May 17, 2020

Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama Mine Project Expected to Move Forward

Barrick Gold Corp.
Edmundo Flores
Pascua Lama
3 min
Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama Mine Project Expected to Move Forward
Check out the latest edition of Mining Global!Barrick Gold Corp., the worlds largest listed miner of precious metal, has been attempting to get the Pasc...

Check out the latest edition of Mining Global!

Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s largest listed miner of precious metal, has been attempting to get the Pascua Lama Mine— an open pit mine project of gold, silver, copper and other minerals, which straddles the Chilean-Argentinean border— up and running for some time but has had obstacle after obstacle to overcome. 

In September, 2013, the company announced its intention to move forward with the South American mine but the Copiano Court of Appeals issued a ruling that Barrick Gold discontinue the $8.5-billion project until the company installs infrastructure to prevent water pollution at the site so that it meets environmental standards.

“Barrick is committed to operating at the highest environmental standards at all of its operations around the world, including at Pascua Lama,” the company responded to the court ruling.  Shortly after, Barrick submitted a plan to Chilean regulatory authorities to build the infrastructure, expecting it to be completed by the end of 2014. 

However, in October, 2013, after investing $5 billion into the project, the company announced a temporary suspension on the project due to economical, legal and permitting matters.

The project had also been strongly opposed by the local communities surrounding the mine, who believe Barrick Gold misrepresented how much risk the miner really faced when it began construction. 

In an attempt to make peace with the locals, in July, 2014, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a group of indigenous communities in Chile’s Huasco province to build trust with the members and make additional information regarding the mining project available to them. 

On Wednesday, November 12, 2014, Barrick Gold announced it is confident that the project will get built, though there is no room for error. 

Edmundo Flores, Barrick Gold project executive, explains that the company still needs to get permits and complete the 2013 court mandated water system prior to resuming construction, and that this may take years.

"The company has made significant changes. I think there's definitely a way to move forward. It’s small, but it exists,” states Flores.

He continues, “We have to be careful, we can’t make mistakes… there is no room for error this time."

Pascua Lama is one of the largest gold and silver resources with more than 15 million ounces of gold reserves and 675 million ounces of silver reserves.  If the stalled project moves forward, the mine is expected to produce around 850,000 ounces of gold and 35 million ounces of silver in the first five years.


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Jul 20, 2021

British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars

3 min
The ever-increasing need for electric vehicles is mounting pressure on British Lithium as the 2035 deadline inches closer

The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change. 

It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.

British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad. 

Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe 

After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company. 

“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”

Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector. 

Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial. 

Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production

“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”

The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction. 

Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably. 

“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.

“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”

Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK. 

“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”

Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.

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