Archive for April, 2015

Over 240 mining and energy projects waiting for investors in Cuba

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

cuba waiting for investors image

Cuba, the world’s sixth largest nickel producers and one of the top 10 nickel mining countries, is experiencing a sudden, but still modest, investment rush triggered by an ongoing reconciliation between the Caribbean nation and the U.S.

The country, which also holds significant deposits of other minerals as well as oil, has 246 projects hoping to attract capital and be developed, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report published earlier this month.

“Cuba’s geology is complex, and the country has a variety of mineral commodity and energy resources,” said Steven Fortier, Director of the USGS National Minerals Information Centre.

While mineral production is largely state-controlled, the government has taken steps to change its old mining laws.

As a result, Canadians companies already have a presence in Cuba’s mining sector. One of them is Calgary-based miner Sherritt International (TSX: S), the Latin American country’s largest foreign investor, with nickel mining, oil-and-gas and electricity interests.

The ore the Toronto-based firm extracts there — under a joint venture with the country’s government — is refined in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, but because of the U.S. embargo, none of that refined nickel is allowed south of the border. Nickel remains one of the country’s main sources of foreign income, along with tourism.

Despite such barrier, the USGS report shows that nickel remains one of the country’s main sources of foreign income, along with tourism.

It also highlights a value increase for the country’s industrial manufacturing sector, which jumped 88% between 1993 and 2013. However, the sector’s share in the GDP decreased by 3% percent during the same period reflecting economic growth in other sectors of the economy.

Oil and industrial minerals

Industrial minerals and manufactured industrial mineral products produced in Cuba include ammonia and ammonia by-products, bentonite, cement, feldspar, high-purity zeolite minerals, gypsum, kaolin (a type of clay), lime, high-grade limestone, marble, sand, sulphuric acid, steel and urea. In 2013, an estimated 4,500 metric tons of zeolites was exported neighbouring Latin American countries and Europe. Last year Cuba exported the majority of its ammonium nitrate, the USGS report shows.

In terms of oil reserves, the body released an assessment in 2004 that estimated the total amount of undiscovered technically recoverable resources at 9.8 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas, 4.6 billion barrels of crude oil, and 0.9 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

The full report “Recent trends in Cuba’s mining and petroleum extraction industries” is available here.

Figure from the U.S. Geological Survey report.

UGL wins massive Santos GLNG services contract

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015


UGL has won a $120 million contract to provide services at Santos’ Curtis Island LNG facility.

The contract will run over three years and includes an option to extend work at the site for an additional four years.

Under the agreement UGL will perform maintenance, shutdown, engineering, and project services for the LNG facility.

It will mobilise to site in the second quarter of the year.

UGL welcomed the win, with CEO Ross Taylor stating: “This contract, along with the recent announcement of the APLNG maintenance contract further enhances UGL’s strong base of recurring revenue and positions us well for future maintenance opportunities as LNG facilities currently under construction move into their operational phase.”

The final module for GLNG was installed in November last year, with first gas reaching the project earlier this month.


Santos have announced yet another milestone for their Curtis Island gas liquefaction plant, with the installation of the final LNG train module.

With two trains in the GLNG plant comprised of 111 modules constructed in the Philippines, the final module was installed early this week.

LNG trains are used to cool natural gas down to a liquid form which can be stored in tanks and pumped onto ships for export.

Santos GLNG general manager for downstream operations Brenton Hawtin said the installation was a key project milestone.

“Once we’re in full production, these massive pieces of infrastructure will together produce up to 7.8 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas each year,” he said.

“Each module had to be built with a margin of error of only 2mm, which is amazing when you think the heaviest weighed more than 2,500 tonnes and longest stretched nearly 75 metres.”

Construction works on GLNG undertaken by contractor Bechtel now include final pipework and cabling, followed by commissioning of the plant which will begin later this year.


Henry Sapiecha

50 years of Liquid Natural Gas [infographic]

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

liquid natural gas storage tanks image

As we hit the milestone of 50 years since the first LNG export, Wood Mackenzie examine the current state, and future of the LNG industry.

This future looks particularly bright for the Australian market, with the country this year celebrating its 20th anniversay of LNG exporting, and set to become the 2nd largest LNG export in the world, only behind the US, eventually leaping into position as the world’s number one exporter by 2017.

liquid natural gas over 50 yrs infographic image


Henry Sapiecha

Oil sands in focus [infographic]

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

oil-sand_in hand image

Visual Capitalists have put together a new infographic detailing the enormity of Canada’s oil sands region,and the role it has to play in the global oil industry.

Oil sands, or tar sands as some call them, have only recently been considered a seriously viable source of oil and hydrocarbons as higher oil prices combined with new technology has enabled profitable extraction and processing of the oil sand reserves.

The material, more commonly known as bitumen, are found worldwide, however approximately 71% of all resources are found solely in Canada.

The infographic below explains in detail the region, its reserves, how it compares globally, and who is mining them.

oil-sands infographic image


Henry Sapiecha


The world’s top 10 oil and gas companies. Infographic shows

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

The world's top 10 oil and gas companies [infographic]

When North Americans think of oil and gas companies, they often think of the big private sector companies such as Exxon Mobil or ConocoPhillips. However, it is always interesting to look at the sheer size and scope of some of the major government owned (or partnered) oil and gas firms to really see the extent of the industry.
Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian oil and gas giant, is by far the biggest energy company in the world. Saudi Aramco’s biggest field, Ghawar, generates 5 million barrels per day of oil, and the company as a whole makes more than $1 billion per day in revenues. The company’s value has been estimated around $10 trillion – the biggest company in the world. That’s about 15 times the size of Apple.
Gazprom and National Iranian Oil Company also produce 8.1 million and 6.1 million bpd equivalent. Meanwhile PetroChina, only one of three big state-owned oil giants in China, produces 3.9 million barrels each day.
With oil prices at their lowest in five years, it will be interesting to see how all of these companies respond.
Henry Sapiecha

Diavik Diamond Mine releases 2014 Sustainable Development report

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

The Diavik Diamond Mine, a joint venture with Dominion Diamond Corporation (Rio Tinto 60 per cent; Dominion Diamond Corporation 40 per cent) has released its 2014 Sustainable Development report.

The Diavik Diamond Mine, located on an island in a remote sub-arctic lake in the Northwest Territories, Canada, began production in 2003 and became a fully underground mining operation in 2012. The Diavik mine produces predominantly gem quality diamonds, destined for high end jewellery in all major consumer markets around the world.

Marc Cameron, president and chief operating officer of Diavik said “At Diavik, sustainable development is integrated into everything we do. Our operations provide benefits and opportunities for local communities, businesses, and governments and we work with all our stakeholders to deliver substantial and lasting benefits.”

Highlights of the 2014 Diavik sustainable development report include:

  • Safe mining and processing of over two million tonnes of ore for the second consecutive year asa fully underground mine;
  • An underground mining team that comprises sixty per cent northerners and forty per cent Aboriginals;
  • The highest percentage of northern spending since 2006. Of the C$251 million of northern spending, C$110 million was with northern Aboriginal businesses;
  • A comprehensive transportation contract awarded to Det’on Cho Logistics, a Yellowknives Dene First Nation company; and
  • Multiple energy management initiatives resulting in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2014 the development of a fourth pipe, known as A21, was approved, providing an important source of incremental supply for Diavik and economic and social benefits to the communities in which Diavik operates.


Henry Sapiecha


Indian billionaire wants to buy Australian gold mines

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Indian billionaire wants to buy Aussie gold mines

Indian jewellery billionaire, Rajesh Mehta, is said to looking for Australian gold assets as several miners are in the process of shedding non-core operations to survive the current squeeze on the industry.

According to Financial Review, the tycoon said his company is ready to spend up to US$700 million on growing its presence Down Under, with mines being the primary focus.

Bangalore-based Rajesh Exports, India’s biggest jewellery maker, is already setting up a subsidiary in Melbourne, which will drive the hunt for stakes in the local gold sector, Mehta said.

Earlier this year, the company announced it would create a new division for offering gold loans. If it goes ahead Rajesh Exports would become the first large jewellery firm to provide bullion-backed loans in India

China claims to hold over 2 million tonnes of uranium deposits

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

China claims to hold over 2 million tonnes of uranium deposits

Chinese authorities have unveiled the results of study into the nation’s uranium deposits, which puts its reserves at over 2 million tonnes, government’s Xinhua News Agency reports.

According to the head of China Nuclear geology (CNG), Du Yunbin, the country’s uranium deposits have doubled in the last 15 years to more than 350 across the nation.

The news come as China continues to expand its nuclear program, officially resuming construction of new plants after a 15-months hiatus, beginning with the fifth unit at the Hongyanhe nuclear plant in Liaoning.

With the move, Beijing intends to become self-sufficient not just in nuclear power plant capacity, but also in the production of fuel for those plants.

Domestic uranium mining currently supplies less than a quarter of China’s nuclear fuel needs, according to data from The World Nuclear Association. Exploration and plans for new mines have increased significantly since 2000, and state-owned firms are also acquiring uranium resources internationally.

To boost discoveries, the nation has created a multi-dimensional search system for uranium mines, which includes space remote sensing as well as airborne, ground-based and deep-mining exploration, the official said.

Supporting new projects will be critical to China achieving its 2020 target of 58 gigawatts of installed nuclear capacity by 2020, up from about 20 gigawatts today. The government wants to raise the role of nuclear-power production in China’s energy mix, part of an effort to draw down reliance on polluting coal.

China is the world’s largest nuclear growth market. The country operates 24 reactors currently and a further 25 are under construction, out of 68 globally, according to the IAEA.

While Beijing doesn’t disclose total spending, estimates based on the cost of reactors show the country is investing tens of billions of dollars in potential new business for Chinese and foreign companies over the coming decade


Henry Sapiecha

Peregrine Diamonds acquires Botswana-based explorer

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Peregrine Diamonds acquires Botswana-based explorer

Canadian Peregrine Diamonds (TSX:PGD) said Monday it will acquire Botswana- focused junior explorer Diamexstrat, which owns eight prospecting licences in the southern African nation .

The purchase agreement transfers DES Botswana to Peregrine in consideration for a 1% gross overriding royalty to owner Diamond Exploration Strategies (DES UK) Ltd. In addition, Peregrine will assume a $450,000 loan, which it advanced to DES Botswana.

The deal allows Peregrine to buy out the royalty provisions at various milestones. Peregrine can pay $2 million if within 60 days of the discovery of a diamondiferous kimberlite, as defined by confirmation of the presence of microdiamonds or recovery of macrodiamonds in drill core/percussion chips; or $5 million if within 60 days of delivery of pre-feasibility study; or $7.5 million if within 60 days of positive construction decision. If Peregrine decides to not pursue exploration on any of the licenses, the title for those licenses revert to DES UK and Peregrine shall be granted a 1 percent gross overriding royalty with the same buy-out provisions.

As part of the transaction, DES UK will enter into a services agreement with Peregrine under which it will provide Botswana-based operational management. The transaction is expected to close on April 15.


Henry Sapiecha

Chinese company on the verge of starting to mine uranium in Namibia

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Chinese firm close to start mining uranium in Namibia

China General Nuclear Power Holding Corp (CGNPC), the country’s biggest producer of nuclear energy, is getting ready to begin mining for uranium at its Husab mine, located in western-central Namibia.

According to African Review, the clean energy corporation intends to start processing the ore in February 2016, with operations slated to begin later this year.

CGNPC, which acquired the mine after taking control of Kalahari Minerals and Extract Resources, has spent over US$2bn in the project since work began in 2012, which makes it China’s largest investment in the African nation so far.

Once fully operational, Husab mine will have the potential to produce 15 million pounds of uranium oxide.

Once fully operational, Husab mine will have the potential to produce 15 million pounds of uranium oxide.

Canada’s Cameco Corp (TSX:CCO), the country’s biggest uranium producer, has been signalled in the past as potential buyer for offtake output from the project, located 8 kilometers (5 miles) south of Rio Tinto Group’s Z20 deposit in the Namib-Naukluft national park.

Uranium mineralization was first discovered in the Namibia’s Rossing Mountains, Namib Desert, in 1928 by Capt. G. Peter Louw. Uranium exploration official started in 1960s with Rio Tinto obtaining exploration rights for the Rössing deposit in 1966. It started production in 1976.

The Rössing mine is currently Namibia’s longest running and one of the world’s largest open pit uranium mines.

Image courtesy of Swakop Uranium.


Henry Sapiecha