TransAlta will be closing its Highvale thermal coal mine in Alberta as it transitions to natural gas for power generation. Courtesy of TransAlta.

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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 Rio Tinto upgrading its Quebec alumina facilities, mining companies turning to local supply chains and TransAlta ending operations at its Highvale thermal coal mine.

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Alamos Gold’s Young-Davidson mine in northern Ontario after three employees tested positive for the virus, as reported by Northern Ontario Business. The Timiskaming Health Unit and Alamos Gold are working to conduct all necessary contact tracing and to reduce the risk of infection and transmission. Two more infected employees have since been identified after the outbreak was first announced on Tuesday. 

This week CIM held its Capital Projects Symposium, where industry members shared insights on planning and executing mining projects in our largest virtual conference to date. The symposium was created as a forum for people to come together to network and share knowledge on project execution and its challenges, such as social risk management, innovation and leadership. You can access presentations from the event by registering online.

Yamana Gold will acquire Monarch Gold in a $152-million friendly takeover consisting of $60.8 million in cash and $91.2 million in Yamana shares. Prior to the acquisition, Monarch will spinout some of its assets and liabilities to a newly-formed company, which will have an estimated value of $47.5 million. According to Yamana, the company plans to conduct additional exploration and drilling programs at Monarch’s Wasamac project and potentially at the Camflo property as well.

The federal and Quebec governments are investing nearly $3.6 million in developing technologies for electric vehicles used in open-pit mining. Propulsion Québec, the Innovative Vehicle Institute, the National Research Council of Canada and several industry members will use the funding to develop an electric propulsion system and a fast-charging battery solution for heavy-duty trucks.

Rio Tinto has earmarked $51 million for facility upgrades at its Vaudreuil alumina refinery in Quebec, as reported by The company will construct three new energy-efficient buildings and rearrange existing facilities in order to improve employee safety and optimize operations. The project is expected to be completed in early 2021.

Mining companies are increasingly turning towards local procurement of equipment and services. After the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of local supply chains, companies such as SRK Consulting are focusing on local procurement opportunities for mining. Developing local supply chains can help miners simplify supply chains, lower project risks and increase ESG compliance.

TransAlta announced it will end operations at its Highvale thermal coal mine in Alberta by the end of 2021, as reported by The Star. The mine closure is part of the company’s plan to switch all of its operations from coal to natural gas, and the company announced that it is making the switch four years ahead of schedule due to the increasing cost of coal production due to carbon taxes. The closure will result in hundreds losing their jobs as only 40 to 50 employees will remain at the site to work on reclamation from a peak workforce of around 1,500.

The Canada Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise office will launch this month, as reported by iPolitics. The office will handle complaints of human rights abuses by Canadian companies operating abroad and will offer a collaborative dispute-resolution process before reviewing allegations. Some critics say that the office will not be effective since it will require companies to act in good faith, and may not have the power to legally oblige companies to provide information.

Mining companies are adopting new technologies for environmental monitoring to minimize the effects on ecosystems and to improve sustainability. Some of the new innovative technologies focus on real time water-quality sensors, microorganisms for remediation and habitat restoration models.

Iamgold suspended operations at its Westwood mine and mill operations in Quebec following a seismic event last Friday. The company announced that all employees were safely evacuated and the cause of the event was under investigation. In its third-quarter report the company lowered its full-year production guidance range to between 630,000 and 680,000 ounces of gold. The report also stated that milling at Westwood would resume in the coming days while mine operations remain suspended.

Q3 reporting season is in full swing as companies continue to release their reports, and we’ve rounded them up for you. This week’s third-quarter reports include Kirkland Lake, Barrick Gold, Torex Gold, Cameco, Hudbay Minerals, B2Gold, Wesdome Gold Mines, Kinross Gold and TMAC Resources.

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Remember to stay safe, keep your distance and wash your hands!