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USGS: Possibility of supply disruption more critical than ever

April 5th, 2017

by Greg Klein | April 5, 2017

USGS: Possibility of supply disruption more critical than ever

Many and various are the sources of smartphone minerals.
(Map: U.S. Geological Survey)

 

In another article warning of foreign dependency, the U.S. Geological Survey uses smartphones as a cautionary example. Looking back 30 years ago, “‘portable’ phones were the size of a shoebox and consisted of 25 to 30 elements,” pointed out Larry Meinert of the USGS. “Today they fit in your pocket or on your wrist and are made from about 75 different elements, almost three-quarters of the periodic table.”

USGS: Possibility of supply disruption more critical than ever

Smartphones now require nearly 75% of the periodic
table of the elements. (Graphic: Jason Burton, USGS)

The increasing sophistication of portable communications results from a “symphony of electronics and chemistry” that includes, for example, “household names like silicon, which is used for circuit boards, or graphite used in batteries. Then there are lesser known substances like bastnasite, monazite and xenotime. These brownish minerals contain neodymium, one of the rare earth elements used in the magnets that allow smartphone speakers to play music and the vibration motor that notifies you of new, funny cat videos on social media,” the USGS stated.

Almost as varied are the sources. “For instance, the industrial sand used to make the quartz in smartphone screens may come from the United States or China, but the potassium added to enhance screen strength could come from Canada, Russia or Belarus. Australia, Chile and Argentina often produce the lithium used in battery cathodes, while the hard-to-come-by tantalum—used in smartphone circuitry—mostly comes from Congo, Rwanda and Brazil.”

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are also sources of conflict minerals.

“With minerals being sourced from all over the world, the possibility of supply disruption is more critical than ever,” Meinert emphasized.

The April 4 article follows a previous USGS report on an early warning system used by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency to monitor supply threats. In January the USGS released a list of 20 minerals for which the country relies entirely on imports. Whether or not by design, the recent awareness campaign coincides with a bill before U.S. Congress calling on government to support the development of domestic deposits and supply chains for critical minerals.

See an illustrated USGS report: A World of Minerals in Your Mobile Device.

Read about the West’s dependence on non-allied countries for critical minerals here and here.

U.S. increases its dependence on critical mineral imports

January 31st, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 31, 2017

U.S. increases its dependence on critical mineral imports

China stands out in a map showing major sources of non-fuel mineral
commodities of which the U.S. imported more than 50% of its supply in 2016.
(Graphic: U.S. Geological Survey)

 

Lacking any domestic sources at all, the United States imported 100% of its supply of 20 minerals last year, the USGS reports. That number increased from 19 the previous year and 11 in 1984. Included in the 2016 list were rare earths, manganese and niobium, “which are among a suite of materials often designated as ‘critical’ or ‘strategic’ because they are essential to the economy and their supply may be disrupted.”

U.S. increases its dependence on critical mineral imports

Imports of rare earth compounds and metals increased 6% over 2015, although the value dropped from $160 million to $120 million. China supplied 72% directly, with other imports coming from Estonia (7%), France (5%), Japan (5%) and other countries (11%).

But the Estonian, French and Japanese material was derived from concentrates produced in China and elsewhere, the USGS added.

American imports of tantalum increased about 40% over 2015. The USGS attributed about 37% of 2016 global production to the Democratic Republic of Congo and 32% to Rwanda. Estimates reverse those numbers for the previous year.

An alphabetical list of the 20 minerals follows, with rare earths, scandium and yttrium each comprising a separate category:

  • arsenic
  • asbestos
  • cesium
  • fluorspar
  • gallium
  • graphite
  • indium
  • manganese
  • mica
  • niobium
  • quartz crystal
  • rare earths
  • rubidium
  • scandium
  • strontium
  • tantalum
  • thallium
  • thorium
  • vanadium
  • yttrium

The report listed 50 minerals for which the U.S. imported over half of its supply. Overall China was the largest exporter, with Canada running second.

U.S. doubles Kazakhstan uranium imports as domestic purchases plummet

October 6th, 2015

by Greg Klein | October 6, 2015

U.S. doubles Kazakhstan uranium imports as domestic purchases plummet

(Chart: U.S. Energy Information Administration)

 

The world’s largest producer of nuclear energy relied increasingly on Kazakhstan for uranium last year, as purchases from domestic suppliers plunged 65%. According to figures supplied by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on October 5, Kazakhstan sold the U.S. about 12 million pounds U3O8 last year, 23% of the 53.3 million pounds purchased. Imports from Kazakhstan nearly doubled over 2013.

American supply fell to 3.3 million pounds from the 2013 total of 9.5 million pounds. While domestic purchases languished at 6% of the total, imports from Australia and Canada followed Kazakhstan closely with 19.7% and 18.3% respectively.

U.S. doubles Kazakhstan uranium imports as domestic purchases plummet

Kazakhstan’s government-owned Kazatomprom
is the world’s largest uranium supplier.

Purchases don’t necessarily reflect production, however. American mine output increased to 4.23 million pounds uranium in 2014 from 3.95 million the previous year, according to the World Nuclear Association.

“Average Kazakh uranium prices have been lower than other major supplying countries’ prices for the past two years,” the EIA noted. “Uranium from Kazakhstan was $44.47 per pound in 2014, compared with the overall weighted-average price of $46.65 per pound for the 41.3 million pounds of uranium purchased from producers outside Kazakhstan in 2014.”

That country overtook Canada as the world’s leading uranium producer in 2009. Since 2007 its uranium production has more than tripled, while Canadian production has been relatively constant and Australian output dropped 42%, the EIA stated.

Australia’s 19.7% of the U.S. total represented a slight drop to 10.5 million pounds U3O8 from the previous year’s 10.7 million pounds. Australia’s 2014 weighted-average price came to $48.03.

Running a close third, Canada’s 18.3% marked an increase to 9.8 million pounds from 7.8 million pounds in 2013. Canada’s 2014 weighted-average price was $45.87.

World Nuclear Association data from 2013 credits Kazakhstan with 41% of world production, followed by Canada with 16% and Australia with 9%.

The U.S. holds top place for global nuclear energy, producing about 30% of the world total, according to the WNA. In 2014, 100 reactors generated over 19% of the country’s electricity. The U.S. now has 99 reactors in operation and another five under construction.

China has likely reached peak graphite: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

December 15th, 2014

by Greg Klein | December 15, 2014

Production from the world’s largest supplier of natural graphite dropped to a record low in 2014, according to a December note from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. After hitting a high of 85% of global supply in 2013, China fell to 70% this year, writes Benchmark analyst Simon Moores. Over the next three to five years the country’s output will continue falling to about 50% or 60% of world production. That means “we have likely seen peak graphite supply in China.”

Although demand from the steelmaking industry should continue to grow between 1% and 3% a year, batteries will call for five to 10 times as much graphite, Moores adds. He asks whether consumers will turn to synthetic material to make up the shortfall.

But the market’s currently oversupplied with both natural and synthetic, according to Laura Syrett of Industrial Minerals. Reporting from the Graphite and Graphene Conference in Berlin on December 12, she attributed the glut to a three-year slowdown in steelmaking and slower-than-expected growth in the battery industry.

Still, “growth will come from the battery market,” she quoted Asbury Graphite Mills CEO Stephen Riddle. “This will be from batteries used in electric vehicles and energy storage—not cell phones or iPads. These don’t use enough graphite.”

Synthetic graphite could claim a larger share of the market despite its price, said Fabrizio Corti, senior VP for sales and business development at Imerys Graphite and Carbon. “Only a very small proportion of the graphite we have today is suitable for high-end markets and even this requires heavy processing.”

With natural graphite producers wasting about 60% of volume to create battery-grade material, natural and synthetic costs roughly the same, he told the conference.

Two former flake graphite mines re-opened in 2014, Syrett pointed out. Last April AIM-listed StratMin Global Resources began commercial production at its Loharano mine in Madagascar. In August Flinders Resources TSXV:FDR produced the first concentrate from its Woxna mine in central Sweden.

Flinders has signed a binding letter agreement to acquire Big North Graphite TSXV:NRT, which holds a number of projects in Canada and Mexico including Nuevo San Pedro in Sonora state, a joint venture in which the company test-mines and sells amorphous graphite.

A Canadian REE powerhouse?

July 24th, 2014

It might be closer than you think, says the Canadian Rare Earth Elements Network

by Greg Klein

Now here’s an ambitious goal—for Canada to supply 20% of the world’s critical REEs by 2018. That’s the target set by the Canadian Rare Earth Elements Network, at the impetus of exploration companies among its membership. While CREEN chairperson Ian London concedes the plan might not be fulfilled so soon, he emphasizes that Canada has about a third of the non-Chinese world’s advanced rare earths projects, more than a third of the world’s known critical rare earths resources and a greater degree of rare earths expertise than many people realize.

A Canadian REE powerhouse might be closer than you think, according to the Canadian Rare Earth Elements Network

The 2018 target was set a year ago, based on the fact that Canada has nine rare earths projects that have reached at least a preliminary economic assessment. “But if financing doesn’t happen, the projects aren’t going to proceed per the schedule,” London tells ResourceClips.com. Even so, the nine projects comprise “one-third of the best REE opportunities in the world,” he maintains.

And, despite the near cut-throat competition of junior explorers, at least some of the companies holding those projects actually co-operate with each other. That was another ambitious CREEN goal, but one that’s already been achieved.

CREEN describes its membership as “mining companies, academia, government, research centres, consulting firms and other organizations that are working together to develop innovative solutions to the various challenges faced by this sector.”

“We had a technical workshop about a month ago where I convened a meeting of about 35 technical leaders from the prospective producers and consulting engineering firms,” London says. “When the technical leaders and their consultants, many of whom have worked on several projects, got talking, by the end of the day they identified about 21 areas on which they shared some common issues and short-listed five prospective research projects.”

No CEOs were present. “When you get engineers talking, without any sort of corporate protocol, they actually speak the same language. CREEN has a technical advisory committee and we structured it so you roll up your sleeves and examine some hypotheses. Then you find engineers and scientists like solving problems.”

A former president/CEO of Ontario Hydro International, London holds a degree in metallurgical engineering as well as an MBA. He’s also worked with several new technology and alternative energy companies.

A Canadian REE powerhouse might be closer than you think, according to the Canadian Rare Earth Elements Network

The multi-stage continuous flotation unit at the Saskatchewan Research Council’s pilot plant is “ideally suited for rare earths separation.”
(Photo: SRC)

“I’ve been in this sector for eight years and I’m amazed at the number of individuals working on rare earths-related process technologies or applications at different universities that nobody knows about. There’s a scientist here, or an engineer there, who’s working on a PhD and is moving forward. But there was no forum for them to get together.”

Rare earths expertise in Canada and elsewhere in the West is further ahead than commonly perceived, London argues. “But it’s disjointed. There are experts at different Canadian universities who I’m not sure have ever spoken to each other because they have different areas of specialization. One would be on beneficiation, one would be on hydrometallurgy, one would be on separation. By establishing CREEN, we gave them a platform so they could get together and we now have a common goal.”

Actual mining should inspire even greater interest, he says. “If you get into production, you now have a playground for academics. It’s nice to do studies, but they want something to work on.”

Rare earths processing is “more chemistry than it is metallurgy or traditional processing,” London adds. “But we have a lot of smart guys who are comfortable with metallurgy and chemistry.”

One CREEN member, the Saskatchewan Research Council, operates a Saskatoon pilot plant that it calls “one of the few centres in Canada with an emphasis on rare earth minerals.” SRC chief geoscientist Bryan Schreiner tells ResourceClips.com, “There are other labs across the country that can do rare earths work too, but we’re emphasizing that as a major component for our pilot plant.”

The facility is intended to develop new and improved methods for processing a surprising array of minerals including potash, uranium, gold, base metals, coal, oilsands and oil shale. “We built this very modular so we can reconfigure the components of the equipment and develop a different process plant depending on what the mineral is,” Schreiner explains. “In particular we have a continuous flotation machine that’s ideally suited for rare earths separation.”

A Canadian REE powerhouse might be closer than you think, according to the Canadian Rare Earth Elements Network

Ian London

London says Canada also benefits from “tremendous relationships around the world.” In 2012 Canada’s Metallurgy and Materials Society asked London to organize one of the world’s first international symposiums on rare earths processing. It received 44 papers from nine countries. “Last year we had 53 papers from 17 countries—10 from China,” he points out. “They’ve been published in a book. If you keep it at a technical level, people will talk. The rare metals sector tends to be market-driven—what your shares are worth, how much money you can raise. But we’re at the stage now where there are Indians working with the Chinese, with Canadians and Americans.”

This year’s symposium takes place at COM14 in Vancouver from September 28 to October 1.

As for China, it not only holds much of the world’s expertise but it’s often estimated to provide about 90% of global supply—or even 95% according to evidence heard by a Canadian parliamentary committee. Mining analyst Luisa Moreno attributes about 36% of the world’s resources to China, but they’re diminishing. Recent reports from that country, meanwhile, show no easing of export restrictions.

The two Western sources, Molycorp’s (NYE:MCP) Mountain Pass mine in California and Lynas’ Mount Weld in Australia, “are both struggling,” London says. “More importantly, they’re primarily light rare earths. We have a unique advantage in the amount of critical rare earths we have.”

“The world wants alternative sources of supply. What they’re also looking for is the brains to go along with it. The Chinese created hundreds of thousands of jobs around the industry because the world buys their products, their technology.”

But he sees a limit to vertical integration at home. “Canada’s not fooling itself into thinking we’re going to be a magnet-maker to the world. We can provide separated rare earths and further downstream processed metals, and let others focus their attention on refining it into magnetic alloys, or magnets or phosphors, and together we can have supply chains.”

Over the next three years CREEN’s near-term goal is to support opportunities to place Canada as a key rare earths producer. Looking three to 10 years ahead, the organization wants to encourage further technological development, downstream processing, new applications and highly qualified personnel.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s clearly an opportunity,” London says.

Read more about Canadian rare earths research.

Canadian, Aussie juniors lead mining exploration in Chile

February 3rd, 2014

by Cecilia Jamasmie | February 3, 2014 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

A total of 123 junior mining companies are exploring for minerals in Chile, the world’s top copper producer, reveals the latest survey conducted by the country’s copper commission, Cochilco.

Canadian, Aussie juniors lead mining exploration in Chile

The report shows that, together, these firms hold over 200 mining projects, which are at the exploration stage.

Canadian juniors lead the way, with 37% of the foreign firms present in the South American country. They are followed closely by Australians, which make up 23% of the total. Local juniors account for 11% and Americans for 9% of the total.

Most of the projects, 87% of them, are located in the north, being the mineral-rich Atacama region.

Big miners, small wins

While the junior sector keeps attracting foreign investment, about $40 billion worth of large-scale projects have been put on ice or postponed to date, according to a report released in January by Chile’s national mining society, SONAMI.

Despite the significant amount of delayed and blocked investments, the influential lobby group says its overall forecast for $100 billion investment in the Chilean mining industry for the next 10 to 12 years is still intact.

Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Athabasca Basin and beyond

November 3rd, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for October 26 to November 1, 2013

by Greg Klein

Next Page 1 | 2

Alpha/Fission hit 5.98% U3O8 over 17.5 metres, including 19.51% over 5.5 metres

With so many scintillometer results announced already, assays for the same holes can be anti-climactic. But that’s the way Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU and Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW have orchestrated their Patterson Lake South campaign, now giving observers a near sense of déjà vu. Assays from four holes announced October 29 add little to the news of August 8, although results from the lab are much more reliable than those from the hand-held radiation-detecting gizmo. The assays come from R00E, the farthest southwest of the project’s five zones.

Hole PLS13-074

  • 0.13% uranium oxide (U3O8) over 2.5 metres, starting at 65 metres in downhole depth

PLS13-076

  • 0.09% over 2 metres, starting at 178.5 metres

  • 0.08% over 1.5 metres, starting at 183 metres

  • 0.16% over 4.5 metres, starting at 186.5 metres

PLS13-077

  • 0.39% over 11.5 metres, starting at 59 metres

  • 0.13% over 15.5 metres, starting at 73 metres

PLS13-079

  • 5.98% over 17.5 metres, starting at 83 metres

  • (including 19.51% over 5 metres) (Update: On November 4 the JV partners corrected the intercept width from 5.5 metres to 5 metres.)

True widths were unavailable. Three of the holes were vertical, while 079 dipped at -75 degrees. That hole expands the zone’s high-grade southern area, the companies stated, while all four holes confirm R00E’s east-west strike at 165 metres. The zone remains open in all directions.

With the summer barge-based campaign complete, attention now turns to a land-based program west of R00E. Fission acts as project operator on the 50/50 joint venture until its acquisition of Alpha closes. Fission shareholders will vote on the deal’s spinout aspect on November 28.

(Update: On November 4 the JV announced a sixth PLS zone west of the discovery. Read more.)

Rio Tinto plans winter drilling at Purepoint’s Red Willow

Purepoint Uranium Group TSXV:PTU announced plans on October 29 by Rio Tinto Exploration Canada for 2,500 metres of drilling at Red Willow, a 25,612-hectare property on the Athabasca Basin’s eastern edge. Rio identified targets based on historic drill logs and more recent geophysical and geochemical work. The company built a 28-person camp last summer.

Depth to unconformity in the area varies from zero to 80 metres, Purepoint stated. The company says five major deposits—JEB, Midwest, Cigar Lake, McArthur River and Millennium—“are located along a NE to SW mine trend that extends through the Red Willow project.”

Rio has so far spent about $2.25 million out of a $5-million commitment to earn an initial 51% interest by December 31, 2015. The giant’s Canadian subsidiary may earn 80% by spending $22.5 million by the end of 2021.

In early October Purepoint announced a winter drill campaign for the Hook Lake JV held 21% by Purepoint and 39.5% each by Cameco Corp TSX:CCO and AREVA Resources Canada.

Strong Q3 financials surprise Cameco shareholders

Despite historic low uranium prices, Cameco came out with Q3 earnings far beyond the same period last year. In his October 29 statement, president/CEO Tim Gitzel attributed the success to a contracting strategy “providing us with higher average realized prices that are well above the current uranium spot price.”

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for October 26 to November 1, 2013

Rabbit Lake was one of three Cameco operations that received
10-year licence renewals the same week that the company
surprised investors with an especially strong quarterly report.

Adjusted net earnings for three months ending September 30 came to $208 million, a 324% increase over Q3 2012 or, at 53 cents a share, a 342% increase. Year-to-date figures came to $295 million (up 48%) and 75 cents a share (up 47%).

Gitzel added that Cameco’s “starting to see some of the cost benefits of the restructuring we undertook earlier” and plans to “take advantage of the opportunity we see in the long term.”

However the company’s statement noted “there have been some deferrals of future projects due to uranium prices insufficient to support new production. The deferrals will not directly impact the near-term market, but could have an effect on the longer term outlook for the uranium industry. Complicating the supply outlook further is the possibility of some projects, primarily driven by sovereign interests, moving forward despite market conditions.”

The company forecast strong long-term fundamentals, mostly to China which has “reaffirmed its substantial growth targets out to 2020 and indicated plans to pursue further growth out to 2030. Their growth is palpable as construction on two more reactors began during the third quarter, bringing the total under construction to 30.”

As for Cameco’s long-delayed Cigar Lake mine, the company’s sticking to its current plan of Q1 2014 production and Q2 milling.

But while junior exploration flourishes, especially in the Athabasca Basin, the major plans a 15% to 20% cut in exploration spending this year.

Three Cameco operations get 10-year licence renewals

Licences for Cameco’s Key Lake, McArthur River and Rabbit Lake operations have been renewed for 10 years, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission announced October 29. The CNSC granted the extensions after three days of public meetings that heard from the company, 27 interveners and CNSC staff. The commission agreed to Cameco’s request for 10-year renewals, twice the previous term.

MillenMin finds radioactive outcrops on east Basin properties, reports AGM results

MillenMin Ventures TSXV:MVM completed initial field work at two eastside Basin properties, the 2,759-hectare Highrock Lake NE and 1,648-hectare Smalley Lake W. Work included prospecting, outcrop mapping and examination of previously found mineralization, the company announced October 28.

Grab samples from radioactive outcrops on both properties have been sent for assays. MillenMin first announced its foray into uranium last May and has staked 11 claims totalling about 18,983 hectares in and around the Basin.

On October 31 the company reported AGM results with directors re-elected, auditors re-appointed and other business approved.

Declan options northeastern Alberta property

Southwest of the Basin’s Alberta extremity, Declan Resources TSXV:LAN has optioned the 50,000-hectare Firebag River property. Previous geophysical survey data “shows a complex pattern of magnetic lows and highs, truncated or offset in the northern part of the property by the Marguerite River Fault,” Declan stated on October 29. Exploration in 1977 “confirmed the presence of a southwest-oriented fault zone and a geochemical anomaly with 11 ppm cobalt in lake sediments atop this structure,” the company added.

The deal would have Declan paying $85,000, issuing five million shares over two years and spending $3 million over three years. The optioner retains a 2% NSR on metals and a 4% gross overriding royalty on non-metallic commodities.

In September Declan announced an option to acquire the Patterson Lake Northeast property. The company plans to engage Dahrouge Geological Consulting to explore its uranium properties.

Rockgate takeover offer: Denison softens conditions, extends deadline

Denison Mines TSX:DML advanced its attempted takeover of Rockgate Capital TSX:RGT by lowering the minimum tender condition from 90% to two-thirds of outstanding shares. In an October 30 statement Denison also extended the offer’s deadline again, this time to November 18, and dropped conditions related to staff retention and consulting agreements.

The same day Rockgate said insiders agreed not to exercise their options unless another company comes up with a better offer. Denison had requested a cease trade order on 11 million Rockgate options granted on September 30, which Denison termed “improper defensive tactics.” The British Columbia Securities Commission didn’t agree. But rather than risk Denison withdrawing its offer, Rockgate insiders “put the interests of the shareholders of Rockgate before their own personal interests and agreed to amend the terms of the options,” company president/CEO Karl Kottmeier said.

The tone of the companies’ statements has warmed considerably since Kottmeier labelled Denison’s offer an “unsolicited opportunistic hostile takeover bid.” Denison president/CEO Ron Hochstein thanked Kottmeier and the Rockgate board “for their contributions to allowing the offer to proceed towards a successful conclusion.”

Meanwhile Rockgate continues prefeasibility work on its flagship Falea uranium-silver-copper project in Mali.

Read how Denison’s offer defeated Rockgate’s proposed merger with Mega Uranium.

Read more about uranium merger-and-acquisition activity.

Lakeland Resources’ JV partner New Dimension to drill for gold

Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK announced on October 31 an imminent drill campaign of at least 1,800 metres by JV partner New Dimension Resources TSXV:NDR on the Midas gold property in north-central Ontario. Lakeland optioned the project to New Dimension in September in order to focus on Saskatchewan uranium exploration. But Lakeland will retain a 30% interest in Midas carried to an initial 43-101 resource estimate.

I’m excited that the project’s going to continue to be worked while we focus on uranium.—Jonathan Armes, president/CEO
of Lakeland Resources

“New Dimension is a great group to work with and the deal was easy to do,” Lakeland president/CEO Jonathan Armes tells ResourceClips.com. “I’m excited that the project’s going to continue to be worked while we focus on uranium. The onus is on them to explore that project and we share in any benefits that result.”

The previous week Lakeland closed a private placement for a total of $1,057,718 and announced the appointment of Basin veteran John Gingerich to the company’s advisory board. Field work continues on Lakeland’s Riou Lake uranium project.

Read more about Lakeland Resources.

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Canada to maybe get a single securities regulator, sort of

September 19th, 2013

by Greg Klein | September 19, 2013

Canada to get a single securities regulator, sort of

Michael de Jong, Jim Flaherty and Charles Sousa, finance ministers for B.C., Canada and Ontario,
give each other self-congratulatory handshakes. (Photo: Government of Canada)

 

Alberta and Manitoba were taken by surprise, while Quebec threatened a court battle. But the governments of British Columbia, Ontario and Canada claimed a major step towards creating a single national securities regulator on September 19. Initially run by B.C. and Ontario, the “co-operative” regulator would “better protect investors, enhance Canada’s financial services sector, support efficient capital markets and manage systemic risk,” according to a federal statement. Currently each of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories has its own agency, making Canada the only developed nation without a federal regulator.

The proposal—which has hurdles to clear before implementation—follows a previous federal effort that was rejected by a 2011 Supreme Court decision. At the time judges unanimously decided the proposal would usurp the provinces’ constitutional powers over property and civil rights. The ruling did leave open the possibility of “a co-operative approach that permits a scheme that recognizes the essentially provincial nature of securities regulation while allowing Parliament to deal with genuinely national concerns.”

[For those who reject participation, the regulator would negotiate] an interface mechanism… such that the co-operative capital markets regulatory system contemplated by this agreement is, effectively, of national application.

The feds now emphasize that “each of the participating jurisdictions is addressing matters within its constitutional jurisdiction and is neither surrendering nor impairing any of its jurisdiction, with respect to which it remains sovereign.”

The new agency would have a board of directors, a regulatory division and an adjudicative tribunal, and would administer “the provincial and federal legislation and a single set of regulations under authority delegated by the participating jurisdictions.” With headquarters in Toronto, offices in each participating province (there are no plans for territorial offices) would provide “the same range of services that are currently provided in those offices.” The appropriate minister from each jurisdiction would join the federal finance minister in overseeing the new regulator. To participate, provinces and territories would have to pass matching legislation.

An optimistic timeline that includes a public comments process and somehow winning the support of other jurisdictions sees the regulator starting work by July 1, 2015. For those who reject participation, the regulator would negotiate “an interface mechanism… such that the co-operative capital markets regulatory system contemplated by this agreement is, effectively, of national application.”

But the Globe and Mail reported Quebec Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau saying his province wouldn’t “hesitate to bring the matter in front of the courts.”

In an e-mail to the G&M, Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner wrote, “I am only learning of this agreement now and will need time to review it before understanding its full implications. I am surprised that all the provinces were not consulted on this proposal before it was announced.”

Manitoba Finance Minister Stan Struthers also learned about the proposal through media, according to the Financial Post.

Referring to Ermanno Pascutto of FAIR, the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights, the G&M stated, “He said the proposal for a national enforcement body to investigate securities crimes—including fraud and insider trading—is a huge step forward toward streamlining the cumbersome current process for investigating crimes that often stretch across provincial and even national borders. He said the organization could even potentially replace the RCMP’s current fraud investigative unit known as the Integrated Market Enforcement Team, which has had a poor track record in laying charges and winning its cases in court.”

Queen’s School of Business professor Steven Salterio praised the idea of separating enforcement from adjudication, the FP reported. It’s “something that has worked well in Quebec, which currently has the most effective system in Canada,” he told the paper.

The proposal goes to a meeting of provincial and territorial ministers in Quebec City next week, the FP added.

Canada to boost support for mining, but faces challenges

September 18th, 2013

by Cecilia Jamasmie | September 18, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is ready to launch an aggressive campaign to promote the country’s mining sector abroad, in an effort to redirect trade spending and foreign affairs to core economic interests.

Canada to boost support for mining, but faces challenges

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces support
for Northern Innovation in Mining, August 2013.
(Photo: PMO)

Ed Fast, the international trade minister, began Wednesday a cross-country campaign to get feedback from experts and actors on what kind of support they think the government should offer mining companies.

According to the Globe and Mail, the move comes as the Harper administration starts warming up its campaign machine for the 2015 elections.

But Harper faces a challenging scenario. As a result of the global mining slowdown, Canada’s mining sector has been hit hard by weak commodity prices and lack of interest from foreign and local investors.

For the first time in a decade, Canada’s normally bustling resource industry failed to book a single initial public offering (IPO) on either the Toronto Stock Exchange or the TSX Venture Exchange in the first quarter of the year, a PwC survey revealed.

Tarnished name

While Canada remains the world’s top destination for mining investments, the sector has built a less-than-popular reputation abroad. Local miners have faced domestic opposition to their projects in all parts of the globe, including Greece, Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Israel.

In January, for example, hundreds of Greeks protested in Thessaloniki against several gold mining projects owned by Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD.

The following month, Catholic priests and small-scale miners marched with 5,000 locals in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, against a project owned by Vancouver-based B2Gold TSX:BTO.

In April tens of thousands of Colombians took to the streets of Bucaramanga, the country’s sixth-largest city, to defend their water supply from Vancouver-based Eco Oro Minerals’ TSX:EOM gold project.

Recently, Toronto-based Barrick Gold TSX:ABX admitted before a Chilean judge it had committed several violations in regards to its touted $8.5-billion Pascua Lama gold and silver project, straddling the border of Chile and Argentina.

And the most fresh example is the renewed opposition Gabriel Resources TSX:GBU faces in Romania because of its Rosia Montana gold project. Only yesterday the country’s president, Traian Basescu, asked Parliament to withdraw a bill that would allow the London-based Canadian miner to move forward.

However the future looks auspicious. Canada is among the top five producers of potash, uranium, nickel, platinum, aluminum, diamonds and steel-making coal. And global demand for commodities is expected to grow by up to 75% over the next 15 years, according to the world’s No. 1 miner, BHP Billiton NYE:BHP.

Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

China growing uneasy over Greenland’s rare earth ambitions

August 9th, 2013

by Ana Komnenic | August 9, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of Mining.com

China has long enjoyed its supremacy in the rare earths field but lately this position has been challenged by an often overlooked, massive island nation: Greenland.

The Asian giant produces 95% of the world’s Rare Earth Elements (REE) supply—a fact that has caused much unease among U.S. lawmakers—and has never had to face any real contenders, until now. Late last year the industry was buzzing with rumours that Greenland could hold enough of these metals to satisfy one-quarter of global demand over the next 50 years.

A recent visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Denmark—Greenland’s official hegemon—caused some analysts to speculate that the People’s Republic may be getting a little antsy over the country’s valuable deposits, Ice News reports.

According to European Commission data, Greenland has “especially strong potential in six of the 14 elements on the EU critical raw materials list.”

In fact, one company is well on its way to becoming a real threat: Greenland’s Tanbreez Mining—of Australian parentage—has been eyeing the island’s southern region since 2010. According to a company news release, they planned to file a final application for an exploration licence by July 2013.

But the People’s Republic may find some solace in the fact that Greenland is overwhelmingly concerned about the environmental and safety implications of mining rare earths, which may cause some roadblocks. However, Tanbreez asserts that these concerns do not apply to the areas it plans on mining.

Meanwhile, China’s domestic REE industry is hitting a rough patch. According to Ice News, “excessive mining” has made extraction difficult for the country’s miners. Illegal mining has also plagued the sector.

Aside from Greenland, China’s rare earths industry has other challengers to consider. According to Greenland’s Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum, Brazil has 37% of the world’s rare earth potential—12% more than China—and Vietnam 10%.

The U.S. is also ramping up exploration and recently tasked the U.S. Geological Survey with uncovering domestic supplies in old mine site tailings.

Chinese officials and REE producers addressed these concerns at the country’s Baotou Rare Earth Industry Forum on Thursday.

“The output of each rare earth mine in the United States, Australia and Russia is often less than 25,000 tonnes,” Zhang Zhong, president of China’s top rare earth producer told Xinhuanet. “Although Vietnam, India, Canada and South Africa have launched some rare earth projects, they need plenty of time to put them into operation and realize the capacity.”