PRECIOUS-Gold drops on dollar, but political risk tempers losses – by Clara Denina (Reuters U.S. – November 25, 2015)

LONDON, Nov 25 The price of gold edged down on Wednesday on a rebounding dollar and expectations of a U.S. rate hike next month, but the downside was capped by retail demand emerging on tension between Turkey and Russia.

Turkey shot down the Russian jet near the Syrian border on Tuesday, saying the plane had violated its air space, in one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member country and Russia for half a century.

The tensions initially triggered a sell-off in equities and the dollar, while boosting safe-haven yen, gold and government debt. Continue Reading →

Rough diamond bubble bust (Part 1) – by Martin Rapaport ( – November 25, 2015)

Artificially high rough diamond prices are going to collapse taking companies and banks with them.

The diamond industry is undergoing fundamental structural change as the rough diamond distribution system self-destructs amid collapsing rough prices. Frankly, it’s good news. Unprofitable, unsustainable and unfair rough prices have been the bane of our industry.

For too many years artificially high rough prices have stolen profits from our trade. The hard-working cutters, polished dealers, jewelry manufacturers, designers and retailers who have honestly added value to diamonds have not received their fair share of diamond profits. Continue Reading →

Tailings Dams and Due Diligence – Questions for the Board, shareholders and potential investors – by Steve Mackowski ( – November 24, 2015)

A large tailings dam has burst. Its contents; millions of tonnes of sludge, a muddy deluge, have spewed forth and destroyed a local village with tragic loss of life.

The tidal wave of man-made misery and despair continues seemingly unstoppable contaminating water ways, destroying the ecology so necessary to the local indigenous people, polluting water sources, on its way downstream.

What is the overall impact to the local environment? What is the sociological loss? What is the cost of remediation? What is the consequent legal cost? What is the loss of reputation cost? Continue Reading →

Dr. Copper’ plunges to US$2 for first time since 2009: ‘Things are quite horrible and about to get worse’ – by Peter Koven (National Post – November 25, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Copper goes by the nickname “Dr. Copper,” because the red metal is viewed as a barometer for the global economy. And unfortunately, it hasn’t been saying anything cheery of late.

Copper prices plunged back to US$2.00 a pound this week, the first time they have touched that level since the last gasps of the Great Recession in 2009. Prices are down nearly 60 per cent from their 2011 highs of more than US$4.60, and plenty of experts think they will keep going lower.

“What the market is telling us from the price is that things are quite horrible and about to get worse,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities. Continue Reading →

Former Rio Tinto boss Tom Albanese says India iron ore industry ‘complicated’ – by Amanda Saunders (Sydney Morning Herald – November 24, 2015)

Oversupply might have helped push the iron ore price down to near decade lows but Australian miners can breath easy on former Rio Tinto boss Tom Albanese’s call that former industry heavyweight India is unlikely to emerge as a major exporter any time soon.

Iron ore fell to $US44.10 on Monday night, within 10¢ of the 10-year low of $US44.10 it hit in July.

India is one of the great unknowns in iron ore. What is clear is that steel demand in India, while maybe not holding the same trajectory as China, is on the rise, Delhi-based Mr Albanese said. Continue Reading →

David Suzuki compares oilsands defenders to slave traders: ‘It’s a moral issue’ – by Douglas Quan (National Post – November 25, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

David Suzuki says he wasn’t necessarily taking aim at all people working in the energy sector when he compared the oilsands industry to the American slave trade.

In a radio interview on Monday, the environmental activist suggested that those who argue efforts to reduce greenhouse gases must consider economic impacts do not sound all that different from slave owners from the 19th century.

Several times, host Evan Solomon gave Suzuki an opportunity to clarify his statement — at one point asking him if he wanted to “put some nuance on that one,” especially given how many Canadians work in the industry. Continue Reading →

Posturing toward Paris with good hair – by Peter Foster (National Post – November 25, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

On Tuesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne declared that Ontario’s plans to combat climate change were “optimistic and entirely realistic.” Optimistic for sure. Realistic certainly not. The Green Energy Act has been a bummer, and closing down the entire province wouldn’t register as a blip on global climate.

Wynne confirmed the now almost universal objective of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, when Ontario pork will be flying direct to our plates.

Details of a five-year “action plan,” including Ontario’s cap and trade scheme, won’t be released until the new year, confirming that the vast Canadian delegation is going to Paris with nothing but good hair and a crazy quilt of dumb policies. Continue Reading →

Falling commodity prices in a volatile corner: Why ‘quiet’ Mauritania is being watched closely (Mail and Guardian Africa – November 24, 2015)

MAURITANIA doesn’t often make the news. It’s mostly desert and sparsely populated – just 3.5 million people for a land area larger than Egypt or Nigeria.

But Mauritania is of strategic importance in the “war on terror” in Africa, on account of its “ungoverned” spaces – as US securocrats see places like the vast Sahara desert – which run the risk of being used as a safe haven or rear base for terror groups.

Last year, the US Africa Command gave Mauritania a $21m pair of military aircraft outfitted with advanced surveillance equipment; cooperation between the two countries has deepened in recent years amid growing threat from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Continue Reading →

If China Killed Commodity Super Cycle, Fed to Bury It – by Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – November 25, 2015)

For commodities, it’s like the 21st century never happened.

The last time the Bloomberg Commodity Index of investor returns was this low, Apple Inc.’s best-selling product was a desktop computer, and you could pay for it with francs and deutsche marks.

The gauge tracking the performance of 22 natural resources has plunged two-thirds from its peak, to the lowest level since 1999. That shows it’s back to square one for the so-called commodity super cycle, a hunger for coal, oil and metals from Chinese manufacturers that powered a bull market for about a decade until 2011. Continue Reading →

Elliott Confirms Alcoa Stake, Supports Plans to Split Company – by Sonja Elmquist and Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – November 23, 2015)

Normally when an activist investor shows up on a shareholder register it comes with a set of ultimatums. Not with Alcoa Inc., where the arrival of Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. was seen as an endorsement.

Alcoa was the best performer among major metal and mining shares on Monday as Elliott disclosed a 6.4 percent shareholding, saying Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld’s plan to split the company in two would “create value substantially above the current share price.”

Elliott, which has sought changes at major companies including Hess Corp. and Samsung Group, built up the Alcoa stake on the assumption that the market was undervaluing its manufacturing business because of the metal price rout, according to people familiar with the transaction, who asked not to be identified discussing non-public information. Continue Reading →

Coal communities see bleak future as Obama agenda speeds industry decline – by Ben Wolfgang (Washington Times – November 24, 2015)

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio — Frank Stupak got his start in the coal business just as it was beginning its steep decline, and while there’s little chance the industry will ever return to its glory days, the 27-year-old safety manager isn’t giving up hope.

“We know what our industry did for this country. Hopefully someday we’ll get back there,” he said while deep inside an Ohio County Coal Company mine along the Ohio-West Virginia border, coal dust filling the air around him and the sound of machinery nearly drowning out his voice.

Mr. Stupak came to work for the Ohio County Coal Company — a subsidiary of Murray Energy Corp., the nation’s largest coal-mining operation — after briefly attending college but deciding “it wasn’t really my thing.” Continue Reading →

[Alberta] Coal industry warns of mine closures, blasts NDP government’s climate plan – by Colette Derworiz (Calgary Herald – November 23, 2015)

Alberta’s coal industry fired back at the Notley government’s climate change plan, suggesting the province should be working with the companies to find cleaner ways to burn coal for electricity — rather than speeding up the phase out.

The NDP’s climate change strategy unveiled on Sunday will see the province eliminate pollution caused by burning coal and a shift to more renewable energy and natural gas power generation by 2030. Although it’s being touted as a benefit to public health, the plan raises concerns for the coal industry.

“It has been single-handedly targeted to resolve all of the issues of greenhouse gases in Alberta,” said Robin Campbell, president of the Coal Association of Canada, noting 90 per cent of coal in the province is used for power generation. Continue Reading →

From worst polluter to climate leader, Australia’s Greens have plausible plan – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 23, 2015)

Nov 23 – How do you go from being the worst per capita polluter to among the lowest in just 15 years? The Australian Greens believe they have the answer, and surprisingly it could actually work, as long as it’s tweaked to find some role for coal and natural gas.

At the outset, it’s worth noting that the Greens’ vision has virtually no chance of becoming government policy, given the party holds only one seat in Australia’s lower house of parliament and just 10 of the 76 in the upper house Senate.

But in releasing their policy on Nov. 22, just ahead of next month’s Paris Climate Conference – known as COP21, the Greens are certainly putting the issue of what actions a top polluter such as Australia should take on the agenda. Continue Reading →

Inuit org completes first round of Mary River consultations – by steve Ducharme (Nunatsiaq News – November 23, 2015)

Residents of communities affected by the proposed Phase II expansion of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.‘s Mary River iron mine project got their first chance to say what they think about the proposal in a series of forums hosted by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association that concluded Nov. 16.

The QIA will use material from this community tour — the first of three — to help form its position at the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s upcoming environmental review of Baffinland’s proposed Phase II expansion.

“There was a really good turnout, right from elders down to youth that came to our open house and public meetings… there’s a lot of interest on the topic,” QIA President P.J. Akeeagok said. Continue Reading →

Deciphering Ontario’s job-killing carbon tax – by Christine Van Geyn (National Post – November 24, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

On Nov. 13, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Environment Minister Glen Murray circulated a discussion paper to industry and business groups outlining some of their proposals for a cap-and-trade scheme.

Unfortunately, the people who will ultimately bear the cost of the program — the public, which will face higher prices on everything from fuel to manufactured goods — are not part of this “discussion.” In fact, the so-called “discussion paper” is not even available on the Ministry of the Environment website.

The 66-page document might as well have been written in another language for all the clarity of terms it provides. Continue Reading →