Transparency, Batteries and Renewables the Future of Mining: Experts

At Mines and Technology, experts spoke about developments that they expect to see within the next 10 years in the mining space.

Speaking at Vancouver’s Mines and Technology event this week, experts in the mining space shared their thoughts on what sustainable mining will look like 10 years from now, with transparency taking center stage as a developing trend.

“The discussion we have in our office is moving towards radical transparency,” said Steve Woolfenden, who is IAMGOLD’s (TSX:IMG,NYSE:IAG) director of environment.

He said that “radical transparency” will involve a system where “all our data from our operating sites is available and online at a moment’s notice.”

“The Barrick Golds (TSX:ABX:NYSE:GOLD) of the world have done it and said, ‘Oh yeah, it’s quite easy’ — I don’t think it’s as easy as they have said,” added Woolfenden, who said that for IAMGOLD as a mid-tier miner, a lot of the automated monitoring needed for more transparency is yet to be put in place.

For its part, Barrick has been putting out releases on the digitalization of its assets for years.

Joe Carr, who is sector development director at Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT), said that for transparency to begin, “it’s going to start in tailings” given we live in a “post-Samarco, Mount Polley and Brumadinho world.”

He continued, “We are having regulators saying, ‘We want to know, we want to be able to see what’s happening on your mine.’ And that’s where it will begin. We have an opportunity to get on the front foot and say this is what we want to do before a regulator imposes what we shall do, which we don’t have as much control over.”

Asked the same question on the future of sustainability in mining, Vice President of Environment at Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B,NYSE:TECK) Scott Maloney said he believes that within 10 years more companies will be incorporating renewable energy into their mine plans.

During his presentation on reducing the energy and greenhouse gas footprint of mining operations, Maloney said that incremental changes in efficiencies are no longer enough.

“We need to look at step changes to make our business sustainable and also to address the challenge of climate change. … The pace of change in mining is getting ever faster. We’re seeing advancements in automation and digitalization. And those things are increasingly being introduced across the business.”

He added, “What we also see — as in most industries — (is that) companies that move slowly to seize digital and analytics opportunities are falling behind, or even disappearing.”

A big challenge that he identified for the future of sustainability in mining is the adoption of battery technology in ore trucks, with significant barriers to adoption in place.

An example he gave of current technology was the batteries used to power the Tesla Model 3, a small sedan. For the same technology to power a haul truck on a mine, the battery would have to weigh 95 tonnes, be 18 meters cubed and cost C$3 million.

“Clearly, that’s not something that’s feasible at the moment. As an industry, we need to really focus on how we move that forward. … Significant technology improvements are needed to deliver batteries that would work for ore trucks.”

He concluded that for a company like Teck, where many of its operations are powered by renewable energy already, reducing greenhouse gases through focusing on ore trucks is a major area of opportunity, but also one of great challenge.

Woolfenden’s presentation on strategic innovation included a lot of discussion on using solar power to reduce waste.

As an example, he pointed to IAMGOLD’s Essakane gold mine in Burkina Faso, which can’t tap into the local power supply due to distance. Instead, the mine has relied on power from fuel oil and in recent years has added a 15 megawatt peak solar power plant.

“In the first seven months (of operation) it reduced fuel by 3.9 million liters,” said Woolfenden. “That is more efficient than we predicted it to be.”

Similarly, IAMGOLD’s Rosebel gold mine in Suriname has a solar plant that saves the company C$1.5 million every year.

While the Essakane and Rosebel mines are ideal projects due to location and infrastructure, Woolfenden said that the economics of renewables made them no-brainers.

“The price is right. It’s pretty easy. Renewables for a mining company are making really good sense.”

Woolfenden also mused that overall, the mining industry has adopted new technologies at a slow rate.

“It’s here and there, but in essence for gold mines, it’s kind of the same thing. We blast rock, we crush it, we process it, we spit it out the other end into some tailings facility and it’s kind of forgotten about then.”

He said that, as an industry, it is on miners to step up and maintain their social license to operate, saying that in many cases, solving problems environmentally and socially is better for business.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Catch up and get informed with this week's content highlights from Charlotte McLeod, our editorial director.

Top Stories This Week: Powell Gets Fed Nomination, Using Gold in a Market Correction

We're back after a break last week with quite a bit to cover in the gold space.

After running up past the US$1,860 per ounce mark midway through November, the yellow metal has taken a tumble. At the time of this writing on Friday (November 26) afternoon, it was sitting just under US$1,790.

Gold's losses this week have been attributed to elements like a stronger US dollar and better Treasury yields, although Jerome Powell's US Federal Reserve chair renomination has pulled other factors into play — some market watchers believe he may move to taper and raise interest rates faster than anticipated.

If the Fed follows its previously laid out timeline for tapering, it will wrap up in mid-2022; the central bank has said it won't raise rates until after that. It has also emphasized that its roadmap may change if necessary.

Looking at the larger picture for gold, I heard recently from Nick Barisheff of BMG Group, who believes the stock market is due for a major correction.

"The market is due for a major correction. What will cause it and when it will happen is anybody's guess — it could be tomorrow, it could be six months from now" — Nick Barisheff, BMG Group

It's impossible to know when this correction will happen, but Nick emphasized the importance of acting before it's too late. He pointed out that investors are typically slow to get out of the market once a crash actually begins — they wait for a turnaround, and by the time it's clear there won't be one, they've experienced big losses.

In his opinion, the solution is to get out of the stock market early and transfer money into gold.

Here's how Nick explained it:

"Instead of taking your money off the table and going into cash … you go to gold (because cash is devaluing daily). Gold will at least hold its own and probably appreciate … so by sitting it out in gold you can wait until the market finishes correcting and then buy back in" — Nick Barisheff, BMG Group

With gold's future in mind, we asked our Twitter followers this week what price they think the metal will be at the end of 2021. By the time the poll closed, most respondents had voted for the US$1,800 to US$1,900 range.

We'll be asking another question on Twitter next week, so make sure to follow us @INN_Resource or follow me @Charlotte_McL to share your thoughts.

Finally, in the cannabis space, INN's Bryan Mc Govern spoke with Dan Ahrens of AdvisorShares to get his thoughts on 2021 trends and what's ahead in 2022.

Dan was candid, and said if he had to choose one word to describe the cannabis market in 2021, it would be "painful." Like many others, he's been disappointed in the industry's performance — while positivity initially ran high due to excitement about potential federal changes in the US, ultimately progress has been slow.

"Cannabis started with a big run-up in January and February ... and things dragged from there" — Dan Ahrens, AdvisorShares

Still, Dan has hope for 2022 and said it will be a "huge year" for cannabis. He believes US reforms will come sooner rather than later, and in his opinion those widely anticipated changes will bring a wave of M&A activity.

Specifically, he expects to see alcohol, tobacco and other consumer packaged goods companies making deals with cannabis players, not just cannabis entities doing transactions with each other.

"Those big alcohol companies, tobacco companies, other consumer packaged goods product companies — they're waiting. They're waiting on the US" — Dan Ahrens, AdvisorShares

Want more YouTube content? Check out our YouTube playlist At Home With INN, which features interviews with experts in the resource space. If there's someone you'd like to see us interview, please send an email to

And don't forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

cannabis plant layered with German flag graphic
Dmytro Tyshchenko / Shutterstock

Catch up on some of the biggest news of the week for the cannabis investment world.

Three political parties have formed a coalition in Germany, leading to a new government, and it has promised cannabis reform in the European nation.

Meanwhile, a popular cannabis retailer confirmed consumers will now find its products available for delivery on the Uber Eats mobile application in Ontario.

Keep reading to find out more cannabis highlights from the past five days.

Coalition of parties promises forward-looking cannabis policy

Germany, a country with comprehensive and elaborate medicinal rules for cannabis, is in a time of transition as a new government is set to begin to take over after 16 years of Angela Merkel.

Olaf Scholz, the proposed next chancellor of Germany, leads a three party coalition that will become the country's governing body. As part of its promises, talk of adult-use cannabis regulation has now gained even more momentum. A report from MJBizDaily quotes a German policy document that shows the coalition's stance:

"We are introducing the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption purposes in licensed shops. This controls the quality, prevents the transfer of contaminated substances and guarantees the protection of minors."

However, despite the promise and excitement, it remains to be seen how these ideas will be applied since no formal regulations have been drafted or approved yet.

Canadian cannabis retailer partners with popular delivery app

Tokyo Smoke, a cannabis retail operator in Canada owned by Canopy Growth (NASDAQ:CGC,TSX:WEED), announced a collaboration agreement with Uber Canada (NYSE:UBER) whereby cannabis consumers will be able to use the Uber Eats app to order products before they visit stores.

While the app won't let consumers get cannabis delivered to them, this new method opens the doors to more dynamic ways of buying cannabis.

"As a market leader in innovation and a platform used by so many Canadians, we believe this is the ideal next offering that can be done safely and conveniently on the Uber Eats app," Mark Hillard, vice president of operations with Tokyo Smoke, said in a press release.

A report from the Canadian Press indicates Ontario is considering allowing dispensaries to have delivery and pickup options made available to consumers permanently. The province allowed some of these purchasing options at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but then removed them.

Lola Kassim, general manager of Uber Eats Canada, said this new end-to-end experience will provide consumers with responsible access to legal cannabis products.

Cannabis company news

  • Organigram Holdings (NASDAQ:OGI,TSX:OGI) issued financial results for its Q4 2021 period. In its report, the company notes a net loss of C$26 million despite a 22 percent uptick in net revenue to C$24.9 million. Beena Goldenberg, the newly appointed CEO of the firm, is encouraged by the market share position earned by the company, which said it became the fourth biggest producer in Canada during the reporting period.
  • Halo Collective (NEO:HALO,OTCQB:HCANF) confirmed the decision for Akanda, its spinoff company focused on international cannabis opportunities, to begin trading on a US exchange. "The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined," the company told investors in a press release.
  • High Tide (NASDAQ:HITI,TSXV:HITI) announced the acquisition of 80 percent of NuLeaf Naturals, a CBD product wellness developer, for an estimated US$31.24 million. The deal includes a three year option clause for High Tide to complete a total acquisition. "As international markets open up and as export regulations evolve, NuLeaf's cGMP-certified facility positions us to take advantage of the global CBD business opportunity," Raj Grover, president and CEO of High Tide, said.
  • Humble & Fume (CSE:HMBL,OTC Pink:HUMBF) released the financial report for its first 2022 fiscal quarter to shareholders and the market. "As the legal cannabis market in North America continues to mature, Humble remains agile and focused on providing a leading solution for brands to scale quickly and retailers to focus on their customers," Joel Toguri, CEO of Humble, said.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Cannabis for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.


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