Grupo Mexico will focus offshore if Mexico mining tax enacted – by Dorothy Kosich ( – October 29, 2013)

Greater production from Grupo Mexico’s mining division increased third-quarter base metals sales, but precious metals sales declined.

RENO (MINEWEB) – Grupo Mexico warned Monday that Mexico’s proposed 7.5% tax on mining earnings–in addition to a 0.5% tax on precious metals revenue and the elimination of the immediate deduction on exploration expenses–“will jeopardize investment in current and future projects in the sector, along with the consequent effect on jobs and infrastructure.”

“If approved, we will conclude our current investment program of US$3.5 billion for 2013 and US$1.5 billion for 2014,” said the company.

“Nevertheless, we will be obliged to re-direct our future investment program of US$5.3 billion for the coming years, which is primarily allocated to Mexico, and analyze opportunities in countries where the investment conditions are more favorable, such as the US, Canada, Peru or Chile which offer a stable tax regime with stimuli and low energy costs,” Grupo Mexico advised.

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Extent of Peruvian Amazon lost to illegal goldmines mapped for first time – by Dan Collyns (The Guardian – October 29, 2013)

Researchers have recorded a 400% increase in the area of Madre de Dios taken over by small mines from 1999 to 2012

Lima – The area affected by illegal gold mining in Peru’s south-eastern Amazon region increased by 400% from 1999 to 2012, according to researchers using state-of-the-art mapping technology.

Using airborne mapping and high-satellite monitoring, researchers led by the Carnegie Institution for Science also showed that the rate of forest loss in Madre de Dios has tripled since the 2008 global economic crisis, when the international price of gold began to rise to new highs.

Until this study, thousands of small, clandestine mines that have boomed since the economic crisis went unmonitored, according to the research team, which was led by Carnegie’s Greg Asner and worked with Peru’s environment ministry.

Crucial technological differences, such as the use of the Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (CLASlite), meant the team was able to map both large and small mining operations.

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Preventing and managing social conflict in Peru (Beyond Borders – July 2, 2013)

Beyond Borders is published by Barrick Gold Corporation:

Peru has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, driven largely by its mineral wealth and the expansion of the mining industry. Today, most major global mining companies have operations in the country, including Barrick, BHP-Billiton, Newmont, Freeport McMoran, Glencore Xstrata and others.

Increased mining sector investment and revenues have provided significant benefits to Peru’s national economy. The sector’s contribution to total government revenue averaged 14 percent between 2000 and 2010. In 2010 alone, Peru mined $18 billion worth of minerals, accounting for 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The mining boom has contributed to a marked reduction in Peru’s poverty rate to about 28 percent in 2011 from 42 percent five years earlier, according to The World Bank.

Barrick has been operating in Peru for the past 15 years and has two mines in northern Peru — Pierina and Lagunas Norte. The contribution of these operations to economic prosperity is significant. In 2012, Barrick paid nearly $400 million in taxes and royalties in Peru, and purchased approximately $340 million in goods and services in the country. Ninety-nine percent of the 1,200 Barrick employees who work at Pierina and Lagunas Norte are Peruvian nationals.

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Trading ice for gold in Chile – by Sarah Tory (Santiago Times – September 22, 2013) [Part 3 of 3] [Chile]

Part III of a three-part series on Chile’s water crisis: Melting glaciers in the Andes have dire implications and may prove a robust obstacle to future economic growth.

t the 1992 world fair in Seville, Spain, Chile’s pavilion featured a large iceberg. Some 100 tons of ice — the equivalent of 15 full-grown African elephants — were extracted from the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap and shipped across the Atlantic where they were conserved for six months during the European summer.

To the newly democratic government, the spectacle was meant to symbolize Chile’s emergence as Latin America’s success story, ready to take its place on the world stage. It was also a telling symbol of what drove Chile’s surging economy: a frenzy of digging, cutting and exporting from copper mines in the North to logging in the South.

More than two decades later, the symbol of Chile’s growth is more relevant than ever. With dwindling reserves and growing water shortages, the country’s copper mines — its economic backbone — are being squeezed by two opposing forces: financial pressure to expand and concern over environmental impacts. Now the model that was once hailed as the emblem of Chile’s success is beginning to look as unstable as a massive chunk of ice plunked down under the Mediterranean heat.

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As reservoirs shrink and farms expand, Chile’s agriculture at risk – by Rosalind Adams and Sarah Tory (Santiago Times – September 1, 2013) [Part 2 of 3] [Chile]

Part II of a three-part series on Chile’s water crisis: A combination of severe drought, climate change and overuse leaves farmers struggling to compete for a dwindling resource.

Last year the river in Petorca ran dry, leaving a dusty brown ditch running through the once fertile valley in Chile’s Valparaíso Region, home to 40 percent of the country’s avocado production.

The area, forming part of the “norte-chico” zone that starts north of Santiago and runs all the way to the southern edge of the Atacama Desert, contains some of Chile’s most important agriculture pockets. It’s also one of the driest parts of the country.

Here, almost all the rain falls over a short three month period from June to August. Over the last decade, though, the rainy season has delivered only the occasional shower. That has left the farmland in the North thirstier than ever.

In the province of Petorca, currently in the midst of a seven-year dry spell, reports of widespread “water robbing” have emerged as desperate farmers construct illegal wells to access what little remains of the water available in underground aquifers.

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In Chile’s dry north, big mining threatens a vital resource – by Rosalind Adams and Sarah Tory (Santiago Times – August 24, 2013) [Part 1 of 3] [Chile]

Part I of a three-part series on Chile’s water crisis: Amid a growing water shortage, the Huasco Valley struggles to find a balance between mining and agriculture.

Deep in Chile’s Atacama Region, Sandra Anacona makes jam from the apricots and peaches that grow on her two-acre farm, land that has been in her husband’s family for six generations. Her face wrinkled into a permanent smile, she shuffles around the kitchen preparing meals and piping-hot cups of Nescafé for the endless parade of neighbors and family who show up at her dining table.

In the Valle del Huasco, these family-run farms, clustered around small pueblos like Alto del Carmen and San Félix, are permanent fixtures: ask for directions, and people give names instead of addresses — testament to a lifestyle that has changed little in 200 years.

Formed by the river snaking between Andean peaks, the Valle del Huasco appears like a ribbon of green in one of the driest places on Earth. Defying the surrounding desert, acres of pisco grapes grow, along with mangos, oranges, papayas and avocados.

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Australia’s iron ore miners shrug off glut fears – by James Regan ( – October 15, 2013)

Rio Tinto upped annualised output of the steel-making raw material by 20% in October, while BHP Billiton and Fortescue Mining are in the midst of robust expansion work.

SYDNEY (REUTERS) – Australia’s “big three” iron ore miners are set to unveil a boost in third-quarter production and will mine even more in the fourth quarter, ignoring forecasts of a looming supply glut in favour of capturing greater economies of scale.

Rio Tinto this month upped annualised output of the steel-making raw material by 20 percent to 290 million tonnes, while BHP Billiton and Fortescue Mining are in the midst of robust expansion work.

All three already mine ore at costs well below selling prices — thanks to a combination of rich grades and high volumes — and see any dip in prices as simply weeding out less competitive rivals.

Rio Tinto, which is set to post a 3 percent rise in third-quarter output against the previous quarter to 53 million tonnes on Tuesday, is expected to announce a further mine expansion to 360 million tonnes a year by a Dec. 3 meeting with investors.

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Canadian miners caught in the middle – by Jason Fekete (Vancouver Sun – October 11, 2013)

Spying allegations latest issue facing companies working in Latin America

Allegations of Canada spying on Brazil’s mines and energy ministry could prove the latest political and economic headache for Canadian extractive companies already encountering problems operating in Latin America.

Federal government documents obtained by Postmedia News under access to information laws show Canadian companies – trying to improve a bruised reputation – face increasing political uncertainty and challenges earning “social licence” in Latin American countries such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico, even before the latest spying allegations.

The Canadian government is being accused at home and abroad of industrial espionage, following allegations the supersecret Communications Security Establishment Canada targeted the metadata of emails and phone calls to and from the Brazilian ministry of mines and energy.

Questions are also mounting about what specific information Canadian security agencies and federal officials have been sharing with Canadian energy companies during secret meetings.

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Legislation to protect Chile’s glaciers and water supplies worries important mining industry – by Associated Press (Washington Post – October 09, 2013)

SANTIAGO, Chile — Just how to define a glacier is at the heart of a Chilean congressional battle that could determine the future of mining in the world’s largest copper-producing country.

The revival of legislation to ban mining in glacial areas is spawning debate among miners, farmers and environmentalists about how to protect both vital water supplies and Chile’s mining industry. If the bill passes, mining experts fear it could shutter multibillion-dollar mining projects and slow investment.

The key will be in the fine print of whether the final bill defines glaciers as including frozen areas around them, too, and whether the protections would apply retroactively to mines already operating next to glaciers.

“If it passes as a law with tough conditions, it could harm not only the operation of current projects but also future projects,” said Juan Carlos Guajardo, head of the Chilean mining think tank CESCO. “Depending on the conditions, the scenarios would make mining activity very difficult in high mountain areas.”

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Canada, Brazil and how snoops are threatening free trade [mining espionage] – by Erica Alini (MacLean’s Magazine – October 10, 2013)

What really happened

Was a top-secret slideshow suggesting that Canada’s intelligence targeted Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry a “war game”? A fake? A completely hypothetical “paper exercise,” as Ray Boisvert, former head of counter-terrorism at CSIS, has been telling the media since the latest Snowden leak unexpectedly thrust Ottawa at the centre of a political and diplomatic spying scandal?

“I don’t buy that for a minute,” says Wesley Wark, a professor at the University of Ottawa and one of Canada’s leading experts on national security and intelligence. The slides, which surfaced for the first time in a Brazilian TV documentary last Sunday, detail “the beginning of an intelligence targeting effort” by the Communications Security Establishment Canada on Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry, according to Wark. Jeffrey Carr, founder and CEO of Seattle-based cyber security firm Taia Global, gave Econowatch much the same assessment: The slides are no simulation.

So that takes care of the first question that this bizarre Brazilian affair raises: There is one answer out there being spun by former Canadian intelligence officials and a different one give by authoritative, independent experts. It’s up to you to decide which you want to believe, but in this post, I’m going with the latter.

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UPDATE 1-Protests close world No. 2 ferronickel mine in Colombia – by Luis Jaime Acosta and Peter Murphy (Reuters India – October 10, 2013)

BOGOTA, Oct 9 (Reuters) – Cerro Matoso, the world’s No. 2 ferronickel producer owned by multinational BHP Billiton and located in Colombia, said it has temporarily shut its mine after two weeks of protests by indigenous groups, halting 4 percent of world output.

The impact of the stoppage on the nickel market is likely to be subdued amid a global surplus of nickel that has caused prices to tumble about a quarter in the last year but adds to near-constant disruption in Colombia’s mining sector this year.

The London-traded nickel contract ended 1.7 percent lower at $13,660 per tonne on Wednesday. Cerro Matoso took the decision to close its mine for workers’ safety, it said in a statement, adding that protesters were demanding “monetary indemnification”. It did not say why, merely that the dispute could only be resolved in the courts.

“This implies that from now there will be no ferronickel production or associated activities … until conditions enable the company to operate normally,” it said. A mining ministry source said the protesters were demanding compensation for alleged harm to their health from pollution caused by the open-pit project which the source said generates about $185,000 a day for the government in royalties.

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Spying allegations throw cold water on Canada’s trade and business plans in Brazil – by Stephanie Nolen (Globe and Mail – October 9, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Rio de Janeiro — All of Canada’s negotiations and new ventures with Brazil may be put on ice until there is a resolution to the question of what a Canadian spy agency was doing snooping on one of the South American country’s ministries, says a leading Brazilian expert on relations with North America.

“If they take the same position with Canada as they took with the United States [after similar revelations of spying last month] then everything will be stopped, all the major things,” said Rubens Barbosa, a former Brazilian ambassador to the United States. “The agreements, anything to do with government and the U.S., was put on hold and is still on hold and they may take the same view with Canada.”

n Sunday, the Brazilian news program Fantastico made public documents from the trove acquired by Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). They included a slide presentation that appears to show that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) was surveying the telecommunications of the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy – a revelation that has sparked outrage here.

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Vale Sees Iron-Ore Market Oversupplied From 2015 on New Capacity – by Juan Pablo Spinetto (Bloomberg News – October 7, 2013)

Vale SA, the world’s largest iron-ore producer, said supply of the steelmaking raw material is expected to grow faster than demand, reducing support for future increases in price.

Iron-ore producers may have between 5 percent and 6 percent more capacity than demand by as early as 2018 as China steel consumption slows and companies boost output, Vale’s head of Ferrous & Strategy Jose Carlos Martins told reporters in Sao Paulo yesterday. While iron-ore prices are expected to remain above $100 a metric ton, the extra supply will make prices less volatile and unlikely to repeat spikes seen previously, he said.

“We will probably start to have some surplus capacity around 2015,” Martins said at the World Steel Association’s annual congress. “Peak prices are unlikely to happen again.”

Vale, based in Rio de Janeiro, is spending almost $20 billion in its Serra Sul mine and logistics venture in Carajas, the world’s largest iron-ore complex, which is the industry’s most expensive project.

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Canada’s Brazilian spy machine makes little sense, but somebody should explain it – by Terence Corcoran (National Post – October 8, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Is the department of defence using its bureaucrats to hunt down commercial information — at a time when the world is awash in terror and other genuine security threats? That seems highly unlikely

State Capitalism Update: News today from Malaysia and Brazil, where state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are making headlines and generating fresh evidence that Canada has its hands full with the emerging global business of government business.

First to Rio de Janeiro, where an eight-minute documentary report on Brazil’s Globo TV network painted a mighty bleak picture of dark Canadian government espionage, an image that is now the focus of high-level Brazilian corporate and political agitation. Canada’s ambassador to Brazil has been called to account. Big-name Brazilian corporations — state-owned Petrobras and Electrobas, Aneel, Epe — are said to be the targets.

The eight minutes begin slow, with long shots of a massive office complex of distinctly Brazilian design overlayed with creepy music of the kind that’s now mandatory whenever TV networks need to build a story of sinister doings.

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Canada has ability to spy on Brazil, but lacks motive, security officials say – by Peter Koven and Stewart Bell (National Post – October 8, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Canadian security officials and mining companies were skeptical Monday over claims Canada had spied on Brazil’s mining and energy department, even as Brazil’s president accused Canada of apparent industrial espionage.

The Brazilian Foreign Minister summoned the Canadian ambassador to “transmit the indignation of the Brazilian government and demand explanations,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement that followed the revelations that were aired Sunday night on Brazil’s Globo network. The report said the metadata of phone calls and emails from and to the ministry were targeted by Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) to map the ministry’s communications. It didn’t indicate if emails were read or phone calls listened to.

Ray Boisvert, who was director general of counter-terrorism at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said on Monday Canada would have little reason to spy on Brazil’s mining sector. “Like any crime drama, you look for capability and intent. Could CSEC do Brazil? Of course, it has significant capability to collect intelligence in the national interest. But on motive, you come up way short. If it was Iran, nobody would be surprised. But this is Brazil,” he said. “I’m really short on motive.”

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