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Shell Digs Deeper: The Quest for More Profits at the Expense of the South Africa Wild Coast

Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 13:37
Posted by John Donovan: 10 June 2024 In a shocking display of corporate greed and utter disregard for the environment, Shell, the infamous oil giant known for its ruthless pollution tactics, is hell-bent on drilling for oil and gas off the South Africa Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.

This week, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) upheld a ruling by the high court in Makhanda, ordering Shell to pause its voracious plans until it has “sufficiently consulted” the communities that will be directly impacted. Because, you know, consulting the locals whose lives you’re about to wreck is apparently an afterthought for Shell.

“It is not in dispute that neither the public was given notice of the decisions or informed of the right to appeal. The failure to do so, which is unexplained on the papers, is subversive of the procedural entitlements of the appellants,” reads the SCA judgment.

The court didn’t hold back on blasting the Petroleum Agency of South Africa and Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe for their epic failure to inform affected parties about the exploration rights. “It can hardly be in dispute that impact was required to meaningfully consult with the communities and individuals that would be affected by the seismic blasting,” the judgment continued, hammering home the point that Shell apparently missed in their mad dash for more profits.

Naturally, the court has now mandated a do-over on the consultation process, this time ensuring that all communications are actually in isiXhosa and isiMpondo, the languages spoken by the people whose lives are hanging in the balance.

Let’s not forget the sheer beauty of the Wild Coast, an unspoiled paradise stretching from the Mtamvuma River to the Great Kei River. But in 2021, Shell decided it was the perfect spot for a seismic survey to hunt for gas and oil deposits, a move that triggered massive opposition from local communities, environmentalists, and land rights activists. Because, of course, nothing says “we care” like risking ecological disaster for a bit more crude.

Shell’s spokesperson Pam Ntaka had the gall to say they “respect the ruling.” Oh, how magnanimous! “We welcome the court’s direction that the exploration right remains valid, subject to further public consultation and the renewal application,” she said, probably while sipping champagne in a high-rise office far from the Wild Coast.

She went on about Shell’s grand plans to “reshape the downstream portfolio” and divest from Shell Downstream South Africa as if that’s supposed to make everyone feel better about the impending environmental catastrophe.

Meanwhile, Shell and its cronies at the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, along with Impact Africa, have been busy appealing the high court ruling. Their argument? That they had done enough public consultation and that issues like heritage rights and climate change were just pesky details that didn’t need consideration.

Activists and environmentalists are, understandably, not thrilled with the SCA judgment. “This judgment trumps the constitutional environmental rights of people to a safe and healthy environment,” said Sinegugu Zukulu from Sustaining the Wild Coast, summing up the collective frustration of everyone who cares about the planet.

In conclusion, Shell’s relentless pursuit of profit at the cost of communities and the environment is a masterclass in corporate callousness. And the saga of the Wild Coast continues, with Shell’s drill bit ever ready to pierce the heart of this pristine coastline.

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Shell Digs Deeper: The Quest for More Profits at the Expense of the South Africa Wild Coast was first posted on June 10, 2024 at 9:37 pm.
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Canada adds high-purity iron, phosphorus, silicon metal to critical minerals list

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 13:37

Natural Resources Canada announced Monday it has updated the country’s critical minerals list, with three new additions.  

First released in 2021, the 2024 critical minerals list was updated in consultation with provinces and territories; exploration, mining and manufacturing industries and associations; and Indigenous organizations and communities, Natural Resources Canada said in a media release.

New to the list are high-purity iron — used in green steel making and decarbonization; phosphorus — essential for batteries and food security, and silicon metal — required for semiconductors and computer chips.

In March, Canadian explorer First Phosphate (CSE: PHOS) received a mining research and innovation grant from the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The company’s objective is to see the development of a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery valley in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, one which can service demand for LFP battery cathode active material across North America.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, said the list was reviewed and updated following “substantial consultations to focus efforts in developing robust critical minerals value chains.”

“By updating Canada’s critical minerals list, we are taking a proactive step to ensure that Canada’s efforts to seize the generational economic opportunity presented by our critical minerals wealth is well informed by the most accurate market trends, geopolitical factors and science,” Wilkinson said.

“Investments in critical minerals projects create good jobs for workers, more avenues for Canadian innovation and lower emissions across the country — all of which form an important part of our plan to build a cleaner Canada and a prosperous, sustainable economy.”

Canada’s critical minerals list now identifies 34 minerals and metals deemed essential to the country’s economic or national security.

Premium Nickel upsizes Botswana financing to $20 million

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 10:50

Premium Nickel Resources (TSXV: PNRL) has upsized its non-brokered equity financing to C$27.5 million ($20m) to be spent at its projects in Botswana. The financing was originally announced on June 5 for C$15 million ($10.9m).

The company said the upsizing was due primarily to strong interest from existing shareholders. The original offering included the private placement of approximately 19.2 million units, but the upsized offering includes about 35.3 million units.

Each unit was priced at C$0.78 and consisted of one common share and one common share purchase warrant. Each warrant entitles the holder to acquire one additional common share for C$1.10 for a period of 60 months.

Premium Nickel has two fully permitted nickel-copper-cobalt mine redevelopment projects – the Selebi mine formerly owned by BCL and Tati’s former Selkirk mine – in the African nation.

The Selebi mine opened in 1980 and operated for 36 years producing nickel and copper until it was put on care and maintenance in 2016. The mine has two shafts – the 1,140-metre Selebi shaft and the 970-metre Selebi North. The Selebi north shaft was in production from 1990 to 2016, also producing nickel and copper.

Production began at the Selkirk nickel-copper mine in 1989 and lasted until 2002. The historic resource estimate is 165.3 million tonnes grading 0.28% nickel and 0.24% copper, using a cut-off grade of 0.15% nickel.

Palamina to buy Aurania’s Peru unit to boost copper assets

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 10:23

Canada’s Palamina Corp. (TSX-V: PA)(OTCQB: PLMNF) is buying Aurania Resources’ (TSX-V: ARU) subsidiary in Peru, Sociedad Minera, which will grant it access to strategic copper and silver projects in the country, including the Vicus Pluma copper project.

Palamina is a gold explorer with several projects in the Puno Orogenic Gold Belt in south-eastern Peru.

The Toronto-based gold explorer will hand fellow Canadian company Aurania 350,000 common shares and a 1% net smelter return (NSR) royalty. Palamina said it has the option to buy back half of the NSR for C$1 million ($730,000).

The acquisition of Vicus would give Palamina 100% ownership of the Pluma sediment-hosted copper-silver project, which covers 9,800 hectares north and it is contiguous to Hannan Metals’s San Martin copper-silver project, the company said.

“Securing the Pluma copper-silver project will provide Palamina shareholders exposure to the San Martin district where a third drill discovery program is planned by Hannan seeking to confirm a new world-class copper-silver district in Peru,” president Andrew Thomson said in the statement.

Aurania focuses on precious metals and copper in South America. Its flagship asset, The Lost Cities – Cutucu project, is located in the Jurassic Metallogenic Belt in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains in southeastern Ecuador.

Electra gets Canadian gov’t funding for critical minerals recycling project

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 10:16

Electra Battery Materials (NASDAQ: ELBM; TSXV: ELBM) announced Monday it has received C$5 million in contribution funding from the Canadian government to support the development of its proprietary battery materials recycling technology.

North of Toronto, Ontario, Electra is constructing North America’s only cobalt sulfate refinery as part of a multiphase effort to onshore refining capabilities for cathode materials. Its priority is to secure the capital required to recommission and expand its cobalt refinery, with a long-term view of providing recycled battery materials and battery-grade nickel for the electric vehicle market.

In 2023, the company successfully operated a battery materials recycling demonstration plant in a batch process at its refinery complex in Ontario, processing more than 40 tonnes of end-of-life battery scrap, known as “black mass,” and producing high-quality nickel, cobalt and lithium products.

Electra’s demonstration program is believed to be the first plant-scale recycling of black mass material in North America as well as the first domestic production of nickel-cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate product.

The company said it is accelerating the next phase of its recycling project to demonstrate on a continuous basis that the hydrometallurgical black mass process is scalable, profitable, and can be implemented at other locations.

The Canadian government, through National Resources Canada’s Critical Minerals Research, Development and Demonstration program, has committed funding of C$5 million ($3.6m) for the project, which will be based at Electra’s fully permitted property about five hours north of Toronto in Temiskaming Shores.

“Today’s funding announcement is a clear signal from the government of Canada of its ongoing commitment to creating a strong, sustainable EV supply chain,” Electra CEO Trent Mell said in a news release.

“While recycling critical minerals is part of our business strategy, we also remain focused on the construction of our cobalt sulfate refinery and look forward to updating the market with funding developments to restart construction,” Mell said.

“This funding will increase mineral and energy security, create good jobs and support economic opportunities — supporting our work to build a cleaner Canada and a prosperous, sustainable economy that works for everyone,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.

The funding announcement was made in Sudbury, alongside an announcement of funding into the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corp, which also got C$5 million.

Southern Silver study ups NPV, mine life for Cerro Las Minitas project in Mexico

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 10:01

An updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for Southern Silver Exploration’s (TSXV: SSV) Cerro Las Minitas project in Mexico shows improved economics and added 2.6 years to the mine life. The company’s shares rose 3.9% on the news.

The study forecasts an initial capex of $388 million and an after-tax NPV (at a 5% discount) of $501 million — a 45% increase from the first PEA released in 2022.

The underground mine, in north-central Mexico’s Durango state, has a post-tax internal rate of return of 21.2% with a payback period of 48 months and a 17-year life.

Under the updated study, the daily mine production capacity increases by 18% to 5,300 tonnes per day. Production would increase to a peak rate of 7,800 tonnes per day in the fourth year of production when both mine portals are operating.

All-in sustaining costs are estimated at $2.5 billion, at a silver-equivalent price of $12.23 per ounce.

“This latest economic update of Cerro Las Minitas represents a new milestone in the ongoing evolution and development of the project which is the culmination of a number of smaller technical improvements, developed over the last 18 months, which together result in a significant increase in the value of the Cerro Las Minitas asset,” Southern Silver president and director Lawrence Page said in a news release.

The study estimates the project, near Durango city, about 900 km northwest of Mexico City, will generate gross revenue of $4.4 billion, up $765 million from the 2022 PEA. Silver and gold represent 45% of total revenues, and zinc represents 35%.

Increased value potential

There are opportunities for mine life extension as mineralization on the eastern and northern sides of the site are under-explored and there are gaps in the resource model at shallow depths, Southern Silver says.

Infill drilling, particularly in parts of the deposit included in the inferred resource could also add value to the project. The resource for the project has been updated once since the 2022 PEA, and now hosts 13.3 million indicated tonnes grading 102 grams silver per tonne, 0.07 gram gold, 0.17% copper, 1.3% lead, and 3.1% zinc, for 43.4 million oz. silver, 32,000 oz. gold, 49 million lb. copper, 374 million lb. lead and 921 million lb. zinc.

Its inferred resources total 23.4 million tonnes at 111 grams silver, 0.14 gram gold, 0.21% copper, 1.1% lead and 2.1% zinc, for 83.4 million oz. silver, 104,000 oz. gold, 111 million lb. copper, 582 million lb. lead and 1.1 million lb. zinc.

Shares in Southern Silver traded at C$0.27 apiece on Monday morning, valuing the company at C$75.7 million. Its shares traded in a 52-week range of C$0.11 and C$0.34.

Critical Metals to acquire controlling stake in world’s biggest rare earth project

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 09:44

Critical Metals Corp. (Nasdaq: CRML) has signed an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in the Tanbreez project in Greenland, the largest rare earth deposit in the world.

Tanbreez hosts 28.2 million tonnes of total rare earth oxides (TREO) in 4.7 billion tonnes of material, according to internal company estimates. The asset is expected to contain more than 27% heavy rare earth elements (HREE) and Critical Metals says efforts to convert the internal resource to U.S. SEC standards are being made.  

Once operational, the mine is anticipated to supply rare earth elements to Europe and North America. The project is expected to have access to key transportation outlets as the Tanbreez area features year-round direct shipping access through deep-water fjords that lead directly to the North Atlantic ocean. The outcropping orebody, known as Kakortokite, covers an area of 8 km by 5 km and is about 400 metres thick.

Critical Metals acquired the project from Rimbal Pty. Ltd., a company controlled by geologist Gregory Barnes.

Newly created Critical Metals on track to construct EU’s first battery-grade lithium mine 

“Tanbreez is a game-changing rare earth mine for the West and a key step in positioning Critical Metals Corp as the leading supplier of critical minerals, with a diversified, multi-asset portfolio spanning multiple geographies,” CEO Tony Sage said in a news release.

Critical Metals, which owns Europe’s first fully permitted lithium mine, the Wolfsberg lithium project in Austria, debuted on the Nasdaq in March.

Upon completion of construction at Wolfsberg by 2026, Critical Metals has committed to supplying BMW by 2027. The company has also secured a deal with Obeikan Investment Group to build a lithium hydroxide plant in Saudi Arabia.

Shares of Critical Metals rose 4.6% by 12:00 p.m. EDT. The company has a market capitalization of $877 million.

Energy Fuels begins commercial production of separated rare earths at White Mesa

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 09:16

Energy Fuels (NYSE: UUUU; TSX: EFR) announced on Monday that it has achieved commercial production of separated neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) at its White Mesa mill in Utah.

The rare earth elements (REE), used in the manufacture of magnets in clean applications like EVs as well as in military and defense technologies, will be produced at Energy Fuels’ new Phase 1 REE separation circuit, with a capacity of 850 to 1,000 metric tonnes of NdPr per year.

The company expects to have commercial quantities of separated NdPr available for shipment by the end of the month.

Energy Fuels is extracting, refining, and separating the NdPr from monazite produced at its heavy mineral sand operations in Florida and Georgia.

The company said this is the first time in several decades that a US company has produced on-spec separated REEs from monazite on a commercial scale.

Energy Fuels began piloting REE separations in 2021 and later performed partial REE separations in 2022 and 2023.

Energy Fuels’ first shipment creates US-Europe rare earths supply chain

The company completed construction of its Phase 1 REE separation circuit in the first quarter of 2024 at a total cost of about $16 million, under the original budget of $25 million.

During the second quarter, the company expects to produce about 25 to 35 tonnes of on-spec, separated NdPr.

“The addition of REE separation processes has not hindered the ability or capacity of the company to produce uranium at the mill, and preparations are being made to commence a uranium ore and alternate feed uranium-bearing material processing campaign in Q3 2024,” Energy Fuels said in a statement.

“Following the completion of NdPr production at the mill in Q2 2024, the company expects to begin processing uranium ore and alternate feed materials from our current stockpiles, resulting in the expected production of 150,000 to 500,000 pounds of U3O8 during 2024, with production ramping up further in 2025.”

From the new circuit, Energy Fuels also expects to produce a samarium-plus (Sm+) concentrate, while also recovering the contained uranium from the monazite feed stocks.

The company expects to use this Sm+ concentrate to continue pilot-scale dysprosium (Dy) and terbium (Tb) separation and to design circuits at the mill capable of producing these rare earth products in separated individual forms.

Currently, there is no company in the Western Hemisphere capable of commercially producing separated, on-spec Dy, Tb, or other heavy REE products.

Shares of Energy Fuels rose 3.9% by 12:00 p.m. EDT. The company has a market capitalization of $1.01 billion.

Buenaventura resumes ore treatment at El Brocal plant

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 08:35
Compañía de Minas Buenaventura operates seven mines in Peru. Credit: Buenaventura

Buenaventura (NYSE: BVN) announced on Monday that its El Brocal processing plant has resumed operations following a three-week suspension, during which it accumulated approximately 220,000 tonnes of copper ore.

On May 22, the Peruvian mining group halted ore treatment operations at El Brocal after a group of Huaraucaca community members residing near the facility entered the property without company authorization.

The El Brocal facilities are used to treat ores from the company’s Marcapunta underground and Tajo Norte open pit mines in the district of Colquijirca, Pasco province. It has a total capacity of 20,000 tonnes per day.

In 2024, El Brocal is forecast to produce 17,000-20,000 oz. of gold, 1.4-1.7 million oz. of silver, 13,000-15,000 tonnes of lead, 3,100-3,500 tonnes of zinc and 55,000-60,000 tonnes of zinc.

Following discussions between Huaraucaca community leaders and Buenaventura representatives, an agreement has now been reached to end the blockade and lift the suspension. Ore processing is expected to ramp up to a rate of 15,000 tonnes per day to recover the lost production.

The dialogue was also facilitated by officials from Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, who have reviewed and addressed overall compliance with commitments between both parties, Buenaventura said.

Despite the suspension, the company said it still expects to achieve its budgeted production in the third quarter and its full year production guidance.

Ditching noble metals improves efficiency of zinc-air batteries

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 06:06

Researchers at Hunan University, University College London and the University of Oxford have developed a new metal-nitrogen-carbon catalyst for zinc-air batteries (ZABs) that outperforms noble metal catalysts, improving the efficiency and practicality of ZAB technology.

Zinc-air batteries function by oxidizing zinc with oxygen from the air. Recent research demonstrated that a catalyst incorporating a combination of different non-noble metal atoms could increase the rate of discharging reactions and battery performance.

With this evidence in mind, the researchers generated a non-noble metal-nitrogen-carbon catalyst from iron, cobalt and nickel to improve the charging, discharging and cost efficiency of ZABs. Importantly, the team also optimized a flexible carbon dot/polyvinyl alcohol (CD/PVA) film as a solid-state ZAB electrolyte, or battery component that transfers charged atoms, creating a flexible and stable high-performance battery that could potentially be used in wearable devices.

“Rechargeable metal-air batteries are promising power sources, especially zinc-air batteries which offer high theoretical energy densities (1084 Wh kg−1), environmental friendliness, and cost-effectiveness,” head researcher Huanxin Li said in a media statement.

“Additionally, rechargeable ZABs are not only safe and stable but also portable and wearable. Significant research is currently focused on rechargeable and flexible ZABs.”

How ZABs work

Zinc-air batteries discharge and charge through two reactions: the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), respectively. These reactions are notoriously slow and require catalysts that speed the electrochemical reaction along, or electrocatalysts. While noble metals are capable of speeding the ORR and OER, issues with cost, suboptimal performance and the requirement of two different noble metals limited the overall practicality of ZAB technology.

“Developing low-cost and efficient bifunctional non-noble electrocatalysts is crucial to the commercialization of rechargeable ZABs. Among various non-noble catalysts, metal-nitrogen-carbon (M-N-C) nanomaterials have attracted particular attention due to their low price, abundant reserves, excellent electrochemical activity and high stability,” Li said.

Creating an electrocatalyst composed of three different metal atoms isn’t a trivial matter, however, due to the different interaction forces that occur with each metal atom. To address this issue, the team used zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs), carbon-nitrogen frameworks that surround and arrange each of three metal atoms to uniformly anchor the catalytic atoms onto porous carbon at high heat.

The scientists then confirmed the distribution of the Fe, Co and Ni atoms via energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, spherical aberration-corrected high-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy.

Base metals 1, noble metals 0

Overall, the ternary Fe-Co-Ni electrocatalyst outperformed bimetal electrocatalysts (FeNi, FeCo and CoNi) and platinum and ruthenium, two noble metal electrocatalysts, in the oxygen reduction and evolution reactions.

The team believes that all three metal atoms of the ternary electrocatalyst are active and cooperating to increase catalytic activity, with Fe contributing the most to activity as the most abundant atom. The porous structure and increased surface area of the electrocatalyst likely also contribute to the enhanced catalytic activity.

Overall, the team’s rechargeable ZAB achieved a specific capacity of 846.8 mAh·gZn−1 and a power density of 135 mW·cm–2 in liquid electrolyte. The ZAB also achieved a power density of 60 mW·cm–2 using the optimized CD/PVA solid-state electrolyte, which exceeds the reported results of solid-state ZABs with other catalysts.

Importantly, the zinc-air battery developed in the study was durable, stable and capable of powering a fan and an LED screen and charging a mobile phone. The researchers are hopeful that their ternary Fe-Co-Ni electrocatalyst and CD/PVA electrolyte will spur investigations into new catalysts and electrolytes for practical, high-performance ZAB technologies.

Botswana in talks to raise stake in De Beers

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 05:43

Botswana confirmed on Monday market rumours indicating the country wants to increase its shareholding in De Beers, as parent company Anglo American (LON: AAL) prepares to spin off or sell the diamond producer. 

“We are going to increase the shares that we have in De Beers,” President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Monday at a political rally north of the capital, Gaborone, according to Bloomberg.

Masisi also said the government will play a central role in selecting a new investor to replace Anglo at De Beers. The focus will be on finding an investor who understands the cyclical nature of the diamond industry, he noted.

De Beers aims to rebrand as top jewellery group

The government of Botswana currently holds a 15% stake in De Beers, the world’s largest diamond miner by value, and the country accounts for 70% of the company’s annual rough diamond supply.

Anglo American announced last month its intention to either sell or spin off its 85% stake in De Beers to fend off an unsolicited takeover bid from BHP (ASX: BHP). Anglo acquired the diamond giant in 2011, buying the Oppenheimer family’s 40% stake for $5.1 billion.

De Beers is key to Botswana’s economy. In January, the company committed to spend $1 billion to increase the life of its flagship Jwaneng mine by moving operations underground. Extending the productive life of Jwaneng, the world’s richest mine in term of diamonds value, has been in the cards since 2010

Debswana, the local company jointly owned by the government and De Beers, makes up a fifth of the country’s GDP.  It is also critical to De Beers as it contributes nearly half the carats the company produces each year. 

Ditching lab-made stones

In preparation for the split from Anglo, the diamond giant — which coined the slogan “Diamonds are Forever”— is also ditching man-made stones. This means it would end a six-year experiment to sell lab-grown diamond jewellery through its own brand, Lightbox, created in 2018.

While the miner is not halting the sale of its Lightbox stones right away, it will put the unit under review once it depletes current inventory, which will take about a year.

De Beers is targeting annual core profits of $1.5 billion by 2028. Last year, the business made just $72 million, though traditionally its profits have ranged between $500 million and $1.5 billion as the diamond industry swings from boom to bust.

The diamond miner seems ready to fly alone as it did for 124 of its 136 years of existence. Anglo American acquired a majority stake in De Beers only 13 years ago. The government of Botswana holds the remaining shares.

Nevada Copper files for bankruptcy, names new top boss

Mining.Com - Mon, 06/10/2024 - 03:42

Cash-strapped miner Nevada Copper (TSX: NCU) has filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11, kicking off a restructuring process during which its Pumpkin Hollow mine will be halted.

President and chief executive, Randy Buffington, has resigned and the Canadian company has appointed mining veteran Tom Albanese, its lead independent director, as the new chairperson.

The move follows Nevada Copper’s announcement last week that it had “significantly scaled down operations” at the Nevada-based copper mine after failing to secure necessary funding to keep the project running.

The Vancouver-based miner had said earlier this year it required additional funding to meet ongoing challenges at Pumpkin Hollow, where it restarted operations in the fourth quarter of 2023. Issues encountered included a build-up of water underground, an incomplete ore handling system and unexpected bottlenecks that caused repeated shutdowns of the processing plant.

Nevada Copper has asked for standard support measures for its employees and essential vendors as part of the Chapter 11 process. It is seeking approval from the court to continue paying employee salaries, wages, and benefit programs, regardless of any outstanding amounts prior to filing for bankruptcy. 

To ensure liquidity during the restructuring period, the miner has obtained a commitment for $60 million in debtor-in-possession financing. Nevada Copper has requested that $20 million of this amount be made available on an interim basis, subject to court approval.

Nevada Copper’s shares plunged to a new low of C$0.030 on Friday and they are down over 78% so far this year. Its market capitalization now stands at C$43.2 million ($31.4m).

Argentina’s Salta Province to issue tender for mining projects in Arizaro salt flat

Mining.Com - Sun, 06/09/2024 - 12:47

The Salta Energy and Mining Resources company (Remsa), which is responsible for managing the sector in the northwestern Argentinian province of Salta, is expected to launch a tender in mid-August for the concession of 37,000 hectares in the Arizaro salt flat.

Arizaro is located in the central-western part of the Atacama Plateau and covers an area of 1,600 square kilometres, which makes it the sixth-largest salt flat in the world and the second-largest in Argentina after the Salinas Grandes.

According to local media, the edicts for the bidding process will be published by the end of June.

Citing information from Remsa’s head, Alberto Castillo, El Tribuno newspaper states that about 15 companies have shown interest in the deposit and could potentially participate in the tender. 

The process will be supervised by the Salta Mines Court, while the regional Ministry of Mining and Energy will oversee the development of the deposits. 

The Arizaro fraction that will be tendered in August is called Remsa 10. The winning company will be expected to invest in infrastructure projects such as roads, solar parks and gas pipelines, among others. Bidders will also have to establish net-smelter return percentages in favour of Remsa. 

Finally, competing companies will have to estimate and report their projects’ carbon emissions and propose offset plans that can range from reforestation programmes or landfill-fed biogas plants.

World Bank tribunal rules against Canadian miner in legal dispute with Colombia

Mining.Com - Sun, 06/09/2024 - 11:20

The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled in favour of Colombia in a feud with Canada’s Montauk Metals (TSX-V: MTK) – previously Galway Gold – after finding that the mining ban imposed by the Gustavo Petro administration on the Santurbán moor does not violate the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement signed in 2008.

Montauk contended that Colombia breached obligations owed to the company, such as refusal or failure to compensate it for the losses incurred at the Reina de Oro gold project, following the nation’s decision to prohibit mining in Santurbán. 

The request for arbitration was submitted before the ICSID in March 2018 and asked for compensation of approximately $177 million.

According to a communiqué issued by Colombia’s National Agency for Judicial Defense of the State, the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes’ ruling states that the mining ban is a legitimate regulatory measure and that Colombia did not expropriate nor violate the Fair and Equitable Treatment standard. 

The tribunal found that the South American government acted in good faith and exercised regulatory powers to protect the moor’s (páramo in Spanish) ecosystems.

In its decision, the ICSID also noted that there was no legitimate reason for Montauk to expect that Colombia was not going to protect the páramos.

“Colombia celebrates the arbitral tribunal’s decision, which recognizes our country’s efforts and legitimate measures to protect the environment and general interest areas,” the media brief reads.

Precedent

This ICSID decision is in line with a March 2024 ruling by the same court in a similar lawsuit filed by Canada’s Red Eagle Exploration Limited against Colombia, for the prohibition of mining in the Santurbán headwaters.

Similar to the ruling in the Montauk Metals case, the ICSID found that Colombia did not violate the alleged reasonable expectation, nor did it act with a lack of transparency, unreasonably or arbitrarily, disproportionately or with discrimination. 

The tribunal concluded that Colombia had not acted in violation of the Minimum Standard of Treatment, nor was it shown that Colombia had indirectly expropriated Red Eagle’s mining concessions, as the company alleged in its claim.

One more case to go

In its media statement, the National Agency for Judicial Defense of the State points out that the Montauk and Red Eagle rulings prove that the country did not cause unnecessary uncertainty or take arbitrary measures in a similar lawsuit filed before the ICSID by another Canadian miner, Eco Oro Minerals.

In this particular case, the tribunal found in September 2021 that the Andean country acted in violation of investment protection norms enshrined in the free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia when it issued new regulations that expanded wetland protections and cut in half the area where Eco Oro was developing the Angostura project. 

However, the ICSID also recognized that the measure was not discriminatory toward Eco Oro shareholders and was an effort to legitimately protect the environment. Thus, it requested more information from both sides.

The Páramo de Santurbán is a protected area of the Andes mountains. It is covered with subalpine forests above the continuous tree line but below the permanent snow mark, where water is naturally stored during the rainy season and released during the dry season. 

 

Existing fossil fuel projects enough to meet energy demands while world transitions to net zero – study

Mining.Com - Sun, 06/09/2024 - 08:34

Researchers at the University College London and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) estimate that existing fossil fuel projects are enough to meet predicted energy demands in a global transition to net-zero emissions.

In a policy paper published in the journal Science, the researchers argue that stopping new fossil fuel projects is a crucial step for countries to achieve their climate goals. They recommend that governments legislate to ban new fossil fuel projects as this is easier politically, economically and legally than closing operational projects early.

The team analyzed the projected future global demand for oil and gas production, and for coal- and gas-fired power generation under a range of modelled scenarios that limit climate change to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The group found that existing fossil fuel capacity is sufficient to meet the energy demands under these scenarios while the planet transitions to clean and renewable energy—and that new fossil fuel projects are unnecessary.

The research extends work by the International Energy Agency which found in a 2021 report (updated in 2023) that no new fossil fuel extraction projects are needed in the transition to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The new work expands on this by analyzing a broad range of scenarios compiled for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report that limits climate change to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. Their analysis found that in addition to not needing new fossil fuel extraction, no new gas- and coal-fired power generation was needed.

Contradictory times

The paper points out that even though in December 2023 UN member nations announced that they agreed in principle to work towards “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems,” since then the global production and use of fossil fuels have continued to expand, with many governments and industry players claiming that new fossil fuel projects will be needed during the transition to net zero.

The new UCL–IISD research contradicts this claim. Thus, the authors recommend a ‘no new fossil fuels’ policy. This would mean preventing new projects for the exploration and extraction of any coal, oil or natural gas reserves. It would also prevent the construction of any new fossil fuel power plants.

Synthesizing evidence from economics, political science, and law, the authors find benefits of this approach for the feasibility of the transition.

Drawing lessons from historical processes of social-moral norm change, the researchers find that governments, by banning new fossil fuel projects, and civil society, by advocating such bans, can help to build a global norm against new fossil fuel projects.

“Our research draws lessons from past shifts in global ethical norms, such as slavery and the testing of nuclear weapons. These cases show that norms resonate when they carry simple demands to which powerful actors can be held immediately accountable,” lead author Fergus Green said in a media statement. “Complex, long-term goals like ‘net-zero emissions by 2050′ lack these features, but ‘no new fossil fuel projects’ is a clear and immediate demand, against which all current governments, and the fossil fuel industry, can rightly be judged. It should serve as a litmus test of whether a government is serious about tackling climate change: if they’re allowing new fossil fuel projects, then they’re not serious.”

Demand for Canadian natural resources on a “scale never seen before,” says MAC

Mining.Com - Fri, 06/07/2024 - 16:46

The current state of mining and the Canadian economy is strong, according to the Mining Association of Canada’s (MAC) The Mining Story – Canadian Mining Industry Facts and Figures, a report based on the latest statistics and analysis.

The mining industry is a major sector of Canada’s economy, contributing C$161 billion to the national GDP and is responsible for 21% of Canada’s total domestic exports. Canada’s mining sector employs 694,000 people directly and indirectly across the country. The industry is proportionally the largest private sector employer of Indigenous peoples in Canada and a major customer of Indigenous-owned businesses, MAC reported.

According to the report, the total value of mineral and metal production has quadrupled since 2000. Canada is among the top producers of metals and non-metallic minerals in the world. It is the top producer of potash, second largest producer of niobium and uranium, and third largest producer of precious diamonds and palladium (by metal content).

In 2022, mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction represented 7.8% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). The sector made up a larger portion of Canada’s economy than finance, construction, transportation or retail trade, MAC said.

Extraction, mining services, primary metal/mineral manufacturing and downstream metal/mineral manufacturing all saw substantial increases in contribution to Canada’s GDP in 2022, according to the report.

Extraction contributed C$45 billion to GDP, an increase of 21% from 2021. Mining services contributed C$10.1 billion to GDP, an increase of 50% from 2021 while primary metal/mineral manufacturing contributed C$23 billion to GDP, an increase of 13% from 2021.

Downstream metal/mineral manufacturing contributed C$30.4 billion to GDP, an increase of 23% from 2021. Canada produces more than 60 minerals and metals through its mining activities.

“The rebound in mineral and metal production is great to see, after a lengthy period of lower commodity prices,” MAC CEO Pierre Gratton said in a news release.

“As Canada and its allies seek to secure critical minerals and other mining products for the future to address national security and climate change goals, these numbers also tell us about how much wealth can come to Canada if we build out our mineral endowment,” Gratton said.

The total value of Canadian mineral production in 2022 was C$74.6 billion, up from C$58.6 billion in 2021. This growth was led by the increase in production values for nonmetals and coal.

“To provide the resources that are required to accomplish our transition to a low-carbon economy, Canada must create an investment and regulatory environment that works,” the report reads. “Over the past few years, the mining sector has heard positive commitments from the federal government, including the Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy, Fall Economic Statements, and the 2022, 2023, and 2024 Budgets.”

 These measures, and the enhanced collaboration with allies in the European Union and US, are encouraging – but the true measure of success lies in the effective and efficient implementation of policies that will speed the delivery of Canadian minerals and metals to the global markets that are clamoring for them, MAC emphasized.

“The mining industry is an engine of Canada’s economy, but current demand for our natural resources presents us with opportunities on a scale we’ve never seen before – efficient and effective collaboration between government, industry, and all communities of interest will ensure that our industry continues to benefit all Canadians,” said Gratton.

The report proposes several recommendations that will enhance the Canadian mining sector’s competitiveness, including investments in mineral processing, exploration, infrastructure and workforce.

Read the full report here.

Rare Earths Norway says its REE discovery is Europe’s largest

Mining.Com - Fri, 06/07/2024 - 14:25
Norway terrain. Stock image.

Rare Earths Norway (REN) has announced a mineral resource estimate that it said shows its Fen carbonatite complex in the country’s southeast hosts continental Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth elements.

After three years of targeted exploration, REN calculated this week a JORC-compliant inferred resource of 559 million tonnes at 1.57% total rare earth oxides (TREO). This means that the Fen carbonatite complex contains 8.8 million tonnes TREO with a reasonable prospect for eventual economic extraction, the company said.

CRMA: Rare earth elements a potential blindspot for EU policymakers and industry – report

Within the TREOs, there is estimated to be 1.5 million tonnes of magnet-related rare earths used in electric vehicles and wind turbines.

The EU considers these metals to be the most critical raw materials when considering supply risk.

REN holds an exploration permit covering approximately 90% of the Fen carbonatite complex. The current work provides a mineral resource depth to 468 metres below mean sea level.

REN said it expects significant potential future upside to the project, with previous exploration drilling completed by the Geological Survey of Norway and the geological advisor the Telemark County council, indicating mineralization is open to a depth of approximately 1,000 metres below sea level.

The company also said it expects the development of new mining methods will increase the resource estimate.

“The company is working partners Montanuniversität Leoben in Austria to develop the deposit with the world’s most sustainable mine and mineral processing technology minimising the environmental footprint from mine to magnet,“ Rare Earths Norway CEO Alf Reistad said in a news release on Thursday.

“We have now, through an independent third party, confirmed that we have a significant mineral resource at Fen. This is a milestone for us that could be extremely important for the local community in Nome, but also Norway and Europe for generations,” added chief geologist of Trond Watne.

Drill core from Fen carbonatite complex. Credit: Rare Earths Norway

The company said its goal is to contribute to a total, compact value chain, from mine to magnet with considerably lower climate and environmental impact.

Further exploration drilling is scheduled for this year.

Brazil adds Vale to so-called “dirty list” after contractor subjected workers to slave-like labour

Mining.Com - Fri, 06/07/2024 - 11:20

Vale (NYSE: VALE) has been included in the Brazilian registry of employers who have subjected workers to conditions similar to slavery, otherwise known as the “dirty list”.

As reported by the newswire UOL, inspections were made in 2015 of drivers who were transporting iron ore along Vale’s private road that connects two mines in Itabirito, Minas Gerais state.

The inspection revealed over 300 workers at the Mina do Pico mine were subjected to exhausting working hours and degrading conditions.

Vale judicially questioned the infraction notices, asking for their annulment. According to the Ministry of Labor and Employment, the mining company lost the lawsuit and, as a result, was included in the registry.

Although the workers were employed by a subcontractor, Ouro Verde Locações e Serviços, Vale was found responsible by a judge after questioning the Ministry of Labour and Employment inspections.

News agency Repórter Brasil reported the case of a worker who drove a truck for 23 hours with only a 40-minute break.

In a statement, Vale said that its inclusion in the list is incorrect in light of a recent decision by the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court published on May 9, 2024, which recognized the impossibility of maintaining the infraction notices issued during the Ministry of Labour’s inspection in 2015.

“Due to this decision, the action should return to the regional labour court of Minas Gerais, which must issue a new decision on the nullity of the fines, while Vale will take the necessary steps for its immediate removal from the register,” the company said.

“Ouro Verde had its workplaces, both owned by Vale, inspected by the ministry. Following this inspection, the ministry noted non-compliance with various labor obligations. Upon learning of these findings, Vale implemented all corrective measures and subsequently terminated the contract with the transport company.”

The inclusion on the “dirty list” does not require a commercial or financial blockade, but is used by Brazilian and foreign companies and banks in their risk management assessments.

American Creek shares soar on Cunningham’s 20% Treaty Creek buy bid 

Mining.Com - Fri, 06/07/2024 - 08:48

Shares in American Creek Resources (TSXV: AMK) shot up Friday on the news it entered into a non-binding letter of intent with private company Cunningham Mining to acquire all of its shares and its 20% stake in the Treaty Creek project for C$209.5 million.
 
American Creek shares hit C$0.085 apiece a new 52-week high — on Friday morning, valuing the company at C$87.4 million. 
 
Treaty Creek, a gold-copper-silver project in the Golden Triangle region of northwest British Columbia, is a joint venture project in which Tudor Gold (TSXV: TUD) holds a 60% interest, with each of American Creek and Teuton Resources (TSXV: TUO) holding 20%. 
 
“We are excited that Cunningham has recognized the value and the potential of the Treaty Creek property despite the tough junior market conditions we are currently experiencing,” American Creek CEO Darren Blaney said in a news release on Thursday. “We believe this proposed transaction may provide not only a liquidity event for our longstanding shareholders, but also represents an opportunity for shareholders to potentially realize a 250% plus premium to the present market valuation of their equity in the company.” 

Very golden opportunity 

Treaty Creek, about 250 km northeast of Prince Rupert, is regarded as among the largest gold discoveries in the last 30 years. The project is next to Seabridge Gold’s (TSX: SEA; NYSE: SA) KSM property to the southwest and Newmont’s (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM) Brucejack gold mine to the southeast.
 
The deal with Cunningham would see the private company secure all the issued and outstanding securities and common shares of American Creek for C$0.43 per share. That represents a premium of about 274% to the C$0.115 closing price of American Creek’s shares on the TSXV on Wednesday. 
 
The letter of intent is subject to several conditions including an exclusivity period until Aug. 5, during which American Creek and Cunningham will deal only with each other; and American Creek will continue operating its business as usual.

If Cunningham fails to provide American Creek with the C$209.5 million before Aug. 5, Cunningham must pay a failure fee of up to C$115,000. 

Treaty Creek contains the Goldstorm deposit, which hosts 27.8 million indicated gold-equivalent ounces for 21.6 million oz. gold grading 0.92 grams gold per tonne, 2.8 billion lb. copper grading 0.18% copper, and 128.7 million oz. silver grading 5.48 grams silver. Its inferred resource comprises about 6 million gold-equivalent oz. containing 4.8 million oz. gold grading 1.01 gram gold, 503.2 million lb. copper grading 0.15% copper, and 28.9 million oz. silver grading 6.02 grams silver.

Fireweed Metals gets $34 million Lundin-backed financing for Yukon Territory exploration

Mining.Com - Fri, 06/07/2024 - 08:21

Fireweed Metals (TSXV: FWZ) has arranged a private placement to fund this year’s exploration in the Macpass critical minerals district of Canada’s Yukon Territory. The company currently holds the Macpass zinc-lead-silver project and the Mactung tungsten project within its 977 km2 land package.

The initial financing comprises the issuance of approximately 9.1 million common shares at C$1.10 per share and 11.6 million flow-through common shares issued through a charitable donation arrangement. This is expected to raise gross proceeds of C$30 million ($22 million).

Due to strong demand, however, the company on Friday upsized the offering to 12.7 million common shares and 16.1 million FT shares, for gross proceeds of C$47 million ($34 million).

Shares of Fireweed Metals were trading at C$1.15 apiece by 11:00 a.m. ET in Toronto for a market capitalization of C$172 million ($125 million). It traded between C$0.88 and C$1.77 over the past 52 weeks.

The Lundin family trusts, alongside other key stakeholders, are expected to participate in the placement and have previously indicated their intention to subscribe the full amount, the company said.

In a news release on Thursday, Fireweed’s CEO Peter Hemstead confirmed that the offering proceeds will primarily fund the company’s exploration initiatives for 2024, specifically an extensive 14,000-metre drilling and regional exploration program at Macpass.

“This funding enables Fireweed to execute this year’s planned program without the need for additional capital,” he said.

The Macpass project is one of the world’s largest undeveloped zinc resources, Fireweed said, hosting four mineralized occurrences — Tom, Jason, Boundary and End zones — plus other exploration targets over a 940 km2 area.

To date, only the Tom and Jason mineralized zones have resource estimates, totalling 11.2 million tonnes indicated at 9.61% zinc equivalent (6.59% zinc, 2.48% lead and 21.33 g/t silver) and 39.5 million tonnes inferred at 10.00% zinc equivalent (5.84% zinc, 3.14% lead and 38.15 g/t silver).

Next to the Macpass project is Fireweed’s newly acquired Mactung project, which hosts a tungsten discovery that dates back to the 1960s. A resource estimate in 2023 established Mactung as the world’s largest high-grade tungsten resource, with 41.5 million tonnes indicated at 0.73% WO3 and 12.2 million tonnes inferred at 0.59% WO3.

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