Toronto mining company hits $15M worth of gold — in rare Australian nickel mine find - Canadanewsmedia
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Toronto mining company hits $15M worth of gold — in rare Australian nickel mine find

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When Mark Selby received an email in the middle of the night that his mining company had struck what may be the two largest gold nuggets ever discovered, he was shocked.

"Needless to say, I didn't get back to bed last night," the president of the Toronto-based company RNC Minerals told As It Happens host Carol Off from Seoul, South Korea.  

On Sunday, RNC Minerals announced that over the past week approximately 9,250 ounces of gold has been extracted from Beta Hunt mine in Australia — worth about $15 million.

"We've made … we think one of the best gold discoveries in Western Australia," Selby said.  

Among the gold specimens were two gold-encrusted rocks, or "nuggets." The largest is 95 kilograms and contains approximately 2,440 ounces of gold.

The gold in the one nugget is worth $4 million.

Gold can be seen in the Beta Hunt mine. (RNC MInerals)

The second gold-encrusted rock is 63 kilograms and contains an estimated 1,620 ounces of gold. It's thought to be worth approximately $2.6 million.

Miners in Australia often only extract about two grams of gold per tonne of rock, Sam Spearing of the Western Australia School of Mines at Curtin University told the BBC. RNC Minerals said it had extracted 2,200 grams per tonne.  

The rocks, which are also made of quartz, were extracted about 500 metres from the surface in an area just three metres wide.

The entire haul, Selby said, was also extracted from a relatively small area.

"To give people context … out of about your living room, we pulled out $15 million worth of gold," he said.

'Once-in-a-lifetime discovery'

The senior geologist on the job, Zaf Thanos, told Australia's ABC News that it's usually only possible to see gold through a magnifying glass in most mines.

"You might go your whole life and you'll never see anything like it. It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime discovery," he said.

What's even more surprising about the discovery is the mine, located near the small mining town of Kambalda, has been used as a nickel mine since the 1970s. RNC Minerals is the first to mine for gold.

Mark Selby said the company will likely sell the gold specimens to collectors. (RNC Minerals)

The Canadian company's share prices have doubled since the discovery was announced.  

Australia has a royalty on any minerals found in the country, so the Australian government will receive 2.5 per cent of anything RNC Minerals makes.

Just the tip of the 'iceberg'

Selby said the large gold nuggets will be auctioned off to collectors, with the hope of making a couple extra million dollars for the company.

The rest of the gold has already been sent to the mint.  

As for what's next, Selby is confident there is more gold to be discovered as there are still a couple kilometres of the mine left the search.

"We hope there's a very big iceberg underneath that tip," he said  

Written by Sarah Jackson. Interview with Mark Selby produced by Richard Raycraft. 

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BlackBerry to buy cybersecurity company Cylance for $1.4 billion

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WATERLOO, Ont. — Blackberry Ltd. has announced it is acquiring an artificial intelligence and cybersecurity company for US$1.4 billion cash.

Blackberry says pending regulatory approvals and closing conditions, the deal to acquire California-based Cylance is expected to close before the end of the fiscal year in February 2019.

The company says the deal also includes the assumption of Cylance’s unvested employee incentives.

Blackberry says Cylance is a pioneer in applying artificial intelligence, algorithmic science and machine learning to cybersecurity software.

Cylance will operate as a separate business unit within BlackBerry.

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Metro Vancouver mayors cancel Surrey LRT in favour of SkyTrain

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Light rail in Surrey is officially dead on arrival, after a vote by Metro Vancouver mayors in favour of SkyTrain at their first post-election gathering.

The vote was made at a packed four-hour meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation on Thursday in New Westminster.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, whose Safe Surrey coalition won the Oct. 20 municipal election on a promise to cancel light rail in favour of SkyTrain, had made a lengthy appeal for the change.

“We did extensive consulting… I did not see on single person who was for light rail,” said McCallum. “It was all, all for SkyTrain.

“Our goal was to support the 10-year plan, but change the technology from light rail to SkyTrain. We also wanted to switch the money that was allocated for light rail… to SkyTrain and that was passed today.”

The mayors’ council had allocated $1.65 billion for the Surrey-Newton-Guildford section of light rail, which would have spanned 10.5 kilometres and had a completion date of 2024.

The provincial and federal governments have each committed 40 per cent of the capital costs as for the $7.3-billion second phase of the mayors’10-year transportation plan, with the region paying the remaining 20 per cent.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie fiercely opposed the decision to “throw away” years of work and millions of dollars already spent on exploring light rail.

“Surely we’re going to have to have the same analysis to change this decision to SkyTrain as we had to make it LRT,” Brodie said.

“The fact is we don’t have enough money in this phase. How are we going to do it? We need to know about the additional cost for the new approach.”

But Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said mayors should be guided by the past council’s decision, not bound by it.

“The people of Surrey, though a democratic process, have come forward and said, ‘We want this change,’” Stewart said.

The question remains on cost

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond has said senior government would agree to fund SkyTrain instead of light rail, but he was clear on Thursday that consultation, an investment plan and a business case still all had to be completed before money could change projects.

The council voted for TransLink to begin plans for a SkyTrain line connecting Surrey to Langley along Fraser Highway – something McCallum believed could be done for the $1.65 million allocated to Surrey-Newton-Guildford light rail.

A light rail line along Fraser Highway was estimated at $1.95 billion, although only $30 million has been committed for pre-design work on the line.

TransLink’s latest estimate for SkyTrain along Fraser Highway, however, was $2.92 billion.

Desmond said he wasn’t sure how McCallum planned to save $965 million, saying TransLink has done the math “using widely accepted factors and methodology.”

“That said, if Surrey and [the Langleys] want us to look at an alternative construction method in order to save money, we will.”

McCallum said he was confident all 27 kilometres of rail could be built as SkyTrain, for no more than the $3.5 billion estimated for light rail in the region, with one way to do it being building it at ground level, along agricultural land by Fraser Highway.

Next steps for TransLink

The lack of details on cost estimates, design and timeline available on Thursday left some mayors concerned.

“This approach is setting a very, very dangerous precedent,” Brodie said. “It seems to me that there are a lot of aspects that we need to review,” including what would happen to the Surrey-Newton-Guildford line with money reallocated to a Fraser Highway SkyTrain.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver mayors face tough decision on SkyTrain versus light rail

READ MORE: Surrey council unanimously passes motion to ‘cancel ’ LRT

READ MORE: New federal deal unlocks $2.2B in TransLink cash

Newly-elected council chair Jonathan Cote said Surrey rail might be in flux, but all other projects in phase two are moving ahead as scheduled.

TransLink staff will bring a “work plan” to the next mayors’ council meeting on Dec. 13, though Desmond acknowledged it was unlikely to contain any cost estimates.

He said the plan would allow mayors to make decisions on the business case and development work for a Fraser Highway SkyTrain, as well as rejigging the South of the Fraser Rapid Transit plan adopted in 2012.

More to come.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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China hotels apologise after video reveals hygiene horrors

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Residents passes by The Peninsula hotel in Beijing which announced on Friday that it was investigating claims in an online video that supposedly showed the hotel cleaners using dirty towels to wipe cups and sinks. (AP photo)

Luxury Chinese hotels run by Hilton, Marriott and several other chains apologised for unhygienic practices after a video went viral on the internet showing housekeeping staff using the same sponges to clean cups and sinks, and wiping down bathroom surfaces with guest towels.

The statements came after an 11-minute video was posted on Weibo, a popular social networking site, claiming to show hidden-camera footage of cleaning staff at hotels operated by Shangri-La Asia, Hilton Worldwide Holdings and others. The video has gotten 29 million views and elicited tens of thousands of comments and shares.

An activist blogger who uses the pseudonym “Huazong” posted the video. He calls the problem long-standing and widespread, and writes that he spent 2,000 nights at 147 hotels over six years.

State broadcaster CCTV aired video of uniformed inspectors at an unidentified hotel flashing their ID cards and holding a drinking glass up to the light to inspect it.

Hidden-camera videos of housekeeping staff behaving badly at Chinese luxury hotels surface on social media every six months or so, according to Shaun Rein, founder of China Market Research Group in Shanghai. Worker shortages and low pay make it hard for hotels to pressure employees to follow the rules, as they can just quit and find jobs elsewhere.

“They don’t get very good workers and people don’t stay very long,” Rein said. “I shudder to think what the three-star hotels are like.”

Bulgari Hotel Shanghai, which is run by Marriott International, apologised in a statement posted on Thursday on Weibo, saying it will investigate and take appropriate action. A similar apology came from The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which said it would strengthen room-check rules, and work with government to respond.

The video, which was posted on Wednesday, shows a housekeeper at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Shanghai using a single sponge to clean cups and the sink. The housekeeper then takes the same sponge and cleans the toilet, according to text shown in the video. The hotel chain apologised in a statement posted to Weibo.

At the Bulgari Hotel in Shanghai, a worker is shown reusing a plastic-cup cover fished out of a garbage bin. A worker at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Shanghai uses a gel that the video describes as shampoo to clean cups.

The Peninsula hotel in Beijing said on Friday that city food and drug administration officials had conducted an on-site examination of cups the previous day and found them cleaner than standards required. The cups were sent for further tests, the hotel said in a statement on its Weibo account.

“The hotel will still take measures to strengthen the implementation of the standard procedures for room service staff to ensure all aspects meet the established standards of the Peninsula,” the statement said.

The Shangri-La Hotel in Fuzhou said the actions in the video violate its hygiene standards, while the Park Hyatt in Beijing called it an isolated occurrence.

A statement issued on Thursday by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism said “all levels of cultural and tourism authorities should draw inferences and give high priority to the supervision of tourism service quality.”

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