March/April 2015

Industry at a glance

By Peter Braul, Sahar Fatima, Andrew Seale, Katelyn Spidle

WIM welcomes 2015 trailblazer

Betty-Ann Heggie, the first female senior vice-president of PotashCorp, is this year’s winner of the Women in Mining (WIM) Canada Trailblazer Award.

The now-retired Heggie, a member of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame, officially accepted the award in early March at the Prospectors and Developers Conference in Toronto.

“I was deeply flattered,” Heggie said after WIM Canada announced the news in January. “I was very honoured that they would consider me a kind of a pseudo leader.”

The Trailblazer Award was established by WIM in 2013 to recognize “women who have taken personal career risks and helped to advance the careers of other women,” according to the notfor- profit organization.

WIM Canada figures indicate that women represent just 11 per cent of board appointments in the natural resource sector and make up 14 per cent of the entire Canadian mining workforce.

Heggie aims to address this disparity by promoting female support in the corporate sector. She spearheaded the Betty-Ann Heggie Womentorship program at the University of Saskatchewan, which launched in September 2009 and matches seasoned female professionals with new graduates.

Things have already changed drastically for women in mining since even the mid-90s, Heggie said, recalling an instance when she was asked not to tour a mine in Germany because of an old superstition that women entering mines would lead to a deadly disaster.

Today, Heggie is proud to see the many female engineers and managers who make up WIM Canada: “I just know we’re going to be better off and it warms my heart.”

– Sahar Fatima

Mexican copper mine suspended temporarily

Aura Minerals suspended operations at its Aranzazu copper mine in Mexico due to the current commodity price, the company announced in January.

“Although this decision is a difficult and concerning one, in particular for Aranzazu’s affected employees and the local community, it will preserve our cash position during these uncertain economic times,” said company president and CEO Jim Bannantine. The price of copper hovered at around US$2.60 per pound ($/lb) as of mid- February, down from about US$3.20/lb at this point last year.

Copper concentrate will continue to be processed until stockpiles run out, after which personnel will remain at the mine site to ensure environmental, safety, social and regulatory standards are maintained during the suspension.

The company is currently reviewing the mine’s development plans, site costs and capital expenditures, and plans to release a new bankable NI 43-101 report during the second half of 2015. The updated report may include mine expansion plans that are smaller scale than those proposed in the 2012 preliminary economic assessment. It will also help the company secure financing to reopen and expand the Aranzazu mine.

Last year Aranzazu produced 14.6 million pounds of contained copper. The mine has Measured and Indicated Resources of about 588.7 million ounces of copper, 10.3 million ounces of silver and 390,000 ounces of gold.

– Katelyn Spidle

B.C. announces major mines permitting office

christy Christy Clark announced funding for a new Major Mines Permitting Office to coordinate decisions across ministries for improving the efficiency of mine authorization | Courtesy of the Province of B.C.

Speedier mine approvals may be on the horizon in British Columbia following Premier Christy Clark’s promise of additional funding in this year’s budget for a new office dedicated to issuing mining permits. The announcement was made at the AME BC’s Roundup conference in January.

Ministry of Energy and Mines spokesperson Jake Jacobs said specific funding for the Major Mines Permitting Office (MMPO) has not yet been allocated, but the ministry will see its base funding rise by $6 million to $17.1 million. New permit fees for mines are expected to bring in another $3 million. Exploration companies will not be charged.

“Up to 10 new mines are expected to proceed in the next few years, and this new funding will make sure we are ready to support these projects and ensure the safety of this important industry as it continues to grow,” said Clark in a press release.

The MMPO is expected to launch this spring once the B.C. legislature approves the budget, which was unveiled in February.

The office will aim to improve coordination across ministries so decisions on mine authorizations are made more efficiently, Jacobs said. Technical experts in relevant ministries will still review the applications for new mining projects, but the extra funding will allow the Ministry of Energy and Mines to hire additional technical experts to review applications, cutting down wait times. The Office of the Chief Inspector of Mines will remain responsible for inspections.

“The Project Board for the MMPO will guide resourcing, prioritization and issues management in a way that best addresses the specific needs of the mining sector,” Jacobs said. “The MMPO will include project managers and directors who have detailed knowledge of the mining sector.”

The new office will focus on “major mines,” which the ministry defines as projects that trigger the environmental assessment (EA) process. Any proposal that requires the creation of a Mine Review Committee (MRC) – an advisory committee comprising all three levels of government and First Nations – is also considered a major mine, Jacobs said.

New permit fees will range from $4,000 to $32,000 for placer mines, gravel pits and quarries. Mineral and coal mine operations will be charged anywhere from $10,000 for a simple permit application to $125,000 for a complex application requiring an MRC.

Karina Briño, president and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia, welcomed the announcement. She said navigating the government system can be challenging for mining companies seeking new permits, as they must often obtain approval from several different ministries.

“There are four or five agencies that could be involved in parts of the decision- making,” Briño said. “Housing everyone together should lead to clarity around how to navigate that process.”

– S.F.

N.W.T. govt. establishes mining board

The Northwest Territories mining sector will earn some official devotees this spring.

At the AME BC’s Roundup conference in January, Northwest Territories (N.W.T.) Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment David Ramsay announced the establishment of a Mining Industry Advisory Board to draw explorers, investors and mining companies to the region.

The panel will consist of five to seven members, Ramsay said.

Although he stayed mum about who will sit at the table, he said it would represent “a cross-section of interests,” from mining CEOs to local stakeholders and First Nations. “I know what I’m looking for,” he said. “I certainly have a few people in mind right now that I’ll be approaching in the short term.”

In 2014 the territory saw a 32 per cent spike in spending on exploration and deposit appraisals to $103 million. Diamond exploration and development accounted for nearly two thirds of that, according to Natural Resources Canada.

The panel will be tasked with keeping up that momentum.

“We [need] a positive climate for investment with a reputation as being a mining jurisdiction people can trust,” he said, adding that this includes taking a “balanced approach to sustainable responsible development.”

The goal of the panel, Ramsay said, is to create legislation to continue building on the objectives of the N.W.T.’s 2013 mineral development strategy.

“We’re encouraged by what we’ve seen and where things stand today,” he said, “but we definitely need to make sure we’re putting out the right kinds of messages as a jurisdiction.”

The advisory panel will hold its first meeting in May.

– Andrew Seale

Full house at Mining Hall of Fame induction ceremony

CMHF_group shot Ian Telfer, Peter Bradshaw, Ron Netolitzky and Mackenzie Watson (left to right) were inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in January | Keith Houghton Photography

Four mining legends were welcomed into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame (CMHF) at the 27th annual induction ceremony and dinner at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel in January.

More than 800 people attended the event, which has been selling out for years, according to CIM executive director Jean Vavrek. “It’s the major mining event that kicks off every year,” he said.

Pierre Lassonde, chairman of Franco-Nevada and a CMHF inductee himself, acted as master of ceremonies for the evening, a role he has played on 14 occasions.

The accomplishments of Peter M.D. Bradshaw, Ronald K. Netolitzky, Mackenzie Iles Watson and Ian Telfer were highlighted in individual videos that included colleagues’ testimonials.

Each inductee gave a four-minute speech upon accepting his award. “I sure wish that my old headmaster was here tonight,” said Bradshaw. “This isn’t where he thought I’d end up!”

Vavrek explained that the ceremony is held at the Royal York for a reason: The Canadian Pacific Railway, a company that in many ways enabled the development of the mining industry, built the historic hotel.

The 2015 induction ceremony was supported by Goldcorp as diamond sponsor and by Barrick, Franco-Nevada, IBK Capital Corp., SNC-Lavalin and Yamana Gold as platinum sponsors.

– K.S.

Logo_Goldcorp

  Logo_BARRICK   Logo_Franco_Nevada   Logo_IBK_Capital   Logo_SNC-Lavalin
  Logo_YamanaGold


Goldcorp acquires Probe Mines

Vancouver-based mining giant Goldcorp just got a bit bigger. The company closed a definitive agreement on Jan. 27 to acquire Toronto-based junior mining company Probe Mines.

With the friendly takeover, Goldcorp now has claim to the Borden Gold project in northern Ontario. Late last spring, Probe released an updated Mineral Resource Estimate for the project that included an underground Indicated Resource of 1.60 million ounces of gold averaging 5.39 grams per tonne of gold and an Inferred Resource of 0.43 million ounces averaging 4.43 grams per tonne at a 2.5- grams-per-tonne cutoff grade.

The Borden find made in 2010 and subsequent work on the project earned Probe president and CEO David Palmer the 2015 Bill Dennis Award for a Canadian mineral discovery or prospecting success from PDAC.

Palmer is confident Goldcorp’s financial and technical expertise will help advance the Borden project, according to a press release on Jan. 19. “This acquisition represents not only a validation of the project and its value, but also an opportunity for shareholders to participate in future success with one of the industry’s most respected gold producers, Goldcorp, as well as an experienced and committed team of explorers in New Probe,” said Palmer. “We are grateful for all of the support and loyalty from our shareholders and look forward to commencing the next phase together.”

Shareholders of Probe will receive an interest in a new exploration company called New Probe. This company, to be formed in partnership with Goldcorp, will keep Probe’s current CEO, board of directors and management team. Probe shareholders are expected to meet to approve the transaction before the end of the first quarter in 2015.

– K.S.

Big move

K+S Shipment

In one of the largest shipments ever made within the province of Saskatchewan, including equipment spanning 10 metres in diameter and weighing 180 tonnes, Veolia Water Technologies announced in February it had delivered its HPD Crystallization Technology (above) to K+S Potash Canada’s Legacy project where it will purify and produce more than two million tonnes of potassium chloride per year from solution-mined potash.

– K. S.

The facts at hand

The mining industry has received its annual report card. In February, the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) released its report Facts & Figures of the Canadian Mining Industry 2014, based on 2013 data provided by the federal government.

For the last decade, Canada was the top destination for exploration. However, investment in this category fell by 41 per cent to $2.3 billion in 2013, causing Canada to slip to second place after Australia. The report found that the recent decline in global commodity prices, lack of infrastructure in the North, and a complicated regulatory process are to blame for last year’s decline.

Fortunately, MAC’s findings also demonstrate that the industry is key to the Canadian economy in terms of contributions to national GDP and employment opportunities.

“To adjust to lower prices for some commodities, and to cope with high operating costs and a still uncertain global economy, it is more critical than ever that government remain focused on expanding Canada’s trade network and enhancing Canada’s overall competitiveness as a destination for new mining development through strategic investments and effective policies,” said MAC president and CEO Pierre Gratton.

– K. S.

Facts and figures from MAC report

Building a legacy

MetSoc Legacy Project CIM executive director Jean Vavrek (middle) signed a memorandum of understanding with Kevin Fraser (left), director of autoclave technology at Hatch, and Fern Proulx (right), COO of the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation, initiating the History of Metallurgy and Mining Legacy Project at the Canadian Mineral Processors conference in Ottawa in January | Courtesy of the Canadian Mineral Processors/Al Kuiper

CIM’s Metallurgy and Materials Society (MetSoc) and the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation launched in February a new plan to document the importance of metallurgy for the development of Canada. The two organizations are raising $120,000 to support the History of Metallurgy and Mining Legacy Project, which involves the creation of an oral history video bank that includes interviews with leaders in the exploration, mining, and metallurgy and materials fields. The funds will also go towards researching how metallurgy contributed to Canada’s progress, and guide the Canada Science and Technology Museum in building a collection of meaningful metallurgical artefacts. Eventually, the interviews will be archived at the museum in Ottawa and be available on its website. “Metallurgy and mining are cornerstones on which Canadian industry and society were established,” said Sam Marcuson, the The project, he added, “will benefit both the visitors to the museum, about 300,000 annually, and users of the website – about 3.5 million hits annually.” Hatch, CIM, MetSoc and the Canadian Mineral Processors have contributed $100,000 of the total budget, along with private donations of $12,000. The project’s proponents are hoping to raise the final $8,000 in order to get it underway.

– Peter Braul

Mixing work with pleasure at CMP 2015

CMP conference attendees Attendees of the Canadian Mineral Processors conference chat between sessions | Courtesy of the Canadian Mineral Processors/Al Kuiper

Ottawa’s Westin hotel was packed with activity in January for the annual Canadian Mineral Processors conference. More than 520 delegates from 13 countries brought together many of the biggest brains in the processing sector of the mining industry, but the three-day event was also a great chance to socialize. Students made up a critical part of the mix, gaining valuable industry contacts and soaking up knowledge. “I wasn’t sure that I was interested in mineral processing, but this really made me realize that this is what I want from my degree,” said Sharayah Read, who studies chemical engineering technology at Cambrian College in Sudbury.

Whether by students or otherwise, knowledge was not the only thing being soaked up. Mineral processors are adept at balancing work with pleasure and documented that fact with the conference’s first selfie competition, launched during the awards gala. The results, in which delegates did a commendable job of hiding their beverages, can be found by searching for #cmp2015 on Instagram. The intensive three-day technical program was also complemented by the annual West vs. East hockey game, an early morning -20 C skate on the Rideau Canal (attended by just one brave soul) and other great chances to expend energy. For a copy of the proceedings, contact Janice Zinck at janice.zinck@NRCan-RNCan.gc.ca.

– P.B.

Awards

  • Mineral Processor of the Year: Robert Rotzinger
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: René Del Villar
  • Ray MacDonald Volunteer Award: Raymond MacDonald
  • Past Chair: Pierre Julien
  • Best Presentation: Rodrigo Araya
  • Student Technical Report Competition Award: Kristie Peloquin, Graham Cross
  • André Laplante Memorial Scholarship: Michele Tuchscherer
  • Byron Knelson Memorial Scholarship: William Yin
  • CIM Fellowship: Donald Leroux, Ian Orford


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