Archive | Asia Mining

Protests in Chile, Bolivia threaten India’s search for assets in ‘Lithium Triangle’ – by Ajoy K Das ( – November 11, 2019)

KOLKATA ( – Civil unrest and violence in Chile and prospects of tougher security norms, together with unrelenting protests over a disputed electoral process in Bolivia, have thrown a spanner in the wheels of Indian mining companies getting a toe-hold in the so-called ‘Lithium Triangle’.

As protestors continue to hit the streets, with widespread reports of violence, snowballing into a deeper anti-government movement, India’s recent push for lithium assets in Latin America is being forced to the backburner, if not becoming unstuck completely.

The perception among Indian mining companies planning forays in search of lithium assets in Latin America is that though unrest and violence in Chile was triggered by a marginal hike in subway fares, opposition to the right-of-center neoliberal economic policy of the incumbent Chilean government is at the heart of civil movement. Continue Reading →

The Hidden Cost of Gold: Birth Defects and Brain Damage – by Richard C. Paddock (New York Times – Novmeber 9, 2019)

CIDAHU, Indonesia — Thousands of children with crippling birth defects. Half a million people poisoned. A toxic chemical found in the food supply. Accusations of a government cover-up and police officers on the take. This is the legacy of Indonesia’s mercury trade, a business intertwined with the lucrative and illegal production of gold.

More than a hundred nations have joined a global campaign to reduce the international trade in mercury, an element so toxic there is “no known safe level of exposure,” according to health experts.

But that effort has backfired in Indonesia, where illicit backyard manufacturers have sprung up to supply wildcat miners and replace mercury that was previously imported from abroad. Now, Indonesia produces so much black-market mercury that it has become a major global supplier, surreptitiously shipping thousands of tons to other parts of the world. Continue Reading →

Indonesia may decide on Thursday whether to resume nickel ore exports (Reuters U.S. – November 6, 2019)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia may decide this week whether to resume nickel ore exports after halting shipments to investigate reports of export rule violations, a senior official from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry said on Wednesday.

The Maritime and Investment Affairs Coordinating Ministry, which has overall responsibility for mining activities, meets on Thursday to review the results of the investigation, Yunus Saefulhak, the director of minerals, told a conference.

The government ordered a temporary halt to exports of nickel ore on Oct. 28 following reports that exports had surged after Indonesia said an export ban would be implemented from January 2020, bringing it forward from 2022. Continue Reading →

‘Mailbox 200’: Soviet waste dump a landslide away from poisoning millions – by Mariya Gordeyeva (Reuters U.S. – November 5, 2019)

MAILUU-SUU, Kyrgyzstan (Reuters) – Hidden in a remote Central Asian gorge, thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste are one landslide away from contaminating the water supply for the whole Ferghana valley, home to millions of people, environmentalists say.

Neglected for decades by the Soviet Union and then Kyrgyzstan, uranium ore dumps near the town of Mailuu-Suu must be urgently reinforced to prevent disaster, according to the European Commission and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) which are raising funds for the project.

“There are 14 million people in the Ferghana valley and in the event of a natural disaster water may wash away the tailings into the Naryn (Syr Darya) river which will be a tragedy for the whole valley,” says Bolotbek Karimov, an environment researcher based in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh. Continue Reading →

Coal mining in Indian forests is turning local villagers into environmental watchdogs – by Kuwar Singh (Quartz India – October 29, 2019)

Every day, Ram Lal Kariyam checks the river stream that flows through Salhi, his village in the Hasdeo Arand forest of Chhattisgarh. He is on the lookout for any brown slurry from the coal-washing facility of the sprawling mine nearby.

“Earlier they would discharge dirty water four times a week,” said the 28-year-old farmer, a member of India’s Gond tribe. “Now it’s rare.” Driving this improvement are forest dwellers like him, who consistently monitor the coal mine for environmental violations.

The central state of Chhattisgarh produced the highest quantity of coal in India in the last financial year. Most of its mines are open-cast—the ground on top has to be destroyed as the coal beneath is too shallow for underground mining. It leads to greater air pollution due to the blasting of land as well as loading and unloading of overburdened soil. Continue Reading →

Former Bre-X geologist John Felderhof, key player in gold mining scandal, dies – by Andrew Willis and Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – October 29, 2019)

Former Bre-X Minerals Ltd. geologist John Felderhof, a central figure in Canada’s largest stock market fraud, died on the weekend. Mr. Felderhof was vice-president of exploration at Bre-X when the tiny mining company reported finding a massive gold deposit in the jungles of Busang, Indonesia, in the 1990s, and went on a stock market tear.

Independent geologists exposed the claim as bogus, and Mr. Felderhof was charged with spreading false information and insider trading, but was acquitted in 2007. He died in the Philippines this past weekend at age 79 of natural causes, said his lawyer, Joe Groia.

“In many ways, John’s was a remarkable story,” Mr. Groia said. “He enjoyed enormous success before Bre-X. Most geologists think they are lucky to have one discovery. John found two major deposits.” Continue Reading →

John Felderhof, geologist who played central role in Bre-X gold mining scandal, dead at 79 – by Barbara Shecter (Financial Post – October 28, 2019)

Felderhof was the only person to face formal charges in the infamous fraud, but was acquitted of insider trading and other securities violations in 2007

John Felderhof, the Bre-X geologist who played a central role in one of the biggest stock market scandals in Canadian history, has died. He was 79 years old.

Felderhof was the only person to face formal charges in the infamous gold mining fraud, but was acquitted of insider trading and other securities violations in 2007. The verdicts came ten years after the revelation that supposedly rich samples from Bre-X’s Indonesian mine had been “salted” with gold from outside the mine, a discovery that sent the miner’s high-flying stock into free fall.

Bre-X had a market capitalization of $6 billion at its peak, and the scandal shook Canada’s capital markets along with the country’s reputation on the global stage, as the supposedly enormous gold find had drawn interest from industry giants including U.S.-based Freeport-McMoRan. Continue Reading →

Pakistan’s tycoons offer to take over former Barrick mine (Bloomberg/Mining Weekly – October 28, 2019)

KARACHI – Pakistan’s top business tycoons have offered to take over a disputed copper and gold deposit that was once explored by Barrick Gold and Antofagasta, according to people familiar with the matter.

Officials at the provincial Balochistan government are said to have met with a consortium of four business groups including tycoons Arif Habib and Muhammad Ali Tabba who are willing to invest about $1-billion of their own cash in the project, the people said, asking not to be named because the discussions are private.

The consortium is willing to go through a bidding process to take over the project, the people said. Pakistan’s provincial government spokesman didn’t respond to requests for comment. Continue Reading →

China leads the race to exploit deep sea minerals: U.N. body (Reuters U.S. – October 23, 2019)

OSLO (Reuters) – China is likely to become the first country in the world to start mining seabed minerals if the international rules for exploitation are approved next year, the head of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) said.

The quest for exploiting seabed minerals, such as polymetallic nodules containing nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese is driven by demand for smart phones and electric car batteries, and the need to diversify supply.

The ISA has already signed 30 contracts with governments, research institutions and commercial entities for exploration phase, with China holding the most, five contracts. Continue Reading →

METALS-Shanghai nickel rises on low stockpiles, Nornickel accident – by Mai Nguyen (Reuters U.S. – October 23, 2019)

SINGAPORE, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Shanghai nickel prices rose on Wednesday, tracking gains overnight in London, buoyed by supply concerns amid falling inventories and following an accident at major nickel producer Nornickel’s mine in Siberia.

The most-traded nickel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) rose as much as 4.8% to 132,210 yuan ($18,668.72) a tonne, after benchmark nickel on the London Metal Exchange (LME) climbed 2.5% in the prior session. The Shanghai contract ended up 3% at 129,970 yuan a tonne.

Nickel stocks in LME-approved warehouses MNISTX-TOTAL fell to 87,132 tonnes, hovering around their lowest since November 2011, latest data showed, while ShFE nickel inventories have picked up recently SNI-TOTAL-W. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-The Russians are coming for Asia and Europe’s coal markets – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – October 23, 2019)

LISBON, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Life is set to get even more difficult for major coal exporters with Russia planning to increase shipments of the fuel and the cost advantages appearing increasingly stacked in its favour.

Russia is already the third-largest supplier to the seaborne market, behind Indonesia and Australia, and is moving to take advantage of its central geographic position to boost exports to both the Atlantic and Pacific basins.

Finding bullish coal market participants is increasingly difficult but at this week’s World Coal Leaders conference in Lisbon, Russia provided a group of upbeat delegates. It’s not too difficult to see why they are positive about gaining market share in both Europe and the Far East from established competitors. Continue Reading →

China takes the long view on copper despite soft market – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – October 21, 2019)

China is taking the extremely long view on copper. State-owned Chinese firms are making big bets on Canadian copper companies at a time when other investors are backing away amid weak commodity prices and a shaky international geopolitical climate.

Last week, state-owned Chinese miner Jiangxi Copper Co. Ltd. announced it had amassed a 10.8-per-cent stake in Vancouver-based First Quantum Minerals Ltd., through Pangaea Investment Management Ltd. Jiangxi also said it may end up increasing its stake to 16.6 per cent through a share purchase agreement with an unnamed counterparty.

Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., which is developing the giant Kamoa-Kakula copper resource in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has attracted two major Chinese backers over the past few years. Continue Reading →

China starts new $10b Oakajee iron ore push – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – October 21, 2019)

A Chinese state-owned entity will seek to revive a $9.7 billion mining rail and port project in Western Australia, in a move that could unlock the nation’s next iron ore export province.

Sinosteel has acquired Japanese giant Mitsubishi’s interests in the long-stalled Oakajee Port and Rail project, in a deal that comes in the strongest year for iron ore prices since 2014.

The acquisition effectively resolves a dispute over port tariffs that was the major wrecker of attempts to develop Oakajee during the heady peaks of the iron ore boom in 2011, and when combined with Sinosteel’s existing assets nearby, make the Chinese company the dominant force in the mid-west region of WA. Continue Reading →

China Is the World’s Biggest Coal User. Can It Break the Habit? – by Eamon Barrett (Fortune Magazine – September 5, 2019)

The future isn’t bright for Chinese coal. Ever since 2013, when the country was smothered by dangerously thick pollution in an event known as China’s “airpocalypse,” the country’s government has come under pressure to rid China of smog-making coal power plants.

Coal is the “most dirty energy” in the world, said Yang Fuqiang, senior advisor to China’s Natural Resources Defense Council, speaking at a roundtable debate on the future of energy Thursday at Fortune’s Global Sustainability Forum in Yunnan, China.

“The question is, how do we get rid of coal?” he asked. That’s a tricky task, particularly in China, which accounts for 50% of global coal consumption. According to Yang, coal consumption in China’s northern Shandong province alone surpasses the total coal consumption of Europe. Continue Reading →

Column: Coal India’s woes should boost imports, but steel softness drags – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – October 16, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – India’s coal imports are on track to decline for a third straight month in October, a drop that seems out of kilter with the ongoing struggles of state miner Coal India to boost domestic output.

India’s seaborne imports of both thermal and coking coal are on track to be around 13.3 million tonnes this month, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Refinitiv.

This figure is likely to increase somewhat in coming days as more cargoes are confirmed from Indonesia to India, however, any departures now from South Africa and Australia, won’t arrive before month end. Continue Reading →