Could Being Over 50 Get You Fired?!

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If you’re over 50, chances are the decision to retire won’t be yours.

A new data analysis by ProPublica and the Urban Institute found that more than half (56%) of U.S. workers over 50 have been fired, forced to retire early, or pushed out of their jobs before they were ready to retire.

What’s more, one third of these pushed-out workers go on to be fired from two or more jobs before leaving the workforce. And, only 1 in 10 of them ever reaches their previous salary level again.

If you’re under the impression age discrimination is on the decline, think again. Over the last two decades, age discrimination has only been getting worse, not better.

In 1998, the percentage of older workers who had been pushed out of their jobs was less than a third, compared with 56% in 2016. And, the percentage of older adults who suffered major financial losses from being pushed out of a job tripled, from 10% to nearly 30% over the same time period.

Coasting into retirement is no longer an option if you’re over 50. Not only is it a career mistake but also a retirement planning mistake.

Something you need to watch out for are the sneaky ways employers will try to push you out the door.

Donna Ballman, a Florida employment lawyer and author of the book, Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired: Resolve Workplace Crises Before You Quit, Get Axed or Sue the Bastards, wrote down 11 stealth ways companies try to eliminate older workers.

Here the most common ploys, according Ballman:

  1. Job Elimination

One of the most common excuses used to get rid of older employees is “job elimination.” However, that may just be an excuse for what is really age discrimination.

If the company is not really eliminating the job, just changing the title and putting someone younger in your former position, you may have an age discrimination claim.

  1. Layoff

The company is supposed to attach to a layoff notice a list of other employees included and excluded from the layoff, along with their ages. Employers can be sneaky about the way they put together these reports.

Some will show only select departments or specific job titles, which don’t give the whole picture. More often, they’ll include a few under-40 employees to make the bloodletting look less like age discrimination.

If you are selected for layoff and younger, less-qualified employees at your level are not, you might have an age discrimination claim. If you’re part of a one-person or small “layoff” and you can show that younger people are not being included, you may also be able to prove age discrimination.

  1. Suddenly Stupid

If, after years of great performance reviews, you’re getting reprimanded for things everyone does, or being nitpicked for things the company didn’t care about before, it’s possible the company is gearing up for what’s called the “suddenly stupid defense.”

They’re building a case to get rid of you for poor performance – trying to show a “legitimate reason” other than age for firing you.

If you’re being targeted for write-ups when younger employees do the same things and aren’t written up, you may have a claim.

  1. Threatening Your Pension

Some companies will go as far to threaten an employee’s pension if they don’t quit. That’s a scary threat, but it may be a hollow one. First of all, few people have what would be considered a “pension” (a lump sum paid out every month). Most people have 401(k)s or similar savings plans that your employer can’t touch.

Your employer may claim you can lose your right to your vested pension if you’re fired “for cause,” but it’s not that easy. You have appeal rights if they deny your benefits, and you can sue if you aren’t satisfied with the administrator’s decision.

If you’re being threatened, it’s time to run speedy-quick to an employment lawyer in your state who handles claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA – the law governing employee pension plans and other employee benefits.

  1. Early Retirement

One way employers get rid of older employees is offering a package that includes incentives to take early retirement. Some of these packages are too good to pass up, so if you are offered one, consider it carefully. If you turn it down, remember you can still be fired at will.

However, if the company only fires the older folks, you might have an age discrimination claim. If the early retirement is involuntary, such as when the only alternative offered is being fired, then it probably violates age discrimination laws.

  1. Mandatory Retirement Age

If your employer still has a mandatory retirement age, it’s probably breaking the law. There are exceptions for firefighters and law enforcement.

There is also a very limited exemption for employees who are at least 65 years old, who were bona fide executives or high-level policy-makers for their last two years, and who received an immediate nonforfeitable retirement benefit of at least $44,000.

  1. Cutting Job Duties

One way to force older employees out is to cut job duties, limiting your authority and humiliating you with low-level tasks. You may have age an age discrimination claim if this happens.

So don’t just quit in disgust.

  1. Isolation

Cutting you out of meetings, excluding you from lunches, and sticking you in a cubicle far from the action is another way employers try to get you to quit.

If only younger employees are being included in activities from which you are excluded, this is evidence of age discrimination.

  1. Denying Promotions or Opportunities for Advancement

It’s illegal for an employer to deny you a promotion just because they think you’ll retire soon. Cutting job duties and isolating you are sneaky ways for them to claim you don’t have the experience or qualifications to get a promotion or to advance in the company.

If your opportunities are limited after you hit one of those age milestones, start documenting what is happening and see whether they are also targeting younger employees for similar treatment.

  1. Cutting Hours

Another way to put senior employees under duress is to cut hours to the bone. Starving you to death is a way to force you to quit.

Here, too, look around and see if older employees are being targeted.

  1. Harassment

Cutting hours and job duties, isolating you and assigning menial tasks are all forms of harassment. Other examples of age-based harassment are: calling you the “old man,” or “old lady”; constantly asking when you’re going to retire; saying you’re senile; or making other comments related to age.

Donna recommends following the company’s policy for reporting harassment. And putting everything down in writing. “Title this document, ‘Formal Complaint of Age-Based Harassment and Discrimination,’ says Ballman. “Describe how you’re being singled out for treatment different than younger coworkers.”

She says, note any ageist comments that have been made to you; any other older employees being targeted; and whether there are any witnesses or evidence. Give the company a chance to investigate. If they don’t remedy the situation or if the harassment continues, it might be time to contact an employment lawyer.

Age discrimination is a serious threat to your retirement nest egg. If you suspect you’re being targeted because of your age, start documenting everything so you can build your case.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

Nilus Mattive

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What I Learned from Eating Candy

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I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but it was either late single digits or early doubles.

I was looking through the local newspaper and saw a big, bold ad. Or maybe my parents showed it to me… I can’t remember that part either.

What I do remember is what the ad said, and how exciting it was to me at the time: Topps, the famous baseball card and candy company, was looking for taste testers.

More specifically, they wanted children taste testers. It was a one-day job. You’d go there, taste some sweet stuff, and get paid to tell them what you thought.

My brain was reeling. Paid to taste candy! Are you kidding me???

This ended up being my first paid job.

I can still picture the long wooden table. A bunch of us were sitting around it, with an adult at the head. We tried different things one at a time – gum, hard candy, and all sorts of other confectionery products.

After giving our opinions, we walked away with even more candy and $5 each.

The more I think back on it, the more I realize it might have also been my best job ever.

The Lesson:

A job isn’t just about the raw pay. It’s about the other benefits … including doing something you enjoy.

The Gas Station

Of course, once I turned 16, I went out looking for a “real” job.

As a newly-minted driver, a gas station seemed like a logical place to start. Heck, my dad worked at one when he was a young man and the hours were pretty flexible.

I saw one of the local chains was looking for attendants so I applied.

A few days later, I was heading out for my first real job interview. I put on a collared polo shirt … a nice pair of khaki pants … and, unlike the present day, made sure my hair was neatly trimmed.

Just like the Topps gig, I can still remember what the room looked like. I was sitting in a dark, cramped office across from a guy who wasn’t nearly as dressed up as me.

After a brief introductory conversation, which I thought went well, he surprised me by saying, “Do you really think pumping gas is the right job for a kid like you?” 

A kid like me? What did that mean?

I didn’t have to wait very long for the answer. He basically went on to explain that I was a little too polished for the job. It was messy, menial work and I probably wouldn’t want to do it very long.

He went on to say something about I would probably be happier as a cashier inside one of their other stations but I was already insulted.

Here I was, trying to show respect and suitability by dressing up for an interview and this guy was going to deny me the job because of that? What, because I was too qualified?

I ended up working as a line cook at a local pizza and pasta restaurant. It was just as hard and messy as the gas station job I was turned down for. It didn’t pay more, either.

Still, I showed up every day on time and did all the tasks – everything from frying wings to banging out cheesesteaks – to the best of my ability just as I would have done handling the pumps.

It was the same thing with other “menial” jobs I did during my school years – everything from working as a bouncer at a nightclub to running the counter of a pool hall.   

The Lesson:

People are going to judge you – often because of your appearance, mannerisms, or background – and it won’t always be accurate. All you can do is move on and be true to yourself.

My Stint in Government

My senior year of college, it was time to start thinking about an actual career.

My Dad, a state employee, encouraged me to take the civil service exam. It was the first step toward all types of different government jobs, and he was sure he could help me get a position if I did well.

While working for the government wasn’t exactly my ideal path, I really liked taking tests. I aced the thing without a problem and ended up with a job interview in the state capital.

Everything was going great with the interviewer. 

Then, a question …

“What would you say to someone if they were criticizing state workers for getting too many days off?”


I literally had no idea why this was being asked and it was just about the farthest thing from my mind.

I remember giving some kind of diplomatic response but it reinforced what I already had thought … that government employment probably wasn’t for me.

I ended up getting myself a job on Wall Street instead, where nobody worried about getting accused of having too many vacation days. Within a couple years I was making several times as much as the state job would have paid.

The Lesson:

Things almost always work out for the best if you choose your own path.

Back to Middle School

Eventually, my wife and I were ready to leave the city for good.

I thought about switching careers and doing something a bit more magnanimous. So I applied to become a teacher at an underserved school in Florida through the Americorps’ Teach for America program.

After a few steps, I was invited to come down to Florida for the final part of the hiring process where I would design and teach a sample lesson in front of other candidates and evaluators.

You were able to choose any grade from first through sixth. I picked sixth grade English. I designed a lesson around the haiku, a very specific form of Japanese poetry.

It was an ambitious undertaking – especially once I heard some of the other candidates walking the group through second-grade math problems – but I walked away feeling really good about my performance.

It wasn’t just me.

After the presentation, I had my final interview before flying home. At one point, the woman said something about coming back down to start the job. “Notice I said WHEN you come back down to start the job, not IF,” she told me.

As you can guess, I didn’t get offered the job and I was never given any explanation as to why not.

So, instead of teaching sixth graders about Japanese poetry, I went on to start teaching regular Americans how to better invest their money … something I’m still doing today, more than a decade later.

It suits me. It’s fun. It’s satisfying. I wear whatever I want.

And nobody asks me about how many vacations I take.

The only downside is that I have to buy my own candy.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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DeepGreen closer to mining battery metals from the sea after $150m injection

Canada’s DeepGreen Metals, a start-up planning to extract cobalt and other battery metals from small rocks covering the seafloor, has secured the bulk of the $150 million it needs to carry out its first feasibility studies.

The financing, provided by Switzerland-based offshore pipeline company Allseas Group, is a welcome sign of progress for the deep sea mining sector, which has been stalled due regulatory uncertainty and environmental concerns.

Unlike other seafloor mining companies, including pioneer Nautilus Minerals, the Vancouver-based explorer doesn’t want to drill, blast or dig the bottom of the ocean. DeepGreen’s main goal is to scoop up small metallic rocks located thousands of metres below the surface in the North Pacific Ocean.

Unlike other seafloor mining companies, the Canadian start-up doesn’t want to drill, blast or dig the bottom of the ocean, but to scoop up small rocks containing cobalt, nickel and other battery metals.

Its exploration focus is the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a mineral-rich, 4,000-kilometre swath of the Pacific that stretches from Hawaii to Mexico, where billions of potato-sized metals-rich rocks lie in a shallow layer of mud on the seafloor.

The deep sea, more than half the world’s surface, contains more cobalt, nickel, copper, manganese and rare earth metals than all land reserves combined, according to the US Geological Survey.

Companies exploring or already developing projects to mine the seafloor argue the extraction of those deep-buried riches could help diversify the sources currently supplying metals needed for electronics and evolving green technologies, such as electric vehicles (EVs) and solar panels.

Academics and scientist, however, are concerned by the lack of research on the possible impacts of high seas mining. They fear the activity could devastate fragile ecosystems that are slow to recover in the highly pressurized darkness of the deep sea, as well as having knock-on effects on the wider ocean environment.

Not enough studies

Last year, the European Parliament called for a ban on seabed mining until the environmental impacts and risks of disturbing unique deep-sea ecosystems are understood. In the resolution, it also urged the European Commission to persuade member states to stop sponsoring and subsidizing licenses to explore and exploit the seabed in international waters as well as within their own territories.

Shortly after, an international team of researchers published a set of criteria to help the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN body made up of 168 countries, protect biodiversity from deep-sea mining activities.

So far, it has granted 29 licences to governments and companies, authorizing them to explore in international waters.

Nautilus, however, is the only company that has gone beyond the exploration stage and has gotten close to open the first polymetallic seabed mine off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Its Solwara 1 project, however, has been slowed by funding issues and local opposition.

Anglo American (LON:AAL) sold its 4% stake in Nautilus a year ago, as part of efforts to retain only its most profitable assets. And, in March, it had to delist from the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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Bonus schemes play a role in tailings dams failures – research

A paper published in the journal Resources Policy states that bonus schemes for middle management employees in mining companies play a role in tailings dams failures.

According to the research article, such compensation packages actively encourage managers to cut costs and increase production, as the material decisions that put into motion such measures lay in their hands and positive results would increase their annual bonuses.

Although most mining companies don’t make public the compensation packages they give their middle management personnel, such incentives are known to be a common practice in the industry. Thus, using the information provided by the two companies that do report them, Newmont Goldcorp (NYSE: NEM, TSX: NGT) and AngloGold Ashanti (JSE:ANG, NYSE:AU), the authors of the study found that some schemes are equivalent, in financial terms, to an equity payment plus a put option.

The number of tailings dam failures has doubled in recent years from 8 in the period 1999–2003 to 16 in 2014–2018

“So the bonus is highly leveraged. Like investment bankers, the person stands to gain a lot if his/her performance is above target, but loses little, if it falls below target,” the study reads. “Year after year, managers keep taking risks with a low probability of occurrence but with potentially catastrophic consequences. These risks are compounded by shortages of experienced staff due to the cyclic nature of the industry and the retirement of the baby-boomer generation.”

Authors Margaret Armstrong, Renato Petterd and Carlos Petterd connected their observations to those in earlier research papers that analyzed certain cases of tailings dams failures and found that either production was increased or costs were significantly reduced in the years leading to the accidents.

The academics report that, for example, prior to the collapse of the tailings facility at the gold and copper Mount Polley mine in British Columbia in August 2014, which resulted in 24 million cubic meters of contaminated sludge and mine waste going into nearby lakes and rivers, Canada’s Imperial Metals (TSX: III) had grown its production by 23% in Q2-2014 from the previous quarter.

Boliden Apirsa, on the other hand, had flat revenues from 1995 to 1997, just before the tailings dam crashed at the Los Frailes lead and zinc mine in Aznalcóllar, Spain, in April 1998. But capital expenditures doubled during this period from $55.4 million to $112.3 million and operating income increased spectacularly from $2.3 million to $84.9 million. “So production costs must have dropped significantly over the period.”

The aftermath of the disaster in Brumardinho following Vale's tailings dam collapse. Photo by Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama, Wikimedia Commons.

In Brazil, production at Vale’s (NYSE:VALE) Samarco iron ore mine had increased by almost 40% in the five quarters just before the accident there in 2015, which killed 19 people and became the country’s worst-ever environmental disaster. Similarly, at the Paraopeba subsection of the Southern System where the Corrego do Feijão dam was located, production was risen by 12% in the five quarters before the Brumardinho catastrophe where almost 300 people died.

“The next question we asked ourselves was: Had an extra tailings dam been constructed to handle this additional quantity of rejects, or was it being pumped into existing tailings facilities? Alternatively, had filter presses or high capacity thickening been introduced to reduce the quantity of water?”, the authors of the paper ask.

After reviewing Vale’s quarterly reports for investors, which list all the major projects in progress, they found that there is no mention of building a new tailings dam or of filter presses. “This means that the existing ones had to cope with the waste from the extra production.”

Off the hook

Except for $42.5 million for the initial clean-up, the paper in Resources Policy highlights the fact that Boliden Apirsa succeeded in avoiding paying for the pollution caused by the tailings dam breach.

“Boliden's legal team and expert witnesses convinced a Spanish court of law that the tailings dam failure was due to geotechnical problems, thereby transferring the responsibility to the companies that had designed and built the dam. An epic legal battle ensued in which the Spanish Ministry of the Environment and the local government of Andalusia attempted to get Boliden to pay for the damage, but failed due to loopholes in the Spanish legal system,” the document reads.

In the case of the Mount Polley mine, Armstrong and her colleagues bring to the forefront the fact that the Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel established after the accident found that the failure was caused by the design, which did not take into account the complexity of the sub-glacial and pre-glacial geological environment associated with the Perimeter Embankment foundation.

This has meant that no one has been held responsible for the disaster and, on top of this, the 3-year deadline to lay charges under British Columbia laws passed in 2017, while there is only one year left to lay charges under federal environmental and fisheries law.

The authors of the study refrained from commenting on the legal proceedings involving Vale’s tailings dam failures as they are still in progress.

In their recommendations of what would be needed to stop tailings dam failures, the researchers suggest, besides changes in the processing technology and wider adoption of the Mining Association of Canada’s guidelines issued in 2017, heavier fines and penalties.

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First Quantum wants to work in Panama without ‘legal uncertainties’

Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) responded to Panama’s President-elect Laurentino Cortizo by issuing a media release stating that the extension of the contract to operate the Cobre Panamá mine fulfills current laws and regulations and that its team should be allowed to work without legal uncertainties.

The miner’s communiqué was made public a day after Cortizo said his government would review “clause by clause” the contract awarded to Minera Panamá, First Quantum’s subsidiary in the Central American country.

Cortizo’s administration takes power on July 1, 2019, and his remarks came only days after the national assembly rejected a bill that sought to reaffirm Minera Panama's contract. According to legislators, the 2% royalty rate established in the bill is too low.

Cobre Panama is the largest copper mine coming to market over the next couple of years and the biggest single private sector investment in Panama’s history

The outgoing government of Juan Carlos Varela proposed such a bill after last year Panama’s Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the law that approved the mining concession granted back in 1997. The tribunal’s decision was based on an appeal for annulment presented by an environmental group that alleged that the project was damaging for both the State and the environment.

Despite all the controversy, First Quantum maintains that past and recent agreements follow Panamanian laws and international regulations regarding transparency and corporate responsibility.

With respect to the request to extend its contract, which was signed in 2016, the miner said that it is willing to share all the relevant documentation with both the government and the general public.

“We do this with the belief that the Cobre Panamá project, which employs over 9,000 Panamanians in its current construction phase, will be able to proceed without any legal uncertainty,” the company’s statement reads.

Massive project

First Quantum’s contract extension involves a $327-million expansion of the already massive Cobre Panamá mining and processing complex, which is located in the Donoso area, about 120-kilometres west of Panama City. The plan is for the operation to grow from 85 million tonnes per year to 100 million annual tonnes, beginning in 2023.

The expanded throughput involves the earlier development of the adjacent Colina pit, the addition of a 9th mill, an expanded mining equipment fleet, additional conveyors, an in-pit crusher and other infrastructure related to Colina access.

This year, the company plans to allocate around $110 million to keep advancing the project until it reaches its full capacity of more than 375,000 annual tonnes of copper. Last year, investments in the open-pit operation reached $830 million and the previous year they were close to $1 billion.

But the miner should start recovering its investments soon. Following the processing of its first ore in early February, initial exports of copper concentrate will be leaving Panama's ports later this month.

Total investments in Cobre Panamá add up to $6.3 billion, according to First Quantum.

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Ecuador’s new mining policy backs large-scale projects

The Vice President of Ecuador, Otto Sonnenholzner, and the Minister of Energy and Non-renewable Natural Resources, Carlos Pérez, presented the country’s new Public Mining Policy, whose focus will be on supporting large-scale operations and investments, and eradicating illegal mining.

The announcement was made during a visit to the southern Zamora Chinchipe province, where Lundin Gold’s (TSX:LUG) flagship Fruta del Norte gold project is located. Both Sonnenholzner and Pérez stopped by the mine site and met with representatives of the Canadian company, who said 50% of the construction phase is completed.

Minister Carlos Pérez presenting the new mining policy. Photo by the Ministry of Energy and Non-renewable Natural Resources.

The government officials said they expect first exports from large-scale mining to be delivered before year-end and that the national treasury foresees royalties, taxes, patents, and earnings generating some $836 million between 2019 and 2021. By 2021, the Lenín Moreno administration wants the mining sector to account for 4% of the GDP.

Besides focusing on large investments, the new policy gives relevant authorities six months to update a National Mining Development Plan so that it incorporates a strategy to combat unregulated mining operations and severe penalties for those extracting mineral resources illegally.

The policy also requires authorized mining projects to comply with mining safety and environmental and social sustainability standards, which will be outlined in new regulatory and auditing mechanisms.

The new protocol calls for the establishment of specific targets related to the updating of applicable regulations for the mining industry, as well as goals associated to economic development, research and development, and management and administration.

The presentation of these guidelines took place on the same week the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court is scheduled to receive arguments from those who have put forward a mining referendum in the northern Imbabura province, where SolGold’s (LON, TSX:SOLG) flagship Cascabel copper-gold project is located.

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Uncertain future for Hume Coal’s mine in Australia

The government of New South Wales, in southeastern Australia, issued a communiqué where it says that the state's Independent Planning Commission found that Hume Coal needs to address certain environmental and social issues before being approved for the construction of an underground mine.

In detail, the subsidiary of South Korea’s Posco is seeking planning approval to build and operate a large underground mine on a 5051-hectare greenfield site near Berrima, in the Southern Highlands, some 100 kilometres southwest of Sydney.

There are also plans to build railway infrastructure that facilitates product transportation to Port Kembla.

The independent commission said the proposed location of the mine and community concerns about potential impacts would require close attention in the next stage of the assessment process

If approved, Hume's mine is expected to produce 50-million tonnes of run-of-mine coal over 23 years.

But whether the mine has a future is still to be determined as the State Significant Development applications were deemed 'not in the public interest' by the Department of Planning & Environment in its Preliminary Assessment Report.

That initial report also concluded that the project should not be approved.

For the new assessment carried out by the Independent Planning Commission, the officials in charge of the task met with the applicant, the Department of Planning & Environment and with NGO Coal Free Southern Highlands. They also hosted a two-day public hearing at Moss Vale to listen to the community’s concerns.

In their review, the officials wrote that issues raised by the community at the hearing and in written submissions included impacts on groundwater and surface water, air quality impacts, noise impacts, impacts on visual amenity, loss of property value and impacts on the significance of heritage items and the cultural landscape of the area.

Hume, on the other hand, has said that the low-impact first-workings will ensure faster recovery of groundwater levels in private bores once mining in an area has been completed. According to the miner, this guarantees that there will be no impact on town water supplies and no subsidence impacts on natural waterways or surface features such as farm dams.

However, for the independent commissioners, the information provided by the company was not enough. “Having considered the information presently available, the views expressed at the public hearing and the submissions it has received, the Commission finds that it is not presently able to adopt a definitive position on the merit of the projects as a whole,” their evaluation reads.

In its report, the Commission asked for additional information and further expert consideration to determine whether or not the project has merit as an innovative approach to the mining of metallurgical coal with acceptable environmental impact.

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Sibanye, Lonmin create world’s No.2 platinum producer as merger OK’d

Shareholders of both precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE:SGL) (NYSE:SBGL) and struggling rival Lonmin (LON:LMI) approved Tuesday the planned merger of the companies, effectively creating the world’s second-largest platinum producer.

Sibanye-Stillwater said that 87% of its shareholders backed the all-share offer, which it revised down in April, valuing the smaller miner at 226 million pounds ($286 million), 60 million pounds less than initially offered.

Later in the day, the majority of Lonmin's shareholders rubber-stamped the deal.

South Africa's Competition Appeal Court had cleared the way for the business combination earlier this month, blocking Lonmin's main mining union’s attempt to block the takeover or have re-examined. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (AMCU) move was an effort to avoid some of inevitable layoffs, originally estimated at 3,000, that will take place after the merger.

The takeover is seen as a rescue deal for Lonmin, severely hit by weak platinum prices during the 2016-2017 downturn, costs related to the strengthening rand, a large labour force and expensive deep-level mines.

For Sibanye, is just one more of many deals struck by chief executive officer, Neal Froneman, who has transformed the gold miner by expanding its operations into the platinum-group metals sector.

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Chile’s Codelco brushes off rumoured copper output drop

Chile’s Codelco, the world’s No. 1 copper producer, has dismissed reports of a predicted 40% drop in production over the next two years due to declining ore grades and the switch of its flagship Chuquicamata mine to underground from open pit.

Instead, the mining company says it’s following a detailed plan that will allow it to keep copper output at current levels of around 1.7 million tonnes a year over the next decade.

"Codelco's mine plan is based on existing mines and projects , which will progressively and systematically replace our current operations,” it said in a statement.

Media reports Thursday said production at Chuquicamata would drop to around 182,000 tonnes by 2021 from 459,000 tonnes this year.

State-owned miner says it’s following a detailed plan that will allow it to keep copper output at current levels of around 1.7 million tonnes a year over the next decade.

The fall would impact Codelco's total production by around 4%, the articles stated.

The state-owned copper miner said that since mining at the open-pit mine ends in 2020, which is when the underground section begins commercial operations, it will able to keep productive capacity unchanged.

The $5.6 billion-switch of Chuquicamata to underground cave mining from open pit, part of Codelco’s 10-year, $39 billion-overhaul of its core assets, is expected to extend the mine’s life by at least 40 years.

Annual production from “Chuqui” — as it’s often referred as — after it has fully transitioned to underground extraction is projected to be 320,000 tonnes of fine copper and 15,000 tonnes of molybdenum.

Codelco, which hands over all of its profits to the state, holds vast copper deposits, accounting for 10% of the world's known proven and probable reserves and about 11% of the global annual copper output with 1.8 million metric tonnes of production.

Chuquicamata and the nearby by Radomiro Tomic mines produced 653,000 tonnes of the company's total 1.8 million tonnes of output last year, which was almost 4% less than in 2017.

Production decline, together with lower copper prices and higher costs, saw the company's annual profits drop by a third last year to $2 billion, not counting paper losses worth almost $400 million, as it wrote down the value of its assets, including its Ventanas smelter and the open pit at its Salvador division.

Ugly trend

The world’s main copper producing nations have been showing output declines this year, according to the latest monthly bulletin from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG).

Global production declined 2.4% in February 2019, when compared to the same month last year, with 1,515kt (19,749ktpa) of contained copper produced globally.

Chile led the pack with output down 7.1 % y/y to 415.9kt (5,412ktpa) while Peru, the second main global producer, saw its output fall by 5.1% y/y to 176.1kt (2,296ktpa).

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McEwen kicks off commercial production at Gold Bar in Nevada

Canadian precious metals producer McEwen Mining (TSX, NYSE:MUX) said Thursday it had begun commercial production at its Gold Bar project in Nevada, US, which is expected to generate 50,000 bullion ounces this year.

The Toronto-based miner also said operations will be in charge of Jack Henris, who has years of experience in mine management, having worked at Newmont for 12 years and at Barrick for nine. Most recently, Henris held the vice president of mining and geotechnical position at Goldcorp.

The company says production at Gold Bar has been steadily increasing since the first gold pour in February, and forecasts output of 50,000 ounces, at an all-in sustaining cost of $975/oz. for 2019.

Gold Bar is located in the southern Roberts Mountains within the Battle Mountain-Eureka-Cortez gold trend, about 48km (30 miles) northwest of Eureka, central Nevada, and covers an area of  97 sq. km (37 square miles) contained in 1,196 claims.

The property was previously mined from 1987 to 1994 by Atlas Precious Metals Inc., and the permitting process for McEwen’s project began in 2012.

President and chief operating office, Chris Stewart, said the company plans to begin modifying o the ore crushing and stacking system this summer to mitigate the impact of challenging winter weather like the 2018/2019, which was the wettest winter ever recorded in the US.

Once at full-tilt, the open-pit mine is expected to generate 65,000 ounces of gold annually over an 8-year mine life.

Sustained growth

In the past four years, Rob McEwen — one of the gold’s industry’s best-known bulls — has been aggressively working on expanding his company, which already has producing mines in Mexico, Argentina and most recently also in Ontario, Canada.

His goal is to take McEwen Mining to the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, which groups the 500 largest companies that list either in the NYSE or NASDAQ.

The Canadian resources magnate expects to get there through a combination of organic growth in production, as well as mergers and acquisitions.

McEwen's priority this year is advancing exploration at its Timmins, Ontario, properties.

In 2017, McEwen acquired junior exploration company Lexam VG, which gave it access to mineral properties in advanced exploration stage in the heart of Timmins Gold Camp, northern Ontario. Later that year, it completed the acquisition of Black Fox mine and, by December, it announced it was speeding up exploration activities at its newly acquired properties near Timmins, Ontario.

In January, McEwen said exploration at its Timmins properties would be a priority for the company in 2019, adding that it had set aside C$20 million for that purpose.

The miner recently conducted a drilling program on the Black Fox property with the intention of expanding known mineralized trends near existing mining areas.

They included laterally, along the Black Fox Mine’s western flank and central mine and down-plunge at the Deep Central Zone below the 820-metre level.

“For a mine with a history of producing 5 grams per tonne of gold, these drill assay results are very encouraging. These results highlight the significant potential of our exploration to extend the mine life at Black Fox and improve its profitability,” Sylvain Guerard, McEwen’s senior vice-president of exploration, said in a separate release.

McEwen also noted that results of drilling at Grey Fox, an exploration property located within the Black Fox area, suggests a new mineralization.

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