Brazilian state-run oil company is in the midst of a widespread corruption scandal
RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazil’s government on Friday nominated the chief executive of mining giant Vale SA as the next board chairman of state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, disappointing those who were looking for sweeping changes at the oil company that has been devastated by a kickback-and-bribery scandal.
Murilo Ferreira’s nomination will be voted on at the next Petrobras shareholders meeting on April 29. If approved, as expected, he will succeed Guido Mantega, Brazil’s former finance minister, who has headed the Petrobras board since March 2010. The company on Thursday said that Luciano Coutinho, head of the country’s development bank, known as BNDES, will serve as interim chairman of Petrobras until next month’s board vote.
A career employee of Vale, which was state-owned until 1997, Mr. Ferreira is a trusted ally of President Dilma Rousseff. His appointment isn’t likely to shake up a board that has served as a rubber stamp for the policies of her ruling Worker’s Party, investors and analysts said.
Critics have faulted Ms. Rousseff for using the oil giant to advance her administration’s agenda, including forcing the company to subsidize fuel for consumers and do business with Brazilian suppliers, moves that have cost the oil giant billions. Read the rest of this entry »
Andrew Forrest’s eye-popping call for the world’s big iron ore producers to drive the iron ore price back up by capping their production shows what crazy things the desperate can do. Twiggy even made his “national interest” call in Shanghai, among Chinese buyers of the iron ore dug up by his own Fortescue, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Brazil’s Vale and just as he was about to meet Xi Jinping.
The Fortescue founder is a man of bold ambition and enthusiasm: creating the third force in Australian iron ore, enlisting the Pope to help end modern slavery, and pushing Tony Abbott to narrow indigenous disadvantage. He won’t end up behind bars for his latest big idea, but he is calling for what both Joe Hockey and ACCC chairman Rod Sims suggested would be an illegal producer cartel. As our Matthew Stevens asked: What was Forrest thinking?
Twiggy’s call is a spectacular sign of Australia’s big iron ore price squeeze. Forrest became a billionaire in the 2000s by creating Fortescue on the back of the China boom that drove the iron ore price from US$20 or so a tonne to $US180 a tonne. Now supply has belatedly responded to the increased demand, the price has hurtled back into the US$50s. That’s crunching Fortescue’s margins and forced it to keep producing more to keep its head above water.
In fact, in the past four years, Fortescue has boosted output more than Rio or BHP. But that’s just kept driving down the price towards Fortescue’s cost of production. Read the rest of this entry »
Some 1.6 million tonnes of copper capacity is being restarted in Chile following torrential rains in the north of country which halted production at a number of the country’s largest operations.
The price of copper in New York fell on the news with May futures trading on the Comex market giving up 1.8% to $2.756 a pound. Copper is down 7.6% compared to a year ago, but up sharply from five-and-half-year lows struck in January.
Chile is responsible for a third of the world’s mined output of copper with many of the largest mines located in the Atacama desert. Before the unusual weather this week, a drought was reducing production as a result of water restrictions imposed by the authorities. In April 2014 a major earthquake also temporarily halted output at a number of large mines.
State-owned giant Codelco confirmed it had restarted mining operations at its Chuquicamata, Ministro Hales, Radomiro Tomic, Gabriela Mistral, and Salvador mines after a three-day hiatus due to the state of access roads, power problems and safety concerns following the downpours.
Codelco was forecast to produce 1.6 million tonnes of copper this year – already down 5% from 2014 – and the affected mines represented some 60% of the Santiago-based company’s production capacity. Read the rest of this entry »
THUNDER BAY – The president and CEO of Noront Natural Resources acknowledges the acquisition of the claims formerly held by Cliffs Natural Resources is a game changer for the Ring of Fire.
Alan Coutts was in Thunder Bay on Friday in hopes of meeting with Matawa chiefs regarding the announcement earlier this week of Noront now holding nearly 65 per cent of the Ring of Fire.
While he did not get to meet with the chiefs, he said the consultation process needs to be completely re-evaluated. “I think we’ll probably have to take a couple of steps backwards to change the relationship and dialogue but ultimately it will allow us to go forward a lot further,” Coutts said at the company’s Thunder Bay office.
“We’re potentially redefining the landscape of how industry, First Nations and government work together for the entire nation.”
Matawa chiefs expressed concern about the sale, accusing the company of working outside of the framework agreement that had been signed last year and objecting to First Nations not having any input in the transaction. Read the rest of this entry »
(Bloomberg) — Posco is backing away from a planned $12 billion steel complex in India, which has been stalled by local disputes and lease issues since it was proposed a decade ago, people familiar with the development said.
South Korea’s biggest steelmaker has tried to get back the money it gave to government agencies in the eastern state of Odisha to secure some of the land, and for railway connections, according to three people and company letters seen by Bloomberg. Six of 13 employees at Posco’s Indian unit overseeing the project have also “voluntarily” resigned, spokesman I.G. Lee said in a text message.
“Still, we are on and waiting for further progress,” Lee said about the proposed steel complex. He isn’t aware of any letter from Posco seeking a refund, Lee said.
Posco’s Odisha project, the nation’s biggest foreign investment, has failed to take off since 2005 because of opposition from local farmers and the failure to secure iron ore mining leases. The steelmaker was able to overcome local resistance and get the state to acquire about 2,700 acres (1,093 hectares) of land for the first phase. Read the rest of this entry »
‘There are resorts who are all booked up for this summer and they are frantic’
Advocates for rail service in the Algoma region say passenger trains will come to a halt at the end of the month without a deal with the federal government.
In February of 2014, CN Rail announced it was ending passenger service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst because the federal government was no longer willing to subsidize the route.
The federal government stepped in at the last minute to extend funding for an additional year to keep the trains rolling and allow time to make a business case for the service.
That one-year reprieve is almost over and there’s been no word from Transport Canada about what comes next for the rail line, which is the only way to access remote lodges between the Sault and Hearst.
“There are resorts who are all booked up for this summer and they are frantic and wondering if they are going to have to contact their clientele and tell them that there is no way they can come in,” said Linda Savory-Gordon with a group called the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains. Read the rest of this entry »
Bruce Jago says province should look to deep mining as it updates plans for mineral sector
The province needs to invest in deep mining research and techniques as it looks to update its plans for the mineral sector, according to the head of the Goodman School of Mines in Sudbury.
Bruce Jago says deep mining is the future of the industry, and the best place to find concentrated mineral deposits. “I’m really on the exploration side of things, and I believe in it. I think it’s an amazing industry and one where a lot of good things can happen,” Jago said.
The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has been asking for input as it prepares to renew its Mineral Development Strategy, which was first introduced in 2006.
Jago says the government also needs to develop an overall infrastructure plan to connect mining exploration sites, and bring modern living to isolated areas so they can share in economic growth.
“If they start working on a grand policy for it, they’ll get there. There certainly is a need for it. And I think if they consult with both First Nation communities and industry, they’ll get pointed in the right direction pretty quickly,” he said. Comments on the mineral sector can be submitted until May 8 through the province’s environmental registry. Read the rest of this entry »
What is the basis for this allegation? Because, “the chiefs were informed of the deal at the same time as the public . . . .” Perhaps the chiefs would prefer to have been jointly accused with Noront of insider trading by insisting on advance knowledge of a purchase plan by publicly traded companies. … Matawa needs to re-think its hasty and inappropriate response to the first good news about the Ring of Fire in a while. (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial)
WHILE many people viewed Noront Resources’ plan this week to acquire the vast chromite properties of Cliffs Natural Resources as a welcome shot in the arm of the stalled Ring of Fire mining project, Matawa First Nation Chiefs are grumpy.
When Cliffs pulled out of the project, a sense of gloom settled over this region. With the biggest player gone, so too seemed the hopes of communities across the region for the new mining boom the Ring had promised.
Noront has always been a smaller player, with nickel interests. By planning to pick up Cliffs’ properties, Noront signalled renewed industry faith in the project said to be the North’s economic salvation. Billions of dollars are on the line.
Raining on this parade are the Matawa chiefs who have been enjoying new respect and attention from all players, including government, who unanimously agree that First Nations must be primary participants and beneficiaries in the Ring of Fire. Read the rest of this entry »
Richmond man finds himself between a jade rock and a hard place as the bridge between a rough and ready Canadian mining family and billionaire Chinese investors on a new TV show
Nowhere in the Lower Mainland has the coming together of two worlds — East and West — stirred emotions over the last few years than Richmond.
Throw in a hard-bitten, beer-drinking all-Canadian family, jade-mining in harsh conditions, with Chinese billionaire investors breathing over their shoulder, and you have a culture clash ready to ignite at any given second.
The poor guy caught slap, bang in the middle is Richmond family man Alan Qiao, who is one of the stars of a new Discovery Channel show called Jade Fever, which debuts March 31. Read the rest of this entry »
Associated Press – RENO, Nev. – An unprecedented attempt to protect sage grouse habitat across parts of more than 900 square miles of privately owned land in Nevada will begin under a deal Thursday involving the federal government, an environmental group and the world’s largest gold mining company.
The agreement comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approaches a fall deadline for a decision on whether to protect the greater sage grouse, a bird roughly the size of a chicken that ranges across the West, under the Endangered Species Act.
Commercial operations, including mining companies and oil and gas producers, are entering into such deals in an effort to keep the bird off the threatened or endangered list because the classification would place new restrictions on their work.
The deal involves Barrick Gold Corp., The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service. It establishes a “conservation bank,” providing the mining firm credit for enhancing critical habitat, in exchange for flexibility in future operations. It aims to preserve and restore more habitat than is lost through development while at the same time providing Barrick with more certainty as it maps out new mining plans.
“This is the kind of creative, voluntary partnership that we need to help conserve the greater sage grouse, while sustaining important economic activities on western rangelands,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said. Read the rest of this entry »
LAUNCESTON, Australia, March 27 (Reuters) – What’s the real thinking behind Andrew Forrest’s remarkable call for iron ore miners to cap production in order to boost prices?
It’s easy to dismiss the comment by the Fortescue Metals Group founder and chairman as “harebrained,” as did Sam Walsh, the chief executive of Rio Tinto, the world’s second-largest iron ore miner.
It’s possible that when Forrest told an audience on Tuesday in Shanghai that he was happy for iron ore miners to “cap our production right here and start acting like grown-ups”, he was merely having a thought-bubble moment.
But while Forrest, whose company ranks fourth in the world in iron ore output, has a reputation as a charming straight-shooter, it’s hard to imagine that he would be so careless as to float an idea that in all likelihood is illegal and would also bring scorn from his bigger rivals.
There is no doubt that debt-laden Fortescue has been hit harder than Rio Tinto or No.3 producer BHP Billiton by the collapse of iron ore prices, with the Asian spot price .IO62-CNI=SI marking a record low of $54.20 a tonne on Monday, before recovering slightly to $55.50 on Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »
THUNDER BAY — The Minister of Northern Development and Mines is taking the concerns of First Nation leaders seriously and says they have an important role to play in the development of the Ring of Fire.
“The province, our government, remains absolutely committed to continuing the work we are doing with the Matawa First Nations related to implemented the regional framework agreement,” said Michael Gravelle (Lib., Thunder Bay-Superior North) Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, chiefs of the Matawa First Nations held a press conference to speak out against the news earlier this week that Noront Resources Inc. was maneuvering to purchase 103 Ring of Fire claims from subsidiaries of Cliffs Natural Resources, meanwhile setting a March 31 deadline to reveal the terms of reference for its environmental assessment process for claims the company had already staked, mainly it’s Eagle’s Next nickel project.
The Matawa First Nation chiefs believe the company is operating beyond a framework agreement they signed last year with Ontario and that First Nations should have a say in the transaction. Gravelle said he heard the chiefs’ concerns and is taking them seriously, but he is also encouraged. Read the rest of this entry »
THUNDER BAY – MINING – Noront Resources CEO and President Al Coutts shares details on the company’s purchase of Cliffs Natural Resources properties in the Ring of Fire in Northwestern Ontario.
Noront Resources, Coutts explains has gone through a “game changing” process from being one of the very junior mining companies to a whole new status.
Coutts states that changes many things and he is looking to meet with First Nations leaders from Matawa First Nations, the Ontario and Federal Governments with an eye to seeing how this entire project can not move forward. Read the rest of this entry »
(Reuters) – It’s been over a year now since Indonesia imposed its ban on the export of unprocessed minerals. The aim of the January 2014 lock-down is to generate greater value for the country and its citizens by forcing operators to build processing plants and export value-added product not raw materials.
Other resource-rich countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, are travelling the same road but Indonesia is way out in front.
The country’s high-stakes strategy, implemented in the face of considerable opposition from both its own mining sector and overseas buyers, does appear to be largely working.
At a practical level flows of nickel ore and bauxite to Chinese buyers have been halted. Indonesia’s mining ministry says there are now 11 nickel-processing projects under way, many of them backed by Chinese nickel and stainless steel producers.
The country’s two top copper miners, Freeport McMoRan and Newmont Indonesia, have been successfully cajoled into committing to a new copper smelter in return for keeping their mining rights. Read the rest of this entry »