Osisko Mining has increased the resources and reserves at its Windfall project in Quebec by 60 and 66 per cent, respectively. Courtesy of Osisko Mining.

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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. This week’s headlines include big finds for gold companies in Québec, Ring of Fire gets a regional assessment and concerns with sustainability reporting.

Material environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles are growing increasingly important, as 70 per cent of global investors use them when evaluating companies. The ESG ratings are both an opportunity and a challenge for mining companies, who can use them to explain how they address risk but who must also choose which rating firms to work with and which standards to follow. As the assessments of rating agencies can greatly vary, choosing how and where to report is increasingly complicated.

M&A activity in 2019 had its big moments, such as Newmont’s US$10-billion acquisition of Goldcorp, but overall it was lower than in previous years. In 2019 companies took a cautious and conservative approach to new project development, acquisitions and joint ventures. Experts say that last year’s deals demonstrated the lessons learned from the previous M&A boom in 2011.

Alexco Resource has divested from its subsidiary company, Alexco Environmental Group (AEG), and sold all the company’s shares to its executive management for $13.35 million. AEG works mostly on mine reclamation including at Alexco’s Keno Hill Silver District in Yukon, which the company acquired in 2006. Following the agreement, Alexco will retain ownership and execute the clean-up of the historical mines in the district and AEG will continue to provide support for the project. Alexco will focus its efforts on development at Keno Hill, where the company was granted a mining licence late last year.

Newmont Corporation’s board of directors have unanimously approved investment in an autonomous haulage system (AHS) at the Boddington mine in Australia. Newmont will invest a net total of US$150 million into Boddington’s AHS, and expects that the system will extend the mine’s life by at least two years. Once construction is completed in 2021, Newmont said Boddington will be the world’s first open pit gold mine with an autonomous haul truck fleet.

The federal government has announced it will begin a regional assessment into the Far North mineral belt, also known as the Ring of Fire project, as reported by Northern Ontario Business. The government says that the regional assessment will be more expansive than standard project assessments, as it will investigate the cumulative regional effects of proposed projects and analyze project planning and management, and that it plans to work with the Ontario government, Indigenous and environmental groups and the public.

The environmental assessment process still carries its share of concerns, however, as reported by CBC, the Wet'suwet'en found they lacked the capacity to manage the assessment processes for projects and were overwhelmed by the flood of letters, meetings and funding proposals. The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office’s record of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline, which has been the cause of cross-country protests and rail blockades, has grown to thousands of pages of documents since it was first filed in October 2012.

Osisko Mining announced it has increased its mineral resource and reserve estimates at its Windfall gold project in Québec by 60 and 66 per cent, respectively. The updated mineral resource is now 1.21 million ounces of gold at 9.1 gpt indicated from 4.127 million tonnes, and 3.94 million ounces of gold at 8.4 gpt inferred from 14.5 million tonnes. Wesdome Gold Mines also struck gold at its Kiena mine complex in Val d’Or, reporting 114.8 gpt Au over a 10 metre core length at one of its down plunge drilling holes.

The Québec government and James Bay Cree signed a $4.7 billion deal to develop northern rail networks, protect new wildlife habitats against development and partner on new infrastructure projects. The proposed extension of rail networks will create more jobs in the Cree community and increase the extraction of minerals up north and serve as an alternative to Chinese imports, said Quebec Premier Francois Legault. “La Grande Alliance” is an extension of a series of treaties between the two which began in 1976 with the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement.

The price of gold is the highest it’s been in seven years! As the quarterly season continues, many gold companies are announcing positive annual reports. 

Eldorado Gold set its 2020 guidance for 520,000 to 550,000 ounces of gold, a significant increase over its 2019 guidance of 390,000 to 420,000 ounces of gold, and completed its first year of operation at its Lamaque mine in Quebec, which produced 113,940 ounces of gold.

Lundin Mining reported net earnings of $97 million for the quarter and $167.3 million for the year. At Lundin’s Chapada mine, which it purchased in July 2019, copper exceeded production guidance at 30,529 tonnes and production of gold was within guidance at 54,000 ounces of gold.

Newmont Mining reported a net income of US$2.9 billion. Gold production was within the company’s guidance at 6.3 million ounces, with an AISC of US$966 per ounce. Newmont set its 2020 guidance at 6.4 million ounces.

Teck Resources has reported its full-year EBITDA at $4.3 billion, down from $5.4 billion the year before. Teck’s fourth quarter losses included $999 million in impairment charges, $910 million of which related to its Fort Hills oil sands operation.

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