Industry NEWS

21 January 2020

B2Gold reports positive PEA results for Gramalote gold mine in Colombia

Canadian mining firm B2Gold has reported positive preliminary economic assessment (PEA) results for its Gramalote gold project in Colombia.

Gramalote project is a joint venture (JV) between South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti and B2Gold.

The PEA for the Gramalote Ridge deposit at the gold mine outlines plans for an open-pit mine which will yield 3.85 million ounces (Moz) over its 13.6-year life of mine (LoM).

It is based on a processing rate of 11 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), with an average LoM gold recovery of 94.3% drawn from conventional milling, flotation and cyanide leach of the flotation concentrate.

According to the study, Gramalote could produce an average of 416,000oz/y for the first five years of production and average LoM production of 283,900oz/y, priced at $544/oz.

The average LoM all-in sustaining cost is estimated at $648/oz.

To build the mine, the JV estimated pre-production capital of $901m, which includes around $160m for mining equipment.

Assuming a discount rate of 5% net present value (NPV) and a gold price of $1,350/oz, the project generates an aftertax internal rate of return (IRR) of 18.1% at the project construction decision date, anticipated to be 01 January 2021.

B2Gold said in a statement: “For Gramalote Ridge, additional drilling has been completed and a new Mineral Resource model has been developed.

“The PEA is based solely on Gramalote Ridge Mineral Resources, where previous studies included mining and processing ore from the Trinidad deposit and the Monjas West zone.

“Recent metallurgical test work has resulted in slightly lower processing costs and improved economics.”

The company expects to wrap up all the drilling work by May this year.

In September last year, B2Gold and AngloGold Ashanti signed an agreement to amend ownership and management of the Gramalote gold project in Colombia.

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21 January 2020

Western Areas to supply nickel to BHP’S unit and Jinchuan

Australian company Western Areas has secured new contracts to supply high-grade concentrate from its Forrestania operations to BHP unit Nickel West and China’s nickel matte and cathode producer Jinchuan.

The Forrestania Nickel Project is located 400km east of Perth in Western Australia. Western Areas opened the plant in March 2009.

The new contract with BHP’s Nickel West, which is valid for three years from February, involves the supply of 10,000tpa of nickel concentrate.

Meanwhile, Western Areas will supply 10,000tpa of nickel concentrate under the contract with Jinchuan. This contract is valid for two years with a one-year extension option.

Western Areas managing director Dan Lougher said: “The company is very pleased with the execution of the new agreements that extend our long and mutually beneficial relationship with Nickel West and reintroduces Jinchuan as an offtake customer following completion of the Tsingshan contract as at 31 January 2020.

“It is notable that both of our offtake customers are involved in the downstream operation of nickel smelters. Western Areas firmly believes that the smelting of concentrates is a key process to continue to feed both the emerging electric vehicle (EV) battery market, via nickel sulphate, and the traditional stainless-steel market.”

After the execution of the new agreements with Nickel West and Jinchuan, Western Areas’ existing contract with Tsingshan will be ended by the end of this month.

Flying Fox is the first mine to be developed at the Forrestania project, which contains some of the highest grade nickel in the world.

Last month, Western Areas resumed normal operations at Forrestania project, following a bush fire incident in Australia that likely took place due to a lightning strike.

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20 January 2020

India to stop substitutable import of coal within next four years

Indian Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi has announced that the government plans to stop the substitutable import of coal within the next three to four years.

Joshi said that the government may conduct an auction of 100 fully explored blocks.

The government recently introduced an ordinance to amend regulations to open up coal mining to other firms outside of the steel and power sectors, reported PTI.

The news agency quoted Joshi as saying in an interview: “Whatever the substitutable shortfall is there, we want to achieve it in the coming three-four years. That may be around 2023-2024. We want to stop the substitutable import of the coal.

“I can say today as on date around 100 new greenfield blocks fully explored coal blocks are with us. Fully explored blocks 100 greenfield blocks are with us now.”

The latest move in the coal sector is expected to create an efficient energy market, thereby bringing more competition, while reducing coal imports.

The move will, however, end state-owned coal mining firm Coal India’s monopoly in the country’s mining sector.

The minister added: “We want that Coal India should do its job, do its job well…remaining whatever is the gap of 400-500 million tonnes that will be taken care of by private people.”

More than 80% of domestic coal output in the country is produced by Coal India.

Recently, the Environment Ministry of India gave its clearance to ten coal mining projects with an annual capacity of 160Mtpa. Four washeries, which can handle 31Mtpa, also received clearance.

The government also amended mining laws to fast-track mining at lapsed mining leases. This new legislation will enhance the exploration and auction of precious minerals such as gold and diamond.

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20 January 2020

AMCU report three deaths at Free State and North West mining operations

South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has reported the deaths of three on-duty mineworkers in the Free State and North West.

According to the union, two deaths were reported at Harmony Gold’s Free State operations and another worker died at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Bambanani shaft in the North West.

The first incident took place on 11 January, when a locomotive driver who was on night shift died due to a mud-rush incident.

AMCU board member Gabriel Nkosi told media sources: “Reportedly, the worker went to inspect the box chute, which conveys ore into locomotive carriers and, for some reason yet unknown, the box opened and overwhelmed him with collected ore.”

A few days later, another mineworker had been absent from the end of a night shift and was later found dead underground at the Phakisa mining operation near Odendaalsrus in the Free State.

Commenting on the second incident, Nkosi told “On Tuesday 13 January, a mineworker was found dead underground at Phakisa mine, after he was absent from the end of the night shift. We await the conclusion of the investigation.”

AMCU noted that a rock drill operator working at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Bambanani Shaft at Kroondal operations in Rustenburg died following fall of ground.

Investigations are still underway at Bambanani Shaft, said Nkosi.

Nkosi added that these incidents are a tragic start to this year.

In February 2018, all 955 underground workers were rescued from Sibanye Gold’s Beatrix gold mine in South Africa’s Free State province after becoming trapped due to a power failure.

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16 January 2020

US strips back regulatory process for new mining projects

Environmental fast-tracking is set to be extended to US non-energy mining projects after a federal permitting committee voted to include mining as a covered infrastructure sector under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.

Passed by the Obama administration in 2015, the FAST Act created the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), aimed at streamlining the permit process for “high priority” infrastructure projects costing upwards of $200m.

Permitting Council executive director Alexander Herrgott said: “Today’s action by the Permitting Council furthers the President’s commitment to demystify and standardise an overly-complicated federal decision-making process.

“This step will provide unprecedented transparency, predictability and accountability to the public, all while ensuring governors, mayors, local communities, tribes and the private sector always have a reliable Federal partner in Washington D.C.”

The FAST Act limits the duration of public comment periods during the environmental impact statement process and reduces the statute of limitations for litigation.

The extension of the FAST Act’s provisions to mining projects has drawn criticism from environmental groups, which say that fast-tracking the environmental review process for mining projects will further threaten the environment and risk harm to people and wildlife.

Natural Resources Defense Council senior advocate Taryn Kiekow Heimer said: “Mining is inherently toxic, and the industry is one of America’s least regulated and dirtiest polluters.

“Projects that pose such potential danger to our waterways, lands, and communities should be scrutinised not rushed.”

Earthworks, an environmental pressure group for the mineral and energy sectors, said: “Congress never intended this permitting scheme to cover hardrock mining,” and said that there needs to be more oversight to reduce the negative effects of mining on communities and wildlife, not less.

National Mining Association senior vice president of communications Ashley Burke told Mining Technology: “Permitting efficiencies can be achieved without sacrificing environmental protection. The best indicator of environmental performance is the strength and enforcement of applicable standards, not the length of time spent in the permitting process.”

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14 January 2020

India’s NMDC in line for multi-billion dollar diamond deal

India’s state-owned mineral producer NMDC is set to win a multi-billion dollar contract to mine diamonds at the Bunder deposit in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

The Madhya Pradesh government asked NMDC to explore the site, which is estimated to contain 34.2 million carats in diamond deposits.

“Our geological survey has shown that the entire area, which has largely remained unexplored, is rich in diamonds,” the state’s Mineral Resource Department principal secretary Neeraj Mandloi told Reuters.

“We have requested NMDC to do a composite role of exploring and mining and the company has shown a preliminary interest.”

NMDC already operates Asia’s only diamond mine in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh, which has a capacity of approximately 84,000 carats per year, according to the company’s website.

Multinational mining company Rio Tinto discovered the diamond deposit in 2004, but abandoned work on the project in August 2016 due to “commercial considerations”.

In February 2017, Rio Tinto announced it would hand ownership of the Bunder project site and all its assets to the Madhya Pradesh government.

In December 2019 the state government awarded a portion of the site to Essel Mining & Industries, and NMDC is among a number of mining companies to have reportedly expressed an interest in taking up operations at the site.

The revival of the Bunder project could be a boon to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to further develop India’s mining sector. Last week, India’s Environment Ministry gave clearance to ten new coal mining projects and in 2019 the Ministry of Mines updated its National Mineral Policy to integrate mining into the country’s overall strategy for economic development.

Mining Technology has approached MRD and NMDC for comment.

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13 January 2020

Siemens to pursue Adani mine contract despite pressure from protesters

Siemens chief executive officer Joe Kaeser has announced that the company will fulfil its contract with Adani Mining to provide rail signalling systems at the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

The decision follows significant pressure from environmental protesters which urged Siemens to renege on its contract with Adani. Kaeser previously tweeted that he was “not aware of” the contract, but that he would “diligently look into the matter”.

In an open letter, Kaeser explained Siemens’ decision to go ahead with the Adani contract in light of the dispute, which has ramped up in the wake of the Australian bushfire crisis.

“I do realise, most of you would have hoped for more,” Kaeser said. “While I do have a lot of empathy for environmental matters, I do need to balance different interests of different stakeholders.”

In 2015, Siemens announced its intention to halve the carbon footprint of its operative business by 2020 and become carbon neutral by 2030.

Kaeser said: “There is practically no legally and economically responsible way to unwind the contact without neglecting fiduciary duties.

“However, given the importance of legitimate environmental concerns, we have secured the right to pull out of the contract if our customer violates the very stringent environmental obligations.”

The Queensland Government approved Adani’s groundwater management plans in June 2019, clearing the company to begin work on its mine. Adani expects the mine to produce 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over 60 years.

On its website, Adani says the Carmichael mine project will create “more than 1,500 direct jobs on the mine and rail project” as well as “thousands” of indirect jobs in the surrounding areas.

In response to the announcement that Siemens will continue its arrangement with Adani, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s senior campaigner Christian Slattery said: “Siemens’ announcement that it will continue working on Adani’s coal mine while bushfires rage in Australia is nothing short of shameful.”

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13 January 2020

Coronado suspends Curragh mine operations after fatality

Metallurgical coal producer Coronado Global Resources has suspended operations at the Curragh coal mine complex near Blackwater, Queensland, Australia, following the death of a mineworker.

The coal mine is located 14km north-west of Blackwater in the bowel basin of Central Queensland.

A 33-year-old Thiess employee was involved in the incident.

Queensland Ambulance Service noted that it responded to reports that a patient had become trapped in machinery, reported ABC.

According to the news agency, five Queensland mineworkers died at work last year.

The death at the Curragh coal mine marks the eighth fatality in the state’s mining industry in the past two years.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said that it is saddened by the tragic news and offered condolences to the worker’s family, friends and workmates, on behalf of the industry.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said: “The resources industry is tight-knit, so this tragedy will deeply affect everyone who works in and with the resources community.

“Safety is always the resource sector’s number one priority. The industry is working with the Queensland Government and unions to ensure an ongoing safety focus to maximise safety across the sector.”

Queensland Acting Mines Minister Mark Ryan said that inspectors are currently investigating the accident.

He stressed that Queensland now has the toughest mine safety and health regulation in the world.

The Curragh coal mine has been in operation since 1983. It produced seven million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of coal in 2017.

In September 2019, Thiess received a contract extension valued at A$1.3bn ($893m) to provide mining services at the mine.

Meanwhile, an isolated ground fall that occurred at Level 49 Deeps operation at the Black Mountain Mine (BMM) Deeps Shaft in the Northern Cape of South Africa has killed a mining operator.

BMM is owned by Vedanta Resources subsidiary Vedanta Zinc International (VZI).

Production has currently been suspended at the Deeps operation.

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