Thursday 16th August 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘nunavut’

Agnico Eagle CEO Sean Boyd remarks on the Arctic imagery of a collector’s coin minted from Nunavut gold

July 30th, 2018

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More than just money

June 27th, 2018

The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

by Greg Klein

The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

Although often extending the bounds of traditional coinage, the Mint acknowledged its heritage
with a Colonial Currency of the Atlantic Provinces set that mimics the condition of used currency.
(All photos: Royal Canadian Mint)

 

Money’s appeal couldn’t be more obvious, yet coins specifically bring to mind values intrinsic, speculative or esthetic. By no means neglecting the first two, the Royal Canadian Mint has been emphasizing the third, and in ways increasingly innovative. Issuing over 200 such products each year, its “coins” have become more and more exotic. That shows in two recent releases, which can be said to source their materials from the end of the Earth and beyond.

“As a commercial Crown corporation, we don’t rely on any taxpayer funding to finance our operations,” explains communications officer Alex Reeves. “So we need to finance ourselves and that has led us to a number of competitive fields, collector coins being one, bullion being a big part of it as well, and foreign circulating coins also.”

Although this year’s Q1 results suggest more modest gains, the Mint reported a 2017 consolidated profit of $36.1 million, up from $24.5 million the previous year and buoyed partly by Canada 150 collectibles. Ottawa raked in $93.2 million in dividends last year.

While the Bank of Canada prints paper money, the Mint strikes currency coins for Canada as well as countries on every continent. Its bullion, especially the one-ounce Maple Leaf gold coin, is sought after by the world’s speculators and hoarders, as well as collectors.

But can the Mint’s increasingly creative collectibles still be considered coinage? Yes, according to Reeves. “They are coins by definition as legal tender, having a denomination and identifying country of origin,” he points out. That doesn’t mean they can’t be innovative.

“Collectors come to us from all over the world so innovation helps us stand out in a crowded marketplace. We use it to get people’s attention and increase the appeal of our products.”

The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

That’s illustrated in the two newest releases. Each commemorating a special date, one coin contains purely Nunavut-mined gold, the other a little chunk of meteorite.

The gold coin gets its yellow metal from TMAC Resources’ (TSX:TMR) Hope Bay and Agnico Eagle Mines’ (TSX:AEM) Meadowbank to present Andrew Qappik’s images of a walrus, ptarmigan, polar bear, bowhead whale and narwhal. In another innovation, the one-tenth-ounce piece has the same diameter as a quarter-ounce coin, providing a larger canvas for the Inuk artist’s work. Part of the Symbols of the North series, the coin anticipates Nunavut’s 20th anniversary next April.

“Our Inuit employees, suppliers and partners can all take great pride in knowing that they have participated in making this unique coin that celebrates their heritage and culture,” commented Agnico Eagle CEO Sean Boyd. With a face value of $20, the coin sells for $359 in a limited mintage of 1,500.

At a ceremony attended by former Canadian astronaut Dave Williams, the Mint used the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s 150th anniversary to unveil “a truly out-of-this-world collectible.” As if to make the one-ounce silver coin impractical for vending machines, a bit of rock from Campo del Cielo sticks out of the surface. The fragment fell to earth about 4,500 years ago when the Argentinian field underwent a meteorite bombardment.

The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

Using designs from Canadian artist Alexandra Lefort, the coin depicts the Eagle Nebula and its pillars of interstellar gas and dust along with the Moon, the Andromeda Galaxy and a blazing meteorite in addition to the genuine iron-enriched supplement.

Also with a $20 face value, 5,500 versions—each unique for the shape of its other-worldly content—went on the market for $149.95 each.

In April the Mint marked another extra-terrestrial event with an elliptical black-light-glowing piece portraying Manitoba’s 1967 Falcon Lake UFO sighting.

Last year’s glow-in-the-dark toonie was named Most Innovative Circulating Coin by the International Mint Directors Conference.

The Mint’s collectibles date back to a 1935 silver dollar commemorating King George V’s Silver Jubilee and portraying a voyageur paddling his canoe against a faint Northern Lights backdrop. “It gradually evolved to commemorative circulation coins, coin sets and then, with the advent of the Montreal Olympics, we started producing a higher volume of annual collector coins in silver and some in gold as well,” Reeves says. “We’ve continued to grow that part of our business.”

The Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

Some other unusual creations this month included a six-ounce silver coin with a gold-plated miniature carousel that rotates with the help of a magnet. “Even the horses move up and down on this dazzling creation which is limited to a worldwide mintage of only 1,000,” states a promo.

But musical accompaniment, apparently, has thus far escaped the Mint’s R&D ingeniousness.

Still, last May Mint boffins announced one of their most complicated technical projects ever with a “coin” that’s half of a miniature Stanley Cup. “If you put two of them together, you would have an entire Stanley Cup replica, albeit a fraction of the size of the actual trophy,” the Mint quoted techie Michael Groves. He compared the project’s complexity to that of the Mint’s 100-kilo, million-dollar gold coin and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics medals.

To keep the ideas flowing, the Mint maintains two R&D departments, one at the Winnipeg home of circulating coin production, the other in Ottawa, location of the head office, as well as bullion and collectible production.

“We do have a broad range of expertise in our staff and it’s something we take seriously and keep investing in,” Reeves says. “We see ourselves as industry leaders for innovation” with some examples including colouring processes and security features. “We’ve made security features on our bullion coins that can’t be found elsewhere, and we have a broad range of innovation on our collector products as well. It benefits the industry if you’re able to raise the bar, create something new and inspire others to look at their own ways of improving coin-making or coming up with something brand new.”

Whether others have been inspired to imitate the Mint’s ideas or steal them is a question currently before Australian courts. The Mint has demanded its Down Under counterpart turn over or destroy some $2 million worth of collectibles that allegedly appropriated a patented method of applying colour to metal. Australia responded with a counter-claim asking that Canada’s patent be declared invalid.

But high-tech expertise notwithstanding, Canada’s coin creator won’t be venturing into the world of cryptocurrencies, Reeves insists. “The Mint is a manufacturer of physical coins, of cash in other words, and for the foreseeable future we see cash continuing to play an important role in Canadian daily commerce. We’re going to continue innovating in that area in ways that increase the security and durability of our products.”

Learn more about the Royal Canadian Mint.

Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

June 26th, 2018

This story has been expanded and moved here.

Stan Sudol: Ontario politicians disregard mining issues, to the province’s peril

June 1st, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 1, 2018

One of Canada’s greatest mineral discoveries since 1883, the Ring of Fire offers tremendous potential to a region plagued by endemic poverty and to a province burdened with the world’s largest sub-national debt. Meanwhile Ontario law requires mining companies to monitor carbon emissions from portable toilets. With a provincial election coming on June 7, something’s terribly lacking in campaign discussion, not to mention political vision, says Stan Sudol. Backing up his insights with factual detail, the Sudbury native, former mine worker, communications consultant and mining commentator presents a highly informed perspective at his website, The Republic of Mining.

Stan Sudol: Ontario politicians disregard mining issues, to the province’s peril

(Photo: Elections Ontario)

Are the hurdles to Ring of Fire development insurmountable? Sudol points out:

In contrast, the equally isolated territory of Nunavut has built two gold mines (Agnico-Eagle’s Meadowbank and TMAX Resources’ Doris) and one iron ore operation (Baffinland’s Mary River) in some of the most hostile terrain on the planet. A fourth gold mine (Agnico Eagle) should be in operation in 2019 and junior miner Sabina Gold and Silver Corp has been given continued development approvals by the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

Economic benefits to the indigenous population have been powerful enough to include the bemusing effect of insufficient parking spots in the hamlet of Baker Lake.

Do decision-makers realize, let alone appreciate, the world-class technical expertise centred around Sudbury? Canada’s tallest skyscraper, for example, is downtown Toronto’s 72-storey Bank of Montreal building. But consider this:

The deepest mines in northeastern Ontario and northwestern Quebec are roughly equal to 650 stories underground! It takes an amazing amount of advanced technology to safely bring workers to those depths. A tidal wave of innovation is engulfing a new era of the digital underground.

Ontario politicians show inadequate concern, let alone leadership, on issues ranging from community consultation, public awareness, problematic regulations and the need for infrastructure. These often intertwined issues remain crucial to an industry that can deliver much more to Ontario than it already does, Sudol explains.

In compiling this call to action he chose thoroughness over brevity, and has no doubt exceeded the typical politician’s attention span. But each party should have someone write a précise for their leader to study. Their federal counterparts would learn something too.

Meanwhile others can learn a lot about the mining industry, its challenges and contributions, by reading Sudol’s post here.

Gary Vivian of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines comments on a projected drop in the territories’ 2018 exploration spending

April 13th, 2018

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Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6%; Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

March 14th, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 14, 2018

It’s hardly a boom time scenario but mineral exploration within Canada should see a healthy 6% spending increase this year, according to recent federal government figures. Info supplied by companies shows an estimated total of $2.238 billion planned for exploration and deposit appraisal this year, compared with $2.111 billion in 2017. The second annual increase in a row, it’s far less dramatic than last year’s 29.6% leap.

Canadian exploration spending projected to rise 6% Manitoba contradicts its Fraser Institute ranking

The Natural Resources Canada survey compares preliminary numbers for metals and non-metals from last year with projected budgets for 2018.

Together Quebec and Ontario account for more than half the spending, with la belle province getting 27.3% of last year’s total and 29.3% of this year’s, while Ontario got 24.9% and 26.5%.

Some runners-up were British Columbia (12.2% of Canada’s total in 2017 and 13% in 2018), Saskatchewan (9% and 7.4%) and Yukon (7.8% and 7.7%).

Proportionately Manitoba enjoyed the greatest increase, a 42% jump from $38.5 million to $54.7 million, in a performance at odds with the province’s most recent Fraser Institute ranking. Less spectacularly but still impressive, the figures show Quebec climbing 13.9% from $576.5 million to $656.7 million. British Columbia gets a 12.9% increase from $257.7 million to $290.9 million, and Ontario 12.7% from $526.2 million to $593 million.

Some disappointments include Saskatchewan, falling 13% from $189.9 million to $165.1 million. Nunavut plunged 34.6% from $169.3 million to $110.7 million.

Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.—Gary Vivian, president, NWT and
Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Addressing the territory’s performance along with its neighbour’s 10% drop, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Gary Vivian said, “Nunavut has to address its land access issues. In the NWT, work on the proposed Mineral Resources Act and other legislation must be to improve the investment climate. Settling long-outstanding land claims and reducing the over 30% of lands off limits to development would also help, as would proactive marketing by indigenous governments.”

Combining figures for mine complex development with exploration and deposit appraisal, this year’s projected country-wide total rises 8.9% to $14.9 billion, the highest number in the four years of data released in this survey.

Commodities getting the most money are precious metals, although at a nearly 1.5% decrease to $1.35 billion this year from $1.37 billion last year. A more drastic drop was uranium, down 23.4% to $103.7 million. Base metals saw a 38.4% surge to $406.9 million. Coal’s projected for a 31.1% boost to $70.8 million.

Exploration and deposit appraisal expenses considered for the survey include field work, engineering, economics, feasibility studies, the environment, land access and associated general expenses. Natural Resources Canada did not consider work for extensions of known reserves.

Recent studies from PricewaterhouseCoopers showed a marked improvement in junior mining company finances and a relatively stable, if cautious, ambience for more senior Canadian companies.

Covering a different period with different methodology than Natural Resources Canada, a study by EY, the B.C. government and the Association for Mineral Exploration calculated a 20% increase in B.C. exploration spending from 2016 to 2017.

See the Natural Resources Canada survey here.

Finnish diamond exploration reveals new kimberlite for Arctic Star

February 20th, 2018

by Greg Klein | February 20, 2018

As work continues on the northern Finland property, Arctic Star Exploration TSXV:ADD announced a new kimberlite discovery from its Timantti diamond project on February 20. Covered only by very thin glacial overburden, the find results from four one-metre-deep pits containing kimberlite. The company has christened the body Grey Wolf, distinguishing it from the property’s other Wolf kimberlites. A rig has already been mobilized to the discovery, while a 150-kilogram sample undergoes assays to test for diamonds and kimberlite indicator minerals, and to assess mineral chemistry.

Finnish diamond exploration reveals new kimberlite for Arctic Star

The news follows an announcement earlier this month that historic drill core confirmed the presence of a new Timantti kimberlite 230 metres west of the project’s diamondiferous Black Wolf kimberlite.

Part of an ambitious winter campaign that began in November, ongoing EM and gravity surveys have identified multiple targets for excavation or drilling. Optimism has been bolstered by “the expression of diamond-favourable indicator minerals in the region, which the Wolf kimberlites cannot explain,” the company stated.

In addition to the Finnish flagship, Arctic Star also holds diamond interests in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories’ Lac de Gras region. The company’s Cap property in British Columbia, meanwhile, hosts an exceptionally rare carbonatite-syenite complex that offers potential for several commodities. Results from sampling and one drill hole released in September showed “highly anomalous” niobium, rare earths and phosphate grades.

The company closed oversubscribed private placements totalling $1.69 million in November.

Read an interview with Arctic Star chairperson Patrick Power.

Canadians need to get past the Klondike to understand mining’s contributions: Stan Sudol

October 13th, 2017

by Greg Klein | October 13, 2017

Rights offerings to be streamlined, says CSA

Like the nugget in this prospector’s hand, the
Klondike’s place in history looms unrealistically large.

The Fraser, Cariboo and Klondike gold rushes undoubtedly played an important nation-building role, with the latter becoming especially famous “thanks to terrific public relations from writers like Jack London, Pierre Berton and Robert Service,” says Stan Sudol. But how important were those events when the Yukon coughed up about 12 million gold ounces, “small change compared to the Timmins camp which is currently at 73 million ounces and counting!”

In a speech to the Canadian Business History Association Conference the Sudbury native and communications consultant/mining strategist/speech writer/mining blogger related how Ontario’s gold and base metals discoveries far surpassed the western gold rushes for their importance to the Canadian economy. “Notwithstanding the historical hype of the Klondike the two most important mining events in our history are the discoveries of the Sudbury nickel mines in 1883 and the Cobalt silver boom of 1903.”

And, he notes, while London, Berton and Service missed out on these developments, Sudbury did attract the attention of Stompin’ Tom Connors.

Sudol outlines the history of the Ontario and Quebec camps, looking at their social and environmental impacts as well as economic contributions. His compelling account takes readers up to the present, as mining in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut helps create an indigenous middle class.

Read it here on the Republic of Mining.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba first and second globally as mining jurisdictions

March 1st, 2017

by Greg Klein | March 1, 2017

Saskatchewan edged one notch upwards to take first place worldwide while Manitoba soared from 19th to second in this year’s Fraser Institute survey of mining and exploration jurisdictions. Those two provinces pushed last year’s top performer, Western Australia, down to third place. Canada’s other top 10 spot went to Quebec, rising to sixth from eighth the year before. All continents but Antarctica came under scrutiny but Canadian, American, Australian and European locales monopolized the top 10.

Farther down the list, the strongest Canadian improvements were Newfoundland and Labrador, climbing to 16th from 25th, and the Northwest Territories, now 21st, previously 35th. Most disappointing were British Columbia (falling to 27th from 18th), Nunavut (31st from 23rd) and Alberta (47th from 34th).

Those findings come from the survey’s Investment Attractiveness Index, which combines two other indices—Policy Perception, a “report card” on government attitudes, and Best Practices Mineral Potential, concerning geological appeal. Representatives of 104 companies responded with their 2016 experiences in mind, giving a numerical rating to questions in several categories regarding their likelihood of investing in a particular jurisdiction. The previous year 109 companies responded.

Here’s the top 10 globally for overall investment attractiveness, with last year’s standings in parentheses:

1 Saskatchewan (2)

2 Manitoba (19)

3 Western Australia (1)

4 Nevada (3)

5 Finland (5)

6 Quebec (8)

7 Arizona (17)

8 Sweden (13)

9 Ireland (4)

10 Queensland (16)

Here are the Canadian runners-up:

15 Yukon (12)

16 Newfoundland and Labrador (25)

18 Ontario (15)

21 Northwest Territories (35)

27 British Columbia (18)

31 Nunavut (23)

40 New Brunswick (45)

47 Alberta (34)

52 Nova Scotia (59)

At least those provinces and territories steered far clear of the bottom 10, where Argentina figures prominently:

95 Mozambique (84)

96 Zimbabwe (98)

97 India (73)

98 Mendoza province, Argentina (101)

99 La Rioja province, Argentina (109)

100 Afghanistan (not available)

101 Chubut province, Argentina (104)

102 Venezuela (108)

103 Neuquen province, Argentina (93)

104 Jujuy province, Argentina (86)

“We believe that the survey captures, at least in broad strokes, the perceptions of those involved in both mining and the regulation of mining in the jurisdictions included in the survey,” stated authors Taylor Jackson and Kenneth P. Green.

Download the Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2016.

Diamonds—2016 glitter in review

December 22nd, 2016

by Greg Klein | December 22, 2016

The stones began the year still mired in their 2015 slump, in which rough prices reportedly fell 15%. The two biggest players, representing nearly two-thirds of global production, didn’t exactly agree on strategy. De Beers cut production and lowered prices while Alrosa initially boosted production, held prices stable and stockpiled some output. By April De Beers raised prices and Alrosa lowered production. The following month had De Beers talking about a “fragile recovery.”

Diamonds—2016 glitter in review

Sales records for polished got pulverized, though. In May Sotheby’s raked in $32 million for the 15.38-carat Unique Pink in a jewelry sale that totalled a world record $175.1 million. The next day Christie’s scooped up $58.25 million for the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue, “a new record price for any gemstone and per carat.”

Rough rode roughshod over records, too. The week before Sotheby’s and Christie’s big sales, Lucara Diamond TSX:LUC got $63.11 million for its fresh-from-the-mine 812.77-carat Constellation. High expectations led to disappointment in late June, however, when the company rejected a $61-million offer for its 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona rough stone, the second-biggest diamond ever found. Lucara wanted at least $70 million.

As for Canadian diamond mining, it thrived.

A 100-million-carat production milestone brought celebrations to Diavik, the Northwest Territories JV of Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO and Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC. In July Dominion finally decided to add the Jay pipe and its 78.6 million carats to the company’s majority-held Ekati mine.

The year brought new mines to Canada too. Gahcho Kué, the world’s largest new diamond producer in 13 years, was officially opened in September by partners De Beers and Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV. October saw Stornoway Diamond TSX:SWY do the same at Renard, Quebec’s first diamond mine. It reached commercial production just days before Christmas.

Looking at potential mines-to-be, Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD took its Chidliak project on Baffin Island to PEA in July. In Saskatchewan’s Fort à la Corne region, meanwhile, Shore Gold TSX:SGF continued working on a feasibility update for its majority-held Star-Orion South project. Back in the NWT, Kennady Diamonds TSXV:KDI completed its maiden resource in December.

The company’s Kennady North project sits in the same Lac de Gras region hosting Ekati, Diavik and Gahcho Kué. November marked the 25th anniversary of the Chuck Fipke/Stewart Blusson Ekati discovery that triggered the world’s biggest staking rush, brought diamond mining to Canada and helped transform the diamond industry.

In December the vertically integrated company Almod Diamonds announced plans to broaden the NWT diamond industry, the backbone of the territorial economy, by re-opening a Yellowknife cutting and polishing facility.

A few days after that announcement, the allure of diamonds played out differently in an Atlanta department store. Eighty-six-year-old Doris Payne, a determined, unrepentant and often unsuccessful diamond thief, wracked up another arrest. She’s been stealing stones for over sixty years.