Archive | Asia Mining

Explainer: How global pandemic jeopardizes China’s metals supply chain (Reuters U.S. – April 22, 2020)

BEIJING (Reuters) – Mines around the world are cutting output due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving top metals consumer China fretting over supply as it recovers from the initial demand shock that the outbreak inflicted on its economy.

China boosted copper imports year-on-year in March as it looks to reboot industrial activity across the country, but potential shortages of key metal-making raw materials create risks to production of everything from home appliances to electric vehicle batteries.

Below is a list of minerals for which China has a high import dependence.


Key suppliers: Chile, Peru Continue Reading →

With Price High, Thais with Dwindling Incomes Sell Off Gold – by Tassanee Vejpongsa (The Diplomat – April 16, 2020)

With gold prices rising to a seven-year high, many Thais have been flocking to gold shops to trade in their necklaces, bracelets, rings and gold bars for cash, eager to reap profits during an economic downturn.

In Thailand, where measures against the spread of COVID-19 have been less severe than in other countries, gold shops are de facto financial institutions, and generally remain open. Long lines formed all week outside major gold shops in Chinatown in the capital Bangkok.

The sell-off has some gold shop owners claiming they are facing a liquidity crunch, leaving them short on cash to continue purchasing. Continue Reading →

China’s rare earth exports leap in March after coronavirus-hit January, February – by Tom Daly (Reuters U.S. – April 14, 2020)

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s rare earth exports rose 19.2% year-on-year in March, customs data showed on Tuesday, hitting their highest since at least 2014 as a backlog of product was shipped, helping the industry rebound from a January-February slump due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Exports totalled 5,551.4 tonnes last month, the General Administration of Customs said, up from 4,659 tonnes a year earlier. The March number exceeded exports in January and February 2020 combined and was the highest monthly total in records on the customs website going back to June 2014.

China is the world’s dominant producer of rare earth materials, a group of 17 minerals prized for their use in consumer electronics and sophisticated military equipment. Continue Reading →

Demand surge for niche steel products to be boon for China mills – by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh (Reuters U.S. – April 8, 2020)

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s steel companies are banking on rising demand in 2020 for high-end, and higher priced, specialty metal products for use in new infrastructure projects to revive an economy that was already slowing before the recent coronavirus outbreak.

As much as 2.8 trillion yuan ($396.75 billion) of local government bonds have been pledged for metal-intensive projects designed to stimulate economic growth, including new light rail systems, energy grid upgrades and an accelerated roll-out of 5G network installations.

Li Xinchuang, chairman of the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute (CMIPRI), a government think-tank, expects new infrastructure projects to increase direct demand of specialty steel products by around 33 million tonnes this year, or roughly the annual output of Brazil, the ninth-largest steel producer. Li did not give a 2019 figure. Continue Reading →

Commodities Shows Recovery Taking Hold – by Dan Murtaugh, Alfred Cang and Krystal Chia (Bloomberg News – April 7, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — From oil to copper to coal, China’s gigantic commodities industry is signaling that the first economy to be flattened by the coronavirus is getting closer to a return to normality.

Bloomberg Economics estimates that most of China was 90%-95% back to work at the end of last week, noting pick-ups in the steel market, construction activity and crude processing.

Those oil refineries, as well as coal-fired power plants, are nearing last year’s operating rates, while metals stockpiles have shrunk from record or near-record levels. It’s a three-month cycle of collapse and recovery marked by perhaps the most heartening milestone for those nations still fending off the worst of the virus: China has now reported zero new Covid-19 deaths for the first time since January. Continue Reading →

Pressure builds on China’s raw materials supply chains – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – April 2, 2020)

LONDON (Reuters) – China is ready to move on from the coronavirus and get back to business as usual. “With the spread of COVID-19 under control, we should actively carry out the resumption of work and production,” President Xi Jinping said this week.

Xi’s comments, reported by state media under the headline “Chinese president unpauses China’s economy”, were made during a tour of Zhejiang province. (CGTN, part of China Media Group, April 2, 2020)

As ever, Xi’s whistle-stop tour was an exercise in subliminal messaging. Those comments were made during a visit to an auto parts supplier in the Daqi industrial park in the city of Ningbo. He also dropped in on Ningbo Zhoushan port, one of the world’s busiest, and praised it for getting throughput back to pre-coronavirus levels. Continue Reading →

Waste molybdenum ore spill in China spreads 110 km downstream (Reuters U.S. – April 1, 2020)

BEIJING (Reuters) – A spill from a tailings dam at a molybdenum mine in northeast China on Saturday has contaminated water up to 110 km (68 miles) downstream, environmental authorities said on Wednesday.

Tailings dams are commonly used by mining firms to store waste remnants of ore but they have come under close scrutiny since the collapse of one in Brazil last year killed more than 250 people.

In China’s Heilongjiang province on Saturday, water containing waste molybdenum ore – mined for the metal used in stainless steel and tools – flowed out of a tailings pond belonging to Yichun Luming Mining Co Ltd and into a river system. There were no casualties reported. Continue Reading →

World’s Top Gold Market Freezes as Chinese Shoppers Stay Away – by Annie Lee and Jinshan Hong (Bloomberg/Yahoo – March 31, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — The coronavirus pandemic has frozen the Chinese gold market, torpedoing demand at a time when investors elsewhere in the world are clamoring for the safety of bullion.

China is the biggest buyer of gold bars, coins and jewelry, but the national shutdown to contain the virus has emptied malls, while the premium charged to buy the metal in China has evaporated. It leaves the industry staring down a long road to recovery, even as Beijing tries to jump-start broader consumption with a campaign to get shoppers out and about.

The market’s struggles in China may present a headwind for prices, which last month topped $1,700 an ounce for the first time in seven years. The traditional haven also faces a drag from slower retail consumption in India, Europe and the U.S., as well as Russia’s surprise decision to halt purchases by its central bank. Last year, Chinese consumers accounted for about a fifth of total gold demand of 4,356 tons, according to the World Gold Council. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Philippines’ nickel mining hub to suspend operations due to coronavirus – by Enrico Dela Cruz (Reuters U.S. – March 31, 2020)

MANILA, March 31 (Reuters) – Mining operations in the Philippines’ southern province of Surigao del Norte, home to most of the country’s nickel mines, will be suspended from April 1 as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, two mining companies said on Tuesday.

Nickel Asia Corp and Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc, the Southeast Asian country’s two biggest nickel ore miners and exporters, said in separate statements that they received a copy of the suspension order dated March 28 from the provincial government.

The two miners account for more than half of the country’s nickel ore output. Nickel Asia said the suspension order also covers the entry of foreign vessels to Surigao del Norte. The nearby province of Dinagat Islands, which also hosts nickel mines, has banned vessels shipping ore to China, local media has reported. Continue Reading →

Iron ore futures in China, Singapore fall on doubts over stimulus – by Enrico Dela Cruz (Reuters India – March 30, 2020)

MANILA, March 30 (Reuters) – Iron ore futures in China and Singapore fell on Monday on renewed doubts whether the massive stimulus measures introduced across the world are adequate to buttress a global economy hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Worries about demand for metals also hit steel futures in China, which accounts for more than half of the world’s steel output and the top exporter of steel products.

The Dalian Commodity Exchange’s most-active May contract for steelmaking ingredient, iron ore, dropped as much as 3% to 640.50 yuan ($90.26) a tonne, before ending the morning session down 2.8%. Iron ore’s front-month April contract on the Singapore Exchange shed as much as 2.3%. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-China iron ore erases 2020 losses on supply concerns, stimulus – by Enrico Dela Cruz (Reuters India – March 25, 2020)

MANILA, March 25 (Reuters) – Chinese iron ore futures rose more than 5% on Wednesday, the most since July last year, on worries over supply as more countries including top producers of the steelmaking raw material ordered lockdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Hopes for global stimulus and a revival in steel demand also buoyed overall sentiment, with U.S. lawmakers moving closer to passing a $2 trillion aid package and the Group of 20 major economies looking to advance a coordinated response to the pandemic.

Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange ended 5.1% higher at 665 yuan ($93.97) a tonne, wiping out its losses for this year. Futures on the Singapore Exchange rose 2.5% in afternoon trade. Continue Reading →

Massive silver price drop triggers a ‘rush to buy’ in India — INTL FCStone – by Anna Golubova (Kitco News – March 18, 2020)

(Kitco News) A recent plunge in silver to 11-year lows has awoken strong Indian demand for the precious metal as low prices present a not-to-miss buying opportunity, according to INTL FCStone.

Earlier this week, silver prices tumbled below $12 an ounce with May silver futures last trading at $12.250, down 1.96% on the day. “Silver has continued to slither lower, hit by the dual adverse effects of lower gold and a debilitating economic outlook,” said INTL FCStone’s head of market analysis for EMEA and Asia regions Rhona O’Connell.

“The dramatic fall in silver to eleven-year lows (compare gold, at three-month lows) has launched a rush to buy silver in India, the world’s largest silver consumer.” Continue Reading →

China’s January-February coal output drops 6.3% as coronavirus disrupts (Reuters U.S. – March 15, 2020)

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s coal output in the first two months of 2020 fell 6.3% from the same period a year earlier as the coronavirus outbreak stopped miners from getting back to work after the Lunar New Year holiday was extended in a bid to contain the epidemic.

China churned out 489.03 million tonnes of coal over January and February, down from 513.67 million tonnes in the same period last year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Monday.

Production of coke, widely used in steelmaking, fell 5.5% on the year in January-February to 70.64 million tonnes, statistic bureau data showed. The statistics bureau didn’t disclose numbers for January and February separately. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-China copper inventories near 4-yr high as supply swamps virus-hit demand; steel stocks build slows – by Tom Daly, Min Zhang and Mai Nguyen (Reuters U.S. – March 13, 2020)

BEIJING, March 13 (Reuters) – Shanghai Futures Exchange copper inventories rose another 10% in the past week to their highest in almost four years amid signs China’s production is holding up even as demand struggles to recover from the impact of the coronavirus.

Chinese steel stocks, meanwhile, remain at record highs, although the pace of the build has slowed. Inventories of copper CU-STX-SGH climbed by 34,959 tonnes from the previous week to 380,065 tonnes, the exchange said on Friday. That’s the most since March 25, 2016.

The boost comes after Chinese research house Antaike said February copper output in its smelter survey was flat from January at 656,000 tonnes, much higher than expected, and as key metal consuming sectors are slow to return to work. Continue Reading →

China $570 billion stimulus raises hopes for copper, iron ore price – by Frik Els ( – March 11, 2020)

Copper and iron ore prices have held up surprisingly well as markets in the West belatedly come to grips with the coronavirus pandemic and China shifts focus from containment to rebuilding its economy following more than two months of inactivity.

On Wednesday BMO Capital Markets held a conference call with PRC Macro, a consulting firm focused on China’s political economy, about the prospects for 2020 GDP growth in the country.

PRC Macro anticipates spending by Beijing of as much as $570 billion primarily focused on infrastructure. PRC Macro says “in order to declare an economic victory, a 5% growth rate is the absolute minimum that will be acceptable”: Continue Reading →