Friday 10th July 2020

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘u3o8’

The U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group warns of Chinese and Russian supremacy in domestic and exported nuclear energy capacity

July 7th, 2020

…Read more

Belmont Resources to begin summer program on historic southern B.C. gold property

June 23rd, 2020

by Greg Klein | June 23, 2020

Now that data on the new acquisition has been digitized and analyzed, this company’s ready to get boots on the ground, wings in the air and possibly drill bits turning. Since picking up the Athelstan-Jackpot property in southern British Columbia’s Phoenix-Greenwood camp earlier this year, Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA has been busy compiling a GIS database, a process that involved “geo-referencing, digitization and interpretation of various layers of geological data, in addition to a 3D modeling exercise aimed at generating drill targets at several mineralized zones.” As a result, this year’s agenda calls for induced polarization and airborne imagery surveys, with a hoped-for drill program before the season ends.

Belmont Resources to begin summer program on historic southern B.C. gold property

IP would cover some or all of A-J’s nine mineralized zones with 100-metre linespacing reaching depths of about 300 metres to add detail to the 3D geophysical model. Planned for early July, an airborne low-level, high-resolution imagery survey would help locate and detail previous workings, showings and rock exposures over the entire property. Following that, first-pass drilling could test one or more targets.

Although “initially very excited” about the acquisition, president/CEO George Sookochoff said that having completed “the arduous task of digitizing, compiling and reviewing all the historic data, I am only now able to fully appreciate the tremendous potential the A-J property holds for the discovery and development of both near-surface and deeper gold deposits.”

Intermittent operation at the two mines between 1900 and 1940 produced about 6,979 ounces of gold and 8,234 ounces of silver from 38,665 tons of material, according to historic records. Historic, non-43-101 trench intervals from 2003 featured 6.6 g/t gold and 12 g/t silver over 3.7 metres. Other historic 2003 results graded up to 28.4 g/t gold and 166 g/t silver over 0.3 metres.

A-J forms part of the historic Phoenix-Greenwood camp roughly 500 highway kilometres east of Vancouver. Adjacently across the 49th parallel is Washington’s Republic mining district, where Belmont signed an LOI for the Lone Star property. Back on the B.C. side, the company optioned the Come By Chance claims last month, adding them to a regional portfolio that also includes the Glenora, Pride of the West and Great Bear claims, as well as the Pathfinder project.

Belmont also holds a stake in the Crackingstone uranium property in northern Saskatchewan and the Kibby Basin lithium property in Nevada.

Earlier this month the company offered a private placement up to $25,000. In May Belmont closed the final tranche of an over-subscribed placement that totalled $199,665.

Poll shows Canadians back sustainable production of critical minerals

May 13th, 2020

by Greg Klein | May 13, 2020

A Mining Week announcement from the Mining Association of Canada expresses public opinion on an issue of increasing prominence. A survey by Abacus Data shows almost 90% of respondents “like the idea of Canada being a preferred source for critical minerals and would like to see government take a number of steps to support this approach,” MAC reported.

Poll shows Canadians back sustainable production of critical minerals

Increasing demand, supply chain weaknesses, and rivalries in trade and geopolitics have heightened concern for raw materials necessary for the aerospace industry, defence, communications, computing, medicine and clean energy.

“China has been a major supplier of these minerals but Canada has an opportunity to play a larger role in this marketplace as customers look for products made to high environmental standards,” MAC stated, pointing to its Towards Sustainable Mining program.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 88% of respondents want Canada to increase its role in producing critical minerals for world markets

  • 86% want to encourage international investment in Canadian critical minerals and metals companies that are sustainability leaders

  • 83% want to encourage Canadian production of critical minerals to compete with China

  • 81% want to promote interest in Canadian critical minerals by drawing attention to Canada’s high standards of sustainability

MAC commissioned the online nationwide poll. Conducted between March 3 and 11, it surveyed 2,600 people weighted according to census data. Abacus gave the results a margin of error of plus or minus 1.92%, 19 times out of 20.

Canada is a top five country in global production of 15 minerals and metals, including several critical minerals essential to new technologies such as cobalt, copper, precious metals, nickel, uranium. We have the potential to expand in lithium, magnesium and rare earths.—Pierre Gratton, president/CEO,
Mining Association of Canada

“More than a decade of Canadian leadership in responsible mining practices is giving us an additional edge, and we see more investors and customers examining how their suppliers approach environmental responsibility,” said MAC president/CEO Pierre Gratton. “The market is growing and Canada’s opportunity is clear.”

In January Canada and the U.S. announced their Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, which the Canadian industry expects will attract investment and encourage further development of supply chains. The plan follows a number of American initiatives to reduce its dependence on rival countries, especially China.

MAC also pointed to the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan, a federal-provincial effort intended to enhance competitiveness, innovation and native participation in mining.

“Canadians may not all have a detailed knowledge about the mining sector,” added Gratton, “but they can clearly spot the chance to leverage our advantages in terms of abundant resources and the high standards of responsibility that our industry is known for. They know that winning a bigger share of this growing market means more well-paying jobs and stronger communities.”

According to figures supplied by MAC, mining contributes $97 billion to national GDP and 19% of total domestic exports. Employing 626,000 people directly and indirectly, the industry is proportionally Canada’s largest private sector employer of natives and a major customer of native-owned businesses.

Update: Belmont Resources plans to expand portfolio in B.C.’s Greenwood camp, add nearby claims in Washington

May 11th, 2020

Update: On May 11, 2020, Belmont Resources announced a definitive agreement to acquire the Athelstan-Jackpot claims from Forty Ninth Ventures under terms reported in February. Earlier in May Belmont closed the final tranche of an oversubscribed private placement that totalled $199,665.

 

by Greg Klein | February 27, 2020

An international border runs through this historic mining region, but geology knows no such barriers. Two recently signed letters of intent would build Belmont Resources’ (TSXV:BEA) presence in southern British Columbia’s Greenwood camp and extend into Washington’s adjacent Republic area.

Belmont Resources plans to expand portfolio in B.C. Greenwood camp, add nearby claims in Washington

Greenwood gave up plenty of gold despite using, by today’s standards, primitive techniques. Now Belmont hopes more sophisticated analysis will help rejuvenate regional mining. The company’s proposed Athelstan-Jackpot acquisition sits adjacent to the Republic district, where Kinross Gold TSX:K applied newly developed metallogenic models that led to discovery and mining of several epithermal gold deposits. Although a “similar geologic regime” applies to Greenwood, Belmont stated, previous exploration and development on the B.C. side of the border focused on skarn-type copper-gold deposits with little attention to epithermal-type gold.

Bringing impressive credentials for a more contemporary approach, president/CEO George Sookochoff comes from a mining family in Grand Forks, about eight kilometres east of Athelstan-Jackpot, and has an extensive Greenwood background as well as GIS database expertise. He’s spent years building a digital database storing more than a century of Greenwood geoscientific info. This digital library would allow him to assess the probability of regional epithermal gold deposits by searching for characteristics comparable with those in Washington, the company added.

The review would precede recommendations for a 2020 exploration program on Athelstan-Jackpot. Intermittent mining on the property between 1901 and 1940 produced around 33,200 tonnes averaging about 5.4 g/t gold and 6.3 g/t silver for approximately 6,324 ounces of gold and 7,378 ounces of silver, according to historic records. Trenching and sampling took place in 2003, with historic, non-43-101 trench intervals up to 6.6 g/t gold and 12 g/t silver over 3.7 metres. Other historic 2003 grades reached as high as 28.4 g/t gold and 166 g/t silver over 0.3 metres.

Maybe the cross-border geological interest spanning Greenwood and Republic attracted Belmont to a nearby former mine in Washington. Just two days after reporting the proposed Athelstan-Jackpot acquisition, Belmont announced an LOI to pick up Lone Star, in operation from 1897 to 1918 and 1977 to 1978. Using a 1.5% copper-equivalent cutoff, an historic, non-43-101 report from 2007 estimated:

  • indicated: 63,000 tonnes averaging 1.28 g/t gold and 2.3% copper for 2,600 ounces gold and 3.19 million pounds copper

  • inferred: 682,000 tonnes averaging 1.46 g/t gold and 2% copper for 32,000 ounces gold and 30.07 million pounds copper

Should the deal close, Belmont plans to compile a 43-101 resource and prepare an IP survey prior to infill drilling for a potential deposit upgrade.

A 100% interest in Athelstan-Jackpot would cost Belmont 200,000 shares on signing. After a year Belmont would issue another 200,000 shares, and also pay US$50,000 in cash or US$25,000 in cash and the equivalent of US$25,000 in shares. The vendor would retain a 2% NSR, half of which Belmont could buy back for US$500,000.

A 100% stake in Lone Star would call for C$25,000 on signing and 1.5 million shares issued in three installments over two years. An additional C$100,000 payment would follow a major financing to be completed by Belmont.

Other recent Greenwood forays have already strengthened the company’s regional standing. In November the company picked up the 45-hectare Pride of the West and Great Bear claims, following the October acquisition of the 127-hectare Glenora property.

Pathfinder, another Greenwood-area Belmont holding, underwent two sampling programs last year. Assays reached up to 4.999 ppm gold, 35.86 ppm silver, 2.07% copper and 45.1 ppm cobalt, along with other results as high as 29.2 g/t gold.

Greenwood sits about 500 highway kilometres east of Vancouver.

The company’s portfolio also includes a 75% interest in the Kibby Basin lithium project in Nevada and, in northern Saskatchewan, two uranium properties shared 50/50 with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT.

Mining resumes under COVID-19 but faces slow return: GlobalData

April 28th, 2020

by Greg Klein | April 28, 2020

Mining resumes under COVID-19 but faces slow return GlobalData

 

As of April 27 some 729 mines worldwide remain suspended, down from more than 1,600 shutdowns on April 3. The numbers, released by GlobalData, reflect government decisions to declare the industry an essential service, as well as implementation of new health standards and procedures. Those efforts, often involving staff reductions, contribute to “a slow return for the industry,” stated the data and analytics firm.

“Silver production is currently being severely damaged by lockdown measures,” pointed out GlobalData mining analyst Vinneth Bajaj. “As of 27 April, the equivalent of 65.8% of annual global silver production was on hold. Silver mining companies such as First Majestic, Hochschild, Hecla Mining and Endeavour Silver have all withdrawn their production guidance for 2020 in the wake of the outbreak.

Mining resumes under COVID-19 but faces slow return GlobalData

“Progress has also been halted on 23 mines under construction, including the US$5.3-billion Quellaveco copper mine in Peru, which is one of the world’s biggest copper mines currently under development…. In Chile, while a lockdown is not in force, Antofagasta has halted work on its Los Pelambres project and Teck Resources has suspended work on the Quebrada Blanca Phase II mine.”

Jurisdictions that have lifted suspensions include Quebec, India, Argentina, Zimbabwe and South Africa, GlobalData added. Countries with government-ordered lockdowns still in force include Bolivia (until April 30), Namibia (May 4), Peru (May 10) and Mexico (May 30).

At least one Mexico operator, Argonaut Gold TSX:AR, plans to re-open on May 18 under an exception for businesses operating in municipalities with few or no cases of COVID-19.

Quebec’s resumption of mining drew strong criticism from Makivik Corporation, which represents the Inuit of the province’s Nunavik region.

“Makivik will not entertain the opening of any mines at this time in Nunavik. This is very dangerous,” said corporation president Charlie Watt on April 17. “The Inuit-elected officials in the communities and in the different regional organizations need to be heard and need to make the decisions and call the shots.”

One day later production resumed at Glencore’s Raglan nickel mine. The company stated that Nunavik authorities have banned travel between the mine and regional villages to protect the local population. Local workers stay home with compensation, while the mine employs workers from the south, including Inuit who live in the south.

Without question this is taking a toll on all of our mines and service/supply companies.—Ken Armstrong, NWT and
Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Six mines still operating in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories use similar staffing precautions. “The mines are operating with reduced workforces which they must fly in by charter from as far away as eastern Canada,” said NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Ken Armstrong. “To protect vulnerable northern communities from the virus they have sent their local employees home with pay and they are maintaining costly and unplanned virus protection measures.”

Meanwhile Labrador politicians expressed concern about renewed operations at Champion Iron’s (TSX:CIA) Bloom Lake mine on the Quebec side of the Labrador Trough. On April 28 VOCM radio reported that MP Yvonne Jones asked the company to avoid the Wabush airport in her riding and transport employees entirely through Quebec. Member of the House of Assembly Jordan Brown said contractors were making unnecessary trips to the Newfoundland and Labrador side.

Another pandemic-caused Quebec mining suspension will stay on care and maintenance due to market forces. Renard owner Stornoway Diamond stated, “Despite positive signs in the diamond market in early 2020, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the entire marketing chain and diamond price collapse.”

Prior to the suspension, Renard operated only through creditor support.

Another diamond casualty has been the Northwest Territory’s Ekati mine, which suspended operations last month. Majority owner Dominion Diamond Mines received insolvency protection on April 22.

Discovered in 1991 and opened in 1998, Ekati “provided nearly 33,000 person-years of employment, and $9.3 billion in business spending, with over half the benefits (51% of jobs and 69% of spending) going to northern residents and businesses,” the Chamber stated. “Billions of dollars in various taxes and royalties have also been paid to public and indigenous governments by the mine.”

U.S. calls for expanded domestic uranium supply, nuclear R&D and infrastructure exports

April 23rd, 2020

by Greg Klein | April 23, 2020

US calls for expanded domestic uranium supply, nuclear R&D and foreign infrastructure competition

Nuclear energy provides about 20% of American electricity,
serves vital military purposes and offers geopolitical opportunities.

 

The strategy vows to pull the American industry “back from the brink of collapse and restore our place as the global leader in nuclear technology.” An advisory group established by U.S. President Donald Trump last July has issued recommendations to revive the country’s nuclear supply chain, end foreign reliance, encourage R&D, and compete globally with Russia and China to supply nuclear energy infrastructure.

Stating the U.S. Congress “has provided broad bipartisan and bicameral support for U.S. nuclear energy,” the Nuclear Fuel Working Group starts with proposals for a revitalized mining, milling and conversion chain. In addition to streamlined permitting and licensing, the report calls for government purchases of uranium to expand the national reserve. Such quantities would “directly support the operation of at least two U.S. uranium mines and the re-establishment of active domestic conversion capabilities.”

The working group estimates the reserve would need 17 to 19 pounds of U3O8 beginning this year and domestic conversion providing 6,000 to 7,500 tons of UF6 beginning no later than 2022. Beginning possibly in 2023, 25% of domestic enrichment should be available for defence.

The military needs low-enriched uranium to produce tritium for nuclear weapons and highly enriched uranium to fuel navy nuclear reactors. Current stockpiles hold sufficient uranium to 2041 for weapons and into the 2050s for navy propulsion.

The report also foresees the development of micro-nuclear reactors for military bases in the U.S. and abroad, strategically ending their dependence on the grid. “In a future of increasingly electrified warfare, power delivery becomes increasingly critical to mission success.”

A far-reaching goal would enhance international stature by competing with Russia and China to install nuclear energy globally. “Establishment of nuclear infrastructure incorporates large-scale cross-cutting economic, security and geopolitical relationships between the purchasing nation and the technology-providing nation for the ensuing 100 years,” the working group points out. American neglect “has empowered Russia and China to establish long-term relationships with nations, inimical to U.S. national interests.”

Using state-owned and supported enterprises, the rivals bolster their geopolitical advantage.

Russia—a nation that has “weaponized” its energy supply as an instrument of coercion—dominates nuclear markets. Russia is advancing its economic and foreign policy influence around the world with $133 billion in foreign orders for reactors, with plans to underwrite the construction of more than 50 reactors in 19 countries. China, a strategic competitor that uses predatory economics as a tool of statecraft, is currently constructing four reactors abroad, with prospects for 16 more reactors across multiple countries, in addition to the 45 reactors built in China over the past 33 years, and the 12 reactors currently under construction in China.

Meanwhile, the United States is entirely absent from the global new build nuclear reactor market with no foreign orders. The United States is missing out on a nuclear reactor market that the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates is valued at $500 billion to $740 billion over the next 10 years.

Nowhere are the predatory tactics of state-owned enterprises more evident than in the realm of export financing.—U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group

The group urges American financing institutions to support the civilian industry against foreign state financing. “Nowhere are the predatory tactics of state-owned enterprises more evident than in the realm of export financing.” The report also encourages expanded, government-funded R&D in co-operation with private projects, along with education and training.

“The decline of the U.S. industrial base in the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle over the past few decades has threatened our national interest and national security,” commented U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “As a matter of national security, it is critical that we take bold steps to preserve and grow the entire U.S. nuclear energy enterprise.”

Predictably, the report drew praise from U.S. producers. With two mines and a mill, Energy Fuels TSX:EFR noted it’s the country’s biggest uranium producer “and holds more uranium production capacity and more permitted uranium resources than any other U.S. company.” Another domestic producer, Ur-Energy TSX:URE operates the Lost Creek ISR mine and moves its Shirley Basin project through advanced licensing.

In the wake of pandemic-caused mining suspensions around the world, uranium prices have surged past $33 a pound from approximately $27.35 at the end of March.

Maintaining essential service

April 14th, 2020

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

by Greg Klein | April 14, 2020

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Quebec allows mining to resume, Canadian companies make open-or-shut decisions

April 14th, 2020

This story has been expanded and moved here.

Work suspended

March 26th, 2020

Some Canadian mining and exploration dispatches during the pandemic

by Greg Klein | March 26, 2020

Shut Down Canada has largely been achieved, but not by the forces that advocated it nor—until someone finds a way of blaming this on climate change—by the doomsday belief they were pushing. Residents of our strangely quiet cities and towns watch the horror unfold elsewhere while wondering how long and hard the pandemic will hit Canada. Meanwhile, workers and business owners might consider themselves lucky if the economy fares no worse than a very serious recession.

Some Canadian mining and exploration dispatches during the pandemic

A reminder that one crisis can trigger another unwittingly came from FortisAlberta on March 23. The company that provides 60% of the province’s electricity “is taking the necessary actions and precautions to protect the health and well-being of its employees and to provide electricity service to its customers.”

The obvious but demoralizing question arises: What happens if too many key people get sick? That danger could apply to any number of essential services. Economic collapse, social disorder, a breakdown of supply chains add to the nightmarish possibilities.

All of which might not happen. In the meantime we can thank the front line workers who keep our society functioning to the extent that it does. Those one- or two-buck-an-hour temporary pay raises hardly acknowledge society’s debt to retail staff who interact constantly with a potentially plague-ridden public. Care workers for the elderly constitute another group of low-paid heroes, several of whom have already made the ultimate sacrifice.

In the meantime here are some reports on Canadian mining’s response to the crisis.

Inconsistent closures suggest an ambivalent industry

Some Canadian mining and exploration dispatches during the pandemic

IAMGOLD sidelined its Westwood operation in Quebec but
continues work on its Coté project in Ontario. (Photo: IAMGOLD)

Mining hasn’t actually been banned in Ontario and Quebec, although shutdowns of non-essential services continue to April 8 and April 13 respectively. Extensions, of course, look likely. Quebec has ordered the industry, along with aluminum smelting, to “minimize their activities.” Ontario specifically exempted mineral exploration, development, mining and their support services from mandatory closures.

Interpreting Quebec’s decree as a ban, IAMGOLD TSX:IMG suspended its Westwood gold mine in that province but continued work at its 64.75%-held, advanced-stage Coté gold project in Ontario as an “essential service.” Production continues at the company’s Burkina Faso and Suriname operations.

But regardless of government bans or directives, voluntary suspensions take place. Restrictions on travel and social distancing have made projects non-viable, while the threat of localized outbreaks looms large—not just at the job sites and accommodations, but in the isolated communities that supply much of the labour.

In Canada, that often means native communities. “They have a bad history with disproportionate impacts from epidemics,” a Vale Canada spokesperson told the Financial Post. The company put its Voisey’s Bay mine in Labrador on care and maintenance, and planned reductions at its associated Long Harbour nickel-copper-cobalt processing plant in Newfoundland.

So far alone of the Northwest Territories’ three operations, Dominion Diamond Mines announced an indefinite suspension for Ekati on March 19. The Union of Northern Workers stated its intention to grieve the manner in which its members were laid off.

Some Canadian mining and exploration dispatches during the pandemic

Having laid off its native staff, Agnico Eagle continues its Nunavut
operations largely with workers from Quebec. (Photo: Agnico Eagle)

Agnico Eagle Mines TSX:AEM made the ramp-down decision a day after Quebec’s March 23 order, after discussions with government “to get additional clarity.” The suspensions applied to three Quebec mines but the company planned “reduced operations” at Meliadine and Meadowbank in Nunavut, largely under Quebecois workers.

Five days earlier Agnico Eagle began sending home Nunavummiut staff from its Nunavut mines and exploration projects to prevent virus transmission “from a southern worker to a Nunavut worker, with the risk of it moving into the communities,” explained CEO Sean Boyd. Production was expected to continue under the remaining staff.

The following day residents blocked a road from Rankin Inlet airport to Meliadine to protest the use of replacement workers from Mirabel and Val d’Or, Quebec. Although the territory has banned travel from other jurisdictions, critical workers may apply for an exemption. They’re also required to undergo two weeks of isolation in their own region prior to travel.

From boots on the ground to fingers on the keyboard

Exploration suspensions haven’t come at a bad time for some projects, which had completed or nearly completed winter programs. Where labs remain open, assays might provide some badly needed good news.

Much of the crucial work of analyzing results and planning future exploration can be done by desktop. One example of a company with a multinational work-at-home team is Turmalina Metals TSXV:TBX, which completed a seasonal field program at its San Francisco de Los Andes gold project shortly before Argentina imposed a nation-wide quarantine. “While Turmalina maintains a corporate office in Canada our technical and managerial team operate remotely from individual home offices located in Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and Asia,” states a March 23 announcement. “The current compilation, analysis and modeling of recently collected data is being done on a physically decentralized basis from these individual home offices as the company prepares for drilling.”

Follow the money

No one’s saying so out loud, but travel restrictions just might divert money from conferences, trade shows and expense accounts to actual work. Then again, money can still be squandered on low-IQ promotional campaigns produced at the kitchen table.

Every metal and mineral has a silver lining

This isn’t a sector that overlooks opportunity. Two days after Vanstar Mining Resources TSXV:VSR reported that drilling “continues without stopping” at its 25%-held Nelligan project in Quebec, the company acknowledged that majority partner IAMGOLD had suspended work. But “it should be noted that current events can also bring certain opportunities for acquiring gold projects at a lower cost,” Vanstar pointed out. The junior was merely echoing comments made by others, including BHP Group NYSE:BHP earlier this month.

With the economic outlook as confused as a professional stock-picker’s thought processes, mining’s future remains profoundly uncertain. But diminished supply can certainly help chances of rebounding demand.

And suspensions might encourage advantageous awareness, as noted by Uranium Energy Corp NYSE:UEC president/CEO Amir Adnani. “The recent global events and supply disruptions further underscore the importance of domestic supply chains for vital resources,” stated the U.S. purveyor of U3O8.

How could we live without them?

Endeavours deemed essential by Ontario and Quebec include capital markets services and agencies like the TMX Group and securities commissions. The provinces also consider alcohol and cannabis retailers essential. As if the world wasn’t already facing worse consequences, Toronto medical officer Eileen de Villa said banning booze “would lead to pretty significant health consequences.”

She didn’t specifically mention geoscientists.

The experts speak

Some fatuous remarks at PDAC provided retrospectively grim humour, as well as an exhibition of prognosticator pomposity. Here’s Mickey Fulp’s take on COVID-19, as quoted by IKN:

  • “I think it’s overblown.”

  • “All these shows are flu incubators, anyway.”

  • “I think it (i.e. infections) are going to be less this year, because people are doing things like washing their hands.”

  • “This is a blip on the radar screen. Especially in the U.S. where I’m from, because our economy is absolutely roaring and virus fears are not going to do major damage to the U.S. market.”

  • “I think it absolutely is an overreaction and the quicker it’s realized, the better.”

  • “This is a variety of flu.”

Of course to sheltered North Americans, the first week of March might seem a long time ago. So here’s Doug Casey’s insight, as published by Kitco on March 24:

“The virus itself isn’t nearly as serious, I don’t know how serious it’s going to be, but not terribly in my opinion. What I’m really shocked at, Daniela, is the degree of hysteria on the part of the powers that be. They’ve actually just gone insane.”

Click here for objective data on the coronavirus pandemic.

Belmont Resources signs LOI for additional property in B.C.’s Greenwood camp

February 25th, 2020

This story has been updated and moved here.