Wednesday 22nd May 2019

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘HD Mining International Ltd’

Stephen Hunt, western Canada director of the United Steelworkers, comments on the BC Liberals’ support for a scheme by Chinese interests to staff proposed B.C. coal mines with Chinese underground workers

May 21st, 2013

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Week in review

February 8th, 2013

A mining and exploration retrospect for February 2 to 8, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Dangerous work

A Quebec rescue team recovered the bodies of two quarry workers on Saturday, four days after a landslide buried them in an open gravel pit. Daniel Brisebois and Marie-Claude Laporte worked for Maskimo Construction at L’Epiphanie, about 50 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

On Tuesday Eastern Platinum TSX:ELR reported the death of Allan Swartz, a shift supervisor at the Crocodile River Mine in South Africa, after he fell through an empty ore pass.

Five workers from Braeval Mining’s TSX:BVL Snow Mine project in northern Colombia remain missing after being abducted by the National Liberation Army (ELN) on January 18.

Natives end De Beers protest

A four-day blockade outside De Beers Victor diamond mine in northern Ontario ended peacefully Thursday night, the Timmins Press reported. A company spokesperson told the paper that De Beers agreed to discuss changes to an existing impact benefit agreement regarding employment, training “and maximizing the benefits.”

Supply convoys were prevented from reaching the site by about 16 protestors from the native community of Attawapiskat, 90 kilometres away.

Vague definitions give aboriginals enormous power

A mining and exploration retrospect

In Saturday’s Globe and Mail, columnist Jeffrey Simpson rather candidly addressed the vague but powerful native rights that have created a “de facto veto” over resource development in Canada.

Native demands, he wrote, stem from “treaty rights, however defined, and from aboriginal rights, however defined, in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” In its 1997 Delgamuukw decision, Canada’s Supreme Court established the duty to consult natives before working on Crown land. But the court didn’t define the consultation process except to say, in effect, “the stronger the aboriginal [land] claim, the more serious the consultation,” Simpson stated.

Consequently “it’s obviously in the interests of aboriginals to make the most sweeping initial claims possible, whether they have much justification in history, current reality or law. As long as the claim is there, aboriginals can interpret Delgamuukw as giving them a de facto veto, even if that isn’t what the ruling said.”

In a later court ruling, “once again, the meaning and reality of ‘consult’ was left vague, perhaps necessarily so, since how can one define a process of consultation that would be agreed to by all parties. In practice, what ‘consult’ means to aboriginals is ‘we must agree.’”

Most recently, a December decision from the Yukon Court of Appeal declared that the territorial government must consult and “accommodate” the Ross River Dena Council even before very early-stage prospecting in the Ross River area. The ruling is considered to have strong repercussions for other jurisdictions as well.

“Even before a company does anything, the government’s obligation to consult kicks in. From now on—in ways yet to be determined—governments have to consult aboriginals before anything is done that might some day, somehow, have an impact on whatever land they might claim, or have claimed, even if such claims haven’t been tested or resolved,” Simpson wrote.

The Yukon government may appeal the decision. But Simpson’s conclusion might imply that judges already have their minds made up.

“Aboriginals must be delighted with goalposts moving closer all the time toward their conception of consultation as approval by them of anything and everything that might occur on land over which they claim rights, proven or unproven.”

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Week in review

February 2nd, 2013

A mining and exploration retrospect for January 26 to February 1, 2013

by Greg Klein

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Search for quarry workers postponed, victims believed dead

Efforts to find two workers missing in a gravel quarry accident at L’Epiphanie, Quebec were postponed on Thursday. The truck drivers, employed by Maskimo Construction, were buried by a landslide two days earlier. High winds and unstable ground made it unsafe to operate the helicopter and heavy equipment involved in the mission. Searchers hope to resume their efforts on Saturday but “police have acknowledged they don’t expect to find survivors,” the CBC reported.

One co-worker described the landslide in a Canadian Press story reprinted in Wednesday’s Montreal Gazette.

Colombia exploration workers remain in captivity

A mining and exploration retrospect

Five people kidnapped from Braeval Mining’s TSX:BVL Snow Mine project in Colombia remain missing. The Monday edition of Colombia Reports stated the military, which arrested four more suspects on Sunday, claimed it was making progress. But, the journal added, the National Liberation Army (ELN) kidnappers warned that any rescue attempt would endanger the hostages.

Among the ELN’s demands are stricter regulation and heavier taxation of the mining industry, legalization of small-scale mining and a national debate on mining policy, Colombia Reports stated.

The victims—a Canadian, two Peruvians and two Colombians—were abducted on January 18 in northern Colombia’s Bolivar department.

On Thursday the country’s biggest rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), released three Gran Tierra Energy TSX:GTE contractors after one day in captivity. But, Reuters stated, the guerrillas killed four soldiers in southwestern Colombia’s Narino department on Wednesday.

More mid- and large-cap companies selling royalties

The streaming business has grown tremendously, both from the amount of money available and the size of companies seeking it. As Bloomberg reported on Thursday, “the biggest miners have joined the queue of capital-hungry companies requesting funding.”

Silver Wheaton TSX:SLW CEO Randy Smallwood told the news agency that his company has seen increased interest from miners with market caps “up into the tens and hundreds of billions.… Doors that we’ve been knocking on for a long time, they are all of a sudden knocking on our door.”

If an operator goes down from say a one-gram cutoff to a 0.5-gram cutoff, the operator may not make any money but the royalty-holder makes money…. It’s one of the best business models that I have ever seen.—Franco-Nevada chairman Pierre Lassonde in an interview with BNN

Although Silver Wheaton completed only one transaction last year, it was a $750-million deal with HudBay Minerals TSX:HBM, which has a press-time market cap of $2 billion. Such deals obviously benefit Silver Wheaton, which has been outperforming both silver prices and metal producers, Bloomberg stated.

Not surprisingly, success brings competition. But the founder of the first royalty company, Franco-Nevada TSX:FNV chairman Pierre Lassonde, considers most of the newcomers to be small fish. In an BNN interview posted Thursday, he said, “Every week we must have two, three, four, five companies coming and approaching us, but they’re of a size that there’s only two or three royalty companies that look at them.” Over the last six months his company has been working on three “really large deals” of half a million to a billion-plus, he said.

With each transaction Franco-Nevada gets a free perpetual option on any further discoveries on the same property. “It is this optionality that has given us the kind of rate of return that we give the shareholders,” he explained.

Lassonde attributed “de-ratings in the gold stocks” to smaller, lower-grade deposits than those found in the 1980s and ’90s. “At Franco, as far as we’re concerned, if an operator goes down from say a one-gram cutoff to a 0.5-gram cutoff, the operator may not make any money but the royalty-holder makes money…. It’s one of the best business models that I have ever seen.”

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Year in review: Part II

December 29th, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2012

by Greg Klein

Read Part I of Year in Review.

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Graphite boom, bust and echo

One of the commodities that excited the 2012 market, graphite began stirring interest in 2011 and really gained momentum early this year. But the precipitous fall, right around April Fool’s Day, let cynics bask in schadenfreude. It was a bubble all along, they insisted.

Well, not quite. Despite reduced share values, work continued as the front-runners advanced their projects and earlier-stage companies competed for position in graphite’s second wave of potential producers. By autumn some of the advanced-stage outfits, far from humbled by last spring’s events, boldly indulged themselves in a blatant bragging contest.

Old king coal to regain its throne

If clean carbon doesn’t excite investors like it used to, plain old dirty carbon might. By 2017 coal’s share of the global energy market will rival that of oil. So says the International Energy Agency, which issued its Medium-Term Coal Market Report in December.

A mining and exploration retrospect for 2012

The forecast sees China consuming over half the world’s production by 2017. “Even if Chinese GDP growth were to slow to a 4.6% average over the period, coal demand would still increase both globally and in China,” the report stated. India, with the world’s “largest pocket of energy poverty,” will take second place for consumption.

Coal’s growth in demand is slowing, however. But its share of the energy mix continues to increase even though Europe’s “coal renaissance” (sic) appears to be temporary.

Bringing coal miners to new hassle

Chinese provide much of the market and often the investment. So why shouldn’t they provide the workers too? That seems to be the rationale of Chinese interests behind four British Columbia coal projects.

The proponents plan to use Chinese underground workers exclusively at the most advanced project, HD Mining International’s Murray River, for 30 months of construction and two additional years of mining. Only then would Canadians be initiated into the mysteries of Chinese longwall mining. But with only 10% of the workforce to be replaced by Canadians each year, Chinese “temporary” workers would staff the mine until about 2026. The B.C. government has known about these intentions since at least 2007.

The HD Mining saga has seen new developments almost every week since the United Steelworkers broke the story on October 9.

As Greenland’s example suggests, the scheme might represent another facet of China’s growing power.

Geopolitical geology

Resource imperialism aside, resource nationalism and other aspects of country risk continued throughout 2012. South American Silver TSX:SAC continues to seek compensation after spending over $16 million on a silver-polymetallic project that the Bolivian government then snatched as a freebie. Centerra Gold TSX:CG escaped nationalization in Kyrgyzstan but works its way through somewhat Byzantine political and regulatory intrigue, as does Stans Energy TSXV:HRE. In November the latter claimed a court victory over a hostile parliamentary committee.

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Week in review

December 21st, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for December 15 to 21, 2012

by Greg Klein

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Algorithmic short-sellers could drive juniors to ASX

“The world’s number one stock exchange for mining companies”—that’s the consensus about Toronto, even from companies with operations and headquarters in other countries. But John Kaiser fears TSXV traders will drive juniors to the Australian Securities Exchange. In a Business News Network interview posted by Equedia on Sunday, the editor of Kaiser Research Online explained why.

Monitoring systems now in use can immediately spot significant buying, allowing traders to “intercept the capital that’s flowing in from real investors who are betting on fundamental outcomes, and they sell into this. Then, when that inflow is exhausted, they can simply lean into the order book and continue selling stock that they don’t have, selling short on a down-tick, creating a cascade of buyer’s regret and discouraging the longs, and actually facilitating being able to cover by the end of the day. So their intent to deliver the borrowed stock never has to be materialized. This sort of culture now lurks on top of a system where trading value has been in steep decline since April and May of last year.”

A mining and exploration retrospect for December 15 to 21, 2012

That’s especially troubling, he emphasized, because he believes the sector is moving back to a “discovery/exploration cycle” as prevailed during the 1980s and ’90s, “after a decade of resource feasibility demonstration.” Early-stage exploration companies are especially vulnerable, he said.

But Down Under has its downside too. “I don’t like the Australian stock exchange system because they don’t have a proper reporting system on a scale of technical detail that we in Canada have,” Kaiser added. “I think the Canadian system is fabulous for the entire resource exploration and development cycle. And I think it’s a shame that they allow this type of algorithmic hook-up that basically victimizes real speculators, as opposed to those simply trying to harvest the volatility that they’re literally manufacturing in this sector.”

Credit-card-sized gold bars as a crisis currency

A new product might make physical gold a more practical response to economic fears, according to a Friday Reuters story. The size of a credit card, the CombiBar is made up of 50 one-gram gold squares that can be broken off to use as currency. It’s selling well in Switzerland, Austria and especially Germany, where memories linger of post-WWI hyperinflation. The CombiBar is produced by the Swiss refinery Valcambi, which wants to introduce it to the American and Indian markets next year, while producing platinum and palladium CombiBars for Japan. Valcambi, by the way, is owned 60.6% by Newmont Mining TSX:NMC.

European demand “is rising every week,” Reuters quoted Andreas Habluetzel, head of the Swiss gold trading company Degussa. “Particularly in Germany, people buying gold fear that the euro will break apart or that banks will run into problems.”

Another company, Ex Oriente Lux, has sold 21 million euros of gold through its 17 vending machines in the United States, Europe and United Arab Emirates, Reuters added. “Sales rise according to the temperature of the crisis,” CEO Thomas Geissler told the news agency.

Former Solid Gold CEO accuses natives of slander

Darryl Stretch, the former CEO of Solid Gold Resources TSXV:SLD, has accused two native chiefs of “slanderous and defamatory remarks,” the Sudbury Star and Timmins Daily Press reported this week. He’s demanding public apologies from Wahgoshig chief Dave Babin and Nishnawbe Aski chief Harvey Yesno, who called him a “racist” at a Sudbury press conference in November, the Daily Press stated on Wednesday.

Stretch’s letter to the chiefs warned, “In the event that you do not respond to this notice I will take whatever action is available to me.”

Monday’s Star said Babin has no plans to respond and Yesno couldn’t be reached for comment.

Solid Gold replaced Stretch on December 3 after ongoing controversy between the outspoken CEO and native bands.

Rhodes redux in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s policy of “indigenisation and empowerment” requires foreign miners to divest 51% of their operations to Zimbabwean companies and community groups, as these examples show. Monday’s Harare Herald quoted Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa explaining that the country was willing to work with foreign companies as long as Zimbabweans were the major beneficiaries.

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Week in review

December 14th, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for December 8 to 14, 2012

by Greg Klein

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U.S. politicians ponder windfall royalties

The United States has joined the list of countries considering additional ways to mine miners, according to a Wednesday Reuters story. Some American politicians are talking about royalties as high as 12.5%, the same benchmark applied to certain other resources, including oil and gas.

Reuters said the proposal would get about $700 million during the lifespan of Freeport-McMoRan’s copper-molybdenum operations in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Last year alone, the royalty could have taken $150 million from Barrick’s TSX:ABX Goldstrike mine in Nevada, according to Reuters’ figures. Barrick told the news agency the company’s taxes have already jumped four-fold over five years.

Democrat Representative Raul Grijalva, a proponent of the 12.5% levy, sees it differently. “As we face these fiscal challenges, these are the pennies that we should pinch,” Reuters quoted him. Along with some other U.S. federal politicians, Grijalva also wants to review miners’ tax breaks.

Previous attempts to raise miners’ taxes have failed, Reuters stated, “as the industry has strong political allies.” The story added that “state and local governments often catch a windfall from mining revenue.”

Ivory Coast hikes taxes but overestimates profits, miner says

A mining and exploration retrospect

A new tax on Ivory Coast gold extraction underestimates cash costs by nearly 50%, according to at least one source. New legislation that applies to 2012 production assumes cash costs of $615 an ounce, Reuters stated on Friday. The tax on “profits” above that amount will fluctuate with the yellow metal’s price. At $1,600, that comes to 17%. The rate will be lower for companies that pay the country a corporate tax, the news agency added. Randgold Resources CEO Mark Bristow called the new levy, expected to raise $79.8 million, a “punitive tax,” Reuters said.

In a December 7 Bloomberg report, Endeavour Mining TSX:EDV spokesperson Nouho Kone said Ivory Coast gold production can actually cost between $1,000 and $1,200 an ounce. “The worst-case scenario would be to see companies shut down their mines in the short term,” he told Bloomberg. Reuters stated that Perseus Mining TSX:PRU put its $160-million Sissingue project on hold last September “pending clarification of the fiscal regime applicable to the project.”

Maybe Ghana too

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama’s re-election brings to mind his previous effort to impose a 10% tax on windfall profits, Monday’s Financial Post reported.

The government had already raised miners’ corporate taxes from 25% to 35% and imposed “a uniform regime for capital allowance of 20% for five years of mining,” the FP stated. But the government’s intended windfall tax had been shelved due to industry pressure, according to a Wednesday Reuters dispatch.

Reuters added that government discussions with gold miners are underway “to loosen up so-called ‘stability agreements’ held by some firms that lock in royalty and tax rates.” This year Ghana raised gold royalties from 3% to 5%, but the stability agreement exempted companies like AngloGold Ashanti and Newmont Mining TSX:NMC, the news agency stated.

Unions lose bid to block foreign workers from staffing B.C. mine

HD Mining International called it a “massive victory,” the Globe and Mail reported Friday. A federal court judge has allowed the company to import Chinese workers for its proposed Murray River coal mine in British Columbia. Two unions had applied for an injunction blocking the work permits after learning that HD Mining planned to staff its underground operation exclusively with Chinese workers—which would total over 400 at full production.

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Week in review

November 23rd, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for November 17 to 23, 2012

by Greg Klein

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Quebec’s new royalty regimen “in a matter of months”

The new Parti Quebecois government unveiled its first budget this week without changing the royalty or tax code for miners. But, the Globe and Mail reported Wednesday, that could change early next year. The PQ wants to extract another $388 million from the industry. “We started working on a new framework and this regime will come into force in a matter of months,” the G&M quoted Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau.

During last summer’s election campaign, Marceau’s party talked of imposing a 5% royalty on all minerals extracted, regardless of a company’s profit. The PQ also proposed a 30% tax on all mining profits above 8%, to rake in the $388 million over five years.

A mining and exploration retrospect

Jean-Marc Lulin, president/CEO of Azimut Exploration TSXV:AZM and outgoing president of the Quebec Mineral Exploration Association, told the G&M, “Our competitive advantage in the world lies in our legal, political and fiscal regime. You can’t toy with that without putting investments at risk.”

The government said it will consult with the industry prior to implementing changes.

The PQ also campaigned on revisions to the previous Liberal government’s Plan Nord infrastructure program. Last week’s news about how the government and Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY will divide costs to built a road to the company’s Renard project, however, shows no real change to the plan so far.

Nuclear defence

“More people die from coal pollution each day than have been killed by 50 years of nuclear power operations—and that’s just from lung disease. If you include future deaths from global warming due to burning fossil fuels, closing down nuclear power stations is sheer madness.”

So concluded Gwynne Dyer’s column in Wednesday’s Georgia Straight, a left-wing Vancouver weekly. Nuclear energy, he said, “is a kind of witchcraft” that scares people “at least in the developed countries. [The Greens’ anti-nuclear campaign] cannot be logically reconciled with their concern for the environment, given that abandoning nuclear will lead to a big rise in fossil fuel use, but they have never managed to make a clear distinction between the nuclear weapons they feared and the peaceful use of nuclear power…. Fortunately, their superstitious fears are largely absent in more sophisticated parts of the world. Only four new nuclear reactors are under construction in the European Union, and only one in the United States, but there are 61 being built elsewhere. Over two-thirds of them are being built in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China), where economies are growing fast and governments are increasingly concerned about both pollution and climate change.”

Read more about nuclear energy, and uranium supply and demand, here.

Yet coal continues its breathtaking expansion

Nearly 1,200 new coal plants worldwide are in the planning stages, MarketWatch reported on Wednesday. China and India account for about 76%. The global top five coal burners are China, U.S., India, Germany and Japan.

MarketWatch cited a report from the World Resources Institute that listed Japan, China and South Korea as the world’s biggest importers. “In Japan, as pressure mounts to phase out nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster, coal imports are likely to continue to grow.”

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Week in review

November 16th, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for November 10 to 16, 2012

by Greg Klein

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Three dead in Mexican mining accidents

Three people died in two accidents at Canadian projects in Mexico this week. On Tuesday two contractors at AuRico Gold’s TSX:AUQ El Chanate open pit gold mine in Sonora state lost their lives “when a pressure vessel in one of the three separate ADR [adsorption, desorption and recovery] processing plants ruptured,” the company stated.

President/CEO Scott Perry said the accident “is incredibly distressing as the safety of our employees and contractors is the company’s highest priority and this incident is a tragic shock to everyone.”

On Thursday a construction contractor died at Baja Mining’s TSX:BAJ Boleo project in Baja California. Baja holds a 49% interest in the project, with a Korean consortium holding the remainder.

Investigations are underway into both accidents.

Quebec’s Plan Nord: Who pays how much?

That question was hotly debated in last summer’s provincial election. The victorious Parti Quebecois argued that resource companies should pay significantly more for the huge infrastructure program that the previous Liberal government envisioned. But a Thursday announcement by Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY suggests Quebec’s minority government doesn’t intend to stray far from its predecessor’s plan—at least not for the time being.

A mining and exploration retrospect

Stornoway’s framework agreement and letter of intent with the province sees the government building a 143-kilometre extension from Route 167 in Quebec’s James Bay region. The company will use a government loan to build 97 kilometres of road from there to its Renard Diamond Project.

According to a Montreal Gazette article by Robert Gibbens, the deal differs little from a previous arrangement worked out with the previous government.

“Parti Quebecois Finance Minister Nicolas Manseau said the renegotiated road access pact will lead to $124 million of savings for Quebec taxpayers with Stornoway’s takeover of the final 97 kilometres,” Gibbens reported. “In fact, Stornoway is borrowing $77 million from the province to cover the single-lane road’s cost, amortized over 15 years at 3.35% interest. Total cost will be comparable with the old pact when Stornoway would have contributed $44 million.”

With its all-season road slated for completion in Q4 2013, the Route 167 extension would make Renard Canada’s first road-accessible diamond mine. Mine construction is scheduled to begin next year.

Relative calm, but uncertainty prevails in South Africa

The country’s major mining strikes have ended, Reuters stated on Thursday. “Around 80,000 South African miners or 15% of the workforce had been off the job at one point,” the news agency reported.

Doubt continues, however, regarding the viability of some mining operations. Additionally the National Union of Mineworkers, “which has delivered above-inflation wage hikes but contained militancy, has lost control over much of its rank and file, a source of concern to the ruling African National Congress and corporate bosses alike.”

Kitco News provided another Friday recap of the major companies affected. Strike-related violence has killed over 50 people so far.

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Week in review

November 9th, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for November 3 to 9, 2012

by Greg Klein

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“So why buy the seniors?”

Briefly but significantly, Goldcorp TSX:G overtook Barrick TSX:ABX to become the world’s biggest gold miner by market cap. Goldcorp closed Tuesday with a $35.32-billion cap, slightly above Barrick’s $35.3 billion, Reuters stated.

That, despite the fact Barrick produces far more gold, with guidance of 7.3 million to 7.5 million ounces this year, compared to Goldcorp’s 2.35 million to 2.45 million ounces. Newmont, the world’s second-largest gold producer, expects to come in “at the low end” of its projected 5 million to 5.1 million ounces.

A mining and exploration retrospect

“It’s not necessarily that Goldcorp is doing so well, it’s just that Barrick is doing so poorly,” Reuters quoted John Ing, Maison Placements Canada president and mining analyst. The news agency noted that Barrick shares fell nearly 25% so far this year, while Goldcorp weathered the storms with a mere 3.5% drop.

In a Friday Bloomberg article, one of Barrick’s fired CEOs pointed out the proportionately greater potential of smaller companies. “You’ve got no growth in total in the industry and a lot of your mines are aging and closing down, so you have to work very hard just to stay even,” Randall Oliphant told the news agency. Now executive chairman of New Gold TSX:NGD, Oliphant was Barrick’s CEO from 1999 to 2003. He told Bloomberg that once a company’s producing more than two million ounces a year, shareholders’ growth expectations are hard to meet.

Bloomberg’s index of 20 mid-tier gold miners “rose 1.3% in the past three years through [Thursday], compared with a 19% decline in a gauge of 14 seniors. In the same period, New Gold has climbed 154% in Toronto, while Barrick slumped 18%,” the agency reported.

Craig West, an analyst with GMP Securities, told Bloomberg, “Barrick isn’t going to grow by 50% in the next three years. I can name eight different juniors that will, so why buy the seniors?”

The juniors West referred to might have been mid-caps like New Gold, which closed Friday with 462.55 million shares outstanding at $10.74 for a market cap of $4.97 billion. But some micro-caps don’t do too badly. On Monday Brixton Metals’ TSXV:BBB share price rose 33%, from $0.15 to $0.20, on news from its Thorn silver-gold-polymetallic project in British Columbia. The $13.55-million-market-cap company closed Friday at $0.215, with 63.03 million shares outstanding.

By Wednesday’s close, Barrick’s market cap was back on top. The giant closed Friday with a billion shares outstanding at $36.06 for a market cap of $36.08 billion. On October 31 Barrick announced a quarterly dividend of $0.20.

Goldcorp closed the week with 811.21 million shares at $44.24 for a market cap of $35.89 billion. Goldcorp announced a monthly dividend on November 5 of $0.045.

Friday’s closing bell found Newmont with 491.54 million shares at $48.07 for a $23.63-billion market cap. On October 31 the company announced a quarterly dividend of $0.35.

Cow Mountain no bull, says Barkerville

Still under a Cease Trade Order imposed last August, Barkerville Gold Mines TSXV:BGM intends to release a revised resource estimate later this month, Business in Vancouver reported on Tuesday. The CTO remains in effect until the company’s Cow Mountain resource estimate meets the B.C. Securities Commission’s satisfaction.

Last June Barkerville shocked and awed the market with an indicated resource of 69 million tons (not tonnes) grading an average 5.28 g/t gold for 10.63 million gold ounces.

On June 28 close, Barkerville’s stock sat at $0.81. The following day, when the Cow resource was announced, Barkerville opened at $1.35 and closed at $1.21. That evening the company announced “incentive stock options to certain directors, officers, employees and consultants of the company to purchase up to an aggregate of 634,980 common shares” at $1.21 a share. The next trading day, July 3, the stock hit a 52-week high of $1.67. On the August 13 CTO it closed at $1.22.

Investor enthusiasm aside, some observers were skeptical, even derisive of the resource estimate. “Hilarious” was the Northern Miner’s response.

Barkerville’s June 29 press release also suggested a non-43-101 “total geological potential” for the Island Mountain/Cow Mountain/Barkerville Mountain trend of 405 million to 684 million tons with an average grade between 4.11 g/t and 5.49 g/t for 65 million to 90 million gold ounces. Those numbers, the company stressed, were potential “and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the delineation of mineral resources.”

Referring to the 43-101 resource estimate, Barkerville president/CEO Frank Callaghan told BIV, “We’re really confident in the numbers. We support the guy that’s done the work and we’re not prepared to throw him under the bus. He’s done a good job.”

The company has been twinning holes and drilling deeper, and has contracted Snowden Mining Industry Consultants to oversee the new 43-101. As a result it should be “very, very comprehensive to a point where a 10-year-old is going to be able to read it and understand it,” Callaghan told BIV.

The story quoted Northern Securities mining analyst Matthew Zylstra, who said that Snowden “adds some credibility. So whatever they come out with, I think this is going to be viewed a lot more positively.”

But he added, “I think they’re going to use a lot more strict criteria, so my feeling is that they won’t come out with the same kind of numbers that [the previous QP] Peter George did.”

Sub-Saharan Klondike

Where better to find an elephant country than in elephant country? Except for oil, South Sudan’s underground riches have long been neglected. But, according to a Friday Reuters dispatch, artisanal miners talk of finding the occasional nugget grading 200 grams or more. Now foreign companies are lining up in anticipation of new mining legislation scheduled to pass later this month. It’s expected to spark a licensing and exploration rush for several minerals.

“Nobody knows the extent of South Sudan’s mineral reserves because the 22-year war prevented exploration,” Reuters stated. “The latest geological surveys date back to the 1970s and ‘80s, but mining officials say diamond and gold deposits in South Sudan’s mineral-rich neighbours are encouraging. They describe the 16-month-old country as virgin territory.” South Sudan split from Sudan last year.

The news agency noted the trials of working “in a landlocked country with just 300 kilometres of paved road.” As government adviser Rainer Hengstmann told Reuters, “You need a railway if you want to go large-scale. It will take time. They really need roads and power.”

In the meantime artisanal miners prevail. Reuters described dozens of “Toposa tribesmen and women, festooned with plastic necklaces, brass piercings and beaded amulets, hack[ing] away at the red soil with metal poles and shovels, digging small craters in a boozy revelry.”

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Week in review

November 2nd, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for October 27 to November 2, 2012

by Greg Klein

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No one ever said mining’s risk-free

A Chinese gang leader has been sentenced to death for illegal mining and a number of assaults. A story covered by China Daily and Industrial Minerals on Wednesday reported that Pan Guangjuan and his gang had been running a rare earths operation in Guangdong province from November 2011 to February 2012. On conviction he was also fined $24,000 and deprived of his political rights for life. The death sentence comes with a two-year reprieve.

Other countries have been cracking down too—not only on illegal mining, but illegal mining by Chinese. On Monday prosecutors in the Philippines dropped charges against two Chinese after police and military raided gold dredging operations. According to Reuters, small-scale gold mining, legal and illegal, is widespread in the Philippines but up to 90% of production is smuggled to China via Hong Kong.

A mining and exploration retrospect

In Ghana over 90 Chinese were arrested last month during a crackdown in which a teenage boy died, the Financial Times reported. A previous Ghanaian raid on illegal miners resulted in 38 Chinese being deported last September. Chinese are playing an increasing role in illegal mining in Ghana, partly because of their access to Chinese dredging equipment, the FT stated. The story quoted an official for the Ghana Chamber of Mines, who said, “There are environmental issues, poor working conditions and child labour problems because they use Ghanaian children. They pay them whatever they want, and there are no contracts or safety standards.”

Another government official quoted by the FT said, “Most of these Chinese illegal miners are heavily armed and shoot at anyone that gets near them.”

Are gold reserves lent out, sold short or stored safely?

Over 60 countries store gold in underground vaults at New York’s Federal Reserve Bank. Now a GATA-esque movement is growing in the country that is, theoretically, the world’s second-largest gold owner. On Tuesday Spiegel reported that a member of Germany’s governing coalition, Peter Gauweiler, has finally found limited success in his long campaign to repatriate his country’s gold. The Frankfurt-based central bank will bring home 150 tons of gold over three years for inspection. The Bundesbank also plans to count and weigh the gold bars stored in New York.

The move responds to a damning indictment from Germany’s Federal Audit Office, which criticized the Fed for refusing access to German auditors. Hardly reassured by the planned audit, politician Heinz-Peter Haustein told media that “all the gold has to be shipped back,” Spiegel reported.

Not surprisingly, the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee was all over the story this week. An article by Lars Schall covered a Thursday speech given by Bundesbank executive Andreas Dombret. He told his New York audience that Germany’s “bizarre public discussion” will soon pass.

“We are confident that our gold is in safe hands with you,” Schall quoted him. “The days in which Hollywood Germans such as Gert Frobe, better known as Goldfinger, and East German terrorist Simon Gruber masterminded gold heists in U.S. vaults are long gone. Nobody can seriously imagine scenarios like these, which are reminiscent of a James Bond movie with Goldfinger playing the role of a U.S. Fed accounting clerk.”

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