Industries debate elements, but gold standard always changing; tungsten battles titanium
Earlier this year, with the steel and aluminum industries duking it out in the auto industry, General Motors Co. marketed its Sierra truck as made of rolled steel like “the hulls of submarines.”
That raised the eyebrows of at least one metallurgist. “The reason those hulls are so strong is that they’re coated with titanium,” says John Tumazos, a longtime investor in metals companies.
The stone, iron and bronze ages have come and gone. Superman became known as the Man of Steel. Titanium Man was born in the 1960s. A platinum-selling album might inspire your heart of gold to make an ironclad promise. Some metallic words make you sound silver-tongued; others, tin-eared. Titanium trumps tungsten.
Metals and elements permeate language and culture, but the gold standard is constantly changing. These days, the use of metallic adjectives is more popular than ever, as makers of cars and airplanes tinker with alloys to reduce weight and enhance performance. Read the rest of this entry »
Getting back to commodities, he argues that Saudis killed the Alberta oilsands and devastated U.S. shale “but no one can do that to copper.” Friedland dismisses some copper miners as “little old ladies waiting to die,” saying some grades fall so low that companies are “practically mining air.” (Robert Freidland)
A “miner’s miner” was how Rick Rule introduced Robert Friedland. The founder and executive chairperson of Ivanhoe Mines TSX:IVN also serves as executive chair of the Sprott-Stansberry Natural Resource Symposium in Vancouver, where he delivered the opening day’s keynote speech on July 28. That was the original plan, anyway. Instead, a relaxed-looking Friedland eschewed a script to sit back and, in response to questions posed by Rule, discuss commodities, jurisdictional risk, markets and the problem with the majors.
Friedland’s favourite metals? They’re currently copper, platinum, palladium and zinc—stuff for which he sees bright futures and, not surprisingly, the stuff he’s currently pursuing. He also likes diamonds but considers himself “an agnostic on gold.”
“Copper is the metal if you believe in human advancement,” Friedland says. “Gold is the opposite.” Meanwhile this market has either hit bottom “or it’s the end of the world.” He says he’s never seen such a severe devaluation, with stocks “priced for Armageddon.” Read the rest of this entry »
Charity group Oxfam Australia has taken aim at the coal industry in a new report which suggests renewable energy is quicker and cheaper for bringing energy to the developing world than coal-fired power.
The report ‘Powering up against poverty’ accused Peabody Energy, the Minerals Council of Australia, Adani, and other coal mining interests of aggressively promoting coal as a solution for energy poverty, while going no further than PR campaigns in their own interests.
Oxfam also said that statistics given by the Institute of Public Affairs, that an increase in the supply of Australian coal to India would bring electricity to 82 million people, were rejected by Indian NGO the Vasudha Foundation which said the arguments did not stand up “even the most basic scrutiny”.
Report author Dr Simon Bradshaw said there were many examples of how renewable energy was already helping impoverished people to gain access to energy, bringing job creation and community development. Read the rest of this entry »
TORONTO, July 30, 2015 — Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:ABX)(TSX:ABX) (“Barrick” or the “company”) today announced that it has reached an agreement to sell a 50 percent interest in the Zaldívar copper mine in Chile to Antofagasta Plc (“Antofagasta”) for a total consideration of $1.005 billion in cash, forming a new partnership with one of the world’s leading copper companies.
“The sale of 50 percent of Zaldívar is consistent with our strategy to create long-term value for our shareholders. By selling a stake in this non-core asset, we strengthen our balance sheet while maintaining significant exposure to a strong cash-generating operation,” said Kelvin Dushnisky, Co-President of Barrick. “Following a highly competitive auction process, we are pleased to reach an agreement with the ideal partner for Zaldívar. Antofagasta has an outstanding track record of building and operating mines in Chile, and we see this as the first step in an ongoing, collaborative partnership. There are many potential opportunities to benefit from Antofagasta’s experience as Barrick evaluates development projects in the future.”
“We are enthusiastic about partnering with Barrick at Zaldívar. Together, we believe that we are well positioned to enhance the long-term value of the Zaldívar operation through our collective best practices,” said Diego Hernandez, CEO of Antofagasta. “We have consistently been impressed with the workforce at Zaldívar, and look forward to partnering with them. We also look forward to exploring other opportunities to collaborate with Barrick in the future.” Read the rest of this entry »
When does a normal cycle become a supercycle? Answer: when an over-excited mining promoter says it does.
During the mining boom London and the other major capitals of mining finance, Toronto, Vancouver, Perth, Sydney and New York were awash with mining promoters bearing equity.
The name of their game: sell equity into the mining boom for cash, then watch as valuations rocketed up and everyone walked away a winner. And for a while everyone was winner – and the reason they were winning was because of something called the supercycle.
This wheeze, dreamt up long ago to describe periods of major economic expansion, such as the European Industrial Revolution, was now being applied to the astonishing growth that the Chinese economy was beginning to deliver after Deng Xiaoping loosed the bonds connecting communist ideology to economic activity.
FIVE years ago, two views were fairly common. The future belonged not to the sluggish, ageing advanced economies but to the emerging markets. Furthermore, those economies had such demand for raw materials that a “commodity supercycle” was well under way and would last for years.
Commodity prices peaked in 2011, and have been heading remorselessly downwards ever since. Their decline of more than 40% so far is a huge bear market; had it happened in equities, the talk would be of calamity and collapse.
News coverage in the Western media tends to view the decline in commodity prices as a benign phenomenon, as indeed it is for countries that are net importers. But it is not good for commodity exporters, many of which are emerging markets.
That helps explain why emerging-market equities have had only one positive year since 2011, and have underperformed their rich-country counterparts by a significant margin in recent years (see chart). The latest sign of trouble came in China, where the Shanghai Composite fell by 8.5% on July 27th. Read the rest of this entry »
Mining Stories Productions produces meaningful stories in a visual format about cultural, social and environmental issues that move individuals and audiences. Relying on solid research, we mine stories that speak to the human and planetary condition with passion and thoughtfulness, and with a view to engaging audiences through multi-media platforms. Our creative team is made up of award winning producers, directors, writers and technical talent who are committed to excellence and care deeply about the subjects and issues that inspire our stories.
Mining Stories Productions has produced a one hour documentary commissioned by Witness, , Al Jazeera English titled In This Heaven, with a broadcast version titled Rings of Fire. The broadcast will be launched on July 29, 2015 at 8pm/20:00 GMT.
In This Heaven/Rings of Fire, documents the tireless efforts of Mae Katt, a First Nations nurse practitioner who runs a mobile drug addiction treatment program in the remote underserved Matawa First Nations communities of Northern Ontario. Read the rest of this entry »
The Globe and Mailis Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.
One year after a catastrophic dam breach, the Mount Polley Mine in B.C.’s interior has passed the first phase of remediation and resumed operations, with restrictions.
The August, 2014, dam failure sent millions of cubic metres of mine waste and water into area waterways and forced the government to toughen mine permitting requirements. Imperial Metals Corp. has completed Phase 1 cleanup by taking steps to ensure increased water flow at Mount Polley does not result in additional environmental or human health impacts, according to the B.C. Ministry of Environment. The company has also ensured that water quality entering Quesnel Lake meets provincial standards.
Environment Minister Mary Polak said in a briefing on Wednesday that a “significant amount of work” has been done in the past 12 months, but acknowledged full remediation and restoration will take years.
The B.C. government issued the conditional permit allowing the Mount Polley mine to reopen earlier this month. However, the company cannot discharge water until it receives a second conditional permit, likely in the early fall. Read the rest of this entry »
The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry. Editor John Cumming MSc (Geol) is one of the country’s most well respected mining journalists. email@example.com
July has been such a brutal month for commodities producers that even last year’s prices are looking pretty good now. The rout in commodities prices in recent weeks has been unrelenting, wide-ranging and driven by macroeconomic factors far beyond the ability of miners to control.
The Bloomberg Commodity Index has returned to levels not seen since 2002 — implying that the much talked-about “Commodities Supercycle,” sparked and sustained by unprecedented demand growth stoked by China’s booming economy, is effectively over.
The state of the Chinese economy is foremost in the minds of commodity price forecasters, and all signs point towards slowing growth rates and further sharp corrections in the Chinese stock markets in the months and years ahead. On July 27, the Shanghai Composite Index suffered its worst one-day drop (8.5%) in eight years, and it would have been worse without the 10% daily maximum-loss limits on blue-chip stocks and the strong-arm tactics of the Chinese government to buy shares and pressure companies into buying shares.
The other two dominant negatives at the macro level are the ongoing Greek debt crisis, and broad consensus that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year, further driving up the U.S. dollar and sinking commodities priced in U.S. dollars. Read the rest of this entry »
Mine closures will accelerate in oversupplied commodity sectors in coming months, the manager of the world’s biggest mining funds says.
In a gloomy preview of the September quarter, BlackRock chief investment officer for natural resources Evy Hambro said miners were facing “tough decisions” amid modest demand and weak commodity prices.
“Looking ahead, the outlook for commodity prices remains subdued, given expectations of further US-dollar strength and a modest demand outlook. This pressure will continue to force tough decisions and mining companies are likely to remain in austerity mode,” he said in a note published by BlackRock.
Mr Hambro said analyst forecasts for the coming earning season would need to be trimmed, and miners would also need to respond to recent falls in commodity prices. Read the rest of this entry »
The 2010 Copiapó mining accident, also known then as the “Chilean mining accident”, began in the afternoon of Thursday, 5 August 2010 as a significant cave-in at the troubled 121-year-old San José copper–gold mine. The mine is located in the Atacama Desert about 45 kilometers (28 mi) north of the regional capital of Copiapó, in northern Chile. The buried men, who became known as “Los 33″ (“The 33″), were trapped 700 meters (2,300 ft) underground and about 5 kilometers (3 mi) from the mine’s entrance via spiraling underground service ramps.
The mixed crew of experienced miners and technical support personnel, with less experience working underground, survived for a record 69 days deep underground before their rescue. Previous geological instability at the old mine and a long record of safety violations for the mine’s owners had resulted in a series of fines and accidents, including eight deaths, during the dozen years leading up to this accident. As a result of the mine’s notorious history, it was originally thought that the workers had probably not survived the collapse or would starve to death before they were found, if ever. Read the rest of this entry »
(Reuters) – Vale SA, the world’s biggest iron ore producer, returned to profit in the second quarter, bolstered by higher output and cost cuts as it kept up pressure on Australian rivals in its fight for market share.
But as the Brazilian miner battles to increase margins, Vale said iron ore production next year will likely be less than the 376 million tonnes it had previously forecast.
“Probably we’ll be between the guidance we gave… and the 340 million tonnes we are producing in 2015,” iron ore chief Peter Poppinga told analysts on a conference call, adding the company was phasing out higher-cost production.
Vale overcame a slump in iron ore prices to report a net profit of $1.68 billion on Thursday, moving into the black for the first time in a year. That was a jump of 17.3 percent from the same quarter a year ago, and more than four times the average forecast of $408 million of six analysts in a Reuters poll. Read the rest of this entry »
The head of the Canadian nuclear regulator has written to Québec’s minister for sustainable development, environment and climate change questioning the recommendations made by a public consultation on uranium mining in the province.
The report by Québec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) was published on 17 July by the province’s minister for sustainable development, environment and climate change David Heurtel.
It was the culmination of one year’s work by the commission set up by BAPE in May 2014 to study the environmental and social impacts of uranium exploration and mining, following a moratorium on new uranium exploration and mining permits imposed by the province in April that year.
The 626-page report concludes that uranium mining operations at present in the province are “counterindicated” because of “limitations and uncertainties” in the current state of knowledge over mining technology and environmental management strategies.
Michael Binder, president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), wrote to Heurtel on 27 July saying BAPE’s report has conclusions and recommendations that “lack scientific basis and rigour”. Read the rest of this entry »
Gold prices hold steady after last week’s bear raid.
Since around mid-June, gold prices have come under substantial selling pressure. One of the main drivers behind this fall has been the on-going debate about interest rates.
While the general narrative supposes that higher interest rates will have a negative impact on gold, I have often stated that this assumption is not correct. The historical record shows that gold tends to rise with nominal interest rate rises – as was seen from 2004 to 2008 and in the 1970s – and the Fed is unlikely to raise rates in any meaningful way while deflationary forces persist.
According to the WGC, although higher interest rates would make the dollar more attractive to investors looking for higher-yielding assets, the current narrative that this scenario would be bearish for gold is incorrect.
It is true that higher real interest rates raise the opportunity cost for investors holding gold. But our analysis of the gold price and previous rate conditions found gold may perform reasonably well in a positive rate environment. Read the rest of this entry »
In another blow to Minnesota’s reeling iron ore industry, more layoffs were announced on the Iron Range Wednesday.
Cliffs Natural Resources will be temporarily closing its United Taconite mine in Eveleth and its pellet plant in Forbes. The moves affect 420 employees. The latest news brings the number of layoffs announced this year to more than 1,000.
Eveleth Mayor Bob Vlaisavljevich said he had been nervously awaiting an announcement for weeks, ever since he saw the huge stockpiles of taconite pellets sitting alongside the Duluth harbor, waiting to be shipped to steelmakers.
“It was kind of a scary thought, down by the harbor there. When you see them they’re about a quarter mile long, three or four of them,” he recalled. “A lot of boatloads.”
Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves cited that huge inventory of pellets as one reason the company would idle United Taconite for about six months. Read the rest of this entry »