Distraction or disaster? Freeport’s giant Indonesian mine haunted by audit report – by Bernadette Christina Munthe and Fergus Jensen (Reuters U.S. – May 24, 2018)


JAKARTA (Reuters) – A state audit of operations at Indonesia’s Grasberg mine has cast a cloud over the government’s multi-billion-dollar deal to take a majority stake in the mine from Freeport McMoRan Inc and its partner Rio Tinto, according to government and company officials.

In April, in follow-up action to the audit, the environment minister issued two decrees that gave Freeport six months to overhaul management of its mine waste, or tailings, at Grasberg, the world’s second-biggest copper mine. One of the decrees said Freeport would be barred from any activities in areas that lack environmental permits.

And there may be more troubles to come for the Phoenix, Arizona-based company as the government has so far acted on only a part of the 2017 report by Indonesia’s Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) on Freeport’s decades-long operations at the mine in Indonesia’s remote easternmost province of Papua. Continue Reading →

A Lithium Valley in Western Australia could power the world – by Cameron Jewell (Fifth Estate.com – May 24, 2018)


There’s more than 100,000 jobs and $50 billion in economic activity up for grabs if a “Lithium Valley” is set up in Western Australia, according to Curtin University’s Professor Peter Newman, one of the authors behind a new report calling for the state to become a battery manufacture and technology leader.

According to Newman, Western Australia is a one-stop shop for all the materials needed to power the new economy, and says a “Lithium Valley” should be set up in Kwinana, Perth, leveraging off the recent announcement of a lithium hydroxide refinery being built, and Tesla’s recent meeting with the state government.

The report – Lithium Valley: Establishing the case for energy metals and battery manufacturing in Western Australia – says WA is home to the world’s most accessible abundance of energy metals, including lithium, cobalt, vanadium, tin, tantalum, nickel, manganese, magnesium and rare earths – essential components in batteries and other renewable tech. Continue Reading →

Deadly protests land a blow to Indian resources magnate Agarwal’s ambitions – by Krishna N. Das and Promit Mukherjee (Reuters U.S. – May 23, 2018)


NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal often talks about his dream to turn his London-listed company Vedanta Resources into a global resources giant. He has already bought stakes in big mining companies, such as Anglo American Plc, and says he plans to spend at least $1 billion on investments in Africa.

But in his home country, where he rose from a scrap dealer to a metals magnate, court-imposed fines, costly plant and mine shutdowns, and public protests against his businesses for allegedly polluting the environment, have held back his lofty ambitions and hurt the company’s valuation, according to bankers and analysts.

The struggle with opponents took a particularly ugly turn on Tuesday when police opened fire on protesters seeking to shut down Vedanta’s copper smelter in the southern Indian port city of Thoothukudi, killing 10. Two more people died on Wednesday, and the state government has transferred senior police and administrative officials from the city. Continue Reading →

AngloGold Ashanti to axe 2,000 jobs as it shrinks footprint in South Africa – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – May 23, 2018)


South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti (JSE:ANG) (NYSE:AU), the world’s third-biggest producer of the precious metal, is cutting as many as 2,000 jobs at its domestic operations as part a restructuring aimed at reducing losses.

The company, which is down to the Mponeng underground gold mine and a tailings treatment operation in its home country, said the measure would affect employees across the different categories and levels, including the region’s executive committee and senior management.

After suffering heavy losses in South Africa, the Johannesburg-based miner said last year it would restructure its local mines, which could lead to 8,500 workers, or around 30% of its workforce, being laid off. Continue Reading →

How the wealth from Sierra Leone’s diamonds fails to enrich local communities – by Roy Maconachie (The Conversation – May 23, 2018)


Ever since diamonds were discovered in Sierra Leone in the 1930s, they have had a significant impact on the country – socially, politically and economically. This is partly to do with how they are extracted from the ground.

In countries in southern Africa, diamond mining is mostly undertaken by large-scale, mechanised companies, which monitor and control deep reserves. But in Sierra Leone, diamonds are more commonly dispersed close to the surface of river beds. They can be found by anyone with a shovel and a sieve.

This accessibility has made Sierra Leone’s diamond-rich Kono district a magnet for migrant workers – mostly young, single, uneducated, unemployed men seeking their fortunes. World Bank estimates suggest the artisanal diamond mining sector is now Sierra Leone’s second largest employer (after agriculture), providing a livelihood for between 300,000 and 400,000 people. Continue Reading →

City approves sale of lands to Goldcorp – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – May 23, 2018)


TIMMINS – Timmins city council has approved selling off 30 parcels of public land for more than $872,000 to Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines to allow the company to be in a better position to move forward with the Century Project expansion.

The sale was approved Tuesday night with a purchasing bylaw that was first approved by a motion of council after an in-camera meeting held a month ago, on Tuesday. April 17, 2018.

The closed meeting was held to discuss the pending sale or purchase of lands by the city. Only the mayor and four council members were present: Joe Campbell, Mike Doody, Veronica Farrell and Walter Wawrzaszek. Following that one-hour meeting, council went into a public session to pass the resolution to authorize the sale of the land parcels. The media, which was not present that day, had not been told of the public meeting. Continue Reading →

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion must be built – by Rachel Notley (Vancouver Sun – May 22, 2018)


For a number of years, I lived in Vancouver. I loved it. Diverse, and forward-looking, Vancouver embodies so much about what makes Canada great. My feelings about Vancouver are shared by countless Albertans who have deep roots in B.C. through family, friends and business.

So when Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says that Alberta’s energy industry “represents a tiny fraction of the overall economy and job count,” Albertans quite rightly get their backs up. In a country as diverse as ours, we are bound to have disputes, but it is important that we base our arguments on facts, not convenient fictions.

So let me correct the record.

Tens of thousands of British Columbians work in Alberta and pay taxes in B.C. — 50,000 at last count. The energy sector contributes 10 per cent to Canada’s GDP, and mining, oil and gas is responsible for 28 per cent of private non-residential investment in B.C. and employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians. So, Mayor Robertson is wrong. Canada’s energy industry is hugely important to the national economy, including B.C.’s. Continue Reading →

The Untold Story of FDR and the Battle Over Gold – by Sebastian Edwards (Bloomberg News – May 22, 2018)


First of four excerpts from “American Default,” on one of the strangest and most enduring chapters of the Roosevelt era.

During the second half of 1933, George F. Warren was the most influential economist in the world. Almost every morning during November and December, he met with Franklin Roosevelt while the president was still in bed, and helped him decide the price at which the government would buy gold during the next 24 hours.

Henry Morgenthau Jr., who often attended these meetings, confided to his diary that the process had a cabalistic dimension to it. In selecting the daily price, FDR would, jokingly, consider the meaning of numbers, or flip coins.

On one occasion, he decided that the price would go up by 21 cents with respect to the previous day. He then asked the group assembled around his bed if they knew why he had chosen that figure. Continue Reading →

When Franklin Roosevelt Dropped a Bombshell on Gold – by Sebastian Edwards (Bloomberg News – May 23, 2018)


The global reaction in fall 1933 was calm bewilderment. Second of four excerpts from “American Default.”

On Sunday, Oct. 22, 1933, President Roosevelt delivered the fourth of his fireside chats that year. He opened by summarizing his administration’s accomplishments.

He talked about public works and the legislation passed during his first hundred days; he praised the National Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act; and he told the American public that things were improving. He asserted that since his inauguration on March 4, four million people had found work.

He reiterated that the definite goal of the government was to “restore commodity price levels, [and] to make possible the payment of public and private debts more nearly at the price level at which they were incurred.” Continue Reading →

Canada’s mining industry learned from Mount Polley tailings dam disaster – by Pierre Gratton (Vancouver Sun – May 23, 2018)


Pierre Gratton is President & CEO of The Mining Association of Canada.

I was pleased to read the column by Jacinda Mack and Loretta Williams in which they acknowledge the vital role minerals and metals will play in the transition to a low carbon economy.

B.C. products like metallurgical coal, copper and molybdenum are all critical to the supply of renewable energy technologies and zero-emission vehicles. B.C. and the rest of Canada’s mining sector have every reason to be a major, responsible supplier of these products to the world.

I also agree with their sentiment that there is an obligation on B.C.’s mining sector to provide these products responsibly. They call for stronger regulation of mines and for the adoption of industry standards, such as the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, or IRMA. Here is where I can provide some important additional information on both topics. Continue Reading →

Mining companies still reluctant to tap Argentina deposits – by Juliana Castilla (Reuters U.S. – May 23, 2018)


BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Despite Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s pro-business policies, international mining companies are still reluctant to invest in Argentina amid a lack of regulatory clarity.

More than two years into Macri’s term, the country’s dormant gold, silver, lithium and copper reserves — some discovered more than half a century ago — remain mostly untapped.

“Conditions in Argentina are not sufficient for a company to take on the risk of staying here 30 years,” Mining Secretary Daniel Meilan told Reuters in an interview. Continue Reading →

[British Columbia] Mining going strong in north – by Frank Peebles (Prince George Citizen – May 22, 2018)


Mining in B.C. is on the rise. The northern region is leading the province in healthier returns from that sector of the economy that hasn’t been strong in recent years.

Operations near Prince George like Mount Milligan (north of Fort St. James) and Gibraltar (near McLeese Lake) have continued through the downturn, but a drop in global commodity prices caused an overall slowdown in many mining plays, and a significant cutback in the amount of exploration going on in the search for new deposits.

The price of key commodities like coal and copper are starting to climb again, said B.C. Mining Association vice-president of corporate affairs Lindsay Kislock and the signs of a waking industry are now being seen in B.C. where mining plays a pivotal role in the overall economy. Continue Reading →

Uranium makes feds’ list of minerals ‘critical’ to national security, setting off a debate in Utah and beyond – by Brian Maffly (The Salt Lake Tribune – May 23, 2018)


The Interior Department has identified 35 “nonfuel” mineral commodities that are essential to national security, including uranium and several others found in Utah.

Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey helped compile the list under an executive order President Donald Trump issued in December, calling for a national strategy for reducing reliance on critical minerals and promoting access to domestic supplies.

The appearance of uranium on the list, published Friday in the Federal Register, has spurred controversy among those who contend uranium does not qualify as either nonfuel or critical. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., sent a letter Monday to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke demanding an explanation. Continue Reading →

[India Mining] COMMENT- Private players, new tech, new mines: A gold rush may be upon us -by RN Bhaskar (Money Control.com – May 23, 2018)


​​Fasten your seatbelts, or hold on to your earrings. The Indian gold industry is set to spring to life thanks to the government’s liberalised approach to mining, the plans that private miners are finalising for the country, and the fact that there could be huge reserves of gold lying in wait for them, untapped and little-known.

The Supreme Court ruling on the need for a transparent auction policy for natural assets gave a fillip to the sector. More private mines are being set up. And there is a possibility that mining will spread to regions outside the traditional strongholds of southern India.

Industry experts say that the potential for gold recovery from ore lying in heaps around older gold mines – especially the now-defunct Kolar, in Karnataka – could be huge. Indians’ insatiable passion for the yellow metal will ensure that prices don’t fall any time soon, incentive enough for more players to get into the game. Continue Reading →

South Africa: Gupta Family Flight Hangs Over South African Mine – by Anita Powell (All Africa.com – May 23, 2018)


South Africa’s investigation into the influential Gupta family has cut a wide swath through the country.The family, which fled South Africa earlier this year, stands accused of high-level corruption going up all the way to the office of former President Jacob Zuma.

But their business activities in poor communities have also left deep wounds, residents say. In the dusty town of Klerksdorp, where mining is the main activity, locals say the Gupta-owned Shiva Uranium Mine underpaid and mistreated its some 700 workers.

Mine worker Abram Serapelo, 30, said he hasn’t been paid on time in months, since the Guptas’ India-based bank pulled out of South Africa in February. “We don’t know if we are still working, or we still have the job, or if we are safe as workers,” he told VOA. Continue Reading →