Archive | Copper

Chile’s Codelco seeks approvals to explore for lithium at Maricunga (Reuters U.S. – January 24, 2020)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile state miner Codelco filed with regulators on Friday a plan to begin exploration for lithium in its Maricunga salt flat holdings, a key step in advancing development of the country’s second richest deposit of the metal needed for batteries.

The proposal, if approved, would allow Codelco, the world’s top producer of copper, to pinpoint concentrations of lithium on the flat, estimate the size of the resource and identify necessary next steps. The state-owned miner hopes to explore for as many as 10 months, the company said in a statement.

Codelco has for years talked of getting into the lithium business. But the cash-strapped miner has repeatedly delayed plans to develop its reserves to concentrate on copper, its primary business. Continue Reading →

Freeport Looks Poised to Turn Corner After Five-Year Bumpy Road – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – January 22, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — It’s been a rough haul for Freeport-McMoRan Inc., but the future may be looking up.

In the past five years, the world’s largest publicly traded copper miner was forced to sell assets and shares to manage debt as it weathered fall-out from the collapse of the commodity super cycle. It emerged from multiyear talks over its Indonesian mine to secure long-term rights, and hung on as production at the flagship operation tumbled during the switch from open pit to underground mining.

And in the past year, it has been buffeted by global trade winds and hit by crossfire from demonstrations against a competitor in Peru. Continue Reading →

Editorial counterpoint: McCollum’s mining-ban bill shortchanges environment review – by Frank Ongaro (Minneapolis Star Tribune – January 21, 2020)

It’s no surprise that the Star Tribune Editorial Board supports U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill banning copper-nickel mining (“Bill offers vital BWCA protections,” Jan 19).

Unfortunately, McCollum’s bill is a desperate attempt to pre-emptively sidestep rigorous review processes already well-established under federal and state statutes to determine the feasibility and safety of mining projects on public lands.

All mining projects in our state — including taconite, iron ore and other extractive industry developments that power our economy and were explicitly left out of this bill — must undergo extensive environmental and feasibility studies. The statutes were enacted to assure a fair, predictable process built on scientific and technical evidence, not the shifting winds of politics. Continue Reading →

Trade War Has Copper Prices Artificially Low, Chile Minister Says – by Maria Elena Vizcaino (Bloomberg News – January 20, 2020)

(Bloomberg) The phase-one trade deal between the U.S. and China may bring some relief to copper exporters, helping shore up the finances of Chilean state-run producer Codelco, Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica said.

Copper prices may rally to $3 a pound, from an average of about $2.72 last year, as Washington and Beijing work to resolve their trade dispute that has ushered in a “complex period” of economic uncertainty, hurting industrial demand for the metal, Prokurica said in a phone interview.

U.S.-China tensions helped trigger a slowdown in global manufacturing, fueling concerns over the outlook for copper and keeping a lid on price gains even as inventories shrank. The two countries, the world’s biggest consumers of the metal, signed what they billed as the first phase of a broader trade pact on Wednesday. Copper prices rallied in the run-up to the agreement, and posted a second straight weekly gain. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Ecuador exports first copper concentrate from Chinese-owned Mirador mine – by Alexandra Valencia (Reuters Africa – January 16, 2020)

QUITO, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Ecuador made its first export of 22,000 tonnes of copper concentrate from the Chinese-owned Mirador mine, the energy ministry said on Wednesday, marking a new milestone in the country’s effort to develop a large-scale mining industry.

Ecuador, an Andean country neighboring No. 2 copper producer Peru, has large mineral reserves but is only beginning to establish industrial-scale mining projects.

Mirador is run by Ecuacorriente, a subsidiary of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan, which has a 30-year concession. It started production in July 2019. Continue Reading →

Minnesota court rejects major permits for PolyMet mine – by Steve Karnowski (Washington Post – January 13, 2020)

Associated Press – ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday rejected some of the most important permits for the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota, giving a major victory to environmentalists.

A three-judge panel ruled that the state Department of Natural Resources erred when it declined to order a proceeding known as a “contested case hearing” to gather more information on the potential environmental impacts from the mine. The court also said the agency erred when it issued PolyMet’s permit to mine without imposing a fixed term on that permit.

So the court sent the dispute back to the DNR with orders to conduct the potentially lengthy hearing, during which an administrative law judge would take testimony and sort out conflicting evidence. Continue Reading →

M&As in the copper space could surge in 2020, especially if Chinese companies come to the party – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – January 15, 2020)

As the U.S. and China prepare to sign the first phase of a trade deal, copper prices are on the rise, hitting an eight-month high at US$2.83 per pound on Tuesday. Yet, many analysts are taking a circumspect view of the impact that a U.S.-China trade deal will have on copper.

“I think there’s certainly near-term impact, but I’m not sure it really is going to resolve core issues between the two countries,” said Pierre Vaillancourt, a senior analyst at Haywood Securities.

Still, he added, “We see positive supply and demand trends regardless of where trade is.” It ties into a growing if cautious optimism for the copper sector after a lacklustre year in which prices fell five per cent — averaging US$2.82 per pound in the first quarter of 2019 and US$2.67 per pound in the fourth quarter. RBC Capital Markets analysts last week predicted that M&A in the copper space could surge in 2020, especially if Chinese companies remain hungry. Continue Reading →

Congo opens Chinese-owned Deziwa copper and cobalt mine – by Stanis Bujakera (Reuters U.S. – January 15, 2020)

DEZIWA MINE, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – The Democratic Republic of Congo’s state mining company Gécamines on Wednesday opened the Deziwa copper and cobalt mine and processing plant, part of a joint venture majority-owned by China Nonferrous Metal Mining Company (CNMC).

The Deziwa deposit, around 35 kilometres east of Kolwezi, is estimated to hold 4.6 million tonnes of copper and 420,000 tonnes of cobalt. Somidez, the joint venture controlling it, is held 51% by CNMC and 49% by Gécamines.

An $880 million project which started construction in May 2018, the Deziwa mine aims to produce 80,000 tonnes of copper and 8,000 tonnes of cobalt per year, according to Somidez. Continue Reading →

With Copper Stockpiles Tapped Out, Banks See a 2020 Price Spike – by Yvonne Yue Li (Bloomberg News – Janaury 13, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — The price of copper, a barometer for the global economy, could jump in 2020 with capital spending for new production down and stockpiles tapped out at a time when U.S.-China trade tensions are easing.

The threat of a long trade war limited mining activity and kept manufacturers from adding to their stocks. The result: Inventories at warehouses tracked by the three international exchanges, a last resort for supply, have shrunk by about 37% since July to just shy of 300,000 tons, equivalent to just 1.2% of global consumption. Meanwhile, mine production fell 0.4% last year from 2018.

That has large international banks largely bullish on the metal. Citigroup Inc. sees demand in China, the top consumer, jumping 2.6% after barely rising in 2019, powered by power grid and automaker investments. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts see prices at $7,000 a metric ton in 2020, according to a December report. That follows a 3.5% gain to $6,174 in 2019. Continue Reading →

Minnesota appeals court rejects three PolyMet permits, sends them back to DNR for hearing (Minneapolis Star Tribune – January 13, 2020)

Environmental groups, Fond du Lac tribe cheer decision to require further state review.

Plans to build Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine suffered a major setback Monday when the state Court of Appeals reversed three permits issued to PolyMet Mining Corp. and kicked them back to state regulators for additional review.

Chief Judge Edward Cleary said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) erred in not holding so-called contested case hearings on the permits to fully vet objections by environmental groups and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In a decision released Monday, he ordered the DNR to hold such a hearing.

In addition, Cleary said, the DNR should have specified time limits for the mine’s entire life cycle in PolyMet’s all-important permit to mine. Although PolyMet says it intends to mine for 20 years, the permit isn’t clear about the time frame for activities such as mine reclamation and future maintenance of the huge tailings dam for mine waste that will be left behind, according to the court’s decision. Continue Reading →

Freeport-McMoRan Isn’t Looking for Strategic Deals in Coming Years, CEO Says – by Alistair MacDonald (Wall Street Journal – January 13, 2020)

U.S. mining company Freeport-McMoRan Inc. FCX 4.90% has no interest in major strategic deals over the next three years, its chief executive said Monday, potentially stymieing informal overtures from Barrick Gold Corp. GOLD -2.24% to merge.

Barrick Gold Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow has told reporters that there is logic in merging with Freeport. That has stoked expectations among some investors and bankers that the two sides could get together. Alongside copper, Freeport’s massive Indonesian mine, Grasberg, is also one of the world’s largest gold producers.

But Freeport is too focused on the engineering challenge of turning Grasberg from open pit mining into an underground operation to think about mergers and acquisition deals, said the company’s veteran CEO, Richard Adkerson. Continue Reading →

Copper output slumps at Codelco, BHP’s Escondida in November – by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – January 7, 2020)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Copper output slumped at Chile’s state miner Codelco and BHP’s sprawling Escondida mine in November, according to Chile state copper agency Cochilco, amid a turbulent month of riots and mass protests that rocked the mineral-rich South American nation.

Cochilco said output at Codelco, the world’s largest copper miner, plummeted 11% in November over the same month in 2018 to 155,200 tonnes. Production at BHP’s Escondida, the globe’s largest copper mine, fell 1.5% to 103,200 tonnes.

The Collahuasi copper mine in northern Chile, a joint-venture between Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc, nonetheless saw its November production jump 9.7%, to 56,700 tonnes, the agency said. Continue Reading →

[Arizona Mining] A Sacred Place And A Sacred Quest To Save It – by Osha Gray Davidson (HuffPost US – December 27, 2019)

The Oak Flat land in Arizona is holy to the Apaches. A mining company wants to blow a two-mile-wide hole in it.

Some of Wendsler Nosie Sr.’s earliest memories are set in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. “I was about 3 or 4 years old,” the now 60-year-old Apache man recalls on a sparkling fall day, sitting beside his granddaughter at a picnic table under a tall oak tree. “We used to stop here at Oak Flat and my mother would pray.”

The Oak Flat area, which lies within the national forest, is sacred to the Apache people and central to the tribe’s origin story. For centuries before European settlers came, young girls gathered at this place ― called Chi’chil Bildagoteel in Apache ― for their coming-of-age ceremony. Apaches still visit in the spring to collect medicinal plants and in the fall to harvest Emery oak acorns, a protein-rich staple.

But if Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of international mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, gets its way, a large part of the site will disappear forever, sinking into a hole two miles wide and deep enough to hold three Statues of Liberty stacked on top of one another. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Doctor Copper ends 2019 with a new-found spring in his step – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – December 22, 2019)

LONDON, Dec 20 (Reuters) – Doctor Copper is ending the year on a high note. London Metal Exchange (LME) copper has this morning hit a seven-month high of $6,235.50 per tonne, having broken out of its previous $5,500-6,000 range earlier this month.

Funds have been covering back short positions and building new long positions as bank analysts turn more positive on copper’s prospects for next year. The trigger for Doctor Copper’s resurgence was the announcement of a “Phase One” trade deal between the United States and China.

The deal is still somewhat nebulous and no-one seems sure whether there will be a “Phase Two”, but, to quote Goldman Sachs, there is a sense that “US-China tariffs have peaked”. (“Macro at a Glance”, Dec. 18, 2019). That in turn, it is hoped, will help reinvigorate stuttering demand from China’s manufacturing sector. Continue Reading →

Study of copper-nickel mining’s effect on Boundary Waters dropped from bill – by Jimmy Lovrien (Duluth News Tribune – December 17, 2019)

Language that would have required a study of the impact of copper-nickel mining on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was dropped from the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill this week.

It would have commissioned a report from the National Academy of Sciences “on the impacts on ecosystem services of the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness resulting from a Twin Metals sulfide-ore copper mine located in the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness” but it was removed from the final agreement by White House negotiators, a spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-St. Paul, who authored the bill, confirmed to the News Tribune Tuesday.

Twin Metals, owned by Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta, is hoping to build a large underground copper-nickel mine near Ely, within the Rainy River Watershed and on the edge of the BWCAW. Critics say the project could send tainted runoff into the BWCAW while supporters say the mine would bring much-needed jobs to the region. Continue Reading →