LATAM Weekly News

12th May 2021

Good afternoon, dear readers.  It’s been a bit of a disaster of a week in the Latin American mining world.  Let’s have a look at a few things that have happened.

Tragedy has struck in Brazil, with three illegal miners, garimpeiros, being killed during one of several clashes with the Yanomami tribe.  This vignette highlights the enormous problems facing Brazil, with the relatively isolated Yanomami furious about the environmental damage to the river and Amazon rainforest caused by garimpeiros in their protected reserve, as well as the encroachment of illegal mining camps on their villages and the subsequent unwanted contact (including disease spread) with those prospecting for gold in the region. The miners had fired on the Yanomami with automatic weapons, perhaps in an attempt to end or get revenge for a blockade that was trying to prevent access to the illegal camps, and the tribespeople responded with bows and arrows and shotguns.  This kind of awful clash has only become more commonplace under the leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro, who places very low value on environmental and indigenous protection, and under whose leadership illegal logging and mining have flourished.  There’s a video of miners firing on locals from boats here, but it’s not nice viewing.

Inevitably, copper is again the topic of conversation in Latin American mining.  It hit another price high yesterday, spiking to $10,476/t, and reports that dwindling scrap supplies, which account for up to 30% of production, are part of the reason.  Bloomberg says that sulfuric acid, which Chilean copper mines use as feedstock in processing, is following suit, with at least one mine (Gabriela Mistral) already affected by short supply. Chile can’t produce all its sulfuric acid locally and must import it, but demand has risen globally and China is exporting less than it usually does.  Sulfuric acid on contract is currently going for $60/t, but spot prices have rocketed up to as much as $170/t, causing headaches all round.  On top of all that, copper output from Chile could theoretically fall by up to 20% if failing wage negotiations shut down BHP’s (ASX, LON, NYSE:BHP) giant Escondida and Spence mines.  Talks have stalled with the union representing workers at the Integrated Operations Centre, who the union alleges were fired and then re-hired with poorer conditions and pay when the company re-organised its operations, and a strike vote has been called.  But Chilean law allows striking workers to be replaced, so the chance of a shutdown is realistically slim to none.

Around the Traps

Tocvan Ventures (CSE:TOC) has reported bottle testing results for gold at its flagship Pilar gold-silver project in Sonora, Mexico. They achieved a pleasing 92% recovery rate for the medium-grade sample tested, and are now moving on to the first stage of their Phase II drilling program, which will drill 2,400 m, with another 1,600 m to come soon.  Partial results of their first drill program are in the nifty figure below.

GR Silver Mining (TSXV:GRSL, Frankfurt:GPE, OTCQB:GRSLF) has completed its acquisition of the San Marcial silver project from SSR Mining (TSX:SSRM, NASDAQ:SSRM, ASX:SSR), which began in 2018.  GR Silver has put over CDN$4.6 million into the project since then, with great results; they’ve expanded the main resource and identified other exploration targets on the property.

If you’re interested in mining in Central America and the Caribbean, Resource World is holding an online conference on that theme with a keynote speech by Paul Harris (Columbia Gold Symposium, Editor: Mining Journal – Americas) and presentations from five companies involved in the region.  It’s on tomorrow (13th May) at 12:00 Eastern US/Canada time, and you can register here.

Gran Colombia Gold Corp. (TSX:GCM, OTCQX:TPRFF) has released a rather impresseive corporate video featuring the company’s operations and sustainability initiatives, directed by Colombian journalist Yamid Ahmad.  If this is the direction coprorate videos are headed, Marvel Studios had better watch out. Have a look at it here.

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