Archive | Latin America Mining

Codelco’s lithium push fades in favor of copper – by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero (Reuters Canada – March 5, 2019)

https://ca.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – With the global race to secure lithium heating up in 2016, Chile’s president Michelle Bachelet wanted to be sure her country seized the moment. Home to half the world’s lithium reserves, Chile tapping its state-run miner Codelco to ramp up production seemed a sure bet.

Chile’s most trusted public enterprise, she said, could hunt for private partners to help it mine its own lithium for the good of all Chileans, and take part in the global boom for the battery metal used to power electric vehicles.

A review of regulatory filings, court documents and interviews with Codelco officials shows the strategy was deeply troubled from the start. Dwindling support inside Codelco to prioritize lithium projects over copper, company insiders said, was compounded by legal and regulatory hurdles that stalled development of the company’s two flagship salt flats known as Pedernales and Maricunga. Continue Reading →

Chile set to revive its dormant cobalt sector (Resource World – March 4, 2019)

http://resourceworld.com/

Already a major producer of copper and lithium, Chile is gearing up to join the electromobility revolution by reviving its dormant cobalt sector.

During an interview with Resource World Magazine, Chilean Mines Minister Baldo Prokurica said the ultimate goal is for Chile to become a supplier of lithium ion batteries to the global auto sector

In order to achieve that goal, Chile is hoping to become a producer of cobalt in the near future, a move that would enhance the Latin American country’s ability to supply so-called battery metals, including lithium and copper, which are vital ingredients in the production of mobile consumer devices and electric vehicles. Continue Reading →

Mining activists storm PDAC during sustainability talk (Mining Journal – March 4, 2019)

https://www.mining-journal.com/

The mining industry is constantly striving to balance evolving stakeholder and shareholder expectations, but calamitous environmental disasters such as Vale’s latest tailings dam burst in Brazil, can massively set back those efforts.

It was therefore imperative for the industry to innovate and look at new ways to create stronger social contracts and pursue technological advances to ensure mines of the future achieve permitting and development, a PDAC 2019 panel session on sustainable mining practices heard this week.

“We need to start building mines we the people want to look at. We need to better strike a balance between growth and green imperatives,” Environmental Resources Management global head Louise Pearce said in Toronto.

The measured panel discussion stood in stark contrast to events outside the convention centre where Toronto-based nongovernmental organisation Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and MiningWatch Canada led a demonstration against Vale and the PDAC on Monday. The group wanted to draw attention to what they called “Vale’s crimes” and the “PDAC’s complicity”. Continue Reading →

Vale’s CEO, other executives, to step down after Brazil dam burst – by Marta Nogueira and Gram Slattery (Reuters U.S. – March3, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA Chief Executive Fabio Schvartsman and several other senior executives resigned on Saturday in what the company described as a temporary move, after one of its mining dams burst in January, killing hundreds.

Vale said Schvartsman offered his resignation, which the board “immediately accepted” after state and federal prosecutors recommended their removal late on Friday.

The move comes slightly over a month after a tailings dam broke at Vale’s Corrego do Feijao mine in the interior Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, likely killing over 300 people and releasing massive amounts of toxic sludge. Continue Reading →

Brazil Senate okays dam safety bill after Vale disaster kills hundreds – by Jake Spring (Reuters U.S. – February 27, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian Senate committees on Wednesday passed a bill to tighten dam safety in the country, after a mining dam owned by Vale SA burst and killed an estimated 300 people in the town of Brumadinho.

The legislation, which tightens safety regulations on all types of dams, is similar to a regulation bill that failed to gain traction three years ago.

It will now pass to the lower house for consideration, provided Senators do not file an appeal within five working days, which would require it to go to a vote of the full chamber. Continue Reading →

Rattled by Vale disaster, mining CEOs move to change industry – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.K. – February 26, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Reuters) – After last month’s deadly tailings dam disaster at a Vale SA facility in Brazil, Freeport-McMoRan Inc Chief Executive Richard Adkerson sent a memo to his 29,000 employees telling them to immediately report any safety concerns about the scores of dams his company operates.

The disaster, which killed more than 300, has sparked a push to set global standards for the construction and inspection of tailings dams, which store the muddy detritus of the mining process, as well as emergency preparations. The move reflects a radical departure from the way the facilities have operated for more than a century.

Freeport, the world’s largest publicly traded copper producer, spends several hundred millions of dollars per year on tailings dams upkeep and has not had a tailings dam failure since it acquired Phelps Dodge in 2007. Adkerson’s directive underscored his desire not to blemish that record. Continue Reading →

Brazilian iron ore supply disruptions to be expected – Report – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud (Mining.com – February 24, 2019)

http://www.mining.com/

Excluding Vale (NYSE:VALE), close to 8 million tonnes of seaborne iron ore supply from Brazil is at risk in 2019, a report by Wood Mackenzie states.

According to the market analyst, such a supply disruption would be the result of the new regulation published by Brazil’s National Mining Agency or ANM, which establishes the ban of all dams in the country built with the upstream method.

Based on the new law, companies holding such structures will have six months to present a technical decommissioning project and until August 15, 2021, and August 15, 2023, to fully conclude deactivation processes of inactive and active dams, respectively.

WoodMac reached the conclusion of the supply hitch after analyzing all 226 iron ore tailings dams that the South American country has. Continue Reading →

Opinion: Brazil’s Brumadinho is Vale’s Worst Nightmare – by Michael Royster (Rio Times – February 25, 2019)

Rio Times

The former poster child for privatization now faces receivership or even bankruptcy, as neither government officials nor investors in the market will forgive it for those 300 lost lives.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brumadinho is a municipality south of Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, where some 12 million cubic meters of iron ore tailings were impounded — until late last month when the “Feijão” dam broke, with catastrophic consequences — estimates are that some 300 lives have been lost.

Vale S.A., once known as Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) but now universally called simply “Vale”, is a mining behemoth, the world’s largest producer of iron ore. Much of its production of iron ore is in Minas Gerais, where it has dozens of mines.

Mariana is a municipality near historic Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais, where in November 2015 some 62 million cubic meters of impounded iron ore tailings were released when the dam broke. This disaster caused the loss of nineteen lives, along with immense ecological damage to the Rio Doce, Vale’s namesake river. Vale was a fifty percent owner of Samarco, the company whose tailings dam failed. Continue Reading →

Vale: Swedish funds cut mining giant from portfolios after dam collapse – by Rachel Fixsen and Nick Reeve (IPE.com – February 21, 2019)

https://www.ipe.com/

Swedish state pension buffer fund AP1 has begun selling SEK407m (€38.6m) worth of equities and bonds of Brazilian mining company Vale, after the AP Funds’ Council on Ethics recommended the exclusion the company from the AP funds’ portfolios.

The recommendation follows the fatal collapse of a tailings dam at one of its mining facilities in Brumadinho, Brazil, last month.

The council said it was recommending AP1, AP2, AP3 and AP4 exclude Vale because the council had lost confidence in the firm, adding that it could be linked to violations of three major international conventions. Continue Reading →

Copper and Lithium Giant Squeezing Water Rights for Miners – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – February 21, 2019)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — In a belated response to falling fresh-water levels in desert areas, Chile is moving to protect a natural resource that has been depleted after decades of mining activity.

With complaints from local communities rising and the effects of climate change worsening, the world’s largest copper producer is planning to implement measures that will make it more difficult for miners to pump fresh water.

Chile’s water authority DGA will more than double the number of so-called prohibition areas across the country this year to at least 70 from 30, according to general director Oscar Cristi. No new licenses can be awarded within prohibition zones and any extension to existing permits will need to be approved by environmental authorities. Continue Reading →

Brazil’s Deadly Dam Collapse Could Force the Mining Industry to Change – by Danielle Bochove, Laura Millan Lombrana and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – February 20, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The mining dam collapse that killed at least 169 in Brazil last month, with 141 still missing, was by no means an isolated incident. There’ve been at least 50 dam failures globally in just the last decade, according to one tally, with 10 considered major.

For years the industry has depended on these dams to contain the sometimes toxic, often dangerous, waste from mining. But the latest failure, which could end up as the deadliest in more than half a century, has the industry struggling to contain the consequences.

On Feb. 19, BHP Group Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie, citing the need for a “nuclear level of safety,” said his company would welcome an international and independent body to oversee the integrity of all the dams. Continue Reading →

Brazil Bans Upstream Mining Dams After Vale’s Latest Disaster -by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – February 18, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Brazil is prohibiting a specific type of tailings dam after two of those structures owned by miner Vale SA burst in recent years, causing death and environmental devastation.

All so-called upstream dams need to be decommissioned or removed by August 2021, according to a resolution the National Mining Agency, or ANM, published on Monday in the nation’s official gazette. Dam owners have until Aug. 15 to complete a technical plan for the dams, which at a minimum need to include reinforcing existing structures or building new retention structures.

In the most recent accident, a dam at Vale’s Feijao mine burst on Jan. 25, unleashing a torrent of mining waste that killed at least 169 people and contaminated rivers in Minas Gerais state. Continue Reading →

Tycoons tell Mexico’s president that unions ‘extorting’ businesses – by (Reuters U.K. – February 18, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A group representing some of Mexico’s biggest companies told left-wing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday that politicians should resist “extortion” by labour unions after strikes and blockades in recent weeks.

Alejandro Ramirez, president of the Mexican Business Council, said strikes at factories in the northern state of Tamaulipas and blockades of railways by a teachers union had caused more than a billion dollars in losses and could cause businesses to close.

Members of the group, including Mexico’s second-richest man, German Larrea, who controls mining and transport conglomerate Grupo Mexico, were critics of Lopez Obrador before his July 1 election, warning voters should be wary of populism. Continue Reading →

The Mining Industry’s Waste Problem Will Only Get Worse – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – February 19, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

To avoid another disaster like Vale’s, companies need to invest in better disposal methods. That’s going to get harder in the coming decades.

It’s taken two tragedies in just over three years, but the mining industry is finally starting to clean up its act. Brazil’s government Monday announced plans to ban upstream tailings dams, a low-cost method of storing mining waste implicated in last month’s Brumadinho disaster and the similar Samarco collapse in 2015.

Something of the sort was already on the cards: State-controlled Vale SA, operator or joint-operator of both facilities, is already decommissioning all of its dams that use the technology. Chile, where earthquakes pose a particular threat to the stability of tailings ponds, banned upstream dams in 1970. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold Faces Challenges to Develop Latin America Mines – by Danielle Bochove and Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – February 15, 2019)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg) — Just seven weeks into the job, Barrick Gold Corp.’s new boss has already discovered, first hand, the challenges of developing and mining giant deposits in Latin America.

Barrick’s main project, the Veladero joint venture with Shandong Gold in Argentina, isn’t performing like a tier one asset, Mark Bristow said on Wednesday.

In 2019, Veladero is expected to have the highest cost per ounce in Barrick’s portfolio. He also cited projects in the El Indio belt straddling the Argentina-Chile border, and Alturas in Chile, as high-cost efforts. Continue Reading →