Archive | International Media Resource Articles

Rio Tinto in talks to sell Quebec aluminum plant – by Josephine Mason (Reuters U.S. – January 27, 2014)

NEW YORK – Jan 27 (Reuters) – A small Canadian aluminum producer is in talks to take over Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum casthouse in Shawinigan, Quebec, rescuing the plant from closure at the end of this year, the fund’s project leader told Reuters on Monday.

Sotrem, a company based in Saguenay, Quebec, that makes aluminum foundry alloys and deox, a type of aluminum used to remove oxygen in steel production, is leading the deal to buy the plant, said Yvon D’Anjou, who is in charge of the project.

“We expect to come to a consensus in the next few months,” said D’Anjou. He is familiar with the plant, having worked as head of business development at Alcan until 2008, he said. A spokesman for Rio Tinto confirmed in an email that the company has entered exclusive negotiations for the sale of the casthouse, but did not give any further details.

Under a plan drawn up by Sotrem, the casthouse would produce 35,000-40,000 tonnes per year of small-diameter extrusion billet, a niche product used to make gas cylinders and scuba diving tanks, D’Anjou said.

That capacity could increase to 60,000 tonnes in the next two years if there was demand. The smelter on site, which Alcan shut towards the end of last year, is not included in the deal, he said.  Continue Reading →

Well-regulated sulfide mining can be done effectively – by Rolf Westgard (Minn – January 27, 2014)

Rolf Westgard is a professional member of the Geological Society of America and is guest faculty on energy subjects for the University of Minnesota’s Lifelong Learning program. His 2013 fall-quarter class was “Minnesota’s Volcanic Geologic History; from Mountain Building to Minerals.”

The dispute over mining Minnesota’s world-class mineral deposits is drawing big crowds to the public hearings on the new Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS ) on the proposed NorthMet Project. All those minerals — including copper, nickel, cobalt, gold and platinum — lie in a band, meandering from southwest to northeast, adjacent to the Archean granite of Minnesota’s Iron Range.

They arrived a billion years ago in the magma during northern Minnesota’s active volcanic history. They are concentrated out of the magma by liquid sulfur, which acts as a “collector,” because these elements prefer the sulphide liquid to the magma by a factor of 1,000 times more.

One of the proposed Minnesota mining ventures is by PolyMet Mining Corp. of Canada. PolyMet’s group includes Swiss commodity and mining giant Glencore, which now owns 18 percent of PolyMet shares. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Indonesia to limit exports of processed minerals – by Fergus Jensen and Wilda Asmarini (Reuters India – January 28, 2014)

JAKARTA, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Indonesia will issue export quotas for processed minerals and concentrates soon, a senior mines ministry official said, the latest policy step tied to controversial government efforts to take greater control over shipments of its natural resources.

The government is trying to force miners to process mineral ores in the country, as part of plans to transform Southeast Asia’s biggest economy into a producer of finished goods, rather than simply a supplier of raw materials.

But the new policies, which include a ban on unprocessed mineral ore shipments and export taxes on mineral concentrates, have led to widespread confusion, forcing miners to halt exports until there was more clarity.

Hersonyo Wibowo, chief of mineral production supervision at the mines and energy ministry, said the export quotas could be issued within the next few days. “We have to control mineral exports. We are also worried that once purification facilities (smelters) are ready there may be no (ore) reserves left,” Wibowo said at an industry conference. Continue Reading →

Antam and Vale Receive Green Light on Processed Mineral Exports – by Rangga Prakoso (Jakarta Globe – January 27, 2014)

Antam and Vale Indonesia — two of the biggest nickel producers in the country — have secured a recommendation letter to export their processed mineral products, almost two weeks after the government enforced a ban on ore shipments.

“Vale and Antam don’t have any problems. The others simply have not submitted their respective proposals to the government, which is why I am calling on other miners to do so,” said Susilo Siswoutomo, vice minister at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, on Friday.

Susilo said the government has given Antam approval to export around 17,000 metric tons of ferronickel annually, while Vale is allowed 75,000 tons of nickel matte per year. He did not say whether Antam will be allowed to export its nickel ore.

The vice minister also confirmed the government’s intention to set a “maximum production limit” for minerals to ensure that newly-built smelters in Indonesia can be fed with adequate resources. Continue Reading →

Harper Collides With Native Canadians’ Natural Resources Claims – by Jeremy van Loon (Bloomberg News – January 27, 2014)

Back in the spring of 2012, while walking in the deep woods of northern Ontario, Sonny Gagnon stumbled across a collection of surveying equipment among the towering spruce trees. Gagnon is chief of the Aroland aboriginal tribe, a band of 450 people living in a village of ramshackle houses surrounded by swampy muskeg. He tracks everything that goes on in his community. And the surveying tools weren’t supposed to be there.

“I was ticked off,” he says, after learning that the equipment belonged to a subcontractor of Cleveland-based mining company Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (CLF:US)

It turned out Cliffs had plans to mine for chromite to the north of the Aroland reserve and to build a road through the territory to transport truckloads of the mineral to a railhead, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its March issue.

“They weren’t consulting us on what they were doing on the land,” Gagnon says. “I told them to leave and that we didn’t want them back.”

Gagnon and his native band then set up a roadblock to monitor traffic. Cliffs suspended plans for the mine in November, citing in a statement the “risks” associated with its ability to transport the ore for processing. Continue Reading →

As smelters weigh cost, Indonesia’s ore export ban may backfire – by Fergus Jensen and Melanie Burton (Reuters India – January 27, 2014)

JAKARTA/SYDNEY – Jan 27 (Reuters) – Indonesia’s ban on exports of key mineral ores – unless they are processed in the country – risks backfiring as weaker commodity prices mean it is not cost-effective to invest in expensive smelters and refineries.

The ban, which came into effect on Jan. 12, was unveiled in 2009 as a commodities boom began to froth and Jakarta sought to extract more value from its mineral resources. But metals prices and margins have since fallen, leading to oversupply and less need for building more processing capacity.

Worried about the impact on its current account deficit and a sagging rupiah currency, Jakarta tried to ease the ban last month only to be blocked by parliament. This month, it issued exemptions to allow shipments of copper, zinc, lead, manganese and iron ore concentrate, leaving nickel and bauxite – key ingredients in making steel and aluminium – the main targets.

Companies considering building alumina refineries are moving slowly as they weigh the big investments required amid caution over Indonesia’s policy flip-flops.

A 1 million-tonnes-a-year alumina refinery in Indonesia would cost around $1.5 billion to build. Continue Reading →

Gold stocks best performing market sector so far this year – by Lawrence Williams ( – January 27, 2014)

Hong Kong based Financial Services Group, REORIENT, is decidedly bullish on gold, and on gold stocks in particular, and has set out its reasoning in a new sales commentary.

LONDON (MINEWEB) – Investors in gold equities have had little cheer in the past couple of years – indeed the period has seen a sell-off not experienced in the sector since the Bre-X fraud exposure of 1996, which had a huge downside impact on gold stocks, particularly in the junior gold sector. But so far this year – admittedly it is very early days yet – gold stocks have proven to be the sector to be in and while the major global stock indices have drifted downwards so far many gold stocks have risen by up to 30% or more.

Is this the signal the market has been waiting for to get back into what has to have been the most oversold stock market sector of the past two years?

Hong Kong based Global Financial Services specialist, the REORIENT Group, certainly thinks this is the case and is distinctly bullish on the gold stock market sector. In a note the Group puts forward a number of factors which it sees as distinctly bullish for gold stocks – and they may well have a strong point here with all of these: Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto details blueprint for indigenous jobs – by Patricia Karvelas (The Australian – January 27, 2014)

MINING giant Rio Tinto has told Tony Abbott’s indigenous jobs review that enormous changes must be made to get Aborigines into jobs.

These include providing incentives for the nation’s best teachers to relocate to remote Australia and changing rules that make it attractive to stay on welfare in order to receive cheaper housing.

Rio Tinto Australia managing director David Peever, who has been appointed to the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, has written to the indigenous jobs review headed by mining magnate Andrew Forrest to present a blueprint for change.

Rio Tino has been under scrutiny after it decided to wind down its Gove alumina refinery in Arnhem Land, devastating a 1500-strong workforce that includes many indigenous employees, after telling Australian governments there was no point in further negotiations to save the plant.

Rio says in the third quarter of last year, the company employed approximately 1650 indigenous people in permanent roles across its Australian operations, representing 7.3 per cent of the total workforce. Continue Reading →

Yukon Government Opens Vast Wilderness to Mining – by Tom Clynes (National Geographic – January 24, 2014)

Indigenous leaders, conservation groups vow legal challenge.

Canada’s Yukon Territory announced on Tuesday that it has opened one of the largest unbroken wilderness areas in North America to mining and mineral exploration.

The government’s decree stunned indigenous leaders, who support a 2011 plan developed under Yukon land claims treaties that would have maintained the wilderness character of 80 percent of the area, which is known as the Peel watershed region. The government’s new plan all but reverses that figure, opening some 71 percent of the watershed to mining.

The Yukon features some of Canada’s highest peaks and largest glaciers, as well as tremendous expanses of lake-dotted tundra, boreal forests, and wetlands. (See “Yukon: Canada’s Wild West” in the February issue of National Geographic magazine.) It’s also rich in wildlife, with extreme seasonal shifts that beckon vast herds of caribou and other animals into motion. Larger than California but with only 37,000 inhabitants, the territory has been mostly empty of humans since the Klondike Stampede ended in the 1890s.

In recent years a new gold rush has brought a spike in population and prosperity to towns like Whitehorse and Dawson. Continue Reading →

Andrew Forrest strikes cheap coal deal to end Pakistan slavery – by Dennis Shanahan (The Australian – January 23, 2014)

AUSTRALIAN mining billionaire and philanthropist, Andrew Forrest, has struck an informal deal with Pakistan to do away with more than two million slaves in return for a chance to convert billions of tonnes of cheap coal into much needed energy.

Using Australian technology developed at Western Australia’s Curtin University, Mr Forrest has signed an agreement with the Pakistani State of Punjab to test the feasibility of turning currently uneconomic lignite coal directly into diesel for use in the energy-starved region.

In a linked agreement with Mr Forrest’s Walk Free Foundation, aimed at ending slavery, Pakistan has agreed to introduce laws to cut the practice of slavery through indenture, debt or inheritance.

Mr Forrest, attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said the agreement was an exciting development which could eliminate slavery in Pakistan and completely transform the Pakistani economy which was dependent on expensive foreign oil imports.

”The goal is energy independence for the Punjab and the eradication of slavery in all of the Punjab, a province of 100 million,” Mr Forrest said. Continue Reading →

Contagion Spreads in Emerging Markets as Crises Grow – by Ye Xie and John Detrixhe (Bloomberg News – January 24, 2014)

The worst selloff in emerging-market currencies in five years is beginning to reveal the extent of the fallout from the Federal Reserve’s tapering of monetary stimulus, compounded by political and financial instability.

The Turkish lira plunged to a record and South Africa’s rand fell yesterday to a level weaker than 11 per dollar for the first time since 2008. Argentine policy makers devalued the peso by reducing support in the foreign-exchange market, allowing the currency to drop the most in 12 years to an unprecedented low.

Investors are losing confidence in some of the biggest developing nations, extending the currency-market rout triggered last year when the Fed first signaled it would scale back stimulus. While Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were the engines of global growth following the financial crisis in 2008, emerging markets now pose a threat to world financial stability.

“The current environment is potentially very toxic for emerging markets,” Eamon Aghdasi, a strategist at Societe Generale SA in New York, said in a phone interview yesterday. “You have two very troubling things: uncertainty about the Fed policy, combined with concerns about growth, particularly in China. It’s difficult to justify that it’s time to go out and buy emerging markets at the moment.” Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Ghana puts plans for mining windfall tax on hold – by Kwasi Kpodo (Reuters India – January 24, 2014)

ACCRA, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Ghana has put on hold plans to introduce a windfall tax on mining profits, Finance Minister Seth Terkper told Reuters, a move that will delight struggling gold firms but could undermine efforts to reduce the country’s budget deficit.

Ghana is Africa’s second-biggest gold producer and the precious metal is a large source of revenues for the country whose government is seeking to maintain rapid economic growth while reining in the deficit and inflation.

But the decision comes after President John Mahama said this week his country had come under pressure from the industry over the planned tax, with companies warning it would lead to job cuts due to a steep fall in gold prices.

“It’s on hold in parliament and we are consulting,” Terkper told Reuters late on Thursday.

Terkper had told parliament during the annual budget in November that the government would impose the tax, which it has been trying to push through since 2012. No timeframe was given at the time. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Indonesia’s mining exports at standstill after new rules -govt officials – by Yayat Supriatna (Reuters U.S. – January 24, 2014)

JAKARTA, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Indonesia’s metal ore and concentrate exports have ground to a complete halt, government officials said on Friday, signalling the turmoil in the mining sector after a ban on ore shipments and an export tax were imposed nearly two weeks ago.

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy introduced a controversial ore export ban on Jan. 12, although last-minute amendments aimed to ease the impact of the export ban on miners like Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold and Newmont Mining Corp . They now face a progressive export tax on concentrates.

“There has been no concentrate export since January 12,” Bachrul Chairi, director general of foreign trade at the trade ministry told Reuters. “As of now, no miners or companies have requested export approval for concentrate or processed ore from the trade ministry.”

Freeport Indonesia and Newmont are in talks with the government over the new rules and are yet to resume exports since the new tax was introduced, while the Mineral Entrepreneurs Association has filed a legal challenge against the ore export ban. Continue Reading →

Platinum Talks Today Will Seek End to Pay Strike at Mines – by Kevin Crowley, Andre Janse van Vuuren and Paul Burkhardt (Bloomberg News – January 24, 2014)

South Africa’s government will today mediate talks between union officials and the world’s three biggest platinum producers as a strike that’s crippling mines enters a second day.

Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant will lead talks between Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS), Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) and Lonmin Plc (LMI) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, said Musa Zondi, her spokesman. The discussions were due to begin at 9 a.m. in Johannesburg. The companies should expect “marathon negotiations,” AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said.

“There are pressures from all sides” to reach an agreement, AMCU Treasurer Jimmy Gama said today by phone. “When you have these pressures, all the parties need to apply their minds constructively to deal with the issue.”

At least 70,000 employees downed tools at platinum mines yesterday in South Africa, home to 70 percent of the world’s production of the metal, causing about $13.1 million of lost revenue on the first day. The police stepped up safety measures as it sought to avoid a repeat of labor unrest that claimed the lives of at least 44 workers near platinum mines in August 2012. Continue Reading →

Insufficient mine supply bodes well for medium-term zinc, lead – Macquarie – by Dorothy Kosich ( – January 24, 2014)

The recent North American polar vortex, as well as massive snowstorms and freezing temperatures now slamming the U.S. may result in some unseasonal tightness for lead markets, says Macquarie Research.

RENO (MINEWEB) – “Supply/demand conditions look increasingly positive for both zinc and lead in the medium-term, with increasing concern that there is insufficient new mine supply in the pipeline to replace several major closures,” said Macquarie Commodities Research.

“However, on a one-year view, we are more positive on zinc than lead, on the basis that short-term demand conditions look stronger while supply growth has decelerated faster,” said Macquarie analysts in a “Commodities Comment” published Thursday.

Macquarie analysts think that the refined zinc market “is currently in a modest deficit.” “In 2013, TCs rose to a level to re-incentive metal production, a flow that will continue at least until the raw material market tightens up again,” they advised. “We see this as being in 2015 though much depends on how quickly stocks of concentrate are worked through.”

Continue Reading →