Archive | Latin America Mining

As Anti-Mining Protests Escalate, Peru’s Vizcarra Sides With Mining Companies – by Matthew C. DuPée (World Politics Review – December 11, 2019)

https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/

In mid-October, Peruvian authorities declared a 30-day state of emergency in the copper-rich province of Chumbivilcas, where anti-mining protesters had blocked a stretch of a vital highway called the Southern Runway for almost a month. The blockade, led by indigenous farmers and laborers known as comuneros, caused major disruptions to local commerce and large-scale mining efforts nearby, and nearly forced a halt in operations at Las Bambas, one of Peru’s largest copper mines.

It was just the latest in a series of anti-mining protests by comuneros in Peru this year, which have held up hundreds of millions of dollars in copper exports and forced the Peruvian government into contentious negotiations over indigenous land rights and environmental concerns.

The world’s No. 2 copper producer with reserves estimated at 83 million tons, Peru is highly dependent on copper exports, which generated $12 billion in 2017, more than a quarter of its total exports that year, according to data tabulated by the Observatory of Economic Complexity. Continue Reading →

US Trial Sheds Little Light On Colombia’s Shady Emerald Mining Industry – by Loren Moss (Finance Columbia – December 11, 2019)

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The US court case of Horacio Triana, known as Colombia’s “emerald czar,” will focus on drug trafficking charges and is unlikely to shine a light on a complex web of links between the country’s emerald industry and a range of criminal interests.

In November, Triana pled guilty before a Florida court on charges of sending cocaine to the United States and killing witnesses scheduled to testify against him. He also promised to collaborate with judicial investigations.

In August 2017, the United States requested Triana’s extradition along with that of José Rogelio Nieto and the brothers Pedro, Omar and Gilberto Rincón. All of them were leading figures within Colombia’s lucrative emerald industry and were accused of working with paramilitary groups to traffic drugs to the United States through a network that extended into Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Continue Reading →

Crisis Is Rocking Latin America. Peru Is an Island of Uneasy Calm. – by John Quigley (Bloomberg/Yahoo – December 12, 2019)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — Roadblocks of mud, sticks and steel wire bar the entrance to villages lining the northern side of the Rio Tambo, a sign of revolt in the fertile valley cultivated since Inca times.

For almost a decade, the farmers of this green strip wedged between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean have resisted the construction of a copper mine they say will pollute the water course and destroy their livelihoods. Now they feel betrayed by Peru’s president after his government gave final approval to Southern Copper Corp.’s Tia Maria project.

“We can’t allow it,” said councilwoman Zulema Quispe, who was navigating the barricades on the back of a motorcycle. Fields tilled for centuries will be tainted for future generations by the mine to be located just half a mile away, she said. “The president is giving priority to a multinational company and we won’t accept it.” Continue Reading →

Deforestation, erosion exacerbate mercury spikes near Peruvian gold mining (Duke University – December 12, 2019)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/

Scientists from Duke University have developed a model that can predict the amount of mercury being released into a local ecosystem by deforestation and small-scale gold mining.

The research, which appears online on December 11 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, could point toward ways to mitigate the worst effects of mercury poisoning in regions such as those that are already experiencing elevated mercury levels caused by gold mining.

“We’ve taken a lot of ground measurements in the Peruvian Amazon of mercury levels in the water, soil and fish,” said Heileen Hsu-Kim, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University. “But many areas in the Amazon aren’t easily accessible, and the government often does not have the resources needed to test local sites.” 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)

https://uk.reuters.com/

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 →

Central American mine resistance visits Vancouver – by Hayley Woodin (Business In Vancouver – December 10, 2019)

https://biv.com/

It was the first advocacy effort of its kind in a mining conflict that has spanned a decade, three countries and multiple legal challenges.

In November, a representative of Guatemala’s Indigenous Xinka people embarked on a weeklong speaking tour in Victoria and Vancouver to denounce what he sees as efforts by Vancouver-based Pan American Silver Corp. (TSX:PAAS) and the government of Guatemala to undermine Indigenous rights in his country.

“Pan American doesn’t have a social licence to operate,” Luis Fernando García Monroy told students, alumni and faculty at the University of British Columbia (UBC) on November 21. “We have been left out of the consultation process,” he said. “The company wants to promote a different kind of consultation.” Continue Reading →

Chile eyes state-backed lithium push in far-flung salt flats – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters Canada – December 3, 2019)

https://ca.reuters.com/

SALAR DE AGUILAR, Chile (Reuters) – Chile’s Atacama salt flat may get all the attention when it comes to lithium, but the South American nation is looking to develop two lesser-known deposits of the mineral needed to power a global push into electric cars.

Chile’s mining minister, Baldo Prokurica, told Reuters on a trip to the Atacama region the government had asked state-owned copper giant Codelco and smaller state miner National Mining Company, Enami, to forge ahead with lithium projects in the region.

“It seems to me, to say the least, a sin that companies with lithium holdings like this are not even working them,” Prokurica said on a tour of the Aguilar and Infieles salt flats. “What has been missing here is the will to move forward.” Continue Reading →

UPDATE 7-Trump, citing U.S. farmers, slaps metal tariffs on Brazil, Argentina – by Andrea Shalal and Gabriel Stargardter (Reuters Africa – December 2, 2019)

https://af.reuters.com/

WASHINGTON/RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 2 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump ambushed Brazil and Argentina on Monday, announcing he would restore tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports from the two countries in apparent retaliation for currency weakness he said was hurting U.S. farmers.

“Effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries,” Trump wrote in an early morning tweet that sent officials from both countries scrambling for explanations from Washington. He added that Brazil and Argentina were “presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies.”

In fact, the opposite is true: Both countries have actively been trying to strengthen their respective currencies against the dollar. The real and the peso have been buffeted by weakness partially linked to Trump’s trade battle with China. Continue Reading →

Billionaire Says Congo Is Now More Attractive Than Chile for Copper Mines – by Elena Mazneva (Bloomberg News – November 25, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Chile’s worst civil unrest in decades means the Democratic Republic of Congo is a more attractive proposition for mining investment, according to billionaire Robert Friedland.

While Chile, the world’s top copper producer, seeks measures to quell the social unrest that exploded last month, the election of President Felix Tshisekedi earlier this year has improved the prospects in Congo, Friedland said at the Mines and Money conference in London on Monday. Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., founded by Friedland, is developing the world’s second-largest copper-mining project in Congo, with production due to start in 2021.

“There is a new sheriff in town,” said Friedland, referring to Tshisekedi. Chile is now a “terrible place to invest in mining, while Congo is a really great place,” he said. Continue Reading →

Codelco Seeks $8 Billion Project Savings as Chile Funds Tighten – by James Attwood and Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – November 29, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Chile’s biggest civil unrest in a generation is heaping the pressure on new Codelco boss Octavio Araneda to squeeze more money out of aging copper deposits.

Before the wave of protests and riots began six weeks ago, Araneda was already facing the difficult task of having to invest billions just to keep production from plunging and costs rising at a time of thin margins in the global copper business.

Now, as the government faces a long list of spending demands to appease protesters, the challenge is more daunting: Codelco will be leaned on to help fund a bigger welfare system and can expect a much more tightfisted response from the state to its spending needs. Continue Reading →

Guyana hopes oil will bring wealth – not corruption and crisis – by Jennapher Lunde Seefeldt (The Conversation – February 21, 2019)

https://theconversation.com/

When ExxonMobil begins oil production in Guyana next year, mining crude from its seven new deepwater wells, life may change dramatically in this small South American country.

The mega deal is expected to increase Guyana’s gross domestic product from US$3.4 billion in 2016 to $13 billion by 2025. That’s because Guyana, one of the poorest in South America, will receive about half of all ExxonMobil’s oil revenue after the company’s exploration costs are repaid.

Nearly 40 percent of Guyana’s 800,000 people live in poverty. The oil money will provide a remarkable economic boost that could strengthen education, health care and infrastructure. Continue Reading →

Friedland says Congo is now more attractive than Chile for copper mines (Bloomberg/MiningWeekly.com – November 27, 2019)

https://www.miningweekly.com/

LONDON – Chile’s worst civil unrest in decades means the Democratic Republic of Congo is a more attractive proposition for mining investment, according to billionaire Robert Friedland.

While Chile, the world’s top copper producer, seeks measures to quell the social unrest that exploded last month, the election of President Felix Tshisekedi earlier this year has improved the prospects in Congo, Friedland said at the Mines and Money conference in London on Monday. Ivanhoe Mines, founded by Friedland, is developing the world’s second-largest copper-mining project in Congo, with production due to start in 2021.

“There is a new sheriff in town,” said Friedland, referring to Tshisekedi. Chile is now a “terrible place to invest in mining, while Congo is a really great place,” he said. Over more than two decades, mining investor Friedland and his small team have made some of the biggest mineral discoveries in the world. Continue Reading →

Chile Protests Threaten to Dethrone World’s Top Copper Producer – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – November 27, 2019)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

Codelco’s standing as the world’s top copper producer is increasingly at risk in the wake of a citizen uprising that is shaking Chile to its core.

Codelco planned to spend US$20 billion over a decade to modernize its aging mines and hold off a looming production slump. But protests that have sent millions into the street to demand changes in everything from pensions and health care to education could jeopardize the state-owned miner’s push for needed government funding.

The alternatives are largely unappealing. The company could delay the work, but its costs for processing lower-quality ore from aging mines is growing. It could boost borrowing, but its debt already sits at a record high. The bottom line: Without government funding, the company that now produces about 8 per cent of global copper may soon find itself slipping from its top spot, according to Colin Hamilton at BMO Capital Markets. Continue Reading →

Aurania finds evidence of highly sought-after lost gold city in Ecuador – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – November 27, 2019)

https://www.mining.com/

Canadian junior Aurania Resources (TSX-V: ARU) said on Wednesday it had found vestiges of an old road at the very centre of its flagship asset, The Lost Cities – Cutucu project, which it believes provides solid field evidence of its project being at one of Ecuador’s lost gold mining centres.

The road, the company said, was discovered by its field teams while searching for “Sevilla de Oro,” which was one of two gold producing cities described in historic manuscripts from Ecuador, Peru, Spain and the Vatican.

Those records talk about Spanish settlers operating two gold mines between about 1565 and 1606. The path discovered by Aurania’s exploration teams is thought to be the one that linked “Sevilla de Oro” to the other gold mining centre — “Logroño de los Caballeros” — described in the historic manuscripts. Continue Reading →

Ecuador to tighten rules for mining waste dams to avoid repeat of Brazil disaster – by Alexandra Valencia (Reuters U.S. – November 26, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador’s government plans to tighten rules regulating the construction and operation of mining waste dams to avoid disasters like one in Brazil in January when a dam owned by Vale SA collapsed, killing hundreds.

Vice Minister of Mining Fernando Benalcazar told Reuters the new rules will take effect in December and will prohibit the building of so-called tailings dams close to populated areas and ban certain designs that are considered less stable.

Public trust in the mining industry has plunged since the disaster in Brazil, spurring calls to bolster safety at tailings dams, which are used to store the muddy detritus of the mining process and can be dozens of meters high. Continue Reading →