How Hard Is It to Quit Coal? For Germany, 18 Years and $44 Billion – by Somini Sengupta and Melissa Eddy (New York Times – January 16, 2020)

Germany announced on Thursday that it would spend $44.5 billion to quit coal — but not for another 18 years, by 2038. The move shows how expensive it is to stop burning the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, despite a broad consensus that keeping coal in the ground is vital to averting a climate crisis, and how politically complicated it is.

Coal, when burned, produces huge amounts of the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for global warming. Germany doesn’t have shale gas, as the United States does, which has led to the rapid decline of coal use in America, despite President Trump’s support for coal.

Germany also faces intense opposition to nuclear power. After the Fukushima disaster in 2011, that opposition prompted the government to start shutting down the country’s nuclear plants, a transition that should be complete by 2022. Continue Reading →

Founder of Blackwater mercenary group Erik Prince took secret Venezuela trip to talk mining with regime – by Stephanie Baker and Ben Bartenstein (National Post/Bloomberg – January 17, 2020)

The trip was part of an intense behind-the-scenes scrimmage for Venezuela’s wealth and resources as it grapples with political gridlock

(Bloomberg) — When Erik Prince, a major Trump donor and private security mogul, traveled to Caracas in November for secret talks with Venezuela’s vice president, he was not, it turns out, the central figure orchestrating the meetings.

That person was a controversial British deal-maker by the name of Ian Hannam, according to people familiar with the situation. Hannam, a former JPMorgan banker, arranged the trip as part of his yearlong scouting effort for possible gold investments in the crisis-battered nation, the people said. Prince’s meeting with Vice President Delcy Rodriguez has been reported; Hannam’s role hasn’t.

The discussion of mining ventures with Rodriguez raises fresh questions about whether Prince, a Michigan native and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, violated U.S. law against doing business with sanctioned officials. Hannam is British and not subject to the same restrictions. Continue Reading →

‘There’s no metal’: Record-breaking palladium races higher – by Peter Hobson (Reuters U.K. – Janaury 17, 2020)

LONDON (Reuters) – A squeeze in ready availability of automotive metal palladium has driven up already record-high prices by 25% in just two weeks, accelerating a four-year rally and stoking expectations for further gains, analysts said.

A long-term supply deficit has led prices of the metal, used mainly in engine exhausts to curb harmful emissions, to double over the last year.

Consumers’ immediate needs are often met in the lending market, in which holders of metal put their stocks to work for a profit. However, rates charged to lease palladium have spiked in recent weeks, suggesting availability is tight. Continue Reading →


SUDBURY, January 16, 2019 – Vale and The United Steelworkers announced today that together with Vale’s 50% match to employee contributions, $473,278 has been raised in a joint fundraising campaign for the United Way Centraide North East Ontario (UWCNEO).

“I’m proud of this longstanding and shared tradition of generosity between Vale and the United Steelworkers and want to thank each and every employee who contributed to this campaign,” said Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer of Vale’s North Atlantic Operations and Asian Refineries. “It’s indicative of the genuine care and interest our employees have in supporting our community.

Vale matches 50 cents to every dollar employees donate to the UWCNEO. Employees can contribute via a payroll deduction program or in lump sum payments.

“United Steelworkers Local 6500 are honoured to continue supporting the United Way’s 38th annual fundraising campaign,” said Nick Larochelle, President of USW Local 6500. Continue Reading →

Glencore to restructure SA ferrochrome following “material losses” at Rustenburg smelter – by David McKay ( – January 17, 2020)


HIGH electricity tariffs, interruptions, and deteriorating conditions in the ferrochrome market have forced Glencore and its joint venture partner, Merafe Resources, to consider restructuring its Rustenburg smelter.

As a result, the partners have commenced a Section 189 process in terms of the Labour Relations Act that may result in job losses. Glencore did not specify the extent of its planned restructuring, but it said Rustenburg smelter was suffering financial losses and would continue to do so “for the foreseeable future”. The Rustenburg smelter produces about 430,000 tons of ferrochrome annually. Glencore’s total smelting capacity from South Africa is 2.3 million tons (Mt).

This decision is the result of deteriorating operating and market conditions across the South African ferrochrome industry including unsustainable electricity tariffs and interruptions, cross subsidies and real cost inflation,” Glencore said. Significant ferrochrome output had also been displaced to international producers whose costs are lower. Continue Reading →

Race to refine: the bid to clean up Africa’s gold rush – by David Lewis and Peter Hobson (Reuters U.S. – January 15, 2020)

ENTEBBE (Reuters) – In a refinery just outside Uganda’s main airport, workers slip bars of freshly refined gold into clear plastic bags sealed with a sticker of the national flag – black, yellow and red – and the label “Ugandan’s Treasure.”

Uganda produces little gold of its own. Alain Goetz, who set up the refinery, says that by branding gold from abroad as Ugandan, the operation is merely imitating others – for example, the Swiss don’t mine the gold they refine in Switzerland.

A pink building guarded by dogs at Entebbe on the shores of Lake Victoria, the refinery, African Gold Refinery (AGR), is part of a trend across Africa. Small-scale mining is booming, and new gold refineries are opening by the dozen, to process metal produced by informal diggers in Africa and beyond. Continue Reading →

LOUIS VUITTON PURCHASES WORLD’S SECOND-BIGGEST DIAMOND – by Chelsea Ritschel (The Independent – January 16, 2020)

Diamond’s name ‘Sewelo’ translates to ‘rare find’

Louis Vuitton has purchased the world’s second-largest diamond, a 1,758-carat gem known as the Sewelo diamond.

On Wednesday, it was reported that the luxury French fashion house purchased the diamond for “millions” as the brand turns its attention from leather handbags to high jewellery.

The Sewelo diamond was found in Botswana in April 2019 at the Karowe mine by Lucara Diamond Corp. The name of the gem means “rare find” in Tswana – one of the languages spoken in Botswana. Continue Reading →

Gold’s Rally Helps Miners Delay the Inevitable – by Clara Ferreira Marques (Bloomberg News – January 16, 2020)

The specter of peak supply has receded as higher prices encourage producers to spend more on exploration and innovation.

Peak gold production is looking a little more distant. Global supply of the yellow metal has been inexorably approaching its high-water mark, as ore is extracted faster than new discoveries are made.

Mines have been aging fast. A sustained price rally can change that picture, as investors rekindle their enthusiasm for large-scale exploration and technological innovation. Bullion miners’ margins will benefit.

Gold is coming out of a long period in the investor wilderness. Last year marked the biggest annual gain in prices since 2010. It broke through $1,570 last week — the highest in almost seven years. Continue Reading →

Vale’s biggest problem won’t be easy to fix – by Vinícius Andrade and Sabrina Valle (Australian Financial Review/Bloomberg – Janaury 17, 2020)

São Paulo | In the weeks and months after Vale’s deadly dam disaster, some of Brazil’s biggest investors snatched up shares in a bet they’d bounce back and then keep rising.

A year later, the gamble paid off, but with a caveat: The stock rebounded, but Vale’s reputation hasn’t — and that’s the problem. Vale still trades at a discount of at least 20pc to peers BHP and Rio Tinto, based on enterprise-value-to-expected-Ebitda ratio.

While the world’s largest iron ore producer, like all miners, has struggled with plenty of environmental issues in the past, there’s no denying that a company’s green credentials suddenly matter now more than ever. Continue Reading →

Low inventories to frustrate zinc bears – by Pratima Desai (Reuters U.S. – Janaury 17, 2020)

LONDON (Reuters) – Historically low stocks of zinc in London Metal Exchange registered warehouses are likely to fuel price volatility and confound those investors looking at an oversupplied market and expecting significantly lower prices.

Stocks of zinc in LME warehouses are close to 20-year lows at around 50,000 tonnes, having been on a downtrend since October 2015 when mining giant Glencore (GLEN.L) shut 500,000 tonnes of capacity because of low prices.

The low stocks come at a time when many market participants are expecting to see a supply surplus this year after several years of deficits, which would be bearish for prices of the metal used to galvanise steel. Continue Reading →

Supreme Court dismisses B.C. case against Trans Mountain pipeline – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – January 17, 2020)

Outcome resolves one of the last court challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project

CALGARY – The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously rejected British Columbia’s move to regulate the flow of heavy oil across its borders, resolving one of the last court challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

After all-day hearings Thursday, Supreme Court justices dismissed B.C.’s appeal of a lower court decision, which found that interprovincial trade is federal jurisdiction and the flow of commodities such as heavy oil and bitumen should be overseen by federal regulators.

“We are all of the view to dismiss the appeal for the unanimous reasons of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia,” Chief Justice of Canada Richard Wagner said from the bench after dozens of lawyers from across the country presented arguments. Continue Reading →

Go underground with these 7 exciting Canadian mine tours – by Mark Stachiew ( – January 17, 2020)

Canada’s economy has long been reliant on its wealth of natural resources. While the country is today home to a growing number of high-tech and modern industries, natural resources like lumber, oil and gold remain a mainstay and the harvesting of those resources remains woven into the fabric of the nation..

Visitors can bear witness to that history and the human stories behind it by touring one of the country’s many mines that have been transformed into destinations that not only tell the stories of the places and the people who worked there, but also teach visitors about the minerals and ores that were extracted there and their importance both locally and nationally. Here are seven examples for you to check out, several of which are Canadian Signature Experiences.

Bell Island #2 Mine and Community Museum 13 Compressor Hill (Bell Island, Newfoundland

Newfoundland’s Bell Island mine was an underground iron ore mine that was vital to the island’s economy and provided crucial material for the Allied war effort during both World Wars. Continue Reading →

South Africa has the world’s highest number of environmentally dangerous tailing dams – by Tawanda Karombo (Quartz Africa – January 16, 2020)

South Africa has the highest number of dangerous tailing dams—structures constructed, often by mining companies, to store waste in liquid form. The dams are considered hazardous if improperly handled and have resulted in environmental disasters and deaths many times around the world.

Wider environmental hazards arising out of mining operations in South Africa, and elsewhere in Africa, range from river contamination from chemicals used in mining processes to improper rehabilitation of mined out operations.

Tailing dams have emerged as the latest significant environmental risk factor from mining and South Africa has the highest number of the riskiest of these, according to an investigative report by Reuters. Continue Reading →

Australia Is Dry as a Bone, and Miners Need Water to Stay Afloat – by David Winning (Wall Street Journal – January 16, 2020)

SYDNEY—A crippling drought in eastern Australia is threatening production of commodities from coal to gold, sparking a scramble by companies for water to keep their operations going.

The affected mines and processing operations are in arid regions a hundred or more miles inland of most of the areas hit by unprecedented bush fires. The severe drought conditions are expected to persist despite rain falling or forecast in the region in coming days.

Eastern Australia is a major supplier of metals and minerals to global markets, with more coal leaving its ports for customers in Asia than anywhere else in the world. Continue Reading →

Mark Carney ‘absolutely’ opposes oil divestment – by Terence Corcoran (Financial Post – January 15, 2020)

One of Fink’s sentences is worth repeating: “The technology does not
yet exist to cost-effectively replace many of today’s essential uses
of hydrocarbons.” It may be even more complicated than lack of
technology. Some scientists say the physics and essential properties
of energy production make any known fossil fuel substitutes — such
as wind and solar — unrealistic alternatives.

I have some welcome news for Canada’s fossil fuel industry. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, soon to be the UN envoy on climate finance, will not be joining the fossil fuel divestment movement. “I absolutely disagree with divestment campaigns,” Carney said in an email to an FP Comment column reader in Calgary.

Carney’s categorical rejection of divestment clarifies what has appeared to some as the central banker’s ambiguous position on the global campaign to get investment firms, pension funds and other financial institutions to remove carbon-emitting energy corporations from their portfolios.

Many in Canada’s energy sector have expressed concerns about Carney’s views, which will play a key role in policy circles when he returns to Canada this year to take up his new UN role. Continue Reading →