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What to See at ConExpo 2017: Caterpillar, Volvo and Terramac in the Gold Hall/Lot

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The big show is fast approaching, and ConExpo exhibitors have given us a sneak peek into what they’ll have in store for those attending the March 7-11 massive exhibition.  To view previous preview entries for ConExpo 2017 click here. Here’s the spotlight on three exhibitors in the Gold Hall/Lot areas:

Caterpillar, booth G-4490


The M317F wheeled excavator has a compact radius design that expands the versatility of the machine working in tight spaces. It will represent Cat’s new F Series line. (Caterpillar also has an indoor exhibit in the North Hall, N-10924.)

Other equipment on display: The 950GC wheel loader, which will be compared to the full-featured 950M; the Cat Command remote control system for the D8T; a 988K wheel loader with Cat Command; the 309.9D Versatile Power System with H25 Hammer; and 304.5E2 Extra Tool carrier, which includes a skid steer loader coupler interface in place of a traditional dozer blade.

Booth activities: In-booth teleremote control of a D8T dozer working near Peoria, Illinois. Demonstrations of line-of-sight remote control systems for skid steers.

Volvo Construction Equipment, booth G-3894


In its outdoor booth, Volvo will showcase its compact equipment and attachments, including the EC60Ecompact excavator. (Volvo’s indoor display is in the North Hall, booth N-10036.)

Booth activities: Pan for gold with stars of Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush and get photos and autographs from the crew. Win cash prizes in hands-on contests on the two compact excavators. Experience what it’s like to steer a crew on the high seas with the Volvo Ocean Race simulated game.

Terramac, booth G-1716


Four Terramac crawler carriers will be on display, including the RT14R (pictured), along with several attachments, including a hydroseeder for environmental restoration and a digger derrick. The company’s rubber track technology enables units to exert the low ground pressure necessary for environmental work even at full capacity. Flotation from the units’ rubber tracks leave a minimal footprint while also reducing slippage in rugged terrain.

Booth activities: Product demonstrations and the unveiling of a new crawler carrier.

Gold Price: ETF Investors Start 2017 With Massive Offload


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Gold made the most of the first full trading day of the year, jumping to a three-week high, but investors in gold exchange traded funds continued to dump the metal in huge numbers.

Gold for delivery in February, the most active contract on the Comex market in New York, hit a high of $1,166 an ounce in late morning trade, before paring some of those gains to settle at the highest level since December 14.

Gold is up nearly $40 an ounce since hitting post-election lows of $1,124 mid-December, but remains down nearly $180 from an initial but brief surge on election night.

Since the election investors in top physical gold-backed exchange traded fund – SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEARCA: GLD) – have dumped a net 135.8 tonnes. Since November 9, GLD has not enjoyed a single day of net purchases – on Tuesday, investors pulled out another 8.3 tonnes of the yellow metal.

GLD dwarfs other physically-backed gold ETFs holding more than 45% of the global total. GLD vaults now hold 813.5 tonnes or 26.2 million ounces; worth just over $30.1 billion. That’s down more than $13 billion from the 2016 peak hit early July as the gold price retreats and investors liquidate their holdings.

GOLD: Barrick Puts Wi-Fi Underground at Cortez Mine

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NEVADA – One of the first mines to benefit from Barrick Gold’s decision to go digital across all its operations is the Cortez gold mine 100 km southwest of Elko. Here the company has installed Wi-Fi underground with many potential productivity benefits.

Barrick described the benefits in the recent issue of Beyond Borders:

Building an underground Wi-Fi network expands the amount of data that can be collected and analyzed from underground. For example, operators will be able to track data such as equipment and personnel locations in real time, the number of bucket scoops per haul truck and where ore is going.

Safety will also be bolstered, as Wi-Fi will facilitate the use of tele-remote and autonomous technology that will allow miners to operate equipment from the surface via remote control. This will enhance safety because it will significantly reduce the amount of time miners spend underground, reducing their exposure to mining related risks. The use of these technologies will also minimize interruptions in the mining cycle because mine personnel won’t have to be cleared from the underground in order to blast. Wi-Fi will also allow the installation of technology that empowers shift supervisors to more efficiently deploy personnel and equipment at the beginning of a shift. This will reduce shift changeover and start-up times.

In terms of maintenance, the goal is to provide on-demand service in real time. If a piece of equipment breaks down, communication with a subject expert or vendor located on surface, or even off site, via a Wi-Fi-enabled tablet, will be possible. The expert will be able to see the equipment, help identify the issue and deliver a solution. If required, a part could be ordered directly through the mine’s Oracle database system from the tablet that the underground technician is using. The work order would be processed automatically, and the service disruption would be kept to a minimum. While full integration of back office systems is the longer term goal, underground operators are already able to communicate with and receive support from experts in Elko – or anywhere else in the world –  using real-time video chat.

To enable Wi-Fi underground, Barrick partnered with Cisco to standardize equipment and create a robust network that is simple to install. No specialized equipment or specialists are needed to install it.

Network cables were threaded 365 metres below the earth’s surface. These cables connect to one of six main distribution frames that service different levels of the mine. These frames collect data from different equipment underground such as pumps and air quality stations. Internet connectivity is delivered via the access points, which are made by Cisco. The access points transmit Wi-Fi signals approximately 100 metres, from one point to the next. However, as the system goes into the deeper, in parts of the mine where access points are farther from the distribution frame, data transmission speed is reduced.

To resolve this issue, copper wiring was used to buttress data transmission speeds between access points when the network was first rolled out. However, it is more costly and difficult to install than fiber or cat 5e wiring, a type of Ethernet cable.

Another challenge is to maintain data transmission speeds with equipment operating on the fringes of the network. The introduction of a combination of fiber optic cables and battery solutions is used to resolve the problem. The fiber optic cables will maintain data transmission speeds and also power access points. Specialized batteries that can last up to seven days will power portable access points installed on the equipment itself. This will allow equipment to transmit data from the rock face while maintaining data throughput speeds.

Massive 3,000-year-old Celtic gold belt found in British farmer’s field

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A huge 3,000-year-old Celtic golden belt, so large that it’s believed to have been worn by a pregnant woman or a prized animal in the course of a sacrifice, has been unearthed in a Cambridgeshire field, in Eastern England.

According to the British Museum, the torc is one of the largest and most spectacular ever discovered in England, and it is one of thousands of archaeological finds made by members of the public last year.

The thick twisted band, found by an anonymous treasure hunter walking with his metal detector, is made from 730 grams of high-grade gold.

While torcs are usually described as collars, longer ones are believed to have been worn as belts. For the Iron Age Celts, the gold torc seems to have been a key object, identifying the wearer as a person of high rank, and many of the finest works of ancient Celtic art are, in fact, torcs.


Zinc shoots to 8-year high on expected metal deficit

Mine closures pushing up the price

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The last time the benchmark zinc price was this high, Americans were in the throws of an election that saw Barack Obama defeat George W. Bush.

Worries about mine closures have sent the metal used for galvanizing steel on a wild ride; the benchmark zinc price rose 2.1% today to $2,725 a tonne, which is the highest it’s been since March of 2008. The 30-day spot zinc price was at $1.20 a pound, 11.2% higher than it was a month ago. Chinese funds in particular are piling into zinc.


Apart from steelmaking raw materials iron ore and coking coal, zinc is the best performing mined commodity in 2016; the benchmark price has nearly doubled (up 90%) since it fell to a 6.5-year low in January of $1,444.40 a tonne.

What’s driving the surge? Mine closures. Last year two major mines closed – Australia’s Century and the Lisheen mine in Ireland. The two mines had a combined output of more than 630,000 tonnes. The shuttering of top zinc producer Glencore’s (LON:GLEN) depleted Brunswick and Perseverance mines in Canada in 2012 brings total tonnes going offline since 2013 to more than a million tonnes.

At the end of October Glencore added another lead and zinc mine to the list, its Black Star open-pit mine at Mount Isa in Queensland, Australia.

Reuters survey predicts the zinc market will be in deficit this year by 400,000 tonnes, which portends more good news for the price. Although, dark clouds could be swirling for zinc bulls in the form of zinc inventories built up in London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses. Reuters notes that Macquarie, an Australian investment bank, estimates 1.4 million tonnes of zinc could trickle into the market, thus offsetting the expected supply deficit.

Shanghai Metals Market (SMM), a Chinese market intelligence site, is sanguine on the zinc price for the medium term, predicting that zinc smelters may have to suspend production in the first quarter of 2017 due to falling material inventories.

This may help LME zinc breach $3,000 per tonne, $3,500 per tonne, or even higher. Nonetheless, there are still some uncertainties from macroeconomic front, such as liquidity, investment, US dollar and Chinese yuan’s trend, according to SMM.


Gold Price Is Tumbling, Iron Ore Price Leaps, Warnings As Copper Price Surge Continues

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Gold dropped to a five-month low Friday as the post-election price surge collapsed and investors redirect funds into industrial commodities and the stock market.

Gold for delivery in December dropped to a session low of $1,223.40 an ounce in morning trading on the Comex market in New York, down over $40 an ounce or 3% from Thursday’s close.

The metal touched a high of $1,338 late on Tuesday, but the rally in record volumes for the Comex market, soon evaporated.

The Financial Times reports a number of prominent hedge fund managers and billionaires running family offices have moved aggressively out of gold and into stocks following the election.

The gold price has an inverse correlation to interest rates as the metal is not income producing and investors have to rely on price appreciation for returns. Higher interest rates also boosts the dollar which usually move in the opposite direction of the gold price.

Gold stayed on the defensive, beset by enhanced growth expectations as… investors took on the view that the pro-growth policies of a new administration were good for paper assets


Gold’s performance is in stark contrast to predictions ahead of the election with many analysts seeing gold reaching $1,500 or beyond, citing increased safe haven buying as a major reason behind an upswing.

The rise in bond yields is not good for gold unless accompanied by a similar rise in inflation. The chart below shows that the move so far in 10-year bond yields has seen the real yield rise to 0.25% – the highest level since June.

Low real yields have provided a major source of support for gold this year, but depending on inflation expectations, this source of support has at least for now been sharply reduced.

Rising US bond yields and the brewing emerging markets crisis has seen strong demand for dollars post the election, and this marks yet another gold-negative development.


Rising US bond yields and the brewing emerging markets crisis has seen strong demand for dollars post the election, and this marks yet another gold-negative development

The import price of 62% Fe content ore at the port of Tianjin surged 7.4% to $79.70 per dry metric tonne on Thursday as the US presidential election added fuel to the fire of iron ore’s almost a month of unbroken gains.


According to The Steel Index an unnamed Australian miner sold 62% Fe Newman fines on the globalORE platform for $80.65.

Lower grade fines at the port of Qingdao shot up a whopping 12.4% on Friday to trade at $68.20 a tonne. 58% Fe content iron ore has risen 36% over the last four weeks while 65% Fe at the same Chinese port jumped to $91.70 a tonne.

On the Dalian Commodities Exchange in China iron ore futures again reached it’s daily price change limit of 6% to trade at over $90 a tonne.


While gold’s initial rally following the US presidential election has evaporated, the rally in industrial metals continued on Friday with the copper price jumping to a 17-month high.


In pre-regular hours trade on Friday copper for delivery in December gained 4% from Thursday’s close trading as high as $2.6525 per pound ($5,847 a tonne) in New York, the highest since mid-June 2015.

Copper has risen during 14 of the last 15 trading sessions, adding 27% in the process. After underperforming other metals and steelmaking raw materials in 2016, copper is now firmly in bull market territory with a 24.5% rise year-to-date.

The current upturn in the copper price is vulnerable to a correction in investor sentiment or profit-taking

In a research note Capital Economics cautions copper bulls that despite encouraging signs of falling warehouse stocks and the effect of recent production outages, the current upturn in the copper price is vulnerable to a correction in investor sentiment or profit-taking.



Product of the Week: Caterpillar’s updated 992K wheel loader

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Caterpillar says its recently updated Cat 992K Wheel Loader is designed to lower fuel costs by as much as 21 percent compared to previous models and increase operating efficiency with features such as the On-Demand Throttle arrangement that automatically manages engine speed, combining the efficiency of a manual throttle with ergonomic throttle lock operation.

The wheel loader is powered by an 801-horsepower Cat C32 ACERT engine that can be configured to meet U.S. EPA Tier 4 Final/EU Stage IV or U.S. EPA Tier 2/EU Stage IIa emissions regulations. The loader’s 14-16 cubic-yard bucket capacities offer a standard lift payload of 24 tons and high-lift payload of 21 tons.

Matched to load a Cat 775 in three passes and a Cat 777 in four passes, the 992K now offers Cat Production Measurement (CPM), the advanced payload weight measuring system that promotes cost-effective hauling by helping loader operators minimize truck under-loading and overloading.

The loader is built fire suppression ready and features fall protection tie-offs that provide fall arrest for service technicians. The 992K design includes turn signals and hazard lights, a bi-directional emergency gate, wheel chocks, and mid-rails. New performance-enhancing features include pump efficiency monitoring, improved fluid filtration, and coolant-loss monitoring. Cat Advansys G.E.T adapters maximize loader uptime with fast, hammerless installation and removal of ground engaging tools.

The cab features joystick controls and an updated information display with a color graphical touch screen. Additional features include centralized service centers and ground level access points to speed up service and reduce exposure to falls. The Vital Information Management System (VIMS) monitors machine health and provides operating information on critical loader functions for operators, service personnel, and fleet managers.

Bar Tread Track for Cat® 239D, 249D and 259D Compact Track Loaders

Caterpillar is pleased to announce the availability of a bar-style rubber track factory option for the 239D, 249D and 259D Compact Track Loader models. Similar to the conventional ‘block’ tread rubber track, the internal construction of the bar- tread rubber track incorporates steel imbeds and longitudinal steel cords. However, the bar-tread rubber track option differentiates itself in its ability to minimize ground disturbance and provide low ground pressure, making it ideal for landscapers who perform finish grade work. The new bar-style option features a 400 mm (15.7 in) tread with narrowly spaced bars. This leaves behind a series of narrow, parallel ridges that

are easily knocked down with a rake prior to installing sod or other finished product. The bar-style rubber track tread also offers extra traction when operating in snow, especially compared to the traditional ‘block’ tread pattern. The bar- style track will allow these CTL models to be even more versatile by making jobs, such as grading or snow clearing, less time-consuming and less intensive.

The bar-style tread tracks are also being released as service replacement parts. They can be used as a direct service replacement for the block-style tread CTL track offering and can be retrofitted directly to the models listed below. No additional undercarriage modifications are required when retrofitting these tracks.



Bar-style tread tracks are available as indicated in the tables below.

Bar Tread Track Part Number

Price List Option




Track – Bar Tread (400 mm/15.7 in width)

239D, 249D


Track – Bar Tread (400 mm/15.7 in width)


*Available with November 2015 build. Sanford will accommodate configuration changes to orders within the normal order change guidelines where possible.

Service Part Number





Track – Bar Tread (400 mm/15.7 in width)

239D, 249D



Track – Bar Tread (400 mm/15.7 in width)

259D, 259B3

November 2015

For additional information contact:

SSL/MTL/CTL Product Marketing

Kevin Coleman

Sr. Project Engineer – Americas North and South, Australia (919) 465-2774

Jeff Brown

Sr. Project Engineer – Americas North and South, Australia (919) 465-2818

S. Henry Long

Sr. Project Engineer – Europe, Africa, Middle East +44 1455 825712

“Space.. The Final Frontier”

Mining robots key to colonizing Mars — Elon Musk

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SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk, who last month revealed details of his ambitious plans to get at least a million people to Mars, said mining robots will be a key part of the planned colonization of the red planet.

In reply to several inquiries during a question-and-answer “AMA” session on Reddit on Sunday, the tech billionaire — who also heads electric-vehicle specialist Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) — highlighted the vital role mining equipment is set to play when it comes to help people establish their homes in Mars.

Musk envisions geodesic domes on the surface that would have additional areas digged out below the surface by mining robots.

He said he envisions geodesic domes on the surface made with glass panes supported by carbon fibre frames. Such structures would have additional areas mined out below the surface by robots for “industrial” uses.

“Initially, glass panes with carbon fibre frames to build geodesic domes on the surface, plus a lot of miner/tunnelling droids,” Musk wrote. “With the latter, you can build out a huge amount of pressurized space for industrial operations and leave the glass domes for green living space.”

Concerning transporting those heavy machines as well as materials and people, Musk said that the first crewed mission would have about a dozen people, who will be tasked with building out and troubleshooting the propellant plant and Mars Base Alpha power system once it lands.

He also said it would be a year or two before the company releases mock-ups of habitation environments.


What a drone sees flying through a stope

The use of drones never ceases to amaze me, and oftentimes, I sit back and say, “why didn’t I think of that?” Who knew that the use of a drone could be put to such good use?

The original story appeared here:

Newmarket Gold (TSX-NMI) is developing a drone to inspect open stopes, map walls and conduct emergency response.

The video of the drone flight, posted by Newmarket Gold, was shot in the company’s Fosterville Mine.

“We designed and built our own drone last year,” said Ion Hann, Mine Manager of the Fosterville Gold Mine.

“The aim was to develop a way of inspecting our open stopes for misfires etc and to geologically map the walls where possible to reconcile visuals against the model.

“We hope to get to the stage where a drone becomes standard kit for our emergency response teams—especially in search and rescue in the underground environment. We think the possibilities here are tremendous. The opportunities of using the unit to assist with operator training on the job are also apparent, i.e. the unit sending live feed back to a trainer while an operator bogs a heading.”

Hann says the ultimate goal is to get the unit fully autonomous so that it can perform mine re-entry duties and site inspection duties while operators are still on the surface at shift change.

The unit has a range of about 150 metres line of sight and a bit less when going around corners.

Hat tip, Mining Mayhem