Investors in Gold Mining Bonds Leave Shareholders in the Dust – by Danielle Bochove and Brandon Kochkodin (Bloomberg News – January 16, 2018)

Two years of belt-tightening by the world’s biggest gold miners have allowed bondholders to reap greater rewards for less risk, leaving equity investors — at least comparatively — in the dust.

The collapse of the commodities super cycle left companies struggling to repair debt-ridden balance sheets. But since 2015, the top three North American gold producers — Barrick Gold Corp., Newmont Mining Corp. and Goldcorp Inc. — have all cut debt much more dramatically than companies in the materials sector, where total debt has started to creep higher after falling in the second half of 2016.

One consequence of this is that the longer-term bonds of these senior gold miners are less sensitive to movements in metals prices than are those of the broader materials sector, for both technical and fundamental reasons. Continue Reading →

Colombian Emerald Industry: Winds of Change – by Darwin Fortaleché, Andrew Lucas, Jonathan Muyal, Tao Hsu, and Pedro Padua (Gems and Gemology – Fall 2017)

Colombia is synonymous with fine emerald, and production is believed to date back well over a thousand years. Over the centuries the beautiful verdant gemstone, which emerges from areas that are also a lush green, has been linked to violence and human exploitation. Nevertheless, the desire of the Colombian people to mine for this treasure and strike it rich has endured, with enough dreams coming true to drive their passion.

In recent years, industry changes have accelerated, perhaps more profoundly than ever before. While government ownership and regulation, criminal activity, and violence have affected production over the years, the industry’s greatest opportunities may still be ahead. Multinational companies are investing heavily in Colombian emerald mining, which has led to modernization.

The government’s position on emerald mining has also improved dramatically in this period. Calls for transparency and traceability have led to branding and a revamping of the industry’s image. The loose system of independent miners (figure 1) is seeing efforts at formalization. These landmark changes are occurring at a time when most of the country’s emerald reserves have yet to be mined. Continue Reading →

The Problem with Pigeon’s Blood Rubies – by David Federman (Gem Obsessed – May 25, 2016)

Cynics say that history exists to be ignored. Therefore, they argue, it has no choice but to keep repeating itself. What’s more, they’ll tell you no sphere of human activity is immune from history’s sad, stubborn rule of recurrence–even the jewelry industry.

They have a point. Dire repetition of the past seems hard at work in the world ruby market where expensive stones are increasingly unsalable without gem lab reports. In this case, labs are asked to authenticate a ruby’s color as the most precious hue of all: “pigeon’s-blood red.” No pedigree, no purchase.

This proliferation of reports certifying that stones exhibit “pigeon’s blood red” marks the second great paper chase for lab documents in 35 years. In 1979, American Gemological Laboratories introduced the first-ever colored stone grading reports. Using a 1.0 to 10.0 numerical color rating scale, fine rubies were expected to have grades of 3.5 on that scale to qualify for top color-excellence. Continue Reading →

ICMM’s Butler: Mining an ‘agent of change when it comes to alleviating poverty’ – by Matthew Keevil (Northern Miner – December 11, 2018)

Northern Miner

VANCOUVER — On Dec. 6, The Northern Miner sat down for an interview with Tom Butler, CEO of the U.K.-based International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM), to discuss climate change politics and other prominent themes for miners on the international stage in 2018.

Butler became CEO of ICMM in July 2015. Before that, he spent 18 years with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation in its infrastructure and natural resource teams, with an emphasis on mining and power projects in Africa.

The Northern Miner: How is the mining industry is perceived globally today?

Tom Butler: There’s a trust gap, and the question is: How do we close it?

The mining industry isn’t doing well in many countries. You see that in the loss of social license where governments feel they have political room to take actions because the industry doesn’t have the support of local populations. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Price swings the new normal for seaborne iron ore – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – January 16, 2018)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Imagine for a moment that iron ore was still priced the way it was for decades, in closed-door meetings between miners and steel makers, and then try to visualise what the current level would be.

Whatever number you may have come up with, it’s unlikely to be anything close to the $76.57 a tonne iron ore futures traded in Singapore fetched at the close on Monday.

It’s likely that it would be a far lower figure, given the current seaborne market dynamics of ample, and growing supply, and reasonable, but no longer, surging demand growth. Continue Reading →

The Dome School of Mines – by Kelsey Rolfe (CIM Magazine – December 20, 2017)

The mine near Timmins, Ontario has been a fixture on the Canadian mining scene for over a century. At the end of December miners there will work their last shift

The Hocevar family has worked at the Dome mine in the famous Timmins-Porcupine gold camp for nearly 70 years. Joseph joined up after emigrating from Slovenia in 1949, working as an underground miner, and was followed by his sons Edward, a maintenance supervisor, in 1981 and Bill, a mining engineer, in 1984. Edward will be the last Hocevar to work at Dome, which will close its doors and tunnels on Dec. 31.

The Hocevars are just one of many mining families that have long and deep ties to Dome. “There are families that have had multiple generations working at the mine from when it first opened,” said Bill Hocevar, who left Dome in 1992 and is now a business development superintendent at Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations. Continue Reading →

Why Ontario’s north needs regional governance — and soon – by John Michael McGrath (TV Ontario – January 16, 2018)

ANALYSIS: Northern Ontario isn’t just southern Ontario but colder. It also governs itself differently, writes John Michael McGrath, and the flaws in the current system are starting to show

​Timmins Mayor Steven Black started off 2018 on a sour note, thanks to a government seated nearly 700 kilometres away: Ontario’s. After more than a year of negotiations between Timmins and other municipalities that share the costs of the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (which administers services like Ontario Works), the northerners had finally hammered out an agreement that had cleared the necessary hurdles — until the Ministry of Community and Social Services said no via a letter in December.

Minister Helena Jaczek, heeding the call of mayors who preferred the current cost-sharing formula, put a stop to the changes and called on Timmins and its neighbours to reach a mediated solution over the next year. Continue Reading →

(Part 4 of 4) ‘Blood gold’ in your jewelry is poisoning workers and the rainforest. Here’s how to stop it. – by NICHOLAS NEHAMAS, JAY WEAVER AND KYRA GURNEY (Miami Herald – January 16, 2018)

Illegal gold molded into our wedding rings, dangling around our necks and hidden in our smartphones is polluting the rainforest with toxic chemicals and exploiting workers in Latin America.

Gold miners have stripped roughly 415,000 acres of South American tropical forest, an area twice as big as New York City, according to researchers at the University of Puerto Rico — and the rate of deforestation is only getting worse.

In Colombia, teenagers swim in mercury-filled pools of water as they use powerful hoses to suck up gold, an investigation by Massachusetts-based nonprofit Verité found. This week Pope Francis will bring his moral authority to the crisis when he visits Peru’s epicenter of illegal gold mining, Madre de Dios. Continue Reading →

(Part 3 of 4) He sold antiques in Florida. Then he helped ‘El Chapo’ launder $100M of dirty gold – by JAY WEAVER AND NICHOLAS NEHAMAS (Miami Herald – January 16, 2018)

The Chicago drug dealers working for notorious Mexican gangster El Chapo had a big problem on their hands: What should they do with the millions of dollars in cash they earned from selling cocaine?

They bought gold. Tens of millions of dollars worth from pawnshops — rings, necklaces and watches. Then they had to find a place to fence it all.

More than a thousand miles away, in an industrial warehouse in South Florida, they found the perfect partner: an obscure gold-trading company called Golden Opportunities. El Chapo’s crew shipped the metal in dozens of FedEx deliveries to the Hallandale Beach company, according to federal court records. Continue Reading →

(Part 2 of 4) Dirty gold is the new cocaine in Colombia — and it’s just as bloody – by JIM WYSS AND KYRA GURNEY (Miami Herald – January 16, 2018)

BARBACOAS, COLOMBIA – The Black Hawk helicopters roared over a remote jungle in southwestern Colombia, ignoring the patchwork of emerald-colored coca fields that seemed to make easy targets.

Instead, they homed in on a yellow backhoe, far from the nearest village or road, tearing into a riverbank searching for a metal that has inspired dreamers and criminals since the Spanish quest for El Dorado: gold.

As the choppers hovered over the muddy clearing, heavily armed police, bristling with grenades, body armor and automatic rifles, rushed at the machine. The stunned backhoe operator fought back briefly, swinging the mechanical arm like a club, before running into the jungle amid a cloud of tear gas. Continue Reading →

(Part 1 of 4) How drug lords make billions smuggling gold to Miami for your jewelry and phones – by JAY WEAVER, NICHOLAS NEHAMAS AND KYRA GURNEY (Miami Herald – January 16, 2018)

When Juan Granda ventured into Peru’s Amazon rainforest to score another illicit load of gold, he boasted that he felt like legendary Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. “I’m like Pablo coming … to get the coke,” he told two co-workers in a text message in 2014.

A 36-year-old Florida State University graduate who once sold subprime loans, Granda was no cartel kingpin. But his offhand comparison was apt: Gold has become the secret ingredient in the criminal alchemy of Latin American narco-traffickers who make billions turning cocaine into clean cash by exporting the metal to Miami.

The previous year, Granda’s employer, NTR Metals, a South Florida precious-metals trading company, had bought nearly $1 billion worth of Peruvian gold supplied by narcos — and Granda and NTR needed more. Continue Reading →

Why mine closure matters and why it gets ignored: Trends in mine closure from the Progressive Mine Forum – by alisha Hiyate (Canadian Mining Journal – January 2018)

For the Mine Closure segment of the above video, go to the Five Hour mark.

If you want to clear a room of miners, there are few better ways than to raise the topic of mine closure. At least, that’s sort of what happened at the Progressive Mine Forum in Toronto in late October. The inaugural event, organized by The Northern Miner, was dedicated to discussing innovation in mining. After a day of roundtables discussing CSR, Big Data in exploration, and innovation in mine development, operations and finance, about half the audience got up and left when it came time for the final topic of the day – mine closure.

While mine closure may not be a sexy topic, it is an urgent one.

“It’s the single most important thing that our industry does,” said Douglas Morrison, president and CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation. “Nobody in the public could care less what our productivity levels are, what the return on investment is. They absolutely care what we do with our waste streams – waste water and solid waste. This is where our industry interacts with the public.” Continue Reading →

CEO paints green picture of mining industry’s future – Profile: Bryan Cox, CEO, Mining Association of BC – by Patrick Blennerhassett (Business Vancouver – January 16, 2018)

Bryan Cox seems to have a knack for arriving on the job just in time for a crisis. On his first day at work in public affairs with Molson Brewery in Edmonton, he was dealing with the fallout of the company’s decision, following a strike, to shut down its landmark brewery in that city, which had been in operation for nearly a century.

“That was actually Day 1,” Cox said. “The brewery went on strike and I was in charge of managing the public relations around the closure. It was basically getting thrown in the deep end pretty quickly.”

And in 2014, just three months into a new position as vice-president of public affairs for the Mining Association of BC (MABC), the industry in B.C. suffered collateral damage from the Mount Polley mine disaster. Continue Reading →

Great Iron Ore Wave Set to Peter Out as Shippers Hold Steady – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – January 15, 2018)

Rio Tinto Group forecasts its iron ore shipments will remain flat this year or rise by 3 percent at most, reinforcing market sentiment that a wave of new supply is turning into a trickle.

The world’s second-largest exporter expects shipments from Western Australia of between 330 million metric tons and 340 million tons in 2018, the company said Tuesday, confirming guidance published last month. That compares with 330.1 million metric tons recorded last year.

Top exporters “clearly haven’t pushed the envelope too hard” and are showing restraint over additions to supply, Daniel Hynes, a Sydney-based analyst at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., said Tuesday in a Bloomberg Television interview. Continue Reading →

Nevada mining industry to spend hundreds of millions in 2018 on expansion – by Rob Sabo (Northern Nevada Business Weekly – January 15, 2018)

Northern Nevada Business Weekly

ELKO, Nev. — Northern Nevada’s largest gold mining companies remain bullish on their operations in Northern Nevada for 2018 and beyond. Newmont Mining Corp. and Barrick Gold North America continue to pour hundreds of millions of dollars of development capital into surface and underground mining operations in Nevada.

The price of gold rose from $1,158 an ounce in January of 2017 to just under $1,350 an ounce in January of the new year — a figure that justifies continued investment in both companies’ Northern Nevada operations. Nigel Bain, executive director of Barrick’s U.S. operations, says the company has several major developments and infrastructure improvements slated for 2018.


Workers on Barrick’s Deep South project will continue developing deeper access declines underneath the company’s existing underground mining activities at Cortez Hills, part of the Cortez mine area, which is the largest gold mining complex in the state of Nevada. Continue Reading →