Category Archives: miscellaneous
Hurricane rebuilding in U.S. drives push to ease softwood tariffs
Stacks of lumber are pictured at NMV Lumber in Merritt, B.C., Tuesday, May 2, 2017.
JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS
SHAWN MCCARTHY AND ADRIAN MORROW
9 HOURS AGOSEPTEMBER 14, 2017
The U.S. government is facing increasing pressure to reach a deal with Canada on softwood lumber, as demand for construction materials is expected to spike higher in Texas and Florida in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
While the U.S. lumber industry is dug in on its demand for tariffs, its customers argue that domestic supplies cannot meet their needs, which will drive up the cost of reconstruction in the states that sustained many billions of dollars in storm damage in recent weeks.
The Canadian government is hoping the added domestic pressure resulting from the hurricanes will help pave the way for a deal, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said on Thursday.
“We know that [the looming reconstruction] has an influence on markets and on demand,” Mr. Carr said after speaking at the Council of Forestry Ministers meeting in Ottawa.
“And we also know that Canadian producers offer a very good supply of softwood lumber in the United States. That’s an economic reality. Market forces are important, so we think that will almost certainly have some impact on thinking.”
However, during a visit to Washington on Thursday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said that a resolution to the softwood stand-off currently looks unlikely.
Ms. Wynne met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at his office in Washington.
“He didn’t hold out, I would say, a clear hope that there is an easy resolution on the horizon,” the Premier said in an interview at the Canadian embassy.
The two sides were close to a deal over the summer, in which Canada would have agreed to a cap on the amount of softwood it would export to the United States. That quota, one source said at the time, would have been a little more than 30 per cent of U.S. market share to start, falling to slightly less than 30 per cent over five years, then holding steady for another five.
But talks deadlocked over whether Canada would able to exceed its cap in the event that U.S. industry couldn’t produce enough to meet the rest of the demand.
Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, said this is still the sticking point in a deal. He pointed out that, as it stands, the United States is importing more lumber from Germany and Russia because it cannot produce enough to fill the market gap left by its punitive duties on Canadian wood.
“We’re right down to the last issue that needs to be resolved, which is what we call a ‘hot-market provision,'” he said in a panel discussion at a Washington event hosted by online news source Politico. “Rather than taking lumber from Russia, why wouldn’t you take it from Canada?”
Mr. MacNaughton accused the U.S. industry of deliberately stonewalling a deal “because they’re making a lot of money right now.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re in a situation where the price of lumber right now is sky-high. It is to the benefit of a few lumber barons. We are ending up in the United States with people not being able to afford to buy new homes or to construct new homes,” he said.
The National Association of Home Builders – which has long opposed tariffs – testified at hearings in Washington this week that the proposed trade action would undermine the reconstruction efforts and drive up the cost of housing.
In a hearing this week, Texas home builder Eddie Martin – an executive of the builders’ association – said that the U.S. industry cannot even meet current demand for some key softwood products. Based on strong demand, average prices for softwood lumber have risen 22 per cent since the beginning of 2016 and some prices are at historic highs, the association notes.
“Moving forward, there is going to be a lot of rebuilding,” Mr. Martin, the chief executive at Tilson Home Corp., said in his testimony. “Tens of thousands of people, like my employees, are going to be in a bad place financially and increases in material costs will have a real and lasting effect on their ability to have homes.”
The chief executive of the U.S. lumber coalition accused Ottawa of using the hurricanes as a “political ploy.”
“American towns, cities and, communities should be rebuilt using American products, American workers, and the American spirit of coming out stronger in the face of adversity,” coalition CEO Zoltan van Heyningen said in an e-mail. “To the extent that softwood lumber is needed to rebuild, there is ample capacity in the United States to supply American wood to rebuild American homes affected by these storms.”
SHORE GOLD INC. ANNOUNCES THE RESULTS OF THE 2017 ANNUAL AND SPECIAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDERS
Shore Gold Inc. (“Shore” or the “Corporation”) (TSX – SGF) is pleased to announce that all of the nominees listed in the management proxy circular dated July 28, 2017 were elected as directors of the Corporation at its annual and special meeting of shareholders held on September 6, 2017 (the “Meeting”).
In addition, shareholders also approved at the Meeting:
- -a resolution to re-appoint KPMP LLP as the Corporation’s independent auditors;
- a resolution to amend the Corporation’s articles of incorporation to change the name of the Corporation;
- a resolution to restate the Corporation’s articles of incorporation; and
- a resolution regarding the continuation of the Corporation’s amended and restated Shareholder Rights Plan.
Detailed results of the vote for the election of directors held at the Meeting are set out below:
Nominee Votes For Votes Withheld Number % Number %
- Kenneth MacNeill 139,806,623 83.96% 26,699,657 16.04%
- Harvey Bay 138,143,576 82.97% 28,362,704 17.03%
- Arnie Hillier 136,337,120 81.88% 30,169,160 18.12%
- Ewan Mason 163,984,692 98.49% 2,521,588 1.51%
- Neil McMillan 141,002,254 84.68% 25,504,026 15.32%
- Brian Menell 165,021,250 99.11% 1,485,030 0.89%
- Peter Ravenscroft 165,579,587 99.44% 926,693 0.56%
- Michael Ryer 164,287,935 98.67% 2,218,345 1.33%
The Company was advised that certain individuals had been appointed as proxyholders by a significant number of shareholders. Based on legal advice, the Chairman assessed that the solicitation of these proxies was not done in accordance with applicable laws in Canada regulating public companies. It was the Chairman’s view that, in soliciting proxies in this fashion, it was unfair to the shareholders of the Company as a whole in that only those shareholders who were solicited in this fashion were aware that a proxy contest was underway, which is the type of conduct the proxy solicitation rules preclude, in that they require that all shareholders have the same information in making their voting decision. It was clearly communicated at last year’s Meeting that to maintain the integrity of the Corporation’s voting procedures, all parties must comply with the law and any failure to comply with the law in the future will result in those votes being struck. Although these votes were inconsequential to the results, these individuals were warned last year. As a result, the Chairman disallowed these votes, resulting in 11,824,531 votes not being allowed to stand.
The name and trading symbol change will not come in to effect until certain regulatory step occur, as well as other
preparations required by the Corporation; a further press release will be issued when the name change becomes effective.
Voting results for all matters will be posted on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
Shore is a Canadian based corporation engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of mineral properties. Shares of the Company trade on the TSX Exchange under the trading symbol “SGF”.
– END –
Concerned Shore Gold shareholders fail to oust directors at annual meeting
ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
Published on: September 6, 2017 | Last Updated: September 6, 2017 5:39 PM CST
The chairman of a Saskatoon-based diamond exploration and development company says he hopes a decisive voting result at its annual meeting signals that the “frustration and dissatisfaction” expressed by some dissident shareholders is a thing of the past.
Brian Menell spoke moments after Shore Gold Inc. shareholders voted to change the firm’s name to Shore Diamond Corp. and elect to its board eight directors — including five incumbents — recommended by management.
“I think the source of frustration for many of our shareholders in the past has been the slow pace of finding a solution to move the project forward,” Menell said after the meeting. “We’ve now found a solution to move the project forward.”
That solution is an option agreement worth up to $75 million over seven years, which could result in a Rio Tinto Group subsidiary earning a 60 per cent stake in Shore Gold’s Star-Orion South diamond project east of Prince Albert.
The meeting was expected to mirror the company’s 2016 event, in which the SGF Shareholders Association Inc. — a group concerned about the company’s direction — came within a few percentage points of unseating three Shore Gold directors.
That did not happen. Although the company deemed some of the proxy votes present at the meeting illegitimate and did not allow them to stand, Menell said that “wouldn’t have made any difference anyway” to the final tally electing the eight directors.
SGF Shareholders Association chairman David Wright said after the meeting that with around 90 per cent of voting shares at the meeting out of the association’s hands, the concerned shareholders had little expectation of a positive result.
“This was pretty much largely what we thought was going to happen today — no surprises here,” Wright said, noting that the association will ask its members what its next steps should be at a meeting sometime this fall.
The nearly two-hour event ended with a question-and-answer session during which Shore Gold CEO Ken MacNeill and senior vice president of exploration and development George Read struck an upbeat tone about the company’s prospects.
They said Shore Gold, which has been trying to build a diamond mine in the Fort à la Corne forest since 1995, remains committed to working with Rio Tinto and significantly reducing the mine’s capital cost — estimated in 2011 at $2.5 billion.
Shore Gold is also waiting for environmental approval from the Government of Saskatchewan, and it is not clear when that will come. The federal government granted environmental approval for the massive open-pit mine project in 2014.
“My enthusiasm is increased as a result of the fact that we have got a big partner with the will, the appetite and the capacity to, in partnership with us, develop a producing mine in Saskatchewan,” Menell said of the recent deal with Rio Tinto.
Shore Golf is expected to publish the voting results, including those proxies that were deemed illegitimate, today.
Hurricane Harvey Makes The Case For Nuclear Power
SEP 1, 2017 @ 06:00 AM
James Conca, CONTRIBUTOR
NASA satellite images show NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite image of Tropical Storm Harvey sitting over Texas and the two nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company near Houston.
Hurricane Harvey made land fall in Texas this week and the flooding was historic. What is shaping up to be the most costly natural disaster in American history, the storm has left refineries shut down, interrupted wind and solar generation, caused a constant worry about gas explosions, and caused a chain of events that led to explosions and fires at the Arkema chemical plant that is only the beginning.
Over a fifth of the country’s oil production has been shuttered. Natural gas futures hit a 2-year high as did gasoline prices at the pump.
But the Texas nuclear power plants have been running smoothly.
The two nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project plant near Houston were operating at full capacity despite wind gusts that peaked at 130 mph as the Hurricane made landfall. The plant implemented its severe weather protocols as planned and completed hurricane preparations ahead of Category 4 Hurricane Harvey striking the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25th.
Anyone who knows anything about nuclear was not surprised. Nuclear is the only energy source immune to all extreme weather events – by design.
This nuclear plant has steel-reinforced concrete containment with 4-foot (1.2 meter) thick walls. The buildings housing the two reactors, vital equipment and used fuel have steel-reinforced concrete walls up to 7 feet (2.1 meters) thick, which are built to withstand any category hurricane or tornado. It can even withstand a plane flying directly into it.
The two nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company near Houston, Texas has been operating at full capacity on Tuesday throughout the historic flooding and winds caused by Hurricane, then Tropical Storm, Harvey. Despite wind gusts that peaked at 130 mph as Harvey made landfall.
The plant is located 10 miles (16 kilometers) inland and at an elevation of 29 feet (8.8 meters) above sea-level. The facility is designed with watertight buildings and doors, with all buildings housing safety-related equipment being flood-proof to an elevation of at least 41 feet (12.5 meters).
‘We’ve got significant rain but flooding has not been an issue here,’ plant spokesman Buddy Eller said in a phone call about the reactors.
That the nuclear plant is just fine seemed to irk anti-nuclear groups who don’t want to see nuclear ever performing well, even if it helps the storm-wracked people of south Texas when other power sources are failing.
Three watchdog groups, the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development coalition (SEED), the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy and Beyond Nuclear recklessly urged politicians, the owners, and regulators to shut down the plant because of Harvey, even if it hurt residents, emergency workers and hospitals who desperately need that power.
But the regulators and the State would have none of that nonsense, understanding that these groups just peddle fear. The reactors provide 2,700 MW of power to 2,000,000 customers in the area.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff are at the plant, constantly assessing the situation and safety aspects. ‘The South Texas Project reactors have been operating safely throughout Harvey and continue to do so,’ NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said. The reactors can be shut down quickly if something develops, but that’s not expected to be necessary.
Two-hundred and fifty storm crew workers, along with regulators, were running the plant and were set up with sleeping arrangements, food and water to weather the storm no matter how long it took. None of them were afraid, knowing how safe the reactors are.
No other industry was as prepared.
According to the online news source North American Wind Power, one large wind installation in the path of the storm sent all 39 workers home as the hurricane closed in, but operated remotely until the wind hit 55 mph. It then shut down automatically like all farms when wind speeds exceed their design limits. Most wind farms have not sustained much damage, but getting them back to capacity will be difficult.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission also said Harvey does not pose a threat to the Waterford Nuclear Power Plant in New Orleans and the River Bend Plant near Baton Rouge.
We’ve seen this before. Last summer, a heat wave cooked Americawith extreme temperatures, affecting most energy production as well as causing fires and water shortages, sucking electricity like crazy to power the cooling necessary to avoid discomfort and even death. According to the National Weather Service, 122 million Americans were under heat alerts.
Fortunately, nuclear power didn’t mind, scoring record capacity factors of 96% and up, with no increase in price. Other energy sources did not fare so well and some gas plants gouged consumers just because they could.
In 2014, a Polar Vortex shut down natural gas and coal plants, and stopped wind turbines and solar generation. But nuclear performed wonderfully and provided more power to the hard-hit northeast than any other source.
Whether it’s hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, heat waves or severe cold, nuclear performs more reliably than anything else. There’s no better reason to retain our nuclear fleet, and even expand it, to give us a diverse energy mix that can handle any natural disaster that can occur.
Sept 6 to be “Kenny Shields Day” – of Streetheart fame – in Saskatchewan
Wednesday, September 6, 2017 will be “Kenny Shields Day” – of Streetheart fame – in Saskatchewan.
Kenny Shields was born in Nokomis, Saskatchewan on October 24th, 1947. Through his passionate work as the frontman of ‘Witness Inc.’ and then ‘Streetheart,’ Shields became one of the, if not the, biggest selling recording artists to ever come from Saskatchewan.
Streetheart topped the Canadian charts with non-stop hits that would eventually earn the band six gold albums, four platinum albums, a double platinum album, a gold single, two Ampex Golden Reel awards, a Music Express People’s Choice Award as the most popular Canadian Act, and a Juno award. In 2003, Kenny Shields and Streetheart were inducted into the Western Canadian Music Association Hall of Fame.
‘Kenny Shields Day’ was proclaimed on August 29th, 2017 by Christine Tell (Acting Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport in the Province of Saskatchewan) – see attached. As part of the Proclamation, Tell wrote, “I request the citizens of the Province of Saskatchewan to recognize this day.”
September 6th was chosen as Shields will have been interned in his home province of Saskatchewan by that date; thus Kenny can be here for his special day.
A gala concert was dedicated to Shields on August 29th in Winnipeg, MB. The event saw over 8,000 people attend and featured performances by, his friends and former bandmates in, groups such as; Loverboy, Harlequin, Honeymoon Suite, The Pumps, Orphan, and Streetheart. A Celebration of Life for Shields was held on Wednesday, August 30th at the Club Regent Casino in Winnipeg.
Shields passed away peacefully, and surrounded by the love of his family, the morning of July 21, 2017 in Winnipeg, MB. He will be lovingly remembered by his wife Elena; daughter Julia (Josiah); sister Sharlene and her son Jeff; stepchildren Lida (Mike) their children Anthony and Isabella, Daniela, David; and extended family and friends. He was predeceased by his father Thomas, mother Alice, brother-in-law Lorne, and nephew David.
Despite his notoriety, Shields lived his life with the utmost humbleness. His kindness, generosity, and ability to make everyone feel special were only a few of the traits that attributed to Kenny lighting up every room that he entered. We will remember “Kenny” for his kind heart, gentle soul, warm smile, big hugs, firm handshakes, and contagious laugh.
Infographic: China vs. the U.S. vs. Canada on energy
Aug 24, 2017
China and the United States are the world’s two biggest energy markets.
They’re also the two biggest carbon dioxide producing regions on the globe.
Understanding international energy systems means understanding what’s going on in these two key nations. And Canada too, for good measure.
Funds to Go for BHP’s Jugular If Miner Doesn’t Deliver Goods
By David Stringer
August 20, 2017, 1:00 PM CST August 20, 2017, 9:46 PM CST
- Market to weigh returns, strategy as company reports Tuesday
- Challenges remain on board renewal, potash spending: Tribeca
BHP Billiton Ltd.’s truce with activist investors led by billionaire Paul Singer won’t last long if the world’s biggest mining company doesn’t pump up returns and deliver on strategic reform in the wake of its expected bumper profit report this week.
The naming in June of BHP’s youngest director Ken MacKenzie, 53, as chairman from next month has helped soothe disgruntled shareholders including Singer’s Elliott Management Corp., while continued demand growth in China for iron ore to coal is boosting prices, swelling earnings’ forecasts and raising expectations for higher payouts.
“They’ve got the most breathing space they’ve had in a long time,” Peter O’Connor, a Sydney-based analyst with Shaw and Partners Ltd., said by phone. “But if they mess up, the activists are going to be back on their jugular.”
After raising its stake in BHP’s London-traded shares to 5 percent, Elliott on Wednesday expressed confidence MacKenzie will heed investors’ calls to exit U.S. shale and tighten the producer’s approach on capital allocation. The increased holding, which under U.K. law allows the fund to call a company meeting, means it can “monitor BHP’s progress and hold it accountable for delivering results,” the fund said.
BHP is forecast to almost triple dividend payments as it reports an expected profit rebound Tuesday, following Rio Tinto Group and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. in boosting returns. Perth-based Fortescue on Monday boosted dividend payments and said it may raise returns further this year amid higher prices.
Elliott, which manages more than $33 billion of assets, is regarded as one of the world’s most prolific activist investors, and is currently tussling with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. over the firm’s offer for Texas’s largest power distributor. The fund has also shown it can be an enduring critic — battling Argentina for 15 years over its debt default.
MacKenzie met investors globally in recent weeks to listen to concerns over the company’s performance that gathered pace after Elliott launched its campaign in April. Elliott and BHP declined to confirm whether he held talks with Singer’s New York-based fund.
Elliott argues BHP’s leadership has destroyed about $40 billion in value and wants it to enhance returns, refresh the board, simplify its corporate structure and overhaul its oil and gas unit. The company on Thursday approved a $2.5 billion copper mine expansion in Chile and the new chairman will lead deliberations on pending investments in growth projects from potash to oil.
“He’s taken views on board on his listening tour and he’s been well received,” said Andy Forster, senior investment officer at Argo Investments Ltd., which manages more than A$5 billion ($4 billion) and holds BHP’s Sydney-listed shares. “It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around. With a higher iron ore price, the mining company balance sheets are in a much better position.” Argo was represented in a meeting with MacKenzie, he said.
BHP’s underlying earnings in fiscal 2017 are forecast to jump sixfold to $7.3 billion, according to the average of 18 analysts’ forecasts surveyed by Bloomberg, after plunging last year to a 15-year low. The full-year dividend will rise to 88 cents a share, from 30 cents, according to the forecasts. BHP’s consensus estimated payout of about 60 percent of earnings, above its 50 percent minimum threshold, compares with Rio Tinto’s first-half, total returns of 75 percent, according to Macquarie Group Ltd.
The producer could use the profit bonanza to announce a modest buy-back alongside a higher dividend and additional debt repayments, according to UBS Group AG. While BHP may be tempted to follow Rio in boosting returns, it’s unlikely to do so before MacKenzie’s arrival in his post next month, Credit Suisse Group AG said in a note Wednesday.
BHP advanced 1 percent to A$25.63 at 1:43 p.m. in Sydney trading Monday.
Shareholders are looking to MacKenzie to begin to outline plans for improvements when he makes a first scheduled public address at an annual meeting in London in October, according to Tribeca Investments Partners Pty. BHP continues to need to carry out a wider overhaul of its board and should defer plans to enter the potash market, according to the fund, which also met with the incoming chairman.
“We’re pretty bullish on the company, but bullish because of the prospect of change,” said Craig Evans, a Sydney-based portfolio manager at Tribeca, which in May called on BHP to sell the shale assets and overhaul its leadership. “One of the things that worries us is what their intentions are with potash — we are not of the belief that they should be throwing money at it right now.”
The most important market news of the day.
The $12.8 billion Jansen potash project in Canada should be mothballed, according to a Deutsche Bank AG note Thursday. The company also should think twice about approving a $5 billion expansion of its Olympic Dam mine in Australia, Deutsche analysts including Sydney-based Paul Young wrote. The bank endorses BHP’s strategy on conventional oil — though not shale — and the longer-dated Resolution and Antamina copper projects in the U.S. and Peru.
“We want to see where the company is headed under the new leadership,” Tribeca’s Evans said. “They have an opportunity now to do a bit of self-help.”
Technology set to unleash mining innovation – Anglo’s O’Neill
16th August 2017 BY: MARTIN CREAMER
CREAMER MEDIA EDITOR
JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – In the next ten years, technology is set to unleash a wave of mining innovation, with the sweet spot centred on changing the thinking around orebodies and processing plants rather than much-spoken-about automation.
“Our focus has changed from hunting technologies to hunting value,” Anglo American technical director Tony O’Neill told Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online in an exclusive interview.
Three-dimensional metal printing, nonexplosive breakage of rock and microwave preconditioning of rock, as well as medical imaging equipment, are finding rapid application in mineral mining and processing.
The word in the industry is that mining companies that embrace the new era will be successful and the ones that do not will ultimately not survive. Anticipated are mines with footprints that can more readily coexist alongside a community in much the same way as farming.
The good news is that pathways are already starting to develop that change the current mining and processing paradigm.
Technologies are being reconfigured to make mining and processing far more precise, which offers massive potential reward.
Currently, much larger volumes of waste are brought to surface, compared with the scenario more than a century ago. This is because, outside of safety improvements, old methods are still being used today. For instance, in 1900, to obtain 40 kg of copper, 2 t of material had to be mined using 3 m3 of water and 10 kWh of energy, compared with currently having to mine 16 times more material, using 16 times more energy and drawing on double the volume of water.
“It’s risen at such a rate that it’s becoming unsustainable,” O’Neill commented to Mining Weekly Online.
While mining was, in the past, content to be a research and development laggard, other industries were not – and they shot ahead on the technological front, proving up technology that is now available off the shelf for mining to implement.
A successful pilot plant is already pointing the way for the more widespread introduction of coarse-particle recovery, which brings considerably larger-sized particles to surface and slashes water use.
Moreover, with the maturing of robotics technology, research is also being conducted into the introduction of swarm robotic mining, involving the use of small robots that will bring ultra-precision to a hugely wasteful industry.
As more precise mining methods gather momentum, those 40 kg of copper used to illustrate mining’s deteriorating position may one day be mined without any waste at all.
Coarse-particle recovery and advanced fragmentation (using smart blasting technologies) are good examples of putting existing technologies into new configurations to deliver value right now.
None of the technologies used is unproven, but what Anglo has managed to do is configure them in a way that adds immense value, with minimal additional capital investment.
While technology will have to be honed specifically for mining at some stage, a surfeit of technologies is ready for instant application.
“It’s more about a mindset change than having to make massive investments,” Anglo American technology development head Donovan Waller added to Mining Weekly Online.
Much of the improvement is being driven by data science and the modern world’s ability to analyse increasing volumes of data to a very high degree.
Virtually all the technologies needed have come of age; one of the biggest being the stabilisation of information technology, in which other industries have tended to advance much faster than the mining industry. These other industries include consumer electronics, manufacturing, automotive engineering and the pharmaceutical sector.
The coarse-particle recovery process captures coarse particles that are not recoverable using conventional flotation.
By needing to grind to only 500 micron instead of 170 micron, capacity is increased. Less energy is required in the crushing and grinding and water is more easily extracted from the larger particles and then recycled, significantly reducing the need for fresh water. The extraction of interstitial water results in a dry product, which can be dry-stacked, ultimately eliminating the need for tailings dams.
In copper, coarse-particle flotation has the potential to change the cost curve of the industry by allowing for 30% to 40% more throughput at a recovery loss of 2% to 3%, a 20% energy saving and 30% to 40% less water.
This is already a significant achievement for Anglo American in copper, and the company is hopeful of migrating it to other commodities, including platinum in South Africa, where testwork is still at an early stage.
If, for example, platinum ore can be pre-sorted in advance and be presented at a grade of 10 g/t instead of 4 g/t, output can be increased by two-and-a-half times from the exact same capital invested.
SWARM ROBOTIC MINING
Swarm robotic mining descales mining to make it much more precise, mimicking the actions of a swarm of locusts devouring a field or an army of ants working independently to execute tasks.
The technology envisages highly selective mining of ore types linked to real-time algorithms across a broad spectrum that includes constraints in energy, prices and associated issues.
As many people as possible are taken out of harm’s way in a remotely controlled environment.
Small operational teams will communicate with each other, without the need for a big-brother view from the surface that controls each of those small operational elements independently in self-learning operations.
Currently, the industry spends a lot of time adding water to its processes and even more time trying to get the water out afterwards.
A pathway has been developed to end up with a waterless mine through the adoption of a closed loop, using only a fixed amount of water that is then recycled time and again. Anglo already recycles or re-uses more than 60% of its water requirements.
Ultimately, the aim is to arrive at potentially chemical means that allow for the liberation of particles without having to add water to them, to arrive at a waterless process.
SUN, WIND, GRAVITY AND SMALL, GREEN NUCLEAR
In terms of energy, the focus is on using renewables for energy self-sufficiency.
The solutions will be a combination of sun and wind. As the sun does not shine at night and the wind does not always blow, other energy forms, including gravity, will take advantage of the mining sector having depth as one of those solutions.
Ultimately, nuclear may be incorporated should it become “greener”, smaller and more modular, as is expected.
Instead of spending billions to build one big plant, small modular plants will be built and scaled up quickly, with the lifespan of the modules being influenced by the next step up in technology.
Mines will move away from using the same technology for long periods of time and outlaying large capital expenditure on plants that last for 50 years and more.
Smaller, modular, cheaper units will allow for technology upgrades every five years, providing scalability as well as the opportunity to ramp up on new technology that has arisen.
Although mining is not an industry that has been used to technological change, there is no reason why it should not, from now on, accelerate advancing technology quickly, as other industries do.
“Our FutureSmart Mining programme is about far more than technologies alone. It is end-to-end innovation, in its broadest sense, addressing all aspects of sustainability for the business – safety, health, the environment, the needs of our communities and host governments, and the reliable delivery of our products to customers. Those that innovate and are agile will thrive in this industry. That is mining’s new future.” O’Neill concluded.
Miners Built on Wildcat Culture Now Want to Share the Risk
By Thomas Biesheuvel
August 10, 2017, 5:00 PM CST August 11, 2017, 2:07 AM CST
- Chastened by metals slump, new projects idle awaiting partners
- Industry made by swashbuckling gamblers ‘has lost its nerve’
Swashbuckling gamblers abound in the mining business, where billions are spent searching for mother lodes in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet. But a prolonged slump in metals and big losses on earlier solo projects are turning top producers into risk-avoiding wallflowers.
“The mining industry has lost its nerve,” said Mark Bristow, chief executive officer of Randgold Resource Ltd., a London-listed producer of gold in Africa. “The new fad in town is joint ventures. It’s very strange if you’re a major miner. They should be comfortable in their ability.”
At a time when prices are recovering — helping to make new projects viable again — metals producers including Anglo American Plc, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Groupare seeking partners to share the investment risk rather than going it alone as they have in the past. While the more-cautious approach is a consequence of the near-death experience of the 2015 commodity crash, it could limit the payoff for shareholders during a metals rally.
The shift to more conservative financing comes as the industry confronts a core dilemma: the richest mines in the safest or most-accessible places have mostly been found and built. That means companies are increasingly looking to develop ore bodies that are of lesser quality and may be in higher-risk countries.
“They have to spend more to mine less,” said Rob Crayford, a fund manager at CQS Asset Management Ltd.’s New City Investment Managers in London. “A lot of the projects out there aren’t that great.”
Still, while prices remain well below their post-recession peaks, they’re up enough in the past year or so for companies to consider dusting off expansion plans they shelved during the glut. The London Metal Exchange index of six base metals, including copper and aluminum, has rallied almost 50 percent from a low in January 2016. Gold is heading for the biggest annual gain since 2010, and iron ore has almost doubled from the all-time lows reached in 2015.
S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates that exploration drilling for metals has risen for five straight quarters, off to its fastest start to a year since 2009, and there are signs the pace is accelerating.
Anglo American, a London-based producer that has been mining metal for more than a century, says its No. 1 new project is the giant Quellaveco copper deposit in Peru. But the company wants a partner before development starts, and says it will seek joint ventures for all future new mines, known as greenfield developments.
Melbourne-based BHP, the world’s largest mining company, is set to commit to the $13 billion Jansen potash mine in Canada after years of study, but says it wants to bring in a partner to help share the risk. London-based Rio Tinto also is seeking partners for future developments, while Glencore Plc says it won’t build any new mines at all.
“I’m not excited about greenfield,” said Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg, noting that over-development in years past created the oversupply and low prices that led to huge losses for the industry. “Unless something changes in the world, I don’t see Glencore doing greenfield for awhile.”
Acquisitions are more likely, Glasenberg said, because it doesn’t make sense to “bring new tons into the market which cannibalizes your existing production.”
The industry is still smarting from the self-inflicted wounds. Anglo’s giant Minas Rio iron-ore mine in Brazil cost $14 billion to buy and build, but it became an expensive mistake as prices plunged by more than half. Barrick Gold Corp., the largest bullion producer, spent $8.5 billion on the Pascua Lama project high in the Andes that has been stalled since 2013. The company recently signed a deal with China’s Handong Gold Group that may lead to a joint venture on the project.
It’s not just new mines that are making the industry more cautious. Some companies made investment mistakes that compounded the losses when prices fell. BHP has said its $20 billion spending on shale deposits was a mistake, while Glencore took a $7.7 billion writedown on its Xstrata Plc takeover. Rio Tinto bought coal assets in Mozambique for $3.1 billion that it later sold for $50 million.
To be sure, joint ventures aren’t a new idea. The giant Escondida copper mine in Chile is operated by BHP but also owned by Rio Tinto and Japanese companies including Mitsubishi Corp. But the push to share more of the risk is a marked contrast to the expansion during the previous bull market.
Still, the more swashbuckling method of going solo on projects may be the most beneficial for shareholders, according to Randgold’s Bristow, whose company built all of its three mines from scratch, including a joint venture with Johannesburg-based AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.
“Greenfield is absolutely where you should put all your money,” Bristow said. “But a lot of these companies are still dealing with their over-exuberant growth during the super cycle.”
August 9, 2017 • Saskatchewan
Lots of questions at wind turbine regulation meeting
Credit: By Kevin Weedmark, The World-Spectator
There were lots of questions at an RM [rural municapility] of Rocanville public meeting Thursday regarding the regulation of wind farms.
The RM held the meeting to gauge public opinion on the bylaw regarding siting of wind farms. With a proposal for a new wind farm in the early stages, two RM residents asked the RM to hold a public meeting to discuss the current bylaw regarding the siting of wind farms.
The current bylaw limits the height of wind turbines to 100 metres, while new turbines are up to 200 metres high. Council members intended the bylaw to restrict wind turbines within 1.6 miles of a residence, although the wording of the bylaw is unclear on that point.
A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Canada is investigating the possibility of developing the Tantallon Wind Energy Centre in the RM.
In a statement to the World-Spectator, Tera Tyson of NextEra said, “We are committed to meeting or exceeding all the regulatory requirements and working with the community to ensure we select the most appropriate sites for generating wind energy.
“We are currently in the beginning stages of development and still working on our siting process, including meteorological testing, which will determine approximately where the project will be located and the number of turbines it will include.
“We are not working on a specific deadline to develop the Tantallon Wind Energy Centre, but I can tell you that we will not be submitting this project into SaskPower’s Wind RFP that is currently pending.”
NextEra wants to install a tower to test wind speeds in the area of the proposed wind farm.
NextEra had been expected to send a representative to the Thursday meeting, but didn’t. In a letter to Reeve Murray Reid on Monday, NextEra wrote that no one would be available for the meeting, but the company could send representatives to a future meeting.
The company suggested in the letter some changes to the RM’s bylaw on wind turbines. “Restricting turbines to 100 metres from the ground to blade tip would make siting wind turbines in the RM essentially impossible,” according to the letter. The company suggested including both a hub height and a maximum tip height in the bylaw to add clarity.
“To provide a frame of reference, the current industry standards for turbine hub heights range up to about 120 metres and typical rotor diameters are approximately 130 metres,” the company wrote. “Given that turbine technology continues to advance and evolve over time, we suggest the maximum height of the turbines be 200 metres, rather than the 100 metres stated in the bylaw. Otherwise, it is unlikely that any utility scale project would be built in the RM.”
SaskPower plans a series of requests for proposals (RFPs) to ramp up wind energy generation over the next few years.
Daryl Williamson and Rene Poelzer were the two ratepayers who first approached the RM about the need for a public meeting, and were the first to speak at the meeting.
“I’ve been looking into windmills and the distance from valleys and lake bodies. In this case the three bigger landowners who want to do this, their homes won’t be affected anyway—too close to the valley. Mine probably won’t be affected—too close to the creeks,” Williamson said at the meeting.
“The way this outfit went about doing this is a little fishy. I thought if they came and approached the RM to begin with, then held a meeting to say what their proposal was, instead of coming in and trying to sign up landowners.
“I had them come to my place. They were very pushy and they didn’t tell the truth more than once. I had more concerns of environmental impact. I think this RM has had enough between power lines, potash, seismographic. I’m not sure we have to do more in this RM in terms of impact. I’m sure there are other RMs that need money more than we do.
“As far as money for the RM, I don’t think we’re really hurting. I don’t think that should be a priority anyway. No matter how many tax dollars are coming in, if you divide them by the quarters in the RM, it’s not going to amount to a lot.
“I just found that the outfit that was going around was very pushy. They weren’t the company, they were just an outfit paid to sign up leases.”
Rene Poelzer provided the other side of the argument.
“I look at it totally differently,” said Poelzer. “If you are a progressive community, you don’t want to restrict possible income. This is a $300 million project, which will bring more tax income than all of our land taxes in the RM.
“The government of Saskatchewan wants 1.6 million megawatts by 2030, so it’s going to be done someplace. It’s green energy. We’re all comparing ourselves to Moosomin. The new technology is much better. Once you start putting in bylaws and restrictions, you also restrict other innovations and creativity.”
He said the 100 metre height bylaw isn’t realistic, and suggested that the reference to 1.6 km in the bylaw isn’t worded properly to actually prevent wind turbines from being that distance from a home.
“This country’s built on innovation and creativity. You can’t stifle that,” he said.
“I used to work in oil and gas for 10 years. I had to deal on the regulatory side, dealing with regulations,” Kyla Poelzer said at the meeting.
“When I read the bylaw it wasn’t clear. Kudos to the council for actually putting a bylaw in place. It’s very important. But it doesn’t address issues of noise, light, and decomissioning. And that’s something I’d like council to consider, to do a little more research. You want to have the regulations in place to deal with any issues.
“If you have really clear regulations, it can go a long way, because they absolutely have to follow them. I’m glad that there is a bylaw, but I would like to see a little more clarification on noise, light, and specifically decomissioning.”
One ratepayer asked why the RM would have a limit of 1.6 km from a house, suggesting the restriction could kill the project.
Another ratepayer pointed out that the restriction protects people who own an acreage or farm and do not want a wind turbine ruining their view.
Reeve Murray Reid pointed out that the bylaw as currently written doesn’t actually provide the protection as intended.
Council member Monica Ruhland said the financial impact of the wind turbines could be helpful for many farm families.
“Speaking personally, and not as a member of council, but as a landowner and a young farmer in the area, agriculture is very important in our RM and it can be difficult at times,” she said.
“We had hail that came through on July 21. If you had a turbine on one of your quarters that guaranteed you revenue of $47 to $95 an acre every year, if that was something you could count on, that would be a very important asset to any operation, which is a business. It is a consideration for everyone to think about, especially as a young farmer hopefully with a long future of farming in the area.”
Reeve Murray Reid said following the meeting that he was happy with how the meeting went.
“There are people with strong feelings on both sides of the issue, and I’m happy that people were able to express their opinions and they let us know we have some work to do on that bylaw.”
He said he’s personally in favor of the wind farm proposal, as he believes it would have a huge impact on the area, as well as helping the RM in the long term.
“We’ve seen the impact that a megaproject can have in this area,” he said. “I’ve seen it three times since I was in school. It helps everybody.”
Rene Poelzer said following the meeting that he is personally in favor of the wind farm, but he wants to make sure that whatever happens is fair to everyone.
“We’re probably the largest landholder in the RM. The land they want is near the power lines, and the power lines run right through the middle of our land.
“The idea of wind energy is very good, and Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party is pushing this.
“I like the idea of wind power. I’m not in it for money, I’m in it for the betterment of the people.
“We’re negotiating with them, but I still haven’t signed, because I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to everybody. I think it needs to be fair to everybody.
“Financially it’s a no-brainer. There are guys thinking ‘I can put two or three windmills on my property and that’s my retirement income—I can retire on that and I don’t have to sell my land to my kids—I can give it to them.’ There are a lot of benefits to it, and there are a lot of drawbacks. We have to look at both sides and come up with a total solution.”
Daryl Williamson said following the meeting that he still has concerns.
“They knocked on my door in June,” he said. “My first thought was I don’t want them, but I let him come in and give his speech. I found that the lease outfit was very pushy and telling me that people had signed up who I knew hadn’t signed up.”
He said his main objection is the aesthetics of the wind turbines. “My family has lived in the same place for 100 years,” he said. “There aren’t too many pretty places in southeast Saskatchewan, but we happen to live in one,” he said. “I can’t see ruining it with wind towers.
“We’ve got enough impact here. We’ve got potash mines, we’ve got power poles, we’ve got oil, we’ve got seismograph. I don’t know how much more impact we need on the environment.”
He said he would like to see the RM keep the restriction of wind towers being sited one mile away from any household, unless the homeowner agrees to the wind tower being there.
“Keep some regulations, so if people don’t want them, they don’t have to look at them. There are a lot of acreages in our area, and the guys with the acreages aren’t going to get any income from them.”