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Updated: 4 days 14 hours ago

Buenaventura resumes Julcani and Orcopampa operations as blockades cease

Tue, 12/27/2022 - 09:58

Buenaventura (NYSE: BVN), Peru’s largest publicly traded precious metals mining company, announced on Tuesday that road blockades near its Julcani and Orcopampa mines have ceased completely and peacefully, and the operations will resume as normal.

Earlier this month, Buenaventura reported that political protests throughout Peru has adversely affected supply routes to the country’s mines, blocking the entrance to its Julcani and Orcopampa operations located in the provinces of Angaraes and Castilla respectively.

As a result of the blockades, the company initiated a temporary stoppage of the Julcani and Orcopampa operations, and has maintained minimum personnel required for essential activities only.

Buenaventura said that there has been no damage to its property or assets, and all other Buenaventura mining assets are still operating under normal conditions.

The resumption of mining activities at Julcani and Orcopampa will now enable the company to meet its 2022 production guidance, which for Julcani is set at 2.4-2.7 million oz. silver and 70,000-75,000 oz. gold for Orcopampa.

Gold price rises to six-month high on China reopening optimism

Tue, 12/27/2022 - 09:20

Gold prices rose on Tuesday as optimism surrounding China’s decisions to further ease covid-19 restrictions weighed on the US dollar, while resilient yields cast a shadow over the precious metal’s advance.

Spot gold was up 1.3% to $1,821.37 per ounce by 11:50 a.m. ET, easing off a six-month high of $1,832.35 reached earlier in the day. US gold futures gained 1.4% to trade at $1,828.90 per ounce.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

Meanwhile, the US dollar index edged lower, and benchmark 10-year yields held close to their highest in over a month.

Bullion has gained nearly $200 after falling to a more than two-year low in late September, as expectations about slower interest rate hikes from the Fed dimmed the dollar’s allure and reduced the opportunity cost of holding gold.

“The gold futures bulls have the overall near-term technical advantage. Prices are in a seven-week-old uptrend on the daily bar chart,” with the first resistance at $1,825 an ounce, said Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco Metals, in a Reuters note.

“While the expectation for US Federal Reserve rate hikes coming to an end has been a supportive environment for gold, if benchmark US Treasury yields do remain a little lofty, that certainly could be a slight barrier to gold’s rise,” warned David Meger, director of metals trading at High Ridge Futures.

The focus now seems to be on top gold consumer China relaxing its quarantine rules, in a major step towards easing curbs on its borders, which have been largely shut since 2020.

(With files from Reuters)

Read more: Recession risk, stagflation set stage for positive gold performance in 2023 — report

Copper price hits 2-week high as China further eases covid curbs

Tue, 12/27/2022 - 08:53

Copper price rose to the highest in two weeks on Tuesday as China announced a major step towards further easing of its covid containment policy.

China will stop requiring inbound travelers to go into quarantine starting from Jan. 8, moving further away from a strict “zero-covid” policy that has curbed industrial activity and domestic demand.

Copper for delivery in March rose 3.7% on the Comex market in New York, touching $3.94 per pound or $8,668 per tonne.

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

The most-traded February copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose as much as 1.3% to 66,660 yuan ($9,576.21) a tonne in early trade, its strongest since Dec. 14.

“Overall, the current macro environment is relatively favorable for copper prices,” Huatai Futures analysts wrote in a note.

Supply concerns could keep traders cautious, analysts said, as customs clearance in Shanghai has slowed down due to rising COVID case numbers.

(With files from Reuters)

CSN closes $500m iron ore purchase and sale deal with Glencore

Tue, 12/27/2022 - 08:34

CSN Mineração signed a contract for the purchase and sale of iron ore with Glencore.

According to the document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM), the project foresees an export prepayment of up to a maximum value of $500 million.

The document does not provide further details about the agreement.

Earlier this month, CSN announced CAPEX of $2.6 billion for 2023-27.

With the investment, the company looks to increase its own production and the purchase of iron ore from third parties from 34Mt this year to 68Mt in 2027.

CSN Mineração is the second largest exporter of iron ore in Brazil. With more than 3 billion tonnes of certified reserves according to the Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC), the company owns the Casa de Pedra and Engenho mines, the Pires beneficiation complex, a stake in the MRS railroad and a captive terminal for export of iron ore in the Port of Itaguaí.

Extraterrestrial manganese turns out to be oxygen-free

Tue, 12/27/2022 - 07:49

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have turned on its head a theory related to the presence of manganese oxides on Mars.

Through an experimental study, the scientists discovered that under Mars-like conditions, manganese oxides can be readily formed without atmospheric oxygen. Using kinetic modelling, they also showed that manganese oxidation is not possible in the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere expected on ancient Mars.

Prior to this discovery, it was believed that the manganese oxides recovered from rocks in Mars’ Gale and Endeavor craters in 2014 were formed because the red planet might have once had more oxygen in its atmosphere billions of years ago.

Back then it was suggested that the minerals probably required abundant water and strongly oxidizing conditions to form. Using lessons learned from earth’s geologic record, it was concluded that the presence of manganese oxides indicated that Mars had experienced periodic increases in atmospheric oxygen in its past—before declining to today’s low levels.

But the UW researchers think otherwise.

“The link between manganese oxides and oxygen suffers from an array of fundamental geochemical problems,” Jeffrey Catalano, corresponding author of the paper presenting the new findings, said in a media statement. 

Catalano explained that Mars is a planet rich in the halogen elements chlorine and bromine compared to earth. Halogens occur on Mars in forms different from those on the earth, and in much larger amounts. Thus, he and his team considered that they would be important to the fate of manganese.

Together with co-author Kaushik Mitra, Catalano conducted laboratory experiments using chlorate and bromate—dominant forms of these elements on Mars—to oxidize manganese in water samples that they made to replicate fluids on Mars’s surface in the ancient past.

“We were inspired by reactions seen during chlorination of drinking water,” Catalano said. “Understanding other planets sometimes requires us to apply knowledge gained from seemingly unrelated fields of science and engineering.”

The scientists found that halogens converted manganese dissolved in water into manganese oxide minerals thousands to millions of times faster than oxygen. Further, under the weakly acidic conditions that scientists believe were found on the surface of early Mars, bromate produces manganese oxide minerals more quickly than any other available oxidant. Under many of these conditions, oxygen is altogether incapable of forming manganese oxides.

“Oxidation does not necessitate the involvement of oxygen by definition,” Mitra said. “Earlier, we proposed viable oxidants on Mars, other than oxygen or via UV photooxidation, that helped explain why the red planet is red. In the case of manganese, we just did not have a viable alternative to oxygen that could explain manganese oxides until now.”

What about habitability?

The new results alter foundational interpretations of the habitability of early Mars, which is an important driver of ongoing research by NASA and the European Space Agency. However, the researchers noted that just because there was likely no atmospheric oxygen in the past, there’s no particular reason to believe that there was no life.

“There are several life forms even on earth that do not require oxygen to survive,” Mitra said. “I don’t think of it as a ‘setback’ to habitability—only that there was probably no oxygen-based lifeforms.”

He pointed out that extremophile organisms that can survive in a halogen-rich environment—like the salt-loving single-celled organisms and bacteria that thrive in the Great Salt Lake and the Dead Sea on earth—might also do well on Mars.

Anglo American carries out water reclamation project in Brazil

Mon, 12/26/2022 - 11:08

Anglo American (LON: AAL) has announced plans to reuse the water that is employed in the operation of the pipeline that transports iron ore from its Minas Rio operation located in the Conceição do Mato Dentro municipality in southeastern Brazil to the port in São João da Barra, located further east.

The pipeline extends for 529 kilometres and, thus, the water reclamation project may become one of the largest in the country, with a volume that could reach 0.3 m³/s of reused water.

In a media statement, Anglo explained that the way things work so far requires the ore to travel from the plant through 29 municipalities until it reaches Porto do Açu. There, a filtering mechanism separates it from water and allows for it to be stored for export.

The filtration process, however, generates effluent that is treated and then released into the ocean.

To avoid the latter part of the process, Anglo decided to partner with Porto do Açu to study the possibility of using at least part of the effluent in existing and future industrial plants at the port, so that, eventually, the effluent is no longer discarded at sea.

Back in September, the first operational test of the water reuse project was carried out. Approximately 2,000 cubic meters of water were reused in low-impact activities such as sprinkling coal piles, thus confirming the operational viability of the initiative and the possibility of substituting new, high-quality water currently used for such purposes, with the effluent.

According to Anglo, an executive project for the construction of the water supply system for phase I of the reuse project, which would have a capacity of 100 cubic metres per hour, is also underway.

Reusing slag

In addition to the recycling of effluent, the Brazilian arm of the multinational mining company is reusing ferronickel slag in road expansion works taking place in the central state of Goiás.

The new strategy, carried out in partnership with the firm Ecovias do Araguaia, aims to find a new use for a waste product, reduce the environmental impact of the Barro Alto and Codemin operations and shrink the area needed to store waste.

In the release, Anglo noted that 10,000 tons of ferronickel slag were used for asphalt paving this year.

In detail, the material was employed in the expansion of the GO-356 highway, confirming the technical and commercial viability of the initiative.

Chilean company develops AI-powered technology to detect failures in large-tonnage mobile mining equipment

Mon, 12/26/2022 - 09:39

Chile’s National Piloting Center (CNP), a non-profit organization linked to the Production Development Corporation, has selected mining equipment monitoring technology Vitech as the winner of the Impact Mining 2022 contest, which will grant almost $30,000 to the creators of the solution to continue working on it.

Developed by Fukay Data, Vitech is a software aimed at providing early detection of failures in large-tonnage mobile mining equipment.

The technology relies on artificial intelligence, which can deliver early warning diagnostics of failures and vibration spectra. The hardware connected to it, on the other hand, consists of wireless sensors that can be installed in all moving equipment at a mine, from shovels, CAEX trucks, drills and support machinery.

The way it works is one in which the sensors transmit data through a BLE antenna. The data are then received by a gateway and sent, via Wi-Fi, to the cloud, where they are stored and then delivered to the software for analysis and decision-making.

According to Fukay Data, Vitech reduces risks and improves safety, as it removes the need for equipment operators and/or technicians to handle the critical components of large-tonnage equipment and allows them to monitor the machinery remotely. This, in turn, has the potential to increase productivity and reduce maintenance costs, as it is a non-invasive solution.

Next steps

The Impact Mining award will allow Fukay Data to pilot the technology at a CNP site and receive industry validation, which should result in an easy transition toward commercialization.

“For our final development stage, it is essential to pilot the technology at a large mine setting. Even though the tests we ran at small-scale operations were successful, we need to bring the solution into a scenario with all the real difficulties and high risk,” Cristián Gallardo, Fukay Data operations manager, said in a media statement. “The CNP will provide the testing ground and the technical support that will allow us to get the certification we need and advance towards the commercialization stage.”

Recession risk, stagflation set stage for positive gold performance in 2023 — report

Mon, 12/26/2022 - 09:32

It has been a year to forget for gold. The precious metal is closing in on a second consecutive yearly decline, with prices down by $250 an ounce since its March highs as central bankers stepped up their aggressive fight against inflation

Going forward, the interplay between inflation and central bank intervention will be key in determining the outlook for gold’s performance in 2023, according to the World Gold Council (WGC).

Economic consensus calls for weaker global growth akin to a short, possibly localized recession, falling – yet elevated – inflation, and the end of rate hikes in most developed markets.

While this environment may carry both headwinds and tailwinds for bullion, on balance, the mixed set of influences implies “a stable but positive performance for gold,” the WGC says in its 2023 outlook.

Due to the speed and aggressiveness of hiking moves by central banks, there are now many signs of weakening economic output across geographies, and economists are warning of a material recession risk.

Meanwhile, it is almost inevitable that inflation will drop next year as further declines in commodities drag down energy and food prices.

The policy trade-off for nearly every central bank, according to the WGC, is now particularly challenging as the prospect of slower growth collides with elevated, albeit declining inflation. 

“No central bank will want to lose its grip on inflationary expectations resulting in a strong bias towards inflation fighting over growth preservation. As a result, we expect monetary policy to remain tight until at least mid-year,” the WGC predicts.

A challenging combination of reduced but still elevated inflation and softening growth demands vigilance from investors. The likelihood of recession in major markets threatens to extend the poor performance of equities and corporate bonds seen in 2022.

Gold, on the other hand, could provide protection, as it typically fares well during recessions, delivering positive returns in five out of the last seven recession.

Furthermore, the WGC believes recession is not a prerequisite for gold to perform. A sharp retrenchment in growth is sufficient for gold to do well, particularly if inflation is also high or rising, it says.

Also supporting gold is the recent decline in the US dollar, which is likely to be pressured further next year particularly as falling inflation and slower growth take hold. According to WGC data, a dollar peak has historically been good for gold, yielding positive gold returns 80% of the time 12 months after the peak.

Other gold-positive influences mentioned in the WGC’s report include geopolitical risks, which should continue to make gold a valuable tail risk hedge; Chinese economic growth, which should improve next year, further boosting consumer gold demand; and long-term bond yields, which are likely to remain high, but a levels that have not hampered gold historically.

That said, there is an unusually high level of uncertainty surrounding consensus expectations for 2023, the WGC cautions.

For example, central banks tightening more than is necessary could result in a more severe and widespread downturn. Equally, central banks abruptly reversing course – halting or reversing hikes before inflation is controlled – could leave the global economy teetering close to stagflation. Gold has historically responded positively to these environments.

On the flipside, a less likely ‘soft landing’ that avoids recession could be detrimental to gold and benefit risk assets, the WGC says.

To access the Gold Outlook 2023 report, click here.

Rescue work continues after gold mine collapse in China

Mon, 12/26/2022 - 08:29

Rescue work continues after 18 people were trapped underground as a gold mine in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region collapsed on Saturday.

Approximately 40 people were working underground at the time of the accident in Yining County in the Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture. Twenty-two miners have been rescued.

“Now, the accurate location of the trapped people has been determined. However, the complex situation underground and the unstable surrounding rocks have brought many difficulties to the rescue work. The 18 people remain out of contact,” Lu Wei, chief safety officer of Xinjiang Nonferrous Metals Industry (Group) Co., Ltd told Xinhua News.

The mine is operated by Western Gold Mine.

Last September, 19 miners died after the collapse of a coal mine in the Qinghai region.

In December 2021, two miners died after a coal mine flooded in Shanxi province.

Turns out that gold objects were also valued during the Bronze Age

Mon, 12/26/2022 - 06:36

Archaeologists from the University of Leicester and the University of Southampton have identified a 4000-year-old gold-working toolkit amongst the grave goods from an important Bronze Age burial near Stonehenge.

The toolkit was found at the Upton Lovell G2a Bronze Age burial, which was excavated in 1801 and is now on display at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. What the team did is re-examine the stone and copper-alloy grave goods found with the burial, revealing they are gold-working tools.

While carrying out a wear analysis of the grave goods, researcher Christina Tsoraki noticed what appeared to be gold residues on their surfaces. It also became clear that the stone tools had been used for a range of different purposes—some were used like hammers and anvils whereas others had been used to smooth other materials.

Microwear analysis showing gold traces on surface of gold-working tool. (Image by the University of Southampton).

Tsoraki’s findings prompted the team to look at the residues using a Scanning Electron Microscope coupled to an Energy Dispersive Spectrometer to both confirm this identification, and investigate whether the residues were ancient or modern.

Their research, published in the journal Antiquity, confirmed that gold residues are present on five artifacts. They also found that these residues are characterized by an elemental signature consistent with Bronze Age goldwork found throughout the UK.

Previous research had identified possible gold traces on one of the stone grave goods. This new research has identified further four stone objects with gold on their surfaces and characteristic wear traces, linking a wider suite of items from the burial to the gold-working process. It also demonstrates that these gold traces are ancient. Thus, the team suggests the tools were used to make multi-material objects where a core object was crafted in a material like jet, shale, amber, wood or copper and decorated with a thin layer of gold sheet.

“Gold-working tools dating to the Early Bronze Age are extremely rare, so identifying a toolkit for creating composite gold objects is an extremely important discovery,” Chris Standish co-author of the study, said.

Alamos Gold sells non-core royalties for $5m to Metalla

Fri, 12/23/2022 - 12:56
Zacatecas Silver drills last month at its Esperanza gold mine in Mexico where Metalla Royalty & Streaming has bought a silver stream from Alamos Gold. Credit: Zacatecas Silver

Alamos Gold (TSX: AGI; NYSE: AGI) is selling four non-core royalties to Metalla Royalty & Streaming (TSXV: MTA) for $5 million in Metalla shares.

The deal includes a silver stream on the Esperanza project in Morelos, Mexico and royalties on the Fenn Gib South, Ronda and Northshore West exploration-stage projects in Ontario, the companies said in news releases on Friday. Alamos owns none of the properties, it said.

“The sale is consistent with Alamos’ strategy of monetizing and maximizing the value of its non-core assets while focusing on advancing its strong portfolio of high-return growth projects,” the Toronto-based miner said in its release.

The sale of non-core assets and equity in other companies over the past two years has realized some C$100 million for the intermediate gold producer.

Metalla, which reported a net loss of $6 million for the nine months through September, adds to its portfolio of royalties and streams across the Americas, a few in Australia and one in Africa.

“This transaction adds meaningful silver leverage to our portfolio while complementing our Canadian exploration portfolio in known mining camps and on proven geological trends,” Brett Heath, president and CEO of Metalla, said in a statement. 

Metalla is acquiring the 20% silver stream on Zacatecas Silver’s (TSXV: ZAC) Esperanza gold project subject to payments of 20% of the silver spot price.  Alamos sold the project to Zacatecas Silver in February for $60 million when the silver stream was valued at $6 million.

BMO Capital Markets says the wisdom of Metalla’s purchase will become more evident years from now as the projects in play are developed, with Esperanza likely the closest to production.

“Metalla has once again diluted near-term interests with a target of future upside,” BMO mining analyst Rene Cartier wrote in a note on Friday. “Given the early-stage nature of the royalties, we expect minimal value attribution until more meaningful advancement is made at the projects.”

World War II mine

The Fenn Gib South 1.4% net smelter return (NSR) royalty covers five mineral claims 3 km south of Mayfair Gold’s (TSX: MFG) Fenn Gibb project about 100 km east of Timmins, Ontario.

The Ronda 2% NSR covers the past-producing Ronda mine held by Platinex (TSXV: PTX) in the Abitibi region of northern Ontario. Ronda operated from 1939 to 1940 before closing for the war effort and is now part of Platinex’s 223-sqkm Shining Tree project. The terms allow Platinex to repurchase half of the royalty for C$500,000.

Newpath Resources (TSXV: PATH) holds the Northshore West property with a 2% NSR in the Schreiber-Hemlo Greenstone Belt near Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Under the deal, Alamos will receive 939,355 Metalla common shares, valued at $5 million, or $5.3228 per common share, based on the 20-day volume-weighted average price before the agreement. It will give Alamos about 1.9% of Metalla’s issued and outstanding common shares.

Alamos has three operating mines in North America, the Young-Davidson mine in northern Ontario, one of Canada’s largest underground gold mines, which produced 195,000 oz. of gold last year; the Island gold mine near Lake Superior in northern Ontario, and the Mulatos mine in northwestern Mexico’s Sonora state.

The gold miner also has a portfolio of growth projects, including the Lynn Lake project in Manitoba, the Quartz Mountain project in Oregon and three gold projects in Turkey.

Alamos plans to replace depleting zones at the Mulatos mine in Mexico with its satellite Puerto Del Aire deposit. Last month, it reported drill results extending the deposit’s high-grade mineralization beyond existing reserves and resources. The deposit has proven and probable reserves of 2.9 million tonnes grading 4.7 grams gold per tonne for 428,000 oz. of metal.

The depleted areas at Mulatos include the Escondida zone mined from 2005 to 2014, the San Carlos underground deposit mined until 2018, and the La Yaqui Phase I satellite project mined from 2017 to 2019.

The operating Cerro Pelon zone has produced about 127,000 oz. from completion in 2019 to the end of 2021 while La Yaqui Grande began output in June.

Island expansion

In northern Ontario, the company says it plans to raise annual output at the Island gold mine to 287,000 oz. starting from 2026, more than double last year’s production of 141,000 ounces. The Island expansion project, with capital cost estimated in June at $756 million, is to increase milling capacity to 2,400 tonnes a day from 1,250, extend the mine life to 18 years from 16 and generate an after-tax net present value of $2 billion at a 5% discount rate, according to a study released in June.

Alamos CEO John McCluskey said then that Island’s all-in sustaining costs are projected to drop by more than 30% to $586 an oz., positioning it to be Canada’s lowest cost gold mine and one of the country’s top five most profitable.
 
“If gold prices were to be cut in half, Island Gold would be one of the few Canadian gold mines that would still be very profitable,” McCluskey told The Northern Miner in an interview in June“Conversely, with higher throughput rates, we are well positioned to be able to generate even higher revenue in a rising gold price environment.”

Rio Tinto venture makes strategic investment in Regulus Resources

Fri, 12/23/2022 - 10:50

Nuton, a Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO; LSE: RIO; NASDAQ: RIO) venture that has developed innovative copper sulphide leach technologies, is taking a 16.5% stake in Regulus Resources (TSXV: REG) for $15 million.

Nuton’s technologies have the potential to process arsenic-bearing copper sulphides with a lower carbon footprint and less impact on water resources than traditional concentrator processing, and the company will test its process on samples from Regulus’ AntaKori copper project in northern Peru.

“Through Nuton, Rio Tinto has developed sulphide leaching processing technologies that could allow for the processing of high arsenic ores without the need for additional on-site treatment or paying heavy penalties to a smelter,” Regulus CEO John Black stated in a press release announcing the private placement, adding that the investment by one of the largest miners in the world “is another strong endorsement for the AntaKori project.”

Under the private placement, Nuton will acquire 20.06 million common shares of Regulus at a price of C$1.02 per share. Nuton will be allowed to nominate a director to the Regulus board and the two companies will form a joint venture advisory committee to share expertise, exploration concepts and development opportunities at the project.

AntaKori, 600 km north of Lima and 60 km northwest of the city of Cajamarca, is 7 km northwest of Gold Fields’ (NYSE: GFI) Cerro Corona porphyry copper-gold mine and 45 km northwest of the Yanacocha gold mine owned by a Newmont Mining (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM) and Buenaventura Mining (NYSE: BVN) joint venture. Regulus notes that concentrate exports could move through the port facility of Eten, 230 km to the west.

The Rio Tinto investment follows a $5 million investment by Osisko Gold Royalties (TSX: OR) in mid-October in exchange for a net smelter return royalty ranging from 0.125% to 1.5% on certain claims of the AntaKori project. The deal also gives Osisko a right, currently held by Regulus, to buy-back a 1% NSR from a third party on certain claims at the project. The investment was Osisko’s second in AntaKori. It first struck a strategic partnership with Regulus in October 2020.

AntaKori currently has indicated resources of 250 million tonnes grading 0.48% copper, 0.29 gram gold per tonne and 7.5 grams silver per tonne, and inferred resources of 267 million tonnes grading 0.41% copper, 0.26 gram gold and 7.8 grams silver. Mineralization remains open in all directions, Regulus says.

Ecuador signs investment contract with Solaris on Warintza project

Fri, 12/23/2022 - 10:45

Solaris Resources (TSX: SLS) has signed an investment contract with the government of Ecuador on its 100%-owned Warintza copper-gold project, which president and CEO Daniel Earle says “provides a foundation of certainty” and represents a “major milestone” for the company.

The investment contract ratifies the Investment Protection Agreement announced in June and “significantly” de-risks Warintza “by securing a stable regulatory and fiscal framework with international legal protections for the project while also enhancing its returns through permanent new tax incentives,” Earle stated in a press release.

Specifically, the contract provides stability of taxes at a reduced income tax rate of 20%, down from the previous 25%. It also exempts the project from capital outflow tax (5% previously), and from import duties (5% previously).

In addition, the document outlines detailed procedures for dispute resolution and international arbitration protection, Solaris said.

Describing Warintza as a “very important project for the country in terms of scale and investment,” Ecuador Minister of Energy and Mines Fernando Santos Alvite noted that “it is also important for what it represents, which is a great commitment and understanding between the communities and the company.”

The 268 sq. km Warintza property is about 85 km east of the city of Cuenca in southeastern Ecuador.

It lies along a mineral belt that hosts the Mirador copper and gold mine, about 40 km to the south, operated by Ecuacorriente, a subsidiary of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan.

Mineralisation at the project occurs over a seven km by five km cluster of copper porphyries that include Warintza Central; Warintza South, three km to the south of Warintza Central; Warintza East, discovered in July 2021, about 1.3 km to the east; and Warintza West, discovered in February 2021, one km to the west.

In April Solaris released an updated mineral resource for the Warintza Central deposit. The in-pit indicated resource at a 0.3% copper-equivalent cut-off grade now measures 579 million tonnes grading 0.47% copper, 0.03% molybdenum, 0.05 gram gold per tonne (0.59% copper equivalent) and inferred resources of 887 million tonnes grading 0.39% copper, 0.01% molybdenum, and 0.04 gram gold (0.47% copper equivalent).

The resource includes an “indicative starter pit” made up of 180 million indicated tonnes grading 0.67% copper, 0.03% moly and 0.07 gram gold (0.82% copper equivalent) and 107 million inferred tonnes grading 0.64% copper, 0.02% moly, and 0.05 gram gold (0.73% copper equivalent). The starter pit resource was based on a copper-equivalent cut-off grade of 0.6%.

The company’s largest shareholder is its executive chairman, Richard Warke (36%). Ross Beaty, who founded Pan American Silver (TSX: PAAS; NASDAQ: PAAS), Alterra Power, and Lumina Copper, owns 4% and the Lundin family another 4%.

Solaris is part of the Augusta Group, a mining sector focused management group based in Canada and the United States.

Triple Flag acquires royalty on polymetallic Thunder Bay North project

Fri, 12/23/2022 - 10:08

A little over a month after Triple Flag Precious Metals (TSX: TFPM; NYSE: TFPM) announced it was buying Maverix Metals (TSX: MMX) in a deal valued at C$606 million, the Canadian streaming and royalty company said this week that it’s adding to its portfolio with a new royalty on Clean Air Metals’ (TSXV: AIR) Thunder Bay North project in northern Ontario.

Triple Flag is acquiring up to a 2.5% net smelter return (NSR) royalty for C$15 million on the platinum, palladium, copper, and nickel project about 50 km northeast of the city of Thunder Bay and 60 km southeast of Impala Platinum’s Lac del Iles mine.

Clean Air Metals received the first C$10 million tranche on Dec. 19 and has the right to buy down up to 40% of the NSR royalty and reduce the NSR percentage to 1.5% within a three-year period. The company has granted Triple Flag a right of first refusal to match any other offers for stream, royalty or similar financing agreements.

The junior exploration company is planning a preliminary feasibility study on the project next year.

A preliminary economic assessment completed in Dec. 2021 outlined a 10-year ramp-access underground mine plan on the project’s two deposits—Current and Escape—and a 3,600 tonne per day milling complex. Initial project capital costs were estimated at C$367.2 million with total capital costs of C$536 million.

The project’s two deposits contain total indicated resources of 14.6 million tonnes grading 1.54 grams palladium per tonne, 1.58 grams platinum per tonne, 0.10 gram gold per tonne, 2.30 grams silver per tonne, 0.42% copper, 0.23% nickel, 167.33 grams cobalt per tonne and 0.05 gram rhodium per tonne.

Total inferred resources stand at 8.08 million tonnes averaging 0.69 gram palladium, 0.67 gram platinum, 0.07 gram gold, 1.07 grams silver, 0.33% copper, 0.15% nickel, 138.50 grams cobalt and 0.01 gram rhodium. The resource estimate’s effective date is Nov. 2021.

Clean Air Metals believes the project has potential to grow.

“The exploration upside at this Mid-Continent Rift related mineral system being developed at Thunder Bay North is considerable,” Abraham Drost, Clean Air Metals’ CEO stated in a news release. “We look forward to continuing the search for the source of high value massive sulphide deposits in feeder zone structures, for the benefit of our Indigenous partners and other stakeholders.”

Triple Flag, which is expected to become the world’s fourth-largest senior streaming company when its transaction with Maverix Metals closes in January 2023, has a market cap of about C$3 billion ($2.2bn).

Vital Metals pivots to Nechalacho permitting as Saskatchewan plant costs double

Fri, 12/23/2022 - 10:02

Australia-based Vital Metals (ASX: VML; US-OTCQB: VTMXF) says it is pivoting from completing the rare earths separation plant in Saskatoon to better align with its Norwegian offtake partner while the cost of the processing facility has doubled.

The cost of the Saskatoon plant has been estimated at “over C$20 million” as recently as Vital’s Sept. 20 press release. It now says the amount spent to date totals $18 million, and it expects the cost to complete the entire Saskatoon processing facility at C$37 million, for a revised total cost of about C$55 million for the complete project.

The company announced it will defer completing the facility’s rare earth hydrometallurgical leaching, purification and rare earth precipitation circuits until 2024. It says the deferment will have the benefit of preserving up to C$15.8 million in cash reserves while aligning the timing of the production of rare earth carbonate until Vital’s offtake partner, REEtec, completes its plant in Norway to the second half of 2024.

In the interim, Vital will continue construction to complete the calcine circuit at Saskatoon by the third quarter of 2023, in time to process material from its Nechalacho mine and produce an intermediate rare earth oxide product. Nechalacho is the first rare earth mine in Canada.

Vital intends to sell the product to third parties before starting deliveries of the final rare earth carbonate product to REEtec.

Gold price edges higher as US inflation data shows signs of cooling

Fri, 12/23/2022 - 09:13

Gold prices edged up on Friday ahead of a long holiday weekend as the latest US inflation data showed signs of cooling, but not enough to erase concerns of more Federal Reserve rate hikes.

Spot gold rose 0.6% to $1,802.33 per ounce by 11:50 a.m. ET, representing a weekly gain of roughly the same percentage point. The precious metal is coming off its worst week in a month after more hawkish messaging from the Fed. US gold futures were up 0.8% to $1,810.30 per ounce.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

New inflation data showed that US consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation’s economic activity, edged up 0.1% in November after climbing 0.4% in October, while inflation cooled further.

“With inflation close to being in line with expectations, gold prices were higher on fresh speculative buying ahead of the new year on bets that the bigger funds might move to the long side of gold at the beginning of the year,” Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco Metals, told Reuters.

Bullion dipped over 1% on Thursday after the latest US GDP data highlighted the country’s economy rebounded faster than previously estimated, potentially setting the Fed on a keener path to fight inflation.

Gold prices are on track for a second consecutive yearly decline, falling nearly 2%, with prices down more than $250 since March highs as central banks hiked interest rates to tame inflation.

However, “you’re going to see a better demand picture for the metals in 2023. Inflation could still be problematic, but central banks are going to, around mid-year, start to let off the gas and that’s going to be supportive for the metals markets,” Wyckoff noted.

Markets also kept a close tab on rising covid-19 cases in top gold consumer China, which could have an impact on physical demand.

(With files from Reuters)

Copper price rises on hopes for better demand in 2023

Fri, 12/23/2022 - 08:53

The copper price rose on Friday as low inventories and hopes for economic recovery next year offset a slackening in near-term demand in China caused by a surge in covid-19 cases.

Copper for delivery in March rose 1.6% on the Comex market in New York, touching $3.81 per pound or $8,382 per tonne.

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

While some analysts expect the metal to rise towards record highs of $11,000 in 2023, weakening economic growth has pulled prices down 14% this year.

“Demand is not there,” said Robert Montefusco at broker Sucden Financial.

Copper could move higher in early 2023 but this would require more economic stimulus in China — the top consumer — and an improvement of sentiment on wider markets, he said.

China expects a peak in covid-19 infections within a week, a health official said, as authorities predict extra strain on the health system and the virus ripples through business.

(With files from Reuters)

Mining People: Allied Copper, Japan Gold, Silver Elephant

Fri, 12/23/2022 - 06:41
Management appointments:

ATEX Resources appointed Sheila Magallon as CFO, following Thomas Pladsen’s retirement.

Flying Nickel Mining appointed Andrew Yau CFO.

Foran Mining appointed Terri Uhrich as VP and legal counsel. 

Mantaro Precious Metals named Stephen Clayson as CEO and director.

Newcrest Mining announced CFO Sherry Duhe as interim CEO, following Sandeep Biswa’s retirement.

Rhyolite Resources announced the resignation of Fred Stanford as CEO.

Silver Elephant Mining appointed Andrew Yau, CFO, replacing Zula Kropivnitski, who resigned.

Board moves include:

Allied Copper announced Andrew Leslie to its board.

Candelaria Mining appointed Manuel Gomez to the board. 

Japan Gold named Takashi Kuriyama to the board, following the retirement of Mitsuhiko Yamada.

Rio Tinto appointed Kaisa Hietala as a non-executive director, effective March 1, 2023.

New calls for banning coal as punishment at Christmas

Fri, 12/23/2022 - 06:38

A recent paper in the British Medical Journal calls for a ban on coal as punishment at Christmas.

Written by pediatrician Tamsin Holland Brow and her daughters Lilac and Marigold, the article makes the environmental—and compassionate—case for ending what they call an “outdated and potentially harmful” tradition.

According to Holland Brow, the traditional practice of rewarding well-behaved children with gifts but leaving miscreant ones with coal in the festive season persists; lumps of coal are widely available from major online retailers, and the #coalforchristmas hashtag crops up on social media.

The authors point out that not only does the burning of this non-renewable fossil fuel exacerbate the climate crisis, but its impact on air quality can also be bad for children’s health.

They suggest that receiving a lump of coal might also have a negative impact on kids’ mental health.

So as alternatives to punitive coal, the pediatrician and her daughters propose giving recycled/upcycled gifts, plant-based foods, walks and bike rides in nature, inspiring novels, or even a stick insect.

The Holland Brow family also makes the case for rewarding ‘naughtiness,’ citing Greta Thunberg, the eco-activist who inspired millions of children to go on school strikes for climate. As Thunberg says, children “can’t save the world by playing by the rules,” so these children deserve to be on the nice—not naughty—list.

While the co-authors Lilac and Marigold have admitted that they missed school to attend a climate march in 2019, they point out that “[coal] is a fossil fuel and so giving children [coal means] the adults are being the naughty ones.”

Metals processing company Nth Cycle awarded $2.1 million US Department of Energy Grant

Thu, 12/22/2022 - 15:00

Nth Cycle, a Massachusetts-based metals processing and recycling technology company, has been awarded a $2.15 million grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE), under the Battery Materials and Battery Manufacturing and Recycling Funding Opportunity (BMBMR) program of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in November 2021.

The grant is in conjunction with Charlotte, North Carolina-based Cirba Solutions, a leading battery management and materials processor.

Nth Cycle’s electro-extraction technology transforms the outputs of metal scrap, electronics recycling, untapped mining resources, and waste from existing mines into high-purity critical minerals ready to be used in new production of lithium ion batteries.

Electro-extraction is a cleaner, more efficient and lower-cost alternative to the conventional, and prohibitively dirty pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy processes currently used by battery recyclers and miners, the company said in a media statement.

Nth Cycle’s refining technology is a component of the recycling value chain, converting disassembled waste materials into the high-grade feedstocks for new battery manufacturing in the form of nickel mixed hydroxide product.

Nth Cycle’s critical mineral refining, recycling technology reduces emissions – study

“Recent legislation mandates the deployment of a compliant supply of critical minerals like nickel and cobalt that are mined, refined or recycled locally. Unfortunately, there’s not enough compliant supply today to meet America’s increasing demand for electrification,” co-founder and CEO of Nth Cycle Megan O’Connor said at a recent site visit attended by Congressman Seth Moulton.

“The Sixth District is home to some of the world’s most cutting edge companies whose work today is preparing us for the future,” said Congressman Seth Moulton in a statement.

“Nth Cycle is one of those companies. Producing batteries in a cleaner and more sustainable way is increasingly important for the environment, the economy, and for America’s supply chain security,” said Moulton.

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