Monday 21st September 2020

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘ontario’

Mark your calendar

September 18th, 2020

Mining and investor-related events are coming to your computer

by Greg Klein | September 18, 2020

The technology isn’t new but its utility has been emphasized to a physically distant and networked society. Online conferences and seminars, many of them free, have made attendance more accessible than ever. Here’s a tentative list of some upcoming presentations of interest to mining professionals and investors. Mark Your Calendar will be an ongoing Resource Clips feature, so check back for future updates.

 

Mining and investor-related events are coming to your computer

Hard Rock Lithium Special

September 22, 8 a.m. London time

Free

Presented by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

Benchmark analysts and company reps discuss recent developments regarding lithium-ion batteries and the electric vehicle supply chain.

Register here.

 

Tesla Battery Day

September 22, following the AGM that begins at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time

Free

Presented by Tesla Inc.

Entrepreneur, visionary and showman Elon Musk returns to the stage to flaunt his technology and charisma. Viewers can decide for themselves whether he satisfies the anticipation.

Watch the livestream here.

 

Benchmark Battery Day

September 23, 8 a.m. London time

Free

Presented by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

A day-long series of webinars responds to Tesla Battery Day. Benchmark analysts and company reps discuss nickel, lithium, sustainable investing, battery recycling and their reactions to the Musk event.

More info and registration.

 

Golden Triangle Public Data

September 29, 10 to 11 a.m. Pacific time

Free

Presented by Geoscience BC

Of special interest to companies working in British Columbia’s most active mineral exploration area, this webinar will discuss how explorers can collaborate on a new public info bank, the Golden Triangle Geophysics Data Compilation Project. Currently available data will also be presented.

Register here.

 

Ares Strategic Mining

October 1, 8 a.m. Pacific time

Presented by Zoom with Zimtu

In episode #5 of the Zoom with Zimtu series, this investor-oriented event looks at a company planning to open a Utah fluorspar mine that would be America’s only producer of this critical mineral.

Register here.

 

AME MinEx Talks

Begins October 1, runs Tuesdays and Thursdays to October 29. Noon to 12:30 p.m. Pacific time

Presented by the Association for Mineral Exploration

Members $50, non-members $100

The series begins with First Steps Towards Social License presented by consultant Lana Eagle and Richard Truman of Geoscience BC. Subsequent dates feature other speakers, some TBA. The final event wraps up with an hour of Q&A and “a virtual networking mixer.”

More info here.

Register here.

 

Cordilleran Geoscience: A 2020 Perspective

October 5, 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Pacific time

Free

Presented by the Pacific Section of the Geological Association of Canada, the Geological Survey of Canada, the British Columbia Geological Survey and the Yukon Geological Survey

Several speakers from these groups discuss the latest research about the geology, geophysics, metallogeny and mineral deposits of the Cordillera. A Q&A session also takes place.

More info here.

Register here by September 30.

 

2020 NWT & Nunavut Geoscience Symposium

November 23. Presentations remain online after that date

Free

Presented by the Northwest Territories Geological Survey and the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Pre-recorded YouTube presentations and downloadable posters go online. Topics include mineral exploration, geoscience, energy geoscience, permafrost science, environmental science, engagement and education, regulatory updates and resource development.

More info here.

No registration required but to contribute a poster or pre‐recorded presentation, submit an Expression of Interest by October 2. More details here.

 

Vancouver Resource Investment Conference

January 17 to 18

Presented by Cambridge House International

Dates have been set but info’s pending. If past experience is any guide, however, the agenda might include some standup comedy masquerading as stock picks.

Registration info to come.

 

AME Remote Roundup 2021

January 18 to 22

Presented by the Association for Mineral Exploration

Early bird tickets now on sale.

It looks like everything from the Core Shack to the Prospectors’ Tent goes online for an annual event that last year attracted over 6,100 people from 38 countries. Recognizing the exceptional circumstances of our time, the 2021 theme will be Leading Through Change.

Here’s the tentative schedule.

Register here.

 

PDAC 2021

Tentatively scheduled for March 7 to 10. Exact dates TBA

Fees TBA

Presented by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Details are pending, but PDAC intends to present all its traditional programming at the online event.

More info here.

Stan Sudol suggests Elon Musk invest in Ontario mines to ensure Tesla’s nickel supply

September 18th, 2020

…Read more

International Montoro Resources options gold prospect in Ontario’s historic Atikokan camp

September 10th, 2020

by Greg Klein | September 10, 2020

Another portfolio addition reflects the revival of interest in this southwestern Ontario region. By optioning the 1,296-hectare Blackfly gold property, International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT joins the Hammond Reef activity that includes an intermediate miner as well as junior explorers.

International Montoro Resources options gold prospect in Ontario’s historic Atikokan camp

The Atikokan region was also home to the
historic Caland and Steep Rock iron mines.
(Photo: VisitAtikokan.com)

An 1897 find makes Blackfly one of the earliest discoveries in the Atikokan gold mining camp. Exploration on the property continued intermittently up to 2012, when historical reports and data were compiled.

International Montoro attributes much of the camp’s current interest to efforts by Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM to acquire additional property proximal to its Hammond Reef gold deposit, which has received federal and provincial environmental approval. Blackfly sits about 13.6 kilometres southwest along strike from Hammond Reef, within the Marmion Lake Fault Zone.

A 100% interest would cost International Montoro a series of payments totalling $65,000, 500,000 shares, 500,000 warrants valid for two years at $0.12 and, within four years, $153,600 in spending.

In Ontario’s Red Lake camp last July, International Montoro and Falcon Gold TSXV:FG expanded their Camping Lake gold project by 1,200 hectares, for a total of 3,400 hectares. International Montoro’s portfolio also includes the Wicheeda North rare earths property in east-central British Columbia, the Serpent River massive sulphide polymetallic prospect in Ontario’s Elliot Lake camp and the Duhamel polymetallic property in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.

Read more about International Montoro Resources.

Now all we need are mines

August 28th, 2020

The Saskatchewan Research Council plans commercial rare earths separation in 2022

by Greg Klein | August 28, 2020

Saskatchewan to offer commercial rare earths separation in 2022

This nondescript building will host a $31-million commercial REE facility in two years.
(Image: Saskatchewan Research Council)

 

Given China’s near-monopoly of these critical elements, the news from Saskatchewan is enormous—a commercial-scale rare earths separation facility up and running in two years. But the development is hardly sudden. The operator already boasts longstanding experience and world-leading expertise with the almost arcane endeavour. Moreover the August 27 announcement just confirms one of the ambitious mining-related goals in the province’s growth plan released last November.

Work begins this fall in Saskatoon on a $31-million processing and separating plant funded by the province. Canada’s only such facility, it constitutes a major step towards expanding REE supply chains independent of China. Operating the Saskatoon plant will be the Saskatchewan Research Council, a Crown corporation with 75 years of experience in mining-related research and technology, over 290 staff, $91 million in annual revenue and about 1,500 clients in 27 countries.

Saskatchewan to offer commercial rare earths separation in 2022

SRC assets include the world’s largest potash, uranium and diamonds labs, and its research extends to the oil and gas sector as well as to environmental studies.

The SRC has already been separating rare earths at the bench and pilot scale level. Its REE team currently employs 10 full-time-equivalent positions. The plan calls for staffing to reach 24 highly qualified FTEs in the facility, along with at least 10 more in R&D.

“SRC is a leader in the development of REE extraction and processing technologies and has worked closely with individual mining companies in Saskatchewan, Canada and globally on the concentration of REE ore for over a decade now,” points out president/CEO Mike Crabtree. “We employ world-leading experts on REEs who literally wrote the book on REE processing.”

That book—Separation Hydrometallurgy of Rare Earth Elements—was written by Jack Zhang, Baodong Zhao and Bryan Schreiner, SRC scientists of international stature.

The SRC anticipates ore or crushed sand will arrive by truck or rail from producers in Canada and the U.S., as well as potential overseas clients. Location of the tailings facility has yet to be determined.

One obvious caveat, however, is the current lack of North American primary producers. The sole exception is California’s Mountain Pass mining and processing operation. Although operator MP Materials has professed its commitment to an American supply chain, the company has been exporting its entire output to China.

Saskatchewan to offer commercial rare earths separation in 2022

New separation capabilities bring considerable advantages
to rare earths projects in Canada and elsewhere.
(Photo: Saskatchewan Research Council)

Demonstrating a non-Chinese commitment, however, is Australia’s Lynas Corp. The company operates a refining and separation facility in Malaysia to process rare earths ore from its Mount Weld mine in Western Australia. Lynas plans to open a WA cracking and leaching plant by 2023 to quell Malaysian concerns about low-level radioactive material shipped to the country. In the U.S., meanwhile, the company and its American JV partner Blue Line signed a contract last month with the Department of Defense, which would fund studies for a proposed American plant to separate heavy rare earths from Mount Weld.

But the SRC plant opens doors for potential North American sources, which last year totalled measured and indicated resources of 2.7 million tons in the U.S. and over 15 million tons in Canada, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.

Fitting for the world’s second-largest uranium-producing jurisdiction, Saskatchewan will process rare earths from uranium raffinate as well as from bastnasite and monazite, the most common mineralogical sources of rare earths.

But the Chinese challenge remains formidable. Chinese domestic mining accounted for nearly 63% of last year’s global production, a drop from 70% in 2018 but a number that doesn’t include Chinese control over foreign sources. Moreover the country’s dominance of separation facilities and expertise extends its control to an estimated 70% to 95% of various points along the supply chain.

SRC is a leader in the development of REE extraction and processing technologies and has worked closely with individual mining companies in Saskatchewan, Canada and globally on the concentration of REE ore for over a decade now. We employ world-leading experts on REEs who literally wrote the book on REE processing.—Mike Crabtree,
president/CEO,
Saskatchewan Research Council

Trade and other geopolitical tensions have brought fears—backed by implied threats—that the country will “weaponize” its rare earths dominance, repeating the 2010 machinations that staggered non-Chinese manufacturing industries.

The elements are vital to clean energy, electronics, transportation, defence, medical equipment and other necessities. American concern about rare earths and other critical minerals has triggered a number of initiatives including the Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration with Canada announced in January and reaffirmed in June.

But encouraging as the Saskatchewan initiative is, it hardly constitutes a slingshot to the Chinese Goliath. That country’s advantages include seemingly bottomless government subsidies, free use of black market or conflict material, and the backing of a savvy totalitarian government, according to Clint Cox. Speaking in Vancouver last January, the analyst and rare earths specialist with The Anchor House warned that Chinese dominance can’t be underestimated.

Nevertheless, the Saskatoon facility can only encourage junior mining activity. “The juniors are definitely the place where the last crop of potential mines came from, and it looks like they might be the next out there,” Cox told his January audience. “There’s some out there today.”

Among other goals, the Saskatchewan Growth Plan calls for studies into extracting lithium from the province’s brines as well as from oil and gas wastewater. The plan also considers adding nuclear energy to the province’s electrical mix from small modular reactors. Earlier this month Alberta joined Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick in a memorandum of understanding to co-operate on SMR studies.

Read more about the Saskatchewan Research Council.

Stan Sudol to Elon Musk:

July 26th, 2020

Stop fretting over potential nickel shortages and back some potential nickel mines

by Stan Sudol | posted with permission of Republic of Mining

Stop fretting over potential nickel shortages and back some potential mines

As its Gigafactory continues to ramp up production, Tesla already
produces more kWh of batteries than all other automakers combined.
(Photo: Tesla Inc.)

 

Elon Musk is practically begging nickel miners to boost production as potential future shortages would severely impact his ability to manufacture electric vehicles, as the metal is a key component for the batteries Tesla Inc. depends on.

Historically, nickel has always been a boom/bust metal due to the fact the world only produces about 2.1 million tonnes of the material a year, as opposed to a more commonly used metal like copper at 20 million tonnes. And roughly only half of nickel production is of the Class-1 type that is used in batteries that run electric vehicles.

Currently the cost of nickel is nearing a cyclical bottom, hence the reluctance of nickel miners to invest the possible near-billion it takes to bring on a new mine.

Musk is a multi-billionaire and his company stock is at an all-time high. Instead of whining to the mineral industry to invest “their shareholder money” in new nickel production at a time of low returns, here are some suggestions to calm his fear of future shortages:

 

Stop fretting over potential nickel shortages and back some potential mines

“At the heart of these products are batteries,” says Tesla.
But Elon Musk worries about the nickel needed to make them.
(Photo: Joni Hanebutt/Shutterstock.com)

1. Why can’t Tesla start stockpiling Class-1 nickel now during a time of low prices? The American military stockpiled nickel during the 1950s and 1960s as it was in constant short supply due to a booming economy and its use as a critical metal for military production—the Korean conflict, Vietnam War and the Cold War between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. What is to prevent the company from stockpiling two or three years’ worth of nickel needed for its car batteries? This would help firm up prices and encourage more exploration or expanded production.

During the 1950s, the U.S. government gave Falconbridge/Glencore a $40-million subsidy—roughly an astonishing $390 million in 2020 dollars—to help develop one of their Sudbury nickel mines and ensure diversity of supply. At the time, INCO supplied almost 80% to 90% of the West’s supply of nickel and the military were terrified of being so dependent on one key supplier. Perhaps subsidizing a few companies that are near production might be the route to go.

 

2. Polish miner KGHM has a terrific nickel deposit—the Victoria in the Sudbury Basin. They don’t seem to be that interested in developing the project that some analysts feel would need roughly a billion to put into production.

For much of the last century, the Sudbury Basin was basically the Saudi Arabia of nickel mining for the Western world.

Just a quick tangent for any Americans or Canadians who are not “mine literate.” For much of the last century, the Sudbury Basin was basically the Saudi Arabia of nickel mining for the Western world. The communist East had the astonishingly rich nickel mines of Norilsk, located in the isolated wilderness of Siberia. There are still enormous nickel reserves in the Sudbury Basin. Why we are not producing more would practically take an entire book to explain!

Why doesn’t Musk try to buy the deposit from KGHM and hire contractors to build and run his own mine? He would get nickel, copper and some cobalt for his car batteries. In addition, the mine would also provide him with platinum group metals and some gold and silver. If KGHM refuses to sell at a reasonable price, Ontario/Canada might enact some sort of “build/sell it or lose it” legislation!

 

3. Sudbury junior miner Wallbridge Mining has some very promising nickel properties in the Parkin Offset Dyke in the northeastern corner of the Sudbury Basin. According to the Wallbridge website, “The quality of the mineralization found in the Parkin Offset is high. The average nickel tenor for the mineralization found within the Parkin Offset is approximately 4%, which is comparable to the tenors of some deposits found in the Copper Cliff Offset Dyke.” Some of the Sudbury Basin’s biggest nickel mines, past and present, are on the Copper Cliff Offset Dyke, hence the importance of that statement!

Unfortunately, Wallbridge is not doing any exploration on this property during 2020 as the company is focused on its Quebec gold properties. Who can blame it with the precious metal hitting $1,900 an ounce? Why doesn’t Musk buy an equity position in the junior and fund it to the tune of $20 million or $40 million worth of exploration on the Parkin Offset Dyke?

 

4. Another junior nickel explorer that might be worth looking at is Canada Nickel and its promising nickel-cobalt sulphide project near Timmins, Ontario. A maiden resource estimate last February showed 600 million tonnes (measured and indicated) at 0.25% nickel and 310 million tonnes (inferred) at 0.23% nickel. As with all junior explorers, financing is always a challenge. Perhaps a significant equity position by Musk in exchange for future nickel and cobalt would ensure Tesla has no problems accessing these critical metals.

 

For crying out loud, it’s a skinny 300-kilometre gravel road and a couple of bridges. We are not building the Panama Canal or the Pyramids of Giza!

5. And finally there is the enormous mineral potential of the Ring of Fire with a 43-101 nickel deposit owned by junior miner Noront Resources. More nickel deposits may be discovered. Perhaps Musk could chat with Premier Ford and impress on him the importance of shortening environmental assessments and building that road into the Ring of Fire. For crying out loud, it’s a skinny 300-kilometre gravel road and a couple of bridges. We are not building the Panama Canal or the Pyramids of Giza! In the 1940s, the Canadian-Alaskan highway—roughly 2,700 kilometres—was built in eight months. No typographical error folks, less than one year!

The proposed road is on the traditional territories of Webequie and Marten Falls first nations, who both want it built. Hell, Musk should even consider putting a few hundred million in financing that road—I say this only half in jest as both the provincial and federal levels of government might be broke before construction starts.

And Premier Ford might even share the seat on that bulldozer with Musk to start building that vital road which was promised during the 2018 Ontario election campaign.

The Ring of Fire not only has nickel but potentially significant deposits of copper, zinc and various other critical metals along with chromite. And Premier Ford might even share the seat on that bulldozer with Musk to start building that vital road which was promised during the 2018 Ontario election campaign. It’s been a little over two years since the Conservatives have come to power and the patience of the entire sector is wearing thin! Road construction would be a terrific infrastructure investment to help alleviate the pending COVID recession/depression!

 

6. Sorry about the Ring of Fire road digression. I have not even mentioned the Thompson, Manitoba Nickel Belt, Newfoundland’s Voisey Bay nickel mine and Quebec’s Raglan nickel deposits, all of which probably have some juniors that could use some seed funding to drill near these world-class deposits—as the old saying goes, the best place to find a new mine is in the shadow of a headframe.

 

So I wish Elon Musk all the best, but please stop complaining about possible Class-1 nickel shortages and perhaps start strategically investing in the Canadian nickel sector yourself, if you really want to ensure that you have access to this vital metal.

 

For a brief history of the extraordinary Sudbury nickel deposits and their geo-political significance, click here.

Stan Sudol is a Toronto-based communications consultant, freelance mining columnist and owner-editor of Republic of Mining.

Posted with permission of Republic of Mining.

International Montoro Resources and Falcon Gold bolster their Red Lake presence

July 14th, 2020

by Greg Klein | July 14, 2020

Demonstrating there’s still ground to stake in this busy Ontario mining camp, two companies have seized the opportunity to expand their Camping Lake gold project. International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT and Falcon Gold TSXV:FG claimed another 1,200 hectares, increasing the property to 3,400 hectares. The expansion covers a mineralized fault zone found during last spring’s sampling and mapping program that confirmed historical gold-in-soil anomalies. Soil and till anomalies have led to discoveries by Red Lake explorers BTU Metals TSXV:BTU and Golden Goliath Resources TSXV:GNG.

International Montoro Resources and Falcon Gold bolster their Red Lake presence

Under an October 2019 agreement with Falcon, International Montoro may earn 51% of Camping Lake. Terms include spending commitments of $100,000 by October 31, 2020, and another $200,000 within the following year.

The companies plan a till sampling and analysis program similar to that conducted by Golden Goliath on its property immediately west of Camping Lake.

Last May International Montoro released an analysis of 535 soil samples taken from the company’s Wicheeda North property in east-central British Columbia, adjacent to Defense Metals’ (TSXV:DEFN) Wicheeda rare earths deposit.

International Montoro also holds the Serpent River property in Ontario’s Elliot Lake camp, where exploration has found polymetallic massive sulphide potential. Other holdings include the Duhamel polymetallic project in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region and two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties held 50/50 with Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA.

Last week International Montoro announced Karim Rayani’s appointment as president/CEO/director. Currently CEO of Falcon, he brings 15 years of experience financing exploration and development projects in Canada and abroad. Rayani replaces Gary Musil, who’s spent 20 years with International Montoro and remains chairperson.

Also this month the company closed an over-subscribed private placement of $197,000.

Jeff Kehoe of the Ontario Securities Commission comments on a $525,000 reward for spotting cryptic “irregularities”

June 15th, 2020

…Read more

CSA issues report card on resource estimate disclosure

June 5th, 2020

by Greg Klein | June 5, 2020

CSA issues report card on resource estimate methodology

Projects involving precious metals and B.C.-headquartered
companies predominated among the 86 deposits under scrutiny.
(Chart: Canadian Securities Administrators)

 

How well do early-stage explorers reveal the technical data and economic assumptions behind their 43-101 resource estimates? A review by the Canadian Securities Administrators found their technical reports generally satisfactory, although often lacking in data verification as well as discussions of economic prospects and cutoff grades.

Completed in late 2018 but not reported until June 4, the study examined 86 technical reports. As a result, 10 were sent back to the issuers to be amended and re-filed. Six of those were cited for inadequate disclosure and the other four required revisions to their resource estimates. Conducting the study were seven staffers from securities commissions in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

CSA issues report card on resource estimate methodology

The review looked at 33 aspects of seven broad issues of disclosure: the QP’s experience; data verification; mineralogical controls and geological model; data analysis; resource estimation and classification; reasonable economic prospect of eventual mining; and reporting sensitivities, risks and uncertainties.

Among problematic areas was data verification, a vital issue concerning results from previous operators. The study found the process inadequate for recent data in over 20% of reports, and over 30% for historic data.

In several cases economic prospects were stymied by insufficient info regarding metallurgy, costs, prices and restraints. Reporting of overall sensitivity and risks was another issue of concern, especially where companies used boilerplate language instead of discussing risks specific to their projects.

Cutoff grades didn’t always have the base case emphasized, the study found, and not all cutoff grades came with a necessary discussion of reasonable economic prospects.

But the study found good work too. “Despite some deficiencies, many technical reports provided detailed and useful information on geological constraints applied to the estimate, and on statistical treatment of the data.”

“Robust technical reports are essential to disclosure at key project development stages,” noted Louis Morisset, CSA chairperson and president/CEO of l’Autorité des marchés financiers. “Our intention for publishing this guidance in the current environment is to support mining issuers in preparing their resource estimates, and to reinforce the importance of technical reports that are transparent and comply with disclosure requirements and industry best practices.”

As part of their ongoing disclosure review, securities commissions staff “will pay special attention to [mineral resource estimates] and the areas of inadequate disclosure identified,” the report added.

Download the CSA Review of Mineral Resource Estimates in Technical Reports.

International Montoro Resources furthers rare earths potential in B.C.

May 13th, 2020

by Greg Klein | May 13, 2020

Detailed analysis of field work shows the rare earths prospects of an early-stage project in east-central British Columbia. On May 13 International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT announced a report culminating from last year’s grid-based survey of 535 soil samples on the 2,007-hectare Wicheeda North property.

International Montoro Resources furthers rare earths potential in BC

Previous work came under detailed analysis for International
Montoro Resources’ Wicheeda North REE prospect.
(Photo: International Montoro Resources)

“Thematic geochemical anomaly maps were generated for cerium and other values were received for light REEs including lanthanum, neodymium, praseodymium, samarium, europium and gadolinium,” the company stated.

The report was prepared by Bob Lane, who managed 2008 and 2009 drilling programs on the adjacent Wicheeda project, later acquired by First Legacy Mining, now Defense Metals TSXV:DEFN. Lane also took part in First Legacy’s 43-101 report on Wicheeda.

Commenting on International Montoro’s Wicheeda North, Lane said it “has the potential to host, and should continue to be explored for, REE mineralization because it occurs within a favourable geological belt known to contain carbonatite-hosted REE mineralization, such as the Main zone” of the Defense project neighbouring to the southeast.

Future recommendations include further prospecting and grid-based soil sampling. Additionally, airborne electromagnetics were suggested for the southern part of the property, which wasn’t surveyed in the EM, magnetic and radiometric geophysics conducted in 2010.

Given favourable results, Lane’s report recommends the company consider excavator trenching.

Last February the company announced exploration plans for its Camping Lake property in Ontario’s Red Lake region. Under an October 2019 agreement with Falcon Gold TSXV:FG, International Montoro may earn a 51% interest in the gold-base metals project.

Reporting on another Ontario project, International Montoro released geophysical analysis from Serpent River in December. The conclusions could indicate massive sulphide nickel-copper-PGE-gold mineralization on the Elliot Lake-region property, the company stated.

International Montoro’s portfolio also includes the Duhamel polymetallic project in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.

Last month the company closed a private placement of $56,525.

Maintaining essential service

April 14th, 2020

As Quebec mining resumes, Canadian companies make open-or-shut decisions

by Greg Klein | April 14, 2020

As Quebec mining resumes, Canadian companies make open-or-shut decisions

A COVID-19 outbreak put Impala’s Lac des Iles on lockdown.
(Photo: Impala Canada)

 

With additional health standards in place and encouraged by a surging gold price, Quebec miners have been given a back-to-work go-ahead. On lifting a three-week suspension, the province allowed ramp-up procedures to begin April 15. A ban on non-essential industrial activities, including mineral exploration, has been extended to May 4.

Mine restarts announced so far include Eldorado Gold’s (TSX:ELD) Lamaque mine, IAMGOLD’s (TSX:IMG) Westwood operation, Agnico Eagle Mines’ (TSX:AEM) LaRonde complex and Goldex mine, and the Agnico Eagle/Yamana Gold TSX:YRI Canadian Malartic JV.

Glencore stated it’s “analyzing options” to restart its Raglan nickel and Matagami zinc operations in Quebec.

As Quebec mining resumes, Canadian companies make open-or-shut decisions

Agnico Eagle and Yamana Gold were quick to announce
Canadian Malartic’s ramp-up. (Photo: Canadian Malartic JV)

New measures mandated by the government and its health and workplace standards agencies require physical distancing, additional protective equipment, health monitoring and enhanced sanitation. The new regimen also calls for additional training and in some cases longer stints in job site accommodations to reduce travel.

But market forces aggravated by the pandemic will keep Stornoway Diamond’s Renard mine on care and maintenance. Prior to the March 24 government-ordered suspensions, Renard operated only through the support of creditors.

“We will continue to monitor the market conditions for improvements which would allow for a restart of mining activities,” said Stornoway president/CEO Patrick Godin. The diamond industry has been hit by broken supply chains as well as plunging prices.

Also on April 14 McEwen Mining TSX:MUX announced restarts of its Black Fox mine in the Timmins camp, along with the San Jose operation in Argentina. Although the Ontario government exempted mining and exploration from its list of suspensions, the company paused Black Fox for two weeks while implementing new policies and procedures.

“Our miners and teams are overwhelmingly supportive of returning to work with the new safety measures,” the company stated.

In northwestern Ontario, Implats subsidiary Impala Canada suspended its Lac des Iles palladium mine on April 13 after learning that a worker tested positive for COVID-19. By April 14 the company announced seven confirmed cases connected with LDI. 

Impala told all employees to go into isolation until April 27, during which time they’d get a $100-a-day bonus on top of base pay for the entire month. The company also arranged free hotel rooms and meals during the isolation period.

As Quebec mining resumes, Canadian companies make open-or-shut decisions

McEwen Mining lifted the voluntary suspension
of its Black Fox operation. (Photo: McEwen Mining)

Industrial operations face numerous challenges in adapting to new health protocols. Last week the Globe and Mail reported concerns about conditions at Teck Resources’ (TSX:TECK.A/TSX:TECK.B) southeastern British Columbia coal operations.

A local resident “alleged that shortages of protective equipment, crowded commuter buses, packed site vehicles and ‘an absolute impossibility to self-distance because of the nature of the work,’ are fostering an environment where the virus could spread,” the paper stated.

The company had previously announced precautionary measures including “a temporary slowdown of operations and reduction of crews by up to 50%” at its B.C. mines.

According to the G&M, “Stephen Hunt, director of United Steelworkers union, which represents almost all of Teck’s B.C. workforce, said some members are satisfied the company’s mines are safe, while others are worried. He said Teck has made decent strides to reduce the risk for employees, including staggering shift start times to reduce congestion at the mine site as well as removing some of the seating on buses to ensure people are sitting at least six feet apart. Despite these precautions, he’s still on edge.”

On April 13 Cameco Corp TSX:CCO announced that the suspension of its 50%-held Cigar Lake uranium mine in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin would continue indefinitely. Orano Canada also lengthened the suspension of its 70%-held McClean Lake mill, which processes Cigar Lake ore.

The global challenges posed by this pandemic are not abating—in fact, they are deepening.—Tim Gitzel,
Cameco president/CEO

“The precautions and restrictions put in place by the federal and provincial governments, the increasing significant concern among leaders in the remote isolated communities of northern Saskatchewan, and the challenges of maintaining the recommended physical distancing at fly-in/fly-out sites with a full workforce were critical factors Cameco considered in reaching this decision,” the company stated.

President/CEO Tim Gitzel added, “The global challenges posed by this pandemic are not abating—in fact, they are deepening.”