April Newsletter – 14.04.2020
- Cornish hits new, high-grade copper mineralization
- Zijin to invest $800 mln in Serbia in 2020, 2021 – energy min
- Canned Food Sprees Won’t Save Aluminum
- Gran Colombia providing support to its mining communities during COVID-19
- World’s Deepest Mines to Take Weeks to Reopen After Shutdown
- Coal Production On The Rise Despite Coronavirus Crisis
- China’s ‘Green Zone’ Coal Price Tested as Virus Fight Continues
- BRIEF-MMG Formally Withdraws Full-Year 2020 Guidance For Las Bambas
Cornish hits new, high-grade copper mineralization
Cornish Lithium, a start-up hoping to lead the development of a battery metals industry in the UK, has hit the jackpot with the discovery of a new zone of high-grade copper-tin mineralization at Strongbow Exploration’s (TSX-V: SBW) United Downs project, in Cornwall.
The finding comes as the British miner continues to explore Strongbow’s licences in Cornwall, south-west England, for lithium in brine occurrences. Rights to any hard rock mineralization, however, belongs to the Canadian company.
Cornwall’s mining heritage dates back to the Bronze Age, when it was discovered that incorporating small amounts of tin into copper made it easier to work than pure copper. (Image courtesy of Cornish Lithium.)
The mining district where the discovery was made — Gwennap — was the world’s richest copper production in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
MINING DISTRICT WHERE THE DISCOVERY WAS MADE — GWENNAP — WAS THE WORLD’S RICHEST COPPER PRODUCTION IN THE EIGHTEENTH AND EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURIES
Cornwall’s last mining operation, South Crofty, closed in 1998. But in July 2016, Vancouver-based Strongbow acquired the copper-tin project and mineral rights for 15,000 hectares.
Partner Cornish Lithium’s drilling in the area intersected semi-massive sulphide mineralization, at a depth of between 90 and 105 metres.
The company is drilling further to confirm the width of the mineralization as well as the strike and dip of the mineralised zone.
In an upcoming exploration phase, Cornish Lithium has decided to also begin exploring for lithium in hard rock form, having discovered evidence that it was mined on the surface during World War II.
The miner also plans to explore for other battery metals, such as cobalt and copper.
The junior revealed in 2018 that it needed about £5 million ($6.2m) to go ahead with its plans. Since then, it has secured more than £2m ($2.5m) from private backers and it’s already aiming at listing on the London Stock Exchange by 2022..
Cornish Lithium has also expanded and consolidated the areas over which it has rights to explore for lithium and other minerals. Its team has assembled a vast amount of historical data and reconstructed it in 3D digital format, enabling a totally new understanding of the geological potential of Cornwall’s mineral deposits.
Most lithium is produced in South America, Australia and China, but the UK government designated it last year a metal of strategic importance to the country.
Zijin to invest $800 mln in Serbia in 2020, 2021 – energy min
BELGRADE (Serbia), April 10 (SeeNews) – Zijin Bor Copper, the Serbian unit of China’s Zijin Mining Group, plans to invest $800 million (731 million euro) in expansion of its production capacity this year and next, Serbian energy minister Aleksandar Antic has said.
The company intends to invest the sum in reconstruction of existing and opening of new mines, increasing the capacity of the copper smelter in Bor, and in environment protection activities, the energy ministry quoted Antic as saying in a press release on Thursday.
Copper production at the Bor mining and smelting complex is progressing according to schedule despite the coronavirus outbreak in Serbia, Antic said during a meeting with the general manager of Zijin Bor Copper, Jian Ximing, in Belgrade.
In January, Zijin Bor Copper said it targets a profit of $8.5 million this year. The company plans to process 437,000 tonnes of copper concentrate and produce 122,000 tonnes of anodes, 90,000 tonnes of cathodes,370,000 tonnes of sulphuric acid, 1,833 kg of gold and 11.9 tonnes of silver in 2020.
The Chinese group injected $350 million in the capital of Serbian copper mining and smelting company RTB Bor in December 2018, acquiring majority ownership, and renamed it to Zijin Bor Copper.
Canned Food Sprees Won’t Save Aluminum
The industry is still working its way through the stockpile accumulated during the last crisis.
Aluminum isn’t the worst-performing base metal this year, an honor that goes to copper. Yet that’s only because it had less far to fall: Demand was ailing well before the coronavirus forced some three billion people to stay home. Add the near-total shutdown of the world’s auto and aviation industry, crunching more than a third of demand, and the lightweight metal is fast heading for levels last seen during the global financial crisis. That should translate into some of the mining industry’s deepest cuts as the pandemic forces producers such as Alcoa Corp. and Rio Tinto Group to take long-overdue decisions.
Aluminum is a serial underperformer, having racked up the biggest real losses for any base metal since 1913, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Demand has slowed for a decade, and a surplus was expected this year even before the current crisis. Prices have declined for eight consecutive weeks to below $1,500 per metric ton. That’s made most of the world’s production unprofitable.
The metal has never been good at responding fast to a changing market. That’s partly because it’s inexpensive to mine the raw material bauxite. At the same time, smelters that produce aluminum metal from its oxide are slow and expensive owing to fixed costs such as power. As a result, the industry is still working through the stockpile accumulated during the last crisis. In this context, it’s less surprising that China’s aluminum production increased in the first two months of the year.
The scale and speed of the demand drop caused by the coronavirus will test the industry’s elasticity. Aircraft makers are pondering production cuts, while automakers have shut down from Japan to Germany. The premium paid by Japanese buyers over the London Metal Exchange price is at its lowest in over three years. Car sales in locked-down economies have dropped by around 80%. Other sources of demand, like machinery, have been little better. While shoppers have hoarded canned food, this accounts for a small fraction of aluminum usage.
Gran Colombia providing support to its mining communities during COVID-19
Gran Colombia Gold Corp. has announced that it has partnered with local community leaders, Caldas Gold Corp. and Angelitos de Luz, a local charitable foundation, to provide much needed support to vulnerable low income families in its local mining communities of Segovia, Remedios, Marmato, Supia and Riosucio during the national quarantine in Colombia as the country fights to contain the spread of COVID-19 including:
- The donation of food by Gran Colombia for 7000 families in Segovia, Remedios and the Antioquia communities.
- The donation of food by Caldas Gold for 5000 families in Marmato, Supia and Riosucio.
- The provision of medical and hospital supplies which will serve to improve contingency care for COVID-19 in the hospitals in Segovia, Remedios and Yolombo in the department of Antioquia as well as in the Municipality of Marmato.
- Gran Colombia has joined the Protect the Wonderful Gift of Life campaign at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana and the Clinica Universitaria Bolivariana to donate beds and biomedical equipment for the implementation of six intensive care units.
- The supply of over 200 000 l of water through tank truck service to the most vulnerable neighbourhoods in Segovia and Remedios.
- The supply of 3000 kits including face masks, liquid soap and antibacterial gel to security forces, formalised miners, vulnerable families and the city halls of the municipalities of Segovia, Remedios and Marmato.
- Gran Colombia will continue to monitor developments in the situation and revise its response plans accordingly.
World’s Deepest Mines to Take Weeks to Reopen After Shutdown
When South Africa shut down its mining industry to contain the coronavirus, more than 450,000 workers were sent home in 24 hours. Getting them back will take much longer for the nation’s gold and platinum miners.
Ramping up production at the world’s deepest mines could take three to four weeks as thousands of returning employees are screened for Covid-19, according to Johan Theron, a spokesman for Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. Workers will need to be checked for high temperatures, while social distancing and other measures are introduced to prevent the spread of the virus, he said.
“Its going to take time to get going again,” Theron said. “The queue is going to be 40 kilometers long.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered the 21-day mine closure as part of a nationwide lockdown. Mineworkers are particularly vulnerable, toiling in cramped shafts more than two miles underground, before returning to overcrowded hostels and shanty towns. The situation is exacerbated by South Africa having the largest number of people with HIV in the world and widespread tuberculosis.
“Everybody in the industry is considering how to manage the situation around vulnerable workers,” said James Wellsted, a spokesman for Sibanye Stillwater Ltd., the No. 1 platinum miner.
People infected with HIV, which damages immune systems and causes AIDS, are more likely to die if they contract Covid-19, according to the assumptions of medical professionals. People with HIV make up a large proportion of the 300,000 South Africans with tuberculosis, a disease that diminishes lung capacity. In addition, there are gold miners with lungs shredded by silica shards.
Some mining companies plan to give vitamins and flu vaccines to HIV-positive workers and those with tuberculosis to boost their immunity.
Coal Production On The Rise Despite Coronavirus Crisis
Global coal production is expected to grow only marginally in 2020, from 8.13 billion tonnes in 2019 to 8.17 billion tonnes in 2020, a growth of only 0.5 percent after three consecutive yearly increases, due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, says GlobalData.
The spreading coronavirus pandemic may too heavy of a burden for the already struggling coal miners in the United States, with three companies announcing operations halts due to measures to contain the spread of the disease.
Now, according to the analytics company, disruption has been most significant in China. Coal production declined by around 6 percent in the first two months of 2020 as workers could not return to mine sites due to the coronavirus outbreak.
However, by March 4, 83 percent of China’s coal mining capacity was operational and production is now expected to recover over the remainder of 2020 with a forecast decline of only 1.2 percent expected by the year-end.
Thermal coal production is expected to grow by 0.5 percent to 7.05 billion tonnes, while metallurgical coal production is forecast to be flat at 1.1 billion tonnes.
Over the next four years, the production of thermal coal is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 1.9 percent to reach 7.6 billion tonnes by 2023, due to increasing demand from India and China.
“Across the globe, compared with other commodities coal production is only expected to be marginally affected by the impact of the coronavirus as thermal coal mines are permitted to operate during lockdowns as they are deemed essential to maintain power supplies,” says Vinneth Bajaj, senior mining analyst at GlobalData.
China’s overall annual coal consumption is expected to decline by 0.5 percent, due to the lockdown of industrial areas with thermal coal consumption falling by around 0.3 percent in 2020.
Through to 1 March 2020, Chinese coal-fired power plants reported a 3 percent decline in their coal consumption, with an 8 percent decline in the country’s power generation during the first two months of 2020.
In India, around 845 million tonnes of coal is expected to be produced in 2020 – an 8.3 percent increase compared to 2019.
Elsewhere, thermal coal mines in South Africa have been permitted to operate despite the country’s 21-day lockdown.
“Longer term, whilst power demand is growing, we will see coal declining as a proportion of the power generated. At present, 67 percent and 75 percent of the electricity in China and India is generated from coal,” Vinneth adds.
“However, both counties have environmental commitments to reduce carbon emissions, and have targeted to reduce these shares to 58.5 percent and 50 percent by 2030 respectively.”
China’s ‘Green Zone’ Coal Price Tested as Virus Fight Continues
China’s coal prices have sunk to levels that threaten state intervention, but this time policy makers may refrain from doing so as they continue efforts to buttress the economy hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. The government will try to keep power prices low as it pushes to restart the economy, according to analysts. That goal will be helped by the decline in benchmark prices to just above 500 yuan a ton, the lower end of a range that Beijing generally tries to maintain. “I don’t think the government will intervene too much as lowering energy costs could be one of the objectives during the Covid-19 period,” said Dennis Ip, an analyst at Daiwa Capital Markets Hong Ltd.
China is the top user and producer of the fuel, and has sought to balance the needs of its power enterprises and miners by securing a “green zone” price of between 500 and 570 yuan. In the past few years, spot prices have mostly held above that range due to stricter scrutiny of local mines, elimination of old capacity and clampdowns on imports to spur demand for domestic coal.
This year, prices have fallen as new capacity ramps up. With Beijing pushing to get the economy back up again after weathering the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, miners are urged to expedite output resumption. Demand, however, hasn’t quite kept pace.
Government controls and the fear of going outside curtailed the speed of recovery previously. Now there’s a growing threat from slumping external demand as the virus has put many other countries in lockdown.
Morningstar analyst Jennifer Song estimates that the downstream sector has resumed about 75% of normal operations according to daily coal consumption data, whereas miners would have fully restarted.
BRIEF-MMG Formally Withdraws Full-Year 2020 Guidance For Las Bambas
April 13 (Reuters) – MMG Ltd:
* FORMALLY WITHDRAWS ITS FULL-YEAR 2020 GUIDANCE FOR LAS BAMBAS
* AT THIS STAGE, CO CONTINUES TO MAINTAIN EXISTING 2020 GUIDANCE FOR ITS DUGALD RIVER, ROSEBERY AND KINSEVERE OPERATIONS
* OPERATIONS LARGELY CONTINUED AS NORMAL IN AUSTRALIA & DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, WITH RELATIVELY LIMITED IMPACTS FROM COVID-19 OUTBREAK