Wednesday 18th January 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘zinc’

Rockcliff Copper releases gold samples, plans state-of-the-art airborne at former Manitoba mine

January 16th, 2017

by Greg Klein | January 16, 2017

Calling it the “first systematic, scientific exploration program on the property in over 70 years,” Rockcliff Copper TSXV:RCU has a high-resolution airborne survey planned for its Laguna gold property in central Manitoba’s Flin Flon-Snow Lake camp. Twenty-five recent grab samples from four vein systems on the former mine site brought grades ranging from 0.01 grams per tonne gold up to 25 g/t and 34.77 g/t. The results indicate a trend covering over six kilometres within the 3,499-hectare property, the company stated.

Rockcliff Copper releases grab samples, plans state-of-the-art airborne for former Manitoba gold mine

A magnetic survey conducted by a state-of-the-art helicopter-style drone will allow the program to “economically fly extremely tight line spacings with high-density ground sampling distances without the need for linecutting,” Rockcliff added.

“It is now possible to resolve individual magnetic anomalies that were previously indistinguishable when surveyed using conventional ground and airborne surveys—perfect for structurally controlled gold exploration targets like that at the Laguna property.”

Located 20 kilometres from a Hudbay Minerals TSX:HBM gold mill now on care and maintenance, the Laguna project comprises part of Rockcliff’s 45,000-hectare Snow Lake portfolio. Included are 43-101 estimates for the Talbot and Rail copper-gold-zinc-silver resources, as well as historic, non-43-101 zinc deposits.

A 2016 retrospect

December 20th, 2016

Was it the comeback year for commodities—or just a tease?

by Greg Klein

Some say optimism was evident early in the year, as the trade shows and investor conferences began. Certainly as 2016 progressed, so did much of the market. Commodities, some of them anyway, picked up. In a lot of cases, so did valuations. The crystal ball of the industry’s predictionariat often seemed to shine a rosier tint. It must have been the first time in years that people actually stopped saying, “I think we’ve hit bottom.”

But it would have been a full-out bull market if every commodity emulated lithium.

By February Benchmark Mineral Intelligence reported the chemical’s greatest-ever price jump as both hydroxide and carbonate surpassed $10,000 a tonne, a 47% increase for the latter’s 2015 average. The Macquarie Group later cautioned that the Big Four of Albermarle NYSE:ALB, FMC Corp NYSE:FMC, SQM NYSE:SQM and Talison Lithium had been mining significantly below capacity and would ramp up production to protect market share.

Was this the comeback year for commodities—or just a tease?

That they did, as new supply was about to come online from sources like Galaxy Resources’ Mount Cattlin mine in Western Australia, which began commissioning in November. The following month Orocobre TSX:ORL announced plans to double output from its Salar de Olaroz project in Argentina. Even Bolivia sent a token 9.3 tonnes to China, suggesting the mining world’s outlaw finally intends to develop its lithium deposits, estimated to be the world’s largest at 22% of global potential.

Disagreeing with naysayers like Macquarie and tracking at least 12 Li-ion megafactories being planned, built or expanded to gigawatt-hour capacity by 2020, Benchmark in December predicted further price increases for 2017.

Obviously there was no keeping the juniors out of this. Whether or not it’s a bubble destined to burst, explorers snapped up prospects, issuing news releases at an almost frantic flow that peaked in mid-summer. Acquisitions and early-stage activity often focused on the western U.S., South America’s Lithium Triangle and several Canadian locations too.

In Quebec’s James Bay region, Whabouchi was subject of a feasibility update released in April. Calling the development project “one of the richest spodumene hard rock lithium deposits in the world, both in volume and grade,” Nemaska Lithium TSX:NMX plans to ship samples from its mine and plant in Q2 2017.

A much more despairing topic was cobalt, considered by some observers to be the energy metal to watch. At press time instability menaced the Democratic Republic of Congo, which produces an estimated 60% of global output. Far overshadowing supply-side concerns, however, was the threat of a humanitarian crisis triggered by president Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate on December 20.

Was this the comeback year for commodities—or just a tease?

But the overall buoyant market mood had a practical basis in base metals, led by zinc. In June prices bounced back from the six-year lows of late last year to become “by far the best-performing LME metal,” according to Reuters. Two months later a UBS spokesperson told the news agency refiners were becoming “panicky.”

Mine closures in the face of increasing demand for galvanized steel and, later in the year, post-U.S. election expectations of massive infrastructure programs, pushed prices 80% above the previous year. They then fell closer to 70%, but remained well within levels unprecedented over the last five years. By mid-December one steelmaker told the Wall Street Journal to expect “a demand explosion.”

Lead lagged, but just for the first half of 2016. Spot prices had sunk to about 74 cents a pound in early June, when the H2 ascension began. Reaching an early December peak of about $1.08, the highest since 2013, the metal then slipped beneath the dollar mark.

Copper lay at or near five-year lows until November, when a Trump-credited surge sent the red metal over 60% higher, to about $2.54 a pound. Some industry observers doubted it would last. But columnist Andy Home dated the rally to October, when the Donald was expected to lose. Home attributed copper’s rise to automated trading: “Think the copper market equivalent of Skynet, the artificial intelligence network that takes over the world in the Terminator films.” While other markets have experienced the same phenomenon, he maintained, it’s probably the first, but not the last time for a base metal.

Was this the comeback year for commodities—or just a tease?

Nickel’s spot price started the year around a piddling $3.70 a pound. But by early December it rose to nearly $5.25. That still compared poorly with 2014 levels well above $9 and almost $10 in 2011. Nickel’s year was characterized by Indonesia’s ban on exports of unprocessed metals and widespread mine suspensions in the Philippines, up to then the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore.

More controversial for other reasons, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte began ordering suspensions shortly after his June election. His environmental secretary Regina Lopez then exhorted miners to surpass the world’s highest environmental standards, “better than Canada, better than Australia. We must be better and I know it can be done.”

Uranium continued to present humanity with a dual benefit—a carbon-free fuel for emerging middle classes and a cautionary example for those who would predict the future. Still oblivious to optimistic forecasts, the recalcitrant metal scraped a post-Fukushima low of $18 in December before creeping to $20.25 on the 19th. The stuff fetched around $72 a pound just before the 2011 tsunami and hit $136 in 2007.

Polymetallic promise

December 16th, 2016

Pistol Bay Mining brings regional exploration to Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

by Greg Klein

During the doom and gloom of mid-2015 Charles Desjardins saw a hopeful sign in zinc. A search for prospective sources led the president of Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST to the volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits of western Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt. There he found different operators left what he considered a mixed legacy—work that was very impressive but carried out in a rather unco-ordinated manner. Now, with a commodity that’s justified his optimism and a portfolio that’s poised to be the belt’s largest, his company’s launching an ambitious new program to take a region-wide approach to Confederation Lake.

“Even though there’s been a lot of money spent in that region there really hasn’t been a lot of continuity in exploration programs,” says Desjardins. “For example we found 8,000 rock geochemistry samples that Noranda did. In today’s terms that’s about $300,000 worth of work just for the analysis, never mind actually acquiring all those samples. We don’t know if Noranda did anything with this, it might have been right when they were getting out of there. But it showed us some obvious things, including a couple of new, big, big targets and extensions of known targets.”

Pistol Bay Mining brings regional exploration to VMS-rich Confederation Lake

That’s just part of the inspiration for a two-tiered program to begin in January. Drilling would start with about six holes and a few thousand metres, he says. “Beyond that, the plan is to do a regional airborne survey with new technology that can see VMS-style mineralization at 600 to 700 metres. When you look at Flin Flon and Snow Lake, geophysics there found two major deposits at the 500-metre level.”

Confederation Lake characterizes the tendency of VMS deposits to appear in clusters, Desjardins points out. He attributes the region’s largest mine, South Bay, for around 354 million pounds of zinc, 57.6 million pounds of copper and 3.74 million ounces of silver produced between 1972 and 1981. Grades averaged about 11.06% zinc, 1.8% copper and 72.7 g/t silver.

Pending exchange approval for a four-year option on AurCrest Gold’s (TSXV:AGO) regional holdings, Pistol Bay’s turf comprises 7,050 hectares along a 43-kilometre stretch of the 60-kilometre-long belt. The projects include four historic deposits.

Already under a four-year option is a contiguous group of properties named Dixie 17, 18, 19 and 20 that’s been consolidated into a single project. Dixie comes with a 1992 historic, non-43-101 “mineral inventory” from Noranda estimating 150,000 short tons with an average 14% zinc.

Some eight kilometres southeast, the Dixie 3 property, formerly called Snake Falls, hosts another historic, non-43-101 Noranda estimate, this one 91,000 short tons averaging 1% copper and 10% zinc.

Roughly 20 kilometres northeast sits the Arrow zone, one of the acquisitions waiting approval. Arrow comes with a 2007 resource compiled by AurCrest predecessor Tribute Minerals that Pistol Bay isn’t treating as 43-101 and intends to re-do. Using three cutoff grades, the estimate showed:

3% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 2.07 million tonnes averaging 5.92% zinc, 0.75% copper, 21.1 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

  • inferred: 120,552 tonnes averaging 2.6% zinc, 0.56% copper, 18.6 g/t silver and 0.4 g/t gold

5% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 1.76 million tonnes averaging 6.75% zinc, 0.79% copper, 22.3 g/t silver and 0.61 g/t gold

  • inferred: 51,631 tonnes averaging 3.86% zinc, 0.79% copper, 23.9 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

10% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 633,000 tonnes averaging 14.3% zinc, 1.11% copper, 31.7 g/t silver and 0.85 g/t gold

That acquisition includes the contiguous Copperlode A or Fredart zone, with its historic, non-43-101 estimate of 425,000 tonnes averaging 1.56% copper and 33.6 g/t silver.

Even though there’s been a lot of money spent in that region there really hasn’t been a lot of continuity in exploration programs.—Charles Desjardins,
president of Pistol Bay Mining

Obviously these deposits cry out for 43-101 treatment. Pistol Bay intends to begin with Arrow, the most recent resource but with another 16 holes to consider. Desjardins hopes to have that done within six months.

He points to assays that followed historic estimates on the other deposits, like 7.34% zinc and 1.4% copper over 9.5 metres, and another 15.44% zinc and 0.43% copper over 4.3 metres at Dixie. Intriguing zinc-copper intercepts also came from the Joy-Caravelle area, part of the AurCrest package. Historic sampling at Copperlode A found molybdenum grading up to 1.46%.

Then there’s the 8,000 geochemistry samples left by Noranda. Additionally, Pistol Bay has MPH Consulting at work on an extensive review of previous geophysics. Add to that the new airborne and drilling to begin in January and Desjardins looks forward to a wealth of data with considerable potential waiting to be unlocked.

There’s strong community support too, he adds. “One First Nation invested I think about $600,000 in AurCrest,” he says.

In Saskatchewan’s uranium-prolific Athabasca Basin, Pistol Bay JVs with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary on the C-5 project. Having earned 75% of its option already, Rio has stated its intention to acquire the full 100% by the end of 2019. That would bring Pistol Bay $5 million and a 5% net profit interest.

The company expects to soon close the first tranche of a private placement offered up to $810,000. Other financings would follow, as Confederation Lake’s regional exploration continues in stages.

“We already have significant deposits that might be developed with one central mill,” Desjardins says. “But we’ll be looking for an elephant too.”

Golden Dawn Minerals continues revival of B.C.’s historic Greenwood camp

December 13th, 2016

by Greg Klein | December 13, 2016 | updated with revised assays January 17, 2017

A well-financed company working to bring new life to a cluster of past-producers 500 kilometres east of Vancouver, Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM released assays from former mines on December 13. The results come from the Amigo, Glory Hole, May Mac and Sylvester K sites, part of the mostly contiguous 16,000 hectares comprising the Greenwood project.

At May Mac, two of three surface holes from the same collar missed the Skomac vein system. But BF16-26, described as a “very significant 100-metre stepout hole along the northwesterly trend” of the vein system, showed these revised assays, which were released January 17:

  • 133.6 g/t silver, 0.54 g/t gold, 3.6% lead and 1.5% zinc over 6.07 metres, starting at 177.47 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 688 g/t silver, 1.18 g/t gold, 19% lead and 7% zinc over 0.96 metres)
Golden Dawn Minerals continues revival of B.C.’s historic Greenwood camp

Golden Dawn hopes to begin bulk
sampling next year at May Mac’s #7 level.

True widths weren’t provided.

The results show that historically mined mineralization continues another 75 metres vertically, remaining open at depth and along strike to the northeast, Golden Dawn stated. The company plans further drilling in that direction early next year.

An underground percussion hole at May Mac’s #7 drift showed these highlights from two consecutive 1.2-metre samples of cutting sludge:

  • 156 g/t silver, 3.04 g/t gold, 2.91% lead, 1.1% zinc and 0.33% copper

  • 135 g/t silver, 7.95 g/t gold, 0.6% lead, 1.3% zinc and 0.08% copper

Cautioning that accuracy might be affected by material loss, Golden Dawn stated the results show substantial mineralization within five metres of the end of the #7 level.

That level also underwent nine diamond drill holes totalling 805 metres, with assays pending for eight. Hole MU16-01 was drilled horizontally from the end of the adit to determine the distance to the vein. One intercept showed:

  • 131.3 g/t silver, 2.34 g/t gold, 0.59% lead and 0.42% zinc over 2.33 metres, starting at 17.45 metres
  • (including 250 g/t silver, 4.96 g/t gold, 1.2% lead and 0.89% zinc over 1.1 metres)

One kilometre south of May Mac, the former Amigo and Glory Hole mines underwent a surface drill program of 16 holes totalling 904 metres to search out extensions of known veins. Highlights include:

  • Hole BF16-10: 3 g/t silver and 1.04 g/t gold over 1.15 metres, starting at 41.31 metres in downhole depth

  • BF16-11: 5.8 g/t silver and 6.12 g/t gold over 0.74 metres, starting at 19.26 metres

  • BF16-15: 28 g/t silver and 0.98 g/t gold over 0.2 metres, starting at 5.5 metres

  • BF16-17: 2.8 g/t silver and 1.3 g/t gold over 1.32 metres, starting at 44.94 metres

  • BF16-18: 0.5 g/t silver and 1.13 g/t gold over 0.5 metres, starting at 14.5 metres

  • BF16-18: 1.8 g/t silver and 1.37 g/t gold over 1.26 metres, starting at 36.57 metres

  • BF16-24: 148 g/t silver over 0.25 metres, starting at 31.35 metres

Due diligence on a proposed property acquisition included seven channel samples at the Sylvester K past-producer, three kilometres from Golden Dawn’s mill. Six in a continuous line averaged 9.92 g/t gold over a true width of 15.2 metres.

Following the Christmas break, a program of 20 to 25 holes begins at the Greenwood project in mid-January. Permitting is in process to extract a 10,000-tonne bulk sample at May Mac adit #7, which would be processed at Golden Dawn’s mill, 15 kilometres from the former mine.

Last month the company closed a $1.18-million private placement, part of $3.97 million in private placements, $2.93 million in exercised warrants and US$2.4 million in long-term debt raised in 2016 that totals about $10.03 million.

Read more about Golden Dawn Minerals.

Aurvista Gold selects initial drill targets to update Abitibi resources

December 12th, 2016

by Greg Klein | December 12, 2016

Analysis has identified the next seven drill locations for Aurvista Gold’s (TSXV:AVA) Douay project in Abitibi. Totalling about 3,700 metres, this phase of drilling’s intended to update resources for four of the project’s zones, Douay West, Northwest, Porphyry (Adams section) and Central, the company reported December 12. The 14,500-hectare property hosts eight zones with resource estimates along a five-kilometre northwest-southeast trend. That, in turn, sits within a 20-kilometre trend of lower-grade porphyry.

Aurvista Gold selects initial drill targets to update Abitibi resources

In a 2012 resource estimate using a 0.3 g/t cutoff, the eight zones totalled:

  • indicated: 2.69 million tonnes averaging 2.76 g/t for 238,435 gold ounces

  • inferred: 114.65 million tonnes averaging 0.75 g/t for 2.75 million ounces

Meanwhile work continues on geological, geochemical, assay and geophysical data to build a 3D model by Q1 2017. The agenda includes re-logging more than 300 historic holes totalling 98,135 metres. About 4,000 samples of historic core have been sent for gold-copper-zinc assays. The core also underwent analysis with a hand-held XRF device to take magnetic and conductive readings.

In addition, a mapping program focused on the property’s 10-kilometre by three-kilometre Adam Creek area “that encompasses the former Douay-style mineralization sector containing the higher- and lower-grade gold zones associated with the nine individual east-west shear zones and three subparallel structural domains,” Aurvista stated. Fifty-eight grab samples were collected west of the area.

Last month the company closed a private placement of just under $6 million.

Read more about Aurvista Gold.

Diamond explorer Dunnedin Ventures to create gold-copper spinco

November 23rd, 2016

by Greg Klein | November 23, 2016

With a gold-copper asset in British Columbia and a diamond project with gold prospects in Nunavut, Dunnedin Ventures TSXV:DVI proposes to distribute its portfolio between two companies. On November 23 Dunnedin announced plans to spin out the non-diamond assets into a new listing.

Diamond explorer Dunnedin Ventures to create gold-copper spinco

The company currently holds the 60,000-hectare Kahuna diamond project in Nunavut, where an inferred resource for two kimberlites totals 4.02 million carats, using a +0.85 mm cutoff. Till samples collected last year also showed anomalous gold of 50 ppb or more in 84 of 129 samples.

Meanwhile previous drill results from Dunnedin’s 4,000-hectare Trapper porphyry project in northwestern B.C. showed strong gold intercepts, with silver, lead and zinc showings as well.

“We believe that separate corporate vehicles for diamond and metal assets will yield the best long-term value to shareholders,” said CEO Chris Taylor.

Subject to approvals, Trapper and rights to gold at Kahuna would go to a newly created subsidiary with working capital for exploration. The new company’s shares would be distributed to Dunnedin shareholders on a pro rata basis. The new company would apply for a TSXV listing.

Dunnedin shareholders will vote on the proposed spinout early next year.

Dunnedin also plans to accelerate expiration of over six million warrants to December 23. Should all warrants be exercised, proceeds would come to about $632,708.

Read more about Dunnedin Ventures.

See Chris Berry’s report on long-term diamond demand.

Charles Desjardins outlines his company’s plans on becoming the largest claimholder in Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt

November 14th, 2016

…Read more

American election fosters forecasting frenzy

November 11th, 2016

by Greg Klein | November 11, 2016

An anti-establishment crusader, a dangerous extremist or a sensible person given to outrageous bombast, that new U.S. president-elect has some mining and metals observers in as much of a tizzy as the official commentariat.

Soon after the election result was announced, the World Gold Council cheered as their object of affection passed $1,300, “compared with $1,275 an ounce before the vote counting began.

U.S. election fosters forecasting frenzy

“We are seeing increasingly fractious politics across the advanced economies and this trend, combined with uncertainty over the aftermath of years of unconventional monetary policies measures, will firmly underpin investment demand for gold in the coming years,” the WGC maintained.

Two days later gold plunged to a five-month low, “hit by a broad selloff in commodities as well as surging bond yields on speculation a splurge of U.S. infrastructure spending could stoke inflation.” At least that was Reuters’ explanation.

GoldSeek presented a range of comments, with Brien Lundin predicting a short rally for gold. GATA’s Chris Powell suggested the metal’s status quo would prevail. “Trump won’t be giving instructions to the Fed and Treasury until January, if he even has any idea by then of the market rigging the government does.”

About a day after that comment, Reuters noted that Trump’s team had been courting big banking bigshot Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co for Treasury secretary.

Powell added that a post-election “great grab for physical gold” might overpower “the paper market antics of the central bank. But geopolitical turmoil hasn’t done much for gold in recent decades and I’d be surprised if that changed any time soon.”

A pre-existing rally pushed copper past $6,000 a tonne on November 11, which Bloomberg (posted in the Globe and Mail) attributed to “Chinese speculators and bets that Donald Trump will pour money into U.S. infrastructure.”

Initial effects of Trump’s 10-year, $10-trillion campaign promise are “unlikely to kick in until the third quarter of 2017 and would in our view have the largest effect on steel, zinc and nickel demand,” Goldman analyst Max Layton told the Financial Times.

The FT also quoted Commerzbank cautioning that “metal prices still appear to be supported by the euphoria exhibited by market participants in the wake of Trump’s election victory, a reaction we find somewhat inexplicable.”

Industrial Minerals called a copper bubble.

Some sources consulted by the journal wondered whether the “pragmatic businessman” would carry out his threatened restrictions to free trade. As for Trump’s climate scepticism and opposition to green energy subsidies, Chris Berry told IM the economic case alone will sustain vehicle electrification and the resulting demand for lithium, cobalt and graphite.

Looking at a more sumptuous form of carbon, Martin Rapaport declared, “The diamond and jewelry trade will benefit as the new policies create a more prosperous middle class and greater numbers of wealthy consumers. Global uncertainty will also increase demand for investment diamonds as a store of wealth.”

But the outsider’s victory might have shocked Rapaport into ambiguity. While saying the election “sets the stage for growth and development,” a preamble to his November 9 press release called the result “positively dangerous.”

Not to be left out of the forecasting frenzy, ResourceClips.com predicts the Yukon tourist industry will add Frederick Trump, the Donald’s bordello-owning granddad, to its romanticized cast of colourful Klondike characters.

A transformational discovery

November 10th, 2016

Lac de Gras glitter became the backbone of the NWT economy

by Greg Klein

This is the second of a two-part feature. See Part 1.

The greatest staking rush the world’s likely seen, a shakeup of the global diamond industry and a tremendous boost to Northwest Territories finances—all that started with the Ekati discovery announced by Chuck Fipke 25 years ago this week. The effects on the NWT alone were momentous. The exploration sector boomed like never before, reaping four discoveries in six years that became working mines, while communities and individuals realized benefits both tangible and intangible.

Exploration fervour “certainly caused an injection into the economy,” notes Tom Hoefer, NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines executive director. “But where it really made a difference was when we had mines developed.”

Lac de Gras glitter became the backbone of the NWT economy

The Ekati mine began a transformation that
out-performed all other resources and sectors in the NWT.

It actually took two operations, Ekati and Diavik, to offset the territory’s 1990s economic malaise, he says. Yellowknife’s Giant and Con mines were winding down their 50 to 60 years of gold production. Around the same time, Nunavut’s 1999 separation dealt a blow to NWT revenue. “So there was a double hit on the economy. When Ekati went into production, it wasn’t enough to offset that economic downturn. It wasn’t until Diavik that the economy turned around significantly.

“It was almost palpable when Diavik got its approval. You could cut it, you could just feel it, all of a sudden people were saying, ‘Now we’re set.’ Those turned out to be world-class diamond mines, so in hindsight people were right.”

Of more than $60 billion worth of NWT mining output since 1932, gold provided 18%. It’s sometimes forgotten that the territory was a major base metals producer too, with zinc accounting for 30% of that $60-plus billion. But less than two decades of diamond production contributed 38%. The value of annual diamond production has topped $2 billion in the past “and I think we’re around $1.7 billion now,” Hoefer says. “That’s pretty significant when you consider that the NWT government’s entire budget is about the same.”

With last year’s shutdown of the Cantung tungsten operation, the territory has no mining but diamond mining. The three mines now in operation rank Lac de Gras as the world’s third-largest producer by value.

Figures from 2014 credit diamond mining with a 29% direct contribution to territorial GDP, by far the largest private sector portion. Chamber data attributes direct and indirect benefits to about 40% .

Taking another perspective, Hoefer points to a 2014 Canada-wide survey on aboriginal perceptions of the mining industry. Outside the NWT and Nunavut, favourable ratings ranged from 25% in Quebec to 45% in the Yukon. NWT responses were 55% favourable compared to 33% unfavourable, with 12% undecided. The territory ranked second only to Nunavut, which had 59/32/9 ratings.

“I would say the reason is all the aboriginal participation we’ve had in mining,” Hoefer says.

An NWT-specific survey taken this year shows overwhelming support. About 80% of respondents expressed positive feelings about the territory’s mining and exploration companies, 83% said regulation works well and 82% want more mining projects.

Those responses might partly result from the way benefits are distributed. Territorial legislation requires mining proposals to address not only environmental impacts but also positive socio-economic effects, Hoefer explains. Companies sign agreements with the government that address training, employment and local spending. The miners then file annual reports stating what they’ve accomplished.

“Put the clock back to before diamonds were discovered and the first mine built, there was maybe just a handful of aboriginal companies that could work with mining.” Now the Chamber lists over 60 NWT aboriginal companies created since Ekati began construction in 1996. They’ve shared over $5 billion of the $12 billion that diamond miners have spent in the territory.

The mines have also contributed over $100 million to communities under Impact Benefit Agreements.

And of course there are the jobs. Lac de Gras diamonds have provided over 24,000 person-years of mine employment.

That’s really in essence what I think a government would want to do with its resources—generate wealth for people who don’t have it.—Tom Hoefer,
executive director of the NWT
and Nunavut Chamber of Mines

“That’s really in essence what I think a government would want to do with its resources—generate wealth for people who don’t have it.”

Looking to the future, Lac de Gras explorers continue the quest for more deposits. Among existing miners, the Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO/Dominion Diamond TSX:DDC 60/40 JV expects Diavik to last until 2024. Plans to add a fourth deposit won’t extend the lifespan but will keep production robust until shutdown, Hoefer says.

De Beers’ technically challenged Snap Lake shut down last year, at a cost of about 750 jobs. Some of them were saved by Gahcho Kué, which last summer became the world’s largest diamond mine to open in 13 years. But despite output that’s expected to be about two and a half times greater than Snap, the open pit will employ fewer people, currently 441. The De Beers/Mountain Province Diamonds TSX:MPV 51%/49% JV sees an initial 12-year mine life, but Mountain Province talks optimistically of extensions.

Getting back to the genesis of all this economic activity, Dominion’s majority-held Ekati would have its life expectancy extended to at least 2030 should the Jay pipe addition pass feasibility and final permitting. The mine employs around 1,500 workers and accounts for about $400 million in annual spending.

Commemorating the quarter-century since Ekati’s discovery, the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines presents a Diamond Gala on November 17, the final evening of this year’s Geoscience Forum. Hoefer says the event will be a three-part celebration recognizing the discovery, the subsequent construction and operation of four mines, and the support of aboriginal governments. Fipke will be on hand as guest speaker, perhaps marvelling at the transformation brought about by his pursuit of Lac de Gras glitter.

This is the second of a two-part feature. See Part 1.

Ontario backs deep-mining research with $2.5-million grant

November 2nd, 2016

by Greg Klein | November 2, 2016

Sudbury’s status as a global capital of mining R&D gained additional recognition with a $2.5-million provincial grant. Announced at the Mining Innovation Summit on November 1, the money goes to the non-profit Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation and its Ultra Deep Mining Network.

Ontario backs deep-mining research with $2.5-million grant

The UDMN works to improve safety, efficiency and sustainability of operations at depths below 2.5 kilometres. While China has announced support for deep-mining research as part of its Three Deep program, the alarming accident rate at South African mines has been attributed partly to the unprecedented depths of some operations, one breaching the four-kilometre mark.

Ontario hosts two of the world’s 10 deepest mines, according to Mining-Technology.com. Vale’s Creighton nickel-copper mine in Sudbury holds tenth place, at about 2.5 kilometres’ depth. Glencore’s Kidd copper-zinc mine in the Timmins region holds eighth place at slightly more than three kilometres. The other eight mines are all South African gold operations.

Another type of research goes on at Creighton, which hosts the SNOLAB physics experiments including the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory that won Art McDonald a Nobel Prize in 2015.

Why Creighton? As quantum physicist Damian Pope told the National Post, the lab’s two kilometres of rock shields neutrinos from other sub-atomic particles, allowing them to be studied in relative isolation. That research, conducted where the sun don’t shine, somehow helped eggheads understand how the sun shines.

As for mining research, Sudbury hosts nine institutes dedicated to innovation, the province stated. Ontario now has 42 operating mines supporting 26,000 direct jobs and 50,000 additional jobs associated with mining and processing, according to a statement from mines minister Michael Gravelle. He valued Ontario’s 2015 mineral production at $10.8 billion.

The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines hosted the two-day Sudbury summit to bring together “government, industry, academia, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, as well as research and innovation organizations” to further encourage mining innovation.

Read about Laurentian University’s Metal Earth project.