Archive | International Media Resource Articles

Biting the hand that feeds it [South Africa mining amendments] – by Chris Barron (Business Day – September 22, 1023) [South Africa]

CHAMBER of Mines boss Bheki Sibiya says nobody should be under any illusions about the impact that proposed mining law amendments will have on the industry and South Africa.

Public hearings on the amendments ended this week, leaving an overwhelming sense of approaching disaster. Mr Sibiya, who in three years as CEO of the chamber has impressed with his measured, thoughtful but frank assessments of the challenges facing the industry, says this could be the biggest so far.

The crux of the amendments being pushed through by the government in the teeth of detailed submissions by the mining industry is that they will empower the minister to intervene in all sorts of issues from pricing to ownership rights.

The immediate consequence is that “quite a number” of marginal mines will close, says Mr Sibiya. Projects that are at the prospecting stage will be suspended, thousands of jobs will be lost and investors will not invest.

“Mining is long term. Once one is not so sure about one’s rights in the long term, one would rather say let’s cut our losses now. This is what investors will do.” Continue Reading →

Innovators work to diversify the U.P. economy – by Kathleen Lavey (Detroit Free Press – September 22, 2013)

Gannett Michigan – Seven hundred feet below the surface of the earth, John Mason drives a truck through the heart of Eagle Mine, the tires crunching on irregular pieces of rock at the bottom of the tunnel.

He points to a section of the rock that’s a slightly different color than the rest. It gleams a little in the artificial light from the lamp on his hard hat.

“There,” Mason says, “is the ore body. Right there.” Four percent copper. Five percent nickel. An estimated 550 million pounds of usable metal in a mine near Marquette.

That’s no match for the purity of the copper hewn from the U.P.’s ancient rock formations during its 19th- and 20th- Century mining boom. But these days, getting it out is worth an investment of more than $1 billion and an effort that will keep a crew of up to 220 miners busy for at least eight years.

The new mine, scheduled to begin extracting ore late next year, is the next chapter in the Upper Peninsula’s long history of making a living from natural resources. Continue Reading →

Copper mine belt to ring Grampians – by Nick Toscano (The Age – September 22, 2013) (Austrialia)

Mining companies have been permitted to drill at the doorstep of the Grampians National Park, and the area could become ”a new copper belt” in Australia, according to one mining executive.

Since December, the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation has pushed through three exploration licences that allow companies to drill on either side of the Grampians, after geological surveys showed the area was ”highly prospective” for copper.

An application was lodged on May 7 by the Queensland miner Diatreme Resources for a government licence to begin exploratory drilling near the Grampians’ southern border. Last month it was approved after what the company said was the ”quickest turnaround” it had ever experienced.

”The speed at which they’ve granted this tenement, which took about four months, is the fastest we’ve ever had,” chief executive Tony Fawdon said. ”They can often take several years.” Mr Fawdon said the recent departmental surveys had identified substantial copper deposits, which are believed to stretch from the Grampians to the state’s north-west. Continue Reading →

Tentative deal in dispute over N.Y. [Copper] heiress’ will – by Jennifer Peltz (Associated Press -September 21, 2013)

NEW YORK (AP) — A tentative deal has been reached in a New York court fight over the will of a reclusive Montana copper mining heiress that would give more than $30 million of her $300 million estate to her distant relatives, a person familiar with the case said Saturday.

The breakthrough in the fight over Huguette Clark’s estate comes after jury selection started in a trial pitting nearly two dozen of her half-siblings’ descendants against a goddaughter, a hospital where she spent the last 20 years of her life, a nurse, doctors, a lawyer and others.

An April 2005 will cut out her distant relatives. Another will, six weeks earlier, left them most of her money. The tentative settlement will give the relatives about $34.5 million after taxes under the deal, while her nurse would have to turn over $5 million and a doll collection valued at about $1.6 million, the person told The Associated Press. Her lawyer would get nothing.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss the settlement because it hasn’t yet been made public. News of the tentative settlement was first reported by The New York Times and WNBC. Continue Reading →

A Bitter ‘Fertilizer War’ Gripping Belarus and Russia Is Helping U.S. Farmers – by Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times – September 16, 2013)

MOSCOW — American farmers are getting an unexpected windfall from a contentious fight between Russia and Belarus, a former Soviet splinter state.

The subject of the fight is potash, a fertilizer. The score so far: One imprisoned Russian business executive, the disintegration of a once-effective cartel that kept world potash prices high and political tension between the two countries.

What is being called the “fertilizer war” is the latest of numerous trade and economic spats between Russia and Belarus, whose leaders, though presiding over similar autocratic political systems, do not get along personally, Russian political analysts say. Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, president of Belarus, and Vladimir V. Putin, president of Russia, by most accounts detest each another. Their feelings have spilled over into the fertilizer business.

The potash problem reached a peak on July 30, when Uralkali, the Russian potash company, announced it was withdrawing from an international cartel called the Belarusian Potash Company, or B.P.C., which was created to keep prices high. Continue Reading →

Conflict Minerals: The Price of Precious – by Jeffrey Gettleman (National Geographic – October 2013)

The minerals in our electronic devices have bankrolled unspeakable violence in the Congo.

The first child soldier pops out of the bush clutching an AK-47 assault rifle in one hand and a handful of fresh marijuana buds in the other. The kid, probably 14 or 15, has this big, goofy, mischievous grin on his face, like he’s just stolen something—which he probably has—and he’s wearing a ladies’ wig with fake braids dangling down to his shoulders.

Within seconds his posse materializes from the thick, green leaves all around us, about ten other heavily armed youngsters dressed in ratty camouflage and filthy T-shirts, dropping down from the sides of the jungle and blocking the red dirt road in front of us. Our little Toyota truck is suddenly swarmed and immobilized by a four-and-a-half-foot-tall army.

This is on the road to Bavi, a rebel-controlled gold mine on the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s wild eastern edge. Congo is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country and one of its richest on paper, with an embarrassment of diamonds, gold, cobalt, copper, tin, tantalum, you name it—trillions’ worth of natural resources. But because of never ending war, it is one of the poorest and most traumatized nations in the world. Continue Reading →

Canadian exchanges push to relax private placement rules – by Allison Martell (Reuters U.S. – September 20, 2013)

TORONTO – (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock exchanges are pushing for regulatory changes that could make it easier for retail investors to participate in small financings long deemed too risky for the general public, a move that could help shore up the country’s hard-hit junior mining sector.

John McCoach, president of market operator TMX Group Ltd’s small-cap TSX Venture Exchange, said his organization has asked Canada’s securities regulators to consider allowing a public company’s existing shareholders to participate in private placements.

Private placements are share issues that are offered to select buyers such as institutional investors and wealthy individuals who qualify as “accredited investors,” and not to the general public.

The TSX Venture Exchange, the main trading venue for hundreds of small Canadian-listed mining and energy companies, wants to expand the qualifying group.

Under its proposal, investors who have held stock in the issuer or 60 days or more would qualify to be included in private placements, but their investments would be capped at C$10,000 ($9,800) per company per year. Continue Reading →

EPA sets first-ever curbs on power plant pollution – by Valerie Volcovici (Reuters U.S. – September 20, 2013)

WASHINGTON – (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Friday announced first-ever regulations setting strict limits on the amount of carbon pollution that can be generated by any new U.S. power plant, which quickly sparked a backlash from supporters of the coal industry and are certain to face legal challenges.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s long-awaited guidelines would make it near impossible to build coal plants without using technology to capture carbon emissions that foes say is unproven and uneconomic. The rules, a revision of a previous attempt by the EPA to create emissions standards for fossil fuel plants, are the first step in President Barack Obama’s climate change package, announced in June.

The revised rule contained a few surprises after the agency held extensive discussions with industry and environmental groups, raising concerns by industry that the EPA’s new restrictions on existing power plants, due to be unveiled next year, will be tough.

But the regulations announced on Friday cover only new plants. Under the proposal, new large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per MWh. Continue Reading →

South Africa’s raw chrome exports soar as ferrochrome edge is lost – by Martin Creamer ( – September 20, 2013)

JOHANNESBURG ( – South Africa’s long-standing position as the top global ferrochrome producer is being lost and the export of raw, unbeneficiated chromite ore is on the rise from this country.

Heinz Pariser Alloy Metals and Steel Market Research director Dr Gerhard Pariser, who addressed the MetalBulletin Event’s chromite conference in Johannesburg this week, says that South Africa’s export of ore is rising sharply and its export of ferrochrome is declining.

This is completely counter to South African government policy, which promotes the beneficiation that ferrochrome embodies. “To put it in a very simple way, Africa is supplying and China’s buying,” says Pariser.

The local production of ferrochrome creates five times more value in the South African economy that chrome ore extraction and three times more jobs. For every ton of ferrochrome exported, R9 000 is put into South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) compared with only R1 600 for every ton of ore exported. Continue Reading →

Belarus Leader Hints at Potash Truce – by Lukas I. Alpert (Wall Street Journal – September 19, 2013)

Deal Would Involve Returning Executive to Russia for Prosecution

MOSCOW—The president of Belarus hinted for the first time Thursday at a possible resolution in a cross-border fight over potash that has rocked global fertilizer markets, by suggesting he is open to the idea of sending the jailed chief executive of potash miner Uralkali URALL -5.90% back to Russia for prosecution there.

President Alexander Lukashenko’s softened tone comes as people close to the Russian company’s primary owner, Suleiman Kerimov, say the billionaire is in talks with several parties to sell his stake in the company, something the Belarusian government has named as a precondition to any settlement following the collapse of Uralkali’s potash-trading partnership with Belarus.

“There are two options,” Mr. Lukashenko said. “First is a civilized divorce. We are ready for that. If you go, then go, but do not interfere with our work here. We are ready to work on our own.

“The second option would be to continue to work together. For that, the owners must change and new people come in who are interested in producing potash. We are ready to work with them,” the president said. Continue Reading →

Iran to invest over 8 billion euros in aluminium sector – by Emma Farge (Reuters India – September 20, 2013)

GENEVA – (Reuters) – Iran plans to invest around 8.5 billion euros ($11.4 billion) in its aluminium industry as part of plans to nearly quadruple production by 2025, an official at mining group Imidro said on Thursday.

Iran is the 20th largest producer of aluminium in the world, according to the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organisation (Imidro), and needs the extra supplies to meet demand which is growing by 10 percent a year.

Aluminium is a lightweight metal used widely in transport, packaging and construction. It can also be used to make tubes for uranium enrichment gas centrifuges.

Iran’s economy has been hobbled by western sanctions aimed at pressuring Tehran to stop efforts to enrich uranium to levels that could be used in weapons.

Iran produced 338,000 tonnes of aluminium last year and is aiming for 770,000 tonnes in 2016 and 1.5 million tonnes by 2025, Panthea Geramishoar, senior expert in Imidro’s non-ferrous department said at a Metal Bulletin conference in Geneva. Continue Reading →

Afghanistan’s plan to jumpstart economy with Chinese mining investment under threat – by Lynne O’Donnell (South China Morning Post – September 20, 2013)

Plan to base country’s future growth on mining may have struck a dead-end as China moves to renegotiate multi billion-dollar deal

Kabul – Afghanistan’s dream of using profits from its vast mineral resources to fund post-war development is fading after China signalled its intention to undo a multi billion-dollar agreement that had been underpinning Kabul’s plans for creating a mining industry.

Fifteen months before the international presence in Afghanistan is reduced, Kabul may have to scale back plans for attracting mining companies to exploit its mineral reserves, including copper, gold, iron ore and rare earths, worth US$1 trillion.

A combination of related factors are working against Afghanistan. As the commodities cycle turns, prices drop, mining firms scale back on new projects, and China’s economy slows, experts said that Afghanistan appears to have missed out on the resources boom for now.

And the country has yet to pass its new Mining Law, which some say could be delayed further by concerns about such issues as community compensation and environment protection, industry sources said. Ministry officials, however, are confident it will pass within weeks. Continue Reading →

Tribes critical of PolyMet’s draft on mining impact – by Marshall Helmberger (Timberjay – September 18, 2013) [Northeast Minnesota]

REGIONAL – Tribal authorities cooperating in the preparation of PolyMet Mining’s supplemental environmental impact statement are expressing fundamental disagreements with key science and conclusions in the 1,800-page preliminary draft document. In addition, they are challenging the longstanding claim by lead agencies and mining supporters that Minnesota has and maintains strict enforcement of environmental rules pertaining to operating mines in the state.

The lengthy tribal comments, provided by the Fond du Lac Band as well as the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, or GLIFWC, appear to have played a role in the latest delay in the expected release of the draft EIS. The report had been scheduled for release in early September, but officials overseeing the project now say the draft version will be released in late November.

The report also faced significant critique by some officials within the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for a large number of errors. Those DNR comments will likely lead to changes before the draft report is issued in November. Some of the tribal comments may lead to changes, but in other cases, those comments will be incorporated into a dissenting view that’s expected to be included in an appendix to the study.

The extensive comment provided by a number of agencies was not unexpected, according to Steve Colvin, the DNR’s Deputy Director for Ecological and Water Resources. Continue Reading →

Aluminium industry at odds over supply deals, warehouse reforms – by Emma Farge (Reuters U.S. – September 18, 2013)

GENEVA, Sept 18 (Reuters) – The world’s top aluminium producers and consumers are at loggerheads over the thorny issue of what price, or premium, should be paid to secure metal deliveries, and will conclude fewer fixed term supply deals this year, industry sources said.

Producers Rusal , Alcoa and Rio Tinto are descending on Geneva for an industry gathering that marks the start of annual supply negotiations with aluminium product makers.

But unlike in recent years, top consumers like Novelis and Rexam have a strong hand to play thanks to U.S. regulatory scrutiny into claims big banks and trade houses artificially inflated aluminium premiums by building backlogs at London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses. The scrutiny comes alongside a proposed overhaul of warehouse practices on the LME, which has already helped knock European spot premiums down some 20 percent off a June record high near $300 a tonne.

“I’m sure term premiums will be lower than $230-250 a tonne,” said a source who represents consumers. “Producers are getting nervous about the implementation of LME warehouse rules (and) I think most consumers are going to continue to live hand to mouth because they think the premiums are going to come down further.” Continue Reading →

THE PRESIDENT AND THE PIPELINE – by Ryan Lizza (New Yorker Magazine – September 16, 2013)

The campaign to make the Keystone XL the test of Obama’s resolve on climate change.

On the day of his second Inauguration, in January, Barack Obama delivered an address of unabashed liberal ambition and promise. As recently as early April, before the realities of the world and the House of Representatives made themselves painfully evident, the President retained the confidence of a leader on the brink of enormous achievements. It seemed possible, even probable, that he would win modest gun-control legislation, an immigration-reform law, and the elusive grand bargain with Republicans to resolve the serial crises over the federal budget.

And he seemed determined to take on even the most complicated and ominous problem of all: climate change. The President, who had a mixed environmental record after his first term, vowed that he would commit his Administration to combatting global warming, saying that “failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

The President flew to San Francisco on April 3rd for a series of fund-raisers. He stopped in first at a cocktail reception hosted by Tom Steyer, a fifty-six-year-old billionaire, former hedge-fund manager, and major donor to the Democratic Party. Steyer lives in the city’s Sea Cliff neighborhood, in a house overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. As the President’s motorcade headed to the party, several hundred activists were assembling along the route to his second event—a dinner hosted by Ann and Gordon Getty, in Pacific Heights, on a street known as Billionaires’ Row. Continue Reading →