Industry NEWS

18 May 2020

Sandvik converts to “direct to customer” business model in Africa

Equipment supplier Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology is in the process of revising its business model, shifting to a “direct-to-customer” model for mining and construction customers in Africa.

According to Sandvik, the business model will be revised to customers in Central and Western Africa currently serviced by Sandvik’s distributor BIA Group.

Under the revised business model, BIA will cease Sandvik’s distribution and support equipment in Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger, Cameroon, Togo, and Benin, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo after the notice period that ends on 30 October.

Until then, there will be no change to the current business model.

BIA and Sandvik will also partner on a seamless handover to the latter, ensuring that customers’ operations are not impacted.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology sales area vice-president Nuhu Salifu said: “Africa boasts a growing, young workforce and vast natural resources. We see the demand for mining continuing to rise across the continent.

“Sandvik is honored to serve this vast market. We look forward to working with BIA during the transition period on a mutual solution to continue helping to improve our customers’ productivity through our technology and services.

“Regardless of the model, we remain steadfastly committed to providing our high-quality products and services to our customers who are seeking to operate more safely and productively.”

Last week, Sandvik announced that it is trialling its first Stage V compliant underground truck at the Boliden-owned Tara zinc mine in Ireland.

Last month, contract miner Byrnecut Australia and mining firm OZ Minerals successfully upgraded automation for Sandvik development drills, despite challenges due to the Covid-19 crisis.

In March this year, Sandvik released an autonomous truck haulage system, which provides unmanned truck haulage in both underground environments as well as on the surface.

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18 May 2020

Terracom proceeds with compulsory acquisition of Universal Coal

Australia-based coal miner TerraCom has tightened its hold on UK-based coal miner Universal Coal as it moves to purchase all of the shares which it does not already own in the company.

After receiving more than 92% of Universal Coal shareholders’ votes on the takeover bid last month, the Australian coal miner is entitled to proceed with a compulsory acquisition.

Should the remaining shareholders of the UK-based coal miner not exercise their sell-out right by next month, TerraCom would acquire them on the same terms of its takeover offer.

TerraCom noted that it is urging shareholders to exercise their sell-out rights as early as possible due to postal delays caused as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an ASX announcement, TerraCom stated: “If you exercise your sell-out right before 30 June, it should enable you to receive your consideration more promptly than under the compulsory acquisition procedure.

“If the exercise of your sell-out right cannot be processed prior to 30 June, your shares will be compulsorily acquired for the same consideration.”

In February this year, Universal Coal sought legal action against TerraCom’s unsolicited takeover offer in order to ensure that all Universal Coal shareholders were given equal opportunity to realise the full value of their investment in the company.

In October last year, TerraCom signed a binding agreement to purchase a substantial stake in Universal Coal.

Under this agreement, TerraCom intended to purchase approximately 19.9% of the issued capital of Universal from Coal Development Holding for a combination of cash and TerraCom shares.

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18 May 2020

Hochschild to resume mining at Peruvian operations

South American miner Hochschild Mining has announced plans to resume operations at its two Peruvian mines, the Inmaculada and Pallancata projects, following the successful restart of work at its San Jose mine in Argentina.

The miner announced that it had met all of the safety requirements set by the Peruvian Government to restart operations at its two mines, bringing an end to the industrial disruption triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and related lockdown measures. The move means all three of the company’s mines will be online “in the coming weeks”, according to Hochschild, and CEO Ignacio Bustamante is optimistic that the restart will be the first step in a comprehensive resumption of activities.

“I am pleased that we are now in a position to restart our Peruvian operations and we intend to execute a disciplined remobilisation of our workforce in line with the prescribed health protocols and guidelines from the government,” said Bustamante. “In these unprecedented times, we continue to prioritise the health and well-being of our employees and of the communities in which we operate.”

The miner has also announced that it aims to continue with its AGM, scheduled to take place this Thursday in London, as previously planned. As of Monday 11 May, the AGM will be conducted via proxy vote, with shareholders not permitted to attend in person in line with the UK Government’s lockdown rules.

There is optimism within the company that the lockdown will not disrupt what have been productive operations in recent years. Total ore production at Pallancata increased by 28% between 2018 and 2019, while silver and gold grade increased by 9% and 8% respectively at the Inmaculada mine. Across its three operations, Hochschild produced 477,400 ounces of gold equivalent in 2019.

While the pandemic has triggered considerable uncertainty in the miner’s future – Hochschild said it would reissue its 2020 forecasts once production resumed – the firm hopes the lockdown will not interfere with its ambitious expansion plans. The company discovered 46 million ounces of silver equivalent at Inmaculada in 2019 alone, and was undertaking ten exploration projects across Canada, Chile, Peru, and the US as of the end of 2019.

“Brownfield exploration remains the focus for our company,” noted chairman Eduardo Hochschild in the company’s latest annual report. “We are confident that there remains a wide array of promising targets, not only surrounding all our operations but also at our early-stage projects and at former operations.”

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15 May 2020

Pershimex receives approval to restore Pershing-Manitou mine site

Pershimex Resources has received approval from the Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources for the restoration plan of the Pershing-Manitou mine site in Canada.

The request for the restoration plan was submitted in November last year.

According to Pershimex, the plan will allow the rehabilitation as per the current environmental standards in the Quebec state.

The approval will enable shipment of the pile of mineralised material (2,000 tonnes) to a contract processing plant for Phase 1 of the project, which is currently underway.

Currently, Pershimex is in talks regarding the conditions for processing the mineralised material pile at an ore processing plant in the city of Val- d’Or.

In the wake of Covid-19-related restrictions across the country, negotiations with plants have been slowed down.

But, following the recent resumption of mining activities amid partial easing of lockdown measures across the nation, Pershimex is confident that a final agreement will be reached very soon.

Pershimex Resources president and CEO Robert Gagnon said:  “The Quebec Government approval of the Pershing-Manitou site restoration plan confirms the relevance of our development plan.

“Obtaining this approval also confirms the seriousness of our approach to rehabilitating an environmental liability by transforming it into a substantial gain for all stakeholders.

“This project is a concrete way to demonstrate our commitment, professionalism and determination to carry out mining work that benefits the company.”

In March this year, the company completed a drilling programme to confirm the presence of gold mineralisation in the surface crown pillar of the former Pershing-Manitou Mine (Phase 2).

Data derived from the drilling results also provides the necessary information on the various engineering works with respect to the completion of the bulk sampling of the second phase.

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15 May 2020

Rio Tinto affirms support for Western Australia’s Covid-19 recovery

Global mining giant Rio Tinto’s iron ore business continues to support jobs in Western Australia (WA) as the state’s Covid-19 recovery phase ramps up.

The company’s iron ore business in the state is continuing to recruit apprentices, graduates, and Aboriginal trainees as it progresses development plans in the Pilbara region.

More than 300 jobs, including skilled operational and maintenance roles, are currently being offered.

Furthermore, the company’s medical provider for Covid-19 screening at Perth Airport has recently hired more than 100 staff.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said: “Throughout this challenging period we are committed to keeping our people and our communities safe and supporting Western Australians with employment opportunities to help deliver on our plan to invest A$10bn in the Pilbara over the next three years.

“We believe this is an important time for Rio Tinto to deliver on skills for those apprentices and trainees whose future employment prospects would benefit from extra training.

“Our strong partnership with SM TAFE and regional TAFEs in Western Australia will increase the number of apprentices in the State with the skills and knowledge to work in an automated environment, thereby increasing the likelihood of their employment in the resources sector.”

Earlier this month, Rio Tinto said it is set to contribute $10m to support Covid-19 community initiatives in the US and Canada. This funding will be used to support deprived families and supply critical equipment to frontline workers.

Last month, Rio Tinto and communications provider Motorola Solutions jointly designed and deployed a backup communications tool.

In the same month, Rio Tinto introduced new measures at its Pilbara operations in Western Australia to combat the pandemic.

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15 May 2020

Pembroke’s Olive Downs coking coal project receives federal approvals

Pembroke Resources has received approvals from Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment for its A$1bn ($643m) Olive Downs coking coal project in central Queensland.

The mine is 40km south-east of Moranbah in the Bowen Basin, Australia.

The final approvals, which are granted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, pave the way for the granting of mining leases and the commencement of construction.

The project could create up to 1,000 new jobs in the region.

Pembroke chairman and CEO Barry Tudor said: “This is an exciting time for the Company and the region’s wider community. The EPBC approvals, and the EA, which was granted last year, represent key milestones for the Project.

“The next key milestone is securing the grant of the mining leases, which will enable us to commence construction. We anticipate these to be granted in the coming months and look forward to construction and employment commencing shortly after this.”

Pembroke forecasts that the project would produce up to 15 million tons per annum (Mtpa) of saleable coal over its 79-year mine life.

Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said: “Resource projects, like tourism, renewable energy and other major projects, go through comprehensive and transparent Queensland and Australian Government assessment and approval processes.

“The resources sector injected $73bn and supported 372,000 jobs across Queensland last financial year.  Covid-19 is impacting all parts of our lives and our economy.  The announcement today reinforces the role of the resources sector in Queensland’s recovery.”

In May last year, the Queensland government approved the Olive Downs coal project.

In December 2018, Pembroke awarded a A$184m ($131.96m) engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to CIMIC Group subsidiaries Sedgman and CPB Contractors for a coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP) at the Olive Downs project.

Olive Downs mine was granted with coordinated project status in February 2017.

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