Industry NEWS

21 September 2020

Barrick accepts Chilean court ruling on Pascua-Lama project closure

Barrick Gold has announced that it will not appeal a Chilean court’s ruling to uphold the closure order on the Chilean part of its Pascua-Lama mining project, which was imposed by the country’s environmental regulator Superintendence for the Environment.

The Pascua-Lama mine is a suspended open-pit mining project located in the Andes Mountains, on the Chilean-Argentine border.

In October 2013, Barrick Gold temporarily suspended construction activities at the Pascua-Lama citing environmental issues, political opposition, labour unrest and development costs.

Barrick Gold said that the Chilean part would now be transitioned from care and maintenance to closure in accordance with the environmental court’s decision.

In its ruling dated 17 September, the court said Barrick Gold failed to implement certain measures to strictly comply with its environmental license and consequently was not able to “adequately protect the environment” as well as the health of the people.

In 2018, Chile’s environmental regulator ordered Barrick to close the Chilean side of its Pascua-Lama project in the wake of spiralling costs and local and political opposition to the mine.

However, Chile’s Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Antofagasta Environmental Court to permanently close the $8.5bn project on procedural grounds in March last year.

Barrick’s executive director for Chile and Argentina Marcelo Álvarez said: “Barrick is a very different company since its merger with Randgold and we now have a strong focus on establishing good relations with the communities and authorities."

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18 September 2020

Adani’s Carmichael project in Queensland creates over 1,500 jobs

Adani Australia said that its billion dollar Carmichael project in central Queensland has created jobs for more than 1,500 people and awarded over A$1.5bn ($1.09bn) in contracts.

The Carmichael coal mine and rail project is located 160km northwest of Clermont Town in Queensland, Australia.

It will feature a 27.5 million tonnes per annum greenfield coal mine and a 200km railway line connecting the mine to the existing Goonyella rail system.

Adani Australia noted that the construction of the railway line and mine was set to continue through into 2021 and said it was expecting to generate more direct jobs.

Adani Mining CEO David Boshoff said: “The Stop Adani movement said our project would never go ahead and would never create a single job. We have proved our opponents wrong.

“Mining has cushioned the Queensland and Western Australian economies from the worst of the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns and we are proud to be a part of that.

“More than 88% of our contracts are being delivered in Queensland and have been spread across all corners of the state to give as many regions as possible the opportunity to benefit from our project, while also enabling us to tap into the highly-skilled construction and resources industry workforce that Queensland possesses.”

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17 September 2020

Scores of potential mining projects unearthed by data competition

The results of an international challenge to unlock the potential of South Australia’s resource-rich Gawler region could spark scores of multi-billion-dollar mining projects, according to energy and resources innovation company Unearthed Solutions.

In February this year, the South Australian Government offered an A$250,000 ($165,000) prize pool in a crowdsourcing competition to uncover mineral reserves in the Gawler region. The initiative, ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge, was run by the state government in conjunction with Unearthed Solutions.

The project called on data specialists to examine open-file datasets to uncover mineral discoveries in the region. The success of the challenge has led the state government to allocate an additional A$5m ($3.64m) to the Geological Survey of South Australia to flesh out the winning concepts into prospects for exploration companies.

Minister for energy and mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan congratulated first prize winner Per-OZ on its entry which combined traditional geology, machine learning, advancing modelling and precision drilling.

“Team Per-OZ, short for Peru/Australia, is a collaborative effort by Dr Paul Pearson from Latin Global and Dr John McLellan from GMEX who both specialise in structural geology, prospectivity analysis, data science, machine learning and modelling,” said the Minister.

“The judging panel chose the solution presented by Per-OZ as the best overall submission due to their unique methodology which could help geologists in the field find that needle in the haystack.

“Their unique approach may put us one step closer to uncovering new economic mineral deposits in one of the most significant iron oxide copper-gold regions in the world.”

The competition drew around 2,200 data specialists from more than 100 countries, and money from the A$250,000 pool has been awarded to seven groups, with Per-OZ taking the top A$100,000 prize.

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17 September 2020

Mincor board approves Western Australia’s nickel project development

Mincor Resources’ board members have given the approval for the development of the Kambalda nickel project in Western Australia, breaking a four-year “hiatus” at the operation.

The development approval comes after Mincor secured agreements with two Tier-1 international banks, BNP Paribas and Société Générale, for a $55m loan facility to support the development of the nickel project.

With all the required permitting in place, Mincor now anticipates mobilisation to ramp up quickly over the coming weeks at the nickel project.

Mincor noted that the surface construction is expected to reach “full swing” during the December quarter this year.

The company is targeting ore production for the next corresponding period (December quarter of 2021).

Mincor managing director David Southam said: “We are now on the cusp of realising our vision to resume profitable and sustainable nickel sulphide mining in the Kambalda district, and to do so in an environmentally responsible and ethical manner that will see this great nickel province return to the forefront of Class-1 nickel production globally.

“We are doing this at a particularly exciting time in the nickel market as a new wave of nickel demand emerges, driven by the electrification of the global transport fleet and the rapid growth of the lithium-ion battery industry globally.

“These trends have only accelerated in recent months, spurred on by post-Covid government stimulus programmes, and I expect that our production restart timetable will be well aligned with current market trends.”

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17 September 2020

BHP rethinking its strategy to spare Aboriginal sites from destruction

Australian mining operator BHP has told a federal inquiry it has found a way to save 10, out of more than 40, Aboriginal sites it has permission to destroy under Western Australia’s outdated heritage laws.

BHP is also changing its plans for the South Flank iron ore mine extension, located in the Pilbara region in the north of Western Australia, after one of its lastest consultations with the Banjima traditional owners, who have long disputed the position of the mine.

The company has said it is reviewing all 57 of the permissions it has been granted, following the Juukan Gorge disaster in which Rio Tinto demolished a 46,000-year-old heritage site to source high-grade iron ore.

Influenced by recent events, Edgar Basto, head of BHP’s Australian operations, said that the miner is now focusing on improving its approach to better protect heritage sites in a process of deep engagement with traditional owners.

Late on Wednesday, BHP said in a press release that it “views its relationship with Traditional Owners as partnerships based on mutual respect and trust”.

The company also said: “We recognise that what was lost at Juukan Gorge is not only the loss of a site of deep and unique living cultural heritage, but also a loss of trust, not just for the company involved, but with impacts for the entire resource industry.”

“BHP has confirmed to Traditional Owners that, consistent with its normal processes, BHP will not act on existing section 18 approvals from the WA Government without further extensive consultation with the Traditional Owners. In the case of the South Flank project, BHP and Banjima have set up a Heritage Advisory Council and will speak to other Traditional Owners to understand the best approach for them.”

The company also pledges that if new information that changes the heritage significance of a site arises, then that new information is taken into account in decisions relating to that site (irrespective of any government approvals that might be in place), in consultation with Traditional Owners.

These clarifications are aligned with BHP’s commitment to Free Prior Informed Consent set out in the BHP Indigenous Peoples Policy Statement and BHP Indigenous Peoples Strategy.

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16 September 2020

Cardinal accepts Shandong Gold’s revised takeover offer

West African gold‐focused exploration and development company Cardinal Resources has accepted a revised takeover offer from Chinese gold miner Shandong Gold.

The latest move comes after months of a bidding war between the Chinese gold miner and Moscow-based gold miner Nordgold.

Last week, Cardinal received an increased offer price from Nordgold in respect of its takeover bid, from A$0.66 to A$0.90 in cash per share.

Cardinal’s board of directors now unanimously recommended shareholders to accept the latest A$1 ($0.73) a share off-market takeover bid from Shandong.

In an ASX announcement, Cardinal Resources stated: “The Shandong Gold Offer remains subject to a number of standard market conditions for a transaction of this nature (including, primarily, 50.1% minimum acceptance by Cardinal shareholders) as set out in the Bidder’s Statement.”

Shandong will acquire all of the Cardinal shares owned by the company’s directors, who hold a collective interest of around 6.07% in the target company.

According to Cardinal Resources, the proposed acquisition will only proceed with a 50.1% minimum acceptance by Cardinal shareholders. The West African exploration firm holds interests in tenements within Ghana, West Africa. It is focused on developing the Namdini gold project, which comprises an ore reserve of 5.1 million ounces (Moz).

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