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Generation’s first-phase Marathon palladium drill program off to strong start

3 hours 48 min ago

The first phase of drilling this year at Generation Mining’s (TSX: GENM) Marathon palladium-copper project in northwestern Ontario has expanded mineralization by 150 metres from the closest previous hole, revealing higher copper grades.

The company is pursuing a multiphase program at the 260-sq.-km Marathon property, with contractor Boart Longyear drilling 8,000 metres on priority targets at the Biiwobik prospect to better define the extent of the Powerline and Chonolith domains. The work will help determine the potential to expand the deposit or develop a fourth pit, or even to extend the mine life beyond the March 2023 updated feasibility study’s 12.5 years.

Generation Mining’s CEO Jamie Levy welcomed the results as “a great start.” “These significant intercepts mark a substantial step-out of 150 metres from previous drilling and indicates that the overall copper grade appears to increase in this direction,” he said in a Tuesday release.

Marathon, one of the few undeveloped palladium projects in North America, could help meet rising demand for copper and palladium, both essential in the manufacturing of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Among the highlight drill results was hole MB-24-058, which cut 8 metres grading 0.85% copper, 2.48 grams palladium per tonne, 0.57 grams platinum, 0.22 grams gold for a copper-equivalent grade of 3.06%. The intersection is within a broader 30-metre interval grading 0.41% copper, 1.02 grams palladium, 0.24 grams platinum and 0.1 gram gold for 1.33% copper equivalent.

Hole MB-24-059 cut 5 metres at 0.56% copper, 1.12 grams palladium, 0.21 grams platinum, and 0.15 gram gold for 1.59% copper equivalent. It was also encountered within a 22-metre interval grading 0.19% copper, 0.9 gram palladium, 0.24 gram platinum, and 0.1 gram gold for 0.98% copper equivalent.

Other results from the 2024 Biiwobik drilling program include hole MB-24-054, which showcased diverse mineralization styles. This hole returned 34 metres of oxide cumulates with up to 0.13% copper, 1.37 grams palladium, 0.23 gram platinum, and 0.1 gram gold, along with an 11-metre interval of massive sulphides with higher values of 0.39% copper and 0.5 gram palladium.

The drilling supports the company’s theory that massive sulphides accumulated in feeder conduits, and help refine its process for selecting high-grade targets. The recent exploration extended the mineralization 450 metres north of the resource-stage Marathon deposit, confirming that it remains open to the north and at depth.

Future programs will focus on expanding this zone and potentially adding to the inferred resource.

The updated feasibility study forecasts production over a 13-year life of 2.1 million oz. palladium, 517 million lb. copper, and smaller amounts of platinum, gold, and silver, totalling 3.6 million oz. of palladium-equivalent.

The project’s post-tax net present value (6% discount) is estimated at C$1.2 billion with a 25.8% internal rate of return and a payback period of 2.3 years, assuming palladium at $1,800 per oz. and copper at $3.70 per lb. Initial capital costs are projected at $1.1 billion, with 58% of revenue from palladium and 29% from copper.

Located 300 km east of Thunder Bay and just north of Lake Superior, the Marathon project involves building, operating, decommissioning and remediation of three open pits to produce copper concentrates. In March last year, it finalized an offtake agreement with Glencore (LSE: GLEN), which will buy 50% of the concentrates produced at Marathon.

The project hosts open pit proven and probable reserves of 127.6 million tonnes containing 2.3 million oz. palladium at 0.65 gram per tonne and 530 million lb. copper at 0.21%. It also hosts 285,000 oz. gold at 0.07 gram, 806,000 oz. platinum at 0.2 gram and 6.8 million oz. silver at 1.6 grams.

At C26¢ per share, the company’s Toronto-quoted equity is down about 56% over the past 12 months, having touched C58¢ and C17¢. It has a market capitalization of C$61.4 million ($44.8m).

EnergyX names new president

6 hours 32 min ago

Energy Exploration Technologies (EnergyX) announced Wednesday it has appointed Allen Satterwhite as its new president. 

Satterwhite joins the company from Chevron, where he spent close to 30 years of his career. He was most recently president at Chevron Pipeline & Power within the global leadership forum of Chevron, one of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the world. 

Prior to that, Satterwhite served as SVP of Asset Development for Chevron’s entire IndoAsia Business Unit, VP of Heavy Oil for IndoAsia Business Unit, VP of Finance & Planning for Chevron’s Natural Gas business, among many others.

He received his B.S. and Masters in Petroleum Engineering at LSU, and his MBA from Tulane.

“In his capacity as President, Allen will be tasked with overseeing the commercial facets of our business, with direct lines to operations, engineering, finance, and technology,” EnergyX CEO Teague Egan said in the statement.

“Allen’s addition to the team is another step (a major one) towards ensuring the seamless execution of our strategies, as well as propelling EnergyX growth initiatives, including both demo plant deployment and preparation for commercialization.” 

American Battery updates assessment of Tonopah Flats lithium project, Nevada

8 hours 40 min ago

American Battery Technology (NASDAQ: ABAT) has updated the initial assessment for its Tonopah Flats lithium project near the town of Tonopah, Nev., midway between Las Vegas and Reno. The company has been exploring the property since 2021.

The initial assessment was done in December 2023, and the current study is an update. However, American Battery does not say the studies conform to National Instrument 43-101 definitions.

Rather the figures comply with the U.S. S-K 1300, which the company says is “similar to a preliminary economic assessment”.

Site visit: Unearthing the lithium ‘gold rush’ in Nevada

The Tonopah Flats claystone is one of the largest lithium resources in the United States. The measured and indicated resource is 3.16 million tonnes averaging 596 ppm lithium and containing 11.4 million tonnes of lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM). The inferred resource is 2.93 billion tonnes averaging 550 ppm lithium, containing 21.2 million tonnes LHM.

American Battery believes that over the 50-year mining period, about 540,000 tonnes of claystone will be treated annually.

The company plans to use its own dilute acid leaching lithium extraction process that has demonstrated recoveries lithium over 90%. It has also validated in-house lithium hydroxide manufacturing techniques. Annual LHM production will be 30,000 tonnes of LHM.

Integrated Power to acquire ABB industrial services business

8 hours 48 min ago

Integrated Power Services (IPS) is acquiring the assets of ABB’s industrial services business. The acquisition brings to IPS five well-equipped electric motor, generator, mechanical, switchgear, and circuit breaker service centers in Edmonton, Alberta, Burlington, Ontario, Arizona, Indiana, and North Carolina.

The ABB business offers high-quality repair and field service capabilities for electric motors up to 50,000 hp  (37,285 kW) and low and medium-voltage switchgear equipment from 480 V to 15 kV. Additionally, the service centers perform rotating equipment repair services for pumps, compressors, blowers, bearings, gearboxes, and OHV mining drivetrains.

This agreement follows IPS’ acquisition of ABB’s hydro-generator and transformer repair business in June 2022.

Power Nickel earns 80% of Nisk project in Quebec, adds polymetallic zone

9 hours 39 sec ago

Power Nickel (TSXV: PNPN; US-OTC: PNPNF) increased its ownership of the Nisk project in Canada’s Quebec province to 80% from Critical Elements Lithium (CRE: TSXV) and reported new drill results from a polymetallic zone.

The filing of a resource estimate in November qualified Power Nickel for 30% more in the project to conclude the earn-in agreement, the company said on Wednesday. New assays from the Lion zone have buoyed the project with strong copper, platinum and palladium mineralization, CEO Terry Lynch said in a release.

Shares in Power Nickel have soared nearly 60% since it reported the first Lion drill results on April 15. They were up 4% on Wednesday to C41¢ apiece, valuing the company at C$65.6 million ($47.8m).

“We have a real sentiment of having found a large prolific area hosting different styles of multi-elements mineralization, each being a smaller part of a much larger system,” Lynch said. “We look forward to ramping up our efforts throughout ’24 and ’25 as we seek to bring these targets to a production decision.”

Drill hole PN-24-047 cut 14.4 metres grading of 0.59 gram gold per tonne, 69.14 grams silver, 8.17% copper, 6.25 grams palladium, 8.44 grams platinum and 0.58% nickel, the company said.

The hole included 4.7 metres at 0.85 gram gold, 91 grams silver, 11.66% copper, 8.42 grams palladium, 6.69 grams platinum, and 0.46% nickel; and 3 metres at 0.95 gram gold, 167.46 grams silver, 17.33% copper, 13.04 grams palladium, 29.24 grams platinum and 1.77% nickel.

Map courtesy of Power Nickel. Carbon neutral

Power Nickel entered the project in 2021. It plans to develop Nisk, in Quebec’s James Bay region, as Canada’s first carbon neutral nickel mine by using carbon capture and hydroelectric power. Provincial and federal tax breaks cover half of exploration costs as the company works towards a feasibility study in this year’s third quarter.

Lynch is in negotiations to sell a 10% stake of the company for a 10% offtake from Nisk. A deal is planned by the end of June. Major shareholders include the Lynch family with 20%, Critical Elements at 10%, and the Stern family at 10%.

Inco, now a part of Vale (NYSE: VALE), discovered nickel on the site in 1962. Golden Goose Resources produced a historical resource for Nisk in 2008 of 2 million measured and indicated tonnes and 783,000 inferred tonnes. Critical Elements Lithium bought the site in 2014, but little work was done.

Nisk holds 4.9 million indicated tonnes underground grading 0.78% nickel, 0.05% cobalt, 0.42% copper, 0.78 gram palladium per tonne for 38,300 tonnes nickel, 2,400 tonnes cobalt, 20,500 tonnes copper and 123,100 tonnes palladium, according to Power Nickel’s filing.

Open pit resources total 519,000 indicated tonnes at 0.63% nickel, 0.04% cobalt, 0.3% copper and 0.56 gram palladium for 3,300 tonnes nickel, 200 tonnes cobalt, 1,600 tonnes copper and 9,400 tonnes palladium, the filing shows.

‘Spectacular hole’

Also reported on Wednesday, Lion drill hole PN-24-051 returned 11.4 metres grading 0.24 gram gold, 13.95 grams silver, 2.51% copper, 3.2 grams palladium, 19.59 grams platinum and 0.18% nickel. It included 2.6 metres at 0.4 gram gold, 41.18 grams silver, 8.09% copper, 8.37 grams palladium, 84.75 grams platinum and 0.54% nickel; and 4.9 metres at 0.23 gram gold, 7.53 grams silver, 1.32% copper, 2.47 grams palladium, 0.53 gram platinum and 0.12% nickel.

“Many of these results were checked twice as they were well over normal detection limits,” Lynch said. “Hole 51 doesn’t look that thick but as the assays showed, it was a spectacular hole.”

The company has partnered with Australia-based Fleet Space Technologies to use ambient noise tomography to explore for nickel. The technology uses satellites and hand-held devices to capture background vibrations and develop 3-D images of the subsurface down to 2 km in depth.

Fleet claims the process is 10 times more sensitive than nodal geophones, instruments that measure underground vibrations.

Gold Royalty, Taurus Mining Royalty enter three-year co-investment partnership

11 hours 16 min ago

Gold Royalty (NYSE American: GROY) is teaming up with Taurus Mining Royalty Fund, financier for mid-tier and junior mining companies, to expand its reach in finding and executing potential deals.

On Wednesday, the firms entered into a three-year agreement that provides each with the ability to co-invest in certain precious metals royalties and streams sourced by the other.

The agreement provides a framework for cooperation and communication amongst the parties in the identification and evaluation of potential co-investment opportunities, a statement from Gold Royalty said.

Each party will have the right to invest between 25% and 50% in select asset transactions with a value of $30 million or more, the royalty firm said, adding that future dispositions of interests acquired by either party through this arrangement will be subject to rights of first offer.

John Griffith, chief development officer of Gold Royalty, said this agreement would offer the company an enhanced access to new and complementary geographic regions.

Gold Royalty currently holds a diversified portfolio consisting primarily of net smelter return royalties on properties located in the Americas.

These include Canadian Malartic, one of Canada’s largest operating gold mines, and the REN project, which is an underground extension to the largest US gold mine, the Goldstrike in Nevada.

Vale, BHP, and Samarco seek new deal on Mariana disaster

11 hours 21 min ago

Samarco and its shareholders, Vale (NYSE: VALE) and BHP (ASX: BHP) , have presented a new reparation proposal to the Brazilian government and the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo for the breach of the Fundão dam in Mariana in 2015.

The Brazilian Attorney General’s Office confirmed the information to CBN Radio. However, the values ​​were not disclosed due to a confidentiality clause.

The collapse of the dam in Mariana left 19 dead when approximately 40 million cubic meters of mining waste destroyed communities and contaminated the Doce River.  It was the biggest environmental disaster ever in Brazil.

Negotiations for reparation resumed this week after the Brazilian government and the states rejected the value of R$40 billion ($7.75 billion) offered by the companies in December. The government and the states are demanding approximately R$120 billion ($23.3 billion).

To this day, none of the 12 lawsuits regarding the disaster have been ruled on.

According to the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF), the reparation actions carried out in recent years by the Renova Foundation, an entity created for this purpose, have been insufficient. The foundation has already invested R$28.1 billion ($5.45 billion) in reparation and compensation initiatives, according to Vale.

Vale and BHP have not commented on the new agreement. Samarco informed CBN Radio that it remains open to dialogue, seeking solutions based on technical criteria that meet the demands of society. The company added that it remains committed to fully repairing the damages caused.

Equinox buys out Orion for nearly $1bn as it readies Greenstone for first gold

11 hours 44 min ago

Equinox Gold (TSX: EQX; NYSE-AM: EQX) is buying partner Orion Mine Finance’s 40% stake in their new Greenstone gold mine in Ontario for $995 million in cash and shares as it prepares to pour first gold.

The purchase includes $745 million in cash and 42 million shares valued at $250 million. It was announced late on Tuesday after Australia’s Gold Road Resources (ASX: GOR) said it was no longer considering buying a stake in Greenstone from Orion. Equinox said it would fund the purchase through a new $500 million loan and a $260 million bought-deal equity financing.

“When we acquired our 60% interest in Greenstone in 2021, our goal was to ultimately own the whole mine,” Equinox chairman Ross Beaty said in a release. “Consolidating 100% of Greenstone into Equinox Gold delivers our shareholders full exposure to a mine of outstanding scale and quality.”

Shares in Equinox fell 11% on Wednesday to C$7.23 apiece, valuing the company at C$2.4 billion. They’ve traded in a 52-week range of C$5.36 to C$8.79.

The deal increases Equinox’s annual gold production by about 160,000 oz. while boosting earnings and cash flow, the company said. Greenstone will be its largest mine among eight total, producing about 400,000 oz. of gold per year over the first five years. It’s expected to be one of the world’s lowest-cost open-pit gold mines with all-in sustaining costs of $890 per oz., Equinox said.

Seven others

The company’s other mines are Aurizona, Fazenda, Santa Luz and RDM in Brazil, Castle Mountain and Mesquite in California and Los Filos in Mexico. Equinox expected total output this year of between 660,000 to 750,000 oz. of gold with all-in sustaining costs of $1,630 to $1,740 per oz., it said in February.

The company reported on April 9 it had started ore processing and was on track to produce first gold at the C$1.2 billion Greenstone project in northern Ontario next month.

Equinox bought Premier Gold for the project, located 275 km northeast of Thunder Bay near the town of Geraldton, and developed it as a 60:40 partnership with New York-based Orion. It aims to produce 400,000 oz. of gold per year and more than 5 million oz. over a 14-year mine life.

“Once operating at full capacity, Greenstone will be our largest and lowest cost-mine,” president and CEO Greg Smith said in a release on April 9. “We look forward to first gold in May and continuing to advance the project to commercial production.”

Equinox produced 564,458 oz. of gold last year with all-in sustaining costs of $1,612 per oz. for $304.4 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Standard Lithium commissions North America’s largest commercial-scale DLE equipment

13 hours 32 min ago

Standard Lithium (TSXV: SLI) announced on Wednesday it has successfully commissioned and validated the performance of the largest continuously operating direct lithium Extraction (DLE) equipment in North America.

The lithium developer recently installed a commercial-scale DLE column at its demonstration plant near El Dorado, Arkansas. The column is a Li-Pro lithium selective sorption (LSS) unit, supplied by partner and shareholder Koch Technology.

The column, now integrated into Standard Lithium’s existing DLE demonstration plant, is currently extracting lithium from the Smackover Formation brine at an input flow rate of 90 gallons per minute (gpm), the company said.

The Smackover Formation region in southern Arkansas has a longstanding and established brine processing industry, and is home to the company’s two signature lithium projects: Phase 1A and South West Arkansas.

During a representative two-week period in April 2024, the Li-Pro DLE process at Standard’s demo plant achieved an average lithium recovery (i.e. after loading and elution) of 97.3% from the 90 gpm incoming brine flow, for 208 mg/L of contained lithium on average.

Over the same period, the DLE process rejected, on average, over 99% of the key contaminants (sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium) from the brine (i.e. less than 1% of those contaminants made it through the DLE step into the first lithium chloride solution); and over 95% of boron was rejected.

This, to the company’s knowledge, makes it the largest DLE installation on the continent, and the only example of commercial-scale DLE column currently in operation.

The most recent full-size commercial scale Li-Pro LSS column has only completed over 86 operational cycles. By comparison, the Li-Pro LSS technology has completed over 8,500 operational cycles at Standard’s demo plant.

As of the end of March 2024, the facility had processed over 17 million gallons (64.5 million litres) of Smackover brine, produced directly from the formation and reinjected continuously back into the same formation.

Standard Lithium’s COO Dr. Andy Robinson noted the column currently operating at the demo plant is identical to those that will be used in the commercial application, both in terms of the size, design and construction of the column, as well as the sorbent media being used inside.

Since May 2020, Standard’s demo plant has produced many millions of gallons of ‘raw’ lithium chloride eluate from several generations of DLE technology development. Almost all of that solution has been returned to the formation through LANXESS’ existing tail brine reinjection infrastructure.

Additionally, over the last four years, approximately 330,000 gallons (1.25 million litres) of concentrated and/or purified lithium chloride solution have been produced for further process testing or for conversion into battery-quality lithium carbonate or hydroxide.

According to the company, the performance of this commercial-scale DLE column is being used to validate the design assumptions for the Phase 1A project, and it also underpins the process design work underway for the South West Arkansas project.

Validation of performance and successful operation of this column, said Robinson, represents “a significant de-risking step on our way to becoming the next major sustainable lithium producer in North America.”

Shares of Standard Lithium gained 2.0% at C$1.51 by 9:45 a.m. EDT following the announcement. The stock traded between C$1.45 and C$6.38 over the past 52 weeks. Its market capitalization was at C$268 million ($195.5m).

E-haul trucks could result in major savings for miners but adoption is slow – report

14 hours 27 min ago

A new report by IDTechEx states that investing in e-haul trucks could result in major savings for miners due to the replacement of diesel with cheaper electricity, as these vehicles have the most intensive duty cycles of any vehicle in a mine. 

“A single 150-tonne haul truck can save over $5.5 million in energy costs alone,” the report reads. “This is widely applicable across all vehicle weights, with heavier trucks providing even greater upside, highlighting the potential savings that can be generated when an entire fleet of haul trucks is electrified.”

Yet, the document points out that miners worry about the size and cost of haul truck batteries, as well as about the fact that they will need multiple replacements within a 10-year window.

“The large batteries needed for electric haul trucks have perhaps been the largest technological and financial bottlenecks inhibiting their adoption, but they are now sufficiently developed and competitively priced for wider use. These batteries regularly exceed 1 MWh, with the largest ones approaching 2 MWh,” the report reads.

“IDTechEx has collated a database of all existing EV haul truck models, showing that current vehicle runtimes remain under six hours on a single charge. For a 150-tonne haul truck to operate for this duration, it will require a battery pack of over 1700 kWh and cost over $500,0000.”

(Graph by IDTechEx).

In the market analyst’s view, energy savings will comfortably exceed the added cost of a single battery. However, the firm’s experts forecast electric haul trucks will need an additional five battery replacements per vehicle on average, costing an extra $2.6 million.

“More cost factors also play into the total cost of ownership of electric haul trucks. On average, a 150-tonne truck will be able to save around $340,000  in maintenance costs in its lifetime. However, an electric driveline is needed for $70,000, plus the labour of retrofitting which IDTechEx estimates at $360,000.

While these are relevant and substantial costs, they pale in comparison to the amounts spent on diesel or batteries and are not the key determinants in haul truck economics,” the dossier notes.

The market researcher’s figures show that despite multiple battery replacements, total ownership costs are strongly in favour of electrification as mining companies will be able to save nearly $2.5 million per electrified haul truck, and trucks will break even on their added CAPEX in under three years. 

The report also points out that given that the volumes of electric haul trucks are still so small, there is room for the cost of batteries to fall below the estimated $300/kWh.

(Graph by IDTechEx). Not there yet

Despite electric haul trucks being cheaper to operate, more productive and environmentally friendlier than existing diesel trucks, IDTechEx’s file notes that haul truck electrification is still in its nascent stages.

“Only one or two electric haul trucks have been made per year, and only in 2023 did the total number of these vehicles tip into the double digits. The majority of these have been prototypes and testing models developed by the mining companies themselves and independent retrofitters instead of OEMs,” the report reads. “They repurpose existing diesel machines to install batteries or fuel cells for zero-emission operation. First Mode and WAE have been the two most active players in this area and are expanding their retrofitting capacities in the near term.”

According to the market researcher, more recently, major mining OEMs such as Caterpillar and Komatsu are seeking to develop and commercialize e-haul trucks, with Caterpillar building the 793 Electric prototype, currently in testing and with aims for commercialization by 2027, and Komatsu developing its 830E electric, aiming for production pre-2030.

“If electric haul trucks are so financially attractive, why are they not yet widespread? First and most importantly, batteries require size and endurance that are in line with the demands of haul truck duty cycles while still maintaining relative affordability.

This aspect has only recently been achievable from battery suppliers such as CATL, ABB, and Northvolt, and the industry is now expanding in response,” the dossier states. “Development of haul truck batteries is in its infancy – a wide range of designs and chemistries are currently being employed to meet performance demands, and there is yet to be an industry-wide consensus.”

For IDTechEx’s analysts, productivity is another sticking point in the adoption of electric haul trucks as currently, an electric truck can’t match the uptime of diesel. 

“Where a diesel truck only needs 10 minutes a day to refuel, EVs need to be charged multiple times a day for two to three hours in total. Mining companies will not be willing to adopt a technology if it means sacrificing the productivity and output of their operations,” the report concludes.

Atlantic Lithium touts progress at Ghana’s project

14 hours 52 min ago

Atlantic Lithium (ASX: A11) said on Wednesday it has focused all efforts and resources this year moving forward with its flagship Ewoyaa project, which will be Ghana’s first lithium operation.

The Africa-focused lithium explorer and developer, which secured in October a 15-year permit for the project, said the goal is to break ground later this year.

“Key to achieving this milestone is the success of the ongoing permitting process, which is advancing as anticipated,” executive chairman Neil Herbert said in the quarterly update.

He noted the current license has yet to be approved by Ghana’s parliament. The company also needs to obtain final permits.

Atlantic Lithium highlighted its achievements in the past three months, including receiving strong local community support, completing crucial studies, and engaging with engineering firms for a construction and engineering contract. 

One of the most important in the period was securing a $5 million investment from Ghana’s state-owned investment fund, the Australian miner said.

Half of the lithium produced at Ewoyaa will be sent to a refinery of US-based Piedmont Lithium (NASDAQ, ASX: PLL), which is the Australian firm’s second-largest shareholder and has agreed to provide most of the funds for building the mine. 

Atlantic Lithium aims to produce a total of 3.6 million tonnes of spodumene concentrate, or 350,000 tonnes annually, over 12 years from the site. That would make it the world’s 10th-biggest lithium project, according to the company.

Hochschild keeps production targets, dividend resumption uncertain

17 hours 11 min ago

Hochschild Mining (LON: HOC) said on Wednesday it is on track to achieve its production targets for 2024 after an increase in gold output boosted its overall first-quarter production.

The UK-based precious metals producer said gold production increased to 45,937 ounces in the first three months of the year from 39,730 ounces in the same period in 2023, with a small initial contribution from the Mara Rosa gold mine in Brazil. First gold at the operation was poured in February and the mine is anticipated to begin commercial production in the next few weeks, according to Hochschild.

Overall production, measured in gold-equivalent ounces, grew by 8.1%.

Hochschild saw silver output decline to 1.98 million ounces in the first three months of the year from 2.06 million in the same period of 2023. 

The South America-focused miner attributed the slight fall to the absence of contribution from the Pallancata mine in Peru, which was placed on care and maintenance late last year. Offsetting this, production from both its flagship Inmaculada mine in Peru and from San Jose in Argentina were slightly better-than-expected.

Hochschild pours first gold at Mara Rosa mine in Brazil

“We have delivered a good start to 2024,” said chief executive Eduardo Landin. “Hochschild’s balance sheet remains strong and, with rising precious metal prices and full production in Brazil, we expect to generate robust free cashflow during the remainder of the year.” 

The company’s debt rose last year due to the construction costs of Mara Rosa. Dividend payments, suspended in 2022, remain high on the company’s agenda, but not likely to resume before the fall, it said.

Landin said in March it would be ‘inappropriate’ to restore the final dividend given the company’s debt level, which reached $282 million by the end of March, up from $258 million at the end of 2023. 

The executive added Hochschild would “reassess the potential for capital return” at the interim results in August, as Mara Rosa would have hit commercial production by then. 

Hochschild kept its full-year production targets unchanged at 343,000 to 360,000 gold-equivalent ounces and an all-in sustaining cost of between $1,510 and $1,550 per gold-equivalent ounce.

Rio Tinto donates $875,000 to Missouri University to research critical minerals recovery from waste

Tue, 04/23/2024 - 14:00

A Missouri University of Science and Technology professor has been awarded $875,000 from Rio Tinto for a two-year project researching new techniques to recover critical minerals in the waste byproducts that come from extracting and refining copper. 

Dr. Lana Alagha, a Robert H. Quenon Associate Professor of Mining Engineering and one of her former Ph.D. students, Dr. Mostafa Khodakarami, were recently awarded patents for  chemicals which Alagha says will work well due to their ability to effectively separate specific components from the materials. 
 
“Our project will test new chemical dissolution strategies and purification techniques to produce pure gallium and germanium compounds from these waste materials,” Alagha said in a news release. “The new chemicals, or functionalized ionic liquids, we will use were designed specifically for this type of purpose.” 
 
Gallium and germanium are important elements due to their multiple uses with semiconductors, microchips, optics, health care and pharmaceuticals, and other high-tech applications. 
The federal government considers both elements to be critical minerals.

 “There is currently little-to-no production of these two elements in the United States, and we rely to an alarming extent on importing them,” Alagha says. “If successfully implemented, our research could lead to a much stronger domestic supply of these important resources.” 
 
She says recovering gallium and germanium from the wastes created when processing copper is an unconventional approach, but this type of out-of-the-box thinking is necessary for the U.S. to have a more resilient supply of critical minerals. 
 
Both gallium and germanium are more often recovered as a byproduct of other metal refining process, such as with aluminum, zinc and lead, but Alagha says it should be possible to recover both of the elements with the chemical compounds she will develop to dissolve the waste products and with the new purification techniques she will test after that. 

Co-principal investigators from Missouri S&T for this project are Dr. Michael Moats, chair and professor of materials science and engineering, and Dr. Marek Locmelis, associate professor of geosciences and geological and petroleum engineering at S&T and faculty fellow in research and innovation. 

 “Rio Tinto is constantly looking for better ways to extract critical minerals from our byproduct streams,” Dr. Saskia Duyvesteyn, Rio Tinto’s chief advisor of research and development said in the release.

“After starting production of tellurium in 2022, we are excited to explore new techniques to produce gallium and germanium compounds in partnership with Dr. Alagha and Missouri S&T. Demand for these critical minerals used in high-tech applications is only going to grow, and we are proud to support efforts to increase domestic production.” 
 

 

Flooding in Russia raises concerns of radioactive contamination in Tobol river

Tue, 04/23/2024 - 10:30

Russia’s worst floods in decades sparked fears that radioactive and chemical pollution from Soviet-era uranium mines in the Kurgan region could seep into the Tobol River in western Siberia.

As reported by the investigative news outlet Agentstvo, the Dobrovolnoye uranium deposit is located within the flood zone in Kurgan’s Zverinogolovsky district. Its mines are operated by an enterprise owned by state nuclear energy agency Rosatom.

The hundreds or even thousands of mine wells drilled into the deposit have compromised the natural protective barrier surrounding the uranium ore, Alexei Shvarts, the former head of Alexei Navalny’s Kurgan regional office who previously worked with uranium mining issues, told Agentstvo.

As a result, the latest flooding has likely sent radioactive substances into the river, environmentalists said.

Videos published by local residents show the extent of the damages caused by the flooding.

В Курганской области затопило старые урановые скважины. Экологи опасаются, что радиоактивный раствор попал в Тобол

В зону затопления попали старые скважины месторождения «Добровольное», на котором добывает уран одно из дочерних предприятий «Росатома».

Месторождение… pic.twitter.com/ze66GeKT9d

— Новости «Агентства» (@agents_media) April 21, 2024

Rosatom has previously dismissed protests against uranium mining at Dobrovolskoye as “radiophobia combined with ignorance,” claiming that the deposit is fully isolated from the Tobol River by natural barriers.

MINING.COM requested comment from Rosatom about the recent floods, but the company did not respond by press time.

Probe Gold cuts 23.1 g/t over 3.1m at Novador project in Quebec

Tue, 04/23/2024 - 10:00

Probe Gold (TSX: PRB) says it continued to intersect high gold grades during drilling at the Monique deposit, part of the Novador project near Val d’Or, Quebec. Intersections occurred from under and inside the modelled Monique gold zone from surface to a depth of 450 metres.

Infill drilling confirmed gold zones inside and under the potential pit outline with up to 23.1 g/t gold over 3.1 metres, 8.3 g/t over 4 metres, and 1.5 g/t over 20 metres.

Expansion drilling within and around the Monique conceptual pit cut up to 3.4 g/t gold over 16 metres, 4.2 g/t over 14.7 metres, and 1.8 metres over 34 metres.

“Our 2023 Monique expansion program continues to demonstrate impressive results, and improvement, with the majority of the intersections at or above the current resource grade,” Probe CEO David Palmer said in a news release. “We will now focus on two things, the updated resource, expected later in the year, and the commencement of the 2024 exploration drilling programs.”

“The most recent PEA has solidified Novador as a robust development project and with our newly acquired exploration projects, Beaufour, McKenzie Break, and Croinor, all within trucking distance of the conceptual mill, we plan to initiate exploration programs to continue adding value while simultaneously de-risking the project by expediting the permitting timeline,” Palmer said.

The February 2024 preliminary economic assessment (PEA) done for Novador gives the project an after-tax net present value at a 5% discount of C$910 million and an after tax internal rate of return of 24.4% for a project that would produce an average of 255,000 oz. of gold annually over a 12.6-year life. The initial C$602 million capital requirement would be paid back over 4.4 years (after taxes). The base case used a gold price of $1,750/oz.

Probe has completed 28,000 metres of winter drilling at Novador, and a further 10,000-metre program will begin in May. The company is also advancing its Detour gold project, including regional exploration along its boundary with Agnico Eagle’s (TSX: AEM; NYSE: ARM) Detour Lake gold mine.

TMC, SGS produce world’s first nickel sulphate from seafloor polymetallic nodules

Tue, 04/23/2024 - 09:58

TMC the metals company Inc. (Nasdaq: TMC) announced on April 23 that the world’s first nickel sulphate derived exclusively from seafloor polymetallic nodules has been recovered. The sulphate was generated during bench-scale testing of a hydrometallurgical flowsheet in partnership with SGS Canada.

Undertaken on samples of nickel-cobalt-copper matte produced by TMC in 2021, the extractive metallurgy team at SGS tested TMC’s flowsheet that processes high-grade nickel matte directly to nickel sulphate without making nickel metal. The process produces fertilizer by-products instead of solid waste or tailings.

Following the successful nickel sulphate production, SGS continues testing to produce what TMC believes will be the world’s first cobalt sulphate from polymetallic nodules.

“The production of the world’s first nickel sulphate from deep-seafloor nodules is an important milestone, confirming that our custom flowsheet configuration can be deployed to process these remarkable rocks into final products suitable for use in batteries,” TMC head of onshore development Jeffrey Donald said in a news release.

“The data collected will inform further engineering decisions to move this towards commercial scale, and TMC continues to expect that initial production will begin with a capital-light approach by leveraging the existing processing facilities of strategic partners.”

US bill supporting seafloor mining lifts The Metals Company

TMC collected nodules from the Nori project in the Pacific Ocean between Mexico and Hawaii in 2022. It returned to the site late last year to examine the effects of disturbing the seafloor – plume dynamics, concentration, and dispersal.

The company reported that the observed data indicated the plume is low-lying, and the mud is influence by gravity and the contours of the seafloor rather than the ocean currents.

TMC hopes to begin commercial mining by late-2025.

Seafloor mining is not without its detractors. Environmental groups and non-governmental organizations are staunchly opposed. Some countries, including the United States, have okayed seafloor mining in their waters as the need for critical minerals continues to heat up.

Endeavour Silver shares rise as Terronera surpasses the 50% completion mark

Tue, 04/23/2024 - 09:19

Shares of Endeavour Silver (NYSE: EXK; TSX: EDR) rose on Tuesday as the company announced that its new Terronera mine in Jalisco state, Mexico, has surpassed the 50% completion mark.

Commissioning of the mine is expected in the fourth quarter of 2024, with an anticipated 10-year mine life. Its capital expenditure is estimated at $271 million, up by less than 20% from earlier estimates.

The Terronera project is situated within the Sierra Madre volcanic belt, which hosts most of Mexico’s silver and gold deposits.

The mine will consist of the Terronera and La Luz underground deposits, both of which will be mined using a combination of long-hole and cut-and-fill methods.

The mineral processing plant will have a capacity of 2,000 tonnes per day. A feasibility study forecasts the project to produce 4 million oz. of silver and 38,000 oz. of gold annually over a 10-year period.

Terronera has proven and probable reserves of 7.4 million tonnes grading 197 g/t silver and 2.25 g/t gold (88.8 million oz. of silver equivalent).

Endeavour provided no measured and indicated resources, but the inferred material at Terronera totals 1.1 million tonnes grading 322 g/t silver and 0.21 g/t gold.

Shares of Endeavour Silver rose 6.8% by 12:10 p.m. EDT. The company has a market capitalization of C$903 million ($661 million).

JP Morgan, UBS led all mining M&A financial advisers by value in Q1 – report

Tue, 04/23/2024 - 08:18

JP Morgan and UBS were the top mergers and acquisitions (M&A) financial advisers by total deal value in the metals & mining sector during the first quarter of 2024, according to UK-based analytics firm GlobalData.

The two banks jointly occupied the top position in GlobalData’s latest financial advisers league table (see below), with each of them advising on $2.2 billion worth of deals.

Aurojyoti Bose, lead analyst at GlobalData, said their involvement in the $2.2 billion Alcoa-Alumina M&A deal helped these two firms top the chart by value.

They were followed by Bank of America with $1.7 billion, while Goldman Sachs and Jefferies jointly occupied the fourth position, each at $970 million.

In terms of deal volume, three groups tied for first place with two deals each, but Eight Capital led the way in their total value at $272 million.

Grant Samuel Group and RBC Capital Markets also advised on two deals, with total values of $178 million and $60 million respectively.

GlobalData also tabled the top M&A legal advisers in mining last quarter, with Davis Polk & Wardwell and Cassels Brock & Blackwell leading the sector by value and volume, respectively.

Davis Polk & Wardwell advised on $2.2 billion worth of deals, while Cassels Brock & Blackwell advised on a total of four deals.

“Despite a decline in number of deals advised by it in Q1 2024 compared to Q1 2023, Cassels Brock & Blackwell led by volume. In fact, its ranking by volume improved from second position in Q1 2023 to the top position in Q1 2024,” said Bose.

Metals Acquisition extends CSA mine life to 11 years after reserve update

Tue, 04/23/2024 - 06:31

Jersey-based Metals Acquisition (NYSE: MTAL; ASX: MAC) has updated its mineral resource count for the first time since the company acquired the CSA copper mine from Glencore in a $1.1 billion deal last year.

The CSA mine, whose name stands for ‘Cornish, Scottish and Australia’ after the nationalities of its first owners, is one of Australia’s longest operating copper mines with a history stretching back almost 150 years. It is located 11 kilometres northwest of Cobar, in central-western New South Wales.

The new update comes after roughly 10 months of ownership by MAC, a former special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), and is based on two and a half months of work post-acquisition, with an effective date of August, 31, 2023.

Glencore, Metals Acquisition amend CSA copper mine sale deal

The total contained copper increased by 42% to 413,000 tonnes (8 million tonnes at 5.2% copper), and the measured and indicated (M+I) portions available for mineral reserve conversion has increased by 83%, at 229,000 tonnes.

In the previous resource from 2022, the M+I category had zero tonnes.

The upgraded resource, according to MAC, resulted from increased drilling and the inclusion of level mapping data where levels have been developed through the deposits and not previously been included in the estimation.

While the overall copper grade has reduced from 5.3% in the 2022 M+I resource to 4.9%, the company said this is predominately a result of the inclusion of 2.2 million tonnes of material between the new cut-off grade of 1.5% and the previous cut-off grade of 2.5%, which, in terms of contained metal, had relatively small impact.

Mineral reserves (proven and probable) are estimated at nearly 15 million tonnes grading 3.3% copper for 494,000 tonnes of the metal, which was a 64% improvement after replacement of depletion. Importantly, the increased reserve base allows for an extension of the CSA mine life to 11 years (until 2034), compared with six years before.

“Whilst this resource and reserve statement is a snapshot in time based on information available back in August 2023, it does validate our belief that the CSA copper mine can be a long-life asset,” MAC CEO Mick McMullen said, adding that this dispels the view from the last generation that CSA “has a relatively short mine life.”

McMullen also highlighted that despite the near doubling of the mineral reserves and a 67% increase in the mine life, there are still 4.7 million tonnes at 4.9% copper in the M+I category and 3.3 million tonnes at 5.5% copper in the inferred category, with the latter excluded from the reserves count and will be converted in the future.

Supported by the resource and reserve statement, MAC also provided a three-year copper production guidance for the CSA mine: 38,000-43,000 tonnes in 2024, 43,000-48,000 tonnes in 2025, and 48,000-53,000 tonnes in 2026.

The company also noted that the CSA mine, which has been producing for almost 60 years and has one of the highest copper grades in the country, has had very limited exploration away from the known deposits, and there is potential to further optimize this production plan.

Exploration in the top 850 metres of the deposit is just starting and initial results highlight strong potential to open additional mining fronts, it said.

Shares of Metals Acquisition rose nearly 3.0% at market open Tuesday in New York, giving it a market capitalization of $916.8 million.

Coal trains also carry respiratory diseases to communities on their way – study

Tue, 04/23/2024 - 06:06

Research by the University of California, Davis found that trains carrying loads of coal bring with them higher rates of asthma, heart disease, hospitalization and death for residents living nearest the rail lines.

People of colour, as well as young, old, or low-income residents, are affected the most.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Research, focuses on the San Francisco Bay Area and is the first-ever health impact assessment of coal train pollution.

While centred on East Bay neighbourhoods, the study has implications for communities living alongside passing coal trains elsewhere in the world. At least 80 countries use coal power, which generates about 40% of the world’s electricity.

“These trains run all over the world, exposing the poorest populations who often live close to the train tracks,” Bart Ostro, a scientist with the UC Davis Air Quality Research Center and lead author of the paper, said in a media statement. “As a result, these impacts have local and global implications.”

The study includes parts of Oakland, Berkeley, Martinez and Richmond, where coal is already being transported from Utah mines by rail. The assessment specifically centers on the potential health impacts of a proposed coal terminal under review, which could bring an additional 7.4 million tons of coal per year by rail to the Port of Oakland.

A figure from the UC Davis coal train pollution study shows the study area with estimated PM2.5 concentrations associated with a 2.1 μg/m3 increase in the annual PM2.5 average.

“That translates to about 10 trains per week potentially passing through a densely populated urban area,” Ostro said. “The trains continuously generate microscopic particles–called PM2.5, or fine particles, which are regulated by the US EPA. This results in chronic exposure. The particles can infiltrate the lungs and bloodstream and pose serious health risks.”

To quantify the health impacts of PM2.5 emitted from passing coal trains, the study’s authors integrated air quality data with medical and demographic information using software mapping and analysis programs. They ran different scenarios for increases in PM2.5 for the roughly 262,000 people who would be exposed.

They found that under the most severe scenario—an increase in annual fine particulates of 2.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air—six additional people would be expected to die each year among this population.

When the authors adjusted the analysis to incorporate the higher risks for people of colour, an estimated 15 total deaths were possible.

The study results also suggested that 28 additional hospital admissions for heart disease, 22 new cases of asthma, 17 additional cases of pneumonia and 58,000 additional days of asthma can be attributable to coal train transit.

Several of these outcomes represent a 3% to 6% increase over current levels.

Under the less severe scenario of 1 microgram per cubic meter of air, additional yearly health impacts would be about 50% lower.

The study also provided race-specific estimates, finding that Hispanic and Black residents have 41% and 29% higher levels of PM25.5 exposure, respectively, relative to white residents.

“Our study is a microcosm of what likely affects millions of city residents throughout the world living near passing, uncovered coal trains that deliver coal to power plants and export terminals,” Ostro said.

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