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Updated: 2 weeks 6 days ago

Discovery may reduce use of palladium in hydrogen production

Fri, 12/22/2023 - 06:06

Nagoya University researchers are proposing substituting palladium spherical nanoparticles for nanosheets in catalysts used to produce hydrogen for fuel cells.

According to the group, a flatter, thinner surface would use fewer precious metals and increase the available surface area for the reaction.

In a paper published in the journal ACS Nano, the scientists explain that their discovery should increase the eco-friendliness of the energy-making process that involves using Pd in electrolysis to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen and employing such hydrogen in fuel cells to create electricity.

In detail, the researchers developed a ‘one-pot method’ that allows for the manufacturing, in a single glass bottle, of sheets that were so thin (1~2 nm) that they could be compared to the size of a single molecule or DNA strand.

“Nanosheets can be synthesized at a low temperature of 75°C in a single hour with no special reaction vessel,” head researcher Minoru Osada said in a media statement. “Although the conventional synthesis method struggles to synthesize nanosheets with a uniform thickness and size, our one-pot method can easily do this.”

Osada noted that the new nanosheets offer great improvements over existing technology

“Our 2D nanosheets have 2.8 times more surface area than spherical nanoparticles because of their sheet-like shape,” he said. “They had over twice the catalytic activity of the current generation of hydrogen evolution catalysts in performance tests.”

Since hydrogen reactions are important for many industries, this research promises to have a transformative impact.

“To date, Pd nanoparticles have been widely used as important catalysts for various chemical reactions ranging from gas purification to pharmaceutical synthesis. Pd nanosheets may potentially replace conventional Pd catalysts and revolutionize these processes,” Osada said.

Northern Dynasty closes $17 million in financings to support Pebble project

Thu, 12/21/2023 - 10:08

Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX: NDM) (NYSE American: NAK) has closed its recently announced convertible note and private placement financings for respective totals of $15 million and C$3.42 million, which the company plans to use for its Pebble copper-gold project in Alaska.

CEO Ron Thiessen specifically noted that these funds will be used “in a responsible manner for the benefit of all Alaskans, especially those in southwest Alaska closest to the Pebble project.”

In September, the Vancouver-based miner provided an updated preliminary economic assessment for the Pebble project, adding in an infrastructure plan for a “southern route” access to the proposed mine, which, if built, would represent the largest in North America. Over a 20-year mine life, Pebble is expected unearth 6.4 billion pounds of copper; 7.4 million ounces of gold, 300 million pounds of molybdenum; 37 million ounces of silver, and 200,000 kg of rhenium.

Still, that is a massive “if”, going by the fierce opposition to the project by local communities as well as the stance taken by the Biden administration.

For nearly two decades, Northern Dynasty has been trying to develop the massive copper resource at Pebble — said to be the world’s largest — but encountered multiple roadblocks in doing so.

Earlier this year, the Pebble mine project was effectively shot down after US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blocked the company from storing mine waste in the Alaska’s watershed, home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon fisheries.

In July, the state, led by Governor Mike Dunleavy, filed a motion asking the US supreme Court to overturn the EPA’s decision, arguing that the move violated a decades-old land swap deal and Alaska’s sovereignty. Northern Dynasty has also not given up and considered legal options to challenge the EPA.

“The proposed mine for the Pebble project would provide good-paying, year-round employment for thousands of Alaskans, something desperately needed in southwest Alaska,” Thiessen said in a statement earlier this year.

The executive noted that new infrastructure outlined in the new PEA study would offer the additional benefit of potentially lowering energy costs for the region.

Northern Dynasty’s stock was up by 2.2% as of 1:10 p.m. ET on the financing announcement. The company’s market capitalization stood at C$238.4 million ($179m).

Hummingbird Resources unveils plan to raise up to $32.7 million

Thu, 12/21/2023 - 06:22

Africa-focused Hummingbird Resources (AIM: HUM) unveiled on Thursday a strategy to secure up to $32.7 million in total gross proceeds to fund its growth strategy, exploration activities, advance its Dugbe gold project in Liberia, and boost its balance sheet.

The gold producer said it will sell newly minted shares priced at 11.2625 pence each to achieve its target. The plan includes an additional conditional subscription of $2 million from new shareholders and an open offer to existing shareholders to raise up to $5 million.

Hummingbird also provided an operational and exploration update in which it noted that was transforming its 51% interest in the Dugbe gold project into a controlling 51% shareholding in Pasofino Gold Limited (TSX-V: VEIN)(OTCQB:EFRGF). The move, it said,  simplifies the ownership structure of the assets, ensuring more efficient decision-making and project progression.

The company acknowledged challenges ramping-up operations at its Kouroussa mine in Guinea. While it saw this year lower mining productivity rates than expected, Hummingbird said it was working with key contractors and bringing in additional mining fleet to reach commercial production for a full year in 2024. 

Looking ahead, the miner expects to produce around 200,000 ounces of gold in fiscal year 2024. 

The company said detailed production and AISC guidance for FY-2024 will be provided, as well as an operational and trading update at the end of January.

Graphene-copper mix may improve efficiency of EV, industrial equipment motors

Thu, 12/21/2023 - 06:06

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory discovered that by mixing the right amount of graphene with copper to make electrical wires it is possible to improve the efficiency of electricity distribution, as well as develop more efficient motors to power electric vehicles and industrial equipment. 

In a paper published in the journal Materials & Design, the scientists explain that when they added 18 parts per million of graphene to electrical-grade copper, the temperature coefficient of resistance decreased by 11% without reducing electrical conductivity at room temperature. 

The temperature coefficient of resistance is a property that explains why metal wires get hot when an electric current runs through them. In general, researchers want to reduce this resistance while enhancing a metal’s ability to conduct electricity. 

In the case of electric car engines, an 11% increase in the electrical conductivity of copper wire winding translates into a 1% gain in motor efficiency.

“This discovery runs counter to what’s generally known about the behaviour of metals as conductors,” materials scientist and senior author of the study, Keerti Kappagantula, said in a media statement. “Typically, introducing additives into a metal increases its temperature coefficient of resistance, meaning they heat up faster at the same current levels compared to pure metals. We are describing a new and exciting property of this metal composite where we observe enhanced conductivity in a manufactured copper wire.”

Previously, the research team performed detailed structural and physics-based computational studies to explain the phenomenon of enhancing the electrical conductivity of metals using graphene.

In this study, they showed that the solid-phase processing used to extrude the composite wire leads to a uniform, near pore-free microstructure punctuated with tiny flakes and clusters of graphene that may be responsible for decreasing the coefficient of resistance of the composite.

“We showed that flakes and clusters must both be present to make better conductors for high-temperature operations,” Kappagantula said.

According to the research team, when applied to any industrial application, the new copper-graphene composite wires will provide great design flexibility.

For example, coiled copper wire forms are used in the core of electric motors and generators. Motors today are designed to operate within a limited temperature range because when they get too hot, the electrical conductivity drops dramatically. With the new copper-graphene composite, motors could potentially be operated at higher temperatures without losing conductivity.

Likewise, the wiring that brings electricity from transmission lines into homes and businesses is typically made of copper. As the population density of cities increases, power demand follows suit. A composite wire that is more conductive could potentially help meet that demand with efficiency savings.

The research team continues its work to customize the copper-graphene material and measure other essential properties, such as strength, fatigue, corrosion, and wear resistance, which are crucial to qualify such materials for industrial applications. 

Agnico Eagle invests in Finland-focused FireFox Gold

Thu, 12/21/2023 - 04:30

Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX: AEM; NYSE: AEM), the third-largest gold miner by market value, is buying a stake of junior FireFox Gold (TSXV: FFOX) that may progress to a joint venture on a project in northern Finland.

The C$1.4 million private placement gives Agnico a 10.9% holding with the option to own almost 20% in FireFox, which has the Kohlo property and the Mustajärvi project in the Lapland region some 900 km north of Helsinki, the companies said on Wednesday.

Agnico may also earn a 51% interest in Kolho by spending $5 million on exploration within five years, according to the deal. It could then form a venture with FireFox to develop the project as operator and expend $7.5 million more for a further 24% ownership, the company said.

“Our company was the first junior gold explorer built around a Finland-based CEO and Finland-based exploration management,” FireFox CEO Carl Löfberg said in the release. “Now we are part of a growing community of local and international mining professionals in Finland, and we find ourselves working closely with Europe’s largest gold miner.”

Also, Denver-based Crescat Portfolio Management, whose Precious Metals Fund has gained 27.8% since inception three years ago, took a 17.8% stake in FireFox for C$1.7 million, the explorer said.

FireFox has completed airborne magnetic surveys and limited reconnaissance mapping and sampling on the 120-sq.-km Kolho property northeast of Rupert Resources‘ (TSX: RUP) Ikkari discovery and FireFox’s Sarvi property. Ikkari might produce 200,000 oz. gold a year, according to a 2022 preliminary economic assessment.

Agnico’s private placement funding will be directed to drilling and exploration at FireFox’s Mustajärvi project, which is more advanced than Kolho. The junior also has the Jeesiö and Sarvi properties where earlier stage exploration targets are being advanced, it said.

Shares in FireFox closed unchanged at C$0.055 apiece on Wednesday in Toronto, valuing the company at C$7.7 million. Shares in Agnico Eagle fell 2.2% in the same session to C$72.28 for a market value of C$35.8 billion ($26.9bn).

Pinnacle Minerals expands Canadian lithium footprint

Thu, 12/21/2023 - 03:46

Australian junior Pinnacle Minerals (ASX: PIM) has inked an agreement to acquire a 75% stake in the Adina East lithium project in the increasingly crowded and lithium-rich James Bay region, in Quebec, Canada.

The deal with E&D Fund, a financial entity managed by Waratah Capital Advisors, grants Pinnacle $500,000 as an offtake payment for rights to 25% of minerals extracted from the project.

“Partnering with Waratah Capital at this stage of the company’s journey is a strategic move and is expected to bolster Pinnacle’s growth,” Pinnacle Minerals Managing Director, Nic Matich, said in the statement.

The company, with a market capitalization of just A$3.77 million ($2.6m), said the funds will help it strengthen its balance sheet and boost project exploration in 2024.

In collaboration with IOS Geosciences, a Quebec-based team, Pinnacle has already initiated a ground reconnaissance program at Adina East, sampling various pegmatite outcrops.

The lithium project covers 72.7km² (7,274.4 ha.) and has a total of 147 claims. It’s adjacent to Loyal Lithium’s (ASX: LLI) Trieste project, where spodumene bearing dykes were identified less than 6km from the boundary of Project2 and is also by Winsome Resources’ Tilly project, where swarming pegmatites have been mapped and are interpreted to extend into the Adina East Project.

Xtra-Gold expands Boomerang system at Kibi project in Ghana

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 12:14
Xtra-Gold Resources aims to enlarge the Kibi project in Ghana. Credit: Xtra-Gold Resources

Xtra-Gold Resources (TSX: XTG) says new drill results bode well for growing the Kibi gold project in Ghana beyond the limit of a 2021 resource footprint.

Crews discovered a new high-grade gold zone at depth called Boomerang Deep in the 33.7-sq.-km project on the Kibi-Winneba greenstone belt, the Toronto-based company said on Wednesday. The project is about 75 km north of the capital, Accra.

Drilling expanded the stacked, multi-shoot Boomerang gold system across 370 metres of cross-plunge and further defined the down-plunge continuity of the main Lower Shoot gold zone, Xtra said.

Highlights include drill hole KBDD23536 in Boomerang Deep. It cut 9 metres grading 9.29 grams gold per tonne including 4.5 metres at 16.94 grams from 400 metres depth.

In the Lower Shoot zone, drill hole KBDD23530 returned 56 metres grading 1.4 grams gold including 20 metres at 2.54 grams gold from 166 metres down hole. Drill hole KBDD23536 cut 50 metres at 1.28 grams gold including 22 metres at 1.93 grams gold from 258 metres depth.

“We are encouraged by these promising drill results, with the definition drilling not only continuing to show good down-plunge continuity in mineralization, but also expanding the Boomerang gold system with the discovery of a new high-grade gold zone at depth,” president and CEO James Longshore said in the release.

“These additional broad, robust gold intercepts from definition holes KBDD23530 and KBDD23536 continue to better define the grade and geometry of the main Lower Shoot mineralization.”

Lower shoot

The drill results from 12 diamond core boreholes totaling 4,108 metres are part of an aggressive initiative focussing on multiple resource expansion targets in the southwest Zone 3 portion, Longshore said. The program extended the Lower Shoot mineralization by about 100 metres further down-dip at the system’s northeast, he said.

Drill results for a total of 132 holes for 26,968.5 metres have been reported to date for the ongoing Zone 3 resource expansion drill program.

The project hosts 13.9 million indicated tonnes grading 1.4 grams gold for 623,700 oz. gold, according to a November 2021 resource. It has 5.6 million inferred tonnes grading 0.96 gram gold for 180,700 oz. gold.

Shares in Xtra-Gold Resources closed 5.6% higher on Wednesday in Toronto, valuing the company at C$44 million.

Rio2 stock soars on environmental approval for Fenix gold project in Chile

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 11:17

Canadian gold junior Rio2 (TSXV: RIO) ascended to its highest in over a year after the company announced the successful approval of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for its Fenix project in Chile.

In a press release Wednesday, Rio2 said it welcomes the decision in Chile by the committee of ministers to approve the EIA, which now allows the company to advance the Fenix gold project through statutory permitting, financing and the planned restart of construction activities during 2024.

The environmental approval marks a turn of fortunes for the company, which saw its EIA rejected in July 2022 by a regional evaluation commission because it contained “insufficient information” on the project’s negative impacts on certain wildlife species. An appeal was subsequently made to the committee.

Located in the Atacama region of northern Chile, Fenix represents one of the largest undeveloped gold oxide, heap leach projects in the Americas, boasting 4.75 million oz. of measured and indicated resources contained within 389.2 million tonnes grading 0.38 g/t gold, the company said.

According to Rio2, the project is an example of modern gold mining where a full complement of technical, environmental, and social considerations has been consulted on and designed in from the outset. It also represents a significant investment in Chile’s gold sector by a junior mining company, with approximately $235 million of initial and sustaining capital.

“We have designed Fenix Gold as an example of the very best of modern mining bringing not only significant investment and jobs to the Atacama region, but also extensive protection of the environment with a particular focus on flora and fauna in the area we will be operating,” Alex Black, executive chairman of Rio2, said in a statement.

Over a 17-year project life, Fenix is expected to produce 1.32 million oz. of gold, averaging 91,000 oz. annually over the first 12 years. As outlined in the September 2023 feasibility study, the Fenix project would have a $210.3 million after-tax net present value discounted at 5%, with a 28.5% internal rate of return.

Shares of Rio2 soared 31.7% to C$0.40 apiece by 2:15 p.m. ET Wednesday, having reached a 52-week high of C$0.43 earlier in the session. The company’s market capitalization is C$102.4 million.

Integra submits draft mine plan for DeLamar gold project in Idaho

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 10:42

Integra Resources (TSXV: ITR; NYSE: ITRG) has submitted the draft mine plan to the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the DeLamar project in southwest Idaho, about 100 km from the capital of Boise. The project includes the historic DeLamar gold mine and the past-producing Florida Mountain gold-silver mine.

Submitting the mine plan is a major step in moving permitting for the DeLamar mine forward. Baseline environmental and cultural data are included. The document also includes preliminary engineering and site design such as the pit layout, heap leach location, waste rock storage, and sequencing. It further incorporates access roads, power generation, primary crushing and processing.

“This not only represents a critical milestone in the advancement of the project, but also sets Integra apart from its peers, being one of only a few development companies in the western US with a project entering the NEPA (US Environmental Policy Act) permitting process,” said Integra president and CEO Jason Kosec.

Site visit: New discoveries at historic DeLamar gold-silver property     

The DeLamar resource estimate includes oxide, mixed, and non-oxide material at DeLamar and non-oxide material at Florida Mountain, stockpiles, and heap leaching ores.

The total measured and indicated resource is 247.8 million tonnes grading 0.32 g/t gold (containing 2.9 million oz. gold) and 18.1 g/t silver (142.7 million oz. silver). The inferred resource is 43.1 million tonnes at 0.31 g/t gold and 10.8 g/t silver. All told there are almost 4.8 million gold-equivalent oz. at the project.

The 2022 prefeasibility study gave DeLamar an after-tax net present value with a 5% discount of $314 million and an internal rate of return of 33% with a gold price of $1,700/oz. and a silver price of $21.50/oz.

While the mine plan is under review by the BLM, Integra will continue permitting efforts in anticipation of environmental hearings. The company’s Indigenous engagement efforts are under way, as well; it includes a framework for identifying, managing, and mitigating any potential impacts on culturally sensitive areas or historical sites.

Seabridge expands Iskut’s Bronson Slope gold deposit with 6.36 g/t in best hole

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 10:38

Seabridge Gold (TSX: NEA; NYSE: SA) has expanded the known Bronson Slope gold-copper deposit at its Iskut project near Stikine, BC. The best hole, SGS-23-11 returned 6.36 g/t gold, 0.02% copper and 4.7 g/t silver over 10 metres. The same hole also intersected 0.61 g/t gold over 171 metres and 0.45 g/t gold over 66.5 metres.

The 2023 Bronson Slope drill program was designed to simultaneously test the potential to expand the Bronson Slope deposit, particularly at depth. Drilling the area adjacent to and mainly to the east of the quartz-magnetite breccia pipe (QMBX) discovered in 2022 proved fruitful. Extensive gold grades were intersected in an identifiable lower zone.

“One of the concepts that led us to acquire the Iskut project was the expectation that a larger epithermal mineral deposit could potentially be preserved at Bronson Slope. This expectation has been confirmed but as we have learned more about this occurrence, we have become more convinced and excited about the potential to find its source porphyry,” said Seabridge chair and CEO Rudi Fronk.

“Next year’s program will aim to integrate the upside at Bronson Slope with our hypothesis of a regional structurally controlled porphyry district encompassing the entire Iskut project.”

Drilling this year included deep holes to evaluate the source of the QMBX. Narrow intervals of intrusive rocks were encountered at depth, but no source intrusion for the QMBX was observed. Further drilling is planned for 2024.

Seabridge noted that the results so far are early stage. Establishing the orientation of the mineralized zones is still in progress. Additional studies are needed to establish true widths of the intersections.

Reunion Gold settles claim brought by Barrick over alliance termination

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 09:27
Reunion is a leading gold explorer in the Guiana Shield in South America. Credit: Reunion Gold

South America-focused explorer Reunion Gold (TSXV: RGD) has settled a claim brought by Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX) (NYSE: GOLD) with respect to a strategic alliance agreement signed by the companies back in early 2019.

In December 2022, Reunion gave notice to terminate this agreement, which Barrick challenged in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleging that the alliance should continue in perpetuity, and that unilateral termination is invalid.

At the time, the only project remaining under the alliance was the NW Extension project in Suriname, as Barrick had previously elected to exclude all other projects from the pact, Reunion stated in a Feb. 13 2023 news release.

Prior to that, the parties had agreed on a rehabilitation and demobilization plan and budget for the NW Extension project. In terminating the agreement, Reunion said it offered to assign its rights in the NW Extension to Barrick.

In its statement of claim, the gold mining giant said it is seeking relief in the form of, among other things, declarations affirming its position, orders compelling Reunion to perform its obligations under the alliance, related injunctive relief, and damages.

On Wednesday, Barrick’s claim was settled on what Reunion calls “a mutually acceptable basis”, and the parties now have no outstanding obligations to each other, since there are no properties under the alliance agreement.

Reunion said the company’s main focus remains on exploring and developing its 100%-owned Oko West project in north-central Guyana, which Barrick excluded from the alliance in January 2020 and has no back-in rights on the project.

Discovered by Reunion’s initial drill program in 2020, Oko West a pit-constrained mineral resource estimate of 41.8 million tonnes grading 1.84 g/t gold for 2.5 million oz. of contained gold in the indicated category. It also has 27.1 million tonnes of inferred material grading 2.02 g/t gold for 1.8 million oz. of contained metal.

Shares of Reunion Gold rose 1.1% by 12:30 p.m. in Toronto. The gold junior has a market capitalization of C$466.1 million ($349.8m).

Copper price at four-month high on strong Chinese imports

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 08:42

Copper prices spiked on Wednesday to their highest level in over four-and-a-half months on restocking in China and firmer physical demand.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was little changed at $8,591 per metric ton by 1200 GMT after touching $8,665, the highest since Aug. 4.

Copper for delivery in March rose on the Comex market in New York, touching $3.94 per pound ($8,668 per tonne), up 0.2% compared to Tuesday’s closing.

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

China bought more copper in November, growing copper cathode imports by 13.5% from October to 378,791 tons, according to customs data released on Wednesday.

Physical copper premiums, an indicator of spot buying appetite, also rebounded this week.

Demand firmed as copper users looked to replenish stocks and thin inventory in China, analysts at CCB Futures said.

Curbing copper’s upside was a firmer dollar index, making greenback-priced metals more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

(With files from Reuters)

PDAC report examines challenges facing Canada’s exploration labour market

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 07:14

The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) and the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) partnered to produce the 2023 Canadian Mineral Exploration HR Outlook. The study offers in-depth labour market information necessary to develop an industry strategy and action plan to address key human resources issues.

The report also evaluates a variety of labour supply and demand factors in mineral exploration and identifies short- and long-term workforce challenges and opportunities facing various groups in the mineral exploration sector.

The study reveals several overarching themes, such as labour demand trends often being disconnected from post-secondary education trends in many key occupations for mineral exploration, e.g., geoscientists. Dwindling or stagnating enrolment trends can also create difficult labour market conditions and skills shortages. This is especially concerning as mining and mineral exploration are poised to expand in the coming decades.

The outlook also shares that among career seekers in mineral exploration, a majority (62%) do not have any exposure to the sector until post-secondary studies or after graduating.

This limits the reach of recruiters and educators within the industry, underscoring the need for a kindergarten to grade 12 outreach strategy. Notably, there is also generally a higher representation of women and immigrants in exploration-related occupations than in the broader mining industry.

A digital copy of the 2023 Canadian Mineral Exploration HR Outlook is here.

Screen-printed, paper-based electrodes key to detecting heavy metals in humans, the environment

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 06:06

Miniaturized electrochemical sensors based on screen-printed electrodes (SPEs) and paper-based electrodes have been found to be the most efficient and low-cost options for detecting the presence of toxic heavy metals in humans and in natural environments.

In a paper published in the journal Coordination Chemistry Reviews, researchers at Korea’s Pusan University explain that such sensors are efficient because they do not require large samples and supporting electrolytes.

To reach this conclusion, the scientists investigated the mechanisms, advantages, and disadvantages of miniaturized sensors including screen-printed electrodes, paper-based electrodes, and nanomaterial-coated sensors made from carbon nanocomposites, metal nanoparticles, and metal-compound nanocomposites.

Although SPEs and paper-based electrodes were the best performers because they address the limitations of conventional laboratory-based methods, improvements are still needed.

The group found that current electrochemical detection approaches suffer from poor selectivity, inadequate level of detail, and interference by foreign species that can have detrimental effects during on-site analysis. Additional encounters with dissolved oxygen species, while necessary for analyzing conductivity and pH, contribute to a decline in the detection ability of these sensors over time.

The researchers also stressed the need for portable lab-on-a-chip approaches and large-scale manufacturing of disposable, flexible, and wearable electrochemical sensors.

Moreover, innovative electrochemical detection strategies are required for heavy metal sensing in human biofluid samples, such as saliva, blood, and urine.

“One of the most difficult tasks is the commercialization of the advanced and systematic ideas put forward by academia, pharmaceutical industries, and government bodies in combination with proper validation techniques,” lead researcher Seung-Cheol Chang said in a media statement.

Nonetheless, he and his team are confident that ongoing research in electronics, nanotechnology, and materials technology can overcome some of the existing issues, paving the way for more rapid, reliable, and precise on-site detection of heavy metals. These metals have high densities and atomic weights and originate from geological processes or human activities, including mining, industrial production, and petrochemical plants.

Heavy metals are toxic to humans and animals and are considered common pollutants in the environment. They can enter the human body on ingestion of polluted food or water, adsorption through the skin, or respiration of polluted air and are known to cause severe health problems such as kidney damage, high blood pressure, nervous system damage, fertility defects, and even death.

Antofagasta goes ahead with $4.4 billion Centinela expansion

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 06:05

Chilean miner Antofagasta (LON: ANTO) is going ahead with the planned $4.4 billion construction of a second concentrator at its Centinela copper mine in the country’s north, which will add 170,000 tonnes copper-equivalent a year to the company’s overall production.

The miner said that early works will begin immediately, with full construction expected to start after definitive project finance documents have been executed during the first quarter of 2024.

Chief executive Iván Arriagada said that first copper from the project is expected in 2027. It noted that this addition would help Antofagasta to progress towards its long-term ambition of 900,000 tonnes of profitable copper production and make of Centinela one of the world’s top 15 copper mines by output.

“The Centinela Second Concentrator project is a key element of our profitable growth strategy,” Arriagada said. “It will also reduce net cash costs and unlock significant value in the Centinela district’s two-billion-tonne ore reserve.” 

The executive noted that the new 95,000 tonnes per day concentrator will add 144,000 tonnes of copper production, 130,000 ounces of gold production and 3,500 tonnes of molybdenum production for 36 years.

The project will be financed through a combination of direct funding from Centinela’s shareholders Antofagasta and Marubeni Corporation, which will provide about 40% of total funding, and project finance provided by lenders, the company said.

Copper shortage

Antofagasta has been taking steps to help reduce a looming copper shortage, driven by electrification and the energy transition. Arriagada said the approved project will use 100% renewable electricity and raw sea water, which will reduce the company’s environmental footprint. 

“As a project, [it] represents a demonstration of our purpose of developing mining for a better future,” he said.

The development will also include a new tailings storage facility, growth in energy and other input supply infrastructure, the expansion of outbound logistics networks such as the concentrate transport system and port infrastructure.

The company, majority-owned by Chile’s Luksic family, one of the country’s wealthiest, is also considering the use of more autonomous equipment and new technologies to reuse discarded mine waste.

The Centinela mining complex, located in Chile’s Antofagasta region, was created in 2014 from the merger of the Esperanza and El Tesoro mines. It produces copper concentrates containing gold and silver, using a milling and flotation process, and copper cathodes using a solvent extraction electrowinning process.

Saturn Resources buys Shanta Gold for $180m

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 03:56

East Africa-focused Shanta Gold (LON: SHG) said on Wednesday it had agreed to a £141.95 million ($180.7 million) takeover bid by Tanzania-based Saturn Resources.

Under the deal, Shanta shareholders will be entitled to receive 13.5 pence a share, which represents a 6.7% premium to Tuesday’s closing price of 12.65 pence. They will also be entitled to receive an interim dividend of up to 0.15 pence a share, the company said.

Saturn Resources, which is part of ETC Holdings, said the move came as the valuation of publicly listed gold companies has de-rated, adding that UK listed African gold miners were a good example of such trend, as they are now trading over 40% down on a Price to Net Asset Value (P/NAV) basis than five years ago. 

The P/NAV ratio reflects how much investors are prepared to pay per one net asset.

Saturn Resources believes the impact on junior gold miners within Shanta’s peer group has been exacerbated by other factors, such as lack of diversification, jurisdictional issues and poor liquidity.

“This is an all-cash offer at a premium to the current price when the gold price is close to an all-time high,” Shanta Gold said in the statement. “As such it provides an exit opportunity in cash for all shareholders taking into account the current gold price as well as the operational and other risks inherent in the business.”

Shanta’s directors have been advised that the terms of the acquisition are fair and reasonable, the miner said. It noted they intended to recommend shareholders vote unanimously in favour of the deal at an upcoming general meeting.

Last year, the company was approached by Shandong Gold (HKG: 1787), Chaarat Gold (LON: CGH) and Yintai Gold (SHE: 000975) but negotiations fell through.

Shanta owns and operates two gold mines in Tanzania — New Luika, which is the country’s fourth largest mine, and Singida. It also has the West Kenya project, believed to be among Africa’s highest-grading gold assets. Shanta also holds exploration properties in both countries.

Mining companies with the biggest impacts in Africa — report

Tue, 12/19/2023 - 16:20

A collaboration between EY and Africa Business has produced an inaugural ranking that evaluates mining companies in Africa, emphasizing their local economic impact and the rising importance ESG (environmental, social, and governance) factors in the mining sector.

The ranking identified the top 30 companies, and aims to analyse developments and identify trends and significant changes in the sector. The ranking provides a transparent view of how these companies impact the regions they operate in, setting a new standard for assessing the mining sector’s role in African economies, the companies said.

Without the consent of local communities, there can be no “social licence to operate” – the key to maintaining a long-term business, the report notes.

The methodology involved analysing the latest available Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) reports for member African countries, supplemented by information obtained from company reports for non-member states, including South Africa, Morocco and Botswana.

The economic impact has been divided into three categories. The ranking was established based on budgetary contributions (taxes and royalties paid into the state budget), social contributions (funding for equipment or projects for communities living near mining operations), and the employment of nationals.

The ranking reveals that the top 30 companies contributed $15 billion in fiscal and social contributions and created 250,000 direct jobs.

The continent’s mining giants occupy the top spots by the scale of their financial contributions and the number of employees needed to operate their assets. Anglo American, Glencore, Barrick Gold Corp, OCP, First Quantum Minerals, Sibanye Stillwater and Anglogold Ashanti all feature in the Top 30.

Top ten mining companies with the biggest impacts in Africa: Source: EY and Africa Business

South African groups account for 45% of the contributions to the Top 30, while the ratio of Chinese companies is much lower. None of the la]er made it into the Top 10. Few Chinese groups in the Copperbelt in clude: CMOC, CNMC and MMG (majority-owned by China Minmetals).

“This first-ever ranking of mining companies according to their economic impact will make it easier to understand the orders of magnitude of the local contribution made by mining investors and to compare them with each other”, said Moez Ajmi, partner at EY.

Read the full report here.

AngloGold Ashanti invests in G2 Goldfields as Guyana faces annexation threat

Tue, 12/19/2023 - 14:39

AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) is buying a stake in Guyana-focused G2 Goldfields (TSXV: GTWO) even as neighbouring Venezuela vows to seize the land where its main project sits.

Denver-headquartered AngloGold is paying C$22.5 million for 11.7% of G2, it said on Tuesday. G2 plans to update its resource next year for the OKO project which lies 120 km west-southwest of the South American country’s capital city, Georgetown.

The OKO Main deposit hosts 793,000 indicated tonnes grading 8.63 grams gold per tonne for 220,000 contained oz. and 3.3 million inferred tonnes grading 9.25 grams gold for 974,000 gold ounces, according to an initial resource estimate in April 2022.

AngloGold says it is interested in the Guiana Shield cutting across the continent’s northeast that hosts G2’s OKO project, Reunion Gold’s (TSXV: RGD) Oko West deposit next door and Guyana’s largest mine, Aurora, which G2 financed and developed before selling it to China’s Zijin Mining in 2020 for $238 million.

But the investment comes as Venezuela’s autocratic President Nicolás Maduro trumpeted a referendum this month showing 95% support for taking two-thirds of Guyana, including the project-laden Essequibo district holding OKO as well as offshore oil discoveries by ExxonMobil.

AngloGold didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on Maduro’s actions, but G2 issued a statement after the referendum.

“G2 Goldfields’ operations are not affected in any way by the current actions in Venezuela, with five diamond drill rigs currently turning around the clock,” the company said on Dec. 8. “G2 will continue to be a supportive international investor in Guyana.”

Guiana Shield

The Guiana Shield also holds the Omai mine that yielded 3.7 million oz. from 1992 to 2005 for Golden Star Resources and Cambior; Aris Mining’s (TSX: ARIS) Toraparu project; and the Gross Rosebel mine in Suriname that was sold last year by Iamgold (TSX IMG; NYSE: IAG) to Zijin Mining.

“This strategic investment in G2 will provide us with a strong position in one of the world’s key gold provinces with significant potential for new discoveries,” AngloGold Ashanti CEO Alberto Calderon said in Tuesday’s release. “We look forward to G2’s continued exploration success as the Guiana Shield continues to develop.”

AngloGold says G2’s exploration properties, including several targets within a 20-km radius of the OKO Main and Ghanie deposits, have significant growth potential.

G2 reported assays from the Shear 3 target at the site this month, including hole OKD-180, which cut 8.9 metres grading 13 grams gold per tonne, and drill hole 182, which returned 3.6 metres at 14.4 grams. The results provided more confidence in the continuity of gold mineralization while expanding the mineralized zones down plunge, G2 said.

Unpopular policies

Maduro’s foray to dispute an 1899 border settled by international arbitration may simply be a nationalist distraction from unpopular policies at home that have decimated Venezuela’s economy, silenced opposition and driven nearly 8 million people into exile. There are no troops poised to invade and Maduro’s government has said there’s no state of war.

Hardly anyone turned out to vote in the referendum which may backfire for Maduro by showing how despised he is and any action towards Guyana could prompt the United States to reinstate recently lifted sanctions on oil production, The Economist said this month.

The US and the United Kingdom have lined up support for Guyana. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, criticized Maduro this month in a rare outburst against his fellow socialist. Guyana President Irfaan Ali appeared calm in a recent televised address.

“You have nothing to worry about when you invest in a country that governs itself in accordance with the rule of law, that stands on the side of democracy and understands what true freedom is,” Ali said this month. “There is nothing to fear.”

Blue Lagoon, Lake Babine Nation ink deal to start underground mining at Dome Mountain

Tue, 12/19/2023 - 12:29

Blue Lagoon Resources (CSE: BLLG) and the Lake Babine Nation have signed an agreement allowing the start of underground mining at the Dome Mountain gold mine. The mine is less than an hour’s drive from Smithers, BC.

The agreement provides for the Dome Mountain project to move forward and outlines how the Lake Babine people will share in the benefits of the operation. The Lake Babine Nation is one of the largest Indigenous groups in British Columbia, with a total membership of over 2,500.

“I really appreciate Blue Lagoon’s commitment to seeking Lake Babine’s consent for this project and for doing business the right way on our yintah, and I look forward to a successful and sustainable restart of Dome mine.,” said Lake Babine Nation Chief Murphy Abraham.

Saying the company is honoured and humbled to be accepted by the Lake Babine Nation as a trusted partner, Rana Vig, president and CEO of Blue Lagoon, promised to meet and exceed the terms of the agreement.

The Dome Mountain gold project is accessible year-round by road. The project has both an environmental management act permit and a mining permit allowing the mining of up to 75,000 tonnes of ore annually.

There are 15 known high-grade veins on the property. They contain an estimated measured resource of 135,000 tonnes grading 10.32 g/t gold and 57.31 g/t silver, an indicated resource of 662,000 tonnes grading 8.14 g/t gold and 41.19 g/t silver, and an inferred resource of 85,000 tonnes at 6.02 g/t gold and 26.13 g/t silver.

Global Atomic raises $11.25m for Dasa uranium project

Tue, 12/19/2023 - 12:26

Global Atomic (TSX: GLO) has arranged a non-brokered private placement of 6 million units priced at C$2.50 each for gross proceeds of C$15 million ($11.25m). Regent Mercantile Holdings has agreed to take 2 million units, and it will assist in the placement of the remaining 4 million units or will subscribe to any units that remain unsold at closing.

Each unit is comprised of one common share of Global Atomic and one-half of one share purchase warrant, exercisable at C$3.00 per share. The warrants will expire 12 months following the closing date (Dec. 29, 2023), subject to accelerated expiry if the 10-day TSX volume-weighted average price exceeds C$3.50 per share for a period of five consecutive trading days.

“We are pleased to welcome Stephen Dattels and Regent Mercantile as shareholders of Global Atomic. They bring a broad knowledge of the uranium industry in addition to an impressive group of investors to participate in the Investment,“ said Global Atomic president and CEO Stephen Roman, adding that this investment will facilitate the restart of operations at the Dasa uranium project.

“The company will also benefit from Regent’s high-level business contacts in the United States through their ownership position in Traxys Group, who are highly regarded in the uranium and commodities business,” he added.

“Having US and international shareholders of this calibre strengthens Global Atomic’s position with its bankers and provides further assurance to the Niger government that the Dasa project will advance to produce uranium on schedule.”

Based on the sensitivity analysis provided in Global Atomic’s 2021 Phase 1 feasibility study, at recent spot prices for uranium oxide (U3O8) of $80/lb, the Dasa project is expected to generate an internal rate of return of 79.2% and an after-tax net present value with an 8% discount of $1.07 billion.

Following a 16,000-metre in-fill and expansion drill program at Dasa, Global Atomic issued the 2023 resource estimate of 10.1 million indicated tonnes grading 4,913 ppm U3O8 and 4.5 million inferred tonnes grading 5,243 ppm.

An updated feasibility study and mine plan, which is expected to extend the life of the current Phase 1 mine and increase Dasa’s mineable reserves, is due in the first quarter of 2024.

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