Goldcorp-Barrick Partnership Shows Miners Tip-Toeing to Growth – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – March 28, 2017)

n the dark days of the commodities meltdown, mining companies turned to partnerships to lower costs and survive. Now, as prices recover, they’re hooking up for growth — or at least the possibility of it. Canada’s two biggest gold miners, Barrick Gold Corp. and Goldcorp Inc., are teaming up to develop a gold-copper deposit in Chile as part of a complex chain of transactions.

The cultures of the two companies are, in many ways, opposites. Where Goldcorp has been focused on boosting production, Barrick has repeatedly stressed that its priority is improving cash flow through better margins.

Barrick’s latest joint venture with Goldcorp means it’s off the hook for the initial development costs associated with a large project in the Maricunga mineral belt, in exchange for handing over control of part of the asset. Continue Reading →

Colombia municipality, home of AngloGold project, votes to ban mining (Reuters U.S. March 27, 2017)

Voters in Colombia’s Tolima province have backed a proposal to ban mining projects in their municipality, a result that raises questions about the future of an AngloGold Ashanti gold exploration in the area.

South Africa’s AngloGold may not be permitted to extract gold at its flagship La Colosa mine – a $2 billion potential investment that could yield 28 million ounces of gold – after 98.8 percent voted against allowing mining in Sunday’s referendum.

AngloGold has been exploring at the site in central Colombia for more than a decade. Some 6,165 citizens backed the proposal, while 76 voted against, according to figures from the electoral authority. Continue Reading →

Dealing With Central Asia’s Poisonous Nuclear Legacy – by Catherine Putz (The Diplomat – March 29, 2017)

Soviet-era uranium mining and waste facilities spread across Central Asia remain a serious public and environmental risk.

A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Coordination Group for Uranium Legacy Sites (CGULS) visited Tajikistan last week. The visit was part of ongoing preparations for the remediation of uranium legacy sites — efforts to reduce the public and environmental risks linked to what remains from the nearly five decades in which the Soviet Union mined and processed uranium in the Central Asian region.

More than 25 years ago, the Soviet Union collapsed. One of the biggest open questions as the Soviet Union disintegrated into 15 separate states was what would become of its nuclear weapons and material scattered across the constituent states. Kazakhstan and Ukraine, for example, hosted Soviet nuclear weapons.

Kazakhstan, the Nuclear Threat Initiative notes, “inherited 1,410 nuclear warheads and the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapon test site” with independence. Semipalatinsk was where the Soviet Union conducted more than 450 nuclear tests, including its first. Continue Reading →

Swedish Miner Says Donald Trump Doesn’t Hold Key to Metal Prices – by Hanna Hoikkala and Niklas Magnusson (Bloomberg News – March 28, 2017)

The operator of some of Europe’s largest copper and zinc mines expects President Donald Trump’s plans to spend on U.S. infrastructure to have much less impact on base-metal prices than the needs of burgeoning middle-class populations in emerging markets.

That’s because projects in the U.S. and other developed countries simply won’t use enough zinc or copper to have any significant impact on prices, Lennart Evrell, chief executive officer of Sweden’s Boliden AB, said in a March 22 interview. When poorer and less-developed countries decide to build transport and power networks they consume far more of these materials, he said.

“The U.S. is not big enough when it comes to commodities,” Evrell said. “It may be a very big economy, but when it comes to need for base metals, it’s more about the earlier stages of a country’s development, and the U.S. is not in that phase. We believe the driver behind the recent metals price increases is the rest of the world, and not Trump, as prices fell roughly as much after his election as they had gained in conjunction with his election.”’ Continue Reading →

Mine monitoring in Nunavut under the microscope next month – by Lisa Gregoire (Nunatsiaq News – March 28, 2017)

Impact review board to host a session with stakeholders at mining symposium

A lot of people with money and power or a desire for those will descend on Iqaluit from April 3 to April 6 for the annual Nunavut Mining Symposium and among all the many sessions planned this year is a unique one hosted by the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

If you’re a regular Nunatsiaq News reader, you know we write a lot about the NIRB—a board devoted to vetting commercial, government and scientific projects proposed in the Nunavut Settlement Area for their potential impact on people, animals and the land. This year’s mining symposium in the territory’s capital is occurring just as the NIRB considers new or updated monitoring frameworks for four of its five existing project certificates.

So how does mine monitoring work in Nunavut? Are mining companies able to meet their requirements? Are those requirements realistic and sustainable? Are government agencies getting what they need to monitor impacts on fish, migratory birds and soil, for instance? Continue Reading →

Mozambique ruby rush leads to gangland turf war – by AFP ( – March 29, 2017)

MONTEPUEZ, Mozambique – The stakes are high in Montepuez where the discovery of rubies has led to violence among miners that has turned the northern town into what some describe as Mozambique’s own version of the Wild West.

Discovery of the red gemstone in 2009 sparked a “ruby rush”, with thousands of miners arriving to seek their fortune, but often finding only grim conditions, conflict and danger.

“We have a lot of foreigners who come from a lot of countries to look for rubies,” Tania Mabota, chief medical officer of Montepuez Hospital, told AFP. “There’s conflict for territory because it’s a means of subsistence for the artisanal miners,” she added. “One stone is enough for a person to be attacked.” Continue Reading →

Indonesia Pays Price of Protectionism as Commodity Exports Sink – by David Roman (Bloomberg News – March 28, 2017)

Indonesia’s economy is losing out on commodity gains after lawmakers wrapped protectionist policies around the nation’s resources. Their next problem: finding a lucrative replacement.

Commodities now account for about 40 percent of all exports, down from almost 60 percent five years ago, according to Morgan Stanley. They make up just 6 percent of gross domestic product, half as much as in 2012, as trade restrictions worsened the impact of a price rout over much of that period. Crude oil and gas output has declined to levels last seen in the early 1970s.

While Indonesia’s coal output will be higher next year than in 2013, production of key mineral exports including bauxite, tin and nickel will still be well behind the commodity cycle’s peak, BMI Research estimates. The drag on activity may complicate President Joko Widodo’s plans to accelerate economic growth to 7 percent, with an investment push in manufacturing to offset lost commodity income yet to yield results. Continue Reading →

Vale Indonesia to build $2 billion ferronickel smelter in Southeast Sulawesi – by Viriya P. Singgih (Jakarta Post – March 29, 2017)

Publicly listed nickel mine operator PT Vale Indonesia plans to build a US$2 billion ferronickel smelter in Pomalaa, Southeast Sulawesi. The construction of the new facility is initially slated for 2018, while the operation is expected to start in 2023.

However, the company—part of Brazilian mining giant Vale—is still waiting for the issuance of the forest area utilization permits and is in the process of revising the environmental impact analysis (Amdal) for the project.

It has teamed up with Japanese miner Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. to develop high pressure acid leaching (HPAL) technology for the Pomalaa processing plant and is looking for another partner to help produce the ferronickel in the facility. It is also looking for a partner to build another ferronickel plant in Bahodopi, Central Sulawesi. Continue Reading →

Goldcorp spends nearly $1 billion to get into Chilean joint venture with Barrick Gold – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – March 29, 2017)

Two Canadian gold giants, Barrick Gold Corp. and Goldcorp Inc., will form a partnership in Chile’s gold belt in a multi-faceted deal that will see Goldcorp commit nearly US$1 billion as miners look for creative solutions to find and fund new sources of growth.

Goldcorp will pay upfront costs of about US$445 million to get into a lucrative gold belt in a friendly mining jurisdiction through a complex series of deals involving four miners. A joint venture with Barrick will see the companies own and operate at least three properties in Chile’s Maricunga region with further investments largely funded by Goldcorp.

For Vancouver-based Goldcorp, the deal represents an opportunity to take a stake in one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world. Goldcorp’s stock fell 6.7 per cent to $20 in Toronto. Continue Reading →

Trump signs order dismantling Obama-era climate policies – by Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason (Reuters U.S. – March 28, 2017)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an order to undo Obama-era climate change regulations, keeping a campaign promise to support the coal industry and calling into question U.S. support for an international deal to fight global warming.

Flanked by coal miners and coal company executives, Trump proclaimed his “Energy Independence” executive order at the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency. The move drew swift backlash from a coalition of 23 states and local governments, as well as environmental groups, which called the decree a threat to public health and vowed to fight it in court.

The order’s main target is former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants – a key factor in the United States’ ability to meet its commitments under a climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015. Continue Reading →

Theft of Canadian gold coin a ‘disaster’ for Berlin’s Bode Museum – by Austin Davis and Patrick Costello (Globe and Mail – March 29, 2017)

BERLIN — A world-renowned Berlin museum is reeling from a brazen theft Monday of a 100-kilogram gold coin made in Canada, the biggest heist from a museum in the country since the Second World War.

It’s unlikely the disappearance of the coin, nominally valued at $1-million, but actually worth closer to $5-million given the current price of gold, will pose any financial hardships for the Bode museum – the coin was insured, after all.

But curators say the theft delivered a crippling blow to the museum’s sense of purpose as an institution preserving ancient and contemporary treasures for the enjoyment of future generations. “It’s an absolute catastrophe for the museum, an absolute catastrophe for us all,” said Bernhard Weisser, the director of the Bode Museum’s Numismatic Collection, one of the world’s premier collections of modern and ancient coins. Continue Reading →

Investors have it wrong. The Barrick-Goldcorp-Kinross deal is a smart move – by Ian McGugan (Globe and Mail – March 29, 2017)

The three-cornered deal announced on Tuesday by Barrick Gold Corp., Goldcorp Inc. and Kinross Gold Corp. is better than the market thinks it is.

While investors’ reaction was immediately and uniformly negative – Goldcorp stock plummeted and Barrick and Kinross shares both lost ground – the shuffle of assets seems like an eminently sensible transaction.

The agreement, which centres on the Cerro Casale gold and copper project in northern Chile, gives each of the companies something it values highly: cash for Kinross, new reserve potential for Goldcorp and a low-cost way to move forward a shelved project for Barrick. It also allows Goldcorp and Barrick to share the risk of developing a swath of Chile’s Maricunga gold belt, while letting the two companies spread expenses among a number of nearby projects. Continue Reading →

Trump’s bid to reverse climate agenda puts pressure on Ottawa – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – March 29, 2017)

OTTAWA — U.S. President Donald Trump signed an order Tuesday aimed at boosting coal-fired electricity and unravelling key elements of his predecessor’s climate-change policies – a move that will increase political pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s own climate agenda.

Mr. Trump’s push to reverse the climate plans of former president Barack Obama is raising concerns in Canada that domestic industries will find it tougher to compete and raise capital, especially in energy-intensive industries.

Through his use of executive orders, the new President has signalled he has little interest in meeting U.S. commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that were made at the Paris climate summit in December, 2015. Continue Reading →

Filipino group urges Canada to hold mining companies accountable – by At Babych (Anglican Journal – March 28, 2017)

Ottawa – A delegation from the Philippines that includes an Anglican bishop wants the government to appoint an ombudsperson to monitor Canadian mining operations overseas and to support formal peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front.

“We want the Canadian people to hear our story and we want that foreign corporations operating in the Philippines, especially Canadian mining companies, be held accountable for their complicity in human rights violations against our people,” said Bishop Antonio Ablon, speaking at a news conference on Parliament Hill March 23.

The five-member delegation is on a six-city tour of Canada sponsored by KAIROS, a social justice coalition of 10 Canadian Christian churches and organizations, including the Anglican Church of Canada. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto boss unfazed by concerns about Chinese economy – by Henry Sanderson and Neil Hume (Financial Times – March 28, 2017)

The head of Rio Tinto, one of the world’s biggest mining companies, said he had no concerns about China’s economy, predicting restructuring of the country’s state-owned enterprises would lead to demand for the iron ore it produces in Australia.

Jean-Sébastien Jacques told the FT Commodities Global Summit in Lausanne that China’s crackdown on polluting steel furnaces would lead to greater demand for higher-quality raw material iron ore, a key ingredient in steelmaking. China’s state council has set out plans to eliminate 100m-150m tonnes of steel capacity as it tries to shift to a more consumption and services-oriented economic model.

Officials are planning a new crackdown on steel production in the key north-eastern city of Tangshan in an attempt to prevent false reporting of mill closures by local governments reluctant to obey shutdown orders, according to an official order seen by the FT this week. Continue Reading →