Archive | Zinc, Lead and Tin

Hudbay Minerals’ exit from historic Manitoba mining town puts 800 jobs in peril – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – November 30, 2018)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Hudbay Minerals Inc. says it will close its mine in Flin Flon, Man. in 2021, ending hopes it would maintain a threadbare workforce in the town where it employed more than 800 people.

In a memo this week, Robert Assabgui, vice-president of Hudbay’s Manitoba Business Unit, told employees the company had hoped to keep the zinc plant operational, but can’t find enough ore to make it feasible.

“Despite a lot of work over the past few years, the most likely scenario is that mining operations will cease in Flin Flon in 2021,” Assabgui wrote in the memo, also sent to the Financial Post. “As a result, the Flin Flon mill will also cease operations.” Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Zinc market enters period of peak tightness – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – November 20, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – The London zinc market is experiencing unprecedented tightness this week. As of Monday’s close, the London Metal Exchange’s (LME) benchmark cash-to-three-months spread CMZN0-3 was valued at a backwardation of $97 per tonne.

The cash premium is now higher than the last spike in October 2017 with the only historical comparison the years 2006-2007, when LME stocks were also super low and the outright price hit an all-time high of $4,580 per tonne. Fast forward a decade and the LME three-month price is currently treading water around $2,600, a long way off its February high of $3,600 per tonne.

This dissonance between spreads and price is a manifestation of the greater financialisation of the zinc market over the intervening decade with fund money a more powerful price driver. And funds have been playing zinc from the short side since February, catching the unwary in a biting bear trap. Continue Reading →

PHOTOS: Dust And Danger For Adults — And Kids — In Bolivia’s Mines – by Jake Harper (KNPR.org – November 17, 2018)

https://knpr.org/

Working in Bolivia’s mines is a family business. That’s what Italian photographer Simone Francescangeli saw when he traveled to the city of Potosí of about 250,000 to document the daily lives of miners.

They’re part of a centuries-old enterprise to extract silver, tin, zinc and gold from the mountains. He was struck by the harsh and sometimes dangerous conditions the miners work in — and by the number of children he saw working in the mines. Some were teenagers. One youngster said he was 11 years old.

In Potosí, many children work in mines, often joining their fathers or other family members in the tunnels when they’re not in school, says Andrea Marston, a researcher at University of California, Berkeley who studies Bolivian mining cooperatives. The money they earn allows them to play a part in supporting their families. Continue Reading →

In EV era, Brookfield and Caisse place $13-billion bet on conventional car battery maker – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – November 14, 2018)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Electric vehicles will make up 15 per cent of all auto sales in a decade — that still leaves 85 per cent of the market to traditional cars

The rapid growth of the electric vehicle industry may be drawing headlines, but when it comes to drawing major investments, the internal combustion engine remains on solid footing.

In a deal that highlights the breadth of the traditional automotive industry, two Canadian investment funds on Tuesday announced a US$13.2-billion deal to purchase the leading global manufacturer of lead-acid batteries.

Toronto-based asset manager Brookfield Business Partners and pension manager Caisse de dêpôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) along with other investors will jointly acquire 100 per cent of Ireland-based Johnson Controls’ automotive business — which shipped 154 million automotive lead-acid batteries in 2017. Continue Reading →

The EPA Can’t Wait to Reopen the Mine That Poisoned North Idaho – by Peter Waldman (Bloomberg News – November 12, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The Bunker Hill Mine deposited 75 million tons of toxic sludge in Lake Coeur d’Alene, and the lead and zinc are still flowing.

For a century, the mines of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in North Idaho produced much of the heavy metals that made the U.S. a global superpower. Starting in the 1880s, through the rise of industrialization, the introduction of the automobile, and two world wars, a few narrow canyons in the Coeur d’Alenes yielded more than 11 million tons of zinc, lead, and silver, as much as a fifth of U.S. production.

Mining has left a mark on the culture of the Silver Valley and an indelible stain on the landscape, which remains heavily contaminated. To extract a pound of metal, mining companies had to process nearly 14 pounds of ore, and they dumped the crushed waste rock into mountain streams and along river banks.

Over the course of a century, the tailings and mine drainage flowed down the 40-mile-long watershed, depositing some 75 million tons of highly toxic sludge into Lake Coeur d’Alene. House cats convulsed from drinking the water. Continue Reading →

Cheers, tears as historic smelter from Magma Mine demolished in Superior – by Ryan Randazzo (Arizona Republic – November 10, 2018)

https://www.azcentral.com/

Cheers erupted at 8:46 a.m. Saturday in Superior after the historic copper smelter stack from the Magma Mine crashed to the ground. But the cheers only came because the controlled demolition offered such a spectacle. Many of the people lined up along the streets watching the destruction were sad to see the 293-foot brick stack fall.

Even though smoke hasn’t wafted from the top of the stack since 1971, the 94-year-old smelter about 60 miles east of downtown Phoenix was a symbol of the region’s mining heritage, and had sentimental value for those who lived and worked in Superior.

That includes Larry Palacio, a Gilbert retiree who spent more than 21 years working at the Magma Mine after he graduated from Superior High School in 1955. “I did just about everything,” he said, standing along Main Street waiting for the warning sirens before explosions that caused the stack to topple. “I was a mucker, mechanic, worked the cage.” Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Zinc market tightness confounds bearish expectations – by Andy Home (Reuters Africa – October 24, 2018)

https://af.reuters.com/

LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) – The refined zinc market looks super tight. London Metal Exchange zinc spreads are stressed, with the cash-to-three-months premium CMZN0-3 hitting a one-year high of $63 per tonne earlier this week.

LME stocks are low, at just 99,900 tonnes excluding metal earmarked for physical load-out. It’s the same story in Shanghai. Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) zinc spreads are also in backwardation, while the premium for metal in bonded warehouses shot to multi-year highs in September.

ShFE stocks have rebuilt slightly since the start of the month to 53,500 tonnes. But that’s still well short of the 160,000 tonnes that were there as recently as April. Continue Reading →

Teck Resources profit slumps as prices drop, costs climb – by Susan Taylor (Reuters U.K. – October 25, 2018)

https://uk.reuters.com/

TORONTO (Reuters) – Diversified miner Teck Resources Ltd, the world’s second-biggest exporter of steel-making coal, reported lower-than-expected third-quarter earnings on Thursday, hit by declining commodity prices and higher costs.

A number of one-time events also weighed on the quarter, including delayed zinc sales and higher costs at the Trail smelter due to forest fire smoke, adding up to C$58 million ($44.39 million), TD Securities analyst Greg Barnes said in a note.

Strong steel-making coal sales in the quarter would have “significantly” exceeded Teck’s forecast of 6.8 million tonnes, the company said, but logistics issues at Westshore Terminals delayed delivery of approximately 250,000 tonnes of the material, worth some C$55 million in revenue. Continue Reading →

LMEWEEK-Macro disquiet drowns out signs of base metals shortages – by Eric Onstad (Reuters U.K. – October 4, 2018)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Uncertainty about how metals demand will be hit by trade wars, rising U.S. interest rates and a slowdown in China is weighing on industrial metals prices, submerging signals pointing to potential shortages.

The index of copper and five other top industrial metals traded on the London Metal Exchange has shed 11 percent this year while prices for the worst-performing metals, zinc and lead, have tumbled by about a fifth.

But as speculators pile on bearish positions and investors flee from the metals market during tit-for-tat trade volleys, signs of metals shortfalls are building. Continue Reading →

How Zinc Batteries Could Change Energy Storage – by Ivan Penn (New York Times – September 26, 2018)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Making the batteries rechargeable and lowering their cost are seen as important advances in enabling the electric grid to depend on power from renewable sources.

Over the past six years, 110 villages in Africa and Asia received their power from solar panels and batteries that use zinc and oxygen. The batteries are the basis of an innovative energy storage system created by NantEnergy, a company owned by Patrick Soon-Shiong, a biotech entrepreneur and surgeon originally from South Africa.

Thomas Edison tried to develop batteries made with zinc 100 years ago. But he did not figure out how to make them technologically viable. NantEnergy says its zinc air batteries are the first to become commercially available.

Scientists at NantEnergy said they had achieved two key goals: to make the batteries rechargeable, and to lower their cost for energy storage to $100 per kilowatt-hour. That is a figure that some people in the industry have said is essential to creating a carbon-free electric grid that operates even when the sun is down and the wind abates. Continue Reading →

Appeals court sides with Colville Tribe against Canadian mining company for polluting Upper Columbia River – by Agueda Pacheco-Flores (Seattle Times – September 25, 2018)

https://www.seattletimes.com/

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court decision finding a Canadian company is liable for polluting the Upper Columbia River in a hard-fought lawsuit between the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the largest lead and zinc mining company in the world.

In a 55-page opinion issued Sep. 14, federal appellate court judges Ronald M. Gould, Richard A. Paez, and Michael J. McShane upheld a district-court decision that U.S. federal courts do have jurisdiction to find Teck Resources Ltd. (formerly Teck Cominco Metals) liable for polluting the river for close to a century.

The ruling upheld a lower court order for the company to reimburse the Colville tribe $8.25 million — $3.39 million the tribe paid to investigate the river’s pollution, plus $4.86 million in attorney fees and costs. The company must also pay $344,300 in prejudgment interest, bringing the total to nearly $8.6 million. Continue Reading →

Nyrstar profit warning highlights zinc’s disconnects – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – September 24, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Belgian zinc producer Nyrstar issued a profits warning last week, citing “adverse market conditions”. The company, which last year produced over a million tonnes of refined zinc, is feeling the pain from the dramatic price collapse of the last six months.

London Metal Exchange (LME) zinc hit an 11-year high of $3,595.50 per ton in February. It is currently trading at $2,525 after touching a two-year low of $2,283 in August.

Retreat turned into rout as zinc got caught up in the broader LME sell-off, speculative players using the base metals complex to vent their trade war angst. The resulting price implosion has opened up a disconnect with zinc’s internal supply-demand dynamics. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Trade wars will weigh on already struggling tin – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – September 20, 2018)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Tin has been spared the volatility afflicting the rest of the industrial metals over the past month. The London contract is too illiquid to attract the attention of many of the speculative players who have been hammering the likes of copper as a proxy for their negative view on global manufacturing growth.

But tin hasn’t been spared completely. The London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month price sank to a two-year low of $18,300 a tonne in August and is still hovering close to that level at $18,900.

Tin has been the weakest performer in the LME base metals pack for some time. It is down more than 10 percent since the start of 2017. Copper, by contrast, is still up 10 percent despite all the recent fund selling. Continue Reading →

Remnant strategy could extend 777 lifespan: Hudbay – by Eric Westhaver (Flin Flon Reminder – August 29, 2018)

https://www.thereminder.ca/

Hudbay is proposing a new strategy that could extend the life of Flin Flon’s main mine. The strategy includes pursuing reserves with remnants, or small pockets of ore found underground.

“They are spread out, smaller in size and more expensive to extract than the ore that is being mined right now,” said Scott Brubacher, Hudbay director of corporate communications.

The 777 Mine is currently slated to end production in 2021, but the remnants strategy has become one of the company’s main hopes for extending the mine past 2021. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Is the metals rout signal or noise? The zinc perspective – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – August 16, 2018)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – The London Metal Exchange (LME) base metals markets were a scene of carnage on Wednesday. The LME Index (.LMEX), a basket of the exchange’s six core contracts, slumped by almost four percent in a single day.

The bloodbath is part and parcel of the turmoil playing out across the financial market spectrum. But industrial metals find themselves at the epicenter of investors’ fears about global, particularly Chinese, growth and escalating trade tensions. A rising dollar and a falling yuan simply reinforce the macro negativity.

If Doctor Copper and his metallic friends are to be believed, global manufacturing is heading for a cliff-edge. But should we believe them? Those analysts that track the complex are not convinced. Continue Reading →