Friedland seeks funding for Congo project – by Christopher Donville (Bloomberg/Toronto Star – September 14, 2012)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

VANCOUVER—Robert Friedland, the billionaire who spent the past decade building a $6 billion (U.S.) copper mine in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, is asking investors to fund projects in an even riskier locale—the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ivanplats Ltd., a Friedland-controlled mining company, plans to raise about $300 million (Canadian) in an initial public offering in Toronto, according to a person with knowledge of the IPO who declined to be identified because the amount hasn’t been published. Vancouver-based Ivanplats seeks funding for its Kamoa copper project in Congo and to repay debt owed to Israeli investor Dan Gertler, who sold the company a zinc mine in the African country last year, according to a prospectus filed with regulators Sept. 10.

Friedland, 62, five months ago lost control of the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia after disputes with the government and joint venture partner Rio Tinto Group. He’s now proposing a mining development in Congo, whose government seized copper assets from Canada’s First Quantum Minerals Ltd. in 2010, and in South Africa, where the mining industry is convulsed by labor unrest.

“I would call the DRC the ultimate high-risk, high-reward mining destination—it’s one that’s on the radar of all serious mining companies because of its huge wealth and mineral resources,” James Smither, head of the mining practice at Maplecroft, a Bath, England-based risk-analysis company, said by telephone.

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Philippines’ black market is China’s golden connection – by Rosemarie Francisco (Reuters.com – August 23, 2012)

http://in.reuters.com/

MOUNT DIWATA, PHILIPPINES – (Reuters) – Erich Mulato walked out of a dingy workshop in this mountain village and into a gold shop next door, clutching a handful of shiny warm nuggets newly refined from the ore he had brought in.

The 53-year-old father of six had come off a 24-hour shift at one of the hundreds of small-scale mines in this region of southern Philippines. He sold the 5.49 grams of gold in his hand – his share of the day’s output – for 8,260 pesos. That’s more than 16 times what a manual laborer earns daily in Manila.

“Here, we can easily make money,” Mulato said, blowing smoke from a cigarette as he waited for his money at the gold shop. “Whatever we want to buy, we can buy … Making a living is better here.” Better for Mulato, but not for the Philippine government.

In all likelihood, Mulato’s gold will find its way through middlemen and into the luggage of a tourist or the black market in Manila – not to its only legal destination, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or the central bank. Up to 90 percent of small-scale Philippine gold production is being smuggled out of the Southeast Asian country, according to estimates from officials and traders, much of it to China.

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Potential for a Mining Boom Splits Factions in Afghanistan – by Graham Bowley (New York Times – September 9, 2012)

http://www.nytimes.com/

KALU VALLEY, Afghanistan — If there is a road to a happy ending in Afghanistan, much of the path may run underground: in the trillion-dollar reservoir of natural resources — oil, gold, iron ore, copper, lithium and other minerals — that has brought hopes of a more self-sufficient country, if only the wealth can be wrested from blood-soaked soil.

But the wealth has inspired darker dreams as well. Officials and industry experts say the potential resource boom seems increasingly imperiled by corruption, violence and intrigue, and has put the Afghan government’s vulnerabilities on display.

It all comes at what is already a critically uncertain time here, with the impending departure of NATO troops in 2014 and old regional and ethnic rivalries resurfacing, raising concerns that the mineral wealth could become the fuel for civil conflict.

Powerful regional warlords and militant leaders are jockeying to widen their turf to include areas with mineral wealth, and the Taliban have begun to make murderous incursions into territory where development is planned. In the capital, Kabul, factional maneuvering is in full swing, including disputes over lucrative side contracts awarded to relatives of President Hamid Karzai.

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NEWS RELEASE: Mining Association of Canada Remains Bullish on Metal Outlook

British Columbia in strategic position to benefit from mining’s largest customer, China
 
VANCOUVER, B.C, Sept. 7, 2012 /CNW/ – Canada’s mining industry is on the right path to continued prosperity despite current market volatility, says the Mining Association of Canada (MAC).
 
In a speech to members of the Vancouver Board of Trade, MAC President and CEO Pierre Gratton said regulatory reform, investment in infrastructure and promotion of strong trade relations with countries such as China, the world’s biggest consumer of metals, will keep Canada globally competitive.
 
Despite a slowdown in Chinese growth to 7.6 per cent in the second quarter, from decades of 10 per cent average annual growth, Gratton noted that most prices remain at relatively high levels, despite a fall off in recent months, and emphasized that the long-term fundamentals that have supported rising commodity prices over the past decade remain.
 
“The mining super cycle is not over, it is taking a pause. This is the nature of the mining business, which is cyclical,” said Gratton.  “The industry is generally better prepared for the current slowdown compared to last time, which was much more dramatic.”

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In China, Silvercorp critic caught in campaign by police – by Mark MacKinnon and Andy Hoffman (Globe and Mail – September 8, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

BEIJING and VANCOUVER — On the afternoon of Dec. 28, Huang Kun was about to board a flight to Hong Kong when his Canadian passport was flagged by officials at Beijing’s International Airport, and he was taken into custody by Chinese police.

It was the beginning of a prolonged and often frightening ordeal for Mr. Huang that has landed the 35-year-old from British Columbia in a Chinese jail – sharing a one-bed cell with 20 other men. He is expected to soon face charges of criminally defaming a Vancouver-based mining company called Silvercorp Metals Inc.

Mr. Huang knew when he went to the airport that day that police in the city of Luoyang, where Silvercorp’s flagship mining operations are located, had arrested and interrogated two associates of his. The men had helped him prepare a scathing research report that, when its allegations were published, sent Silvercorp’s share price tumbling 20 per cent in one day on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

What he didn’t know was that in the wake of a series of scandals involving Chinese companies listed on North American stock exchanges, authorities in China had decided to push back hard against those attacking the credibility of Chinese firms.

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The Doer [Robert Friedland – Mining Entrepreneur] – by Peter Koven (National Post – September 4, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

On paper, Robert Friedland’s influence on the Canadian mining world seems to be waning. The legendary promoter showed a rare sign of weakness this year, losing control of Ivanhoe Mines and its massive Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia to British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, and Friedland has seemingly disappeared from public view. So why can’t people stop talking about him?

Because love him or hate him, there’s no disputing Friedland’s imprint on the industry. From mastering the art of mining stock promotion in the 1980s and 1990s, to correctly calling the China boom and forging business ties with Asia in the 1990s and early 2000s, Friedland has always been the trailblazer everyone else tries to follow. In the few months the self-made billionaire has spent out of the limelight, investors have speculated wildly about when and where he will pop up next. Such speculation has never been easy where Friedland is concerned.

After a stint as a hippie in the 1970s, during which he befriended Steve Jobs, Friedland embraced the junior mining world and set up shop in Vancouver. He has rarely strayed from the headlines in the years since. He developed a big gold mine in Colorado, which was later shut down after an environmental accident (earning Friedland the “Toxic Bob” nickname that still sticks).

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The Deadly Tin Inside Your Smartphone – by Cam Simpson (Bloomberg Businessweek – August 23, 2012)

http://www.businessweek.com/

On May 29, in the bottom of a tin-mining pit on Bangka Island in Indonesia, a wall about 16 feet high collapsed, sending a wave of earth crashing down on a 40-year-old father of two. His name was Rosnan. The dirt crushed his legs, sent something sharp slicing through his right thigh, and buried him from the waist down. His partner, panicked but unhurt, scrambled out of the pit screaming for help. About 20 other miners rushed in to dig Rosnan out with their bare hands.

“He kept repeating, ‘Please, please help me,’ ” recalls Rosnan’s son, Dian Chandra, 20, who rode in the back of a car with his father to a nearby hospital. Rosnan lost too much blood. “I couldn’t find a pulse,” says Dr. Mario, the emergency room physician on duty. Dr. Mario declared Rosnan dead at about 3 p.m. (Like many Indonesians, including Dr. Mario, Rosnan had one name.)

Back at the mine, someone stuck a withered sapling into the soft bottom of the pit near the spot where Rosnan fell—a far too frequent sight in the mines of Bangka, where Rosnan was the first of six to die on the job during a single week this spring. The other victims didn’t make it to the hospital. All, including a 15-year-old boy, were buried alive.

Three days after Rosnan’s death, and following Friday prayers at the local mosque, his family and friends gathered to mourn him at his brother’s cinder-block home. They sat on the bare floor, sharing a meal of rice, noodles, and fish stew. Rosnan’s 57-year-old brother, Rani, recalls that Rosnan had few options outside the pit. “We have to live,” he says. “We need money.”

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Indian village fears being swallowed by underground coal fires – by Mark Magnier (Los Angeles Times/Toronto Star – August 18, 2012)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

JHARIA, India — For nearly a century now, fires have burned beneath the ground where Mohammad Riyaz Ansari stands. At night, ghostly blue flares shoot from glowing rocks, like a terrible hell on Earth.

The 55-year-old mechanic and his neighbours here, deep in eastern India’s coal country, live above underground coal fires that are eating away at their land, India’s precious natural resources and, say some, government credibility.

As the ground subsides, thousands of houses, including Ansari’s, have sagged, collapsed or fallen into chasms over the years, including 250 destroyed over two hours in 1995.

In this eerie landscape — the plumes of flame igniting periodically as combustible gas escapes from the subterranean fires — locals speak of neighbours swallowed in their sleep. In 2006, for instance, 14-year-old Mira Kumari vanished while cooking when her house fell 15 metres underground. Her body was never recovered.

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In Mongolia, a New, Penned-In [Mineral] Wealth – by Dan Levin (New York Times – June 27, 2012)

http://www.nytimes.com/

TAVAN TOLGOI, Mongolia — “All you need to mine here is a shovel,” said an awe-struck Indian investment manager as he stood behind a barrier, along with dozens of international mining industry executives and other eager investors, gazing at the immense coal pit gouged out of the rust-colored earth below.

Coal may have lured the foreigners to this stretch of the Gobi, but that is just part of the buried treasure to be found now that this nation of livestock herders has started digging in earnest. Mongolia has not only enough coal to fuel China’s huge demand for the next 50 years, but also vast troves of copper, gold, uranium and other minerals the world covets.

While Mongolia may be blessed by geology, it is cursed by geography. Landlocked between China and Russia, its three million people face a geopolitical quandary: Every path to prosperity leads through their mighty neighbors’ territory. And Moscow and Beijing intend to make Mongolia pay dearly for the privilege.

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Chinese demand for Chile’s copper holds strong – by Pav Jordan (Globe and Mail – June 26, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Global copper goliath Chile says Chinese demand for the metal is holding up despite a slowing of China’s economic growth, signaling a continuation of market dynamics that have driven consumption for over a decade.

“We have not seen a relevant decrease with respects to the Chinese market,” Chile’s deputy mining minister, Pablo Wagner, said by telephone from Santiago.

Mr. Wagner pointed to forecasts for a rise in overall copper exports in 2012 of between 5 per cent and 6 per cent over the year-earlier period. “Signs of demand, shipments and inventories, continue to be solid.”

Chile exports about 53 per cent of its copper to China, giving it one of the clearest insights into the demand patterns of the giant Asian economy that has devoured the red metal as it fuels booming economic growth and urbanization. Chile is also home to the world’s largest copper company, state miner Codelco, which is a key business partner of China.

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Glencore buys into seafloor mining – Peter Koven (National Post – June 16, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The world’s largest commodity trader has endorsed speculative undersea mining as a handful of entrepreneurs continue to try to put the industry on the map.

Vancouver-based DeepGreen Resources Inc. has struck a deal with Glencore International Inc. under which the commodity giant agreed to buy 50% of the nickel and copper DeepGreen plans to produce from a seafloor project located west of Mexico.

DeepGreen is a private company founded by David Heydon, the man who built industry leader Nautilus Minerals Inc. and kick-started the underwater mining business. He has planned to take DeepGreen public in Toronto for more than a year, and Glencore’s commitment is a potential catalyst to attract investors to an IPO. The offering has already been delayed because of weak market conditions.

Mr. Heydon views the Glencore deal as evidence that DeepGreen – and seafloor mining as a whole – need to be taken seriously.

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Halcyon days fading for Asia-Pacific mining companies-S&P – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – May 04, 2012)

www.mineweb.com

S&P warns if China’s slowdown proves to be severe, it could take the wind out of commodities prices sails. Even with a soft landing, steel and aluminum producers will still weaken.

RENO (MINEWEB) –  A key threat to the stable outlook of the mining sectors is a rise in inputs costs,” Standard & Poor’s credit analysts warned in a recent industry report card on Asia-Pacific metals and mining companies.
 
“A tighter labor supply and likely higher energy prices will pressure the profitability of many commodity producers. Metal producers will also be wrestling with more expensive raw materials,” the analysts advised.”
 
“For Asia-Pacific steel and aluminum companies, we forecast a negative outlook. Margins in this subsector will struggle with softening demand due to a global slowdown and abundant supply.”

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India Struggles to Deliver Enough Power [coal shortages]- by Vikas Bajaj (New York Times – April 19, 2012)

http://www.nytimes.com/

NELLORE, India — India has long struggled to provide enough electricity to light its homes and power its industry around the clock. In recent years, the government and private sector sought to change that by building scores of new power plants.

But that campaign is now running into difficulties because the country cannot get enough fuel — principally coal — to run the plants. Clumsy policies, poor management and environmental concerns have hampered the country’s efforts to dig up fuel fast enough to keep up with its growing need for power.

A complex system of subsidies and price controls has limited investment, particularly in resources like coal and natural gas. It has also created anomalies, like retail electricity prices that are lower than the cost of producing power, which lead to big losses at state-owned utilities. An unsettled debate about how much of its forests India should turn over to mining has also limited coal production.

The power sector’s problems have substantially contributed to a second year of slowing economic growth in India, to an estimated 7 percent this year, from nearly 10 percent in 2010. Businesses report that more frequent blackouts have forced them to lower production and spend significantly more on diesel fuel to run backup generators.

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China mineral stocks running low – China English News (April 22, 2012)

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/

BEIJING, April 22 (Xinhua) — China is running short of 25 kinds of mineral resources, including 11 that are crucial to the country’s economy, said a senior official on Sunday.
 
The country will face a serious shortage of mineral resources by 2020 as it consumes an increasing amount of them to promote its industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization, Minister of Land and Resources Xu Shaoshi told Xinhua in an exclusive interview to mark the 43rd “Earth Day.”
 
The prediction was based on surveys of recoverable reserves of 45 kinds of major minerals, Xu said, adding that China will have to sharply increase imports of minerals in short supply to meet demand over the next 10 to 20 years.
 
Over the past 15 years, China registered double-digit growth in the consumption of mineral resources. More than half of the country’s petroleum, iron ore, refined aluminum, refined copper and leopoldite were imported, according to the minister.

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Ivanhoe CEO Loses in Rio ‘Chess Game’ Over Mongolia Mine – by Christopher Donville and Liezel Hill (Bloomberg.com 0 April 19, 2012)

http://www.bloomberg.com/

Twelve years after beginning his quest to build a copper mine in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, it’s checkmate for Robert Friedland.

Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. said yesterday the billionaire investor resigned as chief executive officer, along with other top executives at the Vancouver-based company. It said Rio Tinto Group agreed to ensure funding of the $6 billion Oyu Tolgoi project’s construction. The accord means Rio is free to appoint Ivanhoe’s management, cementing control of the company three months after increasing its stake to 51 percent.

“Friedland’s lost the chess game with Rio,” John Stephenson, a fund manager in Toronto who oversees about $2.7 billion at First Asset Investment Management, said in an interview.

Oyu Tolgoi — which means “turquoise hill” in Mongolian – – is just the latest of several chapters in the often controversial career of Friedland, who holds a 14 percent stake in Ivanhoe. A one-time mentor to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs, Friedland, 61, has raised funds for mines in North America and Asia since the mid-1980s and led the C$4.3 billion ($4.3 billion) sale of the Voisey’s Bay nickel deposit in Canada in 1996. His next adventure may be developing mines in Africa.

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