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British Columbia rare earth project testing makes 50% TREO concentrates with 80% recovery

Mining.Com - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 10:39

Defense Metals (TSXV: DEFN) says metallurgical testing of samples from its Wicheeda rare earth project in British Columbia has shown that a 50% total rate earth oxide (TRE) concentrate can be made. The recovery rate was 80%. The tests were carried out by SGS Canada.

“Continuing positive results from our technical studies suggest that our wholly-owned Wicheeda REE project has the potential to become the next producer of rare earth elements in North America accounting for a significant amount of the rare earths needed for the western world’s future magnet metal production,” said Defense Metals CEO Craig Taylor in a release.

Beginning in 2018 up to the present, Defense has spent about C$5 million on metallurgical test work and the creation of flowsheets for the Wicheeda project. Recent studies optimized the milling and hydrometallurgical processes and the response of 21 variability samples representing different rare earth element (REE) grades, lithologies and locations within the deposit.

The results of the metallurgical tests will be included in the prefeasibility study due to be completed in the second quarter of 2024, said Taylor, and then work would begin on the feasibility study.

The Wicheeda project has measured and indicated resources that total 34.2 million tonnes grading 2.02% TREO and contain 699,000 tonnes of TREO. The inferred portion is 11.1 million tonnes at 1.02% TREO and contains 113,000 tonnes.

Electra given Canadian federal grant to support EV supply chain

Mining.Com - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 10:35

Electra Battery Materials (TSXV: ELBM; NASDAQ: ELBM) has received a C$5 million grant for the Canadian government towards the construction of North America’s first cobalt sulphate refinery.

The plant is located in Temiskaming Shores, Ontario. It will have the capacity to produced 5% of the global supply of battery grade cobalt needed for electric vehicles (EV).

“Canada has surpassed China as the top jurisdiction in the global battery supply chain, given its strength in raw materials mining and processing,” Electra CEO Trent Mell said in a news release. “[Last week’s] announcement from the Government of Canada demonstrates its continued commitment to building a strong, domestic EV supply chain.

“We are grateful for this additional investment as it represents added validation of our progress and will allow Electra to continue to work toward our goal of producing secure, clean and ethically sourced materials that are a crucial part of a sustainable future for electric vehicles in Canada.” 

Electra’s refinery recycles spent batteries, creating black mass from which critical minerals can be recovered. The plant made its first shipment of nickel-cobalt mixed hydroxide precipitate to a customer in July 2023.

Once fully commissioned, the refinery could produce sufficient cobalt for over 1.5 million EVs annually. Last year about 40 tonnes of black mass material was processed to recover critical minerals.

The company has an agreement with LG Energy Solution to supply 19,000 tonnes of cobalt in sulphate beginning in 2025. The total will represent up to 80% of Electra’s expected annual production.

Teck’s Red Dog mine in Alaska earns Zinc Mark for ESG

Mining.Com - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 10:32

Teck Resources (TSX: TECK.A, TECK.B; NYSE: TECK) says its Red Dog operations has been awarded the Zinc Mark in recognition of environmentally and socially responsible production practices.

“With Red Dog being awarded the Zinc Mark, all of Teck’s managed base metals operations are now verified and recognized for strong environmental and social performance, illustrating our focus on responsible production for the benefit of our customers, and for the environment and people where we operate,” said Teck president and CEO Jonathan Price.

Red Dog is also the first mine to win the stand-alone Zinc Mark.

Zinc Mark is awarded by Copper Mark, which also awards the Molybdenum Mark and Nickel Mark. Each winner meets the Copper Mark assurance framework that aims to promote responsible production practices along the value chains of the covered minerals.

Operations are independently verified against 32 criteria, including greenhouse gas emissions, community health and safety, respect for Indigenous rights and business integrity. (More information about the Copper Mark verification can be found here.)

Red Dog is one of the world’s largest zinc mines, located about 170 km north of the Arctic Circle in northwest Alaska, near Kotzebue. It is a conventional truck-and-loader open pit with drilling and blasting. In 2022 it produced 553,000 tonnes of zinc contained in concentrate.

The current mine life, based on existing developed deposits, will extend through to 2031.

Potential $50 billion Southwestern energy giant emerges as Diamondback seeks to buy rival Endeavor

Fuel Fix - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 10:10

Diamondback Energy's acquisition of Endeavor Energy Resources will create the region's third largest energy producer.

First Quantum CEO: Panama’s next government cannot ignore mining sector

Mining.Com - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 09:23

Two months after protests led the Panamanian government to order the shutdown of First Quantum’s Cobre Panama mine, chief executive Tristan Pascall, sees an opportunity for discussing mining’s contribution to Panama’s economy as the country approaches an election in May.

“We see that some of the emotion (from the protests) has really dialled back,” Pascall told the Financial Post. “There’s significant economic challenges emerging in the country … and we believe it’s impossible for the next government to ignore the contribution that a responsible mining sector can make.”

The mine accounts for approximately 5% of Panama’s gross domestic product and employed about 7,000 people, with another 33,000 individuals depending on the mine indirectly.

“There’s more questioning around the decision” regarding the impact the move could have on the country’s economy, Pascall told the Financial Post.

The Panama copper mine accounted for about 40% of First Quantum’s revenue and the closure order led to a near-halving of the company’s market value.

First Quantum is now exploring options to “manage its balance sheet,” which include selling smaller mines, bringing strategic investors into its larger mines and evaluating ways to raise funds. It has also initiated international arbitration over the contested Cobre Panama contract.

Guanajuato Silver reports second-highest monthly output

Mining.Com - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 09:18

Guanajuato Silver (TSXV: GSVR) reported on Tuesday a significant production increase for the month of January that the company says places it on track for quarter-over-quarter output increases in 2024.

Guanajuato produces silver and gold, plus lead and zinc by products, from five operations in Mexico: the wholly owned El Cubo mines complex, Valenciana mines complex (VMC) and San Ignacio mine, all in Guanajuato; the Topia mine in Durango; and the El Horcon mine in Jalisco.

In January, these mine operations generated 329,934 silver-equivalent (AgEq) ounces, derived from 141,854 oz. of silver, 1,843 oz. of gold, 279,726 lb. of lead and 269,276 lb. of zinc. The AgEq output represents the second highest level of production in the company’s history, bettered only by May 2023, it said.

January also represents the first month of the recently announced third party processing agreement for the El Cubo complex, which added 40,862 AgEq ounces, or 12% of total consolidated production for the month.

Total tonnes mined across Guanajuato’s operations also increased by 32% over December to total 56,691 tonnes. The company processes mineralized material at three production facilities: El Cubo, Cata (VMC) and Topia.

El Horcon, host to a past-producing mine, currently processes material from an existing stockpile. In January, it generated 10,183 AgEq ounces, or 3% of the month’s output. To date, El Horcon has produced over 37,000 AgEq ounces since starting processing the stockpiled material late in 2023.

Guanajuato CEO James Anderson said that the two sources of mineralized material, El Horcon and those at El Cubo, represent a “significant component of total production” and have contributed to generating the company’s highest volume of silver-equivalent production since May 2023.

“January’s results are further confirmation that the adjustments and efficiency upgrades implemented at our mines during the later-half of 2023 have us on-track in terms of quarter-over-quarter increases in precious metals production,” Anderson said.

Shares of Guanajuato Silver dipped 5.2% to C$0.18 apiece by 12:15 p.m. ET, nearly a 52-week low of C$0.17 (high was C$0.65). The precious metals miner has a market capitalization of C$63.6 million ($46.9m).

How to produce green steel from aluminum’s red mud

Mining.Com - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 09:06

Scientists at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung, a centre for iron research, have shown how green steel can be manufactured from aluminium production waste in a relatively simple way.

In a paper published in the journal Nature, the researchers point out that the feasibility of their technique relies on the fact that the production of aluminium generates millions of tonnes of toxic red mud every year.

In an electric arc furnace similar to those used in the steel industry for decades, they were able to convert the iron oxide contained in red mud into iron using hydrogen plasma. With this process, almost 700 million tonnes of CO2-free steel could be produced from the four billion tonnes of red mud that have accumulated worldwide to date – which corresponds to a third of annual steel production worldwide.

Dealing with an environmental passive

According to forecasts, demand for steel and aluminium will increase by up to 60% by 2050. However, 8% of global CO2 emissions come from the steel industry, making it the sector with the highest greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the aluminium industry produces around 180 million tonnes of red mud every year, which is highly alkaline and contains traces of heavy metals such as chromium.

In Australia, Brazil and China, among others, this waste is at best dried and disposed of in gigantic landfill sites, resulting in high processing costs. When it rains heavily, the red mud is often washed out of the landfill, and when it dries, the wind can blow it into the environment as dust.

The highly alkaline red mud corrodes the concrete walls of the landfills, resulting in red mud leaks that have already triggered environmental disasters on several occasions, for example in Hungary in 2010 and in China in 2012. In addition, large quantities of red mud are also simply disposed of in nature.

“Our process could simultaneously solve the waste problem of aluminium production and improve the steel industry’s carbon footprint,” Matic Jovičevič-Klug, co-author of the study, said in a media statement.

The reason why the new process works is because red mud from aluminium production consists of up to 60% iron oxide and the transformation it goes through, known in technical jargon as plasma reduction, takes just 10 minutes, during which the liquid iron separates from the liquid oxides and can then be extracted easily. The iron is so pure that it can be processed directly into steel.

The remaining metal oxides are no longer corrosive and solidify on cooling to form a glass-like material that can be used as filling in the construction industry, for example. Other research groups have produced iron from red mud using a similar approach and employing coke, but this produces highly contaminated iron and large quantities of CO2. Using green hydrogen as a reducing agent avoids these greenhouse gas emissions.

“If green hydrogen would be used to produce iron from the four billion tonnes of red mud that have been generated in global aluminium production to date, the steel industry could save almost 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2,” head researcher Isnaldi Souza Filho said.

Green hydrogen in the mix

In addition to the prior, the research team discovered that the heavy metals in the red mud can also be virtually neutralized using the process.

“After reduction, we detected chromium in the iron,” Jovičevič-Klug said. “Other heavy and precious metals are also likely to go into the iron or a separate area. That’s something we’ll investigate in further studies. Valuable metals could then be separated and reused.”

Heavy metals that remain in the metal oxides are firmly bound within them and can no longer be washed out with water, as can happen with red mud.

The scientists note that producing iron from red mud directly using hydrogen not only benefits the environment twice over, but it pays off economically too. With hydrogen and an electricity mix for the electric arc furnace from only partially renewable sources, the process is worthwhile, if the red mud contains 50% iron oxide or more.

If the costs for the disposal of the red mud are also considered, only 35% iron oxide is sufficient to make the process economical. With green hydrogen and electricity, at today’s costs – also taking into account the cost of landfilling the red mud – a proportion of 30 to 40% iron oxide is required for the resulting iron to be competitive on the market.

“These are conservative estimates because the costs for the disposal of the red mud are probably calculated rather low,” Souza Filho said.

And there is another advantage from a practical point of view: electric arc furnaces are widely used in the metal industry – including in aluminium smelters – as they are used to melt down scrap metal. In many cases, the industry would need to invest only a little to become more sustainable.

“Now it’s up to the industry to decide whether it will utilize the plasma reduction of red mud to iron,” Dierk Raabe, director at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung, said.

SSR Mining stock sinks on Turkish gold mine disaster

Mining.Com - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 08:43

SSR Mining‘s (TSX: SSRM; NASDAQ: SSRM; ASX: SSR) share price was cut in half on Tuesday after a disaster at its Çöpler gold mine in Turkey forced it to suspend operations.

As reported by Reuters, nine workers are missing, according to Turkey’s energy ministry. Rescue efforts are under way.

A video on X showed the massive resulting landslide.

Erzincan'ın İliç ilçesindeki Anagold Altın Madeni'nde göçük meydana geldi. Siyanür ve sülfürik asit dağları çöktü. Çok sayıda işçinin göçük altında kaldığı belirtiliyor. pic.twitter.com/yo7Z1gSh4y

— Politic Türk (@politicturk) February 13, 2024

A large slip on the heap leach pad at Çöpler occurred around 6:30 a.m. EST, the company said in a news release.

Located 1,100 km southeast from Istanbul, Çöpler represents one of SSR’s cornerstone assets, boasting 3.2 million oz. of gold in proven and probable reserves with an estimated mine life of 20 years.

The mine has been operating since 2010 and is currently processing ore through two producing plants – the oxide and sulphide plants. The oxide ore is processed via heap leach while the sulphide ore is processed using pressure oxidation.

The leap leach incident is not the first time that Çöpler was forced to stop operating. In June 2022, the Turkish environment ministry ordered the mine’s suspension due to a spill of cyanide waste.

Shares of SSR Mining fell by over 55% at $4.36 by 11:40 a.m. in New York, having hit a new 52-week low of $4.27 earlier in the session. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock traded as high as $17.72 apiece. The company’s market capitalization is $909.2 million.

Hillgrove Resources starts producing copper in South Australia

Mining.Com - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 05:00

Hillgrove Resources (ASX: HGO) has kicked off production at its Kanmantoo copper mine in South Australia, after successfully commissioning the processing facility.

The company said the milestone positions it as one of the few pure-play copper producers on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), with first revenues from copper concentrate sales expected this week.

The Kanmantoo underground mine, located around 55km (34m) from Adelaide, has been a site of substantial copper and gold production in the past. From 2010 to 2020, Hillgrove Resources operated a series of open pits at the site, which yielded nearly 137,000 tonnes of copper and 55,000 ounces of gold.

The company began exploring the potential for an underground operation in 2020, which led to the development of a single decline towards the base of one of the pits in mid-2023.

“First production (…) and the transition to cash flow generation, is a watershed moment for the company,” CEO Lachlan Wallace, said in the statement. “Over the next few months, the mine output and copper production are expected to ramp up as the planned additional work areas are established underground.”

The mine is now fully connected to the South Australian power grid, which is supplied by more than 70% renewable energy generation. This considerably reduces Kanmantoo’s carbon footprint, the company said.

Hillgrove believes there is a “considerable opportunity” to grow both the resource and mine life, based on recent drilling results. Exploration targets at the project this year sit at 60 million to 100 million tonnes at 0.9% to 1.2% copper and 0.1 g/t to 0.2 g/t gold, it said.

To leverage the miner’s position as a copper producer into the future, Hillgrove is actively seeking to grow both the mine life and annual production through exploration.

Shares in the company jumped after the announcement closing 1.32% higher at A$0.077 on Tuesday. This left Hillgrove with a market capitalization of A$139.86 million ($90m).

Rio Tinto autonomous train derails in Western Australia

Mining.Com - Tue, 02/13/2024 - 03:46

Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) said on Tuesday that an unloaded autonomous train derailed on Sunday evening about 120km (75m) from Western Australia’s Dampier port, where Rio Tinto ships iron ore through Cape Lambert.

The world’s largest iron ore miner said no one was injured in the accident, which involved about 38 wagons of the self-driving train. 

It noted the derailment happened on a dual track section, which means that trains can continue to operate in the area, limiting disruption. 

“An investigation has begun, and the appropriate regulators have been notified. Work to recover derailed wagons has also commenced,” a Rio Tinto spokesperson said in an email.

A similar incident occurred with an autonomous Rio Tinto train in June last year, when as many as 30 wagons left the tracks about 12 miles from Dampier.

Rio Tinto’s peers, BHP (ASX: BHP) and Fortescue (ASX: FMG) have also reported derailments at their iron ore operations in recent months.

The most infamous Pilbara train derailment took place in 2018 when BHP was forced to deliberately push a runaway train off its track. The machine was almost 2 miles long with its four locomotives and 268 wagons fully laden and, at one point, reached average speeds of about 110km/h (68m/h) on the track between Newman and Port Hedland.

The company operates about 14,000 ore cars across its Pilbara rail network, each of which can hold an estimated 118 tonnes of iron ore.

‘Indispensible’ mining and juniors’ place in the food chain

Mining.Com - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 16:48

Due to our fascination with computers, social networks, and intellectual capital, we seem to have lost our connection with real, tangible goods, that starts with materials dug up or farmed. With skilled labor, these materials are transformed into goods, or foods, thus creating a value chain that provides income for workers involved in every step of their creation. This value chain is the only way to create new wealth.

But the consumer doesn’t see this value chain; all they see is the finished product. Rare is the cell phone user who has a full appreciation of all the metals that went into their phone, including copper, tellurium, lithium, cobalt, manganese and tungsten.

Many people view of mining as dirty, dangerous, polluting and better done someplace else. While the industry has certainly done its fair share of harms, I’m here to tell you that the world simply cannot function without it.

Minerals are essential components of cars, energy plants, solar panels, wind turbines, fertilizers, machinery and building construction.

The mining industry is the starting point of a value chain that starts with resource extraction and ends with the sale of countless end products. The mining and metals industry moves a $1 trillion economy.

Among the forces that drive mining are population growth, income growth and urbanization, all of which increase the need for minerals.

According to the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by the year 2050 and 10.9 billion by 2100.

Some think that technology will eventually find substitutes for metals. If only it were so easy. According to a Yale study that evaluated metals used in various consumer products, “not one metal has an ‘exemplary’ substitute for all its major uses,” and for some of them a substitute for each of its primary uses does not exist at all, or is inadequate.

Mining is the economic foundation for a number of countries, especially in the developing world. The International Council on Mining and Metals found at least 70 countries are extremely dependent on the mining industry, with mining accounting for up to 90% of foreign direct investment in low-middle income countries.

In these places, mining employment literally puts food on the table.

The global shift from a world run on fossil fuels, to one powered by renewable energies and electrification, means an even greater need for the minerals that go into these new technologies.

The World Bank projects the need for a 500 percent increase in graphite, cobalt, and lithium production by 2050. In 2022, one estimate claimed that approximately 700 million metric tons of copper would be needed over the next 22 years to reach sustainable economic growth targets—roughly the equivalent to what has been mined over the past 5,000 years of human history. Still other projections find that more than 300 new mines extracting critical minerals will be needed by the year 2030 to prevent a crippling supply shortage…

[T]he transition to clean energy is inextricably linked to a renaissance in mining, and more broadly, a renewed focus on the entire mineral supply chain. Indeed, virtually every technology seen as critical to the green revolution, from electric vehicles (EVs) to solar and wind power, demand far greater inputs of minerals and metals than traditional carbon-intensive methods. In the United States, the average American is already estimated to consume around three million pounds of minerals, metals, and fuels over their lifetime, a number which will in all likelihood increase as the energy transition continues to accelerate. — Center for Strategic & International Studies, ‘The Indispensable Industry: Mining’s Role in the Energy Transition and the Americas’

Critical minerals and the new economy

Included on the US Geological Survey’s list of 35 critical minerals are the building blocks of the new electrified economy, including lithium, graphite, and now copper. 

According to a recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, spending on the clean-energy transition surged 17% last year to a record $1.8 trillion. The total includes renewable energy investments, the purchase of electric vehicles, and the construction of hydrogen production systems. Add the investments in building out clean-energy supply chains, and $900 billion in financing, and the total funding in 2023 reached about $2.8 trillion.

The record spending reflects the growing urgency to fight climate change. Last year was the hottest year on record and 2024 could be even worse, fueled by now-continuous global warming and the El Nino climate phenomenon. BNEF says the world needs to invest more than twice the $1.8 billion to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.

While 2023 was a challenge for many mineral commodities, mostly due to less demand from China, and the unsubstantiated threat of a recession, 2024 could see an improvement.

Jeff Currie, who spearheaded commodities research at Goldman Sachs for almost three decades, and correctly predicted the China-driven commodities boom of the 2000s, is bullish on the sector. 

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, the veteran analyst said demand is at record levels, inventories are low and spare production capacity is largely exhausted.

“The set up for all of these markets is better than it was last year,” and if central banks proceed with interest rate cuts “you’re teeing yourself up for a fantastic 2024,” Currie said. “This is just classic ‘own commodities.’”

Another bullish signal for commodities is the recent uptick in manufacturing activity. The JP Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI hit 50 in January, stopping a 16-month streak of sub-50 ratings. Any number below 50 indicates an economic contraction.

In a column, Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors points out that US manufacturers kicked off the year with renewed optimism and an uptick in demand. The S&P Global US Manufacturing PMI climbed to 50.7 in January, its highest level since September 2022. This positive shift was attributed to easing inflation and more accommodating financial conditions, alongside an increase in production and payroll numbers.

Junior Resource Co

A junior resource company’s place in the food chain is to acquire projects, make discoveries and hopefully advance them to the point when a larger mining company takes it over. Discoveries won’t be made if juniors aren’t out in the bush looking at rocks.

Indeed juniors have one of the toughest jobs in the industry. Finding and advancing new projects is difficult and capital-intensive. The kicker is the juniors have no revenue stream to finance their exploration activities; they typically rely on outside sources for funding.

Investing early in the development cycle of the right gold junior, one that has an excellent project in a safe jurisdiction led by experienced management with the ability to raise money, can reap huge rewards — 5, 10, even 20 times your money isn’t uncommon.

At the beginning, these companies are often financed by accredited investors who buy shares in private placements. The junior then tries to advance its project, beginning with prospecting, through to drilling and completing economic assessments and feasibility studies.

Few exploration companies have the money or technical expertise to “go mining”. (A study in Australia found the riskiest activity a junior explorer can do is to actually build the mine. 28% of the New South Wales juniors in the study did this, and of those, went broke or closed down their operations. Another 25% were taken over.)

For many, the goal is to hit upon a deposit that’s good enough to attract a major who will acquire the asset. Another pathway is for the junior to partner with a larger company. An option or joint venture (JV) agreement is a way for juniors to gain access to the financial and technical resources needed to build the mine.

Back to junior mining’s place in the food chain, juniors are extremely important to major mining companies because they are the firms finding the deposits that will become the next mines. In this way, juniors help the majors to replace the ore that they are constantly depleting in their operating mines.

One source points out that senior miners have been allocating a relatively small portion of their revenues to exploration spending, with most expenditures invested in developing existing mines and measures to reduce operating costs.

If the seniors aren’t exploring, again, it falls to the juniors. But junior mining financing has pretty much dried up; global exploration budgets in 2021 were half of what they were in 2012.

Capital expenditures in mining fell from approximately $260 billion in 2012 to $130 billion in 2020 (corresponding to 15% and 8% of industry revenues, respectively), McKinsey & Company found.

One of the biggest challenges facing the mining industry is a growing skills gap created by an aging workforce and a dearth of talent waiting next in line.

Part of the problem has to do with declining enrolment in post-secondary programs related to mining, engineering, and extractive metallurgy. The other issue is mining itself, not considered an aspirational industry by younger people raised on environmental awareness and a different set of work values. 

Money industry dogged by retirements and lack of new recruits

Institutional investors such as large banks and hedge funds used to invest in small mining companies, but many have exited the sector in pursuit of less risky propositions. The retail investor has all but fled the industry, due to losses incurred from the last downturn or aging out of the space. The younger investors replacing them have no knowledge of how to make money in junior mining, they don’t “get” gold, or they invest in sectors they understand, like tech and cryptocurrencies.

Conclusion

Mining is seen by some as a necessary evil whose environmentally destructive practices should be stopped, or at least, shouldn’t take place anywhere near them. They don’t realize or care that without mining, there would be no modern society: no steel to make bridges, no copper wiring that powers homes and businesses, no uranium to fuel nuclear reactors, no jewelry, no rare earths to make smart phones, solar panels, color monitors and TVs.

The reality is that mining oil and gas production is necessary and here to stay. As technology moves forward, the need for metals and the impetus for mining grows stronger, not weaker. 

Despite being at the bottom of the mining food chain, junior resource companies perform an essential function: they find and develop the world’s future mineral deposits.

Juniors help the majors to replace the ore that they are constantly depleting in their operating mines, thereby helping to overcome the supply shortfall that is coming for several metals. 

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Perpetua Resources receives increased DOD funding for Stibnite Gold project in Idaho

Mining.Com - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 16:17

Perpetua Resources (Nasdaq: PPTA / TSX: PPTA) announced Monday that its wholly owned subsidiary, Perpetua Resources Idaho, was conditionally awarded up to $34.6 million in additional funding from the US Department of Defense under the existing Technology Investment Agreement (TIA) through Title III of the Defense Production Act (DPA), bringing total DPA funding to $59.4 million.

Full funding of the additional award is conditioned on modifying the existing TIA to expand the in-scope work for advancing permits and construction readiness. The modification is anticipated to be completed in the first quarter of 2024, the company said.

Antimony trisulfide is essential to national defense as a key component for munitions, yet no domestic mined supply currently exists. China, Russia, and Tajikistan control 90% of the global antimony supply chain.

Perpetua’s proposed Stibnite Gold project is designed to re-establish a U.S. source of the critical mineral antimony as a by-product of one of the highest-grade open pit gold resources in the United States.

Site visit: Perpetua Resources’ Stibnite gold project in Idaho named preferred alternative – US Forest Service

According to Perpetua’s January 2021 FS, the project has total proven and probable mineral reserves of 104.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) grading 1.43 grams per tonne gold. The mineral reserves include 14.2 Mt of high-antimony ore grading 0.42% antimony.

The average annual metal production during the first four years of operation is expected to be approximately 463,000 troy ounces of gold and 18.4 million pounds of antimony per year.

The additional funding will allow the company to continue advancing the construction readiness of the Stibnite Gold project and support the environmental and technical studies related to the project’s progress through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process, led by the United States Forest Service.

Under the modified TIA, Perpetua may request reimbursement for certain costs incurred through June 30, 2025 related to environmental baseline data monitoring, environmental and technical studies and other activities related to advancing Perpetua’s construction readiness and permitting process for the project. The DPA funding does not interrupt the ongoing NEPA review.

“This latest award from the Department of Defense brings us a step closer to realizing our vision for the Stibnite Gold project,” Perpetua CEO Laurel Sayer said in the statement.

“Establishing a domestic source of the critical mineral antimony is more important than ever, and we stand ready to responsibly produce critical resources here at home and help strengthen America’s national and economic security.”

McEwen Mining forecasts reduced output in 2024

Mining.Com - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 15:18

McEwen Mining (NYSE: MUX) (TSX: MUX) is expecting lower 2024 production in terms of gold-equivalent ounces (GEOs) across its operations despite a significant improvement in 2023 and meeting its yearly guidance.

The precious metals miner ended last year with consolidated production of 154,600 GEOs, consistent with its prior forecast of 150,000-170,000 GEOs. The fourth quarter contributed 49,850 GEOs on the back of record performances at the Gold Bar mine in Nevada.

Elsewhere, the Fox complex in Ontario continued its steady production, finishing above 10,000 GEOs for the recent quarter. The San José mine in Argentina also overcame operational challenges of the first quarter, producing 19,150 GEOS in Q4.

For the full year, Gold Bar produced within guidance range at 43,700 GEOs, while Fox produced 44,450 GEOs, also within guidance range. San José, meanwhile, produced slightly below guidance at 65,650 GEOs.

Looking ahead, McEwen said the Fox and San José operations, which are operated by partner Hochschild Mining, will likely see reduced output in 2024, and has set of guidance of 130,000-145,000 GEOs for the year.

At Fox, the company will be starting the development of underground ramp access to the Stock orebodies, particularly Stock West, which it says will become the primary source of feed following the completion of mining the Froome deposit in 2026. This capital investment is partially funded by the $16.1 million flow-through financing completed in December.

At Gold Bar, the first half of 2024 is expected to deliver higher production relative to the second half, due to a scheduled waste stripping phase in the Pick pit, in preparation for the 2025 mining program. The mining sequence continues to be optimized, McEwen said.

Shares of McEwen Mining closed Monday’s session 1.1% higher at $6.94, capitalizing the company at $342 million.

Scient launches Nova Scotia’s first cloud-based virtual drillcore laboratory

Mining.Com - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 14:29

Technology company Scient, which specializes in imaging technologies for natural resources exploration, announced Monday the launch of Nova Scotia’s first virtual drillcore repository.

The project facilitates remote access to hyperspectral drill core imagery in the eastern Canadian province, impacting mineral exploration in the region.

The repository, covering over 4,500 meters of hyperspectral drill core, targets diverse geological settings rich in critical minerals, base metals, and gold, the company said, adding that its technology empowers geologists and mining companies by reducing risk of exploration failure as well as environmental impact.

Scient’s virtual core laboratory, Lithoscope, offers unrestricted access to data without the need for proprietary software or high-processing workstations. The project, partially supported by the DNRR Mineral Resources Development Fund (MRDF), preserves historical drilling results and guides future exploration efforts in Nova scotia.

 “Our vision is to minimize the risks associated with exploration while improving the return on drilling investments,” Scient CEO Masoud Aali said in a press release. “This happens by providing the ore body knowledge and extracting as much insight as possible from current drill core assets.

“We’ve developed a cloud-based web application tailored for geologists to analyze hyperspectral drill core images with minimal training required,” Aali said. “We’re increasingly convinced that the format of data delivery is critical for tech adaptation, especially in our sector where the industry prefers solutions that deliver direct answers over mere tools.”

“This initiative aims to reduce the overall number of drilled holes while maximizing exploration efficiency,” adds Aali.

The Canadian mining industry has experienced rapid growth in the last five years, with 39% surge in mineral production since 2016 and a 210% surge in Atlantic Canada alone, the company said.

The mining industry in Nova Scotia is a vital component of the provincial economy, with over 20 different commercially viable mineral products. However, the province is generating only 1.2% of national mineral production. The project unlocks remote access to some of the 700,000 meters of the drill core stored in the provincial facility for core storage, it said.

Following a successful pilot program with Acadia University, Scient is extending its support to other universities and community groups, fostering collaboration and knowledge transfer. The company said it plans to expand into key Canadian mining markets, including Northern Ontario and Northern British Columbia.

Dolly Varden discovers new, high-grade gold zone at Homestake Ridge

Mining.Com - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 10:42

Dolly Varden Silver (TSXV: DV) has discovered a new, gold-rich zone to the northwest of its Homestake Silver deposit in British Columbia’s Kitsault Valley. The Kitsault Valley project is 100%-owned by Dolly Varden.

Step-out drilling returned 79.49 g/t gold and 60 g/t silver over 12.45 metres, including 1,335 g/t gold and 781 g/t silver over 0.7 metre in hole HR23-389. Hole 399 returned 43.10 g/t gold and 66 g/t silver over 1.01 metres, and 40.33 g/t gold and 418 g/t silver over 1.7 metres within a broad zone grading 2.68 g/t gold and 20 g/t silver over 57.7 metres. A third hole (410) returned 10.17 g/t gold over 6.6 metres, including 50.70 g/t gold over 0.6 metre.

“The new high-grade gold and silver mineralization encountered in step-out drilling to the northwest of Homestake Silver represents a significant breakthrough in further defining, upgrading and expanding the mineralization at Homestake Ridge,” VP exploration Rob van Egmond said in a news release. “This new zone remains open to the northwest, projecting towards the Homestake Main deposit.”

“Whether we discover new zones of high-grade gold at Homestake Ridge or expand the large, wide and high-grade silver deposits at Wolf and Torbrit, drilling continues to deliver results from the premier, undeveloped gold-silver trend in Canada,” CEO Shawn Khunkhun said in the same release.

The objective of drilling during 2023 at the Homestake Main and Homestake Silver deposits was to expanded multiple, subparallel mineralized zones and to upgrade inferred resources in the projected plunge of the wider, higher-grade zone. The drilling completed in 2023 at Homestake Main was primarily resource expansion drilling, targeting both down dip and along strike from current resources.

Dolly Varden conducted exploration drilling last year at the Red Point, North Star and Wolf targets. Besides silver and gold, copper, zinc and lead were measured.

The indicated resource at Dolly Varden totals 3.4 million tonnes grading 300 g/t silver (32.9 million oz.), and the inferred resource totals 1.3 million tonnes grading 277 g/t silver (11.4 million oz.)

Shell at it again? Oil Giant shirking responsibility by selling its assets in the Niger Delta

Oil Change International - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 10:35
C: Marten van Dijl

By Andy Rowell and James Marriott

Last month, it was widely reported that another chapter in Shell’s dirty and disastrous eighty-seven-year operations in the Niger Delta was coming to an end, with the company selling its onshore business.

It’s easy to see why Shell wants to untangle itself from its controversial past. For years, the oil giant has tried to hide from its ongoing corporate liability lawsuits. However, it looks like Shell could be up to its old tricks again: trying to avoid legal responsibilities from its devastating Nigerian operations.

Shell may hope that by offloading its oil and gas fields onto a Nigerian consortium it will make it harder to sue the corporation in American or European courts.

Ever since starting to explore for oil in the late 1930s, Shell’s operations in the country have been a vortex of constant controversy, environmental devastation, double standards, and complicity in human rights abuses — most notoriously in the murder of the Ogoni 9, including writer Ken Saro-Wiwa.

In a press statement on 16 January 2024, the company said it had “reached an agreement to sell its Nigerian onshore subsidiary, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), to Renaissance, a consortium of five companies comprising four exploration and production companies based in Nigeria and an international energy group.”

Zoë Yujnovich, Shell’s Integrated Gas and Upstream Director, was quoted as saying that the agreement with Renaissance “marks an important milestone for Shell in Nigeria, aligning with our previously announced intent to exit onshore oil production in the Niger Delta.”

So, is this the end of the road for Shell in Nigeria, as some news outlets have reported? The simple answer is no.

Here’s why: It seems like Shell wants to sell the controversial parts of its business and keep the potentially profitable ones.

Shell says that after the sale it “will retain a role in supporting the management of SPDC JV facilities that supply a major portion of the feed gas to Nigeria LNG (NLNG), to help Nigeria achieve maximum value from NLNG. Shell will also continue producing oil in the country’s lucrative offshore sector, as well as providing gas to consumers. The company holds a 25.6% interest in NLNG, producing and exporting LNG to global markets.”

However, as ever with Shell, nothing is quite what it seems. In fact, the company will continue to be involved in onshore exploration. Renaissance comprises four Nigerian companies, ND Western, Aradel Energy, First E&P, and Waltersmith, and one Geneva-based company, Petrolin, involved in exploration, production, and oil trading.

Renaissance will be responsible for dealing with spills, theft, and sabotage. SPDC and its new owners will also reportedly be responsible for the company’s ongoing contribution to the remediation of past environmental damage.

The assets on sale are estimated to be worth $2.8 billion. Initially, Shell will receive USD $1.3 billion and then a further $1.1 billion, on completion of the sale. But here comes the rub: Shell will provide a loan of up to USD $1.2 billion to the buyers to help them buy their stake in SPDC.

Furthermore, “Shell is providing additional financing of up to US$1.3bln over future years to fund SPDC’s share of the development of the SPDC JV’s gas resources to supply feed gas to NLNG, and its share of specific decommissioning and restoration costs.”

However, the new owners are not short of money. For example, Petrolin owns a minority stake in Seplat Energy, Nigeria’s largest listed energy group and the ninth most valuable company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

If someone lends you the money to buy a house, then that lender is as much of an owner of the house as you are, until you pay off the loan. So it is with Shell’s arrangement with Renaissance. Shell may well carry on investing in SPDC’s gas business and putting some money aside for “decommissioning and restoration.” Perhaps this arrangement will last for years, or decades?

So there has been a sale publicly, but privately, Shell still effectively owns part of the business. It is then investing in the business, too. However, the realities of these matters will be further and further away from public scrutiny. Worse still, it’s likely the terms of the $1.2 bn loan from Shell to Renaissance will be hidden behind a smoke screen of “commercial confidentiality.”

It is not hard to see why Shell would want you to think its days onshore in Nigeria are done. In the nineties, as civil society and community opposition to the company grew, Shell always tried to distance itself from its Nigerian subsidiary, saying it was a small problem with a local subsidiary in Africa and not one rooted back where the hierarchy operated in London or the Hague.

But the evidence painted a different picture. Nigerian experts felt that Shell responded to the community protests, not with sincerity but with a mindset driven by a public relations department intent on “damage limitation.” Much of the public relations response was driven from the head office in London, not by company staff in Lagos or Port Harcourt.

Faced with such corporate arrogance and indifference, the communities have sought justice for decades, trying to hold Shell to account. Back in 2009, Shell agreed to settle “Wiwa Versus Shell,” paying a total of $15.5 million to the plaintiffs, who had sued over the oil giant’s complicity in the murder of the Ogoni 9. Although this was a significant amount of money to the plaintiffs, for the company, the payout was small change, and it walked away without admitting liability.

Other court cases have been brought against Shell. In 2002, one widow, Esther Kiobel, sued Shell in the United States, where she had been granted asylum. Over ten years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the case, meaning U.S. courts never got to examine the facts of the case.

Before settling, Shell made repeated attempts to get the case thrown out, in part arguing that US courts did not have jurisdiction – using its complicated corporate structure as a way of trying to avoid liability.

In 2017, Esther Kiobel and three other widows, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo, and Charity Levula, brought a new legal case against Shell in the Netherlands. In a significant initial legal victory, the court did accept legal jurisdiction against the Shell parent company, based in the Netherlands.

At a hearing, witness after witness told the Dutch court Shell had bribed them to frame the Ogoni 9, including Ken Saro-Wiwa. Shell, of course, strenuously denied the allegations. Mark Dummett, Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights, was there:

he said he knew who they were because he spoke to them for over any hour. also their car had the Shell logo on the side

— Mark Dummett (@MarkDummett) October 8, 2019

"They said, they will surely give us cash and they promised us job and they said because Shell is involved they will give us contracts with Shell"

— Mark Dummett (@MarkDummett) October 8, 2019

In 2022, in a soul-destroying verdict for Esther and the other widows, the court eventually sided with Shell. Part of the reason for the court’s decision seems to be that the court ruled that the claimants could not prove “conclusively to Shell involvement.”

It is hard enough to get Big Oil in court. It is even harder when Big Oil delays proceedings for years, so memories begin to fade. Finally, it appears it is even harder to have the level of proof that the court was requiring. For it seems it was demanding a criminal level of proof in what was a civil case.

A year earlier, in May 2021, the District Court of the Hague held Shell liable for causing dangerous climate change. As a result of legal action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) together with 17,000 co-plaintiffs and six other organizations, the court ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% within ten years.

It was seen as a historic verdict with huge ramifications for Shell and other big international polluters. The judgment surely reverberated all the way back to the company’s boardroom in the Hague. But companies like Renaissance, based in Nigeria, will be immune from Dutch prosecution.

The judgment meant that its Nigerian operations, so long a headache for the company, now could affect the whole Group’s bottom line. Something had to give. After this case, Shell sped up the process of trying to offload the entirety of its onshore production assets.

Meanwhile, the legal cases kept coming. In January 2023, Shell paid 15 million euros to communities in Nigeria affected by multiple oil leaks. Once again, it had been a long fight for justice, with four farmers suing Shell in 2008. And once again, Shell walked away having settled – without actually paying liability.

Shell is also subject to lawsuits in the UK. In 2014, Shell settled a case for £55 million against 15,600 claimants from Bodo, after a massive oil spill there. In November last year, the high court in London ruled that 13,000 farmers, fishermen, and women could bring human rights claims against Shell, including over chronic oil pollution of their water sources and destruction of their way of life

Matthew Renshaw, the communities’ lawyer from law firm Leigh Day, said: “This ruling is a significant moment in the eight-year battle by the Ogale and Bille communities to get Shell to take responsibility for the oil pollution that has blighted their land.” He added, “During this time, Shell has repeatedly resorted to using technicalities to block and delay our clients’ claims.”

Since the sale was announced, Leigh Day has issued a statement saying that “While details of the proposed sale and its implications for SPDC’s future are unclear,” their “clients are concerned about how the proposed sale could affect their claims.”

Furthermore, the plaintiffs are “worried that the sale could affect SPDC’s ability or willingness to fulfill the terms of any judgment which may be made against it, including in relation to orders to clean up and remediate the polluted areas.”

The law firm is also aware of “many other Niger Delta communities suffering as a result of oil spills from Shell’s operations who will be concerned about how the sale of SPDC will affect them.”

The law firm added that “it would be unconscionable for Shell to pack up its onshore operations in Nigeria without cleaning up its mess and paying compensation …. We consider that Shell, having made billions of pounds over decades from extracting oil resources from Nigeria, should fulfill its legal responsibilities and not leave behind an environmental catastrophe as it seeks to exit the Niger Delta.”

This month’s sale seems another technicality by Shell to try and avoid legal liability. The corporation’s onshore Nigerian business is still profitable. It is worth remembering that instead of spending decades fighting those who wanted justice for the Ogoni 9 and decades fighting pollution cases, the oil giant could have admitted liability. It could have prevented so much heartache and anguish. But it chose profits over people, arrogance over reconciliation.

The timing is also coincidental, according to Shell-watchers in Nigeria. After a recent ruling by the President, Shell and its partner ENI are now set to exploit the controversial but lucrative offshore oil block, OPL 245, which has been subject to corruption allegations for over a decade. Nigerian activists have concerns that this is a predatory deal that will not benefit the country.

Other critics of Shell also reacted angrily to the news of the reported sale, with civil society in Nigeria calling on the government to stop the sale until Shell cleans up its mess.

Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Nigerian advocacy group Health of Mother Earth Foundation, said: “Shell must own up to its responsibility. This means full payment for the remediation and restoration of the polluted areas as well as reparations to the host communities. They cannot walk away from the virtually irreparable harm they have caused.”

Long-term climate activist Cindy Baxter, who has campaigned against the oil industry for decades, added: “Nearly 30 years after Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others were hung for protesting Shell’s pollution, the Ogoni people are still fighting it in the courts. Before this corporation leaves the country, it must clean up – and pay for its environmental crimes.”

So, the mirage that Shell wants you to believe, is that it is no longer connected to its controversial Nigerian subsidiary. That is false. As long as Shell’s loans to the business’s new owner Renaissance exist, a direct line of liability remains there for years. It’s hidden, but it’s there. Lawyers in London and the Hague should take note. Because there is still a long way to go for the communities in Nigeria to finally achieve the justice they deserve.

Andy Rowell and James Marriott – together with Lorne Stockman – are co-authors of The Next Gulf – London, Washington & the oil conflict in Nigeria’. See also Crude Britannia – how oil shaped a nation’ by Marriott & Macalister.

The post Shell at it again? Oil Giant shirking responsibility by selling its assets in the Niger Delta appeared first on Oil Change International.

Near-term view on commodities rosier than reality, reports say

Mining.Com - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 09:27

Macquarie Group’s analysis of January’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data suggests the global industrial cycle may be at a turning point following recent lows, potentially signalling a bullish phase for industrial commodities demand.

Macquarie data shows that new global manufacturing orders rose 1.2% month-on-month to 49.8. Contrary to expectations of a downturn due to policy tightening, US goods demand shows signs of re-acceleration, suggesting a potential soft landing or the end of an economic downturn. The PMI is a key indicator used to gauge the health of the manufacturing sector, with a PMI above 50 indicating expansion and below 50 indicating contraction.

However, Macquarie’s head of commodities strategy, Marcus Garvey, said in the group’s Feb. 7 note to clients that despite the bullish indicator, commodity prices have come under renewed pressure since Friday’s strong employment situation summary (jobs report) issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the knock-on effect of higher treasury yields and a stronger dollar – traditionally a bearish indicators for metals.

Indeed, the Bloomberg Commodity (BCOM) spot price index has been hovering just above December’s cycle lows of 465, but the Bank of America sees some upside, especially for aluminum.

“Therefore, it appears improbable that end demand will plummet anytime soon, suggesting a trend towards gradual growth in the initial demand for industrial commodities over the coming months,” Garvey said.

While the U.S. continues to lead that demand with an equal impact on rate cut expectations and the dollar, this should restrain the pace and degree of commodity price increases. “Nevertheless, commodity prices have a far more consistent relationship with global growth than with foreign exchange,” he said.

If a rise in commodity prices is triggered by an increase in global industrial activity, it could self-limit inflation on goods, thereby constraining central banks’ ability to ease measures further, Garvey argued.

However, he points out that this issue arises after the fact, indicating that it’s currently an opportune time to invest in commodities, particularly in sectors where the market fundamentals are steady or likely to strengthen rapidly. This is especially true in cases where market positions are becoming increasingly bearish, Garvey said.

Aluminum bright spot

One such bright spot is the aluminum market, with analysis by Bank of America Securities highlighting a market deficit driven by a slowdown in supply growth to around only 2.4% until 2025, compared to the 4.7% annual growth rate observed between 2011 and 2017. Meanwhile, consumption growth is expected to average 4% annually until 2030, reinforcing the market’s deficit outlook.

Russian sanctions have yet to significantly impact London Metal Exchange trading despite geopolitical tensions. However, the potential for tighter sanctions remains a concern that could reshape market dynamics.

According to the bank, the shift in European aluminum imports from Russia, with a reduction to 567,000 tonnes in 2023 from 840,000 tonnes in 2020, highlights a significant change in trade patterns, increasing the carbon footprint of imported aluminum.

China’s aluminum market has remained tight, reflecting strong internal and regional demand. China absorbed almost 1 million tonnes of Russian metal units last year, rerouted from Europe due to sanctions.

Rusal’s material now accounts for 90% of LME aluminum stocks, highlighting the exchange’s reliance on Russian aluminum amidst falling inventories.

Macquarie and Bank of America Securities stress the importance of commodities investors monitoring these developments closely. Macquarie recommends viewing dips in commodity prices, especially in markets with tight fundamentals like aluminum, as buying opportunities.

This strategy anticipates improving demand for industrial commodities in the coming months, led primarily by the US market.

Sigma Lithium receives preliminary approval for Grota do Cirilo funding

Mining.Com - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 09:21

Sigma Lithium (NASDAQ: SGML; TSXV: SGML) said on Monday it has received a letter of intention from the the Development Bank of the Brazil (BNDES) for additional funding for the Grota do Cirilo project in Brazil.

The funding, described as a potential extension of debt financing already secured, is intended to support the construction of Sigma Lithium’s second lithium concentrate production plant at the Grota do Cirilo site.

The proposed plant aims to expand the production capacity of the complex from 270,000 tonnes per year to 510,000 tonnes. The proposed facility is expected to have a cost of $100 million.

Sigma also said it received a full environmental license for the proposed second plant on January 31. The license now permits the processing of up to 3.7 million tonnes per year.

“Having BNDES as a creditor represents the support of the government of Brazil to Sigma Lithium’s industrial expansion plans at Vale do Jequitinhonha,“ CEO Ana Cabral-Gardner said in the statement.

“Despite the recent deterioration in the outlook for lithium demand for the short term, the company believes that with the appropriate capital structure enabled by this development bank financing, it has a unique opportunity to solidify its global industrial competitive leadership in producing low cost and sustainable pre-chemical lithium concentrate,” she added.

The price of lithium has tumbled to $13,200 per tonne, its lowest level since 2020, data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence shows.

Goldman Sachs recently said it estimated a surplus of 200,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent, or 17% of global demand, this year. It anticipated the situation to push producers to “substantially” reduce output to balance the market.

Sigma shares were up 3.3% to C$15.21 apiece at mid-day in Toronto on Monday, capitalizing the company at C$2.2billion ($1.6 bn).

Alaska Energy boosts contained nickel at Nikolai project to 8 billion lb.

Mining.Com - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 09:20

Alaska Energy Metals (TSXV: AEMC) said on Monday that its 100% owned Eureka deposit, part of its flagship Nikolai polymetallic project in Alaska, now contains one of the biggest known nickel resources in the US following an update to the NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate (MRE).

The new MRE includes 813 million tonnes of indicated material grading 0.22% nickel, plus 0.07% copper, 0.02% cobalt, 0.048 g/t platinum, 0.094 g/t palladium and 0.012 g/t gold, for a nickel-equivalent (NiEq) grade of 0.29%. The contained nickel metal is nearly 3.9 billion lb.

There are also 896 million tonnes of inferred material grading 0.27% NiEq (0.21% nickel, 0.05% copper, 0.02% cobalt, 0.039 g/t platinum, 0.068 g/t palladium and 0.009 g/t gold), containing 4.2 billion lb. of nickel. The inferred resource grew 180% in tonnage compared to the deposit’s initial resource published in November 2023.

The 2024 resource estimate incorporated 35 historical drill holes, the data for which Alaska Energy purchased in August 2023, and eight diamond drill holes (totaling 4,138 metres) drilled by the company in 2023. The resource area covers three zones (EZ1, EZ2, EZ3) of sulphide mineralization spanning 4.5 kilometres of the Eureka deposit.

The highlight of recent drilling was the identification of a higher-grade core zone within EZ2 that displayed continuity along much of the strike of the deposit. This core zone alone contains an indicated resource of 211 million tonnes at 0.34% NiEq and an inferred resource of 154 million tonnes at 0.33% NiEq.

“In less than a year, we have taken an exploration concept to a substantial deposit of nickel and other critical metals,” Alaska Energy Metals CEO Gregory Beischer commented in a news release. “The update increases the nickel metal content of the deposit to over 8 billion lb. (more than 3.7 million tonnes) with only a 0.01% grade decrease and a notably lower strip ratio.”

The Eureka deposit of the Nikolai project now represents a globally significant accumulation of nickel and has now become one of the larger known nickel deposits in the country, Beischer noted. The project is located 40 km northwest of the village of Paxson, on the southern flank of the Alaska Range.

“Nikolai could potentially become an important source of nickel for the US, catering to the needs of various manufacturing sectors including stainless steel, electric vehicles, defense components, long-term, grid-scale renewable energy storage batteries and a myriad of other uses,” he said.

Regarding the high-grade core zone at EZ2, Beischer said the company will continue to evaluate this area as it could positively affect project economics.

The Nikolai project is a possible host to disseminated nickel-copper-cobalt-PGE mineralization analogous to the Crawford deposit in Canada and the Norilsk mine in Russia, the company said.

Shares in Alaska Energy Metals jumped over 5% to C$0.29 apiece by 12:20 p.m. in Toronto, for a market capitalization of C$20 million. The stock traded between C$0.03 and C$0.50 over the past 52 weeks.

Northern Nevada ‘far from being mature district’ – Bristow

Mining.Com - Mon, 02/12/2024 - 08:25

Northern Nevada remains highly prospective for new gold discoveries and is “far from being a mature gold district”, Barrick Gold CEO Mark Bristow said in a news release on Monday.

Barrick-operated Nevada Gold Mines (NGM) in the region is a joint venture between the company (61.5%) and rival Newmont (38.5%).

According to Bristow, its Fourmile mine is expected to more than triple its current mineral resource of 0.48 million ounces at 10.04 g/t indicated in addition to 2.7 million ounces at 10.1g/t inferred.

Bristow said operational highlights of the past year included a record production by the post-merger Cortez and the continuing turnaround at Turquoise Ridge.

“The most significant development, however, was the completion of the Goldrush permitting process at the end of 2023. This enabled Cortez to accelerate the development of a key project which will already make a significant production contribution this year,” he added.

The underground mine is expected to start ramping up production in 2024 after the commissioning of the initial project infrastructure and is forecast to produce 130,000 ounces in 2024 and grow to approximately 400,000 ounces per annum by 2028.

Barrick and NGM have invested more than $370 million in the project.

“The complex now boasts a production growth profile that goes well beyond 10 years as the geologists step up the replacement of the ounces depleted by mining,” Bristow said.

NGM completed the commissioning of the first 100 megawatt phase of its solar power project in the last quarter of 2023, with the second 100 megawatt scheduled to come on stream in the second half of this year.

Gold production decline in 2023

Last year, Barrick’s gold output hit its lowest level since 2000 following a series of setbacks across its operations.

Maintenance and repair work at its Nevada mines, an expansion at Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic and a prolonged shutdown at a major asset in Papua New Guinea all contributed to a 23-year low in total bullion ounces for the world’s second-largest gold miner.

Investors will be seeking insight into this year’s production outlook when the Canadian metals producer reports fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

(With files from Bloomberg)

Read More: Barrick to spend $136 million on failed Pascua-Lama project

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