Archive | Iron Ore

Vale’s biggest problem won’t be easy to fix – by Vinícius Andrade and Sabrina Valle (Australian Financial Review/Bloomberg – Janaury 17, 2020)

São Paulo | In the weeks and months after Vale’s deadly dam disaster, some of Brazil’s biggest investors snatched up shares in a bet they’d bounce back and then keep rising.

A year later, the gamble paid off, but with a caveat: The stock rebounded, but Vale’s reputation hasn’t — and that’s the problem. Vale still trades at a discount of at least 20pc to peers BHP and Rio Tinto, based on enterprise-value-to-expected-Ebitda ratio.

While the world’s largest iron ore producer, like all miners, has struggled with plenty of environmental issues in the past, there’s no denying that a company’s green credentials suddenly matter now more than ever. Continue Reading →

Nunavut review board seeks comments on Baffinland production extension (Nunatsiaq News – January 14, 2020)

The Nunavut Impact Review Board is accepting comments on Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.’s request to extend its production limit at its Mary River mine.

The board issued a call for comments from interested parties on Jan. 8. Comments will be accepted until Feb. 3. Baffinland requested this extension, to continue mining up to six million tonnes of iron ore per year through 2020, on Dec. 16.

This follows a production cap increase granted in 2018, up from the 4.2-million-tonne cap set in the project certificate amendment that allowed trucked shipping to Milne Inlet under the company’s “early revenue phase.” That two-year production cap expired on Dec. 31, 2019. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Brazil prosecutor aims to charge Vale within days over mining waste dam disaster – by Marta Nogueira and Christian Plumb (Reuters U.S. – January 8, 2020)

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (Reuters) – A Brazilian state prosecutor expects to bring criminal charges “in the next few days” against miner Vale (VALE3.SA) over a mining waste dam collapse that killed at least 259 people, even as the prosecutor’s federal counterpart continues to investigate the case.

Andressa de Oliveira Lanchotti, coordinator for the task force of state prosecutors investigating the disaster, told Reuters they expect to indict 15 to 20 people, including executives from Vale and employees from German inspection firm TÜV SÜD – as well as the companies themselves.

“What we can take away from the investigations is there were several factors pointing to risk – the risk was not unknown,” Lanchotti said, disputing Vale’s contention that it had no way of knowing that the dam that unleashed an avalanche of mining waste on the Brazilian town of Brumadinho in January 2019 posed a danger. Continue Reading →

Dalian iron ore futures hit over 5-month closing high on restocking demand (Reuters U.S. – January 7, 2020)

BEIJING (Reuters) – Iron ore futures in China surged to their highest close in over five months on Wednesday, on hopes of strong restocking demand from mills ahead of local holidays.

The most active May contract for iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange jumped as much as 2.85% to 685 yuan ($98.69) per ton in morning trade, before settling up 2.1% at 680 yuan, the highest close since Aug. 2.

“Steel mills in south and east China are restocking actively before the upcoming Spring Festival holiday… but inventories at northern mills are still at relatively low level,” Tianfeng Futures wrote in a note. Continue Reading →

Vale report blames water level for Brazil mining waste dam disaster – by Christian Plumb and Luciano Costa (Reuters U.K. – December 12, 2019)

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The deadly collapse of a Vale SA’s mining waste dam in Brazil was partially triggered by “a persistently high water level” that caused the structure to lose strength and stability, according to a report by a panel of experts appointed by the company’s lawyers.

The report, released by Vale on Thursday, said there was no warning the dam was unstable, and no seismic activity or explosions in the area were recorded before it burst in late January. The dam collapse unleashed an avalanche of mining waste on the Brazilian town of Brumadinho, killing at least 155 people.

The report examined technical factors leading to the disaster rather than issues of liability. It came less than four years after another dam collapse at a joint venture between Vale and BHP Group in the same region, an accident that experts also blamed on water weakening the solid materials composing the dam so that they behave more like a liquid – a phenomenon known as liquefaction. Continue Reading →

Editorial: Dig deep for better understanding (Nunavut News – December 2, 2019)


Let’s face it, not all mining companies play nice. Some mines in Nunavut have made gestures of good faith such as Agnico Eagle delivering million dollar donations to community groups and education initiatives in Rankin Inlet and Baker Lake earlier this year.

But, at the end of the day, these mines are most concerned about the bottom line. This became abundantly clear when 586 contractors were laid off at Baffinland’s Mary River iron mine mere weeks before the holiday season due to “uncertainties” with the regulatory approval process for the next phase of the mine’s expansion.

As Baffinland looks to increase iron ore output from six million tonnes of ore to 12 and build a 110-km railway on Baffin Island, it has been consulting with affected communities. To make sure this communication is thorough and sufficient, it’s important that everyone takes their time. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-High-grade iron ore outperforms as China steel margins recover – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 28, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Nov 28 (Reuters) – The premium Chinese steel mills are willing to pay for high-grade iron ore has widened in recent months, suggesting both a recovery in profitability and a desire to maximise output at blast furnaces.

Iron ore prices have fallen for the past two sessions, with declines on Wednesday linked to a sharp 9.9% drop in profits at China’s industrial companies, the fastest pace of contraction in eight months.

However, spot 62% iron ore for delivery to north China MT-IO-QIN62=ARG, as assessed by commodity price reporting agency Argus, is still up 10.2% from the 10-month low of $78.15 a tonne on Nov. 11, ending on Wednesday at $86.10. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Shining a little light on the Mary River process – by Ken Armstrong (Nunatsiaq News – November 26, 2019)

Ken Armstrong is the President of the NWT-Nunavut Chamber of Mines.

The current impasse that phase two of the Mary River project finds itself in is of great interest and also concern to investors and industry watchers. We’d like to shine some light on three aspects of this process.

First, there has been recent criticism of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. for positioning several buildings and construction materials, needed for the phase two railway expansion, before approvals for the railway are in place.

Operating in the North is challenging, with remote projects relying on limited transportation infrastructure and seasonal shipping windows. For northern resource projects, it is not uncommon to pre-position equipment at or near a project site in advance of receiving required permits. Continue Reading →

Vale returns looking for low-cost debt after Brumadinho tragedy – by Aaron Weinman (Reuters U.S. – November 21, 2019)

NEW YORK, Nov 21 (LPC) – The insatiable appetite to lend to Latin America’s blue-chip corporations may allow Brazilian miner Vale SA to return to the loan market and borrow US$3bn to refinance debt at ultra-low rates, only 10 months after a dam disaster that left the country reeling.

In January, following the collapse of a tailings dam at an iron ore mine in the Brumadinho region, Vale pulled back on original plans to refinance debt. Ten months and a public relations debacle later, a surfeit of lenders, including relationship banks with established ties to the miner and new lenders looking to forge a bond with one of Latin America’s most frequent borrowers, are expected to flock to the transaction.

A dearth of opportunities to lend to high-quality Latin American corporations has left banks with little option but to aggressively compete for business, giving borrowers cheap access to capital, and clout to dictate lending terms that allow for cost savings and flexibility. Continue Reading →

‘I Love You’ Goldman Sachs, Cliffs CEO Says Year After Outburst – by Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – November 20, 2019)

A year after Lourenco Goncalves raged against analysts from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. chief’s acrimony has reversed 180 degrees.

“I love you, you are the best commodity desk I have ever seen in my life,” he said at a conference organized by Goldman on Wednesday. That’s a far cry from last October, when Goncalves told metals and mining equity analyst Matthew Korn “you can run but you can’t hide” and criticized the bank for being “wrong about iron ore prices, years in a row.”

Wednesday marked the first time the chief executive officer of the top U.S. iron ore producer publicly sat down with Korn since Goncalves questioned the analyst’s calculations for concluding in a note the company “modestly missed estimates.” In their latest interaction, they were cordial to each other. Continue Reading →

JOURNEY DOWN THE RAILWAY THAT COULDN’T BE BUILT – by Peter Gzowski (MACLEAN’S Magazine – Novmeber 16, 1963)

A portrait, then and now, of the extraordinary feat that is the Quebec North Shore and Labrador line

THE SUN was inching into the bleak northern sky when Maclean’s photo editor Don Newlands and I checked out of the Sir Wilfred Grenfell Hotel in Wabush, Labrador, to begin the journey to Seven Islands, Que. We had flown into Wabush directly from Toronto and spent a few days there looking into life on the last frontier, à la 1963, and although we had both enjoyed our visit with the men and women who are opening up the wilderness, I for one was anxious to get going.

Our program was to drive our rented car to Labrador City, three miles away over a dirt road, and then take the passenger-express train from there to Seven Islands. Most of this journey would be over the QNS & L — the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway — and seeing the railway, I knew, would be an exciting experience for me.

I had spent the summer of 1952 as a beardless (though not for lack of trying) chain man on a survey party helping to build the QNS & L. And, although I hadn’t been back in eleven years, I had retained a sort of proprietary interest in the railway.

The QNS & L was one of the great construction projects of our time, a job that many expert engineers were certain could never be finished, and many of us who worked on it — there were as many as seven thousand men employed at one time — looked on the achievement much the way war veterans look on battles their regiments have won. Continue Reading →

Intervenors weigh in on when to reconvene Baffinland hearing – by Elaine Anselmi (Nunatsiaq News – November 19, 2019)

Regulatory talks about Baffinland’s proposed expansion of its Mary River mine should proceed “as soon as possible,” or face delays of up to one year, depending on which affected party you’re speaking to.

Intervenors recently submitted their comments on the matter to the Nunavut Impact Review Board, which must decide how to proceed after its hearing ground to a halt on Nov. 6, after Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. said that concerns raised by Inuit hadn’t been adequately addressed.

While agreeing there were unresolved concerns to be addressed, the Government of Nunavut said the hearing should be rescheduled for the first available date, “unless another party can substantiate why it should be delayed longer.” Continue Reading →

OPINION: Iron ore mining not for the faint of heart—it’s a tough business – by Gary Vivian (Nunatsiaq News – November 19, 2019)

Gary Vivian is the President, N.W.T. and Nunavut Chamber of Mines.

It’s important that people understand that governments around the
world—both public and Indigenous—invite mining companies to come
and invest in order to do what those governments themselves cannot
do: that is to convert rock into training, into jobs, into business opportunities
and to generate revenues that can help benefit governments’ constituencies
and beneficiaries.

For example, in Alaska, government funding provided the port and
road for the Red Dog mine, which is owned by the Inupiat and
operated by Teck. The company pays off that road and port over
time with annual payments.

The N.W.T. and Nunavut Chamber of Mines was created over 50 years ago, and our vision is to work for “a strong minerals industry that benefits the peoples of the North.” From that perspective, we would like to offer the following thoughts and observations on the Mary River mining project.

The Mary River project is a game-changing opportunity for Nunavut and Nunavummiut. It provides an opportunity for longer term training, employment and sustained revenues for Inuit, Inuit associations and governments. Continue Reading →

Editorial: Mary River: if financial viability is a factor, then prove it – by Jim Bell (Nunatsiaq News – November 14, 2019)

Nunavut’s system for regulating industrial development, born within the 1993 Nunavut land claims agreement, has likely never faced a greater test than the twisting, turning series of environmental and socio-economic assessments for the Mary River iron mine over the past 10 years.

This was on full public display in Iqaluit earlier this month, when the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s final public hearing on the $900-million railway expansion proposal from Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. imploded amidst a mood of confusion and incoherence. The final two days of that seven-day hearing, scheduled for Pond Inlet, were cancelled.

At the same time, the fate of Baffinland’s multibillion dollar, multigenerational iron mine is now shrouded in uncertainty. When this editorial was written, the review board had yet to decide on a motion from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. that, if accepted, would delay proceedings for eight to 12 months. Continue Reading →

Baffinland lays off 586 contract employees, halts planned work – by Emma Tranter (Nunatsiaq News – November 14, 2019)

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. says it has laid off 586 contracted employees working at its Mary River mine. Of those contractors, 96 are Inuit and 490 are non-Inuit, the company said in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

No direct Baffinland employees are affected, Baffinland said. The layoffs come shortly after the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s decision on Nov. 6 to abruptly adjourn its public hearing on the company’s expansion plans.

“Due to the uncertainty of Phase 2 permit approvals, work associated with the 2019 Work Plan has been demobilized,” Salima Virani, a communications specialist for Baffinland, said in the email. Continue Reading →