Archive | Latin America Mining

Incoming Codelco CEO ‘optimistic’ on long-term copper price – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.K. – August 14, 2019)

CHUQUICAMATA, Chile (Reuters) – The incoming chief executive of Chile’s state copper miner Codelco said he was “optimistic” about the long-term market price of copper despite the global volatility caused by the U.S.-China trade war.

“There is a lot of volatility at this moment because of everything that’s happening in the world, but we remain optimistic about the long-term outlook (of the copper price),” Octavio Araneda told journalists on Wednesday.

In April, Chile’s state copper commission Cochilco held its estimate for the price of copper at $3.05 per pound, rising to $3.08 for 2020 on improving prospects for growth in China. Continue Reading →

Gold rush-era rules to stop mining pollution are still in use – but they’re failing – by Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies (The Conversation – August 14, 2019)

Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, 6 November 2015

Wet, orange mud covers everything: streets, houses, cars, animals, trees, fields. The violent force of a torrent of mud has overturned cars and left them hovering on top of buildings. It has torn the roofs off houses and pushed over their walls.

The view of the town from helicopters flying above reveals a desolate landscape: sludge-caked animals struggle to free themselves, and rescue teams search desperately for survivors. Mud dyes the river orange for hundreds of kilometres downstream, and two weeks later it will flow out into the Atlantic in an expanding orange stain.

This devastation is the result of the catastrophic failure of a tailings dam: a vast settling pond built to store the muddy waste from Samarco’s Germano iron ore mine. Continue Reading →

Turning around Mexico’s mining meltdown – by Patrick Kingsland (Mining Technology – August 14, 2019)

Despite its large mineral wealth Mexico’s mining sector has struggled and investment has hit a 12-year low, rattled by political uncertainty and insecurity. Patrick Kingsland takes a look at the industry and asks what it can do to once again become an attractive investment opportunity.

Mexico’s mining industry dates back as far as the Aztec empire and the ancient Maya civilisation. The search for minerals like gold by Spanish immigrants gave rise to major population centres like Guanajuato, Taxco and Zacatecas.

But despite Mexico’s long tradition of mining and continued industrial potential – just 25% of the country has been explored for minerals and oil to date – the sector is currently in an uncertain place, as new government policies, social unrest, insecurity and challenging access to finance undermine investment. Continue Reading →

A dam collapse in Brazil has some worried about PolyMet’s plans. Why the DNR says it won’t happen here – by Walker Orenstein ( – August 13, 2019)

In January, the tailings dam at a Brazilian iron ore mine collapsed, killing nearly 250 people. The wave of toxic waste and mud also wrecked two dozen buildings and polluted water for five miles.

In Minnesota, the disaster raised eyebrows among opponents of a copper-nickel mine planned near Hoyt Lakes. That’s because the design of the dam in Brumadinho was similar to one PolyMet Mining hopes to build. In fact, the Vale mining company had used a method to judge dam safety created by a PolyMet adviser.

And the tragedy in Brazil embodied the worst fears of some Minnesota environmental activists and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who warn PolyMet could pollute the St. Louis River. Continue Reading →

South America’s glaciers may have a bigger problem than climate change – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – August 14, 2019)

Government geologist Gino Casassa steps down from the helicopter and looks around in dismay. Casassa is standing at the foot of a glacier, 4,200 meters (13,800 feet) above sea level.

The sky over the Andes is a deep blue, but something is not right: It’s July—mid-winter in South America—and yet it’s mild for the time of year, above 0 degrees Centigrade. He takes off his orange ski jacket and walks on the bare rock.

“This should all be covered by snow this time of year,” he says, pointing to Olivares Alfa, one of the largest glaciers in central Chile, just a few meters away. “There used to be one single glacier system covering this whole valley; now it’s pulled back so much that it’s divided into four or five smaller glaciers.” Continue Reading →

‘It’s our problem’: Brazilian drama brings Amazon rainforest battle to screen – by Anna Jean Kaiser (The Guardian – July 13, 2019)

Aruanas aims to make the environment an ‘everyday topic’ at a time when politics is dominated by the interests of agribusiness

Deep in the Brazilian Amazon, an environmental activist meets with a journalist who warns that a mining company is responsible for a looming environmental disaster. “People are already getting sick,” he warns, before promising to bring her documentary proof the next day.

But in the jungle, someone is watching. Driving to their next meeting, the activist hears a phone ringing in the back of her car. She opens the trunk – and finds the journalist’s dead body.

The gruesome discovery is the opening act of the latest blockbuster series from Brazil’s telenovela powerhouse TV Globo: Aruanas. The series focuses on environmental journalists and activists in the country’s vast, forested interior, where 57 environmental defenders were killed in 2017. Continue Reading →

Iamgold under fire for alleged poor disclosure over miner death at Rosebel site in South America – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – August 9, 2019)

Shares in Iamgold Corp. fell 14.6 per cent Thursday – their steepest drop in nearly five years – as the Canadian miner faces heavy criticism for its alleged poor disclosure over the death of a miner at a South American mine site.

Last week, the Toronto-based company suspended mining at its second-biggest mine, Rosebel in Suriname, after an “unauthorized” artisanal miner was killed, following a confrontation with police. Iamgold said the fracas, which involved an unspecified number of artisanal miners, also caused equipment damage. The company said there are continuing security concerns for its staff at Rosebel.

Artisanal mining is common in Africa and South America, often involving impoverished locals mining by hand. While occasionally legal, artisanal miners often trespass on concessions controlled by international mining companies. Continue Reading →

Ecuador’s crackdown on wildcatting at Australian mogul’s mining lease faces backlash – by Alexandra Valencia and Luc Cohen (Reuters U.S. – August 6, 2019)

BUENOS AIRES, Ecuador (Reuters) – Ecuador’s market-friendly President Lenin Moreno is cracking down on illegal gold miners, who are increasingly encroaching on formal mines, but keeping them away from an Australian billionaire’s concession for good may prove a tall order.

Moreno last month sent 4,000 troops and police to clear thousands of miners from a gold and copper mining concession belonging to Hancock Prospecting, controlled by Gina Rinehart, Australia’s wealthiest person.

Now, with the area under a 60-day state of emergency and military and police guarding nearby Buenos Aires parish, authorities say illegal mining, also known as wildcatting, at the Imba-2 concession has stopped. Continue Reading →

The Impact Of Mexico’s Worst Mining Disaster, 5 Years Later – by Kendal Blust ( – August 5, 2019)

Willows and cottonwoods sway on the banks of the Rio Sonora as it flows through the little Sonoran pueblo Baviácora. Nearby, cows graze lazily in lush green pastures on the westernmost edge of Sonora’s Sierra Madre mountain range. Even in the sticky summer heat, it’s an idyllic scene.

But local Martha Velarde said nothing has been the same in this quiet river valley since Aug. 6, 2014, when Mexico’s largest mining company spilled nearly 11 million gallons of copper sulfate acid solution carrying heavy metals into the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers.

“The water was running orange, red, a coppery color through the entire Rio Sonora,” Velarde remembered. Neighbors started getting sick. Animals were dying. And at first, nobody knew why. Continue Reading →

Brazil’s Vale dam disasters trigger $2 billion in fresh writedowns – by Christian Plumb (Reuters U.S. – July 31, 2019)

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian miner Vale SA (VALE3.SA) on Wednesday said it swung to a quarterly loss as the company announced more than $2 billion in fresh writedowns related to two deadly dam bursts suffered by the company over a period of less than four years.

In late January, the collapse of a Vale tailings dam storing muddy mining waste near the town of Brumadinho killed nearly 250 people, less than four years after a deadly disaster at the company’s Samarco joint venture with BHP Group (BHP.AX).

The world’s largest iron ore exporter has since been grappling with the fallout, which has forced it to shake up its board, replace its CEO and made it the target of various criminal and regulatory probes. Continue Reading →

Big win for foreign plaintiffs as Pan American settles Guatemala mine case – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – August 1, 2019)

The cost of litigating these cases can make them prohibitively expensive to bring, so there’s unlikely to be a flood of similar litigation in the future

In a case likely to set new accountability standards for Canadian mining companies operating abroad, Vancouver-based Pan American Silver on Tuesday apologized to four Guatemalans who were shot in 2013 while staging a peaceful demonstration at the entrance to one of its mines.

The company also struck legal settlements, though terms remain confidential, with the Guatemalans to end ongoing litigation in British Columbia accusing it of negligence.

It marks one of three cases filed in Canada in recent years, in which a mining company has been sued for negligence because of alleged human rights abuses connected with its operations overseas. The other two cases are still pending in Canada. Continue Reading →

Canadian mining firm apologizes to protesters shot outside Guatemalan mine (AFP/CTV News – July 30, 2019)

A Canadian mining firm has apologized after reaching an agreement with demonstrators shot and wounded while protesting the company’s Guatemalan gold and silver mine, according to statements Tuesday from both sides.

The agreement marks the first time that foreign complainants have received restitution for a human rights violation by a Canadian company in a Canadian court, the protesters’ lawyers said in a statement.

This “landmark conclusion,” the details of which are confidential, was made between a group of injured protesters, who sued the mining company Tahoe Resources Inc in British Columbia province in 2014, and the Pan American Silver Corp, which bought Tahoe in February. Continue Reading →

Mineral-rich Ecuadorean province requests popular referendum on mining (Reuters Canada – July 30, 2019)

QUITO (Reuters) – The government of a key mining province in southern Ecuador has proposed a popular referendum on the development of new mines in the region, the latest obstacle to market-friendly President Lenin Moreno’s efforts to attract foreign mining investment.

Azuay province is home to several potentially lucrative gold, silver and copper projects, including the Loma Larga project operated by Canada’s INV Metals (INV.TO) and the Rio Blanco mine, owned by a Chinese consortium consisting of Junefield Mineral Resources Limited and Hunan Gold Group.

But provincial prefect Yaku Perez on Tuesday requested the South American country’s Constitutional Court make mining development subject to a popular referendum, expressing concerns about mining’s environmental impacts. Continue Reading →

Court ruling against Venezuela in Crystallex case puts Citgo at risk (Reuters Canada – July 29, 2019)

(Reuters) – A U.S. federal appeals court on Monday rejected an appeal by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company to set aside an order allowing a Canadian gold mining company to seize shares in its U.S. refining unit, Citgo Petroleum Corp.

Crystallex International Corp had won the $1.4 billion judgment as compensation for the expropriation of its assets in Venezuela under late leftist President Hugo Chavez. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said a lower court was right to attach Petroleos de Venezuela’s shares of its U.S. unit, which owns Citgo.

“The District Court acted within its jurisdiction when it issued a writ of attachment on PDVSA’s shares of PDVH to satisfy Crystellex’s judgment against Venezuela, and the PDVH shares are not immune from attachment,” Judge Leonard Stark wrote, referring to PDVSA’s U.S. unit. Continue Reading →

Lithium Industry Buildup Is Outracing the Electric-Car Boom – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – July 29, 2019)

Lithium miners are bulking up for a booming future when electric cars go mainstream. But speed bumps loom, with prices tumbling on a burst of new production and demand growth slowing in China.

Between mid-2015 and mid-2018, prices for lithium, the soft, silvery-white metal crucial for rechargeable batteries, almost tripled as the world’s fleet of electric vehicles hit the 5 million mark, and the auto industry began to fret over the supply of raw materials.

That sparked the opening of six lithium mines in Australia since 2017 as companies raced to gain from an evolving technology. But while the EV boom is coming, it isn’t here yet. Sales growth is slowing in China, the top market, and the drive to fill the battery supply chain has cooled. The result: A 30% price plunge for lithium that’s spurring concern over where the bottom may lie. Continue Reading →