A global look at high-risk tailings dams

Tailings dams are the most common waste disposal methods for mining companies, whether they’re extracting iron ore, gold or copper.

However, a third of the world’s tailings dams are at high risk of causing catastrophic damage to nearby communities if they crumble, according to data compiled by Reuters.

A year ago, more than 240 people died in Brazil when a Vale-owned tailings dam collapsed, leading to a slew of social, political and economic aftershocks that are still felt today.

With environmental issues becoming a more heated topic than ever before, investors are now demanding mining companies become more responsible and transparent — with emphasis placed on meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.

The Church of England, which invests in mining companies through its pensions for retired clergy, along with its partners are now requesting companies to disclose data on tailings dams on a regular basis.

The latest Reuters data reflects disclosures from 89 companies with mines in over 60 countries.

More data and graphics are here.

(With files from Reuters)

World Gold Council launches analytic tool for investors

The World Gold Council (WGC) has introduced a web-based quantitative tool that helps investors intuitively understand the drivers of gold performance.

The new platform, called Qaurum, will allow investors to assess how gold may react across different economic environments in three steps.

First, select a hypothetical macroeconomic scenario provided by Oxford Economics, a leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis, or customize your own, then, generate forecasts of gold demand and supply and view the impact of key macro drivers. And thirdly, calculate and visualize implied returns for gold.

Qaurum is powered by the Gold Valuation Framework (GVF), an academically validated methodology

With Qaurum, investors can calculate how various macroeconomic and geopolitical environments might impact the implied performance of gold over the next five years as well as long-term 30-year returns.

Behind a user-friendly interface, Qaurum is powered by the Gold Valuation Framework (GVF), an academically validated methodology based on the principle that the price of gold and its performance can be reliably explained by the interaction of demand and supply.

GVF and Qaurum were developed in response to research suggesting that institutional investors cite the lack of an established approach to valuing gold as a key barrier to investment, according to the WGC.

“One of the WGC’s key mandates is to reinforce gold as a mainstream investment asset,” chief market strategist John Reade commented, adding that the introduction of Qaurum is “an important step in that direction” since it provides investors with a framework for evaluating the metal’s performance.

“Because gold has a unique dual nature as both a consumer good and an investment, some view its performance as unpredictable,” initiative project lead Juan Carlos Artigas said in a statement.

He said that Qaurum “does not forecast the gold price” but rather “helps investors intuitively understand” the drivers of gold performance and the connection between demand, supply, as well as financial, economic and geopolitical events.

Majority of British Columbians recognize importance of metals market – report

A public opinion poll conducted this past summer by Research Co. found that nearly two-thirds of residents of the resource-rich province of British Columbia (63%) believe mineral exploration and mining industries have a role to play in achieving the provincial government’s 2040 zero emissions target.

Two-thirds of the group reported that mineral exploration and mining industries ultimately provide the raw materials required to transition to low carbon technologies and other climate solutions

Respondents were also asked whether environmental protection or economic growth is more important to them. A majority of those who prioritize economic growth believe that mineral exploration and mining industries are key to reaching the zero-emissions target, with two-thirds of this group reported that mineral exploration and mining industries ultimately provide the raw materials required to transition to low carbon technologies and other climate solutions necessary for a sustainable future.

A majority of those who prioritize environmental protection over economic growth also reported that these industries will have a key role in reaching the zero-emissions target.

“What we found interesting about the views of British Columbians is that traditionally opposing viewpoints regarding resource development are essentially in agreement when it comes to mineral exploration and mining playing a vital role in reaching the target,” said Mario Canseco. President of Research Co.

“Building a sustainable future that preserves the environment while also being economically robust is important. That future requires new and innovative technologies that depend on the types of minerals and metals found in BC,” says Kendra Johnston, President and CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. (AME).


“The poll findings reveal a significant opportunity to inform British Columbians about mineral exploration, and the vital importance minerals and metals play in building the green technologies of the future,” Johnston said.

Majority of British Columbians recognize importance of metals market – report

A public opinion poll conducted this past summer by Research Co. found that nearly two-thirds of residents of the resource-rich province of British Columbia (63%) believe mineral exploration and mining industries have a role to play in achieving the provincial government’s 2040 zero emissions target.

Two-thirds of the group reported that mineral exploration and mining industries ultimately provide the raw materials required to transition to low carbon technologies and other climate solutions

Respondents were also asked whether environmental protection or economic growth is more important to them. A majority of those who prioritize economic growth believe that mineral exploration and mining industries are key to reaching the zero-emissions target, with two-thirds of this group reported that mineral exploration and mining industries ultimately provide the raw materials required to transition to low carbon technologies and other climate solutions necessary for a sustainable future.

A majority of those who prioritize environmental protection over economic growth also reported that these industries will have a key role in reaching the zero-emissions target.

“What we found interesting about the views of British Columbians is that traditionally opposing viewpoints regarding resource development are essentially in agreement when it comes to mineral exploration and mining playing a vital role in reaching the target,” said Mario Canseco. President of Research Co.

“Building a sustainable future that preserves the environment while also being economically robust is important. That future requires new and innovative technologies that depend on the types of minerals and metals found in BC,” says Kendra Johnston, President and CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. (AME).


“The poll findings reveal a significant opportunity to inform British Columbians about mineral exploration, and the vital importance minerals and metals play in building the green technologies of the future,” Johnston said.

Quiz: Test Your Mining Knowledge

Mining is one of the fastest changing industries, with high tech being the dominant force unleashing innovation in mining and mineral exploration. We are now seeing the terms “automation” and “robotics” on a regular basis and mining is quickly becoming a source of exciting modernization.

With this digital transformation, the mining industry’s workforce will also have to change. Staying ahead of the learning curve is critical if you don’t want to be left behind. And education is the key.

With that in mind, we have created a short quiz to gauge your mining knowledge. It’s just a bit of fun to start off your year. And if you feel you need to either refresh your knowledge on hone your skills, check out all the courses available at Edumine.

Canadian Mining Hall of Fame names four new members

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame (CMHF) welcomed four new individuals who have made lasting contributions to Canada’s mining industry: P. Jerry Asp, Alex G. Balogh, Hans T.F. Lundberg and Eberhard (Ebe) Scherkus.

For the past 32 years, the CMHF has recognized 186 men and women who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, leadership and inspired future generations in mining. Canadian mining leaders set the standard for the global industry and these individuals reflect the very best of mining excellence, determination and skill.

For the past 32 years, the CMHF has recognized 186 men and women who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, leadership and inspired future generations in mining

“The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame is proud to recognize four leaders who drove the Canadian mining industry forward and greatly contributed to Canadian society overall,” said Jon Baird, Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Chair in a media release. “Each of these inductees, representing different facets of our industry, is an exemplary leader who future generations can follow, while they work to grow and sustain responsible mining in Canada and beyond.”

Asp, Balogh, Lundberg and Scherkus were honoured at the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame’s 32nd Annual Dinner and Induction Ceremony on January 9, 2020 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. 

The art of mining in photography

The Art of mining, PwC Canada’s annual photography contest celebrating the Canadian mining industry at home and abroad is back.

Canadian mining companies are reimagining the way they work to prepare themselves for growth in the long term. The speed of technological change is unrelenting, and the industry is feeling the impact—both the benefits and the challenges. This year, the Art of Mining contest celebrates the people at the centre of the digitally enabled mining industry.

To submit and vote, click here.

Canada and US seal deal on critical minerals collaboration

Canada and the US announced Thursday they have finalized the Canada–US Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, aimed to advance the countries’ mutual interest in securing supply chains for the critical minerals needed for manufacturing sectors, communication technology, aerospace and defence, and clean technology. 

In June, US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered officials to develop a plan for U.S.-Canada collaboration on critical minerals. 

Thurday’s announcement delivers on the June 2019 commitment. 

The Action Plan will guide cooperation in areas such as industry engagement; efforts to secure critical minerals supply chains for strategic industries and defence; improving information sharing on mineral resources and potential; and cooperation in multilateral fora and with other countries. 

Washington has grown concerned about its dependence on imports of rare earth minerals from China after Beijing suggested using them as leverage in their trade war. 

The Action Plan will promote joint initiatives, including research and development cooperation, supply chain modelling and increased support for industry. 

Experts from both countries will convene in the coming weeks to advance joint initiatives to address shared mineral security concerns — helping ensure the continued economic growth and national security of both Canada and the U.S. 

Mexican president brags that his government hasn’t approved mining concessions

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took pride in the fact that his administration hasn’t approved new mining concessions.

During a public event with Indigenous people in the central state of Puebla, López Obrador criticized the five administrations that preceded his for approving concessions that ceded 90 million hectares of land to mining companies. “[But] we have approved zero,” the left-wing politician said.

“We unveiled many rotten things. Politics are different now,” – AMLO

According to local media, the president -known by his initials AMLO- also said he is not going to betray his people and, therefore, he will not allow the use of fracking to extract oil and gas.  

The Mexican leader also announced that he will ask Calgary-based TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) to modify the route of its 287-kilometre long Tuxpan-Tula natural gas pipeline so that it doesn’t cut through the Cerro del Brujo (Sorcerer’s Hill), a mountain considered sacred by the northern Puebla First Nations. 

AMLO condemned that the contract signed with TC Energy stipulates that even if the pipeline is not being built, the Mexican state has to pay for it. Thus, he said it was important to renegotiate the deal so that the Canadian company continued building the duct, something that allowed his government to save $4.5 billion.

In response to the president’s speech, Gabino Hernández, representative of the Nahuátl people, asked for mining, hydro, and fracking projects to be banned in the region. According to Hernández, communities are worried about the possible impacts of such operations on the local fauna and water resources. 

How to facilitate the transition out of coal

Consulting firm GlobalData and the Stockholm Environment Institute joined forces to provide a series of recommendations on how to address the social challenges related to the closure of coal mines.

The dossier is presented as a conversation between the consultancy’s mining writer JP Casey and Claudia Strambo, a research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute.

After acknowledging that coal mining remains the backbone of many local communities, both experts state that this means that simply closing coal mines without putting additional resources in place is not viable.

Examples of good practices, they say, can be found Ruhr region of Germany, where over the last 50 years, coal mining has slowly been phased out. 

Despite employment in coal mines falling from 390,000 in 1960 to 11,000 by 2014, and the sector’s contribution to the local economy declining from 61% to 21% over the same period, the transition out of the black fuel has been more fluid than dramatic.

Based on how things were done in Ruhr, Strambo says that there are key strategies that companies should take into consideration when moving away from coal mining:

  • Making closure and post-closure plans together with local authorities and trade unions in order to manage the risks associated with the closure
  • Helping workers approaching redundancy through tailored training programs, support finding work placements, counselling and mental health support, and redundancy payments
  • Maintaining open and honest communication about the closure
  • Supporting local organisations in charge of steering and/or coordinating the efforts to create new jobs and address the negative socio-economic impacts of the closure
  • Using socially responsible downsizing practices such as early retirement support, worker training programs and redistributing workers between jobs and sites
  • Resisting the temptation to keep things the same regardless of changing trends
  • Moving towards diversification to survive