Glencore Faces Off Against Labor Group on Congo Mine Conditions – by Thomas Wilson (Bloomberg News – March 23, 2018)

Commodity giant Glencore Plc defended working conditions at its mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo after an international labor federation said its employees are poorly treated and underpaid.

The spat with Geneva-based IndustriALL, a global union federation that says it represents more than 50 million workers in 140 countries, comes as some of the world’s biggest companies, from Apple Inc. to Volkswagen AG, pursue multi-million-dollar deals for Glencore’s prized Congolese cobalt.

Working conditions at Glencore’s Katanga Mining Ltd. and Mutanda operations violate workers’ rights and need to be improved, IndustriALL said March 22 in an emailed statement after representatives visited Congo in February. Continue Reading →

World’s biggest metals factory gives Kazakh town a life of its own – by Mariya Gordeyeva (Reuters U.S. – March 22, 2018)

AKSU, Kazakhstan (Reuters) – On the surface, the Kazakh town of Aksu looks like a Communist stereotype. Its metals factory is the biggest in the world and for generations it has provided residents with employment, healthcare, education and leisure.

But there’s a crucial difference. The Eurasian Resources Group factory is controlled by three billionaires and though the Kazakh government has a stake it’s a far cry from the Communist model of ownership by the proletariat.

The trio are Alexander Machkevich, Alijan Ibragimov and Patokh Chodiev and many Kazakhs see them as oligarchs close to President Nursultan Nazarbayev who has ruled since 1989. Continue Reading →

Exploration project’s purity surprises mining company: Frontier Lithium touts PAK project as a rare and valuable find – by Karen McKinley (Northern Ontario Business – March 23, 2018)

Garth Drever can’t hide his excitement over Frontier Lithium’s Pakeagama Lake Pegmatite (PAK) project’s initial findings and estimates. But he is reluctant to say it could be the first lithium mine in Canada.

“It could be a few years before we go into production, but we are very happy with what we are seeing,” said Drever, vice-president of exploration of the Sudbury-based junior mining company, formerly known as Houston Lake Mining.

“The deposits are very clean, very high grade and that’s generating a lot of interest.” He was speaking on the latest findings from the project at the monthly meeting of the Sudbury Prospectors and Developers Association on March 20. Continue Reading →

On the trail of rubies and gems … – by Phyo Wai Kyaw (Myanmar Times – March 23, 2018)

It is widely believed that depending on sheer luck, some gemstone miners strike it rich without any effort on their part, while others spend their lifetime in the mines unable to find even one valuable gem

When asked which period he misses the most during his mining career in Mogok, U Aung Than, without any hesitation, answered it was during the mid 1970s and around 1990s. In an exclusive interview last week, he described those thriving times as ‘illegal’ and ‘black marketing’ periods.

U Aung Than, who is now 58 years old, is from Maing Thar ethnic group and grew up in Mogok’s mining area since he was a teen. During the British rule, due to scarcity of labor in the mining companies, Shan-Chinese ethnics called Maing Thar, who were industrious and were from the Myanmar-China border, were given jobs, and since that time they were working as miners in Mogok. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Congo rejects mining industry proposal to soften new law – by Amedee Mwarabu (Reuters U.S. – March 23, 2018)

KINSHASA, March 23 (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo’s mines minister rejected a proposal by mining companies on Friday to soften some provisions in a new mining code in exchange for higher royalties.

Mining companies had said earlier on Friday that they were willing to pay the government more to produce cobalt, gold, copper and other minerals if the government agreed to respect 10-year exemptions to changes to fiscal and customs regimes for existing projects, and cancel certain taxes.

It was miners’ latest attempt to curb the impact of a strict new code that includes a 50 percent windfall profits tax on mining companies and was signed into law by President Joseph Kabila this month in the face of fierce industry opposition. Continue Reading →

Trudeau will learn a painful lesson — voters really dislike climate crusading – by Lawrence Solomon (Financial Post – March 23, 2018)

Global warming is so yesterday. There’s pretty much nothing the public cares less about than climate change

The United States government is expected to approve a massive US$1.3-trillion omnibus spending bill Friday, a sweeping victory for Democrats who fought for — and won — funding for virtually all of the left’s priorities, everything from Planned Parenthood to gun control to child care to public transportation.

The Democrats even won funding, and plaudits, for infrastructure and domestic programs they couldn’t secure under the Obama administration.

But no one is remarking on the Democratic cause that was thrown off the omnibus — climate change — because no one still considers it a Democratic priority. Nowhere in the bill’s 2,232 pages of spending goodies do the words “climate change” or “global warming” even appear. Continue Reading →

‘Is it climate change?’: Unexpected early thaw in B.C. a relief for Centerra Gold’s Mount Milligan mine – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – March 23, 2018)

Climate change giveth, and climate change taketh away — that is, if you can attribute anything to climate change.

Last December, Toronto-based Centerra Gold Inc. shut down the mill at its Mount Milligan mine in British Columbia after anemic snowmelt runoff and an unexpected extreme cold snap froze the shallow supply of water in its tailing ponds. On Friday, the company announced that same mill resumed operating at near full capacity, ahead of schedule, thanks in part to an earlier-than-expected thaw. The company’s stock rose 2.2 per cent to $7.31 per share.

Scientists say that climate change is making water management increasingly difficult because weather patterns are less predictable, but Centerra’s chief executive Scott Perry expressed skepticism. Continue Reading →

‘An unjustified infringement’: First Nation sues Ottawa, British Columbia over oil tanker ban – by Claudia Cattaneo (Financial Post – March 23, 2018)

As protesters in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland go berserk over tankers from the federally approved Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion, First Nations in the Northern Coast are suing governments for banning them.

The Lax Kw’alaams Indian Band says it filed a civil claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Thursday against the federal and provincial governments. It seeks to declare Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tanker ban “an unjustified infringement on the plaintiffs’ aboriginal rights and title.”

It also knocks British Columbia’s establishment of the Great Bear Rainforest, which the ban aims to protect, but which the band disputes because it says it was implemented in its traditional lands without its consent. Continue Reading →

Lithium Miner Eyes Even Greater Riches in Piles of Battery Waste – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – March 22, 2018)

Recycling lithium material from used electric vehicle batteries promises to be even more profitable than mining the increasingly valuable metal, according to an Australian producer building a test facility in Canada.

Perth-based Neometals Ltd. is working to recover raw materials including lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper from expired batteries at a facility in Montreal, aiming to add production from recycling to its existing output from mining.

The electric vehicle revolution has sparked a surge in demand for battery materials, driving up prices and triggering a rush to secure new sources of supply. Continue Reading →

Can’t compare smelters, Sudbury crowd told – by Mary Katherine Keown (Sudbury Star – March 23, 2018)

There are pros and cons to hosting the chromite smelter in Coniston and Tom Price wants to make sure residents understand the differences between the Nickel City and Tornio, Finland, which is home to the Outokumpu ferrochrome production facility.

Price, a retired engineering technologist with decades of experience at Vale who helped set up the world’s first chrome recycling plant in Pennsylvania, hosted a presentation at the Lexington Hotel on Wednesday aimed at educating the public on some of his chromite concerns.

Several dozen people turned out to hear him present on the proposed smelter and Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini said the meeting was organized after several people reached out to him to express their apprehensions. The major problem, Price said, is that Tornio and Coniston cannot be compared. There are 2,500 people living within 2.5 km of the proposed site in Coniston, while in Tornio, there are no people inside that radius. Continue Reading →

Eldorado down on Q4 loss – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud ( – March 22, 2018)

Shares in Eldorado Gold (TSX:ELD)(NYSE:EGO) were down on Thursday after the company reported a Q4 loss and technical studies for its Kişladağ, Lamaque and Skouries mines.

In a press release, the Vancouver-based miner stated that, due to a 20 per cent y-o-y fall in sales volumes, its adjusted Q4 loss came in at $400,000 compared to $2.9 million in earnings in the year-ago quarter. In detail, sales moved down to 67.3K from 84.6K ounces.

In terms of production, Eldorado revealed that the last quarter of 2017 totaled 83.9K oz., up slightly from 82.8K in the same period of 2016. Full year gold production was of 292,971 ounces, including Olympias pre-commercial production and 7,061 ounces of gold produced from a bulk sample at the company’s newly acquired Lamaque project in Quebec. Continue Reading →

BMW says electric car mass production not viable until 2020 – by Edward Taylor (Reuters U.S. – March 22, 2018)

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – BMW (BMWG.DE) will not mass produce electric cars until 2020 because its current technology is not profitable enough to scale up for volume production, the chief executive said on Thursday.

Munich-based BMW unveiled its first battery electric car in 2013, and has been working on different generations of battery, software and electric motor technology since then.

The i8 Roadster model, due to hit showrooms in May, is equipped with what BMW calls its fourth-generation electric drive technology. Advances in battery raw materials and chemistry has increased its range by 40 percent over the previous version, BMW said. Continue Reading →

Trade war looms as U.S. hits China with $60-billion in tariffs – by Adrian Morrow and Nathan Vanderklippe (Globe and Mail – March 23, 2018)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to hit US$60-billion worth of Chinese goods with tariffs threatens to spark a protracted trade war between the world’s two largest economies and send a shudder through international commerce.

The move – which may also include restricting Chinese investment in the United States and launching a World Trade Organization case against Beijing – is retaliation for China forcibly taking, and sometimes allegedly stealing, U.S. technology.

It is also meant to start erasing Washington’s US$385-billion trade deficit with Beijing, which Mr. Trump blames for the hollowing out of the U.S. manufacturing sector. Continue Reading →

U.S. Trade Battle Fuels Metals’ Longest Weekly Slump Since 2015 – by Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – March 23, 2018)

Base metals posted a fifth straight weekly loss in London as the trade conflict between the U.S. and China escalated, with nickel bearing heavy losses amid fears the rift will derail global growth and dent usage in China’s steel-making sector.

Most metals slumped on the London Metal Exchange after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports from China on Thursday, and Beijing announced retaliatory duties shortly afterward.

Copper and aluminum hit fresh three-month lows and mining majors including Glencore Plc and Rio Tinto Group dropped in London. Gold rallied as investors flocked to haven assets. Continue Reading →