MINING PEOPLE: Dolly Varden Silver, Fremont Gold, Solaris Resources, Talisker

Key moves in the Canadian mining sector

Mathieu Piche has joined the board of Black Tusk Resources with Alex Klenman resigning as a director.

Peter Dickie and Neil McCallum have been appointed to the board of Bluebird Battery MetalsPeter Dickie is also now the company’s president and CEO, replacing Nav Dhaliwal, who has resigned from the company.

David Watkins has joined the board of Crystal Lake Mining and Natasha Chapman is now its corporate secretary; Alphonse Ruggiero has resigned from the board.

Dolly Varden Silver has retained a new team of technical mining professionals with Ryan Weymark joining the company as technical advisor, engineering, Jodie Gibson now the technical advisor, geology and Marilyne Lacasse joining as project geologist.

In addition, Alex Horsley has been appointed an investor relations representative.

Jamie Robinson is now a technical advisor for the Griffon gold project with Fremont Gold.

Rafael Solis has resigned from the board of Galway Gold.

Thomas Brunner is now on the board of Richmond Minerals.

Ron Walsh has joined the board of Solaris Resources with James Steels resigning from the board.

Michael Andrews has resigned as president and COO of Southern Arc Minerals; these responsibilities have been assumed by the company’s chairman, John Proust.  Khalid Al Obaidli also resigned as a director.

Scott Davis has been appointed as the CFO of Taku Gold to replace Greg Hayes.

Leonardo de Souza is now VP of exploration and resource development with Talisker Resources.  Ruben Padilla, the company’s former VP of exploration has been appointed director of geology.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Appian offers credit support for mining companies

Mining investment advisory firm Appian Capital announced on Wednesday that due to the challenges presented by the covid-19 pandemic across the industry, the firm has expanded its investment focus and is ready to provide short-term financing – including credit facilities – to support mining companies with balance sheet pressures and liquidity concerns .

These financial support will be made in addition to the firm’s usual direct equity investment considerations.

Appian says the long-term nature of its private equity funds and the flexibility of its investment mandate allow the company to provide partners within the range of $50 million to $300 million of financial support, including equity, bridge loans and other forms of credit.

Appian’s current investment portfolio consists of six mines that have gone into production. These include Roxgold’s Yaramoko operation in Burkina Faso and Harte Gold’s Sugar Zone project in Ontario.

BHP to hire 1,500 to support Australia operations

BHP announced on Friday that it will hire 1,500 additional people to support its workforce operating across Australia.

The 1,500 jobs will be offered as six-month contracts and cover a range of skills needed by BHP operations in the short term.

The jobs will support and bolster the existing workforce during this difficult time, BHP said.

The roles will include machinery and production operators, truck and ancillary equipment drivers, excavator operators, diesel mechanics boilermakers, trades assistants, electricians, cleaners and warehousing roles across coal, iron ore and copper operations.

Following the initial six-month contract, BHP said it may offer permanent roles.

The government has said that the resources industry is vital in Australia’s response to the global pandemic

The company said that will continue to assess this program and may increase the number of jobs available.

“As part of BHP’s social distancing measures we are introducing more small teams with critical skills to work dynamically across different shifts,” BHP acting Minerals Australia president Edgar Basto said.   

“The government has said that the resources industry is vital in Australia’s response to the global pandemic,” Basto added. “We are stepping up and providing jobs and contracts. Our suppliers, large and small, play a critical role in supporting our operations. It is a tough time for our communities and the economy. We must look out for each other as we manage through this together.”

BHP said on Thursday its operations had not been materially impacted so far by the coronavirus pandemic 

GSA Foundation names new president

The Geological Society of America Foundation (GSAF) announced Friday it has appointed Dr. Christopher Grant Maples as its next president.

Maples replaces Dr. Jack Hess, who has been the president of The Foundation since January 2015. Maples will join GSAF in July.

Maples earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at Indiana University and his B.S. at West Georgia College. He has held senior leadership positions at both geoscience centers (Department Chair, Geological Sciences, Indiana University; executive vice president for research, Desert Research Institute) and technology-focused universities (president, Oregon Institute of Technology; interim chancellor, Missouri University of Science and Technology).

He also has served at the National Science Foundation and the Kansas Geological Survey. In addition, he has some 16 years of continual advanced leadership training at several prestigious institutions. He is a GSA Fellow and a Fellow of the Paleontological Society.

MINING PEOPLE: Generation Mining, Lydian, McEwen Mining, OceanaGold, Osisko Mining

Key moves in the Canadian mining sector

Elaine Dorward-King has been appointed to the board of Bond Resources.

Drew Anwyll is now COO of Generation Mining; most recently, Anwyll was senior VP of technical services, interim COO, VP of operations and mine general manager for Detour Gold.

Paul Berndt has resigned from the board of Happy Creek Minerals.

Brad Mercer has resigned from the board of­­ Kutcho Copper to assume additional operational responsibilities at Capstone Mining.

Willan AbelStephen AltmannRussell Ball and Gillian Davidson have all resigned from the board of Lydian International.

Chris Stewart has left his position as president and COO of McEwen Mining with his responsibilities re-assigned to other members of the company’s management team.

Donald Scoretz, the founder and a long-serving director of Napier Ventures, has passed away.

Philip Williams is now president, CEO and a director of NxGold with Chris McFadden stepping down from these posts. Williams is the co-founder and past CEO of Uranium Royalty and was also previously with Westwind PartnersPinetree Capital and Dundee Capital Markets.

Mick Wilkes has resigned from his post as president, CEO and director of OceanaGold for personal reasons. Michael Holmes, the company’s COO, has taken over as acting president and CEO. OceanaGold will undertake a search for a permanent president and CEO.

Andrée St-Germain has joined the board of Osisko Mining; St-Germain is currently the CFO and corporate secretary of Integra Resources.

Danette Schwab is now VP of exploration with Pacific Ridge Exploration; Schwab was previously with Brixton MetalsNovaCopperFronteer GoldRiverside ResourcesNovaGold and Balmoral Resources.

Tony Brisson is now senior exploration manager with Quebec Precious Metals.

Simon Bodensteiner is now president, CEO and director of Rock Tech Lithium with Martin Stephan stepping down as president and CEO. Stephan will remain on the board of directors of the company and continue to serve as an advisor.

Rodney Lamond, a director of Stratabound Minerals, has passed away. Lamond was also the president and CEO of Jerritt Canyon Gold and chairman of Jaguar Mining.

Ben Au will be retiring from his CFO role with Wesdome at the end of March; Scott Gilbert, the company’s VP of financial systems and cost control, will be appointed the company’s CFO at that time.

Bill Xue has been elected as chairman of Western Resources’ board.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Buffalo not halting operations in South Africa due to COVID-19

Buffalo Coal announced that due to the relatively high prevalence of immuno-compromised conditions among workers in the South African mining industry, management has decided to implement additional measures to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

At present, the measures are limited to increased safety and hygiene but they do not involve shutting down operations.

In a media statement, the company also said that it is constantly monitoring the situation to identify and react to any potential supply chain disruptions that might emerge.

According to the World Health Organization, South Africa has 63 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and none of the people infected has died from the disease

“To date, COVID-19 has neither impacted production or product shipments at the company’s sites, nor have there been any significant negative impacts on, or disruption to, the company’s supply chain,” the press brief reads.

Buffalo holds a majority interest in two operating mines through its 100% interest in Buffalo Coal Dundee, a South African company which has a 70% interest in Zinoju. Zinoju holds a 100% interest in the Magdalena bituminous mine and the Aviemore anthracite mine in the southeastern corner of South Africa. 

The 1,844-hectare Magdalena operation is located 22 kilometres from the town of Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal. Its underground mine has an estimated measured and indicated mineable coal resource of 50.29 million tonnes of in situ coal with an estimated volume of 33.52 million cubic metres and production capacity of 100,000 tonnes of saleable bituminous coal per month.

The 5,592-hectare Aviemore operation, on the other hand, is located four kilometres from Dundee. Its underground mine has an estimated mineable measured and indicated coal resource of 35.35 million tonnes of in situ coal with an estimated volume of 23.57 million cubic meters and production capacity of 45,500 tonnes of anthracite coal per month.

OceanaGold chief executive resigns

OceanaGold (TSX: OGC, ASX: OGC) announced on Wednesday that its president and CEO, Mick Wilkes, is stepping down from the executive position as well as from the board for personal reasons.

The Company’s current chief operating officer, Michael Holmes, will take over as acting president and CEO, effective immediately.

“Mr. Wilkes joined OceanaGold in 2010 and led the transformation of the company from a single asset operator in New Zealand to a successful mid-tier gold mining company operating four mines across three jurisdictions,” the company said in a release.

The company’s stock in Toronto traded at C$1.55 per share midday, down 7.1% on Wednesday. OceanaGold’s market value is C$952 million.

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)

Mining ‘moderately exposed’ to effects of coronavirus

The metals and mining sector will be moderately exposed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak worldwide, said Moody’s in its latest report on global sectors based on data collected as of mid-March.

The fall in commodity prices will have an adverse effect on those in the industry. However, analysts at Moody’s believe many producers have improved since the last commodity slump in 2015-2016, which caused significant hardship for smaller, less-diversified companies and drove a steep rise in the number of defaults. Now, more global, higher-rated companies are in general better able to withstand a market downturn.

The global spread of coronavirus will slow economic growth significantly, which will, in turn, amplify its effect on several sectors, Moody’s asserts.

The firm recently revised its GDP growth forecasts for the advanced G-20 economies to 1.0% in 2020, down from 1.7% in 2019, and for the emerging G-20 to 3.8% in 2020, down from 4.2% in 2019, including a substantive slowdown in China. The baseline scenario assumes a normalization of economic activity in the second half of the year.

Moody’s cautions that the ability of some companies to withstand the effects of the virus will depend on its duration, and as events unfold on a daily basis, there is a higher than usual degree of uncertainty around its forecasts and assessment will evolve over time with new developments.

The following chart details the level of exposure for the major sectors around the world based on Moody’s research.