Category Archives: other minerals
Exploration agreement aims to help junior mining companies in northern Sask. and Man.
Future of Creighton, Sask.’s main industry ‘up in the air,’ according to longtime Mayor Bruce Fidler
By Bridget Yard, CBC News Posted: Jan 31, 2018 6:00 PM CT Last Updated: Jan 31, 2018 6:00 PM CT
An agreement between the Saskatchewan and federal governments worth approximately $2 million will aim to help junior mining companies in their exploration of northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The agreement was signed in December 2017.
The future of the mining camps near Creighton, Sask., which is approximately 430 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, is “up in the air,” according to the town’s mayor.
“The forecast put out a year ago by Hudbay [Minerals] was that the 777 mine, the one in operation right now where they’re producing ore, is going to run out and shut down in three or four years,” said Bruce Fidler.
He estimates a shutdown would affect roughly 700 employees, who live for the most part in Creighton and Flin Flon, Man.
A processing plant in Flin Flon is still in operation, processing ore from a mine in Snow Lake.
“We’ve been hoping for some kind of program to come out for a couple years now, to assist the juniors in getting out there and doing exploration and drilling and finding another ore body that could save, or at least be, the next mine,” said Filder.
The agreement will fund an airborne survey of the Flin Flon and Creighton region, which is a well-known, “highly prospective” area.
Three mines are already in operation in the region. The 777 mine, near Flin Flon, mines zinc and copper, and smaller amounts of gold and silver. The Lalor mine in the Chisel Basin produces the same minerals.
Nearby Reed mine produces copper. Hudbay owns the majority of each mine.
“The challenge is actually identifying the deposits. This survey is going to be taking place and trying to see through rocks that actually cover the old volcanic rocks in Flin Flon you can see on the ground,” said University of Saskatchewan geology professor Kevin Ansdell.
While there are many kinds of geophysical surveys, the new agreement focuses on two, using both a helicopter and an airplane.
“The helicopter is flying over a piece of land and it’s emitting an electromagnetic current at low level,” said the head geologist on the project, Gary Delaney.
“That goes down into the ground and if there’s a conductive body, that will generate its own current.”
The conductive body could be indicative of a copper or zinc deposit.
Process will take years
Once a deposit is found, it is up to the mining companies to invest, explore further, and decide if a mine is economically viable.
Fidler hopes a new mine can be set up before the others dry up, in order to keep the existing zinc metallurgical plant and concentrator operating.
The town’s efforts have concentrated on economic development in recent months, to prepare for the loss of the mining sector. Creighton, Flin Flon, and Denare Beach have banded together to create a regional economic development committee.
A new economic development officer has been hired, and will start their role Feb. 1.
Download Deloitte’s full “Tracking the Trends” HERE
These are top-10 global mining trends expected for 2018
The most important one? Transitioning towards a “digital mine”
In the last 10 years, the mining industry has been on a roller-coaster, with commodity prices reaching both historic highs and lows, as well as operational realities shifting irrevocably in the face of a digital revolution. And companies better fasten their seat belts because those rapid changes are likely to continue and even accelerate this year, a study released by Deloitte on Wednesday says.
Phil Hopwood, Global Mining Leader at Deloitte and author of “Tracking the Trends” annual mining report, now in its 10th edition, told MINING.com that as several commodities appear to be at the onset of a bull run for the next 10 years, the sector will have to continue its transition to the digital mine of the future and anticipate future disruptors, including declining ore body grades, decreasing availability of tier one assets, and continued focus on shareholder returns.
Turning disruption into opportunity requires a long-term view capable of assessing how emerging market trends may affect the demand for specific commodities.
But turning disruption into opportunity requires a long-term view capable of assessing how emerging market trends may affect the demand for specific commodities, he says.
“Looking back just 20 years, it’d have been hard to believe that nickel, lithium, cobalt and graphite would be an affordable way to power batteries,” says Hopwood. “Today that is the reality and a potential growth opportunity, particularly with the emergence of electric vehicles.”
Asked whether the impressive gains in commodity and equity prices around the world in the lithium, cobalt and other “battery-making” metals sectors are a trend or just investment hype, Hopwood is quick to note that most new commodities result in an initial “plug”.
“There is no doubt excitement around those commodities. They are the key ingredients in batteries — and energy sources of the future – but I don’t think the hype around needing better quality nickel is ‘hype’ at all; it’s integral. Laterite nickel pig iron (NPI) is simply not as good as nickel sulfide for use in batteries; but of course it’s the cheaper option. The problem is, you can’t substitute for good quality nickel and expect quality results,” he says.
The same goes for lithium, Hopwood adds. “The bottom line is that what we need to focus on is the fundamentals and ask more pressing questions, like how to get the resources out of the ground effectively to meet supply.”
To thrive in the mining industry’s historical boom and bust cycle and capitalize on new opportunities, he says, companies must rethink the traditional mining model.
“I see mining really making changes in terms of adopting digital technology and innovative thinking – though still at an early stage for some.”
He notes that some big names in the industry, such as BHP, are really focusing on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As revealed in Deloitte Canada’s recent report on Inclusion – inclusive companies deliver better financial results.
Mining companies are also moving to being more visible and transparent in their reporting, Hopwood says.
“They are out there talking about the work they do with communities and their commitments. They are publishing papers and trying to improve their reputation(s) by publishing POVs and reports on where the industry should be heading. They now understand that they have a responsibility to play an integral role in the “image” of mining,” he notes.
While there is still more that can be done, the expert believes the wheels are in motion and that the industry is moving in the right direction.
Download Deloitte’s full “Tracking the Trends” HERE
Saskatchewan sees golden potential for precious metals mining and more
JOEL SCHLESINGER, POSTMEDIA CONTENT WORKS
Published on: January 8, 2018 | Last Updated: January 8, 2018 1:52 PM PST
The Santoy gold deposit at the Seabee Gold Operation in northern Saskatchewan attracted Vancouver-based mining company SSR Mining, which purchased the operation in 2016.
SSR Mining may be a Vancouver-headquartered company, but lately its attention has been firmly focused on a large stretch of land in the middle of the wilderness in northern Saskatchewan.
That’s because the mid-tier mining company with two other operations in Nevada and Argentina sees a golden opportunity in the prairie province — literally.
Its recent purchase of Saskatchewan’s only gold mining operation speaks to SSR Mining’s confidence of what lies beneath the Land of Living Skies.
The company acquired Claude Resources, and with this the Seabee Gold Operation, for approximately C$337 million, the largest single investment in precious metal mining in the province’s history.
“The previous company had operated the Seabee mine for about 25 years,” says SSR Mining’s president and chief executive officer Paul Benson. “The first 23 years were quite routine, mining lower grade deposits.”
But then exploration efforts uncovered a nearby deposit of much higher quality gold ore, and that caught the attention of SSR Mining, prompting the friendly takeover.
Today, the company is mining the higher-grade Santoy deposit, just a short trucking distance from the original Seabee mine and mill complex.
“By far the majority of the gold is in the Santoy deposit,” he says, adding the operation currently has total mineral resources of over one million ounces of gold.
Saskatchewan is a heavyweight in the mining world. Being the No. 1 producer of potash globally and No. 2 for uranium, the province has a long history of mining innovation while providing highly skilled people adept at extracting minerals from the earth.
Yet the province has largely flown under the radar when it comes to base and precious metals and other valuable minerals, including diamonds. That, however, is changing rapidly as exploration and mining companies turn their attention to the province’s bounty underground, especially after SSR Mining made its big splash last year.
“We believe we have significant unrealized potential for other mineral commodities such as base and precious metals and also diamonds,” says Gary Delaney, chief geologist at the Ministry of the Economy for the Government of Saskatchewan.
That’s in large part why the province has devoted considerable resources to help interested mining firms explore its potential.
Efforts include scanning millions of pages of historic industry technical reports and maps, as well as geoscience publications prepared by the provincial government, over several decades. All of this information is available through the government’s recently launched Mining and Petroleum GeoAtlas: “A one-stop shop to get all the technical geological information for the industry,” says Delaney.
It’s this kind of support that exploration and mining firms find helpful when looking for investment opportunities.
“Rather than reinvent the wheel, companies want to build on existing data and these resources provide an important foundation.”
“With precious metals, there have been several past gold mines in what’s known as the La Ronge Gold Belt,” Delaney says, although their size and scale have been modest by today’s standards.
Moreover, SSR Mining’s Seabee operation has produced more than 1.3 million ounces of gold since it was founded in 1991.
A little farther east, at the border with Manitoba, the Creighton/Flin Flon area hosts some of Canada’s richest deposits of base metals — copper and zinc — which also contain significant concentrations of gold and/or silver.
“The largest of those ore bodies, the Flin Flon mine, which straddled the border of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, not only had significant base metal, but the Saskatchewan part of the deposit contained about 3.6 million ounces of gold,” Delaney says.
In fact, the first gold discovery in the province occurred just southwest of Creighton in 1916 near Amisk Lake. The potential bounty in the ground, however, doesn’t just include precious and base metals.
Potentially rich deposits of diamonds near Prince Albert in central Saskatchewan have attracted interest from large mining multinationals.
However, the region generating the most buzz these days has been in and around the Seabee and Santoy mines.
“It’s not just the million ounces in resources we’ve identified so far,” Benson says.
SSR Mining has teamed up with another company, Eagle Plains Resources, to explore the 34,000-hectare Fisher project south of its Santoy property.
Should their efforts bear fruit, they will benefit from an incentive program previously put in place by the province to reduce the cost of development, by offering a 10-year royalty holiday on new base and precious metal mines.
Delaney says activity thus far is merely scratching the surface (pun intended).
“We’re frequently going to places like China, actively promoting investment opportunities here,” Delaney says.
“That’s because we feel we have significant unrealized potential in base and precious metals, and we would love to see that potential realized someday soon.”
‘Eco-colonialism’: Rift grows between Indigenous leaders and green activists
Indigenous communities say they’ve had enough of activists invading their lands, misleading them about their agendas and using hard-line tactics against those who don’t agree
With flowing long hair, stoic expression and tribal garb, Martin Louie, the hereditary chief of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in north-central British Columbia, more than looked and acted the part of an aggrieved leader in the epic fight against the Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline.
He was quoted in the campaign’s news releases, filed complaints to the United Nations and spoke defiantly to investors. Environmental group Stand.earth even described him as the “poster boy” for Indigenous opposition to Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline.
The $7-billion pipeline was eventually cancelled last year, but Louie didn’t actually want to sink the project. Lost in the heat of the public battle was that he really just wanted to win more money for his impoverished community than the “ridiculous” $70,000 a year being offered by the company.
Louie’s experience is indicative of a widening rift between Indigenous communities and activists over natural resources, particularly in British Columbia, the focal point of major green campaigns generously funded by U.S. interests to thwart oil and gas exports.
The campaigns consistently portray a united Indigenous anti-development front and allies of the green movement, but some Indigenous leaders are becoming alarmed that they could be permanently frozen out of the mainstream economy if resource projects don’t go ahead.
They said in interviews they’ve had enough of activists invading their lands, misleading them about their agendas, recruiting token members to front their causes, sowing mistrust and conflict, and using hard-line tactics against those who don’t agree.
“The best way to describe it is eco-colonialism,” said Ken Brown, a former chief of the Klahoose First Nation in southwestern B.C. “You are seeing a very pervasive awakening among these First Nations leaders about what is going on in the environmental community.”
For instance, Louie is now one of the leaders of the proposed $17-billion Eagle Spirit pipeline, a Northern Gateway alternative championed by First Nations.
“When I went after Enbridge we were trying to gain more benefits for major projects going through our country,” he said.
Word soon got out about his differences with Enbridge and he was approached by a handful of lawyers representing green organizations who promised him assistance and funding, Louie recalled.
Their partnership ended bitterly because the two sides had conflicting objectives. He wanted better benefits; the activists wanted the project to fail.
The eventual failure of Northern Gateway was just one of a series of tipping points in recent months that worry some Indigenous leaders.
There was also the demise of Pacific NorthWest LNG and Aurora LNG, as well as the continuing challenges faced by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and other proposed LNG projects. These cancellations and obstacles are celebrated by activists, but also wiped out jobs and revenue for First Nations.
Eagle Spirit also faces difficulties. Led by Indigenous lawyer Calvin Helin and supported by First Nations along the proposed route through northern B.C., the project will collapse if the federal government goes ahead with a tanker ban that is making its way through Parliament.
The ban is related to the Great Bear Rainforest, which was created by the B.C. government last year to conserve a big part of the province’s northern and central coast.
Both initiatives are seen by greens as big achievements, but are disputed by First Nations such as the Lax Kw’alaams, who said they were advanced without proper consultation and prevent their members from making a living.
Brown’s experience with environmental activism started about a decade ago, when he was chief of his tribe and supported two run-of-river hydro projects.
The projects were attacked by groups such as Save Our Rivers and Western Canada Wilderness Committee for being harmful to fish habitat, and Brown’s band was criticized for being “sellouts and socially irresponsible people looking for the quick buck,” he said.
“What an onslaught it was. There was a high level of participation from people who had never been to the region … and they were all conveying the same narrative: ‘The sky is falling, keep your blood money, corporations are evil.’”
Brown, who now runs a consulting company, said similar tactics are used against other projects, too.
“If First Nations communities are willing to conform to the prescribed eco-narratives, they are going to get all kinds of accolades and praise, but if they don’t conform, it’s vitriolic hit pieces on these people,” he said.
Louie is still shaken by the backlash he experienced. After complaining to activists they were only using him to advance their cause, he said he was blackballed.
“Workers were spreading the word that I am not a good man, that I am there to ruin the environment, that I am making money on my own,” he said. “They were making me sound like I am taking millions from a lot of people. If I was in that position, I wouldn’t be struggling to pay for my car payments.”
Louie said he joined the Eagle Spirit project to achieve what he couldn’t with Northern Gateway: help his tribe become economically self-reliant.
Environmental organizations and Indigenous communities in recent years have found common cause in opposing some projects and in fighting the impacts of capitalism on the environment, said Dwight Newman, Canada research chair in Indigenous rights at the University of Saskatchewan.
A big reason is that Indigenous people have unique legal rights and by working with them, green groups are better able to block developments than if they relied on environmental grounds alone, he said.
Section 35 of Canada’s constitution states the Crown has a duty to consult with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and, where it anticipates adverse impacts, to accommodate to the extent reasonably possible.
So far, the law has been used against development, but one of the unknowns is whether Indigenous communities will use it to pursue economic development and override the environmental laws that block projects such as Eagle Spirit, Newman said.
“At some point, these arguments will end up in the courts, either directly as rights claims or as claims that there ought to have been consultation on potential effects on such rights,” Newman said in an article for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, where he is a senior fellow.
“And the very presence of these arguments will overturn the expectations of many who think they have liberal views, but actually have ongoing paternalistic views that assume First Nations always need protection from development.”
Many conservation campaigns rely on U.S. funds because there is more money available there due to tax laws and an abundance of wealthy philanthropists.
Vancouver-based researcher and blogger Vivian Krause has tallied the large sums poured by U.S. groups to fight pipelines and gas projects in Canada by analyzing tax filings.
The biggest funder has been the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which has granted more than $190 million to First Nations, environmental and other organizations working in B.C., Krause said.
The top recipient of funds from the Moore Foundation is Tides Canada, which received at least $70 million, she said. Tides Canada spends that money internally and re-grants it to other groups, particularly First Nations organizations.
Other big U.S.-based funders are the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts.
“These American interests are trying to stop these projects any way they can, and one of the best ways is by leveraging the constitutional rights of First Nations in the courts,” Krause said.
The former United Nations worker said she pursued the research because of pleas for help from Indigenous leaders “who want jobs and social and economic prosperity (and) are sick and tired of what they call the paid protesters.”
One of those leaders is Gary Alexcee, a hereditary chief of the Nisga’a Nation near Alaska, and a member of Eagle Spirit’s Chiefs Council. He’s disappointed the federal government is giving more weight to environmentalists than to the needs of Indigenous communities.
“We were totally taken aback and surprised by the announcement of this tanker ban because of the government’s statement that they were going to include First Nations,” he said. “No one got consulted.”
Eagle Spirit would create jobs and opportunities “that people never had” in a region where other industries such as fishing, forestry and eco-tourism are doing badly, he said.
Alexcee, 70, said many in his community don’t support green campaigns. He said activists have come to the region in big numbers and picked “token” members to advance their causes.
Relations between activists and Indigenous people got really ugly in nearby Prince Rupert, in the territory of the Lax Kw’alaams.
The community was initially opposed to a liquefied natural gas project proposed by a consortium led by Malaysia’s Petronas because of its location on Lelu Island, which they believed would threaten juvenile salmon.
They became supporters after negotiating bigger benefits and getting the project to re-locate.
But a small group of opponents continued to protest. Their frontman was Donnie Wesley, who claimed to be a hereditary chief and led an occupation of the site. That opened the door for activists to come in and offer band members funds and assistance to defeat a high-profile target, said Mayor John Helin.
Dozens of “professional protesters” travelled to the area from as far away as California with funding from groups such as SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, which, in turn, was getting money from Tides and the Moore Foundation.
“More or less, they called me a traitor,” Helin said.
Petronas pulled the plug on the $36-billion venture this summer, which meant $2 billion in benefits over 40 years for the band were lost.
The Lax Kw’alaams chided Wesley for misrepresenting himself as a hereditary leader. The dispute over who represented the community ended up in court. Wesley lost and is appealing.
Greg Knox, executive director of Terrace, B.C.-based SkeenaWild, said there is a wide range of perspectives in Indigenous communities and while some may feel they lost opportunity when Petronas cancelled its LNG project, others were relieved because salmon were no longer threatened.
“This project was proposed for a terrible location,” Knox said. Many other LNG projects were also proposed, but “this was the only one that people were concerned about and there was big opposition to.”
His group also campaigned against Northern Gateway and supports the tanker ban, he said, but doesn’t have a position on Eagle Spirit yet because it doesn’t have enough information.
Stand.earth brags on its website that it has delayed or stopped 21 “dirty oil pipelines and train projects.” But it relied on Will George, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, to confront Kinder Morgan Canada chief executive Ian Anderson at a recent Vancouver Board of Trade event promoting the $7.4-billion expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
“I do not welcome you onto my territory. You are not welcome on my lands, and you certainly cannot be doing business here without Tsleil-Waututh consent,” George said, according to a statement distributed by the group.
“It’s really Indigenous nations protecting their land that allows us to win these fights,” said Stand.earth campaigner Hailey Zacks, noting 150 First Nations in Canada and the U.S. are opposed to the project.
For its part, Kinder Morgan said 42 directly impacted Indigenous communities are supportive of the pipeline expansion and have signed benefits agreements.
Zacks couldn’t speak to that, but said, “What I do know is that the communities that I work with are willing to do whatever it takes to stop it.”
Haida Gwaii is one community known as a hostile place for development of all kinds — and for those who dare to promote it.
Hereditary chief Ray Jones, 66, was harshly castigated for doing consulting work for Northern Gateway, which would have included tankers sailing to and from Asia, potentially impacting the island.
A former captain in the fishing industry with intimate knowledge of the coast, the 66-year-old said he supported the shipment of oil and gas and any other work that promised desperately needed employment.
His contract job with Enbridge involved building communications between the island community and the company, he said.
But Jones was up against powerful forces. Haida Gwaii’s leadership worked closely with activists, he said, “a whole pile of them,” particularly from the David Suzuki Foundation, visited the area regularly and influenced the local population.
The foundation did not respond to an interview request.
The community was so close-minded about getting an alternative point of view, few even asked him what his job with Enbridge involved, Jones said.
“Everybody said they hated me for working for Enbridge, you are the enemy, you are a traitor,” he said. “I have two sisters who don’t talk to me. I have had people call me the village clown, a lot of derogatory things. I’ve had my tires slashed, I’ve had somebody key my car. It’s ugly.”
The same attitude has killed other jobs, pushing young people away and leaving the rest with nothing to improve their lot, he said.
“I always tell my grand children, get a damn good education because I don’t know what you kids are in for in your life,” Jones said. “We lived in a good time.”
Sask. one step closer to coal agreement with feds
Saskatchewan is capping GHG emissions for coal and electricity producers in hopes of reaching an equivalency agreement with the federal government.
D.C. FRASER, REGINA LEADER-POST
Published on: January 3, 2018 | Last Updated: January 3, 2018 4:56 PM CST
A vehicle carrying coal rolls toward SaskPower electrical generating plant. BRUCE JOHNSTONE/THE LEADER-POST
Saskatchewan is capping GHG emissions for coal and electricity producers in hopes of reaching an equivalency agreement with the federal government.
A portion of a law — the Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases and Adaptation to Climate Change Act — which once fully proclaimed would essentially put a carbon price on heavy emitters, came into effect on Jan. 1.
According to Environment Minister Dustin Duncan, it is a necessary step to get in line with pending federal regulations on coal-fired plants, calling it “the next step to an equivalency agreement with the province.”
As of Monday, SaskPower will have a cap on the greenhouse gas emissions across its entire fleet of coal-fired electricity plants.
Under an agreement with the federal government, first announced in November 2016, Saskatchewan will be able to keep its fleet of coal-fired power plants if they meet or exceed federal environmental standards.
If not for such an agreement, the province says it would have to close its coal-fired units at the end of their economic life or by 2030 (depending on which date comes first).
The new regulations, which still need an OK from the federal government, allow SaskPower to manage its emissions on a fleet-wide basis, meaning sites that go over the emissions cap can be compensated for at sites — notably the carbon capture and storage facility in Estevan — with emissions significantly lower than the cap.
“That’s going to give (SaskPower) a little bit of flexibility to manage the fleet,” said Duncan.
It is expected the province and the federal government will spend 2018 continuing to hash out how Saskatchewan can appease Ottawa’s desire to reduce coal-fired plants by 2030.
In 2016, the federal government sped up the timetable for provinces burning coal for electricity to adopt new technology, like capturing the carbon emissions, or shut down the plants entirely.
“We’re certainly on track to where we thought we’d be at this point in that process, but it has been a long conversation a couple of years and so we’re definitely closer to the end of this part of the process than the beginning,” said Duncan.
He also indicated how the remaining pieces of the Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases and Adaptation to Climate Change Act will come into effect.
Rather than proclaiming the law all at once, Duncan signalled the province is more likely to put in place industry-specific regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and proclaim sections of the law allowing them to do so when needed.