Indonesia, Freeport Near New Deal for Giant Copper Mine – by Fathiya Dahrul and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – December 15, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Indonesia and Freeport-McMoRan Inc. may sign a new agreement as soon as this weekend that will lay out a road-map for the transfer of majority ownership of the giant Grasberg mine to a local firm, according to people familiar with the proposal. Freeport shares rose.

The nation’s government, state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium — known as Inalum, and Phoenix-based Freeport are set to back a so-called transaction completion agreement as early as Sunday, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the details are private.

Under the new deal, Inalum will seek to acquire London-based Rio Tinto Group’s joint venture interest in Grasberg by March, and subsequently aim to convert the interest into an equity stake, two of the people said. Continue Reading →

Space mining is getting close to reality – by Rebecca Campbell (MiningWeekly.com – December 15, 2017)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Space mining – the mining of bodies and other worlds in outer space for minerals and other natural resources – remains within the realm of science fiction. For now.

But, during the younger years of most of the world’s current senior mining executives, personal communication devices (cellphones) were science fiction, as were a whole plethora of compact electronic and domestic devices that are today widely available, affordable and, indeed, nearly ubiquitous.

It is very likely that, within the remaining life spans of those self-same senior mining executives, space mining will become a scientific, technological, engineering and financial fact. Continue Reading →

BMW Sees 10-Fold Jump in Its Need for Battery Materials by 2025 – by Elisabeth Behrmann (Bloomberg News – December 15, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

BMW AG’s needs for car-battery raw materials such as cobalt and lithium will surge 10-fold by the middle of the next decade, pushing the German carmaker increasingly to forge long-term deals as shortages loom.

Purchase contracts with five- to 10-year time frames are close to being completed, the manufacturer’s head of procurement told reporters in Munich Friday. Concerns about supply bottlenecks, especially for cobalt, have prompted auto producers including Volkswagen AG to step up efforts to ensure they have enough. BMW plans to offer 25 electrified vehicles by 2025, while VW is targeting a 300-model battery-powered lineup by 2030.

“We’ve been intensively focusing on how to manage future cobalt supply for about a year now,” said Markus Duesmann, the BMW purchasing executive. “Before, it wasn’t clear just how quickly demand will accelerate.” Continue Reading →

South Africa’s Sibanye-Stillwater to be No. 2 platinum miner with Lonmin buy – by Zandi Shabalala and Ed Stoddard (Reuters U.S. – December 15, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON/JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s Sibanye-Stillwater (SGLJ.J) agreed to buy troubled miner Lonmin (LMI.L) (LONJ.J) for about 285 million pounds ($382 million) to create the world’s No. 2 platinum producer in a bid to ride out depressed prices for the metal.

Sibanye, whose CEO is called “Mr Fix It” for turning his firm from a spin-off with three old mines into a global precious metals player, said it would cut a third of Lonmin’s employees and deliver savings of about $112 million a year by 2021.

Lonmin, the world’s third biggest platinum producer, has burned through $1.6 billion in cash which was raised from investors since platinum prices plunged 60 percent from their peak in 2008. But it has still struggled to fund its mines. Continue Reading →

Exports of iron ore pellets lift St. Lawrence Seaway freight volumes – by Eric Atkins (Globe and Mail – December 15, 2017)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Asian demand for U.S. iron ore is driving up freight volumes on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Overall cargo tonnage, including mining products and grain, rose by 8.5 per cent to 33 million tonnes on the water route as of the end of November, from the same period a year ago, the Chamber of Marine Commerce said on Thursday.

Shipments of iron ore pellets, which are used to make steel, rose by 34 per cent to 7.4 million tonnes as China secured raw materials to feed its manufacturing facilities. Demand was also aided by higher commodity prices, Canadian demand for domestic ore and U.S. tariffs that have spurred sales to U.S. mills on the lower Great Lakes. Continue Reading →

Environmental assessment sinks proposed Ajax mine near Kamloops (CBC News B.C. – December 14, 2017)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/

The provincial government has opted not to issue an environmental assessment certificate for a proposed open-pit copper and gold mine near Kamloops, prompting applause from the city and local First Nations.

The 1,700-hectare Ajax mine proposed by KGHM would have been located about 10 kilometres southwest of Kamloops on the traditional territories of the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwépemc Nation (SSN), Ashcroft Indian Band, Lower Nicola Indian Band and Whispering Pines/Clinton Indian Band.

According to a statement from the provincial environment and mines ministries, an environmental assessment found too many negative impacts for the proposal in areas such as air quality and local ecosystems. Continue Reading →

Long-awaited link to First Nation – by Larry Kusch (Winnipeg Free Press – December 12, 2017)

https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/

Berens River residents hope all-weather road boosts economy, tourism

The once-isolated Berens River First Nation celebrated the completion of a $200-million all-weather road Tuesday and the hope it will spur ecotourism and other economic opportunities.

The 2,000-member community greeted provincial Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler with soup, bannock with butter and jam, and tea after his four-hour trek from Winnipeg. “It’s supposed to be very beautiful in the summer, but driving up in winter was just magnificent,” Schuler said upon his arrival.

Berens River Mayor Allan Atlookan said community elders have spoken about a year-round road link for decades. Some have died before they could witness the realization of that dream. “It’s over 40 to 50 years in the making,” he told reporters in a telephone conference call.”It is an opening to the world out there for not just the local… people, but for tourism. The doors are starting to open up for us.” Continue Reading →

Australia cobalt rush accelerates on electric vehicle demand, DRC troubles – by Melanie Burton (Reuters Canada – December 15, 2017)

https://ca.reuters.com/

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia, home to the world’s second-biggest cobalt reserves, is seeing a rush of interest in projects still years from production as makers of batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) seek supplies of the metal from a more costly but less risky source than top miner, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As auto makers seek to develop greener cars, shares in Clean TeQ CLQ.AX – owner of one of the largest cobalt deposits in Australia – have trebled this year. Minnows Cobalt Blue COB.AX, Australian Mines AUZ.AX, Artemis Resources ARV.AX and Aeon Metals AML.AX have also seen shares surge.

On Friday, Aeon, developing a copper-cobalt project in Queensland, raised A$30 million ($23 million) from institutional investors. Continue Reading →

America’s mining policy undermines national security – by Jeff A. Green (The Hill – December 14, 2017)

http://thehill.com/

Jeff A. Green is president and founder of J.A. Green & Company, a bipartisan government relations firm based in Washington D.C.

After nearly two decades of war, the American military must address a readiness crisis. Both Congress and the Trump administration are working to rebuild the military’s front-line forces. But readying America’s industrial base to support the force of the future requires further action.

The Department of Defense should be gravely concerned that disruptions in America’s mineral supply chain could undermine our national security. The U.S. military uses 750,000 tons of minerals each year to keep our country and troops safe. However, the U.S. is now entirely reliant on other countries for at least 20 minerals needed to build fighter jets, engines, radar, missile defense systems, satellites, precision munitions and other key technologies.

These key minerals enable the “overmatch” that Secretary of Defense James Mattis demands, which ensures we can not only win any war, but win it in overwhelming fashion. Continue Reading →

Why investing in coal is risky business – by Catherine McKenna (Globe and Mail – December 15, 2017)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Catherine McKenna is Minister for the Environment and Climate Change

This week, we marked the two-year anniversary of the Paris climate accord with big news. The Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was recently launched by Britain and Canada as a global effort to phase out coal-fired electricity, grew to more than 50 members, including 33 countries and 24 businesses.

But while momentum is clearly building to end pollution from burning coal, a change of that magnitude takes time. As environmental organizations reported this week, some Canadian companies are among those investing to expand coal power overseas.

While companies are responsible for their own decisions, this news does not represent the growing trend worldwide. Many other companies and investors are moving in the opposite direction. They see opportunities not in the expansion of coal burning – which is a hazard to our health and a driver of climate change – but in the economic opportunity of clean growth. Continue Reading →

Human activity takes a toll on caribou habitat in Nunavik – by Sarah Rogers (Nunasiaq News – December 14, 2017)

http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/

Researchers at Université Laval say human activity in northern Quebec is damaging and reducing the extent of caribou habitat, along with the health of the herds that migrate through Nunavik each year.

A new study attempts to quantify that impact by looking at how the animals have shifted their ranges as roads and mines are developed in the region.

The two main migratory caribou herds in Nunavik have seen their populations drop dramatically in recent years. The George River herd has plummeted from 800,000 animals in 1993 to just 9,000 in 2016, while the Leaf River herd has dropped from 600,000 caribou in 2001 to less than 200,000 today. Continue Reading →

Holler promises: Subsidising coal production is a really bad idea (The Economist – December 14, 2017)

https://www.economist.com/

WELCH AND WILLIAMSON, WEST VIRGINIA – ON A brisk early-autumn morning in Welch, seat of the poorest county in America’s third-poorest state, four young men methodically demolish an old car-parts factory. The men wielding sledgehammers are not vandals, but construction trainees hired by Coalfield Development, a local non-profit, and they are working hard.

The low, solid building has good bones, but has fallen into disrepair from extended disuse. The same is true of Welch itself. The beautiful stone and brick buildings, complete with carved mullions, stone flares along rooflines and other architectural flourishes, show that once upon a time this town had confidence and money. Discount shops and boarded-up shopfronts testify to a harder present.

McDowell County is the heart of Appalachia, a once-Democratic region that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump. Mr Trump won four of America’s top five coal-producing states (Illinois, with much of its population concentrated in and around liberal Chicago, was the exception). Continue Reading →

Eastmain Resources advances multiple projects in Canada’s newest gold camp – by Trish Saywell (Northern Miner – December 13, 2017)

Goldcorp (TSX: G; NYSE: GG) put the underexplored James Bay gold district of northern Quebec on the map as a highly prospective new gold camp in 2014, when it poured the first gold from its Eleonore gold mine. Last year the mine, 800 km north of Montreal, produced 274,000 oz. gold and this year is expected to produce 315,000 oz. gold.

But a number of juniors are active in the area, too, some of them in a joint-venture partnership with Goldcorp on a property called Eleonore South, about 5 km to the south of the Eleonore mine and adjacent to the southeastern border of the gold major’s Eleonore property.

Eastmain Resources (TSX: ER; US-OTC: EANRF) and Azimut Exploration (TSXV: AZM) own 36.7% and 26.6% of the joint-venture project, respectively, with Goldcorp owning the remaining 36.7%. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-As Glencore restarts capacity, is time up for zinc rally? – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – December 14, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Dec 14 (Reuters) – When Glencore announced it was curtailing 500,000 tonnes of capacity at its zinc mines in October 2015, the price of three-month zinc on the London Metal Exchange was $1,700 per tonne.

The price is now $3,175 per tonne, hovering within striking distance of last month’s 10-year high of $3,326. Glencore can’t take full credit for the bull surge of the last two years but its curtailments acted as a powerful accelerator to a structural shift towards supply deficit.

So what happens next, now the company has just announced the first restart at the Lady Loretta mine in Australia? The market seems unfazed. Indeed, LME zinc rallied on the news, the bear sting masked by a headline decline in forecast production next year. Continue Reading →

National Australia Bank stops all lending for new thermal coal projects – by Gabrielle Jackson (The Guardian – December 14, 2017)

https://www.theguardian.com/

National Australia Bank says it will halt all lending for new thermal coal mining projects, becoming the first major Australian bank to phase out support of thermal coal mining.

While the bank will continue providing finance for coal projects already on its books, NAB said an orderly transition to a low-carbon Australia was critical for the economy and for continued access to secure and affordable energy.

“While we will continue to support our existing customers across the mining and energy sectors, including those with existing coal assets, NAB will no longer finance new thermal coal mining projects,” the bank said in a statement on Thursday. Continue Reading →