Delay, delay for KGHM’s Sudbury Victoria mine project – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – April 29, 2016)

Sudbury’s next great base metals mine is “advancing,” but at a “reduced pace.” That’s the word coming from Polish mining giant KGHM International on its Victoria Mine project, lauded by many in the Sudbury camp as the next great nickel and base metals mine.

After some layoffs in March, the company issued an April 29 news release with a reassuring tone amid ongoing rumours in the community that the company might be mothballing the project.

“Although the anticipated date of commencement of construction of Victoria has been delayed, this does not impact other necessary and essential activities at Victoria,” said the release. “Development activities will continue to progress to ensure that the project is ready to commence construction when the market conditions for base metals improve.” Continue Reading →

America’s Most Notorious Coal Baron Is Going to Prison. But He Still Haunts West Virginia Politics. – by By Tim Murphy (Mother Jones Magazine – April 19, 2016)

Don Blankenship is looming large over the contentious governor’s race.

As CEO of Massey Energy, central Appalachia’s largest coal producer, Don Blankenship towered over West Virginia politics for more than a decade by spending millions to bolster Republican candidates and causes.

That chapter came to an end in April, when Blankenship was sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to commit mine safety violations in the period leading up to the deadly 2010 explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine. But even in absentia, he casts a long shadow over state politics. For evidence, look no further than the contentious Democratic primary for governor.

The campaign pits Jim Justice, a billionaire coal operator and high school basketball coach, against two opponents—state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, and Booth Goodwin, the former US attorney who prosecuted Blankenship. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-French PM commits 200 mln euros to support New Caledonia nickel producer – by Ccile Lefort (Reuters U.S. – April 29, 2016)

France will lend up to 200 million euros ($228 million) to support struggling New Caledonia nickel producer Societe Le Nickel (SLN), Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday.

Valls, who is visiting the French territory, said the financing will be in place until 2018 with final terms still under discussion. The aid package comes at a time when nickel prices are hovering near 13-year lows. The mineral is crucial to New Caledonia as it accounts for about a fifth of its economy.

Earlier this year, the territory lost a key Australian customer which fell into insolvency. “The situation is serious,” said Valls. “SLN is facing an unprecedented crisis.” Continue Reading →

The Asteroid Miner’s Guide to the Galaxy – by Matthew Shaer (Foreign Policy – April 28, 2016)

U.S. companies are preparing to tap the solar system’s riches. But will they share the trillion-dollar deep-space market with hungry foreign competitors?

The tech firm Deep Space Industries (DSI) is headquartered on the second story of an aging office building at the edge of NASA’s Ames Research Center, not far from the town of Mountain View, California.

Established in 1939 as a laboratory for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, a predecessor to NASA, Ames is now part government research site, part industrial park, and part open-air museum — visitors pass rows of decommissioned rockets and the hulking skeleton of Hangar One, where the Navy once parked its experimental blimps in the 1930s. Continue Reading →

Illegal gold rush hits Indonesia’s forest – by Lauren Farrow (AAP Southeast Asia/ – April 29, 2016)

It took illegal miners less than two weeks to destroy six hectares of lush forest in one of Indonesia’s precious national parks – all in pursuit of gold.

Underneath the now moon-like landscape of Central Sulawesi’s Lore Lindu National Park, people risk mine shaft collapses to dig up hundreds of kilograms of rock that will wield just grams of gold.

They will earn around $A1.40 an hour, while the men above ground – who haul large sacks of rock upon their shoulders down steep cliffs – will make even less. The mining site at Lore Lindu was once the territory of a small number of people who sat ankle deep in water, panning for gold.

Then a “story” of a woman finding a nugget at the site spread. Continue Reading →

Lithium’s great story: 80 years in the making – by Robin Bromby ( – April 29, 2016)

This is not the first time people have been excited by lithium.

The great mass of the investing public has only been on top of the lithium story for little more than a year yet the story has been there for some time, in one form or another. In 2009, for example, Foreign Policy journal, in an article by David J Rothkoff, had a headline reading “The Great Lithium Game”.

He began: “In Asia, Europe, and the United States, people are getting excited by the electric car – for good reason”. He went on to argue that the ”major fly in the ointment for the electric car is the battery”. Seven years ago there was just starting to be interest in the concept of the lithium-ion battery, then being used in cameras, cellphones and computers, as the solution to electric car storage.

Rothkoff got is right in predicting that lithium was likely to be the commodity in the years immediately ahead. He also raised another interesting point, and one that is becoming a very live issue right now. Continue Reading →

My Turn: Doing mining differently up north – by Lewis Rifkind (The Juneau Empire – April 29, 2016)

Lewis Rifkind is a mining analyst for Yukon Conservation Society.

British Columbia Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett’s response to Alaskans’ growing concerns about the downstream effects of mining in BC has usually been to defend the BC mine permitting process, invite more Alaskan participation in the process and then accuse Alaskans of having an inadequate understanding of the BC mine review and regulatory regime.

Alaskans have rightly bristled at these statements, noting that the BC process has resulted in more than 50 years of acid mine drainage from the Tulsequah Chief and the Mount Polley tailings dam disaster. Alaskans formally asked for a federal Panel Review of the KSM mine proposal, but these requests were ignored. So, it makes sense that Alaskans do not trust the BC process.

And, despite Bennett’s defense of the BC process, there are clear examples of ways to do it better. Continue Reading →

Is A Green World A Safer World? – by David Rothkopf (Foreign Policy – August 22, 2009)

A guide to the coming green geopolitical crises.

Greening the world will certainly eliminate some of the most serious risks we face, but it will also create new ones. A move to electric cars, for example, could set off a competition for lithium — another limited, geographically concentrated resource.

The sheer amount of water needed to create some kinds of alternative energy could suck certain regions dry, upping the odds of resource-based conflict. And as the world builds scores more emissions-free nuclear power plants, the risk that terrorists get their hands on dangerous atomic materials — or that states launch nuclear-weapons programs — goes up.

The decades-long oil wars might be coming to an end as black gold says its long, long goodbye, but there will be new types of conflicts, controversies, and unwelcome surprises in our future (including perhaps a last wave of oil wars as some of the more fragile petrocracies decline). Continue Reading →

Cliffs Jumps Most in Seven Years as Profit Tops Estimates – by Sonja Elmquist (Bloomberg News – April 28, 2016)

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., the biggest U.S. iron-ore miner, jumped the most in more than seven years after first-quarter earnings exceeded estimates and the company announced supply-contract renewals with steelmakers.

Cliffs rose 25 percent to $5.39 at 4 p.m. in New York, the biggest gain since November 2008. The closing price was the highest since June. The Cleveland-based company’s shares have more than tripled this year as commodities including iron ore rallied.

Cliffs cut its cash production costs by more than a quarter in the U.S. and Asia, and Chief Executive Officer Lourenco Goncalves said in a statement that “consistent signs of a real recovery” in the domestic steel market are helping bolster orders at clients. The company boosted its capital spending forecast as it develops a new iron-ore pellet with ArcelorMittal, and reached a supply agreement with U.S. Steel Canada. Continue Reading →

Why Canada Needs Both Windmills And Pipelines – by Katrina Marsh (Huffington Post – April 28, 2016)

“The choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to reach our goal.” Prime Minister Trudeau’s comment — spoken just before last March’s First Ministers’ meeting on climate change — has echoed through ministers’ speeches and media interviews ever since. Mr. Trudeau and his cabinet are walking a fine line between the need to control greenhouse gas emissions on the one hand and the need for energy pipelines on the other.

Some people see a contradiction in this balancing act. The authors of the Leap Manifesto argue that growth in renewable energy technologies mean that there is “no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future.”

Yet the truth is that Canadians will continue to rely on fossil fuels even as we develop alternatives. This is not an ideological position to be argued over, but a fact that must be recognized. Continue Reading →

Ring of Fire bigger vision than fast as possible: Wynne –by Matt Vis ( – April 29, 2016)

THUNDER BAY – Kathleen Wynne views the Ring of Fire as more than just an economic development opportunity.

The Ontario premier was asked about the province’s progress in developing the potentially lucrative mineral deposit in the remote north during her media availability in Thunder Bay on Thursday.

Wynne responded that her government is dedicated to acting in an environmentally responsible manner while engaging and consulting with First Nations communities to ensure their children will experience the resulting economic prosperity.

“That’s a bigger vision than just how do we, as fast as possible, get trucks in to get those minerals out, get them out and then leave the site,” Wynne said. Continue Reading →

Manufacturing key to US economy – by Harry Moser (Masfield News Journal/USA Today – April 28, 2016)

Harry Moser is the Founder of the Reshoring Initiative.

One surprise of the current, tumultuous presidential election cycle is the degree to which manufacturing has emerged as a significant campaign issue. Candidates are now openly pledging to oppose trade agreements perceived as hurting the nation’s manufacturers. And while trade policy is only one aspect of the overall debate, it’s clear that candidates are recognizing manufacturing’s importance to America’s economy.

A quick glance at the nation’s industrial landscape tells a profound story: America has lost more than five million manufacturing jobs since 2000, with more than 50,000 factories closed. Several factors are involved, but one critical aspect remains overlooked—the connection between America’s mining industry and the health of the nation’s manufacturing base.

Metals and minerals are integral to the American standard of living. Thanks to not-so-small luxuries like cars, homes, roads, and electronics, young Americans today will depend in their lifetime on an estimated 27,416 pounds of iron ore, 978 pounds of copper, 521 pounds of zinc, and 1.8 ounces of gold. Continue Reading →

Brazilian sale a coup for debt-laden Anglo – by Allan Seccombe (Business Day – April 29, 2016)

ANGLO American made significant inroads into reaching its asset sales target this year by agreeing to sell its niobium and phosphate mining business in Brazil for $1.5bn in cash to China Molybdenum Company, as part of an intense asset sales process to cut debt and return the company to profit.

The sale is the single largest disposal by Anglo since it told the market in December and February of a major restructuring to raise $3bn-$4bn from asset disposals this year to cut net debt of $12.9bn to more manageable levels. Last year, Anglo raised $2.1bn in asset sales and it intends lifting that number as it narrows its focus to diamonds, platinum, and copper.

Anglo said on Thursday the sale of the profitable, yet low-key niobium and phosphate business in Brazil had been agreed and the final payment was subject to a number of closing and post-closing adjustments in the second half of this year. Continue Reading →

Goldcorp hack underlines rise in cyberattacks on corporations – by Ian McGugan (Globe and Mail – April 29, 2016)

A computer attack on Goldcorp Inc. has resulted in a data breach, highlighting the growing propensity of criminals to target confidential corporate information.

David Garofalo, chief executive of Vancouver-based Goldcorp, said he has handed the matter over to police. “At this point, it’s a criminal matter,” he said. “Our systems are secure, our business is running normally. We don’t pay criminals.”

Mr. Garofalo said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the case because of the police investigation, but indicated that Goldcorp was not unique in being targeted by such cyberassailants. “My understanding is that they target a lot of companies,” he said. “They do it for money. In that case, the answer is obvious to me – you don’t pay criminals and then you call the police.” Continue Reading →

Column: How Shanghai trading is changing the physical nickel market – Andy Home (Reuters U.S.- April 29, 2016)

LONDON – Everyone’s talking about Chinese speculators. This year has seen an unprecedented surge of trading volumes and open interest in Chinese markets as institutional and retail investors pour money into commodities.

Both the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) and the Dalian Exchange are upping margin requirements and transaction fees to try and calm overheating contracts such as steel rebar and iron ore.

The stampede appears to have been halted with both prices and trading activity losing some of their recent froth. But the current trading frenzy shouldn’t distract from the growing global influence of China’s domestic commodity exchanges. Continue Reading →