, one of the largest undeveloped sulphide nickel deposits in the world.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the miner was in discussions with Tesla about developing the Turnagain mine together, which would give the EV giant access to low-carbon nickel for its batteries. Sources at Reuters also mentioned potential deals with other automakers including BMW and Mercedes.

The plan for Giga Metals is to produce 40,000 tonnes of nickel and 2,000 tonnes of cobalt a year for 20 years

Although Giga Metals president Martin Vydra declined to comment about any potential deals with Tesla or other carmakers when asked by Reuters, he did say that the company is “actively engaged, and has been for some time, with automakers” regarding its ability to produce carbon-neutral nickel.

In July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised that “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.” A month earlier, to avoid a supply squeeze on its battery metal, his company had struck a deal to buy up to 6,000 tonnes of cobalt from Glencore, which sources the metal from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Giga Metals’ low-carbon nickel plans include turning waste from its operations into cement-type rock using carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and using hydropower. “It is possible a mine at Turnagain could be carbon neutral or better,” the company said in its investor presentation.

The plan for Giga Metals is to produce 40,000 tonnes of nickel and 2,000 tonnes of cobalt a year for 20 years, the company said in an earlier press release.

“The continued growth in lithium-ion batteries relies on available nickel in the form of intermediates, powders or briquettes of which 2020 production is expected to total 477,000 tonnes according to Wood Mackenzie,” Giga Metals’ Vydra said.

He estimated that 400,000 tonnes of nickel would equate to approximately 8 million electric vehicles (EVs) utilizing 50 kg of nickel per EV. “That’s not too far in the future and when you consider that it takes anywhere from 5-10 years to bring a nickel operation into production,” Vydra added.

Shares of Giga Metals were up 12.3% by 12:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, after rising as much as 16.8% earlier in the session. The company’s market capitalization is currently at C$64.3 million.

When rumors of the Tesla talks first broke on September 11, Giga Metals’ stock nearly tripled from C$0.58 to C$1.65 in one day with over 9.1 million shares exchanged during the session. That momentum carried over to the following week as it hit a 52-week high of C$2.44, before investors began selling off the stock on September 15.

Equity Guru reporter Chris Parry last week raised questions about the timing of some insider sales as well as exercise of options before and after the initial report of a potential Tesla deal. However, Reuters said it stands by its reporting.

Frisco drill results in, Rio Tinto and Alderan report
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 16:24:34 +0000
Kennecott has completed all four holes in the program which is designed to test the possible continuity of mineralisation between the Cactus and Comet Cu-Au prospects.

Rio Tinto’s (NYSE: RIO ASX: RIO) subsidiary Kennecott has delivered first drill results at Alderan Resources’ Frisco copper/gold/silver project in Utah.

Kennecott has completed all four holes in the program, which is designed to test the possible continuity of mineralisation between the Cactus and Comet Cu-Au prospects as well as the large blind IP anomaly at Reciprocity.

According to the company, the drill returned a total mineralised intercept of 73.96m at 1.1% Cu, 0.35 g/t Au, 4.5 g/t Ag and 37.9 ppm Mo including
o 40.96m at 1.9% Cu, 0.62 g/t Au, 7.1 g/t Ag and 62.8 ppm Mo.

“We are highly encouraged by the results from this first hole drilled by Kennecott under the earn-in agreement, which is the best received to date in this prospect. We look forward to results from the other holes in the program which will provide further validation of the prospectivity of this and other prospects targeted.” said Alderan managing director Peter

Rio Tinto’s subsidiary will earn 70% of the project by completing three stages which will total $30 million exploration expenditure.

Midday Tuesday, Anderan’s stock was up nearly 5% on the ASX. The company has a $21 million market capitalization.

Communities to decide Ecuador mining projects’ fate
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 14:25:00 +0000
Referendums to ban large and medium scale projects can only be about future mining rights and won’t be retroactively applied to concessions granted prior to public vote, top court has ruled.

Ecuador’s highest court has ruled that communities have the right to hold referendums on whether or not proposed large and medium-scale mines can move forward, but said the public can only vote on mining rights not yet granted and not on licensed projects.

The constitutional court’s decision follows a petition by the government of Cuenca, a city in the country’s highlands, to propose questions to a referendum seeking to ban mining near water sources.

Cuenca’s authorities had asked the country’s Top Court approve questions for a referendum that seeks to prohibit mining near water sources. 

It represents a victory for Cuenca, in the southern province of Azuay, which hosts several projects, including SolGold’s (LON, TSX:SOLG) Sharug project and Canada’s INV Metals’ (TSX-V: INV) Loma Larga gold-silver-copper project.

“It has been a dream for Cuencans for so many years to be allowed, through popular consultation, to determine the future protection of our water sources,” Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios told local media.

Participation in the referendum on mining will be mandatory, Palacios added.

Current projects safe

INV welcomed the ruling, saying it solidifies its lawful rights. The company noted it was currently working with the government to review Loma Larga’s environmental impact study to advance it through the permit process.

Processing ore from underground mines will be done without using cyanide, IVN has said, an about 55% of the tailings will be placed underground using the paste backfill method.

The remaining tailings, the project developer noted, will be filtered and pressed to remove water to be treated and recycled within the processing facilities.

Ecuador has gained ground as a mining investment destination over the past two years, but opposition to the extraction of the country’s resources could thwart the government’s plan to attract $3.7 billion in mining investments over the next two years, up significantly from the $270 million it received in 2018.

Texas Minerals consortium to produce rare earths from coal waste
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:30:00 +0000
The consortium’s goal is to install a pilot plant at a Jeddo Coal Company site in Pennsylvania capable of producing 1-3 tonnes of rare earth oxides from coal byproducts.

The US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technical Laboratory announced that it has selected a Texas Mineral Resources-led consortium to receive an award of up to $1 million targeting the production of rare earths in Pennsylvania.  

Besides Texas Mineral Resources (OTCQB: TMRC), the project includes Penn State, Jeddo Coal Company and H22OS. The consortium’s objective is to install a self-contained, modular and portable pilot plant at a Jeddo Coal site in Pennsylvania capable of producing 1-3 tonnes of rare earth oxides derived from coal byproducts from anthracite coal.  

The project will start on October 1, 2020, with a three-month conceptual design phase and the ultimate objective of completing a feasibility study.

The objective is to install a self-contained, portable pilot plant at a Jeddo Coal Company site in Pennsylvania capable of producing 1-3 tonnes of rare earth oxides derived from coal byproducts 

“This grant is a significant step forward toward creating the first of these operations in the Pennsylvania region. The potential to profitably produce scandium and other rare earth minerals from Pennsylvania anthracite coal byproducts holds great promise,” Anthony Marchese, chairman of TMRC, said in a media statement.

“Creating value from byproducts is an environmental goal shared by all citizens, especially when considering the strategic nature of the minerals at hand.”

According to Marchese, this is the third U.S. government award relating to the production of rare earth minerals in which his company has participated. 

Back in 2016, TMRC announced it had successfully completed a demonstration-of-concept project funded by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency’s Strategic Materials Division to separate and refine specific high-purity rare earth elements using continuous ion exchange and continuous ion chromatography processing method. 

Later on, in 2019, a consortium including Texas Mineral Resources consortium successfully completed a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy grant to produce multiple separated rare earth minerals from Pennsylvania coal mining waste material. 

The Sierra Blanca-based company is also using the method employed in both U.S. government-grant initiatives to process rare earths and additional critical minerals from the Round Top project in Texas, which is being developed by TMRC’s funding and its partner USA Rare Earth, LLC.  

Successful completion of the DOE grant is consistent with a commercial supply chain in which final separation of the mixed REE concentrate into individual high purity rare earth oxides would be accomplished at USA Rare Earth’s processing facility using CIX/CIC processing methodology.

GE to exit new coal projects
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 12:00:00 +0000
The energy giant said that the measure may involve divestitures, site closings, job losses and impacts to publicly held subsidiaries.

General Electric (NYSE: GE) said it wants to exit the new-build coal power market. 

“GE’s Steam Power business will work with customers on existing obligations as it pursues this exit, which may include divestitures, site closings, job impacts and appropriate considerations for publicly held subsidiaries,” the energy giant said in a media statement.

“GE will continue to focus on and invest in its core renewable energy and power generation businesses, working to make electricity more affordable, reliable, accessible, and sustainable. GE Steam Power will continue to deliver turbine islands for the nuclear market and service existing nuclear and coal power plants.”

GE has been criticized for continuing to promote high-carbon projects globally

Even though GE has been gaining increasing positive attention for developments in wind turbines and other renewable technologies, it has also been criticized for continuing to promote high-carbon projects globally.

Two specific situations in which such criticism turned into actionable measures are part of the reason behind the decision to exit new coal developments.

Among those cases was the shareholder resolution that As You Sow filed last year. This non-profit organization focuses on promoting social-corporate responsibility and in its filing, it argued against GE’s pursuit of new fossil fuel projects across the globe at a time when nations are striving to meet Paris Climate Agreement goals. 

The resolution was withdrawn after the company agreed to evaluate product emissions and set new greenhouse gas emission targets. 

The other case took place in 2018, when As You Sow raised similar concerns in an investor letter to GE regarding its plans to build a new coal plant in Kenya in spite of strong opposition. 

“We are pleased that GE has signalled meaningful change to its business by moving away from high-carbon technologies like coal projects,” Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, said in a press brief.

“This important announcement recognizes the fundamental truth that the world is transitioning away from high-carbon coal. We hope to see GE continue to evaluate how it can evolve and better position itself and the companies it works with to thrive in the low-carbon energy transition.”

Hochschild Mining presses reset on Peruvian operations
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 10:34:00 +0000
Its San José mine in Argentina is slated to reach full production in the fourth quarter.

Hochschild Mining (LON: HOC) recently resumed production at full capacity at its biggest gold-silver mine in Peru, Inmaculada, following months of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The precious metals miner said it has implemented a series of measures to deal with a potential second wave of covid-19 at all of its operations to avoid major issues.

Speaking to MINING.COM, chief executive Ignacio Bustamante said Hochschild employees now follow a stricter set of health protocols than those mandated by authorities in Peru an Argentina, including a “double covid-19 testing” program.

The precious metals miner said it expects volatility in the gold and silver markets to linger this year

“As a company, we have been aiming to focus on prioritizing the health of our employees above business continuity,” Bustamante said. “We have also backed up these protocols with an ongoing communication campaign and a bespoke IT system to monitor the progress of cases amongst our employees and to facilitate shift-changes in a covid-secure manner.”

Hochschild was forced to shut its flagship Inmaculada and its other Peruvian mine, Pallancata, from mid-March to mid-May as the country went into a strict lockdown. It reopened but was then forced to halt work at Inmaculada again in July after a number of workers tested positive for covid-19. The company was finally able to resume operations at full tilt on September 7.

Restrictions on the movement of people in Argentina, however, remain in place, but Hochschild expects to reach full production by the fourth quarter.

The company has already felt the impact of the closures on production. Before the pandemic, it expected to mine 36 million ounces of silver equivalent or 422,000 ounces of gold. It now targets 24 million to 25 million ounces of silver equivalent this year and 280,000-290,000 of gold equivalent.

“We have issued a realistic revised forecast range but if we do see further stoppages due to the virus we might need to revise those figures,” Bustamante said, adding that the situation in both countries remained “delicate.”

Ahead with exploration

Hochschild is moving forward with its largest ever brownfield program, which includes over 200,000 metres of drilling. It’s focused on a number of precious metal targets in Peru and Argentina, close to its existing operations.

The goal, Bustamante said, is to increase the life-of-mine of the company’s mines, improve the quality of its resources and fill up the spare plant capacity it has.

Hochschild is also carrying out drilling at early stage projects including Crespo and Arcata in Peru, as well at other projects or former mines such as Condor, Corina and Ares.

Hochschild is executing a $9 million greenfield exploration program, with targets in the US, Mexico and Canada

The miner, which participated in the 2020 Denver Gold Forum Americas conference this week, is also executing a $9 million greenfield exploration program, with targets in the US, Mexico and Canada. Those include the SNIP project in British Columbia, being advanced by Skeena Resources, and in which Hochschild has an option on.

The company has ventured into a new market, with its BioLantanidos rare earths project in Chile, which is expected to reach the feasibility stage early next year.

“We believe that this ionic clay deposit (a type that is very rare outside of China) has the potential to be one of the lowest cost sources of high demand rare earths globally,” Bustamante said. “Ionic clay resources differ from the more common hard rock-based rare earth projects as the mineralization occurs close to the surface and does not require explosives.”

That kind of project doesn’t need tailings dams, as the clay undergoes a simple and environmentally-friendly desorbing process that uses no harmful chemicals to extract the rare earth oxide before the washed clay is simply returned to the pit, Bustamante noted.

Bustamante said the company still anticipates some volatility in silver prices and the market in general.

“We think that the strength of silver price is underpinned by the significant fiscal and monetary stimulus initiated by governments and central banks in response to the covid-19 crisis and a weakening of the US dollar,” he said.

Hochschild Mining presses reset button on Peruvian operations
Inmaculada gold-silver mine Peru. (Image: Hochschild Mining.)

Bustamante added there hasn’t been a significant supply response from silver or gold sectors yet. There are very few substantial primary silver projects close to production and many projects remain stuck in development or require significant financing, he noted.

Gold prices have climbed this year by about 28%, hitting a record high of above $2,000 an ounce in August. Silver has also been gaining, outperforming gold, and is up 50% to $24 an ounce.

Great Bear starts metallurgical testing at Dixie
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 10:33:00 +0000
To date, over 80% of the holes drilled into the LP fault, Dixie Limb and Hinge zones returned visible gold, with the mineralization in the form of free gold, and not bound to or within sulphides.

Great Bear Resources has retained B.C.-based Blue Coast Research to complete metallurgical test work and consulting for its Dixie gold project in Ontario’s Red Lake district.

This test work is expected to provide the gold explorer with metallurgical recovery estimates and processing flow sheet recommendations for the Dixie project zones, required to publish an initial resource estimate for the property.

According to Great Bear, to date, over 80% of the holes drilled into the LP fault, Dixie Limb and Hinge zones returned visible gold, with the mineralization in the form of free gold, and not bound to or within sulphides. Free gold-dominated deposits in the Red Lake area typically return high gold recoveries – a 2015 technical report on Evolution Mining’s Red Lake mine suggested typical recoveries of 94% to 97% for the operation.

According to Chris Taylor, Great Bear’s president and CEO, the company has catalogued over 7,000 free visible gold occurrences in its drill core to date. Over 99% of the time, “gold occurs freely or on the edges of sulphide grains, suggesting potential for very high metallurgical recoveries, as has been observed at other free gold-hosting deposits in the Red Lake district.”

Taylor added that petrographic (using rock thin sections under a microscope) studies also show unencapsulated gold – the gold appears to be associated with silicate minerals.

Great Bear continues to collect samples for testing from veins, replacement zones and disseminations in both sedimentary and felsic host rocks from the LP fault, Dixie Limb and Hinge zones.

Based on approximately 136,000 geochemical samples analyzed to date, results indicate lower concentrations of trace elements (such as arsenic, zinc and lead) within the mineralized system at Dixie than across other deposits in the Red Lake district, due to a lower accessory sulphide mineral content.

A 2004 historical report completed on the Dixie Limb zone identified sulphides (pyrrhotite) attached to the gold mineralization, but “none (of the gold) was encapsulated.”

There are two exploration targets at the 91.4-sq.-km Dixie property: mafic-rock hosted high-grade gold in quartz veins and replacement zones at the Dixie Limb and Hinge and Arrow zones as well as felsic sediment and volcanic-hosted high-grade disseminated gold with broad envelopes at the LP fault. The latter is interpreted to cover up to 18 km of strike at Dixie.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Eskay drills near-surface VMS mineralization at TV target in BC
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 09:50:00 +0000
The section includes higher-grade intervals, such as 1.2 metres of 182 g/t silver and 5.46 g/t gold (7.99 g/t gold-equivalent).

Eskay Mining has reported assay results for drill hole TV20-35, completed at the TV target within the Corey area in B.C.’s Golden Triangle, which hit 11.24 metres of volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) mineralization, grading 210 g/t silver and 1.23 g/t gold (4.11 g/t gold-equivalent), starting at 193.9 metres. This section includes higher-grade intervals, such as 1.2 metres of 182 g/t silver and 5.46 g/t gold (7.99 g/t gold-equivalent).

These latest results appear to complement the results of a recent geophysical survey, which defined several near-surface conductive targets within a two-kilometre corridor, centred on the TV and Jeff targets.

Eskay Mining grounds are to the south of, and contiguous with, Skeena Resources’ Eskay Creek project.

Additional assays are pending for holes that returned additional massive sulphide intercepts

Based on anomalous pathfinder element (arsenic, mercury, antimony, among others) values, Eskay has drawn parallels between this system and Skeena’s Eskay Creek deposit, 13 km to the north of TV. The Eskay graben (geologic trough) extends southward, from Skeena’s grounds, onto Eskay Mining grounds – approximately 85% of this belt lies within Eskay’s tenure.

According to the press release, the early-stage drilling suggests “a significant precious-metals bearing VMS system at (the) TV and Jeff (targets).” Eskay has now added a second drill to this area.

“We are encouraged by our early drill holes at the TV target,” Quinton Hennigh, a director of the company and technical advisor, said in a release. “Mineralization is clearly of the Eskay Creek ilk with significant precious metal values and highly elevated pathfinder elements common to Eskay Creek…”

Hennigh also added that now that Eskay Mining has “confirmation of a large, stacked, mudstone-hosted system,” it plans to drill this area in an attempt to vector in to its high-grade core.

Additional assays are pending for holes that returned additional massive sulphide intercepts.

This most recent result is from joint venture ground, held by Eskay Mining (80%) and Kirkland Lake Gold (20%).

The Eskay land package totals 520 sq. km within the Golden Triangle – precious-metals rich VMS deposits are the company’s main exploration target.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

UEC increases public offering to $15 million, stock tanks
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 23:19:49 +0000
Shares of Uranium Energy Corp. plunged 18.6% at market close Monday.

Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSEMKT: UEC) announced on Monday that due to increased demand, its underwriters have agreed to purchase 12.5 million units of the company at a price of $1.20 per unit under the previously arranged public offering.

This would see the company raise gross proceeds of $15 million instead of $8 million as originally announced last Friday. The offering is expected to close on Wednesday.

Each unit will still consist of one common share of the company and one-half of one common share purchase warrant. Each full warrant will entitle its holder to an additional common share at an exercise price of $1.80 per share immediately upon issuance and expiring 24 months from closing of the offering.

UEC’s main operations include the Palagana, Burke Hollow and Goliad ISR projects in southern Texas

“We are pleased with the substantial level of interest for this offering and appreciate the strong endorsement from our existing and new shareholders,” UEC president and CEO Amir Adnani stated in a press release.

“UEC’s fully permitted, low cost, in-situ-recovery (ISR) portfolio provides for a distinct advantage to supply US production that is globally competitive. The improved uranium market conditions we’ve witnessed in 2020, with uranium prices reaching a four-year high, bodes well for the future of our ISR project pipeline,” he added.

UEC intends to use net proceeds of the offering to fund exploration and development expenditures, as well as for general corporate and working capital purposes.

UEC’s main operations including the Palagana, Burke Hollow and Goliad ISR projects are located in southern Texas, anchored by its fully licensed Hobson processing facility. The company also controls the Reno Creek project in Wyoming, considered the largest permitted, pre-construction ISR uranium project in the US.

Shares of UEC plunged 18.6% at market close Monday on news of the upsized public offering. The company’s market capitalization now stands at C$193.4 million.

Monday mining massacre as gold, copper, iron ore prices tank
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 19:00:42 +0000
Gold price falls $70 an ounce, copper drops over 3% and iron ore rout accelerates, sending shares in major mining companies skidding.

The gold price fell to its lowest in nearly two months on Monday as the US dollar strengthened and a drop on global stock markets failed to translate into safe-haven demand for the precious metal.

US gold futures fell by as much as $77.50 an ounce, or 3.9% from Friday’s settlement, hitting a low of $1,885.40 on the Comex market in New York before recovering some of those losses to trade above $1,900 by early afternoon. Trade was heavy with nearly 36m ounces exchanging hands by 2 pm.

Copper prices dropped by more than 3% from fresh 2-year highs reached on Friday but managed to stay above the pivotal $3.00 a pound level.  Copper for delivery in December exchanged hands for $3.0135 per pound ($6,645 a tonne) by early afternoon amid heavy selling with contracts totalling 2.5 billion pounds of copper traded in New York.  

A coalition of gold investors is urging changes at miners as performance “continues to fall short” despite the 24% rally in the gold price this year

The retreat of iron ore prices from six-and-a-half year highs hit last week accelerated on Monday with the price of Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China falling 4.1% to $119.82 a tonne on the back of rising port inventories and normalizing of supply from Brazil. 

Big 3 cut down

Anglo-Australian giant Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO), which had rallied to multi-year highs recently despite losing its top management over governance issues, was the hardest hit among the diversified majors with a loss of 5.2%. Rio is now worth $112 billion in New York. CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques was ousted and two other senior execs were shown the door as investors revolted over the company’s destruction of ancient Aboriginal rock shelters. 

The world’s no. 1 mining company – BHP Group (NYSE: BHP) – fell by 4.2%, wiping out its gains for 2020 and pushing down its market value to $134 billion. BHP has been caught up in the Juukan Gorge scandal, acknowledging last week it was aware of Australian Aboriginal groups’ worries about the future of dozens of heritage sites before it sought and obtained approval to destroy them.

Vale (NYSE: VALE) shares shed 4.1%, bringing its year-to-date losses to 17.5% as the iron ore giant struggles to bring its operations back up to scale following the dam burst in Brumadinho in January last year. 

Brazilian prosecutors said despite two major deadly mining disasters since 2015, the Rio de Janeiro-based company has not complied with a number of commitments signed with authorities to prevent another disaster.

Shine off gold stocks 

Considering how hard they’ve run in 2020, Monday’s damage among the top gold mining stocks was relatively light. Number one producer Newmont (NYSE: NEM) gave up 2.3% for a market value of $52 billion,  while Barrick’s (NYSE: GOLD) losses were limited to 2.6%, affording the company a $50 billion valuation in New York. 

Further down the field declines were sharper – Agnico Eagle (NYSE: AEM) fell over 3% in afternoon trade, AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) traded down 4.7%, ADRs of Australia’s Newcrest (OTCMKTS: NCMGY) trading in New York gave up 5.1% and Kinross Gold (NYSE: KGC) declined 8.2%. Platinum and palladium producer Sibanye Stillwater (NYSE: SBSW) dropped 7.9%.

Bloomberg reports a coalition of gold investors is urging changes at miners as performance “continues to fall short” despite the 24% rally in the gold price this year.

In an open letter to the mining industry, prominent gold investors including firms backed by billionaires John Paulson and Naguib Sawiris, and members of the Shareholders’ Gold Council are targeting issues including executive compensation and directors “who don’t have enough skin in the game.”

Santacruz Silver shares up on Palisades investment
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 17:34:00 +0000
The resource-focused merchant bank will invest C$3 million in the silver junior.

Santacruz Silver Mining (TSXV: SCZ) plans to raise up to C$6 million through a non-brokered private placement of approximately 27.27 million units at C$0.22 per unit.

Palisades Goldcorp, Canada’s leading resource-focused merchant bank, has placed a lead order for C$3 million under the placement.

Each unit will consist of one common share of the company and one common share purchase warrant, with each warrant entitling the holder to acquire an additional common share at an exercise price of C$0.30 per share for up to 36 months following issuance.

Proceeds of the offering will be used by Santacruz to purchase underground equipment for its Zimapan property, and for general working capital and corporate purposes.

The Mexico-focused silver miner currently owns and operates the Rosario project in the Charcas mining district. It also holds an interest in the Veta Grande mine in Zacatecas, and has the right to operate the Zimapan mine until the end of 2020 under a mining lease agreement.

Shares of Santacruz Silver rose 2.1% at market open Monday. The Vancouver-based junior miner has a market capitalization of about C$49.7 million.

Gold price near two-month low on Fed policy uncertainty
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 16:13:01 +0000
Spot gold dropped 3.3% to its lowest since late July, while US gold futures fell 2.7%.

Gold fell to its lowest in nearly two months on Monday as the dollar strengthened, while market skepticism over additional stimulus measures from the US Federal Reserve added further pressure to the precious metal.

Spot gold dropped 3.3% to $1,896.16 per ounce by 11:15 a.m. EDT after sinking to $1,884.09 per ounce earlier in the day — its lowest since late July. US gold futures fell 2.7% to $1,907.70 per ounce on the Comex in New York.

Meanwhile, the dollar index rose 0.8% against its rivals, making gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.

“They (central banks) are in a wait-and-see mode and it has tempered the expectations of gold bulls”

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst, CMC Markets UK

“(The) tug-of-war between the dollar and gold is expected to play out until there is a major shift in global risk sentiment, or if investors can get a better grasp on the US monetary policy outlook,” FXTM market analyst Han Tan told Reuters.

Investors now await speeches by Fed committee members, including Chairman Jerome Powell, who will appear before Congressional committees later this week.

“They (central banks) are in a wait-and-see mode and it has tempered the expectations of gold bulls,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

“It is unlikely that we’ll get any clarity on how the Fed is going to arrive at its inflation targets and on monetary policy until at least the end of the US election,” he added.

Gold’s decline came despite European shares dropping to a two-week low during Monday’s trading session as surging covid-19 cases across the continent prompted renewed lockdown measures in some countries and clouded the recovery outlook.

“The US elections in early November certainly pose a major event risk on gold’s trajectory. Should risk aversion creep up over the coming six weeks, that may translate into upward pressure for bullion prices in the interim,” FXTM’s Tan noted.

(With files from Reuters)

It is possible to recover lithium cobalt oxide from spent batteries – study
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 15:32:00 +0000
Most battery recycling processes extract the materials separately and require additional reagents to put them together.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, published a study where they show that it is possible to regenerate the complete lithium cobalt oxide compounds in lithium-ion batteries, as opposed to recovering individual elements and then putting them together.

In detail, the team led by environmental engineer Zhen He used an electrodeposition process where they deposited an additional amount of lithium-ion on waste electrodes. This process was driven by the electricity that creates the electric field to absorb the ion onto the electrode. By doing this, the researchers were able to get a complete formula that allowed them to reuse a good amount of the materials inside the battery.

The researchers were able to get a complete formula that allowed them to reuse a good amount of the materials inside the battery

According to the scientists, the driving force behind this work was their concern about the generation of secondary pollutants that results from existing battery recycling processes, most of which extract the materials separately through mechanical methods and require additional reagents.

Because of this and due to the fact that batteries are inexpensive, there is little incentive to recycle, so only about 5% of lithium-ion batteries are recycled. 

Zhen He pointed out that in China only, about 2.5 billion end-of-life lithium-ion batteries from portable electronics such as smartphones and laptops will be generated by the end of 2020. Thus, the researcher believes that recovering and recycling critical elements from these devices will play a key role in the sustainability of resource use.

Webinar: Golden Triangle public data
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 15:00:42 +0000
Geoscience BC's complimentary webinar takes place September 29.

A Geoscience BC webinar on September 29 will demonstrate how the mineral exploration sector can collaborate to create a valuable new public dataset in northwest British Columbia’s Golden Triangle, and highlight existing data available in the area.

The event is part of Geoscience BC’s Golden Triangle Geophysics Data Compilation Project, which is improving the quality and coverage of publicly accessible geophysical data in the Golden Triangle by acquiring and publishing privately held geophysical data.

The event will also feature a short presentation from Geoscience BC on existing public geoscience available for the Golden Triangle.

The Golden Triangle is BC’s most active mineral exploration area. It hosts several operating and past- producing mines as well as hundreds of mineral exploration and early mine development projects.

Golden Triangle Public Data: Geoscience BC Webinar will take place from 10:00 to 11:00 AM (PST) on Tuesday, September 29. Free registration is mandatory and will be closed at the start of the event.

Register here.

Ridgestone hits shallow gold and copper at Rebeico
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 14:19:00 +0000
Drill highlights include 29.2 metres of 0.54% copper starting at surface from the New Year zone, with a higher-grade 2.3-metre section of 1.95% copper from 11 metres.

Ridgestone Mining has released assay results for 8 holes completed at the New Year zone and Alaska vein at its 34.6-sq.-km Rebeico gold-copper project, which “suggest a potentially large intrusion-related mineralized system,” according to Jonathan George, Ridgestone’s CEO.

The drill highlights include 29.2 metres of 0.54% copper starting at surface from the New Year zone, with a higher-grade 2.3-metre section of 1.95% copper from 11 metres. An additional step-out hole targeting the New Year zone area hit 0.7 metres of 2.62 g/t gold and 0.54% copper from 64.3 metres.

Rebeico lies within the producing Sierra Madre gold belt in Sonora state

Drilling into the Alaska vein hit 4.4 metres of 3.82 g/t gold and 0.75% copper starting at 70.1 metres, including 1.6 metres of 8.61 g/t gold and 0.5% copper from 72.9 metres.

In the release, George added that, based on the hole-to-hole gold and copper content variability, the mineralized system suggests multiple emplacement phases.

The most recent drilling tested the mineralization down to a vertical depth of approximately 170 metres with deeper holes planned for the eastern edge of the New Year zone. In addition, the company is planning a regional-scale targeting exercise for follow-up drilling to extend the mineralization.

At Rebeico, Ridgestone has defined four primary target areas: New Year; Alaska; a geophysical anomaly in the southeastern portion of the property; and the greater under-explored holdings.

The New Year zone has been traced over an area of 125 metres by 175 metres; at the Alaska vein, high-grade gold and copper has been traced over 1.2 km of strike. The induced polarization anomaly covers 1,400 metres by 800 metres.

Rebeico lies within the producing Sierra Madre gold belt in Sonora state and features multiple styles of mineralization.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Tesla “battery day” a possible blow to cobalt miners
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 14:03:00 +0000
Among expected announcements may be a cobalt-free battery, which will need higher quantities of less costly metals such as nickel and manganese.

Elon Musk’s Tesla hosts its annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22, followed by the highly anticipated “battery technology day”, a worldwide live-streamed event during which the firm is expected to unveil its own new type of battery cell.

Speculation points to a cobalt-free battery that uses more of less costly metals such as nickel and manganese.

Tesla currently uses the nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathode chemistry, which has a low cobalt content of about 5%, for their cars produced outside China.

The company also embraces the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) to identify red flags such as child labour in their cobalt sourcing.

There are rumours about a wider cell design, which would bring down the cost of making batteries

A reportedly signed deal between Tesla and Glencore (LON: GLEN) in June has cast doubts on the company’s statement that it’s close to eliminating cobalt from its batteries altogether.

The contract would involve supplies of 6,000 tonnes of cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo for Tesla’s new Shanghai factory.  

There are rumours about a wider cell design, which would bring down the cost of making batteries. That would be a critical development, given that they are the main cause of EVs’ hefty price tag.

Musk, 49, said earlier this year that the event would “blow your mind” and has been adding to the hype over the weekend by tweeting the upcoming announcement “it’s big” and “insane”, with “many exciting things to be unveiled.”

Tesla’s “battery day” a possible blow to cobalt miners

Analysts at Citigroup said that with Tesla having roughly 30% of the pure battery electric vehicle (BEV) market this year, its innovations in battery performance and chemistry have “significant implications for EV metal demand” and so Battery Day “could impact sentiment towards battery metals demand.”

Goldman Sachs believes the focus on Tuesday will be on “production capacity expansion, battery cost and new technology trends.”

Even if Tesla is not ready to transition to an entirely new type of battery, updates in the chemistry of its existing cells could also offer extra longevity, with high hopes the coveted “million-mile battery” will be unveiled.

Volkswagen’s own battery day earlier this month predicted 300 gigawatt-hours of batteries will be needed in 2025.

Over the last three years, Tesla has mass-manufactured batteries for its cars and energy storage products at its Gigafactory in Nevada with its partner Panasonic.

It has also begun sourcing cells from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) and LG, and making battery packs for the made-in-China (MIC) version of its Model 3 sedans. 

Not so near-future news

Most of Tesla’s announcements have related to finding ways drive down production costs, increase the lifetime and charging speed of their batteries, and make sure the metals used in the making of its EVs are ethically sourced.

The carmaker events often cause short-term stock volatility, but what Musk shows at these presentations doesn’t always result in a working product within the announced timeline. 

In October 2016, the South African-born billionaire showed off different styles of roof tiles with solar cells that weren’t actually functional. The event helped Tesla score shareholder approval for a $2.6 billion acquisition of debt-saddled SolarCity.

So far, the carmaker has not produced or installed solar glass roof tiles in a significant volume.

A year later, Tesla unveiled its new Roadster vehicle prototype, “the fastest production car ever made”, which should have been available this year. Last May, however, Musk listed several other tasks Tesla would need to achieve first, suggesting it may not arrive until after next year.

Tesla’s “Autonomy Day”, held in April 2019, was all about self-driving cars or “robotaxis” being available in the second quarter of 2020. They have yet to pass all safety tests needed before beginning mass production. “All the things I said we would do them, we did it,” Musk said at the event. “Only criticism— and it’s a fair one — is sometimes I’m not on time. But I get it done and the Tesla team gets it done.”

Mariner becomes largest land tenure holder in Newfoundland
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 13:15:00 +0000
The miner acquired a 100% interest in Exploits Gold Corp and became Exploits Discovery Corp.

Mariner Resources (CSE: RNR) has just become the largest land tenure holder in Newfoundland following its acquisition of a 100% interest in Exploits Gold, a private company focused on gold exploration in the Exploits Subzone in the central region of the Canadian province.

Following the buyout, which was done by issuing an aggregate of 18,910,752 common shares, Mariner also changed its name to Exploits Discovery Corp. (CSE: NFLD), as it now holds strategic land positions in discrete blocks along the full length of the Exploits Subzone. 

Overall, the company now holds 1,760 square kilometres of gold exploration ground in Newfoundland

Overall, the company holds 1,760 square kilometres of gold exploration ground, with its core assets being the Mt. Peyton and Jonathan’s Pond projects, located two and 25 kilometres west and northeast respectively of New Found Gold’s Queensway discovery.

According to the miner, Jonathan’s Pond hosts visible gold-bearing quartz veins up to 3 metres wide, with a current strike length of 450 metres, open in all directions with grab samples from outcrop of up to 28.82 g/t Au. The property is also situated on a 15-kilometre strike length airborne magnetic anomaly, coincident with the anomalous float grab samples of up to 25.8 g/t Au.

“We are pleased to have closed this transaction and to focus on the exploration of the advanced exploration targets on Mt Peyton, Jonathan’s Pond, True Grit and Dog Bay while we expand and develop additional targets with our compilation and gold prospect follow up on other ground,” Michael Collins, Mariner/Exploits CEO, said in a media statement.

Mountain Province resumes diamonds sales in Antwerp
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 13:12:00 +0000
Company sold 210,661 carats for a total of $8.9 million or $42 per carat at its first traditional diamond sale since the pandemic began on Sept. 19.

Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSE: MPVD) stock was up 9% Monday after it held its first traditional diamond sale since the pandemic began on Sept. 19 in Antwerp. And while the sales figures are modest, the resumption of diamond sales is a major positive development for the diamond sector, which has been largely shut down by covid-19 travel restrictions and the economic hit of the virus.

Mountain Province, which owns a 49% interest in the Gahcho Kué mine in the Northwest Territories, sold 210,661 carats for a total of $8.9 million or $42 per carat. The sale did not include any high-value or fancy stones.

“We are pleased to have finally resumed our traditional sales channels as the markets around the globe continue to gradually open for business,” said Mountain Province’s president and CEO, Stuart Brown.

Mountain Province’s next traditional sale is slated to close on Oct. 31

“The results of the first small sale, post the covid-19 pandemic are an encouraging start considering that the market has been at a standstill for nearly six months. The results of the sale were a positive sign as the markets for rough and polished diamonds start to return.”

The company reports that bidding was strong and consistent with sales activity earlier in the year, despite ongoing travel restrictions in Belgium. The sale prices were comparable (about 1% lower) to those achieved in the junior’s last traditional sale, which was in February.

In a research note, Ed Sterck, a mining analyst at BMO Capital Markets, wrote that: “Although volumes and revenues are relatively small, the recommencement of regular sales is a positive sign that the diamond market/pipeline has started to move following covid-19 related restrictions. The company also highlighted that prices were down ~1% compared with achieved in February (on a like-for-like basis), which represents a significant improvement from our estimate of trough pricing being down 22-25% during the peak of the pandemic.”

Mountain Province’s next traditional sale is slated to close on Oct. 31.

The junior has been able to generate some revenue through the pandemic by way of an alternative sales arrangement with Dunebridge Worldwide. The arrangement accounted for the majority of the company’s second quarter revenues totalling $25 million at an average realized price of $45 per carat.

The Gahcho Kué mine is operated by Mountain Province’s joint-venture partner and 51%-owner De Beers.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Maverix to acquire pre-production gold royalty portfolio from Newmont
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:05:00 +0000
Company has entered into a binding agreement to acquire a portfolio of 11 gold royalties on pre-production assets in the Americas.

Gold-focused royalty and streaming company Maverix Metals has entered into a binding agreement with Newmont to acquire a portfolio of 11 gold royalties on pre-production assets in the Americas.

In exchange for the portfolio, Maverix will issue 12 million common shares to Newmont and pay the major $15 million in cash– these two components are valued at $75 million – with up to a further $15 million due if production milestones at some assets are reached within five years of closing.

The royalty portfolio includes interests in Orla Mining’s, Bluestone Resources’, Corvus Gold’s and KORE Mining’s flagship assets.

Maverix currently holds 105 royalties and streams on 13 producing assets

In the news release, Dan O’Flaherty, Maverix CEO, noted how this acquisition will grow the company’s royalty holdings.

“This transaction marks another important milestone in our continued growth at Maverix. The acquisition of these high quality royalties enhances our existing portfolio and adds to our already robust pipeline of development assets.”

Of the 11 project royalties acquired, one is in the construction stage; four are in the development stage; with six additional exploration projects.

A 2% net smelter return (NSR) royalty on the oxide and transitional ore at Orla Mining’s Camino Rojo project is the most advanced asset acquired from Newmont. Camino Rojo lies 50 km southeast of Newmont’s Penasquito mine. A feasibility study completed on this asset last year outlined a heap leach operation producing an average of 97,000 gold oz. and 511,000 silver oz. over an initial life of over six years. Orla expects the project to start producing in 2021.

The royalty package also includes a 1% NSR on Bluestone Resources’ (part of the Lundin Group) Cerro Blanco project in Guatemala. The proposed high-grade underground gold-silver project would, based on a 2019 feasibility study, produce 113,000 gold oz. annually over an eight-year mine life. Early works are expected to start by the first quarter of next year.

In the U.S., the portfolio includes a sliding scale NSR (between 1% and 2%) on Corvus Gold’s past-producing Mother Lode project in Nevada and a 1% NSR on KORE Mining’s Imperial project in California.

In Mexico, Maverix has acquired a 2% NSR on the Ana Paula project, which, on Sept. 11, was sold by Argonaut Gold to a private company, which intends to create a new public gold development entity.

Closing of this transaction is expected on or before Oct. 30; the deal is subject to TSX and Maverix shareholder approval. Upon closing, Newmont would hold approximately 30% of Maverix, versus its existing 23.4% interest in the royalty company.

Maverix currently holds 105 royalties and streams on 13 producing assets.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Wheaton Precious Metals plans London listing
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 10:49:00 +0000
Wheaton’s planned UK listing by year-end would make it the largest metals and mining company to join the LSE since Glencore in 2011.

Canada’s Wheaton Precious Metals (TSX, NYSE: WPM), one of the world’s largest gold and silver streaming companies, plans to list on the London Stock Exchange to boost exposure to European investors seeking precious metals deals.

The Vancouver-based firm, which has a market capitalization of about $23 billion, is listed in Toronto and New York, where its shares have climbed about 75% this year.

Wheaton’s planned UK listing by year-end would make it the largest metals and mining company to join the LSE since Glencore in 2011.

Streaming companies provide upfront payments to miners in exchange for the right to buy metals at a discount in the future. These kind of firms are some of the most profitable in the natural resources sector as they tend to have low overheads and costs. Wheaton employs just 40 people.

The group has streaming deals with 17 mining companies including majors Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX) (NYSE: GOLD), Vale (MYSE: VALE) and Glencore (LON: GLEN).

Not raising money

President and chief executive Randy Smallwood said the company is not seeking to raise any money in conjunction with the listing. Paired with the fact that it will apply for a standard rather than a premium listing, Wheaton will not be eligible for inclusion in the indices run by FTSE.

“The listing is really about trying to open up new ways of investing in precious metals to LSE-based shareholders and funds,” Smallwood said. “[It] will complement our existing North American stock exchange listings, which have served us well over the years and supported our growth.”

Fellow Canadian miner Yamana Gold (TSE: YRI)(NYSE: AUY) is also planning an LSE listing, while B2Gold (TSX: BTO)(NYSE: BTG) said earlier this month it may consider such a move.

Crystallex asks US judge to approve sale Venezuelan oil refiner by January 2021
Sun, 20 Sep 2020 17:52:53 +0000
The goal behind this request is for Crystallex to enforce a $1.4 billion arbitral award against Venezuela, following the 2008 nationalization of its gold mine.

Canadian miner Crystallex asked Delaware District Judge Leonard Stark to set January 11, 2021, as the date to sell the shares of PDV Holdings, the parent company of refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp., which is owned by Venezuela.

The goal behind this request is for Crystallex to enforce a $1.4 billion arbitral award against the South American country, following a decade-long dispute over Venezuela’s 2008 nationalization of its gold mine in the southeastern Bolívar state. The amount is comprised of $1.2 billion, plus $200 million of interest awarded by a World Bank arbitration tribunal in 2016.

For Crystallex, Judge Stark should base his decision on the motion introduced in August 2018 and passed in July 2019, where the judge found that there was no separation between the Venezuelan government and Citgo’s management. 

Judge Stark is debating whether he should take into consideration the warning made by the US government stating that the sale of Citgo threatens America’s national security and interests

However, in this week’s audience, Stark asked whether he should take into consideration the warning made by the US government in a brief, stating that the sale of Citgo threatens America’s national security and interests.

To this question, Crystallex responded that the term ‘national security’ is being used very broadly and that the US government has not presented any specific scenarios in which the country’s national security would be affected by the sale of PDV Holdings’ shares.

Following this, the judge also asked the US attorneys what is the difference between national interests and national security issues. To this question, they replied that a letter sent to the Attorney General and the Justice Department by Elliott Abrams, President Donald Trump’s special representative to Venezuela, clearly explains each of the concepts. In this letter, Abrams also said that Crystallex cannot sell the shares without obtaining a license from the US Office of Foreign Asset Control.

The US attorneys added that they are just requesting for the Delaware District Court – where PDV Holdings is incorporated –  to temporarily abstain from authorizing potentially damaging measures.

Experts that have been following the case, such as Francisco Rodríguez, founder of the think-tank Oil for Venezuela, believe that Stark is unlikely to make a final decision until the Office of Foreign Asset Control approves the license to sell the shares.

This is because Citgo is protected by a number of sanctions the US has issued against Venezuela in the past year and that are aimed at crippling the Nicolás Maduro administration. Thus, the US attorneys argue that if Stark proceeds without the OFAC’s approval, he would be putting at risk the US’ foreign affairs interests. This, on the other hand, implies the sale could be blocked by other means.

In this context, the judge talked about the possibility of naming a special master to execute his sentence. According to Rodríguez, if this were the case, PDV Holdings’ shares wouldn’t belong to Crystallex nor to Venezuela.

US to assist Colombia in the development of its mining industry
Sun, 20 Sep 2020 14:30:00 +0000
Mike Pompeo announced the launching of a program that will propose ideas on how to make Colombia’s legal framework competitive to attract mining investing.

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced that his office will launch a program to provide technical assistance for the development of Colombia’s mining industry. 

During a recent visit to the South American country, Pompeo said that the proposal will be coordinated by the Department of State’s Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative.   

“Look, we know this, Mr. President: When there is a safe, welcoming investment climate with good government, transparent rules, and an open and fair set of relationships, American and Colombian companies together do great work. They provide real jobs with real prosperity that lasts, and I know our two countries’ private sectors will keep this up,” Pompeo told President Iván Duque during a press conference held on Saturday at the Presidential Palace in Bogotá. 

The program will review the country’s legal and regulatory framework and propose ideas on how to make this framework a competitive one

According to the US official, the program will start by analyzing how the Colombian mining industry is faring in comparison to other countries in the region. Once this is done, it will review the country’s legal and regulatory framework and propose ideas on how to make this framework a competitive one.

In addition to this, the project will review current regulations around environmentally sustainable copper mining, with a special focus on best practices for the storage of mine tailings.

Colombia has 33 mining and energy projects waiting to be kickstarted once the covid-19 pandemic is over. These projects are expected to generate over 50,000 jobs and bring over some $9.6 million in investments.

“The US Government is a strategic partner in our quest to boost the sustainable recovery of the energy and mining sectors through the implementation of the ‘America Grows’  initiative. We have been working with them through USAID to promote the formalization of artisanal miners and with the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs to fight against the illegal exploitation of our minerals,” Colombia’s Mining Minister, Diego Mesa, said in a media statement. “Now, we are grateful for this offer to provide technical assistance from the EGCI to tackle the technical, environmental, financial and legal challenges associated with the management of the mining sector.”

The USAID project Mesa referred to is called ‘Legal Gold’ and, besides bringing illegal miners into legality, it focuses on minimizing the use of mercury in gold recovery operations, as well as implementing zero-mercury technologies. 

When it comes to the fight against illegal mining, the Ministry of Mines and Energy also receives support through a previous agreement with the State Department that allows for the monitoring of land packages where there is evidence of alluvial gold exploitation. 

In parallel, the minister also reported that through the US Labor Department, Colombia receives assistance to eliminate child labour in the mining sector and improve working conditions in small-scale coal and gold mining operations.

Colloids may be key to effective reclamation efforts at inactive mine sites
Sun, 20 Sep 2020 13:39:00 +0000
Research at the Cluff Lake uranium mine site reveals that colloids need to be monitored because they may form contaminating sediments.

Dispersed, nano-sized particles in water, known as colloids, play an important role in understanding the long-term stability of a reclaimed mining site, new research shows.

According to scientists at the University of Alberta in Canada, colloids are not examined during traditional monitoring practices. By not doing so, companies leading reclamation efforts may miss some of the ways metals such as uranium and nickel may disperse at the site.

“Over time, these tiny particles containing metals may begin to collect and form into precipitating particles that could settle and accumulate, forming contaminated sediments,”  Konstantin von Gunten, lead author of the three studies connected to this research, said in a media statement.

By not monitoring colloids, companies leading reclamation efforts may miss some of the ways metals such as uranium and nickel may disperse at the site

Von Gunten and his colleagues reached this conclusion after examining two environments at Areva Resources’ (now Orano Canada) Cluff Lake uranium mine site, which is located in the province of Saskatchewan and has been inactive for nearly two decades. These environments were two industrial mine pits and naturally occurring wetlands.

In these places, they observed that the formation and stability of colloids were not only affected by the chemical composition of the corresponding environments but were also tightly linked to microbiological processes—making it especially challenging to model and predict their behaviour.

“Uranium and nickel residue left over during the mining process is the main concern here,” von Gunten said. “We want to understand what will happen with these metals over time. Will they stay in place? Or will they begin to affect surface and groundwater in the surrounding environment?”

In the view of the research team, the more data that can be obtained through monitoring and scientific work, the better the decisions that can be made about the reclamation of the mine. They believe their model can be used for building a strategy for testing and monitoring contaminants at sites similar to Cluff Lake.

No thermal coal price recovery to 2019 highs – report
Fri, 18 Sep 2020 19:03:06 +0000
Fitch Solutions is revising down its thermal coal price forecast for 2020 to $55/tonne from $65/tonne.

Fitch Solutions is revising down its thermal coal price forecast for 2020 to $55/tonne from $65/tonne as demand for Newcastle coal is set to remain weak while supply is ample, the market analyst said in its latest report.

Prices weakened further due to a severe drop in global thermal coal energy demand amid covid-19 lockdowns in Q220 extending into Q320, Fitch reports. Newcastle thermal coal (6,000kcal/kg, FOB) prices are currently hovering around $48/tonne, a level last seen only in 2016.

So far, prices have averaged $58/tonne in the year to date, and Fitch sees more weakening in the coming months from current levels to reach its final average forecast for the year.

Moving into 2021, Fitch says there should be some strengthening in prices as the global economy and thus demand starts to gear up, and puts its forecast at $58/tonne for the year.

However, the analyst notes that there will be no recovery to price levels seen in 2017-2019 as a rebound in demand back to the extent seen during those years is unlikely.

No rebound to 2019 highs

On the demand side, substantial downside pressure to Newcastle coal prices in 2020-2021 compared with 2019 will come from Japan and South Korea, the two largest importers after China (together making up 50% of all Australian thermal coal exports in 2019), Fitch says, due to a severe drop in economic activity as a result of the covid-19 pandemic and a slow recovery in 2020-2021.

Fitch holds its view that the outlook for Newcastle coal prices will remain bleak in 2020-2021 and beyond due to ample supplies and waning demand from main importing nations.

The global coal deficit will ease in 2020, Fitch says, to 519mnt compared with 592mnt in 2019.

Read the full report here.

SSR Mining updates guidance after merger
Fri, 18 Sep 2020 17:03:35 +0000
Company expects to produce 680,000 to 760,000 gold-equivalent ounces from its four operating mines.

SSR Mining (NASDAQ, TSX: SSRM) has updated its full year 2020 outlook following successful completion of the company’s merger with Alacer Gold earlier this week. The new production guidance will also reflect the covid-19 related impacts to operations at Seabee and Puna.

Overall, the company expects to produce 680,000 to 760,000 gold-equivalent ounces from its four operating mines at consolidated all-in sustaining costs (AISC) of $965 to $1,040 per ounce.

Production outlook for the Çöpler mine — the main asset acquired from Alacer Gold — remains unchanged for the year at 310,000 to 360,000 ounces of gold. Mine site AISC of $710 to $760 per ounce is higher due to the impact of higher gold prices on royalty costs and the announced increase to government royalty rates in Turkey this month.

Production outlook for the Çöpler mine in Turkey remains unchanged for the year at 310,000 to 360,000 ounces of gold

An updated technical report for Çöpler is expected for the fourth quarter of this year. This will include the Ardich preliminary development plans, updated performance expectations of the sulfide plant, impact of the proposed flotation circuit and opportunities for tailings storage expansion.

At the Marigold mine in Nevada, production outlook is also unchanged, with gold production expected to be 225,000 to 240,000 ounces at mine site AISC of $1,170 to $1,230 per ounce.

Meanwhile, the company’s Seabee underground mine in Saskatchewan, where operations were suspended from March until June due to the covid-19 pandemic, is expected to produce 80,000 to 90,000 ounces of gold at AISC of $770 to $820 per ounce.

The Puna silver operation in Argentina, which was also halted in March due to covid-19, is forecast to produce 4.9 to 5.3 million ounces of silver at mine site AISC of $15.00 to $17.00 per ounce.

“The completion of the merger between SSR Mining and Alacer has created one of the premier free cash flow generators in the sector with a number of near term, value-enhancing catalysts on the horizon,” CEO Rod Antal said in a press release.

“Despite the covid-19 related challenges, our full year 2020 outlook demonstrates the strength and resilience of the company’s diversified operational base. We anticipate a strong finish to the year, particularly in the fourth quarter, as Çöpler and Marigold continue to operate and deliver uninterrupted and Seabee and Puna return to normal operations,” Antal added.

By the end of the second quarter, SSR and Alacer had combined cash balances of $703 million and debt balances of $475 million.

Production for the second half of the year is expected to be 55% to 60% weighted towards the fourth quarter due to both Seabee and Puna ramping up operations in the third quarter following covid-19 shutdowns, stacking of higher-grade ounces later in the year at Marigold, and higher processed grades during the fourth quarter at Çöpler in line with the mine plan.

Shares of SSR Mining rose 1.3% by 1 p.m. EDT Friday. The company’s market capitalization is approximately C$6.5 billion.

Equinox completes construction at Castle Mountain
Fri, 18 Sep 2020 16:04:12 +0000
Irrigation of the leach pad is underway and first gold pour is expected in Q4 2020.

Equinox Gold (TSX: EQX, NYSE: EQX) announced that construction of the Phase 1 mine at its Castle Mountain gold mine in California is complete.

According to the company, irrigation of the leach pad is underway and first gold pour is expected in Q4 2020.

Equinox started construction of the Phase 1 mine at Castle Mountain on October 30, 2019. The company commenced pre-production mining in early June and has stacked over 1.4 million tonnes of ore on the leach pad to date.

The company is completing a feasibility study for the potential Phase 2 expansion

Commissioning of the plant is in the final stages and irrigation of the leach pad began on September 16. Loaded carbon from Castle Mountain will be processed in the carbon stripping and smelting plant at the company’s Mesquite Mine, 200 miles south in California.

“Castle Mountain will be Equinox Gold’s seventh producing gold mine in the Americas and our second operating mine in California. We expect Castle Mountain to be a long-life flagship asset,” said Equinox CEO Christian Milau in a media statement.

The 100%-owned Castle Mountain Phase 1 mine is a fully permitted, run-of-mine heap leach operation processing around 12,700 ore tonnes per day. Phase 1 is expected to produce on average 45,000 ounces of gold annually.

The company is completing a feasibility study for the potential Phase 2 expansion, which is expected to average 200,000 ounces of gold annually. The Phase 2 feasibility study is targeted for completion in Q4-2020.

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