Archive | International Media Resource Articles

A Copper Mining Lesson From Zambia: History Repeats Itself – by Antony Sguazzin and Matthew Hill (Bloomberg News – May 23, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Vedanta Resources Ltd. is learning the hard way that when it comes to Zambia’s copper-mining industry, history tends to repeat itself.

Fifty years ago, Zambia’s first post-independence leader Kenneth Kaunda nationalized mines owned by Anglo American Plc and Roan Selection Trust to rally his political supporters.

Now populist President Edgar Lungu is taking legal steps to take over the operations of Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines, alleging the unit lied about expansion plans and cheated on taxes. Continue Reading →

Explainer: China’s rare earth supplies could be vital bargaining chip in U.S. trade war (Reuters U.K. – May 22, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Rare earth elements are used in a wide range of consumer products, from iPhones to electric car motors, as well as military jet engines, satellites and lasers.

Rising tensions between the United States and China have sparked concerns that Beijing could use its dominant position as a supplier of rare earths for leverage in the trade war between the two global economic powers.

WHAT ARE RARE EARTHS USED IN?

Rare earths are used in rechargeable batteries for electric and hybrid cars, advanced ceramics, computers, DVD players, wind turbines, catalysts in cars and oil refineries, monitors, televisions, lighting, lasers, fiber optics, superconductors and glass polishing. Continue Reading →

Mining proposal for Skagit River headwaters in B.C. sparks outcry from congressional Dems, Gov. Inslee – by Evan Bush (Seattle Times – May 22, 2019)

https://www.seattletimes.com/

Nine members of Washington state’s congressional delegation, all Democrats, called Wednesday for the U.S. Department of State to intervene in a simmering dispute with Canada over a company’s proposal for exploratory mining in the headwaters of the Skagit River.

“The potential for releases of copper and other heavy metals would pollute waters downstream,” the congressional leaders wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, declaring their opposition to the project.

The letter outlines concerns over potential harms to Washington’s tourism and recreation economy, public health and vulnerable fish populations, among others. Continue Reading →

Column: Rare earths trade gun is loaded; will China pull the trigger? – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – May 23, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Is China about to weaponise its global dominance of rare earths production in an escalation of the trade dispute with the United States? President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Chinese city of Ganzhou earlier this week seemed designed to send a double message.

A stop-off at Yudu was for the domestic audience. The town was the starting point of the Long March, the 1934 retreat by Communist Party forces in their ultimately successful campaign against Chinese nationalists.

The message: things are going to get tough but we’ll win in the end. A side-trip to a rare earths plant operated by JL MAG Rare-Earth Co, was for the United States. Continue Reading →

Australia, US should form battery mineral alliance, says lithium chief – by Jacob Greber (Australian Financial Review – May 22, 2019)

https://www.afr.com/

Washington | Australia and the US may need to jettison free-market orthodoxy and develop a strategic alliance to guarantee supply of the raw materials essential to the new era of battery-based electrification.

James Calaway, chairman of Australian-listed lithium developer Ioneer, said there was an “unusual amount” of interest within the US and Australian governments over the vulnerabilities of critical supply chains for battery technology.

“I don’t think we need to get into protectionism, but we can talk about what do we need to do to encourage domestic investment in value-added materials and development,” Mr Calaway, who is based in Houston, Texas, said in an interview. “That shouldn’t be off the table.” Continue Reading →

China’s MMG says Las Bambas copper operations not disrupted, talks ongoing – by Mitra Taj (Reuters U.S. – May 21, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LIMA (Reuters) – Chinese miner MMG Ltd’s operations at its Las Bambas mine, one of Peru’s largest copper producers, have not been disrupted and talks with an indigenous Peruvian community are ongoing, the miner said on Wednesday.

The Fuerabamba community had imposed a new road blockade on the mine after talks with the company over compensation broke down, Americo Contreras, a representative of the public ombudsman office told Reuters on Tuesday.

The community started the blockade after the talks ended without a solution late on Monday, Contreras said by phone, citing a document from government officials who had mediated the negotiations. Continue Reading →

Global miner BHP plans to expand nickel output amid battery boom (Reuters U.S. – May 21, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Global miner BHP Group on Wednesday said it plans to expand its nickel sulphide operations amid an expected boom in demand for the material in electric vehicle batteries.

But the company is not looking to produce main battery ingredient lithium as it sees such output having slimmer profits.

Speaking at a strategy briefing on long-term asset allocation, BHP Chief Financial Officer Peter Beaven said growth in nickel could come from either exploration or acquisitions. Continue Reading →

China Raises Threat of Rare-Earths Cutoff to U.S. – by Keith Johnson and Elias Groll (Foreign Policy – May 21, 2019)

https://foreignpolicy.com/

Beijing could slam every corner of the American economy, from oil refineries to wind turbines to jet engines, by banning exports of crucial minerals.

With a simple visit to an obscure factory on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping has raised the specter that China could potentially cut off supplies of critical materials needed by huge swaths of the U.S. economy, underscoring growing concerns that large-scale economic integration is boomeranging and becoming a geopolitical weapon.

With the U.S.-China trade war intensifying, Chinese state media last week began floating the idea of banning exports of rare-earth elements to the United States, one of several possible Chinese responses to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to jack up tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods and blacklist telecoms maker Huawei.

U.S. oil refiners rely on rare-earth imports as catalysts to turn crude oil into gasoline and jet fuel. Permanent magnets, which use four different rare-earth elements to differing degrees, pop up in everything including ear buds, wind turbines, and electric cars. And China dominates their production. Continue Reading →

Zambia Files Notice of Plans to Seize Vedanta Copper Assets – by Taonga Clifford Mitimingi and Matthew Hill (Yahoo Finance – May 20, 2019)

https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — Zambia’s government filed notification of plans to take over Vedanta Resources Ltd.’s domestic copper assets, President Edgar Lungu said. The southern African nation’s Eurobond yields surged to a record high and the currency hit a 3 1/2-year low.

The move marks an escalation in tension between the government and mine owners, after Lungu last week threatened to “divorce” Vedanta and Glencore Plc, two of the biggest employers in Africa’s second-largest copper producer. Relations have been simmering after the state earlier this year increased royalties and unveiled a plan to overhaul the value-added tax system.

Lungu mainly targeted Konkola Copper Mines, Vedanta’s local unit, in a weekend visit to Zambia’s Copperbelt province, where some companies are cutting production and firing workers. Continue Reading →

SolGold in talks to finance long-life Ecuador copper project – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – May 20, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – SolGold is in talks with financiers keen to invest in its Ecuadorian copper-gold prospects and mining major BHP could increase its stake in the company, SolGold’s chief executive said on Monday.

In a preliminary economic assessment of the Alpala copper-silver-gold deposit in northern Ecuador released earlier, London-listed SolGold said annual copper output should be 207,000 tonnes for the first 25 years of a mine life of roughly half a century.

Ecuador has attracted a flurry of interest from big miners eager to increase their exposure to copper. The highly conductive metal is in demand for use in renewable energy and electric vehicles, but big, new deposits are rare. Continue Reading →

U.S. Rare Earths Revival Planned Amid Trade Conflict – by Rhiannon Hoyle (Wall Street Journal – May 21, 2019)

https://www.wsj.com/

The important commodities are caught up in the U.S.-China trade conflict

SYDNEY—An American chemicals company and an Australian miner want to build the first rare-earth minerals separation plant in the U.S. in years. Their aim is to shore up supplies of important commodities caught up in the U.S.-China trade conflict.

The proposal by Blue Line Corp. and Lynas Corp. LYC 14.43% illustrates how companies are growing increasingly worried by the trade rhetoric out of Washington and Beijing, while looking for opportunities to profit from tit-for-tat tariffs if they aren’t short-lived. The companies aim to build the plant in Hondo, Texas, near where Blue Line is based.

Production of rare earths is dominated by China, but some of the world’s biggest consumers are U.S. manufacturers of advanced technology such as electric vehicles, wind turbines and military equipment. Continue Reading →

Voters Won’t Decide the Future of Energy – by David Fickling (Bloomberg/Yahoo News – May 20, 2019)

https://news.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Who decides the future of energy – the producers, or the consumers?

It’s a question that’s been asked at least since the 1970s, when the growing muscle of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the 1973 oil embargo sparked the founding of the International Energy Agency as a rival group to represent the interests of oil importers.

That same pattern has been playing out in recent days with elections in one of the world’s biggest energy exporters and one of its biggest importers. Both will have a crucial impact on the direction of global energy policies – particularly in its dirtiest form, fossil fuels. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Confusing signals cloud London nickel market – by Andy Home (Reuters Africa – May 20, 2019)

https://af.reuters.com/

LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) – The London Metal Exchange (LME) nickel market was last week gripped by the most acute tightness in a decade. Time-spreads flexed into backwardation as a long-running downtrend in exchange stocks squeezed short position holders.

Falling inventory and tighter spreads are normally strong bull signals in a commodity market. And in nickel’s case they seem to tally nicely with the International Nickel Study Group’s (INSG) forecast that supply will fall short of usage for the fourth successive year in 2019.

However, conspicuous by its absence is any strength in the outright nickel price, which has fallen from a March high of $13,765 per tonne to a current $11,910. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Australia’s shock election shows killing coal mining is no sure thing – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – May 19, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LAUNCESTON, Australia, May 19 (Reuters) – While Australia’s opposition Labor Party is the obvious loser from the weekend election, the anti-coal environmental lobby suffered probably a bigger blow and will need to re-think its strategy to end mining of the polluting fuel.

The conservative Liberal Party-led coalition is likely to have pulled off one of the great political escapes by returning to office for a third term, confounding polls and pundits who thought Labor was a near certainty to win the May 18 election.

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison may not secure an outright majority in the 151-seat lower house of parliament, results indicated that Labor, led by former unionist Bill Shorten, would have no chance of victory. Continue Reading →

The Global Diamond Glut Worsens – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance – May 21, 2019)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

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De Beers’s diamond sales plunged to the lowest since 2017 in the company’s latest offering, underlining a slump in the industry worldwide.

Sales by the Anglo American Plc unit dropped 25% from a year ago to $415 million, and were down 29% from an offering last month. It’s often a quieter time of the year because the industry has already restocked after the key holiday period, but total sales so far in 2019 are still much weaker than in previous years. Continue Reading →