Archive | International Media Resource Articles

Patent fight could impact half of global rare earth metal supply – by Dorothy Kosich ( – August 13, 2013)

A dispute between a new Chinese rare earth company industrial alliance and Japan’s Hitachi Metals over extension of Nd-Fe-B magnets could impact U.S. and Chinese manufacturing.

RENO (MINEWEB) – China’s desire to promote the development of a domestic rare earth permanent magnet industry is running head-on into Japan’s Hitachi Metals, Ltd. which is trying to protect over 600 sintered rare earth magnet patents globally, including over 100 patents in the U.S., 300 in China and 600 in Japan.

The dispute could impact up to half of the world’s rare earths production. The neodymium- iron-boron alloy magnet is used in motors, audio speakers, headphone, cordless tools, computer hard drives and even golf ball markers.

A year ago, Hitachi Metals, Ltd. and Hitachi Metals North Carolina, Ltd. asked the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to stop the sales of such products and their downstream products that did not have a U.S. patent license. Four Chinese companies entered into settlement agreements with Hitachi in May by paying money to gain the patent license. Continue Reading →

Mexico proposes energy reform, some investors skeptical – by David Alire Garcia and Simon Gardner (Reuters U.S. – August 12, 2013)

MEXICO CITY – (Reuters) – President Enrique Pena Nieto on Monday proposed an overhaul of Mexico’s energy industry to offer private companies profit-sharing contracts, but investors said it might be too cautious and some sold Mexican assets.

The proposal calls for changes to key articles of the constitution that ban certain contracts and make oil, gas, petrochemicals and electricity the sole preserve of the state, in a bid to lure investment to stem sliding oil output.

If enacted, the reform would mark the largest private sector opening in decades for Mexico’s energy industry, which was nationalized in 1938 and is controlled by state monopoly Pemex.

However, the centrist government’s bill stops short of proposing concessions to tap Mexican oil, or production-sharing, that were viewed as the best-case scenarios by oil companies.

It also avoids giving private companies ownership over Mexico’s oil and gas and instead gives them a share of profits, in cash but not oil. It was not yet clear how attractive the reform would be for oil majors such as BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto Coal Fight Burns in Australia – by Rebecca Thurlow and Robb M. Stewart (Wall Street Journal – August 12, 2013)

Court Hearing Approaches on Whether to Allow Mine’s Expansion BULGA, Australia—For 30 years, the coal mined in this remote Australian town has fired power plants as far away as Tokyo and Shanghai. More recently, it has been generating heat of a different kind: local opposition to a mining project that would feed Asia’s demand for resources.

Rio Tinto RIO.LN +0.77% PLC is fighting to salvage plans to expand a coal mine near Bulga in New South Wales state—among the company’s biggest in the country—after losing the first round of a legal challenge brought by residents who claimed dust and noise from the project would wreck their community. Rio Tinto has warned that 1,300 jobs could be at risk if its appeal—due to be heard from Wednesday—fails in a Sydney court.

Mining officials say more than Rio Tinto’s proposed investment of 600 million Australian dollars (US$552 million) is at risk in the dispute. Australia accounts for one-third of global coal exports, but the industry is under stress as China’s cooling economy sends prices of the fuel to three-year lows. Already 10,000 coal-mining jobs have been lost as companies such as BHP Billiton Ltd. BHP.AU +2.42% and Glencore Xstrata GLNCY +0.80% PLC respond to weaker demand by closing mines or cutting output. Continue Reading →

Europe’s slowdown forces Finland to turn to Russia again – by Jussi Rosendahl (Reuters India – August 12, 2013)

HELSINKI, Aug 11 (Reuters) – After decades of pursuing trade with western Europe, Finland is becoming dependent on Russia again as that country’s burgeoning middle class and wealthy investors provide opportunities for growth lacking in recession-hit Europe.

While some Finns still view their eastern neighbour and former ruler with suspicion, expectations of only a slow European recovery mean more businesses are likely to embrace closer ties with Russia, signalling a readjustment after two decades of close commercial relations with Europe.

Recent trade data show a shift has already begun. Finnish exports to the rest of the European Union fell 4 percent year-on-year in the first five months of 2013, while those to Russia rose 4 percent.

Judging from second-quarter corporate results, which showed a wide range of companies hit by uncertainty in Europe, Finland may become even more dependent on Russia. Top companies such as retailer Kesko and department store chain Stockmann have cited Russia as their strongest card. Continue Reading →

Decade-long Australia mining boom turns to bust (The Associated Press/Las Vegas Sun – August 10, 2013)

The Australian mining boom built over a decade on Chinese hunger for energy and raw materials is turning into bust for many business owners as China’s cooling growth reverberates through a country accustomed to winning from the rise of an Asian economic giant.

Endowed with vast mineral resources, Australia has been the envy of the Western world for avoiding recession during the global financial crisis while other wealthy countries drowned in debt. But the country now faces a potentially painful transition as it weans itself off a heavy reliance on its two biggest exports, coal and iron ore.

Australia’s dilemma underscores that China’s long run of supercharged growth has given it enough weight in the world economy to create not only winners, but losers too when its own fortunes change.

Trade between Australia and China equaled 7.6 percent of Australia’s $1.5 trillion economy last year, a dramatic threefold increase from a decade earlier, according to an Associated Press analysis of trade data. During that time, mining companies gushed multibillion dollar profits while jobs as mundane as maintenance commanded salaries above $120,000. Continue Reading →

Mining industry’s view: Let mining boost state manufacturing – by Hal Quinn (Duluth News Tribune – August 11, 2013)

Hal Quinn is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Mining Association (, which advocates on behalf of America’s mining and minerals resources.

The economy is a top concern for state manufacturers who question whether Minnesota is a competitive state in which to do business, according to findings from Enterprise Minnesota’s fifth-annual “State of Manufacturing” report released in July.

The economy is a top concern for state manufacturers who question whether Minnesota is a competitive state in which to do business, according to findings from Enterprise Minnesota’s fifth-annual “State of Manufacturing” report released in July. Chief among the features state officials should be touting to anxious industry leaders is Minnesota’s vast mineral wealth, which — through sound reform of the federal mine-permitting process — could provide manufacturers with ready, reliable access to the raw materials upon which they rely.

That’s not to say there aren’t already thousands of Minnesotans working to develop some key state resources. Last year, more than $4.5 billion worth of minerals were produced in Minnesota, minerals crucial to high-tech devices, electro-medical equipment, advanced-energy components, defense technologies and infrastructure. Continue Reading →

Mining the Gobi: The Battle for Mongolia’s Resources – by Bernhard Zand (Spiegel Online International – August 7, 2013)

Mongolia is over four times the size of Germany, with nearly 3 million inhabitants and a GDP of $10 billion (€7.5 billion) in 2012.

British-Australian mining corporation Rio Tinto employs 71,000 people in more than 40 countries and is worth about $60 billion.
These two unequal partners — a poor, potentially rich nation and the second largest mining corporation in the world — have joined together to mine one of the globe’s largest deposits of copper and gold. But will they be capable of distributing this wealth fairly?

The mine in question lies an hour’s flight south of the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, near the border with China. There is enough copper in the ground here to build the Statue of Liberty more than 800,000 times over. Once the planned mine goes into full operation, it could increase the country’s GDP by a third. It could, at least in theory, bring prosperity to this country where many people still live in simple yurts and huts.

But in practice, the transaction between this global corporation and this country that is poor but rich in raw materials looks quite different. In fact, the project serves as a prime example of what is happening in a growing number of newly industrialized and developing countries. Continue Reading →

How Colombian FARC Terrorists Mining Tungsten Are Linked to Your BMW Sedan – by Michael Smith (Bloomberg Market Magazine – August 8, 2013)

It’s a sweltering day in March, and Javier Garcia slogs through the dense undergrowth in a remote stretch of the Amazon jungle in southeastern Colombia.

He and a friend have hiked all day toward their goal, a mining site 100 kilometers from the nearest town. As the men hack through the thorny brush with machetes, following a narrow, muddy path, Garcia stops in his tracks.

Centimeters away, a venomous snake called four-noses coils up, poised to attack. Garcia says he will be dead within an hour if the pit viper strikes. His friend grabs a long stick and carefully flips the snake into the jungle. They move on, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its September issue. Continue Reading →

Matawa First Nations to start training for Ring of Fire development – by Henry Lazenby ( – August 9, 2013)

TORONTO ( – The Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance (RoFATA) would receive more than $5.9-million from the Canadian Governments’ ‘Skills and Partnership Fund’ to provide training for employment in the mining sector for the people of Matawa First Nations, in preparation for development of the Ring of Fire mineral complex in Ontario’s Far North.

The Ring of Fire is a 5 000 km2 mineral-rich area in the James Bay Lowlands, situated within the traditional lands of two of the Matawa First Nations.

Nine specialised training and six pre-trade courses would be made available to Matawa First Nations members, with many courses to be presented in their First Nation communities and others locally in Thunder Bay. About 260 trainees would be trained on courses lasting between 5 weeks and 20 weeks, and 196 trainees would enter into employment through RoFATA.

The Matawa First Nations, Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS), Noront Resources and Confederation College of Applied Arts and Technology this week signed a memorandum of understanding, creating RoFATA partnership. Continue Reading →

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Interview with BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie (Australia Broadcasting Corporation – August 8, 2013)

Click here for extended interview:


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: You may recall last night that during a discussion with the Prime Minister, we ran a brief excerpt of an interview with the head of the world’s biggest mining company BHP chief executive Andrew MacKenzie. We had to hold over the full interview because of the need to make time for Kevin Rudd.

So as promised last night, here’s more of what Mr MacKenzie had to say when he joined the program.

Mr McKenzie, I’d like to start by getting your views on some broad economic questions. Do you think that Australia is transitioning out of the resources boom?

ANDREW MACKENZIE, CHIEF EXEC., BHP BILLITON: Not at all. I think maybe some of the best days are ahead of it. I believe, obviously as you’re hinting, that the resources industry has been pivotal to Australia, but as we go forward, demand continues to increase and everything is for Australia to play for. Continue Reading →

Tanzania: Fipa – the Myth of Reciprocity – by Paula Butler and Evans Rubara (All – August 8, 2013)

The new investment code between Tanzania and Canada raises questions as to whose interests the Tanzanian state really serves, why, and to whom the Tanzanian state is accountable. Such a far-reaching investment regime has been adopted with minimal public awareness and debate among Tanzanian citizens. Hypocritical! This may be the most accurate word to characterize the recent Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) between the United Republic of Tanzania and Canada.

Since the infamous demise of the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in 1999, Canada has been quietly using bilateral trade agreements to introduce the very investment terms that were then opposed by a groundswell of Global South countries and informed citizens. The most recent of these is an investment agreement with Tanzania.


While Canadian government officials pose as champions of transparency in the realm of global governance, and have touted their support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Tanzania, this Agreement has had minimal public visibility. Continue Reading →

South African gold output continues its decline – where will it end? – by Lawrence Williams ( – August 9, 2013)

Statistics South Africa has just released its latest figures on the country’s metals and mineral output and they don’t make for happy reading with gold and platinum still on the decline.

LONDON (MINEWEB) – For South Africa, the latest figures from the country’s government statistical department, make fairly dismal reading, particularly with respect to its once word-dominant gold mining sector. The June figures, released yesterday, showed .that gold production continues to fall year on year – it was down 14% on that for June 2012 – and is now only the country’s fourth most important mined metal by value, having been overtaken by iron ore. Coal remains the most important metal or mineral by sales value, with platinum second, but the latter too is showing a year on year production decline.

According to the report the country’s overall mining production decreased by 6.2% year-on-year in June 2013. The largest negative growth rates were recorded by ‘other’ metallic minerals (-38.0%), diamonds (-22.9%), PGMs (-18.9%) and gold (-14.1%). The main contributors though to the overall 6.2% decrease were platinum group metals (contributing -4.6 percentage points) and gold (contributing -2.3 percentage points). Iron ore (contributing +2.0 percentage points) was the most significant positive contributor.

In value terms, the latest figures released are from May when overall mineral sales decreased by 8.5% year-on-year. The largest negative growth rates were recorded for gold (-42.6%), nickel (-20.0%) and ‘other’ metallic minerals (-15.5%). The major contributor to the 8.5% overall decrease was gold (contributing -10.0 percentage points). Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Petroleum nationalism fades as super-cycle cools – by John Kemp (Reuters U.S. – August 9, 2013)

Aug 9 (Reuters) – The balance of power between host countries and petroleum companies has shifted decisively as a result of the shale revolution and the push into deepwater oil and gas fields off the coast of Latin America and Africa.

The first decade of the 21st century was dominated by talk about increasing “resource nationalism” as governments demanded a greater share of the revenues from natural resources located on their territory.

But in the past three years, resource nationalism has disappeared from the agenda. Rather than trying to impose tougher terms on oil and gas companies, most countries are now competing to attract investment by offering reductions in royalties and lower tax rates.

Countries as diverse as the United Kingdom, Argentina, Ukraine and Poland want to attract explorers and developers to exploit shale deposits. And countries along the east and west coasts of Africa, as well as Latin America, are all vying to attract spending on offshore oil and gas discoveries.

Faced with so many competing opportunities, oil and gas companies are pushing for a better bargain. Continue Reading →

Vale Says China Proving Pessimists Wrong on Steel Output – by Juan Pablo Spinetto (Bloomberg News – August 8, 2013)

Vale SA (VALE), the biggest iron-ore producer, forecast a 10 percent increase in steel output this year in China, the world’s largest steelmaker. China probably will produce 780 million metric tons of steel this year compared with 683 million tons two years ago, underpinning a favorable view on the world’s largest emerging market, Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira said today.

“China has once more proved the pessimists wrong,” Ferreira said during a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings. “Our view related to China continues positive.”

The shares of Vale and major rivals BHP Billiton Plc and Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) rallied today after Chinese imports climbed to the highest in 14 months and an iron-ore index reached a three-month high. The Rio de Janeiro-based company’s shares are down 27 percent this year after a slowdown in commodities demand and rising costs crimped miners’ earnings.

After tumbling 15 percent in the second quarter, iron-ore prices entered a bull market on July 26 after China replenished inventories and boosted steel output. In a presentation on its website today, Vale said a sharp drop in steel inventories in recent months opens the door to greater consumption growth. Continue Reading →

Daniel Yergin: China’s Big Commodity Chill – by Daniel Yergin (Wall Street Journal – August 8, 2013)

With the end of the supercycle, copper prices have dropped 30% from their 2011 peak, and iron ore is down 32%.

Though it was summertime, a tinge of ice was in the June air at this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. “There is no magic wand we can wave,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin, acknowledging the abrupt drop in Russia’s growth rate. “Prices for our main exports rose fast” for many years, he told the forum, but now “the situation has changed. There are no magic solutions.”

What is giving Russia and many other countries the shivers is the China Chill that is the result of the slowing Chinese economy. It means a recalibration for the world’s exporters, who have come to count on vigorous Chinese demand. It will be a particular challenge for commodity exporters. Over the past decade, they have been the great beneficiaries of the commodity “supercycle”—the combination of accelerating demand and rising commodity prices that have delivered GDP growth. With China’s slowing, the supercycle is over, meaning tough choices ahead.

The supercycle began a decade ago, in the middle of 2003. China had already reported two decades of 10% annual economic growth. In 2000, its growth began to speed up, fueled by a tilt toward heavy industry. The rapid pace of industrialization and urbanization led to accelerating demand for copper, iron ore and other commodities. Continue Reading →