Archive | International Media Resource Articles

Birth of a nation? Bougainville’s independence referendum explained – by Kate Lyons (The Guardian – November 19, 2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/

It is a vote that has been 20 years in the making. On Saturday, residents of the remote archipelago in the Solomon Sea will start to decide their future

On Saturday, the people of Bougainville – a small archipelago of islands flung 700km off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the Solomon Sea – will begin voting in a referendum that will determine if their beloved homeland will become the world’s newest nation.

It is a vote that has been nearly 20 years in the making. In 2001, as part of a peace agreement to end a devastating decade-long civil war, the government of Papua New Guinea promised the population of Bougainville, then about 200,000 people, that they would one day be able to cast a vote to decide their future.

The results will be announced in December. It is expected to be overwhelmingly in favour of independence, with some observers anticipating a “yes” vote of more than 90%. But the road to this point has been long and tortured and the path ahead could be just as problematic, even if the result is as emphatic as predicted. Continue Reading →

Report: Madagascar’s mica mines rely on child labor – by Editor (Africa Times – November 20, 2019)

https://africatimes.com/

There are at least 11,000 children working in Madagascar’s southern mica mining region, where poverty means that sometimes entire families are exposed to dangerous health and safety conditions.

That’s according to a new report from human rights advocates at Terre des Hommes, which found that between 56 and 62 percent of children between ages 5 and 17 are working in the island nation’s three main regions for producing mica.

The mineral is used in a range of common products, including cosmetics and paints, but researchers focused on the supply chain to China because 87 percent of the mica in Madagascar is shipped by boat to Chinese ports. Ultimately it ends up being used in Japanese electronics manufacturing, Dutch and Italian telecom firms, and Swiss-held firms in similar industries. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: [Semafo Inc.] Mine workers demanded more protection before deadly Burkina Faso attack – by Edward McAllister (Reuters U.S. – November 19, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

DAKAR (Reuters) – Five months before an ambush killed 39 colleagues, local workers at a Canadian-owned gold mine in Burkina Faso pleaded with managers to fly them to the site rather than go by a road that was prone to attacks, two people present at the meeting said.

The employees wanted the same protections as expatriate staff who had been flying to the mine in helicopters since three workers were killed in two earlier attacks in August 2018.

Shortly after those deaths, the mine’s owner, Quebec-based Semafo Inc. (SMF.TO), said it had added a military escort to bus convoys taken by Burkinabe workers to the site each week. But local employees of Semafo and its Accra-based contractor African Mining Services (AMS) did not think it was enough in an area notorious for bandits and jihadists. Continue Reading →

Miners Are Facing Challenges Globally – by Frank Holmes (Forbes Magazine – November 18, 2019)

https://www.forbes.com/

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Lima, Peru, attending the Mining & Investment Latin America Summit. I heard from a number of industry leaders that mining in South America has become more challenging in recent years. One of the biggest reasons why is that the burden for taking care of local communities has, in many cases, fallen on the miners’ shoulders.

Venezuela’s corrupt socialist president Nicolas Maduro continues to destabilize and finance radicalism throughout the continent using revenue from narcotics, and mining companies often end up having to pay the price.

Chilean lawmakers, for instance, are considering a new tax on mining and mineral extraction to address the country’s social unrest I described earlier. Continue Reading →

Burkina Faso: A terrorist gold mine – by Philipp Sandner (Deutsche Welle – November 17, 2019)

https://www.dw.com/en/

Gold mines in isolated areas of Africa’s Sahel region have become a welcome source of income for terrorists. Recent attacks in Burkina Faso show that security forces in the region are unable to gain the upper hand.

There is a gold rush in Africa’s Sahel region. A number of new mines have been opened there since a vein of gold was discovered in 2012. The Boungou mine in northeastern Burkina Faso, for instance, was opened between 2017 and mid-2018. But the region is also increasingly under threat from Islamists. Last week, at least 39 people were killed in attacks on buses carrying workers to Boungou; another 60 were injured.

Guiro Abdoul Kader was asleep when the attack occurred: “I was sleeping when I heard one of the windows shatter, at the same time I got a bullet in my back and I fell down. My colleague was next to me and he also lay down and he was on top of me.

I told him he didn’t have any cover and that he should come further down. He said he was hit. He told me to do what I could and that he would stay a little higher up and that we were going to pray to God,” as Kader told Reuters news agency. Continue Reading →

Copper, cobalt miners urged to do more to fight DRC corruption, child labour practices – by David McKay (MiningMX.com – November 18, 2019)

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COMPANIES mining copper and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been urged to do more to fight corruption and child labour, said Bloomberg News citing a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD).

Companies should be “proactive about addressing risks, for example by improving working conditions in artisanal mining or taking action to address corruption in their supply chains,” Ben Katz, co-author of the OECD report, said in a statement.

Citing the US Geological Survey, the newswire said the DRC was the world’s largest cobalt producer and the fifth largest producer of copper. As demand for the two minerals has soared with the growth of the electronic and electric-vehicle industries, so have worries about the conditions under which they are mined, it said. Continue Reading →

India looks to relax norms to attract global coal miners, industry skeptical – by Sudarshan Varadhan and Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – November 18, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

NEW DELHI/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – India is looking to lower advance payments and offer larger mining blocks to attract global companies to invest in its coal sector for the first time, but industry sources say the measures may not be enough to draw in big international miners.

India plans to float global tenders for the first time for coal mining blocks before end-2019, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in August, a move that could end Coal India Ltd’s <COAL .NS> near-monopoly on the fuel.

The auctions, to be aimed at paring back the nation’s coal imports, are intended to attract global miners such as Glencore PLC, BHP Group, Anglo American PLC and Peabody Energy Corp. Continue Reading →

Proposed standards for mining waste dams draw concerns from industry trade group – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – November 18, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – The world’s largest mining trade group said on Monday it has concerns with global standards for mining waste dams being crafted by an independent panel of academics and engineers, especially how the new rules will apply equally to new and existing facilities.

The public lobbying of an ostensibly neutral process is likely to rankle environmentalists, indigenous groups and others who have long demanded miners do more to bolster safety at tailings dams, which are used to store the muddy detritus of the mining process and can be dozens of meters high.

Public trust in the industry has plunged since a Brazil tailings dam owned by Vale SA collapsed last January, killing hundreds. Continue Reading →

The Mining Industry Could Strike Gold With Automation – by Charles Towers-Clark (Forbes Magazine – October 31, 2019)

https://www.forbes.com/

The mining industry is facing a tough decision. A staunchly traditional industry, mining is now at a critical juncture in which it will either adopt new technologies or be left behind. The mining industry was actually one of the first industries alongside defense to adopt automation technology, but since that first step, there has not been much progress.

Over the last few years, the mining industry has faced increasing environmental, social, and resource-based pressure to change the way it operates. As an indirect result of being so set in its ways, widespread automation may be the only way to bring the mining industry up to date.

Tectonic shifts

The mining industry has been dominated by a handful of companies for decades, and these companies are understandably reluctant to change the way they do things. Continue Reading →

Indonesia’s competition watchdog looks into nickel sector after cartel complaint (Reuters U.S. – November 18, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

JAKARTA, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Indonesia’s anti-monopoly agency has begun a preliminary study of the country’s nickel smelting sector, an agency official said on Monday, after a miners’ association accused big nickel smelters of conducting a cartel.

The agency will decide whether to launch a full investigation of pricing and other practices in the industry after completing its initial enquiries, Guntur Saragih, a commissioner at Indonesia’s Commission for the Supervision of Business Competition (KPPU), told a news briefing.

The Indonesian nickel miners association (APNI) has claimed that two giant smelters control 60% of the local nickel ore market and determine prices in Indonesia, the world’s biggest nickel ore exporter. It has not named the two smelters. Continue Reading →

Public consultation launched on global tailings dam standards – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – November 15, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – A six-week public consultation launched on Friday will help set global standards to improve mining safety, aiming to prevent any repeat of the Vale tailings dam disaster in Brazil that killed 300 people in January.

Tailings dams are the most common waste disposal methods for mining companies, whether they’re extracting iron ore, gold or copper. They can tower dozens of meters high and stretch for several kilometers.

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) said in March it was working on new safety standards with the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and ethical investors’ body the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) following the collapse of Vale’s dam at Brumadinho. Continue Reading →

Sunday Strategist: Diamond Merchants’ Headaches Are Forever – by Peter Coy (Bloomberg News – November 17, 2019)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg Businessweek) — You know you have a marketing problem when you find yourself arguing that the competitor’s product is “simply too perfect looking.” Or when you fall back on warning people that if they buy the competitor’s product they may not be able to resell it—when reselling it was never their intention anyway.

That’s the diamond business for you. It gets harder every year for diamond merchants to fetch a good price for their product because the competition is insane. First there’s mounting production of natural diamonds. And now synthetic diamonds have gotten so good that for average customers they’re indistinguishable from the kind that come out of the ground.

On top of all that, some customers are turned off by the violence endemic in parts of diamond mining, featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s film Blood Diamond. What’s a strategist to do? For De Beers, the diamond-mining unit of Anglo American Plc, conflict diamonds may be the smallest of its problem. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 4-China-backed consortium wins $14 bln Guinea iron ore deal, pipping Australia’s Fortescue – by Saliou Samb (Reuters Africa – November 13, 2019)

https://af.reuters.com/

CONAKRY, Nov 14 (Reuters) – A consortium representing Chinese, French and Singaporean interests won a $14 billion tender to develop part of Guinea’s Simandou iron ore project, sources familiar with the talks told Reuters, edging out Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group.

The consortium – which includes Société Minière de Boké (SMB) and Singapore’s Winning Shipping as well as Guinean government interests – has committed to develop blocks 1 and 2 of the largest known deposit of its kind, holding more than 2 billion tonnes of high-grade ore.

Guinea has sought to develop the Simandou deposit for decades, but the project has been mired in protracted legal disputes and the high costs have curbed interest. Continue Reading →

Caterpillar takes a hit as Chile riots add to global uncertainty – by Joe Deaux (BNN/Bloomberg News – November 13, 2019)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

Add the riots in Chile and political issues in other parts of Latin America to troubles dimming the outlook for Caterpillar Inc.

On Wednesday, the world’s largest maker of mining and construction equipment reported that its three-month rolling average sales growth in the region slowed to 4 per cent in October, matching the January data that was the weakest since mid-2017.

Latin America accounted for about 9 per cent of Caterpillar’s revenue in 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Weakness in the region accelerated the slowdown in the company’s worldwide sales growth to 3 per cent, the worst since April 2017.

“There’s the social unrest in Chile, which is an important mining market,” Larry de Maria, an analyst at William Blair, said in a telephone interview. “Argentina has a difficult political situation and Brazil hasn’t really improved the way people hoped it would improve.” Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Zimbabwe to enforce “use it or lose it” policy for mining assets (Reuters Africa – November 13, 2019)

https://af.reuters.com/

HARARE, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe will vigorously enforce a policy to force companies to develop their mining assets and not keep the land for speculative purposes, mines minister Winston Chitando said on Wednesday.

Chitando said some investors had not developed gold and platinum assets that they had held dating back to the 1960s and the mines ministry had asked some companies to justify why they should keep their claims to those assets.

“This is to prohibit the holding of mining title for speculative purposes. We will deal with that more vigorously,” Chitando told a meeting of the mining industry in Harare. Continue Reading →