Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia. The company is currently searching for a "prime" copper asset to reduce its reliance on iron ore. Courtesy of Rio Tinto

Welcome back to your weekly mining news recap. At the end of each week we’ll catch you up on the mining news from CIM Magazine and elsewhere that you might have missed. It’s been a quiet news week, with the Canada Day long weekend here and the Fourth of July south of the border. Among this week’s headlines: a forest fire threatens Stornoway’s Renard, Noront Resources is on the hunt for an exploration partner and exploration spending among Canadian miners is on the rise.


Stornoway Diamonds had a scary start to the week, when a forest fire got within 100 metres of the access road to its Renard mine in northern Quebec on Monday. The fire, which measured at 18 km long and six km wide, was 12.6 km south of the mine itself. Stornoway temporarily closed Renard and evacuated most of its workers, but by Wednesday rain and wind patterns had helped contain the fire and the mine was able to resume operations.

Rio Tinto is apparently on the hunt for a “prime” copper asset, and according to Reuters it is willing to pay top dollar for it. The company is trying to reduce its reliance on iron ore, the outlook of which is uncertain as China is expected to start relying more on recycling than importing new iron ore. Among Rio Tinto’s potential options is First Quantum Minerals or Nevsun Resources, which both have copper assets, or increasing its stake in Oyu Tolgoi or BHP’s Escondida mine in Chile.

Speaking of Rio Tinto, the company is relocating its London offices to Frankfurt – but it’s not because of Brexit. CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review (subscription required) that the plan is part of a larger reorganization that the company began in February. All the same, Brexit has prompted many companies to relocate their offices to European Union countries – and Frankfurt has so far been the biggest winner in that exodus.

Noront Resources is looking to partner with a gold company on exploration work in the Ring of Fire. CEO Alan Coutts told the Financial Post that the company knows “there’s good gold potential in this area. It’s the right rocks, the right age, but we just really haven’t got around to dealing with the gold.” The company has been mostly focusing on its nickel-chromite deposit, but has reported “accidental (gold) discoveries” in a document it sent around to gold producers.

A United States House of Representatives subcommittee has drafted a funding bill that proposes cutting funds to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for 2019. According to Aggregates Manager, the bill allocates $367.6 million for the MSHA, which is $6.2 million less than the administration received for 2018. Joe Main, a mine safety advocate and a former assistant secretary for the MSHA, tweeted that “cutting funding for MSHA can place miners at risk.”

Canadian mining companies spent 31 per cent more on exploration in 2017 than the year before, according to PwC’s Mine 2018 report. But despite that impressive increase, PwC Canada’s national mining lead, Liam Fitzgerald, said miners are investing more sustainably than they did in the last upswing. “There’s a lot more caution,” he told us. “I do think we’ve learned some things.”

In case you missed it last week, we’ve got a new installment in our We Are Mining series. Liane Boyer, a northern Ontario exploration geologist, told us about turning to a career in prospecting for the flexibility to raise a young family and for the thrill of making discoveries.