Archive | International Media Resource Articles

Nickel producers fend off output cuts as losses mount – by Melanie Burton and James Regan (Reuters U.S. – August 2, 2013)

http://www.reuters.com/

SINGAPORE/SYDNEY Aug 2 (Reuters) – Nickel miners are clinging to plans to maintain production, despite a growing supply glut and prices around four-year lows, raising the risk of more writedowns and losses being unveiled in the current financial reporting season.

France’s Eramet this week reported a first-half operating loss and warned the second half would be worse due to weak nickel prices, while other top producers such as Vale SA , Glencore Xstrata and BHP Billiton report in the next few weeks.

Between a quarter to a half of the nickel sector could be running at a loss, according to industry estimates, hit by weak demand from China, the world’s top producer and consumer of stainless steel. Nickel is a key component of stainless steel.

Nonetheless, few miners have yet made deep cuts in output and the trend is set to put more pressure on depressed prices.

“It’s a staring contest, no one wants to be the first to take the pain,” said Robin Bhar, an analyst at Societe Generale in London.

Three month nickel on the London Metal Exchange hit $13,205 a tonne on July 9, the lowest since May 2009 and down from nearly $19,000 in February. Nickel is the worst performer on the exchange so far this year, down nearly 20 percent. Continue Reading →

Tanzania: Kabanga Nickel Project – Light At the End of Long Tunnel – by Meddy Mulisa (All Africa.com – August 2, 2013)

http://allafrica.com/

Bukoba — THE much-awaited Kabanga Nickel Project will soon start its operations, bringing fresh hopes to many in terms of labour and employment, according to President Jakaya Kikwete during his recent tour of Kagera Region.

Kabanga Nickel is an active mine exploration project 130 kms south west of Lake Victoria in Ngara District, Kagera Region. The project is a joint venture between Barrick Gold and Xstrata Nickel.

The Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo said the government would buy shares which would later be sold to wananchi. He also appealed to Tanzanians to grab the opportunity for their wellbeing. He said a total of 80 megawatts would be produced at Rusumo Falls to generate power at Kabanga Nickel.

“This is a joint project between three countries -Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda with each country taking 27 megawatts. Kabanga’s 58 million tonne nickel resource is regarded as one of the best undeveloped greenfield nickel sulphide deposits in the world. Since 2005, there has been continued progress made in the development of the Kabanga Nickel Project with a significant investment to date of over US$205 million in drilling and evaluation studies. Continue Reading →

Norilsk sees Indonesia ore ban supporting nickel price – by Fergus Jensen (Reuters U.S. – August 1, 2013)

http://www.reuters.com/

JAKARTA – Aug 1 (Reuters) – Nickel prices could recover next year, when Indonesia brings in a planned ban on unprocessed ore exports, said executives from Russia’s Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of the metal.

Indonesia is the world’s top exporter of nickel laterite ore, which is mostly shipped to China to be used as a cheap substitute for nickel in stainless steel.

A strictly enforced ban on exports of ore would support demand for refined nickel, said Pavel Fedorov, deputy chief executive of Norilsk Nickel, who met government and industry officials in Jakarta to assess how the policy would be implemented.

“We received high-level assurances that there is a game plan in place that would ensure restriction on export of ore would be in place by January and would be subject to very strict rules and regulations,” added Fedorov, who did not name the Indonesian officials he met.

Uncertainty over the policy was hindering investment and disrupting the nickel market, much of which believed the 2014 ban would be delayed “or somehow fudged”, he added. Continue Reading →

Finding Chuqui’s lost ore – Lowell on tackling world-class mystery – by Kip Keen (Mineweb.com – August 1, 2013)

http://www.mineweb.com/

The massive Chuquicamata copper deposit has long been theorized to be missing ore, possibly faulted off to the south. Now exploration legend David Lowell is looking.

HALIFAX, NS (MINEWEB) – David Lowell, the famed octogenarian explorer credited with finding the Escondida copper deposit, among others, is now taking a crack at one of the world’s greatest exploration mysteries: finding lost – or believed to be lost – Chuquicamata copper ore. Forgive the superlative. For the known Chuquicamata copper-molybdenum deposit and mine in Chile, now owned by Codelco, is ranked by many as the greatest – or certainly one of the greatest – copper ore bodies in the world.

Chuquicamata, Chuqui for short, is big and, for its size, very high grade. A mid-2000s estimate tallied 2 billion tonnes @ 1.54 percent copper as having been mined. These days, a grade a third that is considered pretty normal – good even – for a large porphyry deposit like this. So Chuqui is abnormal. And many billion tonnes of ore remain at the known Chuqui deposit. As the massive Chuqui open pit wanes, Codelco aims to continue mining in a giant block cave mine it estimates will cost about $4.2 billion to build. The pit is reaching its limits, about 900 metres deep, and four kilometres long and three kilometres wide.

The Chuqui mystery is this: a fault, called the West Fault, cuts through the Chuqui ore body and appears to have moved a chunk – how much is not clear – of Chuqui ore elsewhere, where or exactly how far is uncertain. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-More mines open, making rare earths less rare – by John Kemp (Reuters India – August 1, 2013)

http://in.reuters.com/

Aug 1 (Reuters) – The United States has resumed mining rare earths after more than a decade, ending its total reliance on imports, mostly from China, for raw minerals Washington says are critical for the economy and national security.

Responding to a quadrupling of prices between 2005 and 2011 and growing anxiety about supplies from China, Molycorp’s Project Phoenix has sought to resurrect domestic production.

In 2009, the company started processing stockpiled concentrate. Last year it resumed mining at Mountain Pass in California’s Mojave Desert, which it had suspended in 2002.

Molycorp plans to raise output to 19,050 metric tonnes of rare earth oxide per year by the middle of this year, enough to satisfy more than 10 percent of worldwide demand. The resumption of domestic production comes after a period when shortages stoked tensions between the United States, the European Union and Japan and their main supplier, China.

In March 2012, the three consumers complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) about China’s export restrictions on rare earths, tungsten and molybdenum, which they claimed were intended to reserve scarce elements for its manufacturers, discriminating against users in their own countries. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-China’s moves to cut metal capacity just getting started – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – August 1, 2013)

http://www.reuters.com/

Aug 1 (Reuters) – China’s plans to force more than 1,900 companies to cut excess capacity in bloated industries including aluminium, steel and copper have met with an underwhelming response from the market.

Certainly, the moves to make China’s heavy industries more efficient will have little immediate market impact, but what analysts and investors may be shrugging off a little too lightly is that once trends and processes start, they tend to gather momentum.

The edict to close some capacity by September will do very little to end surpluses in aluminium and steel production in China, as they will impact less than 1 percent of capacity.

In aluminium, about 260,000 tonnes of annual capacity may be shut, a fraction of the existing capacity of about 27 million tonnes, which is already about 28 percent higher than demand of about 21 million tonnes.

For steel, the ruling may result in about 7 million tonnes of annual output being idled, but the China steel association says there is 300 million tonnes of surplus capacity. In copper, some 654,000 tonnes of production may be closed, which is insignificant when compared with the existing idle capacity of more than 7 million tonnes. Continue Reading →

Analysis: Poland to get dirtier as it leans towards lignite coal – by Agnieszka Barteczko and Henning Gloystein (Reuters India – July 31, 2013)

http://in.reuters.com/

WARSAW/LONDON – (Reuters) – Poland, one of the heaviest polluters in Europe, will become even dirtier now that its shale gas ambitions have faded and it turns to cheap domestic lignite coal to secure its energy supply.

Poland already relies on coal to produce more than 90 percent of its electricity and is home to the European installation that emits the most carbon dioxide – utility PGE’s lignite power plant in Belchatow.

Its choice of fuel now could determine its energy and environmental situation for decades to come, given that Poland needs to build new power stations to replace ageing plants and cope with future demand as its power system operates close to capacity.

The government and utilities, encouraged by firm popular support, are looking to domestic lignite reserves as a cheap way to fuel that new capacity and reduce imports of Russian gas.

“Looking at Poland’s limited reserves of gas and oil, lignite coal has to be perceived as the stabilizing factor for Poland’s energy safety,” Poland’s economy ministry said in an email, adding Poland’s lignite reserves will last for 200 to 300 years. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-African Barrick eyes more cost cuts as impairment hits H1 – by Clara Ferreira-Marques and Sarah Young (Reuters India – July 30, 2013)

http://in.reuters.com/

LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) – Miner African Barrick Gold , battling a plunge in the price of bullion, identified more cost cuts to help engineer a turnaround after sinking to a first-half loss on the back of a $727 million impairment charge.

African Barrick was under pressure even before a gold price rout began in April, hit by illegal mining, power generation problems and strikes, issues which forced it to warn in February that output would shrink for a fifth straight year.

The company on Tuesday posted a first half net loss of $701.2 million, against a profit for the year-ago period of $73.7 million, after a lower gold price and a review of its lower grade mines forced it to take the $727 million charge.

On a quarterly-basis, however, it beat consensus on a production and cost basis, helped by actions taken as part of a review.

The review identified $185 million of potential savings, with over $100 million of cuts seen in 2013. Initially prompted by a failed takeover attempt earlier this year, the process was given fresh impetus by a fall in the price of gold. Continue Reading →

Building facilities, building a work force, building a mine – by Anna Kurth (Hibbing Daily Tribune – July 30, 2013)

http://www.virginiamn.com/

Essar Steel Minnesota’s place in iron industry secure

NASHWAUK — For officials at Essar Steel, mining in Minnesota is all about location. Locating on the Iron Range provides immediate access to the rail lines and utilities necessary to mine and transport their product and employees with the skills they’re seeking.

Building a new plant also provides the advantage of mining next door to the facility, which allows Essar Steel to be in the first-quartile of low-cost producers, said Ken Kinsey, chief of operations. A large portion of mining costs come from mining operations — equipment and employees, he said. Essar Steel will start operations needing less of both.

Other mines first built their primary crusher right on the doorstep of the mine. But during decades of mining, operations have migrated and haul distances have increased. Now Essar will benefit from mining on its crusher’s doorstep.

“We’ve put our plant on the north side of the ore body so it doesn’t encumber any iron ore resources,” Kinsey said, adding that the plant is positioned so mining will start where stripping is lowest. Continue Reading →

[Minnesota] Mine study still a resource – by Charles Ramsay (Mesabi Daily News – July 30, 2013)

http://www.hibbingmn.com/

Document a framework for how future of industry might look

The update came out in early February. The main author, Jim Skurla, director of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics’ Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Minnesota Duluth, noted in a recent phone interview from Duluth that while the worldwide economy and its need for steel “had slowed down a bit” recently, especially in China, it didn’t necessarily indicate a decline in demand for the metal.

“It really was red hot there for awhile,” he said of the world economy, but its steel demand has continued to be “cyclical.”

The study found, in the 2010 data, that Northeastern Minnesota’s mining industry made up 30 percent of the region’s economy, down from 33 percent found by the original study done with 2007 data. The newer iron mining operations, as well as the possibilities with the non-ferrous mining operations, project almost a doubling of workers and revenues in mining if all projects advance.

Iron mining had an impact of about $3 billion to the state’s economy in the 2010 data, with 3,900 employees directly involved and a total of 11,000 employees, including miners, directly or indirectly employed with suppliers or resulting from additional household spending. For every mining job in the industry, another 1.8 jobs are created directly or indirectly, the study found. Continue Reading →

Tanzanians sue African gold mining firms over deaths in 2011 – by John Vidal (The Guardian – July 31, 2013)

http://www.theguardian.com/uk

Villagers accuse African Barrick Gold and North Mara Gold Mine over killing of at least six people

Tanzanian villagers are suing two African gold mining companies after six people were killed by police and others injured.

On Monday, Leigh Day, the London law firm, served a claim on behalf of 12 villagers against African Barrick Gold (ABG), one of Africa’s largest mining companies, and North Mara Gold Mine (NMGM), to highlight the allegedly serious human rights situation at the mine.

The claim alleges that the companies are liable for the deaths and injuries of villagers, including the killing of at least six men by police.

According to Leigh Day, villagers often try to gather rocks in the vicinity of the mine in the hope of finding small amounts of gold. “Police, which are an integral part of the mine’s security, allegedly shoot at the villagers using tear gas and live ammunition,” said Richard Meeran, a partner at the law firm.

The claims relate to several incidents, including one in which five men were shot dead in May 2011. The villagers allege the mine and NMGM, which are operated by African Barrick Gold, “failed to curb the use of excessive force at the mine, including deadly force used by police on a regular basis over a protracted period of time”. Continue Reading →

Commodity supercycle in rude health despite shale – by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (The Telegraph – July 31, 2013)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

The Oil Drum is closing down after eight years, giving up the long struggle to alert us all to “peak oil” and the dangers of an energy crunch. Readers have been drifting away. The theme has gone out of fashion, eclipsed by shale and fracking in the US.

The demise of Britain’s leading website for oil dissidents has been seized on by critics as an admission that peak oil is just another malthusian myth like so many before. It comes amid a spate of reports from global banks announcing the death of the commodity supercycle, slain by creative technology and a surge of new supply.

Yet if you stand back, it is hardly evident that the world is again enjoying abundant sources of cheap energy, metals or indeed food. Commodity prices have held up remarkably well given that we are in a global trade depression, albeit one contained by monetary stimulus.

The eurozone is in the longest unbroken recession since the 1930s, with industrial production 13pc below the pre-Lehman peak. Average growth in the US has been 1.1pc over the past three quarters as it grapples with the most drastic fiscal tightening since demobilisation after the Korean War. The Economic Cycle Research Institute continues to insist that the US is in recession right now, a claim less absurd than it sounds. Continue Reading →

All Minnesota has stake in mining debate – West Central Tribune Editorial (July 31, 2013)

http://www.wctrib.com/

Northeast Minnesota has a natural attraction of wild land and clear water that draws tourists from Duluth to Ely to Grand Marias. The region also contains valuable ore that created a mining industry that helped develop the region and Minnesota

More than a dozen companies are exploring northeastern Minnesota for copper, nickel, gold and other precious metals. Mining officials claim that hard rock mining can now be done safely and with little or no environmental impact. Many citizens are looking forward to a possible new mining industry and the resulting economic growth.

However, not everyone is enthusiastic about the prospect of this new mining. Mining critics point to similar operations in the western United States that have polluted many streams, rivers and lakes with acidic runoff. The mining issue is dividing communities in the region as the debate grows over mining potential and possible dangers.

All in Minnesota have an interest in the prospect of mining and the protection of natural resources in northeast Minnesota. Both the precious metal ores and other natural resources of the region are part of Minnesota’s legacy. Continue Reading →

Long view: Lundin Mining plans to be around for a while – by John Pepin (Marquette Mining Journal – July 31, 2013)

http://www.miningjournal.net/

HUMBOLDT – Lundin Mining Corp. President and CEO Paul Conibear said the company is looking to be a long-term success and pledged that high standards will be maintained for the Eagle Mine.

“Eagle Mine being successful – not just in the construction ahead of schedule or under budget – but to be able to look back in five, seven, eight, 10, 15 years and know this is an outstanding mine and being recognized in the international community that this is an outstanding mine and still being very welcomed by the community, those are our goals, factors for success,” Conibear said.

Conibear made the comments recently to a crowd of about 200 employees, government and business officials and residents who have supported the Eagle Mine. Those listeners were guests invited to a ceremony at the Humboldt Mill commemorating the transfer of the Eagle Mine project to Lundin.

In June, Lundin purchased the Eagle project from Rio Tinto for $325 million and the Toronto-based company will spend another $400 million through 2014 to get the mine and its Humboldt Mill into production by late 2014, earlier if possible. Full production is targeted for mid-2015 and is expected to last until 2022. Additional minerals to be extracted from the mine will include gold, cobalt, platinum and palladium by-products.

Continue Reading →

Ex-Mining Chiefs Plot Comebacks – by John W. Miller (Wall Street Journal – July 30, 2013)

http://online.wsj.com/home-page

Mining CEOs Who Were Sent Packing Return to the Industry.

Mining-company chief executives who were recently sent packing are beating a trail back to the industry, and two have already established investor funds and are looking for backers.

Is it smart to fund people who, if their companies were combined, had billion-dollar write-offs on assets acquired during their watch?

Aaron Regent, the former CEO of Barrick Gold Corp., ABX.T -4.06% thinks so. “There are opportunities out there, and there may be situations where you see value that others don’t,” he says.

Mr. Regent started a Toronto-based fund this year mainly to buy mines in the Americas. He says he signed deals with “a number of financial partners” but concedes it is a challenging market. “The Chinese are going to be competitors for sure.”

Mr. Regent is one of the five major mining bosses ousted in the last two years, due in large part to cost overruns and poor share performance. Others in the group are Cynthia Carroll of Anglo American AAL.LN -0.81% PLC, Tom Albanese of Rio Tinto, Mick Davis of Xstrata PLC, and Marius Kloppers of BHP Billiton Ltd. BHP.AU -0.60%. Continue Reading →