Archive | International Media Resource Articles

Australian coal miners hope election will see new govt cut red tape – by Sonali Paul (Reuters India – September 4, 2013)

MELBOURNE – (Reuters) – You know you’re in trouble when you’re ranked worse for red tape than India. The World Economic Forum this week put Australia 129th out of 148 countries, ranking it 25 spots lower than India, in terms of the burden of government regulation.

And Australia’s red tape is hurting growth in its key mining sector at a time when other sectors are struggling to fire up to fill the gap left by a fading mining investment boom.

Australian miners sitting on coal lodes that could produce 100 million tonnes a year say they are frustrated by layers of state and national approvals that take years to secure, anti-coal campaigners using the courts to delay projects, and carbon and mining taxes eating into potential returns.

“Green tape in Australia really has become very stifling for business, to the point now where it’s difficult to tell the difference between green and red tape, it’s so embedded,” said Whitehaven Coal Chief Executive Paul Flynn, referring to lengthy environmental reviews by state and federal agencies. Continue Reading →

Rio to BHP Invest $244 Billion as Glasenberg Warns: Commodities – by Elisabeth Behrmann & Jesse Riseborough (Bloomberg News – September 4, 2013)

The biggest mining companies are set to spend about $244 billion on expansions to 2015, slow to heed Glencore Xstrata Plc Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg’s call for austerity to end an oversupply in mineral markets.

That’s just a 2.4 percent drop from the $250 billion in capital expenditures made in the previous three-year period, according to forecasts compiled by Bloomberg for the 20 largest mining companies by market value. Glasenberg joined a chorus of investors pushing for spending cuts after the companies had to make $60 billion of writedowns over 18 months.

From BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP), the world’s biggest, to Rio Tinto Group, industry members are telling investors they’ve become more optimistic for demand growth in the U.S. and China, the biggest minerals buyer, and that future capex will be more disciplined. The Bloomberg World Mining index has jumped about 16 percent from a four-year low in July.

“Institutional shareholders still feel that management need to prove to them that over the long term the discipline associated with capital allocation is there,” Catherine Raw, co-manager of BlackRock Inc. (BLK)’s $7 billion World Mining Fund, said yesterday in a phone interview from London. “They could always do more. Shareholders are not releasing the pressure.” Continue Reading →

COLUMN-China PMI may not signal rising commodity demand – by Clyde Russell (Reuters India – September 3, 2013)

(The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

(Reuters) – Commodity producers and traders have no doubt been cheered by the recent recovery in China’s key manufacturing sector, but the boost may be more to sentiment than actual demand.

This is because there is a fairly weak correlation between movements in China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) and imports of key commodities such as crude oil, iron ore and copper. There is a far better correlation between China’s imports and the price of these commodities.

This suggests that while stronger, or weaker, industrial growth helps set the direction for imports, the actual size of the movement in imports is more related to price.

The official PMI rose to a 16-month high of 51.0 in August, beating market expectations for a reading of 50.6, with the breakdown showing better conditions across the factory sector, including the key export orders category. Continue Reading →

Anglo American Platinum to Eliminate Thousands of Jobs in South Africa – by Abayomi Azikiwe (Global Research – September 02, 2013)

Downsizing comes amid rising strikes by workers

South African workers are continuing their struggle against the bosses with strike actions spreading from the mines, automobile plants, air transport technology stations to construction sites. On September 3, thousands of members of the National Union of Metalworkers Union (NUMSA) were scheduled to march through Pretoria to the headquarters of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa to deliver a memorandum demanding that the trade group pressure car production firms to settle a strike that was in its third week.

In the most significant industry, platinum mining, the largest owner Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), has announced that up to 7,000 jobs could be eliminated in a restructuring program. The company had earlier threatened to fire twice as many workers but revised its plan to wipe out only 50 percent in the initial proposal.

These developments are taking place throughout the mining industry inside the country. Anglo American, which is also involved in other extractive markets such as gold, has reported a 10 percent decline in value since the beginning of 2013. Amplats produces 40 percent of the platinum sales internationally. The most profitable region for the firm is located in Rustenberg where during 2012 police shot dead 34 miners at the Lonmin corporation facility at Marikana on August 16.

Continue Reading →

Mining opponents: You think you know Ely’s needs? – by Joe Baltich (Minneapolis Star Tribune – August 31, 2013)

Joe Baltich lives near Ely, Minn.

These days, everybody has a lot to say about mining, tourism and the northern Minnesota economy. Many from the Twin Cities area oppose an underground copper-mining proposal near Ely and have been trying to stop the project in its tracks.

One of their reasons for doing so is well-intended — they want to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The second reason is more self-serving — they want to protect it for whenever the day comes that they decide to pay a visit.

I felt that it is time someone actually from Ely explained our reality. We want to protect the BWCA all the time, and we also want to be a viable, vibrant community. It is hard to do that with outside forces trying to stifle economic activity. I was recently asked by a Twin Cities resident to sign an anti-mining petition. Here is a condensed version of the letter I sent in reply:

The whole town of Ely is economically collapsing. Last year, 156 people were in the obituaries, and the New Year’s baby was born on Feb. 10. Resort bookings for May and June were substantially off, and I’m pretty sure they will be down for July and August. Continue Reading →

Europe’s Biggest Planned Gold Mine May Face Romanian Referendum – by Irina Savu (Bloomberg News – September 2, 2013)

Romania’s President proposed a vote on allowing development of Europe’s largest gold mine project following protests against technology that made the country home to one of the continent’s worst environmental disasters.

A day after thousands of demonstrators rallied against the use of cyanide in gold mining, President Traian Basescu said he may call a referendum next year on the Rosia Montana mine. That may delay the project, for which Canada-based Gabriel Resources Ltd. (GBU) said it could “hopefully” receive approval by November.

The rallies followed the government’s unveiling last week of a draft law to raise the state’s stake in the project, rekindling anger over the 2000 Baia Mare spill. Listed by the United Nations Environment Programme alongside Chernobyl as one of Europe’s major human-caused disasters, the spill happened when a dam holding back mine debris burst, flooding the Somes, Tiza and Danube rivers with tens of thousands of tons of cubic meters of cyanide-contaminated water.

“The biggest scare about the Rosia Montana mine is the cyanide process, which should have been discussed with experts,” Basescu said on newspaper Adevarul’s website. He said “society is rightfully reacting to this” because Romania had suffered from the Baia Mare spill. Continue Reading →

Lancaster Co. proposal could affect future gold mining – by Sammy Fretwel (Herald On – September 2, 2013)

That’s why plenty of people are watching Romarco Minerals Inc. these days. The fate of gold mining in South Carolina is tied to an ambitious plan by the company to offset wetlands damage at a huge mine it plans near Kershaw – and how well Romarco navigates the environmental permitting process, observers say.

More than 20 years after one of the state’s most prolific gold mines closed, Romarco Minerals Inc. of Canada is trying to persuade state and federal regulators to let it dig up and substantially expand the Haile mine in Lancaster County.

To do that, Romarco must convince regulators that the company has done all it can to avoid unnecessary damage to wetlands, streams, rivers and groundwater – and Romarco must offer compensation for the environmental impacts the mine will have. The company recently offered a wetlands offset package that could cost it $32 million.

Romarco’s efforts are expected to guide future company work in South Carolina, as well as those of other gold-exploration companies on whether to dig new mines. Some of Romarco’s competitors have been searching for gold in the Carolina Slate Belt, a rocky area that in South Carolina is largely between Columbia and Charlotte. Continue Reading →

Tearful Cutifani in appeal to end ‘tide of destruction’ in mining – by Allan Seccombe (South Africa Business Day – August 30, 2013)

A DEEPLY emotional Mark Cutifani, the CEO of Anglo American and president of the Chamber of Mines, has urged the government not to add to the risks besetting the mining sector by creating regulatory uncertainty.

“Our most important industry is in crisis and we have not yet found the answer to stemming the tide of destruction,” he said.

Mr Cutifani broke down in tears at the start of a speech at a dinner on Thursday marking the end of the three-day Mining Lekgotla in Sandton, where stakeholders gathered to discuss the sector’s competitiveness and transformation.

He said “cowards, thugs and murderers” and “loud-mouthed opportunists” should not be allowed to intimidate and bully others and to define the dialogue South Africa was having.

Mr Cutifani, the former CEO of AngloGold Ashanti, praised the achievements of South Africa, which had undergone one of the world’s largest social reconstructions since the demise of apartheid in 1994. However, despite the JSE outperforming the New York bourse since 2007, posting a 60% growth, the mining index was flat and had destroyed 30% of absolute value in the same time, he said.

Continue Reading →

Copper Rally Reversing as Glut Expands to ’01 High: Commodities – by Agnieszka Troszkiewicz & Maria Kolesnikova (Bloomberg News – September 3, 2013)

The biggest rally in copper in three months is reversing as analysts predict that the largest glut in 13 years will overwhelm consumption from an accelerating Chinese economy, which uses two in every five tons.

Production will exceed demand by 408,000 metric tons next year, the most since 2001, compared with 167,000 tons in 2013, the average of 15 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg shows. Futures rose 3.2 percent in August, the most in three months, on signs of an expansion in Chinese manufacturing. Prices will drop 6.1 percent to $6,800 a ton by the end of December, the median of 13 analyst and trader predictions shows.

Copper is falling with all other metals this year after a decade when prices rose fivefold. Producers from Rio Tinto Group to BHP Billiton Ltd. added 3.4 million tons to output since 2003, about what Europe uses in a year, and Morgan Stanley expects another 4.1 million tons by 2017. While prices are 29 percent below the record set in 2011, they are still about 50 percent higher than what the costliest mines need to break even, Macquarie Group Ltd. estimates.

“We’re having this big wave of copper supply growth,” said David Wilson, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. in London who has followed metals for almost two decades. Continue Reading →

Russia escalates dispute with Belarus after [potash company] CEO’s arrest – by Timothy Heritage (Reuters U.S. – August 30, 2013)

MOSCOW – (Reuters) – Russia banned pork imports from Belarus on Friday, stepping up a diplomatic and trade war over the arrest of a Russian businessman and threatening to deepen the isolation of its former Soviet ally.

Russia is one of Belarus’ few diplomatic backers after 19 years of authoritarian rule by President Alexander Lukashenko but has responded furiously to the arrest this week of Vladislav Baumgertner, head of Russian potash company Uralkali.

Baumgertner was seized on Monday at the airport outside the Belarussian capital Minsk after being invited to talks with the prime minister, and then humiliated by television footage showing him being searched in his prison cell.

Since then, Russian officials have announced a 25 percent drop in oil supplies to Belarus in September, threatened to extend the cuts for several months and hinted at possible restrictions on imports of Belarussian dairy products.

Russia’s veterinary regulator said the restrictions on hog and pork product imports had been imposed over concerns about African swine fever in Belarus and would not be lifted until the virus was wiped out or brought under control. Continue Reading →

China leads in resources buy-ups – by Paul Garvey (The Australian – August 31, 2013)

An analysis by The Weekend Australian found that Chinese interests bought $5.4 billion worth of Australian-owned mining and energy assets during the 2013 financial year, eclipsing Japan and Canada as the most active foreign investor in the sector.

While overall foreign acquisitions in Australia’s mining and oil and gas industries halved during the year, reflecting steep falls in both commodity prices and resource stocks, China’s investments in the mining sector held steady from 2012 levels.

The ongoing corporate activity challenges the notion that Chinese companies feel unwelcome when investing in Australia, following controversies over mining deals in recent years such as the blocked Chinese acquisition of OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine and Chinalco’s failed deal to buy into Rio Tinto’s West Australian iron ore operations.

Comments during the week by Kevin Rudd, in which he said he was anxious about an “open-slather approach” to foreign investment, have reignited concerns about perceptions of hostility from Australia towards Chinese investment.

While the Prime Minister’s comments did not refer to China, they have been criticised by industry groups as “borderline xenophobic” and as likely to send a negative message to Chinese investors. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 3-South Africa’s waning gold industry braces for more strikes – by Ed Stoddard (Reuters India – August 30, 2013)

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 30 (Reuters) – South African gold miners plan to strike for higher pay from Tuesday, inflicting more damage on an industry that has produced a third of the bullion ever pulled from the earth but is now in rapid decline.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents almost two thirds of the country’s 120,000 goldmine workers, served the mining firms notice of the strike starting from Tuesday’s night shift, the companies said.

Negotiations broke down last week, with the unions and companies still poles apart over pay. The Chamber of Mines, which negotiates on behalf of the companies, said it made a final offer to increase basic wages by 6 to 6.5 percent. The NUM is seeking 60 percent and rival union AMCU wants as much as 150 percent. The companies say those demands are unrealistic, given rising costs and falling bullion prices.

In a sign of the industry’s frustration over the deepening crisis, Chamber of Mines president Mark Cutifani choked back tears on Thursday as he made an emotional appeal for an end to the violence and rounded on “thugs and murderers” he accused of stoking the unrest. Continue Reading →

Congo, beyond the conflict: Six reasons why it matters – by Vava Tampa ( – August 28, 2013)

Editor’s note: Vava Tampa, a native of Congo, is the founder of Save the Congo, a London-based campaign to tackle “the impunity, insecurity, institutional failure and the international trade of minerals funding the wars in Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

(CNN) — Mention DR Congo, Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country, and what comes to mind? Probably conflict minerals, proxy wars, the rape capital of the world, or the trigger for the 19th century “Scramble for Africa.”

But beyond the despair, there is another country; a country not like any other country in the world — a country with rich ancient traditions, a colorful cultural energy and creativity, amazing potential and much, much more.

Ask historians or archaeologists — one of the earliest known mathematical objects, the Ishango bone, was not made in Ancient Greece, Mesopotamia or Renaissance Europe but around Congo’s Lake Edward around 18,000 BC.

It is certainly difficult to picture this today: thirty-two years of dictatorship followed by wars, invasions and bad governance reduced Congo from being a potential economic powerhouse to one of the world’s poorest countries. Continue Reading →

Fears grow about Reko Diq Gold mines…Baloch senator says deal offered to China; government denies – by Shaheen Sehbai ([Pakistan] The News International – August 28, 2013)

WASHINGTON: While major world mining and investment companies are preparing to invest big time, big money in Balochistan, specially in the mining sector, suspicions and doubts that the biggest gold mine of Reko Diq may be quietly handed over to China as part of the growing economic ties are also coming to the fore.

Official and business circles have been wondering for some time what will happen to the multi-hundred billion dollar Reko Diq gold and copper mines after the world’s largest mining company, Barrick Gold of Canada, was thrown out of Pakistan by the Supreme Court of Pakistan during the PPP regime.

But after the recent visit of high level government delegation to China and a flurry of quick MoUs and super-paced exchange of visits, an important leader from Balochistan, former Senator Sana Baloch has alleged publicly that the government has promised these mines to China in a year or so.

While the Government leaders strongly denied any deal or any promise made during the Beijing visit, an official Pakistan Government statement assuring that the Reko Diq mines will be given to the highest bidder in an international tender is still awaited. Continue Reading →

Russia orders oil cut to Belarus after potash clash – by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Vladimir Soldatkin (Reuters U.S. – August 28, 2013)

MOSCOW – (Reuters) – Russia ordered its oil firms on Wednesday to cut supplies to neighboring Belarus by around a quarter, in a major escalation of a trade and diplomatic dispute following the arrest in Minsk of the boss of Russian potash firm.

Trade disputes between Russia and Belarus have affected oil deliveries in the past, causing knock-on disruptions to pipeline flows via Belarus to European countries such as Poland and Germany.

Memories of those cuts, which led to oil price spikes, resurfaced this week after a major diplomatic row erupted between Moscow and Minsk.

Belarus this week detained chief executive of Russia’s Uralkali (URKA.MM), the world’s top potash producer, accusing him of inflicted severe economic damage following the collapse of a Russia-Belarus sales cartel.

Russia demanded the release of Vladislav Baumgertner. Uralkali controls 20 percent of the world market and is partially owned by Suleiman Kerimov, a billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration. Continue Reading →