Industry NEWS

17 March 2020

Horizon secures funding for Boorara gold mine in Western Australia

Horizon Minerals has secured debt and equity funding of A$6m ($3.6m) for its Boorara gold project in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

The package includes an A$4m ($2.4m) loan facility from a German investment company Sparta and an A$2m ($1.2m) equity placement.

The Boorara gold project involves the development of an open-pit mine and processing facility in the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia.

The project comprises three deposits: Regal in the north, Royal in the south and Crown Jewel in the centre.

The working capital, combined with the company’s cash reserve of A$2.2m ($1.35m), will allow Horizon to accelerate the development of its Boorora gold project east to start gold production this year.

Commenting on the funding package, Horizon managing director Jon Price said: “A balance of debt and equity in these extremely volatile market conditions minimises dilution to our shareholders while enabling the Company to bring Boorara into production rapidly to capitalise on the high Australian dollar gold price, accelerate a resource growth and exploration drilling program and complete the Feasibility Study in 2020.”

“We welcome Sparta AG as a new international strategic financier and thank all other new and existing domestic and international institutions and sophisticated investors for their support as we move into a very exciting growth phase for the Company in a world-class gold producing region.”

The stage one feasibility study for the project was completed last month. The project is estimated to have a mine life of six months.

The project plan includes the development of three starter pits for open-pit and toll milling.

The Boorara gold mine is currently 100% owned by Horizon Minerals, which was formed by the merger of Intermin Resources and MacPhersons Resources in June 2019.

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17 March 2020

Anglo American slows Peru project construction due to coronavirus

Platinum giant Anglo American has announced that it has slowed down the construction work of the Quellaveco copper project in Peru, due to quarantine measures put in place by the Peruvian government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The news comes after Peru announced a 15-day national quarantine to control the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Anglo American noted that work on the project will be significantly slowed, and only critical areas of the project are expected to continue as usual, while the company begins the process of demobilising most of the project’s 10,000 strong workforce.

Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said: “The safety and health of everyone must come first, ever more so at times such as these. We are in the process of safely demobilising most of the 10,000 strong construction workforce at our Quellaveco copper project, in support of the Government of Peru’s measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

“Our development of this world-class project has progressed ahead of schedule and within our budget and we would expect to be able to accommodate this slowdown within our market guidance on both timing and costs at this stage.”

The copper project is expected to commence production in 2022. It has an expected capital cost of $5bn to $5.3bn.

According to the company, Quellaveco is expected to produce around 300,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) priced at $1.05 per pound of copper during the first ten years of production.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 death toll has increased to more than 7,154 globally. A total of over 182,400 confirmed cases and 79,400 recoveries have been reported as of the end of 16 March.

Amid rising coronavirus deaths and cases globally, the World Health Organization has recommended testing of all suspected cases.

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16 March 2020

Lundin suspends operations as worker tests positive for Covid-19

Lundin Mining has suspended construction and commissioning activities at the Zinc Expansion Project (ZEP) of the Neves-Corvo operation in Portugal, to reduce the risk to its workforce in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The move to suspend operations in Portugal comes after one of Lundin’s employees at its Candelaria copper project in Chile had tested positive for Covid-19. The company said the employee was abroad on vacation and had not returned to work since contracting the virus.

So far no other employee is believed to have contracted the illness.

Lundin Mining president and CEO Marie Inkster said: “We are suspending activities on the Zinc Expansion Project in order to reduce the risk to our local communities, employees and contractors.”

The company has opted to suspend its Zinc Expansion Project as its workforce includes contractors who travel from other regions of Portugal as well as internationally, and the company does not want to risk bringing the virus into the project or its surrounding area.

“We are well positioned to maintain stability and will continue to work proactively to protect the health of our Company, our local stakeholders and our communities as we navigate through this time of uncertainty.” Inkster added.

Portugal had reported 245 confirmed cases of Covid-19, while the overall death toll from the virus has crossed 6,500 as of the end of 15 March.

The recoveries have increased to about 77,200, with a total of more than 169,300 confirmed cases worldwide.

Global coronavirus cases continue to surge, with Europe being considered as the current epicentre of the pandemic.

In November last year, Lundin Gold inaugurated its Fruta del Norte gold mine in the Ecuadorean region and reported the commencement of production at the mine site.

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16 March 2020

SRG Global to provide drill and blast services for Saracen gold mines

Saracen Mineral Holdings has awarded a contract to mining services group SRG Global for its Thunderbox and Carosue Dam gold operations in Western Australia.

Valued at approximately A$70m ($43.27m), the contract is valid for a period of five years.

SRG Global will provide specialist drilling and blasting services which also include production drilling, explosives supply and management, and grade control drilling.

Saracen acquired the Thunderbox project in 2014 and commenced commercial production at the open pit mine in 2016. Saracen’s Carosue Dam Operations (CDO) processing plant was constructed by JR Engineering in 2000.

SRG Global managing director David Macgeorge said: “We are extremely pleased to have secured this new, five-year term contract with Saracen who are a major player in the gold sector. We are excited to partner with Saracen to deliver innovative solutions to drive both safety and operational performance.

“This contract further diversifies SRG Global’s customer base and adds significantly to our long-term work in hand.”

Following the acquisition of 50% of Barrick Gold’s stake in Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) in Western Australia for $750m, Saracen has become one of the leading gold miners in the country.

The deal meant that Saracen acquired the Super Pit gold mine in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, part of the KCGM joint venture.

SRG Global provided specialist Geotech services at the Kalgoorlie site for more than 20 years.

In May last year, SRG Global secured a long-term contract with Australian firm South32 Worsley Alumina to offer a complete suite of engineered access solutions.

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13 March 2020

Epiroc to convert haul trucks to autonomous vehicles at Roy Hill mine

Technology solutions provider ASI Mining has signed a subcontract with Epiroc to supply its autonomous haul truck solution to Roy Hill in Western Australia.

This subcontract award follows the recent contract awarded to Epiroc to automate the Roy Hill iron ore mine in Western Australia.

Under the existing contract, ASI Mining will supply the technology and systems to convert the iron ore miner’s mixed fleet of 77 haul trucks from manned to autonomous operation.

Roy Hill is an iron ore mining operation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Its Perth-based remote operations centre provides end-to-end integration of operations.

ASI Mining general manager Patrick Hald said: “Being chosen as the technology provider to Roy Hill is a testament that the market is eager to establish a more open and interoperable supplier in the AHS space, especially on retrofits, which will provide more flexibility than the traditional OEM offerings.”

According to ASI Mining, the project will focus on the implementation of ASI’s Mobius solution which can be integrated with existing and future Roy Hill systems.

The company noted that the project includes integration with Fleet and other mining management systems.

In a press statement, ASI Mining said: “For vehicle conversions to Drive-by-Wire capability, ASI utilises its partner Danfoss, a major supplier of hydraulics and electronically controlled components for haul trucks, and recognised market-leading supplier of mobile systems to many mining equipment OEMs.”

The project will see a phased implementation and involve an initial phase of testing and production verification of up to eight trucks. This phase will be implemented before the full fleet of the firm’s machines undergoes conversion from mid-next year.

Last month, Vale selected Epiroc and Mobilaris Mining & Civil Engineering as partners to augment its digital capabilities in Canada.

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13 March 2020

India passes mineral laws bill for commercial mining of coal

The Indian parliament has passed a bill that will open the coal sector fully for commercial mining for all domestic and international mining companies.

The Mineral laws (Amendment) bill also proposes the removal of end-use restrictions to the mining companies for participation in coal mine auctions.

According to PTI, the Mineral laws (Amendment) Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India, with 83 members voting in its favour and only 12 against the law.

India Coal and Mines Minister Prahlad Joshi said: “We have to produce coal and reduce imports.”

He said that the legislation is expected to bring a ‘sea change’ in the coal mining sector and noted that the focus should be on exploring reserves without harming the environment.

Joshi assured MPs that the government will strengthen the state-owned Coal India Limited (CIL).

Joshi said: “CIL will be strengthened. I have already given it a target to produce one billion tonnes by 2023-24…There will be no problem in CIL.”

Bidders on coal auctions were previously not allowed to sell coal in the open market, which attracted criticism from the mineral industry who claimed that these restrictions discouraged bidding.

The auctions are currently aimed at attracting global miners such as Glencore, BHP Anglo American and Peabody Energy.

In January this year, the Union Cabinet of India approved promulgation of Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 to amend Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 and Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act 2015

The latest ‘Mineral laws (Amendment) Bill’ replaces the ‘Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020’.

Last month, Pralhad Joshi announced that the government will stop the import of thermal coal from the financial year 2023-2024.

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13 March 2020

Alta Zinc shuts down Italian operations due to coronavirus

Mineral exploration and development company Alta Zinc has suspended all operations at its flagship Gorno mine project in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy following the country’s complete lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alta Zinc stressed that neither the mine site nor its surrounding towns, Oltre il Colle and Gorno, have been directly affected by Covid-19 and have so far been outside of the restrictive zones set by Italian authorities.

The Italian government’s restrictions now apply to the whole of Italy, intending to control the severity and spread of the virus. These restrictions stay in force until 3 April but could be extended if the infection rate in Italy shows no sign of slowing.

The restrictions in Italy stipulate that businesses should avoid any unnecessary movement of people, and limiting direct personnel interaction where possible. Alta Zinc has decided to suspend drilling and any direct site activity, including any travel into and out of the Gorno project area.

Alta Zinc managing director Geraint Harris said: “Our priority is to complete our work effectively, with the safety of our personnel and the community being at the centre of what we do. Italy is battling Covid-19 with everything it has and as a company we will do our part to minimise the risk of potential virus transmission.

“This time will not be wasted as our geology team will be undertaking desktop analysis of the recent drilling, in the context of the historic data from the wider project area, in order to derive value from better understanding how this information can expand our future exploration success. Also, our permitting team will continue to progress their equally important work in partnership with the regulators.”

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13 March 2020

Rambler, Maritime sign LoI on Nugget Pond gold plant in Canada

Exploration firm Rambler Metals and Mining Canada has signed a letter of intent (LoI) with Maritime Resources to evaluate the former’s Nugget Pond gold plant.

The Nugget Pond plant is located in the Baie Verte peninsula in northeastern Newfoundland, Canada.

The LoI signed with Maritime includes an exclusivity period of 12 months to evaluate Rambler’s Nugget Pond gold plant.

Maritime Resources president and CEO Garett Macdonald said: “This agreement provides Maritime with a twelve-month exclusive period to evaluate the Nugget Pond Gold Plant in further detail for potential future processing of Hammerdown mineralisation.

“The gold circuit is currently idle and was operated in the past by Richmont Mines, processing feed from the former Nugget Pond and Hammerdown gold mines with gold recoveries of over 95%.”

The gold plant is a small section of the total Nugget Pond concentrator plant. It is not used to process ore by Rambler.

According to the companies, the LoI is to explore processing feed from the Maritime’s Hammerdown gold project at the plant and to complete a feasibility study with the option to negotiate a purchase agreement during that time.

Hammerdown is an underground mining project located in the Newfoundland & Labrador province of Canada.

Rambler president and CEO Andre Booyzen said: “The gold circuit of our concentrator plant has remained unutilised for some time, and apart from the addition of a grinding circuit, will not require significant further investment.

“Our agreement with Maritime will not distract us from our focus on continuing to develop our operations to 1,500tpd of ore processed at >2% Cu. We look forward to the start of a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Maritime’s team.”

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