Battle North Gold is starting construction on its Bateman gold mine in northern Ontario with the aim of starting commercial production by the end of 2022. Courtesy of Battle North 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. This week’s headlines include Zen developing a graphene solution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, new mine constructions by Nouveau Monde, Battle North Gold and Canadian Malartic, and COVID-19 outbreaks at Brucejack and Gahcho Kué mines.

Protesters in Nunavut will heed a judge’s ruling, allowing an estimated 700 employees stranded at Baffinland’s Mary River mine to return home. For a week, a group called the Nuluujaat Land Guardians blocked the site's airstrip and tote road in protest against the company’s plan to expand its annual production to 12 million tonnes per year.

Nouveau Monde Graphite will start construction on its Matawinie graphite mine, in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, after the Quebec government green lit the project. The mine will produce 100,000 tonnes of high-grade graphite concentrate per year and intends to rely exclusively use battery electric mobile fleet equipment in its open pit operations. Full-scale commercial production is estimated to begin by 2023.

Zen Graphene has developed a virucidal graphene-based ink using extra-fine graphene from its Albany deposit that, when applied to the fibres and materials of N95 facemasks, can help protect against the spread of COVID-19. Originally founded as an exploration company, Zen began focusing on graphite research after discovering a unique graphite deposit in northern Ontario.

The Alberta government has reinstated the 1976 coal mining policy it revoked last May following growing public outrage, as reported by CBC. The policy, which protects certain parts of the Rocky Mountains from mining and exploration developments, was cancelled without any public consultations. Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Albertans will be consulted before any additional changes are made to the policy in the future.

New research shared at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union has discovered that methane emissions from coal mines are about 50 per cent higher than previously estimated, as reported by The higher estimates are due to the inclusion of emissions from thousands of abandoned mines and to higher methane content in deeper coal seams. Because of the increasingly deep mines and number of abandoned mines, researchers estimate that methane emissions may increase by eight times from abandoned mines and four times from working mines in the future if climate-change efforts remain the same.

Battle North Gold is starting construction on its Bateman gold mine (the development was formerly the Phoenix Gold project, operated by Rubicon Minerals), as reported by the Northern Ontario Business. The company expects to spend $59.1 million on initial developments including underground development, construction of an ammonia reactor, upgrades to the tailings management facility, the camp and the mill, as well as the purchase of stationary and mobile equipment. Battle North Gold will use its cash reserves and US$40 million in credit from Macquarie Bank Limited to fund the project. It is targeting commercial production to begin by the end of 2022.

Dealing with a language barrier between employees can frustrate workers and slow down decision making and operations. Catherine Jodar argues that adding another language to your lexicon can boost corporate social responsibility, health and safety communication and productivity between mining companies around the world and with local hires. 

Agnico Eagle and Yamana Gold have approved construction of their joint Odyssey gold project at the Canadian Malartic mine in Quebec. The underground mine is expected to produce 19,000 tonnes of ore grading at 2.75 grams per tonne each day at peak operations, and will feature an LTE mobile communication network, automated trucks operated from the surface and on-demand ventilation. The construction will cost $1.7 billion over seven years.

Fourteen cases of COVID-19 have been reported at the Brucejack mine by mine owners Pretium. Operations continue but a temporary travel restriction has been in place until site-wide testing is completed. Mountain Province Diamonds has suspended production at its Gahcho Kué mine after confirming two positive COVID-19 cases and six presumptive positive cases.

The latest technologies and innovations in the geoscience field were shared during the last sessions of the Association for Mineral Exploration Roundup 2021. Researchers spoke on a range of topics including advancements in bypassing glacial till and volcanic deposits, how using mineral exploration tools can improve understanding of ore-deposit formation and a new method for analyzing porphyry copper mineralization.

More fourth-quarter results from 2020 have been released by mining companies. Here are some highlights:

Agnico Eagle reported a record 501,445 ounces of gold production and all-in sustaining costs of US$985 per ounce.

Kinross Gold produced of 624,032 ounces gold during its fourth quarter. Its all-in sustaining costs decreased US$37 per equivalent ounce sold to US$1,013 compared to its Q4 results from 2019.

Yamana Gold, producers of combined gold and silver precious metals reported the production of 255,361 gold equivalent ounces (GEO). Its all-in sustaining costs were US$1,076 per GEO.

Sherritt’s Moa Joint Venture produced 4,020 tonnes of nickel (and 451 tonnes of cobalt) with operating costs of US$4.47 per pound of nickel sold.

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