Wednesday 23rd September 2020

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Posts tagged ‘de beers’

Week in review

March 1st, 2013

A mining and exploration retrospect for February 23 to March 1, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Another spring fever for graphite?

As one of Chris Berry’s “energy minerals”, graphite had an energetic week with the biggest news coming from Energizer Resources TSX:EGZ. The company’s Molo graphite deposit in Madagascar reached another milestone Tuesday with its preliminary economic assessment.

But to start with Monday, Rock Tech Lithium TSXV:RCK released drill results from the Plumbago area of its Lochaber project in southern Quebec. The same day Nevado Resources TSXV:VDO did the same thing for its Fermont property in the province’s northeast.

A mining and exploration retrospect

Coinciding with Energizer’s Tuesday release, Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST announced an option on the Portland graphite property in southeastern Ontario. Also on Tuesday, Canada Strategic Metals TSXV:CJC released metallurgical tests from its La Loutre property back in southern Quebec.

More metallurgical news came the following day from Standard Graphite’s TSXV:SGH Mousseau East deposit, again in southern Quebec. Then on Thursday Mason Graphite TSXV:LLG weighed in with drill results from Lac Gueret in northeastern Quebec.

No graphite news on Friday, however. Presumably everyone was en route to PDAC 2013, where they’ll conspire to pump up a repeat of last spring’s graphite mania.

No wait, this is the hottest new commodity

“Rhodium, the scarcest precious metal used in making catalytic converters, is outperforming platinum and palladium for the first time in seven years as global car sales rise to a record,” stated a Thursday Bloomberg report.

“The metal, used with palladium and platinum in pollution-control devices, rose 16% this year, about three times the increase of the other two ingredients and 20 times more than the benchmark commodities index (MXWD). Output will trail demand for four more years after the first deficit since 2007 [took place] last year [and eroded] inventories, Standard Bank Plc’s SBG Securities … forecasts.”

It seems to be gaining safe haven status too. “Baird & Co., a UK precious metals dealer, sold about 10,700 one-ounce rhodium bars … more than 10 times the amount planned when production began in May 2012,” the news agency added. “The London-based company expanded with bars that weigh one-tenth an ounce to five ounces to meet increased demand.”

A Baird spokesperson told Bloomberg, “At the moment we can’t make them quick enough so we are stepping up production. The market is so thin that it just needs a car company to buy a year’s worth of production or a hedge fund to pull out a little bit of loose change. It doesn’t take a lot to create quite sharp price movements.”

De Beers blockade: Cops’ lack of resolve resolves nothing

At press time Friday, De Beers’ Victor diamond mine in northern Ontario had gone seven (7) days without an illegal native blockade. The most recent roadblock ended late February 22 when the five or six protestors simply left. Then, and only then, did police move in.

So far the company has lost nearly half of an approximately 45-day opportunity to haul a year’s worth of heavy supplies over a seasonal ice road. As a result, the mine might face a temporary shutdown, the Timmins Daily Press reported on Tuesday.

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Week in review

February 22nd, 2013

A mining and exploration retrospect for February 16 to 22, 2013

by Greg Klein

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What’s behind the scenes for graphene?

Graphene may have sparked an explosion of patents but results of the boffins’ brainstorms “remain shrouded in secrecy,” according to Friday’s Industrial Minerals. CambridgeIP chairman Quentin Tannock told the journal, “Some companies will never publish their patents and … there are probably many very valuable ideas out there that haven’t been disclosed.”

A mining and exploration retrospect

Graphene’s unique properties suggest a host of possibilities,
but much recent research has focused on touch screen technology.

That could be the case even if only a small fraction of last year’s 5,000-plus patent applications pan out. On February 13 CambridgeIP, which encourages “development, deployment and dissemination of valuable technologies,” released its top 10 list of companies and agencies that filed patents for graphite’s wonder-derivative. A January CambridgeIP report prompted the BBC to speak of “an intensifying global contest to lead a potential industrial revolution.”

But regardless of whether some research stays secret, Focus Graphite TSXV:FMS president/CEO Gary Economo told IM, “We see 2013 as a breakout year.” Focus holds a 40% interest in Grafoid Inc, a company with its own top-secret graphene laboratory. IM said Economo “[predicted] the first raft of graphene-based consumer products will emerge on the market within months.”

Much of the research so far has been on touch screens and bio-sensors, Tannock added.

Rule of law lost in Canadian resource shakedowns

“What is the message being sent to the world” when “five or six disgruntled ex-employees … can shut down a business of 500 people at a cost of millions? That there is no law in northern Ontario?”

That’s how Wednesday’s Timmins Daily Press quoted Neal Smitheman, a lawyer representing De Beers, which faces a native blockade to its Victor diamond mine. The company has now lost nearly three weeks of an approximately 45-day season to transport heavy equipment and supplies over a winter ice road. This week only about half a dozen protestors were in place, apparently ex-employees who want to renegotiate an existing impact benefit agreement. Police refused to intervene, forcing the company to apply for a court injunction. On February 15 Judge Robert Riopelle issued an order that specifically “required” police to act. They still refused. De Beers went back to court on Wednesday.

If Smitheman sounded exasperated, a lawyer representing the Ontario Provincial Police seemed infinitely patient as he explained that the OPP takes a more “measured approach” towards natives than other people. Plus the weather was cold, he said.

Thursday’s Daily Press reported a plea to the demonstrators from two local politicians. “We have hundreds of families across James Bay and the Timmins region who rely on work at the Victor mine to pay their bills and save for their kids’ college education,” said MP Charlie Angus.

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Week in review

February 15th, 2013

A mining and exploration retrospect for February 9 to 15, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Negligence, aging infrastructure behind Russian mining disasters

Just two days after at least 18 people died in Russia’s latest coal mining accident, an investigation wrapped up into a much bigger disaster that took place in 2007. Six mine employees and three government officials now face criminal charges for safety violations causing a methane gas explosion that killed 110 workers, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday.

Negligence, aging infrastructure behind Russian mining disasters

Monday’s Komi mine disaster took place 1,200 miles from Moscow
in “a grim part of northern Russia that was initially developed as
part of the Gulag system of labour camps.”

Methane gas has been blamed for Monday’s Komi accident as well, although some sources also point to aging infrastructure. The Komi blast took place about 800 metres underground in “a grim part of northern Russia that was initially developed as part of the Gulag system of labour camps,” the Independent stated. About 250 miners were present. In 2010 another Russian mine disaster claimed over 60 lives.

On Friday the owner of the Komi mine, Russian steel giant Severstal, announced production had resumed.

RIA Novosti published an infographic illustrating the danger of methane gas.

Some improvement in China despite high death toll

A death-to-tonnage ratio paints a disturbing picture of Chinese mine safety. For every 100 million tonnes of coal produced in the country last year, 37 workers died, China Daily reported on Tuesday. Citing government sources, the paper said the death rate was down “from 56.4 deaths per 100 million tonnes of coal output in 2011, but still well above the U.S. level of 1.9 in 2011.” Coal mining accidents killed 1,384 last year compared to 1,973 in 2011, the paper added.

So far this year China has had at least 45 people die in coal mining accidents with seven others missing, according to the U.S. Mine Rescue Association. The organization attributes its info to news reports that “do not represent the actual total number of miners killed or missing in China mine disasters.”

Would-be miner to sue B.C. government

Pacific Booker Minerals TSXV:BKM has hired a lawyer “to advance litigation against the province of British Columbia” for rejecting its proposed Morrison copper-gold-molybdenum mine, the company announced on Wednesday. Last October two B.C. ministries denied the project an environmental assessment certificate even though it passed an environmental assessment review.

De Beers blockade typifies Canada’s country risk

One native blockade ended February 7 only to be replaced by another three days later. On Sunday a new group of about 16 protestors prevented winter convoys from reaching De Beers’ Victor diamond mine in northeastern Ontario. By Friday afternoon the company was reportedly in court asking for an injunction.

The blockades struck at a crucial time when a winter road allows approximately 45 days to haul heavy equipment, fuel and other supplies to the isolated location. The rest of the year the ground is too soft. As a result, De Beers spokesperson Tom Ormsby said the blockades could “jeopardize the health and safety of our employees and the future of the mine,” the Toronto Sun reported on Friday.

The grievances seem to stem from a 2005 impact benefit agreement with the Attawapiskat native community 90 kilometres away. Paraphrasing Ormsby, the Timmins Daily Press wrote, “Sometimes it’s because someone who was dismissed wants to be rehired, or they feel they are owed money from a contractor or they are not being compensated properly for their trap line.”

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