A mining and exploration retrospect for November 10 to 16, 2012
by Greg Klein
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Three dead in Mexican mining accidents
Three people died in two accidents at Canadian projects in Mexico this week. On Tuesday two contractors at AuRico Gold’s TSX:AUQ El Chanate open pit gold mine in Sonora state lost their lives “when a pressure vessel in one of the three separate ADR [adsorption, desorption and recovery] processing plants ruptured,” the company stated.
President/CEO Scott Perry said the accident “is incredibly distressing as the safety of our employees and contractors is the company’s highest priority and this incident is a tragic shock to everyone.”
Investigations are underway into both accidents.
Quebec’s Plan Nord: Who pays how much?
That question was hotly debated in last summer’s provincial election. The victorious Parti Quebecois argued that resource companies should pay significantly more for the huge infrastructure program that the previous Liberal government envisioned. But a Thursday announcement by Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY suggests Quebec’s minority government doesn’t intend to stray far from its predecessor’s plan—at least not for the time being.
Stornoway’s framework agreement and letter of intent with the province sees the government building a 143-kilometre extension from Route 167 in Quebec’s James Bay region. The company will use a government loan to build 97 kilometres of road from there to its Renard Diamond Project.
According to a Montreal Gazette article by Robert Gibbens, the deal differs little from a previous arrangement worked out with the previous government.
“Parti Quebecois Finance Minister Nicolas Manseau said the renegotiated road access pact will lead to $124 million of savings for Quebec taxpayers with Stornoway’s takeover of the final 97 kilometres,” Gibbens reported. “In fact, Stornoway is borrowing $77 million from the province to cover the single-lane road’s cost, amortized over 15 years at 3.35% interest. Total cost will be comparable with the old pact when Stornoway would have contributed $44 million.”
With its all-season road slated for completion in Q4 2013, the Route 167 extension would make Renard Canada’s first road-accessible diamond mine. Mine construction is scheduled to begin next year.
Relative calm, but uncertainty prevails in South Africa
The country’s major mining strikes have ended, Reuters stated on Thursday. “Around 80,000 South African miners or 15% of the workforce had been off the job at one point,” the news agency reported.
Doubt continues, however, regarding the viability of some mining operations. Additionally the National Union of Mineworkers, “which has delivered above-inflation wage hikes but contained militancy, has lost control over much of its rank and file, a source of concern to the ruling African National Congress and corporate bosses alike.”
Kitco News provided another Friday recap of the major companies affected. Strike-related violence has killed over 50 people so far.
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