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Updated: 4 days 16 hours ago

Equinox Gold says Greenstone project is full steam ahead

Wed, 01/25/2023 - 12:47

Equinox Gold (TSX: EQX) has provided an update on the Greenstone project in Ontario, which is being developed in a 60/40 partnership with Orion Mine Finance Group. Once built, Greenstone is expected to be one of the largest gold mines in Canada, producing more than 400,000 oz. of gold annually for the first five years and more than 5 million oz. over its initial 14-year mine life.

Equinox says Greenstone is currently over 66% complete and is on schedule to pour first gold in the first half of 2024. As well, the project is reported to have remained on budget. About 71% of total capital costs has been contracted, and C$680 million (55% of the C$1.23 billion construction budget) has been spent.

Inflationary pressures have been mitigated through offsetting savings opportunities or absorbed through the C$177 million contingency included in the construction budget, the company adds.

So far, locations on site such as the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) patrol yard, the Goldfield Creek diversion and the permanent effluent water treatment plant have already been completed. The first four bays of the truck shop are complete and in use and the 14 km natural gas pipeline is complete and ready for commissioning in second quarter of 2023.

Pre-production mining also commenced ahead of schedule, as first four haul trucks and the first shovel were commissioned during the third quarter of 2022 and mine pre-production activities got underway in September, with more than 2.5 million tonnes of material (ore, waste and overburden) excavated to year-end 2022.

“With key equipment on site or enroute, building infrastructure is essentially complete and most buildings enclosed and heated, the construction effort is shifting to interior mechanical, electrical and piping installation during the winter months. Detailed commissioning and operation readiness planning is well underway to prepare for first gold pour in the first half of 2024,” said Greg Smith, president & CEO of Equinox Gold.

Mexican court allows Fortuna Silver to keep mining at San Jose

Wed, 01/25/2023 - 09:58

Fortuna Silver Mines (NYSE: FSM) (TSX: FVI) reported Wednesday that the Mexican federal administrative court has granted a provisional injunction to allow the company’s San Jose mine to continue to operate under the terms of the 12-year environmental impact authorization (EIA).

Compañia Minera Cuzcatlan, Fortuna’s Mexican subsidiary, recently initiated legal proceedings to contest and revoke the annulment of the EIA in response to the resolution issued earlier this month by SEMARNAT (Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), Mexico’s environment ministry.

In December 2021, SEMARNAT granted Minera Cuzcatlan a 12-year extension to the EIA for the San Jose mine. However, the ministry later issued a written notice claiming that it had made a typographical error in the EIA extension, and the correct term was two years instead. Minera Cuzcatlan subsequently challenged that claim in the federal court and won a favourable judgment in November 2022.

The January 2023 resolution now claims that SEMARNAT is required to re-assess the 12-year EIA extension to the EIA for the San Jose mine, which once again prompted the company to pursue legal protection.

The federal court has admitted the legal proceedings, and as a first step, granted a provisional injunction in favour of Minera Cuzcatlan. It is expected that the court will decide on the grant of a permanent injunction within the coming weeks, which would continue in effect until the court has ruled on the revocation of the EIA.

According to Fortuna, Minera Cuzcatlan is in full compliance with all material environmental laws and continues to operate under the terms of the EIA. The company continues to work with communities from the surrounding area in relation to the mine to enhance and expand the social benefits of the mine in the region.

Located in the Taviche mining district, the San Jose mine has been in commercial production since September 2011. Last year, the mine produced 5.8 million ounces of silver and 34,124 ounces of gold, both within Fortuna’s guidance.

Shares of Fortuna Silver jumped 7.4% by 12:50 p.m. ET Wednesday, giving the company a market value of C$1.6 billion ($1.2 billion).

Wesdome CEO resigns in surprise move after delayed projects, output

Wed, 01/25/2023 - 09:35

Wesdome Gold Mines (TSX: WDO) president and chief executive officer Duncan Middlemiss has resigned after the Kiena mine upgrade in Quebec fell behind schedule and the company missed production goals.

Middlemiss, who led the company for six years, has been replaced by Wesdome board chairman Warwick Morley-Jepson while the Toronto-based company searches for a replacement.

Laurentian Bank said the unexpected resignation is causing anxiety among investors because Morley-Jepson is little known and the miner needs stable management to see through its strategy.

“The sudden resignation of the president and CEO is too much like falling on his sword at time when Wesdome needs good leadership more than ever,” mining analyst Barry Allan wrote in a note late Tuesday. “His departure was premature and occurs at an extremely unfortunate time.”

The announcement comes just a week after Wesdome said supply chain snarls were delaying the Kiena project near Val-d’Or, Quebec, by up to a year while lower-than-expected grades at the Eagle River mine in northern Ontario knocked output.

This month, Wesdome reported gold production of 110,850 oz. last year after saying in October it was aiming for around 120,000 oz. production, the lower end of its guidance.

Wesdome is working to increase production at Kiena, the site of a past-producing mine with a 930-metre shaft and 2,000 tonne-per-day mill. It was restarted in May 2021. It’s also trying to find higher grades at its Eagle River mine 50 km west of Wawa just north of Lake Superior.

Morley-Jepson, who joined the Wesdome board in 2017, previously served as executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) and Kinross Gold (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC). Wesdome described him as a “seasoned operator with significant experience.”

Analyst Allan maintained his buy rating on the stock, downplaying the Kiena delays by noting the entire industry remains under similar pressures, but expressed concern for the months ahead to be consumed by a difficult search for a new CEO.

“In the context of mine developments in the mining industry over the last two years, missed timelines and unexpectedly high costs of construction have become the norm, not the exception,” Allan said.

“However, we see this sudden resignation as a further erosion in the market profile of Wesdome which has unfavourable overtones about the near-term future.”

Shares in Wesdome were down 2% to C$6.28 each in Toronto on Tuesday morning, valuing the company at about C$906 million.

Copper price falls with China absent for Lunar New Year

Wed, 01/25/2023 - 08:28

The copper price fell for a second day on Wednesday, weighed down by a stronger dollar and the absence of China, where markets are closed for a week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

Copper for delivery in March on the Comex market in New York, was down 0.4% Wednesday morning, touching $4.23 per pound ($9,306 per tonne).

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

Copper rallied strongly in early January, reaching a seven-month high of $9,550.50 a tonne on January 18, as the dollar weakened and speculators bet that the end of China’s covid-19 restrictions would boost economic growth and metals demand.

But prices lost momentum as Chinese markets closed on January 20.

The market is waiting for data from China after its New Year celebrations, said WisdomTree commodity strategist Nitesh Shah.

“(This) could be a nice catalyst for prices to break away from this consolidation range,” he said.

Even if Chinese growth revives, the global economy is expected to face a challenging year marked by geopolitical tensions, high inflation, and the energy crisis, according to the Eurochambres global economic survey published on Wednesday.

(With files from Reuters)

UK university, Bolivian government join forces to boost lithium industry

Wed, 01/25/2023 - 06:06

The University of Warwick and the Bolivian Government have joined forces to collaborate on lithium battery research with the goal of backing the South American country’s efforts to become a world leader in renewable energies and electric vehicles.

In a media statement, the partners explained that the project supports Bolivia’s ambition to provide 40% of the world’s supply of lithium by 2030. 

“[The deal] will see Bolivia be at the forefront of the lithium value chain, lead to higher paying employment and industry and a transition away from simple extraction and exploitation of raw materials,” the release states.

Bolivia’s vast salt flats harbour an estimated 39 million tonnes of lithium reserve. Together with Argentina and Chile, the Andean nation is part of the so-called Lithium Triangle.

In detail, the partnership will link up the University’s Warwick Manufacturing Group with Yacimentos de Lito Bolivianos, Bolivia’s lithium mining institution, and the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energies in a multi-year research project to improve the understanding and possibilities for lithium battery technology. 

The partnership is also expected to address the drawbacks associated with using fresh water in the lithium extraction process – thus working towards making the industry more sustainable and less environmentally damaging.

Besides involving senior researchers from the UK and Bolivia, the initiative will allow several master’s degree students to receive scholarships connected to the program.

Vizsla Silver updates Panuco resource by 50%

Tue, 01/24/2023 - 10:13

Vizsla Silver (TSXV: VZLA; NYSE: VZLA) has increased the indicated mineral resource by half at its Panuco silver-gold project in Sinaloa, western Mexico.

The indicated mineral resource rose to 7.5 million tonnes grading 243 grams silver per tonne, 2.12 grams gold per tonne, 0.23% lead and 0.71% zinc (437 grams silver-equivalent per tonne) for contained metal of 58.3 million oz. of silver, 508,000 oz. gold, 17,000 tonnes lead and 53,300 tonnes zinc (104.8 million oz. silver-equivalent), Vizsla said in a news release on Tuesday.

That compares with the project’s first indicated resource estimate in March last year showing 5 million tonnes grading 191 grams silver, 2.08 grams gold, 0.26% lead and 0.5% zinc (383 grams silver-equivalent ) for contained metal of 30.5 million oz. silver, 331,000 oz. gold, 13,000 tonnes lead and 24,600 tonnes zinc, Vizsla said.

Vancouver-based Vizsla says it has spent $41.8 million on exploration at the 68-sqkm project on Mexico’s west coast near the city of Mazatlán about 1,000 km northwest of Mexico City. It has drilled more than 250,000 metres and plans an additional 90,000 metres, with another resource update due later this year.

This month’s updated mineral resource centred on the western portion of Panuco encompassing about 8 km of the area’s 86-km vein strike, the company said.

“Most impressive is the material growth to the precious metals-rich Copala structure,” Vizsla President and CEO Michael Konnert said in the release. “Additionally, the inclusion of the high-grade Cristiano structure, which can conceptually be developed alongside Copala, represents a near surface high grade feed source.”

Panuco’s inferred mineral resource increased to 7.2 million tonnes grading 304 grams silver, 2.14 grams gold, 0.19% lead and 0.54% zinc (491 grams silver-equivalent) for contained metal of 70.7 million oz. silver, 496,000 oz. gold, 13,600 tonnes lead and 39,300 tonnes zinc (114.1 million silver-equivalent ounces).

That compares with the earlier inferred resource estimate showing 4.1 million oz. grading 187 grams silver, 1.79 grams gold, 0.13% lead and 0.3% zinc (345 grams silver-equivalent) for contained metal of 24.7 million oz. silver, 236,000 oz. gold 5,300 tonnes lead and 12,400 tonnes zinc (45.6 million oz. silver-equivalent).

“The company plans to continue its ongoing aggressive exploration of the district with seven drill rigs focused on category conversion, incremental expansion and testing new targets,” Konnert said. “This, along with previous drilling completed to date, will support a potential mineral resource estimate update in the second half of 2023.”

Shares in Vizsla rose 9% Tuesday in Toronto to C$1.92 each before falling in afternoon trading to C$1.76, valuing the company at C$272 million.

Vale, Tüv Süd and 16 individuals named defendants in Brumadinho disaster

Tue, 01/24/2023 - 10:13

The Brazilian Federal Court has accepted the complaint filed by the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) against 16 people and the companies Vale and Tüv Süd for the rupture of the Córrego do Feijão dam in Brumadinho.

The disaster that occurred on January 25, 2019, left 270 people dead. Three remain missing.

The defendants were all accused of aggravated homicide (270 times), crimes against fauna, crimes against flora and pollution.

The companies, Vale SA and Tüv Süd Bureau de Projetos e Consultoria were accused of crimes against fauna, flora and the crime of pollution.

Among the defendants is the former CEO of the company Fábio Schvartsman.

As a result of the complaint being accepted, the crime is no longer at risk of being prescribed.

Vale said in a press release that it “reaffirms its deep respect for the families directly and indirectly impacted by the rupture of Dam 1 in Brumadinho and remains committed to repairing and compensating for damages.”

In early 2020, prosecutors in the state of Minas Gerais charged Schvartsman and 15 other people with homicide for the dam disaster.

But later that year a court ruled the case should proceed through slower federal courts rather than state tribunals, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court.

Vale said last week that it plans to spend about 7.8 billion reais ($1.53 billion) this year on repairs related to the Brumadinho disaster.

American Lithium buys back royalty on TLC project in Nevada

Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:17

American Lithium (TSXV: LI) (NASDAQ: AMLI) has entered into an agreement with Nevada Alaska Mining, an arm’s-length party, to buy back the remaining 1% gross overriding royalty on the company’s wholly owned TLC lithium project in Nevada.

As part of the royalty buyback, American Lithium will issue 950,000 common shares in its capital to Nevada Alaska. The shares will be subject to a statutory hold period of four months and one day in accordance with applicable securities laws.

“We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with the royalty holder to buy back this valuable royalty, which also ensures that the company will control 100% of all concessions comprising TLC. As TLC moves through development and into production, this transaction should be highly accretive and will maximize project value,” Simon Clarke, American Lithium CEO, commented.

Clarke also noted that removing this remaining royalty would enables the company to present TLC as a wholly unencumbered project in the initial preliminary economic assessment (PEA), which is expected to be released in the next few days.

Located in the Esmerelda lithium district northwest of Tonopah, the TLC property is host to a near-surface lithium claystone deposit that is amenable to low-cost, sustainable mining methods, as its proximity to Tonopah offers ready access to paved roads, electricity and water infrastructure.

The upcoming PEA will incorporate the recently updated mineral resource for the TLC project, which is estimated at 4.2 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in the measured category, 4.63 million tonnes LCE indicated and 1.86 million tonnes LCE inferred.

Shares of American Lithium jumped 7.1% by 12:10 p.m. ET following the latest project update. The company has a market capitalization of C$911.6 million.

Read more: American Lithium’s 51% stock bounce has CEO upbeat on year

Flexible copper sensor can detect  heavy metals in sweat

Tue, 01/24/2023 - 06:30

An international team of researchers led by the University of São Paulo in Brazil has developed a portable copper sensor that is able to detect heavy metals such as lead and cadmium in sweat. 

In a paper published in the journal Chemosensors, the scientists explain that heavy metals are present in batteries, cosmetics, food and other things that are part of everyday life. When they accumulate in the human body, however, they can become toxic and cause health problems

High levels of cadmium can lead to fatal problems in the airways, liver and kidneys. Lead poisoning damages the central nervous system and causes irritability, cognitive impairment, fatigue, infertility, high blood pressure in adults and delayed growth and development in children,” Paulo Augusto Raymundo Pereira, last author of the article, said in a media statement.

According to Raymundo Pereira, humans eliminate heavy metals mainly in sweat and urine, and analyses of these biofluids are a vital part of toxicological tests as well as treatment.

So far, devices to detect heavy metals in biofluids have been made with expensive materials. The new solution, on the other hand, has been produced using polyethylene terephthalate [PET], on top of which there is a conductive flexible copper adhesive tape, a label of the kind that can be bought from a stationer’s with the sensor printed on it, and a protective layer of nail polish or spray.

“The exposed copper is removed by immersion in ferric chloride solution for 20 minutes, followed by washing in distilled water to promote the necessary corrosion,” study co-author Robson R. da Silva said. “All of this ensures speed, scalability, low power and low cost.”

The device is connected to a potentiostat, a portable instrument that determines the concentration of each metal by measuring differences in potential and current between electrodes. The results are displayed on a computer or smartphone using appropriate software.

In the researchers’ view, the system is simple enough to be used by non-specialists without training, as well as by technicians in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices. 

The device can also be used in several types of environmental management situations, such as artesian wells that are regulated and require constant monitoring to analyze water quality.

The sensor’s performance in detecting lead and cadmium was assessed in trials using artificial sweat enriched under ideal experimental conditions. Adaptations are required before the device can be patented.

SPC Nickel enters agreement with Vale to consolidate deposits in Sudbury camp

Tue, 01/24/2023 - 06:09

SPC Nickel (TSXV: SPC) has entered into a cooperation agreement with Vale Canada that would see the company consolidate the West Graham and Crean Hill 3 nickel-copper deposits located in the Sudbury mining camp into a single project.

The West Graham deposit occurs on SPC’s 100% owned Lockerby East property, which also hosts the past-producing Lockerby East mine. The latest agreement would grant the company the right to acquire an 100% interest in the adjacent Crean Hill 3 property currently held by Vale.

The unmined near-surface West Graham deposit contains over 47,000 tonnes of nickel and 34,000 tonnes of copper, as defined in a technical report published by First Nickel in 2009 that supported an indicated mineral resource of 8.55 million tonnes grading 0.45% nickel and 0.31% copper, along with an inferred mineral resource of 2 million tonnes grading 0.38% nickel and 0.30% copper.

These grades, according to SPC, have economic potential in the context of the Sudbury mining camp, as the deposit is located very near to surface and may be amenable to low-cost open pit mining.

The deposit is characterized by a broad zone of blebby to semi-massive sulphide that ranges from 1.7 to 66 metres thick and strikes for 350 metres, with a dip extent of up to 533 metres. Within the larger resource, a distinct zone of higher-grade mineralization grading approximately 1% nickel equivalent is present.

The company recently completed an 18 hole, 5,200-metre drill program which has expanded the extents of the high-grade mineralized zone within the West Graham deposit while also adding confidence in the continuity of the resource. Results from this drilling campaign include 82.6 metres grading 0.68% nickel equivelent.

At the contiguous Crean Hill 3 property, historic drilling by Vale (formerly Inco) between 1958 and 1960 returned mineralized intersections of similar thickness and grade compared to the West Graham deposit. Drilling highlights include 44.48 metres grading 0.60% nickel and 0.27% copper from 436.89 metres, including 2.29% nickel and 0.30% copper over 4.42 metres.

Preliminary modelling of historic drill intersections suggests that the mineralized zone hosted on the Crean Hill 3 property extends from the SPC-Vale property boundary to the west for over 600 metres. Mineralized surface outcrops, interpreted to represent the up-dip extension of the West Graham deposit, outcrop along the exposed contact of the Sudbury basin. Mineralized grab samples with values of up to 1.56% nickel and 1.21% copper were collected by the company on the Crean Hill 3 property.

SPC believes that the West Graham and Crean Hill 3 deposits constitute the eastern and western contiguous portions of a large, near-surface nickel-copper sulphide deposit at the base of the Sudbury igneous complex. The properties are located adjacent to the past-producing Lockerby and Crean Hill mines, approximately 20 km southwest of of Sudbury, Ontario, and Vale’s Clarabelle mill.

Pursuant to the Vale cooperation agreement, the company can now earn an 100% interest in the Crean Hill 3 property from surface down to an elevation of 264.3 metres below mean sea level (a total of 550 vertical metres) upon delivering a feasibility study for the project by the deadline of June 30, 2026, and paying Vale C$1 million at the deadline.

Upon earning its 100% interest in the Crean Hill 3 property, SPC will grant Vale certain rights and royalties over the combined project, including a 1% net smelter return royalty and a net profits royalty of 37%. Vale will also retain a right of first refusal over the sale of the project as well as ore/concentrates produced from the project.

“With the addition of the Crean Hill 3 property, we see a path for SPC Nickel to significantly grow the West Graham deposit into a high-quality nickel-copper asset in one of the top nickel mining camps in the world,” SPC Nickel’s CEO Grant Mourre commented.

The Sudbury mining camp is considered the largest nickel camp in the world with over 130 years of continuous production. Since the discovery of the original ore deposits, over 11.1 million tonnes of nickeland 10.8 million tonnes of copper, together with byproducts of cobalt, silver, gold and platinum group elements have been mined from the Sudbury deposits.

“Our recently completed drill program at West Graham has provided the technical team with a firm understanding of the types of mineralization we expect to define on the Crean Hill 3 property and, more importantly, the controls on mineralization that we expect to guide us to higher-grade opportunities across the combined project,” Mourre added.

Shares of SPC Nickel were up 20% by market close Monday, giving the company a market capitalization of C$15 million.

New geochemical data to support critical minerals exploration in British Columbia interior

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 16:45

New till geochemical and mineralogical results and an accompanying report published by Geoscience BC improve knowledge of central British Columbia’s surficial geology and the potential for critical mineral deposits that might be buried beneath surficial deposits.

Critical minerals and metals, including copper, are integral to the transition to a net-zero economy because they are essential to technologies including solar panels, semiconductors, wind turbines and the batteries needed for electrification, Geoscience BC said in a media release Monday.

As part of Geoscience BC’s Central Interior Copper-Gold Research (CICGR) program, the latest results from the Surficial Exploration Project, led by Wayne Jackaman at Noble Exploration Services and Dave Sacco at Palmer, were published at the AME Roundup conference in Vancouver. All results from the program to date can be accessed on the Geoscience BC website.

The release adds to a public data set that now includes analytical results from over 1,500 till samples, filling in significant gaps in previous and historical sampling. Samples were collected in areas around communities including Quesnel, Williams Lake, Vanderhoof, Fort St. James and Mackenzie (NTS map sheets 093A, B, G, J, K and O).

“This latest report significantly enhances the publicly available till and mineralogical data set, guiding critical mineral and metal exploration in central British Columbia,” Geoscience BC Vice President, Minerals Christa Pellett said in a statement. “It is accessible public geoscience that is key to ensuring a secure future supply of critical minerals and metals for Canada.”

CICGR is an ongoing program generating publicly available, quality baseline data on the Quesnel terrane, which hosts several copper-gold deposits, and the Quaternary sediments that cover large parts of central BC. Reports, data and maps from the CICGR program can be used to inform evidence-based mineral exploration and land use decisions by industry, government, communities and Indigenous groups.

Final results from the Surficial Exploration Project will include reanalysis of additional historical samples recently recovered from storage at BC Geological Survey and Natural Resources Canada facilities. These results are expected to be released later in 2023.

Majuba Hill drill results reveal longest intercept of copper mineralization at Nevada porphyry project

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 12:41

Majuba Hill Copper (CSE: JUBA) released on Monday the latest drill results on its namesake property in western Nevada.  

The company reported that 2022 core holes MHB-27 and MHB-28 intersected over 1,000 feet (304.8 meters) of plus 0.25% copper equivalent mineralization at the Majuba Hill porphyry copper project in Pershing County.

These are the longest copper mineralized intercepts ever drilled at Majuba. The mineralized intersections are directly correlative with porphyry-type vein density, pervasive porphyry-style alteration and multiple intrusive events, the company said in a news release.

The 2022 core drilling program focused on the Majuba Target Zone. The goal was to complete deeper holes and extend the copper mineralization intersected in the 2020 and 2021 drill campaigns.

Drill highlights from hole MHB-27: 1,136 ft (346.3 m) at 0.25% CuEQ starting at 710 ft (216.4 m) including 834 ft (254.2 m) at 0.31% CuEQ from 750 to 1,584 (228.6-482.8 m) and 119 ft (36.3 m) at 0.14% CuEQ from 1,727-1,846 ft (526.4-562.7m).

Highlights from MHB-28: 1,287 ft (392 m) at 0.30% CuEQ starting at 245 ft (74.7 m), including 652 ft (198.7 m) at 0.33% CuEQ from 595 to 1,247 ft, 192 ft (58.5 m) at 0.21% CuEQ from 1,340 to 1,532 ft and 105 ft (32 m) at 0.18% CuEQ from 1,542 to 1,647 ft. MHB-29 intersected granodiorite porphyry at 3,403 ft (1,037 m). The entire hole is mineralized with 3,607 ft (1,099.4 m) at 0.05% CuEQ from 0 to 3,607 ft.

Buster Hunsaker, consulting geologist for Majuba Hill, said an initial development scenario for the project in Pershing County would look at a starter oxide scenario with an open pit. But the porphyry potential at depth gets the experienced geologist excited.

 “It’s to come across something so obvious, stuck out of the ground like a mountain of metal, and to recognize it, see the geology develop and be part of the first people to bring that out. It took effort for the first ten years to recognize the porphyry copper potential,” Hunsaker told MINING.COM at a conference in San Diego in December.

Where Majuba Hill sticks out in the western Nevada plains implies that it is located on an underexplored copper belt in a segment where there aren’t many mines, despite a significant volume of historical work on the geology. The brownfield site has produced 2.6 billion lb. of copper on a historical basis.

The company believes that should it succeed in making a vital porphyry discovery, it could ideally play into the copper macro picture of a deficit of about 5 billion lb. of the red metal from about 2026 onwards.

“The tremendous thickness of copper mineralization confirms that Majuba Hill is a significant porphyry copper discovery in Nevada, one of the top three mining jurisdictions in the world,” Majuba Hill CEO David Greenway said in Monday’s statement.

“Copper mineralization from top to bottom also indicates that we have discovered a deposit which will have an impact on the copper supply for the world at a time when the world needs long-term, secure supplies for the future,” Greenway said.

“With our mineral inventory estimate announced September 20, 2022, showcasing the potential for 1.5 billion pounds of copper equivalent, we now have these game changing results in hand to expand on that estimate and ultimately contribute to the development of an NI 43-101 compliant copper resource.”

An updated property wide mineral inventory estimate is now underway.

Midday Monday, the Vancouver-based junior’s stock was down 1.8 % on the CSE. Trading volume had reached 234,368 by lunchtime, more than triple the average daily volume of 70,169, capitalizing Majuba Hill Copper at C$11.3 million ($8.4m).

Results hint at high-grade copper-gold in Beskauga project, Arras says 

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 11:38

Arras Minerals (TSXV: ARK) says drill results from three holes at its Beskauga copper-gold project in northeastern Kazakhstan suggest it holds high-grade zones.

Diamond drill hole Bg22012 returned 365 metres grading 0.54 gram gold per tonne, 0.4% copper, 2 grams silver per tonne and 35.3 million parts per million (ppm) molybdenum (0.9% copper-equivalent or 1.06 grams gold-equivalent) starting from 41 metres downhole, Arras said in a news release on Monday.

“Drilling at Beskauga continues to deliver near-surface, broad intervals of significant copper-gold mineralization,” Arras CEO Tim Barry said in the release. “These grades are indicative of high-grade zones found throughout the deposit which we continue to review as we explore for the core of this very extensive system.”

The 63-sqkm project about 300 km east-northeast of the capital, Astana, is subject to a four-year option-to-purchase agreement signed in 2020 with private Swiss company Copperbelt AG. The agreement requires Vancouver-based Arras to spend $15 million on exploration over the term before Arras can buy all of Beskauga for $15 million more.

Hole Bg22012 included 29 metres grading 0.6 gram gold, 0.5% copper, 2.1 grams silver and 31.8 ppm molybdenum (1% copper equivalent or 1.2 grams gold-equivalent) from 87 metres down-hole.

The same hole also cut 64 metres grading 1.8 grams gold, 1% copper, 4.6 grams silver and 66.5 ppm molybdenum (2.6% copper-equivalent or 3.2 grams gold-equivalent) from 120 metres depth; and 30 metres grading 2.95 grams gold, 1.5% copper, 6.2 grams silver and 63.8 ppm molybdenum (4% copper-equivalent or 4.8 grams gold equivalent from 120 metres downhole.

Hole Bg21010 outside of the Beskauga main deposit intersected “strong advanced argillic to argillic alteration and local zones of copper-gold mineralization,” showing the potential for concealed porphyry-style mineralization in the thick volcano-sedimentary package that is separated from Beskauga main by a northwest to southeast fault zone, Arras said.

It began a 30,000-metre diamond drill program in October 2021. More assay results are expected in the coming months, Arras said.

The Beskauga deposit has an indicated mineral resource of 111.2 million tonnes grading 0.5 gram gold per tonne, 0.3% copper and 1.3 grams silver for 1.75 million oz. of contained gold, 333,600 tonnes copper and 4.79 million oz. silver.

Inferred resources add 92.6 million tonnes grading 0.5 gram gold, 0.2% copper and 1.1 gram silver for 1.49 million oz. of contained gold, 222,200 tonnes copper and 3.39 million oz. silver. The resource estimate was completed in December 2021.

Beskauga lies 130 km west of KAZ Minerals’ Bozshakol porphyry-copper-gold mine, one of the country’s largest. Beskauga is near the town of Ekibastuz, which serves the largest coal mine in Kazakhstan and provides a trained workforce for Arras. Paved road access, power lines, a heavy rail line and an irrigation canal all lie within a 25-km radius of the project.

British Columbia spent $13.6 billion on mineral exploration in 2022, says Premier

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 11:36

British Columbia had record spending on mineral exploration in 2022 and there are eight new mines or mine expansions in the queue, Premier David Eby said Monday at the opening of the Association of Mineral Exploration (AME) Roundup conference in Vancouver.

Eby said there was C$740 million spent in mineral exploration in B.C. in 2022 – a record – and mineral production in B.C. is also expected to be a record: C$18.2 billion ($13.6bn).

That’s a C$4.3 billion increase over 2021. That increase in value over 2021 was largely due to high metallurgical coal prices, said Gordon Clarke of the BC Geological Survey’s development office. Steelmaking coal prices hit a high of $670 per tonne last year, and remains relatively high at close to $300 per tonne.

B.C. has seven operating metallurgical coal mines.

Eby said there was an 84% increase in copper exploration in 2022, much of that concentrated in northwest B.C. in the so-called Golden Triangle.

Copper is among the critical minerals identified in Canada’s new federal Critical Minerals Strategy as key to both the digital economy and the energy transition, and it’s one mineral B.C. has in relative abundance. B.C. is Canada’s biggest copper producer.

Jonathan Price, new CEO for Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B), which operates the Highland Valley Copper mine, said the estimated global demand for copper will grow by 4.7 million tonnes by 2030, thanks to the increased demand from the energy transition and greater urbanization.

“To put that into perspective, Teck’s Highland Valley Copper mine here in B.C. is Canada’s largest copper mine,” Price said. “Four-point-seven million tonnes would be the equivalent of building another 35 Highland Valley Copper mines in just seven years.”

But it can take a decade or two to take a new mine from discovery to production. Eby said a commitment he has made to speed up permitting for housing should also speed things up for resource industries like exploration and mining as well.

“For decades, our province has had a slow and complicated permitting process system,” Eby said.

The province is investing in new staff to work in permitting and to streamline the system.

“I want you to know these same investments have impacts on your industry as well,” Eby said.

Eby also said he has asked his new energy and mines minister, Josie Osborne, to expedite a provincial critical minerals strategy.

Eby warned that the political landscape is changing, as a result of government commitments to reconciliation with First Nations. For one thing, the Mineral Tenure Act is likely going to have to be amended as a result of what Eby called “a very serious legal challenge” by First Nations.

First Nations pressing for changes to the act want to be notified when anyone files a mineral claim in their traditional territory. That has created some concerns for prospectors who consider mineral claims a form of intellectual property, and therefore like to keep claims secret.

“I want to assure you that our government is committed to finding a way forward to address this issue,” Eby said. “We will be engaging with you as an industry to make sure that the regime works for you. But we will also be doing it in partnership with First Nations in our province.”

The NDP government has recently struck agreements with First Nations that essentially make them co-regulators. A consent based decision making framework developed with the Tahltan First Nation last year is one example. Expect to see more such agreements going forward, Eby said.

He urged prospectors and exploration companies to work with First Nations to gain their consent when doing exploration and prospecting in their traditional territories.

“The very first contact that nations have around economic development or a particular proposal in their community is your industry,” Eby said. “You set the tone. So if it’s a constructive and collaborative tone at the beginning, that leads to greater success down the road with mine development.”

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

Marimaca Copper infill drilling yields best results to date at oxide deposit in Chile

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 09:22

Marimaca Copper (TSX: MARI) has released the final batch of reverse circulation (RC) drill results from last year’s infill drilling campaign at the Marimaca oxide deposit (MOD) in northern Chile, including the best copper intersection drilled to date on a grade-times-width basis.

The latest drilling focused on the northern and central zones of the Marimaca deposit, following up on previous 2022 infill results that identified high-grade green oxide zones in the northern portion, which was previously interpreted to be lower-grade copper mineralization.

The new results – reflecting 2,766 metres of drilling across 13 drill holes – are expected to have positive implications for average grade in northern area of the deposit for the updated mineral resource estimate (MRE) planned for the first half of 2023, Marimaca says.

The highlighted drill hole LAR-109 intersected 308 metres at 0.94% total copper from 32 metres, including 186 metres at 1.37% total copper from 154 metres, and including 26 metres at 4.83% total copper from 202 metres.

“The final results of the 2022 infill RC program mark the completion of an exceptionally successful year at the MOD. Grades intersected in the northern MOD continue to surprise us to the upside, while results from LAR-109, the best hole we have drilled to date at the MOD, highlights the continuity of higher-grade copper mineralization in the central MOD,” Sergio Rivera, VP exploration of Marimaca Copper, commented in a news release.

Other notable results include TAR-37, which intersected 62 metres at 1.02% total copper from 2 metres, including 28 metres at 1.84% total copper from 2 metres; and ATR-167, which intersected 46 metres at 1.23% total copper from 180 metres within a broader intersection of 76 metres at 0.79% total copper from 150 metres.

The balance of the 2022 infill drilling program will be included in a subsequent MRE planned for the first half of 2023, with the objective of converting inferred resources to the measured and indicated categories to underpin a definitive feasibility study (DFS).

“Today’s results improve our confidence in the potential for upside in the planned 2023 MRE – as discussed previously, the higher-grade nature of mineralization identified in the northern MOD vs. the current interpolation of grades has positive implications for Marimaca’s mineral inventory,” added Rivera, who was responsible for the the initial discovery of the oxide deposit.

Since its original discovery in 2016, Marimaca has nearly doubled the oxide resource totals, now estimated at nearly 140 million tonnes at 0.48% total copper for 665,500 tonnes of contained copper in the measured and indicated category, plus 83 million tonnes at 0.39% total copper for 322,900 tonnes of contained copper.

The company is now finalizing plans for the H1 2023 exploration program that will follow up on drill hole MAD-22, which intersected primary sulphides (dominantly chalcopyrite) downdip of the MOD (92 metres at 2.11% total copper from 140 metres, including 22 metres at 5.27% total copper).

Shares of Marimaca Copper rose 4.1% by 12:20 p.m. ET Monday. The company has a market capitalization of C$317.6 million ($237.3m).

Scientists develop efficient solution to monitor airborne mercury

Mon, 01/23/2023 - 06:06

New research conducted at the University of Nevada, Reno, verified that new technologies measure airborne mercury pollution far more accurately than the older systems that have been in widespread use for decades.

In a paper published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, the scientists explain that older technology under-measures mercury concentrations by as much as 80%.

Mercury enters the atmosphere from small-scale gold mining, coal-burning power plants, cement manufacturers and other industrial operations. It is carried worldwide.

As mercury is spread through the air, it is deposited into soil and water, where it enters the food chain. Mercury-contaminated fish pose a health risk to humans. So does mercury-contaminated rice. High levels of mercury concentration affect the reproduction of birds and other wildlife and take a silent death toll.

Despite well-documented knowledge of the environmental risks, the lack of accurate technology to measure airborne mercury pollution has hampered efforts to set global standards to reduce the threat.

Given this state of affairs and the fact that they have been conducting research on this topic since 2013, scientists Mae Gustin and Jiaoyan Huang started doing experiments and tested four air-sampling systems that used newer measurement technology, along with one of the older devices.

In their recent paper, they report that the newer systems, which rely on nylon or polyethersulfone membranes to capture airborne mercury, are much more accurate than older systems. One version of the technology used in two of the new systems that were tested was developed by the team led by Gustin at the University of Nevada, Reno; the technology used in the two other new systems was developed at Utah State University.

Gustin noted that researchers are now fine-tuning the materials used to create the membranes employed in the new measurement systems.

“Membranes are easy to collect and analyze and are easily deployed,” she said. “This would be a viable method for many researchers. The new membrane samplers have been deployed for testing at more than a dozen locations across the world—from Peavine Peak outside Reno to Svalbard in far-northern Norway, and from Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean to the shores of the Great Salt Lake in Utah—to gather further information in collaboration with international scientists. This is how science evolves.”

Argentinian lawyers call for annulment of provincial lithium law

Sun, 01/22/2023 - 11:52

The Argentine Institute of Mining Law (IADEM) is calling for the annulment of Law N°10.608, which declared lithium and its derivatives as strategic natural resources in La Rioja province and which prioritizes state companies when it comes to the exploitation of the battery metal.

The call follows the unilateral approval and publication, by the provincial government, of the Law on January 17, 2023, right after having suspended, for 120 days, all exploration permits and concessions previously granted to private companies.

According to the Institute, La Rioja has gone beyond its competencies by suspending and establishing causes for nullity of search, prospecting and exploration permits and concessions in the provincial territory.  

In a communiqué, IADEM also noted that Law N°10.608 collides with and undermines the existing Mining Code, which establishes that decisions regarding Argentina’s mineral endowment are delegated by the provinces to the national government, in agreement with article 75 of the Constitution. 

In addition to this, “the Mining Code regulates, among others, the mechanisms for the acquisition, maintenance and termination of mining rights (exploration and concession permits, among others). This means that the Province of La Rioja cannot just decide to rule on these matters,” the media statement reads.

The Institute also pointed out that the province doesn’t have the right to monopolize the mining business. 

“It is worth remembering that article 346 and the ones that follow in the Mining Code clearly establish that the role of the State is limited to prospecting (on its own or through third parties) and that the development of mining operations, including exploitation, has to be performed by private companies to whom – generally speaking – mines should be transferred, even those mines discovered by government agencies,” the release states.

In La Rioja, Canada’s Origen Resources has a permit to explore the 48,325-hectare Los Sapitos project, a new lithium exploration target within a prospective tectonic corridor.

Two other provinces, Jujuy and Catamarca have entered the lithium rush, with the former hosting the Sales de Jujuy project where the provincial government holds an 8.5% stake, together with Australia’s Orocobre (67.5%) and Toyota Tsuho (25%).

In Catamarca, on the other hand, Livent Corporation leads the Fénix project, an integrated brine extraction and lithium processing facility located in the Salar del Hombre Muerto.

Data from the Argentinian Chamber of Mining Companies state that the country hosts 21% of the world’s lithium reserves and together with Bolivia (24%) and Chile (11%), is part of the so-called Lithium Triangle. 

The risks of plundering the periodic table

Sun, 01/22/2023 - 05:55

A recent paper published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution estimates that humans are heading toward a situation where 80% of the resources we use are from non-biological sources.

Written by researchers at the Ecological and Forestry Applications Research Centre, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the article notes that in 1900, approximately 80% of the resources humans used came from biomass (wood, plants, food, etc.). That figure had fallen to 32% by 2005 and is expected to stand at approximately 22% in 2050.

Non-biological resources, however, are scarce or practically absent in living organisms, and rare in general; in many cases, their main reserves are located in just a handful of countries.

These resources must be obtained from geological sources, which entails extraction, trade between countries, and the development of efficient recycling technologies, while their scarcity and location create the potential for social, economic, geopolitical and environmental conflicts.

Squeezing the periodic table

The study looks back at the history of humankind in relation to its use of the periodic table’s elements.

“Humans have gone from using common materials, such as clay, stone and lime, the components of which are constantly recycled in the ground, in nature and in the atmosphere, to using lots of other elements, notably including those known as rare earth elements,” Jordi Sardans, CREAF researcher and co-author of the study, said in a media statement.

According to the article, the human elementome, which is a range of chemical elements humans need, and the biological elementome, which is the set of chemical elements that nature requires, started to diverge in the decade of the 1900s, a result of continuous growth of the use of non-biomass materials such as fossil fuels, metallic/industrial materials, and building materials.

Elements used in construction, transport, industry, and more recently, new technologies, such as computation and photovoltaic devices and mobile phones, were added to the human elementome over the course of the 20th century.

They include silicon, nickel, copper, chromium and gold, as well as others that are less common, such as samarium, ytterbium, yttrium and neodymium. In the past two decades, there has been an increase in the use of such scarce elements, owing to the implementation and expansion of new technologies and clean energy sources.

“Mineral element consumption/extraction is rising at a rate of around 3% a year, and that will continue up to 2050,” Josep Peñuelas, the other co-author of the study, said. “In that scenario, it is possible that we will have used up all our reserves of some of those elements (gold and antimony) by 2050, and of others (molybdenum and zinc) within a hundred years.”

Risks and opportunities

According to Peñuelas and his colleagues, the extraction of earth’s chemical elements could be a limiting factor and lead to crises at every level.

Using more of the periodic table’s elements involves the extraction of more minerals, rising energy consumption and the associated CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the growing scarcity of the resources in question is a threat to their availability, especially where poorer countries are concerned, and makes maintaining production difficult even for wealthy countries, thus affecting economic development.

Against this backdrop, there are also important and problematic geopolitical considerations.

The natural reserves of some minerals and metals, including rare earth elements, are located in a limited number of countries (China, Vietnam, Brazil, the US, Russia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo); China actually controls over 90% of the global supply and close to 40% of reserves. Their availability is therefore subject to fluctuations in supply and prices caused by opposing geopolitical interests, with the consequent danger of conflicts.

The authors stress the need to put an end to programmed obsolescence, which is the policy of planning or designing a product to have an artificially limited useful life, as well as to develop new technologies that contribute to more profitable use of scarce elements and allow for their widespread, efficient recycling and reuse.

Glencore halts operations in Peru due to violent protests

Sat, 01/21/2023 - 14:03

Following Friday’s attack that set on fire a worker housing area, Glencore announced that it has halted operations at the Antapaccay copper mine in southern Peru.

In a media statement, the company said that yesterday’s incidents endangered the safety of its employees and, therefore, authorities should start taking action to safeguard people’s integrity and private property rights. 

According to the Swiss miner, a group of citizens from the Espinar province, where Antapaccay is located, arrived at the site Friday noon and demanded that operations be stopped and that the firm issue a communiqué asking for the resignation of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte.

Next, some of the people forced their entry into different mine facilities, stole workers’ belongings, and set the housing area on fire. Two and a half hours later, the protesters left the site.

“The emergency and security teams are working to guarantee the safety of the employees that remain in the operation, as well as to extinguish the fires. So far no injuries have been reported,” the press release states.

Prior to this incident, Glencore’s mine, one of the country’s largest, was operating only with 38% of its workforce due to protests. Less than a week ago, ​​activists broke into Antapaccay’s water plant and set the facility on fire. The plant provides drinking water to over 6,000 people in nearby communities.

Given the number of attacks that have taken place in the first half of January, which also include roadblocks, the mine halted the shipping of copper concentrate. MMG’s Las Bambas, which shares with Antapaccay the same highway access to ports, followed suit. 

Unrest has rattled Peru since the ouster and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo late last year. Protest leaders are demanding a general election.

According to Bloomberg, the disruption is threatening to choke off access to almost $4 billion worth of red metal. 

This comes at a particularly precarious moment for copper markets as inventories stand at historically low levels while miners warn demand is poised to skyrocket with the growing electrification of vehicles.

ChatGPT doesn’t know where the world’s copper comes from, AI images show mining stuck in the Great Depression

Fri, 01/20/2023 - 13:55

There’s no shortage of breathless reports about the latest advances in artificial intelligence ushering in the 4th industrial revolution (whatever that is) and changing the world of work forever. 

Even the most skilled workers are supposed to fear for their jobs as chatbots like ChatGPT answer questions and solve problems that would take humans hours or days, instantly. Likewise, image generators like Midjourney can interpret our world and provide cutting edge visuals on any topic or peer into the future.   

Time to meet your new robot overlords.

A simple prompt to OpenAIs ChatGPT suggests machine learning needs a bit more study time. The same question was asked multiple times and weeks apart in case the millions of conversations since the natural language bot was opened to the public may have taught it something. 

It still got the simplest of questions on mining’s most important metal wrong. 

A quick crosscheck with the USGS bible finds not only the country level production volumes to be wrong (China has never produced more than 2 million tonnes in a year, the Chile figure is off by a half a million tonnes) but there is also a glaring omission. 

Where is the Congo? If the fact the USGS uses “Congo (Kinshasa)” to name the country threw it off, it’s a rudimentary mistake. The DRC produced 1.6m tonnes in 2020 – that’s a lot of metal to go missing. 

Source: OpenAI ChatGPT

The confidence with which it relays the mistake and the certainty with which it sources the wrong answer from a trustworthy source is, to put it mildly, disconcerting. 

Let’s hope no-one in Washington is using ChatGPT to craft critical minerals strategies or global trade policy. (They most certainly are – ed.)

At the moment, image generators like Stable Diffusion, Dall-E and Midjourney are probably just a threat to the jobs of graphic artists and game designers, but the visuals created shows up AI’s distorted view of the mining industry and mineworkers.

The prompt to Stable Diffusion of “A group of miners get ready for the morning shift at a copper mine in the USA” produced the horrors below and changing it to “modern copper mine” altered little other than to add colour and update the hard hats.

Even if you ignore the warped faces, the general demeanour and ragged clothing the images still evokes dirt poor and exploited labourers similar to the many news photos from the Great Depression. 

Source: Stable Diffusion

Using the same prompt, Midjourney also thinks mining is the most depressing job in the world, performed by despairing old men assembling in gloomy bunkers ahead of a punishing day on the job.

Several iterations paint the exact same picture, all with the same New York mining disaster 1941 vibe.  

If nothing else, these images show the mining industry has a massive public perception problem and enticing young people to join the industry is, well, not a job that can be left to artificial intelligence.

Source: Midjourney

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