Column: Mind the alumina gap as Western and Chinese prices diverge – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – October 10, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – The alumina market is currently seeing a widening gap in pricing between China and the rest of the world. Outside of China the price of the aluminium input has fallen below $300 per tonne for the first time since the second quarter of 2017.

Last year’s explosive rallies above $600 per tonne are a distant memory as the full return of the giant Alunorte refinery in Brazil stabilises supply. In China, by contrast, local prices have rallied by 10% over the last two months to a current 2,650 yuan ($365) per tonne, according to Shanghai Metal Market.

The Chinese supply chain is proving more unpredictable this year with domestic production hit by unforeseen outages, environmental curtailments and declining raw material availability. Divergence between Chinese and Western alumina prices is not new but they tend to move broadly in tandem not in completely different directions. Continue Reading →

Policy uncertainty, resource nationalism and environmental protection key themes for Asia mining (Mining.com – October 9, 2019)

https://www.mining.com/

The Asian mining landscape will continue to benefit from the availability of high-grade resources and low labour costs, but key countries with grapple with Policy uncertainty, resource nationalism and environmental protection, Fitch Solutions analysts warn.

In a recent overview of key mining themes in Asia, Fitch predicts rising geopolitical tensions and pressures to the global economy will continue to evoke volatility in commodity markets, heightening risks to metal demand and prices.

In 2020, Fitch expects risks to the Chinese economy will continue to rise, with no easy resolution to the trade dispute with the US on the horizon, which will prompt further monetary and fiscal stimulus from the government to cushion the downside pressure on growth. Continue Reading →

Cobalt, Congo and the responsible investor – by Martin Grosskope (Globe and Mail – October 10, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Martin Grosskopf is a vice-president and portfolio manager at AGF Investments Inc.

There is a dark side to a brighter, cleaner and smarter future. It starts with lithium-ion batteries that contain cobalt, the material needed to power our new technologies, giving way to the 21st century’s version of the great gold rush as global giants such as China move to wrest control of the world’s supply.

These batteries are used in everything from our smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles (EVs) and have earned the “blood batteries” moniker because they are sometimes mined by children and other locals in unsafe conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The misery in which these so-called artisanal miners work, and their rising death toll, has thrust cobalt mining in the Congo into the international spotlight. The issue is also raising vexing questions for those with an interest in responsible investing. Continue Reading →

Indian miners reject plan to link national coal index to foreign prices – by Sudarshan Varadhan (Reuters U.S. – October 10, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s miners are rejecting a government proposal to establish a national coal index that would be linked to international prices, documents reviewed by Reuters show, because it could make domestic supply uncompetitive.

India’s government is creating a coal price index as part of its plans to open the coal sector to outside investment and end state-run Coal India’s control over prices. The country plans to invite bids from global firms for coal mining blocks by the end of 2019.

A government panel has proposed one index that would link directly to foreign indexes, such as in Indonesia and Australia and a second proposal that measures the value and volume of all coal transactions, including imports, and compares them to a base period, government documents reviewed by Reuters showed. Continue Reading →

Indigenous leaders back LNG exports as a way to fight climate change – by Brent Jang (Globe and Mail – October 10, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Four First Nations in northern British Columbia are banding together to support energy exports as they work to attract economic investment in the region despite opposition from other Indigenous groups.

The elected leaders of the Haisla, Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla and Nisga’a signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on balancing their desire for economic growth with backing climate action.

Three of the four leaders unveiled the accord on Wednesday while in Vancouver attending the World Indigenous Business Forum. They presented their pro-resource views amid opposition from other First Nations, including a campaign led by eight Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who have been vocal in fighting against energy exports from the West Coast. Continue Reading →

Vale participates in mental-health campaign – by Staff (Sudbury Star – October 9, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

Vale is participating in a campaign to reduce stigmas around mental health. The Elephant in the Room initiative of Mood Disorders Society of Canada aims to break down barriers and provide support for those struggling with mental-health concerns.

Vale is a national sponsor of the organization and “continues to demonstrate commitment to raising awareness and addressing the stigma associated with mental illness within our communities and workplaces,” according to a release from Mood Disorders Society of Canada.

Vale’s Sudbury Operations will be inviting all employees who have received mental-health first aid training to support the launch of the campaign by bringing the Elephant in the Room – literally and figuratively — into the workplace in the form of a blue elephant. Continue Reading →

[Webequie FN] First Nation takes the lead on the supply road to the Ring of Fire – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – October 9, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

A First Nation community is breaking new ground is leading the environmental assessment and consultation process on a proposed short supply road to the Ring of Fire.

Webequie First Nation, the closest fly-in community to the James Bay mineral belt, is hosting a series of public information sessions in Thunder Bay this week to share information with the public about the road project and to gather feedback.

It’s part of the early stages of a larger environmental assessment (EA) process that’s underway for a planned 107-kilometre all-season road between the Webequie Airport and the area around McFaulds Lake, better known as the Ring of Fire, 535 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. Continue Reading →

Teck Resources cutting B.C. jobs after price of coal plunges (CBC News British Columbia – October 8, 2019)

https://www.cbc.ca/

Coal workers in British Columbia are bracing for leaner times. The price of metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel, has fallen by about 40 per cent since the summer and Teck Resources, which operates four mines in the province’s Elk Valley region, is warning employees there will be layoffs.

In a letter dated Sept. 26 from Robin Sheremeta, Teck’s senior vice president of coal, to all employees at the four operations, the company noted the price of coal had dropped from approximately $210 per tonne to about $130 per tonne in a few weeks.

The letter outlined Teck’s plans to save money, which include an immediate salary and hiring freeze, reduced and deferred training and job losses. Continue Reading →

French government appoints new mining delegate to French Guiana – by John Williams (Global Mining Review – October 9, 2019)

https://www.globalminingreview.com/

Columbus Gold Corp. has announced that in September the French government appointed Didier Le Moine as the new mining delegate and coordinator of mining projects in French Guiana.

Le Moine, a mining engineer, formally held the position of Director of Industry, Mines and Energy in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, where a nickel mining industry was successfully established.

Le Moine’s new mandate is to define, coordinate and implement actions for the development of a responsible mining industry in French Guiana that is compatible with France’s ecological ambitions, is respectful of the populations and generates wealth and jobs for the territory. Continue Reading →

Workers at Fura emerald mine in Colombia labor in unsafe conditions: ex-employees – by Julia Symmes Cobb (Reuters U.S. – October 9, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

COSCUEZ, Colombia (Reuters) – Workers at the Colombian emerald mine run by Canada’s Fura Gems’ – the first publicly-traded emerald miner operating in the South American nation – have been laboring in unsafe conditions and sometimes lack basic safety equipment, according to four former employees.

Fura set out early last year to revive production at the fabled, four-century-old Coscuez mine, once the Andean country’s largest producer of the gem.

The Toronto-based company promised to operate by the book in a province known for organized crime and dangerous wildcat mining but the sources – who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals – said it had been falling short. Continue Reading →

Iamgold Sale Stalls as Chinese Bidders’ Talks Fail – by Vinicy Chan, Harry Brumpton and Scott Deveau (Bloomberg News – October 9, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The sale of Iamgold Corp. has stalled after the mid-tier Canadian gold miner failed to reach an agreement with several Chinese suitors, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Chinese gold producers including China National Gold Group Corp., Shandong Gold Mining Co. and Zijin Mining Group Co. had all shown interest in Iamgold, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. But discussions stumbled over price as well as concerns related to ongoing Sino-Canada political tensions, the people said.

Though talks have stalled, it’s still possible a suitor may re-enter with a better offer, according to one of the people. The Canadian company could also decide to pursue other options, such as selling a stake in its Cote project, the people said. Representatives for Iamgold, China National Gold, Shandong Gold and Zijin Mining declined to comment. Continue Reading →

Editorial: Funds demand more tailings transparency – by Trish Saywell (Northern Miner – October 8, 2019)

Global mining news

Less than a week after the Jan. 25 tailings dam collapse at Vale’s Feijao iron ore mine in Brazil that killed 251 people and left 19 missing, the Church of England Pensions Board, along with Sweden’s Public Pension Funds Council, Dutch funds APG and Robeco, New Zealand Super, the U.K.’s LGPS Central and Canada’s BMO Global Asset Management — together representing over US$1.3 trillion in assets — jointly called for a global independent public classification system that would monitor the safety risk of tailings dams.

The Church of England Pensions Board estimates there are 18,000 tailings storage facilities (TSFs) worldwide, 3,500 of which are active, but says there is no consolidated public register of them. “Without a global register, the precise scale of the risks are not clear, nor is it clear which company has responsibility for which facilities,” it says.

“This proposal will drive a new level of accountability and transparency within the mining sector,” Adam Matthews, director of Ethics and Engagement for the Church of England Pensions Board, stated on Jan. 31. “Simply put, these failures of tailings dams should not be happening. These are not black-swan events.” Continue Reading →

Hunt for Palladium Riches Sends South African Miners Abroad – by Felix Njini (Bloomberg News – October 8, 2019)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — Southern Africa is home to the world’s richest platinum deposits, but when Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. pondered how to invest its windfall profits it chose North America instead.

The acquisition of North American Palladium Ltd. is partly a bet on platinum’s sister metal palladium continuing to rally, while Implats Chief Executive Officer Nico Muller has also stressed the appeal of a relatively quick payback from low-cost, mechanized assets. However, the deal is also a geopolitical play as the Johannesburg-based miner seeks to balance exposure to its more volatile home region.

“The diversification into North America provides a hedge against some of the socio-economic, political and structural risks the company faces in South Africa and Zimbabwe,” said Christopher Nicholson, an analyst at RMB Morgan Stanley. Continue Reading →

China And The U.S. Fight Over Australian Rare Earths – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – October 9, 2019)

https://www.forbes.com/

The U.S. hunt for future supplies of rare earths and other critical minerals has led Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to Australia this week where he might not get the reception he was expecting.

China is not only well entrenched in the Australian mining industry but an academic paper released to coincide with Ross’s visit suggest that China could be a more reliable source of project development capital for new mining projects.

Published by the United States Studies Center at the University of Sydney the paper’s theme was whether there was scope for government intervention in rare earths, an industry dominated by China but important to many countries because rare earth elements have unique properties. Continue Reading →

Stunning photos show what it’s really like to work deep underground in an American coal mine – by James Pasley (Business Insider – October 5, 2019)

https://www.businessinsider.com/

Coal mining is dark, dirty, and dangerous work. It’s not for everyone — it’s for the few who love to descend into the bowels of the Earth to extract “black gold.” Even as they face the risk of mines collapsing, or catching on fire, or the long term health threats like black lung.

As Curtis Burton, who spent the last 17 years working in or for coal mines in Pennsylvania, told Business Insider, coal mining is a hard job, but it’s also entirely unique. “Every day you’re seeing a part of the earth nobody else is seeing ever,” he said.

Coal currently fuels just under 40% of the world’s electricity. It’s the most polluting fossil fuel, but it’s also cheap and relatively plentiful. In the US, natural gas and renewables are replacing it as the top energy sources, even as President Donald Trump has promised to bring coal mining back. Continue Reading →