Archive | International Media Resource Articles

Electric cars can clean up the mining industry – here’s how – by Elsa Dominish and Nick Florin (The Conversation – April 16, 2019)

https://theconversation.com/

Growing demand for electric vehicles is important to help cut transport emissions, but it will also lead to new mining. Without a careful approach, we could create new environmental damage while trying to solve an environmental problem.

Like solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage technologies, electric vehicles require a complex mix of metals, many of which have only been previously mined in small amounts.

These include cobalt, nickel and lithium for batteries used for electric vehicles and storage; rare earth metals for permanent magnets in electric vehicles and some wind turbines; and silver for solar panels. Continue Reading →

Generalisations about coal are fraught with risks – by Neil Hume (Financial Times – April 17, 2019)

https://www.ft.com/

Underlying drivers for fuel prices remain intact despite a softening in Europe’s market

All fossil fuels are not created equal. Take thermal coal, which is burnt in power stations to produce electricity. It almost defies categorisation as a commodity because differences in quality vary markedly from region to region.

Coal produced in Australia’s Hunter Valley, for example, commands a higher price than material mined in Indonesia or some parts of South America because of its high calorific value and low impurities.

That makes generalisations about the near 1bn-tonne-a-year seaborne thermal coal market — an important source of income for miners including Glencore, Anglo American and BHP Billiton — fraught with risk. Continue Reading →

Your Cell Phone Is Spreading Ebola – by Laurie Garrett (Foreigh Policy – April 17, 2019)

https://foreignpolicy.com/

Last week, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), declined to declare the ongoing outbreak of Ebola a global emergency.

His decision came on the advice of an expert scientific panel; it was dubious nevertheless. Whatever the world chooses to call it, the disease is now on the edge of catastrophe that requires an urgent response. The most urgent of all is also among the least direct. It doesn’t involve Ebola at all but rather the inside of our cell phones.

As of April 13, the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has sickened 1,251 people, killing 803, or 64 percent, of the infected. (This is well past the threshold of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, which was formally declared a global health emergency by WHO on Aug. 8, 2014.) Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Eramet gets go-ahead to boost New Caledonia nickel exports, shares rise (Reuters U.S. – April 16, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

PARIS, April 16 (Reuters) – French mining company Eramet said its loss-making SLN nickel division had received a boost from the New Caledonia government approving a sharp rise in SLN’s nickel ore exports. Eramet shares rose around 5 percent in early trading.

The company said the decision would allow SLN to export its lower-grade nickel ore, which in turn would allow SLN to cut its costs. It added the move would help it execute a broader strategy plan to reduce SLN’s cash cost by $1.30 per lb by 2021.

“I would like to thank the government of New Caledonia and all the stakeholders who contributed to this decision,” said Eramet Chairman and CEO Christel Bories. “This is a sign of confidence in the successful implementation of the SLN rescue plan.” Continue Reading →

Column: Rio Tinto warning may rupture mining industry into green and dirty – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – April 16, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

The mining industry is starting to come under more intense pressure
from investors who are demanding sustainable and ethical mining.

LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – It’s not quite yet pistols at dawn but Rio Tinto’s polite warning to mining lobby groups that they have to acknowledge the threat of climate change is likely a sign that the industry will inevitably fracture into two camps.

These factions could be described as the “green” miners, who produce the minerals essential for the transition from the age of oil to the age of electricity, and the “dirty” miners who remain trapped in coal and other minerals deemed unnecessary for a carbon constrained future.

Rio Tinto’s carefully worded statement on industry associations, released last week, said that it would only work with groups aligned with its own climate principles. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Funds hold their fire on confused copper market – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – April 15, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) – Funds have this year played copper from the short side and from the long side but with little success either way. They are now broadly neutral as they and everyone else try to work out where Doctor Copper is heading next.

In part this is a reflection of copper’s lack of directional impetus in recent weeks. The London Metal Exchange (LME) contract has since late February been treading water in a $6,300-6,550 range with an absence of clear chart signals. On Monday, it was trading around $6,470 per tonne.

That has muted activity from the black-box funds that feed off momentum and other technical indicators. But copper’s well-trod trading range is itself a sign of how confused the broader market is right now with no clear consensus on the short-term outlook. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-China’s commodity imports look tepid, may be slightly warmer – Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – April 15, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LAUNCESTON, Australia, April 15 (Reuters) – If you were looking for evidence that China’s economy has lost momentum, you may be tempted to think that you’ve found it in the unimpressive growth, or lack thereof, in imports of major commodities in the first quarter.

Customs data for the first quarter show only crude oil has recorded significant growth in import volumes in the first quarter, with copper data mixed and iron ore and coal dropping.

This would seem to confirm the narrative of slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy amid the ongoing trade and tariff dispute with the United States. Continue Reading →

Bomb Watchers Twitching as Looser Rules Weighed for Uranium – by Jonathan Tirone (Bloomberg News – April 15, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Back in the 1970s and 1980s when he was keeping America’s nuclear weapons up to date, Robert Kelley didn’t pay much attention to their source of uranium.

But then he was reassigned to lead the international team that accounted for the of hundreds of tons of the heavy metal Iraq secretly extracted at a fertilizer factory to feed Saddam Hussein’s weapons program.

That discovery at the Al-Qaim phosphate plant underscored a loophole in the global policing of nuclear materials, allowing countries without much scrutiny to derive uranium from a mineral more often used as a nutrient for soil. Continue Reading →

The Women Emerald Miners of Colombia – by Laura Millan (Bloomberg News – April 13, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Dubai-based Fura Gems is hiring dozens of women to help bring De Beers-like discipline to a once violent and wild industry.

Nubia Galeano slips the short-handled pick into her left rubber boot and turns on her headlamp as she enters a steaming, cramped tunnel, one of thousands that crisscross the vast Coscuez emerald mine. The corridor narrows, and Galeano, already dripping in sweat, is soon crawling on all fours.

When she reaches a space so tight her small body barely fits, she pulls out her pick and starts digging. The 45-year-old, single mother of two fills her sack with up to 40 pounds at once and crawls backward until she can stand back up and retrace her steps to the surface.

Outside, she washes the load in a small stream, indifferent to the swarming bugs and the buzz of dozens of other miners around her. Adept at spotting the tiniest speck of green, Galeano quickly realizes she’s come up empty-handed. Continue Reading →

[Gemfields] Meet the Company That’s Changing the Gem Mining Industry, One Ethically Sourced Ruby at a Time – by Mark Ellwood (Robb Report – April 12, 2019)

https://robbreport.com/

It’s a stark, startling contrast. Beautiful, precious jewels, like rubies, emeralds and sapphires, are often sourced in dismal conditions where disadvantaged workers and lawlessness make it easy for valuable stones to trade hands under unscrupulous circumstances. In remote, rural parts of Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, far from the markets where most of the stones are sold, there’s little pressure—or appetite—to improve.

Gemfields is bidding to change the mining culture. The London-based company is committed to sustainable mining wherever it sources stones, including at its ruby mine in Mozambique and emerald vein in Zambia. To support that mission, it spends 32 cents of every dollar in revenue on ethical practices—social programs, sustainable initiatives, taxes and royalties often dodged by rivals, and pays staffers about 10 percent more than the industry’s minimum wage.

Gemfields’ success in the past several years—the company has sold more than $425 million through its ruby auctions since the sales started in 2014— underscores that a steady supply of quality stones from a qualified, ethical source is a potentially lucrative proposition. Continue Reading →

Iron ore shortage after Vale disaster hurting Brazil steelmakers: report (Reuters U.S. – April 15, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – A decision by Brazilian mining company Vale SA to halt production at ten sites in Minas Gerais state following a deadly dam disaster has affected deliveries of iron ore pellets to clients, newspaper Valor Econômico reported on Monday, citing industry sources.

Vale is trying to resolve the problem by bringing iron ore pellets produced in the northeastern state of Maranhão to clients in the southeast. The longer distances involved are adding to transportation costs, Valor said.

Vale did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Valor report. Continue Reading →

CRU-CESCO-Copper industry to see more disruptions in 2019 -Antofagasta CEO – by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – April 12, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO, April 12 (Reuters) – The global copper industry will be rocked by more disruptions this year than in 2018, contributing to a supply deficit as demand for the red metal continues to grow, the top executive of Chilean miner Antofagasta told Reuters.

Antofagasta CEO Ivan Arriagada said labor strife, extreme weather and unexpected project delays will knock as much as a million tonnes off the year’s total copper production, versus 600,000 the previous year.

“We think this year there will be bigger disruptions than last, which was unusually tranquil,” said Arriagada in an interview on the sidelines of CRU’s World Copper Conference in Santiago. Continue Reading →

Why let mining companies rip up public land like it’s 1872? – by Tim Palmer and Char Miler (Los Angeles Times – April 12, 2019)

https://www.latimes.com/

Photographer and writer Tim Palmer is the author of 19 books about rivers, including “Field Guide to California Rivers.” Char Miller teaches environmental history at Pomona College and is author of “Not So Golden State: Sustainability vs. the California Dream.”

What if communications today were governed by a law passed before the telephone was invented? Or if transportation were guided by federal policy made before there were cars?

That’s exactly the type of anachronism in play regarding America’s key law governing the extraction of hard-rock minerals, such as gold, silver and copper, on public land. The Mining Act of 1872, which President Ulysses S. Grant signed, still sanctions destructive practices on what amounts to one-third of the country’s acreage and 46% of California’s.

It can create toxic plumes and moonscape rubble in national forests, national monuments and Bureau of Land Management holdings that many regard as their favorite places on Earth. That’s one reason why pressure is mounting to change this antiquated 19th century legislation. Continue Reading →

Mosaic suspends phosphate mines in Brazil after new rules for dams – by Marcelo Teixeira (Reuters U.S. – April 11, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

SAO PAULO, April 11 (Reuters) – The Mosaic Company, a Brazilian fertilizer maker, said on Thursday it will suspend production at its phosphate mines of Tapira and Catalão after failing to obtain a deadline extension in order to provide stability certification for three of its tailings dams.

Phosphate is a crucial fertilizer ingredient and Mosaic’s operation is the largest in Brazil, which is a global leader in agriculture, producing more than 220 million tonnes of grains and 570 million tonnes of cane per year, among other products such as coffee, tobacco, cotton and fruits.

Mining regulations in Brazil have been affected by a dam disaster in January, involving miner Vale SA,that killed hundreds, prompting new rules to try to avoid more accidents. Brazil has dozens of tailings dams, which hold back byproducts created during the extraction of mineral resources. Continue Reading →

Democrats: Why not just end mountaintop removal coal mining? – by Lesley Clark (McClatchydc.com – April 9, 2019)

https://www.mcclatchydc.com/

WASHINGTON: Coal production across Appalachia could be shuttered by a push to halt all new mountaintop removal mining operations until the health effects have been investigated, the Kentucky Coal Association warned lawmakers on Tuesday.

But the cautionary note did little to slow Democrats, who held the first federal hearing on whether the surface coal mining operation contributes to an elevated risk of birth defects, cancer and premature death among residents living near large-scale Appalachia surface coal mines.

“Should we just be banning all mountaintop removal mining?” Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-California, asked of the controversial practice that often involves blasting apart steep slopes to expose buried seams of coal. Continue Reading →