Archive | International Media Resource Articles

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

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 →

Shale Threatens Saudi Economy, Warns Prince Alwaleed – by Summer Said and Benoit Faucon (Wall Street Journal – July 30, 2013)

Investor Says Kingdom’s Economy Increasingly Vulnerable

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has warned that the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy is increasingly vulnerable to rising U.S. energy production, breaking ranks with oil officials in Riyadh who have played down its impact.

In an open letter dated May 13 addressed to Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and several other ministers, a link to which was published Sunday on Prince Alwaleed’s Twitter account, he warned that the boom in U.S. shale oil and gas will reduce demand for crude from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. A Saudi official confirmed that ministers received the letter in May.

Not long after the prince issued his warning, a report from OPEC published Monday showed the group’s oil export revenue hit a record high of $1.26 trillion in 2012. However, forecasts from the group raise questions over whether that level of earnings can be sustained amid the competition from shale oil.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is now pumping at less than its production capacity because consumers are limiting their oil imports, Prince Alwaleed said in the letter. This means the kingdom is “facing a threat with the continuation of its near-complete reliance on oil, especially as 92% of the budget for this year depends on oil,” said the prince. Continue Reading →

Women coal miners to gather in Jonesborough this weekend Archives of Appalachia to document their stories – by Sue Guinn Legg (Johnson City Press – July 30, 2013)

Women coal miners from across the United States, Canada and England will gather in Jonesborough this weekend for a reunion at which their stories will be documented by the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University.

The first international gathering of women coal miners conducted in nearly 15 years, the Saturday and Sunday reunion will include guests from former underground miners’ organizations that pioneered gender integration in the coal industry in the 1970s as well as representatives from Women Against Pit Closures in England.

On Saturday, representatives of the Archives of Appalachia and ETSU’s Office of University Relations will film interviews of women miners to add to the archives’ existing coal mining collections, to strengthen the public understanding of the histories of mining and labor and to foster a greater appreciation for women miners.

Amy Collins, director of the Archives of Appalachia, said interest in the history of women coal miners draws researchers from across the country and abroad to archived collections at ETSU that document women miners’ efforts in the areas of mine health and safety, pregnancy research, parental leave and pay equity. Continue Reading →

Twin Metals Minnesota: Building the state’s Mining Future – by Bob McFarin (Mesabi Daily News – July 31, 2013)

Bob McFarin is vice president of public and government affairs of Twin Metals Minnesota.

Just over 150 years ago, people came to northern Minnesota in search of gold. Instead, they found a more enduring, but no less valuable resource — iron ore. The rest, of course, is history — Minnesota history shaped by generations of entrepreneurial, daring and hard-working “Iron Rangers.”

Good paying jobs, the ability to raise a family, vibrant communities, quality education and stewardship of the wilderness and environment — these are the past and present values and aspirations that define more than a century of mining throughout Minnesota’s Iron Range.

Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) is excited to be joining Minnesota’s proud mining heritage. Working in partnership with local communities and state and federal regulators, TMM is pursuing the development and operation of an underground mining project that will be one of the world’s largest sources of copper, nickel, platinum, palladium and gold.

These critical metals are necessary components of myriad products, from simple to complex, that support a modern quality of life — Continue Reading →

NUM: Violence in [South African] platinum belt continues unabated- by Greg Nicolson and Thapelo Lekgowa (Daily Maverick – July 30, 2013)

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni expressed shock at the ongoing violence in the platinum belt and appealed to all signatories to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry to meet their commitments to ensure a stable mining industry. The union’s national executive committee (NEC) said violence and intimidation continues almost a month after mining stakeholders signed the agreement, making a “mockery” of the initiative.

“The NUM is of the view that the deputy president must urgently act in operationalising that framework as agreed by the parties,” said Baleni, speaking in the union’s offices. “We are making a call that this framework has not been operationalised. Besides that, being operationalised, crime continues to be committed in terms of intimidation [and] violence.” He said there are 14 murder cases where no suspect has been arrested and in cases where arrests have been made prosecutions are yet to begin. The NUM called on the justice department to shift cases from Rustenburg’s courts to other courts so mine-related cases can be fast-tracked.

Baleni refused to name those responsible, but the NEC statement clearly points to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). The NUM claims that of 42 suspects arrested for violence or intimidation, 78% of them are from Amcu. Continue Reading →

Zimbabwe: Mining Sector Has Potential to Turn Around Economy – (All Editorial – February 1, 2013)

Zimbabwe is rich in natural resources and produces more than 40 types of metals and minerals. Mineral exports account for close to 40 percent of the country’s export receipts, accounting for massive employment and 12 percent of the gross domestic product.

Gold belts run along sources of nickel, asbestos, iron ore and pyrites production and contain reserves of antimony, tungsten, corundum and limestone. Zimbabwe is the world’s third largest source of platinum group metals and significant reserves of nickel are found along the Great Dyke.

Coal is one of Zimbabwe’s primary energy sources. High quality coal deposits abound in Hwange, parts of Matabeleland North, the Zambezi Valley and in the south east.

The Makonde basin in the north west of Zimbabwe, contains the country’s copper and graphite mines as well as reserves of lead, zinc and silver.

Diamonds have also entered the scene amid high expectations for the economy’s turnaround on the back of strengthening global demand for the precious gems. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 4-Potash sector rocked as Uralkali quits cartel; price slump seen – by Polina Devitt and Natalia Shurmina (Reuters India – July 30, 2013)

MOSCOW, July 30 (Reuters) – Russia’s Uralkali has dismantled the world’s largest potash cartel in a move that it expects to slash prices by 25 percent, heralding a reshaped industry and pummelling shares of companies that produce the key fertiliser ingredient.

The break-up of the Belarus Potash Company (BPC), a joint venture with Belarussian partner Belaruskali, could cause a price war and leaves North America’s Canpotex as the dominant potash export venture.

It could also lead to cancellations of projects by rivals as the industry weighs the effect of lower prices, but may feed through to better deals for farmers and ultimately consumers. U.S.-listed shares of the Canpotex owners – Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, Mosaic Co and Agrium Inc – plummetted, cutting their market value by nearly $15 billion.

BPC and Canpotex had accounted for 70 percent of global trade in potash, and the duopoly had set identical prices in key markets such as China and India.

“In the last few years, BPC and Canpotex … succeeded by raising potash prices much above their production cost,” a senior official at a major Indian potash firm said, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. Continue Reading →

Emerging economies: When giants slow down (The Economist – July 27, 2013)

The most dramatic, and disruptive, period of emerging-market growth the world has ever seen is coming to its close

THIS year will be the first in which emerging markets account for more than half of world GDP on the basis of purchasing power, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 1990 they accounted for less than a third of a much smaller total. From 2003 to 2011 the share of world output provided by the emerging economies grew at more than a percentage point a year (see chart 1). The remarkably rapid growth the world has seen in these two decades marks the biggest economic transformation in modern history. Its like will probably never be seen again.

According to a recent study by Arvind Subramanian and Martin Kessler, of the Peterson Institute, a think-tank, from 1960 to the late 1990s just 30% of countries in the developing world for which figures are available managed to increase their output per person faster than America did, thus achieving what is called “catch-up growth”. That catching up was somewhat lackadaisical: the gap closed at just 1.5% a year. From the late 1990s, however, the tables were turned. The researchers found 73% of developing countries managing to outpace America, and doing so on average by 3.3% a year. Some of this was due to slower growth in America; most was not.

The most impressive growth was in four of the biggest emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China, which Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, acronymed into the BRICs in 2001. These economies have grown in different ways and for different reasons. But their size marked them out as special—on purchasing-power terms they were the only $1 trillion economies outside the OECD, a rich world club—and so did their growth rates (see chart 2). Mr O’Neill reckoned they would, over a decade, become front-rank economies even when measured at market exchange rates, and he was right. Today they are four of the largest ten national economies in the world. Continue Reading →

Emerging economies: The Great Deceleration (The Economist – July 27, 2013)

The emerging-market slowdown is not the beginning of a bust. But it is a turning-point for the world economy

WHEN a champion sprinter falls short of his best speeds, it takes a while to determine whether he is temporarily on poor form or has permanently lost his edge. The same is true with emerging markets, the world economy’s 21st-century sprinters. After a decade of surging growth, in which they led a global boom and then helped pull the world economy forwards in the face of the financial crisis, the emerging giants have slowed sharply.

China will be lucky if it manages to hit its official target of 7.5% growth in 2013, a far cry from the double-digit rates that the country had come to expect in the 2000s. Growth in India (around 5%), Brazil and Russia (around 2.5%) is barely half what it was at the height of the boom. Collectively, emerging markets may (just) match last year’s pace of 5%. That sounds fast compared with the sluggish rich world, but it is the slowest emerging-economy expansion in a decade, barring 2009 when the rich world slumped.

This marks the end of the dramatic first phase of the emerging-market era, which saw such economies jump from 38% of world output to 50% (measured at purchasing-power parity, or PPP) over the past decade. Over the next ten years emerging economies will still rise, but more gradually. The immediate effect of this deceleration should be manageable. But the longer-term impact on the world economy will be profound.

In the past, periods of emerging-market boom have tended to be followed by busts (which helps explain why so few poor countries have become rich ones). Continue Reading →

The tycoon, the dictator’s wife and the $2.5bn Guinea mining deal – by Ian Cobain and Afua Hirsch (The Guardian – July 30, 2013)

FBI investigating Beny Steinmetz’s company BSGR after lucrative deal to extract iron ore from Simandou mountain range

Conakry, Guinea – In Conakry, a gleaming hotel looms over the filth of the city. Behind it a small coastal cove acts like a floating rubbish dump, collecting brightly coloured detritus from the murky Atlantic and distributing it in piles in stubbly black rock pools on the beach. A group of gangly young men sit by an abandoned fishing boat, looking despondently out to sea.

But in the gleaming, chandelier-lit hotel lobby it is easy to forget the scenery outside. Here, European, Australian and Brazilian mining executives, in jeans and suit jackets, sip rosé as they check emails. African businessmen huddle in groups, discussing shareholdings and the possibility of chartering planes to reach remote sites.

Businessmen think nothing of hiring private aircraft to reach Guinea’s abundant reserves of diamonds, gold, uranium, aluminium ore and bauxite, because the returns are unparalleled. The country is an almost textbook example of what some refer to as the “paradox of plenty”: it sits atop some of the most significant untapped mineral reserves in the world while its people live in squalor, without clean water, electricity, education or infrastructure. Continue Reading →

Mines on public land add $21bn to U.S. economy – DOI – by Dorothy Kosich ( – July 30, 2013)

As the manager of one-fifth of the U.S. landmass and 1.7 billion acres offshore, the U.S. Department of the Interior has resources to help the country produce more fossil fuels at home.

RENO (MINEWEB) – The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) estimated Monday that federal public lands contributed $371 billion to the U.S. economy last year including $21 billion in hardrock mineral sales and employment of 111,000 persons.

At the end of FY2012, there were 406,140 active mining claims on public land, with about half of these claims located in Nevada.

“Most of the value associated with locatable mineral production is attributed to gold which is produced in significant quantities on public land,” said the report, The U.S. Department of the Interior Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2012. It is estimated that more than 3 million ounces of gold was produced from federal lands with the average price of gold in 2012 at $1,700 per ounce.

Domestic gold production last year was estimated to be 230 metric tons, down from 234 metric tons produced in 2011. The value of the U.S. gold mine production was about $12.6 billion, up from $71.8 billion in 2011, according to the Department of Interior. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Pain of drop in China coal imports isn’t evenly shared – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – July 29, 2013)

Clyde Russell is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own.

LAUNCESTON, Australia, July 29 (Reuters) – The sharp drop in China’s coal imports in June helped to finally bring growth in imports closer to that for power output and was validation of the view that inbound cargoes had been unsustainably high.

While a pullback in imports had been expected for several months, the breakdown of the customs data shows the pain hasn’t been evenly spread amongst China’s major suppliers. Total imports in June were 18.037 million tonnes, down 22 percent from May and 19.6 percent from the same month a year earlier.

This was enough to drag the year-to-date growth in coal imports down to 13.9 percent in June from May’s 22.3 percent. The rate is also less than half the 28.7 percent jump in imports achieved in 2012 over 2011.

Part of the reason imports had been strong in the first five months of 2013 was that prices were competitive with domestic producers. Falling domestic prices as demand for power generation eased caught up with imports in June. But it’s not necessarily the higher-cost suppliers that are being squeezed out of the market. Continue Reading →

Barrick Goes Worst to First on Bets Gold Bottomed: Canada Credit – by Ari Altstedter (Bloomberg News – July 29, 2013)

Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX), the largest miner of the metal, has gone from the worst performer to the best among Canadian firms with U.S. dollar bonds, on bets gold prices have bottomed out after the biggest drop in 90 years.

Barrick bonds returned an average 3.2 percent this month, the most among the 50 largest issuers tracked by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. Corporate & Yankees Canadian Issuers Index. Barrick’s 5.25 percent notes due in April 2042 rose 5.1 percent in July, the biggest advance in the index. Last month the company’s debt was the biggest loser among the largest issuers on the index with a 10 percent decline, the data show.

Gold miners, including Goldcorp Inc. (G), the world’s biggest by market value, have announced at least $15 billion of writedowns in the past two months after the precious metal’s steepest quarterly drop in London trading in more than nine decades. The metal’s price has risen from almost a three-year low at the end of June, when Barrick announced it may write down as much as $5.5 billion.

“I think there’s a good chance we bottomed out,” said Scott MacDonald, who helps manage $600 million as head of research at MC Asset Management Holdings LLC in Stamford Connecticut. “You had a bubble in prices. You burst the bubble. Prices became more reasonable, and investors now feel the water is OK to go back in.” Continue Reading →

Mugabe wants mining indigenisation without compensation – by Tawanda Karombo (South Africa Business Day – July 29, 2013)

HARARE — Indications that Zimbabwe’s contentious indigenisation policy will be changed to rule out compensation for expropriated stakes in mining companies have been buttressed by President Robert Mugabe during a campaign rally in the capital ahead of the country’s elections on Wednesday.

The empowerment policy, first promulgated in 2007 and forcibly implemented in the past two years, seeks to transfer majority control in foreign mining groups to black Zimbabwean groups.

However, where foreign mining companies would have received compensation for the 51% shares ceded to black Zimbabwean groups, they will now receive no monetary compensation, Mr Mugabe has said.

Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum and Aquarius Platinum are the major mining houses in the industry in Zimbabwe, which is home to the world’s second-largest platinum reserves. The country also has vast deposits of other minerals such as gold, nickel, diamonds and coal, which are being exploited by foreign companies that include New Dawn Mining, Mzi Khumalo’s Metallon Gold and Caledonia Mining Corporation. Continue Reading →

What If We Never Run Out of Oil? – by Charles C. Mann (The Atlantic Magazine – May 2013)

New technology and a little-known energy source suggest that fossil fuels may not be finite. This would be a miracle—and a nightmare.

As the great research ship Chikyu left Shimizu in January to mine the explosive ice beneath the Philippine Sea, chances are good that not one of the scientists aboard realized they might be closing the door on Winston Churchill’s world. Their lack of knowledge is unsurprising; beyond the ranks of petroleum-industry historians, Churchill’s outsize role in the history of energy is insufficiently appreciated.

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. With characteristic vigor and verve, he set about modernizing the Royal Navy, jewel of the empire. The revamped fleet, he proclaimed, should be fueled with oil, rather than coal—a decision that continues to reverberate in the present. Burning a pound of fuel oil produces about twice as much energy as burning a pound of coal. Because of this greater energy density, oil could push ships faster and farther than coal could.

Churchill’s proposal led to emphatic dispute. The United Kingdom had lots of coal but next to no oil. At the time, the United States produced almost two-thirds of the world’s petroleum; Russia produced another fifth. Both were allies of Great Britain. Nonetheless, Whitehall was uneasy about the prospect of the Navy’s falling under the thumb of foreign entities, even if friendly. Continue Reading →