Archive | International Media Resource Articles

Rio Tinto Is Digging Mostly Into Its Pocket – by Clara Ferreira Marques (Bloomberg News – February 26, 2020)

(Bloomberg Opinion) — A combination of hefty dividends and contracting output is turning the world’s second-largest miner into the poster child for a $1.5 trillion industry’s growth quandary.

Rio Tinto Group announced a record $3.7 billion final dividend Wednesday, adding to $11.9 billion of cash returns already paid in 2019. Yet it produced less iron ore, copper and aluminum, leaving market prices to lift underlying earnings by 18%.

Rio’s Pilbara operations stumbled early in the year. Its Mongolian copper mine, a key source of future production and the basis of a greener portfolio, is now not only sorely overdue and over-budget, but also tangled in international tax arbitration. Continue Reading →

Gold miners fret about long-term supply even as they boost dividends – by Jeff Lewis (Reuters U.S. – February 25, 2020)

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Reuters) – Gold miners have largely been boosting dividends to appease long-suffering shareholders rather than funding fresh exploration projects needed to grow production, a strategy that executives are warning may pose long-term risk to the industry.

The tension comes as gold prices are at the highest in seven years, near $1,650 an ounce, a surge in part fueled by a flight to safe-haven assets amid rising global concern about the coronavirus.

That has propelled earnings and prompted Newmont Corp, Barrick Gold and others to hike dividends and share repurchases, which shareholders have been demanding for years. Continue Reading →

Australian state turns to crowdsourcing to uncover mineral riches (Reuters U.S. – February 25, 2020)

MELBOURNE, Feb 25 (Reuters) – South Australia is putting A$250,000 ($166,000) up for grabs in a crowdsourcing competition to uncover more mineral reserves, as the industry taps expertise from a wide array of disciplines to find new large mineral lodes.

The five-month challenge will make available the state’s historic data sets for a region home to BHP Group’s huge Olympic Dam copper mine, the government of the Australian state said in a statement. The competition will kick off on March 2 and run until July 31, it added.

“The competition offers the chance to combine geological expertise with new mathematical, machine learning and artificial intelligence to accelerate mineral discovery in the mineral-rich Gawler Craton,” said Justin Strharsky of program facilitators Unearthed. Continue Reading →

‘Nail in the coffin’: Era of big oil sands mines may be over (Bloomberg/Mining Weekly – Februay 25, 2020)

Canada’s oil sands industry may have already built its last big mine. The cancellation of Teck Resources’ Frontier project in northern Alberta — which envisaged producing more crude than OPEC member Gabon — epitomises the struggles of an industry that has already seen most foreign investors flee.

It’s not clear that any other proposed mine would be able to clear the hurdles that felled Frontier in the years to come, possibly spelling the end of an era of megaprojects that transformed North America’s energy landscape by turning Canada into the top foreign crude supplier to the US.

“This may be the nail in the coffin,” said Laura Lau, who helps manage C$2-billion in assets at Brompton Corp. in Toronto. “I would expect some smaller projects would have a better chance going through.” Continue Reading →

Thai geologist shot dead in second mining-related killing in Bougainville – by Dickson Sorariba (The Guardian – February 25, 2020)

A Thai geologist working at a new gold mine in Bougainville has been shot dead in the second killing at a mining project in the autonomous region of Papua New Guinea in recent months.

Channon Lumpoo, 27, was shot by a high-powered weapon on Monday in the Kokoda constituency of south Bougainville.

Channon was a geologist with Austhai Geophysical Consultants, which is attached to a Philippines-owned company SRMO, and was involved in exploration activities at the time of his death. Continue Reading →

Trump proposal triggers rush of uranium mining plans, including in southern Utah – by Brady McCombs and Ellen Knickmeyer (Deseret News/Associated Press – February 23, 2020)

SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump’s $1.5 billion proposal to prop up the country’s nuclear fuel industry has emboldened at least one company to take steps toward boosting operations at dormant uranium mines around the West, including southeast Utah and outside Grand Canyon National Park.

The company, Canada-based Energy Fuels Inc., announced a stock sale and said it would use the proceeds for its uranium mining operations in the U.S. West.

The Trump administration asked Congress recently for $1.5 billion over 10 years to create a new national stockpile of U.S.-mined uranium, saying that propping up U.S. uranium production in the face of cheaper imports is a matter of vital energy security. Approval is far from certain in a highly partisan Congress. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Funds sell copper as coronavirus hits physical supply chains – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 24, 2020)

LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Funds have given up on their early-year hopes for higher copper prices. Investors have turned bearish on the CME copper contract , slashing long positions and putting on fresh bets for lower prices.

The net money manager short is now back at levels last seen in the third quarter of 2019, when market sentiment hit a “trade war” trough. The deadly coronavirus has frozen the expected Chinese manufacturing recovery story and is now showing signs of spreading to South Korea, another industrial powerhouse.

While equity markets have been taking a more sanguine view of the medium-term economic impact of the virus, copper is starting to price in the multiple short-term impacts on the physical supply chain. Continue Reading →

Scientists are hunting for diamond mines in India — with help from earthquake data – by Mohana Basu (The Print India – February 21, 2020)

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A 3-member team is mapping how waves generated by quakes travel through the Earth’s uppermost layers to detect potential diamond mines in the country.

New Delhi: A three-member team of scientists is trying to locate new diamond mines in India by studying how waves generated by earthquakes travel through the rocks of the Earth’s uppermost layers.

The researchers, from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune and IIT (ISM) Dhanbad, are using seismic imaging techniques, similar to medical CT scans, to analyse how waves generated during earthquakes travel through the layers under the Earth’s surface.

Their work is based on their own research published in the Journal of Earth System Science last year. The research found that in regions of India’s diamond corridor — which includes Dharwar, Bastar and Singhbhum blocks in south-eastern India — these waves have a higher velocity than usual. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-China hikes H1 rare earth output quota as industry grapples with virus – by Min Zhang and Tom Daly (Reuters U.S. – February 19, 2020)

BEIJING, Feb 19 (Reuters) – China has raised its output quota for rare earth minerals in the first half of 2020 by 10% from a year earlier, a government notice showed on Wednesday, looking to step up production after a coronavirus outbreak disrupted activity in the sector.

China is the world’s top producer of rare earths, a prized group of 17 elements used in everything from ceramics to consumer electronics. The quotas are typically issued twice a year and closely watched as a supply indicator.

The first rare earth mining output quota for 2020 was set at 66,000 tonnes, equal to 50% of last year’s total allocation of 132,000 tonnes, according to a notice from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Continue Reading →

AngloGold’s Dushnisky expects $202m in cash to be repatriated from DRC “very soon” – by David McKay ( – February 21, 2020)

ANGLOGOLD Ashanti was confident it would get release of some $202m in cash waiting for repatriation from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “Barrick has been having constructive discussions and we expect to get that released very soon,” said AngloGold CEO, Kelvin Dushnisky.

The cash due to AngloGold by dint of its 45% in Kibali, the DRC gold mine it shares with state-owned gold company, SOKIMO, and Barrick Gold which controls the other 45% in the mine and is its operator. Kibali had a stand out year in 2019 beating guidance of 750,000 ounces in its 2019 financial year by delivering a record 814,027 oz.

Barrick is also in a discussion with SOKIMO regarding plans to sell its 10% stake in Kibali to AJN Resources, a Canadian listed company that has Congo gold industry veteran Klaus Eckhof as president and CEO. Barrick said in a statement last night it had not received notice from SOKIMO of its intention to sell, but would deny the request anyway. Continue Reading →

Anglo American Pours Money Into Growth as Buybacks End – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – February 20, 2020)

(Bloomberg)- After spending almost $1 billion in buying back shares, Anglo American Plc is changing directions and leaning fully into growth.

The century-old mining company, which announced full-year earnings on Thursday, opted not to allocate more money to share buybacks. That’ll free up money for Anglo to spend on a $3 billion U.K. potash project and a $5 billion copper mine in Peru with help from a partner.

While other mining companies have focused on giving billions back to shareholders and shied away from blockbuster acquisitions, Anglo is charting out a different path. The company has staked its future on building mining operations around the world in a broad spectrum of different materials, rather than focusing on a single product. Continue Reading →

Bolivia: will the ousting of Morales open lithium to foreign investment? – by Heidi Vella (Mining Technology – February 20, 2020)

Making up one third of the so-called ‘lithium triangle’, the Andean nation of Bolivia is estimated to have around nine million metric tons of lithium – the largest accumulation in the world, according to the US Geological Survey.

Due to the expected exponential growth in demand for battery technology in recent years, of which lithium is a component, interest in Bolivia’s untapped reserves has skyrocketed. However, unlike neighbouring countries Argentina and Chile, which both have lithium mines in production, efforts to develop these resources have so far amounted to little.

The now exiled former President, Evo Morales, who was a keen proponent of resource nationalism, had tried to kick-start a local lithium industry via a state-owned company and joint partnerships with foreign firms, but he faced public opposition and lack of local expertise. Continue Reading →

WRAPUP 2-Surging gold prices propel earnings at miners Newmont, Kirkland – by Jeff Lewis and Nishara Karuvalli Pathikkal (Reuters Africa – February 20, 2020)

Feb 20 (Reuters) – Surging gold prices propelled miners Newmont Corp and Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd to beat estimates for quarterly profit on Thursday as industry consolidation began to bear fruit for long-suffering shareholders.

Gold prices marked their best annual increase since 2010 last year and are currently above $1,600 per ounce, as concerns over global economic health, low interest rates and geopolitical tensions triggered investor interest in safer assets.

Newmont, Kirkland and others have snapped up rivals in a flurry of deals to replace reserves and lower costs, and are now rewarding investors by hiking payouts and buying back shares. Continue Reading →

America’s coal country isn’t dead — it’s preparing for a comeback (Bloomberg News – February 20, 2020)

At least five of America’s coal producers went bankrupt in 2019. Prices for the fossil fuel have plunged 40% since a 2018 peak. And some of the nation’s largest miners are retrenching and slashing their dividends.

But don’t be mistaken: The fight against climate change hasn’t killed off Coal Country yet. Instead of pouring money into dividends and buybacks, the nation’s largest coal producers say they’re hoarding cash to weather what they see as an impermanent storm.

Overall, the industry returned more than $1-billion to investors last year before retrenching. The goal this year: Be ready to start mining again and paying dividends at the first sign of a market revival. They’re betting that prices will bottom out in the first half of 2020 before rising in the second half as production declines and global consumption gains. Continue Reading →

Column: Coronavirus is double shock for China’s giant aluminium sector – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – February 21, 2020)

LONDON (Reuters) – The outbreak of the deadly coronavirus could not have come at a worse time for the aluminium market. Global aluminium demand fell last year for the first time since the global financial crisis.

Expectations of a demand recovery rested on China, which showed encouraging signs of a manufacturing revival towards the end of 2019. The virus and the accompanying quarantine measures have since chilled economic activity, representing a short-term demand shock for the world’s aluminium market.

It’s why the London Metal Exchange (LME) aluminium price sank to a three-year low of $1,685 per tonne at the start of February. The fear is that China’s aluminium smelters will keep churning out metal even as the country’s demand implodes. Continue Reading →