World News - U.S. & Canada July 2017

Stillwater Reaches 2-year Wage Agreement With US Steel Workers

Sibanye announced that it has secured a two-year wage agreement with the United Steel Workers of America, International Union, the representative union at its Stillwater Operations in Montana, USA. Negotiations with the United Steel Workers of America, International Union at East Boulder, will take place at year end.
The terms of the agreement include a 2% general wage increase for all job categories effective from June 2, 2017, to January 1, 2018, with a further 1% increase effective from January 1, 2018, to June 1, 2018. A 2% annual increase will be in effect for the second year of the agreement, from June 2, 2018, to June 1, 2019.

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Dominion Going Underground at the Misery Kimberlite Pipe

Dominion Diamond has reported positive results from a prefeasibility study (PFS) of development of an underground mine, to be called “Misery Deep,” below the Misery open pit at Ekati diamond mining operations in Canada’s Northwest Territories, approximately 300 km northeast of Yellowknife. The Misery kimberlite pipe is located in the Core Zone joint venture at Ekati, in which Dominion has an 88.9% participating interest.

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Cliffs Natural Resources Picks Ohio for HBI Plant

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced it has selected a site in Toledo, Ohio, for the development of its first hot briquetted iron (HBI) production plant. Midrex Technologies was selected to design, engineer and procure equipment for the new plant, which will have the nominal capacity to produce 1.6 million tons of HBI per year.
“Today’s announcement marks a very important strategic milestone for Cliffs as we begin to implement our plans to be the sole producer of high-quality HBI for the EAF steel market in the Great Lakes region,” said Lourenco Goncalves, chairman, president and CEO. “We look forward to the strong margin and earnings potential this new product will generate for Cliffs shareholders.”

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Capstone Mining Agrees to Sell Kutcho Project

Capstone Mining Corp. has entered into a definitive share purchase agreement to sell its Kutcho development project to Desert Star Resources Ltd. Under the terms of the agreement, Capstone will receive C$28.8 million in cash, common shares of Desert Star representing 9.9% of the issued and outstanding shares upon completion of the transaction, and will have the right to nominate one representative to the Desert Star board of directors under certain circumstances.

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NAP Extends Mine Life at Lac des Iles

North American Palladium (NAP) has announced the results of a feasibility study that includes a new life-of-mine plan for its Lac des Iles mine in northwestern Ontario. Highlights of the study include mining a total of 37.7 million mt from surface and underground sources over a 9.5-year mine life at an average grade of 2.21 g/mt palladium and containing 2.68 million oz of palladium.

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World News - U.S. & Canada June 2017

Production Begins at Doris

TMAC Resources announced that commercial production was achieved on May 15 at its Doris mine and mill complex situated on the company’s Hope Bay property located in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut, Canada.

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Path Cleared for Pebble Project Permitting

Northern Dynasty Minerals and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reached a settlement agreement that will allow normal course permitting to proceed for the controversial Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum-silver project in southwest Alaska. The operating company for the project, Pebble Ltd. Partnership (PLP), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northern Dynasty. The current agreement settled a legal dispute that had been ongoing since 2014, when EPA action effectively blocked further work on the permitting process.

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Arizona Mining Raises Funds for Taylor Deposit Development

Arizona Mining Inc. has signed a binding private placement agreement with South32 Ltd. for 45 million Arizona Mining common shares at a price of C$2.45/share for gross proceeds of C$110.3 million. The proceeds will be used to add drill rigs to fully test high-priority targets at Arizona Mining’s Taylor zinc-lead-silver deposit in southern Arizona, as well as to advance the deposit to the feasibility and permitting stage.

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Teck Sells Waneta Dam Interest

Teck Resources and Fortis Inc. have announced an agreement under which Fortis will purchase Teck’s two-third interest in the Waneta Dam and related transmission assets in British Columbia for C$1.2 billion cash. The Waneta Dam is located on the Pend d’Oreille river near Trail, British Columbia, and supplies power to Teck’s Trail Operations, one of the world’s largest fully integrated zinc and lead smelting and refining complexes, which also produces a variety of precious and specialty metals, chemicals and fertilizer products.

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Cliffs Produces Mustang Pellets at United Taconite

Cliffs Natural Resources announced that production of the new Mustang superflux pellet has started at its United Taconite mine. The startup of the new production equipment, including supporting infrastructure, was executed on schedule, after nine months of construction, and within the original total investment budget of $75 million.

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World News - U.S. & Canada May 2017

PSC: Rocanville Ramp-up Well Underway

PotashCorp of Saskatchewan (PCS) said that its potash portfolio optimization and cost reduction strategy, which includes the ramp-up of its low-cost Rocanville mine, contributed to its strong first-quarter results. “Potash market fundamentals continued to improve in the first quarter,” said Jochen Tilk, president and CEO, PCS. “We expect improved consumption trends and nutrient affordability in key markets to support potash demand and our results through the remainder of 2017. We are well into our Canpotex allocation audit process at Rocanville and anticipate our sales entitlement will increase for the second half of the year.”
Tilk said the company is also making good progress on its merger of equals with Agrium. “We continue to work through the regulatory process in key jurisdictions and remain confident the transaction will close mid-2017,” Tilk said.

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ERP Named Stalking Horse Bidder for Mountain Pass

ERP Strategic Minerals has been selected as the stalking horse bidder by the Chapter 11 trustee for Molycorp Minerals and entered into an asset purchase agreement with the trustee to purchase substantially all the assets and the related surface property rights at the Mountain Pass rare earth minerals mine.

Located in San Bernardino County, California, approximately 50 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada, Mountain Pass is the only mine and processing facility for rare earths minerals in the United States. The mine has an operating history dating back to the 1950s and was most recently placed on care and maintenance after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2015.

If ERP is successful in purchasing the Mountain Pass mine through the bankruptcy sale process, the company said it will work collaboratively with San Bernardino County, the California state agencies and other regulatory stakeholders to complete the necessary technical studies and restart plan to return the mine to sustainable operations. Recognizing the Mountain Pass mine as a strategic US mining asset, ERP said it intends to manage its operations as a long-term sustainable business based on high environmental standards.

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Imperial Becomes Sole Owner of Huckleberry

Huckleberry Mines Ltd. has exercised its right of first refusal to purchase for cancellation all the shares of Huckleberry held by a syndicate comprised of Mitsubishi Materials Corp., Dowa Metals & Mining Co., Ltd., and Furukawa Co., Ltd., in exchange for cash consideration of $2 million. The transaction is expected to close during April and will result in Imperial Metals Corp. holding 100% of the shares of Huckleberry through HML Mining Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Imperial.

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Victoria Gold Nearing Construction Start at Eagle Gold Project in Yukon

Victoria Gold has awarded JDS Energy & Mining in partnership with Hatch the EPCM contact for its Eagle open-pit, heap leach gold project in central Yukon, Canada. Initial work is directed toward advancing engineering to enable a start to site construction activities.

Victoria has also entered into an exclusive agreement with Finning (Canada) for the supply a fleet of Caterpillar mining equipment for the Eagle project, including two 6040 FS hydraulic shovels, eleven 150-ton-capacity 785D off-highway trucks, and various auxiliary mining equipment. The total cost of the new fleet will be approximately $50 million. Delivery is expected between late 2017 and the third quarter of 2018.

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South32 Earning Into Trilogy’s Alaska Assets

Trilogy Metals has signed an agreement with South32 Ltd. that grants South32 an option to form a 50:50 joint venture with respect to Trilogy’s assets in the Ambler mining district in northwest Alaska. South32 must contribute a minimum of $10 million each year for a maximum of three years to keep the option in good standing and may exercise its option at any time to form the 50:50 joint venture. To subscribe for 50% of the joint venture, South32 must contribute a minimum of $150 million, plus any amounts Trilogy spends at the Arctic project over the next three years to a maximum of $5 million per year, less an amount of the initial funding contributed by South32.

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U.S. & Canada - April 2017

Newest Canadian Diamond Mine Reaches Commercial Production

Gahcho Kué, the world’s largest new diamond mine in the last 13 years, officially began commercial production on March 2. The mine, a joint venture with De Beers Group (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%), is expected to produce approximately 54 million carats of rough diamonds over its lifetime.

Production ramp up began on August 1 and the official opening ceremony took place on September 20.

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Strike Continues at Lucky Friday Silver Mine

As this edition goes to press, miners remained on strike at Hecla Mining’s Lucky Friday mine located in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District in northern Idaho. The United Steelworkers (USW) Union Local 5114 voted to initially go on strike on March 12.

The previous six-year contract between Hecla Mining Co. and the United Steel Workers expired in April 2016. Previously, both sides were negotiating with the help of a federal mediator, but they reached an impasse during February. Hecla has reportedly proposed changes to miners’ healthcare, scheduling and bonus pay.

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AuRico Recieves Approval for Kemess Underground

AuRico Metals reported that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) has issued a positive decision statement and that the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has granted an Environmental Assessment Certificate for its Kemess underground project. The project still requires a number of additional licenses and permits, which are expected to be granted in early 2018.

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IDM Expands Underground Drilling at Red Mountain

IDM Mining Ltd. has mobilized crews to its Red Mountain project near Stewart, British Columbia, to initiate its spring 2017 Phase I underground drilling program.
The objective of the Phase I program is to expand mineralization to the north of the JW zone, following up on wide and high-grade historic intercepts. Additionally, drilling will step-out both up-dip and down-dip from the AV and JW zones, where mineralization can be traced for hundreds of meters from 2016 and historic drill intercepts, often with stacked, gently dipping mineralized zones. Phase I will consist of 8,000 meters (m) of core drilling in approximately 35 holes, using two underground diamond drills, collared from the production-sized underground decline.

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Newmont Secures Rights to Explore New Yukon District

Newmont Mining announced an agreement to access and explore a highly prospective gold district in Canada’s Yukon Territory through a private placement with Goldstrike Resources. The agreement entitles Newmont to earn up to 80% equity in the Plateau property through exploration investment. The Plateau property is a newly discovered gold system consisting of more than 2,000 claims covering 350 km2. Initial drill results are promising and high-grade gold mineralization has been identified over a 50-km strike length.

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IOC Developing Wabush 3 Open Pit

Iron Ore Co. of Canada (IOC) is proceeding with the development of the Wabush 3 pit at its mining operations near Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador. IOC is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (58.7%), Mitsubishi (26.2%) and Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Income Corp. (15.1%). Rio Tinto is the manager. Investment in the Wabush 3 project is budgeted at C$79 million.

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