Investors applaud Yamana Gold’s Q4 results

Yamana Gold’s (AUY) stock rebounded 4.65% in after-hours trading on Thursday after the miner announced Q4 and FY 2018 results.  During regular trading hours, Yamana closed down 1.1% in line with the weaker overall market.

Yamana's gold equivalent ounce production for the fourth quarter was 310,369, including 270,193 ounces of gold and 3.26 million ounces of silver.  Total Yamana gold production was 292,484 ounces, and 39 million pounds of copper. Full year GEO production from Yamana Mines was 1,041,350, including 940,619 ounces of gold and 8.02 million ounces of silver. 

Full year GEO production was 1,041,350, including 940,619 ounces of gold and 8.02 million ounces of silver.  Full year copper production was 129.2 million pounds.

Full year gold and copper production exceeded the higher guidance levels set in October of last year while full year silver production exceeded the lower guidance provided at that time. Original guidance set in February 2018 was for 900,000 ounces of gold, 120 million pounds of copper and 8.15 million ounces of silver.

Yamana also declared a first quarter 2019 dividend of $0.005 per share. Shareholders of record at the close of business on March 29, 2019 will be entitled to receive payment April 12, 2019.


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Lithium price: Spodumene is getting crushed

Lithium price: Spodumene is getting crushed

Background image: Talison Lithium

As expansion programs at South American brine operations slow down, the bulk of new lithium capacity is coming from hard rock mines.

While demand growth continues to accelerate the supply response has been dramatic. Last year saw four new spodumene operations enter the market and while concentrate (6% free on board Australia) traded either side of $900 a tonne for most of 2018, prices fell sharply in January.

According to industry tracker Benchmark Minerals combined output at these operations last year totalled over 175,000 tonnes and ramp up is continuing.

Apart from the new mines, Talison-Albemarle's Greenbushes spodumene mine, the world's largest, is doubling capacity and in January earthworks began on a massive new plant fed by the mine.

Any further decreases are expected to be marginal with many producers already operating at close to cost

Spodumene producers “experienced more pressure as 2018 contracts expired, ushering in a difficult period of negotiation for suppliers, as Chinese converters sought to receive significant discounts due to increased supply” says Benchmark:

With negotiations still ongoing for the limited volumes available outside of offtake agreements, prices as low as $620/tonne have been reported in the market – however this has largely been for small quantities of off-spec material.

The majority of volumes are being traded at $700-750/tonne for 6% Li2O spodumene concentrate, although there could be some further decreases when Chinese buying activity resumes from mid-February onwards.

While generally higher on the cost curve than brine operations, spodumene concentrate is converted into battery-grade lithium hydroxide which trades at around $16,000 per tonne ex-works in China, down from $20,000 six months ago.

Pumping and evaporating brine solution produces lithium carbonate which sometimes requires further refining or conversion to feed into the battery supply chain. Battery-grade lithium carbonate in China has halved in value over the past year and is now exchanging hands for under $12,000 a tonne.

At least the worst may be over for chemical prices says Benchmark:

“While these lower feedstock costs leave room for more reductions in Chinese chemical prices, any further decreases are expected to be marginal with many producers already operating at close to cost.”

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Mirasol Resources expands in southern Argentina

Canada’s Mirasol Resources (TSX-V: MRZ) announced that it has signed an option to purchase agreement which would allow it to complete the consolidation of the Sascha – Marcelina low sulfidation epithermal Au-Ag district in the Santa Cruz province of southern Argentina.

In a press release, Mirasol explained that under the terms of the agreement, it can acquire 100% of the Marcelina claims from a privately-owned mining company by making staged option payments totaling $3.4 million over four years. The company would also have to invest at least $300,000 in exploration during the first three years of the option period and the claims would be subject to a 1.5% NSR royalty. The consolidation would expand the Sascha – Marcelina project to 30,600 hectares

The consolidation would expand the Sascha – Marcelina project to 30,600 hectares. According to the Vancouver-based miner, the district has a footprint in excess of 65 square kilometres, as defined by anomalous Au+Ag rock chip samples and satellite-based alteration mapping.

In the media brief, Mirasol also said that multi-kilometre long Au+Ag vein and structural trends, which traverse and outcrop surrounding the Marcelina Silica Cap, display similarities in areal extent and geological setting to the Cerro Negro Silica Cap, where GoldCorp (TSX:G, NYSE:GG) operates the Vein Zone and Bajo Negro mines in the Cerro Negro Au+Ag mining district, located 100 kilometres to the north of Sascha-Marcelina.

“Rock chip samples from the Sascha-Marcelina district have assays ranging from weakly Au anomalous (10's ppb) in the area of the Silica Cap (above the mineralized epithermal interval), up to a peak assay of 160 g/t Au, (5.14 opt) and 780 g/t Ag (25.07 opt) at the Sascha Main prospect,” the company stated.

Mirasol said it is now mobilizing a field team to the Marcelina district to begin a program of systematic surface exploration to define drill targets.

“Consolidation of the very prospective Sascha and Marcelina projects into a large-scale district play has been a long-term objective of Mirasol. This agreement will allow the multiple underexplored prospects to be systematically explored utilizing the company's knowledge of large-zoned epithermal Au+Ag districts, gained through more than 15 years of successful exploration in Santa Cruz province,” President and CEO, Stephen Nano, said in the statement.

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Canada’s McEwen Mining 2018 production exceeds guidance

Canadian precious metals producer McEwen Mining (TSX, NYSE:MUX) on Tuesday posted 2018 production results that exceeded expectations, with gold equivalent output climbing 15% from 152,329 ounces in 2017 to 175,561 ounces last year.

Full-year production included 135,124 ounces of gold, up 23% when compared to the previous year, and 3.03 million ounces of silver, or 4.5% less than in 2017.

Output at the Toronto-based miner 100%-owned Black Fox mine in Canada totalled 48,848 gold equivalent ounces, in line with guidance of 48K gold equiv. ounces. Production at the company’s 100%-owned El Gallo project in Mexico, in turn, reached of 39,106 gold. equiv. ounces, topping guidance of about 32,000 ounces.

El Gallo mine, in Mexico, had one of the best performances, producing 39,106 gold-equivalent ounces, more than the 32,000 expected for 2018.

McEwen said it continued to evaluate the potential of constructing a new mine and mill at El Gallo. A feasibility study for the project, dubbed Fenix, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019.

The miner also reported construction at Gold Bar, in Nevada, US, was near completion and on schedule for inaugural gold production in the current quarter.

In the last three 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.

In 2017, the Canadian resources magnate McEwen told he was giving himself two-to-three years to make that happen through a combination of organic growth in production as well as mergers and acquisitions.

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

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Falcon Gold reports high grades at Argentinian project

Falcon Gold (TSXV: FG) reported that its exploration team in Argentina found high-grade gold mineralization at the ERSA VIII and IX concessions of its Esperanza Resources S.A. project, also known as ERSA.

The project is located in the western La Rioja province and it is comprised of seven mineral concessions covering an aggregate area of 20,461 hectares. The property sits on the Sierra de Las Minas District, which is reported to host several past producing gold and silver mines.

In a press release, Falcon informed that the mineralization is localized along northwest-southeast striking linear structures.

The Vancouver-based firm highlighted that the nearby Callanas gold area contains several known veins and that its sampling showed results such as from Callana III of 27.03 g/t Au across 50 cm with Ag, Cu, lead and zinc in amounts greater than the analytical detection limits.

The company also assayed the ERSA X concession, which is approximately 6 kilometres south of the Callanas area and contains the historic San Isidro veins. According to the exploration team, visible gold was found in the veins and was noted in three of four samples taken. Two samples respectively returned 23.13 g/t Au with 4.00 ppm Ag and 8,200.40 ppm Cu over a width of 60 cm and 24.75 g/t Au with 19.90 ppm Ag and 6,182.90 ppm Cu over a width of 100 cm.

"Our belief in the Esperanza project has been well substantiated by this highly successful round of exploration. Our Argentine team has delivered strong results and laid the foundation for the 2019 programs," said Stephen Wilkinson, Falcon's CEO, in the media brief.

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Millennial nears feasibility at Pastos Grandes in Argentina

Millennial Lithium (TSXV: ML; US-OTC: MLNLF) is nearing an updated resource estimate and feasibility study (FS) at its 86 sq. km Pastos Grandes lithium project in Salta, Argentina.

The company is aiming for a 25,000 tonne per year lithium carbonate equivalent operation at Pastos Grandes. It expects to table the FS, which will include the updated resource estimate, by the end of 2019’s second quarter.

Millennial is currently drilling the Remsa license at Pastos Grandes to test extensions of its lithium brine bearing aquifer after performing geophysical surveys at Remsa that indicated it had potential for extensions. Millennial expects to submit its environmental impact assessment to the Argentinian government during 2019’s first quarter.

The company is about to begin drilling hole 21 on Remsa’s western edge. Results from the hole will go into the forthcoming resource update. It expects to finish the hole early in 2019’s first quarter.

The company recently finished building a pilot liming plant at Pastos Grandes. It aims to commission the plant, which will lime brine to reduce magnesium ahead of processing, early in 2019’s first quarter. It’s also developing a pilot processing plant that will produce three tonnes of lithium carbonate per month, and expects to have it built in about four months.

Millennial expects to submit its environmental impact assessment to the Argentinian government during 2019’s first quarter. It expects approval by the end of 2019’s third quarter.

As of a 2017 estimate, the project contains 2.13 million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent and 8.14 million tonnes potassium carbonate equivalent in the measured and indicated categories.

Shares of Millennial are currently trading at $1.34 with a 52-week range of $1.04 to $4.80. The company has a $110 million market capitalization.

This story first appeared on The Northern Miner

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Vancouver’s Falcon Gold searches for gold, silver and copper in Argentina

Falcon Gold (TSXV: FG) reported that it completed its 2018 exploration program this week on the Esperanza Resources mineral concessions located in La Rioja province, western Argentina.

According to Falcon Gold, the work program was focused on three of its seven concessions, namely ERSA VIII, IX, and X. The idea was to advance the company’s knowledge of the historically identified gold, silver and copper zones and test newly discovered mineralization areas.

The program produced 24 samples that have been sent to a local lab for multi-element analyses and fire assays.

“This initial round of exploration has surpassed our expectations with the reporting of visible gold at several sites. The geological team has demonstrated that diligent field work combined with the application of good scientific methodology can be highly productive,” Stephen Wilkinson, Falcon's CEO, said in a media brief.

The Esperanza Resources mineral concessions are located about 50 kilometres south-southeast of the town of Chepes. Also known as the ERSA property, the site is comprised of seven mineral concessions covering an aggregate area of 20,461 hectares within the renowned Sierra de Las Minas district, which is reported to host several past producing gold and silver mines.

According to the Vancouver-based miner, the first discovered gold mineralization within the district reportedly occurred within the ERSA IX concession in or about 1865. Limited mining has been conducted on gold, silver and copper zones within the area.

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Barrick faces new setback, more pressure

By Brent Jang
The Globe and Mail 

Barrick Gold’s Pascua-Lama project

Barrick Gold Corp. has gained some breathing room with its decision to delay development of its Pascua-Lama project, but the company faces pressure to shrink its global mining operations amid tumbling metal prices.

Barrick says first production from the South American gold and silver venture will be postponed by more than 18 months, as the Canadian company forecasts taking a writedown of up to $5.5-billion (U.S.) on the project.

Toronto-based Barrick said it has opted to vastly scale back capital spending this year and in 2014 on the project, which is located in the Andes mountains and straddles the border between Chile and Argentina.

While construction of the $8.5-billion project has suffered another setback, the venture remains strategically important to the world’s largest gold producer, analysts say.

Continue reading . . .

Barrick may suspend Andes mine project

By Pav Jordan
The Globe and Mail

Barrick Gold Corp. is considering options that include suspending its key Pascua-Lama gold project in the Southern Andes in light of regulatory complications and uncertain commodities prices.

A court ordered construction halted earlier this month on the Chilean part of the $8.5-billion project, which is set between Chile and Argentina and is already billions of dollars over budget and facing delays of at least a year.

The Chilean court order on April 9 was followed by a sudden plunge in gold prices and news that Moody’s Investor’s Service had placed Barrick’s senior unsecured rating on review for a possible downgrade. Barrick’s share price has plunged in the aftermath to near record lows.

“The company will continue to evaluate all alternatives, in light of the uncertainties associated with the legal and regulatory actions, and the current commodity price environment, including the possibility of suspending the project,” Barrick said in a first-quarter earnings report where it also announced $500 million in cost cuts to be implemented over the course of the year.

Continue reading . . .