Researchers produce gold, silver, copper foams

Scientists at the US Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory created ultra-low density gold, silver and copper foams to give physicists better X-ray sources to employ in experiments at the National Ignition Facility.

This facility is a large laser-based inertial confinement fusion research device that uses lasers to heat and compress a small amount of hydrogen fuel with the goal of inducing nuclear fusion reactions.

“We are looking primarily at fundamental science questions that govern how to synthesize, assemble and shape metal nanowire-based aerogels,” said the project’s principal investigator, Michael Bagge-Hansen, in a media statement.

Bagge-Hansen explained that although the material is called foam, it is not made by foaming. Rather, it is a spaghetti-like web of randomly connected nanometer-sized wires, formed into the shape of a miniature marshmallow and containing the same or fewer number of atoms as air.

The National Ignition Facility’s mission is to achieve fusion ignition with high energy gain, and to support nuclear weapon maintenance and design

To conduct this experiment, the research group sought different ultra-low density metals that could be used as targets for laser-driven X-ray sources for experiments further probing the properties of various materials placed under the extreme conditions possible when the National Ignition Facility’s 192 high-powered lasers are directed inside the target chamber.

According to Tyler Fears -one of the scientists involved in the project- each element emits a characteristic set of X-rays when heated by lasers into a plasma. “Metal foams can mimic gas even though they are made from materials that are not gas at room temperature,” he said.

To create the foams, the team freezes the nanowire inside a shape-creating mold typically filled with a water-glycerol mix. When it hardens, the nanowire looks like a mesh of frozen spaghetti.

The material is then removed from the mold and the frozen water is extracted by replacing it with the solvent acetone, which is then dissolved in a supercritical drying process using liquid carbon dioxide, leaving only the metal and air. “Supercritical drying ensures the liquid transforms into a gas phase without creating a meniscus that could damage the fragile ultra-low density metal foam structure,” Fears said.

Using this process, the experts have produced copper and silver foam, and silver has performed well at the National Ignition Facility.

When it comes to gold foams, Fears said they still tend to fall off the mounts that hold them in front of the lasers. “That’s the challenge we’re trying to overcome now,” he said.

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Diamond markets under pressure – Rapaport

Rapaport published a report stating that diamond markets are under pressure as profit margins have tightened and the trade war with China has fueled uncertainty.

The international firm revealed that the RapNet Diamond Index, known as RAPI, for 1-carat diamonds fell 0.7% in May and is down 1.7% since the beginning of the year.

RAPI is the average asking price in hundred $/carat of the 10% best-priced diamonds, for each of the top 25 quality round diamonds offered for sale on the Rapaport Diamond Trading Network.

Stones weighing 3 carats saw the most dramatic change, with a 4% drop in May and a 9.8% drop since the beginning of the year.

To try to boost sales, polished suppliers are offering technology and source verification as a value-added service

Diamonds of 0.30 carats sunk by 3.7% in May and 9.4% since the start of the year, while 0.50-carat rocks fell 1.7% last month and 2.9% year to date.

"There is good demand for 0.60- to 1.99-carat, F-J, VS2-I1 diamonds. Buyers are insisting on well-cut stones. Polished below 0.50 carats is slow due to excess supply, weak Chinese demand and tight Indian liquidity," the report reads.

According to Rapaport, this state of affairs has pushed cutters to operate at lower capacity as they try to reduce inflated inventory, while manufacturers are rejecting high-priced rough stones that have made polished production unprofitable.

"De Beers and Alrosa are carefully managing production and price levels amid this year’s slow rough demand," the document states.

In the view of the firm's chairman, Martin Rapaport, if the trade does not change its business practices and adapt to new realities, the diamond industry will suffer "extreme financial and regulatory disruption."

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Seabridge to acquire Goldstorm project in Nevada

Toronto-based Seabridge Gold has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the Goldstorm project from Mountain View Gold Corp. The sale price will be paid with 25,000 common shares of Seabridge.

The Goldstorm project is located about 3 km east of Seabridge’s 100% owned Snowstorm property. It lies at the intersection of the Northern Nevada Rift, Carlin Trend and Getchell Trend. Little exploration has been done at Goldstorm, however previous operators identified a series of northwest trending veins that showed strong pathfinder geochemistry and anomalous gold. A surface trench yielded 3.0 metres of 9.0 g/t gold and 44.0 g/t silver. Mountain View did limited drilling, the best assay of which was 2.0 metres of 5.50 g/t gold, including 1.1 metre of 9.29 g/t.

Seabridge is also the owner of the massive KSM gold-copper project and the Iskut gold project in British Columbia and the Courageous Lake gold project in the Northwest Territories.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

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Global economic growth downgraded to 2.6% in 2019 — World Bank

Global economic growth is forecast to ease to a weaker-than-expected 2.6% in 2019 before inching up to 2.7% in 2020, the World Bank says in its June 2019 Global Economic Prospects: Heightened Tensions, Subdued Investment.  

Global growth in 2019 has been downgraded 0.3 percentage point below previous forecasts, reflecting weaker-than-expected international trade and investment at the start of the year, the World Bank says.  

Growth in emerging markets and developing economies is expected to stabilize next year as some countries move past periods of financial strain, but economic momentum remains weak, the report maintains.  It’s urgent that countries make significant structural reforms that improve the business climate and attract investment —  World Bank Group President

Emerging and developing economy growth is constrained by sluggish investment, and risks are tilted to the downside. These risks include rising trade barriers, renewed financial stress, and sharper-than-expected slowdowns in several major economies, the World Bank reports. Structural problems that misallocate or discourage investment also weigh on the outlook. 

In particular, global trade growth in 2019 has been revised down a full percentage point, to 2.6 percent—slightly below the pace observed during the 2015-16 trade slowdown and the weakest since the global financial crisis.   

“Stronger economic growth is essential to reducing poverty and improving living standards,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in a media statement.

“Current economic momentum remains weak, while heightened debt levels and subdued investment growth in developing economies are holding countries back from achieving their potential.It’s urgent that countries make significant structural reforms that improve the business climate and attract investment. They also need to make debt management and transparency a high priority so that new debt adds to growth and investment,” Malpass added.

Read the full report here.


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Deal signed to move ahead with cleanup of Anaconda copper mine site

Solutions will be implemented to solve long-standing environmental issues associated with waste dumps left behind at the Anaconda copper mine site after the company of the same name shut down operations in 1978 and following Arimetco’s takeover and abandonment of the site in 1999.

This is according to Quaterra Resources (TSXV: QTA), a Canadian miner that owns the 51-square-mile Yerington copper project, which hosts the Anaconda mine and which is located about 70 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada.

Quaterra announced this week that its wholly-owned subsidiary Singatse Peak Services has partnered with Atlantic Richfield Company -the oil company that merged with Anaconda Copper Mining in 1977- to carry out a state-regulated, privately-funded program that will allow it to complete the remedial actions it has already undertaken under previous orders by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

This recent agreement is one part of a larger set of agreements being negotiated among Atlantic Richfield, the EPA, NDEP and the Bureau of Land Management, to permanently address the impacts from previous mining activities by Anaconda and Arimetco at Yerington.

In 2018, the EPA signed an agreement that transferred responsibility for remediation of the Yerington mine site from the federal government to Atlantic Richfield Company and the state of Nevada

The program will also allow Singatse Peak to move forward with exploration and development of the site for mining having significantly reduced the risks regarding environmental liabilities associated with past mining prior to its acquisition of the property in 2011.

In detail, Atlantic Richfield will design, build, operate and fund the remedy for the former Arimetco area of the project, known as Operable Unit 8, and will implement a protective remedy based on the standards contemplated in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act or Superfund.

The remediation plan involves capping former heap leach pads, constructing new ponds to handle runoff, installing a site-wide stormwater management system, closing aging fluid management ponds, re-contouring the area with more natural features, implementing measures for groundwater contamination, and disposing of former mine infrastructure.

The work is targeted for completion by 2029 and does not preclude ongoing exploration and mine development during this time period.

Once the remediation is completed, Singatse Peak plans to consolidate its land position at Yerington with the possible conversion of certain Bureau of Land Management mining claims into private land transferred to the company at nominal cost without attached liability for previous mining activity.

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Mapped: Who owns the world’s gold reserves

Central banks around the globe have been on a gold buying spree this year, with Russia and China leading the pack.

In the first three months of 2019, gold purchases by the country’s top banks hit the highest level in six years, as nations diversify their assets away from the US dollar.

Global gold reserves, in fact, rose 145.5 tonnes in the first quarter, a 68% increase from a year earlier, based on figures released by the World Gold Council earlier this month.

To better visualize where most of the world’s gold is sitting these days, the experts at How came up with this map, which shows exactly that:

Mapped: Who owns the world’s gold reserves

Read more about it here.

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Fiore to start $2-million drill program at Gold Rock project

Frank Giustra-backed Fiore Gold (TSXV: F) will invest $2 million on metallurgical test work and resource expansion drilling at its Gold Rock project in Nevada.

In a press release, Fiore said that the work is aimed at supporting a Preliminary Economic Assessment targeted for the end of the year, which should lead to a construction decision by mid-2021.

Among other things, the company is planning approximately 10,000 metres of core and reverse circulation drilling to expand the existing resource, upgrade inferred resources to measured and indicated, and collect samples for orebody characterization and metallurgical testing.

Fiore might use Pan’s existing carbon handling and refinery facilities as well as the power line to serve the Gold Rock project

It is also planning to run metallurgical testing to determine the most economical recovery method and establish expected gold recoveries.

“We're especially pleased that we're able to fund the work internally thanks to the strong performance of our nearby Pan Mine,” Tim Warman, Fiore's CEO, said in the media statement. “With the federal permits for mining and processing issued last year, the timeframe for development of Gold Rock is largely in our hands.”

Gold Rock is located some 13 kilometres southeast of Pan and it is one of the few federally-permitted development projects in Nevada. It received its Record of Decision in late 2018 from the United States Bureau of Land Management for the construction of a mine, process facilities and other infrastructure.

According to the Canadian miner, Gold Rock hosts an indicated resource of 238,700 gold ounces or 9 million tonnes at 0.82 g/t gold, and an inferred resource of 180,900 gold ounces or 7.8 million tonnes at 0.72 g/t gold. This mineral resource is centered around the former Easy Junior open pit mine and covers approximately 3.1 kilometres of a 16.5 kilometre-long trend of prospective geology, structure, and alteration with pervasive gold and pathfinder element anomalies in soil and rock samples.

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Anglo maintains 100% earn-in option on Silicon project in Nevada

AngloGold Ashanti (JSE:ANG) (NYSE:AU) paid Renaissance Gold (TSX.V:REN) $300,000 to maintain its 100% earn-in option on the Silicon project in Nevada.

AngloGold already kicked off a planned 17,000-metre, Phase 2 drill program on the property with one RC and one core rig.

If Anglo completes the payments and exercises the purchase option, RenGold would retain a 1% net smelter return royalty on future production from the project

According to the company's 2H 2018 report, drilling has taken place over a strike length of more than 3 kilometres along the Silicon-Thompson structural corridor.

AngloGold also reported multiple induced polarization geophysical surveys over the project, which are being used along with surface mapping to delineate additional targets within the Silicon claim block.

"Based on the observed amount of drilling they have completed and the recent comments by AngloGold's CEO, we think it is safe to say they are significantly encouraged by the results generated to date," RenGold's president, Robert Felder, said in a media statement.

AngloGold entered into an agreement with the Nevada-based prospect generator in 2017. The deal entails that Anglo has the option to acquire a 100% interest in the Silicon project by paying RenGold $3 million by June 21, 2020. Payments to date add up to $600,000.

Silicon is located 12 kilometres northeast of the town of Beatty, in the Bare Mountain mining district.

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Rare earth stocks come out winners in China-US trade war

With all the turmoil surrounding the ongoing China-US trade war, companies mining for rare earth elements have come out as "unexpected" winners thanks to market-wide speculation that China may choke off supply of certain critical minerals to the US. Currently the US relies on China for about 80% of its rare earth metals, many of which are essential in applications such as wind turbines, EVs, smartphones and military equipment.

The threat of "weaponizing" rare earths by China means potential sellers of these minerals to the US stand to gain from a tightened international supply and higher prices. The US may not have a choice but to keep importing. At the moment there's only one rare earths miner in the country, MP Materials, which operates the Mountain Pass mine in California. Even so, its ores are exported to China and processed into cerium, neodymium, lanthanum and europium there.

Shares of Chinese rare earth miners already saw significant gains earlier today, including JL Mag Rare-Earth (up 10%), whose processing plant President Xi Jinping visited last week.

Meanwhile, in Canada and Australia: Lynas Corp (ASX: LYC), based in Western Australia and the only other major producer outside China, was up 16% on Wednesday morning. Toronto-based Avalon Advanced Materials Inc (TSX: AVL), which is exploring a feasibility-stage rare earth project in Northwest Territories, surged by 33%. Another Canadian rare earth miner, Niocorp Developments Ltd (TSX: NB), moved up 5%. Other Canadian-based junior miners including Geomega Resources Inc (TSX-V: GMA), Ucore Rare Metals Inc (TSX-V: UCU) and Commerce Resources Corp (TSX-V: CCE) also advanced, up 12.5%, 48% and 21% respectively.

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Vancouver junior Barrian optimistic after IP survey at Nevada gold project

Vancouver-based Barrian Mining (TSX-V: BARI) announced that it recently completed induced-polarization and resistivity geophysical survey at its flagship Bolo gold property, located 90 kilometres northeast of Tonopah, central Nevada.

In a media statement, Barrian said that the survey identified multiple high-priority anomalies that warrant follow-up reverse circulation drill testing. These new anomalies and drill-indicated zones provided a +1.1 kilometre strike length geophysical signature.

Historical drill results at the property include 1.28 g/t gold over 133 metres from surface

“We are very encouraged by the positive results of the recently completed geophysical survey,” Max Sali, the company’s CEO, said in the press brief. “The results have exceeded our expectations and define multiple high priority resistivity anomalies that warrant immediate drill testing at depth below the South Mine Fault Zone, and along strike towards the Northern Extension Zone.”

Sali explained that the IP/resistivity survey completed at Bolo comprised 10.2 line-kilometre over 9 lines targeting the 'Mine Fault' and other mineralized structures that host the Uncle Sam, South Mine Fault and Northern Extension mineralized zones.

“The survey extends 1,100 metres north to south, covering an area of approximately 135 hectares. The anomalous geophysical signatures have provided an essential tool for drill-planning and positioning during the fully funded summer drill program,” the executive said. “The program will include step-out and infill drilling to extend gold-silver mineralization across the 1.1-kilometre trend. All zones remain open in all directions and require drill testing.”

The Bolo project consists of 187 unpatented lode mining claims and one patented lode mining claim, and it hosts Carlin-type gold mineralization. Notable historical drill results include 1.28 g/t gold over 133 metres from surface.

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