British Columbia biotech identifying antibodies for Covid-19

A Vancouver biotech company that specializes in antibody discovery has partnered with American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE:LLY) to develop a new drug for the treatment and prevention of the COVID-19 virus.

The private biotech developed what it calls a rapid pandemic response platform for the quick development, manufacturing and distribution of therapeutic antibodies.

Eli Lilly will use AbCellera’s platform to zero in on those antibodies that would prompt a natural immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus, which is “novel” – meaning humans do not have any natural immunity to it. The goal is to develop a new drug to treat people with the virus once they have it.

Within one week of receiving a blood sample of one of the first patients in the US to recover from the virus, AbCellera has identified 500 unique human antibody sequences

The company states in a news release that, within one week of receiving a blood sample of one of the first patients in the US to recover from the virus, AbCellera has identified 500 unique human antibody sequences.

“The next step is to screen these antibodies to find the ones most effective in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2,” the company says in a news release.

“AbCellera’s platform has delivered, with unprecedented speed, by far the world’s largest panel of anti-SAR-CoV-2 antibodies,” said AbCellera CEO Carl Hansen.

“In 11 days, we’ve discovered hundreds of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the current outbreak, moved into functional testing with global experts in virology, and signed a co-development agreement with one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies.

“Together, our teams are committed to delivering a countermeasure to stop the outbreak.”

“We’ve partnered with AbCellera because we’re impressed with the speed and quality of their efforts,” said Eli Lilly chief science officer Daniel Skovronsky.

“We are moving at top speed to create a potential treatment to help patients. While typically a new therapeutic antibody program might take years to get in the clinic, our goal with AbCellera is to be testing potential new therapies in patients within the next four months.”

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

Major MSHA reorg: New map shows three enforcement regions

As part of its “Blurring the Lines” initiative, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is now implementing plans to dramatically change its internal organization for enforcement and has released a map showing the new hierarchy.

Before, individual coal and metal/non-metal districts reported directly to a coal or metal/non-metal administrator at headquarters in Arlington. Now, MSHA will divide the country into three regions, with each district (whether coal or metal/non-metal) reporting to a single regional administrator.

Source: MSHA

The geographic regions will be Western, Central, and Eastern. In keeping with the Blurring initiative, each region will have a mix of both coal and M/NM mines. District managers will report to the region’s regional administrator. In the new scheme, districts will be re-named simply after the city where they are located (e.g., Warrendale).

While Tim Watkins will remain the national Administrator for Enforcement, his two deputies will now become two of the three regional administrators. Brian Goepfert, currently the deputy for M/NM enforcement, will move to Denver to be the Western Regional Administrator. Dave Weaver, currently the deputy for coal, will move to Dallas to be the Central Regional Administrator. MSHA currently has a job posting online to hire a third person as the Eastern Regional Administrator. It may appoint someone to fill the slot temporarily in the interim.

While this changes the oversight above the district level, MSHA does not currently anticipate moving more mines from one district to another after the changes made in the last couple years. There are currently 213 “cross-over” mines that have been moved across the divide between coal and M/NM (coal mines overseen by a metal/non-metal district and vice versa).

There is no particular date when the new regional structure will officially launch. Rather, it is rolling out continuously and gradually as various parts – especially the map and the new regional administrators – fall into place.

Will it make a difference to most mine operators?

While this is a big change for MSHA’s hierarchy, it remains to be seen whether it will have impacts on the ground that are noticeable to the average mine in the normal course of business. In most enforcement matters, mine operators do not involve MSHA personnel above the district office level. Moreover, having regional administrators closer to the districts could mean they are able to keep a closer eye on what takes place in the field. That could be helpful, especially in select areas where district management has struggled.

By contrast to this latest regional change, other Blurring changes likely have had much more day-to-day significance. The previous steps to move inspectors and districts across the divide between coal and metal/non-metal raised concerns that MSHA needed to roll out significant training and orientation to be sure inspectors and districts were familiar with the mines they are inspecting. Likewise, as the coal industry has declined in activity, operators have seen surplus coal inspectors being shifted to the metal/non-metal industry even though there has not been any need for more inspection time at M/NM mines. As a result, some operators have reported seeing more inspectors spending more inspection time at their facilities though safety and health performance remains consistent.

Avi Meyerstein is a Washington, D.C.-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. He leads the firm’s Safety & Health group.

LNG Canada reduces BC worksite staff by half

LNG Canada will stop flying in workers to its worksite in Kitimat, British Columbia, to reduce exposure to the workers who are already there, reducing the site’s workforce by half.

LNG Canada had already taken steps to reduce travel between Canada and China, where LNG modules are being built, and requiring some employees to work from home.

On Monday night, LNG Canada and its main contractor, JGC Fluor, announced they would take the additional step of reducing the number of workers at the Kitimat site, where workers are housed in a massive work camp.

Workers typically fly in to work for two weeks, then fly out for one week. But the company plans to reduce the number of workers at the site by half. Currently there are about 1,750 workers on site.

Susannah Pierce, LNG Canada’s director of corporate affairs, said she doesn’t know how long the reduction will last or if further reductions will be needed.

“We’re going to try to stay as much as we can ahead of the issue and take a look at what further actions may be required, which might also mean that we reduce further. In terms of ramping back up, that’s going to be decided to based on when we believe it’s safe to do so.

“We do need to make sure that we have people on site who can ensure that the facilities continue to be safe and secure, but then also from an environmental perspective make sure that we’re maintaining the site from the compliance perspective. So it won’t be shut down because we’ll have to keep staff on to do those sorts of things.”

The associated Coastal GasLink pipeline project has also been taking steps to reduce non-essential work, but as of Tuesday, March 17, had not announced any workforce reductions at work camps.

LNG Canada’s move to reduce its workforce in Kitimat raises questions about other large energy projects, like Site C dam, where thousands of workers are housed in work camps

Spring breakup meant fewer workers on construction sites in any event. With a reduced workforce, the company tries to use local workers as much as possible to reduce the need to bring workers in from other cities or provinces.

As for how long it takes to contain the COVID-19 virus to the point where economic activity can resume, China offers some hints.

China had shut down fabrication yards where the LNG Canada modules are being built for several weeks earlier this year.

“Work has resumed in China at the fabrication yards, so it’s interesting to see how that has shifted,” Pierce said.

LNG Canada’s move to reduce its workforce in Kitimat raises questions about other large energy projects, like Site C dam, where thousands of workers are housed in work camps, and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Trans Mountain reports that it doesn’t have any work camps yet.

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

Teck targets 33% carbon reduction by 2030

Teck Resources (TSX: TECK.A TECK.B, NYSE: TECK) announced on Thursday a target to reduce carbon intensity by 33% by 2030 as part of its new sustainability strategy and goals.  

This builds on the previously announced commitment to be carbon neutral across all its operations and activities by 2050, Teck said.  

The move comes just weeks after Teck walked away from plans to build the C$20.6-billion ($15.7bn) Frontier oilsands mine, just days before the Canadian government was slated to make a decision on the 260,000-barrel-per-day project in northern Alberta. Canada’s largest diversified miner will take a C$1.13-billion ($852.12m) writedown on the project.  

This builds on the previously announced commitment to be carbon neutral across all its operations and activities by 2050

“We are always challenging ourselves to improve sustainability performance, so we can be sure we are providing the mining products needed for a cleaner future in the most responsible way possible,” CEO Don Lindsay said in the media release.

“We have set ambitious new goals for carbon reduction, water stewardship, health and safety, and other areas because we believe that a better world is made possible through better mining.”  

Teck’s sustainability strategy also includes goals to procure 50% of its electricity demands in Chile from clean energy by 2020 and 100% by 2030 and Accelerate the adoption of zero-emissions alternatives for transportation by displacing the equivalent of 1,000 internal combustion engine vehicles by 2025.  

Last fall, Teck launched new electric passenger buses to transport employees to and from its Fording River and Greenhills steelmaking coal operations in British Columbia’s Elk Valley region.    

Critical Resource, ERM join to tackle ESG risks

London-based Critical Resource and global sustainability consulting firm Environmental Resources Management ERM, have joined up in a deal that is a significant development in terms of the market for ESG and sustainability consulting services.  

In late February, ERM acquired Critical Resource, a firm specializing in advising mining and energy firms on climate, Environmental and Social Governance [ESG], and ‘license to operate’ risks. Its senior advisory panel includes the CIO of Blackrock’s natural resources team, Evy Hambro, the chairmen of both Shell and Rio Tinto, and the former United Nation’s lead on sustainable energy. 

Mining executives across the globe believe their efforts towards effectively reducing the sector emissions and those of their clients will be key to keeping their licence to operate, as governments become more involved in curbing risks associated with climate change. 

Losing social support, or social licence to operate (SOL), is in fact seen as the main risk mining and metals firms are facing these days, an annual study published by consultancy Ernst & Young (EY) shows. 

Senior executives of major mining, and oil and gas firms are increasingly concerned about ESG, climate, geopolitical, and SOL pressures

Daniel Litvin, founder and managing director, Critical Resource

Senior executives of major mining, and oil and gas firms are increasingly concerned about ESG, climate, geopolitical, and SOL pressures, Daniel Litvin, founder and managing director of Critical Resource told MINING.COM.  

Litvin said Critical Resource, originally founded in 2006, will be a strategic unit within ERM, but will continue its original mandate, which provides advice on how to manage specific assets, how to build good relationships with stakeholders, and contribute to local economies.  

Specifics include advice on how to develop scenarios to build community engagement programs. 

“[ESG] issues are moving hugely up the agenda for senior executives in resource industries. ESG has become a real fashion among investors. Climate change is hugely up the agenda in terms in of public attention on it and the role of extractive companies and their associations,” Litvin said.  

Litvin said there is community and stakeholder distrust of the industry, which means more attention needs to be paid by executives to ESG topics.  

“They have to grapple with [these issues] in a much more strategic way than they ever have done,” he said. “There’s no doubt the industry needs to up its game on gender and diversity.”    

“These passions on ESG and climate – I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet in terms of the level of intensity they will reach in a few years. The mining industry, and oil and gas, [are] going to be even more of a target of those who are concerned about the environment, and the power of big business, concerned about inequality in resourced countries,” he said.  

Litvin said it is imperative that these issues are tackled at a very strategic level within companies, and that skills on how to manage ESG issues will become as important as geology and finance.  

“It’s at the board level – these are no longer issues that can be hived off to an external affairs department. These are going to dominate boardroom discussions on how to manage these issues. “  

$3bn expansion planned at British Columbia LNG plant

FortisBC is still putting the finishing touches on a $400 million expansion of its Tilbury Island LNG plant in British Columbia, but is already pushing ahead with a second phase expansion.

When complete, the $3 billion expansion would mean the Tilbury Island plant would produce more LNG than the Woodfibre LNG plant in Squamish.

The second phase expansion proposal has just entered the BC Environmental Assessment Office’s review process with the filing of a project description – a process that FortisBC expects will take two years to complete.

Should phase two be approved and sanctioned, it would bring the Tilbury Island plant’s capacity up to 3.5 MTPA

It may also be subject to the federal government’s new Impact Assessment Act, which a number of business and industry groups have warned could be even more onerous, costly and lengthy than the Environmental Assessment Act that it replaced. B.C. has also made changes to its provincial Environmental Assessment Act. Both federal and provincial acts have increased the role of indigenous people in the environmental review process.

“The key thing for us is that we’re into the new environmental process, so that will be interesting to see how that plays out,” said Doug Stout, FortisBC’s vice president of marketing and external relations.

Meanwhile, FortisBC’s partner in the Tilbury marine jetty project – WesPac Midstream – is nearing the end of an environmental review for a new marine jetty it plans to build at Tilbury Island for a new marine bunkering facility.

FortisBC hopes to see the jetty’s approval sometime this summer, with a completion date of 2022. Should the phase two expansion be approved, it’s not expected to be complete until 2028.

If the expansion is approved, it might require an expansion of the Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) natural gas pipeline system that supplies FortisBC with its natural gas.

“To finish out phase one, we think there’s capacity there on the system,” Stout said. “For phase two, we’d need some expanded gas transportation capacity through Enbridge.”

He said that expansion could be in the form of twinning some sections of the pipeline and additional compression.

FortisBC’s LNG plant at Tilbury Island historically was used to produce and store liquefied natural gas as a backup to meet peak demand and to address pipeline outages.

But FortisBC has also been capitalizing on the growing demand, both domestic and foreign, for LNG in transportation, both in trucking and shipping, by increasing the Tilbury Island plant’s production capacity.

Domestically, a number of trucking fleets have already converted from diesel to compressed or liquefied natural gas. So have a number of ferries operated by Seaspan and BC Ferries.

Currently BC Ferries has five vessels operating on LNG and Seaspan has two, with two more LNG vessels on order, Stout said. FortisBC forecasts that the demand for LNG for marine bunkering could be 1 MTPA by 2030.

Private operators have also been developing small-scale LNG export opportunities. These exporters are using ISO containers, which can be put on container ships, and shipping them to China.

“There is a component that could be for export,” Stout said. “That could be either to ISO container market or bulk shipping.”

The first phase of the Tilbury Island LNG plant’s expansion isn’t technically done yet. FortisBC plans to bring the Tilbury Island plant’s production up from 0.25 million tonnes per annum to (MTPA) to 1 MTPA. This requires some additional liquefaction capacity and additional gas lines.

Should phase two be approved and sanctioned, it would bring the Tilbury Island plant’s capacity up to 3.5 MTPA. That is 1.4 MPTA more than the Woodfibre LNG plant would produce in Squamish.

The expansion plan includes increasing storage capacity. The need for more storage was underscored in 2018 when the Enbridge natural gas pipeline that supplies the Lower Mainland and Washington with natural gas state ruptured, resulting in shortages and rationing.

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

Teck’s Frontier fall out

Even if Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B) had not fallen on its sword, and even if the federal government had greenlighted the Frontier oilsands project in Alberta, there are serious questions about whether the project would have been built.

Teck had no plans to follow through on the C$20 billion project any time soon, and by the time it did, who knows where oil prices and climate change legislation would be?

The question for Canada now is this: If a major Canadian company that has committed to carbon neutrality by 2050 and garnered support from all affected Indigenous groups can’t make a strong enough economic and social-licence case for building a new oilsands project in a province that loves oil and in a country with strong new climate change policies, who can?

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is already floating the idea of his government financing oilsands development, after Teck’s withdrawal of its project from the environmental process, which suggests the answer is “No one in the private sector.”

“I do think this does represent the last very large-scale mining project being advanced in the oilsands at this point in time,” said Kevin Birn, vice-president of North American crude oil markets for IHS Markit.

In his carefully crafted letter to Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Teck CEO Don Lindsay suggests Canada and Alberta haven’t figured out how to be both oil producers and climate change leaders, and until they do, “there is no constructive path forward for the project.”

IEA predicts a continued demand for heavy oil and bitumen from Canada, with production in Canada to increase by 600,000 barrels per day by 2040

Simon Fraser University sustainable energy economist Mark Jaccard isn’t convinced that a lack of clarity on climate change policies and resource development is Frontier’s main obstacle. He points to a C$30-per-tonne industrial carbon tax on heavy emitters and a 100-megatonne cap on oilsands emissions in Alberta.

“Climate policy affecting oilsands could not be clearer,” Jaccard said. “ I suspect that the real issue is that global oil demand growth might slow, and one day decline, while alternative oil supply is cheaper than oilsands.”

Moreover, international lenders and investors are beginning to factor “climate risk” into their decisions. Some are pulling out of Alberta’s oilsands altogether. Major oil companies have also divested from Alberta’s oilsands in recent years.

Under its “stated policies” scenario, the International Energy Agency (IEA) does not expect the global growth in demand for oil to begin peaking until 2030.

It predicts a continued demand for heavy oil and bitumen from Canada, with production in Canada to increase by 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) by 2040. Frontier would have represented nearly half of that – 260,000 bpd.

So the demand is there, according to the IEA. The question is whether Canada can compete with other heavy oil producers to meet it.

Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s insistence that Canada is committed to “creating good jobs and developing our natural resources sustainably, in Alberta and across the country,” the reality is that the Frontier project caps an estimated C$120 billion worth of major energy projects – pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities – either rejected by the Trudeau government or abandoned by major energy companies.

Canada is so divided over fossil fuel development, climate change and Indigenous relations that the Trudeau government found it necessary to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and will end up paying billions more to complete its expansion than it would have cost if Kinder Morgan (TSX:KMI) had not been scared off by internecine Canadian disputes.

Teck’s announcement that it was withdrawing Frontier from the environmental review process came at a time when Canada is becoming paralyzed by protests and blockades over the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which enjoys the support of all 20 First Nations along the pipeline route – with the exception of a small group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

The message that Canada is telegraphing to the global investment community is so negative that it may have even scared off at least one U.S. renewable energy investor. Eric Denhoff, a former deputy minister of environment and climate for Alberta, is semi-retired, but still performs consulting work. He was shocked when an American investor called last week to find out what was going on in Canada, and then told him he had decided against putting money in a renewable energy project in the country.

“I was surprised about anybody in another industry being nervous about investing in Canada,” said Denhoff, who did not want to identify the investor. “There was no one big issue, and there was no ‘Well, we’re never going to work in Canada again.’ It was just sort of ‘Well, let’s wait a little while – let’s see how this chills out. Let’s give it a year,’ which really surprises me.”

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

China restarts rare earth capacity after coronavirus closures — report

The impact of the coronavirus has been felt on a range of markets as well as the macroeconomic performance of the Chinese economy during early 2020.  The rare earths industry has not been exempted from these factors, as many Chinese processing facilities have reported prolonged closures after the Chinese New Year holiday and there have been disruptions to both local and national transport networks, labour availability and enforced shutdowns at facilities, a new market report by Roskill found. 

“While temporary closures are not uncommon around Chinese New Year celebrations, the widespread prolonged nature of the closure, compounded by disruption to distribution networks, has caused concerns over the supply of Chinese rare earths both domestically and internationally,” Roskill’s David Merriman wrote. 

At the beginning of February 2020, 70–80% of capacity at rare earth processing facilities is estimated to have been suspended  

At the beginning of February 2020, 70–80% of capacity at rare earth processing facilities is estimated to have been suspended for a period, representing roughly 80-100ktpy REO of reported processing capacity for predominantly heavy rare earth products, the report found.  

“Though this may at first appear worrying, considering global refined production totalled 173kt REO in 2019, in reality a significant portion of this capacity is redundant, representing outdated or unlicensed facilities, Merri Rare earth separation facilities in southern China have consistently reported capacity utilisation of below 40%, with many remaining mothballed since environmental controls were tightened in 2017-2018,” Merriman wrote.  

Disruption to Chinese transport networks, may impact the distribution of rare earth products to domestic and international customers, and many processing facilities had prepared inventory to meet orders ahead of planned closures in late January, the report read.  

“As a result, there has been minimal impact on suppliers’ ability to meet demand, indicated by only limited price reactions for rare earth products, with Dy oxide prices increasing only 2.6% between the start of January and mid-February 2020. The restart of production at those rare earth processing facilities with effective capacity is now being reported in southern provinces, most notably in Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces, with capacity expected to meet demand and minor restocking at end-users,” Merriman wrote.  

(Read the full report here)

ICA creates global standard for responsible copper

The International Copper Association (ICA) has announced its creation of the ‘Copper Mark,’ a global standard to ensure responsible production and trading of copper.  

The ICA’s more than 500 global program partners bring together the copper industry to develop and defend markets for copper and to make a contribution to society’s sustainable-development goals. 

Inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Copper Mark is to be launched this year.  

“For the copper industry, as well as for other extractive industries, proving responsible business practices is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a commercial imperative”

Michèle Bruelhart, executive director, the Copper Mark

“For the copper industry, as well as for other extractive industries, proving responsible business practices is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a commercial imperative,”  Michèle Bruelhart, executive director of the Copper Mark said in a media statement.  

“Businesses are expected to look beyond shareholder profit, and to make purpose and responsibility key parts of their mission and operations.”  

The Copper Mark uses an existing tool, the Risk Readiness Assessment, to address 32 issue areas across environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics.  

“In doing so, the Copper Mark seeks to improve practices across the spectrum of producers globally and covering all major areas of responsible production,” Bruelhart said.  

The project’s next major milestone will be seen this year, with the launch of its formal application process. The organisation will begin accepting applications from copper producers (including mines, smelters and refiners) this year, while applications from copper fabricators are planned to be accepted within two to three years. 

“The new measure seeks to monitor the performance of copper mines and refineries around the globe, assessed against responsible production criteria. Unlike other sustainability programs currently in place, the Copper Mark targets copper specifically,” said GlobalData’s Mining Technology writer Scarlett Evans.  

“Copper has gained a reputation as the material of our future, and with countries doubling down on their eco-efforts, demand is set to spike in the coming years. Holding such powerful sway over the global energy sector, the need to legitimise  the metal’s supply chain has never been more urgent.”

Sherritt shares jump on 50% bond haircut

Sherritt International (TSX:S) announced Wednesday a proposed transaction designed to improve capital structure and reduce the beleaguered Canadian nickel miner’s debt by half.

The transaction would give investors a 50% haircut and would reduce Sherritt’s total outstanding principal debt obligations by about C$414 million (about $322m) and reduce annual cash interest payments by C$19 million (about $13m). 

Sherritt, which has significant assets in Cuba, is offering to buy back as much as C$443 million of its debt at a big discount to face value. Bondholders will get 53 cents on the dollar plus accrued and unpaid interest if they accept by 5 p.m. New York time on March 27, or 50 cents plus interest if they wait, Bloomberg reported.  The bondholders would get new second-lien notes with an 8.5% coupon. 

Total debt is currently at about C$588 million in debentures, plus another C$145m on a leftover Ambatovy partner loan – resulting in over C$700 million, Sherritt’s CEO David Pathe told MINING.COM.  

“Another element [of] this transaction is that our partners will see us exit [Ambatovy]  altogether, and eliminate the remainder of our Ambatovy- related debt”

David Pathe, Sherritt CEO

Sherritt’s debt almost quadrupled between 2007 and 2008 as the company developed the massive Ambatovy nickel and cobalt project in Madagascar with Sumitomo Corp. and Korea Resources Corp. From the start, the project was plagued with delays and cost overruns, and a political coup that resulted in the suspension of mining licenses. 

Pathe says while Sherritt still retains a 12% equity interest in Ambatovy, the company has been trying to exract itself for years and plans a full exit. 

“It’s something we’ve been working on, looking at different alternatives for months now, we landed on this transaction because we think this is the fairest to all the affected stakeholders across our series of debentures, and treating them all equally,” Pathe said. 

“Another element [of] this transaction is that our partners will see us exit that project altogether, and eliminate the remainder of our Ambatovy- related debt,” Pathe said. 

“It will help preserve our liquidity, which has been our focus,” Pathe said. He added that over past two years Sherritt has eliminated over C$2 billion in debt, and with the completion of Wednesday’s transaction will be closing in $3 billion in debts off the balance sheet. 

“It will extend our maturities out, right now we face maturities on our existing debt in 2021, 23 and 25 – this will push all of those out to 2027,” Pathe said.  

Pathe said Wednesday’s proposal will provide security to bought holders, and treats them equally.  

For more than a decade, Sherritt has fought to reduce its debt, selling all of its coal assets in 2013 as commodity prices languished. A spike in cobalt prices in 2017 helped the company post its first annual profit since 2012 but it fell back into the red the following year, Bloomberg reported.  

Meanwhile, a tightening of US sanctions against Cuba has resulted in the island nation being unable to pay Sherritt for the energy it produces in foreign currency. Sherritt said its Cuban partners have committed to increasing its $2.5 million monthly payments to the miner. 

Adding to Sheritt’s challenges in Cuba and Madagascar, the nickel market has been volatile

 “Debenture holders also get the benefit of a cash sweep, beginning in 2021, that will further demonstrate our commitment to ongoing debt reduction, and we think, to where the bonds are trading now, this gives them a piece of paper that is of real value to them and puts us in a position where we’ll be able to repay that debt in full,” Pathe said. 

Adding to Sherritt’s challenges in Cuba and Madagascar, the nickel market has been volatile. Nickel price was up last summer, but fell back after the Indonesian ore ban lifted and fears on tariffs on global trade, and now coronavirus.  

Pathe said he expects more volatility in the coming months, but remains confident in the nickel market, as he said current global supply is not sufficient to meet demand.

By market close in Toronto Wednesday, Sherritt’s stock was up by over 16% on the TSX. The day’s trading volume reached over 1.2 million, more than double the daily average. The company has a C$71.5 million market capitalization.  

(With files from Bloomberg)