Archive | International Media Resource Articles

Exclusive: Brazil miner Vale knew deadly dam had heightened risk of collapse – by Stephen Eisenhammer (Reuters U.K. – February 11, 2019)

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (Reuters) – Vale SA, the world’s largest iron ore miner, knew last year that the dam in Brazil that collapsed in January and killed at least 165 people had a heightened risk of rupturing, according to an internal document seen by Reuters on Monday.

The report, dated Oct. 3, 2018, classified the dam at Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais as being two times more likely to fail than the maximum level of risk tolerated under internal guidelines.

The previously unreported document is the first evidence that Vale itself was concerned about the safety of the dam. It raises questions as to why an independent audit around the same time guaranteed the dam’s stability and why the miner did not take precautions, such as moving a company canteen that was just downhill from the structure. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Following the money in commodities leads to gold mines – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – February 11, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Feb 11 (Reuters) – If the adage “follow the money” is to be applied to commodities, then currently the place looking most attractive to investors is gold mining.

The common theme at two mining investment conferences held last week in Cape Town was that putting cash into gold mining companies offers the best prospects in the commodity space.

At the 121 Mining Investment event about half of the more than 100 mining companies attending were either pure gold plays, or were targeting the precious metal in their portfolios. Continue Reading →

Opinion: Miners must appeal anti-coal landmark court decision – by Matthew Stevens (Australian Financial Review – February 10, 2019)

You have to admire the collective against coal mining. It sure does know when and how to pick its fights. On Friday, the NSW Land and Environment Court rejected an application by Gloucester Resources to build a three-pit coking coal mine near the central NSW town that named the company.

Left to stand, the decision by Judge Brian Preston would seem to establish precedent because it moves all three categories of carbon emissions to the front and centre of the state’s planning approval process.

This has not so far been the case in NSW or anywhere else in Australia, for that matter, a fact made plain by the victory celebrations that Judge Preston’s odd decision triggered among his fans, old and new, in the climate change lobby. Continue Reading →

Column: Looking for answers from Dr Copper? He’s confused as well – by Andy Bell (Reuters U.K. – February 8, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – Doctor Copper seems very confused at the moment. The metal with the honorary degree in economics is caught between the current reality of deteriorating macro signals and the belief that things will soon get better.

Nowhere more so than in China, the single biggest user of copper and just about every other industrial metal. It was Beijing’s campaign to soak up excess liquidity in the Chinese economy that stopped copper in its upward tracks in the second quarter of last year.

The London price slumped from over $7,000 per tonne to under $6,000 over the course of June and July. Fears of a slowdown in China, even an engineered one, sent funds running for the copper exit door. Continue Reading →

Opinion: They tell you surprisingly little before sending you home from the hospital with… – by Aaron J. Brown (Hibbing Daily Tribune – February 9, 2019)

Like a lot of kids who grew up on Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range during the economic crisis of the 1980s and ‘90s I saw plenty of reasons to leave. Many of my friends did. But I’m glad I found good reasons to stay. Many friends did that, too. That doesn’t mean, however, that our lives are easy or our fate resolved.

When I was in college, I saw the movie “October Sky.” This 1999 film tells the true story of a boy and his friends who, during the Cold War space race, launch their own rocket from a West Virginia coal mining town. They win the national science fair with help from the folks back home.

I also sought out the 1941 Best Picture winner “How Green Was My Valley.” This story follows a Welsh coal mining family over several years, beaten down by small town social mores, unsafe mining conditions, and the economic collapse of their town. And yet their valley was so green, you could even see it in black and white; the love and spirit endured. Continue Reading →

PM Adamant Mine MoA Should Benefit Locals (Papua New Guinea Post Courier – February 11, 2019)

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill told the people of Usino-Bundi on Friday that there would be no new agreements or extension of the memorandum of agreement (MoA) for the Ramu-Nico project in Madang province.

This has now put to rest Madang governor Peter Yama’s continuous request to the government to review the mine agreement and have it benefit his people instead of the original arrangement where there was no benefits detailed.

Mr O’Neill said there were no traces of development in Madang from the mine, but assured the people that the Ramu Nickel mine agreement would be reviewed and changed to suit the people who have suffered. Continue Reading →

Goldman and Its Biggest Critic Agree on Iron Ore Outlook – by Luzi-Ann Javier and Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – February 8, 2019)

It took massive output cuts from the world’s largest iron ore producer to get Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts and their biggest critic to agree on their outlook for the steelmaking ingredient.

Just two months ago, Cleveland-Cliffs Chief Executive Officer Lourenco Goncalves wasn’t shy about calling out Goldman analysts for their iron ore price forecast.

“Let me refresh your minds,” Goncalves said in a presentation at the bank’s metals conference in November. “Last year, Goldman Sachs’s Jeff Currie said that I don’t know where prices go — $65, three months later will be $60, then it will be $55 then $50. It went $65, $70, $75 then $70 then $75 so you are wrong, I was right.” Continue Reading →

Deadly dam burst prompts investors to review mining stocks – by Jennifer Thompson and Chris Flood (Financial Times – February 10, 2019)

The collapse of a dam at an iron-ore mine in Brazil just over two weeks ago has prompted investors to review holdings in the business’s owner and triggered questions over how to manage risks and improve practices.

The burst at the Córrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinhoon January 25 is one of South America’s worst disasters: at least 150 people died and nearly 200 are still missing.

The dam was operated by Vale, the world’s largest iron-ore producer, and it held back tailings — streams of waste from mines. There are several thousand similar dams worldwide. Continue Reading →

Mining Indaba participants are moving from inaction to action – by Helmo Preuss (The BRICS Post – February 11, 2019)

An example of this move from inaction to action is the decision by diamond mining giant De Beers to restart exploration after a two year hiatus, caused by the unilateral imposition by the South African government of the third iteration of the Mining Charter in 2017, which wiped out more than R50 billion off the market capitalisation of South African mining companies.

The new Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe, has by contrast consulted widely and promulgated the new Mining Charter in December 2018 and has promised an open door policy to addressing the challenges facing the mining industry.

“Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits – a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities,” the economist John Maynard Keynes wrote. Continue Reading →

A toxic crisis in America’s coal country – by Gareth Evans (BBC News – February 11, 2019)

Wyoming County, West Virginia – In the shadow of some of America’s most controversial coal mines, where companies use huge amounts of explosives to blow the tops off mountains, isolated communities say their water has been poisoned.

Now, they must decide if they will fight back against an industry they have relied upon for generations. Casey (not her real name) wears a one-dollar wedding ring now. She bought the blue plastic band after her original ring was ruined by the toxic water that has been pumping into her home for more than a decade.

“I just needed something there,” she says, as she holds the replacement ring up to the light. “I felt empty without it.” She places her original wedding band, now discoloured and corroded, in her palm. Her skin, especially on her hands, has become coarse and sore. Continue Reading →

Peru’s environmental watchdog reports tailings spill from Southern Copper mine – by Marco Aquino (Reuters U.K. – February 11, 2019)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Peru’s environmental watchdog said on Sunday it was investigating a tailings spill from a unit of Southern Copper Corp, one of the world’s largest copper producers, into a river in an area that has been inundated by heavy rains.

The Agency of Evaluation and Environmental Enforcement (OEFA) said the spill occurred in the waste deposit area of the Cuajone mining operations of Southern Copper, located in the Moquegua region approximately 535 miles (860 km) southeast of Lima.

OEFA investigators at the Cuajone mine said a “flow of a greenish solution” into the Torata River since Friday has stopped. Continue Reading →

A Tidal Wave of Mud – by Shasta Darlington, James Glanz, Manuela Andreoni, Matthew Bloch, Sergio Peçanha, Anjali Singhvi and Troy Griggs (New York Times – February 9, 2019)

A mining dam collapsed and buried more than 150 people. Now Brazil is casting an anxious eye on dozens of dams like it.

BRUMADINHO, BRAZIL — Luiz de Castro was installing lamps at a mining complex in Brazil late last month when a loud blast split the air. He figured it was just a truck tire popping, but a friend knew better. “No, it’s not that!” the friend said. “Run!”

Dashing up a staircase, caked in mud and pelted by flying rocks, Mr. Castro clambered to safety. But as he watched, a wall of mud unleashed by the collapse of a mining dam swallowed his co-workers, he said. Tiago, George, Icaro — they and at least 154 others, all buried alive.

The deluge of toxic mud stretched for five miles, crushing homes, offices and people — a tragedy, but hardly a surprise, experts say. There are 88 mining dams in Brazil built like the one that failed — enormous reservoirs of mining waste held back by little more than walls of sand and silt. And all but four of the dams have been rated by the government as equally vulnerable, or worse. Continue Reading →

African nations sense upper hand in minerals stand-off – by Barbara Lewis and Joe Bavier (Reuters U.S. – February 8, 2019)

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – African nations with rich reserves of copper and cobalt needed for the shift to electric vehicles sense they have the upper hand in negotiations with mining companies that are struggling to secure better terms.

Days of talks at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town – Africa’s premier mining investment conference – yielded no tangible breakthrough between the miners and governments increasingly keen to reassert control over their natural resources.

Copper and cobalt reserves are giving nations such as Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo confidence because of the difficulty in finding supplies elsewhere to meet the expected surge in demand. This has emboldened them to seek higher tax revenues from foreign mining companies. Continue Reading →

‘Time bomb’ warning on mining dam disasters – by David Shukman (BBC News – February 7, 2019)

The catastrophic collapse of a dam at a mine in Brazil has exposed a darker side of an industry that the world depends on. At nearly 800 sites across the country and thousands more around the world, dams contain huge loads of mining waste.

One British scientist, Dr Stephen Edwards of UCL, has warned that “we are sitting on a time bomb”. He told BBC News that further disasters were inevitable.

Over the last few days in the heart of Brazil’s mining belt, I’ve been investigating two very different sites where the risks of massive damage seem plausible. One is a vast lake of sludge perched high above a nervous community; the other is an abandoned gold mine at risk of leaking poisons.

Why are there dumps of mining waste? Continue Reading →

[Michigan Mining] Can Brazilian tailings dam disaster happen here? – by Al Gedicks (La Crosse Tribune – February 8, 2019)

The recent collapse of a mine tailings dam in southeastern Brazil has already resulted in 134 fatalities, leaving an estimated 300 people still missing, according to rescue workers.

The spill flooded nearby homes, submerging cars and buses under a river of reddish-brown sludge. This environmental disaster should raise red flags for Michigan regulators and the communities downstream from Aquila Resources’ proposed open-pit metallic sulfide mine and tailings dam next to the Menominee River on the Wisconsin-Michigan border.

On Jan. 25, a 40-year-old, 280-foot high tailings dam failed in Brumadinho, Brazil, releasing almost 12 million cubic meters of mine waste. Continue Reading →