Ring of Pants-on-Fire: Kathleen Wynne’s ‘weeks, not months’ deadline blows by – by John Michael McGrath (TV Ontario – July 25, 2017)


OPINION: This spring, Ontario’s premier seemed determined to speed up negotiations on developing the mineral-rich Ring of Fire — then, nothing happened.

Neither Premier Kathleen Wynne nor the Ontario Liberals generally are predisposed to playing the heavy with Indigenous communities. The Grits won the 2003 election partly on a pledge to establish better relations with Indigenous people, in contrast with the acrimony — and violence — of the Mike Harris years. Wynne has made reconciliation a personal mission in her time as premier.

So it was notable that she wrote a letter this spring to the Matawa Chiefs Council urging a speedy resolution to negotiations on developing the Ring of Fire, a mineral-rich region northeast of Thunder Bay that’s smack-dab in the middle of multiple First Nations territories. Wynne said she hoped for “meaningful progress in weeks, not months” on an agreement to build transportation infrastructure to the chromite and nickel deposits there.

Well, it’s been months, not weeks, yet the government has announced no major progress on an agreement, and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines had no new details to report this week in response to inquiries from TVO.org. Continue Reading →

UK Serious Fraud Office launches probe into Rio Tinto over Simandou – by Frik Els (Mining.com – July 24, 2017)


The UK’s anti-fraud investigating body said Monday it is probing Rio Tinto’s dealings in Guinea involving the giant Simandou iron ore project.

“The Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into suspected corruption in the conduct of business in the Republic of Guinea by the Rio Tinto group, its employees and others associated with it,” the SFO said in a statement on Monday.

In November last year Melbourne-based Rio fired two executives involved in the project after an internal investigation uncovered a $10.5m payment in 2011 to a French national acting as a go-between with the West African nation’s government. Continue Reading →

After China-induced price spike, coal set to resume long-term decline – by Nina Chestney and Henning Gloystein (Reuters U.S. – July 24, 2017)


LONDON/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Coal prices’ march to eight-month highs, driven by China’s huge appetite for power consumption, looks like an interlude in a longer-term decline and is seen losing traction later this year.

Investors widely anticipate a slow demise for coal use due to policies encouraging cleaner natural gas and renewable energy generation, but the shorter-term outlook for the industry has seen a sharp reversal of fortunes.

Asia’s benchmark physical coal prices GCLNWCPFBMc1 have gained more than a third from lows seen in May to nearly $98 per ton, while European benchmark API2 2018 coal futures are at eight-month highs of around $74 a ton. Recent gains are largely due to high demand in China, where power consumption has jumped more than 6 percent since the beginning of the year. Continue Reading →

This Miner’s $190 Billion Tax Bill Would Take Centuries to Pay – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – July 24, 2017)


Tanzania sent Acacia Mining Plc a tax bill equal to almost two centuries worth of the gold producer’s revenue.

The government issued the company, which mines all of its gold in the African country, with a $40 billion tax bill and another $150 billion in interest and penalties, Acacia said in a statement Monday. The charge covers alleged under-declared export revenues from the Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines over periods between 2000 and 2017.

Acacia reiterated that it has fully declared all revenues. The stock sank as much as 17 percent on Tuesday to the lowest since December 2013. In just three days, the company has lost 42 percent of its value.

The giant tax bill is the latest twist in an increasingly ugly spat between the government and Acacia. Continue Reading →

Protesters dig in against Taiwan mining rules – by Chris Horton (Nikkei Asian Review – July 25, 2017)


Aborigines and environmentalists attack Asia Cement rights extension

TAIPEI — Outside a metro station in Taiwan’s capital, musician Nabu Husungan Istanda sits shirtless in his wheelchair, smoking a cigarette while chewing betel nut. The evening traffic zips by, while young Taiwanese of both indigenous and Chinese ancestry laugh and dance arm-in-arm in a circle next to a protest site they are occupying.

Aboriginal Taiwanese and environmental activists have found themselves opposed on other issues, including development and hunting rights, but are fighting together against a mine producing materials for cement in Taroko Gorge, one of the country’s most famous scenic areas.

“We didn’t know any of these young people before, now we’re working together,” said Nabu, an ethnic Bunun. “We’ve become friends.” The new friends were brought together by a 20-year extension of mining rights held by Asia Cement, one of the country’s largest cement producers, in Sincheng Township, Hualien County, at the mouth of Taroko National Park. Continue Reading →

Aboriginal-owned Mine company goes belly-up – by Keith Dempsey (Sudbury Star – July 25, 2017)


A company operating in the Sudbury area has gone bankrupt, despite a $4.3-million infusion from the provincial government in 2013. That information came to light after the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change revealed last week that Mohawk Garnet Inc. was fined more than $300,000 for discharging a harmful contaminant — in this case, dust.

It’s unclear, however, whether the fine will ever be paid, since Mohawk Garnet, which operated on the Wahnapitae First Nation near Capreol, appears to have no money.

“It’s disappointing this company has gone out of business,” said Norm Miller, a Conservative Parry Sound MPP and critic for Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. “This is further proof that the Liberal government’s Northern Growth Plan that was implemented in 2011 is just not working.” Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto moves big Jadar lithium and boron deposit in Serbia to the front burner – by Matt Chambers (The Australian – July 25, 2017)


Rio Tinto has upgraded the status of the big Jadar lithium and boron deposit in Serbia to that of its most likely growth project, revealing that if it gets approvals and the economics support it, it will start construction in 2020 and reach first production in 2023.

The announcement, made in Serbia on Monday night, makes Jadar (a potential top-three global lithium producer) the only unapproved medium-term growth project in Rio’s portfolio.

The supply it could bring to the market may be a concern for Australian lithium producers and hopefuls, whose shares have been running hot lately on expected growth in demand for lithium-ion batteries as intermittent renewable power and electric cars take more market share. Continue Reading →

Würth Canada and Missanabie Cree First Nation sign joint venture agreement – by Rob O’Flanagan (Northern Ontario Business – July 21, 2017)


The two parties will work together to supply northern Ontario gold mines on Missanabie Cree territory

Würth Canada, headquartered in Guelph, has signed an important agreement with the northern Ontario community of Missanabie Cree First Nation. The First Nation, with traditional lands located about 400 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie, has agreements with two private mining companies with operations on those lands.

Chief Jason Gauthier said during an agreement signing event Thursday at Würth’s 345 Hanlon Creek Boulevard location, that the First Nation has agreements to provide services and personnel on some aspects of those mining operations. To meet those obligations, Missanabie Cree has partnered with Würth as a supplier.

The signing included a prayer of thanksgiving, and a gift of tobacco to the Indigenous visitors. Würth is an international company with 70,000 employees worldwide. In 2013, the company had $14 billion in sales. Its Canadian arm was founded in 1971. Continue Reading →

Sage Gold puts the pieces in place for 2018 production – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – July 25, 2017)


Picking up the Clavos Mine near Timmins has been about as turn-key as a mining project gets for Sage Gold. Things have fallen nicely into place for the Toronto developer as the company transitions from being a pure exploration player to becoming a mine operator in one of the world’s richest gold camps by early next year.

The Clavos Gold Project, 32 kilometres northeast of the city, was one of the few fully permitted mines in Canada that was sitting in mothballs in the East Timmins gold camp. Sage completed its phased-in acquisition of the former St. Andrew Goldfields mine last fall and had the provincial government reactivate the mine’s production permit.

With a private equity partner on its side, the company raised $11.5 million last November, and has raised a few million more since then. A good chunk is devoted to refurbishing the portal-and-ramp mine with the aim of restarting commercial production by the second quarter of 2018. Continue Reading →

Inadequate infrastructure hurting national competitiveness – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – July 24, 2017)


Chamber report identifies key infrastructure challenges facing business

A new report released by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said much work needs to be done to move traffic in major cities, expand broadband networks, improve trade corridors to the U.S., lay down new pipelines, and unlock the North’s potential.

The report’s name – ‘Stuck in Traffic for 10,000 Years: Canadian Problems that Infrastructure Investment Can Solve’ – comes from the estimated amount of the time commuters in big cities spend stuck in traffic every year because of road congestion. The report has corporate sponsors including Telus, Rogers, Ontario Power Generation, Suncor, and various B.C. port authorities and container shippers.

The chamber said the lack of proper infrastructure is wasting Canadians’ time and leading to lost business opportunities. The report identifies seven infrastructure challenges that government must target to keep Canada moving and competitive. Continue Reading →

World’s Biggest Miner Speeds Hunt for Copper in ‘Last Frontier’ – by David Stringer, Laura Millan Lombrana and Stephan Kueffner (Bloomberg News – July 25, 2017)


BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner, has opened an office and is seeking to add staff in Ecuador as it advances a search for copper in a nation that’s becoming the sector’s exploration hot-spot.

Melbourne-based BHP’s local unit, Cerro Quebrado, will spend about $82 million on exploration, having established a base in the capital, Quito, and advertised for workers including a senior geologist. The value of Ecuador’s mining sector could rise to $7.9 billion by 2021 from $1.1 billion this year as major players arrive, according to Fitch Group’s BMI Research.

BHP joins Australian competitors including billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Pty, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. and Newcrest Mining Ltd. in establishing offices or adding exploration licenses in the nation, according to Rodrigo Izurieta, president of Ecuador’s Mining Chamber. Continue Reading →

Electric vehicles could be a game changer for high-grade nickel producers – by Tess Ingram (Australian Financial Review – July 25, 2017)


Strong interest in a new battery-grade nickel product Western Areas plans to produce reinforces suggestions the growing electric vehicles sector could deliver a “renaissance” for the flagging nickel market, Western Areas managing director Dan Lougher says.

Western Areas started work in the June quarter on its mill recovery enhancement project, which plans to produce a high-grade nickel concentrate product from its Forrestania nickel operations in Western Australia from the March quarter of 2018.

While the project will produce only about 1400 tonnes of the 45 to 50 per cent nickel concentrate, compared to Western Areas’ annual nickel production of about 25,000 tonnes, Mr Lougher said the Perth-based miner had already fielded interest in the product from multiple global battery market players. Continue Reading →

Hitting the gold mine: Ottawa NGO imports first legal gold from the Congo – by Elise von Scheel (CBC News Ottawa – July 24, 2017)


Almost all of the Congo’s gold is illegally traded on the black market

A little over a month ago, Joanne Lebert boarded a plane to make the long flight from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Toronto. She was helping transport a tiny package that could change the way gold from the Congo is traded internationally.

Lebert, executive director of Partnership Africa Canada, was carrying 238 grams of raw gold purchased from mines near the remote town of Mambasa. According to PAC, Lebert’s import was one of the first legal gold purchases from the African nation.

Partnership Africa Canada is an Ottawa-based NGO that is spearheading efforts to ethically import gold from the Congo to Canada. They sent their first shipment to a jewelry store in Toronto that makes fair trade pieces. An estimated $28 billion in unrefined gold lies deep beneath the soil in the eastern regions of the Congo, but 98 per cent of it leaves the country illegally, according to the International Peace Information Service. Continue Reading →

How Canada blew its chance for a multibillion-dollar industry – by Nelson Bennett(Business Vancouver – July 25, 2017)


B.C. natural gas producers who can’t move gas to the West Coast could be supplying LNG producers on the U.S. Gulf Coast

While companies like Petronas and Shell haven’t formally abandoned their plans to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in B.C. yet, and Nexen – owned by China’s CNOOC Ltd. (NYSE:CEO) – recently restarted the review of its Aurora LNG project in Prince Rupert, the prospects for a West Coast LNG industry appear to be growing dimmer by the day, especially now that Canadian projects have been beaten to market by Cheniere Energy Inc. (NYSE: LNG) in the U.S.

If B.C. gas ends up being exported to foreign markets, it might not be from the West Coast, but from the Gulf Coast. Cheniere, which has a three-train LNG terminal in production on the Sabine Pass River in Louisiana, and four more trains under construction, has already inked a contract with at least one natural gas producer on the Alberta side of the Montney region and is said to be actively courting producers in B.C.

“We’re very happy to get as many molecules from Canada as we can logistically supply to our two facilities at Sabine and at Corpus [Christi],” Cheniere executive vice-president and chief commercial officer Anatol Feygin recently told Bloomberg. Continue Reading →