Frik Els

Frik has worked as a financial journalist for 15 years covering a variety of industries for several publications including British Airways in-flight magazine, Business Insider, Investment.com, Driving.ca, YCharts and Business in Vancouver. Frik presented at the Global Mining Summit in Las Vegas, Resources Investment Conference in Vancouver, Mines & Money London and has been interviewed on Korean state TV and CBC radio. (DISCLAIMER: Frik Els does not own shares or hold positions in any of the equities he writes about. Nothing written should be viewed as a solicitation to buy or sell any securities.)

Oil sands poised to become largest source of US crude imports

According to testimony before the US Congress concerning the construction of the $7bn Keystone XL pipeline extension from Alberta to Texas, crude produced by Canada’s oil sands, which represent just over half the country’s total production, has already surpassed the total volume of imports from the US number two supplier Mexico. Since 2000 Canada’s oil sands output has more than doubled: from 600,000 barrels to about 1.5m barrels per day in 2010. Canada supplies 2m barrels per day or 22% of US crude oil imports, up from 15% a decade earlier. The sands’ 175bn barrels of recoverable oil places Canadian oil reserves third in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Klondike Silver to raise up to $1m in private placement

Klondike Silver Corp. announced on Tuesday it has arranged for a private placement of up to 4,000,000 units for total proceeds of up to $1,000,000. Proceeds from the private placement will be used for exploration expenditures on the Company’s Yukon, British Columbia and Ontario mineral properties as well as for general working capital. Klondike Silver is a member of the Hughes Exploration Group of Companies.

Chile to halt financing of military spending with copper exports

The Santiago Times reported that Sebastián Pinera, president of Chile, signed a bill which if approved by Congress, would eliminate a substantial source of revenue for Chile’s armed forces and at the same time relieve a massive burden on the country’s state mining company. Under current legislation dating back to the Second World War, 10% of revenues from Chile’s National Copper Corporation, Codelco, are directed to the nation’s armed forces. Codelco is the world’s largest copper mining company and accounts for some 11% of global copper production, but the tax has contributed to years of underinvestment and the prospect of falling output at the miner just as copper prices hit record highs.

Alto Group acquires historic Great Excelsior Mine in Washington

Alto Group Holdings, a mining and commodities trade company headquartered in New York, announced on Monday the acquisition of the Great Excelsior Mine in Washington State. The Great Excelsior Mine, located in Washington State, was a gold-silver producer which was forced to close in 1918 due to falling metal prices and a shortage of supplies. This mining property has been explored by numerous mining companies over the years.

BusinessDay: Producers warn on prices even as gold demand rockets

Gold demand surged in the first quarter of this year as purchases of the precious metal for investment climbed 11% to 981.3 tons in the first three months according to the latest World Gold Council report. Much of the increase was as a result of buying of the physical metal – purchases of gold bars and coins shot up 52% year on year to 366 tons, representing a virtual doubling in value to $16bn. The report from the association of gold producers comes as the biggest producers sound warnings on Monday that any major pullback in the metal’s price below $1,000 could jeopardize the primary supply of gold.

SaskatoonHomepage: Canpotex breaks ground on $55m potash railcar facility

Canpotex held a ground breaking ceremony at the railcar maintenance and staging facility located south of Potash Corp’s Lanigan mine on Friday. In business since 1972, Canpotex is the exclusive offshore marketing company for the three big provincial Saskatchewan potash players and maintains a fleet of 5,000 specialty railcars for its customers in about 30 countries around the world.

Trading Room: Fortis to raise $236m for Kazakh potash mines

Trading Room reports that Melbourne-based Fortis Mining Ltd has agreed to raise $236m by selling new shares and notes to investors in Hong Kong and China to buy and develop two potash mines in Kazakhstan. ASX-listed Fortis, previously a gold and base metal explorer, acquired the rights to purchase the Chelkarskaya and Zhilyanskoe salt deposits in March. The deposits have an exploration target range of 6.5 – 6.6bn tonnes of potassium making them amongst the largest potash salt deposits in the world.

Minera Andes puts back Los Azules spin-out, cites ongoing litigation

Toronto stock exchange listed Minera Andes announced on Friday the proposed spin-out of its copper assets, including the 100%-owned Los Azules project, has been deferred. The gold, silver and copper exploration company cited weaker financial markets, financing uncertainties, and a delayed legal decision regarding its dispute with TNR Gold over claims on the Argentinean property, as contributing to the board’s decision.

SMH: New South Wales freezes coal and gas exploration licences

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on Friday that the state of New South Wales announced a 60-day freeze on new exploration licences for coal, coal seam gas and petroleum in a push to resolve the escalating conflict between farmers, miners and conservationists over land use. The need for a moratorium was questioned by the state's mining industry, which said billions of dollars in investment were at stake, but it said it broadly supported the development of a new approach to avoid conflict over valuable land.

Reports: Chinese steel giant says iron ore market is in a ‘bubble’

"Everyone who has money is rushing to invest in iron ore," Baosteel Group chairman, Xu Lejiang said on Friday, warning that supply may outstrip demand “sooner than expected” pushing prices down in the process. Brazil’s Vale, and Australian heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto have some $45bn slated for new mines. The cash price of 62%-iron ore shipped to China's Tianjin port has almost tripled from Nov. 21, 2008 when data became available, according to the Steel Index.

Canadian Press: Chinese invest $73m in Quebec iron ore explorer

Two Chinese state-owned companies have invested over $73m for a roughly 30% interest in privately-owned Century Iron's plans to export iron ore extracted at several properties in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador in eastern Canada. The transactions are part of $115.5m of financing arranged by Century Iron through private placements and the amalgamation of Century Iron Mines Corp. and Century Iron Ore Holdings.

Pan Terra clinches African gold and copper deal

Mitchell Adam, President and CEO of Vancouver-based Pan Terra Industries announced on Thursday it has entered into a deal to acquire 80% of Namibia’s Congo Namibia Trading, a private gold and copper exploration company. Under Thursday's letter of intent, TSX-Venture listed Pan Terra will pay C$300,000 in cash and issue 3m shares as well as 3m share purchase warrants priced at C$0.73. Congo Namibia Trading holds 100% interest in five exclusive prospecting licenses in the Tsumeb Copper Belt in Namibia as well the rights to acquire 51% stake in an Angolan and a Zimbabwean gold joint venture.

Reports: Western Australia hikes iron-ore royalties, angers miners

The Western Australian government on Thursday introduced a phased increase on its royalty rates applying to iron-ore mines, a move it says will create A$1.9bn in additional revenue. Australia’s Association of Mining & Exploration Companies […]

Reuters: Quality issues threaten India iron ore sales to China

Reuters reports that world number three supplier India's iron ore exports and prices could be hit by quality issues raised by China on $2.2bn worth of shipments. India sends almost all its exports to China, trade worth around $1.5bn per month. During the first four months of 2011, over a third of India's exports to the Chinese province of Jiangsu were substandard, China's General Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a notice posted on its website.

Christian Science Monitor documents gold's journey around the world

Amid growing interest in bullion as a hedge against the dollar and inflation and a renewed rally in gold and precious metals prices, Christian Science Monitor, documents gold’s journey around the globe in a fascinating and extensive photo-essay.

Casablanca Mining narrows loss, increases assets

California-based Casablanca Mining reported first quarter results that consolidated the gains made by the exploration and intellectual property rights company in 2010. Total assets increased to $3.8m and net loss declined to $0.01/share. Construction of Sulfatos Chile Copper Sulfate plant using the company’s patented electrolysis extraction process was continued. Casablanca also said it is in negotiation to acquire further gold mining properties in Chile and has some 43-101 technical reports in progress.

Investors worried about bullion’s direction should look east

Many investors are calling into question billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros’s commitment to gold. With higher highs no longer a regular occurrence in the gold market, some see Soros’s dumping of gold ETFs as a clear sign that the party is over. But as trading in the first Asian precious metal futures contract opens on Wednesday, bearish investors may want to take a cue from the millions — maybe billions — of investors in India, China, Vietnam and across the region who are pouring money into gold and are willing to pay a premium.

Extorre’s Cerro Moro receives development go-ahead

TSX and Amex-listed Extorre Gold Mines took a step closer to the development of its flagship mine Cerro Moro in Argentina on Tuesday with the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment and the purchase of the 14,000 ha that cover the project. Extorre, which was spun out of Exeter Resource Corporation last year, said the Project Pre-Feasibility Study is expected in June 2011 and start-up for the high grade gold and silver mine is scheduled for 2012. Capital costs for the mine are some $130m and cash costs are estimated at $201/ounce. Extorre is worth close to $800m on the TSX and is sitting on roughly $33m in cash. The company also owns the Don Sixto projects, and other mineral exploration properties in Argentina.

While the REE market has come down to earth, no-one is rushing for exits

After sitting idly by and watching China monopolize the industry – the country is responsible for upwards of 95% of global supply – a rush to bring rare earth mine to production is on: There are now 251 rare earth projects being undertaken by 165 different companies in 24 countries. While prices have been rising rapidly, rare earth production is an expensive and complex undertaking. Very few projects can be developed for under $1bn and as the rest of the world shuttered rare earth mines metallurgical skills languished along with it.

Paladin enjoys record revenues, sees no impact from Fukushima

In results released on Friday, Australia’s Paladin Energy showed a 47% increase in production from its Namibian and Malawian operations and record revenues of $208.7m on the back of a 31% increase in sales volumes for the nine months to March. The company said despite the concerns about the nuclear energy market following the tsunami damage to Japan’s Fukushima plant, it believes supply and demand imbalances will only widen in future as more plants, such as the 25 under construction in China, come on stream. Paladin is on an aggressive growth drive. Stage 3 of the expansion of its Langer Heinrich mine that would bring capacity to 5.2m lb is 92% complete and in February 2011 the company announced that it completed its acquisition of the uranium assets of Aurora Energy in Labrador, Canada for C$260.8m.