WITH demand remaining relatively strong during most of the year, and supply constrained by a number of factors, metal prices stayed at relatively high levels during 1990 as seen from a historical perspective. However, as demand showed signs of weakening during the latter part of the year, commodity prices also weakened. In general, metal prices averaged out at lower levels for 1990 than in the previous year. The effect of lower average prices and/or lower volumes of production for some of the leading metals was such that the total value of metallic mineral production in Canada fell by more than 8% in 1990.
The value of Canadian mineral production, including metallic minerals, non-metallic minerals, structural materials and fuels, totalled $41.3 billion in 1990 compared with $39.3 billion in 1989. This represented an increase of 5.2% over the previous year and was achieved on the strength of mineral fuels. On the other hand, the non-fuel sector as a group (metals, non-metals and structurals) saw the total value of production fall by 8.6% to $17.8 billion in 1990 from $19.5 billion in 1989.
The total value of metallic mineral production fell by 8.6% to $12.8 billion in 1990 from $14.0 billion in 1989. The value of output of the non-metallics, which include minerals such as asbestos, potash and sulphur, declined by 8.1% to $2.4 billion in 1990 from $2.6 billion in the previous year. The value of production for the structural materials group, which includes sand and gravel, stone, cement and lime, fell to $2.6 billion from $2.9 billion, a decrease of 9.1%. As a whole, the non-fuel mineral sector accounted for 43.1% of the total value of mineral production in Canada in 1990.
In the fuels sector, which includes crude petroleum, natural gas, natural gas by-products and coal, the value of production increased by 18.8% to $23.5 billion in 1990 from $19.8 billion in 1989. This overall increase of about $3.7 billion was accounted for almost entirely by petroleum.
The top ten commodities in terms of value of output in 1990 were: crude petroleum ($13.8 billion), natural gas ($5.6 billion), copper ($2.5 billion), zinc ($2.5 billion), gold ($2.4 billion), natural gas by-products ($2.2 billion), nickel ($2.0 billion), coal ($1.9 billion), iron ore ($1.3 billion) and potash ($0.9 billion).
Total employment in the mineral industry declined by about 2.8%, reflecting a weaker Canadian economy in 1990. Preliminary estimates for the year indicated that employment in the mineral sector was 387,500, down from about 398,500 in 1989. All stages of the industry experienced a decline in employment during 1990. The total number of employees in metal mining, non-metal mining, quarrying and coal mining was estimated at about 74,800, down from 77,400 in 1989. Employment in non-ferrous smelting and refining and the primary steel industries was estimated at 75,500, down from 78,100 in 1989, while in the semi-fabricating and fabricating mineral industries it declined to 237,200 in 1990 from 243,000 in 1989.
Exports of Canadian minerals, metals and their basic products were down somewhat from the previous year, but continued to make a significant contribution to Canada's merchandise trade surplus. For the first nine months of 1990, the total value of mineral exports (including coal, but excluding mineral fuels) was estimated at $19.3 billion. This included crude minerals, smelted and refined products, and semi-fabricated and fabricated forms. Imports of mineral products for the first nine months of 1990 were estimated to be about $10.2 billion. This resulted in a trade surplus for minerals (excluding fuels) of more than $9 billion for the first three quarters of 1990.
Including fuels, total mineral exports for the first nine months of the year were estimated at approximately $27.5 billion. Mineral exports (including fuels) account for about one quarter of the value of Canada's total exports. About two-thirds of total mineral exports go to the U.S., with roughly 10% going to the E.C. and 10% to Japan.
Environmental concerns continued to be a vital issue for both the mineral industry and government. The Mining Association of Canada followed its adoption of an environmental policy in 1989 with the adoption in 1990 of detailed guidelines for good environmental practices within the industry. In December 1990, the Government of Canada released its long-awaited Green Plan, the most ambitious environmental action plan ever produced in Canada. Many of the initiatives in the plan will have implications for the mineral industry.
Based on the strength developed over recent years through rationalization, restructuring, the adoption of new technologies and through skilful management, the Canadian mineral industry is well positioned to take on the challenges facing the industry, whether environmental, economic or technological. As in the past, it will continue to be a source of strength to the Canadian economy and will make a significant contribution to economic growth.
Exploration expenditure in 1989 totalled $828 million, down from the all-time record levels of $1,300 million in 1987 and $1,350 million in 1988. Preliminary exploration survey results for 1990 were incomplete at time of writing, but Energy, Mines & Resources Canada estimates that, in 1990, Canadian exploration expenditure amounted to about $750 million. Although exploration expenditure in 1989 and 1990 was far below that of 1987 and 1988, in constant dollars it is close to the long-term annual average expenditures over the past 35 years.
The decline in exploration expenditures after 1988 has a number of causes. These include: changes in income tax treatment of capital gains and other changes which affected the market for flow-through shares; the stock market crash of October 1987; declining gold prices; and a relative lack of major exploration successes. All these factors have led to difficulties in raising exploration funds for junior (non-producing) exploration companies.
Expenditure on gold exploration, which amounted to some 80% of non-petroleum exploration expenditure in the years 1986-88 inclusive, declined to about 66% in 1989. Base metal exploration expenditure has almost doubled in percentage terms, up from about 12% of Canadian exploration spending in the years 1986-88 to 23% in 1989. Despite this increase, base metal expenditure was not much higher in 1989 than in 1988, because of the decline in total exploration expenditure. However, indications are that, in 1990, base metal exploration expenditure was higher than in 1989, both in dollars spent and as a percentage of total exploration expenditure.
While there are indications that spending has started to respond to declining Canadian base metal reserves, a greater shift from gold to base metal exploration is still needed. Reserves of metals were generally on the rise until the early 1980s but, except for reserves of gold which kept on rising, reserves of the other metals have generally decreased each year during the 1980s. Compared with 1981, reserves in 1990 were down by 20% for silver, down by 26% for nickel and zinc, down by 27% for copper, down by 31% for lead and down by 57% for molybdenum. For gold, reserves in 1990 were more than double 1981.
The number of precious metal (mainly gold) and base metal (largely polymetallic) deposits judged promising for possible development into mines in the foreseeable future grew each year from 98 in 1981 to 268 at the end of 1989. It fell to about 210 in February 1991. These deposits were selected on the basis of public information concerning the results of recent exploration programmes, deposit tonnages and grades and other factors that affect economic viability. This selection process is inherently subjective. Apart from these 210 deposits, there are many hundreds of other deposits and mineral showings in Canada at various stages of exploration.
Of the 210 prospects judged, in early 1991, to be promising for future production, 152 are gold and 58 are base metal deposits. Quebec accounts for 60 (29%), Ontario for 47 (22%) and British Columbia for 46 (22%). Although the total number of promising deposits is down in 1991 compared with 1990, the percentage distribution of these deposits by province has remained roughly the same. However, as a percentage of all promising deposits in Canada, the number of base metal deposits has increased to 28% in 1991, up from 22% in 1990, and up significantly from only 13% in 1988. From 1990 to 1991, base metal deposits increased as a percentage of all promising deposits in the Atlantic Provinces, in British Columbia and in the Territories.
Based on metal prices prevailing at the beginning of 1991, gold accounts for roughly 30% of the gross in situ value of the estimated mineral inventory reported by companies for the 210 prospects. Copper accounts for roughly 30% and zinc for 20%.
On the basis of gross in situ values of estimated mineral inventories, the largest promising Canadian mineral deposits include, in British Columbia: Windy Craggy (copper, gold, silver, cobalt), Cirque (zinc, lead, silver), Mount Milligan (copper, gold), Kerr (copper, gold, silver), Eskay Creek (gold, silver), Hushamu (copper, gold, molybdenum), Tulsequah Chief (zinc, copper, gold, silver, lead) and Mount Polley (copper, gold); in Quebec: Louvicourt (copper, zinc, gold, silver) and Grevet (zinc, copper, silver); in Ontario: Lindsley (nickel, copper, gold, silver, cobalt, platinum, palladium) and Moss Lake (gold); in the Yukon: Wellgreen (nickel, copper, platinum, palladium) and Dy (zinc, lead, silver, gold); in Saskatchewan: McIlvenna Bay (zinc, copper, gold, silver); in Manitoba: Minago (nickel); in Newfoundland: Duck Pond (zinc, copper); and in New Brunswick: Half-Mile Lake (zinc, lead, silver, copper).
As for uranium, Cigar Lake, Midwest, Eagle Point, McArthur River and Wolly, all in Saskatchewan, as well as Kiggavik, in the Northwest Territories, are major projects that constitute possible future mines.
Production of primary aluminium in 1990 is estimated at 1.567 Mt compared with 1.555 Mt in 1989. Exports of primary smelter products from Canada during the first nine months of 1990 were 944,400 t compared with 874,600 t for the same period in 1989. Exports to the U.S. totalled 660,500 t compared with 608,200 t for the same period in 1989.
In November, the five existing or prospective aluminium producers in Quebec, including Alcan Aluminium, Aluminerie Aloutte, Aluminerie de Becancour, Aluminerie Lauralco and Canadian Reynolds Metals, announced the creation of the Quebec Aluminum Association. Its role will be to inform the public, to promote among member companies the solutions to common problems by research in fields of a non-competitive nature and also to make representations to governments in the drafting of policies dealing with the aluminium industry.
In September, Alcan announced that it would undertake the start-up of phases III and IV of its new 200,000 t/y Laterriere smelter between November 15, 1990 and the end of February 1991. During the same time period, Alcan announced that it would begin the permanent closure of three Soderberg potlines at its Arvida smelter in Jonquiere, lowering capacity at that plant to about 230,000 t/y. This capacity will be further reduced to 140,000 t/y when the four remaining Soderberg potlines at Arvida are replaced by the company's proposed new smelter at Alma, which will probably be built in the late 1990s.
According to the company, the $800 million Laterriere plant incorporates pollution control technology that captures more than 99% of the dust particles and fluorides in process gases. For the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region, the start-up of the new smelter and the permanent closure of an equal amount of old Soderberg capacity will reduce emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) by 60% and fluoride emissions by 50%.
Despite the fact that Alcan announced that it would reduce capital spending in 1991, the company has earmarked $200 million for further work on its $1 billion Kemano hydroelectric project in British Columbia. When completed in 1994, the company's hydroelectric capacity at Kemano will increase from 896 MW to 1,436 MW. The company has stated that, until such time as market and financial conditions warrant the construction of additional smelting capacity in B.C., it will sell surplus power at Kemano to B.C. Hydro.
During 1990, Alcan commenced production of Duralcan aluminium composite material at its new Dubuc plant in Jonquiere. This is a metal matrix composite made of aluminium and ceramic materials. The plant, which cost $36 million, will produce foundry ingot, wrought extrusion billet and sheet ingot. The capacity of this facility will be about 11,000 t/y.
At the end of December, Canadian Reynolds began the start-up of its new 120,000 t/y potline at its Baie Comeau smelter in Quebec. The company expected that the new capacity would be fully operational in May 1991, significantly earlier than originally anticipated. The capacity of the Baie Comeau plant will increase to 400,000 t/y.
In July, Canadian Reynolds began construction of a new $49 million redraw rod plant at Becancour, Quebec. It is expected that completion of the 80,000 t/y capacity plant will be in mid-1992.
On October 29, Aluminerie de Becancour Inc. (ABI) commenced the start-up of its new third potline at its Becancour smelter. It was expected that the line would be fully on-stream in the spring of 1991. Capacity at the smelter will increase from 240,000 t/y to 360,000 t/y. ABI is owned by Pechiney Reynolds Quebec, a subsidiary of Pechiney and Reynolds Metals, Alumax and Soc. generale de financement du Quebec.
Faced with significant cost overruns, the principals of the Aluminerie Alouette consortium, including Vereinigte Aluminium-Verke AG (VAW), Austria Metall AG, Hoogovens Groep, Soc. generale de financement du Quebec, Kobe Steel and Marubeni Corp., were forced to reevaluate the smelter project at Sept-Iles, Quebec. While the consortium decided at the end of July to continue with the project, it introduced various modifications to the plant in order to keep costs at an acceptable level. These included altering the technology used for the anode baking furnace, as well as to produce only 50 lb remelt ingots as opposed to sheet metal ingots, extrusion ingots and wirebars. Even with the changes, the cost of the 215,000 t/y smelter is expected to increase to $1.4 billion from an original estimate of $1.25 billion.
It is expected that Alouette will now come on-stream in June 1992, two months later than originally scheduled. At the end of 1990, the project was well under way with approximately 30% of construction having been completed.
During 1990, Aluminerie Lauralco Inc. -- owned by Alumax of the U.S. -- began construction of its new 215,000 t/y aluminium smelter at Deschambault, Quebec, 60 km west of Quebec City. The company expects that the $1 billion plant will be fully on-stream in mid-1992. After plans to build alumina unloading facilities in Quebec City ran into stiff opposition from local residents, Lauralco confirmed at the end of the year that it would utilize existing port facilities at Trois-Rivieres during the first five years of operation.
Canada's 1990 production was 653 t valued at $1.4 million, compared with 2,818 t and $7 million for 1989 with the dramatic decline in production due to the January 1990 closure of the Durham mine, North America's only primary antimony mine. The Lake George, New Brunswick, mine closed due to continued depressed antimony markets. Durham's output represented about 10% of the Western World's mine production. Following the mine closure, Dominion Explorers sold the property to Antimony Products of Canada (Apocan), a subsidiary of Amspec Chemical Corp., a major antimony trioxide producer in the U.S.
Antimony, derived from lead ores, is produced in the form of antimonial lead at Cominco's lead smelter in Trail, B.C. and as antimony slag at the lead smelter of Brunswick Mining & Smelting at Belledune, New Brunswick.
Minnova Inc., also in B.C., is shipping copper concentrate containing antimony to Europe from its Samatosum mine, which commenced operation in 1989 (Samatosum also produces lead concentrate).
Recently discovered antimony deposits in Canada include the Beaverbrook deposit of Noranda Exploration in Newfoundland and the Tulsequah deposit of Dominion Explorers in B.C. Both deposits, though not yet defined, contain massive lenses of coarse-grained stibnite ([Sb.sub.2][O.sub.3]).
This is produced as arsenic trioxide, a by-product of the treatment of arsenious gold ores. The value of Canadian arsenic trioxide shipments in 1990 is estimated at $288,342 compared with the 1989 actual shipment value of $1,285,915.
Giant Yellowknife Mines in the Northwest Territories recovers arsenic trioxide, grading 85-93%, from dust and residues collected during the roasting of gold ores. Because of the current weak market situation, Giant is stockpiling its arsenic trioxide in permanent underground storage vaults.
The outlook for arsenic is somewhat uncertain though supplies are abundant and demand is expected to remain relatively flat. As arsenic is produced primarily as a by-product, its production is largely a function of the demand for, and production of, other metals (copper, gold, lead and zinc). Environmental concerns have reduced demand.
Production in 1990 decreased 3.8% over 1989 due largely to: the transition to the underground operation at Cassiar, B.C., and hence, the unavailability of sufficient mill feed; a decrease in demand for short fibre; and reduced sales. Canadian mines operated close to 100% of current capacity; average prices increased by only 1%. Total shipments, however, for 1990 are estimated to be 665,300 t, valued at $256.1 million compared with revised figures for 1989 showing 701,227 t valued at $267.34 million. The 5.1% decrease in shipments primarily reflected the decline in demand for short fibre, as well as the impact of the transition at Cassiar.
Export volumes for 1990 are forecast at about 627,000 t, a decrease of 11% from the previous year; the value of the exports is expected to decrease only about 8%. Exports in the January to September 1990 period totalled 471,493 t valued at $302.4 million compared with 532,451 t valued at $333.7 million for the same period in 1989.
Early in 1990, Baie Verte Mines in Newfoundland split into two separate entities: Baie Verte Mines Inc. (BVM) controlling the dry, open-pit operation; and Baie Verte Mines Reprocessing Inc. (BVMRI), which owned the new wet-process plant and technology. Princeton Mining Corp. loaned BVMRI $4 million to facilitate completion of the wet-process mill for commercial operation, the loan to be repaid by June 30, 1990. As the loan was not repaid, Princeton placed BVMRI into "receiver-managership" on July 20, 1990, an action intended to ensure that monies were not misspent rather than the more usual context relating to bankruptcy. A public auction for BVMRI was held in Toronto on August 21, 1990, and Princeton paid $100,000 for 55% of BVMRI shares; the remaining 45% of the shares being held by Cliff Resources Corp. BVM open-pit workers received permanent lay-off notices in late autumn, although ore continued to be recovered until early this year. Princeton intends to operate the wet-process mill on a commercial scale which is expected to extend the asbestos operations by 15-20 years, depending on market conditions.
Princeton became the parent of Cassiar Mining Corp. following a corporate restructuring last year, and operated its mill during the year from stockpiled ore from the open-pit, which closed in 1989, as well as from the new underground McDame orebody. Development of the McDame orebody continues, essentially on schedule, and at the end of 1990 it produced a daily mill ore feed rate of 1,500-2,000 t. Cassiar's wet-process operation is currently on hold due to problems relating to tailings disposal.
JM Asbestos, last year the hardest hit by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's final asbestos rule, had a stable year, with its marketing efforts resulting in sales sufficient to offset the declining U.S. imports.
Appeal briefs relating to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's final asbestos rule were filed between April 2 and November 5, 1990, and an oral hearing was scheduled for February 5, 1991, in the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court. A decision is not expected before September 1991.
It is anticipated that demand for grades 3 and 4 fibre used in inexpensive asbestos cement building materials such as roofing tiles, siding and sheet, and asbestos-cement pipe, will continue to remain strong through the next year due to worldwide housing needs; demand for shorter fibres is expected to weaken. Canadian production is expected to remain stable. The general market situation is expected to remain stable, though uncertain, until the regulatory situation in the U.S. has been clarified by the Appeal Court's decision.
There is no current production but beryllium mineral deposits are scattered throughout Canada, with the two promising prospects being Thor Lake in the Northwest Territories and Strange Lake on the Labrador/Quebec border. In February 1990, Hecla Mining terminated its joint venture with Highwood Resources for the development of the beryllium-rare earth deposit at Thor Lake. Hecla dropped its option because of an inability to obtain sales commitments for beryllium. Proven reserves at Thor Lake total 4,000 t of beryllium. Late in 1990, Hecla signed a letter of agreement with the Iron Ore Co. of Canada (IOC) and started a feasibility study of IOC's Strange Lake deposit. This deposit, in addition to beryllium, contains yttrium, zirconium, niobium and rare earths.
Preliminary figures indicate bismuth refinery production in 1990 was 188 t, marginally higher than 1989's 179 t. Due to the strike at Brunswick Mining and Smelting's (BMS) Bathurst mine, the mine output decreased from 205 t to 118 t. The processing of stockpiled inventory and imported dirty lead-bismuth concentrates accounts for the difference in mine output and refinery production. Reserves are ranked fifth behind Peru, Australia, the U.S. and Mexico.
Bismuth metal is recovered at Cominco Ltd's Trail, B.C., electrolytic lead refinery and is refined to 99.99% purity. However, only lead-bismuth alloys are produced at BMS's pyrometallurgical lead refinery at Belledune.
The future of the bismuth market is uncertain. As a by-product, supply is a function of the major metals' production (lead, zinc and copper). However, on the demand side, bismuth-based pharmaceuticals have experienced market growth for ulcer treatment.
Canada remains the world's fourth largest source of refined cadmium after the U.S.S.R., Japan and the U.S. With increased zinc production in 1991, Canada will become the world's second largest source. In 1990, Canadian mine output was 1,836,942 kg, down 3.9% from 1,910,929 kg in 1989. Actual recovery from smelters was 1,643,185 kg valued at $14,387,728 compared with 1,710,527 kg in 1989 valued at $28,026,985. The 3.9% decline in production was due to two zinc mine strikes combined with an economic slowdown in North America and the U.K. The dramatic 48.7% drop in value was due to a combination of the impacts of |hedge' buying, which took place between 1987 and 1989 when prices were fluctuating widely, a decrease in demand due to negative impacts of increasing regulation, and the economic slow-down in North America.
It is expected that growth will only occur in the ni-cad battery market, although perhaps at a decreased rate as many companies are expending considerable research funds to develop cadmium-free rechargeable batteries.
Timminco produces all of Canada's calcium metal in Haley, Ontario, at an annual production of about 900 t. The capacity is variable as the operation can switch a portion of its production between calcium and magnesium metal. Reported Canadian calcium metal consumption was 57 t for 1989.
Statistics verify that 1990 was a difficult year for the coal industry. Production, imports and exports were down marginally over 1989, reflecting the oversupplied world coal market, difficult economic conditions nationally and unusual weather conditions. Production in 1990 totalled just over 68 Mt, down about 2 Mt from the previous year. Imports and exports were 14 Mt and 31 Mt, down 4% and 5% respectively from 1989. The domestic scene remained active with four new coal-fired power stations and one new mine under construction and one new power station commissioned during the year. New power stations are under construction in both eastern and western Canada as four of the five coal-producing provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta) continue to rely on coal as their main fuel for future electricity generation. B.C., the other coal-producing province, exports almost all its coal to offshore, other Canadian and U.S. markets.
Canada continues to be a major exporter of coal, primarily to Asian-Pacific countries, but also to a lesser extent to European and Latin American markets. In 1990 exports were sent to 20 countries, divided in an overall ration of 85:15 between metallurgical and thermal coal.
As in previous years, Japan remains Canada's largest customer, taking 60% or a total of 18.5 Mt of all exports. The Republic of Korea was the second largest customer, taking over 5 Mt, while other major customers included Brazil, the U.S. and Taiwan.
Canada's coal production comes from 27 major mines and is divided 40:60 between metallurgical and thermal coal. Virtually all of the 28 Mt of metallurgical coal is exported while only about 10% of the thermal coal is to overseas markets. The remaining thermal coal is used in utility and industrial markets within Canada. Another 14 Mt is imported from the U.S. for utility, steel industry and general utility consumers in Ontario and Quebec.
The Canadian coal industry will grow throughout the 1990s in response to increased domestic and international demands. Markets in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to provide the majority of future export opportunities, while domestic demand will grow, primarily in western and eastern Canada. Canada's coal resources are large relative to projected current and future domestic and export demand levels.
Output in 1990 was an estimated 2,290 t, valued at $52.5 million, compared with 2,344 t at $45.8 million for 1989.
Inco and Falconbridge, Canada's two largest producers, produce cobalt as a by-product of nickel-copper operations. Sherritt Gordon of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, also produces cobalt from toll-refining and from purchased materials.
In Sudbury, Inco reactivated the Creighton No. 3 mine late in 1990 and is also developing the new McCreedy East mine. Inco announced in late 1990, that it earmarked $287 million for a major expansion in Thompson, Manitoba. The company is developing the large 1-D orebody for production in late 1992 and is expanding the nearby Birchtree mine by 50%; the mine was re-opened in 1989 after being idle for 12 years. The two Thompson mine expansions will reach capacity operation in 1997. These mine expansions, intended to maintain Inco's market share in nickel, will also maintain the level of cobalt output.
Falconbridge's total cobalt output for 1990 was about 1,800 t, somewhat less than its target of 2,000 t; the drop in production was due partly to a lower nickel output and partly to reduced supplies of raw materials. Falconbridge recovers cobalt at the Kristiansand, Norway, refinery from its Sudbury nickel and copper matte as well as purchased and custom-refined materials.
Sherritt's cobalt production during the first nine months of 1990 was about 454 t, the same as in 1989, but 30% lower than the same period in 1988; the drop was due to a lack of nickel feed, with one major factor being the expiry and non-renewal of Sherritt's ten-year toll-refining contract with Inco.
Geddes Resources continued exploration and evaluation of its Windy Craggy copper-cobalt deposit, located in the Saint Elias Mountains in north-west B.C. The company has been conducting environmental impact studies and in February 1990, it filed the stage 1 impact report with the Provincial Mine Development Review Committee. Reserves at Windy Craggy are impressive.
Canada's cobalt production will probably remain at the 1990 level.
During 1990, Canadian producers benefited from the continuing strength of international copper markets. Domestic copper production in 1990 made a strong recovery, with mine shipments (recoverable copper) estimated at almost 768,000 t compared with 704,400 t in 1989. The estimated value of mine shipments in 1990 was $2.49 billion versus $2.39 billion in 1989. On the other hand, estimated refined production declined slightly to 500,000 t from 511,000 t in 1989.
While there was only a slight increase in copper mine capacity in 1990, there was significant activity with regard to exploration for copper.
In the Yukon, Thermal Exploration and Western Copper Holdings continued work on their Williams Creek deposit, located 130 miles north of Whitehorse. Preliminary reserves are almost 15 Mt grading 1.15% copper. At the Marg property of NDU Resources and Cameco, estimated reserves were increased to 2.85 Mt grading 1.62% copper, 2.25% lead, 4.17% zinc, 55.9 g/t silver and 0.9 g/t gold on the basis of a drilling programme completed in 1990.
During 1990, a preliminary feasibility study was completed which concluded that a copper smelter in B.C. would be economically viable. The report proposes the construction of a $500 million facility at Kitimat, due to its tide-water location, existing infrastructure and availability of low-cost power. The smelter would process both Canadian and offshore concentrates. At present, the bulk of the copper concentrate produced in B.C. is exported to Japan.
In the extreme north-west corner of B.C., Geddes Resources continued work on its Windy Craggy deposit which hosts reserves of at least 165 Mt in the North and South zones, grading 1.9% copper and 0.8% cobalt along with recoverable gold and silver. In October 1990, the company confirmed the existence of the new Ridge zone which should significantly increase total reserves.
On the basis of a project review conducted by provincial and federal agencies, the company's initial mine plan was rejected in that it did not adequately address the potential for acid rock drainage or provide acceptable measures for the prevention of acid generation.
In a revised mining plan submitted at the end of 1990, the company announced its intention to reduce the amount of potentially acid-generating waste by more than 50% to less than 100 Mt. This will be accomplished by reducing the amount of ore produced from open-pit operations and a corresponding increase in production from underground mining activity. It also plans to store all potentially acid-generating waste at an underwater site. In order to maintain an acceptable rate of return for the project, in view of the additional expenditures required for environmental protection, the company has increased its planned mining rate to 30,000 t/d, from 20,000 t/d. At this production rate, the mine should have an average annual output of 140,000 t of contained copper during the first 14 years of operation.
Also in north-western B.C., exploration is continuing on the Tulsequah Chief property of Cominco (60%) and Redfern Resources, located 100 km south of Atlin while, further south, Consolidated Rhodes Resources is continuing work on the Copper Canyon project in the Galore Greek area on which the company can earn a 50% interest in the property from Canamax Resources. In addition, promising copper values have been reported in conjunction with gold exploration activity in the Iskut River region.
During 1990, there was significant exploration activity near the Island copper mine of BHP-Utah Mines near Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. This included work by Moraga Resources on the Expo property, in which the company can earn a 45% interest from BHP-Utah, and also on the Red Dog property on which the company can earn an interest from Crew Natural Resources. Preliminary reserves at the former property have been put at over 400 Mt grading 0.26% copper plus 0.34 g/t gold, while the Red Dog deposit is estimated to have reserves of more than 50 Mt grading 0.32% copper and 0.37 g/t gold.
Exploration work continued during 1990 on the Mt Milligan copper-gold property in north central B.C. In August, Placer Dome announced that it had concluded an agreement with BP Resources Canada for the purchase of BP's 30% interest in Mt Milligan. In October, Placer gained control of virtually all of the remaining share of the project with the purchase of 97% of the outstanding shares of Continental Gold Corp. The property, which could be brought into production as early as 1993, contains estimated reserves of 400 Mt grading 0.2% copper and 0.48 g/t gold.
In the area around Mt Milligan, exploration work is continuing at several other copper prospects including the Webb property of Moondust Ventures and Grand America Minerals as well as the Mitzi joint venture of Alban Explorations and Noranda Exploration.
In November, it was announced that Nippon Mining and Sumitomo Corp. had agreed to finance the re-opening of the Goldstream copper-zinc mine near Revelstoke. The mine, which is owned by Bethlehem Resources and Goldnev Resources, contains reserves of 1.86 Mt grading 4.81% copper, 3.06% zinc plus silver. Annual output at the Goldstream is expected to total 16,000 t of contained copper and 3,000 t of contained zinc. The mine, which was originally developed by Noranda Inc., was operated briefly in 1984 until low metal prices and low zinc recoveries forced its closure.
Elsewhere in B.C., Imperial Metals is conducting work on the Mount Polley copper-gold property near Williams Lake. Total geological reserves are estimated to be in excess of 105 Mt grading 0.34% copper and 0.471 g/t gold. Exploration is also continuing at the Kutcho Creek orebody, located 100 km east of Dease Lake. Work on the main Kutcho Creek lens is being undertaken by Homestake Mining (Canada) and American Reserve Mining as well as Sumac Mines, a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Mining Canada. Preliminary open-pit reserves total 13.9 Mt grading 1.75% copper, 4.47% zinc, 28 g/t silver and 0.34 g/t gold.
Brenda Mines closed its copper-molybdenum mine near Peachland in June last year after more than 20 years of discontinuous production, due to the depletion of reserves.
In Saskatchewan Cameco commenced feasibility studies on its Hanson Lake project situated 65 km west of Flin Flon, Manitoba. Late in the year, shareholders of Trimin Resources approved the sale of the company's 32.9% interest in the project to Billiton Metals Canada. The Hanson Lake deposit has an estimated reserve of 9.8 Mt grading 0.95% copper, 5.76% zinc, 0.42% lead, 0.51 g/t gold and 25 g/t silver.
Across the border in Manitoba, Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting intends to upgrade its Flin Flon smelting complex with an investment of $170 million. The project will reduce operating costs while allowing for a 25% reduction in sulphur dioxide emissions and a 50% reduction in airborne particulate emissions by 1994, as required by Manitoba legislation. The modernization of the copper smelter includes the replacement of concentrate roasting and calcine smelting processes with Noranda continuous converter technology.
In Ontario, Falconbridge continued development of its No. 3 mine at Kidd Creek near Timmins. A sub-vertical shaft from the 4,600 ft level will allow the company to access ore to the 6,000 ft level and also permit continued exploration at depth. While the mine has considerable remaining reserves, mine output is expected to decline through the 1990s due principally to the diminishing width of the orebody at depth.
A significant new copper-zinc discovery was made by Minnova 1.5 km south-west of the main shaft of its Winston Lake mine near Schreiber. Referred to as the Deep Pick zone, the massive sulphide deposit is about three times deeper than the Winston Lake orebody.
Quebec saw a great deal of copper activity last year. In May, production at Westminer Canada's copper-gold mines near Chibougamau was suspended when the company implemented a lock-out of its workforce. An agreement between management and labour was finally reached in October, at which time production at the Portage mine resumed. Operations at the Copper Rand mine resumed at the end of November.
The legal dispute between Aur Resources and La Societe Miniere Louvem over the ownership of the Louvicourt massive sulphide property near Val d'Or was settled in September. Under the terms of agreement, Aur increased its ownership in the property to 55% from 50% while Louvem's share fell to 45%. The agreement also provided Noranda with first right of refusal for the purchase of a minimum of 50% of Aur's share of concentrates from the mine during the first eight years of production. The settlement has enabled the partners to proceed with a $4.6 million exploration programme which will include the sinking of a 915 m shaft as well as further infill drilling on the deposit, environmental and engineering studies, and metallurgical testwork. A mine, which could begin production in 1993, is expected to cost between $150 million and $200 million to develop. It is expected to produce between 4,000 t/d and 4,500 t/d of ore. Geological reserves at Louvicourt are estimated at 33.6 Mt grading 3.6% copper, 1.59% zinc, 21.3 g/t silver and 0.9 g/t gold.
Exploration by partners VSM Exploration and Serem Quebec on the Grevet project near Quevillon continued throughout the year. Reserves at the III and IV zones were increased and a high-grade zone, the 97 zone, was discovered. The partners have optioned other properties in the vicinity. The estimated reserve for the III and IV zones is currently 10.2 Mt grading 8.27% zinc, 0.44% copper and 34.8 g/t silver.
In May, the Mines Gaspe division of Noranda announced that it would develop its new E-29 orebody at its Murdochville mine. The deposit, which contains reserves of about 2.4 Mt grading 2.69% copper, is expected to extend the life of the mine by three years.
Exploration undertaken by Windy Mountain Explorations during 1990 increased preliminary reserves on its MacLeod Lake property, north of Chibougamau, to 37.5 Mt grading 0.44% copper and 0.05% molybdenum. Additional drilling is planned for 1991.
In New Brunswick, a strike by the 1,100 workers at Brunswick Mining & Smelting's Brunswick mine at Bathurst, which began on July 1, 1990, was unresolved at year-end. During the strike, management staff maintained production at the mine at 25% of capacity. The Brunswick mine normally produces between 6,000 and 10,000 t/y of copper in concentrates.
Marshall Minerals announced its intention to sell its wholly-owned Restigouche deposit west of Bathurst. The property contains proven reserves of 998,000 t grading 7.72% zinc, 0.32% copper, 5.99% lead, 124 g/t silver and 1.2 g/t gold. During 1990, NovaGold Resources Inc. and partner Costigan Gold Corp. intersected high-grade copper-zinc mineralization on their Sewell Brook property near Plaster Rock.
In April, BP Canada Inc. announced a new base metal discovery at Daniel's Pond, Newfoundland, located 20 km south of Buchans. The discovery is 20 km west of the BP/Noranda Duck Pond deposit where drill indicated reserves are 4.3 Mt grading 3.58% copper, 1.05% lead, 6.73% zinc, 68.3 g/t silver and 1.0 g/t gold.
Johnson Matthey closed its Trail, B.C., high-purity germanium and gallium minor metals plant at the end of 1990 due to significant operating losses incurred from the collapse of the germanium market, caused by oversupply and a reduced demand by military contractors. The gallium arsenide research programme will be moved to its subsidiary, Crystar Research in Victoria, with the tellurium and cadmium operations moving to Spokane, Washington. The germanium plant, with an output capacity of 5 t/y, purchased its feed in the form of germanium concentrate from Cominco under a long-term contract. Germanium concentrate is produced as a by-product of lead-zinc refining at Cominco.
There were 60 primary gold mines in Canada at the end of 1990, which accounted for about 80% of the 165 t of gold produced during the year. Production in 1989 was 158.3 t. Total employment in gold mines declined by 13.5% from 12,645 jobs in 1989 to 10,937 in 1990.
Reported value of Canadian gold mine production, calculated on the basis of average cash gold prices, increased by 2.7% to $2.378 billion.
In 1990, B.C.'s gold production reached 16.1 t compared with 15.6 t in 1989.
The Golden Bear mine of Golden Bear Operating Co. and Homestake Mining Canada started production in early February. Design capacity of the operation is 360 t/d. The parent company of Homestake Mining Canada, Homestake Mining of the U.S., will take a write-down of about $US34 million in its Canadian subsidiary, North American Metal Corp. The Golden Bear operation has experienced a series of cost overruns and technical problems. The company also had to cut back production by 50% due to problems in roasting the refractory oxide ore.
Westmin Resources' Premier mine reactivated the former Silbak and Big Missouri Mines' gold and silver operations. The mill is currently operating at a rate of 2,300 t/d.
Skyline Explorations suspended operations in September at the 270 t/d Johnny Mountain gold, copper and silver operation due to the company's inability to develop new economic reserves at current gold prices. Elsewhere, MinVen Gold closed its 180 t/d Blackdome mine due to declining ore grades.
There were a number of significant exploration developments in B.C., where expenditure was expected to be similar to last year's total of $150 million. The outlook for gold production is quite positive, with a number of exploration projects expected to be put into production in the next few years.
Over $25 million were spent on the Eskay Creek gold-silver property of Prime Resources and Corona Corp. Drilling on the property totalled 200,000 m and a 500 m adit was driven. A feasibility study is planned and the property could be in commercial production by 1994. The project is estimated to contain 43.97 Mt of ore grading 26.4 g/t gold and 998.4 g/t silver. Prime Resources and Stikine Resources each own 50% of Eskay Creek. Both are controlled by Corona. In December, the B.C. Government refused to issue a mining lease to cover most of the Eskay Creek property until the ownership of the claims has been resolved. A group of companies is challenging the ownership of the property.
In early July, Cominco formally announced the decision to proceed with the $65 million Snip gold, copper, silver project, held jointly with Prime Resources. Production started in January 1991 at a rate of 300 t/d. Snip's reserves are 936,000 t of ore with a gold content of 30 g/t.
Exploration work on the Mt Milligan property of Placer Dome continues at a reduced rate pending a feasibility study and production decision. It contains 400 Mt grading 0.2% copper and 0.48 g/t gold.
A feasibility study on the Mt Polley porphyry copper-gold concluded that this $131.5 million open-pit project would have a payback of 3.6 years. Probable reserves are estimated at 48 Mt grading 0.38% copper and 0.55 g/t gold. The Mt Polley deposit is jointly owned by Imperial Metals and Corona.
The $22 million Q.R. gold project of Q.P.X. Mineral received approval in principle by the Mine Development Review Committee and is awaiting a production decision. This project has estimated reserves of 1.2 Mt grading 5.2 g/t gold.
Gold production in Yukon and Northwest Territories increased to 15.1 t in 1990, from 12.2 t in 1989. The opening of the Colomac mine by Northwest Gold, a subsidiary of Northgate Exploration, in the Indian Lake area, is partly responsible for that increase. This mine is unique in the Territories in that it is a low-grade, high-volume open-pit operation. The first gold bar was poured in May 1990. Mechanical problems with the grinding circuit, due to the abrasive nature of the ore, has resulted in the mill throughput being about 70% of the 9,100 t/d target. Gold recovery is also 20% less than predicted. Northwest Gold wrote down the project by $151.3 million in November 1990, and is negotiating a restructuring of loan payments with its bankers on a $90 million debt and $20 million on working capital. Should negotiations prove to be unsuccessful, the company indicated its intention to suspend operations. The total cost of bringing the Colomac mine into production, including exploration expenditure, was $230 million. The 1988 production decision was based on a feasibility study using $C571/oz.
Giant Yellowknife Mines closed its tailing reprocessing project in Yellowknife, due to exhaustion of reserves. Yukon placer gold production declined to 3.2 t compared with 4.3 t in 1989. The number of active placer operations fell from 226 in 1990 to 194 in 1989. Canamax's Ketza River 290 t/d gold mine closed in November after oxide reserves were exhausted.
In Saskatchewan Jasper mine began production on April 15, following an agreement between partners Cameco, Shore Gold Fund, Golden Rule Resources, Goldsil Resources and International Mahogany in which ownership was transferred to Cameco (80%) and Shore Gold Fund (20%). Mineable reserves are 163,300 t containing 16.1 g/t gold. It is expected to yield some 2.6 t of gold during its anticipated two-year life.
The Jolu mine of Corona (30%), the operator, and International Mahogany (70%) is expected to close in the middle of next year unless further reserves are found. An underground drilling programme failed to do so and current reserves are approximately 375,000 t grading 13.7 g/t.
Claude Resources has announced that it will proceed with a 360 t/d mine at Seabee. Proven and probable reserves are estimated at 1 Mt grading 13.7 g/t gold. The mine development costs are projected to be $22 million and production is expected to be 1.5 t/y of gold.
Following the mine closures in the past few years, including Tartan Lake mine by Granges, McLellan by Lynngold Resources and the Puffy Lake operation of Pioneer Metals, the entire gold production of Manitoba is a by-product of base metal mines.
The Contact Lake property of Cameco, Uranerz Exploration and Mining, and Westward Exploration has undergone a feasibility study for a planned 635 t/d operation. The project's estimated capital costs of $38 million are for a mine producing 2,000 kg/y of gold.
Ontario's gold production in 1990 totalled 79.7 t, an increase of 2.7% over the 1989 total. Three additional mines opened. The 360 t/d Kerr mine of GSR Mining and Deak Resources was brought back on-stream in August and the Hoyle 2,700 t/d gold-silver operation of Giant Yellowknife Mines in Timmins opened. The Cheminis operation of Northfields Minerals started at a rate of 350 t/d, and production could eventually increase to as high as 1,800 t/d.
The Kremzar Mine was put under care and maintenance by Canamax Resources because of low gold prices. The Magnacon mine of Flanagan McAdam Resources, Muscocho Explorations and Windarra Minerals was also put on care and maintenance by its partners because of high costs and low gold prices; it had started production in 1989. Furthermore, the Timmins tailings operations of ERG Resources closed because of lower than expected head grades and mill recovery. It had also started commercial production in 1989.
Employees of the Dome gold mine at Timmins reached an agreement after a six-month labour dispute with Placer Dome. The company had threatened to close the mine, which has been in operation for 80 years, if the employees did not accept the final offer of the company. About half of the labour force was laid off as a result of the company's plans to reduce the mine's operating costs. In November the employees approved a new three-year contract.
Quebec's gold production increased from 37 t to 39.4 t in 1990. Five new mines opened in 1990. One of these was Lac Minerals' Bousquet No. 2 mine which entered production in June 1990. The mine, situated less than one mile from the Bousquet No. 1 mine, has reserves of 1.3 Mt grading 8.9 g/t. The planned capacity of Bousquet No. 2 is around 4,300 kg/y.
Inco and TVX Mining officially merged their gold interests on January 7, 1991, to form a new company, TVX Gold, in which Inco holds 62%. TVX Gold has interests in six operating gold mines located in North and South America.
In April, TVX Gold and Golden Knight Resources opened a second mine in the Casa Berardi camp. The Golden Pond West mine has reserves of 3.6 Mt grading 8.0 g/t of gold. Both partners are expecting to increase the production capacity of the West Zone to 2.2 t in 1991.
The Silidor mine was officially opened by joint venture partners Noranda Minerals (55%), Cambior (25%) and Nova-Cogesco Resources (20%) in September. Noranda is the operator. Silidor will produce annually about 1,800 kg of gold from ore averaging 5.4 g/t. The mine does not have a mill. Noranda transports its share of the ore to the nearby Horne complex while Cambior and Nova-Cogesco send their share of the output to Cambior's Yvan Vezina mill. Estimated life of the mine, at the planned rate of 400,000 t/y, is 12 years. In December 1990, Cambior bought Nova-Cogesco's 20% share in the project for $16.6 million, therefore raising its share to 45%.
Cambior also announced the proposed opening of the Mouska mine in Bousquet township for June 1991. It will be the company's third new mine in the past three years. It previously opened the Pierre Beauchemin mine near Rouyn-Noranda and the Lucien C. Beliveau mine (formerly the Pascalis project) near Val d'Or.
Societe Miniere Sphinx announced positive results on its heap leaching test of the Duvay deposit ten miles north of Amos. It began leaching 40,000 t from the property in May and by mid-August had poured the first bars of gold and silver. In 1989, the company began construction of a 100,000 t capacity leach pad and a 400,000 t/y Merrill-Crowe treatment plant.
Muscocho Explorations' 400 t/d Montauban mine and Campbell Resources' 450 t/d S-3 mine in Chibougamau were closed because of exhaustion of reserves. Also, Aurizon Mines ceased operations at the Sleeping Giant mine because of low gold prices.
Following the closure of Gordex Minerals' mine in 1989, the Murray Brook mine of Nova-Gold Resources is the only operating gold mine in New Brunswick. Murray Brook, which employs an indoor vat leaching process, produces some 1,300 t/d of ore grading 2 g/t gold and 39.5 g/t silver.
In Nova Scotia, Westminer Canada concluded, after completing bulk sampling tests at its Forest Hill and Beaver Dam deposits, that the projects were not economically viable under current market conditions.
The Coxheath Gold Holding's operations at Tangier were placed on hold while the company attempted to arrange further financing. Reported proven and developed reserves are 45,000 t at an average mineable grade of 20.5 g/t of gold.
Hope Brook Gold has been operating a gold mine near Port aux Basques in Newfoundland since 1987. The mine has experienced a number of difficulties in meeting its original plans and a new system for treatment of effluents was installed in 1990. Metallurgical recovery of 83% is lower than originally anticipated.
In 1990, Canada's only commercial production came from Stratmin, which completed the construction of a mill with a production capacity of 20,000 t/y of concentrate at its Lac-des-Iles graphite property near Mont-Laurier, Quebec. Production started in April 1990 by opencast mining. Concentrates of 92-98% carbon are being produced. Stratmin also operates a mill at Notre-Dame-du-Laus that has a production capacity of 9,000 t/y of concentrates. The mill is fed with ore from its Lac-des-Iles property. Combined production at the two mills was 7,000 t of concentrates in 1989 and 14,500 t in 1990.
Cal Graphite holds a 100% interest in mining claims in the township of Butt, near Huntsville, where crystalline flake graphite occurs in mafic gneiss and paragneiss. An open-pit mine and a processing plant with an initial milling capacity of 3,000 t/d ore, which could be expanded to 5,000 t/d, was completed during the year and production started during October. A refinery (leaching plant) to produce higher-grade concentrates for speciality applications at Walden near Sudbury was also completed during the year.
Stewart Lake Resources announced the completion of the feasibility study on its Kirkham, Ontario, flake graphite project and concluded that the project can be successfully developed and placed into production at an estimated cost of $9.8 million. Graphite ore would be mined by opencast method at the beginning, moving to an underground operation eventually. Approximately 8,000 t/y of graphite concentrate would be produced.
Victoria Graphite completed surface drilling at its graphite deposit near Portland, Ontario. The ore is reported to average 6% graphitic carbon down to 20 m in two zones. The company is gearing up for pilot production with a mill capacity of some 100 t/d ore using an existing mill building on the site and secondhand equipment.
North Coast Industries is seeking finance to develop its flake graphite project in Bissett Creek, Ontario. North Coast is proposing production of 17,000 t/y of marketable flake graphite.
At year-end, Mazarin was negotiating an agreement with Cambior to develop jointly its Fermont, Quebec, property. A feasibility study proposes an open-pit operation for six months of the year, which would supply enough ore to feed a 400 t/d concentrator on a year-round basis for an annual production of 23,000 t. The property's reserves (proven, probable and possible) are estimated at 8.75 Mt, averaging 14.2% graphitic carbon after dilution.
Ressources Graphicor completed the construction of a mill near Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Quebec. The mill is expected to produce some 500 t/d ore when production starts.
During October, Global Graphite Group announced the opening of a plant in Anjou, Quebec, for the purification and exfoliation of natural graphite concentrates using acid leaching, heat, and/or pressure processing. The company claims it can produce graphite to a purity level of 99.99% carbon.
Canadian deposits are of the flake type, are relatively easy to upgrade to plus-90% carbon, and many contain graphite that is expandable. These products command high prices and the outlook for growth is good.
Canada is becoming the world's leading supplier with the recent start-up of two major indium plants, each with a production capacity of 30 t/y (total world consumption was about 110 t in 1989).
Cominco completed construction of its Trail, B.C., indium metal plant in May 1989. However, technical problems inhibited high production during the first year of operation. By October 1990, it was reported that the company had solved tin impurity problems. Cominco's indium production in 1990 is estimated at 10 t of metal. The Kidd Creek recovery plant is a joint venture of Falconbridge and Indium Corp. of America. Commissioned in the last quarter of 1990, indium metal is recovered in the form of 99.99% ingots (4N) and shipped to Indium Corp.'s refinery in Utica, New York, for processing.
The market is expected to continue to grow over the next decade. Development of large volume applications, such as window demisters for the automotive industry and window coatings for housing, should provide a major stimulus. Potential new applications are in high-speed computer chips and in radar transistors for military weapons that can be operated in fog and smoke.
Canadian iron ore mines and ancillary plants produced 36 Mt of concentrates, pellets and sinter from hematite, magnetite and siderite ores, in 1990. The production of concentrate that was not further processed to pellets or sinter remained at 12.7 Mt for the third year in a row. Acid pellet production, however, fell by 5.7 Mt, to 15.6 Mt, as more emphasis was put on fluxed pellets and concentrate sales. Fluxed pellet production increased by 25% to 6.9 Mt. Sinter produced at the mine site fell from 1.2 Mt to 769,000 t.
Employment at Canadian iron ore mines, concentrators, agglomerating plants and support services fell to 6,200 by the end of 1990, after increasing from 6,500 to nearly 6,900 over the previous three years.
The Iron Ore Co. of Canada (IOC) shipped 14.2 Mt of iron ore of which 6.2 Mt were acid pellets, 2.4 Mt were fluxed pellets, 0.1 Mt were pellet fragments, and 5.4 Mt were concentrate. Also included were the last 38,000 t of the Schefferville red ore that had been stockpiled at SeptIles for the past six years. IOC shut down three of its pellet lines at different times during the year, equivalent to running only five of its six pellet lines. Pellet production decreased from 10.5 to 8.5 Mt but all of the cut-back was in acid pellets; fluxed pellet production increased.
On July 15, 1990, IOC celebrated its 50 millionth ton of iron ore shipped to Japan, the outcome of a relationship that stretches over two decades. IOC supplied Japan's steel industry with iron ore concentrate containing only 0.007% phosphorus and 0.1% alumina, the lowest levels of these unwanted elements of all of Japan's iron ore suppliers.
Quebec Cartier Mining (QCM) changed its mine plan to extend the life of the Mt Wright mine by ten years and, as a result, encountered production difficulties that lowered production to 14.5 Mt, some 1.6 Mt less than in 1989. In spite of these difficulties, QCM shipped 15.3 Mt of ore by drawing down stocks of concentrate accumulated over previous years. Pellet production was maintained with 4.8 Mt of acid pellets, 2.1 Mt fluxed pellets and 0.9 Mt of pellets for direct reduction. In 1991, QCM expects to increase both production and shipments to 15.7 Mt.
Wabush Mines produced only 5.7 Mt in 1990, and shipped 5.5 Mt after two years of capacity operation at 6 Mt/y. The main cause of the decrease was strikes. In spite of these problems, Wabush produced four grades of iron ore pellets, acid pellets with 1% and 2% manganese, and fluxed pellets, also in grades of 1% and 2% manganese. In 1991, Wabush is planning to operate near capacity of 6 Mt/y.
Construction of the pollution control equipment at Wabush's Pointe Noire pellet plant proceeded on schedule and should go into operation between June and August 1991. The stack emission control system will have cost $50 million on completion and will reduce dust emissions to between 34 and 36 kg/hr.
The Algoma Ore Division (AOD) of the Algoma Steel Corp. was closed for 18 weeks by a strike of workers at the mine, sinter plant and steel plant. AOD produced 769,000 t of superfluxed sinter using siderite ore and 190,000 t of recycled material. The company forecasts that production will return to a normal level in 1991 and that recycled material will account for as much as 44% of the iron units in the sinter plant feed.
Dofasco's two mines in Northern Ontario, Adams and Sherman, closed on March 31, 1990. The two mines produced at close to capacity for the three months of operation for a total of 517,000 t of fluxed pellets.
Hollinger North Shore Exploration, owned by the La Fosse Platinum Group, continued to promote the sale of direct shipping ore from the Schefferville area but there were no major developments by year-end.
A number of deposits on the west shore of Ungava Bay were re-evaluated in 1990 as possible areas for investment in the coming decade.
Lead and Zinc
Mine output in 1990 declined for the third straight year, as a result of mine closures, labour disputes and technical difficulties. Zinc production fell by 32,000 t to 1,183,000 t while lead output dropped to 224,000 t from 268,887 t in 1989.
Zinc metal production was 579,000 t, down from 670,000 t in 1989. Primary refined lead output dropped 54,630 t in 1990, to 102,700 t. However, secondary lead metal production from recycled material rose by 7.9% to 92,300 t.
Cominco closed its Sullivan mine in Kimberley, B.C., in January due to falling metal prices and rising production costs. The mine re-opened in November after the completion of an $11 million development programme.
Problems at Cominco's new 160,000 t/y QSL smelter and related operations at Trail, B.C., continued through 1990. In December, the company announced it had halted extensive modifications of the plant and deferred the planned March 1991 start-up, pending the outcome of tests by supplier Lurgi at Metallgesellschaft's new QSL plant in Stolberg, Germany. The old 136,000 t conventional sinter and blast furnace smelter is operating at 80% capacity.
In northern B.C., Curragh Resources continued to develop its large Cirque deposit. The orebody has a geological reserve of 13 Mt grading 14% combined lead and zinc and 70 g/t silver with an additional reserve of 20 Mt at lower grade. Capital costs to bring the deposit into production in 1992 are estimated at $130 million. Cirque will produce 28,000 t/y of lead and 100,000 t/y of zinc in concentrate when in full production.
In the Yukon, Curragh Resources' Vangorda and Grum deposits continued to be developed for production in late 1991. Output from the open-pit mines will maintain current production at the Faro operation of 120,000 t/y lead and 200,000 t/y zinc.
In September, Curragh Resources (80%) and partner Hillsborough Resources (20%) started construction of the mill and tailings dam at their Mount Hundere lead-zinc deposit north of Watson Lake. The mine is expected to come onstream during 1991 and produce 30,000 t/y lead and 52,000 t/y zinc in concentrate. Open-pit and underground reserves currently stand at 5.1 Mt grading 4.7% lead, 12.6% zinc and 65 g/t silver.
In Manitoba Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting (HBMS) completed a new 652 m circular shaft and 300 t/h ore handling system at its Trout Lake mine near Flin Flon. The company also announced the discovery of a new high-grade zone of zinc-copper mineralization beneath the current mine workings. At HBMS's Ruttan mine near Leaf Rapids, an underground fire destroyed the ore conveyor system. Ore is currently being skipped to surface and trucked to the mill until a new conveyor system becomes operational.
Ontario's secondary lead producer, Tonolli Canada, completed phase II of its new CX battery processing operation in January 1991. The new plant, which can process 26,000 kg/h of scrap batteries, produces both sodium sulphate for fertilizer and lead carbonate that can be processed by the existing smelter or a proposed electrowinning refining plant.
Near Joutel, Quebec, Breakwater Resources brought its 500 t/d Estrades polymetallic massive sulphide mine into production at a capital cost of $15 million. Ore from the underground mine is custom milled at Noranda's Matagami mill. Proven reserves are 941,400 t grading 10.7% zinc, 0.94% copper, 0.92% lead, 182 g/t silver and 5.6 g/t gold.
At the Mobrun mine near Rouyn-Noranda, Audrey Resources continued drilling the 1100 lens. A new discovery, the C lens, was made about 50 m south of the 1100 lens at a depth of about 610 m. A feasibility study on mining the 1100 and C lenses was completed in November. The project has ore reserves of 25 Mt grading 10.7% zinc, 0.94% copper, 0.92% lead, 182 g/t silver and 5.6 g/t gold.
At Brunswick Mining and Smelting's Bathurst, New Brunswick, operations mine and lead smelter employees struck in July. Output decreased to 25% of capacity with management running the operations. In December the company retracted its latest offer which had been rejected by union members, and announced that production would continue at 25% of capacity until March 1991.
The Caribou mine in New Brunswick, now owned by Breakwater Resources, re-opened in March 1990. Breakwater increased the mining rate to 3,000 t/d, improved mill recoveries and concentrate grade, and commenced a $30 million development programme which was to include the sinking of a 471 m production shaft. In October, Breakwater suspended operations based on projections of falling base metal prices.
Westminer Canada began mining the Gays River orebody north-east of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in January at a rate of 725 t/d. Mining operations by the former operator were suspended in 1981 due to grade and ground control problems.
The Newfoundland Zinc mine near Daniel's Harbour, Newfoundland, closed in August due to exhaustion of reserves. The mine, operated by Teck, had a capacity of 40,000 t/y of zinc in concentrate.
Canada's three magnesium producers, Norsk Hydro Canada, Magnesium Co. of Canada (MAGCAN) and Timminco should reach full capacity by mid-1991 with production reaching 60,000 t/y, making Canada the MEC's second largest producer behind the U.S. Canada's refinery magnesium production in 1990 reached 26,726 t or about 10% of MEC production. Canadian magnesium consumption in 1989 reached 15,407 t, an increase of 9.5% over the 1988 revised total of 14,066 t. This upward trend should continue over the next three years, primarily in the aluminium alloys sector because of construction and expansion projects under way in Canadian aluminium plants. Canadian consumption of magnesium used in aluminium alloys may increase by more than 3,000 t/y over the next three years. In the same period, strong growth is expected in the die-casting of magnesium parts for the automobile industry.
Norsk's magnesium plant in Becancour, Quebec, was inaugurated officially on May 4, 1990. By year-end, the plant was reported to be producing at 75% of its total capacity of 40,000 t/y. Norsk announced that it will build a $7 million refining facility in Becancour to convert magnesium scrap into high-purity alloys. Norsk also announced a $3 million expansion of its casting facilities at Becancour to produce alloy billets for supply to magnesium extruders. Norsk is studying the expansion of production capacity of the Becancour operation from its current 40,000 t/y to 60,000 t/y; a decision will be made pending market conditions. The plant receives its raw magnesite, estimated to be 160,000 t/y, from China.
MAGCAN commissioned its 12,500 t/y plant at Aldersyde, Alberta, during 1990. However, electrical resistance problems of the feedstock, less than originally anticipated, resulted in the original transformers being unable to provide sufficient power to operate the reactors properly. These problems resulted in significant cost overruns for plant construction, originally estimated at $105 million. In August, Alberta Natural Gas acquired a controlling interest in the MAGCAN joint venture from Houston-based Magnesium International. MAGCAN employs the new MPLC process, considered to be the very latest in magnesium production technology, with the raw material coming from the Baymag high-grade magnesite deposit near Radium Hot Springs, B.C. By year-end, MAGCAN production capacity reached around 35%, with 50% of the electrolytic cells being in operation.
Timminco uses the Pidgeon magnesium process, producing high-purity metal (up to 99.95%) for specialized market applications at its 6,000 t/y magnesium plant in Haley Station, Ontario. The ferrosilicon used in the process is produced by the company at Beauharnois, Quebec, with the dolomite mined at the plant site.
The Magnola joint venture (Noranda Minerals and Lavalin) technical feasibility study concluded that the production of magnesium metal from asbestos tailings is economically feasible. During the next year, they will address the market aspects of the project and will seek partners interested in investing in the proposed 50,000 t plant, estimated to cost around $600 million.
The Institute of Magnesium Technology Inc. (IMT) was inaugurated in Quebec City in September. The new facility promotes the development of a downstream magnesium industry in Canada, as well as greater use of the metal.
Anticipated growth of magnesium demand should provide greater opportunities for magnesium recycling. Norsk, the first company to announce its intentions, will collect magnesium scrap from its clients, at its $7 million scrap remelting facility, scheduled to be in production at the end of 1991. Within five years, magnesium consumption should rise to more than 325,000 t/y, primarily because of the substantial increase expected in the die-casting of automobile parts and the desulphurization of steel.
Elkem Metal Canada, Canada's only producer of manganese ferroalloys, closed its Beauharnois, Quebec, smelter, effective May 1991, for an indefinite period. Canada consumed an estimated 97,000 t of ferromanganese and silico-manganese in 1990 for use in the production of iron and steel, 7.6% less than in the previous year. An estimated 65,300 t of manganese ore were imported.
Elkem also purchased 7,000 t of domestic ore from Hollinger North Shore Exploration, part of La Fosse Platinum Group, to conduct production trials in order to determine its suitability for producing ferromanganese and silico-manganese. Hollinger carried out exploration and mining which resulted in the production of 18,000 t of manganese ore and plans to increase its production for domestic consumption and export.
Canada imported 32,442 kg of mercury metal in 1989, worth $346,000, and estimates of imports for January to September 1990 are 39,146 kg at $397,000. Canadian consumption of mercury metal was 27,364 kg in 1988, increasing 17.8% to 32,226 kg in 1989.
Mine production of nickel decreased slightly with preliminary data indicating that production was 199,400 t compared with 200,900 t in 1989. Inco and Falconbridge reduced production, starting in the second quarter, in response to weak markets prevailing early in the year, but this reduction was partially offset by increased production at the Namew Lake mine near Flin Flon, Manitoba.
Inco commenced development of the McCreedy East mine near Sudbury, at a cost of $179 million. The mine is expected to be onstream in 1993, with full production being achieved in 1996. Peak production is expected to be about 18,000 t/y nickel and 9,000 t/y copper. This is the first major new mine to be developed by Inco at Sudbury in more than 20 years. The operation will utilize the latest bulk-mining techniques and mining technology and is expected to be Inco's most productive mine at Sudbury.
Inco announced that, in addition to the $108 million already committed for mine development at Thompson, Manitoba, a further $287 million would be spent over the next few years on further development. The 1-D orebody is being developed, at a cost of $209 million, to connect up to the existing Thompson shafts. The Birchtree mine is scheduled to produce about 4,100 t/d of ore when full production is achieved in 1997. The Thompson Open Pit South mine is also being developed.
Falconbridge proceeded with development, at a cost of $280 million, of the Craig mine at Sudbury. The mine is scheduled to produce more than 20,000 t/y nickel when it is in full production in 1993. It will replace other depleting mines and no overall increase in production is planned. Falconbridge continued the $33 million underground development programme at its Lindsley property, near Sudbury. A shaft is being sunk to 1,390 m, followed by a drifting and drilling programme on the 1,310 m level. Several potentially mineable ore zones have been identified. The programme will be completed in 1991.
Sherritt Gordon produced about 18,100 t of nickel in briquettes and powders at its Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, refinery compared with 21,000 t in 1989. The refinery was closed in July and August due to a shortage of feed. The company's ten-year supply contract with Inco expired at the end of 1989 and, while the company was able to replace part of the Inco material, it was unable by year-end to secure a long-term source of supply. In the fourth quarter Sherritt treated, for the first time, nickel matte from the Soviet Union, containing 1,100 t of nickel.
Early in 1990, Timmins Nickel reduced production at its small high-grade mine near Timmins, Ontario, in response to weak market conditions. As market conditions improved, the company increased production. Production commenced at the Langmuir No. 1 orebody and was completed by year-end. The nearby Carshaw mill of Marshall Minerals was leased and the company announced that this would reduce milling costs by about 25% and permit the expansion of production. The mine is 51% owned by Timmins Nickel, which is also the operator, and 49% by BHP-Utah Mines. Sherritt Gordon refines the concentrate, under a ten-year contract.
Mining difficulties, which had affected production since its start-up, were resolved at the Namew Lake mine, which is owned 60% by Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting (HBMS) and 40% by Outokumpu Mines. Capacity is 9,200 t/y nickel and 3,500 t/y copper in concentrate. Production in 1990 was about 75% of capacity, which was about double the rate in 1989. Reserves, when the mine opened, had been reported at 2.6 Mt grading 2.44% nickel and 0.9% copper. Sherritt processes HBMS's share of the feed at Fort Saskatchewan and Inco processes Outokumpu's share at Thompson.
New Quebec Raglan Mines completed 26,700 m of drilling on its property in the Ungava region of northern Quebec. The drilling was undertaken to define more fully the earlier indicated reserves of 10.9 Mt grading 3.11% nickel and 0.8% copper with some values in platinum group metals. The company, which became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Falconbridge in 1989, has indicated that a sustained price of at least $4/lb would be necessary to bring the deposit into production.
This is produced at the Niobec mine, near St Honore, Quebec. Production in 1990 was 3,394 t of niobium pentoxide contained in concentrates, 3% lower than the 1989 output level of 3,502.8 t due to mill recovery problems. In 1991, production is expected to drop further because of lower ore grades. Other important niobium properties in Canada include: the Aley, B.C., deposit; the Oka, Quebec, mine; the Thor Lake deposit in the Northwest Territories, and the Strange Lake deposit on the Labrador-Quebec boundary.
Aley, owned by Cominco, contains a large undeveloped pyrochlore deposit. Reserves are estimated to be in the tens of million of tonnes with some zones grading up to 1% [Cb.sub.2][O.sub.5]. Pyrochlore and columbite are both present, together with some rare-earth enriched dikes. At Thor Lake extensive development and feasibility work has been carried out by Hecla Mining of Canada over the past two years. This multi-mineral deposit is located about 100 km southeast of Yellowknife and is owned by Highwood Resources.
In the short term, the recession and lower steel output will have a negative impact on the niobium industry. The long-term picture is much brighter as projected construction of large gas pipelines in North America will increase consumption.
Platinum Metals (PGMs)
Production of PGMs in Canada is estimated to have increased to 11,209 kg from 9,870 kg in 1989. While the bulk of Canadian production is derived from the operations of Inco and Falconbridge at Sudbury, Ontario, small amounts are also produced from Inco's operations at Thompson, Manitoba, and the Namew Lake mine of Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting, and Outokumpu Mines at Flin Flon, Manitoba.
The Lac-des-Iles palladium/platinum property of Madeleine Mines in north-western Ontario started production in December at a rate of 3,000 t/d. The company expects the operation to have an annual output of 4,665 kg of PGMs, 625 kg of gold, 900 t of copper, and 900 t of nickel. Estimated reserves at the Roby zone are more than 20 Mt grading 6.4 g/t PGM, with a Pt-to-Pd ratio varying between 1:4 and 1:8.
There was a significant drop in PGM exploration in Canada in 1990. Factors contributing to the decline included the reduced availability of risk capital and lower prices for both platinum and palladium.
Canadian production in 1990 declined from 7.33 to 7.0 Mt [K.sub.2]O while mine shipments were steady at about 7.1 Mt. Total Canadian sales, however, increased to 7.19 Mt [K.sub.2]O in 1990. There was a decrease in mine inventories of about 70,000 t. The production decline was registered in Saskatchewan, while production in New Brunswick, which accounted for 14% of the total, increased marginally. During 1990, the global potash potential oversupply was still persisting and the overall capacity utilization was around 80%, principally because Canadian mines operated at a very low level of 59%, the lowest level in the past decade.
The Canadian potash industry reported a net profit after taxes and interests of $190 million in 1989 compared with a profit of $208 million in 1988. Profits in 1990 are expected to be significantly lower, after which a steady improvement is forecast on a long-term basis. The average unit value of potash shipped by Canadian producers was $129.33/t [K.sub.2]O (fob mines) in 1990 compared with the revised figure of $145.07/t in 1989.
Saskatchewan produced about 86% of Canadian potash in 1990. The industry employed 3,332 persons in 1990 compared with 3,393 in 1989. This included Canadian-based employees of Canpotex. Short interruptions in employment were required in some of the mines as they shut down for a few weeks to a cumulative period of four months in 1990 to keep inventories at acceptable levels in a period of oversupply.
The Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (PCS), which had a net income of $82.5 million in 1989, was expected to show a profit of only about $30 million in 1990 as a result of lower prices and lower sales volume. The average potash price was down about 8% from that of 1989 and the sales tonnage declined principally because of the discontinuance of sales to the Potash Co. of America (PCA). The stronger than expected Canadian dollar also had a negative effect on income. Throughout 1990, PCS pursued a policy of strict inventory controls shutting three out of four of its mines for several weeks in July and August. By year-end, PCS's total inventories declined by about 200,000 t. For the first three quarters of 1990, PCS produced 2.47 Mt KCl and sold 2.66 Mt. Estimated production for the year is 3.45 Mt.
In July, PCS acquired all the shares of Saskterra Fertilizers from Husky Oil for $47 million plus working capital. Thus, PCS now has a 100% ownership of the Allan mine which it previously held on a 60/40 partnership basis with Saskterra. Saskterra tonnage, previously sold independently, will now be sold through Canpotex which sells potash on offshore international markets for all Saskatchewan producers. During the first six months of the year Saskterra produced 196,000 t KCl. Canpotex consented to an additional special allocation of 500,000 t/y to PCS Sales for the next five years.
Excluding the Saskterra mining concessions, PCS controls the right to 575,000 acres in Saskatchewan, on which it estimates recoverable reserves to be approximately 4,300 Mt at an average grade of 22.8% [K.sub.2]O. The total yield of such ore is estimated at 1,400 Mt of product (KCl). Ore accessible from current shafts will allow production for about 100 years. With the addition of 385,000 t of capacity from Saskterra, the company has 5.62 Mt [K.sub.2]O of annual installed capacity (9.23 Mt KCl at 60.9% [K.sub.2]O equivalent).
International Minerals and Chemicals Corp. (IMCC), wholly-owned by IMC Fertilizer Group, operates two mines near Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, K1 and K2, which are connected underground. In 1990, IMCC produced about 2.6 Mt KCl of which over 500,000 t was for PCS's account. Improvements were completed to the crystallizer circuits. The K2 mine is still experiencing water inflow problems which started in December 1985. Chemical grouting, introduced in 1987, is ongoing and is the preferred method of keeping the water inflow at a level of around 2,000 gal/min. Backfilling through surface boreholes to stabilize ground in the inflow area is still practised from time to time as required. IMCC completed some additional exploration drilling for potash in the areas east and west of the mines. It also completed two shaft pilot holes in 1990 and will drill a third in 1991 with the objective of keeping the company's options open on the eventual development of a new mine.
PCA, a division of Rio Algom, extracts potash by solution from a mine that was flooded in 1987. In 1990, the mine produced about 360,000 t of KCl. The year-end performance indicates that a substantially higher output may be expected in 1991.
Central Canada Potash (CCP), a division of Noranda Minerals, produced 1.109 Mt KCl in 1990, about 8% more than in 1989. Shipments were slightly higher, resulting in a fall of inventories. A computerization programme for the surface plant was completed and a dust collecting system installed in the compaction plant.
Cominco produced 1.085 Mt of potash (KCl) in 1990 at its Vanscoy mine, compared with 963,000 t in 1989. The company maintained production on a seven-day/week schedule throughout the year except for a three-week maintenance shutdown in the summer. The transition to full production at a new mining block was completed and the company is now in a position to operate at full capacity as market conditions require.
Kalium Canada operates a large solution mine at Belle-Plaine, west of Regina. During 1990, the company operated below optimum capacity for marketing reasons. It produced approximately 0.96 Mt [K.sub.2]O, about the same as in 1989. Sales were higher and inventories declined. The plant has two lines of crystallizers which are operated concurrently, except during maintenance and inventory control shutdown which took place in June and November, for an equivalent of four weeks' downtime. Small amounts of waste salt were returned underground experimentally early in 1990. The company established the technical capability of returning 100% of its waste salt underground when conditions require it.
PCA also operates the Penobsquis underground mine just east of Sussex, New Brunswick. The mine ran near full capacity utilization throughout the year. It has a closed system, that is all waste salt and brine have to be returned underground. Production in 1990 was about 640,000 t KCl, an improvement over 1989. The mine was closed for two weeks in July for maintenance. It operates on a seven-day/week schedule. The capacity of Penobsquis could be expanded in the future as markets improve.
The Denison-Potacan Potash Co. (DPPC) produced 972,000 t of potash (KCl) in 1990 at the Cloverhill mine located 20 km south-east of Sussex, New Brunswick. In 1990, the company changed its method of returning waste salt underground from dry to slurried salt. This system now works satisfactorily and towards the end of 1990 about 90% of the waste salt was returned underground and the remainder stored temporarily on the surface. For the full year of 1990, 70% of waste salt was returned underground compared with only 40% in 1989. The excess brine disposal pipeline to the Bay of Fundy performed without problems throughout 1990. A strike closed operations between January 15 and February 5 but the summer shutdown was avoided as the company was able to ship more than its production, thus lowering its inventories. A year-long mine safety inquiry was completed and a report released in late December 1990. It is currently under study by management and the union. Safety measures were optimized after the last fatality in 1989 and appear to be working well. Denison decided to sell its 60% interest in DPPC.
Canamax Resources sold its share (51%) of the Manitoba Potash Corp. (MPC) to the French company, Entreprise Miniere et Chimique (EMC). EMC controls 50% of Potash Co. of Canada Ltd, which, in turn, controlled 40% of DPPC in New Brunswick during 1990. The Manitoba Government retained its share (49%). EMC stated that the purchase was made to secure economic potash reserves for the future. The development of this deposit, situated near Russell at the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border, has been delayed by worldwide oversupply of potash which is likely to persist into the 1990s. Nevertheless, the situation will change and Manitoba is likely to be a potash producer before the end of this decade.
Rhenium (Re), a minor by-product of molybdenum, is produced from some western Canadian porphyry copper mines. The Island Copper mine in Port Hardy, B.C., has molybdenum concentrates that grade about 900 ppm Re, high enough to warrant separate payment for the contained rhenium.
The year's production was estimated at 11.12 Mt, a 1% increase over 1989. Ontario salt production fell due to a strike between February and August at Canadian Salt Co. During 1990, overall Canadian salt operations ran on average at 88.1% of their capacity. Shipments of all types of salt remained fairly stable at 11.1 Mt. About half of these shipments came from Ontario compared with two-thirds in 1989. The average unit value of salt shipments was $21.62/t, a 4.3% increase over 1989.
In Nova Scotia, Canadian Salt continued its development work at its underground mine at Pugwash. Production from the 300 m level is expected to start during 1991. The company also replaced a pan at its evaporated salt plant. Presently, the company's bagging operation purchased last year from Avalon Salt is used at full capacity for bagging solar salt produced at its facility in the Bahamas. In Quebec, 1990 signalled the return to normal production levels for Seleine Mines following a strike in 1989. Seleine completed its development of the covered outdoor stockpiling facility, increasing the storage capacity to 270,000 t. The company also started production at the 268 m level. In Ontario, Sifto Canada's new underground mill installed in 1989 at the Goderich mine is now providing a higher output. The company also intends to install a new compactor aiming at developing new markets. Canadian Salt continued its development in the south-west area of the Ojibway mine, with production expected to start in 1991. In Saskatchewan, Sifto Canada reached an agreement with local authorities on environmental considerations over air emissions from its unit's furnace at its Unity facility and installed a dust collection system at the Patience Lake operation. In Alberta, new brine wells drilled in 1989 at Canadian Salt's operation at Lindberg entered into production in 1990.
The sale of Domtar's Sifto Salt division to Carey Salt Holdings was completed in 1990. In order to acquire Sifto's Cote Blanche rock salt mine and associated deposits at Baldwin, Louisiana, North American Salt Co., a new company formed at the time of the transaction, had to sell two of its Kansas mines. Former American assets of Sifto will now operate under the North American Salt name, whereas the Canadian operations will be known as Sifto Canada Inc.
Selenium and Tellurium
Canada produced an estimated 390 t of refined selenium in 1990. Selenium and tellurium occur in association with copper and they are separated from copper in the electrolytic refining. Selenium content in refined copper is strictly controlled; too much selenium causes breakage when copper is drawn into small diameter wires.
All three copper refineries in Canada produce copper anode slimes containing by-products from the blister. Selenium, tellurium, as well as gold, silver and PGMs are by-products. Falconbridge's copper refinery at Timmins, Ontario, sends its anode slimes to Noranda's CCR copper refinery in Montreal East, Quebec, for recovery of selenium, tellurium and other by-products.
Noranda's CCR facility takes blister copper containing selenium and tellurium from Noranda's Horne and Gaspe smelters, both located in Quebec, and from HBMS's smelter in Flin Flon, Manitoba. Noranda also obtains selenium and tellurium feed contained in domestic and imported scrap. Noranda's reported selenium production capacity is 340 t/y of glass, pigment, commercial and high-purity grades. Noranda's production capacity is about 35 t/y of commercial grade tellurium powder, stick and lumps.
In Sudbury, Inco operates a copper refinery where it also recovers selenium and tellurium. Inco purifies the selenium and tellurium to a crude stage only (that is un-dewatered); customers complete the final process stage. Inco can produce 45 t/y of selenium cake and 4.5 t/y of tellurium dioxide cake.
Canadian selenium consumption was reported by consumers as 14.8 t in 1989 (preliminary data). This compared with an average consumption of 14 t/y for the period 1985-88 inclusive. Selenium exports were 202 t in 1988, 131 t in 1989 and rose to 316 t for the first nine months of 1990. The E.C. is the principal destination for Canadian selenium exports. Selenium imports were 4 t for 1988, 5 t for 1989 and 6 t for the first nine months of 1991. Japan is the principal import source.
Production rose in 1990 to 1,399 t from 1,312 t the previous year, in spite of a substantial reduction in output at two of Canada's largest by-product silver producers, Brunswick Mining & Smelting at Bathurst, New Brunswick, and Cominco at Kimberley, B.C. Although output increased, the value of production declined to $256 million from $275 million in 1989. The greatest reduction in output was a result of the continuing strike at Brunswick Mining & Smelting's Bathurst operations.
NovaGold Resources opened its Murray Brook gold-silver mine in New Brunswick in September 1989. The vat leach operation, which processes 1,300 t/d of ore, had produced 3,350 kg of silver to the end of 1990.
In B.C., the Samatosum mine owned by Minnova and Rea Gold reported the largest increase in output. The mine completed its first full year of operation in 1990 and is estimated to have produced 133 t of silver, which is almost three times the 1989 level. Minnova plans to extend the life of the mine through 1993 by proving up 210,000 t of underground reserves.
The temporary suspension of operations at Cominco's Sullivan mine in Kimberley, B.C., resulted in a major loss in production. The mine closed in January due to rising production costs and did not resume output until November, after completion of an $11 million development programme.
Silver output from Canada's largest producer, Equity Silver mine in B.C., is estimated at 212 t, essentially unchanged from 1989. Production will decline in 1991 and the mine is scheduled to close in 1992 due to exhaustion of ore reserves. Equity Silver Mines and the Government of B.C. are discussing the level of funding required to meet post-closure reclamation costs. The company has deposited $21 million towards reclamation and will provide an additional $10 million in 1991.
Denver-based Min Ven closed its Blackdome mine near Clinton, B.C., in January 1991, when reserves were exhausted. The operation produced about 3.7 t of silver during 1990.
Teck's Beaverdell silver mine, located east of Kelowna, B.C., closed in February 1991, after 90 years of continuous operation. Low silver prices and declining head grades caused the closure of the 36,000 t/y underground operation.
Cheni Gold Mines downgraded the Cliff Creek zone's reserves at its Lawyers Mine in B.C. after additional work indicated mineralization to be erratic within a relatively tight structure. The revised estimate of probable reserves was 422,700 t grading 264 g/t silver and 6.5 g/t gold. Possible reserves were 103,400 t grading 267 g/t silver and 5.8 g/t gold.
Underground exploration confirmed the high-grade nature of the 21B polymetallic deposit at Prime Resources Group and Corona's equally-owned Eskay Creek property north of Stewart, B.C. A feasibility study is planned for 1991, with preliminary reserves estimated at 3.96 Mt of 998.4 g/t silver and 26.4 g/t gold.
Silver production in the Yukon increased by 19% from 1989 to 84.5 t. Yukon production is expected to increase again in 1991 when Curragh Resources and its 20% partner, Hillsborough Resources, bring the 90,000 t/y Mount Hundere mine on-stream. Reserves are estimated at 5.1 Mt grading 65 g/t silver, 12.6% zinc and 4.7% lead.
Canadian silver production is expected to decline substantially over the next few years as reserves are exhausted at various mines, particularly in B.C. However, the level of production is expected to recover slowly over the longer term as new base metal mines come on-stream, which will increase by-product production.
Canada is the world's leading strontium metal producer. Timminco produces all of Canada's strontium metal at its oxide reduction plant in West Meath, Ontario. The company has the capacity to produce 400-500 t/y of strontium metal and alloys, depending on operational parameters. It produces a 90/10 strontium-aluminium alloy (90% Sr, 10% Al) for use as a modifier in aluminium/silicon casting alloys to increase the as-cast ductility. This permits stronger aluminium alloy castings with increased machinability, allowing aluminium castings to compete with steel for some automotive applications. Timminco also produces strontium metal in other forms such as crowns (97.5% Sr) and rods and billets (minimum 98% Sr).
In 1990, production of elemental sulphur increased 1.7% to 5.92 Mt. Production from natural gas processing accounted for 88%, while the remainder was from oil sands plants (8.5%) and oil refineries (3.5%). Gas-recovered sulphur in Alberta amounted to 4.78 Mt, of which close to 165,000 t were incremental production from the tie-ins of new gas fields and from expansions at several gas processing units. Gas production from established reservoirs continued to decrease. Sulphur production from oil sands remained stable despite problems at Syncrude. However, both oil sands plants ran at higher than average rates during the second half. In B.C., sulphur production from gas processing remained strong at 420,000 t, accounting for 7% of total Canadian sulphur production. The output of sulphur from Canadian oil refineries rose 24% to 205,000 t.
Shipments of elemental sulphur were estimated at 7.2 Mt, a 14% increase on 1989. Most of the increase was registered in exports. Sulphur deliveries in Canada remained in the 750-800,000 t/y range. The domestic market for fertilizers was soft in the first half but rebounded during the second half. Sales were brisk as a result of flat domestic consumption and higher exports to the U.S.
In 1990, the U.S. remained the dominant export destination for Canadian sulphur, accounting for 24% of exports, followed by North Africa (22%), Asia (17%), Western Europe (9%), South America (8%), Oceania (7%), CMEA countries (5%) and the Middle East (5%). Offshore sales rose 10% to 4.84 Mt.
Canadian sulphur stocks in early January were estimated at around 4.8 Mt, distributed amongst 18 sites in Alberta. During 1990, remelts were carried out to supplement production in order to meet the requirements for sales in the domestic and export markets. The average remelt rate for the January-November period has been estimated at 86,000 t/month but, late in 1990, remelt rates above 105,000 t/month were registered. By the end of 1990, eight sites in Alberta accounted for 80% of remaining stocks.
On the domestic scene, the most prevalent development that dominated the year was the Caroline project. Discovered by Shell Canada in 1986, the Caroline gas field (35% [H.sub.2]S) holds sulphur reserves estimated at 25 Mt. At the end of August, approval was given to Shell's $825 million application for the development of the Caroline sour gas reservoir. Construction started in October; activities at Caroline in 1990 involved site preparation for the gas plant, the compression stations and the sulphur forming facility. Sulphur recovery will be designed to capture a minimum of 99.8% of sulphur dioxide emissions to meet Energy Resources Conservation Board specifications. Liquid sulphur will be formed using the Sandwick Rotoform process for producing small pellets. Start-up of the operation is scheduled for early 1993. Late in 1990, Shell reported the discovery of a new sour gas reservoir in the vicinity of Caroline field; its [H.sub.2]S content in the sour gas is estimated at between 46% and 48%.
In September 1990, Shell Canada, Mobil Oil Canada, Pan Canadian Petroleum and Norcen Energy Resources commissioned the $65 million Bearberry pilot plant near Sundre, Alberta. The 224 t/d recovery plant is to process 90% [H.sub.2]S sour gas for extracting sulphur. The five-year project will permit them to evaluate the technical and economical feasibility of commercial sulphur extraction from super sour gas. Bearberry sulphur reserves have been estimated at 70-100 Mt. Shell Canada has considered tieing-in both the Bearberry and the Caroline projects. Commercial development of the Bearberry field would add sulphur capacity in the range of 1.2-1.4 Mt/y by the end of the century.
Husky Oil Operations continued the construction of a $1.27 billion heavy oil upgrader at Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. During 1990, construction was 25% completed while mechanical completion is due for mid-1992. The sulphur recovery unit will have a capacity of 70,000 t/y. The $4.1 billion OSLO mega-project suffered a set-back in February 1990 when the federal government withdrew its support. With an emerging oil crisis, further interest was expressed during the year by other parties. The project's stakeholders, led by Imperial Oil, have decided to install the planned upgrader facility at Redwater, near Edmonton, Alberta. Completion date for the project remained unclear and could vary between 1997 and 2004. The sulphur capacity would be around 250-260,000 t/y. During 1990, a five-year pilot project, dubbed OSLO New Ventures, has been announced in order to evaluate various bitumen extraction methods. The project is to be carried out at Suncor's plant near Mildred Lake, Alberta. Start-up is scheduled for 1992.
In October 1990, Esso Resources Canada succeeded in tieing-in the OBED gas field near Edson, Alberta, to Chevron Standard's Kaybob III processing plant. Incremental sulphur production is projected in the range of 300-350,000 t/y. Petro-Canada and Amoco Canada Resources completed the 385 t/d expansion project at Brazeau River, Alberta, in early March; incremental production was recorded in the first quarter as the operating rate rose from 2,000 to 10,800 t/month of sulphur. Petro-Canada and Phillips Petroleum completed an 82 t/d expansion at Wildcat Hills, Alberta, and the operating rate rose from 2,800 t/month to close to 5,000 t/month by mid-year. Syncrude Canada resumed operation in early January 1990 at one of its hydro-treaters damaged by an explosion and a fire that occurred at its oil sands plant near Fort McMurray, Alberta, late in 1989.
Suncor announced a $9 million project to use innovative technology to increase its recovery of sulphur dioxide emissions at the oil sands plant in Mildred Lake, Alberta. The new technology, developed by Union Carbide, uses recyclable inorganic solvents to recover up to 98% of S[O.sub.2] emissions. During 1990, Suncor expressed its intention to sell 49% of its share in the oil sands operation. Shell Canada will be installing new technology to cut S[O.sub.2] emissions by half at its Burnt Timber plant in Alberta. A new super-Claus unit is expected to be completed by mid-1991. The suitability of this technology will be evaluated for Shell's plant in Waterton. Westcoast Energy started construction late in 1990 for the expansion of the processing capacity at the McMahon plant near Taylor, B.C. Completion of the 120 t/d expansion is due by the end of 1991. Westcoast's plant at Pine River is likely to be expanded in the mid-90s while two new gas fields -- Sukunka and Bullmoose fields -- are expected to be tied-in by early 1992; incremental production is estimated in the vicinity of 100,000 t/y. Gulf Canada and Unocal are to complete the connection of the Fir-Spotter gas field to Amoco Canada's gas plant at Kaybob I/II in Alberta during the spring of 1991; the sulphur recovery is expected to increase by 152,000 t/y. D. M. Wolcott & Associates is expected to commission a 40,000 t/y expansion at West Pembina, Alberta, by early 1991. Sulchem Products (1989) started production at a new sulphur refining plant near Crossfield, Alberta. The 100,000 t/y operation is to produce granulated plant nutrient and micronized industrial products.
During the year, Placer Dome sold its oil and gas operations, Placer Cego Petroleum Holdings, to Opus Acquisition, owned by Amerada Hess and Poco Petroleum. Brymore Energy sold its sulphur division to International Commodity Export Corp. of Canada. Encor and Amoco Canada Petroleum entered into a joint operating and services agreement for properties held in Western Canada. Dome Petroleum has transferred its sulphur offshore tonnages, formerly handled by Cansulex, to Amoco Canada Petroleum effective January 1, 1991. The B.C. Government completed the privatization of marketing operations of British Columbia Petroleum Corp. (BCPC); contracts were sold to Canwest Gas Supply (1989), and included the sulphur sales/purchase agreements between BCPC and Petrosul International. The Energy Resources Conservation Board, based in Calgary, clarified its position on plant proliferation after it released its decision relative to the Caroline project; the policy statement concluded that its primary objective is to ensure that applicants have investigated all the technical and economic feasibility of using existing plants when examining potential gas processing options. The Canadian Government is contemplating legislation to reduce the sulphur content in diesel fuel by October 1993. The proposed specifications would limit the sulphur content at 0.05% by weight, compared with the current limit of 0.5%. The present sulphur levels across Canada are ranging from 0.14% to 0.23%.
Canada is the second largest primary tantalum producer in the world after Australia. The Bernic Lake mine of Tantalum Mining Corp. of Canada (TANCO) in Manitoba was operating at capacity in 1990. Tantalum production at Bernic Lake was restarted in 1988, after a six-year suspension.
In addition to tantalum, Tanco produces low-iron ceramic grade spodumene concentrates, and caesium and rubidium ores. The addition of the spodumene circuit, which started operation in 1986, has made Tanco more competitive in the tantalum market. Tanco has instituted a secondary mining programme to reduce its large pillars, which has raised the average mill-feed grade and kept costs down.
Canadian tin mine production is from the 9,000 t/d open-pit operation of Rio Algom near East Kemptville, Nova Scotia. Rio Algom wrote down $22 million of capital assets in 1990 and made cumulative provisions for eventual mine closure costs, including environmental obligations. The mine is running efficiently with tin recoveries in the 70% range but the company has been plagued by low tin prices. East Kemptville ore is metallurgically complex and in 1989, Rio Algom added a flotation circuit, in addition to other improvements in the mill, which increased tin recoveries from their former 30% range. Small amounts of copper, zinc and silver are also recovered as by-products. The orebody consists of two zones, the Main zone and the smaller, higher grade Baby zone.
As a by-product of the production of indium, Cominco produces a small quantity of tin-lead alloy at its smelter in Trail. The alloy is used for solder applications.
Rio Algom exports its tin concentrates. Canada's tin metal requirements are thus provided by imports. Canadian consumption of refined tin for 1989 was 3,567 t. Refined tin is imported by two large Canadian steel-makers, Stelco and Dofasco, for producing tin plate for use primarily in can production. Small amounts are also imported by secondary lead refiners for the production of lead-tin alloys and solders.
Canada's main titanium-based industries comprise ilmenite mining and smelting, and titanium oxide pigment production. Other activities include titanium metal fabrication of finished parts, coating of welding rods, and the manufacture of titanium carbide and nitride-coated parts. Titanium-bearing master alloys are used also to make speciality steel and aluminium alloys. As Canada does not have any capacity for producing titanium sponge or granules or ferro-titanium, Canada is an importer of titanium ores, concentrates, unwrought titanium (both alloyed and not alloyed), titanium turnings, ferro-titanium and ferro-silico-titanium mainly from the U.S., Europe and Japan.
At the end of 1989, the demand for titanium sponge surpassed that at the peak in 1985. Despite decreased military orders, titanium metal demand remained at relatively high levels due to the record number of orders from the commercial aircraft industry. Demand in non-aerospace uses is also reported to be rising, particularly for pulp and paper machinery, for medical usage in implants and orthopaedic applications, powder metallurgy and petrochemical industries.
With the continued decline of the tungsten market, the Canada Tungsten Mining (Cantung) mine continues to remain on a maintenance basis. It suspended operations in August 1986 after incurring heavy losses in the first quarter of 1986 combined with a strike. Canadian consumption of tungsten products in all end uses in 1990 was estimated to be 2,730 t. The principal consumers of tungsten metal powder are the two divisions of Kennametal Inc. in B.C., Teledyne Canada Firth Sterling, and Canada Carboloy Inc., both located in Ontario. Tungsten wire is consumed by Canadian General Electric and GTE Sylvania Canada.
In 1990, Canada's uranium industry continued to face an uncertain market, plagued by over-supply and low prices. NUEXCO's Exchange Value (EV) spot-price indicator slid to $US8.70/lb [U.sub.3][O.sub.8] in February, jumped to $US11.70/lb in July, fell to an all-time low of $US8.35/lb in October but recovered by year-end to $US9.70/lb. Excess supply persisted in 1990 and even falling uranium output, as production centres closed or curtailed operations, could not bolster prices. Global inventories and new sources of low-priced uranium suggest adequacy of supply through the 1990s. Prospects for a market turnaround in the near term seem doubtful.
In September 1990, EMR released the results of its annual assessment of domestic uranium supply capabilities. Estimates of |known' uranium resources as of January 1, 1990, were increased by 7% to over 580,000 t U. Additions to these discovered resources more than offset losses resulting from production in 1989. Moreover, new discoveries will largely compensate for the expected losses in resources, not reflected in the EMR estimates, that will result from the August 1990 closure of Rio Algom's Quirke and Panel mines at Elliot Lake, Ontario.
Uranium exploration in 1989 was again concentrated in areas favourable for the occurrence of deposits associated with Proterozoic unconformities, most notably in the Athabasca Basin of northern Saskatchewan. Exploration expenditure of $58 million matched that of 1988. About 30 companies took part in 57 exploration projects, managed by 13 operators. The ten most active of these, spending 99% of the $58 million, were, in alphabetical order, Amok, Cameco, Cigar Lake Mining, COGEMA Canada, Denison Mines, Interuranium Canada, Minatco, PNC Exploration (Canada), Uranerz Exploration & Mining (UEM), and Urangesellschaft Canada.
In May, Cameco announced the discovery of a high-grade uranium deposit in Saskatchewan. The P2 North deposit at McArthur River, 70 km north-east of Key Lake, has been drilled along strike about 2 km. The best intersection showed 47% U over 9 m but grades up to 65% U have been reported; resources are estimated to exceed 77,000 t U at an average grade above 3% U. Follow-up evaluation of this discovery continues, with development timing dependent on the world uranium market. The joint venture partners include Cameco (44%) and UEM (29%).
Primary uranium production in 1990 is estimated at 8,750 t U, well down from 1989, and output could remain significantly below production capability in 1991. The decline reflects two mine closures in Ontario, and operating cutbacks in Saskatchewan, the latter taken in line with efforts to match output to commitments. Estimated total shipments for 1990 under all active domestic and export contracts were 9,460 t U, valued at $868 million, down from 10,995 t U valued at $913 million in 1989. Direct employment at Canada's uranium production centres declined more than 40% in 1990 to less than 2,500, due mainly to Rio Algom's mine closures and Denison's workforce reductions at Elliot Lake, announced in March last year to accommodate an expected 37% cut in output by 1991, and protect the livelihood of the remaining workforce.
Both companies maintain an important presence in Elliot Lake. About 600 workers continue to produce uranium at Rio's Stanleigh operation, under a long-term Ontario Hydro contract, and to complete asset disposal and environmental decommissioning activities. Denison also continues to deliver under a long-term contract with Ontario Hydro, but by mid-1991 its workforce will be reduced to about 660.
In Saskatchewan, Cameco sold Uranerz a one-third interest in its Rabbit Lake operation and associated properties (including Collins Bay deposits and Eagle Point South) in July; each now has an equal share (Cameco two-thirds and UEM one-third) in both Key Lake and Rabbit Lake. As Uranerz already owns one-third of Eagle Point North, the Eagle Point orebody can now be developed as a single underground mine. The Rabbit Lake mill has been idle since July 1989 due to market conditions; ore stockpiling and Eagle Point mine development preparations continue. The Key Lake operation produced at nominal output capacity in 1990 despite a six-week summer shutdown.
Cluff Mining resumed ore processing after an extended shutdown of operations beginning in August 1989. The new Dominique-Janine open-pit supplemented ore in 1990 from the Dominique-Peter mine, currently the only underground uranium operation in Saskatchewan.
At the Cigar Lake project in northern Saskatchewan, the 500 m deep shaft was completed in 1990 and lateral development from the 420 m and 480 m levels is continuing. At the Midwest project, north-east of Cigar Lake, test mining results have been evaluated and an Environmental Impact Assessment has been prepared. Both projects are on schedule and within budget; start-up at either property will be contingent on receipt of regulatory and environmental approval and on developments in the uranium market.
In July, Urangesellschaft Canada, the principal owner and operator of the Northwest Territories' Kiggavik uranium project, requested the federal Environmental Assessment and Review Process (EARP) panel to delay indefinitely its planned hearing for Kiggavik. The company indicated that more time was needed "to respond thoroughly to the request for considerable additional information," resulting from the panel's earlier indentification of deficiencies in its Environmental Assessment Report.
Cameco, Agra Industries and Isotope Technologies announced a joint venture in August to pursue the commercial development of a new laser isotope separation technology, known as CRISLA (Chemical Reaction by Isotope Selective Laser Activation). Applications include the production of enriched uranium, ultra-pure metals, pure isotopes for environmental monitoring, and high-purity pharmaceuticals. Headquartered in Saskatoon, CRISLA Technologies will focus its initial R&D efforts on the separation of uranium isotopes.
In November, Minatco, an affiliate of Total Petroleum of France, acquired 100% of the Wolly uranium project in Saskatchewan from joint venture partners Canadian Occidental Petroleum and Canadian Nickel. Located adjacent to the Rabbit Lake property, the project hosts significant uranium mineralization (including the McClean, Jeb and Sue deposits). Development work at Wolly is continuing.
Early in December, Denison announced the formation of a joint venture with Freeport Uranium Recovery to produce uranium concentrates from two existing phosphate processing plants owned by Freeport in Louisiana. The 50-50 joint venture was to begin operations on January 1, 1991, with Freeport producing concentrates and Denison marketing them. The two Louisiana facilities have a combined annual capacity in excess of 450 t U.
Carbovan, Canada's sole producer, began its operations in the third quarter of 1990. Production was on a limited basis from its 1,045 t/y plant located in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Initial shipments consisted of redcake, HV[O.sub.3], an intermediate higher-grade vanadium product. Vanadium pentoxide ([V.sub.2][O.sub.5]) production was scheduled to start in January 1991. It was reported that the facility was producing more than 1,360 kg/week of HV[O.sub.3] in the final quarter of 1990. Much of its vanadium will be sold for alloying to steel mills and the aerospace industry. The arrival of Carbovan and Union Steel Corp. of South Africa upset the supply-demand equation in 1990.
Canada's only ferrovanadium converter, Masterloy Products, imports all of its vanadium pentoxide from either South Africa, the U.S. or China. Masterloy's Ottawa plant has a capacity of approximately 1,000 t/y of ferrovanadium. Masterloy supplies most of the ferrovanadium consumed in Canada, the offset being imported mainly from the U.S. Principal consumers of ferrovanadium in Canada include Dofasco, Stelco, IPSCO, Atlas Specialty Steels Division of Sammi Atlas, Algoma Steel and Sydney Steel.
TABLE I. THE CANADIAN MINERAL INDUSTRY VALUE OF PRODUCTION
1989 and 1990
1989 1990 Change ($ millions) ($ millions) (%) Metals 13,982.5 12,777.7 -8.6 Non-metals 2,594.9 2,385.2 -8.1 Structurals 2,897.2 2,633.1 -9.1 Total Non-fuels 19,474.5 17,795.9 -8.6 Fuels 19,784.5 23,509.5 +18.8 Total 39,259.1 41,305.4 +5.2
Note: Totals do not add due to rounding. All dollars Canadian throughout, unless otherwise stated. [Tabular Data 2 Omitted]
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|Title Annotation:||review of the Canadian mineral industry in 1990|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1991|
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