Tuesday 23rd October 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘silver’

Geoscience BC maps Greenwood’s mineral potential

September 28th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 28, 2018

An historic British Columbia mining camp comes under additional scrutiny with new research released September 28. Geoscience BC’s latest report and 1:50,000-scale map focus on the province’s south-central Greenwood district, about 500 kilometres east of Vancouver.

Mining on the 800-square-kilometre area dates back to the late 1880s. Some 26 past-producers have given up more than 1.2 million ounces of gold and over 270,000 tonnes of copper, along with silver, lead and zinc, according to the independent non-profit organization. With a number of juniors currently working to find more mineralization, this research “should bolster the recent revival of mineral exploration activity in the Greenwood area,” said Geoscience BC VP of minerals and mining Bruce Madu.

Geoscience BC maps Greenwood’s mineral potential

Mining may one day return to the once-busy Greenwood camp.
(Photo: Geoscience BC)

Among the active companies is Grizzly Discoveries TSXV:GZD, which holds about 72,840 hectares of Greenwood turf. Under a 75% earn-in, Kinross Gold TSX:K has been drilling for gold in the Midway area of Grizzly’s holdings. Grizzly has been conducting geophysics and surface exploration on its Robocop cobalt-copper-silver claims and plans drilling for three other Greenwood targets.

Just across the international border, Kinross operated the Kettle River-Buckhorn gold mine until last year, extracting 1.3 million ounces over nine years.

Another of Greenwood’s large landholders is Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM, which attributes 31 historic mines to its 15,400-hectare portfolio.

The Greenwood report might help illuminate other parts of B.C. as well. “This area could hold the key to a better understanding of mineral deposits that formed during key geological events that span almost 200 million years,” Madu added.

Working with First Nations, local communities, governments, academia and the resource sector, Geoscience BC opens its research to the public “with the aim of encouraging exploration, economic activity and informed land use decisions.” Most funding comes from the provincial government.

The organization’s other mapping projects in the area include:

See Geoscience BC’s Earth Science Viewer.

Saville Resources mobilizes for niobium-tantalum field work in northern Quebec

September 25th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 25, 2018

Encouraging assays and heightening concern for critical minerals bring an exploration team back to Saville Resources’ (TSXV:SRE) Niobium claim group in Quebec’s Labrador Trough region. The program follows earlier drilling as well as more recent niobium-tantalum boulder samples that reached as high as 4.3% Nb2O5 and 700 ppm Ta2O5. With work carried out by Dahrouge Geological Consulting, the autumn agenda calls for prospecting and ground geophysics to identify future drill targets.

Saville Resources mobilizes for niobium-tantalum field work in northern Quebec

A view from a ridge on Saville Resources’ Niobium claim
group, now progressing towards an updated geological model.

The 1,223-hectare project sits on the Eldor property which also hosts Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram rare earths deposit, now moving towards pre-feasibility. Under an agreement with Commerce, Saville may earn 75% of the Niobium claim group. The company has two weeks planned for the current campaign.

A 43-101 technical report filed earlier this month “concludes there is a ‘strong potential for carbonatite-hosted niobium-tantalum deposit(s) of significance’,” noted president Mike Hodge. “Discoveries start with boots on the ground and we look forward to following this work up with an aggressive and targeted drill campaign to further unlock this potential.”

Among places slated for ground magnetics is the Southeast area, where mineralization is often associated with magnetite. Prospecting will focus on relatively untouched areas but also the vicinity of drill programs dating to 2008 and 2010. Hole EC10-033 returned 0.72% Nb2O5 and 145 ppm Ta2O5 over 21.35 metres, starting just below overburden at 4.22 metres’ depth. The same hole also delivered 0.82% Nb2O5 over 21.89 metres starting at 58.9 metres.

The shallow intersections “indicate that strong mineralization extends to surface in the immediate area,” the company stated. “In terms of ground follow-up, there is a sizable corridor to the south of EC10-033 that has not been traversed and is therefore a high-priority area for assessment.”

Results from the program will help update the Southeast area’s geological model, which currently dates to 2010 despite an improved understanding of the Eldor complex. A partial photo re-log of the core, a revised rock classification scheme, geophysical results and other data will delineate future drill targets.

Reporting from Quebec’s James Bay region last month, Saville announced a new zinc-silver-nickel zone at surface on the company’s Covette property. Sampling took place along an area hosting strong magnetic anomalies and several EM conductors, with one sample grading 1.2% zinc and 68.7 g/t silver, and three others ranging from 0.13% to 0.19% nickel.

Also last month Saville closed an $877,700 first tranche of a private placement offered in July up to $2 million.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Visual Capitalist: Nine reasons mining investors are looking at Yukon companies

September 18th, 2018

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | September 18, 2018

In the mining industry, location is paramount.

Invest your capital in a jurisdiction that doesn’t respect that investment, or in a place with little geological potential, and it’s possible that it will end up going to waste.

That’s why, when there’s a place on the map that has world-class geology and also a plan for working with miners and new explorers, the money begins to flow to take advantage of that potential.

Why investors are looking at the Yukon

This infographic comes to us from the Yukon Mining Alliance and it shows nine reasons why people are investing in Yukon mining and exploration companies today.

 

Nine reasons mining investors are looking at Yukon companies

 

For resource investors, it is rare to see variables like government investment, jurisdiction, geological potential and investment from major mining companies all aligning.

However, in the Yukon, it seems this may be the case. Here are nine reasons the Yukon is starting to attract more investment capital:

1. Rich history
Mining was central to the Yukon even over a century ago, when over 100,000 fortune-seekers stampeded into the Yukon with the goal of striking it rich in the famous Klondike Gold Rush.

2. Geological profile
In the last decade, there have been major discoveries of gold, silver, copper, zinc and lead in the Yukon—but perhaps most interestingly, only 12% of the Yukon has been staked, making the region highly under-explored. Spending on exploration and development rose from $93 million to $158 million from 2015 to 2017.

3. Major investment
Major mining companies now have a stake in the polymetallic rush. Recent companies to foray into the Yukon include Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM, Barrick Gold TSX:ABX, Coeur Mining NYSE:CDE, Goldcorp TSX:G, Kinross Gold TSX:K and Newmont Mining NYSE:NEM.

4. Leaders in exploration and mining
Juniors in the region are working on new geological ideas as well as new technology to unlock the vast potential of the region.

5. Progressive partnerships
First Nations and the government of Yukon have recently championed a new government-to-government relationship that enables them to be on the exact same page when it comes to mineral projects.

6. Government investment
The Yukon government is investing in new infrastructure via the Resource Gateway project. It also offers the Yukon Mineral Exploration Program, which provides a portion of risk capital to explore and develop mineral projects to an advanced stage.

7. Made in Yukon process
The Yukon government also tries to foster regulatory certainty to create clarity for companies and investors through its customized tri-party process.

8. Infrastructure
The jurisdiction has 5,000 kilometres of government-maintained roads, receives 95% of power from clean hydro, has international and local airports, and has access to three deep-water, ice-free ports.

9. Geopolitical stability
Canada offers geopolitical stability to start with—but with unprecedented cooperation between the territorial government and First Nations, the Yukon is arguably a step above the rest of the country.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

The Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

September 4th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 4, 2018

Impractical but legal tender just the same, the Royal Canadian Mint’s latest batch of coins features, not for the first time, a world first. This one’s an oval- and concave-shaped one-kilo 99.99% silver coin. Using innovative techniques to portray a traditional theme, it shows a boatload of voyageurs having “just cleared a treacherous cascade, their canoe almost launching itself from this incredibly sculpted and immersive design.”

Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

The oval shape “beautifully frames the design while its concave shape heightens the sense of perspective,” the Mint enthused. “The ultra-high relief delivers incredible depth and dimension which are further enhanced by the coin’s antique finish.” The result “showcases incredible artistry and the Mint’s technical prowess that has made it a global leader for over a century.”

Although hardly the Mint’s largest coin, this one sells for 10 times its face value of $250. Just 400 copies have been struck.

This certainly isn’t the first time voyageurs have canoed a course across Canadian coins. A pair of paddlers predominated on silver dollars in circulation between 1935 and 1986. The same duo would have reappeared in 1987, when Canada struck a new coin to replace $1 notes, had the dies not gone missing on their way to the Mint’s coin-casting facility. As a result, Canada got stuck with the loonie, a less inspiring but arguably more representative image of our contemporary society.

Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

Something of an anomaly among the Canadian-themed releases announced September 4 was Superman: The Last Son of Krypton. Justified by the fifth anniversary of the hero’s Canadian numismatic debut, the fame of Canadian comic book artist Jason Fabok and maybe also the man of steel’s Canadian co-creator, Joe Shuster, the $100 10-ounce silver coin actually serves as a base for a gold-plated statue. It sells for $1,199.95.

Presenting an icon more commonly associated with Canada and the North, another coin/statue shows a whale tail extending from the surface as a humpback takes a deep dive. With each hand-carved soapstone sculpture unique, the five-ounce $50 silver coin costs $549.95.

Another arctic scene employs another Mint innovation, that of dimensional paint. This shows a polar bear cub cautiously approaching the water while its mother and sibling swim below surface, who are seen as if “looking through water.” The 62-gram $30 silver piece sells for $199.95.

Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

Among several other issues available this month, the Mint celebrates the 30th anniversary of its platinum coin, “still recognized as one of the purest in the world, a sought-after piece whose maple leaf is the unmistakable symbol of outstanding Canadian craftsmanship.” The four-piece set goes for $4,999.95.

As a maker of numismatic history itself, the Mint commemorates a little-known aspect of historic Canadian currency with its Playing Cards of New France release. Due to a shortage of coins in 1685, playing cards with handwritten notations served as currency. Although intended as a temporary measure, “card money was re-issued and circulated like modern-day banknotes until 1759,” the Mint reveals.

In recognition of the practice, four 1.5-ounce silver pieces with narrow rectangular proportions represent the king of each suit. With a face value of $25 each, the set costs $649.95 and comes with a complete deck of paper cards.

Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

Read more about the Royal Canadian Mint.

Saville Resources discovers new zinc-silver-nickel zone at surface in Quebec

August 8th, 2018

by Greg Klein | August 8, 2018

A property with limited exploration but encouraging geophysics shows further promise following a recent field program. Of eight surface samples collected by Saville Resources TSXV:SRE on its 3,370-hectare Covette project in Quebec’s James Bay region, one returned 1.2% zinc and 68.7 g/t silver, while three others assayed between 0.13% and 0.19% nickel.

Saville Resources discovers new zinc-silver-nickel zone at surface in Quebec

Saville Resources now plans trenching and channel
sampling to follow Covette’s grab sample assays.

Sampling took place along a visible strike of about 200 metres directly above an area of high conductivity found by a 2016 VTEM program that spotted several EM conductors coinciding with strong magnetic anomalies.

Underlying the region is a greenstone belt “comprised of various mafic to ultramafic rock units considered prospective for base and precious metals (nickel-copper-cobalt-platinum group elements-gold-silver), as well as pegmatite-hosted rare metals (lithium-tantalum),” Saville reported. “Komatiites have also been described in the region with such rock types known to host significant nickel-copper massive sulphide deposits at other localities globally, adding further to the prospective nature of the region.”

A sampling program in 2017 brought 0.18% nickel, 0.09% copper and 87 ppm cobalt. One historic, non-43-101 grab sample returned 4.7% molybdenum, 0.73% bismuth, 0.09% lead and 6 g/t silver. Another historic sample showed 1.2 g/t silver and 0.18% copper.

Further plans include follow-up trenching and channel sampling. Saville filed a 43-101 technical report on the property and closed its 100% acquisition in June.

Covette sits about 190 kilometres east of the town of Radisson and 10 kilometres north of the all-weather Trans-Taiga road and the adjacent hydro-electricity transmission line.

In another northern Quebec project, Saville has a 43-101 technical report underway for the Miranna claims situated on the Eldor property that hosts Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) advanced-stage Ashram rare earths deposit. Saville would acquire a 75% earn-in subject to exchange approval. In April the companies released niobium-tantalum boulder sample grades as high as 4.3% Nb2O5 and 700 ppm Ta2O5.

Last month Saville offered two private placements totalling up to $2 million.

Read more about Saville Resources.

More than just money

June 27th, 2018

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

by Greg Klein

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: The Canadian and Australian mints end their legal battle with a “collaborative cross-licensing agreement,” the National Post reports.

Learn more about the Royal Canadian Mint.

Royal Canadian Mint breaks the numismatic mould to cast creative coins

June 26th, 2018

This story has been expanded and moved here.

Saville Resources closes Quebec nickel-copper-cobalt acquisition, files 43-101, readies summer program

June 26th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 26, 2018

An undrilled property with encouraging geophysical results will undergo a summer field program, now that Saville Resources TSXV:SRE has finalized its acquisition of the James Bay-region Covette project. A 1,402-line VTEM survey from 2016 outlined at least six areas of high conductivity on the 3,315-hectare property, with one zone extending southeast about 4.5 kilometres and another trending northeast. Those areas “need to be evaluated,” stated a 43-101 technical report filed this month.

Saville Resources closes Quebec nickel-copper-cobalt acquisition, files 43-101, readies summer program

A pegmatite ridge on Saville Resources’ Covette
project, which now has Phase I field work planned.

Sampling conducted last year showed 0.18% nickel, 0.09% copper and 87 ppm cobalt, but the field program wasn’t sufficient to explain the source of the VTEM anomalies, which may indicate a source at depth, the company stated.

An historic, non-43-101 sample assayed 4.7% molybdenum, 0.73% bismuth, 0.09% lead and 6 g/t silver. Another brought 1.2 g/t silver and 0.18% copper.

A Phase I field program recommended by the technical report would include detailed mapping and sampling in areas of high-conductivity, channel sampling and further geophysics. The project sits about 10 kilometres north of the all-weather Trans-Taiga road and adjacent transmission line.

Meanwhile work continues on another Quebec acquisition as Saville prepares a 43-101 technical report on the Miranna claims, located on the Eldor property that hosts Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) advanced-stage rare earths deposit. In April the companies reported assays as high as 4.3% Nb2O5 and 700 ppm Ta2O5, results in line with previous high grades. Subject to exchange approval, Saville would acquire a 75% earn-in on Miranna.

Read more about Saville Resources.

Pistol Bay Mining releases zinc-copper assays from Ontario, prepares for new drilling

June 13th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 13, 2018

As a long-overdue modern exploration program continues on northwestern Ontario’s Confederation Lake, Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST released assays for an initial three-hole 1,555-metre program on the property’s Arrow zone. The results “confirm the consistent nature of mineralization in the Arrow zone and give us more confidence in the existing mineral resource estimate,” noted president/CEO Charles Desjardins. The assays show:

Hole GL18-01

  • 0.73% copper, 2.22% zinc, 12 g/t silver, 0.307 g/t gold and 0.03% lead for 4.34% zinc-equivalent over 10.9 metres, starting at 432.7 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 0.69% copper, 4.49% zinc, 22.2 g/t silver, 0.217 g/t gold and 0.1% lead for 6.65% zinc-equivalent over 2.9 metres)
  • (and including 1.16% copper, 1.48% zinc, 12.8 g/t silver, 0.64 g/t gold and 0.01% lead for 4.91% zinc-equivalent over 3 metres)
Pistol Bay Mining releases zinc-copper assays from Ontario, prepares for new drilling

Drilling will soon resume
at Confederation Lake’s
Fredart zone.

GL18-03

  • 0.13% copper, 1.13% zinc, 3.3 g/t silver, 0.044 g/t gold and 0.02% lead for 1.54% zinc-equivalent over 12.9 metres, starting at 563.1 metres
  • (including 0.2% copper, 1.93% zinc, 4.3 g/t silver, 0.083 g/t gold and 0.04% lead for 2.54% zinc-equivalent over 3.8 metres)
  • (which includes 0.11% copper, 2.69% zinc, 3.4 g/t silver, 0.04 g/t gold and 0.07% lead for 3.09% zinc-equivalent over 1.5 metres)
  • (and also includes 0.48% copper, 2.92% zinc, 8.5 g/t silver, 0.15 g/t gold and 0.05% lead for 4.28% zinc-equivalent over 1.3 metres)

True widths weren’t provided.

In early May the company released the program’s first hole, showing 5.15% zinc-equivalent over 12.85 metres.

Last year Pistol Bay filed a 43-101 resource for Arrow, with a base case 3% zinc-equivalent cutoff for an inferred category showing:

  • 2.1 million tonnes averaging 5.78% zinc, 0.72% copper,19.5 g/t silver and 0.6 g/t gold, for a zinc-equivalent grade of 8.42%

Contained amounts come to:

  • 274 million pounds zinc, 34.3 million pounds copper, 1.33 million ounces silver and 41,000 ounces gold

As the rig moves to the project’s Fredart copper-gold zone, the team keeps busy re-compiling all Arrow drill results and incorporating new surveys of collar locations and azimuths using differential GPS equipment, Pistol Bay stated.

Although Fredart underwent extensive drilling between 1965 and 1985, the zone lacks a 43-101 resource due to uncertainty about drill hole locations and the lack of previous core to confirm historic assays, the company added.

The drill campaign follows the 15,000-hectare property’s first survey by modern geophysics which, in another first for Confederation Lake, was conducted on a regional scale.

Read more about Pistol Bay Mining.

Streamers turn to cobalt as Vale extends Voisey’s Bay nickel operations

June 11th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 11, 2018

It was a day of big moves for energy minerals as China bought into Ivanhoe, Vale lengthened Voisey’s and streaming companies went after the Labrador nickel mine’s cobalt.

On June 11 Robert Friedland announced CITIC Metal would pay $723 million for a 19.9% interest in Ivanhoe Mines TSX:IVN, surpassing the boss’ own 17% stake to make the Chinese state-owned company Ivanhoe’s largest single shareholder. Another $78 million might also materialize, should China’s Zijin Mining Group decide to exercise its anti-dilution rights to increase its current 9.9% piece of Ivanhoe.

Streamers turn to cobalt as Vale extends Voisey’s Bay nickel operations

At peak production, Voisey’s underground operations are expected to
ship about 45,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate annually to Vale’s
processing plant at Long Harbour, Newfoundland.

Proceeds would help develop the flagship Kamoa-Kakula copper-cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Platreef platinum-palladium-nickel-copper-gold mine in South Africa, as well as upgrade the DRC’s historic Kipushi zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine. Ivanhoe and Zijin each hold a 39.6% share in the Kamoa-Kakula joint venture.

Even bigger news came from St. John’s, where Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball joined Vale NYSE:VALE brass to herald the company’s decision to extend Voisey’s Bay operations by building an underground mine.

The announcement marked the 16th anniversary of Vale’s original decision to put Voisey (a Friedland company discovery) into production. Mining began in 2005, producing about $15 billion worth of nickel, copper and cobalt so far. Open pit operations were expected to end by 2022. Although a 2013 decision to go ahead with underground development was confirmed in 2015, the commitment seemed uncertain as nickel prices fell. That changed dramatically over the last 12 months.

With construction beginning this summer, nearly $2 billion in new investment should have underground operations running by April 2021, adding at least 15 years to Voisey’s life. The company estimates 16,000 person-years of employment during five years of construction, followed by 1,700 jobs at the underground mine and Long Harbour processing plant, with 2,135 person-years in indirect and induced employment annually.

Nickel’s 75% price improvement over the last year must have prodded Vale’s decision. But streaming companies were quick to go after Voisey’s cobalt. In separate deals Wheaton Precious Metals TSX:WPM and Cobalt 27 Capital TSXV:KBLT have agreed to buy a total of 75% of the mine’s cobalt beginning in 2021, paying US$390 million and US$300 million respectively. They foresee an average 2.6 million pounds of cobalt per year for the first 10 years, with a life-of-mine average of 2.4 million pounds annually.

Both companies attribute cobalt’s attraction to clean energy demand and a decided lack of DRC-style jurisdictional risk. But Vale also emphasizes nickel’s promise as a battery metal. Last month spokesperson Robert Morris told Metal Bulletin that nickel demand for EVs could rise 10-fold by 2025, reaching 350,000 to 500,000 tonnes.

Total nickel demand currently sits at slightly more than two million tonnes, Morris said. New supply would call for price increases well above the record levels set this year, he added.