MINING PEOPLE: Alexco, Benz, Canstar, Cross River Ventures, Maritime, SilverCrest, Troilus

Management appointments announced this week include:

Paul Jones has joined Alexco Resource as senior VP of corporate development.

Benz Mining has strengthened its senior executive team: Danielle Giovenazzo has been named VP of exploration, Xavier Braud is now head of corporate development for Australia and Paul Fowler has been named head of corporate development for Canada; Braud will also serve as CEO. In addition, Evan Cranston has been appointed chairman, replacing Nick Tintor, who will remain a director. Peter Williams has been named a director.

Rob Bruggeman has been appointed president, CEO and a director of Canstar Resources.

Natasha Tsai is now the CFO of Cascadero Copper, replacing Lorne Harder, who remains corporate secretary and a director of the company.

Alex Klenman has been appointed CEO of Cross River Ventures, replacing John Fraser, who remains president and CFO.

On Oct. 1, Paul Goranson will become CEO of EnCore Energy, replacing Dennis Stover, who will continue as chief technical officer and a director.

Robert Dinning has been named CFO of Far Resources and has also joined the company’s board.

Fokus Mining has appointed Jean Rainville president and CEO and to its board. Rainville replaces Thibaut Segeral, who will continue to serve as chairman. Pierre Vézina has also resigned as a director.

Michael Malana has resigned from his post as secretary and CFO of Karam Minerals; Malana is replaced by Kelvin Lee, who has also been appointed to the company’s board of directors.

Maple Gold has appointed Shirley Anthony to the role of director of corporate communications.

Perry Blanchard is now the VP of environment and sustainability with Maritime Resources.

Hugo Sibony has resigned as CFO of Napier Ventures but will remain a director of the company. Earl Hope has been appointed interim CFO.

Osisko Mining has announced management and board changes. Mathieu Savard has been promoted to the president role; John Burzynski has been appointed chairman, succeeding Sean Roosen, who remains a director of the company. In addition to the chairman role, Burzynski remains the company’s CEO.

Steven Williams has resigned as the president, CEO and director of Pasinex Resources. Larry Seeley, a director of the company, will become executive chair.

Tara Hassan is now the VP of corporate development with SilverCrest Metals.

Top Exploration has named Martin Bajic as CFO, corporate secretary and a director of the company.

Troilus Gold has promoted Bertrand Brassard to the chief geologist role. Brassard joined Troilus as senior project geologist in 2018; prior to joining Troilus, his 35-year career was focused on Quebec, in areas such as Sept-Iles, Schefferville, Kuujjuak, Raglan, James-Bay and the Abitibi.

Board moves include:

Judd Merrill has joined the board of Comstock Mining.

Konstantin Lichtenwald is now a director of Fuse Cobalt.

Michael Hobart has joined the board of Galleon Gold.

Jean-Charles Potvin has retired from the board of Gold Reserve; Yves Gagnon has joined the board of directors.

Donald McDowell has been named a director of Golden Independence Mining; McDowell will also serve as project manager of the company’s Independence gold project in Nevada.

Jonathan Rubenstein and Laura Diaz have joined the board of GR Silver Mining.

Lana Shipley is now a director …read more

B2Gold drilling near Fekola yields positive results

B2Gold (TSX: BTO) has provided additional positive results from drilling near the Fekola mine and Anaconda area, part of an $18 million program in western Mali focused on exploring the Cardinal and FMZ zones near the Fekola deposit and expanding the Anaconda area’s mineral resources.

New high-grade drill results from the Cardinal and FMZ zones have extended the mineralization to over 3.5 kilometres along strike, continuing to indicate potential for additional gold deposits near the Fekola mine, with additional potential at depth and along strike, the company said in a media release.

Resource infill drilling has been completed at the Cardinal zone, with an initial inferred mineral resource estimate expected in the first quarter of 2021.

Additional high-grade drill intercepts at the Mamba zone of the Anaconda area have extended the mineralized zone by over one kilometre, to a total known strike length of approximately 2.2 kilometres (20 kilometres north of Fekola).

Resource infill drilling at this zone is approximately 90% complete, with an updated mineral resource estimate for the Anaconda area expected by the end of the fourth quarter of 2020. The company previously reported an inferred resource estimate of 767,000 ounces of gold at 1.1 grams per tonne.

So far this year, B2Gold has completed approximately 33,000 metres of combined reverse circulation and diamond drilling on the Cardinal and FMZ zones. It also completed approximately 18,000 metres on the Anaconda area, focusing mainly on the Mamba zone.

During the remainder of 2020, B2Gold plans to drill approximately 5,300 metres at the Anaconda area, where the focus will remain on expanding the saprolite and sulphide mineralization at the Mamba and Adder zones.

Shares of B2Gold rose 0.4% by 2:00 p.m. EDT Thursday. The Canadian-based gold producer has a market capitalization of approximately C$9.55 billion.

…read more

Uranium One targets 10% of lithium market by 2030

Uranium One, a unit of Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy firm Rosatom, plans to begin producing lithium by 2023, which would allow it to have between 9% and 10% of the global market by 2030.

“We are considering the acquisition of raw material assets overseas to integrate into global supply chains for final products such as batteries with localized production in Russia,” Sergey Polgorodnik, general director of Joint Stock Co. TENEX, told a weekly in-house news publication.

Uranium One has been actively looking for lithium assets in Africa and South America.

Uranium One has been actively looking for lithium assets in the past year. In October, it inked a memorandum of understanding with Canada’s Wealth Minerals about acquiring up to a 51% interest in the company’s Atacama lithium project in northern Chile.

The asset covers a 46,200-hectare license in one of the world’s highest grade and largest sources of the white metal, which has become an irreplaceable component of rechargeable batteries used in high tech devices and electric vehicles (EVs).

Chile’s Atacama salt flat, home to leading lithium producers Albemarle and SQM, accounts for around one-third the world’s supply of the battery metal.

Two months later, Uranium One began talks with Australia’s Prospect Resources (ASX:PSC) to buy a stake of the company’s Arcadia lithium mine in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has been pushing lithium as a major draw for investors as it looks to supply 10% of the world’s needs by 2022. The country is currently the fifth-largest global producer of the white metal.

…read more

AngloGold begins commercial production at Boston Shaker

AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) and its JV partner IGO Ltd have kicked off commercial production at the Boston Shaker underground mine at Tropicana gold project in Western Australia.

The development of the Boston Shaker mine was approved in March 2019, and the mine transitioned into commercial production on schedule, below the A$105.7 million ($77 million) budget and with no recordable safety incidents, AngloGold said in a press release.

According to the miner, Boston Shaker will deliver approximately 1.1 million tonnes of ore per annum at an estimated grade of 3.5 grams/tonne, contributing approximately 100,000 ounces per annum to gold production
over a seven-year mine life.

The commercial production milestone at Boston Shaker comes after Tropicana produced its 3 millionth ounce in March

“Underground mining at Boston Shaker will leverage further value from this high performing operation, achieving payback in just over three years with upside potential as the deposit remains open at depth,” AngloGold Ashanti SVP Australia Michael Erickson said.

“The underground mine will contribute higher grade mill feed from the current quarter onwards, improving the gold production profile and enhancing cash flow during calendar 2021-2023 when the mine plan includes periods of higher waste stripping in the Havana open pit.”

Underground ore production has now reached an annualized production rate of 0.7 Mtpa with the design production rate expected to be achieved in March 2021, the company reported.

The commercial production milestone at Boston Shaker comes after Tropicana produced its 3 millionth ounce in March this year, seven years after pouring first gold in September 2013.

According to AngloGold, Tropicana will be able to maintain gold production at between 450,000-500,000 ounces annually over the next four years.

The mine is managed by AngloGold Ashanti Australia with a 70% interest. IGO holds a 30% interest.

…read more

Trump says ‘no politics’ in Pebble mine review – Northern Dynasty stock surges

US president Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday that there would be “no politics” in the review process of the proposed Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum-silver-rhenium project in southwest Alaska.

“Don’t worry, wonderful & beautiful Alaska, there will be NO POLITICS in the Pebble Mine Review Process. I will do what is right for Alaska and our great Country!!!,” he tweeted.

Trump’s announcement comes as doubts about the project have steadily risen over recent months.

Last week, short seller J Capital Research accused Northern Dynasty management of “gaslighting investors” and said the mine plan “is on its face absurd.”

“We believe Northern Dynasty has crafted a money-losing mining plan to achieve government approvals. Since management is bonused on lobbying success instead of for producing minerals, NAK has no reason to care that the new plan is irrational: we think it will lose money, leave investors with a stranded asset, and be canceled anyway if Joe Biden is elected,” JCap’s report read.

Midday Thursday, Northern Dynasty’s stock was up 17% on the TSE

Northern Dynasty responded to the report, calling it “fatuous, flimsy and fundamentally self-serving,” as well as “typical of such efforts to profit by destroying the value of honest shareholders’ investments.”

The Trump administration in July proposed approving a permit for the mine, which would be located near the world’s largest commercial sockeye salmon-producing region.

Opponents of the project have long feared its discharges could contaminate local waters, causing irreparable damage to the aquatic habitat.

US President’s son Donald Jr. took to Twitter to oppose the project, saying “the headwaters of Bristol Bay and the surrounding fishery are too unique and fragile to take any chances with.”

If permitted, Pebble would become North America’s largest mine, with an estimated measured and indicated resource of 6.5 billion tonnes containing 57 billion lb copper, 71 million oz gold, 3.4 billion lb molybdenum and 345 million oz silver.

Midday Thursday, Northern Dynasty’s stock was up 17% on the TSE. Shares had been traded over 37.6 million times, over double the average daily volume. The company has a C$759 million market capitalization.

…read more

Iron ore price rally turns into rout

Iron ore prices fell back sharply again on Thursday on the back of rising port inventories and clear signs that supply has caught up with particularly strong demand from China.

According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $122.36 a tonne on Thursday, down 6% since Monday.

“It’s now a turning point,” Ban Peng, an analyst at Maike Futures told Bloomberg News:

“Recent exports from Brazil have been slightly better than our expectations, and supply from the top miners including Vale SA should increase in the fourth quarter, which is typically a peak season. ”

According to Shanghai SteelHome, iron ore port inventories rose to 119 million tonnes last week, the highest in five months. Stockpiles could increase further in September and October as congestion at Chinese ports eases.

Vale ramp up

Vale (NYSE: VALE) said on Wednesday it expects to reach iron ore capacity of 400 million tonnes per year by increasing output across its operations.

The company currently has the capacity to produce 318 million tonnes a year. In 2018, before the Brumadinho dam collapse, Vale produced 385 million tonnes.

In an investor site visit presentation, Rio de Janeiro-based Vale also said it has a target of 450 million tonnes per year “in the future.”

…read more

Cobalt price rally boosts MINING.COM EV Metal Index

The MINING.COM EV Metal Index, which tracks the value of battery metals in newly registered passenger EVs (including plug-in hybrids) around the world continued to recover month on month in July, after dropping to its lowest level since January 2018 in April.

A modest uptick in raw material deployed (with the exception of nickel) and a sharp year-to-date rally in cobalt, combined with improving prices for nickel used in the supply chain lifted the value of battery raw materials tracked by the index to $194 million for the month. 

“The link between all of these recent cobalt stockpiling efforts is that the purchases were all taken in a low-price environment, as such this could mark a point where cobalt prices begin a sustained rise”

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

At $988 million year-to-date, the index is still more than 17% below 2019 levels although, as testament to the youth of the electric vehicle market, is double the value of the same period in 2017.

SRB could give cobalt another leg up

An 8.6% jump in the price of cobalt combined with a double-digit increase in deployed cobalt lifted the sub-index to above $50 million for the first time this year.  

Cobalt prices have been underpinned this year due to tight supply resulting from export restriction earlier in the year of cobalt from the DRC shipped through South Africa and expectations that top cobalt miner Glencore will keep its Mutanda mine – responsible for 20% of global output – on care and maintenance for at least another couple of years.

Rumours that China’s State Reserve Bureau (SRB) is undertaking significant purchases of cobalt to stockpile the country’s strategic reserves have now been confirmed, further chasing up the price.

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence is anticipating a minimum of 2,000 tonnes of cobalt metal to be purchased by the SRB, with an upper range of 5,000 tonnes.

Annual cobalt production is only around 130,000 tonnes, mostly as a byproduct of nickel and copper mining. Of that, roughly 30,000 tonnes is in metal form which makes even just 2,000 tonnes a significant market mover.

The SRB made similar purchases in 2014–2016, says Benchmark: 

“The link between all of these recent cobalt stockpiling efforts is that the purchases were all taken in a low-price environment, as such this could mark a point where cobalt prices begin a sustained rise.”

Lithium price declines continue

Lithium and graphite prices eased again in July, albeit slightly, with the former falling below $7,000 a tonne for the first time since September 2015, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence data. 

Nickel sulphate index prices climbed back above $15,000 a tonne (100% Ni basis), but deployment weakened compared to June to just above 6,300 tonnes, according to Adamas Intelligence data.

Europe holds EV lead

Europe is (just) keeping ahead of China – not long ago responsible for every other electric car sold worldwide – as the globe’s largest EV market.

Europe’s electric vehicle sales (including plug-in hybrids) outpaced those of China, reaching 597,700 units for the January–August period. That is already more than the 546,000 units sold all of last year. 

Europe also …read more

Canada ranked 4th, US 6th in lithium-ion battery supply chain

A new ranking for 2020 by Bloomberg’s clean energy, new materials and commodity research arm (BloombergNEF) shows China dominating the global lithium-ion battery supply chain, quickly surpassing Japan and Korea, leaders for most of the previous decade.

China’s dominance is based on its large domestic battery demand, 72GWh, and control of 80% of the world’s raw material refining, 77% of the world’s cell capacity and 60% of the world’s component manufacturing, according to data from BNEF.

Kwasi Ampofo, BNEF’s lead analyst covering battery raw materials, says China’s large scale investments into mining and refining has given it the advantage over Japan and Korea:

“Other countries seeking to be dominant players in the overall value chain may need to support upstream metals mining and refining development, while also formulating policies that will safeguard the environment.”

Canada, in fourth place, is boosted by its access to raw materials and environmental strengths but brought down by a relatively low score for regulation, infrastructure and innovation, and middling demand for batteries in electric vehicles and energy storage.

“Key distinguishing factors are the environmental footprint of industry, the availability of cheap but clean electricity, a technically skilled labor force, and incentives driving battery demand. These factors may be more important than a monopoly on one specific critical metal”

Sophie Lu, head of metals and mining at BloombergNEF

Currently at number 6, the US is forecast to slot in at number three by 2025, improving its metrics across the board.

James Frith, BNEF’s head of energy storage, says the next decade will be particularly interesting as Europe and the US try to create their own battery champions:

“While Europe is launching initiatives to capture more of the raw material value chain, the US is slower to react on this.”

BNEF says “if the US were to increase its investment in raw materials and promote EV adoption, it could overtake Japan and China to be number one in 2025.”

As EV demand grows there is an increasing need for cell manufacturing facilities close to automotive production. This has led to a boom in European cell plants, and the rest of the supply chain is also slowly making its way to Europe, according to the report.

The introduction of carbon border taxes as proposed by the European Commission and Joe Biden, the US Democratic presidential candidate, could give regions or countries leverage to secure localized supply chains.

Sophie Lu, head of metals and mining at BloombergNEF, says a key concern of many raw materials producing countries is how to leverage resource wealth into more value-add, and attract further downstream investments, like battery manufacturing:

“Key distinguishing factors are the environmental footprint of industry, the availability of cheap but clean electricity, a technically skilled labor force, and incentives driving battery demand. These factors may be more important than a monopoly on one specific critical metal.”

Raw materials are ranked on resource availability, mining capacity and refining capacity. Cell & components are ranked based on the manufacturing capacity of electrolyte salts and solutions, anodes, cathodes, separators and cells. Environment is …read more

SolGold kicks off drilling at Porvenir

SolGold (LSE, TSX: SOLG) has commenced drilling at its Porvenir copper-gold project in southern Ecuador following receipt of all scout drilling regulatory approvals.

The project is located about 100km north of the Peruvian border in Zamora Chinchipe province, and is situated within the Jurassic segment of the Andean porphyry belt, which hosts several of the world’s largest and most significant copper and gold deposits.

Drilling operations are currently underway at Target 15 utilizing one hybrid man-portable machine modified to drill NQ sized diamond drill core up to 1,800m depth. This drill hole is part of an 8,000m initial drilling program planned at Porvenir.

The initial drill hole is currently at a depth of 16.7m and is designed to test the depth extent of outcropping surface mineralization in Cacharposa Creek that returned an open-ended rock-saw channel result of 147.8m at 0.69% CuEq (0.43 g/t Au, 0.37% Cu), including, 82.63m at 1.08% CuEq (0.71 g/t Au, 0.55% Cu).

Surface mineralization at Cacharposa Creek displays soil and rock geochemistry features that are often conspicuous at many world-class porphyry deposits

According to SolGold, the surface mineralization at Cacharposa Creek displays soil and rock geochemistry features that “are often conspicuous at many world-class porphyry deposits.”

“The coincident geophysical and geochemical anomalies over an extensive surface outcrop that returned an open-ended ore grade intercept of over 140m at about 0.7% CuEq is an extraordinary target that we believe potentially represents a large exposed porphyry copper-gold deposit and a second major porphyry discovery for the company within Ecuador,” regional exploration manager Chris Connell said.

“The 13 high-priority regional targets covered by 75 granted tenements represent a significant pipeline of wholly owned quality assets. We look forward to updating the market with visual mineralization estimates and core photos as drilling progresses at Porvenir,” Connell added.

Field studies of the porphyry-related vein types and paragenesis at Target 15 are ongoing, and initial work indicates a sequential vein development typical of many significant porphyry copper-gold systems, such as SolGold’s giant Alpala porphyry copper-gold deposit in northern Ecuador.

The company believes the mineralization style, geochemical footprint and geometry are consistent with surface exposure of a vertically extensive, well-preserved porphyry copper-gold system.

Earlier this week, SolGold received a $100 million investment from metals streaming company Franco-Nevada (TSX, NYSE: FNV), which it will use to progress the Alpala copper-gold project.

…read more

First Quantum expects no more mining disruptions from covid

First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) is not expecting any additional disruptions related to covid-19 across its mining operations now that all precautionary measures have been put into practice, the company said on Wednesday.

The Cobre Panama mine, which was shut in early April by order of Panama’s health ministry, has not had any covid cases on site since May. Normal operations resumed in early July, and full production was achieved slightly ahead of schedule in the month of August, during which the mining complex produced just over 25,000 tonnes of copper.

The focus now is to deliver consistent operational performance at Cobre Panama and maintain the throughput rate of 85 million tonnes per annum for the remainder of the year, First Quantum said. Production for 2020 is expected to fall within the existing guidance of 180,000 to 200,000 tonnes of copper and 70,000 to 80,000 ounces of gold.

At the Kansanshi copper-gold mine in Zambia, First Quantum continues to operate as expected, delivering consistent production despite declines in oxide grades and recovery. The company’s recently updated technical report showed 70% and 40% increases in reserves and resources respectively at Kansanshi, extending the life of mine to 24 years.

The Sentinel mine, also in located in Zambia, has exceeded expectations so far in the quarter, achieving higher than average monthly production in July with over 23,000 tonnes of copper, as well as in August with over 25,000 tonnes of copper produced.

Overall, First Quantum still expects to produce 725,000 to 770,000 tonnes of copper, 230,000 to 250,000 ounces of gold and 15,000 to 17,000 tonnes of nickel for the year.

Shares of First Quantum Minerals were up 6.1% by 12:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, capping the Vancouver-based miner at a market value of approximately C$9.58 billion.

…read more

Vale targets 400m tonnes iron ore production

Vale (NYSE: VALE) said on Wednesday it expects to reach an iron ore capacity of 400 million tonnes per year by increasing output across its operations.

The company currently has the capacity to produce 318 million tonnes a year. In 2018, before the Brumadinho dam collapse, Vale produced 385 million tonnes.

In an investor site visit presentation, the iron ore giant did not give a date for when it expected to reach the new production level but said it could reach a 450 million tonnes capacity per year “in the future”.

Vale has been returning to its pre-pandemic level operations as exports have hit 33.4 million tonnes in July, up nearly 60% from May. For 2020, Vale has a production target between 310 million and 330 million tonnes.

This month, the company began producing high-grade iron ore fines for pelletizing at its new three-million-tonnes-a-year grinding hub at China’s Shulanghu Ore Transfer Terminal.

The unit, a partnership with Ningbo Zhoushan Port Group, is generating a completely new product, known as GF88. The high-grade ground iron ore fine uses the company’s flagship Carajás Fines as raw material and will partially feed the growing demand for pellets in China’s steel sector.

Last week the company said its board had approved a payment of $2.4075 reais (¢0.60) per share, being $1.4102 (¢0.35) per share in the form of dividends and $0.9973 (¢0.25) per share in the form of interest on capital. Dividends were halted since the Brumadinho disaster.

The payment will occur on September 30th.

…read more

Petra finds five blue diamonds but no clear path to recovery

South Africa’s Petra Diamonds (LON:PDL), which put itself up for sale in June, announced on Wednesday it had found five high quality blue diamonds, but toned down the news by saying the discovery won’t help turn around its fortunes.

Petra, which has been hit by a triple whammy of weak market conditions, power emergencies in the home country and covid-19, found the Type IIb blue diamonds at its flagship Cullinan mine.

The high quality diamonds, in terms of both their colour and clarity, range in size from 9.6 carats to 25.8 carats.

The high quality stones, in terms of both their colour and clarity, range in size from 9.6 carats to 25.8 carats, the company said.

The miner didn’t indicate the diamonds’ potential value and said it’s looking at the best way to sell them.

“These finds, whilst a positive development, will not have a material impact on the likely terms of the required long-term solution to improve the group’s capital structure, nor the significant level of equity dilution that existing shareholders are likely to experience in connection with its implementation,” Petra said in the statement.

The company also warned that measures to improve its capital structure could result in significant equity dilution.

Blue stones are among the rarest and most valuable and have lately fetched higher prices than white diamonds. Last year, Petra sold a 20.08-carat blue gem for $14.9 million, or about $741,000 per carat.

“Flexible” approach to sales

Petra was already struggling when the covid-19 pandemic added further pressure to a sector that was just beginning to show some green shots.

The miner tried in 2019 to turn around its fortunes after piling up debt to expand its flagship Cullinan mine in South Africa. The renowned mine, where the world’s largest-ever diamond was found in 1905, produces about a quarter of the world’s gem-quality diamonds. It is also the source of the vast majority of blue stones.

In May, Petra failed to make an interest payment on a $650 million bond, but won some breathing space from creditors who said they would not declare a default until August.

The diamond producer also cancelled May and June tenders because of travel restrictions and low demand from the midstream. While it originally expected to hold a tender in September, Petra said it was still evaluating the optimal route to market for the stones it mines. It added it would release further information to its customer base once a decision about the marketing plan to follow had been made.

For now, the company is taking a “flexible” approach to selling diamonds in light of ongoing travel restrictions triggered by the global pandemic.

Other diamond producers, including DeBeers, Lucara Diamond (TSX:LUC) and Lucapa Diamond (ASX:LOM), have sold diamonds in such a way that they share the risk of polished prices.

Despite the numerous challenges, Petra is targeting a ramp-up …read more