Friday 17th January 2020

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Posts tagged ‘new brunswick’

Open and shut cases: East

January 7th, 2020

Some 2019-2020 ups and downs for mining in Quebec and Atlantic Canada

by Greg Klein

Some 2019-2020 ups and downs for mining in Quebec and Atlantic Canada

Eldorado workers celebrate another endowment from Lamaque’s legacy.
(Photo: Eldorado Gold)

 

This is the final installment of a series on mine openings and closures across Canada for 2019 and 2020.

Quebec

Val-d’Or flaunted its abundance yet again as Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD reached commercial production at Lamaque in March. Pre-commercial mining and toll milling began the previous year, with the first gold pour from the project’s refurbished Sigma mill in December 2018. Guidance for 2019 was set at 100,000 to 110,000 ounces, with 125,000 to 135,000 initially expected for each of 2020 and 2021.

At least, that was the original plan. In September 2019 the company began a PEA to study an annual increase to 170,000 ounces. By November Eldorado announced an additional 19,000 ounces for Lamaque’s proven and probable reserves, along with 191,000 ounces for measured and indicated resources.

Some 2019-2020 ups and downs for mining in Quebec and Atlantic Canada

A drill operator probes the Triangle deposit at Lamaque.
(Photo: Eldorado Gold)

That gives the deposit reserves of 972,000 ounces within a measured and indicated 1.55 million ounces.

But until further feasibility states otherwise, Lamaque’s life expectancy ends in seven years.

Eldorado picked up the property with its 2017 buyout of Integra Gold. The Triangle deposit now under production wasn’t part of the historic Lamaque mines, one of which was Quebec’s biggest gold producer between 1952 and 1985. In 2016 Integra’s Gold Rush Challenge offered geo-boffins a half-million-dollar prize to apply cutting edge technology in search of additional auriferous riches on historic turf adjacent to the current operation.

 

Attributing its setbacks more to cost overruns than an overinflated bubble, Nemaska Lithium TSX:NMX ended 2019 by suspending mine construction and demo plant operations, laying off 64 staff, getting creditor protection and halting trades. Hanging in the balance is a possible $600-million investment that’s been under negotiation since July.

Just over a year ago Nemaska confidently spoke of steady construction progress, with concentrate production expected in H2 2019 and lithium salts production in H2 2020. But by February 2019 the company warned of a $375-million capex shortfall revealed by “detailed engineering work, revised site geo-technical data and updated equipment and installation costs” not foreseen in the previous year’s feasibility update.

That same month Livent Corp (previously FMC Corp) cancelled an 8,000-tpa lithium carbonate supply agreement that was to start in April 2019.

Some 2019-2020 ups and downs for mining in Quebec and Atlantic Canada

Until funders come to the rescue, Nemaska’s
Whabouchi camp will resemble an instant ghost town.
(Photo: Nemaska Lithium)

By September a US$75-million second tranche of a US$150-million stream agreement with Orion Mutual Funds fell into jeopardy. Bondholders called for repayment of US$350 million. The company had so far spent only $392 million towards a capex estimated at $1.269 billion.

Plan A calls for sealing a $600-million deal with the London-based Pallinghurst Group, which over the last 12 years has invested about US$2 billion in mining projects. But negotiation delays caused Nemaska to seek creditor protection, which was granted in December. Bracing for a possible fallout with Pallinghurst, Nemaska says it’s also considering other investment, debt or M&A alternatives.

Before suspending the Phase I plant at Shawinigan, however, the company did finish delivering samples to potential customers “ranging from cathode manufacturers to battery makers to industrial grease users, in addition to our existing offtake customers, which include LG Chemicals, Johnson Matthey and Northvolt” using proprietary methodology.

The mine plan calls for 24 years of open pit operation prior to nine years of underground mining, producing an annual 205,000 tonnes of 6.25% Li2O spodumene concentrate. On achieving commercial production, the Shawinigan plant’s annual capacity would reach 37,000 tonnes lithium hydroxide monohydrate.

Should funding allow, Nemaska would target Q3 2021 to begin spodumene concentrate production at Whabouchi and Q2 2022 to start producing lithium salts at Shawinigan.

The provincial government’s investment agency Ressources Québec holds about 12.5% of Nemaska.

 

Some 2019-2020 ups and downs for mining in Quebec and Atlantic Canada

Although Nyrstar has moved mining equipment
out of Langlois, the company says exploration
potential remains. (Photo: Nyrstar)

Another James Bay-region operation, the Langlois zinc-copper mine went back on care and maintenance in December. A short-lived operation between July 2007 and November 2008, Langlois was taken over by Zurich-headquartered Nyrstar in 2011. Mining resumed the following year. But by October 2018 the suspension was decided “due to rock conditions having deteriorated,” making the mine uneconomic. Some 240 staff lost their jobs.

But Langlois “has exploration potential for other metals such as gold,” Nyrstar stated. “The company is in active discussions with interested parties in the mine and its assets.”

Usable equipment was slated for transfer to other Nyrstar properties in Tennessee and on Vancouver Island, where the company’s Myra Falls zinc-copper-polymetallic mine suspended operations briefly in early 2019.

As part of a debt restructuring, in July Nyrstar came under majority ownership of the Trafigura Group, one of the world’s largest physical commodities traders.

 

Fear of closure came to another Quebec mine in September after Stornoway Diamond followed its application for creditor protection with this ominous declaration: “There is and will be no recoverable or residual value in either Stornoway’s common shares or convertible debentures.”

Such an admission made the company’s October delisting something of a formality. But if investors got wiped out, the Renard mine continues operations due to creditors led by Osisko Gold Royalties TSX:OR and including Ressources Québec. As of November 1, Osisko became the largest shareholder, with a 35.1% stake. The royalty company also holds a 9.6% stream.

Some 2019-2020 ups and downs for mining in Quebec and Atlantic Canada

Despite Stornoway’s failure, creditors keep Quebec’s only
diamond mine in operation. (Photo: Stornoway Diamond)

Under a September LOI, the lenders agreed to take over all of Stornoway’s assets and liabilities. An initial $20-million financing should ensure Renard operations continue “in an uninterrupted manner.”

Open pit mining began in 2015, with an official opening following in 2016 and commercial production in 2017. But Renard encountered technical problems while shifting to underground operations and also faced a disappointing initial underground grade as well as the global slump in diamond markets.

Nevertheless, Osisko suggested the mine remained on target to meet the 2019 guidance set by Stornoway of 1.8 million to 2.1 million carats, with sales expectations of $80 to $105 per carat. A 2016 resource update expected prices ranging from $106 per carat for the Renard 4 pipe to $197 for Renard 2. The technical study assumed a 2.5% annual increase in diamond prices to the end of 2026.

New Brunswick

A casualty of an earlier mine closure, Glencore’s Brunswick lead-silver smelter shut down permanently by the end of 2019. “Despite years of efforts by committed employees and a strong management team, the smelter has been uneconomic since the closure of the Brunswick mine in 2013,” said company spokesperson Chris Eskdale. “We have thoroughly assessed all our options and come to the unavoidable conclusion that the smelter is simply not sustainable, regardless of the recent labour dispute.”

Termed a lockout by the United Steelworkers and a strike by management, the dispute had left 280 union members of the 420-person workforce off the job since April. The company’s November announcement of the impending shutdown also coincided with a strike at the CEZinc refinery near Montreal, which ended December 3 after 10 months. That facility is owned by Noranda Income Fund TSX:NIF.UN but operated by Glencore, which holds 25% of NIF.

Glencore’s Alexis Segal emphasized that Brunswick plant losses averaged $30 million annually for the last three years, CBC reported. Premier Blaine Higgs and labour minister Trevor Holder expressed concern but couldn’t offer reassurances, the network added.

The facility opened in 1966 to process concentrate from the Brunswick zinc-lead-silver mine, at one point the world’s largest underground zinc operation. Following the mine’s 2013 closure, the company was transforming the smelter into a custom plant.

Labrador

Some 2019-2020 ups and downs for mining in Quebec and Atlantic Canada

Blasting began last June as Tacora brought new life
to the Scully iron ore operation. (Photo: Tacora Resources)

Western Labrador’s iron industry revived in May as production resumed at the Scully mine after nearly five years. Minnesota-based Tacora Resources bought the former Wabush Iron operation through a Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act process in 2017, conducted a new feasibility study and recruited strategic investors that include the metals branch of Cargill, which also agreed to 100% offtake for 15 years.

The restart benefits Quebec too. The Iron Ore Company of Canada’s railway, the Quebec North Shore & Labrador line, carries Scully production to a pellet plant at Pointe Noire on the St. Lawrence. Nearby Sept-Isles provides deep sea docks from where the resuscitated mine’s first shipment left for Europe in late August.

With life expectancy currently set at 15 years, the company expects the open pit to produce 6.25 million tpa. Tacora hopes to upgrade the 65.9% Fe concentrate and also pull profits from the deposit’s manganese, considered problematic by the previous operator.

“The manganese content was a hurdle and an impediment before,” Tacora CEO/chairperson Larry Lehtinen told CBC. “We’re turning that into an advantage.”

The mine previously opened in 1965. The operation shut down completely in 2015 but most staff had already lost their jobs the previous year.

This is Part 4 of a series.

PDAC infographics: Highlighting mining’s contributions to Canada’s economy

October 28th, 2019

by Greg Klein | October 28, 2019

Although Canadian miners hold global stature, Canadians don’t always recognize the industry’s importance to our own country. Yet the numbers tell a story that’s not only impressive but vital to understanding an economy in which mining supports one in 29 jobs and provides the largest private sector source of native employment.

To state the case clearly, the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada created a series of infographics outlining the industry’s contributions. Check them out yourself by scrolling down to see facts and figures for Canada overall and for each province or territory. Or click on the menu below for a direct link to each jurisdiction.

Canada nationwide | Yukon | Northwest Territories/Nunavut | British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario | Quebec | New Brunswick/Nova Scotia | Newfoundland and Labrador/Prince Edward Island

Posted with permission of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada.

 

PDAC infographics Highlighting mining’s contributions to Canada’s economy

 

PDAC Yukon mining infographic

 

PDAC NWT Nunavut mining infographic

 

PDAC BC mining infographic

 

PDAC Alberta mining infographic

 

PDAC Saskatchewan mining infographic

 

PDAC Manitoba mining infographic

 

PDAC Ontario mining infographic

 

PDAC Quebec mining infographic

 

PDAC Nova Scotia New Brunswick mining infographic

 

PDAC Newfoundland Labrador PEI mining infographic

Posted with permission of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada.

Canadian Greens surge again as party takes second place in PEI election

April 23rd, 2019

by Greg Klein | April 23, 2019

Press time results (seats at dissolution in parentheses)

  • Progressive Conservatives: 12 seats, 36.5% of the popular vote (8)
  • Greens: 8 seats, 30.6% (2)
  • Liberals: 6 seats, 29.5% (16)
  • New Democrats: 0 seats, 3% (0)
  • Independent: 0 seats, 0.4% (1)
  • (Voting in one district was postponed)

Promoting its use of wind energy, Prince Edward Island likes to call itself “Canada’s Green Province.” On April 23 PEI’s government just missed turning Green itself.

In an historic first for Canada, the home of Confederation voted Greens into second place, following a few years of electoral gains for the once-marginal party in other parts of the country. At press time the popular vote showed Dennis King’s Progressive Conservatives just 6% higher than Peter Bevan-Baker’s Green Party, which came in barely ahead of the incumbent Liberals whose leader Wade MacLauchlan lost his district to a Tory. But the seat count gave PCs 12, Greens eight and Liberals six. That raises the question of who will rule the province, and how. Among the possibilities is a Green-supported minority government, as is the case in British Columbia.

Canadian Greens surge again as party takes second place in PEI election

PCs won more seats but Greens flourished in the
land of Green Gables. (Photo: PEI government)

Voting in one of the province’s 27 districts was postponed following the death of Green candidate Josh Underhay and his six-year-old son in a Good Friday canoeing accident.

The Liberals collapsed after three terms in office despite budget surpluses and avowals that PEI had built Canada’s strongest economy. Still the country’s biggest potato producer, the province’s other main resource industry is fishing. Economic diversification includes an aerospace industry that accounts for 20% of provincial exports and a bioscience sector employing over 1,000 people.

With 27 electoral districts for a population estimated at 154,748, most winning candidates draw well under 1,500 votes. At 5,660 square kilometres, the province holds just over one-sixth the landmass of Vancouver Island.

But the Greens’ performance suggests continuing growth in some parts of Canada. Last October the party took three places each on Vancouver’s council, parks board and school board, along with one each on neighbouring Burnaby’s council and school board. In B.C.’s 2017 provincial election, Greens rose from one MLA to three, a feat matched by New Brunswick Greens last September. Ontario elected its first Green MPP in June.

Southern Vancouver Island hosts Canada’s sole Green MP, as well as the three MLAs who hold the balance of power supporting B.C.’s minority NDP government.

The environmentalist-nationalist Québec Solidaire went from three to 10 seats in October’s Quebec election.

Not surprisingly, however, Greens fared poorly in last week’s Alberta election, where the party polled only 0.4%. Should PEI PCs hold onto government, they’ll join Alberta along with Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick in a bloc of provincial conservative governments.

A referendum asking whether PEI should switch to a mixed-member proportional voting system passed in 15 of 27 districts but failed to reach the 17-district threshold.

Miners and explorers pick their spots in Fraser Institute’s latest report card

February 28th, 2019

by Greg Klein | February 28, 2019

Ontario dropped dramatically but an improved performance by the Northwest Territories and Nunavut helped Canada retain its status as the planet’s most mining-friendly country. That’s the verdict of the Fraser Institute’s Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2018, a study of jurisdictions worldwide. Some 291 mining and exploration people responded to questions on a number of issues, supplying enough info to rank 83 countries, provinces and states.

Canadian and American jurisdictions dominated the most important section, with four spots each on the Investment Attractiveness Index’s top 10. Combined ratings for all Canadian jurisdictions held this country’s place as the miners’ favourite overall.

The IAI rates both geology and government policies. Respondents typically say they base about 40% of their investment decisions on policy factors and about 60% on geology. Here’s the IAI top 10 with the previous year’s numbers in parentheses:

  • 1 Nevada (3)

  • 2 Western Australia (5)

  • 3 Saskatchewan (2)

  • 4 Quebec (6)

  • 5 Alaska (10)

  • 6 Chile (8)

  • 7 Utah (15)

  • 8 Arizona (9)

  • 9 Yukon (13)

  • 10 Northwest Territories (21)

Here are Canada’s IAI rankings:

  • 3 Saskatchewan (2)

  • 4 Quebec (6)

  • 9 Yukon (13)

  • 10 Northwest Territories (21)

  • 11 Newfoundland and Labrador (11)

  • 12 Manitoba (18)

  • 15 Nunavut (26)

  • 18 British Columbia (20)

  • 20 Ontario (7)

  • 30 New Brunswick (30)

  • 51 Alberta (49)

  • 57 Nova Scotia (56)

Despite Ontario’s fall from grace, the province’s policy ratings changed little from last year. Relative to other jurisdictions, however, the province plummeted. Concerns include disputed land claims, as well as uncertainty about protected areas and environmental regulations.

The Policy Perception Index ignored geology to focus on how government treats miners and explorers. Saskatchewan ranked first worldwide, as seen in these Canadian standings:

The evidence is clear—mineral deposits alone are not enough to attract precious commodity investment dollars. A sound regulatory regime coupled with competitive fiscal policies is key to making a jurisdiction attractive in the eyes of mining investors.—Ashley Stedman,
senior policy analyst,
the Fraser Institute

  • 1 Saskatchewan (3)

  • 9 New Brunswick (13)

  • 10 Quebec (9)

  • 11 Nova Scotia (24)

  • 14 Alberta (16)

  • 18 Newfoundland (10)

  • 24 Yukon (22)

  • 30 Ontario (20)

  • 33 Manitoba (27)

  • 42 NWT (42)

  • 44 B.C. (36)

  • 45 Nunavut (44)

The NWT and Nunavut’s indifferent PPI performance suggests greater appreciation of the territories’ geology boosted their IAI rank.

This year’s study included a chapter on exploration permitting, previously the subject of a separate Fraser Institute study. Twenty-two jurisdictions in Canada, the U.S., Australia and Scandinavia were evaluated for time, transparency and certainty. Cumulatively, the six American states did best, with 72% of explorers saying they got permits within six months, compared with 69% for the eight Canadian provinces, 53% for the two Scandinavian countries (Finland and Sweden) and 34% for the six Australian states.

A majority of respondents working in Canada (56%) said permitting waits had grown over the last decade, compared with 52% in Australia, 45% in Scandinavia and 28% in the U.S.

A lack of permitting transparency was cited as an investment deterrent by 48% of respondents working in Australia, 44% in Canada, 33% in Scandinavia and 24% in the U.S.

Eighty-eight percent of explorers working in the U.S. and Scandinavia expressed confidence that they’d eventually get permits, followed by 77% for Australia and 73% for Canada.

Saskatchewan led Canada for timeline certainty, transparency and, with Quebec, confidence that permits would eventually come through.

As for the IAI’s 10 worst, they include Bolivia, despite some recent efforts to encourage development; China, the only east Asian country in the study; and problem-plagued Venezuela.

  • 74 Bolivia (86)

  • 75 La Rioja province, Argentina (80)

  • 76 Dominican Republic (72)

  • 77 Ethiopia (81)

  • 78 China (83)

  • 79 Panama (77)

  • 80 Guatemala (91)

  • 81 Nicaragua (82)

  • 82 Neuquen province, Argentina (57)

  • 83 Venezuela (85)

Explorers made up nearly 52% of survey respondents, producers just over 25%, consulting companies over 16% and others nearly 8%.

“The evidence is clear—mineral deposits alone are not enough to attract precious commodity investment dollars,” said Ashley Stedman, who co-wrote the study with Kenneth P. Green. “A sound regulatory regime coupled with competitive fiscal policies is key to making a jurisdiction attractive in the eyes of mining investors.”

Download the Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2018.

B.C. votes down Greens’ voting reform proposal, but do Greens need it?

December 20th, 2018

by Greg Klein | December 20, 2018

If a new electoral system might have reduced British Columbian voter apathy, not many voters showed interest. Only 42.6% of registered voters bothered to take part in a mail-in referendum on proportional representation and 61.3% of them rejected change. Results were released late December 20, after the voting deadline ended December 7.

British Columbians vote down Greens’ voting reform proposal

With or without electoral changes, Greens increasingly
make inroads in B.C. and some other parts of Canada.

B.C.’s ruling NDP put the matter to test as part of an agreement with the province’s three-MLA Green Party, whose legislative support is necessary to the minority government. In theory proportional representation would give smaller parties like the Greens a better chance of electing members.

Voters who did want change had three options: Mixed Member Proportional, used in Germany, New Zealand and Scotland; Rural-Urban Proportional, a never-tried approach that combines MMP and another system that’s used in Ireland, Australia and Malta; and Dual Member Proportional, a made-in-Canada system that’s used nowhere.

Of those who marked that part of the ballot, 41.24% chose MMP, 29.31% RUP and 29.45% DMP. But First Past the Post prevailed.

Small parties might be disappointed but Greens in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada have been increasing their presence under the current rules. B.C.’s Greens went from one MLA to three in the May 2017 election, holding the balance of power in a very tight result.

In June of this year Ontario elected its first Green MPP. Three months later the New Brunswick legislature increased its Green presence from one to three in an election where the new People’s Alliance also won three seats. Nevertheless electoral reform supporters said the top two parties’ standings showed the need for proportional representation. The Progressive Conservatives won 22 seats with 31.89% of the vote, while the incumbent Liberals won 21 seats with 37.8%. The Liberals managed to retain the government position for over five weeks until a non-confidence vote put the PCs into precarious power.

One week later Québec Solidaire, a new party sometimes described as separatist-environmentalist, won 10 seats in that province’s National Assembly. Three of the four elected Quebec parties support proportional representation.

Prince Edward Island has two Green MLAs, while Canada’s sole Green MP represents a B.C. riding.

Greens surged to prominence in Vancouver last October, electing three each to the city’s council, parks board and school board. Neighbouring Burnaby elected its first two Greens, a councillor and school trustee. New municipal electoral rules did play a role, however, by hindering the funding advantages that larger parties once held.

Back to the referendum, the NDP officially supported the Green stance on proportional representation but an NDP promoter ran the official anti-PR campaign. The group quickly pulled a sensationalist TV ad that suggested PR would bring goose-stepping Nazis into the legislature.

If the NDP appeared ambivalent, it might have been because FPTP has historically served the party well. In 1996 the NDP won a majority of provincial seats with 39.5% of the vote, although the rival BC Liberals won 41.8%. And arguably the NDP has more to fear than the BC Liberals from rising Green power.

In a 2005 B.C. referendum, PR got 57.7% support but failed to meet the 60% minimum requirement. B.C. PR support fell to 39.09% in a 2009 referendum.

Cross-country events mark Investor Education Month

October 2nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | October 2, 2018

Following the ounce-of-prevention principle, securities commissions across Canada plan a number of initiatives to encourage smarter, safer investment strategies. A month of events begins with World Investor Week, in which Canadian regulators join the International Organization of Securities Commissions from October 1 to 7. Here’s an outline of this country’s events from province to province.

British Columbia
The B.C. Securities Commission will release new research on millennials this month, along with new tools to help people understand their investment returns. The BCSC also plans design updates to InvestRight.org to improve its efficacy.

Cross-country events mark Investor Education Month

Alberta
A digital education campaign called Spot the Odd will raise awareness of the Alberta Securities Commission’s free resources as well as encourage financial literacy and fraud awareness. A number of activities across the province will include Don’t Get Tricked, to be held in Calgary on October 17.  The ASC provides other resources on CheckFirst.ca.  

Saskatchewan
The province’s Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority has a cryptocurrency awareness campaign slated for Facebook, Twitter, the FCAA website and YouTube. In addition, businesses planning to use cryptocurrencies are invited to discuss their project with the FCAA to learn whether it falls under securities legislation.

Manitoba
The Manitoba Securities Commission will formally launch MoneySmartManitoba.ca to promote financial literacy and planning. The MSC will also take to the Twittersphere with news, tips and strategies for investors.

Ontario
The Ontario Securities Commission plans social media chats on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #IEM2018. The OSC also hosts GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca, plans a telephone townhall for October 10, presents public events around the province with OSC in the Community and further encourages awareness through an investor newsletter.

Participating in World Investor Week helps promote investor education and protection both locally and globally.—Tyler Fleming,
Ontario Securities Commission

Quebec
L’Autorité des marchés financiers will release results of its fourth Financial Awareness Index, measuring the public’s knowledge and use of financial products and services. The AMF will also present the third edition of its Talking Money in Class! contest for high school teachers and take part in the Quebec Seniors’ Fair.

New Brunswick
The Financial and Consumer Services Commission will present online info with special emphasis on initial coin offerings. For more tips on fraud, investors may visit fcnb.ca and follow the commission on Facebook and Twitter. The Fortune online trivia game allows investors to compete with others across the province to learn more and win prizes.

In addition to all that, the Canadian Securities Administrators umbrella group offers its own online tools and resources. The CSA invites the public to take advantage of Investor Education Month and World Investor Week by following @CSA_News on Twitter and @CSA.ACVM on Facebook.

Read: Regulators emphasize innovation and deterrence as financial sanctions fail.

Overwhelming majority puts Quebec in new hands, New Brunswick still deadlocked

October 1st, 2018

by Greg Klein | October 1, 2018

Overwhelming majority puts Quebec government in new hands

CAQ incoming premier Francois Legault argued against unacculturated immigrants,
made popular funding promises and vowed to cut taxes. (Photo: Coalition Avenir Québec)

 

Updated Quebec results (with 2014 figures in parentheses)

  • Coalition Avenir Québec: 75 seats, 37.4% of the popular vote (21 seats, 23%)
  • Quebec Liberal Party: 29 seats, 24.8% (68 seats, 41.5%)
  • Parti Québécois: 10 seats, 17% (28 seats, 25.4%)
  • Québec Solidaire: 10 seats, 16.1% (3 seats, 7.6%)
  • Independent: 1 seat

 

A seven-year-old party jumped from third place to government status as the Coalition Avenir Québec won the October 1 provincial election. Leading in a majority of seats half an hour after polls closed, the CAQ pushed the incumbent Liberals to second place, leaving the former official opposition Parti Québécois struggling to stay above fourth spot. Easily winning his riding of L’Assomption was incoming premier Francois Legault, a CAQ co-founder who previously created Air Transat and served as a PQ government minister. His CAQ has attracted disaffected Liberals as well as Péquistes.

PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee lost his seat to a Québec Solidaire challenger.

Overwhelming majority puts Quebec government in new hands

Mining issues held little prominence as debate focused heavily on immigration but sidelined independence. Spending promises flowed freely with health care, education and child care giveaways coinciding with CAQ promises to cut taxes.

But just one week before the campaign’s official start date, the Liberal government announced $185 million of provincial money for the privately held BlackRock Metals’ iron ore-vanadium-titanium open pit development in the northern riding of Ungava. The money consisted of $100 million in loans and an $85-million investment, part of a total package of $1.3 billion attracted to the project. The Liberals also promised $63 million to build energy infrastructure in the Chicoutimi riding that would host BlackRock’s secondary processing facility.

Ungava’s Liberal incumbent placed third while the CAQ narrowly beat the PQ in a very tight three-way contest. In Chicoutimi, the CAQ won a strong victory over the PQ incumbent.

Last May Premier Philippe Couillard joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to announce $60 million in federal funding for an Alcoa NYSE:AA/Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO aluminum smelter to be built in the overlapping federal riding of Chicoutimi-Le Fjord. Three days later Trudeau called a by-election, only to see a Conservative defeat his Liberal incumbent.

The Quebec government invests heavily in projects ranging from junior exploration to operating mines through the Ressources Québec subsidiary of Investissement Québec. In August Legault said he would cut bureaucracy at Investissement Québec.

Quebec’s March budget posted a $1.3-billion surplus, but the province receives equalization payments that came to $11.8 billion this year and will rise to $13.3 billion in 2019. Currently the entire amount comes from the western provinces. Legault opposed the Energy East pipeline proposal from Alberta to New Brunswick.

Pundits might wonder to what extent the CAQ’s success depended on its proposal to expel unacculturated immigrants. But any criticism of la province spéciale will have to be muted, even if the plan calls for unwanted foreigners to be packed off to Anglo Canada.

The PQ’s demotion hardly spells the end of separatism now that the party shares the independence vote with QS and possibly the CAQ, which has equivocated on the subject.

As for last week’s New Brunswick election, results remain in limbo. With 22 seats, the Conservatives edged out the incumbent Liberals by a single riding. Speculation focuses on either party making a deal with the People’s Alliance or the Greens, which won three seats each.

The Green result triples its N.B. legislative standing, continuing the party’s progress in Canada. Last June the Ontario riding of Guelph elected that province’s first Green. Canada now has eight Greens elected provincially (three in N.B., three in B.C., and one each in Ontario and Prince Edward Island), along with one elected federally in B.C. In B.C.’s legislature, the party holds the balance of power under an agreement with the New Democratic Party minority government.

Belmont Resources/MGX Minerals continue to find lithium at depth in Nevada

September 28th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 28, 2018

More assays from hole KB-3 at Nevada’s Kibby Basin project show additional lithium at depths between 387.3 metres and 548.4 metres. Earlier this month Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA and MGX Minerals CSE:XMG announced KB-3 results for a section between 338.5 and 369 metres in depth which averaged 415 parts per million lithium and reached a high of 580 ppm. The latest batch comes from 25 core samples representing different lithologies. Twenty of the samples surpassed 100 ppm lithium, with seven of them exceeding 375 ppm. One sample matched the high reported on September 12 of 580 ppm.

Belmont Resources/MGX Minerals continue to find lithium at depth in Nevada

Kibby Basin’s first hole of the season
continues to deliver.

Ash layers accounted for four samples below 100 ppm, “suggesting that initial lithium content may have been leached from the porous ash layers and transported to brines elsewhere in the basin,” the companies stated.

KB-3 tested the southern part of a strong magnetotelluric conductor that “still has potential for saturated sediments containing lithium-rich brines.” Geophysical data suggests a second hole might similarly find an aquifer between 274.5 and 305 metres and reduced clays potentially with high lithium content below 305 metres’ depth.

Comparing Kibby Basin with the lithium-producing Clayton Valley 50 kilometres south, Belmont and MGX note similarities in a “closed structural basin, a large conductor at depth, lithium anomalies at surface and depth, evidence of a geothermal system and potential aquifers in porous ash and gravel zones.”

MGX is working on its initial 25% of a possible 50% earn-in for the 2,056-hectare project. Last May the company’s rapid lithium extraction technology won the Base and Specialty Metals Industry Leadership Award at the 2018 S&P Global Platts Global Metals Awards in London.

Belmont also holds the Mid-Corner/Johnson Croft property in New Brunswick, where historic, non-43-101 samples suggest potential for zinc, copper and cobalt. In northern Saskatchewan Belmont and International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT each hold a 50/50 share of two uranium properties.

In July Belmont closed a private placement totalling $375,000.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Belmont CFO/director Gary Musil.

Belmont Resources/MGX Minerals reach 580 ppm lithium in season’s first hole

September 12th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 12, 2018

Sixty-five kilometres north of Nevada’s Clayton Valley, encouraging assays from the first hole of the year averaged 415 parts per million lithium at Kibby Basin, with a high of 580 ppm. Belmont Resources’ (TSXV:BEA) earn-in partner MGX Minerals CSE:XMG collected 125 samples from mud rotary drilling to 387 metres in downhole depth, then continued with small-diameter core drilling to 548 metres.

Belmont Resources/MGX Minerals average 415 ppm lithium in Nevada

With promising results from the program’s first hole, Belmont
Resources and MGX Minerals have more drilling planned.

The assays came from a section between 338.5 and 369 metres in depth. Results are pending for 25 core samples from the lower section, as well as for water samples. This hole targeted the southern area of a large magnetotelluric conductor, finding four zones of sand and gravel that might represent brine-bearing aquifers, with one zone showing a potential major aquifer.

A second hole is in the planning stages. Last year’s two-hole campaign, prior to the MT geophysics program, brought assays between 70 ppm and 200 ppm Li2O, with 13 of 25 samples surpassing 100 ppm.

MGX is working towards an initial 25% of the project, with the option of increasing its stake to 50%. Similarities between Kibby Basin and Clayton Valley include a “closed structural basin, large conductor at depth, lithium anomalies at surface and depth, evidence of a geothermal system and potential aquifers in porous ash and gravel zones,” the companies stated.

Belmont closed a private placement totalling $375,000 in July.

In New Brunswick the company holds the Mid-Corner/Johnson Croft property, where historic, non-43-101 sampling suggests zinc, copper and cobalt potential. Belmont also shares a 50/50 stake in two Saskatchewan uranium properties with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Belmont CFO/director Gary Musil.

Belmont Resources teams up with MGX Minerals to resume Nevada lithium drilling

July 13th, 2018

by Greg Klein | July 13, 2018

With an option agreement now in place, Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA gains a new partner and new money for the Kibby Basin lithium property, 65 kilometres north of Nevada’s Clayton Valley. The deal allows MGX Minerals CSE:XMG to earn an initial 25% interest in the 2,760-hectare property by spending up to $300,000. Work would include a deep test hole on a geophysical anomaly found earlier this year. Should that program meet success, MGX may increase its stake to 50% with up to $300,000 in further expenditures and drilling a second deep test hole. The company would then become operator of a 50/50 joint venture.

Belmont Resources teams up with MGX Minerals to resume Nevada lithium drilling

Ready to get boots on the ground soon, the Kibby Basin
crew will test a geophysical anomaly found earlier this year.

An initial drill program last year consisted of two holes totalling 624 metres. Core samples graded between 70 ppm and 200 ppm Li2O, with 13 of 25 samples exceeding 100 ppm. This year’s program of deep-sensing magnetotelluric geophysics identified a conductive zone that starts at about 500 metres in depth.

Should the JV come into fruition, other potential duties for MGX could include additional exploration, operating a test well, and installing and operating a pilot plant. MGX’s wide range of assets includes a proprietary process to recover lithium, magnesium and other minerals from a variety of brines. The JV would gain access to the process and would also market any lithium or other commodities potentially produced.

“This agreement puts Belmont on secure footing with regard to funding the next stage of evaluation of the Kibby property and, at the same time, enables us to get a significant leg-up on lithium production by partnering with one of the leaders in extraction technology,” commented Belmont CEO James Place.

MGX will also invest $200,000 in a Belmont private placement. In April the latter company closed the final tranche of a private placement totalling $198,000.

Belmont’s portfolio also includes the Mid-Corner/Johnson Croft property in New Brunswick, where historic, non-43-101 sampling suggests zinc, copper and cobalt potential. Additionally the company shares a 50/50 interest with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT in two Saskatchewan uranium properties.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Belmont CFO/director Gary Musil.