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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Israel looks to glitter in world diamond trade – by Ari Rabinovitch (Reuters India – August 29, 2013)

RAMAT GAN, Israel – (Reuters) – The Israel Diamond Exchange flexed its muscles this week, hosting a four-day show it hopes will strengthen its position as a major hub, and market leaders voiced optimism the struggling industry would have a strong end to the year.

Hundreds of companies crowded the world’s biggest diamond trading floor on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, where buyers, under heavy security and armed with eye loupes, ambled through rows of tables that displayed $2 billion of precious stones.

It was the largest event the exchange had held. Official figures were not made public, but Yair Sahar, president of the exchange, said sales were in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and he expected the show to provide a $2 billion boost by the end of the year.

“The eyes of the world are watching us. The mining companies, the jewelry manufacturers, they are wishing – ‘please be successful’,” Sahar said. Israel is already a key trading center and diamonds account for about 20 percent of all industrial exports. Manufacturing has dwindled, but trading has thrived, reaching an annual turnover of $25 billion.

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Anti-mining protests biggest hurdle for Peru’s mining growth – S&P – by Dorothy Kosich ( – August 29, 2013)

Peru’s mining sector may be booming, but the country need political stability to support long-term mining growth, Standard & Poor’s advises.

RENO (MINEWEB) – Of all the challenges facing Peru’s mining sector, Standard & Poor’s considers anti-mining protests the main constraint on its expansion “because if protests become more widespread, other mining projects could be delayed or scrapped entirely.”

Nevertheless, S&P Credit Analysts Diego Campo, Francisco Serra and Richard A. Francis feel “Peru’s mining sector is poised for significant growth, thanks to its large and high-quality metals reserves, reasonable tax regime, regulations that promote private investment, attractive power costs, and a long track record of mining activity. Plus, the country has fostered the development of ancillary-services suppliers and qualified manpower.”

“We expect investment in the energy and mining sectors will continue at a steady, rapid pace through the 2016 national elections, supporting future economic growth,” the analysts forecast in note published Wednesday. “Moreover, fiscal revenues from the mining sector, along with implementation of the new fiscal rule, should help Peru’s fiscal accounts and continue to reduce the government’s debt burden.”

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Prospecting under cover: Frontiers of exploration research – by Kip Keen ( – August 28, 2013)

In Part II of Mineweb’s series on exploration trends, Kip Keen turns to the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre in Australia and talks paradigm shifts.

HALIFAX, NS (MINEWEB) – So the success rate falls. Now exploration money buys fewer discoveries. This was one of the key insights Richard Schodde, of Minex Consulting, discussed in Part I of this interview series on exploration trends. The rate of discovery used to correlate well with increases in spending, in part because the deposits were easier to find. More boots on the ground. More rocks chipped. More ore deposits discovered.

But now the boots are more expensive to pay for and many of the surface rocks, especially in developed countries, have already been kicked forcing exploration to go deeper and become more extensive. Meantime, labour costs, until recently that is, were sky-rocketing amid intense competition to secure services.

To some degree, as the market cools, a process unfolding for a couple years now, the cost of exploration gets cheaper as, for example, geologists lower their rate of pay and drilling contractors cut down margins to get contracts. But it can only go so far. That much is clear now as discoveries, especially in developed countries, come at depth and require increasing geological expertise to find and more drilling.

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UPDATE 1-Indonesia may loosen export ban on metal ores – by Rieka Rahadiana and Fergus Jensen (Reuters India – August 28, 2013)

Aug 28 (Reuters) – Indonesia will push for a relaxation of its controversial 2014 ban on metal ore exports amid a scramble to support the rupiah and restore confidence in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

Indonesia is the world’s top exporter of nickel ore, coal and refined tin and its mining industry contributes around 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

However, the ban on unprocessed mineral exports from January 2014 has hit the industry and uncertainties over the country’s mining rules have dented its credibility with foreign investors.

If approved, the reversal of mining policy will upset metal industries banking on a tightening of ore shipments that have increased significantly in the lead up to the ban. However, some in parliament doubted the government would manage to overturn the rule.

Under the proposed revision, mining companies with smelters under construction would be allowed to continue to export unprocessed minerals, but would be charged a progressive duty on the shipments depending on how close to completion their projects are, Industry Minister Muhammad Sulaeman Hidayat told reporters.

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