Archive | Latin America Mining

Canadian Diplomats Under Scrutiny in Anti-Mining Activist’s Death – by James Munson (Bloomberg News – May 21, 2018)

What are the responsibilities of diplomatic staff when they know an environmental activist is in danger overseas?

That’s what a judicial review in Canada is trying to determine in its investigation into the death of environmental activist Mariano Abarca, who was shot and killed Nov. 27, 2009, outside a restaurant in Chicomuselo, Chiapas, in southern Mexico.

Abarca was a vocal opponent of the Payback mine outside the mountain community of Chicomuselo in the Mexican state of Chiapas, where the now-defunct Blackfire Exploration Ltd. mined for barite, a mineral used in oil and gas drilling. He criticized the mine’s environmental effects and led a regional network of communities affected by mines. Continue Reading →

A piece of Britain lost in Mexico – by Lauren Cocking ( – May 21, 2018)

To understand how a bit of British legacy can be found in Hidalgo, Mexico, we must look back two centuries to the heyday of Cornwall’s mining industry.

As I squeezed my way through the crowd, Marion Symonds was busy crimping one side of a 4.5m-long pasty in the central plaza. All eyes were on this Cornish baker as she held the still-malleable pastry shell in her hands, delicately crimping the edges of the dough with her fingertips to seal in the beef, potato and onion.

Looking at the sloping red roofs and manicured gardens around us, you’d have thought Symonds and I were somewhere in our native England. In fact, we were in the tiny town of Real del Monte in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo. At the other end of the oversized snack, a local chef was crimping the Mexican way, slapping the pastry shut with the side of a hand atop a table. Continue Reading →

The Lithium Cartel Should Be Stopped – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – May 18, 2018)

Why are we so relaxed about an emerging oligopoly in the key battery element?

The world doesn’t like its essential commodities being controlled by a small group of producers. When Arab members of Opec resolved to cut their oil exports in response to U.S. involvement in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the situation was rightly deemed a global crisis.

Less than a year after BHP Billiton Ltd. announced plans to merge its iron ore operations with those of Rio Tinto Group in 2009, the proposal was dropped amid expectations that regulators in Europe and Asia would oppose the deal on antitrust grounds.

So why is there so little noise about the emerging oligopoly in one of the hottest elements on the periodic table, lithium? Continue Reading →

‘They actually sold it at a premium’: Nutrien sells stake in Chilean lithium producer for $4.1 billion – by Gabriel Freidman (Financial Post – May 18, 2018)

In a sign of how hot the lithium market is, Canadian fertilizer producer Nutrien Ltd. sold a 24 per cent stake in Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. for US$4.07 billion, at a healthy premium.

The purchaser, China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp., agreed to pay US$65 per share for the Chilean producer, which represented a premium on the US$58 trading price, which surprised some analysts, as antitrust regulators in China and India had required Nutrien — the company formed by the merger of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan and Agrium Inc. — to sell its stake in SQM as a condition of the deal.

“The price seemed good,” said John Chu, an analyst with Laurentian Bank Securities. “Because Nutrien had given advanced notice that they had to sell it, and because it was such a large block of shares, it was thought that they would have to sell it a discount, and they actually sold it at a premium.” Continue Reading →

Anglo looks to sell Peru copper stake to Japanese firms: sources – by Clara Denina and Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – May 17, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – Anglo American (AAL.L) is likely to sell up to 30 percent of its multi-billion dollar Peruvian copper project Quellaveco to Japanese entities, including Mitsubishi, which already own part of it, three sources familiar with the matter said.

The London-listed miner said in its 2017 financial results it is seeking to cut its 82 percent interest in Quellaveco, which could produce 225,000 tonnes of copper annually, to between 50 and 70 percent.

The sources said it has hired investment banks Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) to help with the sale, which could be announced within the next two months. Continue Reading →

BHP Billiton to be sued by investors over dam collapse that caused Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster – by Ben Chapman (Independent – May 16, 2018)

BHP Billiton faces legal action from shareholders who say the mining giant misled them over safety measures at a dam in Brazil which broke, killing 19 people and causing Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster.

When the Fundão dam broke in 2015, waste from an iron ore mine operated by Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and its partner Vale, devastated the local area in Minas Gerais state.

A red wave of clay, sand and water polluted miles of river, killing aquatic life, leaving hundreds of people homeless, and flowing out to sea. Australian law firm Phi Finney McDonald now plans to sue the multinational, which is listed on stock markets in London, Sydney and Johannesburg, on behalf of investors. Continue Reading →

‘The river is dead’: is a mine polluting the water of Brazil’s Xikrin tribe? – by Naira Hofmeister and José Cícero da Silva (The Guardian – May 15, 2018)

Federal courts are battling to shut down a nickel mining plant said to be contaminating the Cateté river – a charge the company denies

The Xikrin, who have lived alongside the Cateté river in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil for centuries, have a mantra: “The river is our life.” Surrounded by an abundance of plant species, they swim and bathe here.

To fish, the tribe use timbó, a toxic vine that reduces the concentration of oxygen in the water, forcing the fish to come to the surface, where they are shot with arrows. “If we use hooks to fish, only one of our families will eat fish,” explains former tribal chief Onkray Xikrin. “But with timbó the whole village can eat.”

But the River Cateté is dying, and with it the way of life of the Xikrin. In 2010 Mineração Onça Puma, a company owned by the mining company Vale, began extracting nickel in the nearby hills, which have tributaries flowing into the Cateté. Vale is one of the world’s largest producers of nickel. Continue Reading →

RESOURCE EXTRACTION: Chile’s lithium – blessing or curse? – by Sophia Boddenberg (Deutsche Welle – May 11, 2018)

Salar de Atacama is rich in lithium, essential to electric cars and other low-carbon tech. But indigenous people are fighting its extraction, saying private interests are cashing in at the expense of their environment.

The Salar de Atacama’s geysers, volcanoes and flamingos attract tourists from around the world. But beneath its dramatic vistas, the Chilean salt flats hide something of far greater economic potential that’s drawing a different kind of interest – from the world’s chemical companies.

Lithium batteries are essential to all kinds of gadgets from laptops and mobile phones to the electric cars and power storage facilities that are to help wean the world of fossil fuels. As the world shifts to renewables, more and more sectors are to be electrified, and demand for lithium is expected to double by 2025. Continue Reading →

Japanese miners plan to boost output at Chile copper mines amid challenges – by Yuka Obayashi and Osamu Tsukimori (Reuters U.S. – May 11, 2018)

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese copper miners JX Nippon Mining & Metals and Sumitomo Metal Mining plan to increase output from their mines in Chile this year, but are facing challenges in bringing them to full capacity and meeting profit targets.

JXTG Holdings Inc said on Friday that Caserones copper mine which is 51.5 percent owned by its metal unit JX Nippon Mining is expected to produce about 110,000 tonnes of copper concentrate in the year to end-March 2019, up from 91,000 tonnes a year earlier.

The projected annual output still falls short of the 150,000 tonnes target planned when the company started construction of the mine. Continue Reading →

Private firm takes on Codelco for control of Chile lithium deposit – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – May 9, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A foreign-backed miner has sued Chile to block state-run Codelco from exploiting a lithium deposit where both have claims, according to a lawsuit filed in March that will be carefully watched by potential investors being courted by the country’s new government.

The little-known and remote Maricunga salt flat is far smaller than the expansive Salar de Atacama, where top lithium producers Albemarle and Chile’s SQM SQM_pb.SN rule supreme.

But the legal conflict at Maricunga under the newly inaugurated conservative government of President Sebastian Pinera may prove a bellwether for foreign miners anxious to invest in Chile, which is home to half of the world’s lithium reserves. Continue Reading →

As Electric Cars Multiply, This IPO Will Test Big Lithium Value – by Carolina Millan and Jack Kaskey (Bloomberg News – May 3, 2018)

How much is a lithium business really worth? Enthusiasts of the metal used in rechargeable batteries are about to find out.

FMC Corp. is looking to separate its lithium assets and list a portion of the shares in October, before providing the remainder to FMC shareholders within six months, the Philadelphia-based company said Thursday. It’s set to be the first U.S. initial public offering by a major lithium pure-play.

The decision comes as lithium demand is expected to surge along with purchases of electric vehicles. Demand for the lightweight metal will rise five-fold by 2025, potentially exceeding the world’s production capacity, Chief Executive Officer Pierre Brondeau said in February. Continue Reading →

McEwen reports productive Q1 – by Suzanne Featherston (Elko Daily Free Press – May 3, 2018)

TORONTO — McEwen Mining Inc. reported an industrious start to the year, especially in gold production, development and exploration, in its first quarter 2018 results released May 1.

The first quarter of 2018 “marked the beginning of an important year for McEwen Mining,” said Robert McEwen, executive chairman and chief owner, in an investor conference call. The company achieved production of 44,344 gold equivalent ounces in the first quarter of 2018.

Net cash flow from the business, excluding project development costs, was $12.4 million, offset by $22.7 million related to investments toward long-term production growth at Gold Bar in Nevada, Black Fox project in Canada and Los Azules project in Argentina. Continue Reading →

‘Political noise’: Canadian miner hopes for business as usual after the Castros’ long rule ends – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – May 1, 2018)

‘There’s still lots of ore in Cuba. We fully expect to be in the nickel business in Cuba for many years to come’

After years of paying down debt and restructuring its operations, a new question mark hangs over Toronto-based Sherritt International Corp: whether the leadership change in Cuba will affect its extensive nickel, cobalt and energy operations located within the tropical island nation.

Sherritt refers to itself as Cuba’s largest foreign investor, and derives most of its revenues from operations there.

Now, as Cuba heads into its first full month in a half-century without a Castro in the presidency — having elected Miguel Diaz-Canel on April 19 — Sherritt has much to lose or gain from any changes in policy or economic reform. Publicly, chief executive David Pathe, who visits Cuba at least a half dozen times every year, is playing down the significance of the transition. Continue Reading →


Argentinian lithium producer Orocobre (TSX: ORL) recently reported lower than expected lithium production in its third fiscal quarter because weather interfered with its evaporation rates of its lithium brines. This reveals two problems with lithium brine production: reliability and geography. Another source of lithium is rising to met these problems, hard rock lithium mining.

One analyst pointed out that Orocobre’s production problems “clearly demonstrate” that production is not a straightforward process. “Weather events are beyond the control of Orocobre, but this reaffirms that there is still room to improve on the robustness of operations and reduce production variability from we ather impacts,” the analyst stated.

The company reported a 25-per-cent lower evaporation rate compared with the same quarter in 2017 which caused production problems and lithium output to fall 29 percent to 2,802 tonnes of Lithium Carbonate equivalent, from 3,937 tonnes in the December quarter. Its February rates were the lowest since 2011. Continue Reading →

Chilean government promises funding for Codelco – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud ( – April 26, 2018)

Chilean Finance Minister Felipe Larraín and his Mining counterpart Baldo Prokurica said today that the government that came to power in March will ensure state copper giant Codelco receives capital incentives so that it can continue to grow.

Following Codelco’s annual shareholder meeting, Larraín and Prokurica said the new capitalization process and the amount that will be provided have to be defined by July 30, 2018.

“Codelco is dealing with the challenge of a very ambitious investment plan. Despite what it entails, such a plan is very much needed so that the company continues to be the leader in the copper market. If we don’t invest, Codelco would disappear. Continue Reading →