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Posts tagged ‘Mountain Province Diamonds Inc (MPVD)’

Open and shut cases: Ontario

January 3rd, 2020

2019-2020 brings new technology, new gold, possible cobalt but diamond depletion

by Greg Klein

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

Pure Gold’s plan to revive this Red Lake mine has deep-pocketed supporters.
(Photo: Pure Gold Mining)

 

Our survey of mine openings and closures for 2019 and 2020 continues with a look at Ontario. This is Part 3 of a series.

 

While mining sustains the electric vehicle revolution, EVs enhance sustainability at Newmont Goldcorp’s (TSX:NGT) “mine of the future.” The company announced Borden’s commercial production on October 1, eight days after an official inauguration attended by representatives from industry, government and natives. The new operation boasts “state-of-the-art health and safety controls, digital mining technologies and processes, and low-carbon-energy vehicles.” The latter distinguish Borden as Canada’s first underground mine to spurn diesel-fueled vehicles in favour of EVs.

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

Borden’s fleet of underground EVs includes
this battery-powered bolter. (Photo: Business Wire)

Borden now begins a projected 15 years of operation, although milling takes place at the company’s Timmins-region Porcupine facility, 180 diesel-burning kilometres east.

Even so, Ottawa and Queen’s Park each contributed $5 million to subsidize the environmentally correct underground vehicles.

Borden comprises one of four mines in as many continents that Newmont Goldcorp brought to commercial production in 2019—all on schedule, within budget and, the company already claims, making a profit.

Such technical prowess might make this mechanically impractical mixed metaphor surprising, but president/CEO Tom Palmer said Borden “leverages our leading land position to anchor this new gold district in Ontario.” Anchors and levers notwithstanding, he gave up other Ontario turf by selling Red Lake to ASX-listed Evolution Mining in November. Expressing no nostalgia for an operation that was once integral to Goldcorp’s existence, the deal nonetheless contributes US$375 million to a total US$1.435 billion from three recent divestitures by Newmont Goldcorp, one of 2019’s biggest merger stories.

 

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

Test mining readies Madsen for anticipated production in late 2020.
(Photo: Pure Gold Mining)

That’s not to say the company forsakes Red Lake altogether. As one of four entities together holding over 30% of Pure Gold Mining TSXV:PGM, Newmont Goldcorp backs the camp’s next miner-to-be. Other financial support comes from Rob McEwen, the man behind Goldcorp’s Red Lake success, AngloGold Ashanti NYSE:AU and especially Eric Sprott.

Having started construction in September, Pure Gold expects to start pouring yellow metal at Madsen by late 2020.

Lowering capex while speeding construction, refurbishable infrastructure from two former mines includes a 1,275-metre shaft, 27 levels of underground workings, a mill and a tailings facility.

The property gave up about 2.6 million ounces from 1938 to 1976 and 1997 to 1999. Madsen’s feasibility calls for 12.3 years to chew through a probable reserve of 3.5 million tonnes averaging 8.97 g/t for 1.01 million gold ounces. With the deposit open in all directions, Pure Gold continues exploration in hopes of extending the lifespan.

 

Ontario’s Cobalt camp, meanwhile, was much better known for silver but left a critical mineral legacy in North America’s only permitted primary cobalt refinery. With financial backing from global top cobalt producer Glencore, First Cobalt TSXV:FCC hopes to restart the facility by Q4 2020.

That depends, however, on findings of a pre-feasibility study that might get upgraded to full-feas for an initial 12-tpd operation.

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

Depending on feasibility and financing, First Cobalt
might reintroduce cobalt refining to North America.
(Photo: First Cobalt)

Commissioned in 1996 and on care and maintenance since 2015, the refinery was permitted for 12 tpd back in 2001. A possible advantage to the study’s economics might be the current improvement in cobalt prices, largely resulting from Glencore’s November suspension of its Mutanda mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The shutdown erased about 20% of worldwide cobalt production, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

Should the 12-tpd scenario work out, First Cobalt plans another feasibility study for an expansion to 55 tpd in 2021, which would place the company fourth in cobalt refining outside China.

Glencore loaned US$5 million to fund the studies and could advance up to US$40 million for rehab work, to be repaid by processing Glencore feed. “The refinery will be an important strategic asset for the North American market and we look forward to working with First Cobalt to help the asset fulfill its potential,” said Nico Paraskevas, Glencore’s head of copper-cobalt marketing.

Faintly suggesting a possible North American supply chain, First Cobalt’s portfolio includes an inferred resource at the Iron Creek cobalt-copper project in Idaho. On its Ontario property, the company drilled some 23,300 metres in 2017 and 2018 around former operations which had historically been mined for silver with cobalt-copper byproducts.

 

Turning to the James Bay region, this diamond mine’s closure might have been preventable but Victor lived up to its name in a number of ways. The shutdown, for example, could have happened nearly six years earlier. Winter road blockades in 2013 almost prevented arrival of heavy crucial supplies that couldn’t be flown in. Some of the protesters from the Attawapiskat reserve 90 kilometres east wanted to renegotiate the Impact Benefit Agreement. Others reportedly wanted their dismissals rescinded.

2019-2020 brings new tech, new gold and possible cobalt but diamond depletion

As humans replant a surrounding forest,
nature converts this 11-year mine to a northern lake.
(Photo: De Beers)

As quoted in the Timmins Daily Press, De Beers’ external and corporate affairs director Tom Ormsby warned that “Victor is a very solid, steady mine but it can’t keep taking all of these financial hits.”

Ontario Provincial Police initially refused to enforce a court order against the blockade, then finally moved in after protesters left voluntarily. Transport resumed and Victor lived out the rest of its nearly 11-year lifespan. Mining ended in early March 2019, by which time the total output of 8.1 million carats far surpassed the company’s original estimate of six million. Processing continued on stockpiled ore until late May.

But Tango, a smaller, lower-grade kimberlite seven kilometres away, might have added another five or six years of mining. Attawapiskat representatives, however, declined De Beers’ efforts to consult.

Victor’s closure leaves De Beers with just one mine outside Africa. The company holds the majority of a 51%/49% JV with Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD on Gahcho Kué in the Northwest Territories. De Beers put its NWT Snap Lake mine on extended care and maintenance in late 2015 as construction of Gahcho Kué neared completion. Efforts to sell Snap Lake proved unsuccessful.

But the global giant reiterated its interest in Canada with the 2018 purchase of Eric Friedland’s Peregrine Diamonds. That brought De Beers the Chidliak project on Baffin Island, with two of 74 kimberlites currently hosting inferred resources.

As for Victor, a $15.4-million reclamation program that began years earlier had planted its millionth tree within weeks of closure.

This is Part 3 of a four-part series.

Open and shut cases: North

December 18th, 2019

How do the territories’ mine openings compare with closures for 2019 and 2020?

by Greg Klein

This is Part 1 of a four-part series.

  • See Part 2, covering the western provinces.
  • See Part 3, covering Ontario.
  • See Part 4, covering Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
  •  

    One indication of the state of mining involves the vital statistics of births and deaths—the new mines that arrived and the old mines that left. To that end we survey each Canadian region for some of the major gains and losses that occurred over the past year or are expected for the next. The first of this multi-part series looks at the country’s three northern territories, with each distinct jurisdiction contributing to a study in contrasts.

    Yukon

    Yukon without mining? That might surprise people better acquainted with the territory’s past than its present. But such was the case for nearly a year, following the suspension of Minto, Yukon’s sole remaining hardrock mine up to 2018. Nevertheless operations returned to this fabled mining region in September as Victoria Gold TSXV:VIT celebrated Eagle’s debut. By late November the company reported 10,400 ounces of gold and 1,600 ounces of silver from the heap leach operation.

    How do Canada’s mine openings compare with closures in 2019 and 2020?

    Victoria Gold finished construction a month early on
    Yukon’s largest-ever gold mine. (Photo: Victoria Gold)

    Less than two weeks later the company unveiled an updated feasibility study raising the annual production target for the territory’s largest-ever gold mine from 200,000 to 220,000 gold ounces, based on a 20% increase in proven and probable reserves for the Eagle and Olive deposits. Victoria expects to reach commercial production in Q2 2020.

    By mid-October Minto came back to life under LSE-listed Pembridge Resources. Capstone Mining TSX:CS had placed the underground mine on care and maintenance in 2018, after about 11 years of continuous operation, as acquisition negotiations with Pembridge stalled. But the companies sealed the deal last June. Within weeks of restart Pembridge reported 1,734 dry metric tonnes of copper-gold-silver concentrate. Proven and probable reserves totalling 40,000 tonnes copper, 420,000 ounces silver and 45,000 ounces gold give Minto an estimated four more years of production.

    Among the most advanced Yukon projects is BMC Minerals’ Kudz Ze Kayah, a zinc deposit with copper, lead, gold and silver. The privately owned UK-based company reached feasibility in June and hopes to begin at least nine years of mining in 2021.

    Environmental/socio-economic reviews continue into Newmont Goldcorp’s (TSX:NGT) Coffee gold project and Western Copper and Gold’s (TSX:WRN) Casino polymetallic project. Should Casino make it into operation, the copper-gold-silver-molybdenum operation would be by far the territory’s largest mine.

    Read more about Yukon mining.

    Northwest Territories

    Confidence in the territorial economy fell last October when Moody’s downgraded a $550-million bond issued by Dominion Diamond. “There’s no plan in place to extend the mine life at a time when the debt is coming closer and closer to coming due,” the credit ratings agency’s Jamie Koutsoukis told CBC. “We continue to see a contraction in the time they have to develop this mine plan.”

    Part of the Washington Group, Dominion holds a majority stake in Ekati and 40% of Diavik, where Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO holds the remaining 60%. Along with De Beers’/Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSX:MPVD) Gahcho Kué, the three diamond operations comprise the territory’s largest private sector employer.

    How do Canada’s mine openings compare with closures in 2019 and 2020?

    Agnico Eagle once again laid claim to Arctic riches with the
    Amaruq satellite deposit, over 300 kilometres west of Hudson Bay.
    (Photo: Agnico Eagle)

    In an October presentation before the territory’s newly elected legislative assembly, the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines urged the government to safeguard the economy by improving investor confidence in the mining industry.

    An election year in the NWT and Canada-wide, 2019 brought optimistic talk and initial funding for the NWT’s Slave Geological Province Corridor and Nunavut’s Grays Bay Road and Port, two transportation proposals that would offer enormous potential for mineral-rich regions in both territories.

    Nunavut

    “Whispers could be heard throughout the room as intervenors turned to their colleagues. Members of the audience turned their heads, looking for Baffinland’s reaction to what was unfolding. Baffinland officials sat stone-faced, sometimes crossing their arms and looking down at the table as [Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. president Aluki] Kotierk spelled out the motion.”

    That was the scene described by the Nunatsiaq News as the Nunavut Impact Review Board abruptly suspended hearings into Baffinland Iron Mines’ $900-million Phase II expansion plans for Mary River. The proposals, already accepted by Ottawa, include building a railway to replace a 100-kilometre road north to the company’s Milne Inlet port and doubling annual production to 12 million tonnes iron ore. The new railway proposal comes in addition to a previously approved but un-built 150-kilometre southern rail link to a harbour that had been planned for Steensby Inlet.

    The company maintains that expanded production and a northern rail line will be crucial to the existing operation’s viability. Responses at public hearings ranged from support to skepticism and outright opposition. Within weeks of the hearings’ suspension and a month ahead of a scheduled layoff, Baffinland let go 586 contractors who had been working on expansion preparations.

    How do Canada’s mine openings compare with closures in 2019 and 2020?

    About 290 kilometres southeast of Meadowbank, Agnico
    Eagle celebrated Meliadine’s first gold pour in February.
    (Photo: Agnico Eagle)

    Despite all that, operations continue at Mary River and Nunavut remains a bright spot in Canadian mining.

    That’s largely due to Agnico Eagle TSX:AEM, which brought two new operations to the territory. Meliadine began commercial production months ahead of schedule in mid-May, followed by Amaruq in late September.

    As a satellite deposit, Amaruq brings new life to the Meadowbank mine and mill complex 50 kilometres southeast. With the latter mine wrapping up its ninth and last year of operation, Amaruq’s open pit offers an estimated 2.5 million ounces up to 2025. Should hoped-for permitting come through in late 2020, a Phase II expansion could broaden the lifespan. Meanwhile drilling seeks to upgrade the project’s underground resource.

    Meliadine began with underground production but has an open pit scheduled to come online by 2023. Combined open pit and underground reserves of 3.75 million gold ounces give the operation a 14-year life.

    TMAC Resources’ (TSX:TMR) expansion plans moved forward in October as construction began on an underground portal to Madrid North, a fully permitted deposit that could enter production by late 2020. The new operation’s probable reserves of 2.17 million gold ounces far overshadow the company’s other three Hope Bay deposits, which total 3.59 million ounces proven and probable.

    By comparison, the current Doris operation hosts 479,000 ounces proven and probable. Hope Bay has updated resource/reserve and prefeas studies scheduled for Q1 2020.

    This is Part 1 of a four-part series.

  • See Part 2, covering the western provinces.
  • See Part 3, covering Ontario.
  • See Part 4, covering Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
  • Northern challenge

    November 8th, 2019

    NWT prosperity depends on rebuilding investor confidence, miners warn

    by Greg Klein

    NWT prosperity depends on rebuilding investor confidence, miners warn

     

    What happens when a mining-based economy runs out of mines? The Northwest Territories risks finding out the hard way but the reason won’t be a lack of mineral resources. For too long, investors have been discouraged from backing territorial exploration. That’s the message the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines delivered to the legislative assembly in Yellowknife last month. Now the industry group awaits a response, one backed with action, as the newly elected government prepares for its four-year term.

    The territory’s three mines, all diamond operations, have passed peak production, facing closures over the coming decade. The NWT hosts only a few advanced projects, none comparing in potential economic clout with the big three. The problem contrasts with the NWT’s two northern neighbours, where the industry continues to thrive.

    Projections released in July by the Conference Board of Canada call for Nunavut to lead the country in annual economic expansion, with an average 4.6% up to 2025. “Mining will be the main driver of growth, as Agnico Eagle prepares to bring its Meliadine mine and Amaruq satellite deposit into operation, and Sabina works on its Back River project.”

    More tepid growth in mining will have repercussions on other areas of the economy, with growth in services-based industries remaining flat for much of the forecast. In all, economic growth in the Northwest Territories is forecast to contract by an average annual pace of 1.6% between now and 2025.—Conference Board of Canada

    Yukon “will also experience a boom, with growth of 4.6% this year and 6.2% in 2019,” again thanks to mining. But the NWT faces decline:

    “Two new metal mines should help offset some of the losses for the mining sector, but not until after 2020,” the Board stated. “More tepid growth in mining will have repercussions on other areas of the economy, with growth in services-based industries remaining flat for much of the forecast. In all, economic growth in the Northwest Territories is forecast to contract by an average annual pace of 1.6% between now and 2025.”

    A lack of exploration spending explains the lack of projects in the pipeline, according to the Chamber of Mines. “The NWT has basically been flat-lining for the last 12 years,” says executive director Tom Hoefer. “That’s a problem because that’s the very investment you need to come up with new mines.”

    But it’s a problem industry can’t solve without government help, he emphasizes.

    “The government goes to Roundup and other conferences with really good marketing tools and they’re putting out all the right messages, such as: ‘Come unlock our potential.’ But if it’s that easy, why hasn’t the industry picked up?” Hoefer asks.

    “Well, it’s because these other things happen.”

    His group outlined a number of causes in its presentation to the assembly: high cost of living, relative lack of infrastructure, regulatory uncertainty, unsettled land claims and additional expanses of land (over 30% of the territory) deemed off limits for exploration and development.

    NWT prosperity depends on rebuilding investor confidence, miners warn

    Benefiting from previously built infrastructure,
    NorZinc hopes to begin zinc-lead-silver mining
    at Prairie Creek by 2022. (Photo: NorZinc)

    Hoefer also mentions “contortions” imposed on companies. As examples he cites some early-stage exploration projects that were sent to environmental assessment, “something that would never happen in southern Canada,” and two companies being required to collect data about lakes from which they might or might not draw water in small amounts for diamond drilling, “a totally new requirement, totally out of step with what happens in the rest of the country.

    “What that says to investors is, ‘You’d better be careful when you come up to the NWT because there are these surprises coming out of the woodwork.’”

    Convincing the territorial government calls for a different approach than in most of Canada. With no political parties, the Chamber deals with 19 individual MLAs tasked with working on consensus. They put together collective priorities, Hoefer explains, then create a mandate for their four-year term. His group looks forward to seeing the current mandate, expected to be released soon.

    “Candidates don’t run on a platform but on a community-by-community basis, saying ‘this is what I would do for our community.’ So the challenge is pulling them all together to serve the entire NWT and try to keep them on that path over the next four years.”

    Should problems remain unresolved, however, the territory risks an unfortunate repeat of late 1990s history.

    NWT prosperity depends on rebuilding investor confidence, miners warn

    Considerable infrastructure remains at the former
    Pine Point operation, where Osisko Metals upgrades
    Canada’s “largest pit-constrained zinc deposit.”
    (Photo: Osisko Metals)

    “We were in a similar situation before the first diamond mine opened because the gold mines were winding down. At the same time Nunavut was created, and the new territory pulled a lot of funding away to create a parallel government. The Yellowknife economy really took a dive and housing prices went way down. At the time the government was actually offering $10,000 grants to encourage people to buy homes. We went through a lot of pain then, but I think a lot of people have forgotten that.”

    Even Ekati seemed insufficient to buoy the economy. “But when Diavik got its approval the change was palpable. There was this big sigh of relief, money started to flow and the economy turned around.”

    Now the challenge is to overturn 12 years of neglect that have made investors “gun shy about the NWT,” he says. “We have to rebuild that trust by showing that things are different now. It’s going to take all of us working together to help make it better.”

    With no other industries ready to take mining’s place, “we have to encourage companies to come up here and bring their expertise to do what government can’t do, and that’s turn rock into opportunity.”

     

    Current and potential mines: Comparing job numbers and durations

     

    NWT prosperity depends on rebuilding investor confidence, miners warn

    While updating indicated and inferred resources,
    Vital Metals sees near-term potential for a short-lived
    operation at its Nechalacho rare earths deposits.
    (Photo: Avalon Advanced Materials)

    Employment numbers reported by the Chamber for the NWT’s existing diamond mines in 2018 show 1,625 workers at Dominion Diamond Mines’ majority-held Ekati, 1,113 at Rio Tinto’s (NYSE:RIO)/Dominion’s Diavik and 527 at De Beers’/Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSX:MPVD) Gahcho Kué.

    Projections for the territory’s four likeliest potential mines show estimated average annual employment of 363 workers at Prairie Creek (for 15 years), 300 at Pine Point (13 years), 225 at NICO (21 years) and 30 at Nechalacho (four years).

    The NWT’s next mine will be Prairie Creek, according to NorZinc TSX:NZC. Built to near-completion by 1982 but never operated, the zinc-lead-silver project reached feasibility in 2017. The company hopes to receive its final permit, for an all-season road, this month. Should financing fall in place, NorZinc plans to begin production in 2022.

    Having operated from 1964 to 1987, the Pine Point zinc-lead camp retains infrastructure including an electrical substation and an all-season 96-kilometre link to Hay River, the head of Canada’s only industrial railway north of 60. A previous operator reached PEA in 2017 but current owner Osisko Metals TSX:OM has been drilling the property to upgrade a 2018 inferred resource of 38.4 million tonnes averaging 4.58% zinc and 1.85% lead, for 6.58% zinc-equivalent, Canada’s “largest pit-constrained zinc deposit.”

    Fortune Minerals’ (TSX:FT) NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper project reached feasibility in 2014 based on a mill production rate of 4,650 tpd for a combined open pit and underground operation. A further study considered but rejected a rate of 6,000 tpd. Fortune now has several other proposals under consideration to improve the project’s economics and “align the development schedule with the expected deficit in cobalt supply in 2022-23.”

    The project sits about 50 kilometres north of Whati, which will have an all-season connection to Yellowknife via the Tlicho road now under construction.

    Avalon Advanced Materials TSX:AVL brought its Nechalacho rare earths project to feasibility in 2013 but this year divided the property with another company, privately owned Cheetah Resources which was taken over by ASX-listed Vital Metals in October. Under a $5-million property acquisition that closed soon after the takeover, Vital gets two near-surface deposits while Avalon retains the ground below that. Now working on an update to the indicated and inferred resources, Vital says its deposits show near-term “potential for a start-up operation.”

    See the Chamber’s PowerPoint presentation to the NWT government.

    Related:

    Diamond beneficiation returns to NWT as Yellowknife plant revived

    August 14th, 2019

    by Greg Klein | August 14, 2019

    Delays and missteps notwithstanding, Yellowknife once again has a diamond cutting and polishing facility in operation. On August 13 Almod Diamonds announced its Crown of Light factory had transformed a first batch of rough stones into jewelry. The parent company of Diamonds International specializes in its proprietary 90-facet Crown of Light cut, marketed largely through tax- and duty-free retailers in the Caribbean and other cruise ship destinations.

    Diamond beneficiation returns to NWT as Yellowknife facility revived

    Almod reintroduces cutting and polishing to one of the
    world’s most important diamond-mining jurisdictions.
    (Photo: Almod Diamonds)

    The YK operation takes place under the Northwest Territories’ amended Diamond Policy Framework, which seeks to expand benefits from diamond mining, by far the territory’s largest private sector employer. The policy seeks to have 10% of NWT-mined diamonds cut and polished within the territory, with experienced staff training local workers.

    Currently the sole company taking part, Almod stated that increasing demand for its patented cut “created the need for this factory to invest in building a skilled team to cut the Crown of Light. The goal is to continue skills transfer and career development.”

    The company hopes expanded operations will lead to a grand opening tentatively scheduled for next year.

    Almod has planned a YK operation since buying the Laurelton factory in 2016 but failed to meet its 2017 opening target. Despite government incentives, previous attempts to encourage NWT diamond beneficiation have failed. Laurelton Diamonds and Arslanian Cutting Works shut down their local operations in 2009. In 2013 Deepak International vowed to revive the industry. But by 2017 RCMP were looking for president Deepak Kumar, alleging he fraudulently used storage containers full of junk as collateral for a loan of more than $1 million.

    As a De Beers sightholder, Almod gets its NWT rough from Gahcho Kué, a 51%/49% JV that the global giant shares with Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD. The territory’s other two diamond producers are Ekati (majority-held by Dominion Diamond Mines) and Diavik (Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO/Dominion).

    Almod also runs cutting and polishing facilities in New York, Namibia and Ukraine.

    Looking up, up north

    October 5th, 2018

    The territories reap tangible and intangible benefits from their biggest industry

    by Greg Klein

    The territories reap tangible and intangible benefits from their biggest industry

    Baffinland president/CEO Brian Penney joins QIA president P.J. Akeeagok
    and others at a signing ceremony for Mary River’s amended benefit agreement.
    (Photo: Baffinland Iron Mines)

     

    Nunavut’s environmental review said no to a mining proposal but Ottawa said yes. What happened?

    Hoping to finally make a profit at its four-year-old Mary River operation, Baffinland Iron Mines asked permission to boost production from 4.2 million tonnes annually to six million tonnes. Worried about possible environmental effects, the Nunavut Impact Review Board recommended in late August that the federal government reject the proposal. But it was the NIRB recommendation that got rejected. Five cabinet ministers approved the mine’s request, for the time being anyway.

    Swaying the decision was the support of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, whose members “strongly support the Production Increase Proposal as a method of furthering Inuit aspirations in the region,” Ottawa stated. Support also came from Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, who urged a swift decision in favour.

    The territories reap tangible and intangible benefits from their biggest industry

    It wasn’t long coming. Just one month after the NIRB forwarded its recommendation, Ottawa announced its approval, expressing concern about the socio-economic effects of shutting down the mine for part of the year once the 4.2-million-tonne limit is reached and about the mine’s long-term viability. Increased production will “allow the Inuit of the region the opportunity to maintain and more fully realize the economic and other benefits of the mine.”

    That’s not to dismiss environmental concerns. Monitoring will take place until the end of next year, when permission comes up for review. Among other considerations will be the effects of dust on wildlife along a 100-kilometre trucking route from mine to port and of increased shipping on marine life. Considered one of the world’s richest iron ore deposits, Mary River also ranks as one of the planet’s northern-most mines.

    The company received additional permission to build a 15-million-litre fuel tank and a 380-person camp at the Milne Inlet port, projects which the NIRB supported. Still under consideration by the board is Baffinland’s proposal to replace the truck route with a 110-kilometre railway.

    The QIA, which will participate in environmental monitoring, represents some 14,000 people in the Baffin region. Baffinland, co-owned by Nunavut Iron Ore and ArcelorMittal, employs about 2,000 staff and contractors at Mary River and Milne Inlet. This year the QIA’s Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement with Baffinland brought in $11.65 million, a considerable jump from $3.11 million the previous year. The group netted another $3.7 million in leases and fees, most of it from Mary River. That, from a mine that’s yet to turn a profit.

    The benefit agreement looks even better with amendments announced just days after the production increase approval. “Our goal was to increase training and employment opportunities, and we have done that and much more,” said QIA president P.J. Akeeagok. 

    The agreement comes up for review every three years. Apart from a modified royalty structure, these amendments call for Baffinland to spend $10 million on a state-of-the-art training centre, significantly expand the Inuit training budget, provide four communities with research vessels currently priced at $300,000 each and fund a $200,000 annual monitoring program. The amendments intend to “increase Inuit employment in all aspects of Baffinland’s organization” as well as provide “improved support for all residents of the Qikiqtani communities,” the company stated.

    The same day the agreement was announced came news from the Northwest Territories of diamond mining’s benefits, tangible and intangible. Compiling information from recent socio-economic reports for the territory’s three mines, the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines reported 3,450 person-years of employment in 2017, 46% of that going to northerners. Natives comprised 51% of the northern workers and women 15% of all jobs.

    Altogether the three operations—the Washington Group’s Ekati, Washington Group/Rio Tinto’s (NYSE:RIO) Diavik and De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSX:MPVD) Gahcho Kué—brought $1.2 billion in spending last year, $834 million spent in the north and $325 million to northern natives.

    “In addition to jobs, business spending and training, the diamond mines have also contributed billions of dollars in community contributions and in taxes and royalties paid to public and indigenous governments,” pointed out Chamber president Gary Vivian. “With continued progress on infrastructure investment, and regulatory and land access improvements, mining in the north is truly a sunrise industry. Our mining potential is huge.”

    Gary Vivian of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines celebrates Ekati’s 20th year of production and Diavik’s new A21 operation

    September 17th, 2018

    …Read more

    The Northwest Territories celebrates gemstone mining milestones

    August 24th, 2018

    from the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines | August 24, 2018

    The Northwest Territories diamond mining industry celebrated two milestones this month, gratefully acknowledged by northern government, Indigenous and industry leaders.

    The Northwest Territories celebrates gemstone mining milestones

    NWT government, miners and Indigenous community representatives
    celebrate the official opening of Diavik’s fourth diamond pipe.
    (Photo: Rio Tinto)

    On August 9, Dominion Diamonds celebrated the 20th year of diamond mining at Ekati, the first diamond mine to have opened in Canada in 1998. An unexpected and initially unbelieved discovery of diamonds by geologists Chuck Fipke and Stu Blusson in 1991 proved that the ground they staked held significant deposits of jewelry-grade diamonds. In partnership with a major global mining corporation BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP, they would see the new Ekati mine approved, constructed and producing high-quality diamonds a short seven years later. The mine is owned and operated today by the Washington Group.

    Just a short 30 kilometres to the south, Diavik Diamond Mines celebrated the start of mining of their fourth ore body, named A21, on August 20. The planned US$350-million project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Mining and diamond production is expected to reach full production in Q4 2018. As with Diavik’s other three ore bodies, A21 was discovered under the large lake Lac de Gras and required the construction of a highly engineered dyke to allow open pit mining. Diavik’s dyke design received Canada’s top engineering award as a Canadian engineering achievement for its significant positive impact on society, industry or engineering. The Diavik mine is operated today by Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO, which owns 60% of the mine, with the Washington Group owning 40%.

    Generations of Northerners have benefited from our diamond mines. Our mining partners have provided thousands of rewarding careers for our residents; enriched our communities through grants, scholarships and contributions; and spent billions with local businesses.—Wally Schumann,
    NWT Minister of Industry,
    Tourism and Investment

    Leaders and representatives of the NWT government and from the Indigenous groups that traditionally used the area participated in and helped celebrate the events at Ekati and Diavik.

    In September, the NWT’s newest diamond mine—Gahcho Kué—will celebrate its second anniversary. In that short time, the mine has set production records, has hired over half of its workforce from the North (with one-third Indigenous) and this year has already spent $142.6 million with NWT businesses. The mine is operated by De Beers (51% ownership) and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD (49%).

    “The Ekati and Diavik mines are world class operations and have helped put Canada on the map as the third most valuable diamond producer in the world,” said Gary Vivian, president of the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines. “Most importantly, along with our third diamond mine Gahcho Kué, they operate to the highest of environmental standards, they continue to create significant socio-economic benefits for the North, and are also leaders in Indigenous reconciliation.”

    Since 1996 when construction of Ekati began, all the NWT diamond mines have created significant economic benefits for Canada and for the North. These include:

    • Over 58,000 person years of employment for Canada, with half northern and half of that Indigenous

    • $20 billion in spending, of which nearly $14 billion is northern and $6 billion Indigenous

    See Mining North Works, a new website highlighting the opportunities and benefits of NWT and Nunavut mining.

    Related:

    Margaret Lake Diamonds tackles two NWT projects with geophysics and drilling

    May 30th, 2018

    by Greg Klein | May 30, 2018

    As work resumes at Diagras, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA now returns to a second front in its search for Northwest Territories gems. On May 30 the company announced a new geophysics program had begun at Diagras, coinciding with a drill campaign that started earlier this month at the company’s Margaret Lake project.

    Margaret Lake Diamonds tackles two NWT projects with geophysics and drilling

    The Diagras agenda calls for ground gravity, magnetic and EM surveys around known kimberlites, as well as around potential kimberlites suggested by earlier geophysics.

    The strategy will employ techniques that weren’t used when De Beers explored the area but have since proven successful elsewhere. Some examples include two other Lac de Gras-region projects, Mountain Province Diamonds’ (TSX:MPVD) Kennady North and Peregrine Diamonds’ (TSX:PGD) Tli-Kwi-Cho DO-27/DO-18 kimberlite complex, Margaret Lake stated.

    The company holds a majority interest and acts as operator on the 18,699-hectare Diagras property in a 60/40 joint venture with Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD. The project sits 35 kilometres from Canada’s largest diamond producer, the Diavik mine of Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO and Dominion Diamond Mines.

    Margaret Lake’s 100%-held, 23,199-hectare Margaret Lake property lies nine kilometres north of the De Beers/Mountain Province Gahcho Kué diamond mine and two kilometres from Mountain Province’s Kelvin and Faraday deposits.

    Last year’s Diagras work found “gravity and EM anomalies proximal to known magnetic kimberlites that constitute compelling drill targets,” Margaret Lake stated. Among areas of special interest is Jack Pine, one of the largest kimberlite complexes in Lac de Gras. Previous drilling has revealed diamonds, while an area of further kimberlite potential has yet to be drilled.

    Additionally, gravity anomalies near the property’s Black Spruce kimberlite show similarities to other kimberlites in the region.

    Meanwhile Margaret Lake has a rig testing six kimberlite targets on the company’s namesake property. Each target shows a gravity low, bedrock conductor or both. The company interprets those characteristics as potentially representing kimberlite.

    Last month Margaret Lake closed a $495,500 first tranche of a private placement offered up to $2.2 million.

    Read more about Margaret Lake Diamonds.

    Emulating success

    May 2nd, 2018

    Margaret Lake follows Kennady’s playbook in the quest for NWT diamonds

    by Greg Klein

    With fresh financing and a rig en route, Margaret Lake Diamonds TSXV:DIA has drilling about to begin on its namesake project in the Northwest Territories. As with any outfit in similar circumstances, the company’s optimism has been buoyed by the performance of an illustrious neighbour, in this case Kennady Diamonds. But more objective encouragement comes from the extensive geophysics that determined the targets for Margaret Lake’s maiden drill program. Additionally, the project operator will be the same group that helped deliver success to Kennady.

    “Aurora Geosciences acts as project operator for us and also for Kennady,” points out Margaret Lake president/CEO Paul Brockington. “So we’re using the same people who have done all the Kennady work for the last six years.”

    Margaret Lake follows Kennady’s playbook in the quest for NWT diamonds

    Public tribute came to Yellowknife-based Aurora at Mines & Money London 2016, when Kennady co-won (with NexGen Energy TSX:NXE) the Exploration Company of the Year award. Noting that Aurora had designed and carried out all of the property’s exploration since 2012, Kennady president/CEO Rory Moore said, “Gary Vivian, [then president, now chairperson of Aurora], and Chris Hrkac, [Aurora’s] senior project manager for the Kennady North project, together with their team deserve the lion’s share of credit for the successes that Kennady has enjoyed to date. Their innovative, systematic and dedicated approach to a technically challenging project has resulted in new and unique discoveries, and earned Aurora the respect of its peers in the industry.”

    A further testament to their work came just last month as Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPVD closed its acquisition of Kennady in an all-share deal valued at $176 million. An MOU between Mountain Province and De Beers considers incorporating Kennady North into the joint venture that comprises their Gahcho Kué mine.

    The 23,199-hectare Margaret Lake property sits about nine kilometres north of Gahcho Kué and two kilometres northwest of Kennady North’s Kelvin and Faraday deposits. The Gahcho Kué winter road passes through Margaret Lake.

    Aurora’s participation in the project will be nothing new. The company ran the geophysics that brought Margaret Lake to the drill-ready stage and Aurora will return very shortly, this time with a rig. Financing will begin with a $495,000 first tranche that Margaret Lake closed last month, out of a private placement offered up to $2.2 million.

    Results from airborne and ground EM, along with airborne gravity/gradiometry pioneered by BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP, show six initial targets. Each features either a gravity low, a bedrock conductor or both, possibly indicating kimberlite. “Our first objective is to see if these targets represent kimberlite and, if they do, the objective then would be to get sufficient kimberlite to analyze it for microdiamonds and indicator minerals,” Brockington explains. “We’ll try to drill as much as we can before spring break-up.”

    But while encouraged by his successful neighbour, he’s not basking in reflected glory. Margaret Lake is “a science project,” Brockington emphasizes. “We’re very much relying on these gravity/EM anomalies to help us deliver the goods.”

    It’s very clear that when De Beers was there they did not recognize all the kimberlite. They were drilling mag targets but we went in and did ground gravity and EM, and we can see other targets that very strongly suggest more kimberlite.—Paul Brockington, president/CEO
    of Margaret Lake Diamonds

    Farther north, in the Lac de Gras field hosting the NWT’s Ekati and Diavik diamond mines, Margaret Lake also has work planned for Diagras, where the company holds a 60% stake in a JV with 40% partner Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD. This property hosts 13 kimberlites found by De Beers in the 1990s. Brockington thinks there’s more to be found.

    “It’s very clear that when De Beers was there they did not recognize all the kimberlite,” he says. “They were drilling mag targets but we went in and did ground gravity and EM, and we can see other targets that very strongly suggest more kimberlite. We’re definitely going to do more geophysics there in the next few weeks. We hope to get a ground program going to look at other areas that weren’t covered in last year’s program and I think we’ll have a number of drill targets.”

    The winter road to Diavik passes through the northwest corner of the 18,699-hectare property.

    Looking forward to a busy and prospective period, Brockington says, “We’ve got a lot coming up and, when you look at the activity in the diamond patch, I think we’ve got about as much as anyone.”

    Closeology helps Zimtu Capital close in on NWT diamonds

    June 21st, 2017

    by Greg Klein | June 21, 2017

    A surprisingly neglected property in an especially prospective location gets some overdue attention as a crew mobilizes for the Northwest Territories’ Munn Lake diamond project. Held 50% each by Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC and a staking partner, the property has ground geophysics and till sampling about to begin.

    The property does have diamonds, as historic work shows. Non-43-101 results from a 581-kilogram sample on the Yuryi boulder field revealed 226 diamonds, 62 of them macro-diamonds. Non-43-101 results from a 42-kilogram sample on the Munn Lake kimberlite sill showed 14 diamonds, including two macros and 12 micro-diamonds.

    There’s closeology and then there’s closeology, as Zimtu Capital closes in on NWT diamonds

    Southern Slave kimberlites show an incomparably
    higher success rate than those of the northern craton.

    The Munn Lake sill is the source of one of five kimberlite indicator mineral trains. The other four have seen little follow-up work, leaving their sources unknown.

    The current agenda calls for further till sampling and a tight magnetic survey, explains Neil McCallum of Dahrouge Geological Consulting, which will conduct the program. Using GPS that wasn’t available to the previous operator, he expects “more focused” results.

    One of the distinctions that really intrigues McCallum is Munn Lake’s especially prospective location. The Slave Craton has three diamond mines in operation, two past producers and an advanced stage project. But chances of a kimberlite actually holding diamonds are much higher in the southern Slave, home to Munn Lake.

    “There are some 250 or so known kimberlites in the northern Slave’s Lac de Gras field whereas the southern Slave has only about 16 that are known,” McCallum explains. “Of those 16, six have been mined, are currently producing or are in advanced stages.” He points to De Beers’ former Snap Lake operation, the high-grade Kelvin and Faraday kimberlites being advanced by Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI and three kimberlites going into Gahcho Kué, the De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV JV that officially opened last September as the world’s largest new diamond mine in 13 years.

    That’s notwithstanding the Lac de Gras success stories in the north, home to the Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO/Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC Diavik JV and Dominion’s majority-held Ekati mine.

    Kimberlites of the south Slave are much older (by nearly 500 million years) and much rarer than those of the north. But when they’re found, they’re much more likely to bear diamonds—and diamonds of economic grades, McCallum adds.

    “The Munn Lake property is closer to the kimberlites of the southern Slave cluster and the Munn Lake kimberlite sill is similar in geometry to the others in the southern Slave. So with the proposed expansion of the Munn Lake kimberlite sill and the potential for several new kimberlites on the project, the Munn Lake property has very good odds for a high-grade discovery.”

    Munn Lake also benefits from a winter road running through the 14,000-hectare property, connecting Gahcho Kué with Yellowknife.

    McCallum expects the mag results to arrive about one week after the survey finishes, with the till samples taking about a month. “I’m really looking forward to see what comes out,” he says.

    “I’d like to see some drilling on the project too. On the kimberlite that the past operators did intercept, I’m not sure they hit the best target.”