Wednesday 16th October 2019

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘Rio Tinto PLC ADS (RIO)’

International Montoro Resources employs high-tech analysis of Elliot Lake-region nickel-copper prospect

September 10th, 2019

by Greg Klein | September 10, 2019

A geophysical analysis on the property released last March found targets described as “good candidates for semi-massive nickel-copper mineralization.” Now International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT has contracted Mira Geoscience to compile and analyze a much larger data set for the Pecors Lake project, part of the 1,840-hectare Serpent River property in Ontario’s Elliot Lake district.

International Montoro Resources employs high-tech analysis of Elliot Lake-region nickel-copper prospect

Nickel-copper potential brings new interest to
International Montoro Resources’ Serpent River property.

Historic drilling on Serpent’s southwestern area found uranium-rare earths mineralization. But extensive geophysical programs completed last year alerted Montoro to nickel-copper-PGE potential as well. A 3D model revealed that three assumed magnetic anomalies at Pecors actually comprise one contiguous anomaly estimated to be five kilometres long, two kilometres wide and two kilometres deep.

Considered pioneers of advanced geological and geophysical 3D and 4D modelling, Mira Geoscience will enter a library of data into its Geoscience Analyst 3D interactive platform. Included will be Ontario Geological Survey geochem and petrographic studies; OGSEarth data from drilling conducted by Teck Resources TSX:TECK.A/TSX:TECK.B, Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO, BHP Billiton NYSE:BHPand others on or near the property; federal government regional gravity and magnetic surveys; Montoro’s 22 drill holes; and downhole EM data for two holes reaching depths of one and 1.3 kilometres respectively.

In central British Columbia, Montoro had a 43-101 technical study completed in April for its recently acquired Wicheeda North property, adjacent to the Wicheeda rare earths deposit currently being drilled by Defense Metals TSXV:DEFN under option from Spectrum Mining. The report states that Wicheeda North “has the potential to host, and should continue to be explored for, rare earth element mineralization because it occurs within a favourable geological belt known to contain carbonatite-hosted REE mineralization.”

A 3D magnetic inversion was completed in June for the property, which Montoro has expanded to 2,138 hectares.

The company’s portfolio also includes the 2,300-hectare Duhamel property in central Quebec, considered prospective for nickel-copper-cobalt, as well as titanium-vanadium-chromium.

Along with Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA, Montoro shares 50/50 ownership of two uranium properties in northern Saskatchewan’s Uranium City area.

Last month Montoro closed a private placement first tranche of $47,500.

Diamond beneficiation returns to NWT as Yellowknife plant revived

August 14th, 2019

by Greg Klein | August 14, 2019

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

Diamond beneficiation returns to NWT as Yellowknife facility revived

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new colonialists

October 19th, 2018

China’s overseas expansion raises concerns of influence and arrogance

by Greg Klein

The country boosts its domestic industries through state-sanctioned dumping along with lax environmental, health and safety standards. Aggressive overseas expansion provides money and infrastructure to struggling nations in return for resources and acquiescence. Espionage, counterfeit exports, currency manipulation, economic warfare, intellectual theft—“particularly the systematic theft of U.S. weapons systems”—that’s all part of China’s goal to gain “veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions,” according to a recent U.S. study ordered by President Donald Trump.

So it seems a bit anti-climactic to accuse the Red Dragon of arrogance.

But could that become China’s undoing, especially when the arrogance reflects racism? Examples from Kenya reveal a steady stream of racially charged incidents. Among the most recent was ongoing racist abuse from the manager of a Chinese-owned assembly plant. A Chinese company running a much bigger Kenyan operation, the Standard Gauge Railway, faces accusations of practising racial preferences and segregation. Further accounts relay instances of demeaning treatment, even assaults, on African workers in their own countries by Chinese bosses.

China’s overseas expansion brings allegations of influence and arrogance

That might be more a side effect than part of the official agenda, which is alarming in itself. According to Globe and Mail Africa correspondent Geoffrey York, Chinese influence “is sharply increasing in African media, academia, politics and diplomacy.” Earlier this month he reported that a South African newspaper chain backed by Chinese investors fired a columnist who denounced their country’s treatment of Muslims.

“In Zambia, heavily dependent on Chinese loans, a prominent Kenyan scholar was prevented from entering the country to deliver a speech critical of China. In Namibia, a Chinese diplomat publicly advised the country’s president to use pro-China wording in a coming speech. And a scholar at a South African university was told that he would not receive a visa to enter China until his classroom lectures contain more praise for Beijing.”

York pointed to “the huge number of African leaders who flock to the summit of China’s main African organization, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC),” an annual conference featuring announcements of Chinese financial aid. At last month’s event, President Xi Jinping promised grants, loans and investments totalling $60 billion, equaling an amount pledged three years earlier.

China’s massive African infrastructure projects, built by Chinese companies that often enjoy Chinese government financial support, include railways and hydro-electric power. But Chinese interests also get their hands on Africa’s mineral resources as well as oil and gas reserves, not to mention new markets for Chinese exports. Chinese loans have been criticized for overwhelming African countries with debt.

In the values that it promotes, in the manner that it operates and in the impact that it has on African countries, FOCAC refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe.—South African
President Cyril Ramaphosa

Then there’s the political influence. The spectacle of African leaders singing China’s praises has provoked cynicism that South African President and FOCAC co-chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa tried to dispel: “In the values that it promotes, in the manner that it operates and in the impact that it has on African countries, FOCAC refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe.”

Those remarks might alternately challenge or support allegations of sycophancy. But York notes China’s success in convincing African countries to drop their support for Taiwan, promoting Chinese language and culture, increasing media ownership with attendant interference, and—laughably, considering the communist state’s journalistic standards—providing “‘training’ for 1,000 African media professionals annually.”

Such are the challenges faced by the developing world. And others too.

From Australia come additional examples. “The hubris of the Chinese Communist Party has reached a great and giddy high,” the Sidney Morning Herald declared last month. International editor Peter Hartcher recounted a meeting between Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei and Australian treasurer Joe Hockey in which Lou lit a cigarette without asking permission, then badgered the Aussie with big talk that included offers to take over Rio Tinto, buy 15% of the top 200 ASX-listed companies or grab multi-billion-dollar positions in Australian banks.

Hartcher mentioned another incident a few years ago, when “a Chinese minister walked into the Parliament House office of an Australian Liberal Party minister in the course of a negotiation.

“The visitor sat on the sofa, reclined with his hands locked behind his head, and put his feet up on the coffee table. He crossed his ankles casually, the soles of his shoes pointed towards his Australian host. A mere detail, yes, but a telling one. It infuriated the Australian, who was still steaming as he recounted the story years later.”

Then there’s the threats. In a Sydney meeting last year, Hartcher writes, Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten and two of his key people heard Chinese Communist Party official Meng Jianzhu demand their party support an extradition treaty. They objected, largely due to China’s death penalty.

“To get his way, Meng threatened to mobilize the Chinese diaspora living in Australia to vote against the Labor party. The Labor leaders were unbowed and unimpressed. ‘We cannot let these bastards push us around,’ one later remarked to a colleague. Labor continued to oppose the extradition treaty.”

Score one for Down Under determination. Hartcher warns that China could meet its comeuppance once the country’s economic growth stops, possibly in a decade or so. Still, that gives the Middle Kingdom considerable time to expand its influence in acquiescent countries, which need not be limited to the developing world.

Like Canada, for example. Do our politicians match Australian Labor’s resolve? Do our media match the Sidney Morning Herald’s candour? Or would the example of HD Mining International, which planned to staff underground operations at a British Columbia mine exclusively with Chinese workers, typify Canada’s response?

Looking up, up north

October 5th, 2018

The territories reap tangible and intangible benefits from their biggest industry

by Greg Klein

The territories reap tangible and intangible benefits from their biggest industry

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

 

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

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

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

The territories reap tangible and intangible benefits from their biggest industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 1st, 2018

by Greg Klein | October 1, 2018

Overwhelming majority puts Quebec government in new hands

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

 

Updated Quebec results (with 2014 figures in parentheses)

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

 

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

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

Overwhelming majority puts Quebec government in new hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 17th, 2018

…Read more

How to flog glitter to the young and affluent: A De Beers special report

September 14th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 14, 2018

Last year’s global market for diamond-encrusted jewelry rose 2.2% to a new high of $82 billion, largely due to the planet’s most populous age groups, says the world’s largest purveyor of the bling. But as “consumer power” shifts from elderly Boomers and middle-aged Generation X to Millennials and Gen Z, manufacturers and retailers must meet a new set of consumer expectations, De Beers’ Diamond Insight Report warns.

Americans again demonstrated the largest demand for diamond jewelry, splurging $43 billion, up 4.2% from the previous year’s $41 billion extravagance in a market that’s expected to show steady growth.

How to flog glitter to the young and affluent: A De Beers special report

(Photo: Matt Crabb/Anglo American)

Looking at diamonds’ pre-jewelry market, rough sales to cutting and polishing facilities rose 2% to $16.6 billion. De Beers claimed 34% of the total, down from its 2016 portion of 37%. Alrosa’s share came to 25%, compared with 27% the previous year. This year’s H1 sales to cutting centres, however, have surpassed the same period in 2017.

Last year’s global production climbed 15% in value to $17.5 billion and 14% in volume to 164 million carats. De Beers took credit for the largest increase of 6.1 million carats, followed by Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO with 3.7 million and Alrosa with 2.3 million carats. The top three diamond mining countries remained Russia, Botswana and Canada.

Forecasts see this year’s global production slipping “due largely to Alrosa’s suspension of operations at the Mir mine and Rio Tinto’s guided fall in production at its operations. Looking further ahead, production is expected to continue falling as new projects and expansions fail to replace lost output from closing mines. By 2025, several large mines will reach the end of their life, while only a few new projects are in the pipeline.”

With the younger consumers’ desire for qualities that diamonds can perfectly embody—including love, connections, authenticity, uniqueness and positive social impact—the most exciting times for the diamond industry are still ahead of us if we can seize the opportunities.—Bruce Cleaver,
De Beers Group CEO

Much of the report focuses on Millennials and Gen Zedders, and why they matter more than those doddering old Boomers and clapped out Gen Exers. Not only are the newcomers more numerous than their predecessors (64% of the planet’s 7.39 billion potential customers) but they’ll soon have more money to splash around. Additionally “they represent more than two-thirds of total diamond jewellery demand value in the four largest diamond-consuming countries,” the U.S., China, India and Japan.

But don’t mistake these affluent upstarts for status-conscious materialists with more money than values, the report emphasizes. Those who would sell to them must recognize four key traits: “Love is meaningful to them in many ways; they are digital natives; they value authenticity, individuality and self-expression; they are engaged with society and social issues.” Indeed, crass marketing’s passé as enlightened purveyors appeal to young adults’ desire for “love, connections, authenticity, uniqueness and positive social impact.”

Still, differences persist between the two groups. Millennials multi-task across two screens and think in 3D. Gen Zedders do that stuff across five screens and in 4D. Now-focused, idealistic and expectant Millennials contrast with future-focused, pragmatic and persistent Gen Z. The divide continues, pitting Millennials’ Harry Potter/armchair activist lifestyle and their team orientation versus Gen Z’s Hunger Games/active volunteer approach credited with collective consciousness.

De Beers doesn’t divulge the methodology for its detailed but seemingly subjective analysis. Buried in the report, however, might be one of the most important traits for a marketing pitch to consider.

Millennials boast an attention span reaching all of 12 seconds, 50% higher than Gen Z’s eight-second feat of endurance.

Related: Could synthetics bring death to diamond mining? Or a kind of reincarnation?

The Northwest Territories celebrates gemstone mining milestones

August 24th, 2018

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

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

The Northwest Territories celebrates gemstone mining milestones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related:

Canada’s six biggest miners boost exploration spending by 31%: PwC

July 5th, 2018

by Greg Klein | July 5, 2018

Canada’s six biggest miners boost exploration spending by 31%: PwC

(Photos: PricewaterhouseCoopers)

 

The half-dozen Canadian companies among the world’s top 40 miners increased exploration expenditures last year at twice the rate of the others. That info comes from the upbeat results found in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Mine 2018, a study of the planet’s 40 biggest companies by market cap. The six Canadians spent C$620 million looking for new resources last year, compared with C$473 million in 2016. The report forecasts continued improvement throughout the current year.

Globally, exploration rose 15% in 2017 to US$8.4 billion, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence figures cited by PwC.

Not so impressive, though, was the equity raised on three key mining markets, which fell $1.7 billion last year for the industry as a whole. Especially hard-hit was Toronto, which plunged 36%. Australia slipped 9%, while London actually jumped 47%. However this year’s Q1 investing “reveals that activity in Toronto and Australia is starting to pick up and signals a renewed interest in exploration and early development projects.”

Overall, higher commodity prices propelled the top 40 companies’ revenues 23% to about US$600 billion, with cost-saving efficiencies contributing to a “sharp increase in profits.” The report sees several years of continued growth as global annual GDP increases about 4% for the next five years.

Meanwhile market caps for the top 40 soared 30% last year to US$926 billion.

The top 40 companies’ capex outlay, however, floundered at its lowest level in 10 years. But the authors “expect next year’s level to increase as companies press ahead with long-term strategies, be it growth through greenfield or brownfield investments, or new acquisitions.”

Should that investment fail to materialize, the report asks, “will there be a temptation to spend without sufficient capital discipline when demand outstrips supply?”

At a number of points PwC admonishes miners not to “give in to the impulses” engendered by the previous boom: “Perhaps the most significant risk currently facing the world’s top miners is the temptation to acquire mineral-producing assets in order to meet rising demand. In the previous cycle, many miners eschewed capital discipline in the pursuit of higher production levels, which set them up to suffer when the downturn came.”

Canadians among the 2017 top 40 consisted of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (since merged with Agrium to create Nutrien TSX:NTR) in 13th place, Barrick Gold TSX:ABX (14th), Teck Resources TSX:TECK.A and TSX:TECK.B (16th), Goldcorp TSX:G (25th), Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM (26th) and First Quantum Minerals TSX:FM (30th).

The top five companies, holding a top-heavy 47% of the top-40 combined market cap, were BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP, Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO, Glencore, China Shenhua Energy and Vale NYSE:VALE.

In addition to exploration spending, the half-dozen Canadian companies also got special mention for workplace safety, as “world leaders in digital transformation” and for boardroom diversity in which “women make up 25% of directors among Canadian miners, compared to 19% among their global peers.”

Download PwC’s Mine 2018 report.

Update: Belmont Resources permitted for July drilling on Nevada lithium property

June 20th, 2018

by Greg Klein | Updated June 20, 2018

With permits now in hand, Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA expects to activate a rig on its Kibby Basin lithium project next month. Once completed, the boreholes may be converted to exploration wells to test for lithium brine aquifers.

Located 65 kilometres north of Nevada’s Clayton Valley, the 2,760-hectare property underwent deep-sensing magnetotelluric geophysics earlier this year, finding a conductive zone that starts at about 500 metres in depth. The program followed last year’s initial drill campaign that sunk two holes totalling 624 metres. Core samples graded between 70 ppm and 200 ppm Li2O, with 13 of 25 samples surpassing 100 ppm.

Preparations move Belmont Resources toward Nevada lithium drilling

This year’s magnetotelluric geophysical program helped identify
drill targets for Belmont Resources’ Kibby Basin lithium project.

The company has described the upcoming program as “work of a significant scope” that includes water well installation and monitoring.

In May Belmont announced the appointment of Ian Graham to the company’s advisory board. A former principal geologist with De Beers’ South African division, he also spent 15 years with Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO where he took part in evaluation and pre-development projects including the Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories and the Resolution copper deposit in Arizona. He also oversaw permitting for the Eagle nickel mine in Michigan and played a key role in the initial economic assessment for the Bunder diamond project in India. More recently Graham served as CEO of United Energy Corp, which held a Nevada lithium project.

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

Belmont closed the final tranche of a private placement totalling $198,000 in April.

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