As growth plans return at gold miners, are investors being set up for disappointment? – by Ian McGugan (Globe and Mail – February 17, 2017)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Canada’s leading gold companies are once again turning their attention to new projects, as resilient bullion prices and healthier balance sheets fuel guarded optimism.

The shift in emphasis was clear as senior executives discussed earnings reports with analysts on Thursday. A year ago the talk was all about cutting costs, selling assets and expanding free cash flow, but miners are now stressing growth opportunities too.

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. said it was planning to invest more than $1.2-billion (U.S.) in two mines in Canada’s North. Goldcorp Inc. reiterated its commitment to expanding its production by 20 per cent over the next five years. Continue Reading →

Sherritt considering full exit from Madagascar mine project to reduce debt – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – February 17, 2017)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

JOHANNESBURG — After months of negotiations with its partners, Sherritt International Corp. is still considering a complete exit from its costly joint venture in Madagascar as it struggles to reduce its huge debt burden.

The Toronto-based company owns 40 per cent of the Ambatovy nickel and cobalt mine in Madagascar, which cost more than $5-billion (U.S.) to develop. Last year, it announced a $1.6-billion (Canadian) writedown of the value of its stake in the mine, where it is also the operator.

After borrowing about $650-million (U.S.) from its partners to pay for its share of developing the mine, Sherritt has seen this loan balloon to about $1.3-billion (Canadian) on its balance sheet as the interest compounded, according to David Pathe, Sherritt’s chief executive officer. “It’s an enormous debt number for a company our size,” Mr. Pathe said in an interview at an African mining conference in Cape Town. Continue Reading →

Chile store owners lament end of miners’ bonus culture – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – February 17, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE – In the dusty mining city of Antofagasta in northern Chile, the copper miners are not the only ones lamenting the end of the commodities boom – and the juicy bonuses that went with it.

Businesses in Antofagasta – from retailers of cars and luxury cruises to taxis and restaurants – formerly enjoyed windfalls every time miners renegotiated their contracts, which in Chile typically means a one-off bonus for each worker.

In 2013, workers at BHP Billiton’s Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine, each received a payment worth $49,000 at the then-exchange rate, the highest ever paid in Chile.Competing for their custom, local shopkeepers put out signs saying “Take it now and pay when you get your bonus”. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Zimbabwe: Turning Our Mining Resources Into Blessings (All Africa.com – February 16, 2017)

http://allafrica.com/

PARADOXICALLY, despite the prospect of wealth that accompany the discovery of natural resources in Africa, such endowments all too often impede than rather than accelerate development. Zimbabwe is no exception.

Natural resources have been shown to play a key role in the conflicts that have plagued a number of African countries over the last decade, both motivating and fuelling armed conflicts. Revenues from the exploitation of natural resources are not only used for sustaining armies, but also for personal enrichment and building political support. As a result, they can become obstacles where predatory coalitions involved in exploitation of mineral resources are unwilling to give up control over these resources.

As long as the majority of African communities face poverty with increasing unequal distribution of income that is fuelled by skewed ownership of mining resources, Africa will continue to be underdeveloped. Continue Reading →

Agnico Eagle presses the start button on two new Nunavut mines – by Jim Bell (Nunatsiaq News – February 16, 2017)

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/

Company will invest US $1.2 billion on construction at Meliadine, Amaruq

After 10 years in Nunavut, Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. will invest more than $1.2 billion to construct two new Kivalliq region gold mines that will likely produce local jobs and contract opportunities for many more years to come.

The company pressed the start button Feb. 15 on its long-awaited Meliadine mine near Rankin Inlet and its proposed satellite mine at Amaruq near the company’s existing operation at Meadowbank, which is nearing the end of its life.

To do that, they’ll invest US$900 million between now and 2019 to construct Meliadine and about US$330 million to bring the Amaruq deposit into commercial production, with the expectation that they can start shipping gold from each project by the third quarter of 2019. Continue Reading →

Finally it’s safe for the whistleblowers of corrupted climate science to speak out – by Lawrence Solomon (Financial Post – February 17, 2017)

http://business.financialpost.com/

Whistleblowers at the U.S. government’s official keeper of the global warming stats, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), claim their agency doctored temperature data to hide the fact that global temperatures plateaued almost 20 years ago.

Can the whistleblowers be believed in this claim, originally made in 2015? And in the further claim that NOAA then rushed this doctored data into print in time for the UN’s Paris global warming summit of world leaders, to dupe any doubters that the planet was in fact overheated?

Of course the whistleblowers can be believed, and not just because NOAA repeatedly stonewalled inquiries, even failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. No one paying attention can have any doubt that the governmental global warming enterprise has been a fraud. It’s been lies from the start, starting with the very mandate of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which astonishingly ruled out factors like the sun as being worthy of investigation. Continue Reading →

African states wary of potential repeal of ‘conflict minerals’ rule – by Aaron Ross and Ed Cropley (Reuters U.S. – February 15, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

A possible plan by U.S. President Donald Trump to suspend a rule on “conflict minerals” could help fund armed groups and contribute to a surge in unrest in central Africa, regional states said on Wednesday.

Sources told Reuters last week that Trump planned to issue a directive targeting a Dodd-Frank rule that requires companies to disclose whether their products contain minerals from war-torn parts of Africa, including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A leaked draft seen by Reuters calls for the rule to be suspended for two years. Competition for Congo’s vast mineral resources has fueled two decades of conflict in its eastern provinces, including a 1998-2003 regional war that killed millions, most from hunger and disease. Continue Reading →

[Anglo-American] Mining’s Octopus Regenerates – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – February 16, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

In its heyday, the business empire founded by Ernest Oppenheimer was likened to an octopus.The tangle of arms stretching from Anglo American Plc has at times embraced the world’s biggest miners of gold, platinum and diamonds; concrete plants; pulp and paper mills; banks; newspapers; car factories; a South African vineyard; and a stake in the brewer that eventually became SABMiller Plc.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani dramatically turned his back on that legacy last February. The still-sprawling business would get rid of 60 percent of its workforce and two-thirds of its mines and focus on a core of diamonds, platinum and copper, he told investors.

Operations in coal, iron ore, nickel, manganese, niobium and phosphates that collectively accounted for about 99.5 percent of the tonnage produced by the company would be put up for sale.The plan was wildly popular with investors, making Anglo American one of the five best-performing stocks in the Bloomberg World Mining Index during 2016 — but it’s now being mothballed. Continue Reading →

Palace tells mining firms: Go to court – by Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star – February 16, 2017)

http://www.philstar.com/

MANILA, Philippines – Companies affected by the environment department’s cancellation of mining projects would be given due process and are free to turn to the courts for legal remedies, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella gave the assurance to companies which have been targets of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez’s crackdown on mining operations in watersheds. On Tuesday, Lopez announced the cancellation of 75 mining contracts or mineral production sharing agreements (MPSA) for posing threats to watersheds and to overall water supply.

“The cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements by Secretary Regina Lopez is consistent with Republic Act 7942 that mining applications are closed to proclaimed watershed forest reserves,” Abella said in a statement. Continue Reading →

Mining Association not feeling bubbly about rebound – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – February 16, 2017)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Canada isn’t the welcoming mining jurisdiction that it used to be, according to the Mining Association of Canada (MAC). Optimism abounds that the global mining industry is heading in the right direction for 2017, but a new MAC report indicates Canada’s competitiveness is in decline and financiers interested in exploration and mining projects could start parking their investment dollars offshore.

“Very simply, Canada is not as attractive as it used to be for mineral investment, and competition for those dollars is growing globally,” said MAC president-CEO Pierre Gratton in a Feb. 16 news release.

“The recent elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays and uncertainty, combined with major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing factors that can explain Canada’s declining attractiveness. The time is now to put the right policy pieces in place to better compete for those investments and regain our leadership in mining.” Continue Reading →

Freeport Indonesia mine grinds to complete halt: union – by Fergus Jensen and Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.K. – February 16, 2017)

http://uk.reuters.com/

JAKARTA – All work has stopped at Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s giant copper mine in Indonesia and its workers are planning a demonstration against the government’s move last month that halted exports of copper concentrate to boost domestic industries, a union said.

A prolonged stoppage at the world’s second-biggest copper mine would support copper prices, near 21-month highs this week, but would also deny the Indonesian government desperately needed revenue from one of its biggest taxpayers.

Freeport had said the Grasberg mine would have to slash output by 60 percent to approximately 70 million pounds of metal per month if it did not get an export permit by mid-February, due to limited storage. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold Corp earnings beat expectations on lower production costs, boosts quarterly dividend – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – February 16, 2017)

http://business.financialpost.com/

TORONTO — Barrick Gold Corp. raised its dividend Wednesday after fourth-quarter earnings beat analysts’ expectations as it lowered its cost of producing gold closer to its US$700 target. The Toronto-based mining giant, which reports in U.S. dollars, reported net income of $425 million, or 36 cents per share.

After adjustments, net income for the quarter was $255 million, or 22 cents a share — a 180 per cent jump from the $91 million, or eight cents per share it earned in the fourth quarter of 2015. Analysts were expecting earnings of $227 million, or 20 cents per share.

The company credited increases in realized gold and copper prices and lower costs of sale for the improvements. “Barrick’s operations delivered progressively-stronger performance over the course of 2016, with three consecutive quarters of improved all-in sustaining cost guidance and gold production at the high end of our annual production forecast,” the company said in a statement. Continue Reading →

Agnico to Invest $1.2 Billion in Gold Projects in Canada’s North – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – February 15, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. plans to invest more than $1.2 billion in Canada’s subarctic in the next three years as it builds one new mine and expands another.

North America’s fourth-largest gold miner by market value is moving ahead with plans to develop its Meliadine project and a deposit near its Meadowbank mine in Nunavut, the company said Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings statement. The decision will boost Agnico’s gold production to 2 million ounces a year by 2020, about 20 percent more than last year’s output of 1.66 million ounces.

“This is very much low-risk, high-quality growth because it’s an extension of what we’ve been doing for the last many, many years,” Chief Executive Officer Sean Boyd said in an interview at the company’s Toronto offices. Continue Reading →

No ‘one point of view’ for natives and mining – by Ben Leeson (Sudbury Star – February 16, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

From person to person, chief to chief, council to council and community to community, there’s a broad range of opinions and perspectives among indigenous people when it comes to mining in and around their communities.

“Mining is such a hot topic in First Nations communities and across Canada, it has long-ranging effects on everybody, whether you live on reserve or off reserve – economic, political, social and environmental,” said Mike Hankard, assistant professor and chair in the department of indigenous studies at the University of Sudbury.

Hankard hopes to touch on those topics with Indigenous Peoples and Mining: Exploring Relations into the Future, a panel discussion at the university’s Canisius Hall on March 1. Panel members include Maurice Switzer, Lorraine Rekmans, Cheryl Recollet, Ugo Lapointe, Dana Sasarean and Denis Lefebvre. Continue Reading →

Don’t expect another commodities supercycle but oil at $60 is better than $30 for your portfolio – by Olev Edur (Financial Post – February 15, 2017)

http://business.financialpost.com/

“We’ve had a ten-year supercycle and then a five-year blow-off.” That’s how Drummond Brodeur, senior vice-president and global strategist with Signature Asset Management (a division of CI Investments) in Toronto, succinctly sums up the past 15 years for Canadian markets.

While the panic selling of early 2016 gave way to something of a rebound throughout the rest of the year — a “still alive bounce” — Brodeur offers an even more succinct summary of the outlook for Canadian markets going forward: “Meh.”

“We saw oil go down below US$30 and now it’s back to US$50, but it’s not going back to US$100 any time soon,” Brodeur says. “Maybe US$60, but we won’t see a resumption of the supercycle that occurred between 2001 and 2011. It’s not exciting, but US$60 is a lot better than US$30, and the market should be much more stable going forward.” Continue Reading →