Equinox Gold will suspend its Los Filos mine in Mexico until April 30 following a government quarantine order. Courtesy of Equinox Gold.

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Welcome back to your weekly mining news recap, where we catch you up on some of the news you may have missed. Governments and mining companies worldwide continue to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, issuing new financial aid programs and activity restrictions as industries step up their support for communities.

The federal government is extending its wage subsidy program to distribute up to 75 per cent of employees’ wages for businesses of all sizes, including mining companies, for businesses that have seen their revenues decrease by at least 30 per cent from COVID-19. Per the initial announcement, the program would have covered only 10 per cent of employee wages for small and medium businesses. As a result of the updated terms, the program will cover the first $58,700 of an employee’s salary, resulting in a maximum amount of $847 a week for up to three months.

Canadian mining companies are ramping down operations in Mexico following new restrictions by the Mexican government to suspend all non-essential activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the government has not included mining as an essential activity, companies are temporarily suspending operations until April 30. Equinox Gold, Newmont, Sierra Metals, Agnico Eagle and Great Panther are among those who have halted activities at their mines and projects in Mexico.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a number of partnerships with Canadian industries to deliver necessary medical equipment and supplies such as masks, face shields and hand sanitizer needed to fight COVID-19. The federal government called for industries and manufacturers to help procure critical health supplies on Mar. 20, to which over 3,000 companies have responded. Among those, Suncor and Shell donated 40,000 N95 masks and 125,000 litres of isopropyl alcohol, the main ingredient in hand sanitizer, respectively, to the federal government.

Mining companies continue to answer the call to donate medical supplies and equipment to the healthcare industry to protect workers from COVID-19. Redpath Canada has donated 19,000 pairs of disposable medical gloves to the North Bay Regional Health Centre in Ontario, Tacora Resources has donated 20,000 N95 masks to Labrador’s Eastern Health and Atlantic Gold donated over 500 protective masks in Nova Scotia. Vale has also donated $100,000 to the Sudbury Food Bank’s online Cash for Cans campaign to help address community needs, according to Northern Ontario Business.

BC Hydro will offer three months of bill relief to customers who have been impacted by COVID-19, as reported by Global News. Under the relief program, mining companies will be able to defer 50 per cent of their bill payments for three months - April, May and June. BC Hydro has also granted a one per cent cut in rates for all customers, equivalent to an average of $230,000 per year in savings for industrial users such as miners.

For those interested in brushing up on a little history while in social isolation, CIM Magazine is uploading the “Evolution of Shaft Sinking” series to our website. The original series ran from August 2007 to May 2008, and investigated how shaft sinking and sinking rates have changed and improved over thousands of years. Parts one through three cover the evolution of shaft sinking from before 1600 to 1900, looking at flint tools and weapons, horse whims and Cornish miners.

Vern Evans and Charles Graham were inspired to research the history of shaft sinking after discussing how lateral development seemed to have stalled in the past 40 years. With over four decades of experience working in shaft sinking, he investigated the development of compressed air, steam, hoisting over hundreds of years. Now, Evans looks back at the original series and to the future of shaft sinking: mechanical excavation.

Magnetic separation is currently underused in most mineral processing plants, despite its robustness, high throughputs and low cost, argues process engineer Jane Danoczi of the Saskatchewan Research Council. Over the past decade, technological advancements such as the incorporation of rare earths elements, development of magnetic tracers and Kappabridge magnetic susceptibility meters have greatly improved the process of magnetic sorting. Now, companies looking to save costs and reduce their environmental footprint should consider magnetic separation for new opportunities.

Hudbay Minerals released an updated plan for its Lalor mine and New Britannia mill in Manitoba, seeking to increase production rates and mineral reserves. Following extensive infill and exploration drilling at the mine, the company has increased the total gold reserves at Snow Lake by 35 per cent to 2.2 million ounces based on 15 million tonnes with a grade of 4.16 grams per tonne, and the life-of-mine gold production by 41 per cent to 1,501,000 ounces over the next 10 years. Following the completed refurbishing of the New Britannia mill in 2022, the company expects to double its current annual gold production.

TC Energy Corp. announced it will begin construction on the US$8 billion Keystone XL pipeline project, as reported by the CBC. The Keystone XL pipeline project will create more than 6,800 direct and indirect jobs and is estimated to create $30 billion in revenue over the next 20 years. The Alberta government is investing US$1.1 billion in equity for construction costs, which will begin immediately in Alberta, at the Canada-U.S. border and in Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Premier Gold has made a US$205 million offer to buy the remaining 50 per cent interest in its Greenstone Gold Mines (GGM) partnership with Centerra Gold. The offer includes a US$175 million cash payment and a US$30 million earn-in obligation, wherein Premier Gold will take over all obligations from the GGM partnership. Following the offer, the company intends to advance GGM’s principal asset, the Hardrock mine project in Ontario, following the project’s 2019 mineral resource estimate.

Orla Mining has successfully closed its bought financing deal, having subscribed and sold over 36 million of the company’s common shares for a value of $75 million. The company worked with a syndicate of underwriters from Stifel GMP, Desjardins Capital Markets and more to sell the common shares for $2.05 each. According to Orla Mining, the proceeds will be used to develop its Camino Rojo oxide-gold project in Mexico.

That’s it for this week’s recap, remember to stay safe and wash your hands! If you’ve got feedback, you can always reach us at editor@cim.org. If you’ve got something to add, why not join the conversation at our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages? Like your recap with a few more gifs? Check out our mining news recap stories on our Instagram.