Saturday 17th March 2018

Resource Clips

Posts tagged ‘coal’

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.

B.C. explorers boost spending for first time since 2012

March 5th, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 5, 2018

Despite a bad year for wildfires, it’s British Columbia’s first mineral exploration spending increase in four years and a substantial increase at that. The sector spent over $41 million more in 2017 than the previous year, a 20% jump to total $246 million province-wide. Most of the activity took place in two regions, with the northwestern Golden Triangle accounting for more than $11 million of the $41-million increase, showing a regional total of $82 million. In the southern Interior’s Cariboo, exploration increased by $19 million, 70% more than in 2016.

The data comes from the second annual British Columbia mineral and coal exploration survey released at PDAC on March 5 by EY, B.C.’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and the Association for Mineral Exploration. Twenty prospectors and 175 companies contributed responses.

“Although still considerably down from the peak years of 2011-12, there is cause for optimism that the upward trend will continue given the outlook for continued price stability, an overall strengthening of global market sentiment towards exploration, improvements in the capital markets for financing mineral and coal exploration, and a more favourable future market outlook,” the report stated.

The 2017 bleak spot was the province’s northeast, where exploration plunged 75% to $2.4 million last year, mostly due to diminished demand for Peace district coal.

Diamond drilling in B.C. more than doubled from 300,000 metres in 2016 to over 600,000 metres last year, accounting for 37% of total exploration spending.

Although the report cautions that it’s too early for a conclusion, the results seem to indicate the province has set a “reset” button on the mining cycle, as projects advance through the early stages. Grassroots work accounted for 41% of activity in 2016 but only 23% in 2017. Instead, last year saw an increase to 60% of exploration at the early and advanced levels, described by the report as the two stages following grassroots and preceding stages four and five: mine evaluation and mine lease.

The quest for gold accounted for 87%, or $37 million, of the province’s $41-million increase. Silver exploration spending more than doubled to $9.8 million, while zinc saw a nearly 50% leap to $8.2 million.

“It’s reassuring to see exploration spending returning to B.C., particularly as resource depletion returns to the list of industry risks,” commented AME director of corporate affairs Jonathan Buchanan. “We’re also encouraged to hear survey respondents remain committed to working with First Nations when sourcing new resource deposits to ensure benefits extend to the local or surrounding communities.”

Noting that the province’s mining revenues are “expected to approach $9 billion annually,” Gordon Clarke of the B.C. Mineral Development Office added, “It’s important to identify new development opportunities and encourage the continued development of a robust exploration industry.”

Among other encouraging signs for the sector, a November PricewaterhouseCoopers report pronounced an increase in market caps, financings, M&A and IPOs for TSXV-listed mining/exploration companies.

Download the British Columbia mineral and coal exploration survey 2017.

Visual Capitalist looks at China’s staggering demand for commodities

March 4th, 2018

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist

China’s staggering demand for commodities


Over 50% of all steel, cement, nickel and copper goes there

The Chart of the Week is a Friday feature from Visual Capitalist.

It’s said that in China, a new skyscraper is built every five days.

China is building often, and it’s building higher. In fact, just last year, China completed 77 of the world’s 144 new supertall buildings, spread through 36 different Chinese cities. These are structures with a minimum height of 656 feet (200 metres).

For comparison’s sake, there are only 113 buildings in New York City’s current skyline that are over 600 feet.

Unbelievable scale

It’s always hard to put China’s size and scope in perspective—and Visual Capitalist has tried before by showing you 35 Chinese cities as big as countries, or highlighting the growing prominence of the domestic tech scene.

This chart also falls in that category and it focuses on the raw materials that are needed to make all this growth possible.

Year of data Commodity China’s % of global demand Source
2017 Cement 59% Statista
2016 Nickel 56% Statista
2017 Coal 50% NAB
2016 Copper 50% Global X Funds
2017 Steel 50% World Steel Association
2017 Aluminum 47% MC Group
2016 Pork 47% OECD
2017 Cotton 33% USDA
2017 Rice 31% Statista
2017 Gold 27% China Gold Association, WGC
2017 Corn 23% USDA
2016 Oil 14% Enerdata

Note: Because this data is not all in one easy place, it is sourced from many different industry associations, banks and publications. Most of the data comes from 2017, but some is from 2016.

China demand > world

There are five particularly interesting commodity categories here—and in all of them, China’s demand equals or exceeds that of the rest of the world combined.

Cement: 59%
The primary ingredient in concrete is needed for roads, buildings, engineering structures (bridges, dams, etc.), foundations and in making joints for drains and pipes.

Nickel: 57%
Nickel’s primary use is in making stainless steel, which is corrosion-resistant. It also gets used in superalloys, batteries and an array of other uses.

Steel: 50%
Steel is used for pretty much everything, but demand is primarily driven by the construction, machinery and automotive sectors.

Copper: 50%
Copper is one of the metals driving the green revolution and it’s used in electronics, wiring, construction, machinery and automotive sectors primarily.

Coal: 50%
China’s winding down coal usage—but when you have 1.4 billion people demanding power, it has to be done with that in mind. China has already hit peak coal, but the fossil fuel does still account for 65% of the country’s power generated by source.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Visual Capitalist and VRIC 2018 look at the raw materials that fuel the green revolution

January 10th, 2018

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | January 10, 2018


Records for renewable energy consumption were smashed around the world in 2017.

Looking at national and state grids, progress has been extremely impressive. In Costa Rica, for example, renewable energy supplied five million people with all of their electricity needs for a stretch of 300 consecutive days. Meanwhile, the UK broke 13 green energy records in 2017 alone, and California’s largest grid operator announced it got 67.2% of its energy from renewables (excluding hydro) on May 13, 2017.

The corporate front also looks promising and Google has led the way by buying 536 MW of wind power to offset 100% of the company’s electricity usage. This makes the tech giant the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy on the planet.

But while these examples are plentiful, this progress is only the tip of the iceberg—and green energy still represents a small but rapidly growing segment. For a full green shift to occur, we’ll need 10 times what we’re currently sourcing from renewables.

To do this, we will need to procure massive amounts of natural resources—they just won’t be the fossil fuels that we’re used to.

Green metals required

Today’s infographic comes from Cambridge House as a part of the lead-up to its flagship conference, the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2018.

A major theme of the conference is sustainable energy—and the math indeed makes it clear that to fully transition to a green economy, we’ll need vast amounts of metals like copper, silicon, aluminum, lithium, cobalt, rare earths and silver.

These metals and minerals are needed to generate, store and distribute green energy. Without them, the reality is that technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, lithium-ion batteries, nuclear reactors and electric vehicles are simply not possible.

First principles

How do you get a Tesla to drive over 300 miles (480 kilometres) on just one charge?

Here’s what you need: a lightweight body, a powerful electric motor, a cutting-edge battery that can store energy efficiently and a lot of engineering prowess.

Putting the engineering aside, all of these things need special metals to work. For the lightweight body, aluminum is being substituted for steel. For the electric motor, Tesla is using AC induction motors (Models S and X) that require large amounts of copper and aluminum. Meanwhile, Chevy Bolts and soon Tesla will use permanent magnet motors (in the Model 3) that use rare earths like neodymium, dysprosium and praseodymium.

The batteries, as we’ve shown in our five-part Battery Series, are a whole other supply chain challenge. The lithium-ion batteries used in EVs need lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and many other metals or minerals to function. Each Tesla battery, by the way, weighs about 1,200 pounds (540 kilograms) and makes up 25% of the total mass of the car.

While EVs are a topic we’ve studied in depth, the same principles apply for solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear reactors, grid-scale energy storage solutions or anything else we need to secure a sustainable future. Solar panels need silicon and silver, while wind turbines need rare earths, steel and aluminum.

Even nuclear, which is the safest energy type by deaths per TWh and generates barely any emissions, needs uranium in order to generate power.

The pace of progress

The green revolution is happening at breakneck speed—and new records will continue to be set each year.

Over $200 billion was invested into renewables in 2016 and more net renewable capacity was added than coal and gas put together:

Power Type Net Global Capacity Added (2016)
Renewable (excl. large hydro) 138 GW
Coal 54 GW
Gas 37 GW
Large hydro 15 GW
Nuclear 10 GW
Other flexible capacity 5 GW

The numbers suggest that this is only the start of the green revolution.

However, to fully work our way off of fossil fuels, we will need to procure large amounts of the metals that make sustainable energy possible.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2018 takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre West from January 21 to 22. Click here for more details and free registration.

B.C. government minister Doug Donaldson comments on initial efforts to save the historic Morden Mine structures

November 7th, 2017

…Read more

Paved with mineralization

October 27th, 2017

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—rocky road to success

by Greg Klein

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—rocky road to success

Profitable right from the beginning, Teck’s Elkview mine “would become
the key chip in the consolidation of the Canadian steelmaking coal industry.”
(Photo: Teck Resources)


“We were all young and relatively inexperienced in such matters in those days.”

He was referring to copper futures, a peril then unfamiliar to him. But the remark’s a bit rich for someone who was, at the time he’s writing about, 43 years old and president/CEO of a company that opened four mines in the previous six years. Still, the comment helps relate how Norman B. Keevil enjoyed the opportune experience of maturing professionally along with a company that grew into Canada’s largest diversified miner. Now chairperson of Teck Resources, he’s penned a memoir/corporate history/fly-on-the-wall account that’s a valuable contribution to Canadian business history, not to mention the country’s rich mining lore.

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—road to success

Norman B. Keevil
(Photo: Teck Resources)

Never Rest on Your Ores: Building a Mining Company, One Stone at a Time follows the progress of a group of people determined to avoid getting mined out or taken out. In addition to geoscientific, engineering and financial expertise, luck accompanies them (much of the time, anyway), as does acumen (again, much of the time anyway).

Teck gains its first foothold as a predecessor company headed by Keevil’s father, Norman Bell Keevil, drills Temagami, a project that came up barren for Anaconda. The new guys hit 28% copper over 17.7 metres. Further drilling leads to the three-sentence feasibility study:

Dr. Keevil: What shall we do about Temagami?

Joe Frantz: Let’s put it into production.

Bill Bergey: Sounds good to me.

They schedule production for two and a half months later.

A few other stories relate a crucial 10 seconds in the Teck-Hughes acquisition, the accidental foray into Saskatchewan oil, the Toronto establishment snubbing Afton because of its VSE listing, an underhanded ultimatum from the British Columbia government, getting out of the oyster business and winning an unheard-of 130% financing for Hemlo.

Readers learn how Murray Pezim out-hustled Robert Friedland. But when it came to Voisey’s, Friedland would play Inco and Falconbridge “as though he were using a Stradivarius.” Keevil describes one guy welching on a deal with the (apparently for him) unarguable excuse that it was only a “gentleman’s agreement.”

Norman B. Keevil’s memoir retraces Teck’s—and his own—rocky road to success

Through it all, Teck gets projects by discovery or acquisition and puts them into production. Crucial to this success was the Teck team, with several people getting honourable mention. The author’s closest accomplice was the late Robert Hallbauer, the former Craigmont pit supervisor whose team “would go on to build more new mines in a shorter time than anyone else had in Canadian history.” Deal-making virtuoso David Thompson also gets frequent mention, with one performance attributed to his “arsenal of patience, knowledge of the opponents, more knowledge of the business than some of them had, and a tad of divide and conquer…”

Partnerships span the spectrum between blessing and curse. International Telephone and Telegraph backs Teck’s first foray into Chile but frustrates its ability to do traditional mining deals. The Elk Valley Coal Partnership puts Teck, a company that reinvests revenue into growth, at odds with the dividend-hungry Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Working with a Cominco subsidiary, Keevil finds the small-cap explorer compromised by the “ephemeral response of the junior stock market.” And smelters rip off miners. But that doesn’t mean a smelter can’t become a valued partner.

Keevil argues the case for an almost cartel-like level of co-operation among miners. Co-ordinated decisions could avoid surplus production, he maintains. Teck’s consolidation of Canada’s major coal mines helped the industry stand up to Japanese steelmakers, who had united to take advantage of disorganized Canadian suppliers. “Anti-trust laws may be antediluvian,” he states.

Keevil admits some regrets, like missing Golden Giant and a Kazakhstan gold project now valued at $2 billion. The 2008 crash forced Teck to give up Cobre Panama, now “expected to be a US$6 billion copper mine.” Teck settled a coal partnership impasse by buying out the Ontario Teachers’ share for $12 billion. Two months later the 2008 crisis struck. Over two years Teck plunged from $3.6 billion in net cash to $12 billion in net debt.

But he wonders if his own biggest mistake was paying far too much for the remaining 50% of Cominco when an outright purchase might not have been necessary. Keevil attributes the initial 50%, on the other hand, to a miracle of deal-making.

For the most part Keevil ends his account in 2005, when he relinquishes the top job to Don Lindsay. By that time the company had 11 operating mines and a smelting/refining facility at Trail. A short chapter on the following 10 years, among the most volatile since the early ’70s, credits Teck with “a classic recovery story which deserves a full chapter in the next edition of Never Rest on Your Ores.” Such a sequel might come in another 10 years, he suggests.

Let’s hope he writes it, although it’ll be a different kind of book. As chairperson he won’t be as closely involved in the person-to-person, deal-to-deal, mine-to-mine developments that comprise the greatest strength of this book—that and the fact that the author grew with the company as it became Canada’s largest diversified miner.

Meanwhile, maybe Lindsay’s been keeping a diary.

The author’s proceeds go to two organizations that promote mining awareness, MineralsEd and Mining Matters.

Teck Resources’ Norman B. Keevil recalls the negotiation style of a 1970s British Columbia cabinet minister

October 25th, 2017

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Threatened B.C. mining heritage site gets a new lease on life

October 10th, 2017

by Greg Klein | October 10, 2017

A structure vital to Vancouver Island mining history might not be doomed for destruction after all. The Morden mine headframe and tipple date to 1913 but remain the last significant signs of the Nanaimo region’s coal industry, where British Columbia’s first successful mining began in 1852. Located on a provincial park in an NDP-voting region, the site had been neglected by B.C.’s previous Liberal government. But on October 6 the new NDP government announced a $25,000 conservation grant.

Threatened B.C. mining heritage site gets a new lease on life

Closed in by encroaching forest and deteriorating seriously, the Morden
headframe and (right) tipple still provide a monument to the past.

While encouraging to the volunteer Friends of Morden Mine Society, the money falls far short of the $2.7 million that a previous engineering study estimated necessary for the structure’s preservation. That amount included $500,000 for emergency repairs.

For years the FMMS website has warned that the structure’s preservation faces “a race against time. The deterioration of concrete components of the headframe and tipple structures is escalating at an alarming rate. Every spring more dislodged chunks of concrete can be found on the ground below the structures and more reinforcing steel becomes exposed to the elements.”

Some 22.5 metres tall and built of concrete-encased steel, the headframe and tipple, which dumped coal into railcars, collectively hold status as one of only three such structures ever built and one of two still standing.

“This work will bring history to life and, at the same time, honour the coal miners who lived, worked and died in Vancouver Island coal mines while building families and creating strong communities,” a government communique quoted forests and lands minister Doug Donaldson.

The statement made no mention of further funding but FMMS representative Sandra Larocque sounded optimistic. The engineering study looked at “quite an elaborate plan,” she told “We’re just looking at saving the mine from falling down, doing some basic stabilization, taking down some timbers that have deteriorated…. $25,000 isn’t going to go very far, no, but it’s a start and the structure’s in dire straits of falling down.”

The money will be used to inspect the shaft, remove loose timbers from the headframe, clean out organic muck in and around the tipple and begin stabilizing the structure.

The perseverance of Helen Tilley, an early FMMS member, proved instrumental in getting the provincial support, Larocque said. She hopes for more money from the province, as well as the Regional District of Nanaimo and private donors.

As daughter of a coal miner who died of black lung, she’s well aware of the industry’s dark side. Calamitous accidents and bitter labour disputes also characterized local mining history. But she emphasizes the structure’s value, especially to young people, as a link to previous generations.

“It’s a tangible thing people can look at…. Just to save it, to make sure it’s still standing, is everything to me.”

Read more about the Morden mine.

Norman B. Keevil book reveals tactics of 1970s B.C. flirtation with resource nationalism

September 29th, 2017

by Greg Klein | September 29, 2017

The year was 1973. No sooner had Teck Resources transplanted its HQ to Vancouver than British Columbia premier W.A.C. Bennett’s 20-year reign fell to defeat at NDP hands. Resource nationalism proved to be one of new premier Dave Barrett’s earliest enthusiasms. But the guy who bragged about his commitment to doing “what was needed and right” showed a peculiar modus operandi.

That’s just one of the stories related by Norman B. Keevil in a history of Teck to be released next week, Never Rest on Your Ores: Building a Mining Company, One Stone at a Time.

Norman B Keevil book reveals tactics of 1970s B.C. flirtation with resource nationalism

Norman B. Keevil
(Photo: Teck)

Keevil relates that on summoning him and Bob Hallbauer into the premier’s Victoria office, Barrett’s first words were, “I want your coal.”

Interest had been growing in northeastern B.C.’s deposits, among them Teck’s Sukunka. “Well, at least he did call it our coal,” Keevil notes. “That would become questionable as the situation evolved.”

The duo declined but Barrett wouldn’t give up. He kept calling them back to Victoria on an almost weekly basis.

At about the seventh such meeting, a very strange thing happened. Barrett had a curtain angled across a corner in his office. We’d never paid much attention to it, but in that seventh meeting the curtain rustled a bit, and a thin, sepulchral, white-haired professorial type jumped out from behind it. It was almost as though he was wearing a superhero cape, or super-villain. I think Dave must have gotten him out of Marvel Comics. Was there a door to another room behind the curtain, or had this strange figure just been hiding behind it, taking it all in? I never did find out.

It turned out this was the patrician Alex Macdonald, Barrett’s attorney general and the upholder of law and order—the NDP way. The honourable gentleman said to us: ‘I want you to understand just one thing. I guarantee that you will never be able to put that coal property into production. All you have is an exploration licence and, if you don’t sell to us right now, I’ll cancel it tomorrow.’

Calling it an “unseemly ultimatum from the upholder of justice,” Keevil states the company reluctantly agreed on a $20-million sale that would close in June, a few months away.

But when June arrived, the government announced it had “dropped its option,” writes Keevil—who insists that it wasn’t an option but a firm deal.

Musing over the new government’s equivocation, Keevil wonders if it just came down to money: “Certainly they had been spending like drunken sailors on redecorating some of the higher-profile, cabinet ministers’ offices.

“As to Alex Macdonald, a quote of his survives all of this: ‘In politics, your opponents are on the other side of the legislature, but your enemies are all around you.’ With him, I’m not too surprised.”

Viewing that vignette in a wider context, Keevil sees much of the mining world as chaotic for much of the 1970s and early ’80s, whether it was in B.C., Panama, Chile, El Salvador or Saskatchewan. Compounding the mess were peripheral problems ranging from the OPEC oil embargo to Trudeauvian taxes.

But as for Sukunka, it never did go into production. Teck lost interest and, with intercession from pre-prime ministerial Jean Chretien, unloaded it on BP, which eventually abandoned the project.

Yet the BP deal let Teck retain 100% of the adjacent Bullmoose project. Partly thanks to new infrastructure from a new B.C. government, Bullmoose became Teck’s first coal mine. Now Canada’s largest diversified resource company is also the world’s second-largest supplier of seaborne steelmaking coal.

Read more about Never Rest on Your Ores.

Conuma Coal Resources CEO Mark Bartkoski says government and community support helped his company re-open a B.C. mine closed by Walter Energy

June 20th, 2017

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