Adani reaches crunch time over its $16.5b Carmichael mine – by Mark Ludlow (Australian Financial Review – February 21, 2018)

After eight years of delays and uncertainty, Indian energy giant Adani is approaching crunch time on its controversial $16.5 billion Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland.

Adani Australia’s chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj – known in the industry as “JJ” – late last year set a March 31 deadline for the company to find the remaining funds for the $6.7 billion first stage of the mega-mine, which would be the largest open-cut coal mine in Australia.

The March deadline looks like it will not be met as the company scrambles to convince banks to help fill a funding shortfall to get the project over the line. Either way time is running out for the Indian energy giant as the political environment turns against the project. Continue Reading →

First Nation, mining company announce partnership – by Alexandra Paul (Winnipeg Free Press – February 20, 2018)

A remote Manitoba First Nation has made history by partnering up with a mining company to explore diamond claims staked in the Oxford Lake area.

There’s only an outside chance the deal between Altius Resources Inc. and Manitoba’s Bunibonibee Cree Nation will lead to a new mining source for diamonds, but its chief and the lawyers who mediated the agreement with Altius say the deal breaks ground even if there’s never enough diamonds to open up a mine.

“It is very historic. It is, we believe, the first of its kind in Manitoba. It sets out the conditions for acquiring the First Nation’s consent. Which means the company has acquired it, but has done so on a whole series of protection and compensatory measures that are sufficient for the First Nation,” said Kate Kempton, counsel for the First Nation at the Toronto-based law firm Olthuis, Kleer and Townshend. Continue Reading →

Newmont-Barrick Race for Top Gold Crown Comes Down to a Decimal – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – February 21, 2018)

Gold geeks will have to wait for Newmont Mining Corp. to disclose one more decimal place to see if it overtook Barrick Gold Corp. as the world’s biggest bullion producer.

On Wednesday, the Greenwood Village, Colorado-based company said it produced 5.3 million ounces of gold last year, essentially tying the output of Toronto-based Barrick, which last week reported 5.32 million ounces.

Whether that’s enough for it to squeak ahead of Barrick depends on the rounding. A spokesman for Newmont, Omar Jabara, said the more precise number will be given Thursday when the company posts fourth-quarter earnings and updates its production guidance. Continue Reading →

Global mining giants may enter India as coal sector opened up for private firms (Nikkei Asian Review – February 21, 2018)

Coal India’s monopoly to end as New Delhi lifts four-decades of curbs

MUMBAI (NewsRise) — India’s move to open up commercial coal mining to private firms is set to lure foreign giants such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto that have long been waiting to gain a toehold in the world’s third-largest producer of the fuel.

The decision to scrap the four-decade-long curbs on private firms will also end the dominance of state-owned Coal India to mine and sell the fuel in the country.

On Tuesday, India’s Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said the allocation of mines would be through auctions, in which local and foreign private companies can bid without end-use or price restrictions. Revenue from the auction of coal blocks would go to states, he said. Continue Reading →

MARVEL TO BEHOLD: Black Panther’s Lesson for Cobalt – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – February 21, 2018)

The battery material used in electric cars is no vibranium.

An isolated African nation possesses unique deposits of a rare and valuable metal. Its leaders aim to nationalize mineral wealth, while a white South African trader seeks a more vigorous export market. Inevitably, resources bring tragedy as well as triumph. With great power comes great responsibility.

If that sounds like the plot of the current box-office smash Black Panther, it has a real-world echo. The Democratic Republic of Congo has an endowment of cobalt scarcely less outsized than the fictional Wakanda’s reserves of vibranium.

With the rise of electric vehicles forecast to increase demand for the battery material more than fourfold and cobalt prices tripling over the past two years, the paralysed, election-dodging government in Kinshasa is weighing a 150 percent increase in mining royalties. Continue Reading →

Mining company working with environmentalists to clean up old mining sites – by Christine Coulter (CBC News British Columbia – February 20, 2018)

‘What we are trying to do is remove any possible pollutants,’ says Salmo Watershed Streamkeepers coordinator

Calgary-based mining company Margaux Resources has announced a plan to clean up old tailings sites by using new mining technologies to extract the remaining minerals.

Tailings have long been known to cause environmental damage including loss of animal habitats and contamination of soil, groundwater and waterways.

Margaux has partnered with the Salmo Watershed Sreamkeepers Society — a non-profit engaged in protecting and maintaining the Salmo River in southeastern B.C.— for the remediation project. Continue Reading →

Athabasca exploration juniors reveal voluminous resource increases – by Henry Lazenby ( – February 20, 2018)

VANCOUVER ( – Junior explorer Fission Uranium has reported an increase of about 30% in the total compliant indicated and inferred resources at its flagship Triple R deposit, in North-Western Saskatcewan.

The Kelowna, British Columbia-based company on Tuesday said the resource estimate for the Triple R deposit now spans the R1515W, R840W, R00E, R780E and R1620E zones, and essentially doubled the inferred resource by some 95%, while the amount of pounds of uranium in the indicated resource rose 8%.

TSX-listed Fission noted that the increase in the indicated resource is mainly owing to infill drilling on the R780E zone, while the increase in the inferred resource is attributable to the discovery and delineation of the R1620E, R840W, and R1515W zones. Continue Reading →

Copper stocks look better than gold as commodity prices rise – by Jonathan Ratner (Ottawa Citizen – February 20, 2018)

The risk for gold producers and any late cycle development projects is they are ‘caught on the back foot’

Commodity prices have finally risen to the point that miners can start new development projects, but the rally in metals prices also brings higher costs for producers.

Both operating and capital costs tend to climb sharply during cyclical rallies for metals. However, some companies have proven more adept than others at generating returns in the face of this challenge.

Stephen D. Walker, head of global mining research at RBC Capital Markets, found that returns on invested capital (ROIC) for base metals companies exceeded those of gold miners during the recent commodity cycle. Continue Reading →

Glencore hails strongest full-year results after commodity rally – by Barbara Lewis and Arathy S Nair (Reuters U.K. – February 21, 2018)

LONDON/BENGALURU (Reuters) – Glencore Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg hailed the group’s results as its “strongest on record” on Wednesday, bolstered by a recovery on commodity markets and said it had the assets to meet future demand including from electric vehicles.

In line with other miners reporting this month, Glasenberg said there were “emerging inflationary pressures,” but they had been offset so far by strong prices for byproducts, such as cobalt, and Glencore was able to contain costs.

Glencore’s shares rose around 4 percent by 1045 GMT, outperforming the broader index. After outstripping its rivals last year, Glencore’s share price has lagged in 2018, hit by concerns about instability in Democratic Republic of Congo where it has major operations. Continue Reading →

Apple in Talks to Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners – by Jack Farchy and Mark Gurman (Bloomberg News – February 21, 2018)

Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter, seeking to ensure it will have enough of the key battery ingredient amid industry fears of a shortage driven by the electric vehicle boom.

The iPhone maker is one of the world’s largest end users of cobalt for the batteries in its gadgets, but until now it has left the business of buying the metal to the companies that make its batteries.

The talks show that the tech giant is keen to ensure that cobalt supplies for its iPhone and iPad batteries are sufficient, with the rapid growth in battery demand for electric vehicles threatening to create a shortage of the raw material. About a quarter of global cobalt production is used in smartphones. Continue Reading →

Why Indian Aluminium Firms Are Banking on Clusters – by Special India Correspondent (Aluminium Insider – February 21, 2018)

Leading Indian aluminium companies are turning to the cluster model to tap downstream investments and diversify aluminium applications in the country.

Both state run entities National Aluminium Company (Nalco) and Vedanta Ltd, the Indian arm of London listed metals conglomerate Vedanta Resources Plc, are developing aluminium parks to offer a conducive ecosystem to players in the downstream space.

To lure the downstream industries, both primary aluminium producers are offering a suite of incentives ranging from discounted molten aluminium supplies to concessional land plots at the parks. India’s aluminium growth story is robust. Between 2015 and 2016, the country’s total aluminium consumption expanded by 18.75 per cent, riding on increased offtake in the electrical, transportation and construction sectors. Continue Reading →

Sale of $5bn lithium stake to test electric car hype – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – February 17, 2018)

PotashCorp plans to sell a big stake in Chile’s SQM, a key supplier of the metal

When Canadian fertiliser company PotashCorp acquired shares in Chile’s SQM almost 20 years ago, the latter’s lithium business appeared an afterthought.

Controlled by Julio Ponce, the well-connected son-in-law of Chile’s former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, SQM was known as a fertiliser company. However, the then obscure lithium business is why the 32 per cent stake is now valued at $4.7bn.

Lithium has hitched a stunning ride on the wave of interest in electric cars, making it one of the world’s hottest commodities. SQM’s lithium business generates about 60 per cent of the profits for the company, which is in talks with Elon Musk’s Tesla over a deal to supply lithium, a key ingredient in electric car batteries. Continue Reading →

Rusal’s Deripaska to Step Down and Focus on Norilsk Nickel – by Staff (Aluminium Insider – February 20, 2018)

Russian Federation industrialist Oleg Deripaska is to step down from his position as president of both En+ Group and U.C. Rusal, Russian and international media reported.

While RUSAL clarified that no such decision has been made yet and that the Company’s board will discuss executive changes on 22 February, sources told the media earlier this week that Deripaska will announce his departure from these two pursuits, retaining only his official capacity at GAZ Group, which is Russia’s premier producer of commercial vehicles. According to insiders, the move was in the works prior to news of the renewed fight for Norilsk Nickel.

The battle to control Norilsk has been an off-again, on-again affair for the last decade that began upon the exit of Mikhail Prokhorov from the firm. Prokhorov, who was Vladimir Potanin’s partner in the venture the time of his departure, left a partial ownership void when he stepped down in 2008. Although Potanin had his sights set on acquiring the then-unclaimed share of the enterprise, Deripaska’s Rusal purchased the interest instead. Continue Reading →

How glitz and glamour deceits banks time and again – by Atmadip Ray and Sangita Mehta (Economic/India Times – February 21, 2018)

Diamonds are regarded as the hardest known material on the planet. Going by the mounting pile of loan delinquencies, they seem to be the hardest business for Indian bankers to crack.

Last week, Punjab National BankBSE 0.47 % (PNBBSE 0.47 %) acknowledged an elaborate web of deception that had defrauded the lender, on initial count, of Rs 11,400 crore. PNB’s startling disclosure involving diamond jewellery designer Nirav Modi capped a string of striking defaults by businesses in polished stones, putting the spotlight on the underwriting skills of bankers financing an industry famed for its glitz and glamour.

Among the delinquents are Gitanjali GemsBSE -9.85 %, promoted by Modi’s maternal uncle Mehul Choksi, that owes about Rs 9,000 crore to lenders, Winsome Diamond that defaulted on Rs 6,800 crore, Surat’s Vincent Diamond that caused losses of Rs 4,500 crore and JB Diamond, which defaulted on Rs 800 crore of loans. Continue Reading →

Pipeline shortage to cost the economy $15.6 billion this year: report – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – February 21, 2018)

CALGARY – Lack of pipelines and massive discounts for Canadian heavy oil could cost the economy $15.6 billion this year, or three-fourths of a point from the country’s GDP, according to economists at Scotiabank.

“Reliance on the existing pipeline network and rail shipments to bring Canadian oil to market has a demonstrable impact on Canada’s well-being, with consequences that extend well beyond Alberta,” Scotiabank senior vice-president and chief economist Jean-Francois Perrault and commodity economist Rory Johnston wrote in a report released Tuesday.

The economists said the current roughly US$24 per barrel discount between Western Canada Select and West Texas Intermediate oil prices would erase $15.6 billion from the economy this year, or around 0.75 per cent of the country’s GDP. Continue Reading →