Saturday 21st July 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘british columbia’

Commerce Resources president Chris Grove sees promise in B.C. tantalum-niobium as well as Quebec rare earths

May 14th, 2018

…Read more

Jobs, revenues, share prices benefit as higher commodity prices boost B.C. mining

May 11th, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 11, 2018

Jobs, revenues, share prices benefit as higher commodity prices boost B.C. mining

A 75%/25% partnership of Copper Mountain Mining TSX:CMMC and Mitsubishi
Materials brought a former mine back into production, employing 430 workers.

 

The bull’s still not back but higher commodity prices continue to sustain a mood of cautious optimism among British Columbia miners, PricewaterhouseCoopers assures us. Its 50th annual report on B.C. mining sketched a broad picture of the province’s industry by surveying 13 companies, focusing on 15 operating mines, a smelter and seven projects in the exploration, permitting or environmental review stage.

Among survey participants, gross revenue hit $11.7 billion in 2017, a 35% jump from the previous year and reflecting an upward trend in the mining cycle. (Except for commodity prices, all figures are given in Canadian dollars.) Governments scooped up $859 million in total mining revenues from those companies last year, compared with $650 million in 2016.

Shareholders fared especially well, reaping 31.1% pre-tax gains from the companies involved, compared with 13.5% in 2016 and 6.3% in 2015. “This is the highest return we’ve seen in recent years and it has surpassed the historic high levels of 2012,” PwC stated.

Direct employment among the companies climbed to 10,196 jobs, compared with 9,329 in 2016 and 9,221 in 2015. PwC attributed most of the increase to Conuma Coal Resources’ two operating mines in the northeast.

Indeed, the participants’ metallurgical coal revenue rose to $5.2 billion from $3 billion in 2016 and $2 billion in 2015. Prices averaged $173 a tonne last year, up from $115 in 2016 and $101 in 2015. At a 50% increase over 2016, the steelmaking stuff struck the highest price increase of any commodity included in the report.

Revenue from copper concentrate came to nearly $1.9 billion, after $1.8 billion in 2016 and $2 billion in 2015. Average red metal prices rose 27% to $2.80 a pound, compared with $2.21 in 2016 and $2.50 in 2015.

Despite a slight decrease in shipments, a 38% price increase lifted participants’ zinc revenue to $1.2 billion, compared with $877 million in 2016 and $818 million the previous year. Prices swelled to an average $1.31 a pound, compared with $0.95 in 2016 and $0.87 in 2015.

Participants’ gold revenues rose to $829 million from $651 million in 2016 and $519 million in 2015. Although B.C. produces the yellow metal largely as a copper byproduct, the 2017 increase largely came from Pretium Resources’ (TSX:PVG) Brucejack mine, which began commercial production that year. Average prices underwhelmed, however, at $1,259 an ounce, although slightly less depressed than the $1,248 in 2016 and $1,160 in 2015.

Silver revenues slipped to $509 million from $589 million the previous year and $535 million in 2015. Average prices wallowed around $17.08 an ounce, compared with $17.11 in 2016, up from $15.71 in 2015. B.C. mines generally garner silver as a byproduct of metals like copper, gold, lead and zinc.

As for lead, it dropped to $224 million in revenues from $255 million the previous year, despite prices rising to $1.05 a pound from $0.85 in 2016.

Molybdenum more than doubled to $104 million from $45 million in 2016 and $51 million in 2015, thanks to higher volumes and prices, which reached $7.07 a pound from $6.37 in 2016.

[The return on shares for participating companies] is the highest return we’ve seen in recent years and it has surpassed the historic high levels of 2012.

Saying “the worst may be over,” PwC stated: “Many in the industry haven’t felt this positive since it was recovering from the fallout of the 2008-09 global financial crisis. There’s cautious optimism the industry will continue to recover.”

But a warning came from an otherwise upbeat Bryan Cox, president of the Mining Association of B.C.: “Mining projects are capital-intensive, multi-year commitments, from exploration to mine development and operation, necessitating clarity, consistency and co-ordination from governments for investors to deploy capital. If any one of those three Cs is missing, then capital investment is at risk.”

This marks PwC’s 50th such report since 1967, when “Lester B. Pearson was Canada’s prime minister, W.A.C. Bennett was the premier of British Columbia and [get this!] the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. As for mining, in 1967 the price of gold was about $35 per ounce, copper was trading around $0.50 per pound and the Britannia mine, now a museum, was still producing copper, gold, silver and other metals and minerals.”

Download 50 years on… The mining industry in British Columbia 2017.

Have your say on the BCSC’s proposed fee hikes

May 1st, 2018

by Greg Klein | May 1, 2018

Some hefty cost increases now seem likely for British Columbia’s investment industry, but the B.C. Securities Commission’s giving participants a chance to comment. These would be the first such raises since 1994, according to the agency, which says it “funds its operations entirely from fees paid by market participants and receives no government or taxpayer funding.” Written comments will be accepted up to May 31.

“People need to have confidence that securities markets are being regulated appropriately,” said executive director Peter Brady. “With increased funding, the BCSC can expand its work on critical regulatory priorities, including hiring significantly more criminal investigators.”

Late last year a series of articles by Postmedia journalist Gordon Hoekstra slammed the commission for lax enforcement against serial scammers and others with unpaid fines but substantial assets. The BCSC has a staff of 234 and a budget of $46.6 million, Hoekstra reported.

Apart from beefing up enforcement and fine collection, a bigger budget would help address “regulatory challenges” including new marketplaces, rapid fintech innovation, increased cyber risk, increased private market capital raising and over-the-counter derivatives regulation, the BCSC stated.

Possibly reflecting a newly found frugality, the BCSC got through this year’s Fraud Awareness Month without producing a music video, as the agency did in 2017 and 2016.

Click here to see BCSC staff salaries for fiscal year 2014 to 2015.

Proven provenance

April 20th, 2018

B.C. tantalum-niobium enhance Commerce Resources’ essential metals portfolio

by Greg Klein

Not just inadequate reserves but dubious origins threaten security of supply for strategic commodities. A prime example is niobium, a largely single-source product from CBMM in Brazil that gives one company and one country enormous potential power. Tantalum raises further concerns as it passes through shadowy supply lines that could obscure conflict sources. Both metals appear on the recent U.S. draft list of 35 critical minerals. And both appear in substantial quantities in one east-central British Columbia deposit.

That brings additional interest to Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE, best-known for its Ashram rare earths deposit in northern Quebec. While that project moves towards pre-feasibility, the company’s Blue River property in B.C. offers advantageous resources, metallurgy, infrastructure and economics for the rare metals age, says company president Chris Grove.

Industry has noticed, evident in the inquiries he’s received from end-users.

“We’re very excited about the new interest in Blue River,” he says. “Companies are looking at the provenance of these commodities and the new executive order signed by President Trump focuses on the origin of these critical commodities, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity to be seen for Blue River.”

The property’s Upper Fir deposit boasts a resource effective February 2015 based on 271 holes totalling 59,100 metres:

  • indicated: 48.41 million tonnes averaging 197 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,610 ppm Nb2O5 for 9,560 tonnes Ta2O5 and 77,810 tonnes Nb2O5

  • inferred: 5.4 million tonnes averaging 191 ppm Ta2O5 and 1,760 ppm Nb2O5 for 1,000 tonnes Ta2O5 and 9,600 tonnes Nb2O5

At this stage, processing looks good. Tantalum and niobium “occur within the minerals pyrochlore and ferrocolumbite and are amenable to conventional flotation and proven refining processes with estimated recoveries of 65% to 70%,” the 43-101 stated. “The industrial processes proposed for the production of high-quality tantalum and niobium products from the concentrates have not been tested using material from the Blue River project but are known processes that are not expected to be difficult to develop for the project.”

Tantalum and niobium enhance Commerce Resources’ essential metals portfolio

Those qualities alone encourage optimism for production costs, Grove points out. But a more recent development suggests even greater potential savings to both capex and opex. In February the company announced successful processing through a patented method called the Krupin Process. That followed months of work on a 1,300-kilogram sample of Blue River material at the Estonian lab of Alexander Krupin. An expert in tantalum and niobium recovery, his CV shows more than 35 years’ experience, including over 15 years processing high-grade concentrates of those two metals.

But it took another expert to confirm the results. To that end Commerce dispatched chairperson Axel Hoppe to Krupin’s lab. Formerly president of the Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center and a senior manager at H.C. Starck, a global producer of tantalum and niobium products, Hoppe “confirmed a very significant new development in processing that should save significantly on costs,” Grove says.

As a result, Commerce is now working on a definitive agreement to incorporate the Krupin Process at Blue River and also acquire worldwide rights to the method.

Covering 105,373 hectares, the property sits about 250 highway kilometres north of Kamloops, with access from another four klicks of gravel road. CN rail tracks and a parallel high-voltage transmission line cross the property’s western side, while a 20 MW run-of-river hydro plant operates adjacent to Blue River.

With niobium in a location like that, Blue River has attracted “huge interest from the steel sector,” Grove says. As electronics manufacturers take a closer look at some of the Democratic Republic of Congo mines that supply their cobalt, tantalum’s due for similar scrutiny, he adds.

Meanwhile, highly impressive niobium-tantalum assays from Commerce’s Quebec property have spawned an early-stage exploration project. Samples have graded as high as 4.24%, 4.3% and even 5.93% Nb2O5, as well as 1,040 ppm, 1,060 ppm and 1,220 ppm Ta2O5. The exceptional grades prompted Saville Resources TSXV:SRE to sign a 75% earn-in for the Niobium Claim Group on the Eldor property that also hosts Commerce’s advanced-stage Ashram rare earths deposit. Saville now has a 43-101 technical report underway. Dependent on TSXV approval of the deal and subsequent funding, the company plans drilling this year.

Interestingly it was Saville president Mike Hodge who staked the Blue River claims, after Dahrouge Geological Consulting brought the property to the attention of Commerce. Now a former Dahrouge geologist currently with the B.C. Geological Survey plans a public site visit to Blue River. Alexei Rukhlov will co-lead the June 22-24 field trip, an event open to participants of Resources for Future Generations 2018. Click here for more info.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Blue River site visit open to Resources for Future Generations participants

April 20th, 2018

(From the B.C. Geological Survey)

Upper Fir carbonatite-hosted Nb-Ta deposit in the Blue River area, east-central British Columbia

 

Friday, June 22 to Sunday, June 24

Sponsored by the Mineralogical Association of Canada

Leaders: Alexei S. Rukhlov (British Columbia Geological Survey) and Thomas C. Chudy (Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, University of British Columbia)

Cost: $1160. Includes transportation, accommodation, meals and guidebook.

(This site visit is open to registered participants of Resources for Future Generations 2018 in Vancouver.)

Widespread Late Paleozoic carbonatites in the Canadian Cordillera are unusual. In contrast to most carbonatites, which are restricted to intracratonic regions, they were emplaced in a more active setting, along the western margin of Laurentia. The Upper Fir carbonatite complex (330 Ma) hosts one of the largest Nb-Ta deposits in the Cordillera, with unusual, Ta-rich pyrochlore associated with ferrocolumbite, other Nb minerals, and locally coarse molybdenite.

Upper Fir carbonatite-hosted Nb-Ta deposit in the Blue River area, east-central British Columbia

Participants will examine drill-core sections and outcrops of metacarbonatites, related metasomatic rocks, syntectonic pegmatites, enclosing (semi)pelites and amphibolites of the Mica Creek assemblage (750-550 Ma) and Mesozoic-Cenozoic structures related to the Cordilleran orogeny. We will consider the tectono-metamorphic overprinting of igneous features in the Upper Fir carbonatites, as recorded by paragenetic relationships, mineral chemistry, recrystallization and retrograde mylonitization.

Stops along the route from Vancouver to Blue River will offer participants the opportunity to observe key outcrops representing several Cordilleran terranes. A helicopter will ferry participants from the North Thompson valley to the deposit. Participants should be prepared for inclement weather and to walk about 2 km on rugged trails and excavated sites.

For more information please contact Alexei Rukhlov (British Columbia Geological Survey): Alexei.Rukhlov@gov.bc.ca.

See more Resources for Future Generations field trips.

Saville Resources and Commerce Resources announce 4.3% niobium, 700 ppm tantalum from northern Quebec

April 12th, 2018

by Greg Klein | April 12, 2018

While preparations continue for this year’s drill program, additional high-grade niobium-tantalum sample assays have arrived from northern Quebec’s Niobium Claim Group. On April 12 Saville Resources TSXV:SRE and Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE reported grades as high as 4.3% Nb2O5 and 700 ppm Ta2O5 from the new project, situated on the latter company’s Eldor property. Saville has signed a 75% earn-in agreement on the claim group, which sits a few kilometres from Ashram, one of the Western world’s most advanced rare earths deposits. Commerce has that project advancing towards pre-feasibility.

Saville Resources and Commerce Resources announce 4.3% niobium, 700 ppm tantalum from northern Quebec

High grades from last fall’s sampling program have Saville
and Commerce looking forward to an upcoming drill campaign.

The results fall in line with previous high grades from the project’s Miranna area of 4.24% and an especially impressive 5.93% Nb2O5. Previous tantalum assays from Miranna have reached as high as 1,220 ppm, 1,060 ppm and 1,040 ppm Ta2O5.

The Northwest area gave up the richest sample, which reached 16.1% Nb2O5 and 7,540 ppm Ta2O5.

Collected by Commerce last year from the Miranna area, the most recent results show:

  • 4.3% Nb2O5, 240 ppm Ta2O5 and 13.4% P2O5

  • 2.75% Nb2O5, 130 ppm Ta2O5 and 7.6% P2O5

  • 2.24% Nb2O5, 290 ppm Ta2O5 and 11.6% P2O5

  • 0.69% Nb2O5, 350 ppm Ta2O5 and 8.8% P2O5

  • 0.75% Nb2O5, 660 ppm Ta2O5 and 14.2% P2O5

  • 1.18% Nb2O5, 590 ppm Ta2O5 and 13.1% P2O5

  • 1.16% Nb2O5, 700 ppm Ta2O5 and 0.65% P2O5

Miranna forms one of three prospective areas, along with the Northwest and Southeast areas. Miranna features a strongly mineralized boulder train which, a geophysical anomaly called the Miranna target suggests, might have its source partly on the property. The data indicates several overlapping boulder trains might also be present, with one possible source in the Southeast area.

Additional work shows the primary host mineral to be pyrochlore, the dominant source mineral for processing niobium and tantalum.

The upcoming drill program will focus on the Miranna target, as well as testing the Northwest and Southeast areas. Contingent on TSXV approval of Saville’s earn-in, the companies plan to file a 43-101 technical report on the project.

Earlier this month Saville closed the second tranche of a private placement totalling $289,700.

In addition to Ashram, Commerce holds the Blue River tantalum-niobium deposit in southeastern British Columbia, which reached PEA in 2011 and a resource update in 2013.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Read more about Commerce Resources.

Pamela McDonald of the B.C. Securities Commission warns that some sales pitches are too good to be true

April 3rd, 2018

…Read more

Jonathan Buchanan of the Association for Mineral Exploration comments on B.C.’s substantial increase in activity

March 29th, 2018

…Read more

Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6%; Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

March 14th, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 14, 2018

It’s hardly a boom time scenario but mineral exploration within Canada should see a healthy 6% spending increase this year, according to recent federal government figures. Info supplied by companies shows an estimated total of $2.238 billion planned for exploration and deposit appraisal this year, compared with $2.111 billion in 2017. The second annual increase in a row, it’s far less dramatic than last year’s 29.6% leap.

Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6% Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

The Natural Resources Canada survey compares preliminary numbers for metals and non-metals from last year with projected budgets for 2018.

Together Quebec and Ontario account for more than half the spending, with la belle province getting 27.3% of last year’s total and 29.3% of this year’s, while Ontario got 24.9% and 26.5%.

Some runners-up were British Columbia (12.2% of Canada’s total in 2017 and 13% in 2018), Saskatchewan (9% and 7.4%) and Yukon (7.8% and 7.7%).

Proportionately Manitoba enjoyed the greatest increase, a 42% jump from $38.5 million to $54.7 million, in a performance at odds with the province’s most recent Fraser Institute ranking. Less spectacularly but still impressive, the figures show Quebec climbing 13.9% from $576.5 million to $656.7 million. British Columbia gets a 12.9% increase from $257.7 million to $290.9 million, and Ontario 12.7% from $526.2 million to $593 million.

Some disappointments include Saskatchewan, falling 13% from $189.9 million to $165.1 million. Nunavut plunged 34.6% from $169.3 million to $110.7 million.

Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.—Gary Vivian, president, NWT and
Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Addressing the territory’s performance along with its neighbour’s 10% drop, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Gary Vivian said, “Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.”

Combining figures for mine complex development with exploration and deposit appraisal, this year’s projected country-wide total rises 8.9% to $14.9 billion, the highest number in the four years of data released in this survey.

Commodities getting the most money are precious metals, although at a nearly 1.5% decrease to $1.35 billion this year from $1.37 billion last year. A more drastic drop was uranium, down 23.4% to $103.7 million. Base metals saw a 38.4% surge to $406.9 million. Coal’s projected for a 31.1% boost to $70.8 million.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenses considered for the survey include field work, engineering, economics, feasibility studies, the environment, land access and associated general expenses. Natural Resources Canada did not consider work for extensions of known reserves.

Recent studies from PricewaterhouseCoopers showed a marked improvement in junior mining company finances and a relatively stable, if cautious, ambience for more senior Canadian companies.

Covering a different period with different methodology than Natural Resources Canada, a study by EY, the B.C. government and the Association for Mineral Exploration calculated a 20% increase in B.C. exploration spending from 2016 to 2017.

See the Natural Resources Canada survey here.

Fraud Awareness Month begins amid criticism of lax enforcement against serial scammers

March 7th, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 7, 2018

Education more than deterrence seems to be the focus of Canadian securities commissions as Fraud Awareness Month begins. Two series of articles by Postmedia and the Globe and Mail reveal numerous examples of con artists evading administrative penalties and criminal charges, leaving victims powerless to recover losses.

Fraud Awareness Month begins amid criticism of lax enforcement against serial scammers

The British Columbia Securities Commission kicked off the annual awareness campaign by releasing results of a survey. The people most susceptible to investment scams, the poll found, are millennials. Over 500 respondents were tested on their reaction to a fictional investment offer that guaranteed no-risk returns of 14% to 25%.

“Although the claim contains several investment fraud warning signs, 26% of respondents said the offer was ‘worth looking into,’” the BCSC reported. “More troubling, 20% of the respondents who would look into the offer said they were interested because they need the money, indicating even greater vulnerability.”

Adults aged 18 to 34 showed the greatest naiveté, with 47% of women and 35% of men that age expressing interest. Just 13% of people 55 years and over gave similar answers, a decline from 26% in a similar 2012 study.

“Investors should always be skeptical of anyone offering a risk-free investment with an unusually high return, because there’s no such thing,” warned BCSC director of communications and education Pamela McDonald. “We encourage investors to look carefully at every investment they make, but also to listen to your gut. If something doesn’t make sense, or doesn’t feel right, we encourage you to contact the BCSC.”

The admonition follows criticism of weak enforcement by the BCSC and its counterparts. In December the Globe and Mail’s Grant Robertson and Tom Cardoso reported their analysis of 30 years of regulatory records, finding one in nine people pronounced guilty of securities fraud go on to re-offend, some even defying multiple lifetime trading bans through aliases and “jurisdiction-hopping.” Ill-gotten gains can far exceed penalties, which at any rate often remain unenforced.

In November a Postmedia series by Gordon Hoekstra reported numerous cases of uncollected BCSC fines and payback orders on scammers who in some cases continue to hold significant assets. Others transfer assets with relative ease.

Between the fiscal years ending in 2008 and 2017, Hoekstra stated, the BCSC collected less than 2% of $510 million in fines and payback orders. The Ontario Securities Commission did somewhat better, collecting 18% over the last decade.

In a December response to the Globe and Mail, the Canadian Securities Administrators stated that securities commissions are limited to pursuing administrative cases, with police responsible for criminal matters. But last month Hoekstra reported examples of Vancouver police and RCMP refusing to investigate fraud allegations. Vancouver cops say they typically refer cases of investment fraud to the BCSC. The RCMP declined to investigate another example on the grounds that it was a BCSC matter.

In another February story, Hoekstra revealed the BCSC “quietly” stayed more than $35 million of penalties regarding nine cases following a B.C. Court of Appeal decision on a pump-and-dump operation.