Newmont is expanding its business to Europe

American miner Newmont, the world’s number one by production, has formed an exploration alliance with Britain’s Ariana Resources, which owns several gold mining concessions in Europe. The goal is to discover new gold and copper exploitations in one of the least explored regions in the world.

American miner Newmont formed Exploration Alliance with the British company Ariana Resources different owner Mining interests in European countries.

The aim of this alliance is to focus on exploring new copper and gold deposits in countries such as Bosnia and HerzegovinaAnd the Bulgaria And the GreeceAnd the Kosovo And the North Macedonia s Serbian Using the company’s specialized equipment Western Tithian Resources Properties 75% From Ariana Resources.

Representatives of this company have indicated that Southeast Europe is one of the least explored and promising mining regions in the world. your spokesperson, Mentor Demi sign to “With our extensive experience in the area and Newmont’s large exploration capacity, database and technology, we are confident that we will be successful in discovering new deposits of copper and gold.”

As per the information provided by the company, Newmont invests $2.5 million in Ariana To finance exploration activity, as well as facilitate access to the mining company’s regional database.

alliance between Newmont, Ariana and Western Tethian Resources Has the expected initial duration of Five years, which can be extended at the request of both partiesat the expense of new investments by Newmont, which also retains the option to enter Ariana Resources’ equity capital.

Vitality arrived Kareem Sener, Ariana’s managerAnd the “We are pleased to partner with Newmont, via Western Tethyan Resources, for Exploration of new large-scale gold and copper deposits in the southeastern region of Europe. This was the area It was explored during the 80’s and 90’s By companies that were later absorbed by the Newmont Group, such as Normandy Mining. Therefore, the alliance will benefit from Important historical data collected by Newmont. Thanks to this, we can develop a complete exploration of the area. Newmont will also contribute its expertise and knowledge to exploration activity, including the potential deployment of various proprietary technologies”, Sunday Vision writes.

Can Finland and Sweden help decarbonize EU economies?

Demand for key metals is booming. Geopolitical realities and pandemic-related supply chain issues are increasing the pressure on EU countries to proceed with mining activities of their own to decarbonize their economies.

The European Union wants to decrease its dependency on Russian fossil fuels while accelerating its decarbonization effort. Metals and critical raw materials will play a pivotal role. Minerals, especially lithium, are most needed for clean-energy technologies. Relevant mining activities are concentrated in Asia, Oceania and South America.

Finland and Sweden, the two European countries currently applying for NATO membership, have a long mining tradition and could help solve the EU’s deficit, but question marks remain.

“We are the most important mining countries in the EU. Sweden alone produces over 90% of all the iron ore produced in the EU, Maria Suner, CEO of the Swedish Association of Mines, Mineral and Metal Producers (Svemin), told DW. However, that’s just a little over a quarter of what the bloc needs, meaning that the EU still has to import 70% of its iron ore, she added.

Finland and Sweden also share the mineral-rich Fennoscandian bedrock. According to Suner, the solid rock beneath the Scandinavian and Kola peninsulas has the potential to provide everything that’s on the EU list of critical raw materials.

The European Commission compiled a list of critical raw materials (CRMs) in 2011. Economic value and supply risk are the two criteria used to determine the importance of the materials. The list is getting longer.

Russia and supply security

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the major reason for Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership, and arguably, to step up mining in the medium term.

Svemin’s CEO says the focus on mining increased due to the COVID pandemic and ensuing supply chain disruptions, but more so after Russia invaded Ukraine. It has added to the increase in demand, pushing raw materials prices to a new high.

China is the top producer of graphite and rare earth materials. According to data from the International Energy Agency, it also refines 87% of the rare earths, 65% of cobalt, 58% of lithium, and 35% of nickel. Russia is the second-most-important country in the world for nickel extraction and the third-most-important for cobalt extraction.

“If there’s more support for mining activities in Europe, I don’t see that as a result of Russian hostilities. It’s more a question of whether Europe has woken up to the fact that it lacks metals,” Pekka Suomela, executive director of the Finnish Mining Association (FinnMin), told DW.

Current hindrances

Land competition is always an issue in Nordic regions with a focus on forestry. Increased mining is opposed by many environmentalists citing the need to protect biodiversity.

In March, when the Swedish government allowed the exploitation of the Scandinavian country’s largest unexploited iron ore deposit, Swedish climate protection activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement said Sweden was “waging a war on nature.”

Finland, Norway, and Sweden are the least densely populated countries in Europe, which might theoretically be a plus for mining activities. Nonetheless, many scarcely populated areas are protected.

“Almost half of the Swedish territory is reindeer herding area for the Sami people, the only Indigenous people in Europe,” said Suner. “But the area needed for mining is very limited and we know how to minimize the impact.”

Long timeframes

In the EU, it can take up to 25 years from the exploration phase to the start of commercial mining. Svemin has proposed 27 reforms, including shortening the permission procedures. Worries about the medium-term environmental impact often clash with long-term decarbonization efforts.

While EU member states are responsible for mining legislation, Brussels deals with aspects related to health, water and land usage.

The current geopolitical situation might increase social acceptance, but caution is needed. According to Suomela, the European Union must be careful not to put too much pressure on any single country to avoid local resistance that could easily shift public opinion.

Another possible future obstacle has to do with energy prices. They remain fairly moderate in northern Sweden and Finland, well below the levels reached in central Europe. But an increase in mining activities requires coherent investments in energy assets.

“The mineral and mining sector is planning for a tenfold increase in electricity use by 2050,” Suner commented. “Additionally, we have other projects for battery production and fossil-free steelmaking. Such projects are not covered by the electricity production we have in Sweden today.”

Neighboring countries

Estonia, another country bordering Russia, is active in the cleantech supply chain, hosting the only commercial rare earth processing facility in Europe. The facility is owned by Toronto-based rare earth materials technology company Neo Performance Materials. The company launched an initiative in 2020 to expand the supply of rare earth feedstock to their Sillamae processing facility near the Gulf of Finland.

Constantine Karayannopoulos, Neo’s president and CEO, told DW that the war in Ukraine caused refining companies to look more closely at their global supply chains. “Neo is no exception,” he explained, recalling that its supplier in Kola, the Russian peninsula, had been a reliable supplier for over 40 years.

“Geopolitical considerations are always a factor, but our primary driver remains customer demand,” said Karayannopoulos.

Right now, it looks like demand will increase. According to the European Association of Metals (Eurometaux), lithium usage in clean technologies could increase by a staggering 2,109% by 2050. Demand for dysprosium, tellurium and scandium is expected to more than double over the next 30 years, DW writes.

Armenia’s journey towards responsible mining

Mining raises many issues for communities. What minerals are being developed? Where are the mines? Who owns these mines? What kinds of ore are produced? In what form and to which countries are they exported? Armenia’s accession to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) helped bring the answer to these kinds of questions and more public and transparent, the World Bank said in an article entitled “Armenia’s Journey Towards Responsible Mining”.

As in many countries, mining can be a sensitive topic in Armenia, the article says. It notes that civil society follows mining developments closely to demand better protection of the environment.

The World Bank says that the Armenian government hoped to improve the management of natural resources by making it more transparent, accountable, and participatory. It grew interested in the EITI and, in 2015, announced its intention to join. “Within a year, Armenia met all the preconditions for joining the EITI, and its membership application was approved in 2017”, it says.

The WB says that the country’s legislation did not ensure full transparency and accountability from the sector. The National Assembly made legislative changes to require the publication of large amounts of financial information, such as tax payment data by companies as well as data on extraction and exports, charitable activities, and socio-economic support projects in communities — reporting this information annually became legally required. This information is reflected in the EITI annual national reports.

According to the article, in 2019, Armenia took on responsibilities beyond the scope of mandatory requirements, which ensured even greater transparency.

“Armenia made remarkable achievements in its implementation of the Standard. At the 2019 EITI Global Conference in Paris, Armenia received the EITI Chair’s Award for implementing the Standard in an innovative and resolute manner, as well as for effective multi-stakeholder governance”, the article says.

“I have personally followed the process with great interest. Armenia has achieved remarkable progress. Out of the 54 countries, Armenia is among the nine that have received the highest possible assessment, and it has only been three and a half years since Armenia began implementing the EITI; in that regard, its accomplishments are really commendable”, Mark Robinson – Director of the EITI International Secretariat, said.

For civil society representatives and journalists, the new requirement to disclose the beneficial owners of metal extracting companies was a unique opportunity, the WB said. In Armenia, it had often been quite difficult to obtain information regarding beneficial ownership, it added.

“Armenia`s success story is ongoing and there is still more that can be done.  Future reforms are going to be geared at mitigating environmental impact. The Government is continuing to develop a strategy for the sector by engaging all interested parties”, Armenpress writes.

Outokump’s Kemi chrome mine in Finland targeting carbon neutrality by 2025

Outokumpu says it has established a roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality at its Kemi underground chrome mine in Finland by 2025. The roadmap includes several initiatives that will decrease the mine’s emissions towards zero. Carbon neutrality of the Kemi Mine is an important step in achieving Outokumpu’s ambitious science-based climate targets.

“To reach carbon neutrality, we have reviewed all emissions from the Kemi Mine and established a carbon neutrality roadmap to minimise emissions towards zero by 2025. Carbon neutrality of the Kemi Mine supports Outokumpu’s journey towards ambitious climate targets. We are proud that the Kemi Mine will be a forerunner on this journey,” says Martti Sassi, President, BA Ferrochrome, Outokumpu.

The three main factors to reach carbon neutrality at the Kemi Mine are the utilisation of carbon free electricity, using biofuels in transportation and machinery as well as replacing natural gas and propane gas with biogas in heating. Mining machinery electrification will also be extended to reduce the need for fuels.

Outokumpu’s Kemi Mine is the only mine in the EU to produce chrome which is an essential raw material in stainless steel production. Chrome from the Kemi Mine is transported to Outokumpu’s nearby ferrochrome plant in Tornio. The environmental impacts of the underground Kemi Mine are very limited due to the concentration process based on gravity separation without chemicals. Outokumpu announced its updated climate targets in December 2021. The targets have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative and are aligned with keeping global warming below 1.5°C, IM writes.

Lithium project caught in Portugal’s red tape

Savannah Resources (AIM: SAV), the company building western Europe’s largest lithium mine, said on Wednesday it shared its shareholders’ frustration regarding the time it has taken Portugal to review its application, but noted it was a political process over which the company had little control.

Chairman Matthew King said the company expected to make further progress at the Mina do Barroso project this year, which would help Europe reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and speed up its “green transition.”

Savannah Resources said it has been two years since it submitted the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for an open-pit mine to Portuguese regulator Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente (APA).

The company filed the study in May 2020 and it was requested to provide additional information a few months later, which granted it a preliminary stamp of approval in April last year.

APA then launched a public consultation on the project, which has faced local opposition, but the watchdog is yet to announce its final decision.

“We passed the second anniversary of lodging the EIA,” King said. “This time last year, we had expectations that the decision would have been received by now but the finalization of the EIA is a political process over which Savannah has little control.”

The company acquired a 75% interest in Mina do Barroso in May 2017, maintaining a fast paced development approach since. January’s snap parliamentary election in Portugal, King said, had impacted the timing of the assessment as meetings with government officials were postponed.

Europe’s first

Mina do Barroso open pit lithium mine would be Europe’s first significant producer of spodumene, a hard-rock form of the battery metal.

The project holds a resource estimate of 27 million tonnes of lithium with over 285,900 tonnes contained Li2O, at an average grade of 1.06% Li2O, which the company believes to be enough to supply a “material proportion” of Europe’s lithium demand over the coming decades.

The mine will also yield a feldspar and quartz co-product used in the ceramics industry, which will be sold to customers locally and in neighbouring Spain.

Recent results from the latest phase of metallurgical test work program at the mine highlights the potential for lower capital and operating costs than those originally estimated.

Portugal, already Europe’s top lithium producer, accounts for about 11% of the global market, but its output is entirely used to make ceramics and glassware. That’s why Europe relies on lithium imports from Latin America’s “Lithium Triangle,” as well from Australia and China, Mining writes.

Eclipse Metals has applied to Greenland’s Mineral Resources Authority

Eclipse Metals has applied to Greenland’s Mineral Resources Authority to proceed with drilling at the Grønnedal-Ika carbonatite rare earth elements (REE) prospect during this year’s field season.

The company has engaged a local contractor to carry out the proposed campaign and executive chairman Carl Popal has visited the site to assess ground conditions and facilitate the planning of access and drill hole locations.

“We took the contractors onsite and discussed the mobilisation of appropriate equipment, with the team potentially able to mobilise in July,” he said.

“We were able to locate several historic drill collars which will assist in planning the program.”

Ivittuut mining licence

Mr Popal also met with Greenland’s Environmental Agency for Mineral Resource Activities to discuss the requirements for a mining licence application for the Ivittuut historic cryolite mine.

Eclipse is actively exploring Ivittuut and Grønnedal-Ika for lithium, base and precious metals and industrial minerals.

The meetings will help it work more closely with government departments to move forward at Ivittuut, where pit dewatering remains a significant licencing issue.

Mr Popal said the company would provide the government with information for its planned dewatering procedures.

“The meeting regarding environmental requirements related to the mining licence and drainage of the pit in the licence area was productive [and] we are encouraged to work with environmental officers to develop the requirements to empty the pit,” Mr Popal said.

“We plan to engage a specialist to assist with addressing these requirements to ensure dewatering is in line with best practice.”

Eclipse has also entered into talks with the municipality of Sermersooq to establish ways in which it can assist the restoration of the local Ivittuut mine museum.

Magnetic bodies

Last month, Eclipse revealed that 3D modelling of airborne magnetic data over Grønnedal-Ika had identified several high amplitude and vertically-extensive magnetic bodies indicative of REE mineralisation.

They are believed to be spatially coincident with a cluster of electromagnetic bedrock conductors identified by a previous explorer.

Eclipse said the bodies suggest the potential for a larger extent of magnetite-bearing carbonatite and carbonatite breccia in the subsurface than indicated by earlier mapping, Small Caps writes.

Who are the main players in the ore exploration business in Serbia

A dozen companies based in Australia, Canada and China, through offshore companies and affiliates in Serbia, control about 90 percent of the territory in which the state has issued permits for ore mining.

Approximately 100 companies registered in our country have state licenses for exploration of ores and metals in Serbia, and the total area on which they perform tests covers 5,673 square kilometers, which is a territory the size of a quarter of Vojvodina.

At first glance, it would be said that this is a business in which the competition is numerous. However, in reality, this business is mostly in the hands of only a dozen companies, mostly foreign, which, through affiliated companies, have exploration rights on approximately 90 percent of the territory where the possibilities for opening mines are being investigated.

The turning point for the rise of the ore exploration business in Serbia was 2015, when the Law on Mining and Geological Research was amended. The amendments to the mentioned act, which were adopted by the Assembly of Serbia in December 2015, deprived the local authorities of the authority to issue permits for research, and the decision on that was transferred to the Ministry of Mining.

The new rules have put investors and ore researchers in a much better position, as they “finished” the job at one address in Belgrade. Thus, for example, someone who intended to conduct field research spread over several municipalities no longer had to obtain a permit from each local government separately.

The serious possibility that the mentioned law will be changed was a strong enough signal to potential investors. In the months before the formal adoption of the law, several ore exploration companies were established, and this trend has continued in the coming years, according to data from the Business Registers Agency (APR), which BIRN analyzed.

Of the 30 leading companies in the area where ore is explored, 15 of them have been established since 2015. As of the end of January 2022, those companies had more than a 50 percent share in the total area where ores and minerals are explored in Serbia.

The often mentioned Rio Tinto is not on this list because they passed the research phase even earlier and were practically about to open the mine. There is speculation in the public that some of the companies listed below are “doing business” for Rio Tinto, but for now, everyone has denied those claims.

Network of related companies for ore exploration in Serbia

Who, in fact, are the key players in the ore exploration business in Serbia? Although permits are issued to individual companies that are registered as domestic in the APR, in some cases it is a kind of network of related companies that have the same ultimate owner. BIRN has already mentioned some of these companies in an article on ore exploration in protected areas.

Most of them are companies with foreign management and capital, which mainly comes from Canada, Australia and China.

The formal owners of companies established in Serbia for this activity are in many cases companies based in offshore zones, such as the British Virgin Islands, Malta, Gibraltar and Luxembourg.

Also, what characterizes them is the frequent change of ownership structure and name, so it is not uncommon for an ore exploration company to be founded under one name and owner, and in a few years it will be a company with a completely different name and owner.

In many cases, this type of company was founded by lawyers who were their formal owners and directors for a while, and then the ownership was transferred to companies from abroad.

The following are the top 10 lists of leading companies that control most businesses in Serbia through a network of affiliated companies, as well as the area where ore deposits are searched.

1. Constantine Resources, Australia

Based on data published by the Ministry of Mining on its website, which was further processed and analyzed by BIRN Serbia, “Konstantin Resources” is the company with the largest area where ores are explored. It is an area of ​​71,089 hectares, which extends to 11 locations from Eastern Serbia, through Sumadija, to the far west of the country.

This company, whose focus is research on gold, silver and copper, was founded in Serbia on August 15, 2017, and in the meantime it has changed its ownership structure. At the time of its establishment, the company “West End Resources PTY LTD” from Australia was registered as its owner. However, in 2019, “Konstantin Resoruces PTY LTD” was registered as the new owner of the company, which changed its name in Australia and kept the same registration number.

During the registration, Vaughan Scott Wishar was listed as the legal representative and director of “Konstantin Resources” in Serbia, and several companies in the field of ore exploration and mining are connected in Australia. In the last change in the APR, on May 24, 2021, he was deleted as the legal representative of the Serbian branch.

2. Zijin, China

The Chinese mining conglomerate “Zijin” is conducting research in Serbia on a total area of ​​almost 60,000 hectares through four companies owned by it. According to the APR, Zijin could not be directly linked to all these companies, but the ownership of them is confirmed by a document published on the website of the Commission for Protection of Competition. It is a document in which the concentration of capital was decided and in which, among other things, the companies through which “Zijin” operates in Serbia are listed. These are “Balkan Exploration and Mining”, “Serbia Zijin Mining”, “Tilva” and “Serbia Zijin Bor Copper”.

“Balkan Exploration and Mining” had exploration permits on an area of ​​28,722 hectares, and the owner of this film in the APR was the company “Reservoir Consulting (BVI) Inc”, registered in the British Virgin Islands. This company received permits for ore exploration in the territory of the city of Belgrade, with a total area of ​​6,741 hectares. It is about the locality “Babe – Ljuta strana”, which covers the municipalities of Voždovac, Sopot and Barajevo, where the presence of lead, precious and non-ferrous metals was investigated. However, on February 22 this year, the Ministry of Mining announced that “Zijin” had given up on further research at this location.

Serbia Zijin Mining has permits for an exploration area of ​​18,841 hectares, and its formal owner is the Cukaru Peki BV company, registered in the Netherlands.

“Zijin’s” company “Tilva” has a permit for exploration on an area of ​​13,498 hectares, and the company of the same name registered in the British Virgin Islands is registered as its owner in APR.

Finally, the 5,267-hectare exploration area is controlled by Serbia Zijin Bor Copper, in which, in addition to Zijin-related companies, the Serbian government has a 36.99 percent stake.

3. Mundoro, Canada

The Canadian company “Mundoro” controls 51,744 hectares of exploration space in Serbia through the companies “Stara Planina Resources” and “Valdor Resources”.

The company “Stara Planina Resources” was founded in 2011, and since 2015 the owner of the company is “Mundoro Middelen B. V”, registered in the Netherlands, based in Canada. Mundoro in Canada also owns Great Mountain Ventures Ltd, which owns Valdor Resources, founded in Serbia in 2020. In all of these companies, both Serbian subsidiaries and in Canada, Teodora Dechev, an investment banker from Canada.

4. Dundee Precious Metals, Canada

Canadian mining giant Dundee Precious Metals operates in Serbia through two companies, which APR states are owned by Dundee Precious Avala SARL, registered in Luxembourg.

These are the companies “Dunav Minerals” and “DPM Avala”, which together have licenses for research on about 40,000 hectares. In Serbia, they have investigative spaces at nine locations, from Homolje in Eastern Serbia to the area around Kursumlija, Brus and Medvedja. By the way, these two companies initially operated separately, but later merged, and then they were taken over by “Dundee Precious Metals”.

5. Ibaera Capital, Australia

Ibaera Capital, an Australian investment fund specializing in ore exploration, is present in Serbia through Tara Gold and Zlatna Reka Resources, which together control 37,879 hectares.

“Tara Gold” was founded in 2016, and the company “Eldorado Gold Cooperatief U. A” from the Netherlands was registered as the owner. In the meantime, it became the property of the company “ISIHC Ltd”, registered in Great Britain.

“Golden River Resources” was founded in 2020 and its formal owner is “Betoota Holdings Ltd” from Great Britain. Both companies had the same director, Peder Olsen from Australia, for some time, and their ownership companies were registered at the same address in London. According to the data from the British business registers, the trail from London continues to the Cayman Islands, where the company “Ibaera Capital Fund GP Ltd” is registered, which also operates in Australia under the same name.

6. Balkan Metal Corp., Canada

The company “Balkan Metal Corp” from Canada in our country conducts ore research on a total area of ​​about 35,000 hectares through the company “Golden Age Resources” registered in Serbia on May 11, 2018. Zoran Bulović is registered as its first owner in APR. However, on April 6, 2022, the company changed its ownership structure, and the company “Balkan Metals Corp” from Vancouver was registered as the new owner in APR.

7. Jadar Lithium Ltd, Australia

The company “Jadar Lithium Ltd” from Australia is present in Serbia through the company “Balkan Research”, which has licenses for research of lithium and boron on an area of ​​33,692 hectares. It was founded on March 18, 2016, under the name “Nova Centauri Maetals”, and the Australian company of the same name was registered as the owner at that time.

In the meantime, the names and owners have changed. On July 2, 2019, the company changed its name to “Jadar Lithium”, and on September 13, 2021, it was registered under the name “Balkan Research”. At the same time, the owners from Australia changed. The company first passed into the hands of a company called Centralist PTY LTD, which was later taken over by South East Asia Resources and changed its name to Jadar Lithium Ltd ”.

8. Metalfer, Serbia

“Metalfer” is the only company from Serbia that is among the leading companies that explore ores in Serbia. It is a group that gathers several companies engaged in trade, processing and research of ores and metal products, whose headquarters are in Sremska Mitrovica. The company was founded in 2002, and its co-owners are Branko Zečević, Zoran Lojović and Stefan Zečević.

9. Medgold Resources, Canada

The Canadian company “Medgold Resources” is looking for ores through the Serbian branch of “Medgold Research”. It is a company based on the wave of the changed Law on Mining and Geological Research, which controls about 20,000 hectares of exploration space in the municipalities of Trgoviste and Bosilegrad.

They were registered in the APR on January 14, 2016, less than a month after the adoption of the said act. Lawyer Marko Curic is the first owner. As of November 25, 2021, the company is formally owned by the company “Tlamingo Mining” registered in Malta, but it is actually a subsidiary of the Canadian company “Medgold Resources”.

10. Euro Lithium Balkan, Canada

The Canadian company “Euro Lithium Balkan” is researching potential deposits of lithium and pine on an area of ​​almost 19,000 hectares in the vicinity of Valjevo, through a company of the same name registered in Serbia. The company was founded in 2015 under the name “GeoMin Consulting”. In the meantime, it changed its name to “Euro Lithium Balkan” and became the property of the mentioned company from Canada, BIRN writes.

Centerra and Kyrgyzstan Reach Agreement to Split

If implemented, the agreement would see the Canadian mining firm exit Kyrgyzstan after a tumultuous 20 years and Bishkek assume responsibility for the mine.

On April 4, Canadian mining firm Centerra Gold announced that it had reached an agreement with the Kyrgyz government, and Kyrgyzaltyn JCS, the state-owned mining company, which would see the Canadian firm exit the Central Asian state. The agreement was preceded by late March reports that the Kyrgyz government had approved such an agreement. At the time, however, the details were not known beyond the statement that they would fulfill the core terms outlined by the company earlier in the year when it confirmed it was in talks with Bishkek.

The agreement, to “effect a clean separation” includes the transfer of the Kumtor Mine and Centerra’s investments in Kyrgyzstan, the end of Kyrgyzaltyn’s involvement with Centerra, and the resolution of the standing disputes between Centerra and the Kyrgyz authorities.

In May 2021, Kyrgyz authorities moved to take control of the Kumtor Gold Mine, one of the country’s most lucrative assets. Long a flashpoint for nationalization calls, the seizure triggered a cascade of disputes that has led to this moment: Centerra looking to wash its hands of dealing with the Kyrgyz altogether.

Currently, Kyrgyzaltyn is Centerra’s largest single shareholder, with a 26.1 percent stake in the company. The announced agreement would see Kyrgyzaltyn transfer all of its 77.4 million shares to Centerra for cancellation for a purchase price of 972 million Canadian dollars (778.68 million U.S. dollars).

Kyrgyzstan would then receive from the Canadian firm 100 percent equity in its two Kyrgyz subsidiaries — the Kumtor Gold Company and Kumtor Operating Company — and assume responsibility for the Kumtor Gold Mine. This step includes a US$36 million cash payment, although $25 million would be withheld by Centerra for the Canadian tax authorities. The remaining $11 million would be paid out to Kyrgyzaltyn.

Upon closing of the agreement, Centerra would extinguish the inter-company balance between Centerra and the Kumtor Gold Company with a US$50 million payment. Kyrgyzaltyn’s two nominees to Centerra’s board would resign.

The agreement is contingent on the termination of all legal proceedings related to the Kumtor mine “with no admissions of liability.” These include all “ environmental, tax and other claims, fines, penalties or proceedings, including all criminal investigations and proceedings, in the Kyrgyz Republic” as well as the suspension of international arbitration proceedings. Centerra would agree to an order setting aside a February judgment in the Ontario Superior Court against Tengiz Bolturuk, a former member of the Centerra board of directors who, shortly after the Kyrgyz government seized control of the Kumtor Mine in May 2021, was put in charge of its operation. Centerra would then work to get its petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States dismissed.

Not only is the agreement contingent on the cessation of all legal bickering, but it requires approval from Centerra’s shareholders (excluding Kyrgyzaltyn, for obvious reasons). The company’s press release states that it expects to hold a shareholder meeting in the second quarter of 2022 (so, between now and the end of June) to consider the matter, after sending shareholders “full details” of the agreement, the relevant transactions, the company’s rationale, and the risks.

Importantly, the company’s press release notes that “there can be no assurance” that Kyrgyzaltyn and the Kyrgyz government will fulfill the obligations laid out in the agreement, nor can it be assured that Centerra’s stakeholders and the Ontario court will approve the agreement.

If all the necessary conditions are met, the results would be a complete split of Centerra Gold from Kyrgyzstan, bringing to an end a tumultuous 20-year relationship, Diplomat writes.

Armenia’s environmental crimes committed in Azerbaijani lands are said to cause $285 billion in damages

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev vowed to start legal proceedings at international courts to demand compensation for the damage and ecological terror committed by Armenians in the once occupied Azerbaijani territories.

The announcement was made at a video meeting with the newly appointed special representative of the Azerbaijani president in the Zangilan district.

The president outlined deforestation, illegal exploitation of gold reserves, and contamination of rivers as one of the ultimate examples of the environmental terror conducted by Armenians.

“Fifty to sixty thousand hectares of forest have been completely destroyed. We observed this via satellite. A process of deliberate deforestation was underway, especially in Kalbajar, Lachin, Zangilan and Gubadli districts. This, in fact, is savagery and looting,” President Aliyev was quoted as saying by his official website.

According to him, the world’s second-largest sycamore forest in Zangilan suffered seriously from deliberate deforestation and arson, which were also observed in the Kalbajar and Lachin districts even after the war in 2020. Moreover, the Okhchu River and the Vejnali gold deposit in Zangilan were also subjected to large-scale ecological terror and illegal exploitation.

“The illegal exploitation of the Vejnali gold deposit by foreigners, including foreigners of Armenian origin, will cost them dearly. We know the names of those people. We will expose them to the world and they will compensate us. They will definitely pay compensation for the damage,” President Aliyev said.

“We have now started all the legal procedures … Not a single crime will go unanswered. First, we are calculating all the damage, the process of passportization of all our cities and villages is underway. Video and photos of each building or the ruins of that building are being taken. This is proof, and we intend to appeal to international courts. Preparations are underway.”

According to the preliminary estimates, the amount of material damage caused by Armenians to Azerbaijan’s infrastructure, resources, and citizens totals $818 billion. The environmental crimes caused $285 billion in damages.

The Azerbaijani authorities have repeatedly voiced the unprecedented systematic deforestation activities in the Karabakh region, calling for an international investigation into the issue.

Meanwhile, five gold deposits and other natural resources of Azerbaijan in the once occupied territories have been intensively looted by the local Armenian companies and those invited from overseas. Companies such as Vallex Group, First Dynasty Mines, Base Metals, Lydian International, GeoProMining, Vedanta Group, and the Armenian-descent businessmen and entrepreneurs had been involved in illegal mining operations in the Azerbaijani lands. The Franck Muller luxury watch manufacturer company owned by a Swiss tycoon of Armenian origin, Vartan Sirmakes, used gold from the Soyudlu and the Vejnali deposits of Azerbaijan in the production of Frank Muller watches. Sirmakes has reportedly exploited gold worth $302 million.

The contamination of the Okhchu river, one of the eleven rivers of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh region, which is home to more than 30 percent of the country’s overall drinking water reserves, has also been a great concern for the Azerbaijani authorities over the years.

Baku blamed the Armenian authorities for not preventing the pollution of the river, the water of which is not used in Armenia and flows into Azerbaijan’s agriculturally important Araz River. The Okhchu river is said to be used as a “collector” by Armenia’s producers for sending away the industrial wastes from the country’s territory and causing agricultural, environmental, and humanitarian disasters in Azerbaijan. The analysis of the samples taken from the Okhchu river revealed many life-threatening elements in the water, including copper, molybdenum, manganese, iron, zinc, and chromium. According to the examination results, the amount of nickel in the river was seven times, iron four times, and copper-molybdenum two times higher than normal, Caspian News writes.

Petition against mining in Pombal

A total of 1,003 people have signed two petitions against “any type of prospecting, research or extraction of tripoli deposits and other minerals” in the localities of Casal da Rola and Casais do Porto, in the municipality of Pombal, district of Leiria.

In two information leaflets distributed among the population of the two villages and sent to Lusa agency, it is read that the Directorate-General for Energy and Geology (DGEG), on February 15, published a public notice that “aims at prospecting and researching deposits of tripoly minerals and other associated minerals by the company Clariant Ibérica Producción S.A.”.

According to the leaflets, when prospecting and research is allowed, the “peace that reigns” in the villages of Casal da Rola and Casais do Porto, in the parish of Louriçal, “will have its days numbered”.

“Harmful impact”

“The impact of a mineral exploration is harmful for any population and the return is illusory when compared to the harmful consequences that result from this type of exploration (earth movement, high traffic of machines and trucks, water pollution, environmental noise, pollution of the environment, air, destruction of the fauna and flora of our village and devaluation of the real estate heritage of the land adjacent to the quarry)”, adds the leaflet.

The documents appeal to land owners not to allow a company to access them and carry out “any type of collection/analysis”.

One of the signatories of the initiative, Catarina Soares, explained to Lusa that the petitions were sent to various entities, including the DGEG, the Attorney General’s Office and the Portuguese Environment Agency, with the knowledge of the Chamber and the Louriçal Council.

“Great power”

According to Catarina Soares, what worries her the most is “the fact that it is a multinational and that it has great power over the different institutions”.

“From the moment of authorisation of the requests, the company can proceed with the exploration request and then we automatically lose control of the situation”, considered Catarina Soares, Portugal News writes.