Australia’s Mining Bust Town Reawakens – by James Thornhill (Bloomberg News – May 23, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

House-buyers seeking a bargain amid the wreckage of Australia’s mining boom might want to get in quick.

Port Hedland, a shipping hub for the Pilbara iron ore region in Western Australia, saw house prices collapse nearly 70 percent in the past four years as workers lost their jobs and left amid the end of a resources investment boom. But prices there have reached a bottom and are now even rising.

“We’re starting to get multiple offers on properties,” said Peter Dunning, a real estate agent at Ray White Group in Port Hedland, who says local values have risen about A$50,000 ($37,470) in the past six months. “People realized that prices had got so cheap, they probably weren’t going to get any cheaper. So they started buying.” Brighter spots in housing is one of three chunks of evidence adding to a growing sense that Australia’s resource-based economies are improving. Continue Reading →

Miners ready for new Mongolia boom with one-fifth of the country to be opened for digging – by Blanche Lim (CNBC.com – May 23, 2017)

http://www.cnbc.com/

A new mining boom may be just around the corner in Mongolia, mining industry executives said, as it moves to open nearly 21 percent, a bit more than one-fifth, of the country for exploration to shore up its finances following an IMF-led bailout.

This month Mongolia’s government removed the main obstacle to its $5.5 billion IMF-led bailout. It annulled a controversial banking law that would have required companies like Rio Tinto to funnel all sales revenues from foreign investment projects through Mongolian banks and proposed the wider exploration area.

Andrew Stewart, managing director and CEO of Xanadu Mines, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” that the reform along with other steps to opening the mining sector should see investment grow. Continue Reading →

Innovation upping safety game underground – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – May 23, 2017)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Northern Ontario gold mines using technology to keep workers safe

“Safe. Simple. Green. Silent. Invisible.” It’s a tagline Goldcorp has adopted for its developing Borden gold project, located near Chapleau, and it’s no coincidence that “safe” is the leading word in the statement.

Located in a pristine area on the shores of Borden Lake, the proposed mine is in the early stages of advanced exploration, but already several decisions have been made about the mine in keeping with Goldcorp’s efforts to minimize the impact on the environment and its workers.

“We intend to leave next to nothing for a footprint there,” said Peter Calnan, Goldcorp’s director of operational support and change management, during the 2017 Workplace Safety North mining conference in Sudbury. “You will hardly know there’s a mine there as you drive by.” Yet within its depths, the mine will be home to some sophisticated equipment and tools designed to make work safer for the 200 or so employees that will toil underground. Continue Reading →

Mining industry looks towards a new wave of automation – by Eric Barker (Australain Broadcasting Corporation Rural – May 23, 2017)

http://www.abc.net.au/

Australia’s mining industry continues to push the boundaries of automation with the use of robots and remote-controlled equipment expanding in the industry. Automation in mining has a long history as companies look to extract minerals more efficiently and more safely.

However, the new wave of automation has been tipped to change the employment landscape of the industry. James Cook University professor Ian Atkinson said it was likely some jobs would be lost but expected it to happen over a long period of time.

“It’s not just taking workers out and putting a machine in, it’s going to happen really quite gradually for a long time yet.” Professor Atkinson said although automation had the potential to take some jobs it could also provide new employment opportunities. “You’re not going to be using machines to build new mines, people will still be doing that because that’s very non-routine,” he said. Continue Reading →

Ottawa to kick off $950-million innovation ‘supercluster’ competition – by Sean Silcoff (Globe and Mail – May 24, 2017)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

OTTAWA — The federal government will kick off the centrepiece of its innovation agenda Wednesday by officially launching a program that will disburse $950-million to as many as five “supercluster” initiatives geared toward creating high-paying jobs in fast-growing sectors.

Initial applications for the funds will be due July 21 from industry-led consortiums in eight high-potential sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital technology, health-bioscience, clean resources, infrastructure and transportation. Shortlisted applicants will have until Oct. 20 to submit detailed proposals, and the government plans to select the winners by year’s end.

“This initiative is about government partnering with industry, academia and communities to build on our strengths to develop the economy and the jobs of the future,” Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said in an interview. Continue Reading →

[Australia Coal] Adani takes brinkmanship to new levels – by Matthew Stevens (Australian Financial Review – May 23, 2017)

http://www.afr.com/

The circumstances of Adani Group’s very public decision to delay boardroom debate on a final investment decision for the opening stanza of its $16.5 billion, 60-year Carmichael coal campaign would suggest the economics Queensland’s much-vaunted new coal horizon are far more fragile than the potential miner wants us to appreciate.

Either that or we are seeing a very rare level of brinkmanship between Adani and its host governments over the financial mechanics by which the Indian conglomerate might invest in building a massive new mining complex in Queensland’s Galilee Basin and in constructing the railway need to carry Carmichael coal to an Adani-owned export terminal at Abbot Point.

I mean, here we have a coal project proponent that has spent seven years driving through jungles of red and green tape, and more recently through a brutal wilderness of anti-coal resistance, only to belatedly find itself in desperate need for about $1.2 billion of government assistance if the project is to happen. Continue Reading →

Miner thinks small to resurrect big Canadian iron ore mine – by Susan Taylor (Reuters U.S. – May 24, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

TORONTO – Champion Iron Ltd is thinking small with its plans to bring Quebec’s giant Bloom Lake iron ore mine back to life. Chief Executive Michael O’Keeffe intends to slash costs while cutting millions of tonnes from a planned production expansion. The strategy runs counter to the traditional economy of scale formula, which bumps up production for proportional cost savings.

It may prove a prescient approach as iron ore prices pull back from 30-month highs in February. The recovery sparked signs of life for a handful of hibernating miners in Canada’s metal-rich Labrador Trough, straddling the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, including Champion, Alderon Iron Ore and Tata Steel Minerals Canada.

Champion is taking a different tack with Bloom Lake than its previous owner and North America’s biggest iron ore producer, Cliffs Natural Resources, beginning with the price tag. Continue Reading →

Premier expects Ring of Fire progress ‘within weeks’ – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – May 24, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Movement on a Ring of Fire infrastructure plan should come “within weeks, not months,” Premier Kathleen Wynne told a gathering hosted by the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. “I think we’ll find a way to move forward,” she said. “Nobody in the province wants a shovel in the ground more than I do.”

The premier was responding to a question from a Laurentian Mining Innovation and Technology representative, who pointed out promising times lie ahead for the industry.

“Mining is a very cyclical sector and we’re heading into a boom now,” he said. “But mining does need some support and there’s an amazing opportunity for us, with $60 billion in the Ring of Fire that’s locked up.” Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Barrick’s Argentina mine may be allowed full operations in June – by Maximiliano Rizzi (Reuters U.S. – May 22, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

BUENOS AIRES – The government of Argentina’s San Juan province has approved a plan for improving Barrick Gold Corp’s Veladero mine following its third spill of cyanide solution in 18 months and could allow full operations to resume in early June, a government official said.

Eduardo Machuca, the province’s secretary of environmental management and mining control, told Reuters in a phone interview that local authorities had reviewed and discussed Barrick’s improvement plan and improvements to the mine were well under way.

“I think that around June 10 there will be conditions to enable the mine, once the pneumatic, hydraulic and all engineering tests are done,” Machuca said on Monday. Continue Reading →

Canadian gold majors eye home-field exploration advantage – by Matthew Keevil (Northern Miner – May 23, 2017)

http://www.northernminer.com/

VANCOUVER — Canada’s gold miners are naturally interested in discovery back home, but the push for more so-called homegrown ounces appears to be on the rise following the recent down cycle, with oft-cited reasons including: geopolitical risk, operational synergies, and favourable infrastructure.

The Northern Miner reviewed exploration reports from three marquee Canadian gold producers to find where these major miners are most active in Canada.

Barrick Gold

The world’s largest gold producer had its start near Wawa, Ont., but it’s subsequently developed major production centres in Nevada and abroad. Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: ABX) operates the historic Hemlo gold mine 35 km east of Marathon, Ont., however, where it drilled nearly 20,000 metres last year. Continue Reading →

The Race to Build a Better Battery for Storing Power – by Ken Wells (Wall Street Journal – May 21, 2017)

https://www.wsj.com/

Long-term, utility-scale storage would turn solar and wind energy into on-demand sources of electricity

There’s the battery in your watch. There’s the battery in your mobile phone. And then there’s the battery at Green Mountain Power’s Stafford Hills solar farm in Rutland, Vt.

The lithium-ion gargantuan is housed in two trailer-truck-size green metal containers. It sits atop a 10-acre former landfill and captures electricity from 7,722 nearby solar panels—enough to power 2,000 homes on a sunny day. What’s revolutionary about this system isn’t the solar farm; it’s the size and purpose of the battery, which offers 3.4 megawatt-hours of storage, enough to supply backup power to about 170 homes for a day, if needed.

The rap on solar and wind is intermittence—they don’t produce power when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, making them unreliable as the primary source for power grids. But if vast amounts of renewable energy—say, enough to power entire cities—could be captured and stored in giant batteries and deployed when needed, that downside would fade away. Continue Reading →

How to finally ignite Ontario’s Ring of Fire – by Heather Hall and Ken S. Coates (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – May 23, 2017)

http://www.chroniclejournal.com/

Premier Kathleen Wynne has jumped into the long-standing debate over the Ring of Fire in Northern Ontario. Last week, she called on northern chiefs to seize the province’s offer to spend $1 billion on crucial road development and to not “squander” the opportunity for economic development in an area desperate for work and social improvements.

The premier’s blunt intervention is a sign of the pent-up frustration among governments, companies and indigenous communities about the slow progress and endless negotiations surrounding the region’s vast deposits of chromite, nickel and other minerals.

While the premier may feel frustration, in Northern Ontario there is a widespread feeling in many indigenous communities that the infrastructure needs of resource firms get more attention from government than the serious community infrastructure deficits that have existed for years. Many indigenous communities in Northern Ontario, especially in the Far North, have to deal with a variety of deplorable conditions, including over-crowded housing, a lack of clean drinking water, limited or non-existent road access, and a myriad of social, economic and cultural challenges. Continue Reading →

BHP talks up Saskatchewan potash project – by Matt Chambers (The Australian – May 23, 2017)

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/

BHP’s board could have the most expensive ­single development approval ­decision in the miner’s history in front of it next financial year, in the form of a $US4.7 billion ($6.3bn) investment in the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan.

Lost in the ramp-up of activist fund Elliott Management’s hostilities last week was the revelation that the miner is nearly ready to give approval to the first production stage of the Jansen project, where it has approved $US3.8bn to sink 1km-deep shafts to get to the big potash deposit.

The enthusiastic BHP mood around potash will create trepidation among some investors that the Elliott push to create value through an oil and gas restructure and share unification is accelerating potash development, while Canadian analysts have queried whether the global potash market can support it. Continue Reading →

Botswana Clash With Billionaires Could Tarnish Its Reputation As Resource Investor’s Paradise – by Kenneth Rapoza (Forbes Magazine – May 2, 2017)

https://www.forbes.com/

At first glance, there is simply no country like it in Africa. Within the continent, Botswana is considered to be the crème de la crème. It’s corruption perception score is better than every BRICS nation plus Mexico, according to Transparency International. It’s resource rich, known mainly for its diamond wealth, and has rolled out the red carpet for foreign firms with what seems like reliable, steady rule of law. This is the place to be.

Some say not so fast. Deloitte Botswana senior manager, Brian Watts, argues that appearance belies a true scale of graft. It is done by multiple actors all throughout the value chain. Watts estimates at least 5% loss due to fraud even in the private sector, in telcos.

Most cases are not disclosed to the public, Watts said during an event for whistleblowers back in March. In mainly state-controlled natural resources sector the stakes are much higher. Continue Reading →

From Yukon to Patagonia, Gold Explorers Stir After Sleep – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – May 18, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

From Canada’s Yukon to southern Patagonia, outbreaks of gold-rush fever are popping up as bullion markets stage a tentative recovery.

The number of holes drilled at gold deposits has been rising steadily for more than a year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. And while early-stage exploration budgets haven’t kept pace with spending at existing mines, prospecting hot spots are starting to pop up in traditional destinations Canada, Australia and Latin America.

In some parts of Argentina, exploration has jumped about 50 percent, mainly for lithium but also for gold in provinces such as Santa Cruz, according to state-controlled energy company YPF SA. Chile’s government also sees a pickup this year with prospectors focusing on both copper and gold. Colombia is also attracting more attention. Continue Reading →