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South Dakota Mines joins Universities Research Association

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 11:14

South Dakota Mines (SDM) announced this week it has been elected to the Universities Research Association (URA), whose mission is to “establish and operate – in the national interest – unique laboratories and facilities for research, development and education in the physical and biological sciences to expand the frontiers of knowledge, foster innovation and promote the education of future generations of scientists.”

The URA has been involved in several complex scientific endeavors, including the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), which is being constructed at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, SD. 

Together with the University of Chicago, the URA operates the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory, the institution responsible for the DUNE project.

“That is certainly a large part of why the Universities Research Association was so interested in us joining,” Richard Schnee, physics professor at South Dakota Mines said in a statement. “DUNE is going to be, by many different measures, the largest science experiment in the United States. We have three excellent young faculty in our physics department working on DUNE.”

The URA was interested in adding expertise to the DUNE project not only in physics, but also engineering, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. These are areas that have been expanded at SDM.

“There are opportunities for faculty to collaborate with experts at Fermilab and take advantage of a lot of the infrastructure and facilities that the national labs have that are not possible here on campus,” Schnee said, adding that the URA is an excellent opportunity for SDM faculty researchers to get involved with other experts across the nation.

The URA and Fermilab have grants to pay salary and travel expenses for faculty, research scientists, students and postdoctoral fellows to work at Fermilab. The URA runs a similar program with Sandia National Laboratory.

There are over 90 research organizations within the URA, including Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale and the University of Michigan. South Dakota Mines is the only South Dakota university that is a member.

Argonaut Gold’s Magino is Canada’s newest producer despite soaring costs, delay

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 10:44

Argonaut Gold (TSX: AR) has achieved commercial production at its Magino mine in northern Ontario after construction costs almost doubled to nearly C$1 billion and a mill problem postponed output by over a month.

The Reno, Nev.-based company estimated the mine, northeast of Lake Superior, would cost C$510 million to build in 2020 but inflation and other challenges increased the final tally to C$980 million.

After it poured first gold at Magino on June 15, production was delayed by a month while a mill was repaired, causing Argonaut to miss this year’s guidance. It also forced it to sell another output stream to Franco-Nevada (TSX: FNV; NYSE: FNV), which now holds a 3% net smelter return royalty.

BMO Capital Markets said Argonaut stock has near-term positivity as production ramps up although Argonaut will miss BMO’s estimate of producing 57,000 gold-equivalent oz. this year.

The mine, which started commercial production on Wednesday, achieves Argonaut’s vision of “becoming a low-cost, mid-tier North American gold producer that delivers value to all stakeholders,” president and CEO Richard Young said in a news release on Thursday. He told The Northern Miner in September that production was targeted for the end of the third quarter.

Long road to production

The project has overcome a series of setbacks related to inflation and supply issues since it acquired Magino in 2012. It began building the mine in 2020, when development costs were pegged around $510 million. Capex rose three more times until 2023, including in December 2021, prompting the ouster of Argonaut’s founder, president and CEO Peter Dougherty.

In June 2022, Argonaut closed an offering of 434 million common shares at C$0.45 apiece, giving it gross cash of C$195.3 million for financing construction at Magino. It also inked a $250 million debt financing agreement with a syndicate of lenders to help it refinance its existing debt and pay for Magino’s development and expansion.

The final estimate for Magino currently sits at C$980 million, according to Argonaut’s first quarter financial results, in May. But Young said he doesn’t expect costs to go up again and that the capital inflation risk is “now behind us.”

Despite its delays, Argonaut aims to take Magino through an expansion plan that it hopes will make it the lowest-cost producer in Canada within three years, as it targets $576 per oz. in all-in sustaining costs, doubling milling capacity to 2,400 tonnes per day and more than doubling annual production to 287,000 ounces. It has a mine life of 19 years.

Argonaut’s looking at Alamos Gold‘s (TSX: AGI; NYSE: AGI) neighbouring Island Gold mine to see what it can learn for its expansion, Young said. Located just east of Magino, and inside the prospective Archean Greenstone Belt, Island hosts 4.2 million proven and probable tonnes grading 10.8 grams gold per tonne for 1.5 million oz. contained metal, with a mine life of 17 years.

Sale to boost balance sheet

As a result of the delay, Argonaut plans to sell to Franco-Nevada its non-core royalty holdings in Canada and Mexico for an aggregate price of $29.5 million, as well as an additional 1% net smelter return royalty (NSR) on Magino. After that transaction closes, Franco-Nevada will hold an aggregate 3% NSR on Magino.

Argonaut has been considering selling its Mexican assets, due to their high costs and short mine lives, Young said. Those projects, which have been the company’s production mainstay since 2009 include three producing gold-silver mines and one exploration project. Young declined to give a price estimate for the assets.

Third quarter consolidated production at Magino came to 53,911 gold-equivalent oz., including pre-commercial production of 10,693 gold-equivalent ounces. Full year production for Magino won’t meet the guidance laid out at the beginning of the year due to the delayed ramp-up to commercial production.

20-day delay

Plant commissioning and ramp-up had risen from 50% to 80% of nameplate capacity during the summer, putting the schedule on track for commercial production by September.

However, the ramp-up was delayed by 20 days due to unplanned downtime related to issues with the ball and SAG mills, which contractors and suppliers helped resolve, said chief operating officer Marc Leduc. “We are systematically centralizing all control functionality,” he said. “The plant has been largely operating at nameplate capacity since the beginning of the quarter.”

Argonaut said it’s on track to meet its full year consolidated production of 200,000 to 230,000 gold-equivalent oz. and all in sustaining cost guidance of $1,625-1,725 per oz. set at the start of the year.

BMO Capital Markets gold analyst Brian Quast said in a note on Friday that the third quarter total production at Magino fell short of BMO’s estimate of 57,000 gold-equivalent oz. and consensus of 59,000 gold-equivalent ounces. Argonaut’s pre-commercial production was also below BMO’s estimate of 24,000 gold-equivalent ounces.

With Argonaut’s guidance at Magino, Quast said his updated estimate forecasts annual gold-equivalent production of 202,000 ounces. Quast said he sees positive stock upside in the near term as production ramps up and he maintains an outperform rating and a C$1.00 target price. The shares were down 3.7% to C$0.52 apiece on Friday at mid-day in Toronto, valuing the company at C$449.6 million. Its shares traded in a 52-week range of C$0.32 and C$0.77.

Magino hosts proven and probable reserves of 63.3 million tonnes grading 1.16 grams gold per tonne for 2.4 million oz. gold, according to a resource update in March. Measured and indicated resources total 150.8 million tonnes grading 0.94 gram gold per tonne for 4.5 million ounces, inclusive of reserves.

It had been mined periodically since the mid-1920s, producing 114,319 oz. metal from 803,135 tonnes of ore that graded 4.43 grams gold per tonne.

Ascot drills highest-grade gold intercept since 2015; shares rise

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 09:26

BC-focused explorer Ascot Resources (TSX: AOT) on Friday reported the third batch of assay results from its 2023 drill program at the Premier gold project, focusing on the Big Missouri deposit located approximately 6 kilometres north of the Premier mill.

The company’s focus is to restart the processing plant at Premier, at one point was named North America’s largest gold mine. The project houses three deposits – Silver Coin, Big Missouri and Premier – situated near the processing facility of the historic mine.

Underground mine development commenced at Big Missouri in 2022, and crews are currently mining and stockpiling mineralized material as development advances.

In addition to mining these deposits, Ascot is also conducting drilling on a number of precious metals discoveries on its 25,000 hectares of mineral concessions, all located within the Golden Triangle of northwestern British Columbia.

Drilling for the 2023 exploration season at the Big Missouri deposit was conducted from early August until this past week, during which time 72 holes were drilled from surface for a total of 6,539 metres.

Headlining the new assays is the highest-grade intercept from drilling the entire property since 2015: 691.5 g/t gold over 0.9 metre, contained within an interval of 98.84 g/t gold over 6.48 metres from a depth of 51.5 metres. It also represents the all-time second highest-grade drill intercept at Big Missouri.

Also included in the results are: 22.3 g/t gold over 9.72 metres from a depth of 58.3 metres, including 98.1 g/t gold over 1.91 metres; and 17.72 g/t gold over 5.65 metres from a depth of 21.4 metres, including 31.9 g/t gold over 1.6 metres.

“With underground mine development at Big Missouri having started last year, this is an opportune time to have intercepted some of the highest-grade gold mineralization in Ascot’s history,” said Derek White, president and CEO of Ascot, in a press release.

“In particular, the 692 gram-per-tonne intercept from hole P23-2490 is located in an area currently scheduled to be mined next year, and as such we are eager to exploit this material early in the mine life,” White noted.

Shares of Ascot surged 9.2% by 12:30 p.m. EDT on the new assay results. The Vancouver-based company has a market capitalization of C$228.7 million.

First Quantum shares up as Panama Congress leaves contract intact

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 09:20

First Quantum Minerals’ (TSX: FM) shares recovered some of the loses from the week on Friday after Panama’s congress eliminated an article in a mining Bill which would have voided the company’s multi-billion dollar copper mining contract.

Lawmakers on Thursday passed a revised Bill that blocks all future mining concessions, including exploration, extraction and transportation of minerals as well as contract renewals in the Central American country. 

The provision to revoke First Quantum’s contract was eliminated and the National Assembly referred the agreement, enshrined in Law 406, to the country’s Supreme Court for a ruling.

Shares jumped more than 12% to C$17.64 in early morning trading in Toronto and were changing hands at C$17.13 in the afternoon. It means the stock has recovered half the value it had a week ago and the loss for the week is down to 27% versus 50% on Wednesday.

Panama Supreme Court to decide First Quantum’s contract fate

Amid the turmoil, characterized by violent protests that brought Panama’s capital city almost to a halt, First Quantum’s Cobre Panama copper mine has not stopped production, the company said on Friday.

“However, like many businesses across Panama, protests, including blockades of key roads, have caused disruptions on site as well as shortages in certain supplies,” First Quantum noted.

BMO Capital Markets said the country would be unlikely to pass a new mining code before a national election next May if the court ruled Law 406 is unconstitutional.

“We do not expect that either First Quantum or the government intends to disrupt mining operations (as it likely didn’t intend to cause temporary mine closure in February), especially into an election when Panama is already facing drought-related disruptions to canal operations,” BMO mining analyst Jackie Przybylowski wrote late Thursday. 

“We expect the mine will continue to operate through this period of uncertainty; revisions to the mining code in 2024 will not be so severe as to justify or force closure. We do see risk to temporary disruptions from protest activities at the port,” Przybylowski said.

First Quantum is Canada’s largest copper producer and its Cobre Panama mine, in production since 2019, contributes almost 5% of the country’s GDP. It also makes up 75% of Panama’s export of goods and has created at least 40,000 jobs, directly and indirectly.

Northern Graphite reopens North America’s only producing mine

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 07:31

Canada’s Northern Graphite (TSX-V: NGC) said on Friday it had resumed processing ore at its Lac des Iles (LDI) mine in Quebec, which is North America’s only producing mine of the commodity.

The company said the decision follows rising market demand after China’s curbs on graphite exports. China, the world’s top graphite producer and exporter, said in October that exports of some types of natural and man-made forms of graphite would require permits from December 1. 

Graphite is used in electric vehicles’ (EVs) battery anodes, which is the negatively charged portion of a battery.

The LDI mine and plant were placed on care and maintenance during the second and third quarters of this year, due to challenging market conditions and prices for its products. Northern Graphite continued to supply customers from stockpiled inventories during that time.

Sales at the mines increased more than 25% in the September quarter to 2,587 tonnes from 2,016 tonnes in the previous quarter.

“What we saw starting in the third quarter was that customers were really coming off the sidelines to secure supply for the year after a hiatus in the first half,” chief executive officer Hugues Jacquemin said in the statement.

Jacquemin noted the company has immediate capacity available to supply the market. Northern Graphite also has the ability to scale quickly thanks to its Okanjande mine in Namibia.

Mining People: Golden Independence, Mandalay, Sigma Lithium, Teck, Nickelex, Strathmore

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 06:27
Management changes announced this week:

Warren Robb is now VP exploration at Golden Independence Mining.

Highrock Resources named Carmelo Marrelli its new CFO.

Mandalay Resources appointed Scott Trebilcock as EVP and chief development officer.

Monumental Minerals announced the resignation of CEO Jamil Sader. Michelle DeCecco will serve as interim CEO.

Neo Performance Minerals named Mohamad El-Mahmoud as EVP rate metals.

Sigma Lithium hired Matthew DeYoe as VP corporate affairs and strategic developmentand Alexandre Mattos as Environmental Director.

Teck Resources announced the resignation of Harry “Red” Conger from the post of president and COO. Johnathan Price is the new president.

Director Robert Johnston was named interim CEO of Total Helium.

Board changes:

Aurora Royalties said Tim Earle has resigned his seat on the board.

Jim Kirke joined the board of Caprock Mining.

Nickelex Resource asked Alf Stewart to join the board.

Jelena Burgarin joined the board of Showcase Minerals.

Strathmore Plus Uranium welcomed Jeremy Wiebe to the board.

Lab at underground mine in Australia receives first cosmic radiation signals

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 05:05

The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory, located at Arete Capital’s Stawell Gold Mine in Western Victoria, Australia, has received the first transmissions from a muon detector placed 1 kilometre underground.

The muon detector records the amount of cosmic radiation that reaches the lab. Muons are heavier versions of electrons made from the collision of cosmic rays with atoms in earth’s atmosphere.

At this point, low levels of radiation must be recorded to ensure that the environment surrounding the SABRE South experiment, which will be transported to the laboratory in 2024, is as pristine as possible in order to detect dark matter particles.

In its first few days, the muon detector recorded about five signals per day, far lower than the more than 1.8 million interactions that would be expected above ground.

The SABRE South experiment mirrors an experiment in the Northern Hemisphere and will determine whether readings taken by Italian researchers are a result of seasonal fluctuations, or dark matter.

“Our first data collections showed that by building the laboratory 1 kilometre underground in the Stawell Gold Mine, we have managed to reduce the cosmic radiation that will reach our dark matter detector,” Elisabetta Barberio, director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics, said in a media statement.

“Our scientists in Melbourne and around Australia will be able to continue to monitor muon levels to ensure cosmic radiation remains low. It is a very significant step in the project that scientists around the world are watching very closely.”

Mineral Resources ups stake in lithium miner Azure Minerals

Fri, 11/03/2023 - 04:05

Australia’s Mineral Resources (ASX: MIN) has acquired additional shares in Azure Minerals (ASX: AZS) raising its stake in the battery metals miner to 12.3%.

This comes a week after Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, built up an 18.3% stake in the junior, which is developing the Andover lithium and nickel-copper-cobalt project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. 

The strategic move by Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting aimed at derailing Chilean lithium giant SQM’s (NYSE: SQM) A$1.63 billion ($1bn) bid for Azure, which is still on the table.

Perth-headquartered MinRes began accumulating its stake in Azure in mid-October and has so far invested more than A$210 million in the takeover target. 

MinRes has also boosted its interest in other lithium miners, including Wildcat Resources (ASX: WC8), in which it now holds a 19.85% stake.

MinRes’ other investments in Western Australia’s explorers include deals with Delta Lithium (ASX: DLI), Global Lithium Resources (ASX: GL1) and Essential Metals (ASX: ESS).

A decline in valuations for some lithium producers is making them prime targets for investors trying to find entry points into the clean energy transition and the electric vehicles supply chain trade. 

Shares in Azure have surged 45% to a high of $4.01 since SQM logged its A$3.52 per share takeover bid. The stock closed 4.1% higher on Friday at A$3.85.

Panama Supreme Court to decide First Quantum’s contract fate

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 16:24

Panama legislators approved on Thursday a Bill that originally sought to revoke First Quantum Minerals’ (TSX: FM) contract with the country’s government covering the Cobre Panama copper mine, but lawmakers decided at the last minute to eliminate that part of the Bill.

The modified law, approved by 63 votes, does, however, ban all future mining concessions, including  exploration, extraction and transportation of minerals, as well as contract renewals in Panama.

The move means that it will be the Supreme Court’s job to decide whether law 406, which made the contract between First Quantum and Panama official, is or not unconstitutional. The top court is considering several other challenges to the contract.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Jackie Przybylowski believes the government will try to avoid mining halts before the upcoming general election in May 2024.

“Revisions to the mining code in 2024 will not be so severe as to justify or force closure, as the country already faces drought-related disruptions to canal operations,” Przybylowski wrote. “We do see risk to temporary disruptions from protest activities at the port.”

First Quantum faces rocky road as Panama protesters dig in

The government and the Canadian miner reached the multi-billion dollar agreement last month and it was enacted into law by parliament. This triggered a series of violent protests that have almost paralyzed Panama City, the capital.

Demonstrators claim the new contract was fast-tracked with little public input or transparency and also made corruption allegations against lawmakers. 

Locals also worry about the mine’s effects on drinking water and the Panama Canal, already driven by El Niño to its driest October since 1950, even though First Quantum has repeatedly said the operation is far from any drinking water sources.

President Laurentino Cortizo proposed to hold a referendum on whether to revoke the controversial contract, but Parliament buried that bill, moving directly to repeal the contract, before backtracking on Thursday evening.

Analysts estimate the decision to cancel the Cobre Panama mine’s contract would cut Panama’s GDP growth from a forecast 6% in 2023 to just 1%.

The Toronto-based company, which lost about 50% of its value between Monday and Wednesday, is one of the world’s top copper miners.

It is also Canada’s largest producer of the coveted metal, churning out 816,000 tonnes of copper in 2021, its highest ever, thanks mainly to record output at Cobre Panama.

First Quantum said on Friday production at the Cobre Panama mine remains uninterrupted at this time. “However, like many businesses across Panama, protests, including blockades of key roads, have caused disruptions on site as well as shortages in certain supplies,” it said.

Other companies active in Panama include Franco-Nevada (TSX, NYSE: FNV), Orla Mining (TSX: OLA), Antler Gold (TSX-V: ANTL) and A.I.S. Resources (TSX-V: AIS). It remains unclear how the new law will affect their projects and operations. 

Lundin drilling signals strong resource growth ahead at Fruta del Norte

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 16:07

Lundin Gold (TSX: LUG) released a fresh set of drill results from its Fruta del Norte (FDN) gold mine in southeast Ecuador on Thursday suggesting significant resource growth potential for an update early in the new year.

“The conversion program has defined several wide, high-grade mineralized zones in distinct sectors outside the current reserve that we expect to underpin further future conversion of resources to reserves,” president and CEO Ron Hochstein said in a news release.

The continued exploration success bodes well for adding to and converting current resources, Canaccord Genuity Capital Markets mining analyst Jeremy Hoy said in a note to clients Thursday.

FDN long section showing selected conversion drilling results. Credit: Lundin Gold

The company has been building substantial exploration momentum with its near-mine targets at FDN recently, culminating in a positive reserve and resource update in February. In September, Lundin expanded its drill program for the second time this year, to 50,000 metres.

As of February, the FDN mine boasts resources of 32.2 million tonnes grading 8.21 grams gold per tonne for 8.5 million oz. gold, and reserves of 17.98 million tonnes grading 8.68 grams gold for 5.02 million oz. of metal. FDN is considered among the highest-grade operating gold mines in the world.

The company’s near-mine program continues to explore individual sectors along trend of the FDN deposit and within extensions of its major controlling structures. The company has drilled 26,361 metres out of a planned 30,000 metres here this year across 46 holes as of the end of October, both underground and from surface.

Drilling earlier this year discovered a new exploration target, Bonza Sur, which has been a primary focus over the last few months. The results continue to define a new epithermal system only 1 km south of the FDN deposit, and the company believes the same volcanic sequence hosts mineralization.

The epithermal system is thought to extend to surface and stretches 850 metres, striking north-south, for a minimum of 500 metres depth in the central area.

Highlights from the near-mine results include 7.44 grams gold per tonne over 8.8 metres from 620.2 metres depth, including 34.68 grams gold per tonne over 1.8 metres in hole BLP-2023-042; and 5.87 grams gold over 11.9 metres from 168.4 metres depth, including 14.39 grams gold over 4 metres.

In the coming months, Bonza Sur drilling will focus on better understanding the zone with tighter spacing and testing the envelope at depth and along strike. Two rigs continue to work on the target.

Meanwhile, an underground conversion drill program at FDN has concluded. It was focused on inferred resources within the FDN deposit, completing 11,233 metres of underground drilling across 79 holes. The results will feed into the expected updated reserve and resource estimate early in 2024.

Highlights from the underground conversion program include an intersection of 48.5 metres grading 6.92 grams gold per tonne from 50.6 metres depth, including 8.7 metres grading 22.88 grams gold in hole FDN-C23-062; and 37.9 metres grading 6.49 grams gold 123.3 metres depth, including 6.6 metres at 12.59 grams gold per tonne in hole FDN-C23-048.

A cross-section at Bonza Sur looking north showing the Colorada vein system. Credit: Lundin Gold

Lundin Gold reported its production for the quarter ending Sept. 30 early in October, mainly outlining consistent output across the portfolio.

Gold production came in at 112,711 oz., compared with 121,635 oz. in the same quarter of 2022. Contributing to the slight decrease in production was a drop in the average gold recovery rate, from 90.3% to 86.5%. However, this was partially offset by an increase in the average throughput.

As a result, gold output from FDN is still expected to meet Lundin’s 2023 guidance of 450,000 to 485,000 oz. gold.

Canaccord’s Hoy has a ‘buy’ rating on the stock, which last traded at C$16.84, with the analyst maintaining a price target of C$20.25. Lundin Gold has a market capitalization of C$4 billion ($2.9bn).

Pronto, RAICO partner to scale autonomous mining in Chile

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 15:11
Image from Pronto.

Pronto, the Silicon Valley-based producer of the autonomous haulage system (AHS), announced Thursday a new partnership with mining and forestry equipment sales and rental services provider RAICO SA,  in Chile, to scale mining and forestry autonomy in the country.

Under the agreement, RAICO will exclusively provide sales, distribution, installation, and aftermarket support services for Pronto AHS and Pollen Mobile private LTE/5G network technologies in Chile.

The partnership will initially be focused on deploying Pronto’s OEM-agnostic AHS on Bell articulated dump trucks, and will then expand to supporting other OEMs and applications, Pronto said in a news release.

“It’s not a coincidence that our first international partnership is in Chile, a critical supplier of minerals such as lithium, which like autonomous technology will be essential to the world’s transition to a carbon-neutral economy,” Pronto CEO Anthony Levandowski said in the statement.

Pronto’s AI-powered, software-centric solution is engineered to be deployed in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of competitive technologies, bringing autonomy within reach for operations and equipment of all sizes.

The company’s AHS operates fully autonomously (Level 4).

Appian acquires mineral sands land package in Virginia

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 13:15

Appian Capital Advisory LLP, the investment advisor to private capital funds that invest in mining and related companies, announced Thursday it has acquired a package of strategically located, near production ready mineral sands deposits and processing facilities in the US state of Virginia from Iluka Resources through its subsidiary Atlantic Strategic Minerals.

The properties include some of the highest-grade mineral sands resources globally, Appian said, adding they are expected to produce high-quality ilmenite and zircon from a historically operating mine with significant existing infrastructure.

Appian said it plans to leverage its development and operational expertise to de-risk and restart the mining operations, with the refurbishment of two existing mineral concentrator plants and the development of mining infrastructure.

The properties are well-positioned to provide a domestic supply of mineral sands, Appian said.

“This acquisition provides a significant opportunity, with some of the highest-grade mineral sands resources globally, strategically located close to end users in the US with significant infrastructure already in place,” Appian founder Michael Scherb said in a statement.

“Appian is well positioned… to return these assets to production and maximize their potential. The transaction is also an excellent fit with our existing portfolio and focus, as we continue to invest in the global megatrends shaping society.”

Denison ends recovered solution management at Phoenix, decommissions field test

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 10:19

Denison Mines (TSX: DML; NYSE: DNN) successfully completed the recovered solution management phase at the Phoenix in situ recovery (ISR) feasibility field test at the Wheeler River uranium project. The project is located in the eastern part of the Athabasca Basin in northern Saskatchewan.

While the field test ran, the company recovered 14,400 lb. of uranium oxide (U3O8) in solution during the leaching and neutralization phases of the test. The solution was stored on site in accordance with permit conditions until the recovered solution management phase could begin.

The solution management phase recovered over 99.99% of the contained uranium. The result further validates the company’s process designs for a future Phoenix commercial plant.

Also, during the solution management phase, treated water suitable for release was collected. The effluent was tested and then injected into a designated underground area. Additional monitoring revealed no migration of the effluent above, below or outside the injection area.

The completion of the recovered solution management phase marks the end of the field test phase, demonstrating the method from start to finish – from construction and commissioning of the field test, development of the well field, control of mining solutions, uranium-bearing solution recovery, and effluent treatment – noted Denison VP operations and regulatory affairs Kevin Himbeault.

The feasibility field test was installed at Phoenix in 2021 to assess various properties of the deposit. It had three phases: leaching, neutralization, and solution recovery. Denison has begun decommissioning of the facility, but the work will not be completed until next year.

The Wheeler River project is the largest undeveloped uranium project in the eastern region of the Athabasca Basin. It is home to the Phoenix and Gryphon high-grade deposits.

The Phoenix feasibility study estimates the deposit contains measured an indicated resources of 280,200 tonnes of ore grading 11.4% U3O8 and containing 70.5 million lb. of uranium oxide. There is also an inferred resource of 5,600 tonnes at 2.6% U3O8 containing 300,000 lb. uranium oxide.

A preliminary economic assessment for the Gryphon deposit was completed in 2018, and the 2023 update remains basically unchanged.

Nutrien misses quarterly profit estimates as potash prices plummet

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 09:57

Nutrien (TSX, NYSE: NTR) fell short of analysts’ estimates for third-quarter profit, as lower potash prices weighed on the world’s biggest fertilizer producer.

Potash prices experienced a decline as a result of the resumption of shipments from Belarus and Russia.

Analysts have noted that fertilizer demand remained subdued for a significant part of the year, with farmers holding off on purchases until prices stabilized.

During Q3, potash prices averaged $250 per tonne, in stark contrast to the $633 per tonne recorded a year earlier.

Nutrien reported earnings of $82 million in the third quarter, down from $1.6 billion a year earlier.

The company says sales were $5.6 billion, down 31% from $8.2 billion. Diluted earnings per share were 15 cents, down from $2.94.

Shares of Nutrien were up 1.98% by 12:10 p.m. EDT. Since January, however, shares are down 23%. The company has a market capitalization of C$37.65 billion ($27.33 billion).

(With files from Reuters)

Read More: BHP CEO says ‘ship has sailed’ on potential acquisition of Nutrien

Kamoa-Kakula confirmed as world’s lowest carbon-emitting major copper mine

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 09:47

Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) said on Thursday that a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions assessment has established its Kamoa-Kakula copper complex, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as the market-leading major copper producer in terms of carbon footprint.

The assessment — carried out by independent consultants Skarn Associates of London, England, and WSP Group of Montreal, Canada — confirms that in 2022, Kamoa-Kakula produced among the lowest emissions per unit of copper out of any major copper mine in the world.

This, the Canadian miner says, is partially due to the incredibly high-grade orebodies at Kamoa-Kakula with ore milled at an average grade of 5.5%, roughly ten times higher than the estimated average copper head grade globally of 0.6%.

It is also a function of the DRC grid being among the world’s cleanest, with 99.5% of grid power generated from hydroelectricity, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

This includes investments in hydropower generation that Kamoa Copper has made in partnership with DRC state utility, such as the completed 78 MW Mwadingusha hydroelectric facility and the ongoing work at Turbine #5 of the Inga II dam.

Credit: Ivanhoe Mines

The report also highlighted the significant reduction in combined Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions intensity following the completion of the direct-to-blister copper smelter, which is part of Kamoa-Kakula’s ongoing Phase 3 expansion and is expected in the fourth quarter of 2024.

The smelter is projected to be one of the largest, single-line copper flash smelters in the world, and the largest in Africa. The smelter will have a nameplate production capacity of 500,000 tonnes per annum of 99+%-pure blister copper anodes.

The 100-hectare smelter complex is under construction adjacent to the operating Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrator plants. The smelter has been designed to incorporate direct-to-blister technology supplied by Metso of Finland, and will meet the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) emissions standards.

According to the assessment, the smelter will have one of the world’s lowest Scope 1 and 2 GHG emission intensities with a projected carbon intensity of 0.36 CO2-e/t Cu. Out of the approximately 100 copper smelters analyzed globally, the smelter is estimated to rank fourth lowest in terms of GHG emissions, it says.

Also part of Phase 3 is the refurbishment of Turbine #5 at the Inga II hydroelectric facility, which Ivanhoe says is approximately 50% complete and is advancing on budget and on schedule. This will supply an additional 178 megawatts of clean hydroelectric power to the national grid, which is sufficient to meet the power requirements of the Phase 3 concentrator and smelter.

Low carbon intensity

On a Scope 1 and 2 basis (reported from ore to mine gate), Kamoa-Kakula’s GHG emissions intensity in 2022 was 0.16 equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of contained copper produced (CO2-e/t Cu), the study shows. This ranks Kamoa-Kakula almost at the bottom of the Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions curve.

Including the partial Scope 3 emissions, Skarn Associates and WSP Group estimate that Kamoa-Kakula’s GHG emissions-intensity in 2022 was approximately 2.42 CO2-e/t Cu. Following the completion of the Phase 3 expansion and the smelter, the emissions intensity of Kamoa-Kakula, on a Scope 1, 2 and 3 basis, is estimated to almost halve to 1.31 CO2-e/t Cu, which ranks it within the bottom decile.

The significant reduction in GHG emissions, according to Ivanhoe, results from the improvement in Scope 3 emissions from the on-site smelter. This is partially due to the smelter being inherently lower in GHG emissions-intensity compared with typical smelters currently used.

The most significant impact is in terms of the transportation of a higher-grade copper anode instead of shipping copper concentrate, as the former has double the contained copper content.

To support the further reduction of downstream (Scope 3) GHG emissions, Ivanhoe says it is working with its offtake partners. This includes targeting low-emission copper refineries, where commercially feasible, as well as supporting lower carbon-intensive logistics routes.

Commitment to decarbonization

“We have said it before – there will absolutely be no energy transition to ‘net-zero’ without a transformational increase in the amount of primary copper produced by the mining industry,” Ivanhoe Mines’ executive co-chair Robert Friedland said in a statement.

“The achievements at Kamoa-Kakula demonstrate that mining can indeed be re-invented to sustainably provide the metal that we so desperately need, without compounding the problem of global warming,” Friedland said.

In line with the company’s proactive response to climate change, Ivanhoe has appointed advisory firm BDO to assist with the development of its long-term decarbonization strategy and net-zero roadmap.

Shares of Ivanhoe Mines were up by 3.3% by 12:30 p.m. EDT on the back of this news release. The Vancouver-based copper miner has a market capitalization of C$12.7 billion ($9.2bn).

Panama Congress decides fate of First Quantum mine contract 

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 08:05

Panama legislators gathered for a third time this week on Thursday to vote on a bill that would revoke the contract between the government and First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM), allowing the Canadian miner to keep operating its giant copper mine.

Bill 1110 passed a second debate late on Wednesday and faces a final vote Thursday, with minimum to no changes allowed at this point.

After 10 months of negotiations between the parties, the country inked in October a multi-billion dollar deal with the miner, letting it operate its flagship Cobre Panama copper mine in the country for the next 20 years.

The decision ending years of legal uncertainty was signed into law last week. But it immediately triggered a series of violent protests that have almost paralyzed Panama City, the capital.

President Laurentino Cortizo announced over the weekend that the country would hold a referendum on whether to revoke the controversial contract. He also announced a halt on new mining projects.

Parliament has already buried Cortizo’s bill 1109, which called for a nation-wide plebiscite on December 17. Lawmakers are now debating bill 1110, which revokes the law that granted First Quantum a contract extension. It also bans all future mining concessions and contract renewals in Panama.

If passed, the proposed referendum on the contract would be unnecessary, the country’s National Assembly said in a statement on Thursday.

Bill revoking First Quantum’s contract faces a final vote Thursday. (Image courtesy of Panama’s National Assembly.)

Legal experts consulted by MINING.COM say that using a new law to revoke the previous law backing the contract (Law 406), could give First Quantum the right to take Panama’s government to international arbitration.

Shares in First Quantum fell more than 50% this week between Monday and Wednesday’s close in Toronto, but were trading 5.6% higher to C$11.3 by mid-afternoon Thursday.

The company is one of the world’s top copper miners and Canada’s largest producer of the coveted metal. It churned out 816,000 tonnes of copper in 2021, its highest ever, thanks mainly to record output at Cobre Panamá.

The mine complex, located about 120 km west of Panama City and 20 km from the Atlantic coast, contributes 3.5% of the Central American country’s gross domestic product, according to government figures.

The asset, which accounts for about 1.5% of the world’s copper production, began production in 2019.  

Cobre Panamá is estimated to hold 3.1 billion tonnes in proven and probable reserves and at full capacity can produce more than 300,000 tonnes of copper per year, or about 1.5% of global production of the metal.

Currently, the complex includes two open pit mines, a processing plant, two 150MW power stations and a port.

New children’s book aims to get girls into mining

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 06:33

Move over Dora the Explorer — another Latina heroine and adventurer is here and she’s ready to teach kids about mining. 

Like Dora, Ana likes adventures and problem solving. But she – and the other characters in Ana Gabriela Juárez’s new book “Ana’s Adventures at the Mine: The Secret of La Esperanza” – are based on real people. Ana is modelled on the author, president of CTA Environmental Consultants and founder of WIM Central America, while her grandmother in the book is Canadian Mining Hall of Fame member and geologist, Maureen Jensen. 

Juárez, who’s based in Toronto but is originally from Guatemala, said she’s always believed it’s important to educate kids about rocks and mining.  The idea for the book came to her during the pandemic, when WIM Central America started online mineralogy clubs for kids. 

“Kids are a really big group of people that sometimes mining companies don’t take into account with their stakeholder groups, but it’s such an important group,” she said. 

“It’s super interesting because kids, when they understand something and get passionate about it, they’re really great advocates.” 

Juárez said in her experience with mineralogy clubs, which are now meeting in-person, kids love learning around rocks, and sharing what they learn with friends at school and with their families. 

“We get pictures of them having their entire families in the living room sitting there and them teaching them about the importance of mining.” 

Author Ana Gabriela Juárez. Credit: Amazon Central America mining woes

Mining is unwelcome throughout much of Central America, and one of Juarez’s aims when starting a WIM organization in the region was to change people’s perspective on the industry. 

“We saw that we had several issues that we needed to work with in our region to promote mining, but also female representation. We cannot be women in mining organizations if we don’t have mining in our countries, right?” 

Several countries in the region have banned or placed heavy restrictions on mining. A popular backlash against the industry is now unfolding in Panama. In response to huge protests against Panama’s recent deal with First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM), for example, the country’s President Laurentino Cortiz on Oct. 27 said he would ban any new mines, including those already in the permitting process. 

Juárez says that education about mining is key to fostering a better understanding of the industry in Central America and countering deep-seated negative perceptions. 

The idea for the book came to her when she realized there was no educational literature for kids to read in Spanish that was related to mining. She thought about what her 12-year-old son and his cousins in Guatemala would be interested in. 

The result is “Ana’s Adventures at the Mine”, which will soon be available in Portuguese, Arabic, French and German, in addition to English and Spanish. 

The story follows Ana, who finds a truck containing her grandmother’s geology gear with her friends on her birthday. The friends are magically transported to the mining valley of Esperanza where they need to work together to solve a series of challenges.  

Part of the proceeds go to WIM Central America, and Juárez says the book, aimed at ages 8-13, is already on Amazon’s best sellers list in 38 categories.  

Getech, Cozairo join forces to deliver carbon capture solutions to non-oil and gas industrial companies

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 05:05

UK-based Getech, a locator of subsurface resources, and US-based Cozairo, a specialist in carbon capture and storage (CCS), have joined forces with the goal of delivering end-to-end CCS solutions to non-oil and gas CO2 emitters seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.

In a media statement, the companies said that the focus will be on storing carbon near the emission point source, reducing infrastructure and capital requirements, commercial complexity and the number of parties impacted by the development of CCS projects.

The plan is that Getech uses its geoscience gravity and magnetic database, its proprietary Globe earth model and its geospatial analytics expertise to screen for attractive colocations of CO2 emitters and storage sites, to evaluate the suitability of the subsurface for carbon storage, and to prepare the geoscience component of licence applications and site monitoring plans.

Cozairo, on the other hand, will deploy its CCS project development and geologic sequestration expertise to develop local, capital-efficient carbon capture and storage initiatives capable of delivering returns to industrial partners across sectors.

“Our companies possess complementary skills and capabilities in the area of CCS, with no overlaps,” Richard Bennett, CEO of Getech, said in a statement. “This makes our partnership the ideal solution for businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint in a safe, efficient and cost-effective manner.”

Bennett pointed out that the appetite for carbon capture and storage solutions from an increasing number of governments and policymakers across the world and the resultant incentives have helped to reduce the costs associated with the technology.

“The increase in emission costs is closing the gap with CCS implementation capital expenditure, making this solution much more commercially viable,” he said.

According to Bennett, CCS activity has seen significant advancement in recent years, with 2022 alone seeing 61 new CCS projects globally. However, projections from the International Energy Agency show that these initiatives still fall short of the 1.2 gigatons of CO2 capture that must be in place by 2030 to support a sustainable development scenario.

Sibanye-Stillwater eyes cuts at US mines on weak palladium prices

Thu, 11/02/2023 - 04:06

Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW)(NYSE: SBSW) warned on Thursday of further changes at its palladium operations in the United States to adjust to an ongoing decline in the metal’s prices, which have “dropped faster than anticipated”.

The announcement comes only a week after the South African miner said it would cut more than 4,000 jobs across its platinum group metal (PGM) mines in the home country. It also said it would shut two loss-making shafts, as part of a company-wide restructuring to position operations “for optimal performance”.

The company has faced headwinds at its US operations beyond issues related to the drop in PGMs, used in catalysts that curb toxic vehicle emissions. It had to suspend production in March from the lower levels of its Stillwater West mine in Montana following an incident that damaged the shaft infrastructure. The same mine was halted for nearly six weeks last year while the company worked on repairing damage caused after widespread flooding in the western state.

Sibanye-Stillwater said that while US operations had recovered from the stoppage, cost pressures and a reliance on contractors due to a persistent skills shortage in Montana and across the US were likely to keep costs elevated.

The company reduced production targets for the year in the US to 420,000-430,000 ounces from 460,000-480,000 ounces previously, within a higher all-in sustaining cost range of $1,750-$1,825 per ounce, up from the previously guided $1,550-$1,650 an ounce.

Prices for the main PGMs — platinum and palladium — have dropped 14% and 38% respectively this year, with palladium prices reaching about $1,110 an ounce on Thursday and platinum close to $920.

Kroondal and Mount Lyell mines

Separately, Sibanye-Stillwater announced it had assumed full ownership of Kroondal platinum mine in South Africa earlier than expected, adding that it expects to extend the mine’s life until at least 2029. Without the deal, Kroondal would have closed in 2025.

The Johannesburg-based company, which has recently diversified into battery minerals, said it was in the process of buying the historic Mount Lyell copper mine in Tasmania.

“We identified copper as an essential metal necessary to enable the clean energy transition,” chief executive officer Neal Froneman said in the statement. “Mount Lyell potentially provides a low-cost exposure to copper, adding primary production of copper to our current lithium and nickel exposure.”

Shares in the company were down on pre-market in New York at $4.91. So far this year, the stock has fallen almost 55% on both the US and the South African markets.

Barrick, MSALABS, Chrysos, partner to deploy PhotonAssay tech at Nevada Gold Mines

Wed, 11/01/2023 - 16:54

MSALABS announced that it has forged a partnership with one of the world’s largest gold miners, Barrick Gold, and Chrysos Corporation to deliver PhotonAssay technology to Barrick mine sites across four continents.

The initiative begins with the deployment of three MSALABS contracted PhotonAssay units to the Nevada Gold Mines (NGM) complex in US, with the potential deployment of up to 10 more units to other Barrick projects by the end of 2025.

The partnership is an extension of an existing relationship between the three companies at Barrick’s Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania and its Kibali operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The largest gold-mining complex in the world, NGM is 61.5% owned and operated by Barrick, and 38.5% owned by the world’s largest gold miner, Newmont. The assets at the complex include 10 underground mines, 12 surface mines as well as multiple related facilities.

 “Barrick’s global adoption of our technology is a watershed moment for us, underlining PhotonAssay’s superiority to outdated and hazardous fire assay methods, Chrysos CEO Dirk Treasure said in the news release.

 “PhotonAssay has already been delivering faster, safer, more accurate and environmentally-friendly analysis to our African operations, so we are more than pleased to broaden the partnership with Chrysos and MSALABS to take advantage of this innovative technology in our global operations,” said Barrick mineral resource management & evaluations executive Simon Bottoms.   


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