Talga hopeful with maiden resource estimate for Swedish project

Talga Resources (ASX:TLG) announced a maiden JORC Mineral Resource Estimate for its Kiskama copper-cobalt deposit, located 40 kilometres east of Kiruna in northern Sweden.

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In a press release, the Australian company said the maiden resource estimate yielded 7.7Mt at 0.25% Cu, 0.04% Co, 0.36% CuEq based predominantly on historical drilling, without any extensions or targets such as the large K2 conductor discovered in 2019.

“The maiden JORC-compliant mineral resource estimate for Kiskama has achieved a solid base from which to lift the project above exploration level,” Talga managing director, Mark Thompson, said in a media statement. “In addition, the timing of its potential further development is right to match the growing need for conflict-free sources of critical minerals, such as cobalt, to make lithium-ion batteries in Europe.”

According to Thompson, Talga will now seek partners to further explore and develop the project.

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Forum looking to fund exploration program in Saskatchewan

Forum Energy Metals (TSXV: FMC) is seeking to raise $75,000 through a non-brokered private placement of up 1,250,000 flow-through common shares to explore the Love Lake mafic-ultramafic complex.

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The project is located along Highway 905 to the Rabbit Lake/McClean Lake mine sites, approximately 60 kilometres northeast of Forum’s Janice Lake/Rio Tinto copper joint venture in northeastern Saskatchewan.

Prior to the announcement and later on, in response to it, Forum’s stock saw an 8.33% jump in just five days

According to Forum, studies by the Saskatchewan Geological Survey suggest that the Ni-Cu-PGM occurrences on Love Lake share many compositional and textural similarities to the Lac des Iles pluton in Ontario and with layered stratiform deposits such as the Bushveld Complex in South Africa and the Stillwater Complex in Montana.

“Forum has now staked a 30 kilometre by 15 kilometre area of historic copper- nickel- platinum group metal showings which returned up to 0.31% Cu over 5.2 metres in a trench, with visible sulphides occurring in outcrop along a 1.5 kilometres east-west trend of ‘reef type’ layered intrusive that was not properly tested by historical drilling,” the miner said in a press release.

Grab samples in Trench #4 in the Korvin Lake area returned 0.33% Cu, 1.33% Ni, 2,735 ppb platinum, 2,685 ppb palladium, 70 ppb gold; and 0.43% Cu, 0.23% Ni, 3,580 ppb platinum, 4,275 ppb palladium, 200 ppb gold.

The Vancouver-based company said that to date, only five holes have been drilled on the property targeting structurally controlled mineralization, but did not test for a stratiform ‘reef type’ layered mineralization or Lac des Iles style mineralization.

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World’s no. 2 lithium miner SQM hit by weak prices

Chile’s Chemical and Mining Society (SQM), the world’s
second largest lithium producer, has been hit by sustained weak prices for
the metal used in batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs) and high tech electronics,
with profits falling by 47.5% to $70.2 million in the second quarter, from
$133.9 million a year earlier.

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Delivering results for the three months leading to June 30, the Santiago-based company echoed analysts and other market players’ concerns about the effect oversupply of the battery metal and cuts to EV subsidies is having on prices.

“The second quarter results were mainly impacted by lower lithium sale prices,” Chief Executive Ricardo Ramos said in a statement. “We have seen lithium supply growing more than demand over the past few quarters, putting pressure on prices.”

The miner attributed the sharp decline in its selling prices
to higher sales to China, the world’s top consumer of the commodity, where
prices have sunk.

Quarterly earnings fell by almost half, even as sales volumes grew

Prices for lithium carbonate, the most common type used in EV batteries, doubled over 2016 and 2017. Since then, they have fallen by more than 40% over the past year, to around $9.25 per kg at the end of July, commodity research group CRU said on Wednesday.

The consultancy says that lithium prices will continue to be
governed by cost fundamentals, which will keep them in the single-figures.

CRU’s view seems to be backed by the main producers. Earlier this month, Albemarle Corp (NYSE: ALB), the world’s No. 1 lithium miner, postponed plans to add about 125,000 tonnes of processing capacity due to oversupply.

The company has also revised a deal to buy into Australia’s Mineral Resources’ (ASX: MIN) Wodgina
lithium mine and said it would delay building 75,000 tonnes of processing
capacity at Kemerton, also in Australia.

Despite market weakness, SQM said it expected sales volumes to increase in the near-term, noting that shipments to China had already jumped. “We sold higher sales volumes in the second quarter and expect to sell higher volumes in the second half of the year as we prepare for a 30% to 40% increase in sales volumes next year,” Ramos said.

SQM still expects sales volumes for the year to reach between 45,000 and 50,000 tonnes, and said the figure will grow further thanks to a key project in the Middle East, which will require 400,000 tonnes of lithium between 2020 and 2022.

The company did not provide details on the project.

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Antofagasta wary of US-China trade war despite strong results

Chilean miner Antofagasta Plc. (LON: ANTO) said Thursday it was striving to offset the impact of lower copper prices, which have fallen 4% this year, due to uncertainties brought by the US-China trade war.

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Despite the challenges, the FTSE 100 company, majority-owned by Chile’s Luksic family, reported a 44% increase in first-half earnings to $1.3 billion, up from $904.2 million last year.

Despite the challenges, the Chilean copper miner reported a 44% increase in first-half earnings

The miner, which has focused on controlling costs since the onset of tensions between Washington and Beijing, expects copper output to decline in 2020, dropping closer to 2018 levels.

The company attributed the forecast production drop on lower grades at its Centinela mine, which began churning out copper in 2001 and has 49 years of mine life remaining, but said the fall should be partially reversed in 2021.

“Antofagasta remains the best
positioned of the European copper pure plays,” BMO Capital Markets’ analyst, Edward
Sterck, wrote in a note to investors.

“Its strong balance sheet, quality
of assets and operational performance, along with consistently high
shareholder returns over time, justifies its higher price compared with its
peers,” he said.

Copper miners in mature markets,
particularly in Chile, the world’s top producer of the red metal, have seen
production costs rise as they need to dig deeper and process larger amounts of
rock to obtain the same amount of copper they used to a decade ago.

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Drones take mining industry by storm

Microdrones UAVs are taking the global mining industry by storm.

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Less expensive than the helicopters traditionally used by the industry to gain an aerial perspective, drones are providing mining companies with mapping abilities that provide better results and drastically improved flexibility for a fraction of the cost.

Many Microdrones mining customers use its systems to survey mine progress multiple times per day. The mdCockpit app makes it easy to plan, monitor, and repeat missions and flight paths.

For the mining industry, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the potential of drones to improve efficiency and cost. Some of the most common UAV mining applications include:

Mapping deposit sitesSurveying minesExploring for mineralsMonitoring stockpile volumesTracking equipmentTime-lapse photography

Multiple models are offered to suit various customer needs. Accessory packages are available for multispectral, thermal, methane gas detection, and LIDAR.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

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Nouveau Monde receives grant to build graphite processing plant

Nouveau Monde Graphite of Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Quebec, has received a C$4.25 million commercialization grant from the federally funded Sustainable Development Technology Canada program. The funds will be used to build a value-added graphite purification processing plant near the Matawinie mine site.

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Exploded view of a lithium ion battery that will provide a market for spherical graphite. (Image: Nouveau Monde Graphite)

This plant is the first phase of a commercial facility capable of producing spherical graphite products. The product will contain less than 500 ppm of impurities. Successful completion will make Nouveau Monde the only producer of spherical graphite in North America. Spherical graphite is used in the anodes of lithium ion batteries.

Nouveau Monde will be using a much greener process than the chemical-laden process used in China where most of the world’s spherical graphite is made. Nouveau Monde’s process uses renewable hydroelectricity generated in Quebec.

The company acquired the high quality Matawinie flake graphite property 150 km north of Montreal in 2015.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

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Gatling Exploration drills 12.3 g/t at Larder

Gatling Exploration (CVE: GTR) has shared new drill results from its initial program at the Cheminis deposit, part of the Larder Lake project in the Cadillac-Larder Break in Ontario. A second drill rig at the site returned core that assayed 12.3 g/t gold over 5.0 metres, including 18.1 g/t over 3.0 metres from hole GTR-19-0010.

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The three holes drilled by Gatling cut gold mineralization within 50 metres of the surface.

The past-producing Cheminis mine has more than 3,000 metres of underground development on six main levels and a shaft. The gold-bearing units have been traced on the surface for over 400 metres along strike. The South Flow zones A and C were drilled this summer. The winter program will drill the down plunge extension of the South Flow zone D.

At market close on Wednesday, Gatling’s stock was up over 9%. The company has a C$18.9 million capitalization.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

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Kinder Morgan Canada acquired by Pembina Pipeline in $4bn deal

Pembina Pipeline Corporation (TSX:PPL) is set to acquire the former owner of the Trans Mountain pipeline in a deal pegged at $4.35 billion.

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Calgary-based Pembina announced Wednesday (August 21) plans to buy Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. (TSX:KML) and the U.S. portion of the Cochin pipeline, which runs 2,900 kilometres from Fort Saskatchewan to Chicago.

The American portion of the pipeline is owned by Kinder Morgan Inc., a separate entity from Kinder Morgan Canada.

The transaction values Kinder Morgan Canada at $2.3 billion, or $15.02 per share, while the American Cochin assets are valued at $2.05 billion for cash consideration.

“This acquisition is highly strategic for Pembina, providing enhanced integration with our existing franchise, entrance into exciting new businesses and clear visibility to creating long-term value for our shareholders,” said Pembina president and CEO Mick Dilger said in a statement.

The deal also includes Vancouver Wharves, a 51-hectare bulk marine terminal facility transferring more than 4 million tonnes of bulk cargo annually.

Pembina said it has already identified a number of expansion possibilities for Vancouver Wharves.

The pending sale comes about a year after Ottawa closed a deal to acquire the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada for $4.5 billion.

Since then, Kinder Morgan Canada has been dipping its toes on the market but found no takers until this deal.

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

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Stans Energy awarded $24 million in arbitration with Kyrgyz Republic

Canadian junior Stans Energy (TSX-V:HRE) has won a battle in a long dragged-case against the Kyrgyz Republic, which in 2014 revoked the company’s mining licenses for a former rare earth mine and nearby property, claiming the acquisition process of those assets had been tainted.

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The arbitration tribunal, said the
company, determined that Stans prevailed on jurisdiction and on the merits of its
claim against the Kyrgyz government. It also awarded Stans about $24 million in
compensation for damages, including interest and costs.

The case revolved around the
company’s 20-year mining license for the past-producing Kutessay II open pit
rare earth mine, which the junior acquired in 2009, as well as the rights to
the Kalesay property.

After the licences withdrawal, Stans filed a lawsuit against the Kyrgyz government, demanding $118 million plus interest in compensation.

While the Toronto-based company won that trial, it has never been able to get the money, due to a series of legal loopholes, including a Moscow-court decision to hold off the millions Stans Energy was expecting.

The miner’s efforts to enforce a
separate arbitral award were rejected twice by Canadian courts, which prevented
Stans from seizing assets belonging to state-owned company Kyrgyzaltyn JSC.

For over 30 years, Kutessay II produced 80% of the rare earth metals for the Former Soviet Union.

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Moody’s slashes outlook for North American coal

Credit ratings agency Moody’s has lowered its 12-18 month outlook for North America’s coal industry to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’ amid declining profitability, weak export prices and diminishing demand from utilities.

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Over the next 12 months, sector EBITDA is expected to fall by more than 3%, driven by a substantive decrease in thermal coal export prices — particularly in Europe, where strict environmental measures are being pushed through — as well as mostly open contract positions for producers.

For the medium term, Moody’s price sensitivity range for export coal remains unchanged: $60-$90/metric tonne for Newcastle thermal coal and $110-$170/metric tonne for high-quality metallurgical coal. Price volatility for exports is expected to be moderate during the next couple of years.

Over a longer period, the US coal sector might see a substantial volume reduction for the next decade, as a combination of economic, environmental and social factors continue to push utilities towards renewable energy. There is downside risk in prices as domestic demand for thermal coal declines further and the industry becomes increasingly reliant on exports.

“The combination of a now-weakened export market and significant retirement of coal-fired power plants in 2018 is creating an oversupplied domestic market and could drive prices lower,” says a Moody’s analyst.

Metallurgical coal operations may also take a hit due to weakness in the steel industry, Moody’s added, though pricing remains favorable compared to historic levels.

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Monarch completes acquisition of Fayolle gold project in Quebec

Monarch Gold (TSX: MQR) announced that it completed the acquisition of an aggregate 100% interest in the Fayolle property from Hecla Quebec (NYSE: HL) and Typhoon Exploration (TSXV: TYP).

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To do so, the Quebec-based company said it had to issue 12 million shares to Hecla and 3.4 million shares to Typhoon. It also had to pay Typhoon $500,000 and will pay an additional $500,000 in five months and $150,000 in 12 months.

The Fayolle property consists of 39 mineral claims covering 1,373 hectares in Aiguebelle and Cléricy townships, approximately 35 kilometres northeast of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec.

According to Monarch, the deposit contains a historical estimate of 548,500 tonnes grading 5.75 g/t Au, for a total of 101,326 ounces of gold.

“Although the historical estimates may not be reliable, the Corporation nevertheless believes that they provide an indication of the property’s potential and are relevant for any future exploration program,” Monarch said in a media statement.

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Los Andes Copper to build “Chile’s next major mine”

Canadian junior Los Andes Copper (TSX-V: LA) is moving forward with plans to build a 110,000 tonne per day operation, which it believes will be Chile’s next major copper mine.

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The company’s Vizcachitas project —
a copper-molybdenum porphyry deposit 150 km northeast of Santiago — is one of
the largest undeveloped deposits not held by a major mining company.

The proposed open-pit mine and
concentrator is located at a relatively low elevation of 2,000 metres above sea
level, and is just 65 km from a railway in San Felipe, with connections to the
Port of Ventanas and two smelters, located 140 km and 90 km from the deposit.

It also sits in the same mineral
belt as Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres, Codelco’s
Andina and El Teniente, as well as Anglo American’s Los Bronces mines.

“The advantageous size and location of the resources allow the development of the project with a potential lower capital investment in infrastructure than most of the presently considered potential new green-field developments,” Los Andes Copper’s executive chairman, Fernando Porcile, told MINING.COM.

The Vizcachitas project copper-molybdenum porphyry deposit sits in the same mineral belt as Antofagasta’s Los Pelambres, Codelco’s Andina and El Teniente, as well as Anglo American’s Los Bronces mines

After the recent publication of a preliminary
economic assessment (PEA) for the project, released in June, management is
preparing a prefeasibility study (PFS) that expects to submit by the end of
2020. If all goes well, the company expects the approval process to take about
two years.

Based on the PEA, Vizcachitas would be in operation for 45 years and would require an initial investment of $1.87 billion.

Chile’s President, Sebastián Piñera, recently submitted to Congress a series of modifications to a bill introduced earlier this year.

The proposed law would set stiffer fines and jail time for serious violations of the country’s environmental laws.

It would also make it a crime to mislead environmental inspectors or to obstruct the enforcement of environmental regulations in the world’s top copper producing country.

Referring to those developments, Porcile said that while
the proposed modifications could eventually bring additional
difficulties to the approval of projects, they reflect the need for companies to
increase their commitment to environmental compliance.

“The mining sector in Chile has been heavily regulated for a long time,”
Porcile noted. “These changes are being particularly resented by industries
that have not been properly supervised in the past and need to adopt more
drastic cultural changes.”

The South American nation is highly dependent on mining, and the government is conscious that more projects are needed, said Porcile, who has been in the mining business for more than 50 years.

Right place, right time

Copper output in Chile is expected to exceed 6 million tonnes for the first time this year and continue to rise by about 30% over the next 10 years, according to the country’s state copper agency, Cochilco.

Output of the red metal, the agency
says, could reach a record of 7.25 million tonnes as early as 2025, thanks
mainly to new projects and planned expansions to come online this decade, as
Chilean miners confront falling ore grades at older mines.

Production from existing, aging
mines, …read more