UBC scientists and miners partner on carbon mineralization project

Scientists have long known that certain types of rocks react with carbon dioxide – a process accelerated when the rock is pulverized – and can sequester it for thousands of years.

Given that that is what mine waste is – pulverized rocks – scientists with the University of British Columbia in Canada are now working with three mining companies on demonstration projects that they say could sequester large amounts of CO2, by enhancing a natural process called carbon mineralization.

UBC will work with the University of Alberta, Trent University, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) and the mining companies on two demonstration projects at mine sites in B.C. and the Northwest Territories

“We estimate that reacting just 10% of a mine’s waste stream could be more than enough to offset the annual carbon emissions produced by a mining operation,” said Greg Dipple, project lead and professor at the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining at UBC.

UBC will work with the University of Alberta, Trent University, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) and the mining companies on two demonstration projects at mine sites in B.C. and the Northwest Territories.

One project is a prospective nickel mine in B.C. The magnesium silicate found in mine waste from metal and diamond mines will naturally fix CO2 in a process called carbon mineralization, which creates a solid, cement-like mineral. The carbon can remain sequestered for thousands of years.

Researchers have been working on technologies that help accelerate the mineralization process.

At a mine in the Northwest Territories, CO2 will be directly captured from the mine’s power plant for mineral sequestration. In B.C., a pilot project will rely on drawing CO2 from the atmosphere. Laboratory experiments have demonstrated that the process can work fairly quickly.

“We’ve achieved rapid carbonation within days to weeks in the lab,” said Dipple. “The challenge is to reproduce this success at large volumes in the field.”

The demonstration project is being funded with $2 million from Natural Resources Canada, and another $1.2 million from De Beers Group, FPX Nickel Corp. (TSX-V:FPX), Giga Metals Corp. (TSX-V:GIGA) and Geoscience BC.

Dipple estimates that if all metal mines in the world used carbon mineralization for their mine waste, it could sequester 100 to 200 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

Improving shutdown times with primary gyratory relining

Shutting down a primary gyratory crusher for relining requires careful planning. The entire shutdown process—from cleaning out the pit to the final relining steps—can take days and, in some cases, up to a week.

Many of the tasks involve safety concerns that need to be examined and mitigated. To mitigate some of these problems and speed up the overall relining process, there are four solutions to consider. Each has advantages in terms of safety improvements and reducing downtime, but they also carry certain costs that need to be evaluated. Below is a quick overview of the benefits of these options.

Double tier concaves for quick gains in PG relining

The outer lining of a typical gyratory crusher consists of individual pieces called concave segments; each one of these needs to be lifted separately during installation and/or removal. A 60-89 gyratory crusher has a standard lining of 6 tiers of concaves that need to be changed during a planned shutdown event. Normally, all the concaves would be removed piece by piece and new concaves installed.

However, switching to concave segments with a different design is a quick way to reduce both downtime and maintenance. The double-tier concave segments are twice as high as regular linings. This translates to 50% fewer consumable parts to be changed, and ultimately reduces exposure to risks for the crews performing the reline. The same relining methods are used for double tier concaves, so no additional tooling is required. The double tier components can be slightly more difficult to manipulate; however, the plusses often far outweigh any challenges in handling the longer and heavier components.

Carousel and removal trays to cut installation time

For further improvements, using handling tools to manipulate both the worn and new concave segments for removal and installation can bring even further gains. In a large primary gyratory, there can easily be 80 concave segments to lift out and replace (4 tiers with 20 segments per tier). Not only is each individual lift a safety risk, but it is also time consuming as the pieces are lifted one by one.

For removals of the older worn concaves, an entire tier of segments can be lifted at the same time using concave removal trays. This significantly cuts down on the number of lifts required. In the example with 80 concave segments, this would cut the number of lifts from 80 to 4. The same logic applies to using a concave carousel for the installation of the new tiers of concaves. The carousel can be used to install an entire tier of replacement concaves, thereby also reducing the number of lifts from 80 to 4 for the entire installation sequence. By reducing the number of lifts, risk exposure and maintenance times are reduced.

In terms of overall time, using these two handling systems in combination typically cuts reline time in half. Each carousel and removal tray is custom designed to fit the specific PG model and chamber profile. Investing in these tools carries initial investment costs but pays itself back with increased uptime as well as improving safety thanks to the reduced number of lifts. 

Maximizing primary gyratory uptime with rotable top shells

For customers who require the highest levels of availability from their Primary Gyratory, there is a third option to consider. Rotable top shells are complete shell segments relined in advance (either on or off-site) and ready to be installed once the existing shell segments are removed with their worn concaves still in place.

This solution saves time as you do not need to install the concaves during the planned shutdown, and fewer components are being manipulated during the outage period. It is no longer necessary to transport and place work platforms in the crusher and maintenance can be done in a more controlled and safer environment. During the shutdown, the shells are separated and lifted (optionally with hydraulic shell separators) and replaced with the relined shells.

Compared to a typical shutdown period, using the rotable top shell concept can provide a reduction in downtime. Using rotable top shells significantly reduces the time needed to reline as well as requiring fewer labor hours and offering improvements in safety by reducing the likelihood of incidents or risks to personnel. However, the flip side of the coin is that additional shell segments are needed which carry capital costs and also involve lifting capacity considerations.

Tools are only as good as the crews using them

A final factor to consider is whether hiring a reline crew to perform the shutdowns can bring further benefits. Metso Life Cycle Services (LCS) contracts often make use of the above solutions, while also utilizing tools such as SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) analysis, which looks at each task within a shutdown to determine where delays are taking place to help determine where time savings can be made. Over the course of the contract, shutdown times often continue to decrease as the SMED is a continuous improvement process always looking for delays to be eliminated.

Making the right choice

Each of the above solutions can help to make significant improvements in reducing shutdown times for concave replacement. Comparing the cost considerations for each option versus the potential savings is an exercise that needs to be performed in order to make the decision that will bring the highest operational gains for your specific site and application.

(By Alex Merklein, Maintenance and Planning Engineer, Field Services, Metso)

How to handle mine tailings safely and sustainably?

The mining business environment is constantly changing; it would not be an overstatement to say that the paradigm is shifting, as mines face new challenges. The pressing issues are not only about low-grade ore bodies and mines going deeper, but also about long-term environmental impacts.

Mining involves the processing of mined ore to separate valuable minerals, leaving behind huge volumes of waste tailings. Driven by mining volumes, globally generated tailings are estimated to total up to 3.2 billion tons for copper and up to 1.8 billion tons for iron per year. Water conservation and the cost of tailings and reclamation are also becoming increasingly significant factors for sustainable and economically viable mining and long-term survival.

The practice of dewatering tailings, however, is still limited to few areas globally. According to Metso’s analysis, only ~5% of tailings generated in 2018 were dewatered into thickened, paste, or dry tailing. We estimate that by 2025 the share of generated tailings that are dewatered will increase to ~13%.

Challenging the conventional

The way tailings are handled can have a long-term impact on economic efficiency as well as on community well-being and ecosystem sustainability. The recent tailings dam failures have brought safety and environmental concerns to the forefront; there have also been stronger regulatory compliances affecting the social license to operate in many regions.

Metso views dry filtered tailings as the most viable and long-term solution for tailings handling, as it not only helps in recycling significantly more water to the concentrator, but also allows for a smaller freshwater footprint compared to traditional tailings impoundments. Contrary to the conventional belief, dry tailings are much more CAPEX and OPEX efficient compared to wet or paste/thickened tailings. Technology is evolving and shifting the gears towards the adoption of smart and hybrid solutions that maximize ore and water recovery while optimizing operational costs.

Enabling a water-positive world

Today, about 70% of the mines operated by the major mining companies are in countries where water scarcity is considered as the major risk. Therefore, responsible water use is the primary driver of the growing interest in tailings dewatering – especially in countries like Peru, Chile, the US and South Africa, where the significant mines are in dry areas.

The industry needs future-ready and smart filtration solutions to solve complex tailings handling challenges. Backed by proven technology and industrial knowledge, Metso is ahead of the curve in developing the most efficient dewatering solutions with an intense commitment to maximize water recovery and reuse.

Getting future ready

A lot of old tailings facilities have residual mineral values, or secondary metals that were not of interest at the time. With the advent of novel technologies, mining companies are now figuring out ways to extract valuable metals from tailings. There are ongoing feasibility studies and capabilities to look into legacy dams enabling customers to plan an “end of the mine” strategy. 

Reprocessing could provide opportunities to help in environmental reclamation, while at the same time offering an attractive investment opportunity. Treating tailings ponds as a potential source for converting “waste to value” would surely help in changing the way the mining industry has been perceived all these years.

(By Niclas Hällevall, VP, Beneficiation Solutions)

Anaconda secures new targets near Goldboro

Anaconda Mining has entered into options to acquire the Country Harbour and Lower Seal Harbour gold properties, 15 and 5 km from its Goldboro property 175 km northeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Both properties are past producers, and they have exploration potential along strike and at depth.

The Country Harbour mine produced about 10,000 oz. of gold prior to 1900. Historic drilling there returned 83.66 g/t gold over 0.3 metre, 5.95 g/t over 1.7 metre, 6.85 g/t over 0.6 metre, and 7.54 g/t over 0.3 metre. Chip samples taken along the Blair adit assayed 9.91 g/t over 4.6 metres.

The Lower Seal Harbour mine was active from 1894 to 1942 and produced about 34,000 oz. of gold. Assays from historical mining returned 18.91 g/t gold over 1.7 metre, including 87.54 g/t over 0.3 metre; 7.49 g/t over 1.7 metre, including 106.01 g/t over 0.25 metre; 9.63 g/t over 1.5 metre; and 5.14 g/t over 2.2 metres.

Anaconda is preparing a feasibility study for the Goldboro gold project. It is to be complete before the end of this year.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Reunion Gold’s shares jump on high-grade find in French Guiana

Reunion Gold’s (TSX-V: RGD) shares jumped Wednesday after the Canadian miner reported a new high-grade gold discovery at the Saint-Michel prospect, part of the Boulanger project in north-central French Guiana. 

Reunion Gold’s projects are in the Guiana Shield, the northern segment of the Amazonian Craton of South America. 

In February, Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX)(NYSE:GOLD), the world’s top bullion producer by volume, entered into a 50-50 strategic alliance with Reunion to jointly explore for and develop projects in the highly prospective and under-explored Guiana Shield gold district.

Sampling over an area of 260 meters by 95 meters at the Saint-Michel prospect returned an average grade of 17.3 g/t gold, Reunion said in a media release. 

Systematic sampling of the Saint-Michel mineralized stockpiles extracted from past artisanal workings returned an average of 17.3 g/t gold from 42 samples with the highest assay at 45.9 g/t gold, the miner said.  

 “Our preliminary sampling of the Saint-Michel prospect shows some of the best gold grade our team has ever encountered in the Guiana Shield, and we look forward to systematically exploring this area as we move the Boulanger Project forward,” Réjean Gourde, Reunion Gold´s CEO said.  

At market close Wednesday, Reunion’s shares were up 12%, with the day’s trading volume over 3 times the average. The company has a C$116 market capitalization

Reflections on working 23 years at the Miner

This is my final editorial for The Northern Miner, as I will soon depart to join gold miner Agnico Eagle Mines as a senior geologist in their Toronto head office, working on technical writing.

After almost 23 years at the Miner, including the past 14 years as editor-in-chief, I’ve been overwhelmed by the hundreds of well-wishes coming in from around the world after my departure was announced, representing all stages of my time at the paper.

I extend my thanks to all my work colleagues as well as my mining and media industry contacts over the years for their help that allowed for our editorial team to produce top-quality stories that will stand the test of time.

I was hired by the Miner fresh out of geology grad school in December 1996 during a peak in the mining industry, when Bre-X Minerals was the toast of the town, and its Busang fraud had yet to be exposed. The peak was, of course, soon followed by a slow decline in the commodities markets that didn’t turn a corner until the 9/11 attacks in 2001, which started gold and other metals on their supercycles that lasted many years.

Back in the late 1990s, it was instructive to see how people in mining and mineral exploration reacted to a commodity downturn, as they usually had wholly inadequate, one-year plans to cope.

After the first year I would see a CEO downsize his company to eliminate all fieldworkers. The next year he would have laid off all his staff. The next year he would tell me he’s working alone from a home office. By the next year he would be working for free in return for shares, and possibly show signs of a failed marriage and heavy drinking.

Speaking some French, I had been hired at the Miner in part to boost coverage of the juniors active in Quebec, which I did by making numerous trips to “La belle province,” particularly that golden strip in the Abitibi between Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d’Or.

One memory has stuck with me throughout my time at the Miner: During a visit to Val-d’Or in the depths of the gold bear market — when the yellow metal traded below US$250 an ounce, and majors like Barrick Gold and Placer Dome had pulled out of the region, leaving little remaining activity — I was at a sparsely attended meeting of barely surviving junior explorers.

As I was about to leave the group to head to the airport for Toronto, one of the middle-aged CEOs turned to me, his face in anguish, and said, “Don’t forget about us, John!” And then he slumped over and started crying. (To that CEO: I never forgot about you guys, and tried my best to give good coverage of the area.)

To me in my 20s, it was a first glimpse of the personal toll that failed businesses exact on ordinary people. But more than that, it underscored how unprepared most people in the mining industry are for extended downturns, even as they will quickly say that one of the defining characteristics of the mining industry is its cyclicality.

That group of CEOs didn’t know they were only a few years away from a spectacular gold-mining renaissance in the region, led by a new era of miners like Agnico and Osisko.

One of the defining features of the most successful mining entrepreneurs I’ve met over the years is not only do they realize that downturns last longer than most people expect, but they retain the capacity to take swift and decisive action during the worst of that downturn, picking up company-building assets for cents on the dollar, while their competitors are broke and curled up in a fetal position.

A crucial aspect of this is an ability to keep your personality separate from the prospects of the commodities you’re involved in. I’ve seen too many people in mining become personally glum when their commodity is down, or hubris-filled when their commodity peaks.

A positive attitude during the worst of business times becomes integral to being able to see and take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime business opportunities.

Mining entrepreneur Ross Beaty, with his infectious enthusiasm and brilliant long-term vision and business decisions, perhaps exemplifies this trait better than anyone in the junior mining game.

And finally: Thanks to you for being a reader of The Northern Miner, and please keep supporting independent news coverage in all its forms with your subscriptions and advertising.

(This editorial first appeared in the Northern Miner)

2 new coal mine proposals under review in British Columbia

Continued strong global demand for steelmaking coal, especially in China and India, may be behind two new coal mine proposals in British Columbia.

Conuma Coal Resources Ltd. recently filed an application with the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) to expand its current operations in the Chetwynd-Tumbler Ridge area, and Australian coal miner Allegiance Coal Ltd. (ASX:AHQ) is now in the early stages of an environmental assessment for a new mine near Smithers, in north west B.C.

Exports of met coal from B.C. hit $7.4 billion in 2018, according to BC Stats, surpassing the value in 2011, when coal exports peaked at $7.1 billion.

Current met coal prices are around $190 per tonne, and companies are now pushing forward expansions and greenfield projects

Following a steelmaking coal price crash between 2015 and 2016, the value of coal exports from B.C. dropped by more than half, from $7 billion in 2011, when met coal prices reached close to US$300 per tonne, to $3 billion in 2015.

Current met coal prices are around $190 per tonne, which may explain why companies are now pushing forward expansions and greenfield projects.

“The market can definitely absorb the production of the mines,” said Wood Mackenzie coal analyst Tony Knutson. “We need new projects going forward. There has been a lack of investment.”

Conuma is the U.S. company that rescued three idled met coal mines in 2015 when it acquired them from Walter Energy, which went bankrupt following the coal price crash.

One by one, Conuma reopened all three former Walter Energy mines, which now employ close to 1,000 workers. The company now plans to develop a fourth mine, called the Hermann project, as a satellite to its Wolverine mine. Last week, Conuma applied to the EAO for permission for the new pit, located 26 kilometres from the Wolverine operation.

The additional pit would add seven years to the Wolverine processing plant, to give it a total lifespan of 22 years. Conuma says the new pit would produce 1.5 million to three million tonnes of met coal per year.

Under a previous owner, Western Canadian Coal Corp., the Hermann mine was permitted in 2005 but was never developed.

“We expect that we would be mining and producing coal in probably the end of the first quarter of 2021,” said Conuma CEO Brian Sullivan.

As for Allegiance Coal, its flagship development project is the Tenas mine – also known as the Telkwa – near Smithers. The mine would produce 240,000 to 900,000 tonnes of coal per year and would employ 240 miners.

That is a small operation compared with Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B), which produces 26 million tonnes per year at its mines in B.C. and Alberta, or even Conuma, which produces about six million tonnes annually.

“That one’s interesting because it’s not one of the typical mining areas right now,” Knutson said. “It’s not a traditional area for coal mining, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be.”

The Tenas project has access to rail and ports, which is a “huge” advantage, Knutson said.

The company filed a project description last year and will file a formal EAO submission in the fourth quarter of this year. It does not expect a permitting decision until early 2021.

With the 2015 crash still fresh in mind, the industry no doubt will be keeping a close eye on China and India, as well as its competitors. One of the things that precipitated the price crash of 2015 was an oversupply of met coal, mostly from Australia.

Knutson said Wood Mackenzie expects coal prices to temper somewhat, to about $150 per tonne, which is still strong enough to support the development of new mines. He doesn’t expect the kind of sudden price crash of 2015 that shocked the industry.

Whereas China is the biggest market for met coal, India is expected to become a major market in the longer term.

“India will drive the long-term coking coal demand globally,” Knutson said. “They’re kind of doing what China did before in building up their infrastructure. It takes a lot of coking coal and steel.”

As for Teck, B.C.’s biggest met coal producer, the company is winding down two of its mines – one in B.C. and one in Alberta.

Its Coal Mountain mine in the Elk Valley is now in care and maintenance and is being decommissioned, having exhausted its coal reserves. Teck also plans to close its Cardinal River mine in Alberta next year.

That will leave the company with four operating mines in B.C. in the Elk Valley, which still has an abundance of coal. It also owns the Quintette mine near Tumbler Ridge, which has been in care and maintenance since 2000. Teck planned to restart it in 2014, but it put that project on hold.

Vancouver gold junior sells for $610m, spins out new explorer

If you try to conjure up some of the world’s best gold mining jurisdictions, Nova Scotia and Bulgaria do not immediately leap to mind.

But more than 60 years after Nova Scotia’s last gold mine stopped producing, the yellow metal is once again being mined there thanks to the new Touquoy mine – and the Vancouver junior miner that built it, Atlantic Gold Corp. (TSX-V:AGB), is about to be snapped up by Australia’s St Barbara Ltd. for C$800 million.

The team that built Atlantic Gold, led by former Teck Cominco CEO Steven Dean, will then spin out a new exploration and development company, whose immediate focus will be a new gold project in Bulgaria.

Atlantic Gold shareholders will vote July 15 on St Barbara’s offer. Should shareholders approve it – and with a 40% premium being offered, there seems little reason to reject it – it will mark a hat trick for Dean.

More than 60 years after Nova Scotia’s last gold mine stopped producing, the yellow metal is once again being mined there thanks to the new Touquoy mine

Dean was a founding director of Normandy Mining, which was acquired by Newmont Goldcorp Corp. (TSX:NGT).

“We grew that from startup to about a C$4.5-billion-sized company, when it was acquired by Newmont,” Dean said.

He then started another gold company in Australia called PacMin Mining, which became a subsidiary of Teck-Hughes Gold Mines Ltd.

That deal brought Dean to Canada in 1998, where he served as Teck’s president. He was in that role when Teck and Cominco merged in 2000 to form Teck Cominco, now Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B).

Dean left Teck Cominco in 2002 and took what he calls a 10-year sabbatical, although during that time he also co-founded Amerigo Resources (TSX:ARG), a Vancouver-based company with a copper mine in Chile.

“When my kids all went to university and went into the workforce, I decided I’d better get back into work,” Dean said.

With the backing of investors like Rick Rule, president of Sprott U.S. Holdings, and Vancouver real estate developer Ryan Beedie, president of Beedie, Dean reorganized a company called Spur Ventures, which was in the phosphate mining and fertilizer business.

They sold off its phosphate business in China, changed the name to Atlantic Gold and acquired and consolidated four gold properties in Nova Scotia. In less than five years, Atlantic Gold had built its first mine.

“We got it financed when there was no finance around, and that’s where Ryan Beedie’s partnership was integral to it,” Dean said.

With a 27.5% share in the company, Beedie is a major shareholder in Atlantic. While he had dabbled in junior mining companies before, Atlantic Gold was his first real foray into the mining business as a major shareholder.

He not only liked the idea of a low-cost mine being built in Canada, in a region that needs the jobs, but also has personally known Dean for 20 years and therefore knew his track record for getting mines built.

“I liked the Nova Scotia angle,” Beedie said. “I said, ‘That’s great – you’re investing in Canada.’ I love the whole model – low cost, the way he de-risked it.”

Nova Scotia was one of the first Canadian provinces to experience a gold rush. But until recently, there had been no gold production there since the mid-1950s.

Historically, gold was mined in Nova Scotia in narrow-vein deposits with high concentrations of gold. But Dean said his company determined that there is lower-grade gold around the older mines’ higher-grade veins, and that there is enough of it to make an open-pit mine economic.

“It wasn’t recognized, until recently, that those veins are surrounded by a halo of lower-grade mineralization, which is very economic, and that’s what’s being recognized in today’s gold rush, if you like, back to Nova Scotia.”

Dean took what Rule calls a typically “Australian” approach to the Atlantic Gold project.

“Rather than try and find a 2 million ounce deposit, he found a district that had numerous 300,000 or 400,000 ounce deposits, where, he believed, if you built a central processing facility, over time you could consolidate the district,” Rule said. “And he did it. He did precisely that.

“He found a district that had fractured ownership, where nobody had the capital or the assets, frankly, to build the processing facility, acquired two of the assets, built the processing facility on time, on budget, and then began the process of consolidating the district.”

Other companies, including Vancouver’s Osprey Gold Development (TSX-V:OS), are now looking to develop gold deposits in Nova Scotia.

Atlantic Gold put its Touquoy open-pit mine into production in 2018 for a capital cost of $140 million. It produces 90,000 ounces of gold per year and employs 270 miners. A second phase would boost gold production to 200,000 ounces per year.

“In a province where there is negative job growth and economic growth is really struggling, we’ve created, in the last two years, 270 direct jobs and another 150 indirect jobs in that province,” Dean said. “And that stands to increase to something like 500 to 600 direct jobs with our expansions planned in 2021 and 2022.”

Dean isn’t about to sit back and take another sabbatical, once the deal with St Barbara Ltd. concludes.

He and Atlantic Gold COO Maryse Belanger will join St Barbara’s board of directors, but they will also be starting another new gold exploration and development company. The Atlantic team is already positioned to spin out a new company, Artemus Gold.

Atlantic, through a subsidiary, recently took a 19.8% stake in another Vancouver junior exploration company, Velocity Minerals (TSX-V:VLC), with options to increase its share to 40%.

Velocity has three exploration projects in Bulgaria, which, like Nova Scotia, has been underexplored.

“We’re planning to raise $20 million to $30 million, after closing of the Atlantic sale,” Dean said. “It will therefore be well armed and in a similar position to Atlantic was in 2014 to look for unloved assets in the gold sector.”

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

Guyana Goldfields stops work at controversial Aurora Mine

Guyana Goldfields (TSX: GUY) stock dropped almost 8% on Wednesday, after it announced a wildcat work stoppage happened Tuesday at its 100%-owned Aurora mine in Guyana, South America.    

A portion of the workforce employed by the company’s wholly owned subsidiary, AGM Inc. blocked delivery of ore to the mill.  Aurora is the company’s only gold mine in operation.  

The mid-tier gold producer has been under pressure due to the performance of its flagship and only operating mine following a resources review

Guyana started underground development in November 2018 at Aurora in northwestern Guyana, in a territory in dispute with Venezuela

This labour dispute is only the latest of the company’s management troubles.   

The mid-tier gold producer has been under pressure due to the performance of its flagship and only operating mine following a resources review. 

In March, the company shocked the market by announcing that the amount of gold in proven and probable reserves at Aurora had declined by almost 1.7 million ounces, compared to estimates a year ago. 

“The past year saw the Company deal with a number of challenges resulting from our lower than forecast planned mining rates and grades at Aurora. In response, the Company has acted on a number of fronts, starting with a refreshed Board of Directors, including the appointment of a new, non-executive Chairman, and a strengthened management team,” Scott Caldwell, President & CEO stated at the time.

The company attributed the unexpected “evaporation” of gold reserves to the adoption of “a new and more appropriate mine model,” which eliminated a previous “ineffective dual reporting” structure. 

A bitter battle for control of between the miner and dissent shareholders led by founder and ousted chairman, Patrick Sheridan, was settled in April, costing the company’s head his job.  

Guyana said on Wednesday that as a safety precaution, it has temporarily suspended operations until a resolution is reached and is in the process of evacuating all non-essential personnel from site, including the striking workers, the company said in a press release. 

“The company believes the stoppage was the result of a misunderstanding concerning the management and relationship between AGM and certain open pit mining contractors,” the press release reads. AGM has been examining options to improve mining performance in order to ensure Aurora’s long-term future.” 

The miner said it is working with its employees and is making arrangements to have the strikers meet with representatives of the Ministry of Labour to mediate the dispute. 

Work on the underground exploration decline remains unaffected, it said.   

First Nation blockade workers at British Columbia copper gold project

The Tsilhqot’in First Nation have set up a “peaceful protest” on a road near Williams Lake, British Columbia and have turned back a work crew that had planned to move in heavy equipment to conduct drilling for the New Prosperity mine.

To date, the Tsilhqot’in have been fighting the Taseko Mines Ltd. (TSX:TKO) New Prosperity copper mine through the courts.

The Tsilhqot’in made history in 2014, when the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that the Tsilhqot’in had proven title over a small amount of their traditional territory, and wider aboriginal rights extending over territory outside of the title area.

But the courts have also recently ruled against them in their efforts to halt geotechnical work related to the New Prosperity mine, so on Tuesday, July 2, the Tsilhqot’in escalated the fight to a peaceful protest, and stopped stopped work crews from moving heavy equipment into the area.

The mine project is still in something of a legal limbo. It has a provincial environmental certificate approving the copper mine, and also has a drilling permit from the province.

But it doesn’t have a federal environmental certificate. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency under the Stephen Harper Conservative government twice rejected the mine’s approval.

Taseko is fighting that decision at the federal court level. Meanwhile, as part of its provincial approval, the company has the authority to conduct geotechnical work required by the provincial environmental certificate.

In mid-June, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal by the Tsilhqot’in over a drilling permit issued by the provincial government.

The Tsilhqot’in assert aboriginal rights in the area where the New Prosperity mine would be built in an area called Fish Lake, known by the Tsilhqot’in as Teztan Binay. The Tsilhqot’in say Fish Lake has cultural and spiritual values that they intend to protect against mine development.

“This project is dead,” Tsilhqot’in Chief Joe Alphonse said in a press release. “It cannot be built. Yet the company wants to come in and tear up a place that is as sacred to us as a church.”

“B.C. needs to understand that TML (Taseko Mines Ltd.) does not have and will not secure the consent of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation, and must intervene to prevent the conflict from getting worse,” said Russell Myers Ross, vice chairman of the Tsilhqot’in National Government.

Asked if the company will seek a court injunction against the Tsilhqot’in, Brian Battison, a spokesman for the company said in an email: “That is one of the options we are contemplating at the moment, however no decisions have been made by the company on what our next (steps) will be.”