OPINION: Switch to Renewables Won’t End the Geopolitics of Energy – by Meghan L. O’Sullivan (Bloomberg News – August 21, 2017)


Countries that dominate the export of rare-earth minerals will be the petrostates of tomorrow.

In another sign that the age of fossil fuels is waning, the California State Senate has passed a bill to commit the state to use 100 percent renewable energy for power by 2045. Other states and cities — including Massachusetts, Chicago and Atlanta — intend to make similar switches. Proponents highlight a bevy of ways in which the Age of Renewables will improve our lives: lower carbon emissions, cheaper electricity rates, new abilities to bring power to impoverished nations … and independence from the economic and political entanglements of volatile global oil and gas markets.

Yes, there are many reasons to be enthusiastic about a shift toward renewables. Unfortunately, an escape from energy geopolitics is not likely to be among them.

Americans and Europeans in particular are familiar with the geopolitical downsides of a heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Even though energy embargoes are extremely rare, and hardly ever in the interest of the producers, the specter of the 1973 Arab oil remains. For many in Eastern Europe, the 2006 and 2009 gas cut-offs to Ukraine by Russia are an equally disturbing memory. Simply the threat of such actions carries political weight. Continue Reading →

Superior Morning Host Lisa Laco Interviews Noront CEO Alan Coutes on Ring of Fire Roads (CBC News Thunder Bay – August 22, 2017)

For the interview: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1029794883530/

Ring of Fire – NorOnt Reaction

It’s been a long road for mining companies hoping to develop the Ring of Fire — but yesterday the province announced it’s building a road to the region. Alan Coutts is president of Noront Resources.

It’s Hard to Keep Up With All That Lithium Demand – by Laura Millan Lombrana and Jonathan Gilbert (Bloomberg News – August 22, 2017)


Hidden within the salt flats high in the Andes mountains of South America are vast deposits of the lithium that Elon Musk may need for his electric-car revolution. But extracting the mineral from brine ponds created by Orocobre Ltd. has proved more difficult than expected.

Bad weather and pump glitches meant production at the Olaroz facility in northern Argentina was 21 percent below Orocobre’s initial target in the year through June. While things are getting back on track, Chief Executive Officer Richard Seville says the company “either underestimated the complexity or overestimated our capability.”

Producers everywhere have struggled to keep up with demand as electric cars went from almost no sales a decade ago to more than half a million vehicles last year. The battery in a Model S from Musk’s Tesla Inc. uses about 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of lithium carbonate. More mines are planned, but difficulties at Olaroz — the first new South American lithium mine in two decades — are limiting funding for new ventures in Argentina, home to the world’s third-largest reserves. Continue Reading →

The trillion dollar outer space land grab: Experts warn of massive conflicts looming over space mining rights (Daily Mail/Reuters – August 21, 2017)


Can anyone claim the red planet or natural resources on asteroids? Business leaders and legal experts say the question has become more than philosophical as a growing number of firms, often backed by capital and technology from Silicon Valley, have set their sights on the resources of outer space asteroids and Mars.

In order to avoid conflicts between competing companies and countries over outer space resources, more work needs to be done on Earth to determine who owns commodities taken from celestial bodies, analysts said.

‘There is a huge debate on whether companies can simply travel to space and extract its resources,’ said Barry Kellman, a law professor who studies space governance at DePaul University in Chicago. ‘There is no way to answer the question until someone does it,’ Kellman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Continue Reading →

North Kivu safer than Johannesburg says DRC tin miner Alphamin – by Brendan Ryan (MiningMx.com – August 22, 2017)


Canadian-listed Alphamin Resources hoped to finalise the remaining funding required to build the Bisie tin mine in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the end of the year according to CEO Boris Kamstra.

Total cost of the project is estimated at some US$152m towards which Alphamin had already raised some $22m in July through private share placements. The company plans to raise a further $55m in equity along with $80m in debt.

Speaking at a presentation to financial media in Johannesburg on Tuesday Kamstra said that, all going to plan, initial production of tin-in-concentrate is expected during the first quarter of 2019 with the underground mine forecast to reach steady state production by the end of 2019. Continue Reading →

Anglo American makes expensive bet on hydrogen fuel cell cars – by Barbara Lewis (Business Day – August 18, 2017)


London — Anglo American is placing a contrarian bet on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as it tries to squeeze more profit from its platinum reserves, but risks being left behind as rival miners look to cash in on battery-powered cars.

A push, particularly in Europe and China, for lower-emission transport, raises the prospect of weaker demand for platinum, whose biggest industrial use is in diesel vehicles. Other big miners are positioning themselves for the shift away from the combustion engine by betting on lithium and cobalt, both used in electric vehicle batteries.

Glencore signed a major deal last October to sell 20,000 tons of cobalt products, a hitherto niche material whose production it dominates, while Rio Tinto is sitting on a large deposit of lithium. As the world’s top supplier of platinum, Anglo American is left with little choice but to remain committed to the metal. Continue Reading →

The victor, the spoils? Trump eyes Afghanistan’s elusive mineral riches – by James Mackenzie (Reuters U.S. – August 20, 2017)


KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is eyeing Afghanistan’s mineral wealth to help pay for a 16-year war and reconstruction efforts that have already cost $117 billion. Investors who have studied the country, one of the world’s most dangerous, say that is a pipe dream.

Ever since a United States Geological Survey study a decade ago identified deposits later estimated to have a potential value of as much as $1 trillion, both Afghan and foreign officials have trumpeted the reserves as a likely key to economic independence for Afghanistan.

As well as deposits of gold, silver and platinum, Afghanistan has significant quantities of iron ore, uranium, zinc, tantalum, bauxite, coal, natural gas and significant copper – a particular draw given the dearth of rich new copper mines globally. Continue Reading →

Fannie Quigley, the Alaska Gold Rush’s All-in-One Miner, Hunter, Brewer, and Cook – by Tessa Hulls (Atlas Obscura – August 21, 2017)


She used mine shafts as a beer fridge and shot bears to get lard for pie crusts.

TALES OF ALASKA’S GOLD RUSHES, which began in the 1890s, are full of larger-than-life men—bold, cantankerous fellows who drank and swore and shot as they chased promises of gold across the stark, untrammeled tundra. But nestled among all the stories of men is the story of Fannie Quigley, a five-foot-tall frontierswoman who spent almost 40 years homesteading and prospecting in Kantishna, a remote Alaskan mining region that would later become part of Denali National Park.

Like the men around her, Quigley drank, swore, and shot bears—but unlike those men, she used her bear lard to create the legendarily flaky crusts of the rhubarb pies she served to her backcountry guests.

Over her decades in the backcountry, Quigley acquired a reputation as not only a renowned hostess and cook, but one of the finest hunters the region had ever seen. Her guests—who were many, despite the fact that her cabin was only accessible by foot or dogsled— Continue Reading →

“This is the day we were waiting for”: Ring of Fire road agreement jumpstarts Noront Resources’ development plans – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – August 22, 2017)


An agreement in principle to bring permanent access roads to three remote First Nation communities near the Ring of Fire was greeted with relief from the largest mine developer in the region. “This is the day we were waiting for,” said Noront president-CEO Alan Coutts.

He was in Thunder Bay to hear Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Aug. 21 announcement that agreements have been struck with Marten Falls, Nibinamik and Webequie First Nations to build two corridors to connect those communities to the provincial highway system.

One proposed east-west corridor will be shared with the mining industry to reach the rich mineral deposits in the James Bay lowlands. Wynne said the initial preparatory environmental assessment work starts immediately followed by feasibility planning. Continue Reading →

Fedeli slams Wynne over Ring of Fire – by Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles (North Bay Nugget – August 22, 2017)


Premier Kathleen Wynne’s announcement that the province will move ahead with building roads into the Ring of Fire is earning jeers from Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli. Fedeli expressed frustration over the lack of concern for the North and empty promises over the last 10 years following Wynne’s announcement Monday.

“It’s simply election talk. She’s had 10 years to do something and now a few months before an election she’s making an announcement.” He said Wynne made a similar promise in 2014, but nothing was ever done.

“There’s actually been three funding announcements in support of the Ring of Fire and yet again, nothing has been done,” Fedeli said. “The latest was in the 2017 budget where there was no mention of the Ring of Fire, so where’s this funding coming from?” Continue Reading →

Column: Resource-driven treaties often botched – by Tom Villemaire (Sudbury Star – August 22, 2017)


A copper strike in northeastern Ontario is one such example

In the late 1840s, the near north Ontario experienced a copper mining boom, but it didn’t come without problems.

The use of copper was exploding, thanks to the nascent industries of hydro-electric power and telegraphy, both of which drove demand for copper through the roof. This all came together in the 1830s — in 1831, Michael Faraday created an electric generator and in 1832 Pavel Schilling came up with the earliest working version of an electrical telegraph.

All this was taking place in Europe, but the technology — and the demand for copper — would soon affect the world, including the remote areas of what would become the province of Ontario. Continue Reading →

‘Ring’ road deal could good for Sudbury – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – August 22, 2017)


The Ring of Fire moved a rung closer to reality Monday, as the province announced plans to construct a year-round access road to the mineral-rich region. “It’s just what we were looking for,” said Alan Coutts, president and CEO of Noront Resources. “This is the catalyst that was needed, from our point of view.”

A Toronto-based company, Noront is the now chief player in the region, after acquiring the chromite assets from Cliffs Natural Resources a couple of years ago. It plans to develop its Eagle’s Nest deposit — consisting of nickel, copper, platinum and palladium — first, and then mine chromite deposits at several sites in the James Bay lowlands.

“These are bulk and base-metal deposits,” said Coutts. “They’re not gold and diamonds in small volumes; they’re big volumes and you have to move a lot. Without 24/7, 365, all-season infrastructure roads in place, those projects aren’t viable.” The province had been negotiating with nine First Nations in the region and hinting since spring that a deal on road construction was in the offing. Continue Reading →

Noront Resources to make decision on Ring of Fire smelter by end of year – by Angela Gemmill (CBC News Sudbury – August 21, 2017)


Mining company to work on smelter development while province, First Nations create road infrastructure

Monday’s long-awaited news that the provincial government will help build roads to the Ring of Fire chromite deposit is music to the ears of junior miner Noront Resources Limited.

The provincial government says it’s working with three remote northwestern Ontario First Nations to develop year-round road access that will link the communities to Ontario’s highway system. Noront has a major land position in the Ring of Fire. CEO Alan Coutts said the announcement from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was welcome.

“It’s a very important breakthrough. This is exactly what was needed to de-bottleneck the Ring of Fire development,” Coutts said. While in Thunder Bay, Wynne told the media the environmental assessment will begin immediately and should take much of 2018 to complete. Construction on the roads should start in 2019. Continue Reading →

Tanzania’s 55% share of mine revenue ‘pretty generous’ – AngloGold – by Martin Creamer (Mining Weekly.com – August 21, 2017)


JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The share of revenues that the government of Tanzania has received from the Geita gold mine is “pretty generous” when compared with what shareholders have received, AngloGold Ashanti CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said on Monday when the company reported an adjusted headline loss of $93-million, which includes retrenchment provision of $47-million and a silicosis provision of $46-million.

Since 2000, the Tanzanian government has received 55% of the cash distributed compared with AngloGold’s 45%, with the Geita mine delivering more than $1-billion in royalties, corporate taxes and employees’ income tax since 1999. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video)

“It’s important that we actually get that information out to increase the awareness,” Venkatakrishnan said in response to media questions during a round table attended by Mining Weekly Online. When the time value of money is included, the government’s share is significantly higher. Continue Reading →

AUDIO: Ontario pledges ‘support’ for year-round road access to 3 remote First Nations (CBC News Thunder Bay – August 21, 2017)


Province says it’s working with Webequie, Nibinamik and Marten Falls on year-round road projects

The provincial government says it’s working with three remote northwestern Ontario First Nations to develop year-round road access that will link the communities to Ontario’s highway system. The partnership between the province, Webequie, Nibinamik and Marten Falls will also facilitate access to the Ring of Fire — a mineral-rich area in the James Bay lowlands, about 575 kilometres north of Thunder Bay — according to the province.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement Monday morning in Thunder Bay, Ont., during her first scheduled stop on a day-long tour of the city. The premier was flanked by three of her ministers — Indigenous Relations Minister David Zimmer, Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro, Ontario’s minister of municipal affairs.

“I’m very pleased to announce today that we have reached an agreement to build a road into the Ring of Fire,” Wynne said. “I’ve looked forward to this particular day coming for some time.” Continue Reading →