Monday 11th December 2017

Resource Clips


July, 2015

Peregrine welcomes Nunavut port proposal, but few other mineral projects would benefit

July 31st, 2015

by Greg Klein | July 31, 2015

With a Canadian federal election call anticipated any day now, cynics are calling the Conservative government spending announcements “Christmas in July.” But one potential miner welcomes the plan to build a deep water port in the Nunavut capital of Iqaluit. Following the July 30 announcement by Nunavut MP and Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq, Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD noted the Baffin Island facility would “dramatically” improve efficiency and costs for its flagship Chidliak project, 120 kilometres north. The company has a preliminary economic assessment planned for next year.

Peregrine welcomes Nunavut’s new port, but few other mineral projects would benefit

Although a deep sea port at Iqaluit would serve Baffin Island, this map shows most of Nunavut’s advanced stage projects located on the mainland.
(Image: NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines)

While Baffin Island’s only operating mine already has its own port, most Nunavut projects are on the mainland. Baffinland Iron Mines trucks iron ore from its Mary River mine to Milne Inlet, 100 kilometres away. The Nunavut Impact Review Board is currently reviewing Baffinland’s application to expand shipping from three summer months to 10 months a year.

As is the case for most of the territory’s exploration and development projects, Nunavut’s other mine sits on the mainland. Agnico Eagle’s (TSX:AEM) largest gold producer, Meadowbank, links to the hamlet of Baker Lake via an all-weather, 110-kilometre road. The mine “depends on the annual, warm-weather sealift by barge from Hudson Bay to Baker Lake for transportation of bulk supplies and heavy equipment,” the company states.

The feds offer to pay 75% of the Iqaluit port’s estimated $84.9-million price tag. The deal depends on the territorial government funding the rest, environmental approvals and, judging by her remarks, Aglukkaq’s re-election.

“What I can say is that if I’m re-elected, I’m going to make sure that the funding remains here,” the CBC quoted her. “And I’ve committed to it, I’ve announced it today, and that it is my commitment to delivering on this project.”

Fission Uranium chairperson/CEO Dev Randhawa argues the case for a merger with Denison Mines

July 31st, 2015

…Read more

July 31st, 2015

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Canada’s nuclear regulator slams Quebec uranium review

July 30th, 2015

by Greg Klein | July 30, 2015

A recommendation against uranium mining in Quebec has come under fire from the federal agency that regulates uranium mining and nuclear energy in Canada. In a July 27 letter to Quebec environment minister David Heurtel, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission criticized the province’s BAPE commission for “conclusions and recommendations that lack scientific basis and rigour.”

Earlier this month, following a year-long review, the provincial government-appointed Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement suggested Quebec “could decide to suspend uranium mining either temporarily or permanently.” Should the province decide to allow mining, BAPE recommended conditions including consensus-building and additional research that the bureau said would require years to complete.

BAPE’s recommendation not to proceed is based on the perceived lack of social acceptance and not on proven science.—Michael Binder, president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The CNSC argued that BAPE “is misleading Quebeckers and all Canadians.” To suggest uranium mining is unsafe, wrote CNSC president Michael Binder, is to imply that the agency and the province of Saskatchewan “have been irresponsible in their approval and oversight of the uranium mines of Canada for the last 30 years.”

CNSC staff, “who are recognized internationally as scientific and regulatory experts, provided numerous submissions on how the CNSC oversees and monitors all aspects of a uranium operation to ensure safety, including environmental and radiation protection, worker health and safety, tailings and waste rock management, emergency preparedness and safe uranium transport.”

Binder described his agency as “fully transparent in our regulatory oversight of uranium mines and mills, with a public hearing-based licensing process and annual reporting of operational safety and environmental performance. This represents a level of transparency and oversight practised by no other industry in Canada.”

Binder added, “BAPE’s recommendation not to proceed is based on the perceived lack of social acceptance and not on proven science.”

Quebec has no uranium mines. The former Parti Québécois government imposed a moratorium on uranium exploration in March 2013 following the James Bay Cree Nation’s opposition to Strateco Resources’ Matoush project. Saying it had spent $123 million on Matoush, the company launched legal action against the province and has since delisted from the TSX.

As the BAPE inquiry began last year, the Quebec Mineral Exploration Association called for the replacement of chairperson Louis-Gilles Francoeur, whom the association called a “former environmental journalist.”

A decision on BAPE’s recommendations will come from Quebec’s environment minister, who’ll review the report with a committee.

Equitas Resources deploys for Phase II exploration/drilling at its Garland nickel project

July 30th, 2015

by Greg Klein | July 30, 2015

With crew and equipment now en route, Phase II exploration begins next week at Equitas Resources’ (TSXV:EQT) Garland nickel-copper-cobalt project in Labrador. Located 30 kilometres south of Voisey’s Bay, the property underwent VTEM Plus airborne surveys earlier this year that found nine areas of anomalous conductivity prospective for Voisey’s-style mineralization.

Equitas Resources deploys for Phase II exploration/drilling at its Garland nickel project

The season starts with field work including mapping and prospecting, up to 30 line-kilometres of large loop UTEM 3 surveys and up to 4,000 metres of drilling.

Most of the conductive targets lie at the very limit of, or significantly deeper than detection limits of historic geophysics, Equitas stated. The company’s programs constitute the first modern exploration of the 25,050-hectare property, which had previously been fragmented by separate ownership.

Read more about Equitas Resources.

July 30th, 2015

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Some Robert Friedland riffs

July 29th, 2015

The “miner’s miner” talks commodities, jurisdictions, markets and majors

by Greg Klein

A “miner’s miner” was how Rick Rule introduced Robert Friedland. The founder and executive chairperson of Ivanhoe Mines TSX:IVN also serves as executive chair of the Sprott-Stansberry Natural Resource Symposium in Vancouver, where he delivered the opening day’s keynote speech on July 28. That was the original plan, anyway. Instead, a relaxed-looking Friedland eschewed a script to sit back and, in response to questions posed by Rule, discuss commodities, jurisdictional risk, markets and the problem with the majors.

Friedland’s favourite metals? They’re currently copper, platinum, palladium and zinc—stuff for which he sees bright futures and, not surprisingly, the stuff he’s currently pursuing. He also likes diamonds but considers himself “an agnostic on gold.”

The “miner’s miner” talks commodities, jurisdictions, markets and majors

A community group poses on Ivanhoe’s Platreef
project, expected for 2019 production.

“Copper is the metal if you believe in human advancement,” Friedland says. “Gold is the opposite.” Meanwhile this market has either hit bottom “or it’s the end of the world.” He says he’s never seen such a severe devaluation, with stocks “priced for Armageddon.”

He’s cynical of the prognosis industry. The media report obituaries for all commodities, disregarding the bullish case that Friedland sees for some metals. JP Morgan, he points out, couldn’t predict oil’s fall. Goldman Sachs’ forecasts come from “just two guys, they don’t really know, they go to the bathroom about as often as the rest of us.”

As for his own forecasts, Friedland sees economic recovery and growth, as well as specific mining opportunities because “you can’t have economic growth without copper.” He notes recovery in Europe and describes the U.S. undergoing a “slow, gentle, lousy recovery,” but a definite recovery just the same.

He considers the collapse of Chinese equity markets to be an issue separate from the country’s underlying economy. “It’s definitely not 1929 in China,” Friedland emphasizes. Run by a powerful boss, the country’s “command economy” continues to grow. Chinese hold huge personal savings. With a currency stronger than the U.S. dollar, the country now has its own de facto reserve currency.

Even if China’s economy grows 3% to 4% a year, “it’s still an enormous disruption.”

Getting back to commodities, he argues that Saudis killed the Alberta oilsands and devastated U.S. shale “but no one can do that to copper.” Friedland dismisses some copper miners as “little old ladies waiting to die,” saying some grades fall so low that companies are “practically mining air.”

Serious debt prevents most majors from building big copper mines, Friedland contends. Yet his Oyu Tolgoi discovery, “the world’s highest-grade copper mine,” will undergo major expansion following last May’s agreement between operator Rio Tinto NYE:RIO and the Mongolian government.

The long, painful process of building Oyu Tolgoi “was like a woman giving birth to a 20-kilogram baby.” But it’s high grades, not jurisdictions, that attract Friedland. In fact he sees jurisdictional risk everywhere.

But the Democratic Republic of Congo inspires him to say, “If I were a dry cleaner I’d work there.” Just the same, a deal announced in May with the Zijin Mining Group on Ivanhoe’s Kamoa copper discovery would help “defuse” jurisdictional risk thanks to China’s “very good relations” with the DRC. Once again Friedland finds very high grades—the world’s largest undeveloped high-grade copper discovery—as well as the cost benefits of a country with cheaper currency.

Ivanhoe’s other DRC project, the past-producing Kipushi mine, boasts world-class zinc grades as well as copper. As an additive for agricultural fertilizer, zinc has “an absolutely brilliant future,” Friedland says.

More high grades in South Africa’s Bushveld complex are complemented by the “ever-depreciating rand.” Friedland expects Ivanhoe’s majority-held Platreef to begin production by 2019, making it among the world’s largest platinum-palladium mines, as well as a producer of nickel, copper, gold and rhodium.

While other South African miners struggle with very deep, highly labour-intensive operations, Platreef will be shallower and mechanized. “No one has to lift more than a pencil.”

As a self-made success, Friedland denigrates those who run some of the world’s biggest companies. Pointing to the iron ore wars, he says the big players seem committed to “destroying each other through a war of attrition”

He says the people who run major miners “are just driving the bus.” Heads of companies like Anglo American and BHP Billiton NYE:BHP don’t hold significant stock positions in their companies, he claims. While majors struggled through the adversity of the last few years, boards blamed CEOs and fired them. Their replacements, Friedland insists, are “risk-averse.”

As for the guy who first hit the big time over 20 years ago at Voisey’s Bay, “I made my own money.”

The Sprott-Stansberry Vancouver Natural Resource Symposium continues to July 31.

July 29th, 2015

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Luisa Moreno explains why metallurgy is so important with critical metals projects Streetwise Reports
How do you get a $1-million portfolio? Equities Canada
Minerals hold up in slow oil and gas recovery Industrial Minerals

Media wrong about B.C. mine “shutdown,” says Banks Island Gold

July 28th, 2015

by Greg Klein | July 28, 2015

Update: On August 4 Banks Island announced mining had been suspended four days earlier and Yellow Giant would go on care and maintenance “until permitting and regulatory issues at the project are resolved and the company has sufficient working capital to re-commence operations.”

 

It might be one of those cases in which journalists doggedly stick to an inaccurate story. But the company could have been more responsive to interview requests.

Media wrong about B.C. mine “shutdown,” says Banks Island Gold

Banks says it’s one of the world’s few companies that successfully operates a dense media separation plant to pre-concentrate primary gold ore. Although some mining continues at Yellow Giant, plant operations have been suspended, the company states.

Late July 28 Banks Island Gold TSXV:BOZ denied recent media reports that its Yellow Giant mine has been closed. Production continues at the small-scale northwestern British Columbia operation, the company stated, although on a reduced basis.

According to a July 24 press release from Banks, the provincial Ministry of Environment slapped the underground gold mine with a pollution abatement order on July 10 following a spill that the company reported as “estimated at 240 cubic metres of water containing a total of one tonne of solids.” On July 16 B.C.’s Ministry of Mines issued a stop order on the mine’s plant “until a revised sediment control plan, water management plan and tailings management plan was provided to the chief inspector,” the company added. Banks said it provided the info by July 20.

But limited production continues by “crushing and bagging high-grade pyrrhotite derived from selective mining in development of the third level of the Discovery zone,” Banks stated on July 24.

The first “shutdown” media report might have been a July 23 Northern View story. The article actually referred not to a shutdown but to a “shutdown order.” The publication didn’t specify what the order referred to. By July 27 news outlets including the Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times Colonist were reporting that “the province has shut down” Yellow Giant.

The Sun repeated the claim the following day when it stated the mine “was shut down earlier this month by the B.C. Energy and Mining Ministry [sic] following an order by the B.C. Ministry of Environment to stop polluting.”

The Sun also stated, “The company will have to come up with a plan acceptable to the province before they [sic] can reopen, said [B.C.’s chief inspector of mines Al] Hoffman.”

But references to a shutdown are “incorrect,” Banks emphatically stated a few hours later. “The company is continuing processing of Tel [zone] mineralization but production has been significantly impacted by the events previous [sic] disclosed in our news releases.”

So if activities at Discovery and Tel constitute mining, those media reports are wrong. The Sun’s July 28 story, however, did say the company “has not responded to the Vancouver Sun’s requests for interviews this week.”

Nor did Northern View hear from Banks in time for its July 23 article, which stated a company rep “did not immediately return a request for comment.”

The July 27 article quoted an environment ministry spokesperson stating that there’s “no reason to believe that there would be any risk to humans or animals” from the spill.

The Sun has also reported that Environment Canada has begun an investigation into possible violations of the federal Fisheries Act and the Gitxaala Nation plans to launch legal action against the company and the province “to ensure environmental damage caused by the spill is cleaned up.”

July 28th, 2015

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