Archive | Latin America Mining

Brazil charges ex-Vale CEO with homicide for dam disaster – by Marta Nogueira (Reuters U.S. – Janaury 21, 2020)

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazilian state prosecutors on Tuesday charged Fabio Schvartsman, the former chief executive of mining giant Vale SA, and 15 other people with homicide for a dam disaster last year that killed more than 250 people, according to the charging document seen by Reuters.

In addition to homicide charges, Vale and TUV SUD, the German company responsible for inspecting the dam, were charged with environmental crimes. Of the 16 individuals charged, 11 had worked for Vale and five for TUV SUD, prosecutors said.

The charges, which were presented nearly a year after the collapse of a Vale tailings dam in the state of Minas Gerais, represent a major step forward in Brazilian authorities’ attempt to hold individuals criminally responsible for the disaster. Continue Reading →

Pollution insurance costs to jump for U.S. tailings dams after Vale disaster – by Suzanne Barlyn (Reuters U.S. – January 21, 2020)

The 2019 mining disaster in Brazil is expected to lead to a double-digit jump in costs to insure U.S. tailings dams that store mining waste against liability for environmental catastrophes.

Tailings dams, some of which tower dozens of meters high and stretch for several kilometers (miles), are the most common waste-disposal method for mining companies, whether they extract iron ore, gold or copper.

The deadly collapse last January of the dam at Vale SA’s Corrego do Feijao iron ore mine in Brumadinho rocked the mining industry and spurred calls for massive operational changes. At least 259 people were killed here in the incident. Continue Reading →

Trade War Has Copper Prices Artificially Low, Chile Minister Says – by Maria Elena Vizcaino (Bloomberg News – January 20, 2020)

(Bloomberg) The phase-one trade deal between the U.S. and China may bring some relief to copper exporters, helping shore up the finances of Chilean state-run producer Codelco, Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica said.

Copper prices may rally to $3 a pound, from an average of about $2.72 last year, as Washington and Beijing work to resolve their trade dispute that has ushered in a “complex period” of economic uncertainty, hurting industrial demand for the metal, Prokurica said in a phone interview.

U.S.-China tensions helped trigger a slowdown in global manufacturing, fueling concerns over the outlook for copper and keeping a lid on price gains even as inventories shrank. The two countries, the world’s biggest consumers of the metal, signed what they billed as the first phase of a broader trade pact on Wednesday. Copper prices rallied in the run-up to the agreement, and posted a second straight weekly gain. Continue Reading →

Founder of Blackwater mercenary group Erik Prince took secret Venezuela trip to talk mining with regime – by Stephanie Baker and Ben Bartenstein (National Post/Bloomberg – January 17, 2020)

The trip was part of an intense behind-the-scenes scrimmage for Venezuela’s wealth and resources as it grapples with political gridlock

(Bloomberg) — When Erik Prince, a major Trump donor and private security mogul, traveled to Caracas in November for secret talks with Venezuela’s vice president, he was not, it turns out, the central figure orchestrating the meetings.

That person was a controversial British deal-maker by the name of Ian Hannam, according to people familiar with the situation. Hannam, a former JPMorgan banker, arranged the trip as part of his yearlong scouting effort for possible gold investments in the crisis-battered nation, the people said. Prince’s meeting with Vice President Delcy Rodriguez has been reported; Hannam’s role hasn’t.

The discussion of mining ventures with Rodriguez raises fresh questions about whether Prince, a Michigan native and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, violated U.S. law against doing business with sanctioned officials. Hannam is British and not subject to the same restrictions. Continue Reading →

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 →

UPDATE 1-Ecuador exports first copper concentrate from Chinese-owned Mirador mine – by Alexandra Valencia (Reuters Africa – January 16, 2020)

QUITO, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Ecuador made its first export of 22,000 tonnes of copper concentrate from the Chinese-owned Mirador mine, the energy ministry said on Wednesday, marking a new milestone in the country’s effort to develop a large-scale mining industry.

Ecuador, an Andean country neighboring No. 2 copper producer Peru, has large mineral reserves but is only beginning to establish industrial-scale mining projects.

Mirador is run by Ecuacorriente, a subsidiary of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan, which has a 30-year concession. It started production in July 2019. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Bolivia’s new lithium tsar says country should go it alone – by Adam Jourdan (Reuters U.S. – January 15, 2020)

LA PAZ (Reuters) – The new chief of Bolivia’s state-owned lithium company YLB plans strict limits on foreign investment in extraction and processing of the white metal key to electric vehicle batteries, he told Reuters in his first interview with international media since taking the reins this month.

Juan Carlos Zuleta, a lithium expert who has worked in Chile and Bolivia, said a deal with a German firm that was aborted last year would remained shelved, while another with a Chinese partner was being reassessed.

“It is important for the international community to know that Bolivian law says lithium should be extracted and processed by Bolivians,” he said in an hour-long interview at YLB’s headquarter in La Paz. “Now we are here to comply with the law.” Continue Reading →

Venezuela’s Guaido seeks EU ‘blood gold’ designation for informal mining – by Brian Ellsworth and Vivian Sequera (Reuters Canada – January 9, 2020)

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Thursday urged the European Union to officially label as “blood gold” the precious metal informally mined in the country’s southern jungles as he seeks to increase pressure on the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro’s government since 2016 has supported artesanal mining in the Venezuelan Amazon to bring in revenue amid an economic crisis, an effort that expanded as Washington increased sanctions meant to force the ruling Socialist Party from power.

The initiative has been criticized by environmental activists and rights groups for contaminating watersheds with mercury and fueling massacres as gangs battle for territory. Continue Reading →

Brazil Plans to Allow Mining in Amazonian Indigenous Reserves – by Simone Iglesias and Martha Beck (Bloomberg News – January 10, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — Brazil is pushing ahead with plans to allow mining in the indigenous reserves of the Amazon rain forest and will send a bill to Congress later this month to regulate the activity, according to the country’s minister for mines and energy.

The Brazilian constitution permits the extraction of raw materials from the reserves but a lack of regulation has resulted in widespread wildcat mining across the region, Bento Albuquerque, a Navy admiral, told Bloomberg News in an interview in Brasilia.

“A majority of the 600 indigenous communities want this,” he said, adding that they would be compensated for the economic exploitation of their lands. “Nothing is more damaging to the environment than illegal activity.” 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 →

Copper output slumps at Codelco, BHP’s Escondida in November – by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – January 7, 2020)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Copper output slumped at Chile’s state miner Codelco and BHP’s sprawling Escondida mine in November, according to Chile state copper agency Cochilco, amid a turbulent month of riots and mass protests that rocked the mineral-rich South American nation.

Cochilco said output at Codelco, the world’s largest copper miner, plummeted 11% in November over the same month in 2018 to 155,200 tonnes. Production at BHP’s Escondida, the globe’s largest copper mine, fell 1.5% to 103,200 tonnes.

The Collahuasi copper mine in northern Chile, a joint-venture between Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc, nonetheless saw its November production jump 9.7%, to 56,700 tonnes, the agency said. Continue Reading →

INSIGHT: Watching China’s Continuing Investment Push in Latin America – by Michael J. McGuinness (Bloomberg Law – December 23, 2019)

China has dramatically ramped up its investment in Latin America in recent years, raising speculation about its long-term interests and intentions. This conversation has taken on renewed importance in light of the trade war between China and the United States, which could irrevocably shift the complex commercial and political dynamics among the three regions.

Despite the mounting speculation and China’s economic slowdown, China remains in for the long haul in Latin America. In addition to straightforward trade pursuits, it is also advancing what it calls its “Going Global” development policy, an initiative stretching back to 1999 that promotes overseas investment by streamlining procedures, simplifying currency rules, and increasing credit support for Chinese companies investing overseas.

As investors seek to more fully understand China’s role in Latin America, they would be well advised to pay close attention to Brazil, which will play an outsized role in the relationship between China and Latin America more broadly. Continue Reading →

Lithium could help us ditch fossil fuels. But mining is messy – by Stephen Leahy (MACLEAN’S Magazine – December 17, 2019)

The essential element could help us eliminate fossil fuels. But we need to find better ways to mine it.

The world’s electrical power and transportation systems need to become fossil-fuel-free to keep climate change to less than two degrees. Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, says that transitioning to 100 per cent clean, renewable energy is entirely doable by 2050, with much in place by 2030.

“Sixty-one countries have already committed to 100 per cent renewable energy,” Jacobson told participants at an international conference that addressed the question “Can we mine our way out of the climate crisis?” this past November in Ottawa.

But the transition will demand a significant amount of metals and minerals to build the solar panels and wind turbines that will be needed to generate electricity, and make batteries for storing energy and powering vehicles. Continue Reading →

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

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)


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 →