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BHP says Vale must share damage costs in Fundao dam collapse lawsuit

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 10:13

BHP Group NYSE, ASX: BHP) said on Monday that Vale SA must share liability should it lose a UK class action lawsuit over the deadly 2015 Fundao dam collapse in Brazil.

Although Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and Vale, operated the dam, the class action involving around 200,000 people does not name Vale.

As a result of the Fundao Dam collapse, large amounts of toxic mine waste were released, destroying villages, killing 19 people and polluted hundreds of miles of rivers.

BHP said it will continue to defend the English Proceedings, which it believes are unnecessary because they duplicate matters already covered by the existing and ongoing work of the Renova Foundation and legal proceedings in Brazil.

“BHP Brasil remains committed to continuing working with Samarco and Vale to support the local remediation efforts in Brazil through the Renova Foundation. Those efforts have already provided approximately $2.3 billion in compensation and direct financial aid in relation to the dam failure to 388,000 people to 30 June 2022,” the miner said in the statement.

Vale said its legal advisors will carefully consider the details of the action and provide their response in a timely manner.

“However, Vale does not accept that it is subject to the jurisdiction of the English Court and intends to challenge that jurisdiction, as well as the alleged liability in connection with the UK Action,” said the Brazilian company in a press release.

Samarco resumed activities in 2020, five years after the Fundão dam tragedy.

Iron ore price jumps on easing restrictions in China

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 09:18

The iron ore price rose on Monday buoyed by expectations that China would relax its strict covid-19 restrictions, lifting demand sentiment.

According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $110.61 a tonne Monday morning, up 3.4%.

Some communities in Chinese cities where covid-19 is still spreading are easing off on testing requirements and quarantine rules ahead of an expected shift in virus policies nationwide after widespread social unrest.

Meanwhile, China reported a slight dip in new daily covid-19 cases on December 1, the National Health Commission said.

Market sentiment has also been buoyed by China’s measures to support its struggling property sector.

These measures should have a better chance of developing into stronger demand for steel and iron ore amid a shift away from strict adherence to the zero-covid policy, ANZ said in a note.

China’s economy will keep growing at a reasonable speed with stable employment and prices, Finance Minister Liu Kun said in a speech at the ASEAN plus Three Economic Cooperation and Financial Stability Forum.

(With files from Reuters)

Fortuna Silver provides updated resource for Sunbird deposit at Séguéla gold project

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 09:16

Drilling by Fortuna Silver Mines (NYSE: FSM) (TSX: FVI) at its Séguéla gold project in Côte d’Ivoire continues to reveal more exploration upside, with the company announcing on Monday a new resource for the Sunbird deposit as well as the discovery of two regional prospects.

Following the release of the initial Sunbird mineral resource earlier this year, exploration drilling has since resulted in an upgraded resource estimate, including the deposit’s first indicated resource totalling 3.2 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.74 g/t gold containing 279,000 ounces, and an inferred resource of 4.2 million tonnes at 3.74 g/t gold containing 506,000 ounces.

The new resource estimation is in addition to Séguéla’s current mineral reserves of 12.1 milllion tonnes averaging 2.80 g/t gold containing 1.09 million ounces.

This upgraded mineral resource estimate incorporates an additional 41 diamond and reverse circulation drill holes totalling 14,520 metres to the initial inferred mineral resource, all of which were drilled by Fortuna during 2022.

As detailed in news release dated September 12, drilling further down-dip and along strike at Sunbird has continued to intersect high-grade mineralization beyond the previously reported intersections, extending the drill-defined mineralization associated with the central high-grade core a further 150 metres down to approximately 400 metres below surface.

Recent drilling has also shown that the two main high-grade ore shoots, which previously were modelled as separate shoots, are part of a continuous lode with a strike length of at least 700 metres, further reinforcing the potential for underground mining at Sunbird.

Paul Weedon, SVP of exploration at Fortuna, commented: “Ongoing extension drilling at Sunbird continues to expand the mineralized footprint, extending the southern high-grade shoot a further 75 metres along strike, with drill hole SGDD109 intersecting 10.2 g/t gold over a true width of 9.1 metres and drill hole SGDD110 intersecting 10.2 g/t gold over a true width of 7 metres.

“Additionally, drilling has also confirmed the continuity of mineralization between the central and southern high-grade shoots, with intersections such as drill hole SGDD106 intersecting 6.5 g/t gold over a true width of 15.4 metres.”

Drilling will continue throughout the current quarter to test the projected extensions at depth, with infill drilling to reduce drill hole spacing to further improve resource confidence planned for the first quarter of 2023.

Furthermore, reconnaissance reverse circulation drilling near the Séguéla processing plant has resulted in the discovery of two new prosects at Barana and Badior, in addition to the high-grade results from Kestrel. Given the encouraging intersections, follow-up drilling is also expected in these areas beginning in early 2023.

About Séguéla project

The Séguéla gold project currently consists of the resource-defined, near-surface Antenna, Koula, Agouti, Boulder and Ancien orogenic lode-style deposits. Within a total land package of 62,000 hectares, there are an additional 22 highly prospective targets identified.

In September 2021, Fortuna made the decision to proceed with the construction of an open-pit gold mine at Séguéla. Long lead items have been procured and the development teams are commencing work on the ground.

Once completed, Séguéla will become the company’s fifth mine, with the first gold pour projected by mid-2023. The initial six years are expected to report 133,000 ounces of gold production annually.

Glencore pays $180 million to Congo to settle corruption claims

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 06:53

Miner and commodities giant Glencore (LON: GLEN) said on Monday it will pay the Democratic Republic of Congo $180 million to settle all alleged corruption claims in the country between 2007 and 2018.

The Swiss firm said the latest deal covers all activities that have been the subject of probes by the DRC’s National Financial Intelligence Unit and Ministry of Justice, and the United States Department of Justice over the 11-year period.

This includes the company’s payment of $27.5 million in bribes to the DRC between 2010 and 2013.

“Glencore is a long-standing investor in the DRC and is pleased to have reached this agreement to address the consequences of its past conduct,” chairman Kalidas Madhavpeddi said in the statement.

During the period covered by the settlement, Glencore worked with Israeli mining billionaire Dan Gertler. In 2018, the company settled a long-dragged legal row with Gentler, which included buying the tycoon’s stakes in the Mutanda mining joint venture and in Katanga Mining, which holds a stake in the Kamoto Copper Company (KCC).

The sum adds to the $1.5 billion (£1.2bn) in fines the company has already agreed to pay this year in relation to accusations of bribery across Africa and South America, and the manipulation of fuel oil prices in the US.

Separate investigations into Glencore’s conduct are ongoing in Switzerland and in the Netherlands.

“Never again”

Glencore said it has invested substantial resources towards developing a best-in-class ethics and compliance program. 

The miner noted it also has a refreshed board and management team, including in its DRC operations.

Glencore’s assets in the DRC include a 75% stake in the KCC copper-cobalt mine.

The firm also owns the Mutanda mine, which was responsible for a fifth of the world’s cobalt and nearly 200,000 tonnes of copper in 2018, its last year of full production.

The company restarted processing stockpiles of oxide ore at Mutanda late last year, while it explores the future mining of the asset’s sulphide resources.

Despite the fines, Glencore is expected to post record profits of around $3.2 billion this year.

Phosphorous-based 2D material may lead to advanced solar cells, Li-ion batteries

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 06:06

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London and University College London have joined forces to provide a vision for how phosphorene nanoribbons or PNRs can be used to help tackle the energy crisis.

In an article published in the journal Joule, the scientists explain that PNRs are ribbon-like strands of the 2D material phosphorous, which, like graphene, are made of single-atom-thick layers of atoms. They were first created in 2019 by a team led by Chris Howard of UCL following over a hundred theoretical papers predicting that they would have a range of fascinating and useful properties.

PNRs quickly found a role in their first energy device in solar cells in 2021. A project led by Tom Macdonald at Queen Mary University of London showed that PNRs can be simply printed as an extra layer to benefit solar cell functionality and efficiency by improving “hole mobility.”

“Holes” are the opposite partner of electrons in electrical transport, so improving their mobility – a measure of the speed at which they move through the material – helps electrical current move more efficiently between layers of the device.

“Last year we showed that PNRs can be printed onto perovskite solar cells to improve their efficiency and allow low-cost printing into thin, flexible films compared to traditional inflexible silicon-based solar cells,” Macdonald said in a media statement. “The promise of our PNR solar cells is incredible, but just the start of the many areas PNRs can revolutionize, from lithium-ion batteries to generating clean hydrogen gas.”

According to the researcher, significant steps have already been taken by scientists worldwide to create and use PNRs, including recent work showing that incorporating PNRs into Li-ion batteries dramatically improves performance and stability, with the PNRs able to suppress the formation of dendrites that lead to battery instability.

Sigma Lithium secures $100 million for Brazil mine expansion

Mon, 12/05/2022 - 03:46

Sigma Lithium (TSX-V; NASDAQ: SGML) has secured up to $100 million from shareholder Synergy Capital to build the initial phase of a $155-million expansion at its Grota do Cirilo lithium project in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The Canadian miner said the debt-financing deal extends until August 2023, which gives it enough time to ramp up production at Grota do Cirilo, one of the largest hard rock lithium deposits in the Americas.

Commissioning of the lithium mine is expected this month, with first shipments beginning in the second quarter of 2023, the company said.

During this first production phase, Grota do Cirilo is expected to generate up to 270,000 tonnes per year of high purity battery grade lithium concentrate, equal to about 36,700 tonnes per year of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE).

Based on the results of a study to triple battery-grade lithium concentrate production, Sigma said the project has the potential to churn out 768,000 tonnes (104,200 tpa LCE) from the second to the eighth year of operations. 

Such capacity would make Grota do Cirilo fall just outside the world’s top five lithium producers in terms of output capacity after Albemarle, SQM, Ganfeng, Pilbara Minerals and Galaxy. 

Total output will then drop to 491,000 tonnes in years nine to 13, Sigma Lithium said.

The Vancouver-based miner noted that the planned expansion could be achieved by the addition to the Greentech lithium plant of a single larger additional dense media separation module paired with a proportional crushing module. 

Construction of the expansion could potentially be initiated with earthworks and ordering of long lead items in the first quarter of 2023, once a final decision is made.

The increase in mining feedstock for the integrated production boost would be achieved through the construction of second and third-phase mines.

The company’s co-CEO, Ana Cabral-Gardner, believes that Brazil has the potential to become a “green lithium powerhouse”.

Brazil is already a global case study in low carbon mobility, powering cars with ethanol, biofuels and natural gas. With Sigma Lithium in the mix, the country now has one of the few companies globally that has proven its ability to produce lithium in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Sigma has been producing environmentally sustainable battery-grade lithium concentrate on a pilot scale since 2018.


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