Archive | Latin America Mining

Coronavirus slows U.S. push to produce electric vehicle minerals – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters Canada – March 26, 2020)

(Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic is hobbling U.S. efforts to produce lithium, rare earths and other materials used in electric vehicles and high-tech equipment, dealing a blow to President Donald Trump’s plan to curb Chinese control of the strategic minerals sector.

As the pandemic has killed nearly 20,000 across the globe, U.S. junior miners have slowed engineering work, environmental reviews and loan applications. “We can just hit pause,” said Keith Phillips, chief executive of North Carolina’s Piedmont Lithium Ltd.

Piedmont, Lithium Americas Corp and ioneer Ltd, both of which have Nevada projects, have said they now face engineering or regulatory setbacks that could push back mine construction. Continue Reading →

Coronavirus may prevent Codelco from re-gaining world’s top copper miner spot – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – March 25, 2020)

Chile’s copper miner Codelco may not regain its position as the world’s top producer of the red metal this year, as delays in upgrades and expansion projects caused by measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus add to the impact of low prices and lack of funding.

The miner, which hands all its revenue over to the state, was in the midst of implementing a $40 billion, 10-year modernization of its mines, aimed at maintaining output despite rapidly falling ore grades.

A sustained drop in copper prices — down 22% so far this year — and the lack of readily available government funding while the country deals with ongoing unrest, has however cast doubts on Codelco’s ability to keep up production rates. Continue Reading →

First Quantum eyes stake sale in Panama mine – sources – by Clara Denina and Jeff Lewis (Reuters U.S. – March 24, 2020)

LONDON/TORONTO (Reuters) – Miner First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) is considering selling a minority stake in its flagship Cobre Panama copper mine to reduce debt, two banking sources familiar with the discussions said.

First Quantum’s possible move comes as global miners scramble to bolster finances strained by the coronavirus pandemic, which has battered stocks and copper prices CMCUc1. First Quantum shares are down more than 50% this year.

Total investment in Cobre Panama, located 120 km (75 miles) west of Panama City, up to 2019 stood at $6.3 billion, according to the company. Continue Reading →

Copper Gains on Supply Shortage Fears Amid Coronavirus Outbreak – by Madhurima Das Zacks (Yahoo Finance – March 24, 2020)

With major mining countries ramping up efforts to contain spread of the coronavirus outbreak, it has triggered supply concerns for copper, which in turn has resulted the metal’s escalating prices. Further, the industrial metal gained on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement of extensive new measures to support the U.S economy. Copper prices were up 1.5% to close at $2.15 per pound on Mar 23, 2020.

The Fed pledged to buy an unlimited amount of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, as required. It also announced three new lending facilities to support consumer and business credit markets. The Fed also announced that it will soon roll out a program to support lending to eligible small-and-medium sized businesses.

Coronavirus cases across the globe have escalated to 332,930, per WHO’s situation report as of Mar 23, 2020, while the death toll stands at 14,510. Continue Reading →

Global copper production to grow 3% annually until 2029 – by Editor ( – March 18, 2020)

Global copper mine production will see steady growth over the next few years, as a number of new projects and expansions come online, supported by rising copper prices and demand, Fitch Solutions forecasts in a new report.

Fitch analysts predict global copper mine production to increase by an average annual rate of 3.1% over 2020-2029, with total output rising from 20.3 to 26.8 million tonnes over the same period.

In 2020, Fitch forecasts Chile to increase production modestly by 0.5% to 5.89 million tonnes. Growth will be led by the ramp-up of BHP’s Spence Growth Option over H2 2020, increasing production at Lundin Mining’s Candelaria mine and a rebound in production from mines hampered by heavy rains in the beginning of 2019. Continue Reading →

Copper price meltdown sinks mining stocks – Freeport down 24% – by Frik Els ( – March 18, 2020)

The decline in the copper price accelerated on Wednesday as pandemic fears grip global markets and mining companies announce a raft of production halts and project construction suspensions.

Copper trading in New York fell by 8.8% to $2.111 a pound ($4,650 a tonne), the weakest level since early October 2016. The copper price is now down 27% from its 2020 high, struck near the end of January.

Across South America, where the bulk of the world’s copper is produced, countries including Argentina, Peru and Chile have closed borders or imposed restrictions to contain the outbreak on the continent. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold extends life of Argentina mine (Resource World – March 17, 2020)

Barrick Gold Corp. [ABX-TSX; GOLD-NYSE] President and CEO Mark Bristow said the life of Barrick’s Veladero gold mine in Argentina has been extended to at least 10 years following a comprehensive review of the company’s strategy and business plan.

Bristow made the comments while briefing an Argentinian audience of local media, government authorities and local business and community leaders about the mine’s progress from Barrick’s offices in Chile. The briefing was broadcast via a video conference to comply with Covid-19 related travel restrictions imposed by Argentina.

“Our review included the reinterpretation of the mine’s geology and an ongoing infill drilling campaign,” Bristow said. “We established exploration and resource management teams to identify satellite orebodies with the potential to deliver an increase in resources and reserves,” he said. “Our aim is to extend Veladero’s life-of-mine beyond 2030 and elevate it to a Tier One asset.” Continue Reading →

Chile lithium miners take coronavirus precautions, say impact on output minimal so far – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters/Financial Post – March 17, 2020)

SANTIAGO — Top lithium miners in Chile, the world´s No.2 producer of the ultralight battery metal, ramped up sanitary precautions at their Atacama salt flat mining operations to protect workers from the coronavirus outbreak, but said impact on output was minimal thus far.

Cases of coronavirus in Chile had jumped to 181 on Tuesday, prompting authorities to shut down the country´s borders, close schools and prohibit gatherings of large groups. The South American nation is also the world´s top copper producer.

SQM, in a letter to Chilean financial regulators late on Monday, said the border closures, decreases in commercial activity and disruptions in supply chains had led to “a reduction of approximately 2,000 metric tonnes of lithium sales volumes in China.” Continue Reading →

How one country is grappling with mercury emissions from artisanal gold shops – by Paula Dupraz-Dobias (Chemical & Engineering News – March 16, 2020)

The central market was bustling in Puerto Maldonado, in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon. On one end of the market, diners sat on plastic stools shaded from the oppressive noon heat as food was prepared at the many open-air stands. Vegetables, fruit, and piles of locally harvested Brazil nuts were displayed nearby. Toddlers played on the ground in front of their parents’ booths.

Across the street, past a row of motorcycle taxis, more children played along the sidewalk, in front of a strip of open-front businesses advertising the purchase and sale of gold.

Such a scene is a common one in many towns in the region, which produces an estimated 15–20% of Peru’s gold exports. Worldwide, artisanal and small-scale gold mining represents about 10% of the world’s gold supply, and some 100 million people depend on such mining for survival, according to the Fairtrade Foundation, which works to promote fairer trading conditions. Continue Reading →

Breakthrough Technique Could Produce Lithium in Hours Not Months – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – March 9, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — A new filtration technique could cut the time needed to produce lithium raw materials at South America’s vast evaporation ponds to hours from months, according to a study by a group of international scientists.

The method, developed by researchers at Australia’s national science institute CSIRO, Monash University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Texas at Austin, mimics the filtering capabilities of living cells to extract lithium from concentrated salt water, where the metal is typically mixed with other materials, including potassium and salt.

“We could one day have the capability to produce simple filters that will take hours to extract lithium from brine, rather than several months to years,” said Huanting Wang, a professor of chemical engineering at Monash University, and among the authors of newly published research on the technique. Continue Reading →

Special Report: Sleeping Beauty – How suspect gold reached top brands – by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, Mitra Taj and Peter Hobson (Reuters U.S. – March 2020)

LA RINCONADA, Peru (Reuters) – From the Andes mountains, thousands of artisanal gold-diggers for years sent fragments of metal to a Swiss valley. There, a refinery purified the gold to sell to banks, watchmakers, fine jewelers and electronics companies. It circulated as ingots, phones and trinkets – some branded with names including Apple and Tiffany & Co.

A trade worth billions of dollars, it was championed by the Swiss refinery, Metalor Technologies, as part of a program with Peru’s government to integrate gold prospectors into the economy.

In early 2018, Metalor stopped taking the gold. The reason: It couldn’t be sure where the metal came from. Peruvian prosecutors had come to suspect Metalor’s main supplier was a front used by criminals to filter illegally produced gold into the world market. Continue Reading →

War or peace? A threatened Brazilian indigenous tribe weighs its options – by Fabio Teixeira (Reuters U.S. – March 9, 2020)

URU-EU-WAU-WAU TERRITORY, Brazil (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The old men want war, but the younger ones are holding them back. That generation divide was clear among the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe, who live deep in the Brazilian Amazon.

Endangered by land-grabbers and illegal loggers, the tribe called a meeting to discuss how to fight back and plan for the year ahead, Brazil’s second under Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency.

“You say we cannot kill, but the white man does not respect us,” said Uaka, one of the village elders, standing up to speak in broken Portuguese. “We do not steal their cattle to eat, so why do they steal our land for themselves? Our law works better than theirs,” said Purui, another older tribe member. Continue Reading →

Copper to Rally Once Virus Passes, Chile Minister Says – by Maria Elena Vizcaino and Esteban Duarte (Bloomberg News – March 3, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — The deadly coronavirus that’s rattled markets since January won’t stop copper prices from surging to $3 a pound this year, according to Chilean Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica.

The price of copper, often used as a barometer for the global economy, has dropped about 7% so far in 2020, signaling demand for the metal used in everything from electronics to automobiles has cooled as investors retreat from riskier assets.

Copper supplies at warehouses tracked by the Shanghai Futures Exchange expanded to the highest ever for this time of year as logistical constraints inside China are stopping output from reaching end-users, further pressuring down price for the metal. Continue Reading →

Hudbay prepares for next phase of growth – by Mariaan Webb ( – February 2020)

Dual-listed Hudbay Minerals is preparing for the next phase of growth, focusing on mining the high-grade Pampacancha satellite deposit, in Peru, and completing the refurbishment of the New Britannia gold mill, in Canada.

Both projects, CEO Peter Kukielski says, require low capital intensity, but will yield high returns with short paybacks on the invested capital. Hudbay has budgeted $170-million in growth capital for 2020, $80-million of which will be spent at the Manitoba operations, $70-million in Peru and $20-million in Arizona.

The Manitoba spending relates to the New Britannia mill refurbishment, where construction activities are set to start in the second quarter of this year. Continue Reading →

Internal probe confirms Vale knew Brumadinho dam was unsafe – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – February 21, 2020)

Brazilian iron ore miner Vale (NYSE: VALE) has published the results of an independent report into the Córrego do Feijão mine’s tailings dam collapse that killed 270 people last year, which reveals the company knew about the facility’s fragile condition since 2003.

According to the document, prepared by a committee formed by Vale last year, concerns about how unstable the main B1 dam was were raised at various points over the course of 16 years, but the miner failed to appropriately deal with them.

Last month, state prosecutors charged Fabio Schvartsman, the chief executive at the time of the burst, and 15 other people with homicide. Schvartsman left his position at the company in March 2019. Continue Reading →