Sunday 17th February 2019

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Posts tagged ‘platinum group metals’

Pay as you go

April 28th, 2016

New gold producer Equitas Resources sees revenue for incremental expansion

New gold producer Equitas Resources sees revenue for incremental expansion

Equitas Resources meets Alta Floresta during due diligence in Brazil.

 

Negotiations with minority shareholders dragged out longer than expected but on April 27 Equitas Resources TSXV:EQT officially made the transition from Labrador nickel explorer to Brazil gold producer. On closing its acquisition of Alta Floresta Gold, Equitas now takes over a modest gold operation with the intention of increasing production—and cash flow—incrementally. Should all go to plan, that would bring a step-by-step payback for each new stage of the operation, as well as funding for further exploration.

That certainly contrasts with the traditional exploration model, with which investors can be quick to show impatience. Equitas experienced that first hand after just one season of drilling its Garland project, despite its compelling nickel-cobalt-copper story south of Voisey’s Bay.

New gold producer Equitas Resources sees revenue for incremental expansion

In operation since June, the Cajueiro project holds potential
for greater recovery, as well as expansion of near-surface oxides.

Looking for alternative financing, then-president/now-chairperson Kyler Hardy learned about Alta Floresta’s Cajueiro project through a friend in the company. Hardy not only liked its potential. He also recognized a good fit between the two companies’ teams.

Alta Floresta brings to Equitas its 100% interest in six gold properties with four production licences, part of a portfolio covering more than 184,410 hectares in Brazil’s central states of Mato Grosso and Para. The flagship Cajueiro project’s Baldo zone has been in operation since June, producing around a kilogram of gold a month. That amounts to recovery of only about 30% to 35%, achieved by running alluvium and saprolite through a sluice box.

Equitas hopes to see considerable improvement within months by installing a gravity plant, then about 85% recovery with carbon-in-leach processing that could begin early next year. Full open pit production would be a longer-term goal.

We expect the payback for each stage in less than a year, much less for the gravity plant. We’re derisking it that way, by building in stages.—Chris Harris, president/CEO
of Equitas Resources

The plan is to “develop the project in stages and each stage has to pay for itself,” explains new president/CEO Chris Harris. “We expect the payback for each stage in less than a year, much less for the gravity plant. We’re derisking it that way, by building in stages. That could also provide cash flow for a sustaining exploration program which we hope would then beget further development.”

Of course these are perilous times for Brazil, now undergoing serious recession, a wide-ranging corruption scandal and impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. Compounding the problems are their effect on the Brazilian real, which contrasts with currently high gold prices. “But what that’s doing to our project is creating huge cost compression,” Harris says. “That benefits both capex and opex.” The company has already selected a nearly new gravity plant in the region for purchase. Its price has sunk to less than half of what he projected last year.

Exploration will focus on near-surface oxides, where Equitas sees the greatest potential for resource expansion and low-cost extraction.

Except for one property slightly north, the entire portfolio sits on the Juruena gold belt, which has historic estimates of seven to 10 million ounces of artisanal output. Straddling the border between Para and Mato Grosso states, the 39,053-hectare Cajueiro property’s near-term agenda could include bulk sampling and trenching, as well as diamond and rotary air blast drilling. Exploration will focus on near-surface oxides, where Equitas sees the greatest potential for resource expansion and low-cost extraction.

A just-filed 43-101 technical report recalculates data from a 2013 resource estimate to allow for different gold price and opex numbers. The new study bases a cutoff of 0.25 grams per tonne on a near-surface deposit that can be processed by cyanidation or gravity processing. The report provides separate numbers for four zones of sulphides and oxides.

Total sulphide zones:

  • indicated: 8.64 million tonnes averaging 0.771 g/t for 214,100 gold ounces

  • inferred: 9.53 million tonnes averaging 0.664 g/t for 203,500 ounces

Total oxide zones:

  • inferred: 1.37 million tonnes averaging 1.775 g/t for 78,400 ounces

All four zones show near-surface oxide expansion potential, Equitas states. Five other anomalies offer additional encouragement.

The project has road access to the city of Alta Floresta, 95 kilometres north. A hydro dam now under development should bring electricity within two years, if not sooner.

The arrangement combines talent from both companies. Harris casts a close eye on the accounts, having 30 years’ experience in energy, commodity trading and mining finance with companies like Ernst & Young, CIBC, Enron UK and BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP.

Hardy, through 16 years as a resource sector entrepreneur and executive, demonstrates a facility for operating remote, logistically complex exploration projects. Director Alan Carter, who also sits on the board of Eric Friedland’s Peregrine Diamonds TSX:PGD, brings 30 years’ exploration experience with the likes of Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO, BHP, and ECI Exploration and Mining, among others.

Equitas Resources closes acquisition of Brazilian gold operation

Cajueiro’s alluvial lure suggests
expansion potential to Equitas.

Co-director David Hodge also serves as president of Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC, a project generator that supports several juniors with acquisitions and advisory services. VP of exploration Everett Makela began his career with Inco, eventually retiring as Vale’s (NYSE:VALE) principal geologist for North America. His international experience includes Brazil.

Mike Bennett, a local resident and director of Equitas subsidiary Alta Floresta Mineração, has spent 23 of his 30 exploration years in South America where he took part in three gold discoveries, Puquio North in Bolivia, as well as Coringa and Cajueiro in Brazil.

Also residing locally, Portuguese/English-fluent Richard Crew acts as operations consultant for Alta Floresta Mineração. His 30 years of experience includes positions as operations manager and COO for numerous companies worldwide. Another nearby resident, project manager and exploration geologist Elvis Alves knows the community as well as the minerology.

The deal has Equitas issuing 103.65 million shares to former Alta Floresta shareholders and 5.28 million options, exercisable at $0.15 for three years, to former Alta Floresta option holders. A 1.75% NSR applies to licences acquired two years ago from a former minority shareholder of Alta Floresta.‎

Earlier this month Equitas closed the final tranche of a private placement that totalled $1.5 million from 30 million units. Insiders bought 10.4 million units.

“We’ll be talking about implementing the gravity plant very shortly,” Harris says. “We’ll also be talking about starting our drilling plan, the drill results and possibly a revised 43-101. We’ll have a steady news flow.”

Group Ten Metals completes Yukon field program, expands PGM-nickel-copper turf

March 1st, 2016

by Greg Klein | March 1, 2016

Still growing its northern presence, Group Ten Metals TSXV:PGE has staked additional ground for the Spy project in southwestern Yukon. That increases the platinum group metals-nickel-copper property by 1,250 hectares to total 3,135 hectares, the company announced February 29.

Group Ten Metals completes Yukon field program, expands PGM-nickel-copper turf

Assays are pending from a sampling program
on Group Ten Metals’ expanded Spy property.

Group Ten optioned 100% of the first claim block in September for 1.05 million shares over three years and a 3% NSR. With funding assistance from the Yukon government, the company then conducted silt and rock sampling, prospecting, mapping and reinterpretation of previous geophysics. Once assays arrive, they’ll be integrated with the geophysical reinterpretation to define targets for trenching and possibly drilling.

Historic, non-43-101 grab samples returned grades as high as 75.8 grams per tonne platinum, 7.9 g/t palladium, 7 g/t gold, 2.6% nickel and 10.45% copper, Group Ten reported.

Spy comprises one of three road-accessible Group Ten projects in the 600-kilometre-long Kluane Ultramafic Belt, stretching from northern British Columbia through the Yukon into southern Alaska. Roughly 40 kilometres north of Spy sits Group Ten’s flagship Catalyst project, which borders on three sides the Wellgreen PGM-nickel project, where Wellgreen Platinum TSX:WG completed a preliminary economic assessment last year. Group Ten’s Ultra project sits south of Spy.

In September the company also picked up the Duke Island copper-nickel-PGE project on the Alaska Panhandle for two million shares and a 1% NSR. In western Ontario Group Ten holds the Black Lake/Drayton gold project.

Nickel One completes acquisition, begins trading, raises $890,000

March 1st, 2016

by Greg Klein | March 1, 2016

Having made its trading debut on February 29, Nickel One Resources TSXV:NNN prepares to explore its Tyko project in Ontario’s Thunder Bay mining district. Formerly Redline Resources, Nickel One comes about following the acquisition of Tyko Resources.

According to one chart provided by the company, some drill highlights from a 2006-to-2007 campaign on the 11,168-hectare property have shown:

Hole TK-06-001

  • 1.09% nickel, 0.76% copper and 0.42 grams per tonne palladium over 4.15 metres, starting at 17.4 metres in downhole depth

Hole TK-06-003

  • 1.06% nickel , 0.51% copper and 0.12 g/t palladium over 1.08 metres, starting at 63.92 metres

Hole TK-06-005

  • 1.05% nickel, 0.5% copper and 0.12 g/t palladium over 6.2 metres, starting at 25 metres
Nickel One completes acquisition, begins trading, raises $890,000

Now trading and recently financed, Nickel One
has work planned for its Tyko property in Ontario.

True widths weren’t provided.

Anomalous nickel, copper and platinum group elements appear within a possible conduit that was interpreted from magnetic survey data, according to a 43-101 technical report. “The property shows many similarities with mafic to ultramafic feeder systems such as Voisey’s Bay in northern Labrador and Jinchaun in China,” the report stated. “These deposits are characterized by magmatic sulphides collecting within the feeder of a large intrusive body due to variations in geometry that caused changes in flow dynamics such that immiscible sulphides were able to settle out and collect in structural traps.”

Hoping to find a comparable system at Tyko, the company has outlined a $396,000 program that would include mapping, prospecting and drilling. The company closed an $890,000 financing that included $500,000 in flow-through units.

Nickel One also settled $197,212 in debt by issuing 1.97 million shares.

Infographic: The world’s most valuable substances by weight

January 12th, 2016

Text by Jeff Desjardins | Graphic by BullionVault

The world’s most valuable substances by weight

In the field of economics, the laws of supply and demand state that the price of a product and its available supply to the market are interconnected. For example, if a good such as crude oil is produced in excess, the price will drop accordingly.

However, sometimes substances are nearly impossible to produce in the first place—and that means that it can be extremely difficult for the market to respond to increases in demand. The world’s most valuable substances generally fall into this category and this makes their value per gram very high.

White truffles, for instance, only grow for a couple of months of the year, almost exclusively in one part of Italy. They must be foraged by special pigs, and they seem to be worth more every year. The price per gram for white truffles is $5, which means that a pound costs close to $2,000.

Despite this, white truffles barely crack the list of the most valuable substances by weight.

Saffron, a spice that is gathered from the flower of the crocus sativus plant, is another notch higher on the list. To get one pound of dry saffron requires the harvest of 50,000 to 75,000 flowers. There’s only 300 tonnes of production each year, and that annual production is worth around $3 billion.

Higher up on the list of the world’s most valuable substances are some familiar metals. Silver does not make the list, as it is only worth around $0.50 per gram. However, many of the platinum group metals (PGMs) do make the list: platinum, palladium, rhodium and iridium all range between $16 and $27 per gram. Gold also makes the list, and it has traded for more than an ounce of platinum since early 2015. One gram of gold is worth just under $34.

At the top of the list we find a combination of extremely rare metals, radioactive isotopes and gemstones.

The radioactive element californium, first made in 1950, is the most valuable at $27 million per gram. It is one of the few transuranium elements that have practical applications, being used in microscopic amounts for metal detectors and in identifying oil and water layers in oil wells.

Diamonds are near the top of the list as well at $65,000 per gram, though like many other gemstones, the value depends on the specific crystal in question. Many industrial diamonds are relatively cheap, but the rarest and most beautiful stones can be worth millions.

Iranian beluga caviar and crème de la mer are the most expensive non-metals or non-gemstones on the list. Iranian caviar is made from the roe of beluga sturgeons found in the Caspian Sea, and it is valued at about $35 per gram. Crème de la mer was originally created by a physicist for NASA to heal his burns, but it is now sold as a face cream by Estée Lauder for $70 per gram.

Graphic by BullionVault / Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Back on the autobahn

November 2nd, 2015

Twelve Zimtu Capital companies bring their exploration opportunities to Europe

by Greg Klein

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Overseas investors once again get to meet Canadian juniors in person, as prospect generator Zimtu Capital TSXV:ZC and 11 of its holdings visit four European cities from November 5 to 11. Now in the event’s fifth year, company reps will hold conferences in Munich, Geneva, Zurich and Frankfurt to largely institutional audiences, demonstrating the wide-ranging interest in exploration opportunities.

“Essentially it’s a commitment by Zimtu and all the participating companies to keep the European investor informed about what the companies are doing, to meet the management and form a relationship with the guys who are going to be making the decisions, effectively spending their money,” says Zimtu president Dave Hodge.

Twelve Zimtu Capital companies bring their exploration opportunities to Europe

The Zimtu bus arrives as crowds enter
Munich’s Edelmetallmesse in 2014.

“Many of the investors who are still interested in the sector had made great money in the past and experienced tremendous upside in some stocks. Certainly the Canadian junior market is very unique globally and provides that opportunity for the European investor to speculate on discovery.”

Describing himself as a “grizzled veteran of the Zimtu bus,” Chris Berry acts as MC, moderator and keynote speaker. The president of House Mountain Partners and co-editor of the Disruptive Discoveries Journal says, “I like to go back and get a sense of what institutional investors in those cities are thinking about, not just about commodity markets but central bank policies and the macro economy.”

His talk will briefly review the perspectives he offered last year then “challenge the audience” with four questions to consider in 2016. “It’s really more of a discussion than a lecture and I hope there’s a lot of pushback and debate. That gets people thinking and hopefully planning for better times next year.”

While the downturn’s all too obvious, several Zimtu holdings have made impressive strides over the last year. Some of the more remarkable stories include the creation of ALX Uranium TSXV:AL after Lakeland Resources and Alpha Exploration won overwhelming shareholder approval to combine their companies. The result is a distinguished team overseeing one of the Athabasca Basin’s largest and most prospective portfolios.

Competing for flagship status are a number of drill-ready projects including Kelic Lake, where a rig’s currently at work. Gibbon’s Creek has a ground gravity survey underway to follow up on last winter’s 2,550-metre program on a property hosting some of the Basin’s highest radon levels. The company’s Carter Lake and Hook Lake properties feature around 15 kilometres of untested corridors on strike with the Patterson Lake South, Arrow and Spitfire discoveries. Other drill-ready projects include Newnham Lake and Lazy Edward Bay, a 60% stake in the Carpenter Lake joint venture and an 80% share of the Gorilla JV.

Well financed for additional campaigns, the ALX team has been poring over property data to further establish priorities.

Twelve Zimtu Capital companies bring their exploration opportunities to Europe

Commerce Resources addresses last year’s Munich conference.

Focusing on a rare earths project with relatively simple mineralogy, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE continues to make progress with drilling, metallurgy and community engagement as its Ashram deposit in northern Quebec moves towards pre-feasibility. Last month the company increased rare earth elements recovery from 71% to 76% at a high grade of 42% total rare earth oxides, while also simplifying the plant’s flowsheet. The most impressive concentrates so far have graded 48.9% TREO at 63% recovery and 45.7% TREO at 71% recovery.

Following high-grade, near surface assays from the winter/spring drill program, Commerce has a summer/fall campaign targeting around 32 holes for 3,000 metres. A new infrastructure model indicates cost-cutting potential. The company’s commitment to social responsibility won an award from l’Association de l’exploration minière du Québec.

In British Columbia, Commerce’s Blue River tantalum-niobium project achieved its preliminary economic assessment in 2011.

Recognizing that the great nickel deposits of Sudbury, Norilsk, Thompson and Raglan occur in clusters, Equitas Resources TSXV:EQT acquired the recently assembled Garland project in Labrador, 30 kilometres from Voisey’s Bay. Then, for the first time, Equitas subjected Garland to modern geophysics. Now a drill program under the supervision of Voisey’s veteran Everett Makela has 12 VTEM anomalies targeted.

With over $3.8 million raised since September, the company continues drilling while awaiting initial assays.

Inspired by China’s allure for the beauty and practical qualities of B.C. jade, Electra Stone TSXV:ELT intends to create a vertically integrated nephrite jade mining, trading and marketing platform. The company began by acquiring properties as well as expertise, and has so far confirmed jade at two of six projects before winter conditions ended exploration.

Eager to make contact with potential buyers, Electra bought and shipped an 18-tonne cargo of jade to Shanghai in September and is now preparing a second shipment. The company also produces chalky geyserite, or aluminum silica, from a Vancouver Island quarry. The product’s U.S. customer collaborated with Electra on a drill program last summer to study the project’s expansion potential.

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Report from the field

September 15th, 2015

A first-hand look at Equitas Resources’ quest for Labrador nickel

by Sean Kingsley

The September 15 announcement that Equitas Resources TSXV:EQT closed a private placement first tranche of $1.03 million followed a report from the field by corporate communications manager Sean Kingsley. After a three-day trip from Vancouver, Kingsley arrived at the Garland nickel project in Labrador sans luggage, thanks to Air Canada, but brimming with enthusiasm. He provides this account.

 

Some know this of me and I always thought it of myself since I was young—I am extremely scared of heights. During lift-off on the trips to Toronto, Asia and Europe I chew at least three pieces of gum, pop an Ativan and hold onto the armrests. Once in the air I need ginger ale mixed with something stronger. I don’t do well on planes but after the four rides in different-sized planes and a few helicopter rides I’m more than eager to get out to the field to explore Equitas’ Garland property.

Report from the field: Equitas Resources’ quest for Labrador nickel

Sean Kingsley braved phobia, bug bites and back country backpacking to get a first-hand look at Garland.

A couple days ago I spent a whole shift out in the rolling hills, cliffs and bushes with Crone, the geophysical crew. There were seven of us that split up into three groups. I got to traverse the lay of the land with geophysicists Eldon Roul and Ryan Metcalfe. Jeremy Haak and Nick MacKay were set up on the hill to our left. Plan of attack would be to head straight down and across with the GPS until we reached another team or destination. Through tree branches, cliffs, hills and bushes the goal was to keep the line as straight as can be.

Most of these guys have spent time in many different nickel camps which include the Raglan, Norilsk, Thompson and over in Greenland, but these hills were a whole ’nother event for them. Not to mention on their backs were harnesses packed with 400 metres of 10-gauge lines which weighs in about 50 pounds each. I attempted to start off with harnessing myself up with a line pack but opted into carrying the 40-pound lunch-and-survival backpack.

You can’t see the other team across the valley but William Decker (Nain, Labrador) and Caley Loft had the challenge of going down a near 60-degree cliff. Not only that, they could only carry one harness spool, so once their 400 metres ran out they had to backtrack for more line.

Report from the field: Equitas Resources’ quest for Labrador nickel

The terrain is rough but the country’s spectacular—and it might yield riches.

Exploration work is not an easy job. I have a new-found level of respect for all that work in mineral exploration camps worldwide.

When I get back to the office I’ll upload some GoPro videos of us bushwhacking straight across the valleys and cliffs. Internet reception is limited and has not been our camp’s best friend so we try to conserve usage. Where we got dropped off is where the transmitter will stay for a couple days for them to do the surveys once the loops are completed. Once the data is collected it gets sent over to the Crone office in Ontario where they compile it completely. Then EQT sends it over to our consulting geophysicist Alan King.

Little note here: I’ve been re-reading the book The Big Score (the tell-all story of the Robert Friedland, Inco and Voisey’s Bay story) while up here in the Big Land and have come across several names of individuals who were a big part of its developments that are now a part of our developments. Before Inco committed to go forward with a minority stake of 25% in Friedland’s Diamond Fields they wanted to make sure the Voisey’s high-grade nickel discovery was for real. They sent in their Operation Green Team, which was made up of conservative geologist Ed Pattison and two men from Inco’s Engineering Building, Alan King, manager of geophysics, and Paul Golightly, a senior research geologist. It was their job to be as skeptical as possible.

Report from the field: Equitas Resources’ quest for Labrador nickel

Geophysicists don’t pack light. Luckily, this crew didn’t rely on Air Canada.

Sure enough, after their thorough site visit they reported back to Inco’s Michael Sopko that it was the real deal. At the time they could only estimate that Voisey’s Bay held 10% more than Diamond Fields’ estimated 25 million tonnes. To date we know Voisey’s totalled 141 million tonnes.

There’s quite a few camp personnel here who have worked at Archean Resources, Voisey’s Bay, Inco, Vale and also on projects of great success. All of us here at camp have gotten along tremendously and are hoping and praying that the drillers come in and prove Equitas’ theory. In the meantime I’m hoping Canadian Helicopters’ HQ will give approval to strap the GoPro camera onto the outside of the helicopter so we can do a property fly-over. Crossing my fingers.

P.S.: If you get to make your way up to camp, make sure you bring a bug jacket. There be bugs in dem hills!

Read more about Equitas Resources.

 

South of Voisey’s Bay

March 25th, 2015

New developments put Equitas Resources in search of a nearby nickel discovery

by Greg Klein

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The greatest find of Canada’s first diamond rush failed to locate a single gemstone. Instead Robert Friedland’s Diamond Fields Resources stumbled onto nickel with cobalt and copper—much more prosaic stuff but in such magnificent quantities that, just three years after its 1993 discovery, Voisey’s Bay sold for $4.3 billion. Yet the Labrador region remains under-explored. Now, with the advantages of new technology plus single ownership of a recently compiled land package, Equitas Resources TSXV:EQT puts new impetus into the search for a second deposit.

Just 30 kilometres south of Voisey’s, the company’s 25,050-hectare Garland project came together after two years of research by Dahrouge Geological Consulting. According to Equitas VP of exploration Everett Makela, this puts the “most prospective area outside of the Vale mine property” under a single operator for the first time, a significant advantage for effective exploration.

New developments put Equitas Resources in search of a nearby nickel discovery

Despite its proximity to Voisey’s, patchwork ownership
and outdated methods left the region under-explored.

This, in an area where deposits could come in clusters. That’s the case for major nickel camps like Sudbury, Norilsk, Thompson and Raglan, Makela emphasizes. Therefore “the likelihood of discovering more Voisey’s Bay-type deposits in the region is high.” But if that’s so, why has the area been neglected?

“The reality is that, after 20 years of exploration by scores of companies combing the surface, the remaining prospective environments are buried,” he explains. “In the case of the Garland project, that is most likely under younger cover rocks. Voisey’s Bay itself was exposed by a fortunate erosional history. It takes a strong commitment to advance the next stage. Commitment to exploring the deeper sub-surface requires insight into critical elements of the mineralizing process and employment of state-of-the-art geophysical methods.”

State-of-the-art exploration is already underway at Garland, where a VTEM-plus survey began in February. Previously some 10 separate companies explored relatively small pieces of the current Garland project with now-outdated electromagnetic surveys that penetrated only to about 75 metres. Equitas’ regional-scale geophysics can reach a maximum 10 times that depth, all the better to detect large, highly conductive nickel sulphide deposits.

As for insight, Makela brings Equitas solid expertise. The Sudbury native began his career in 1981 as a geological assistant with pre-Vale Inco. By the time he retired in 2012, Makela was Vale’s principal geologist for North America. “I’ve worked alongside some of the leading experts in nickel exploration and benefited greatly from access to the resources of leading global nickel companies,” he says. “My experience spans the gamut from target generation through to resource definition.”

He’s worked in the U.S., Mexico, Greenland, South Africa and Brazil, along with “years of focus on Sudbury and Voisey’s Bay that gave me a strong background in world-class mineralized systems and the business of building mines.” In fact Makela served on the Inco team that conducted initial due diligence prior to the multi-billion-dollar Voisey’s acquisition.

So what does he see at Garland? Well, enough of what he saw at Voisey’s to stoke his enthusiasm.

“Aside from having the same favourable address, along an Archean-Proterozoic boundary, Garland and Voisey’s share a remarkable number of geological signatures,” he points out. “Both are located at the intersection of a regional-scale east-west corridor of faults with a northeast-trending fault set. The combined movement is likely to have caused the open space that allowed emplacement of the Voisey’s Bay ores. That’s the same style of structural offset that we believe we have on our own property. Magnetic signatures and interpreted structural deformation are very similar.

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Canada and the mining world

February 5th, 2015

Resources and expertise keep this country at the forefront. But challenges remain

by Greg Klein

Resources and expertise keep this country at the forefront. But challenges remain

Clusters of Canadian mining activity. (Map: Mining Association of Canada)

 

Peak gold has already been called by a number of prominent observers. But without sufficient investment to spur exploration, the world faces declining resources of many other minerals too. At the centre of the conundrum sits Canada, home to one of the world’s most bountiful mining jurisdictions and many of its most important miners and explorers. Even so, the country faces five key challenges according to a Mining Association of Canada report released February 4.

Called Facts and Figures of the Canadian Mining Industry, the research relies largely on 2014 and 2013 data but emphasizes Canada’s stature in the world of mining. Over 800 Canadian companies currently explore more than 100 countries. Firms with Canadian headquarters accounted for nearly a third of global exploration spending in 2013.

Canada leads the world in mining finance, with the TSX listing 57% of the world’s publicly traded mining companies. The 331 miners raised $5.6 billion in 2013. Another 1,287 Venture-listed miners and explorers pulled in $1.3 billion the same year. “Together, the two exchanges handled 48% of global mining equity transactions in 2013 and accounted for 46% of global mining equity capital that year.” Impressive as that sounds, however, the dollar figures are declining. By May 2014 almost 60% of Canadian-listed juniors were down to less than $200,000 in working capital.

As a result, MAC points out, exploration’s share of spending has been shrinking, “indicating a shift toward defining known deposits and away from the riskier discovery of new ones.” Estimates for 2014 suggest that only 36% of exploration budgets went to actual exploration while the rest went to appraising more advanced projects.

In the current economic environment, the industry is focused on reducing costs, improving productivity and preparing for the next upswing.—Pierre Gratton, president/CEO of the Mining Association of Canada

Apart from resources unearthed by Canadians abroad, this country’s own share ranks Canada among the world’s top five countries for production of 11 major metals and minerals, MAC states. Canada comes in first for potash, second for uranium and cobalt, third for aluminum and tungsten, fourth for platinum group metals, sulphur and titanium, and fifth for nickel. With diamonds, Canada ranks fifth by volume and third by value.

As for gold, silver, zinc, copper, molybdenum and cadmium, Canada remains in the top 10 but once held top five positions. In part that slip reflects a 30-year decline in the country’s proven and probable reserves, especially in base metals. “Since 1980, the most dramatic decline has been in lead (97%), zinc (83%) and silver (79%) reserves, while copper (37%) and nickel (65%) reserves have fallen significantly as well,” MAC reports.

The news isn’t all negative. “Since 2009 gold, silver, zinc and copper reserves have increased, with copper levels not seen since the early 1990s and gold at record levels.” But that doesn’t appear to reflect a long-term trend. “Recent commodity price fluctuations and the corresponding difficulties junior miners are facing in raising capital indicate continued concern over the depletion of proven and probable reserves for the majority of Canada’s deposits.”

The group foresees “only a handful” of major Canadian projects coming into production over the next five years, a result of exploration cutbacks during the 1990s and early 2000s. Global exploration has also declined in recent years. Looking a little farther ahead, though, “this gap is slowly closing.” MAC counts over 100 advanced Canadian exploration projects identified from 2011 to 2014 among those that could “contribute to the $160 billion in potential mining investment Canada could see over the next five to 10 years.”

But standing in the way of that potential are five key challenges, the report cautions. Global economic trends have hit many commodity prices hard. Yet MAC takes an optimistic view of medium- to longer-term prospects from China, India and other emerging countries.

Among the hurdles of Canadian investment are the increasing difficulty of finding new discoveries, operating deeper mines, paying higher energy costs and meeting new regulatory requirements. To help overcome lagging productivity, MAC wants more government funding for mining R&D.

Canada’s regulatory burden comes across as an increasingly complex maze. MAC warns that new legislation will likely increase the number of necessary federal approvals. The group calls for greater co-ordination between federal agencies and their provincial and territorial counterparts, as well as between government agencies and aboriginal and public consultation.

Developing undeveloped regions of course calls for infrastructure. A separate MAC study found that building and operating a remote, northern mine costs from two to 2.5 times the cost of a similar mine down south. To lessen the burden, the group calls for tax incentives, infrastructure investments and public-private partnerships.

Finally, there’s the need for new faces. The Mining Industry Human Resources Council says the industry will need 121,000 new workers over the next decade. That number doesn’t even take into account an estimated 53,000 retirements over the same period, according to MAC. Where to look for replacements?

Not far, apparently. “Approximately 1,200 aboriginal communities are located within 200 kilometres of some 180 producing mines and more than 2,500 active exploration properties,” the report notes. While mining’s already proportionately Canada’s largest private sector employer of natives, “addressing the human resources challenge will take a large and co-ordinated effort by the industry, educational institutions and all levels of government in the coming years.”

MAC president/CEO Pierre Gratton said, “In the current economic environment, the industry is focused on reducing costs, improving productivity and preparing for the next upswing.” In his statement accompanying the report he added, “We are confident about the future demand for our products and the Canadian mining industry is focusing on getting in shape now to seize the growth opportunities ahead of it.”

Download Facts and Figures of the Canadian Mining Industry.

 

Resources and expertise keep this country at the forefront. But challenges remain

Geographical distribution of Canada’s mining assets in 2012. (Map: Mining Association of Canada)

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EU names six new critical materials, warns of industry challenges

May 26th, 2014

by Greg Klein | May 26, 2014

Six new critical raw materials bring the European Commission’s list up to 20, posing a “major challenge for EU industry,” the EC announced May 26. An update to the original 2011 collection, the set now includes borates, chromium, coking coal, magnesite, phosphate rock and silicon metal. No longer included is tantalum, now considered to have a lower supply risk. The division of rare earths into two categories, light and heavy, brings the total to 20 materials:

Raw materials are everywhere—just consider your smartphone. It might contain up to 50 different metals, all of which help to give it its light weight and user-friendly small size. Key economic sectors in Europe—such as automotive, aerospace and renewable energy—are highly dependent on raw materials. These raw materials represent the lifeblood of today’s industry and are fundamental for the development of environmental technologies and the digital agenda.—EC Enterprise and Industry

  • antimony
  • beryllium
  • borates
  • chromium
  • cobalt
  • coking coal
  • fluorspar
  • gallium
  • germanium
  • graphite (natural)
  • indium
  • magnesite
  • magnesium
  • niobium
  • phosphate rock
  • platinum group metals
  • rare earths (heavy)
  • rare earths (light)
  • silicon metal
  • tungsten

With 54 candidates considered, materials were evaluated largely on two criteria, economic importance and supply risk. Economic importance was determined by “assessing the proportion of each material associated with industrial megasectors” and their importance to the EU’s GDP.

Supply risk was assessed through the World Governance Indicator, which considers factors “such as voice and accountability, political stability and absence of violence, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law or control of corruption.”

Not surprisingly, the report names China as the biggest global supplier of the 20. “Several other countries have dominant supplies of specific raw materials, such as Brazil (niobium). Supply of other materials, for example platinum group metals and borates, is more diverse but is still concentrated. The risks associated with this concentration of production are in many cases compounded by low substitutability and low recycling rates.” About 90% of the critical materials’ primary supply comes from outside the EU.

The commission hopes its list will encourage European production of the materials. The list will also be considered when negotiating trade agreements and promoting R&D, as well as by companies evaluating their own supplies.

As for the future, the EC sees growing demand for all 20 critical raw materials, “with niobium, gallium and heavy rare earth elements forecast to have the strongest rates of demand growth, exceeding 8% per year for the rest of the decade.”

The commission adds that “all raw materials, even when not critical, are important for the European economy” and therefore should not be neglected.

The EC intends to update its list at least every three years.

Download the EU report on critical raw materials.