MINING.COM No 1 source of global mining news and opinion Wed, 22 May 2024 00:22:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MINING.COM 32 32 US Critical Materials to deploy AI-powered tech for rare earth exploration Tue, 21 May 2024 17:44:47 +0000 US Critical Materials announced on Tuesday it has entered a binding term sheet with VerAI Discoveries for the deployment of its AI targeting platform that utilizes new cutting-edge technology for mineral exploration.

The AI technology, says US Critical Materials, enables a higher probability of success to detect minerals under covered terrain and to minimize surface disturbances at its Sheep Creek rare earth properties in Montana.

With VerAI’s AI-powered targeting technology, the company intends to set new industry standards for environmentally conscious mineral exploration activities, providing the unique opportunity to bring rare earth elements to the market in their purest form, which is vital for the green energy transition.

“Our focus on environmentally responsible exploration is greatly enhanced by the utilization of advanced artificial intelligence technology by more precisely focusing on potential target areas and thereby minimizing surface disturbance,” stated Jim Hedrick, president of US Critical Materials and former rare earth analyst for the US Geological Survey.

“The addition of this cutting-edge AI will augment US Critical Materials’ current exploration methodologies. We are pleased to utilize VerAI’s next-generation AI technology and unique capabilities to enhance the geophysical and other data in our exploration program going forward.”

The company’s latest samples show TREE (total rare earth elements) readings up to 20.1%, with combined neodymium praseodymium up to 3.3%. It also has gallium readings that are as high as 348 ppm (parts per million). Gallium is profitable to produce at 50 ppm. 

The company believes there is substantial tonnage and expects to find more high-grade critical mineral locations using VerAI’s innovative, artificial intelligence technology. The Sheep Creek area of interest boasts a rich geological landscape, validated by confirmation from the Idaho National Laboratory and independent geophysical surveys.

“At Sheep Creek, we have the opportunity and potential to make an important impact on the supply of critical minerals discovered in the United States,” Yair Frastai, CEO of VerAI Discoveries, said.

“This strategy uses VerAI’s AI-driven exploration technology to generate and prioritize drill targets in this covered terrain to not only reduce the environmental impact of exploration but also greatly improve the chances of finding a significant deposit.”

Both companies believe that the ability to accelerate the discovery of vital rare earth and other critical minerals is important for securing self-sufficiency for our nation’s security, considering China’s stranglehold on these materials.

The parties also also working towards definitive agreements to solidify their AI exploration alliance.

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Ma’aden extracts lithium from seawater Tue, 21 May 2024 17:02:49 +0000
Port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Stock image.

Ma’aden has successfully extracted lithium from seawater, the CEO of the Saudi Arabian company told Reuters on Tuesday.

“We are actually producing lithium from seawater now,” Robert Wilt said, without giving further details.

According to Wilt, however, it is still a pilot project and not yet at commercially viable levels.

Investments in the battery industry are a key pillar of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 program to diversify the economy away from oil dependency and transform the country into an EV hub.

Saudi Arabia’s national oil giant Aramco is also attempting to extract lithium from brine in its oilfields. However, Wilt says Aramco’s efforts to date are separate from Ma’aden’s.

“We are both working on parallel paths: Ma’aden on extracting lithium from seawater and Aramco from brines where lithium has a higher concentration,” he said.

“There are ongoing discussions about how we can join forces,” he added.

According to the executive, the state is also looking overseas for interests in copper, lithium, iron ore and nickel.

In December, Manara acquired a 10% stake in Brazil’s copper and nickel miner Vale Base Metals.

“We like things in East Asia through Africa because we are potentially a centralized processing hub,” Wilt said.

Wilt, who is vice chairman of Manara Minerals, also said that the company was not looking at acquiring the diamond business De Beers.

Anglo American has considered selling off its less profitable businesses like De Beers as it fends off BHP Group’s $43 billion takeover offer.

“The kingdom does not need diamonds for its downstream development,” Wilt said. “Manara’s mandate is industrial metals that fuel downstream growth.”

Manara Minerals is a joint venture between Ma’aden and Saudi Arabia’s $925 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), to invest in mining assets abroad.

Ma’aden, the kingdom’s flagship mining company, is 67% owned by the PIF.

(With files from Reuters)

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Power Nickel shares jump on Nisk drill results Tue, 21 May 2024 16:19:48 +0000 Power Nickel (TSXV: PNPN) has reported more high-grade drill results from its recent Lion discovery in its Nisk project in Quebec, sending its shares nearly 13% higher to C$0.70 apiece.

Drill hole PN-25-055 returned 15.4 metres of 0.44 gram gold per tonne, 22.04 gram silver, 5.06% copper, 13.12 grams palladium, 3.35% platinum and 0.015% nickel (9.5% copper equivalent) from 75.5 metres depth.

The intersection contained 5.1 metres of 0.61 gram gold per tonne, 50.29 grams silver, 13.27% copper, 24.62 grams palladium, 6.73 grams platinum and 0.33% nickel.

In turn, that section contained 3.4 metres of 0.7 gram gold, 60.36 grams silver, 17.26% copper, 25.02 grams palladium, 3.61 grams platinum and 0.37% nickel.

“This is a special discovery. These are big intersections to be that high grade and we are seeing a pattern here,” Power Nickel CEO Terry Lynch said in a release. “This intersection is in the high-grade wheelhouse that is plus or minus 100 metres wide and seems to have a prospective mineralized halo around it of 50-70 metres.”

Power Nickel completed 15 holes at Lion as part of its winter drill program; its summer drill program will continue at Lion to follow up on these holes, which mark its deepest discovery thus far.

In April, Power Nickel completed an 80% earn-in on Nisk from Critical Elements Lithium (CRE: TSXV), after filing a resource estimate in November.

The project hosts underground resources of 4.9 million indicated tonnes grading 0.78% nickel, 0.05% cobalt, 0.42% copper, 0.78 gram palladium per tonne for 38,300 tonnes nickel, 2,400 tonnes cobalt, 20,500 tonnes copper and 123,100 tonnes palladium.

Open pit resources total 519,000 indicated tonnes at 0.63% nickel, 0.04% cobalt, 0.3% copper and 0.56 grams palladium for 3,300 tonnes nickel, 200 tonnes cobalt, 1,600 tonnes copper and 9,400 tonnes palladium.

Power Nickel first optioned the project, located in the James Bay region of Quebec, in 2021. The company is targeting the creation of a carbon neutral nickel mine by sourcing hydroelectric power from Hydro Quebec, and employing carbon capture technology on the site.

The Nisk deposit was first discovered by Inco, now Vale (NYSE: VALE), in 1962.

Critical Elements Lithium purchased the site in 2014, but had not advanced the project.

Shares in the company ended the day up 6.5% at C$0.66, giving Power Nickel a market cap of C$107.2 million. The shares have traded in a 52-week range of C$0.18 to C$0.73.

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Kuya Silver begins production at Bethania mine in Peru Tue, 21 May 2024 15:54:10 +0000 Toronto-based Kuya Silver (CSE: KUYA) has announced its first production from the Bethania project. Located in central Peru, Bethania is the site of a former mine that produced silver-lead and zinc concentrates from run-of-mine material until 2016.

Over the past few months, the company has focused on reconditioning of the western portion of the mine to allow for safe production from this initial stope. Mineralized material is now being recovered from the Española vein system at the 640 level, hauled to surface using the pre-existing decline and a winch on surface, Kuya said.

Initial production is being stockpiled at the mine to be transported in larger batches for milling. Production and stockpiling operations for the first processing batch may take a month or more. However, as operations scale, the company anticipates transitioning to producing a processing batch every few days.

Meanwhile, reconditioning of other areas will continue at the 640 and 670 levels, and production access for the 12 de Mayo and Victoria vein systems are to be developed in the coming months.

“Achieving first production from the Bethania mine is a monumental milestone for Kuya Silver and signifies the beginning of increased production in this rich silver district,” Christian Aramayo, Kuya Silver’s COO, commented.

Production is expected to ramp up progressively over the next year to an initial target of 350 tonnes per day as set out in the project’s 2020 preliminary economic assessment. According to the PEA, the mine would produce 8.68 million oz. of payable silver over a 6.5-year mine life, including 1.37 million oz. in the first year.

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Sandvik, Glencore explore second life for BEV batteries with energy storage pilot Tue, 21 May 2024 15:18:25 +0000 As part of the mining industry’s transition towards electrification, Sandvik has initiated a pilot project to deploy a second-life battery energy storage system (BESS) at to-be-determined assets held by Glencore.

The BESS is expected to support mine services such as lighting and light EV charging at the Glencore operations. Sandvik will study additional use cases during the pilot, including power shifting, peak shaving and arbitrage.

Sandvik’s technology partner in the project is ECO STOR AS, a leading second-life energy storage system provider. ECO STOR will utilize its BESS expertise to develop the solution with modules recovered from Sandvik BEVs that have reached their optimal use in mobile mining applications.

“The modularity of our battery packs provides a strong foundation to build energy storage systems from second-life modules and create a valuable use for ‘used’ batteries,” said Ville Laine, vice president of batteries and chargers at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

The BESS will be constructed as an industrial 20-foot container holding 128 Sandvik battery modules. The nominal energy of the system is expected to be around 1MWH. The container includes Sandvik systems for battery management and monitoring as well as systems for energy management and fire detection and prevention.

“Modules can be easily replaced when they reach the end of their second life. Ensuring the batteries that power our mining equipment are used to their full potential before being recycled improves circularity and substantially reduces our carbon footprint,” Laine said.

According to Alvaro Baeza, Glencore’s decarbonization manager for copper assets, openness and collaboration among industry partners is crucial to finding solutions for electrification implementation challenges.

“Circularity and recycling are at the core of our business model and we look forward to working with Sandvik on this project that is well aligned with both transition challenges and our business focus,” Baeza said.

Sandvik aims to deploy the prototype BESS container at a Glencore asset in 2025, with the ambition to launch a commercialized solution in 2026.

“Due to such early adoption of our battery systems in mines around the world, thousands of modules will reach the end of their first life over the next few years,” Sandvik’s Laine said.

“These modules still hold as much as 70% of their original energy storage capacity when they reach the end of their optimal use in a mining loader or truck. Utilizing this remaining capacity in a stationary energy storage solution is a win-win, providing both environmental and economic benefits. We can as much as double the useful life of our batteries and optimize their full lifecycle.”

Once commercialized, the Swedish engineering group plans to assemble each BESS as close as possible to a customer’s mine, reducing shipping and further improving sustainability.

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Metal waste can be turned into catalyst for hydrogen production Tue, 21 May 2024 13:06:00 +0000 A team of researchers from the University of Nottingham found a way to transform metal waste into a highly efficient catalyst to make hydrogen from water.

In detail, the scientists discovered that the surface of swarf, a byproduct of the metal machining industry, is textured with tiny steps and grooves on a nanoscale level. These textures can anchor atoms of platinum or cobalt, leading to an efficient electrocatalyst that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

“Industries in the UK alone generate millions of tons of metal waste annually. By using a scanning electron microscope, we were able to inspect the seemingly smooth surfaces of the stainless steel, titanium, or nickel alloy swarf,” said lead researcher Jesum Alves Fernandes. “To our astonishment, we discovered that the surfaces had grooves and ridges that were only tens of nanometers wide. We realized that this nanotextured surface could present a unique opportunity for the fabrication of electrocatalysts.”

The researchers used magnetron sputtering to create a platinum atom “rain” on the swarf’s surface. These platinum atoms then come together into nanoparticles that fit snugly into the nanoscale grooves.

“It is remarkable that we are able to produce hydrogen from water using only a tenth of the amount of platinum loading compared to state-of-the-art commercial catalysts,” said Madasamy Thangamuthu, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham who was responsible for the analysis of the structure and electrocatalytic activity of the new materials. “By spreading just 28 micrograms of the precious metal over 1 cm² of the swarf, we were able to create a laboratory-scale electrolyzer that operates with 100% efficiency and produces 0.5 litres of hydrogen gas per minute just from a single piece of swarf.”

The group believes the electrocatalysts made from swarf have the potential to greatly impact the British economy. Thus, the scientists are partnering with AqSorption Ltd, a Nottingham-based company specializing in electrolyzer design and fabrication to scale up their technology.

“Our unique technology developed at Nottingham, which involves atom-by-atom growth of platinum particles on nanotextured surfaces, has solved two major challenges. Firstly, it enables the production of green hydrogen using the least amount of precious metal possible and, secondly, it upcycles metal waste from the aerospace industry, all in a single process,” Andrei Khlobystov, co-author of the study, said.

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that can be used to generate heat or power vehicles, and the only byproduct of its combustion is water vapour. However, most hydrogen production methods rely on fossil fuel feedstock. Electrolysis of water is one of the most promising green pathways for hydrogen production, as it only requires water and electricity.

The industry, however, is facing a challenge with water electrolysis, as this process requires rare and expensive elements like platinum to catalyze the water splitting. With the limited global supply and increasing prices of precious metals, there is an urgent need for alternative electrocatalyst materials to produce hydrogen from water.

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Lumina Gold to complete Cangrejos feasibility study by mid-2025 Tue, 21 May 2024 12:45:00 +0000 Canada’s Lumina Gold (TSX-V: LUM) said on Tuesday an ongoing feasibility study for its Cangrejos gold-copper project in southwest Ecuador will be completed in the second quarter of 2025.

The Vancouver-based firm, which says the project is among the world’s top 26 gold assets under development, launched the study in January. Since then, it has achieved key developments, it said, including rising the initial processing plant throughput to 40,000 tonnes per day from the 30,000 tonnes per day outlined in the 2023 prefeasibility study (PFS).

Lumina expects the modification to help streamline the construction process, speed up future expansions, and boost gold and copper production.

Other revisions to the mine plan include prioritizing the extraction of higher-grade ore from the Cangrejos deposit before beginning operations at Gran Bestia. After mining, more than 300 million tonnes of waste rock will be placed in the Cangrejos pit, reducing the space needed for waste storage and the distance for hauling, Lumana said. 

The company noted the waste storage facility had been moved to Lumina-owned land, which increases the distance from nearby communities. It also said that access roads will be redirected to avoid populated areas.

Field teams are carrying out test pits, and two drilling rigs will start drilling of geotechnical boreholes at the end of May to assist in determining the location of the facility.

Lumina intends to implement a CIPA (complementary investment protection agreement), which will see it allocate a total of $721 million from 2025 to 2031 for construction and pre-production operations. Any investments surpassing this agreed amount will also receive protection under the CIPA.

The gold company plans to complete the layout for site infrastructure by the end of June and will enlist the services of a consultant approved by the Ecuadorian Government to initiate the required by law environmental and social impact assessment process. This phase is anticipated to last around 18 months, Lumina said.

Ecuador has vast mineral reserves but has lagged behind regional neighbours such as Peru and Chile in large-scale mining development.

Based on last year’s PFS, Capex to develop Cangrejos sits at $925 million. The mine is expected to yield average gold equivalent production of 469,000 ounces over a 26-year mine life.

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Past producing yellow diamonds mine in Australia set to reopen Tue, 21 May 2024 10:39:00 +0000 Australia’s Gibb River Diamonds (ASX: GIB) is getting closer to restarting the mothballed Ellendale diamond mine in West Kimberley after being granted three mining leases that are key for the project.

The permits mark a significant step in reviving production at Ellendale, which was a major diamond producing mine. The operation was particularly know for being a source of fancy yellow diamonds, being responsible for more than 50% of the annual world’s supply until it was shut down in 2015.

The leases cover the main portions of the historic workings at the E4 and E9 pipes, as well as the extensively bulk-sampled E12 alluvials and their access, Gibb River said.

As part as the reopening steps, Gibb River said it is scheduled to conduct a heritage clearance survey in the first week of June. The company is also studying financing options for the project, including debt, equity, earn-in partner, joint venture partner, a North Australian Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) partnership, or other government funding schemes available.

The exploration and development company became Ellendale’s sole owner in March last year, after acquiring the project from Burgundy Diamonds.

Shares in the company soared on the news, closing 48% higher at 37 Australian cents each. This leaves Gibb River Diamonds with a market capitalization of A$6.52 million ($4.4m).

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Get real: Copper price record was 56 years ago Mon, 20 May 2024 20:23:00 +0000 Another day another copper price high. 

In heavy volume on Monday copper for delivery in July hit a record intra-day level of $5.1990 a pound or $11,460 a tonne. 

After the equivalent of $68 billion worth of copper lots exchanged hands in 24 hours, the brown metal is up 35% so far in 2024 with most of the gains in the last few weeks. 

Jeff Currie, ex Goldman Sachs and more recently Chief Strategy Officer of Energy Pathways at asset manager Carlyle, told Bloomberg in an interview headlined Copper is the New Oil (not it’s not) that copper “is the highest conviction trade I have ever seen”.  

Goldman had been calling copper at today’s prices for at least three years, but Currie’s reading of the energy pathways now sees copper going to $15,000 ($6.80 a pound). 

MINING.COM has been banging the same copper drum based on the metal’s position at the nexus of the green energy transition but Currie adds two other tailwinds to green capex demand to get copper to $15k: 

  1. Green energy transition
  2. AI data centers
  3. Military demand.  

Add the long lead times to build new mines (just ask Rio Tinto), tight inventories and Currie says the 2021 call is finally paying off:

“You can’t come up with a better story [..] I’m confident that this time it is liftoff.”  

Currie also points out that only at $15,000 would copper match its inflation adjusted all-time peak reached in 1968 which came on the back of a housing boom in the US. 

Copper peaked at $0.72 in February of 1968 and as it happens, during that tumultuous year McDonald’s first introduced the Big Mac to America. 

The Big Mac, everyone’s favourite deflator, was priced at $0.49 in 1968. Today the Big Mac is a cool $5.99.   

Says Currie: “If you go back to the 2000s and I was as bullish on oil then as I am copper today. You know oil ended up going up from $20 to $140 seven times. The upside on copper here is very significant.”

Not sure exactly where on the 20-140 spectrum copper is trading today but if this is the argument that copper is the new oil, MINING.COM will take it.  

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Gold price hits $2,450 on rate cut optimism, geopolitical risks Mon, 20 May 2024 15:58:03 +0000 Gold touched a new record of $2,450 an ounce on Monday as increasing optimism over the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and rising geopolitical tensions paved the way for another rally in the metal.

Bullion jumped by 1.4% to $2,450.07 per ounce during the session, surpassing a previous intraday high reached in April. By 11:30 a.m. EDT, it had retreated to $2,424.38 per ounce, for a 0.4% gain.

US gold futures saw a similar rise of 0.5% at $2,429.60 per ounce, having hit $2,454.20 earlier in the day.

The metal eased off its high on profit-taking but the outlook remains positive and “new records could be on the way,” explained Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at City Index, in a Bloomberg note.

Traders have been boosting bets in recent sessions that the Fed may reduce borrowing costs as early as September, a scenario that would bolster gold since it doesn’t pay interest.

A weaker dollar has provided the precious metal with additional support. Recent economic data releases indicated that the US economic recovery is slowing, which could lower inflation and reduce the need for prolonged tight monetary policy, according to Razaqzada. 

Broader macroeconomic drivers are also at play for precious metals and other commodities such as copper.

“China’s various stimulus measures have bolstered demand or perceived demand for commodities, and we’ve seen improvements in eurozone and UK data,” said Razaqzada.

Rising Middle East tensions

Gold’s haven status entered the spotlight after news that Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, widely seen as a candidate to become the country’s next supreme leader, was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday. His death came at a time of turmoil in Middle East due to the Gaza war.

The latest incident adds a sense of rising geopolitical risks across the region after a China-bound oil tanker was hit by a Houthi missile in the Red Sea on Saturday.

Hedge funds trading Comex futures boosted bullish bets on gold to a three-week high in the week ending May 14, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The gains suggest that bullion has broken out of what’s been a fairly narrow trading range in recent weeks amid a lack of clarity over the US rate path. Prices are about 17% higher this year.

The metal’s strength has been linked to central bank purchases, robust demand from Asia — especially China — and elevated geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The recent rally also spilled over into other metals, including its sister metal silver, which earlier had climbed to its highest since December 2012.

(With files from Bloomberg)

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Clash between mining co-ops in Bolivia leaves one person dead, two injured Sun, 19 May 2024 15:02:00 +0000 One person died and two were injured following a violent clash between members of two gold cooperatives operating in the northern part of Bolivia’s capital, La Paz.

The two injured men, 44-yeard-old Raúl Smith Espinoza y and 39-year-old Carlos Soto Salazar, suffered traumatic brain injuries and gunshot wounds.

According to local media, the incident took place in the Mescalita community, which is near the Tipuani River. The co-ops involved were Gran Poder and Primero de Mayo, who have an ongoing dispute over who controls the area.

The Tipuani Valley is one of the most important gold mining regions in Bolivia, where both legal and illegal open-pit and underground mining operations coexist.

The area is also a hotspot for human and drug trafficking, as well as mercury trade and, thus, pollution. 

Following the recent incident, the Bolivian police deployed 50 troops in Mescalita.

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ICSID rules in favour of Peru in decade-long dispute with Kaloti Metals Sun, 19 May 2024 14:28:00 +0000 The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled in favour of Peru in a decade-long dispute with gold dealer Kaloti Metals & Logistics, LLC.

Between 2013 and 2014, Kaloti accused Peru of violating provisions in the Trade Promotion Agreement (Peru-United States TPA), due to the temporary seizure of five gold shipments meant to be exported from Peru to the US but whose origins were unclear. Peruvian authorities halted the trade deal alleging the gold may have resulted from illegal mining operations

The Miami-based precious metals trader, thus, also accused Peru of defamation and “ruining its reputation” internationally.

However, ICSID rejected all of the claims for lack of jurisdiction and ordered the plaintiff to reimburse the Peruvian State for all the legal costs associated with the case, including 100% of the fees charged by lawyers and experts.

In its defence, Peru argued that Kaloti’s claims were outside the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Tribunal for several reasons, including the fact that the claimant had failed to prove that it owned or controlled an investment covered under the protection of the Peru-United States TPA. 

The Peruvian State also noted that the purchase of the gold shipments in question by Kaloti constituted a purely commercial transaction that did not comply with the characteristics that an investment must meet following what’s stipulated in the TPA and the ICSID Convention.

The Andean country indicated that none of the measures taken by authorities were contrary to the country’s obligations under the Peru-United States TPA and that they were reasonable and justifiable as they responded to the existing legal framework to address illegal mining and money laundering.

“The court accepted the jurisdictional arguments presented by the Peruvian State, concluding that the claimant had not demonstrated that it owned or controlled an investment in Peru, in accordance with the terms provided in the Peru-United States TPA,” Peru’s State Coordination and Response System in International Investment Disputes said in a media statement. “According to the argument developed by the Arbitration Court, the claimant did not demonstrate that it owned or controlled the gold from the five seized shipments, and has not been able to substantiate the claim that it had investments through a company established in Peru.”

The ICSID also rejected the $154-million compensation claimed by Kaloti and ordered the company to pay over $3.5 million to cover the legal fees and expenses incurred by Peru, as well as almost $368,000 for procedural costs.

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Deep-sea mining dust clouds travel long distances – research Sun, 19 May 2024 13:03:00 +0000 New research has found that even though the ‘dust clouds’ created by deep-sea mining descend at a short distance for the most part, a small portion of the stirred-up bottom material remains visible in the water at long distances.

“These waters are normally crystal clear, so deep-sea mining could indeed have a major impact on deep-sea life,” marine geologist Sabine Haalboom, who studied this phenomenon for her PhD dissertation at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, said in a media statement.

Haalboom pointed out that deep-sea mining may take place at depths whose underwater life is yet to be described.

Among other things, the silt at the bottom of the deep sea, which will be stirred up when extracting manganese nodules, is a major concern. Since life in the deep sea is largely unidentified, clouding the water will create completely unknown effects.

For her research, Haalboom conducted experiments with different instruments to measure the amount and also the size of suspended particles in the water. At the bottom of the Clarion Clipperton Zone, a vast area in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, she performed measurements with those instruments before and after a grid with 500 kilograms of steel chains had been dragged across the bottom.

“The first thing that strikes you when you take measurements in that area is how unimaginably clear the water naturally is,” the scientist noted. “After we dragged the chains back and forth over a 500-metre stretch, the vast majority of the stirred-up material settled within just a few hundred metres. Yet, we also saw that a small portion of the stirred-up bottom material was still visible up to hundreds of metres from the test site and metres above the bottom. The water was a lot murkier than normal at long distances from the test site.”

In a follow-up study, in which Haalboom was not involved, the “dust clouds” were visible even up to five kilometres away from the test site.

Companies competing for concessions to extract metals from the deep-sea floor are seizing on the results of these initial trials as an indication of the low impact of deep-sea mining on bottom life. Yet, that is not justifiable, said Henko de Stigter, co-promoter of Haalboom’s research and an oceanographer at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

“Sure, based on this PhD research and also based on follow-up research, we know that the vast majority of the dust settles quickly. But when you take into consideration how clear these waters normally are, and that deep-sea life depends on the very scarce food in the water, that last little bit could have a big impact,” he said.

Both Haalboom and De Stigter urge more research before firm statements can be made about the impact of deep-sea mining.

“It is really too soon to say at this point how harmful or how harmless that last bit of dust is that can be spread over such great distances”, de Stigter emphasized.

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Video: Ray of light for junior miners as metals prices and financing pick up Fri, 17 May 2024 19:26:00 +0000 The junior mining space is so beaten up that there are a raft of opportunities for investors looking for exposure to the energy transition, and to rising prices for gold, silver and copper, delegates at the recent Energy Transition Metals Summit heard. 

“If you’re an investor and just new to the space, there’s some ridiculous valuations out there of companies that have made significant discoveries that are needed in the energy transition,” said Terry Lynch, the CEO of Quebec-focused junior Power Nickel (TSXV: PNPN). He sat on a panel outlining both the challenges facing juniors and their potential upside. 

“We’re not talking about greenfields,” he said. “We’re talking about serious, 43-101 resources that’ve got considerable upside,” he said, referring to the technical study designation. The projects have strong net present values and internal rates of return that normally should trade at five to 20 times higher than they are, the CEO said.  

Lynch, the founder of Save Canadian Mining, which fights predatory short-selling practices affecting junior miners, also spoke about how different rules for some traders like hedge funds allow them to pound down junior valuations. 

On the positive side, there are signs that what has been a very difficult fund-raising markets for juniors is starting to turn, according to John Feneck, founder of Feneck Consulting. Since March, gold and silver CEOs in the junior space report they’re having an easier time raising funds, he said.

“That turned the corner last year, with gold’s breakout right now and then silver’s follow through,” he told delegates. “Where it would take them maybe a month to raise three or four million, now they’re doing it in two or three days, which is really exciting to see.” 

The Energy Transition Metals event was organized by The Northern Miner and Precious Metals Summit Conferences and took place April 29-30 in Washington, D.C. 

Below, watch the full discussion, moderated by The Northern Miner’s editor-in-chief, Alisha Hiyate.  

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BC jade mining ban could push business to Afghanistan, says gem miner Fri, 17 May 2024 19:22:24 +0000 British Columbia has banned any new jade mining in its northwest, citing harm to alpine environments, a move that has one industry player scratching his head.

The province issued an Environment and Land Use Act order last week prohibiting jade mining activities on new tenures, but current tenure holders listed in the order will be able to continue jade mining for five years with enhanced reclamation requirements.

While the ban is not surprising, it is confusing, says Cassiar Jade Contracting president Tony Ritter.

“The way (the government)’s going about it, it’s kind of difficult to understand. It’s very vague,” he told The Northern Miner by phone.

Cassiar has already been barred from mining the green gem since 2020. In May that year, the government began deferring jade mining permits under the Environment and Land Use Act, and kept extending the order after it expired.

Cassiar and Glenpark Enterprises in March filed a civil claim against the province seeking financial damages. Ritter said he’s unable to comment on the lawsuit.

The newly imposed ban does not impact other mining operations in the region, or affect existing or new jade tenures in other areas of the province, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation said in a news release on Friday.

Jade is currently mined in the Dease Lake, Mount Ogden, and Cassiar regions.

The cumulative impact of jade mining in northwestern BC is harming sensitive alpine environments, the ministry said. It added that the practice is also creating regulatory challenges for permitting, compliance and enforcement because many of the activities take place in locations accessible only by helicopter.

The order will ensure that environmental impacts can be addressed, while existing tenure holders listed in the order continue mining for five years with adequate time to wind down operations, the ministry said.

The ministry, which says it has been working with local First Nations with input from industry to address concerns regarding the environmental impacts to sensitive alpine environments from jade mining in the Turnagain region, said the order is needed to protect these areas from further harm and disturbance.

‘Punishing entire industry’

Cassiar Jade has mined the mineral east of Dease Lake for about 20 years. Most of his customers are in Taiwan and China, with some in New Zealand and across North America.

Before May 2020, Ritter said he would mine between 60 and a few hundred tonnes per year of jade.

The ongoing ban has soured Ritter’s customers, whom he said no longer view Canada as a reliable jade source, and have offered him an unlikely potential business partner: the Taliban.

“Afghanistan has jade but they’re having difficulty on the production end,” he said. “My customers invited me to Afghanistan to help develop the industry with the Taliban. I’m supposed to be there right now but there’s a few security issues so we had to postpone our trip.”

The years of inactivity have reduced the value of his company and its jade tenure to “less than zero,” Ritter said.

“It’s now a liability. They de-valued our business.”

The nearby Tahltan Nation has called jade mining “unregulated and unethical.” Ritter said he understands those concerns, adding his company has had good relations with the Tahltan, who supported Cassiar’s reclamation efforts. He feels the government is punishing the industry for the actions of a few bad operators who disregarded environmental regulations.

Ritter’s next step is joining an industry working group on the jade mining changes. He told the government he would only join the group if he didn’t have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, he said.

(With files from Amanda Stutt)

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Canadian mining industry rallies to support Afghanistan women scholars at risk Fri, 17 May 2024 17:45:54 +0000 Some of the biggest names in the Canadian mining industry have come together in a remarkable initiative that brought 10 women scholars from Afghanistan to pursue graduate studies in mining and geology at University of the British Columbia (UBC).

After completing undergraduate degrees at universities in Kazakhstan in 2022, and with their student visas expiring, the women were about to be deported back to Afghanistan, which is ruled by the Taliban.

Under its interpretation of Islamic law, the Taliban notoriously banned girls from attending school past grade six after taking control of the country in 2021.

In Afghanistan it is illegal for women to attend university, and it is also illegal for women to travel alone, so approaching passport control checkpoints in the country unaccompanied by male guardians would have placed the young women at great risk.

Creating the Scholars at Risk cohort

David Awram, senior vice president and Imola Gotz, VP Mining & Engineering at Sandstorm Gold Royalties learned about 11 students’ plight that year. They teamed up with Friba Rezayee, founder of the non-profit Women Leaders of Tomorrow (WLOT) to work with UBC to get the women emergency acceptances and student visas and liaise with Kazakh officials and the Canadian Embassy to manage deadlines for the cohorts’ existing visas and with the Canadian Embassy.

They joined forces with Nadine Miller, VP, operational technologies at JDS Mining, who rallied financial support from the industry.

Miners stepped up, and nearly C$500,000 was raised with support from founding donors Osisko Gold Royalties, Wheaton Precious Metals, Teck Resources, which also provided internships for the students, Pan American Silver, Hecla Mining, and others. Every department at UBC that was asked for support said yes, and 20 staff at the university are dedicated to the initiative.

10 of the women were issued student visas to travel to Canada, and one woman returned to Afghanistan alone. She has not been heard from since.

“Despite the uncertainty, everyone who heard the story immediately became engaged, sympathetic, and aware of the short timeline,” Awram told MINING.COM. “It was very heartwarming and rewarding to have so many volunteer their time and energy to help.”

“It is amazing to help these scholars achieve their desire for education in the mining industry,” Awram said. “Having motivated students chasing technical degrees in mining that have their perspectives is exactly what our industry requires. I really hope that the industry can provide a community and support network that allows them and future female scholars from Afghanistan to enter the world of mining.”

Celebrating student successes

The cohort completing this month their first semesters in graduate studies at UBC was celebrated at an event in Vancouver last Friday.

WLOT founder Friba Rezayee, who was the first Afghan female Olympian, competing in Judo in Athens in 2004, and now a Canadian, delivered a moving speech on the importance of removing barriers to accessing education for female scholars that have been banned from academia in their homelands.

“The only way to fight the Taliban is to educate girls,” Rezayee said.

The women, who are not being named to protect their privacy and safety, cannot return to Afghanistan.

Opportunities are available in the mining industry, Nadine Miller said, emphasizing that the women scholars’ academic accomplishments are already adding up.

One of the scholars, during her master’s in mining engineering at UBC, is studying how minerals processing can reduce plastic usage. Her goal is to pursue project management in sustainable mining practices, and she has secured an internship at Teck Resources.

Another student is working on a project on water efficiency in the mining industry, which has been approved for presentation at SME’s IMPC in Washington DC, and on a paper on ASM gold mining’s impact on water resources.

UBC has now formalized the program started two years ago, naming it the Female Scholars at Risk initiative. In addition to Afghan women, the newly established program will offer a safe haven at the University of British Columbia for women from around the world who are looking for an opportunity to enter graduate studies but are trapped in situations of armed conflict, disaster, or other dangerous environments.

In parallel with UBC’s initiative, Friba Rezayee established a partnership with Laurentian University to create the WLOT Mining Engineering Program, which will open the door to five Afghan women to embark on a two-year study program leading to either a Masters of Geology or Masters of Mine Engineering in the fall of 2024.

After successfully securing funding for entire two-year programs, Nadine Miller is now raising funds for the next cohort together with WLOT and the Former Minister of mining for Afghanistan, who is a refugee in Canada.

“These are all women who have selected mining as their industry,” Miller said in an interview. “These are women that as soon as the Taliban took over, can never go home.”

“All these women already have degrees in mining or geology. They’re unbelievable. They are so excited. They are they’re all going to be graduating by December and need to find jobs.”

The students are all doing their internships this summer at Teck Resources working the maximum number of hours that their visas will allow.

Miller is currently working on getting transportation funded for students to do research in the Yukon Territory. She emphasized that WLOT and the former Afghanistan mining minister have identified about 600 women around the world that are displaced as candidates for future cohorts.

“Our limitation on how many women we can bring in is money and space,” Miller said.

“This is a case for diversity beyond gender. Right now, topics at board levels are diversity beyond gender. And this is it. These are our future board members.”

For more information or to donate, email

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Horizonte Minerals in administration after failed financing attempt Fri, 17 May 2024 17:09:28 +0000 Horizonte Minerals (TSX: HZM; AIM: HZM), backed by Glencore (LSE: GLEN) has been placed into administration following its inability to secure the necessary financing to finish building its $1 billion Araguaia nickel project in Brazil.

Horizonte’s board has appointed Geoff Rowley and Chad Griffin from FRP Advisory as administrators. Their mandate is to assess the company’s situation to secure the best possible outcome for its creditors. This decision seeks to maintain the business’s value for creditors and other stakeholders.

Discussions with secured creditors and existing and potential new investors regarding alternative scenarios will continue, Horizonte said.

Potential outcomes include raising financing at the subsidiary level, disposing of the Araguaia project while it’s in care and maintenance, liquidating the project’s assets, or considering other options available under Brazilian law.

Horizonte has already requested a suspension of trading in its ordinary shares on the London Stock Exchange.

The company began construction of the mine in May 2022, with the aim of producing up to 29,000 tonnes of nickel a year for the stainless steel market.

Last month, however, it announced that it had failed to secure the additional financing needed to complete the construction of the project, following an 87% increase in the estimated cost to build the mine to more than $1 billion.

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Billionaire-backed KoBold, Midnight Sun team up for Zambia copper discovery Fri, 17 May 2024 15:13:22 +0000 KoBold Metals, a US-based startup supported by high-profile investors such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, is venturing into Zambia’s rich copper belt. In February it partnered with Canada’s Midnight Sun Mining (TSXV: MMA) to explore the promising Dumbwa target within the Solwezi copper project.

This strategic alliance will leverage KoBold’s advanced data science techniques and Midnight Sun’s extensive local experience. The goal is for KoBold to earn a 75% stake in the Dumbwa target by investing $15 million in exploration and making $500,000 in cash payments over 4.5 years.

“Partnering with KoBold allows us to explore this vast property with the necessary capital and expertise,” Midnight Sun’s marketing and communications director Adrien O’Brien told The Northern Miner’s Energy Transition Metals Summit in Washington, DC in April. “Their tech-driven approach combined with our local knowledge creates a powerful synergy aimed at unlocking Dumbwa’s full potential.”

Kobold’s chief strategy officer, Daniel Enderton, lifted the lid on KoBold’s data-driven approach to mining during an April 30 session moderated by The Northern Miner’s western editor, Henry Lazenby.

“KoBold isn’t just targeting copper; we’re focused on all critical minerals and metals essential for the energy transition,” Enderton explained. “Our journey began about four years ago in Canada when we acquired rights to an area in northern Quebec, just south of Glencore’s (LSE: GLEN) Raglan nickel mine, where we identified lithium deposits.”

Backed by the billionaires’ interest in energy transition metals, KoBold invested $50 million in exploration last year, Enderton said.

Today, KoBold has 60 active projects in Africa, North America, Australia and Asia.

“Using artificial intelligence, our goal is to create a ‘Google Maps’ of the Earth’s crust, specifically to locate copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium deposits,” he said.

KoBold collects and analyzes data streams, from historical drilling results to satellite imagery, to gain insights into where new deposits might be found. “Our algorithms detect geological patterns that indicate potential deposits of cobalt, which is often found alongside nickel and copper,” he explained. “This technology allows us to identify resources that might have been missed by traditional methods and helps miners decide where to acquire land and drill.”

The summit ran in coordination with Precious Metals Summit Conferences.

Prospective copper belt

The Central African Copperbelt is one of the most mineral-rich regions globally, with high prospects for significant discoveries. The Dumbwa target is in Zambia’s Domes Region close to several large copper mines including First Quantum Minerals’ (TSX: FM) Sentinel mine, Barrick Gold’s (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) Lumwana mine and Ivanhoe Mines’ (TSX: IVN) Kamoa-Kakula project just across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This region is a hotspot for copper exploration and production, making it a strategic location for KoBold and Midnight Sun Mining’s joint venture. For this reason, O’Brien believes the project holds significant discovery potential.

“Dumbwa is a 20-km-long soil anomaly with visible copper grades,” he said. “Partnering with KoBold allows us to explore this vast property with the necessary capital and expertise.”

Drilling will begin in the North American summer, with results expected by early fall.

Zambia: A mining hub

KoBold’s investment in Zambia underlines its confidence in the region’s potential, with six projects underway and plans for further expansion.

“Our investors believe in our data science approach,” Enderton said. “Their support allows us to invest through commodity cycles for sustainable growth.”

Both panellists praised Zambia’s mining-friendly environment, noting its strong infrastructure and skilled workforce.

“Zambia has a century-long mining history,” O’Brien noted. “Its infrastructure and workforce are second to none.”

Both partners are committed to sustainability and maintaining good community relations, working closely with local chiefs and communities.

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Green chemistry process helps recover noble metals from e-waste Fri, 17 May 2024 13:06:00 +0000 Researchers at the University of Helsinki have developed sustainable dissolution methods for extracting noble metals from computers, cell phones, solar panels and other discarded electronics.

In a paper published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, the scientists introduce a three-stage process where copper is first dissolved from electronic waste, followed by silver and, finally, gold. This way, metals can be selectively separated from plastic, ceramics and other materials, yielding pure noble metals. In addition, the solvents used can be easily recycled.

The team tested organic solvents on crushed circuit boards, successfully extracting the gold and copper contained in them. Silver was separated from crushed old solar panels. This result is interesting because solar panels are a high-volume product whose recycling has thus far been extremely challenging.

“In this study, we used what is known as deep eutectic solvents, liquids, that are made from substances that are solid at room temperature and under normal pressure, such as choline chloride—also used in poultry feed—and urea, as well as other safe organic compounds,” Anže Zupanc, co-author of the study, said in a media statement.

Deep eutectic solvents are a special type of solvent composed of two or more simple compounds that form a mixture with a low melting point. These solvents are known as deep eutectic, as their melting point is considerably lower than the melting point of each component on its own.

Deep eutectic solvents are environmentally friendly, renewable and in many cases biodegradable. They have many applications including in chemical reactions, catalysis and extraction techniques.

In this study, lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide were used as solvents as well.

“An important result was that the solvents could be reused, putting the principles of green chemistry into practice,” lead researcher Timo Repo said.

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Hummingbird shares soar on restarting of Guinea mine Fri, 17 May 2024 12:21:00 +0000 Shares in Hummingbird Resources (AIM: HUM) rose 17% on Friday, after the Africa-focused company said operations had resumed at its Kouroussa gold mine in Guinea following a two-month strike by its main contractor.

The gold producer, with operations in Mali, Guinea and Liberia, had to halt activities at the Kouroussa gold mine in March, when Corica Mining Services downed tools, citing contractual breaches.

Hummingbird noted that, as a result of the halt, only 5,868 ounces of gold were produced in the quarter ending on March 31, below the miner’s forecast.

The company said on Friday that Corica had agreed to redeploy equipment to the site and has already begun ramping up operations to fully resume commercial production at Kouroussa.

“Corica’s return to work will allow Hummingbird to increase the mining of the higher-grade material and accelerate our plans to reach production profile of 200,000 ounces of gold this year,” chief executive Dan Betts said.

Hummingbird said as part of the efforts to reduce risk related to its working capital position, it has secured $10-million loan from its largest shareholder, CIG SA. The fund, it said, will support Kouroussa’s ongoing operations during the ramp-up phase.

The miner noted it is holding talks with its main lender, Coris Bank International, to address the financial consequences of the operational suspension. An update will be provided at the appropriate time, it said.

Hummingbird has faced challenges in bringing the Kouroussa mine up to full production. Aside the issues with Corica, activities at the gold mine were disrupted last year by rain and delays associated with skills development.

The company’s stock price declined slightly in late afternoon, trading only 6.4% higher than Thursday close to 10p. That leaves the company with a market capitalization of £80 million (roughly $101m).

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Zijin Mining to produce 50% more copper by 2028 Fri, 17 May 2024 10:56:00 +0000 China’s top copper producer Zijin Mining (HKG: 2899) expects to produce 4% more copper in 2025 than previously planned to profit from the metal’s ongoing price rally, driven by anticipated supply shortages.

The state-owned miner’s new goal is to boost copper production to 1.22 million tonnes next year. It also plans to further boost output to between 1.5 and 1.6 million tonnes by 2028, which represents a 50% increase from 2023. 

Zijin, which is also China’s top gold miner, justified the production forecast revisions to positive market fundamentals and the potential for capacity expansion. It noted it was already working on increasing mine capacity at some of its operations, including the Julong copper project in Tibet.

The company, one of China’s most acquisitive metals groups and its biggest listed miner, intends to expedite the expansion of its Congo and Serbia mines, while also seeking large-scale projects globally.

The company recently said it was planning acquisitions of “ultra-large mines or mining companies with global influence” to boost overall output.

Copper prices are trading near all-time highs as decades-old existing mines have shown it is unlikely they will meet a soaring demand driven by the world’s shift towards green energy. 

Supplies have significantly tightened so far this year following the forced shutdown of First Quantum Minerals’ (TSX: FM) Cobre Panama mine and a guidance cut from Anglo American (LON: AAL), which owns three of the top 10 producing copper mines in South America.

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Rinehart asks Australia’s national gallery to take down her portrait Thu, 16 May 2024 18:31:25 +0000 Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart may have drawn more attention than she had anticipated after she reportedly asked the country’s national gallery to remove a seemingly unflattering portrait of her.

The portrait is displayed alongside that of 20 other celebrities in a single exhibition by Indigenous artist Vincent Namatjira, which opened at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra this March and is set to run until July 21.

Also featured in the exhibition are the late Queen Elizabeth II, American musician Jimi Hendrix, former Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and the artist Namatjira himself. All portraits were painted in Namatjira’s distinctive style that often employs humor and exaggerated features to interrogate the rich and powerful.

According to multiple reports including the Sydney Morning Herald, Rinehart and her associates at Hancock Prospecting have made multiple approaches to the NGA to taken down her portrait, found right next to Namatjira’s own portrait (see below).

Credit: National Gallery of Australia

In response, the NGA told various media outlets, including the biggest in the US and UK, that it would welcome the public having a dialogue on its collection and displays.

“Since 1973, when the National Gallery acquired Jackson Pollocks’ Blue Poles, there has been a dynamic discussion on the artistic merits of works in the national collection, and/or on display at the Gallery,” the NGA statement reads.

“We present works of art to the Australian public to inspire people to explore, experience and learn about art,” it said.

The Gallery also shared a statement from Namatjira, who said his intention was to paint “people who are wealthy, powerful, or significant – people who have had an influence on this country, and on me personally, whether directly or indirectly, whether for good or for bad.”

“Some people might not like it, other people might find it funny, but I hope people look beneath the surface and see the serious side too,” he wrote.

The National Association for the Visual Arts also spoke out to defend Australian artists like Namatjira, who it believes have the right to “create art about any subject and by any means.”

“While Rinehart has the right to express her opinions about the work,” the association’s executive director Penelope Benton said on Thursday, “she does not have the authority to pressure the gallery into withdrawing the painting simply because she dislikes it.”

This is not the first time that Namatjira’s artistic inspirations and Rinehart had crossed paths. In 2017, the mining magnate, now Australia’s wealthiest person, was portrayed standing beside the artist himself, and in another standalone portrait in a separate series.

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Fortune Minerals secures $12 million in Canada, US gov’t fundings Thu, 16 May 2024 15:59:29 +0000 Shares of Fortune Minerals (TSX: FT) hit a 52-week high on Thursday after the critical minerals developer announced it has secured additional funding from both the Canadian and US governments for its flagship NICO project.

The domestic funding, courtesy of Natural Resources Canada, amounts to C$7.5 million ($5.5 million). This is expected to cover 75% of the C$10 million in additional engineering and testwork for the project, Fortune said.

Separately, the company has been awarded $6.38 million by the US Department of Defense to expand the capacity and production of cobalt for the battery and high-strength alloy supply chain. This grant was delivered under the Defense Production Act Title III program.

The total amount of non-dilutive funding that Fortune expects to receive is C$16.2 million ($12 million). This important cross-border initiative, says the company, is aligned with the Canada-US joint action plan on critical minerals.

“The demand for critical minerals needed for the energy transition requires new vertically integrated domestic production from non-traditional ores and concentrates. Bi-lateral Canadian and US government investment is therefore important to align mineral production with changes in new technologies, ensure security of supply, and support North American industrial competitiveness,” Fortune CEO Robin Goad stated.

Shares in Fortune Minerals shot up 41.7% to C$0.085 by 11:50 a.m. ET, having earlier hit C$0.095 apiece, its highest in over two years. Its market capitalization is C$45 million ($33 million).

Advanced-stage asset

The NICO project is an advanced-stage asset consisting of a proposed open pit and underground mine and concentrator in the Northwest Territories. Anchoring the mine is a cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper deposit containing 33.1 million tonnes in reserves at grades of 0.11% cobalt, 1.03 g/t gold, 0.14% bismuth and 0.04% copper.

Fortune, which first discovered the asset in 1996, aims to deliver a vertically integrated production of these minerals by building a hydrometallurgical refinery in Alberta that will process concentrates from the NICO mine to produce cobalt sulphate, gold doré, bismuth ingots and copper.

To date, Fortune has expended more than C$137 million to advance the NICO project to a near shovel-ready project with a positive feasibility study in 2014, which it expects to update this year, and environmental assessment approval and the major mine permits for the facilities in the NWT.

Fortune’s goal is to become a reliable producer of cobalt for the North American lithium-ion rechargeable battery industry. As a domestic source, its NICO project would be compliant with the terms of the IRA.

With 12% of global bismuth reserves, the NICO project would also provide a domestic alternative for products used in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries. It also contains more than 1 million oz. of gold as co-product to mitigate critical mineral price volatility.

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US, Canada team up to fund critical minerals junior Lomiko Thu, 16 May 2024 15:08:00 +0000 The United States and Canada are, for the first time, joining forces to support the development of critical mineral mines by Canadian companies as both governments step up efforts to reduce their reliance on Chinese supplies of energy transition minerals.

Graphite exploration firm Lomiko Metals (TSX: LMR) has been granted a combined $12 million —$3.6m from Ottawa and $8.4m from Washington — to advance its La Loutre graphite project in southeastern Quebec.

“To achieve these concurrent Canadian and American funding opportunities is a win for Quebec, Canada, and the United States as we approach a next phase of studies,” Lomiko’s chief executive Belinda Labatte said in the statement.

“It will help advance supply chain resilience and create job opportunities in Canada,” Labatte added. Lomiko’s mine is also expected to generate high-quality graphite for defense applications and the growing electric vehicle (EV) market in North America.

The other Canadian junior to receive a shot in the arm is Fortune Minerals (TSX: FT, which had already been granted funds, in December and March this year, to advance its longstanding NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper project in the Northwest Territories.

The Canadian contribution is part of a larger $2.8 billion (Cdn$3.8bn) fund for the critical minerals sector that was announced in the Canadian federal government’s 2023 budget. 

The US portion comes from the Department of Defense, acting under the Defense Production Act created by President Joe Biden in 2022.

The funding to both companies follows Washington’s decision earlier this week to slap major new tariffs on Chinese EVs, advanced batteries, solar cells, steel, aluminum and medical equipment.

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Global coal phase-out to cost between $200 billion, $2 trillion – study Thu, 16 May 2024 12:38:00 +0000 Over $200 billion will be given as compensation to workers and local communities affected by coal phase-out programs globally, new research has found.

This estimate excludes India and China, as the two largest coal users currently do not have phase-out plans.

According to a recent paper in Nature Communications, if China and India decide to phase out coal as fast as needed to reach the Paris climate targets and pay similar compensation, it would cost upwards of $2 trillion.

The researchers, hailing from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and the Central European University in Austria, have studied all countries with coal phase-out plans around the world and found that those with the most coal power production and with plans for rapid phase-out have compensation policies in place.

In total, these 23 countries with 16% of the world’s coal power plants have pledged about $209 billion in compensation. This may sound like a lot of money, however, the researchers point out that it equates to roughly 6 gigatons of avoided CO2 emissions and the cost of compensation for coal phase-out per tonne of avoided CO2 emissions ($29-46 per tonne) is well below recent carbon prices in Europe (~$64-80  per tonne).

Estimated compensation for China and India to meet 1.5°C (orange) is not only larger in absolute terms but also would require a larger share of their GDPs.
Estimated compensation for China and India to meet 1.5°C (orange) is not only larger in absolute terms but also would require a larger share of their GDPs. (Graph by Lola Nacke, Chalmers University of Technology ).

“So far these ‘just transition’ policies are consistent with, or lower than, the carbon prices within the EU, which means they make sense in terms of climate change. But more funding is likely needed if we want to reach the Paris climate targets,” Jessica Jewell, one of the study’s co-authors, said in a media statement.

This is because achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement will not be possible without the participation of the world’s major coal consumers, China and India, which have more than half of the world’s coal plants, but no phase-out plans currently in place.

The study found that, for China and India to adopt compensation policies similar to those already in place, the estimated compensation amount for both countries would be $2.4 trillion for the 2°C target and $3.2 trillion for the 1.5°C target.

“The estimated compensation for China and India is not only larger in absolute terms but would also be more expensive compared to their economic capacities”, Lola Nacke, co-author of the paper, said.

A big question thus is where such large sums of money would come from. Today about half of all compensation is funded from international sources such as Just Energy Transition Partnerships, which are multi-lateral structures for accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuels. These intergovernmental partnerships coordinate financial resources and technical assistance from countries in the Global North to a recipient country to help it in this regard. They are currently in place in Vietnam, Indonesia and South Africa.

International finance might also be needed to support future coal phase-out compensation in major coal-consuming countries. However, the researchers note that the estimated amounts of compensation for China and India alone are comparable to the entire international climate finance pledged in Paris and larger than current development aid to these countries.

“Discussions about the cost of climate change mitigation often focus on investments in renewable energy technologies – but we also see it’s essential to address social implications of fossil fuel decline to enable rapid transitions”, Nacke said.

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Anglo American freezes hiring amid global shake-up Thu, 16 May 2024 12:08:00 +0000 Anglo American (LON: AAL), the takeover target of mining giant BHP (ASX: BHP), has frozen hiring globally as it works on a company-wide restructuring announced earlier this week.

The decision, first reported by Reuters, affects recruitment of all non-site-based permanent employees and contractors.

“Having set out the results of our strategy review and the changes we will be making to our portfolio, this is an appropriate measure,” a spokesman told the news agency. “Clearly there will be exceptions for critical roles.”

Anglo American has turned down BHP’s acquisition bids twice since April 25, stating the offers continue to considerably undervalue the company.

Shareholders in both companies have said they expect the world’s largest miner to come back with a third and improved proposal before a regulatory deadline next week.

Anglo announced on Tuesday plans to spin out or sell some of its legacy assets in an attempt to protect itself from current and future bids.  The sweeping break up scheme will see it sell its diamond business De Beers, its South Africa-based Anglo American Platinum — Amplats — and its steelmaking coal assets.

The move will take Anglo from being the most diversified to the most concentrated major miner, leaving it in a position from which it would be easier to fend off unsolicited bids.

Given the lack of engagement from Anglo’s board, analysts predict that BHP will either withdraw the acquisition bid or pursue a hostile takeover. The mining giant has until May 22 to submit a formal offer under the U.K. takeover regulations.

(With files from Reuters)

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Chinchillas throw new wrench in Gold Fields’ Chile plans Thu, 16 May 2024 10:43:00 +0000 Gold Fields (JSE: GFI)(NYSE: GFI) may see its $1 billion Salares Norte mine in northern Chile affected again after the country’s environmental watchdog (SMA) said there was no certainty the miner had captured and relocated a population of 25 critically endangered chinchillas living in the area, as asked. 

The regulator’s latest order, issued late on Wednesday, forces Gold Field to stop activities around the mine plant area. The miner has 10 days to present prove of the absence of chinchillas in the rocky area or may face sanctions.

Chilean authorities stopped the initial rescue operation, launched in 2020, after two of the first four rodents being relocated died shortly after. SMA laid charges against the South African gold producer and asked it to made adjustments to the original plan to guarantee the safety of the remainder short-tailed chinchillas.

The regulator approved the new strategy late last year, and “Operation Chinchilla” resumed in February. Since then, however, Gold Fields has been unable to locate any.

In an operational update earlier this month, the company said the rodents appeared to have left on their own, without any human intervention.

“We have been working with the authorities on the capture and relocation of the chinchillas, and we have gone through the sequencing. And to date we have not captured any,” chief executive Mike Fraser said during the presentation.

“It is quite conceivable that the chinchillas moved on; that’s a plausible scenario,” he added.

Hunted for centuries for their thick, soft pelt, chinchillas are now only found in the wild and are protected by law. Former chief executive Nick Holland acknowledged in 2017 the tiny animals were among the main obstacles for bringing Salares Norte into production.

The relocation of these critters is a key component of Salares Norte’s environmental licence.

$8 billion worth of gold at stake

According to Gold Fields’ latest estimations, the Salares Norte mine’s mineral reserves are at 3.4 million ounces of gold and almost 42 million ounces of silver.

At current prices of around $2,380 per ounce per gold ounce, the asset is worth roughly $8 billion.

The mine, which cost Gold Fields over $1 billion to build, produced its first gold in late March, as planned. Getting to this point has not been easy, as on top of dealing with the relocation of chinchillas, construction of the mine was hit by increasing costs and the global pandemic.

Felipe Sanchez, head of SMA’s regional office told MINING.COM that the Salares Norte mine, Gold Fields’ newest operation, was constantly being monitored due to its environmental impact on the fauna of Atacama Region’s mountain range, where the gold mine is located.

Chinchillas throw wrench in Gold Fields’ Chile plans
Chinchilla around Salares Norte gold mine. (Image provided by SMA.)

“This project has a sanctioning procedure that began in December 2021, in which Gold Fields was accused of deficient implementation of rescue measures for the rodents present in rocky areas of the mining licence,” Sanchez said.

The SMA official noted that while the miner was allowed to resume activities in the area to complete the mine on time, the issue of moving the rodents is pending.

Salares Norte, located 4,500m above sea level in an area where winter temperatures can be as low as -20 degrees Celsius, is key to the company’s goal of churning out 2.8 million ounces of gold by 2025.

Production at the mine is expected to reach about 250,000 ounces of gold this year, ramping up to full-year production of 580,000 ounces next year.

THROWBACK THURSDAY: 25 chinchillas stand between Gold Fields and billions of dollars in gold

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Solitario Resources soars on gold discoveries in South Dakota mine district Wed, 15 May 2024 21:41:07 +0000 Solitario Resources’ (TSX: SLR) share price surged to its highest in over three years on Wednesday after discovery of multiple high-grade gold zones at its Golden Crest project in South Dakota.

The new zones — named Holland, Top Dollar and Wildcat — yielded gold values as high as 57.9. 50.2. 42.7, 32.3 and 21.1 grams per tonne gold from reconnaissance rock sampling of outcrop, sub-crop and float, the company said.

These results, according to chief executive Chris Herald, are among the highest-grade samples collected during a first pass sampling program at a newly discovered target zone in the history of Golden Crest.

Herald also said there is a high probability that these three zones may coalesce into a single massive zone with additional work. Further drilling is being planned for the first part of June.

The three new gold zones, all at surface, are found within an area approximately 4 square kilometres, between the Downpour and Sleeping Beauty targets. All five zones are located on Solitario’s new Ponderosa plan of operations (POO) in the easternmost portion of the Golden Crest property.

The Ponderosa area is a contiguous group of mineral claims separate from and not covered by the original Golden Crest POO, but is a part of Solitario’s 100%-owned Golden Crest project area in South Dakota. The new Ponderosa POO proposes low-impact core drilling to test these new gold targets.

Shares of Solitario Resources closed the session 10.9% higher at C$1.22 apiece, for a market capitalization of C$100.3 million ($73.7m). Earlier, it had hit a new 52-week high of C$1.25.

Target-rich project

In August 2021, Solitario acquired a large land position in western South Dakota known as the Golden Crest project. These mineral claims comprised holdings in a gold district that has historically produced from multiple mines, including Homestake.

Classified as a rare kind of gold deposit known as Super Giants (deposits containing over 58 million oz.), Homestake had over 125 years of continuous production between 1876 and 2001, during which it produced over 42 million ounces.

In the latter two decades of operation, limited exploration by the previous Homestake owner led to the identification of five largely unexplored drainage areas in the western part of the district with anomalous gold. Four of these five anomalies had completely unexplained bedrock gold sources, well outside of known historically mined areas.

Solitario currently controls all four of these likely gold sources, and is conducting exploration to further define gold distribution. Its entire land holdings are along the western and southwestern extensions of the Homestake-Wharf mining district that has produced approximately 52 million oz. of gold and contains another 30 million oz. in historical resources.

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British Columbia bans new jade mining in province’s northwest Wed, 15 May 2024 19:29:42 +0000 The Canadian province of British Columbia has banned any new jade mining in the northwest region, citing harm to alpine environments.

The BC government has issued a Environment and Land Use Act order prohibiting jade mining activities on new tenures, but current tenure holders listed in the order will be able to continue jade mining for five years with enhanced reclamation requirements.

The order does not impact other mining operations in the region, or affect existing or new jade tenures in other areas of BC, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation said in a news release.

The cumulative impact of jade mining in northwestern BC is causing harmful effects to sensitive alpine environments and creating significant regulatory challenges for permitting, compliance and enforcement due to many of the activities taking place in locations accessible only by helicopter, the ministry said.

The order, it said, will ensure that environmental impacts can be addressed, while existing tenure holders listed in the order continue mining for five years with adequate time to wind down operations.

The ministry has been working with local First Nations, with input from industry, to address concerns regarding the environmental impacts to sensitive alpine environments from jade mining in the Turnagain region of northwestern BC, and the order is needed to protect these areas from further harm and disturbance, the statement reads.

Jade is currently mined in the province’s Dease Lake, Mount Ogden and Cassiar regions.

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Video: Fast-track mining permits to hit 2050 green targets, Quartermain urges Wed, 15 May 2024 18:35:57 +0000 Urgent regulatory reforms are required to speed up mine permitting if the West is to meet its energy transition goals, Canadian Mining Hall of Fame inductee Robert Quartermain told The Northern Miner’s Energy Transition Metals Summit in Washington, D.C.

“If we are serious about a clean earth by 2050, we need new mines for energy transition metals, specifically copper and lithium,” he said on April 29. “This requires reducing the permitting timeline from 12-15 years to just five years to effect those changes now.”

Quartermain, a director of Dakota Gold (NYSE American: DC) and former executive chairman of Pretium Resources, now Newmont (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM), highlighted how in his experience at the Brucejack mine in British Columbia, Seabridge achieved production in just six years through concurrent permitting and collaboration with First Nations.

Quartermain has also been arguing that gold should be included on governments’ critical minerals lists given its growing uses in electronics.

The summit ran in coordination with Precious Metals Summit Conferences.

Watch the full discussion below.

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Barrick exceeds targets for GHG reduction in 2023 Wed, 15 May 2024 17:22:37 +0000 Barrick Gold (NYSE: GOLD; TSX: ABX) has released its 2023 sustainability report and reported it has exceeded its target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The company cut emissions 16% from its 2018 baseline, exceeding plans to cut emissions by 15% in 2023.

Barrick has committed to be net-zero by 2050.

Barrick also re-used or recycled 84% of its water used in operations, with an 85% recycle rate achieved at its water-stressed sites.

The company has also invested $43 million in community development projects, including a water tower near the North Mara gold mine in Tanzania and the development of a hospital and three schools in Balochistan, Pakistan, near its Reko Diq copper-gold project.

On workplace safety, Barrick recorded a 21% year-on-year improvement on lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR), and total industries is lower than it was in 2022. The company also recorded its lowest-ever malaria incidence rate, a 33% year-on-year decrease from 17.86% in 2022 to 11.35% in 2023.

“Our safety performance has been given additional focused attention with the establishment of new groupwide safety protocols to drive fatal risks down and achieve the zero target we have set ourselves,” Barrick CEO Mark Bristow said in the statement.

Barrick bases its sustainability policy on four pillars: contributing to the socio-economic development of host countries and communities; protecting the health and safety of workers; respecting human rights; and minimizing its impact on the natural environment.

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Brazil Potash starts construction of the Autazes project Wed, 15 May 2024 16:23:11 +0000 Brazil Potash began construction this week on the Silvinita mine in Autazes after it received six more licences from the Amazonas Environmental Protection Institute (IPAAM), the agency responsible for environmental licensing in the state of Amazonas.

Last month, IPAAM had issued a licence to the privately held Brazil Potash to build the project, pegged to be the largest fertilizer mine in Latin America within the Amazon rainforest.

The six new installation licences cover vegetation suppression, forest replacement, capture, collection and transportation of wildlife, and earthworks for the ore terminal and the port.

The company intends to invest 13 billion reais ($2.6 billion) to establish the mine, located 120 kilometres southeast of the state capital, Manaus.

Production is expected to start in 2026 with an initial output sufficient to cover about 20% of Brazil’s potash needs. The project capacity will be 2.2 million tonnes of potassium chloride per year, the company estimates.

“Autazes is progressing positively and meeting the legal requirements consistent with the magnitude of this project. At this moment, the project is already generating benefits for the community, with the direct and indirect hiring of people through a network of service providers and suppliers,” Brazil Potash president Adriano Espeschit said in a statement.

The project, which could reduce Brazilian agriculture’s 90% dependence on imported potash, has been held up for years due to opposition from indigenous Mura people, who say they have not been consulted about the use of their ancestral lands.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors again requested the immediate suspension of the licence IPAAM had granted for the project.

Questioned about the public prosecutor’s request, Brazil Potash told MINING.COM that it will respond in court.

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Opinion: Tariffs on minerals from China are not enough Wed, 15 May 2024 15:51:33 +0000 Yesterday, US President Joe Biden announced he would increase import tariffs on key Chinese goods, including some critical minerals. Ostensibly, higher tariffs on critical minerals from China will help protect the US mineral industry by making it more expensive to import minerals from China. Minerals produced by Chinese-linked entities outside China, however, will not face higher duties.

Yet, imports of these Chinese-produced minerals also undermine the US mineral industry because downstream US industries, like the auto industry, often prefer to source and invest in lower-cost foreign minerals over higher-cost US minerals. For example, the US automaker Ford is directly investing in an Indonesian nickel plant partly owned by the Chinese company Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt.

To support and protect the US mineral industry, the US government should increase duties on minerals produced by Chinese-linked entities in other countries. These Chinese producers have unfair cost advantages due to lower environmental standards, lower labor protections, and Chinese state subsidies.

First, Chinese mineral producers in other countries generally have low environmental standards, allowing producers to access minerals in sensitive ecosystems and to forgo costs associated with mitigating carbon emissions. For example, state-backed Chinese and Indonesian companies can clear-cut rainforests in Indonesia, the world’s largest nickel producer, to build open-pit nickel laterite mines. Additionally, the processed nickel is carbon-intensive given the energy intensity of mineral processing and the Chinese processing facilities’ heavy reliance on coal.

Second, Chinese mineral producers in other countries frequently have low labor protections, which mean lower safety regulations. For instance, an explosion at a Chinese-owned nickel refinery in Indonesia killed twenty-one workers in December 2023. Chinese mineral companies operating overseas have also been accused of violating labor rights, including children working seven days a week at cobalt deposits owned or operated by Chinese companies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This mined cobalt often enters the global supply chain for electric vehicle batteries.

Third, Chinese mineral producers in other countries commonly receive state financial backing. To illustrate, Chinese state development banks (i.e., China Development Bank, Export-Import Bank of China) and state-owned commercial banks (i.e., Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China) helped finance coal-fired power plants at an Indonesian industrial park with several Chinese nickel producers. This Chinese state financing absorbs part of the Chinese nickel producers’ capital costs, enabling them to build production capacity at lower costs.

These factors—lower environmental standards, lower labor protections, and state subsidies—combine to give unfair cost advantages to minerals produced by Chinese-linked entities in other countries. To decrease this unjust cost advantage, the US government should impose significant duties on all minerals produced by Chinese-linked entities.

For example, high-pressure acid leaching facilities owned by state-backed Chinese and Indonesian companies in Indonesia produce mixed hydroxide precipitate that is often converted into nickel sulfate, which is necessary in certain electric vehicle batteries. However, these processing facilities produce tailings susceptible to seepage and have allegedly polluted local waterways. Consequently, imports of Indonesian-origin, Chinese-produced minerals should face substantial US import duties given their environmental costs.

The US government should also increase import duties on downstream goods containing Chinese-produced minerals, like processed battery materials (e.g., nickel sulfate), battery components (e.g., cathode material), battery cells and packs, and electric vehicles. Increasing tariffs across the supply chain will help prevent Chinese minerals embedded in other goods from circumventing the import duties.

For instance, if Americans can import cheap electric batteries containing Chinese-produced minerals, those minerals—despite their unjust cost advantages—can enter duty-free into the US market. Thus, imposing duties on mineral-rich downstream goods should protect the US mineral industry too.

In conclusion, policy efforts to protect the US mineral industry from unfair Chinese competition must target minerals produced not only in China but also by Chinese-linked entities in other countries. These minerals have unjust cost advantages due to lower environmental standards, lower labor protections, and Chinese state subsidies. To address this issue, the US government should impose high duties on minerals produced by Chinese-linked entities outside China, as well as on mineral-rich downstream goods containing Chinese-produced minerals.

Gregory D. Wischer is the founder and principal of Dei Gratia Minerals, a critical minerals consultancy.

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Gold price climbs on cooling US inflation, weaker retail numbers Wed, 15 May 2024 15:41:20 +0000 Gold climbed to a near one-month peak on Wednesday after new data in the US showed ebbing inflation and weaker retail sales, boosting the chances of a Federal Reserve rate cut.

Spot gold gained 1.1% to $2,384.76 per ounce by 11:25 a.m. ET, its highest since April 21. US gold futures were up 1.2%, trading at $2,387.20 per ounce in New York.

The precious metal has traded in a narrow range over recent weeks, following a blistering rally that saw it reach a record high in mid-April.

Still, prices are up about 14% this year, with gains underpinned by central bank buying, heightened geopolitical risks and consumer demand in China.

Bullion has also remained strong despite the anticipated timing of the Fed’s pivot being pushed back.

Boost for bullion

The latest set of US economic data has provided some relief for policymakers looking to start cutting interest rates this year.

Traders are now pricing in about a 69% chance of a rate cut in September, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

A measure of underlying inflation cooled in April for the first time in six months, with the so-called core consumer price index — which excludes food and energy costs — increasing 0.3% from the previous month.

The CPI data “could be an early indication that over time inflation will cool and the Fed will make its first interest rate cut,” said Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures, in a Reuters note.

Separate data out Wednesday showed retail sales stagnated in April, indicating high borrowing costs and mounting debt are encouraging greater prudence among consumers.

The potential economic weakness would benefit gold, which can be a hedge against financial stress. But for it to reach a fresh record, “we need more clarity on the number of rate cuts given its potential positive impact on ETF demand,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank AS.

Investors remain net sellers of gold exchange-traded funds so far this year, with total holdings down 5.9%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters)

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Red Pine plans new resource, downplays alleged assay fraud at Ontario gold project Wed, 15 May 2024 15:29:18 +0000 Red Pine Exploration (TSXV: RPX) says its ex-CEO did more reputational damage than harm to the company’s Wawa gold project in northern Ontario when he allegedly altered hundreds of drill core assays used in a resource estimate.

Quentin Yarie, the CEO from July 2015 before stepping down on Feb. 21 this year in an unrelated move, according to the company, oversaw a data collection process where he was the sole recipient of emailed assay results from Activation Labs. Red Pine alleges Yarie changed 532 assays out of 98,000 before forwarding them to staff for use in project modelling its 2019 resource update and marketing.

“Look, in the end, it could have been a lot worse in terms of timing and the impact,” incoming CEO Michael Michaud said on a conference call on Wednesday. “We still believe in the potential of the asset. This is the reason why I joined Red Pine, this is reason why I’m here today and am looking forward to becoming the CEO.”

The scandal for the junior, which lost 60% of its share price when assay discrepancies were first revealed on May 1, may bring to mind the Bre-X Minerals fraud of the 1990s, but is on a much lower scale. Red Pine estimates the doctored assays aimed to marginally increase grade and could lower its Wawa project resource by as much as 12%. Bre-X involved blatant salting of core samples with incompatible gold nuggets.

“Certainly, though there was some manipulation of the assets, they were mostly embellishments,” Michaud said. “I’m not really terribly upset about the 10 or 15% because we’ll get that back easy.”

New resource

Red Pine suspended planned drilling and said it would trim costs at the site as it prepares to issue a new resource update with completely verified assays from as much as 70,000 metres in drilling since the last update. It didn’t give a potential completion date.

Shares in Red Pine rose about 20% to C$0.11 apiece on Wednesday morning in Toronto, valuing the company at C$21 million. They plunged to C$0.08 apiece from C$0.21 on May 1 when the company first described the assay inconsistencies in a release. They had traded in a range of C$0.16 to C$0.24 this year until May.

Red Pine referred the alleged fraud to the Ontario Securities Commission. It didn’t mention any legal action of its own against Yarie. He hasn’t replied to a request last week for comment from The Northern Miner.

The project lies beside the town of Wawa near the northeast shore of Lake Superior, about 220 km north of Sault Ste. Marie. The site hosts several historical mines that produced about 120,000 oz. gold.

Red Pine acquired the project in 2014. It produced a resource for the Surluga deposit in 2015 and later merged it with one on a historical mine area, Minto, in 2018.


The company on April 22 announced the appointment of Michaud as CEO. He is to take office around July 19. The leadership change had nothing to do with the alleged assay manipulation, chairman and interim CEO Paul Martin (not the former Prime Minister) repeated on Wednesday.

“In all cases, the manipulation that occurred was to increase the grade,” Martin said on the call. “However, in virtually all cases, the manipulated grades were defendable at the time, based on among other things, the visual inspection of the core and assessment of the mineralogy, and one reason why the selective manipulations were not easily brought to light at the time.

“The changes were supported by the nuggety effect of the property as represented in the overwhelming number of unmanipulated assay results, often near where the selective manipulations were done.”

Red Pine staff first noticed a discrepancy between a certified assay result received from Actlabs and the corresponding assay result in the company’s database on April 29. An investigation determined the assay altering was done from the spring of 2015 until Jan. 30 this year.

Map courtesy of Red Pine Exploration.


The company divided its investigations into two periods of assay results: 2014-2019 that resulted in the mineral resource estimates set out in the NI 43-101 technical report dated June 21, 2023 with an effective resource date of May 31, 2019.

The independent geologist in charge of the resource update, known in mining regulations as the qualified person, was Brian Thomas of Sudbury-based Golder Associates, now part of Montreal-headquartered WSP. Thomas declined to comment when reached this week by our sister publication, The Northern Miner. He referred questions to his WSP manager, Anas Tuijar, who didn’t return a phone message.

A second period covered 2019 to the present, during which assay results were disclosed through news releases.

For the first period, Red Pine determined that the inconsistencies mean a reduction in inferred resources for Wawa’s Surlaga and Minto deposits.

It estimated the Surluga area will lose an estimated 39,500 to 54,000 oz. (between 205,000 and 240,000 tonnes grading, on average, 6 to 7 grams gold per tonne) from inferred resources. That compares with the previous estimate of 2.4 million tonnes grading 5.22 grams gold per tonne. The indicated resource of 1.2 million tonnes grading 5.31 grams gold is not expected to change.

The Minto deposit loses 8,000 to 12,000 indicated oz. (between 30,000 and 40,000 tonnes grading 8.5 to 9.5 grams gold), and 16,000 to 20,000 inferred ounces (75,000 to 85,000 tonnes grading 6.5 to 7.5 grams gold). It was previously reported to hold 105,000 indicated tonnes grading 7.5 grams gold per tonne and 354,000 inferred tonnes grading 6.6 grams gold.

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Gold-infused sensor effectively detects presence of fentanyl Wed, 15 May 2024 13:36:00 +0000 A research team at the University of Pittsburgh has developed a portable sensor that relies on carbon nanotubes and gold nanoparticles to detect even small amounts of fentanyl, as well as tell the difference between fentanyl and other opioids.

In a paper published in the journal Small, the scientists explain that fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and one of the main drivers of overdose deaths in the United States and Canada. It’s often mixed with other drugs and present in such small amounts that it can be hard to detect.

The new sensor, however, is six orders of magnitude more sensitive than any electrochemical sensor for the drug reported in the past five years. Besides carbon and gold, the key to its effectiveness is the incorporation of fentanyl antibodies.

“We’re using nature’s invention, so to speak,” lead researcher Alexander Star said in a media statement. “That’s how we can reach these ultralow levels of detection.”

Inspired by covid and pot

The sensor is a modified version of a covid-19 sensor developed by Star’s research group in 2020. The covid sensor is itself an adaptation of a THC breath test—similar to a Breathalyzer, but for marijuana—which he developed in 2019.

The core of each of these sensors is made of a chip with carbon nanotubes attached. Each tube is like a tiny wire that is 100,000 times smaller than a human hair and effective at conducting electricity. Attached to the nanotubes are gold nanoparticles, each about 43 nanometers tall.

In practice, molecules of fentanyl bind to the nanoparticles, triggering a current that flows through the nanotubes. Different substances create different currents; using machine learning, the sensor was able to identify a fentanyl molecule. It also had a 91% success rate when it came to differentiating fentanyl from other opioids, which is helpful when trying to determine whether another drug has been tainted with fentanyl.

To reach its unprecedented level of sensitivity, Star and his team took a cue from the covid sensor and incorporated fentanyl antibodies, attaching them to the nanoparticles. Fentanyl molecules would tightly bind to any antibodies they encountered, changing the current flowing from the antibodies into the nanotubes, signalling the presence of the drug.

The result was a sensor capable of detecting fentanyl on the femtomolar scale. That’s 10-15 moles per liter. The next closest sensor can detect on the nanomolar scale, which is 10-9 moles per litre.

“Nature developed these selective receptors,” Star said. “We adapted them on our platform, the carbon nanotubes.”

In addition to its sensitivity, another benefit of the new device is its portability. To detect such small quantities of fentanyl today requires a mass spectrometer—not a particularly mobile technology. Star’s sensor is small enough to be hand-held and inexpensive enough to be practical.

In the future, the researcher anticipates using this technique to develop a sensor array that can detect many kinds of drugs.

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