Saturday 22nd October 2016

Resource Clips

Week in review

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Chinese mine workers in B.C.: Some pre-election concessions?

British Columbia’s media called it “an olive branch” despite its strident tone. In an effort to staff underground operations at a proposed coal mine entirely with Chinese workers, HD Mining International made some very minor concessions. The company released an open letter on Thursday asking two unions to drop their court battle, offering to consult them and work with them on training. But, HD chairperson Penggui Yan insisted, “Our company must be allowed to complete its two-year bulk sample work … with the 201 temporary foreign worker authorizations issued to date and the litigation would need to be discontinued.”

The tactic followed a spate of setbacks for the company. Last week HD sent its first 16 Chinese workers home. On Saturday the Vancouver Province, among other B.C. media, revealed that HD had received resumes from about 300 Canadians, many with related mining experience. The company had rejected them all for a lack of specifically longwall mining experience. In Tuesday’s Vancouver Province, columnist Mike Smyth pointed out that provincial Jobs Minister Pat Bell was strangely silent, given his previous unqualified support for HD’s hiring policy.

By Thursday Bell changed his stance. For work permits to be issued, CKNW radio quoted him, the jobs “need to truly be unfillable by British Columbians and by Canadians and that has clearly not been the case here and we have all learned that.”

With an election coming in May, Bell’s BC Liberal party is getting walloped in the polls.

Foreign mine workers have already become an election issue in Greenland. According to a February 1 Reuters dispatch published in Mining Weekly, the opposition Siumut party wants to overturn legislation passed in December that allows foreign exploration and resource companies to import their own workforces. The British company London Mining hopes to bring in 2,000 Chinese workers for its $2.3-billion iron ore project near Greenland’s southwestern coast.

A stake in Transylvania

Romania’s former Cetate mine at Rosia Montana produced gold from 1971 to 2006

Romania’s former Cetate mine at Rosia Montana
produced gold from 1971 to 2006.

Romania’s mining industry might be due for a rebirth, Bloomberg reported on Friday. In particular, new investment and technology could re-open coal and uranium mines that were shut down after 2007 for flunking EU environmental code. The government is now drafting legislation to help revive the industry.

But the new law won’t help Gabriel Resources TSX:GBU, Bloomberg stated. The company’s 80%-owned Rosia Montana project has Europe’s largest undeveloped gold deposit but “needs to clarify its environmental criteria,” Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian told the news agency.

A May 31 Reuters feature called Gabriel’s project “a 15-year quest that has put the area at the centre of a national debate between heritage and development.” Last December, however, the company said nearly 63% of voters in a regional referendum supported “the resolution to resume mining in the Apuseni Mountain region and specifically at the Rosia Montana project.”

Now in the permitting stage, Gabriel hopes to begin production in 2015. Mining has taken place in the region intermittently since at least Roman times.

Let’s get real

Here’s a novel approach to forecasting gold prices. On Tuesday Maclean’s stated that “reality television’s latest obsession is gold,” pointing to shows like Jungle Gold, Gold Rush, Bering Sea Gold and Gold Fever. But that could be bad news for those who trust in the yellow metal.

“The last time TV was so caught up in a trend it was in the house-flipping genre (Flip This House, Flip That House), which seemed to hit its peak just before the U.S. housing market crashed,” the magazine explained. “Is there a similar warning sign in the TV gold boom? Does all the mainstream fascination with gold suggest an overinflated interest and price?”

In other words, shouldn’t reality TV force goldbugs to face reality?

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