SSR – Alacer Gold merger gets shareholder approval

SSR Mining (TSX: SSRM) and Alacer Gold Corp. (TSX: ASR) (ASX: AQG) announced Friday the receipt of shareholder approvals for the previously announced at-market merger.

In May, Vancouver-based SSR Mining agreed to a deal to acquire its Canadian counterpart in an all-stock, zero-premium deal valued at C$2.4 billion ($1.7 billion).

The business combination would see Alacer’s flagship Çöpler mine in Turkey added to SSR’s existing portfolio that includes the Marigold gold mine in Nevada, the Seabee gold operations in Saskatchewan and the Puna operations in Jujuy, Argentina.

On closing, each of the Alacer issued and outstanding common shares will be exchanged for 0.3246 of an SSR Mining common share, the companies said in a joint statement.

The transaction was approved by approximately 99.9% of the votes cast by Alacer shareholders at the special meeting of shareholders that was held Friday, representing 79.9% of eligible shares voted. SSR Mining shareholders approved the transaction by approximately 96.5% of the votes cast.

Webinar: How can miners integrate technology to improve stakeholder engagement programs?

ESG investing has grown roots; communities are more regularly finding their voices; governments want greater assurances around responsible practices; and employees want to work for companies that live up to these higher standards.

This remains a frontier for miners. The fourth industrial revolution has, however, provided new tools to aid this transition toward best practice.

With partners IsoMetrix and Accenture, Mining Journal’s webinar will discuss:

  • How has digitisation and communication advances changed the engagement process? 
  • How should executives be looking to mesh hard technologies with human behaviours?
  • What processes and software are available to help manage the risks and opportunities?
  • How do appropriate technologies change according to company size and location?

Free webinar takes place July 15. Register here.

Rio Tinto supports education initiatives in Northwest Territories

Rio Tinto is partnering with the Yellowknife Women’s Society in Canada’s Northwest Territories to support their covid-19 isolation shelter with a C$150,000 contribution, the company announced this week.

As part of Rio Tinto’s worldwide community investment in covid-19 relief initiatives, this funding will provide accommodation and food for individuals who are at high medical risk of serious illness or death if they contract the virus.

It will also support the hiring of additional staff at the shelter to provide service continuity and better support the ongoing programming for residents, Rio said.

The shelter is currently operating with funding in place for 25 individuals and expects to transition back into its original purpose as supportive housing after the pandemic.

Rio has also partnered with the NWT Literacy Council to develop literacy materials for families with young children, youth aged 16-29 and newcomers to Canada who reside in Yellowknife. It has also doubled scholarship funds to assist post-secondary students with the loss of revenue opportunities due to the pandemic.

Eldorado gold production up 50% over Q2 2019

Eldorado Gold (TSX:ELD)(NYSE:EGO) announced on Friday a Q2 2020 preliminary production of 137,782 ounces of gold, a 50% increase over Q2 2019. 

Gold production at Kisladag mine in western Turkey increased by 130% over Q2 2019, and 19% over Q1 2020. Increased production was due to higher grade and tonnes of stacked ore and increased solution grades due to drier weather in June, the company said.

Midday Friday, Eldorado’s stock was up 3.3% on the NYSE

Production at Olympias gold-silver-lead-zinc mine in northern Greece increased by 159% over Q2 2019 and 18% over Q1 2020.

“This reflects the work completed at Olympias over the past year to increase underground development and backfilling, which has resulted in increased tonnes processed,” Eldorado said in a release.  

Production at Efemcukuru underground mine in Turkey was slightly lower than Q1 2019 due to higher grades processed during the quarter.  

Eldorado resumed its Lamaque gold mine on April 15, following a three-week mandated shutdown by the government of Quebec to address the covid-19 pandemic. Production increased in Q2 2020 (33,095 ounces) compared to Q1 2020 (27,353 ounces) due to higher grades and an increase in tonnes mined per day enabled by the recently received Certificate of Authorization from the Quebec Ministry of Environment.

Midday Friday, Eldorado’s stock was up 3.3% on the NYSE. The company has a $1.82 billion market capitalization.

QMX infills Bonnefond ahead of resource update

Infill drilling at QMX Gold’s Bonnefond deposit in Quebec has intersected near-surface, high-grade gold.

The company has released six drillhole assays from the eastern half of this deposit, which targeted shear zones around a deeper intrusive unit.

The drill highlights include 4 metres of 6.02 g/t gold starting at 131 metres and 4.5 metres of 21.29 g/t gold starting at 97.5 metres from shear zones south of the Bonnefond intrusive. Drilling targeting shear zones to the north of this unit returned 7 metres of 4.75 g/t gold starting at 90.5 metres and 15 metres of 2.1 g/t gold starting at 151.5 metres.

A resource update for Bonnefond is expected in the next few months

“We will continue to build on the already existing resource at Bonnefond,” Andreas Rompel, the company’s VP of exploration, said in a release.

Rompel added that QMX plans to continue drilling the shear zones at Bonnefond with additional drilling scheduled for the River and Poulmaque targets – at least 5,000 metres is planned for River and a further 3,000 metres is allocated for Poulmaque.

The company’s infill work is now complete and QMX has started a 10,000-metre program, testing shear zones to the north of the current pit shell.

A resource update for Bonnefond is expected in the next few months. With drilling at its 200-sq.-km Val d’Or land package ongoing, additional exploration results will be released over the summer and fall.

The Bonnefond deposit is within the eastern end of the Val d’Or holding. Last year, QMX released a maiden pit-constrained resource for Bonnefond, with measured and indicated resources of 4.8 million tonnes grading 1.69 g/t gold, containing 258,700 gold oz. and a further 2.4 million inferred tonnes at 1.87 g/t gold, containing 145,100 oz. The majority of these resources are within the intrusive unit – shear zones contribute 72,000 inferred oz. to this total. Last year’s estimate is based on a 0.75 g/t gold cut-off grade.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Hecla Mining weighs up options for San Sebastian mine

American silver producer Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL) said on Friday it was mulling options for its San Sebastian silver-gold mine in Mexico, which is due to cease production in the third quarter of the year.

The Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based miner brought the past-producing mine back to life in late 2015, initially planning a two-year mine operation at the Durango state asset.

Exploration at the property allowed Hecla Mining to move operations underground in 2018.

As San Sebastian runs out of ore, with milling slated to stop in the last quarter of the year, the company continues to study the possibility of mining sulfide ore.

“Mining of oxide material is expected to be completed in Q3 and milling in the fourth quarter of 2020,” Hecla said in a production update for the three months ended on June 30.

San Sebastian production for the quarter was affected by lower grades and a government-mandated shutdowns of four weeks to help slow down the spread of coronavirus, Hecla said.

The mine churned out 58,842 ounces of silver and 1,331ounces of gold in the April-June period, down 66% and 63%, respectively, from 463,735 ounces and 3,547 ounces in the same quarter of 2019.

Overall, the company’s overall silver production rose 13% in Q2 to 3.4 million ounces, while gold output fell 1% to just shy of 60,000 ounces.

All of the company’s five mines were in operation during the quarter, although the Casa Berardi and San Sebastian mines had to halt operations to comply with covid-19-related government orders.

Hardest hit metal

Silver was the commodity hardest hit by mine closures mandated by governments to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Prices for the precious metal, however, are forecast to surpass the $21 per-ounce-mark later this year. The gold:silver ratio – the quantity of silver ounces needed to buy an ounce of gold – is expected to drop below 90, The Silver Institute said on Thursday.

Silver prices averaged $16.65 an ounce in the first half of the year, reaching $17.84 per ounce at the end of June. It has since broken through the $18 per ounce barrier.

Mexico, the world’s top producer of the metal, is facing in 2020 one of the deepest recessions in its history as an already weak economy can barely cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The country’s economy is forecast to contract 6.7% this year, deeper than during the devastating Tequila Crisis of the mid-1990s, the latest Citibanamex analysts survey shows.

Mexico is responsible for nearly 23% of world production of silver, churning out more than 200 million ounces last year, up from 196.6 million ounces in 2018.

It also has major copper and zinc mines, operated by Grupo Mexico and Southern Copper, and produces a significant amount of gold, making the mining sector responsible for about 4% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

American Lithium buys back royalty on TLC project, stock soars

American Lithium (TSXV: LI) announced Friday it will buy back 1.5% of the existing gross overriding royalty pertaining to its wholly owned TLC lithium claystone property from Nevada Alaska Mining, an arm’s length party.

The TLC project, located approximately midway between Las Vegas and Reno near the town of Tonopah, Nevada, is a new lithium claystone discovery within in the same basinal environment as Albemarle’s Silver Peak lithium mine.

The TLC discovery is amongst a handful of potential lithium deposits in Western North America capable of development

With an estimated 5.3 million tonnes of measured and indicated lithium carbonate equivalent resources, and an additional 1.7 million tonnes inferred resources, the TLC discovery is amongst a handful of potential lithium deposits in Western North America capable of development.

Nevada Alaska currently holds a 2.5% gross overriding royalty on commercial production from the property, and the buyback would reduce American Lithium’s royalty obligation on TLC to 1.0%.

As consideration, American Lithium will pay $150,000 cash and issue 843,750 common shares to Nevada Alaska at a deemed price of C$1.36 per share.

Meanwhile, American Lithium has entered an agreement with a separate arm’s length party to acquire a series of lode mining claims totalling approximately 2,000 acres northwest of the TLC property. The company will issue four million common shares at a deemed price of C$1.36 per share to acquire these land claims, which it says are highly prospective for lithium claystone based on projections from recent drilling.

Shares of American Lithium soared to a new 52-week high of C$2.03 on Friday. The stock was trading 17.6% higher on the TSX Venture Exchange by 1 p.m. EDT.

The Vancouver-based lithium explorer has a market capitalization of approximately C$184.2 million.

Peruvian authorities grant Camino drilling, exploration permits for Los Chapitos project

The Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines granted Canada’s Camino Corp. (TSXV: COR) authorization to start drilling and other exploration activities at its Los Chapitos project, located in the southern Arequipa province.

As of next week, the miner plans to begin mapping, sampling and refining targets for a drilling program scheduled for September.

At the same time, the General Directorate of Mining (DGM) of the Ministry of Energy and Mines granted Camino authorization to start the activities defined in its environmental impact assessment, which has been approved by the General Direction of Mining Environmental Affairs. 

The Canadian miner wants to test copper mineralization and develop drilling platforms along a 5-kilometre mineralized trend 

The approval allows the miner to test copper mineralization and develop drilling platforms along a 5-kilometre mineralized trend. 

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the Edmonton-based firm also had to request approval for a Surveillance, Prevention and Control Plan that allows it to have up to 10 workers at the project in July and August.

“I believe that we are one of the first junior exploration companies to commence exploration activities in Peru since the onset of covid-19 restrictions,” Jay Chmelauskas, Camino’s president and CEO, said in a media statement. “With our Peruvian based team, we will proceed in a cautious and measured way following our covid-19 policies to continue our copper discovery efforts at Los Chapitos in a safe manner. Our geologists will be mapping drill targets, particularly new copper mineralization identified along trend to the south of the maiden drill program in 2017/18 to drill this September. Our vision is to expand the known areas of copper mineralization, target new areas of mineralization, and begin to determine the size of the copper system at Los Chapitos.”

Vale, Epiroc sign Batteries as a Service deal

Vale and mining gear maker Epiroc announced that they have finalized the world’s first Batteries as a Service (BaaS) agreement, which is a new approach for utilizing battery technology in mining operations.

The idea is that Epiroc will work directly with Vale and other clients to define a battery plan that suits the needs of their operations. Then, the Swedish company will be in charge of monitoring the batteries for predictive maintenance with reduced downtime and guarantee their lifespan.

In a media statement, Epiroc said its BaaS team will also be in charge of removing old batteries from mining sites and replacing them with new ones. The older batteries will be then used for secondary applications and will be recycled at the end of the process.

“Along with the BaaS agreement, Epiroc will be providing Vale with 10 battery-electric vehicles for two Canadian mine sites,” the press release reads. “To complement the new battery fleet, Vale will also be adding three of Epiroc’s charging cabinets and seven charging posts for equipment support.”

MINING PEOPLE: Colorado, Hycroft, Imperial, Marathon, Pretium, Strongbow

Management moves announced this week include:

Pamela White has been appointed corporate secretary of Bell Copper.

Tony Barresi will become president and a director of Colorado Resources at the beginning of August. Barresi was previously president and a director of Triumph Gold, where he continues to serve as a technical advisor and is also a director of ArcWest Exploration.

Hycroft Mining has announced a leadership transition: Randy Buffington stepped down from his roles as chairman, president and CEO of the company. Stephen Jones, the company’s executive VP, CFO and secretary has been appointed interim president and CEO and David Kirsch, a director of the company, was named the new chairman. Jeffrey Stieber, VP of finance, has been appointed interim CFO.

Andre Deepwell has retired from his CFO and corporate secretary role with Imperial Metals. The company has appointed Darb Dhillon, its current VP of finance, to fill this role.

Tim Williams is now the COO of Marathon Gold; Williams is a professional engineer with over 25 years of experience in the areas of mine construction and operations.

Keith Benn is now the VP of exploration for both Mistango River Resources and Orefinders Resources.

Mac Jackson has joined New Placer Dome’s advisory board as a technical advisor.

Peter Mullens has been appointed VP of business development with NxGold.

Patrick Godin will be joining Pretium Resources at the beginning of August as VP and COO; Godin succeeds David Prins, the company’s VP of operations.

Board changes include:

Thomas Sarvas and Timothy Froude have joined the board of Benton Resources.

Peter O’Malley has been named an independent non-executive director of Bonterra ResourcesAllan Folk has resigned from the board.

Greg Andrews has been appointed to the board of Cascadero Copper.

Euro Manganese has started a board restructuring process, with strategic advisory roles planned for Roman ShklankaHarvey McLeod and Daniel Rosicky and two new independent directors envisioned for the board. John WebsterGreg MartyrDavid Dreisinger and Marco Romero will continue as directors. Jan Votava will resign as a director, but remain a member of the executive team as managing director of the company’s Czech subsidiary.

Thuso Dikgaka and Maureen Mokgaotsane are now on the board of Giyani Metals’ wholly owned subsidiary in Botswana, Menzi Battery Metals.

Patrick Anderson has been appointed chairman of Strongbow Exploration’s board. Anderson is currently CEO and a director of Dalradian Resources, and succeeds Grenville Thomas in the chairman role – Thomas remains a director of the company.

Taseko Mines has announced changes to its board of directors: Peter Mitchell has been appointed to the board while Richard Mundie and Alex Morrison did not stand for re-election.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)