Archive for the ‘MINING’ Category

Michelangelo’s unrealized marble dream becomes reality in Italian quarry

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

By Alessandro Bianchi

QUERCETA DI SERAVEZZA, Italy, Aug 2 (Reuters) – In 1517, Michelangelo climbed Mount Altissimo in Tuscany and found the marble of his dreams.

It was, the Renaissance master wrote, “of compact grain, homogeneous, crystalline, reminiscent of sugar”. He deemed it perhaps even more precious than that from nearby Carrara, where he had obtained marble for some of his most famous statues.

With the blessing of Pope Leo X, Michelangelo designed a path that could get blocks of the white marble down from the mountain to be transported to Florence to be used to decorate the facade of the church of San Lorenzo.

In exchange for getting a quarry operation going, Florentine authorities granted Michelangelo the right to take as much marble as he wanted from Altissimo – which in Italian means both “most high” and “God” – for his use for the rest of his life.

“There is enough here to extract until Judgment Day,” he wrote to a contemporary.

But it was never to be.

After several years of work to carve out a road, Pope Leo, who was of Florence’s Medici family, relieved Michelangelo of his commission and the project was abandoned. The church of San Lorenzo still has no facade.

Today, the quarries of 1,589-metre-high (5,213-feet) Altissimo, in Italy’s Apuan Alps, buzz with the kind of activity that even a genius like Michelangelo probably could not have foreseen.

Carving out Michelangelo’s marble dream

Pietrasanta, Italy

Modern cutting and extraction techniques have produced a surreal landscape similar to some Cubism paintings, a dizzying array of upside down staircases and sugar-cube structures looking heavenward.”The primitive technology consisted of human labour and beasts of burden,” said Franco Pierotti, director of extractions.

“The primordial instruments such as levers, chisels and hammers later evolved with the introduction of helical wires in the 19th century and now we have diamond-tipped wires and saws and heavy earth-moving equipment,” he said.

Before the extracting begins, experts known as “tecchiaroli” hang on ropes from the sides of the mountain and pick at its sides with pointy iron bars to remove loose rock that could fall and hurt workers in subsequent phases of the extraction.

In the three centuries following Michelangelo’s time, the Altissimo quarries went through cycles of abandonment and re-discovery.

In 1821, Marco Borrini, a local landowner, teamed up with Frenchman Jean Baptiste Alexandre Henraux to start a new company and it has been active in the area ever since.

The venture brought new life to the economically depressed area, employing hundreds of quarrymen, squarers, sled men, stone cutters and cart drivers, who guided oxen trains.

In the 19th century, the tsars of Russia chose Altissimo marble for the construction of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg and more recently, it was used in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, which opened in 2007.

Today, the Henraux company owns the entire mountain, employs about 140 people and extracts marble from five active quarries.

Over the years artists such as Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Joan Miro and Isamu Noguchi have used Altissimo marble for their sculptures.

Michelangelo would be proud.

(Writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Henry Sapiecha

A Canadian mining discussion. Barrick & Goldcorp PODCAST

Monday, July 10th, 2017

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Henry Sapiecha

Four dead after armed robbers storm DRC gold mine in the Congo

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Twangiza-mine-banro image www.www-globalcommodities.com

An armed attack on the Twanziga gold mine in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Tuesday has resulted in four casualties.

Among the dead are three policemen that were guarding the mine and one of the robbers, according to a statement on Banro Corp’s (TSX:BAA) website.

The incident occurred early Tuesday morning and involved an attempt by the seven-member raiding party to break through the gate. Police fired on the robbers, ending the assault. A security guard was also injured during the altercation. No items were stolen and the mine continues to operate normally, Banro said. The attempted break-in was recorded on security cameras and has been reported to authorities. An investigation is underway.

The open-pit mine, which started commercial production in 2012, is one of four gold mines operated by Banro in the DRC. It was expected to produce 110-120,000 ounces in 2016.

According to Reuters the mine has been “plagued by illegal miners squatting on the site and by armed groups, some of the dozens of militias that remain active despite the official end to a regional conflict in 2003.”

Banro’s stock, listed on the Toronto main board, lost 2.27% today to close at 21.5 cents a share.

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Henry Sapiecha

Chinese takeover buy of world’s largest mining project

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

Simandou iron ore mine image www.www-globalcommodities.com

World number two miner Rio Tinto is exiting the world’s largest mining project, by selling its stake in Guinea’s Simandou iron ore  to partner Chinalco, potentially opening up a new path to development for the $20 billion project.

According to a statement by Melbourne-based Rio the deal is worth between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion payable when Simandou starts commercial production and based on output. Rio says a final agreement could be inked within six months. In February this year Rio wrote down the value of Simandou by $1.1 billion, before deciding to shelve the project.

Rio owns  46.6% of Simandou south; Chinalco’s stake is 41.3% and the Guinea government holds 7.5%. Earlier this month the World Bank’s financing arm – the International Finance Corporation – sold its its 4.6% interest.

With complete control, Beijing-based Chinalco may revive the stalled project with the backing of the Chinese governmentRio has already spent more than $3 billion on the project having first acquired the property in the late nineties. With complete control, Beijing-based Chinalco may revive the stalled project, no doubt with the backing of the central government. In September Chinalco took private its Hong Kong listed mining arm, primarily focused on copper.

China consumes more than 70% of the world’s seaborne iron ore and is on track to import one billion tonnes of the steelmaking raw material this year. Imports have gradually displaced domestic production, pushing dozens of Chinese iron ore mines into bankruptcy.

The shelving of the project has been devastating news for Guinea. Simandou by itself would’ve been the world’s fifth-largest producer at 95 million tonnes per year.

Simandou with over two billion tonnes of reserves and some of the highest grades for direct-shipping-ore in the industry (66% – 68% Fe which attracts premium pricing) has a back-of-the-envelope calculation value of more than $110 billion at today’s prices.

The initial agreement signed in May 2014 called for a new 650km railway across the West African country to Conakry, Guinea’s capital in the north, plus a new deep water port at a conservatively estimated cost of $7 billion; infrastructure investments that would double the economy of the impoverished country.

The impoverished nation, which was one of the worst affected country’s by the recent Ebolo epidemic, and is in dire need of infrastructure to develop other parts of the industry, particularly the export of bauxite, the primary ore used to manufacture aluminum. Bauxite represents some 80% of the country’s export earnings. Chinalco is primarily an aluminum manufacturer.

Simandou’s chequered history

rio-tinto-guinea-simandou-signing-may-2014 image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Rio Tinto held the licence for the entire deposit since the early 1990s, but was stripped of the northern blocks in 2008 by a former dictator of the country.

BSG Resources, a company associated with Israeli diamond billionaire Beny Steinmetz acquired the concession later that year after spending $160 million exploring the property.

In 2010 BSGR sold 51% to Vale for $2.5 billion. The Rio de Janeiro-based company stopped paying after the first $500 million after missing a number of development milestones. Then the new Guinean government under Conde launched a review of all mining contracts awarded under previous regimes and launched an investigation into the Vale-BSGR joint venture.

The Guinea government withdrew the mining permit in April last year, accusing BSGR of obtaining its rights through corruption. BSGR has denied wrongdoing and filed an arbitration request in an attempt to win compensation from the Western African nation.

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Shortly after BSGR’s rights were stripped Rio filed a lawsuit for billions of dollars against both Vale and BSGR in New York courts for what it called a “steal” of its previously-owned concession. Rio alleged BSGR paid a $200 million bribe to Guinea’s former minister using funds from Vale’s initial payment.

The US district court threw out the case in November last year saying Rio “had waited too long to file the lawsuit” under the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, which calls for a four year time limit.

rio-tinto-simandou-port-visit-conde-900-506 image www.www-globalcommodities.com

 

Henry Sapiecha

Africa gold reserves said to be worth $1.5 TRILLION

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

endeavour-tabakoto-africa-gold image www.www-globalcommodities.com

A new report by SNL Metals and Mining shows Africa at the top of tables when it comes to the value of gold still in the ground.

Using the combined value of reserves and resources reported by explorers and mining companies active on the continent, the research company, calculated a figure of $1.48 trillion for primary gold projects.

Canada and the US came in second with gold in situ values as at September 8 of $1.26 trillion.

For gold in non-gold primary projects, Asia-Pacific was the key contributor in terms of resource value, accounting for $692 billion of the total according to SNL.

When it comes to the value of gold resources where it is mined as a secondary product alongside other metals, Africa falls down the rankings with less than $100 billion on the books.

in-situ-value-gold-africa-highest-SNL.gif www.www-globalcommodities.com

 

 

 

 

 

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As for revenue, calculated by multiplying 2015 total gold production from primary gold mines with the 2015 average gold spot price, Asia-Pacific and Africa are once again the most as most valuable gold regions, with gold revenues of $20.2 billion and $16.1 billion, respectively.

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Henry Sapiecha

World’s largest, newest diamond mine to inject $5.2bn into Canada’s economy

Friday, September 9th, 2016

worlds-largest-newest-diamond-mine-to-inject-5-2-billion-into-canadas-economy-300x250 www.www-globalcommodities.com

Gahcho Kué, co-owned by De Beers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds, is located at Kennady Lake, about 280 km northeast of Yellowknife. (Image courtesy of De Beers Group)

Gahcho Kué, the world’s largest new diamond mine due to begin production later this month, is expected to contribute $5.2 billion (Cdn$6.7 billion) to Canada’s economy and provide 1,200 new jobs, a report released Thursday by majority owner De Beers shows.

Gahcho Kué is expected to contribute $5.2 billion (Cdn$6.7 billion) to Canada’s economy and provide 1,200 new jobs.

Situated almost 300 kilometres east of Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the mine — a joint venture between De Beers Canada (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%) — has so far provided a $341 million (Cdn$440 million) boost to the NWT economy, the reports says. It has also contributed a further $272 million (Cdn$350 million) to the rest of Canada, according to the figures released by De Beers.

But what makes the mine especially important is the fact that two of Canada’s major diamond mines — Diavik and Ekati — are approaching the end of their productive lives, and —although it’s smaller— Gahcho Kué would be able to offset the production drop-off.

debeers-diamond-mines-map image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Courtesy of De Beers Group.

The report, which looks into the socio-economic impact of the Anglo American-owned diamond company in Canada, also highlights De Beer’s contribution to the country’s economy over the past 10 years:

  • More than Cdn$7 billion to Canada’s gross value added (GVA), with exports supported by DeBeers mining operations bringing Cdn$4 billion in foreign currency into the country’s economy. In 2015, they represented 28% of Canada’s export earnings from diamonds.
  • Cdn$55 million in support to First Nations through Impact Benefit Agreements (2006-2015).
  • An expected Cdn$24 million contribution to Alberta’s economy by the recent move of headquarters from Toronto to Calgary.
  • Cdn$750 million in exploration across Canada since 1961, supporting almost 100 jobs each year on average.
  • Responsible for the discovery of more than 170 kimberlites to date.

“In the 50 years we have been in Canada, we have seen how our business can be a catalyst for delivering both economic and social value, locally, regionally and across the country,” De Beers Canada’s chief executive Kim Truter said in a statement.

He noted that, only last year, De Beers’ activities contributed Cdn$1.2 billion ($930 million) to the Canadian economy.

www.www-gems.com

www.worldwidediamonds.info

www.gem-creations.com

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Henry Sapiecha

IS NEWMONT TO BE THE WORLDS LARGEST GOLD PRODUCER

Friday, July 29th, 2016

kalgoorlie-super-pit image www.www-globalcommodities (2)

The world’s number one and two gold producers both released second quarter results and production guidance the past week.

For Barrick Gold, 2015 year was the last period of 6m-plus ounces of production which was already substantially down from its peak of 7.7 million ounces in 2010 and 2011.

While its financials came in slightly below expectations the Toronto-based company stuck to its annual output forecast of between 5 million and 5.5 million ounces.

Barrick has been shedding assets at a clip in an effort to tackle its heavy debt load and to achieve its 2016 target will have to find another $1 billion before the end of the year.

Earlier this week there were reports the miner is close to selling its 64% stake in Tanzania’s Acacia Mining (LON:ACA) for as much as $1.9 billion. And buried in Barrick’s Q2 release was an announcement that it’s looking for a buyer for half of Australia’s Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines.

This deal will make Newmont the world's top gold minerNewmont Mining owns the other half and Barrick handed over operational control of the the iconic mine called the Super Pit to Denver-based Newmont a year ago. The mine some 600km west of Perth has produced 50 million ounces over 30 years and fully developed the cut will be 3.6 kilometers long, 1.6 kilometers wide and up to 650 meters deep.

Newmont would be the natural buyer and has expressed interest in the mine in the past which could fetch as much as $1 billion. The company sports one of the stronger balance sheets in the sector having embarked on a debt reduction program earlier than its rivals and recently selling its Indonesian Batu Hijau copper-gold operation for $1.3 billion.

Unlike many of its rivals Newmont has been building its portfolio and last year acquired the Cripple Creek & Victor gold mine in Colorado. Newmont also has five key projects that are in execution stage including the Turf Vent project in Nevada and Merian mine in South America expected to start production late in 2016.

Newmont said in its results its Northwest Exodus project in Nevada is approved and will start production this quarter. In addition unapproved projects “represent upside of between 200,000 and 300,000 ounces of gold production beginning in 2018.”

While far from certainties should Barrick’s deals go ahead, Newmont picks up Kalgoorlie, the companies’ production guidance pans out and all things being equal (which they never are in gold mining) next year Denver and not Toronto will be the home of the world’s number one gold mining company.

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Henry Sapiecha

Dominion Diamond to go ahead with Ekati mine expansion in Canada

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

dominion-diamond-to-go-ahead-with-ekati-mine-expansion image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Canada’s Dominion Diamond (TSX, NYSE:DDC) has decided to proceed with a key expansion for its Northwest Territories-based Ekati mine, which would help keep the iconic operation in production until 2033.

The decision of moving forward with the development of the Jay pipe, located near Ekati’s existing Misery pit, was based on positive feasibility study results, the company said in a statement.

Dominion also expects to begin construction of a fourth pipe at its 40%-owned Diavik mine, Canada’s largest diamond mine and one of the oldest.The project, which includes building a dyke, draining part of a lake and digging an open pit, will be funded from existing cash and internal cash flow, Dominion said. Without the expansion, Ekati would have run out of its existing reserves by 2020.

In a separate statement, the company said it would focus on developing its core assets in the Lac de Gras region of the Northwest Territories and on buying back shares. As part of the plan, Dominion also expects to begin construction of a fourth pipe at its Diavik mine, Canada’s largest diamond mine and one of the oldest, which it co-owns with Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO).

Additionally, the firm announced that chief financial officer Ron Cameron would step down on July 15 and vice president Group Controller Cara Allaway would take over as interim CFO.

Dominion is also selling its office building in downtown Toronto. That transaction, said the diamond miner, should be completed in the third quarter of fiscal year 2017.

The company is still assessing damage after a fire halted processing operations at Ekati on June. It is believed that more than 300 employees and contract workers are at risk of being laid off as a result.

www.worldwidediamonds.info

www.gem-creations.com

www.www-gems.com

DDD

 

 

 

 

Henry Sapiecha

The world’s 40 biggest mining companies listed here in an infographic

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Coal-mining-machinery image www.www-globalcommodities.com

PwC’s latest report into the performance of the world’s 40 largest mining companies shows just what a watershed year 2015 was.

The management consultants’ Mine 2015 report shows the top 40 companies suffering their first collective net loss in history ($27 billion), a decline in collective market capitalization of 37% (to below half a trillion dollars from a peak of $1.6 trillion in 2010), the lowest return on capital ever, asset impairments totalling $53 billion (for a total of nearly $200 billion since 2010), record high leverage of 46% and operating expenditure cuts of $83 billion.

The entries, re-entries and movements up and down the ranking also provides insight into the changing landscape of global mining.

The authors point out that the market capitalization threshold for attaining Top 40 status remained consistent at $4.5 billion despite “the huge decreases in value of the top mining companies, and demonstrates that the new entrants are catching up.”

A lithium miner joins top ranks of listed mining firms for the first time as the price of the battery ingredient skyrockets

China is featuring more heavily. All four companies admitted to the list for the first time was from China, pushing out Canada’s First Quantum and Teck Resources. China now provides 12 of the top 40 listed mining firms versus six from Canada despite one Chinese firm dropping out.

Gold’s changing fortunes saw AngloGold Ashanti re-emerge in the ranking for the first time since 2013 although other top gold producers Goldfields and Kinross haven’t made it back onto the list. When grouped by primary commodity mined gold producers still lost a combined $12 billion in market value.

The only sector to show an increase in market value was rare earths with the world’s top producer of the 17 elements jumping 23 places in the ranking. Another technology mineral is showing up for the first time.

Even though it’s early days for the lithium boom, the Top 40 has already welcomed its first miner of the battery raw material. Sichuan Tianqi Lithium enters as the world’s 31st most valuable miner helped by a doubling of the price of lithium carbonate just over the final months of 2015 and predictions of explosive growth in demand spurred by the electric vehicle and mass grid storage market.

SPP

Henry Sapiecha

It must be pointed out that this list is for 2015 & may not represent an accurate current status in 2016

top-40-2015-mining-companies-infographic image www.www-globalcommodities.com

 

 

WORLDS MOST NORTHERNMOST MINES IN FOCUS

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

bluemarble_globe_west image www.spy-drones.com

The world’s northernmost mines are all located in just three countries; on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean you’ll find four of them. All are underground coal mines, operating in the rugged, frigid terrain between continental Norway and the North Pole.

Further south, in Russia, you’ll find Alrosa’s diamond mines. Nizhne-Lenskoye, in the Sakha Republic, is the fifth northernmost mine in the world.

ooo

Data provided by IntelligenceMine.com

#1 Gruve 7
Location: Norway
Owner: Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani
Type: Underground coal mine


#2 Barentsburg
Location: Norway
Owner: Arctic Ugol
Type: Underground coal mine


#3 Lunckefjell
Location: Norway
Owner: Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani
Type: Underground coal mine


#4 Svea Nord
Location: Norway
Owner: Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani
Type: Underground coal mine


#5 Nizhne-Lenskoye
Location: Russia
Owner: Alrosa
Type: Placer diamond mine


#6 Mary River
Location: Canada
Owner: Baffinland Iron Mines
Type: Open-pit iron ore mine


#7 Almazy Anabara
Location: Russia
Owner: Alrosa
Type: Placer diamond mine


#8 Sydvaranger
Location: Norway
Owner: Sydvaranger Gruve AS
Type: Open-pit iron ore mine


#9 Taimyrsky
Location: Russia
Owner: Polar Division (Mine Complex)
Type: Open-pit/underground cobalt, copper, gold, iridium, nickel, palladium, platinum, rhodium, and ruthenium mine


#10 Oktyabrsky
Location: Russia
Owner: Polar Division (Mine Complex)
Type: Underground cobalt, copper, gold, nickel, palladium, and platinum

OOO

Henry Sapiecha

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