COLUMN-Hedge funds give up on indecisive “Doctor” copper – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – December 18, 2018)

LONDON, Dec 18 (Reuters) – Fund managers have thrown in the towel on the copper market. The mega long position accumulated on the COMEX copper contract in 2017 is long gone. So too is the equally monstrous collective short bet seen more recently in August this year.

The money men look set to close out 2018 neutral on copper, unsure what the metal with the honorary doctorate in economics has to say on the global manufacturing outlook. The price has flatlined over the last couple of months and investors have voted with their feet.

COMEX open interest has slumped to two-year lows. So too has that on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE), where China’s speculators play the metal markets. The original bullish “Trump Trade” and the subsequent bearish “Trade War Trade” have played themselves out, leaving the market becalmed and investors scratching their heads. For now. Continue Reading →

Mitsubishi kisses thermal coal goodbye, sells Aussie mines – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – December 18, 2018)

Mitsubishi Corporation is selling its interest in two Australian thermal coal mines for A$750 million ($539 million) to its joint venture partners Glencore and Sumitomo Corp., in a move that marks the end of its involvement in upstream fossil fuels.

The company, which is Japan’s biggest trading house, will sell its 31.4% stake in the Clermont coal mine to GS Coal, the 50-50 joint venture between Glencore and Sumitomo, and its 10% stake in the Ulan coal mine to Glencore.

The Swiss miner and commodities trader said the deal value was $530 million. Glencore noted it would only spend $130 million, mainly on the Ulan asset, while GS Coal will use its own funds for the Clermont stake. Continue Reading →

The Quest for a Moral Diamond – by Monte Reel (Bloomberg News – December 18, 2018)

The Peace Diamond, and the miner who found it, are at the center of a new push to redeem African diamond mining.

From a pickup truck heading out of Freetown, Sierra Leone’s recent history is legible in the images that scroll beyond the passenger-side window. A hand-painted sign reading “Amputee Lodge” points to a structure serving victims brutalized by an 11-year civil war that ended in 2002. Next comes a billboard that says “Report Bribery,” a plea to resist the corruption blamed for siphoning away international relief funds and obstructing postwar recovery.

A faded canvas banner—“Only You Can Stop Ebola”—is a tattered relic from a 2014 outbreak that killed thousands. As we ascend the hills on the city’s periphery, a glance in the rearview mirror reveals a thick brown stripe running down the face of a distant slope: the scar from a 2017 mudslide that devoured the homes of at least 3,000 people, killing more than 1,100 of them.

For a break from all this misfortune and calamity, stop looking out the window and focus on the man in the passenger seat of the truck. His name is Emmanuel Momoh, and by general consensus, he’s the luckiest man in Sierra Leone. Until last year, Momoh, 44, wasn’t much different from anyone else in a country where more than 60 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day. Continue Reading →

From gold bars to barring mining, U.S. town awaits extractive ban ruling – by Gregory Scruggs (Thomson Reuters Foundation – December 18, 2018)

WINTHROP, Washington, Dec 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A lthough the wooden boardwalk and turn-of-the-century saloons reflect Winthrop’s Old West history as a mining town, residents these days are counting down to a year-end deadline that could see the government ban extraction there for 20 years.

Dec. 29 will mark the culmination of a battle by citizens of the Methow Valley, a constellation of small towns along a scenic river 116 miles (187 kilometres) northeast of Seattle.

For two years they have worked to convince the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to withdraw 340,000 acres (137,600 hectares) of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest at the Methow Headwaters from future mining claims. If successful, they hope Congress will pass a law that will permanently bar mining in the nearby hills. Continue Reading →

Katanga Mining’s financial penalties in OSC settlement to top $20 million: sources – by Barbara Shecter (Financial Post – December 18, 2018)

Katanga Mining Ltd., a subsidiary of Anglo-Swiss commodities and mining conglomerate Glencore PLC, is expected to settle serious allegations — including making misleading statements and failing to disclose risks associated with its operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo — at a hearing Dec. 18 in front of Canada’s largest capital markets regulator.

The combined financial penalties in the proposed settlement are understood to exceed $20 million, and a number of individuals are also expected to settle, including a key long-serving executive of the parent company who sat on Katanga’s board, sources say.

The Ontario Securities Commission had been investigating Katanga for months, including whether the firm, whose shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, adequately disclosed risks pertaining to international bribery, government payment and anti-corruption laws. Commission staff disclosed their allegations resulting from the probe in a 33-page document made public on Monday. Continue Reading →

Interview: Charles Wyndham on a dramatic year in diamonds and what comes next – by Trish Saywell (Northern Miner – December 17, 2018)

Northern Miner

Charles Wyndham has been in the diamond industry for over 40 years. He was a director of the CSO, De Beers’ selling arm, before deciding to leave De Beers to set up his own diamond businesses in 1995. He is co-founder of WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. (WWW) and is engaged in related businesses, mainly with others whose skills are based on the company’s expertise in technology, the gathering of detailed market information, and a wide range of contacts.

WWW has had a joint venture with the Aboriginal Diamond Group (ADG) through Diamonds International Canada (DICAN) and since 1998 has been the Government Diamond Valuator for the Federal Government of Canada and now for the Government of the North West Territories.

It also acts as the diamond valuator for the Government of Ontario. In 2000, he founded U2 Diamonds Ltd., which owns, the only polished diamond price list based on multiple sourced actual transactions. Charles holds an MA in jurisprudence from Oxford University. Continue Reading →

OPINION: To build pipelines, we must create coalition corridors – by Preston Manning (Globe and Mail – December 17, 2018)

Preston Manning is the founder of the Manning Centre, and the former leader of the Reform Party of Canada.

Here are some truths that urgently require a co-ordinated response from governments, companies and Canadians whose jobs, incomes and living standards are jeopardized by ignoring them:

First, that the natural-resource sectors (agriculture, energy, mining, forestry and fisheries) are foundational to the Canadian economy, directly and indirectly accounting for over 20 per cent of our gross national product, with the energy sector being the biggest contributor.

Secondly, Canada is losing millions of dollars a day in revenues, plus thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment, because opposition to the building of pipelines to seaboard and world markets forces Canada to sell oil and natural gas to the U.S. market at discounted prices. Continue Reading →

[Barrick Gold Corp] A Goldman Alum, a Big-Game Hunter, and $100 Billion Business – by Danielle Bochove and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – December 18, 2018)

John Thornton is a Goldman Sachs alumnus educated at Yale, Harvard and Oxford. Mark Bristow is a South African geologist and big-game hunter. Together, this corporate odd couple has a plan to turn around the lagging fortunes of the world’s largest gold-mining company, whose shares are down 67 percent from their high in 2010.

Thornton, executive chairman of Barrick Gold Corp., set the partnership in motion when he announced a deal for smaller rival Randgold Resources Ltd. for $5.4 billion in September. He tapped Bristow, Randgold’s chief executive officer, to be the CEO of the combined companies.

Thornton is getting a maverick, but also a CEO whose company’s share price has gained about 5,300 percent since the end of 1999, making it the best-performing stock in London’s FTSE 100 Index this century. Continue Reading →

Open letter to Canadians opposing Canadian pipelines and oilsands – by Demian Newman ( – December 14, 2018)

Demian Newman is President, Newman Sales and Marketing Inc.

Dear fellow Canadians,

I’m writing this as an open letter to every Canadian who has protested the Canadian oil and gas industry. I’m writing this to ask – what if you win? What if you succeed and completely shut down Canada’s oil and gas industry? What happens next?

Obviously, if you’ve ever marched, protested or argued against Canadian pipelines or Oilsands, you must believe that you are financially insulated from the hundreds of billions this industry puts into the Canadian economy. Or you are OK with the crushing blow to the Canadian economy, because your heartfelt belief is that the Canadian oil and gas industry is so environmentally bad for the planet.

These are the people I desperately want to have a conversation with. I write this letter, not as a Calgarian, Albertan, or even as a Canadian. But I write this as a human being. A human being with two young children, and one who doesn’t go a day without being concerned about how we’re leaving this planet. Continue Reading →

Gold mine developer gets federal EA approval for Geraldton open-pit operation – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – December 17, 2018)

Two northwestern Ontario mine projects receive federal environmental assessment approvals

Greenstone Gold Mines has gotten federal environmental assessment (EA)approval of its Hardrock gold mine project in northwestern Ontario. Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna announced Dec.13 that the Hardrock Gold Mine Project is “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

The 15,000-hectare Hardrock property is a proposed open-pit gold mine and processing mill located on Highway 11, two kilometres south of the town of Geraldton. Planned production is 30,000 tonnes of ore per day. Greenstone Gold Mines is a joint venture partnership between Centerra Gold and Premier Gold Mines.

The company’s documents, submitted to the federal government, covered the construction, operation, decommissioning, and abandonment of the mine and mill. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-China steel prices tick up on winter curbs, stimulus hopes: – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – December 17, 2018)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 17 (Reuters) – China’s steel and iron ore prices have started to climb in response to winter production curbs, but recent gains are far from suggestive of a rosy outlook for the sector.

The catalyst for the rebound in prices would appear to be signs that the authorities in steel-making centres are starting to clamp down harder on air pollution, after earlier indications that this winter’s output curbs wouldn’t be as severe as those for the previous cold season.

Benchmark steel rebar in Shanghai closed on Dec. 14 at 3,427 yuan ($497) a tonne, up 3.7 percent from the close of Dec. 11, and 7.4 percent higher than a recent closing low of 3,192 yuan on Nov. 26. Continue Reading →

Effort to reopen Bunker Hill Mine runs into problems – by Becky Kramer (Seattle Times – December 17, 2018)

While many Silver Valley residents are eager to see the Bunker Hill reopen, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe is wary of restarting a historic polluter in the nation’s second-largest Superfund site even under modern environmental laws designed to protect air and water quality.

KELLOGG, Idaho (AP) — For nearly a century, the Bunker Hill Mine in Kellogg was the source of tremendous wealth.

The massive underground mine produced lead for bullets fired in two world wars and zinc for rust-proofing steel. Paychecks from the Bunker supported generations of Idaho workers and their families, and the profits enriched shareholders far beyond the Silver Valley.

These days, however, the closed mine costs U.S. taxpayers about $1 million annually. Polluted water gushes out of the Bunker Hill’s portal at a rate of 1,300 gallons per minute, traveling by ditch to a treatment plant run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The federal government spends about $80,000 each month to remove toxic levels of heavy metals from the water. Continue Reading →

The Future of Mountaintop Removal Is Lavender – by Josh Dean (Bloomberg News – December 17, 2018)

In Appalachia, the coal mining process has stripped mountains to their cores, leaving little more than dirt and rocks. But one hardy plant seems to thrive in it.

Mountaintop removal mining—MTR, in industry shorthand—is a catastrophic process with a refreshingly honest name. Basically, a mountain and all the life that once grew upon it is stripped away to expose seams of bituminous coal, leaving behind an enormous pile of dirt and rock that’s good for almost nothing.

Except, it seems, growing lavender. Four years ago a group at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park, a startup incubator in South Charleston, began an experimental program to see if this hardy, trendy plant could be grown on such sites and harvested for oil used in soaps, lotions, and perfumes. Continue Reading →

[Resource Reckoning Book Review] Follow-up book documents more Indigenous court victories – by Ellsworth Dickson (Resource World Magazine – December/January 2019)

To order a copy of this informative book:

Lawyer, strategist and author Bill Gallagher has followed up his earlier book entitled Resources Rulers: Fortune and Folly on Canada’s Road to Resources with his new effort – Resource Reckoning.

It may seem strange that two books that just document court cases could be fascinating reading but some cases are as spellbinding as any John Grisham legal thriller. Resource Reckoning was written on the heels of an amazing 250 Canadian court victories by various Native bands across Canada. Many of the cases involved litigation against provincial and the federal government regarding both petroleum and mineral commodities.

Indigenous bands have learned that they do better in court than getting involved in lengthy treaty discussions. Some of the passages detail positions taken by governments that defy logic and were obviously destined to fail. Other cases are plain goofy: “Crazy as it may sound, the Lone Ranger and Tonto made it all the way to the highest court in Nova Scotia.”

An unfortunate aspect of many of the court cases is that the federal government could have done better years ago to set up rules and regulations for mining and oil & gas companies to deal with First Nations. Basically, mineral explorers want to explore for minerals and have reasonable consultations with Indigenous groups. Continue Reading →

China’s Dominance in Rare Earths Threatens European Electric-Car Industry – by Frank Fang (Epoch Times – December 16, 2018)

Rare-earth metals are critical to the modern economy as they are a key material for making batteries that power electric vehicles; are added to touchscreens and circuit boards in smartphones; and are used in laser systems that guide missiles and bombs.

While European Union countries are among the world’s biggest electric-vehicle markets, the bloc as a whole has only a few rare-earth metal deposits. Other than deposits in several countries such as Greenland, Norway, and Finland, the EU relies on imports to support industrial demand. Cobalt, one of the key minerals in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars and smartphones, is currently only mined in Finland, among all EU countries.

The Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU), a Swedish government agency, issued an updated report on the Scandinavian country’s rare-earth deposits Dec. 7, detailing the country’s geological potential for mining the metals. But the potential mining boom in Sweden could be dashed because of China’s dominance in the market, said a Swedish analyst. Continue Reading →