Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2017

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NEWS-LEADING DEVELOPMENTS AUGUST 2017 • E&MJ 5 Land Exchange Act of 2017 are the same as those found in the administrative land exchange: PolyMet receives approximate- ly 6,650 acres of surface land above and around its NorthMet ore body near an area heavily used for mining and mine infra- structure; in exchange, the Superior Na- tional Forest receives four parcels of land totaling 6,690 acres currently owned or controlled by PolyMet that will become part of the Superior National Forest. The difference is that the $425,000 equaliza- tion payment owed PolyMet by the USFS as a result of the administrative exchange would be waived by the company in the legislative exchange. The company will continue its involve- ment in the administrative steps to com- plete the land exchange transaction while the bill is under consideration. Neither the administrative land ex- change, nor a legislative exchange would permit or approve construction of the NorthMet mine. Mine development and operations remain subject to regulation and permits issued by the state of Min- nesota and the U.S. Army Corps of En- gineers, among others. Those state and federal agencies are currently reviewing and processing permit applications. Rio Tinto Signs MOU With Serbia for Jadar Project Rio Tinto has signed a Memorandum of Un- derstanding (MOU) with the government of Serbia in respect to the implementation of the Jadar project. The MOU will enable the formation of joint working groups between the government and the company to prog- ress the project through the study and per- mitting phases, as per the law. The Jadar project is related to a world-class lithium-borate deposit. If de- veloped, the production could supply a significant proportion of global demand for lithium and borates. Lithium and bo- rates are used to produce vital products like batteries for electrical vehicles, glass and ceramics, fertilizers, and many other products. The project is currently in the middle study stages with operation ex- pected to commence in 2023, assuming that feasibility studies confirm viability and all necessary approvals are obtained. "Rio Tinto sees Serbia as an attractive investment destination, and the Jadar project is an important part of Rio Tinto's growth portfolio," said Rio Tinto Energy & Minerals Chief Executive Bold Baatar, who visited the project site in Serbia. "A project of this magnitude requires time and expertise to design and bring into operation. We can only do this with the support of the Serbian government and local community." Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić, who met with the Rio Tinto representa- tives before attending the signing of the MOU, said, "In order for our domestic economy to develop evenly, it is neces- sary to initiate economic development at the local level, and the Jadar project will significantly contribute to the devel- opment of Loznica and the entire region. The project engages domestic and global experts who, apart from socioeconomic parameters, pay special attention to envi- ronmental protection, without which fur- ther progress is unthinkable." So far, Rio Tinto has invested $US90 million in the Jadar project and produc- tion is expected to start in 2023. Rio Tinto Salt, Uranium and Borates Division Managing Director Simon Trott, who signed the MOU on behalf of Rio Tinto, said, "We are pleased to have pro- gressed the signing of the MOU today in Belgrade. It lays the foundation to pro- gress the project through future stages and brings Serbia and Rio Tinto closer to becoming a leading source of global lithi- um and borate production." "Rio Tinto has, so far, invested $US90 million in the Jadar project and I believe that the signing of the MOU will speed up the activities related to the process of opening a mine and the beginning of the exploitation of lithium, which will have capital effect on the development of Ser- bia," said Minister of Mining and Energy Aleksandar Antić, who signed the MOU on behalf of the government of Serbia. "Prog- ress of the Jadar project in a timely man- ner, and its implementation, will make Serbia the key producer of the two very important elements — lithium and boron — both of which are important for modern development. In that way, we will give a push to the economic growth of Serbia." South Africa's contentious mining law update, which increased mandatory black ownership, management participa- tion and suppliers has been suspended, the country's Chamber of Mines said on Friday, July 14. The new Mining Charter was intro- duced last month to the shock of the in- dustry, which had not been consulted in its creation. Among the provisions were an increase of black ownership from 26% to 30%, and at least 70% of all suppliers were to be from black-owned firms. In response, the chamber has applied for a court interdict against the Depart- ment of Mineral Resources (DMR) to have the charter set aside. Chamber CEO Roger Baxter said on Friday the DMR had agreed to suspend the charter pending a court hearing originally scheduled for July 18. In return for suspending the new char- ter, the DMR asked the chamber to sus- pend the original urgent court application and, instead, schedule a hearing at a later date. In essence, the DMR likely fears it will lose in court and its lawyers advised asking for more time to prepare a case. Should the DMR attempt to enforce the new rules, the chamber will reinstate its urgent application. "This is a satisfactory arrangement for the chamber and the industry, whose primary objective through the interdict application remains to ensure that the DMR's charter does not come into effect, pending a court application to have it re- viewed and set aside," Baxter said. The charter has already rocked an in- dustry struggling with mounting costs. In July, Sibanye Gold, South Africa's biggest gold miner, revealed that senior executives were in Los Angeles in the final stages of a road show with U.S. bond fund managers when the new charter was announced. Sibanye is in the process of the $2.2 billion acquisition of Stillwater Mining in the U.S. Due to the unexpected an- nouncement of the charter, the deal was thrown into jeopardy. "We had to hold back the financing, find out what the charter meant and re- brief all our potential investors," CEO Neal Froneman said, quoted in Business Day. "A number of institutional investors pulled out of the bond process, saying the risks in SA were just too high and it's be- coming uninvestable." Sibanye managed to finance the deal, but has to pay an extra $5 million premi- um on its borrowings, Froneman said. Zwane Suspends South African Mining Charter By Gavin du Venage, South African Editor

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