BHP Approves Investment to Expand Life of Spence Copper Mine

In mid-August, BHP approved a $2.46 billion Capex investment for the Spence Growth Option (SGO) at the Spence open-pit copper mine in northern Chile, which will extend the mine life by more than 50 years. Andrew Mackenzie, CEO, BHP, said the SGO project supports the company’s strategy to deliver near-term, valuable copper production.
In the first 10 years of operation, incremental production from SGO will be approximately 185,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of payable copper in concentrate and 4,000 mt/y of payable molybdenum, with first production expected in the 2021 financial year.

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Hecla Secures San Sebastian Mill Through 2020

Hecla Mining announced it has reached an agreement that will allow it to lease the Velardeña mill, located near San Sebastian, for an additional 24 months. The exploration budget at San Sebastian has been increased by $1.1 million for additional drilling and will bring the 2017 exploration budget at the project to $5.3 million. Goals with this funding include identifying another sulphide zone at depth, similar to the previously discovered Hugh Zone, and discovering additional oxide ore. Strong intersections from a recently discovered zone on the East Francine Vein, including 0.72 ounces (oz) per ton (t) of gold and 288 oz/t of silver over 4.6 feet.

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Brazil Revises Policy on Renca

The Brazilian government will publish a new decree regulating the dissolution of the National Reserve of Copper and Associate Minerals (known by its Portuguese acronym Renca) to clarify country’s commitment to protecting the environment. It will regulate mineral exploration in areas with no protected areas, indigenous lands or border strips, and was published in an extra edition of Brazil’s Federal Official Gazette (the Diário Oficial da União, or DOU).

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Mine Life is Extended to 2028 at Iamgold’s Rosebel Gold Mine

Iamgold has reported an updated reserve estimate for its Rosebel gold mine in Suriname that will extend mine life to at least 2028. Attributable proven and probable reserves have increased 80% since the end of 2016 to 3.5 million ounces (oz), as of June 30.

Over the same period, Rosebel’s measured and indicated resources, inclusive of reserves, increased by 55% to 8.9 million oz, and its inferred resources increased by 322% to 2.5 million oz. Average reserve grade remains unchanged at 1 gram per metric ton of gold, but now includes dilution.

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Trek Planning Restart of Aurizona Gold Mine

Trek Mining has awarded the Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Management (EPCM) contract for redevelopment of its currently shuttered Aurizona mine in northeast Brazil to Ausenco Engineering Canada. Based on a recently completed feasibility study, the refurbished and upgraded Aurizona plant is planned to produce an average of 136,000 ounces per year (oz/y) of gold over a 6.5-year mine life, with year-end 2018 targeted for the first gold pour.

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Recent Changes to the Mining Framework in Brazil

By Affonso A. Barros da Cunha

In 2013, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced a bill that would deeply modify the Brazilian mining legal framework and revoke the much-outdated Mining Code of 1967. Despite this attempt to modernize the sector, Brazilian Congress did not take further steps and the issue remained untouched for years, barred by the turmoil of Rousseff’s impeachment and other scandals that paralyzed Congress and prevented it from voting on the bill.

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