Archive | United States Mining

U.S. Opens Inquiry Into Uranium Imports in Sign That Trade War Is Spreading – by Ana Swanson and Brad Plumer (New York Times – July 18, 2018)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration said on Wednesday that it was starting an investigation into uranium imports, potentially opening another front in an expansive trade war that has shaken alliances with countries around the world.

Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, said the department would investigate whether imported uranium ore and related products — key ingredients in America’s nuclear arsenal, and used in power production and nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers — threatened national security.

Uranium produced domestically now fills only 5 percent of America’s needs, Mr. Ross said, down from half in 1987. The uranium inquiry is the latest of several trade-related steps the Trump administration has taken with an eye toward imposing stiff tariffs on imports. Continue Reading →

What you are getting wrong about Appalachia – by Leah Hampton (Los Angeles Times – July 18, 2018)

The history of Appalachia is one of exploitation and extraction — and dogged resistance to both. This region, my family’s home for seven generations, has literally powered American life since the 19th century. There is no song, labor union or machine built east of the Mississippi that does not arguably owe its existence to Appalachia or that at least engages with our culture and ecology.

The ecosystems of the mountain South, its uniquely influential art and its interdependent communities (particularly communities of color) have been systematically misrepresented and pillaged for centuries now. In these hills, “we’re accustomed,” says Elizabeth Catte in her debut nonfiction book, “What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia,” “to serving as passive subjects for others.”

Writers who set their work here are therefore responsible for embracing (or at least acknowledging) that history and for recognizing their own work as but a patch on a large, complex quilt, one that has been touched by both ravaging and patient hands. Continue Reading →

Guest view: Critical minerals and metals must come from Montana too – by Courtney Young (Montana Standard – July 16, 2018)

Courtney Young is a Lewis S. Prater Distinguished Professor and the department head of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at Montana Tech.

Our country has a great abundance of mineral resources used to manufacture goods of all kinds. For weapons systems and consumer electronics, the value alone is estimated at $6.2 trillion; however, because cumbersome regulations and permitting processes hamper mining, we now rely on foreign suppliers for more than half of our needs.

The situation has become so dire that various government agencies assessed our supply and demand of minerals and metals and labeled many as critical materials.

The largest share is minerals imported from China or from mines elsewhere in the world that are owned by Chinese companies. For instance, we rely on China for over 96 percent of rare earth minerals that are needed in the production of military items such as night-vision goggles, advanced radar and electronic warfare systems, and precision-guided weapons. Continue Reading →

Indonesia mine nationalization shakes top copper producer – by Jun Suzuki (Nikkei Asian Review – July 18, 2018)

JAKARTA — Indonesia’s nationalization of a major copper and gold mine formerly run by U.S. metals company Freeport-McMoRan is a win for Indonesian President Joko Widodo who has been calling for the reclamation of strategic resources. But the lack of agreement over future investments puts one of the world’s biggest sources of the red metal on shaky grounds.

According to the basic agreement reached on Thursday, Freeport and Anglo-Australian peer Rio Tinto will sell their shares in the local joint venture that runs the Grasberg mine to state-owned resources company Indonesia Asahan Aluminum, or Inalum.

Inalum will pay a combined $3.85 billion to the two companies to acquire all of Rio Tinto’s interest and lift its overall stake to 51%. Freeport will hold onto the remaining 49% stake in the operator of the mine in eastern Indonesia’s Papua province. A final deal is expected this year. Continue Reading →

Navajo Nation urges expansion of radiation exposure law (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – July 10, 2018)

SHIPROCK, N.M. — From the end of World War II to the mid-1980s, about 30 million ton of uranium ore were extracted from lands belonging to the nation’s largest American Indian reservation. Today, across the Navajo Nation, sit dozens of abandoned uranium mines and the high risk to residents of contamination exposure.

Now, the Navajo Nation is urging the U.S. Congress to expand a federal law that compensates people who were exposed to radiation resulting from nuclear bomb tests stemming from the Cold War.

Currently, the law only covers people who lived downwind from nuclear test sites in Nevada, Arizona and Utah, as well as workers in the uranium mining industry in a dozen states. But the tribe says it’s time for Navajo Nation workers after 1971 to be included. Continue Reading →

Indonesia to pay $3.85 billion for majority stake in Freeport’s Grasberg copper mine – by Wilda Asmarini and Bernadette Christina Munthe (Reuters U.S. – July 11, 2018)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia on Thursday struck an agreement with Freeport-McMoRan Inc and Rio Tinto to buy a controlling stake in the world’s second-biggest copper mine via a series of transactions valued at $3.85 billion.

The heads of agreement establishes a structure for Indonesia, through its state-owned mining holding company PT Inalum, to gain control of the Grasberg mine located in the country’s eastern province of Papua. The deal should cap years of wrangling over the rights for the site as Jakarta seeks to gain greater control over its mineral wealth.

Last August, the two sides agreed to let Freeport (FCX.N) keep operating the mine possibly until 2041 while ceding control over its local unit, PT Freeport Indonesia. Continue Reading →

Trump Tariff List Targets High-Tech Minerals That U.S. Needs (Bloomberg News – ‎July‎ ‎11‎, ‎2018‎)

Given the Trump administration’s stated aim of maintaining its advantage in manufacturing prowess over China, there are some curious inclusions on Wednesday’s list of new tariffs.

Among them are rare-earths, an esoteric collection of minerals with strange names (yttrium, praseodymium), high-tech applications and a history of scarcity. They’re used in everything from hybrid vehicles to electronic gadgets and military hardware.

China’s grip on rare-earths supply is so strong that the U.S. joined with other nations earlier this decade in a World Trade Organization case to force the nation to export more of the materials, not less, after prices spiked amid a global shortage. The WTO ruled in favor of the U.S., while prices eventually slumped as manufacturers turned to alternatives. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Beer versus aluminium; the U.S. battle-lines are drawn again – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – July 9, 2018)

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) – The price of aluminium paid by consumers in the United States has risen sharply this year. This is not entirely surprising, given the imposition from the start of March of a 10-percent tariff on just about all imports of the metal.

But has the price risen too much? The Beer Institute, which represents the country’s more than 5,000 brewers, thinks so.

It has asked the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to “address potentially anticompetitive activities in the aluminum market that are driving up aluminum prices”. Thirty-two U.S. lawmakers think so as well. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Indonesia extends permit for giant Freeport copper mine as talks continue – by Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.S.- July 4, 2018)

JAKARTA, July 4 (Reuters) – Indonesia has extended a temporary operating permit for Freeport McMoRan Inc’s Grasberg project, the world’s second-biggest copper mine, until the end of the month while discussions continue over long-term rights.

Freeport’s local unit, PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), has been given a temporary operating permit for Grasberg until July 31, Coal and Minerals Director General Bambang Gatot Ariyono told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport has been in negotiations with Indonesia to secure long-term operating rights at Grasberg after the government introduced new rules last year aimed at giving Jakarta greater control over the nation’s resources. Continue Reading →

Indonesia Says $4 Billion Grasberg Deal May Be Signed This Week – by Tassia Sipahutar (Bloomberg News – July 2, 2018)

Indonesia confirmed it’s closer to reaching an almost $4 billion agreement to take control of Freeport-McMoran Inc.’s giant Grasberg copper and gold mine after more than a year of negotiations.

Talks between state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, known as Inalum, Freeport and Rio Tinto Group have been completed and an agreement could be signed as early as this week, Indonesia’s State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno and Deputy Minister Fajar Harry Sampurno said on Saturday. On Monday, Freeport shares fell along with copper prices.

“We are finalizing the necessary documents,” Soemarno told reporters in Jakarta. “They are asking for stability in investment. They want to have documents that provide clarity in investment calculations, clarity in tax. These are all being processed.” Continue Reading →

U.S. coal industry needs ‘fundamental shift’ to fight black lung: report – by Valerie Volcovici (Reuters U.S. – June 28, 2018)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Coal companies need to make a “fundamental shift” in how they control exposure to coal dust in underground mines to address the recent surge in black lung disease rates, according to a federal report released Thursday.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report found that even though coal operators largely comply with recently tightened rules requiring monitoring for coal dust, those measures may not be sufficient.

“There is an urgent need for monitoring and sampling strategies that enable continued, actual progress to be made toward the elimination of diseases associated with coal mine dust exposure,” said Thure Cerling, a biology professor at the University of Utah who helped write the report. Continue Reading →

‘We are walking a tightrope’: US coal miners worried as Trump’s trade war sees Chinese demand for American coal dropping (South China Morning Post – June 26, 2018)

Beijing has added coal and other energy products to a list of US goods facing retaliatory import tariffs, and Chinese demand has already dampened

US coal mining companies are worried that US President Donald Trump’s intensifying trade dispute with China could hurt their booming export business, one of the ailing sector’s most important lifelines, according to industry players.

This month, Beijing added coal and other energy products to a list of US goods facing import tariffs in retaliation for Trump administration levies. The measure has already dampened Chinese demand for US-mined coal, multiple US and Chinese industry sources said.

For instance, trade sources said China National Building Material International, one of the biggest metallurgical coal importers in China, pulled back from supply talks with US coal broker XCoal and miner Consol Energy shortly after Beijing’s announcement. Continue Reading →

Copper: solid project pipeline to drive global growth (BMI Research/Mining Review Africa -June 26, 2018)

Mining Review Africa

Global copper mine production will experience steady growth over the next few years, supported by markets with low operating costs and improving copper prices. We forecast global production to increase by an average annual rate of 3.6% over 2018-2027 as several key new projects and expansions come online.

In terms of volume, we expect global copper output to climb from 20.4 Mt in 2018 to 28 Mt by 2027. Following a modest contraction in 2017 due to operational disruptions, elevated copper prices will incentivise project development, particularly in key countries such as Chile, Peru and Australia.

The Democratic Republic of Congo

The DRC’s production will maintain solid growth over the coming years, supported by continued investment, high-grade reserves and improving copper prices. We forecast the DRC’s production to increase from 1 Mt in 2018 to 1.9 Mt by 2027. Continue Reading →

To reduce China’s leverage, rebuild America’s minerals supply chain – by Mark J. Perry (The Hill – June 26, 2018)

Imagine a scenario where the U.S. is entirely dependent on a single nation for oil. You can’t. It’s inconceivable. We would never let one nation — much less a sometimes adversarial rival — dominate our supply of a critical resource. Or would we?

Astoundingly, we have. We are completely import-dependent for 21 mineral commodities, and imports account for more than half of our consumption for 50 critical minerals. Who’s our largest supplier? China.

While much of China’s resource dominance comes from domestic production, it doesn’t end at the border. Chinese companies have come to control the production of key minerals resources in nearly every corner of the world. Continue Reading →

BUILD STEEL BRIDGES NOT STEEL CAGES – by Aaron J. Brown (Hibbing Daily Tribune – June 24, 2018)

Aaron J. Brown is an author and community college instructor from Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio (

We’ve outlived our immigrant ancestors. Imprints of hungrier times remain etched on our communities, but they are easy to ignore. The fight for workplace safety and fair pay. The demand for free public education. The streets and amenities built to last beyond the mines on the edge of town. The shared humanity of the many over the tyranny of the few.

But I cannot escape a terrible notion. Transported to another time, the surnames painted in charming fashion on our Northern Minnesota cabins would have been the names on the clipboards outside the immigrant camps we read about in today’s news. Continue Reading →