October 2015

Industry at a glance

By Ryan Bergen, Peter Braul, Tom DiNardo, Leah Kellar, Katelyn Spidle

Goldcorp and Teck combine Chilean projects

Teck’s Relincho project contains Mineral Reserves of 10.1 billion pounds of copper and 464 million pounds of molybdenum | Courtesy of Teck Resources

Project Corridor is the interim name of a new joint venture between Goldcorp and Teck Resources to combine their respective El Morro and Relincho projects situated 40 kilometres apart in the Atacama region of northern Chile.

The 50:50 joint management, announced in August, will commence when the transaction closes, which is expected to be in the fourth quarter of 2015. El Morro is an open-pit and underground gold-copper project west of the open-pit Relincho site, a copper-molybdenum project.

Project Corridor will be a standalone company with its own employees, management, executive team and board of directors. Projected benefits such as lower cost, improved capital efficiency and returns over either of the component projects, longer mine life of at least 32 years and a reduced environmental footprint are partly attributable to a conveyor that will transport ore from El Morro to a single mill at Relincho.

“We now have an improved development approach that we expect to significantly decrease initial capital requirements and increase financial returns, while ensuring the project is developed in partnership with our neighbours, creating lasting benefits for residents in the region and our shareholders,” said Chuck Jeannes, president and CEO of Goldcorp, in an Aug. 27 press release announcing the joint venture.

Goldcorp’s El Morro had Proven and Probable Reserves of 8.9 million ounces of gold and 6.5 billion pounds of copper as of Dec. 31, 2014. Teck’s Relincho project contains Reserves of 10.1 billion pounds of copper and 464 million pounds of molybdenum.

– Leah Kellar

Barrick establishes one-president model

Barrick Gold made some major refinements to its upper management structure this summer. The gold producer appointed Kelvin Dushnisky as the sole president of the company, a title previously shared between himself and co-president Jim Gowans, who will soon be retiring from Barrick. Gowans, who joined the miner last January, will remain with the company until Dec. 31 as an advisor to the chairman to help direct a number of additional personnel changes.

“As we become leaner, more efficient and more keenly focused on a smaller number of core assets, we are empowering our leaders in the field to function as true business owners,” said Barrick chairman John Thornton in a press release.

“[Gowans] has mentored and trained our operational leaders in this mindset,” said Andy Lloyd, vice-president of communications at the company. “The time was right to accelerate the transition.”

The co-presidency was created in July 2014 following the departure of Jamie Sokalsky as CEO and the elimination of that position.

Other changes include the appointment of Richard Williams as COO, having previously held the title of chief of staff. Also, Basie Maree was named CTO after serving the company as senior vice-president of technical services. The changes represent another step in the implementation of Barrick’s ongoing strategy to trim expenses by $2 billion by the end of 2016 and reduce debt.

“This structure removes layers, eliminates bureaucracy and increases transparency in the organization, all of which supports our key objective of maximizing free cash flow,” Lloyd said.

– Katelyn Spidle

Suspension lifted for 40 pipelines at Nexen’s Long Lake facility

Nexen Energy discovered a pipeline rupture at its Long Lake oil sands project in July | Courtesy of Nexen Energy

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has approved the partial resumption of pipeline operations related to utilities at Nexen Energy’s Long Lake oil sands facility, the company announced in September.

A pipeline rupture discovered by the company at its Long Lake project in July prompted it to launch an internal audit of its pipeline management, which uncovered a number of non-compliance issues. The findings led AER to suspend 15 pipeline licences and shut in 95 pipelines at Long Lake in August.

AER amended that suspension order to allow Nexen to reopen 40 natural gas, fuel gas and fresh water pipelines at the operation following an inspection of the facility’s maintenance and monitoring documentation. The suspension order that remains affects 55 pipelines containing natural gas, crude oil, emulsion, salt water and fresh water.

Partial resumption will allow Nexen to maintain about 75 per cent of oil sands production and upgrader operations.

“Following AER inspections of the site, a review of documentation and Nexen’s subsequent actions, the regulator is satisfied that the current operating conditions of the utility lines pose a low risk to public safety and environmental protection,” said an AER press release. “Nexen has demonstrated to AER that these utility lines can be operated safely and within all regulatory requirements.”

AER said it is required to follow a rigorous daily and weekly inspection plan of the affected lines and to provide regular updates of the results.

Ryan Bartlett, an AER spokesperson, said that there was no timeline in place for the remaining 40 pipelines to be brought online, and that the regulator was working with Nexen to determine the appropriate next steps.

– L.K.

Anglo American offloads Chilean assets

London-based diversified miner Anglo American sold two of its open-pit copper mines in August to an investor consortium. Spearheaded by Audley Capital Advisors LLP, the consortium paid a total of US$300 million upfront for the Mantoverde and Mantos Blancos mines, located in northern Chile.

If Audley Capital pursues an expansion of Mantoverde to extend the mine’s life, the interest’s value could increase by almost US$200 million in the coming years.

“I am delighted that, together with Orion, we are to acquire the Mantoverde and Mantos Blancos mines in Chile,” said John MacKenzie, CEO of mining at Audley. “I know both of these operations well and can see the scope to further enhance the business under our ownership, particularly in terms of their life extension potential to meet our expected view of constrained copper supply in the medium and longer term.”

The sale is part of Anglo American’s commitment to lighten its debt, which reached US$12.9 billion by end-2014. The company will focus its efforts on maintaining its largest and most lucrative copper projects: Los Bronces and Collahuasi in Chile, and Quellaveco in Peru. It also recently sold coal assets and four platinum mines in South Africa, as well as some coal operations in Australia.

“The sale of our Norte copper assets to the Audley consortium represents a good outcome for Anglo American, both in terms of the up-front value achieved, the potential upside geared to the copper price and the continued delivery of our asset disposal programme,” said Mark Cutifani, CEO of Anglo American.

– K.S.

Eldorado suspends Greek operations

Eldorado Gold recently reported more bad news from its Greek operations. Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of the Vancouver-based miner, suspended all mining and development activities at its Stratoni mine and Skouries and Olympias projects, located in the Halkidiki region of northern Greece, in August after the country’s Ministry of Energy revoked the company’s technical studies.

The subsidiary confirmed it is taking legal action against the ministry’s decision by filing an injunction request with the Council of State – Greece’s Supreme Court on administrative and environmental affairs. Energy said the technical studies were in violation of the country’s requirements because they were partly conducted outside of Greece. Eldorado carried out pilot-scale test work on a smelting process at an Outotec facility in Finland.

The revocation forced Hellas Gold to suspend the majority of its 2,000 employees for a period of three months, in accordance with the country’s labour laws. Certain employees will continue to work on maintaining environmental protection measures during this period. If the ministry refuses to reinstate Hellas’ permits after three months, the company will be forced to lay off its entire staff.

“Eldorado cannot and will not continue to allocate expenditures to our projects in Greece while the Ministry of Energy is openly hostile to our activities, as evidenced by recent ministry decisions,” said Eldorado CEO Paul Wright in a statement. “We sincerely hope to resume our activities in Halkidiki at some point in the ne ar future – preferably through constructive engagement with the Ministry of Energy rather than a court decision.”

– K.S.

Growing hair to show they care

Corp-Challenge-Mining-MovemberAs November approaches, the bare upper lip of many a man is itching in anticipation. During this month, men across the planet grow moustaches to raise awareness for men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health as part of Movember.

For the fourth year in a row, “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas” from the mining industry will be taking part in the friendly intra-industry competition dubbed “The Great Canadian Mining Challenge.”

Last year 211 miners from 44 companies formed 16 teams to raise just over $70,000 for the cause. The team from BHP Billiton, “Average Joes with Awesome Mo’s,” raised the largest sum of money with a total of $17,294. To get involved, visit movember.com and search for the Great Canadian Mining Challenge.

– Tom DiNardo

Next: Honours and accolades at COM

                Go to Table of Contents
Go to Cover Story
    Go to Project Profile
     Go to Technology     Go to Upfront section
    Go to Travel section
Page 1 of 3. Next
Post a comment


PDF Version