Miramont expands Peruvian project but can't drill just yet

South America-focused Miramont Resources Corp. (CSE: MONT) announced that it has entered into an option agreement to acquire the rights to the Milenos 32 concession adjacent to its Cerro Hermoso project in Peru.

With this acquisition, the combined area of the project has increased to 1,318 hectares. Cerro Hermoso is located in the southern Puno region, 60 kilometres from the city of Juliaca and 5 kilometres northwest from the supply town of Santa Lucía.

“This concession gives Miramont full control of the Pocomoro zone where highly anomalous copper and silver have been identified in surface rock samples,” the company said in a press release.

The Pocomoro zone is along the same ring-fracture system as the Santa Barbara vein and is considered its southern extension. According to Miramont, over 750,000 tonnes at an average grade of 15 oz/t, Ag, 1% Cu, 2% Zn, 2% Pb and 1.0 g/t Au were historically mined from complex veins and breccia bodies in the combined Santa Barbara and Pocomoro mines.

The miner also explained that the Pocomoro zone is underlain by an emerging ground magnetic anomaly that may indicate the presence of a buried intrusion.

The Vancouver-based firm, however, hasn’t been able to start drilling at the site as it is still awaiting response to a request submitted in June to the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines to reassess its earlier decision of delaying a final drill authorization at Cerro Hermoso.

“The company’s request is supported by additional documentation that shows the land underlying the project’s area of influence is privately held negating the need for further consultation. Miramont has agreements with all private owners,” management said in the media statement.

Vice President Tyson King told MINING.com via email that now would be the ideal time to start working at the 20 drill pad locations Miramont has requested.

The company is planning a 3500-5000 meter drill program where three priority targets, Central Breccia, Stockwork and Carbonate Replacement Zones, will be tested.

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Germany to host Europe's first EV battery plant

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed this week the investment Chinese firm CATL will make to build Europe’s first electric car battery plant.

During a press conference held with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Merkel confirmed previous informations that stated that the factory will be built at Erfurt, in Thuringia, and its main goal is to supply the country’s key auto industry in its transformation toward electric cars.

According to AFP, Ningde-based CATL already supplies large Chinese car firms like Saic Motor and Geely and has just struck a deal with BMW. The luxury carmaker will buy 4 billion euros worth of batteries from the Chinese giant, with 1.5 billion euros worth of sales in Germany and 2.5 billion in China.

In terms of the supplies to build the batteries, BMW itself is buying cobalt under a 500 million euros investment program.

Volkswagen also has contracts with CATL and Mercedes-Benz maker, Daimler, is weighing a deal with the company as well.

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MGX, Belmont set lithium joint venture in Nevada.

MGX Minerals, the Canadian junior that grabbed headlines earlier this year for testing a technology that turns oil and gas wastewater into lithium is doubling down on North America as a future lithium heavyweight with a new joint venture.

The Vancouver-based company has entered into a strategic JV with Belmont Resources, to acquire up to 50% interest in Belmont’s flagship Kibby Basin Lithium Brine Property, just north of Clayton Valley and the Tesla Gigafactory. It’s also where Abermarle’s Silver Peak mine, the only North American lithium producer, is located.

MGX will fund up to Cdn$300,000 of exploration, namely drilling at Kibby. The junior will acquire an initial 25% interest, but can earn a further 25% stake in the project by funding another Cdn$300,000 in exploration for drilling at which time the project will become a 50:50 joint venture with access to MGX’s rapid lithium extraction technology. MGX will be operator.

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Why Abitibi Royalties is focusing on the Canadian Malartic mine



For Ian Ball, President and CEO of Abitibi Royalties (TSX-V: RZZ), the type of mining activities taking place a the Canadian Malartic mine represent a paradigm shift, who talked to MINING.com in March at PDAC.

Abitibi is focusing its efforts on one of Canada’s largest gold mines, which is located 25 kilometres west of Val d’Or in Quebec’s Abitibi region.

“There have been well in excess 10-million-ounces-discoveries and they are making new discoveries every year, which is increasing the value of our royalty. You want to be in big mining camps and Malartic is one of the biggest in Canada,” said Ball.

Abitibi’s royalty is a 3% net smelter return royalty on the eastern portion of the mine, which is owned and operated by Agnico Eagle (TSX, NYSE:AEM) and Yamana Gold (TSX:YRI) (NYSE:AUY).

The executive explained how, based on the returns of this major asset, he has switched the way investors are treated.

“When I joined Abitibi I did not have the financial means to buy 20 per cent of Abitibi but I was willing to take all of my salary and invest it back into the company on the open market each week.

“So for four years now, I’ve been taking all of my salary and investing it into the shares so I’m literally walking in the same footsteps as my shareholders. And two years ago, I went to the board and told them that I didn’t think we should be issuing any stock options and share units, people should be paid in cash so they can use that cash to go buy stocks in the market,” he said.

Creative Commons image of northern lights in Quebec courtesy of Image Editor

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Rio Tinto’s ‘world’s largest robot’ delivers first iron ore load

Rio Tinto’s fully autonomous train, said to be the world’s largest robot, has completed its first delivery of iron ore between the company’s Mount Tom Price mine and the port of Cape Lambert.

The “significant milestone” in Rio’s  $940 million Autohaul project was reached on Tuesday when the train consisting of three locomotives and carrying around 28,000 tonnes of ore made the 280km driverless journey.

Driverless train, consisting of three locomotives and carrying around 28,000 tonnes of iron ore, travelled over 280 km from Rio’s Tom Price mine to the port of Cape Lambert.

The trip was monitored remotely by operators at Rio’s Operations Centre in Perth more than 1,500km away.

The average return distance of these trains is about 800 kilometres with the average journey cycle, including loading and dumping, taking 40 hours.

“The program will deliver the world’s first fully autonomous, long-distance, heavy-haul rail network, operating the world’s largest and longest robots,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director Rail, Port and Core Services, Ivan Vella, said in the statement.

“This program symbolizes both the pioneering spirit and innovative talents of many people across Rio Tinto and shows our absolute commitment to improving safety and productivity, as well as enabling greater flexibility across our operations,” Vella noted.

He added the company, the first top miner to install an autonomous rail system, is working closely with drivers during the transition period as it prepares employees for new ways of working as a result of automation.

Mine of the future is here now

The world’s No.2 miner is also expanding its fleet of autonomous haul trucks, controlled from Perth, with 30% of its fleet, or about 130 trucks, autonomous by 2019.

The auto system allows trucks to be operated by a central controller rather than a driver. It uses pre-defined GPS courses to automatically navigate roads and intersections and knows actual locations, speeds and directions of all vehicles at all times.

Getting to this point was not easy. The actual commissioning of the autonomous trains project was put off a few times, partly due to software problems. The first autonomous rail trip was finally completed in October last year.

Delays with the implementation of autonomous iron ore trains hurt Rio Tinto’s output in 2016. The miner ended up producing 330 million tonnes, down from the original target of 350 million tonnes.

The so-called Autohaul plan is part of the “Mine of the Future” project the company launched in 2008 and which also included the introduction of autonomous haulage trucks, automated drilling and the roll out of an operations centre near Perth airport.

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Rio Tinto to sell its largest pink diamond

Rio Tinto to sell its largest pink diamond

Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO) said Thursday is putting up for sale a 3.14-carat, vivid pink diamond at its 2018 tender, the largest stone of its colour in the history of the annual sale of sparklers from its West Australian-based Argyle mine.

The emerald-cut polished stone, named The Argyle Alpha, is one of 63 rare pink, red and violet diamonds — weighing a combined 51.48 carats — Rio expects to sale at this year’s Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender.

The stone, found in 2015, is  part of a collection of six “hero” diamonds the miner will offer at the sale.

The six top pink, red and violet diamonds Rio expects to sale this year. (Image courtesy of Rio Tinto | Flickr.)

While Rio has not set a price for the Alpha, the record sum for a pink diamond is $2.2 million per carat, which means the stone could potentially be worth around $7.9 million.

At auctions, however, pink diamonds have fetched much more than at tenders. The 59.6-carat Pink Star diamond, in fact, sold for $71.2 million last year, becoming most expensive gem ever sold that way.

While the Argyle Alpha is the biggest pink ever sold since Rio began offering its diamonds in 1984,  the largest ever pink diamond recovered from the Argyle mine is the Pink Jubilee, which weighed 12.76 carats.

The emerald-cut polished diamond the largest stone of its colour in the history of Rio’s annual sale of sparklers from its West Australian-based Argyle mine. (Image courtesy of Rio Tinto | Flickr.)

The prolific Argyle mine, Australia’s biggest diamond operation and the source of rare and prized fancy pink gems, is set to close in 2020. It has been opened since 1983, first as an open pit and then from 2013 as an underground operation, producing more than 95% of Australia’s diamonds.

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Glencore shareholders mull suing firm over corruption, bribery probes

As if ongoing probes on both sides of the Atlantic weren’t enough to deal with for miner and commodities trader Glencore (LON:GLEN), now a group of shareholders is mulling potential actions against the company for causing them to lose money.

US law firm Quinn Emanuel, which is representing Glencore investors, said Thursday the recent news of imminent and ongoing probes into the Swiss firm’s dealings in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it’s heavily invested, has caused the stock collapsed beyond acceptable limits.

Law firm Quinn Emanuel says shareholders are entitled to seek compensation for losses caused by Glencore’s alleged untrue or misleading statements and/or failures to disclose relevant information to the market.

“Glencore has a well-known appetite for risk and operates in many of the world’s most endemically corrupt countries, of which the DRC is a notable example,” Richard East, Quinn Emanuel’s Co-Managing Partner in London, said in an emailed statement. “We are of the view that Glencore shareholders may be entitled to bring claims in England under the terms of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 in order to seek compensation for losses caused by Glencore’s alleged untrue or misleading statements and/or failures to disclose relevant information to the market.”

Last week, the company revealed it had received a subpoena from by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to produce documents related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and US money laundering statutes. The records relate to the company’s business in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela from 2007 to the present.

The company’s stock dropped as much as 13% in London after the subpoena became public, wiping more than 5.5 billion pounds ($7.3 billion) off its market value, or about half the $14.8 billion profit Glencore made last year.

Glencore said Wednesday it had set up a board committee to oversee the company’s response to US authorities’ demand for documents relating to possible corruption and money laundering.

The SOJ request came weeks after Britain’s Serious Fraud Office said it was preparing a formal bribery probe into the company and its deals with Dan Gertler, Glencore’s former business partner in the DRC, where the firm is the top producer of copper and cobalt.

The firm’s shareholders’ claim is being backed by leading litigation funder Innsworth. Quinn Emanuel’s London office is asking Glencore’s shareholders interested in being kept up to date as matters progress or any who would like to know more about the potential actions, to contact them.

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Rio Tinto sells $3.5bn stake in Grasberg mine to Indonesian state miner

World’s No.2 miner Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) said Thursday it had sold its 40% stake in the giant Grasberg mine, the world’s second largest copper operation, to Indonesia’s state mining company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) for $3.5 billion.

The deal is expected to end to a long-drawn-out, three-way dispute over the mine, which has been centred on bringing local ownership of Grasberg up to 51%, a main requisite set by the Indonesian government to allow Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX), operator of Grasberg, to keep doing so.

Deal should end a long-drawn-out, three-way dispute over the mine, which has been centred on bringing Indonesia’s ownership of Grasberg up to 51%.

Rio had a joint venture with Freeport for a 40% share of Grasberg’s production above specific levels until 2021 and 40% of all production after that. But as a result of strikes and other disruptions and as the open pit at Grasberg nears the end of its life, the Melbourne-based miner hasn’t seen any benefit since 2014.

Freeport separately said it had inked a final agreement with PT Inalum through which it cedes the Indonesian miner majority control of Grasberg.

The three-way pact would see Inalum pay $3.85 billion for a 51% stake, increasing Indonesia’s holding from just over 9%. After the sale, Rio Tinto will cash out of its interest in the mine, while Freeport will receive $350 million and the right to remain as operator of Grasberg until 2041.

As Indonesia heads to presidential elections next year, sealing a deal to get a majority stake in Grasberg was a priority for President Joko Widodo, who most analysts expect will seek a second term in office.

Bloomberg Intelligence estimates that Grasberg’s reserves are worth about $14 billion. Indonesia accounted for 47% of Freeport’s operating income in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Grasberg, the world’s second-largest copper mine and fourth largest gold operation, is transitioning to an underground operation, set to reach full capacity by 2022, when it will produce 160,000 tonnes per day of ore. Today’s deal secures much-needed investment to develop underground mines at the site.

The additional Deep Mill Level Zone block cave mine, currently under construction, is projected to contribute an additional 80,000 tonnes per day of ore once at full capacity, expected in 2021.

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Copper price plunges to 1-year low

Copper price plunges to 1-year low

The price of copper sank on Wednesday, losing more than 4% in New York to $2.7170 or $5,990 a tonne on the Comex market, its lowest level since July 20 last year.

It was one of the busiest days of 2018 on commodity futures markets with with over 2.1m tonnes of copper worth $12.7 billion exchanging hands by early-afternoon. Wednesday was the ninth down day of the last 10 trading sessions for copper. The bellwether metal has declined by 18.5% just over the last month, dragging the base metal complex down with it.

Zinc is down 28% from its 2018 high, and cobalt is now trading down 24% from highs hit in March. Nickel is the only metal still in the black year to date but has retreated 14% over the past month dipping below $13,600 in London on Wednesday.

The trade dispute between the US and China, responsible for half the world’s consumption of copper, is quickly escalating and comes on top of sliding indicators of manufacturing and industrial activity in China. Due to its widespread use in manufacture,  construction and electricity infrastructure, the copper price is often considered a gauge of broader economic activity.

Beijing has said it would hit back including through “qualitative measures,” a threat that US businesses in China fear could mean anything from stepped-up inspections to delays in investment approvals and even consumer boycotts

China has accused the US of bullying and warned it would hit back after the Trump administration threatened to slap new tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese exports.

According to a Reuters report Beijing has said it would hit back including through “qualitative measures,” a threat that US businesses in China fear could mean anything from stepped-up inspections to delays in investment approvals and even consumer boycotts.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed Chinese officials, said Beijing was considering steps including holding up licenses for US companies, delaying approvals of mergers involving US firms and stepping up border inspections of American goods.

China could also limit visits to the United States by Chinese tourists, a business state media said is worth $115 billion, or shed some of its US Treasury holdings, Iris Pang, Greater China economist at ING in Hong Kong, wrote in a note.

The $200 billion far exceeds the total value of goods China imports from the United States, which means Beijing may need to think of creative ways to respond to such US measures.

On Tuesday, US officials issued a list of thousands of Chinese imports the Trump administration wants to hit with the new tariffs, including hundreds of food products as well as tobacco, chemicals, coal, steel and aluminium, prompting criticism from some US industry groups.

(With Reuters)

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Experts come up with plan for protecting deep-sea life from mining

Experts come up with plan for protecting deep-sea life from mining

The guidelines, the result of a three-year international effort, should help identify areas of particular environmental importance where no mining should occur. (Image: Mountains in the Sea 2004. Courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.)

An international team of researchers has developed a set of criteria to help the International Seabed Authority (ISA) protect biodiversity from deep-sea mining activities.

The guidelines, published this month in the journal Science Advances and the result of a three-year international effort, should help identify areas of particular environmental importance where no mining should occur.

“Areas near active hydrothermal vents on mid-ocean ridges have been approved for future exploration for ore deposits, but the mining has not yet started,” Daniel C. Dunn, assistant research professor in the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, said in a statement. “We still have an opportunity to put into place effective environmental management plans.”

The paper recommends a set of 18 quantitative metrics that regulators can use to assess whether the number, shapes, sizes and locations of sites within a proposed “no-mining zone” network will be sufficient to protect a wide range of habitats and species that might otherwise be harmed by mining activities.

“The [International Seabed Authority – ISA] has set a precedent of conserving 30% to 50% of their total management area in each region,” Dunn said. “Our framework helps pinpoint the specific characteristics — how close, how large, how long or wide — each area within a network needs to be to meet this objective.”

Researchers recommend 18 quantitative metrics that regulators can use to assess seabed mining projects.

While the study focused on future mining scenarios on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the guidelines are flexible enough to be adapted for use in other deep-sea locations, the researchers say. The recommendations also take into account future changes likely to occur on the seafloor in the next 100 years due to climate change.

The experts are not the only ones concerned with the potential risks of seafloor mining. For years, marine biologists and other experts have been trying to determine the impacts that seabed mining would have on aquatic ecosystem without reaching consensus yet.

Through the MIDAS project, a group made up of researchers, industry actors, NGOs and legal experts from 32 organizations across Europe, is currently gathering data to determine what damage, if any, might be done by mining and so inform regulators of what needs to be put in place to protect the deep sea environment.

Deep-sea mining near hydrothermal vents could affect many rare seafloor species, such as these shrimp (Rimicaris hybisae). (Image: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.)

In February, the European Parliament called for a ban on seabed mining until the environmental impacts and risks of disturbing unique deep-sea ecosystems are understood. In the resolution, it also urged the European Commission to persuade member states to stop sponsoring and subsidizing licenses to explore and exploit the seabed in international waters …read more

Five top mining execs. convicted over Turkey’s worst mine disaster

Five top mining execs. convicted over Turkey’s worst mine disaster

Five former mining executives at Turkey’s Soma coal mine have been jailed over the country’s deadliest mining disaster, which claimed the lives of 301 people in May 2014 in the town located 480 km south of Istanbul.

The sentences, state-run Anadolu Agency reports, range from 15 to 22 years in prison for the top executives. Nine other employees were handed shorter sentences, while 37 of the 51 defendants who had faced charges ranging from “killing with probable intent” to “criminally negligent manslaughter” were acquitted.

The mine’s general manager, Ramazan Dogru, was sentenced to 22 years and six months, as was technical manager Ismail Adali. Anadolu also said that operations manager Akin Celik and technical supervisor Ertan Ersoy were both given 18 years and nine months. The verdicts were far less severe than those sought by prosecutors at the start of the trial in 2015.

World’s deadliest this century

The explosion and fire at the Soma coal mine not only became Turkey’s deadliest mine incident, but last the world’s largest this century.

The deaths were product of the miners breathing carbon monoxide gas, which spread through the mine following the fire engulfed one of the pits. More than 160 other people came out of the mine with serious injuries.

The accident triggered mass protests over poor safety standards for mine workers as well as widespread criticism over how close the government was too industry bosses.

Inspection reports had indicated that the coal had been smouldering for days before the disaster, releasing toxic gases.

Mining accidents are common in Turkey, where poor safety conditions have cost 3,000 lives since 1941.

The deaths were caused by a fire that swept through the coal mine in the town of Soma. (Image: Screenshot from YouTube video.)

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Resolute extends life of Queensland gold mine by three years

Australia’s Resolute Mining (ASX:RSG) said Wednesday it had added three years to the mine life of its Ravenswood gold operation in Queensland thanks to an expansion project and the reception of all required approvals to optimize processes.

The updated expansion, which includes building an open pit at the site, is expected to deliver 1.5 million ounces of gold production over 13 years.

Ravenswood is now expected to end operations in 2031, with an average production of about 115,000 ounces of gold per year.

As a result, Ravenswood, located about 95km southwest of Townsville, is now expected to end operations in 2031, with an average production of about 115,000 ounces of gold per year.

In addition to the life-of-mine extension, the project has significantly lowered its all-in sustaining cost (ASIC) by $69 per ounce (oz) of gold to $1,097/oz, at an average production rate of 115,000oz/y.

The update has also resulted in the deferment of around $100 million of project capital due to a mining extension at Mt Wright, the underground component of the Ravenswood project, which was originally expected to close in mid-2017 but has now been revised to the final quarter of 2019.

Resolute Mining has had a very busy year so far. Last month, it completed the acquisition of a 27% interest in Loncor Resources (TSX:LN), which holds gold prospects and resources in the DRC. The miner also signed a strategic framework deal with Swedish equipment and tool manufacturer Sandvik Mining (STO:SAND) to fully automate its Syama gold mine in Mali.

Resolute is also working on a feasibility study for the historic Bibiani gold mine in Ghana, which results are expected to be released in a matter of weeks. After that, the Perth-based miner will make a development decision.

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