Archive for May, 2012

PERUVIAN PRECIOUS METALS MINE DYNACOR HAS BEST MONTH EVER IN GOLD PRODUCTION

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012


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THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THAR PERUVIAN HILLS SAYS DYNACOR

Dynacor Gold Mines Inc.  (TSX:DNG) is pleased to provide a second quarter operations update. In the month of May, Dynacor produced from its custom milling plant a historic best of 4,183 ounces of gold (representing more than 50,000 ounces on an annualized rate).

Furthermore, during Q1-2011 the company, using cash directly generated from operations, optimized the plant’s yield at the current capacity of 180 tpd (tonnes per day). The expansion program, which included installation of an additional cyanidation tank and a 90 tpd ball mill, will facilitate a capacity increase from 180 tpd to just over 200 tpd during the 2nd part of 2011.

For the first five months of 2011 the company produced 17,642 ounces of gold from its custom-milling plant as compared to 9,625 ounces of gold during the comparable period in 2010 (an increase of 83%).

In addition, the company’s silver production is also increasing. As of the 31st of May 2011, Dynacor had produced 33,992 ounces of silver as compared to 14,132 ounces for the same 5-month period in 2010 (an increase of 141%).  Gold and silver production are expected to continue to increase through the balance of 2011 and into 2012 as Dynacor’s mill ramps up to its full capacity of 200 tonnes per day.

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The company is well on target to produce approximately 45,000 ounces of gold in 2011-2012.  Jean Martineau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dynacor, said: “I am very pleased with the performance of our custom milling plant as both our gold and silver output increased during the second quarter 2011. As many analysts predict that the current strong price of silver will continue throughout 2011, we expect that our silver production will have an important impact on Dynacor’s cash flow from operations.”

Joey Trombino, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Dynacor, added: “The custom milling component of Dynacor’s business model has an important consequence in that it avoids dilution of its shareholders due to an untimely need for equity financing when the stock price is low. For instance during Q1-2011, Dynacor invested, from its auto-generated cash flow, $0.8 million, towards the ongoing exploration campaign at Tumipampa and the expansion of the custom milling plant.”

ABOUT DYNACOR GOLD MINES INC.

Dynacor is a gold exploration and mining company active in Peru through its subsidiaries since 1996. The company’s assets include the Acari, Casaden and Tumipampa exploration properties. Dynacor’s gold mill produces gold by custom milling.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC DAM CEO SAYS THAT 10,000 PERSON STRONG VILLAGE WITH AIRPORT FOR 737 JETS IS ALREADY STARTED

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012


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Mineweb reports a senior state official in South Australia who is also CEO of the so-called Olympic Dam Taskforce on Tuesday revived hopes that the $30 billion expansion of the existing underground operations would go ahead after all.

Doubts were raised about the viability of the project when the Chairman of owners BHP Billiton confirmed earlier comments from BHP’s top execs about scaling back its most ambitious programs saying it will not spend the $80 billion previously set aside for expansion by 2015.

While most analysts expect BHP will continue to pour money into iron ore in Australia, the company’s other megaprojects – Olympic Dam, expansion of its US shale gas operations and Jansen potash project in Canada – may be put on the back burner.

The government official Paul Heithersay told a conference in Broken Hill, New South Wales that Olympic Dam expansion was “a project with a 100 year mining life, so a glitch this year was unlikely to sway a company that thinks well ahead”:

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He said the company has already cleared a substantial amount of sand cover, has ordered a significant amount of long lead-time machinery and equipment and has begun planning for the major village expansion – for 10,000 people — and begun building a new airstrip capable of handling 737 aircraft.

The expansion will see a 270 kilometre long electricity transmission line, a 400 km pipeline, a large desalinator plant, a 105 km long railway link from Pimba to Olympic Dam.

The giant copper-gold-uranium-silver project in South Australia’s outback is set to become the world’s biggest open pit. BHP has already received government approval for the mammoth $30 billion expansion of Olympic Dam and the company’s board will make a final decision on the project this year.

The planned open pit mine would be adjacent to the current Olympic Dam underground operation. An idea of the olympian effort required to construct the mine and the size of the undertaking is clear from the fact that trucks will haul overburden 24/7 for five to six years just to reach the ore body.

The combined operations would mine 72 Mt ore per year and would produce 750,000 tonnes refined copper, 19,000 tonnes uranium oxide, 800,000 gold ounces and 2.9 Moz of silver per year.

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ROUGH DIAMOND PRICES EXPECTED TO SOAR WITH SPARKLING DEMAND

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012


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ROUGH DIAMOND PRICES EXPECED TO SOAR IN 2012 AFTER LAST YEARS LOWS

(Reuters) – Prices of rough diamonds are expected to rise this year after a turbulent 2011, driven by recovering consumer demand in the United States and a robust appetite for the gems in Asia, the head of the World Diamond Council (WDC) told Reuters on Monday.

Diamonds had a rollercoaster 2011, with a bumper first half followed by a steep drop in prices as markets unraveled over the summer months, despite the dearth of new mines, low inventories and Asia’s growing demand.

“Prices have been stabilizing and (are heading) towards going up again. Outlook seems to be bullish,” the WDC President Eli Izhakoff said in an interview on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the council, which represents diamond manufacturing and trading companies, held this year in northern Italy.

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“I think the prices will end the year …higher,” Izhakoff said. He declined to give a more precise forecast.

Demand in the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer of polished diamonds, has been strong so far this year as the world’s biggest economy shows signs of recovery. Forecasts for demand in India and China are also very positive, Izhakoff said.

Asia’s growing appetite for diamonds has helped the sector offset weaker patches elsewhere and is key to several market debuts in the pipeline, not least the Hong Kong initial public offering of London-based high end jeweler Graff Diamonds. Graff will launch its $1 billion float this month.

Entrepreneur Beny Steinmetz’s Octea diamond operations, which include the Koidu mine in Sierra Leone, could brave stock markets later this year, most likely in Hong Kong to tap China’s love of luxury.

But Izhakoff said a question mark hung over demand in Europe, which is struggling to rein in the unfolding euro zone sovereign debt crisis. He added consumer demand in Europe was largely driven by tourists from Asia and eastern Europe while local demand is hit by austerity measures in many countries.

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SECOND HALF OUTLOOK

The market expects more stable rough diamond prices in 2012, with an improvement in the second half after a slow start due to inventories built up by buyers when prices weakened.

“Our view is that, provided the leading producers are restrained in what they offer for sale and in the level of their prices, the second half of the year should see further improvement,” RBC Capital Markets said in a note on May 11.

“Looking through to 2013 and beyond we are more optimistic, though the economic turmoil in Europe will continue to weigh on sentiment,” the RBC capital Markets analysts wrote.

Diamond demand is expected to exceed supplies this year, giving a fundamental support to prices, but announced exits of major mining companies from diamond operations is unlikely to reduce supply of rough diamonds to the market, Izhakoff said.

Mining giants Rio Tinto (RIO.L) and BHP Billiton (BLT.L) have said they could sell their diamond units, putting, between them, four major diamond operations on the block – a huge number in an industry that gets most of its production from 20 or so mines, and where no large discovery has been made in 15 years.

Some analysts have said such exits could lead to a reduction of investment in diamond mining and hence to a reduction in supplies. But Izhakoff said he would expect any possible buyer of the mines to have enough funds to pump into production and keep supplies steady.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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WORLDS RICHEST MINING MAGNATE BRAZILS EIKE FUHRKEN BATISTA SUFFERS A $1B LOSS IN VALUE IN THE MARKET

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012


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Brazil’s Eike Fuhrken Batista takes a $1b hammering on his companys personal fortune

Brazil’s Eike Fuhrken Batista is the world of mining’s richest man and has been on a roll so far this year, increasing his wealth by a third according to Bloomberg data.

But he took a few blows to the body on Tuesday.

After his oil and gas firm OGX – one of five public companies under Batista’s control – disappointed with reserve figures of only 110 million barrels at an offshore well called Tubarão-Azul or Blue Shark the company was beaten down 7.8%.

That decline and a generally bad day on the world’s stock markets meant $1,023,200,000 disappeared from Batista’s personal fortune on Tuesday.

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Batista is now down to his last $30 billion and is in danger of dropping out of the top 10 if commodity stocks continue to slide. (The three who could catch Batista  – Wal-Mart’s Walton siblings  – only lost $100 million on Tuesday.)

A much more encouraging find on land by another Batista business could not reverse the steep declines.

CCX, Batista’s coal unit, also announced today that it discovered a 672 million tonnes reserve, making it the fifth largest coal deposit in the world, at San Juan in Colombia.

CCX is being spun off and will list separately on the Sao Paulo exchange on May 25.

Perhaps having a sixth publicly traded entity will help Batista cobble together another billion or so.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

 

MASSIVE LIQUIFIED NATURAL GAS DEAL SIGNED BETWEEN JAPAN & CHEVRON IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Monday, May 14th, 2012


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LNG MASSIVE DEAL SIGNED WITH JAPAN BY CHEVRON IN WA

CHEVRON remains bullish on the outlook for conventional liquefied natural gas prices after signing a non-binding heads of agreement with the Japanese utility Tohoku to sell gas from its $US29 billion Wheatstone development near Onslow in Western Australia.

Chevron Australia’s managing director, Roy Krzywosinski, said the deal to sell Tohoku 1 million tonnes a year over 20 years was in line with traditional pricing for conventional LNG, adding ”we have not seen a degradation in prices”.

Mr Krzywosinski questioned whether low Henry Hub gas prices in the US, caused by a glut of shale gas, were sustainable and said while it was likely that LNG exports from North America would grow, he did not expect they would be ”of a volume that will have a material impact on what we believe will be the LNG demand coming out of the Asia-Pacific region”.

He said the Wheatstone project now under construction and the first LNG hub in Australia to accept third-party gas, was off to ”a flying start” and Chevron expected further gas discoveries would be made in the Carnarvon Basin.

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”We estimate there is between 25 and 35 trillion cubic feet of gas of what we would call uncommitted or yet to be discovered gas in the Carnarvon Basin and much of that gas … will need a home, so we think the hub concept is going to be the right concept to support this gas.”

After yesterday’s deal, struck with partners Apache Energy and Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company, Chevron has long-term contracts over 80 per cent of its gas to come from the two-train Wheatstone project. It expects to expand it, potentially up to 25 million tonnes a year.

Chevron is also developing the giant three-train, 15 million tonnes a year Gorgon LNG project at Barrow Island, where it is sticking to its $US43 billion budget and target of first LNG by 2014. The project – Australia’s largest – is 40 per cent complete. Mr Kryzwosinski said front end engineering and design on a $US10 billion-plus fourth train would begin later this year, before a final investment decision planned for next year.

Gorgon is running two years ahead of Wheatstone, which Mr Krzywosinski said was a ”sweet spot” offering significant synergies in terms of purchasing power and equipment from running the two projects as a portfolio.

Chevron is a partner in the Woodside-operated Browse project, where design work is under way on the controversial $US35 billion plan to build an LNG hub on the Kimberley coast. Chevron was supporting the design work, but Mr Krzywosinski said Browse ”does have a lot of challenges – technically, environmentally and from a heritage perspective”.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

CHINA & THE RARE EARTH MINERALS DEBATE & CONTROL

Sunday, May 13th, 2012


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RARE EARTH MINERALS ARE A QUESTIONABLE INVESTMENT SOME SAY
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Platts reports Thursday China will start forcing rare earth producers out of business if they don’t qualify for new value-added tax permits being allocated from May 1.

Officially it’s China’s latest bid to curb resource plundering, dangerous artisanal mining and widespread pollution.

China produces over 95% of the world’s REEs used in a variety of industries including green technology, defence systems and consumer electronics.

Platts quotes one Chinese industry source as saying: “We believe it is a start that China will undertake to regulate the country’s rare earth production, however there is a long way to go.”

Cleaning up the notoriously dirty rare earth business in China is laudable, but the latest regulations are probably aimed more at trying to stop chronic overproduction of REEs in Sichuan and Inner Mongolia, which have recently led to an implosion in export prices.

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Official output quotas in place since 2007 are readily exceeded by 40% – 50% each year. While prices have been moderating since the record levels of Q3 2011, in 2012 prices for many rare earths are close to collapsing.

Abundant, less valuable REEs such as lanthanum have experienced the sharpest reversals.

Lanthanum oxide – used in ceramics and fuel catalysts – for example rose from a price of just $8.71/kg in 2008 to $117/kg in the third quarter last. At the start of 2012 it had pulled back to $66/kg.

Now it has halved again – on Monday a kilogram of lanthanum could be picked up for $26. That’s a 77% collapse in less than nine months. And consider that inside China that same kilogram costs half $13.15.

When export prices of lanthanum were at record highs of $117/kg domestic Chinese prices were less than $20. That differential has gone from almost 10 times to less than double.

This price behaviour can be seen across the board.

Cerium oxide used to polish TV screens and lenses is now also trading at $26 from all-time highs of $118 in the September quarter last year and just under $60 in Q4. The price for cerium oxide was $4.56 in 2008.

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Heavy and scarcer REEs have generally held up better, but many have experienced price declines of 50% or more.

Neodymium oxide used in windmills have seen a dramatic slump – from $338/kg in Q3 2011 to $120/kg as at 23 April.

A hybrid vehicle ingredient, dysprosium rocketed from a price of $118.49/kg in 2008 to $921.20/kg in the third quarter of 2011 and $2,262/kg by September last year.

Dysprosium, also used in conjunction with vanadium and other elements in making laser materials, has now given up more than $1,000 per kilogram and went for $1,170 this week. The price is also now much more in line with domestic Chinese prices of $729/kg.

The reversal in europium oxide – the priciest REE which is used in medical imaging and the nuclear and defence industries – has been most startling.

The price of europium increased almost 10-fold from $492 in 2009 to average $4,900 in the third quarter of 2011. Three months later it dropped $1,100 in price and is now worth $2,420 a kilogram. Chinese domestic europium is another $1,000 cheaper at $1,315/kg.

While producers of flat screen TVs, hospital scanners, jet fighter electronics and sophisticated laser systems must be rejoicing rare earth mining heavyweights like Molycorp and juniors like Quest and Avalon cannot be too thrilled by events.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

INDIAN RUPEE DIPPED TO A NEW LOW AGAINST THE DOLLAR & RBI ISSUES DIRECTIVES TO GEM & JEWELLERY INDUSTRY

Friday, May 11th, 2012


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GEM & JEWELLERY TRADE IN INDIA AT CRISIS POINT

G & J Exporters hit by RBI Directive Already affected by the rising value of the rupee and slow demand from key markets like US and Europe, gem and jewellery exporters were further hit by the RBI’s directive to convert 50 per cent of foreign currency holdings in all types of Exchange Earner’s Foreign Currency (EEFC) accounts in to rupees.

The RBI move is part of its attempt to stabilise the rupee which dipped to a new low of 53.82 against the dollar this week, and will release an estimated $2.5 bn worth of foreign currency into the market.

While the RBI’s objective cannot be faulted, its methodology can be, particularly the lack of a differential approach towards the foreign currency balances held by different sectors.

Clearly industries dealing in commodities, like gems and jewellery, have different needs from sectors like IT that earn dollars through selling services overseas. Unlike the latter, the former need foreign currency to import fresh raw materials on a regular basis. This is all the more marked for g & j, since virtually all the raw materials are purchased overseas, and value addition is based on the skills of the people involved in the trade.

The exact modalities of ensuring payment flexibility for such sectors can be worked out, but a starting point could be the FIEO proposal, where the limit for sectors like gems and jewellery could be higher than the general limit, say 75 per cent as against 50 per cent for others.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

MOUNTAIN PROVINCE DIAMONDS GETS ITS ASSETS REVALUED INDEPENDANTLY

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012


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Mountain Province Diamonds Announces Results of

Independent Valuation of Gahcho Kué Diamonds

Actual Price per Carat $185 – up 38%
Modeled Price per Carat $122 – up 41%

(All values are in US Dollars)

Toronto and New York, May 5, 2011 – Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. (“Mountain Province”, the “Company”) (TSX: MPV, NY-AMEX: MDM) today announced the results of an updated independent valuation of the diamonds recovered from the Gahcho Kué Project. The valuation was conducted by WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. and took place at the London offices of the Diamond Trading Company in early April, 2011. All diamond values presented below are based on the WWW Price Book as at April 11, 2011.

Importantly, for the first time, the Gahcho Kué diamonds were grouped into larger parcels, each parcel representing diamonds from the Hearne, Tuzo and the separate lobes of the 5034 kimberlite. In the opinion of WWW, grouping of the diamonds into larger parcels increased the accuracy of the diamond valuation.

Patrick Evans, Mountain Province President and CEO, said: “The results of this independent diamond valuation reflect the strong performance of rough diamond prices since the previous valuation conducted on April 2010. Based on the analysis of leading diamond producers and analysts, the global diamond industry will experience peak diamond supply during 2011, with burgeoning demand – particularly from the robust Chinese and Indian markets – outstripping mine supply. There is a strong probability that rough diamond prices will continue to experience strong double digit increases as production from aging mines decrease and new mine supply falls short of growing demand. As the world’s largest and richest diamond development project, Gahcho Kué is well placed to enjoy excellent diamond price support as it prepares for production”.

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In their report to Mountain Province, WWW stated: “The most valuable stone is in the Tuzo sample. This 25.13 carat stone is the largest stone in all of the bulk samples. The stone is an octahedron of H/I colour which WWW valued at $20,000 per carat giving a total value of $502,600”.

WWW added: “The stone with the highest value per carat sample is a 9.90 carat stone in the 5034 C/E sample. This is a makeable stone of high colour (D/E) which WWW valued at $24,000 per carat giving a total value of $237,600”.
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Commenting further, Mr. Evans said: “Experience shows that during the mining phase larger populations of large, high value diamonds are commonly recovered, which has the potential to improve modeled diamond revenues. Besides the high-value 25.13 and 9.9 carat diamonds referred to above, several other large high-value diamonds of gem quality have been recovered from Gahcho Kué, including 7.0 carat, 6.6 carat and 5.9 carat diamonds from the 5034 kimberlite and 8.7 carat, 6.4 carat and 4.9 carat diamonds from the Hearne kimberlite. The presence of coarser diamonds is an important driver of overall diamond value at Gahcho Kué.”
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Table 2 below presents models of the average price per carat (US$/carat) for each kimberlite. The modeled price per carat is determined using statistical methods to estimate the average value of diamonds that will be recovered from potential future production from Gahcho Kué.

For mine feasibility studies WWW recommends using the base case models for defining the resources and reserves. The “high” and “low” models are included for sensitivity analysis.

The WWW averaged modeled price per carat for the Gahcho Kué kimberlites is $122, which represents a 41 percent increase over the WWW 2010 average price. The WWW models use size distribution models (carats per size class) developed by De Beers.

Mr. Evans added: “The 2010 independent definitive feasibility study, under which the revenue assumption was based on the mean average of the April 2010 WWW and De Beers modeled diamond prices, reported a 33.9 percent IRR excluding sunk costs. Further, sensitivity analysis shows that a 10 percent increase in modeled diamond prices results in an approximate 3 percent increase in the project IRR. Accordingly, the 41 percent increase in the modeled price over the past year would result in an approximate 12 percent increase in the project IRR.

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Located in Canada’s Northwest Territories, Gahcho Kué is the largest new diamond project under development globally. The project consists of a cluster of kimberlites, three of which have a probable reserve of 31.2 million tonnes grading at 1.57 carats per tonne containing 49 million carats. The Gahcho Kué project is a joint venture between Mountain Province Diamonds and De Beers Canada Inc. An independent 43-101 feasibility study was completed in late 2010. The project environmental impact assessment was also completed and filed in late 2010. The project is currently undergoing permitting.

Qualified Person

This news release has been prepared under the supervision of Carl G. Verley, P.Geo., who serves as the qualified person under National Instrument 43-101.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release may contain forward-looking statements, within the meaning of the “safe-harbor” provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, regarding the Company’s business or financial condition. Actual results could differ materially from those described in this news release as a result of numerous factors, some of which are outside the control of the Company.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Mountain Province Diamonds Inc.
Patrick Evans, President and CEO
Tel: 416-670-5114
401 Bay Street, Suite 2700
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2Y4
Phone: (416) 361-3562
Fax: (416) 603-8565
www.mountainprovince.com
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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

SHEAR DIAMONDS ACQUIRE JERICHO DIAMOND MINE IN CANADA IN DEAL WITH A SECURED CREDITOR FOR CASH & SHARES

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012


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THE WALLS OF JERICHO ARE ENCRUSTED
WITH DIAMONDS SAYS SHEAR
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Edmonton-based Shear Diamonds Ltd. has signed a mutual cooperation agreement with Nunavut Resources Corp. for development of the Jericho Diamond Mine in Nunavut, northern Canada. Shear Diamonds, formerly Shear Minerals,  acquired Jericho — Nunavut’s first and  only diamond mine — in July of last year. The company paid $2 million plus an aggregate of 80 million shares and a 2% royalty to Caz Petroleum, the secured creditor of Tahera Diamond, the mine’s former operator.

Jericho is located 420 km northeast of the City of Yellowknife and is accessible by air all year and by winter road from Yellowknife. The project was mined from 2006 to 2008, and produced 780,000 carats of diamonds from 1.2 million tonnes of kimberlite mined from the open pit operation, before going bankrupt in 2008.
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Over $200 million was invested in the development of the Jericho operations including the construction of a 2,000 tonne per day diamond recovery plant, maintenance facility, fuel farm, and offices and accommodation for 225 personnel.

The agreement signed on Monday by Shear president Pamela Strand and NRC chairman Charlie Evalik sets out provisions for mutual cooperation in the examination of infrastructure and other development opportunities associated with the potential re-development of the Jericho Diamond Mine, according to a news release. It is the first agreement of its kind to be signed by the NRC, an Inuit-owned corporation dedicated to maximize mutual benefits at the Jericho Mine.
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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

CANADIAN DIAMOND PRODUCERS NOW A FORCE TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
CANADA NOW BECOMING A SUPPLIER OF QUALITY DIAMONDS
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Finding diamonds in Canada was, for many years, little more than a prospector’s hope. But with the discovery of diamonds in Nunavut in the early nineties, this hope became a reality that soon led to active exploration for the elusive gem throughout the country – specifically, on the Canadian Shield.

Canada became a diamond producer in October 1998, when the Ekati diamond mine opened about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. By April 1999, the mine had produced one million carats. And by 2003, the country became the world’s third largest diamond producer on a value basis, after Botswana and Russia.

Today, diamond exploration and discovery is undergoing a renaissance in Canada’s north that rivals the first wave of successful exploration. Most of the efforts are converging in Nunavut, the largest and newest territory of Canada.

Although the Canadian northern territories are not the easiest places in which to live and work, there are a number of junior and senior companies operating in these areas.  These companies have to deal with harsh climates, limited infrastructure and a very fragile environment. But as demand for minerals, particularly diamonds, continues to grow, both new and established operators are taking a more active interest in the region.

Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. is one of the protagonists of the new success story. The company revitalized the diamond exploration scene last year, by reporting a remarkable discovery of three major outcropping diamond-bearing kimberlites at its Chidliak property on Baffin Island.

Chidliak, located 150 km northwest of Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut and the company’s earlier stage Nanuq project, located 300 kilometres north of Rankin Inlet in Nunavut, are both textbook cases of grassroots or greenfields exploration low-budget programs that were taking place while attention was focused primarily on DO-27.

The Chidliak program began in 2005, when BHP Billiton approached Peregrine with an offer to jointly explore southern Baffin Island. “The agreement was that, together, we would undertake a reconnaissance program that covered roughly the southern third of Baffin Island. We would fund it equally and then Peregrine would take the data and run with it,” says Peregrine President, Brooke Clements.

After the programs’ first year, during which the most promising properties were acquired, the funding responsibility fell to Peregrine alone, but BHP retained back-in rights.

Despite being discovered a year earlier than Chidliak, Nanuq is currently at about the same stage, for two reasons. Three kimberlite pipes have been found on each site, but those at Nanuq, while encouraging, do not offer the promising diamond counts seen in kimberlites tested at Chidliak. Future exploration work at Nanuq will be focusing on finding new pipes. Meanwhile, the work at Chidliak will be split between searching out new pipes and continuing to estimate the value of the one already known to hold diamonds.

A bit of luck also favoured Chidliak. “Usually, kimberlites are covered by soil and aren’t visible from the surface,” explains Clements. “But in the case of Chidliak, the sampling crew went to three promising sites and found not just indications of kimberlites, but outcroppings of the pipes themselves exposed on the surface. We were fortunate because we kind of jumped a year ahead of the normal sequence. Without drilling a single hole, we know we have diamonds and kimberlites with significant tonnage potential on the property,” he said of the significance of the outcroppings.

Clements describes the results as “exceptional,” and not just because the coarse diamond size distribution indicates potential for large commercialization of diamonds. Unlike most diamond-bearing kimberlites in northern Canada, which typically occur under lakes or are buried by overburden, the Chidliak kimberlites outcrop on the surface..

“It’s still early days but we’re very excited by the potential as we’ve identified more than 65 geophysical anomalies within the property,” says Clements.

Key Players

Until recently, Tahera Diamond Corporation was the best known name in Nunavut’s diamond scene. The company runs Jericho Diamond Mine, Canada’s third diamond mine and Nunavut’s first, located about 400 km (249 mi) northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Two and a half years after that high-profile startup, Tahera has abruptly ended production at the Jericho mine, forcing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government to take over.

Deloitte and Touche has since been appointed as receiver and contracted to undertake care and maintenance at the mine.

It is doubtful that a new owner will soon be found for Jericho.

Other companies currently exploring for diamonds in Nunavut are Indicator Minerals (Nanuq North, in a join venture with Peregrine Diamonds), Shear Minerals (Churchill), Diamonds North Resources (Amaruk) and Stornoway Diamonds (Aviat).

Stornoway, a Vancouver-based exploration company, is the dominant diamond explorer in eastern Nunavut and it has property stretching from the northern tip of the Melville Peninsula to Rankin Inlet on the western shore of Hudson Bay.

Stornoway shares interest in the Aviat property with BHP Billiton – which owns the Ekati mine in the Northwest Territories – and the Hunter Exploration Group. Two of Stornoway’s holdings, Churchill and Quilalugaq, are in the advanced exploration stage.

Governmental Support

To maintain Nunavut’s position as a jurisdiction of choice for mineral investment, the local Government developed a strategy entitled “Parnautit: The Nunavut Mineral Exploration & Mining,” which provides a framework of policies and actions to encourage mineral discovery and development. Released in March 2007, the goal of Parnautit is to create the conditions for a “strong and sustainable minerals industry that contributes to a high and sustainable quality of life for all Nunavummiut.” The plan addresses Nunavut’s regulatory and taxation regimes, workforce training, infrastructure development and environmental baseline availability.

Peter Taptuna, Nunavut’s Deputy Premier and Minister Responsible for Mines, explains that Nunavut also offers a Development Partnership Agreement (DPA) program that was introduced in 2006 as a means of extending the territorial off-road fuel tax credit (rebate) to developing and producing mines. Through these DPAs, Nunavut’s Government and mine operators work cooperatively in areas such as education and training, socioeconomic monitoring and mitigation, as well as in infrastructure development. As the physical and economic circumstances of no two mines are alike, so too each DPA should reflect the unique and shared needs of the mine operator and the local population. Proponents entering the regulatory phase are encouraged to begin negotiations on a Development Partnership Agreement for their projects.

For now, the reality of the diamond industry is much like the weather conditions in Nunavut- harsh. In spite of this, the Canadian industry is up to the challenge. While current prices, logistical challenges, inclement weather, personnel shortages and training needs remain concerns, all signs point to Nunavut seeing growth in mining operations in the near future, just in time to offer its diamonds to an eager market.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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