Ivanhoe Mines Discusses Deal With Chinese Gold Producer – by Alistair MacDonald (Wall Street Journal – September 24, 2013)


China’s largest gold company has talked to Ivanhoe Mines about buying a stake in or operating a part of the Toronto-listed company.

China’s largest gold company, China National Gold Group Corp., has talked to Ivanhoe Mines about buying a stake in or operating a part of the company founded by flamboyant mining magnate Robert Friedland, two people familiar with the matter said.

It is unclear where talks stand, but, if completed, such an investment would mark another step into international markets for the Beijing-based miner and further Chinese investment in African mining. It could also entail Mr. Freidland’s taking on a major international partner not long after he lost control of a major mining company to London-listed giant, Rio Tinto PLC.

On Monday, Toronto-listed Ivanhoe said it is selling $100 million worth of stock at $2 a share, a sharp discount to Friday’s closing price of $2.56. The stock fell 11% as investors digested news of the dilution and analysts said that the total falls short of the money that Ivanhoe needs to raise.

In a release Ivanhoe said that it is in discussions with a number of international, private and state-owned mining companies about raising further funds through investments in its projects and the company.

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Hardship a fact of life in platinum belt – by Jana Marais (Business Day – September 22, 1023)

http://www.bdlive.co.za/ [South Africa]

DRIVING around Rustenburg’s central business district, one sees them everywhere — men in old mining overalls and women sheltering from the North West sun behind pieces of cardboard reading “Work wanted”.

Surrounded by some of the richest known mineral deposits in the world, Rustenburg — now better known for last year’s violent strikes and the police shootings of miners at Marikana than its platinum wealth — has seen an influx in residents in recent years.

People have been flocking to the area hoping for jobs on its mines. But for most, getting a job will remain a dream.

Those who are lucky enough to have employment are under increasing pressure as companies resort to cutting jobs, while rising prices of basic foodstuffs and paraffin make it more difficult to support their families.

While mineworkers earn relatively high wages in the South African context, they support on average eight to 10 people, often extended family living in other parts of the country.

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Does Anglo American’s departure doom the Pebble prospect? – by Alex DeMarban (Alaska Dispatch – September 21, 2013)


Anglo American’s pullout from Pebble is hardly a death knell for the promising but beleaguered mineral prospect in Southwest Alaska. But the move increases the chance of an important shift in the project, one that could lead to a less environmentally risky design than the massive, open-pit option that has sparked widespread opposition.

That’s the opinion, anyway, of Paul Metz, a longtime mineral economics expert from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

With Anglo departing, Rio Tinto is now the only major mining company invested in the project. Rio Tinto, headquartered in London, holds 19.8 percent of Northern Dynasty Minerals, the junior mining company from Canada that has long led efforts to develop the prospect.

Rio Tinto has said it would support an underground mine at Pebble, while rejecting the open-pit approach that many believe will play a large part of Northern Dynasty’s eventual plans.

The Pebble Partnership, once owned half by Anglo American and half by Northern Dynasty, is now working on a transition plan as Anglo backs out, as was publicly announced earlier this week, an official with Pebble said.

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

http://www.bdlive.co.za/ [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.”

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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.

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

http://www.theage.com.au/ (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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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


JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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