Archive | Latin America Mining

After Rainforest Victory for Brazil’s Environmentalists, a Mining Battle Looms – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – June 21, 2017)

Opponents of unbridled development of Brazil’s Amazon region scored a victory this week when environmentalists fronted by supermodel Gisele Bundchen persuaded President Michel Temer to veto legislation that would have removed protections on more than 1 million acres. A battle over Amazon land about 300 times that size may be looming.

The mining ministry has proposed legislation that would end a nearly 40-year ban on foreign-owned mining companies operating on land near the roughly 16,000-kilometer (10,000-mile) border. The zone, which extends about 150 kilometers inland, accounts for 27 percent of Brazil’s national territory, according to the mining ministry.

Because most of Brazil’s western border also incorporates parts of the world’s largest rainforest, the amount of Amazon biome in the border zone would total more than 1.7 million square kilometers, an area about the size of Alaska, or more than twice the size of Texas. Continue Reading →

The white gold rush: A battle for supremacy in the lithium triangle (The Economist – June 15, 2017)

Three South American countries have much of the world’s lithium. They take very different approaches to exploiting it

LA PAZ, SAN SALVADOR DE JUJUY AND SANTIAGO – THE Olaroz salt flat sits nearly 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) above sea level at the end of a road that snakes through the Andes mountains. The loudest sound in the featureless expanse is a mechanical one, made by untended pumps. They extract lithium-bearing brine from wells sunk deep below the salt crust and deposit it in evaporation pools.

The concentrate will be taken to a nearby plant for processing into lithium carbonate. The operation in Argentina’s Jujuy state, an Argentine-Australian-Japanese joint venture, is one of the country’s two working lithium mines. Last year it produced 11,845 tonnes of lithium carbonate, about 6% of the world’s output. This year Sales de Jujuy plans to make 17,500 tonnes.

Lithium is a coveted commodity. Lithium-ion batteries store energy that powers mobile phones, electric cars and electricity grids (when attached to wind turbines and photovoltaic cells). Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Argentina lifts curbs on Barrick mine; full operations lag (Reuters U.K. – June 15, 2017)

Authorities in the Argentine province of San Juan lifted restrictions on leaching operations at Barrick Gold Corp’s Veladero mine on Thursday, but the world’s biggest gold producer said it would not immediately resume full operations.

Judge Pablo Oritja told a radio station that he understood Barrick had finished all required work, following its third cyanide spill in 18 months, and had ordered an end to restrictions put in place in late March.

Barrick will not begin adding cyanide until it has completed the ramp up of a new system and verified all elements are ready for normal operations, in keeping with a plan the miner submitted to regulators, said spokesman Andy Lloyd. Continue Reading →

Search for Trapped Chile Miners Intensifies as Deadline Looms – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – June 15, 2017)

The search for two men buried in a Patagonian gold mine may not be attracting the kind of global attention as the miraculous rescue of 33 miners in Chile seven years ago, but it’s no less dramatic. To begin with, time is running out.

Enrique Ojeda and Jorge Sanchez, trapped in the Mandalay Resources Corp.-owned mine since June 9, have an estimated three days of air left. And while the depths are less than the San Jose mine, technically the rescue is more difficult, said Felipe Matthews, a geologist who advised the Chilean Mining Ministry in 2010 and is also working on this search.

The hope is that the two found their way into a refuge after a section of the mine collapsed and tunnels flooded with water from a nearby lagoon. “If I’m here it’s because I have faith that we can achieve a similar miracle than the one we had in San Jose,” Matthews said Thursday in a telephone interview. Continue Reading →

Argentina signs mining deal to unify regulations, attract investment – by Juliana Castilla (Reuters U.S. – June 13, 2017)

BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s national government and the governors of 20 provinces signed a mining deal on Tuesday to harmonize taxes and regulations in hopes of attracting investment, but the action was criticized by industry sources and environmentalists alike.

The agreement, which needs approval from Congress and the 20 provincial legislatures, sets a 3 percent ceiling on royalties mining companies pay to provinces.

“It’s an activity that could be one of the pillars of job creation,” President Mauricio Macri said of mining at the signing ceremony. “We can develop it with perfect care of the environment.” Continue Reading →

The open veins of Bolivia’s lithium powering the world – by Bostjan Videmsek (Sydney Morning Herald – June 11, 2017)

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: Late in the morning the colours are at their prettiest, at their most intense. As far as the eye can see, the luminous white of the world’s greatest salt flats blends with the tender blue of the clear skies above the alpine desert of the Bolivian Andes.

The charismatic silence, very good at relieving the burden of one’s thoughts, is occasionally broken by the whistle of a mild though decidedly chilly breeze. The surrounding hills, some of them straining up 5000 metres, are sharply reflected in the thin film of rainwater not yet evaporated into the atmosphere. On a clear day and from afar, Salar de Uyuni looks like a colossal mirage. From up close, it looks nothing less than a miracle. But it may not remain that way for long.

Along the salt lake’s southern rim, industrial machines roar. Hundreds of heavy trucks are coming and going over the salty crust, wheezing like exhausted beasts, some 40 years old. Diesel fumes permeate the crisp mountain air. In their wake, the trucks leave perfect brown lines in the virginal whiteness, making the lake’s scores of square kilometres look like a giant bowl of cafe latte. Continue Reading →

Electric car demand sparks lithium supply fears – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – June 8, 2017)

The cost of extracting vital battery material is likely to create a ‘supercycle’ and drive up prices

A year ago, Tesla Motors founder and chief executive Elon Musk quipped that lithium was only the “salt on the salad” for the batteries that are vital to the US company’s electric cars.

Fast forward 12 months and concern is growing among analysts, and some other carmakers, that the supply of what Mr Musk dismissed as mere “salt” will not be able to keep pace with demand as the expansion of electric vehicles begins to erode the world’s century-long reliance on oil.

“There’s a pivot,” says John Kanellitsas, vice-chairman of Lithium Americas, a miner that is developing a lithium project in Argentina. “There’s much more consensus on demand; we’re no longer even debating demand. We’re shifting to supply and whether, as an industry, we can deliver.” Continue Reading →

Supreme Court clears way for lawsuit by mine protesters in Guatemala (CTV News – June 8, 2017)

OTTAWA – The Canadian Press – Another roadblock has been lifted for seven protesters hurt outside a Guatemalan mine who want to pursue a lawsuit in British Columbia against a company registered in the province.

The Supreme Court of Canada refused Thursday to hear a challenge from Tahoe Resources Inc. (TSX:THO) about the venue for the civil claim.

The men launched their claim in B.C. Supreme Court against Tahoe Resources after security guards sprayed protesters with rubber bullets outside the Escobal mine in 2013. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Mexico owes Canada miners over $360 million, led by Goldcorp – documents – by Alexandra Alper and Susan Taylor (Reuters U.S. – June 8, 2017)

MEXICO CITY/TORONTO – Mexico’s tax agency is holding over $360 million in tax rebates owed to six Canadian miners, including $230 million to Goldcorp Inc, according to sources and official documents seen by Reuters, escalating the situation into a showdown between the Mexican government and Canadian mining firms operating there.

In a string of meetings, Canadian officials have pressed Mexico to fix the problem, which hamstrings mining companies’ ability to invest in operations and is particularly difficult for smaller, cash-strapped miners and explorers, people familiar with the matter said.

Vancouver-based Goldcorp declined to comment on its outstanding refund, which represents 142 percent of its 2016 net profit and 6 percent of its full-year revenue. Goldcorp, the world’s No. 3 gold miner by market value, is owed the largest amount, according to documents seen by Reuters, followed by Torex Gold Resources, a small, Toronto-based miner which began commercial production at its Mexico mine last year and is waiting on a refund of some $66.5 million. Continue Reading →

In conversation with Dominican Republic Pueblo Viejo’s Greg Walker (Barrick Beyond Borders – May 2017)

Walker is the Executive General Manager of the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic

Greg Walker is the Executive General Manager of the Pueblo Viejo mine, a role he has held since September 2016. He has more than 37 years of experience in mining, including 14 at Barrick. Before joining Pueblo Viejo, Greg worked in progressively senior roles at the Porgera Joint Venture in Papua New Guinea, including Executive Managing Director. He is a former General Manager of the Bulyanhulu and Tulawaka mines in Tanzania, both properties of Acacia Mining, in which Barrick holds a 64 percent stake. He has a proven track record of delivering best-in-class business improvement, training and mentoring local workforces, and of working exceptionally well with government and community partners.


Greg Walker: Pueblo Viejo is a world-class operation, has a world-class ore body and is one of the top three gold-producing mines in the world. It’s a great resource with untapped potential. Continue Reading →

Migrants Find Poverty, Exclusion in South America’s Copper Capital (Voice of America – May 31, 2017)

ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE — Immigrants from around South America hoping to seek their fortunes in the continent’s copper mining capital of Antofagasta, Chile, are instead finding poverty, exclusion and a precarious home in the city’s growing temporary slums.

Chile, one of Latin America’s most developed countries, has become a magnet in recent years for immigrants from poorer and less stable parts of the region, especially Haiti, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.

Many are attracted to this northern Chile city, close to where the majority of mines are located in the world’s biggest copper exporter. Not all seek work in the mines themselves, but rather in providing the ancillary services that mushroomed during the previous decade’s commodity boom. Continue Reading →

Shipwreck Casts Shadow Over Fleet of Vale Iron-Ore Carriers – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – May 30, 2017)

A second vessel contracted to haul iron ore for Brazilian miner Vale SA was delayed for repairs following the loss of a similar ship that mysteriously sank en route to China leaving 22 people presumed dead.

The Stellar Queen departed Vale’s port terminal in northeastern Brazil on May 7 carrying almost 300,000 metric tons of ore, according to the Rio de Janeiro-based company’s website.

However, the ship then stayed anchored in a nearby bay for nearly three weeks after the commandant discovered cracking on the main deck and decided to delay the voyage until repairs could be made, the Maranhao state port authority said last week by email. The port authority finally authorized the ship’s departure on May 26. Continue Reading →

‘Full speed ahead’ for Lundin’s Ecuador gold project after financing deal – by Frik Els ( – May 30, 2017)

Shares in Lundin Gold (TSE:LUG) declined Tuesday after the company announced a $400–$450 million project financing package for its 100%-owned Fruta Del Norte project in Ecuador.

After a jump at the start of trading, in afternoon dealings on the TSX the Vancouver-based company was exchanging hands for $6.16 down 1%, amid a generally lacklustre day on the gold market. Lundin Gold is worth $736.7 million after a 17% year to date gain.

In a statement Lundin Gold said the project finance package agreed with private equity groups Orion Mine Finance and Blackstone Tactical Opportunities is a sign of “growing support for mining investment in Ecuador.” Continue Reading →

Strike Suspended at Barrick’s Veladero Mine in Argentina – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – May 30, 2017)

(Bloomberg) — Striking miners at Barrick Gold Corp.’s Veladero operation in Argentina will return to work as the two sides negotiate, alleviating the latest challenge facing the world’s largest gold producer.

The Toronto-based company has initiated “a formal dialogue process with the union leadership to address issues of concern,” it said Monday in a statement.

AOMA, one of nine unions at Veladero that’s focused on mine operations, downed tools on Sunday. Under local labor rules, striking employees are required to return to work once formal talks begin, Barrick said. Continue Reading →

PDAC 2017: Lukas Lundin on patience and
 his early successes – by Salma Tarikh (Northern Miner – March 25, 2017)

Global mining news

Mining tycoon Lukas Lundin, chairman of the Lundin Group, spoke with The Northern Miner at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention in March about his early successes in Argentina and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), before touching upon his latest adventure in Ecuador.

Starting with the Bajo de la Alumbrera project in Catamarca, Argentina, Lundin says in 1990 he began investigating the classic copper-gold porphyry deposit, but was unfamiliar with porphyries at the time. “I was a bit naive. I didn’t know what a porphyry system was in the nineties. I thought it was a heap-leach gold project.

“It probably helped not to know too much, because if you knew too much, you’d probably think it was too far in the interior or too long to go to the coast … the majors thought it was too complicated.” Despite these challenges, Alumbrera has become one of the world’s top-10 copper producers. Continue Reading →