China’s shift to high-grade iron ore isn’t set in stone – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – March 22, 2018)

A comfortable consensus is emerging in the iron ore market that China’s vast steel industry has undergone a structural change that has resulted in quality iron ore gaining a permanent advantage over lower grades.

Certainly the common theme of presentations at this week’s Global Iron Ore and Steel Forecast Conference in Perth was that the current premium of ore with a higher iron content is now a defining characteristic of China’s market.

This shift matters as China buys about two-thirds of global seaborne iron ore, with the vast majority of the annual demand of more than 1 billion tonnes coming from Australia and Brazil, with South Africa a distant third. Continue Reading →

Antwerp’s humble diamantaires – by Estelle Hakner (Geographical – March 22, 2018)

Diamonds are perhaps the least modest of all jewels. But, in Antwerp, they have attracted a community known for its humility

On the outskirts of Antwerp, in the Wilrijk neighbourhood, a piece of India stands tall and serene: a magnificent and intricately ornate temple made from 3,500 tons of white, hand-carved Makrana marble, the same as that used in the Taj Mahal.

At its entrance, an Indian man in a white robe, no shoes and a square piece of cloth over his mouth sweeps the path before him as he walks, brushing away any insects so as not to tread on them. The cloth square on his mouth is a muhapatti and stops him accidentally inhaling and killing organisms in the air.

This regal and elaborate temple belongs to the Jains – a community that, since the early 1970s, has had an ever-growing presence in Belgium’s Flemish city. Guided by principles of non-possession and non-violence, they traditionally live in a way that does not harm other living beings. Continue Reading →

Zimbabwe hopes to transform mining sector with $4.2 billion platinum deal – by MacDonald Dzirutwe (Reuters U.S. – March 22, 2018)

HARARE (Reuters) – A Cypriot investor signed a $4.2 billion deal on Thursday to develop a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe, an investment that President Emmerson Mnangagwa said showed the country was “open for business”.

Signing the agreement with Cyprus-based Karo Resources, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said work would start in July, with the first output of platinum group metals expected in 2020, aiming to reach 1.4 million ounces annually within three years.

It was unclear, however, where all the funding would come from and analysts said the project start date of July looked very ambitious. Continue Reading →

RNC mulls selling Aussie mine to focus on massive cobalt-nickel project in Quebec – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – March 22, 2018)

Canada’s RNC Minerals (TSX: RNX) said Thursday it might sell all or part of its Beta Hunt gold and nickel mine in Western Australia to focus instead on its Dumont cobalt and nickel project in Quebec, the world’s largest undeveloped reserve of both metals.

The Toronto-based miner, which acquire Beta Hunt in 2016, said while it has grew the scale of the operation ever since, such asset is now considered to be non-core to RNC, particularly since Dumont’s potential value is significantly greater than the Australian mine’s current worth.

The company, however, did say it would consider other strategic alternatives for Beta Hunt, adding that no decision about the mine future has been made at the time. Continue Reading →


THUNDER BAY, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, on behalf of the Executive Council, applauds the landmark funding announced today for a major First Nation led infrastructure project, as Wataynikaneyap Power was awarded $1.6 billion to connect remote First Nation communities to the provincial power grid.

“This is a major achievement, and I honour the determination of Wataynikaneyap Power to bring reliable supplies of electricity to our remote First Nations. Wataynikaneyap has made tremendous progress connecting 16 remote First Nations to the provincial electricity grid in the first phase of this project, and we are pleased that Ontario has funded the expansion of this vital infrastructure to more remote communities.

Connecting our remote First Nations to the provincial energy grid will finally end their reliance on costly and dirty diesel generation and help bring health and economic benefits to our communities.” Continue Reading →

Will the Ring of Fire’s ferrochrome smelter end up in the Michigan Soo? – by David Helwig (Soo Today – March 21, 2018)

Ontario Sault politicians are scratching their heads over a meeting planned next month in Toronto to announce a potential ferrochrome processing plant in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

At the Civic Centre tonight, a half-dozen city councillors told SooToday they had absolutely no knowledge of the Apr. 5 gathering at the swank Design Exchange museum, located in Toronto’s original stock exchange building at 234 Bay St.

“The Ring of Fire Limited Partnership cordially invites you to join Doug Ford, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party; with the Honourable Maxime Bernier opposition critic for innovation, science and economic development; and Jason Gauthier of the Missinabie Cree First Nation to review the virtues of making ferrochrome in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan for a new North American stainless steel joint-venture with Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario,” said the invitation. Continue Reading →

Indonesia says mining firm cost state US$4 billion – by Konradus Epa (UCA News – March 21 2018)

UCA News is an Asia-based independent Catholic news source.

Indonesia’s anti-graft body has billed environmental destruction as an official state loss for the first time, citing the case of a nickel mining company in Sulawesi province amid fears of mismanagement in the sector.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said recently the damage wrought by PT Anugrah Harisma Barakah in Kabena Island, in the southeast of the province, has cost the government an estimated US$4 billion.

The company was granted the right to exploit 3,000 hectares of land but it has destroyed the ecosystem of the island and jeopardized oil deposits, officials claim. Continue Reading →

Political consensus for carbon tax has gone but Liberals stay on course – by John Ivison (National Post – March 21. 2018)

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals seemed to be on to a winner with the idea that they would win social licence for a new pipeline on the West Coast by introducing a carbon pricing plan.

Polls suggested this compact had the support of majorities in every region.

But in recent days, there has been a great deal of noise about the plan unraveling, as the Alberta and B.C. governments slugged it out over the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and as the election of carbon tax opponent Doug Ford as the new leader of the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario raised questions about the participation of the largest province. Continue Reading →

As Commodities Roar, Africa Wants Bigger Slice of Mining Pie -by Thomas Biesheuvel and Thomas Wilson (Bloomberg News – March 22, 2018)

One by one, the biggest names in African mining are getting squeezed. The tactics might be blunt, but the message is clear: the countries where they operate want a bigger share of the proceeds.

The collapse in commodities through 2015 hobbled some of Africa’s biggest resource economies, stunting growth and leaving budgets short. Since then a recovery in prices has sent the continent’s biggest miners soaring, boosted profits and rewarded shareholders with bumper payouts. But a lack of returns to governments is drawing a backlash from Mali in the Sahara to Tanzania on the Indian Ocean.

Zambia is the latest flash point. Africa’s second-biggest copper producer slapped a $7.9 billion tax assessment on First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and said it’s planning an audit of other miners in the country. Companies operating in Zambia include units of Glencore Plc and Vedanta Resources Plc. Continue Reading →

U.S. role in Ring of Fire proposed by KWG Resources – by Elaine Della-Mattia (Sault Star/Sudbury Star – March 22, 2018)

A company with a stake in the Ring of Fire says the way to get the far north development to “come alive” is by doing business with the United States.

KWG Resources president Frank Smeenk told Postmedia that it’s time to look at the political realities of today and the future and the regulatory environments and what it all means to the massive mining development for the Ring of Fire.

KWG Resources is a mining exploration company with some land claim rights in the Ring of Fire. It wants to ensure that the mineral deposits extracted from the Ring of Fire — expected to last 100 years — are not subject to political whims in the future. Smeenk said his plan is to advance his ideas and concepts to supporters at an event to be held in Toronto on April 5. Continue Reading →

Canadian miners struggle with wave of African tax increases – by Niall McGee and Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – March 22, 2018)

A wave of African tax increases is engulfing some of Canada’s biggest mining companies, leaving them scrambling to negotiate with newly assertive governments that have lost patience with traditional tax deals.

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. is the latest Canadian company to be hit with a massive tax bill. Zambian authorities have told the company to pay an additional US$8-billion in taxes and penalties for failing to pay proper duties on imported supplies over the past five years.

First Quantum’s chief executive, Philip Pascall, admitted on Wednesday that he had been completely blindsided by the shock announcement. “I literally heard about this the day before yesterday,” he told investors in a conference call as he tried to mollify their concerns. Continue Reading →

Chemical, mining industries say rail backlog causing plant shutdowns, lost sales – by Eric Atkins (Globe and Mail – March 22, 2018)

The rail backlog that has angered the North American grain industry and led to the ouster of one railway chief has spread to chemical and metals companies, who say unreliable train service is causing plant shutdowns and lost sales.

Bob Masterson, chief executive of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, said inadequate rail service has disrupted production at 13 plants, including five that had “complete shutdowns.” Eight companies said the rail problems extended to their customers, who also had to halt production because of delayed train deliveries, he said, declining to identify the companies.

Teck Resources Ltd., a miner that says it is the biggest customer of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. and the country’s biggest rail shipper, claimed rail service failures have cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade. Continue Reading →

The Lithium Sector Surge Is Poised to Ignite a Deals Bonanza – by David Stringer, Jack Farchy and Crystal Tse (Bloomberg News – March 21, 2018)

The tripling in lithium prices over three years is poised to fuel a multi-billion dollar rush of deals as major players jostle for dominance to supply the metal needed for the electric vehicle battery revolution.

China’s expected to lead a mergers and acquisition bonanza as companies seek to wrest more control of the market from Western rivals. The Asian nation accounted for more than half of global electric vehicle sales last year, which exceeded 1 million for the first time. And that’s just a taster of what’s to come as the government targets 7 million vehicles by 2025.

“You’ll see elevated activity this year driven mainly by the Chinese,” Chris Berry, a New York-based analyst on energy metals, and founder of House Mountain Partners LLC, said in an email. “The consolidation necessary in the space will start to happen now.” Continue Reading →

Global copper deficit widens 21% in 2017 as refined supplies stagnate – by Henry Lazenby ( – March 21, 2018)

VANCOUVER ( – The latest data from the Lisbon, Portugal-based International Copper Study Group (ICSG) points to a 21% year-on-year widening in the global deficit of refined copper, as refined supplies remain stagnant.

During 2017, the global refined copper balance slid to a deficit of 163 000 t of red metal, compared with the 135 000 t recorded during 2016, which has been adjusted for changes in Chinese bonded stocks.

According to the ICSG, global mine output in 2017 fell 2% year-on-year to 20-million tonnes, which was mainly attributable to a 1% decline in Chile production – the world’s largest producer of the red metal – which was negatively affected by the strike at the Escondida mine in the first part of the year and lower output from State-owned Codelco mines. Continue Reading →