UPDATE 2-Brazil’s Vale slumps as ore price outlook, profit disappoints – by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Marta Nogueira (Reuters U.K. – April 27, 2017)


Shares in Vale SA slumped the most in two weeks on Thursday, as executives signaled lackluster trends for iron ore prices this year and investors reacted to a first-quarter profit miss with disappointment.

Preferred shares, world No. 1 iron ore producer Vale’s most widely traded class of stock, shed as much as 4 percent. The decline thwarted a recovery in the stock that had made gains this week on expectations Vale would report a near record quarterly profit.

On a results conference call, company executives said supply and demand of the main ingredient for steel look balanced, helping prices stay at $70 reais per tonne or less. In February, Vale’s head of ferrous minerals Peter Poppinga expected prices hovering around $80 a tonne this year. Continue Reading →

Vale’s first quarter profit lower than expected as rains hurt iron ore output – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – April 26, 2017)


Brazil’s Vale (NYSE:VALE), the world’s No.1 iron ore miner, logged Thursday net income for the first quarter that missed estimates, reflecting the impact of heavy rains that hampered output in the so-called northern system, which groups the Carajás, Serra Leste and S11D mines in northern Brazil, as well rising financial expenses.

The Rio de Janeiro-based company reported a net income of $2.5 billion, no less than a billion off the average consensus estimate of $3.325bn in profit. It was, however, the largest since the first quarter of 2014, according to Vale.

The miner had already announced a production record in iron ore of 86.2 million tonnes for the January-March period, which it credited to the ramp-up of its massive S11D mine in Pará, and the Itabirito project, in Minas Gerais. Continue Reading →

A 1917 coal mine explosion in southern Colorado killed 121. But it’s just a faint memory in the state’s history. – by Jesse Paul (Denver Post – April 27, 2017)


A strike of a match probably led to Colorado’s deadliest disaster. In an instant, the Hastings Mine, outside Trinidad, became a mass grave, leaving 121 men — most of them immigrants from Europe — entombed by an explosion and collapse triggered by a well-respected safety inspector.

Just outside the mine’s entrance, groups of children and weeping women crowded around and waited for news of the men. Those tasked with searching for survivors quickly came to the grim realization that there were none. “I won’t say we found three men,” a rescuer told a reporter, according to historical records, “but we did (find) parts of them.”

It was April 27, 1917, just a few weeks after the U.S. joined World War I. The explosion was the blackest mark among a series of mining disasters that over decades had killed hundreds of men who were working risky jobs to provide for their families. And yet, it’s not been a major narrative in Colorado’s economic history. Continue Reading →

Canadore collaborates on space mining tool – by Staff (Northern Ontario Busines – April 26, 2017)


Sudbury drill firm utilizes North Bay industrial design lab

Canadore College’s innovation centre teamed up with a Sudbury space mining company and a mining supplier on a leading edge drill to be used in deep space exploration.

The staff at the North Bay college’s Innovation Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Production (ICAMP) has been working with Deltion Innovations and Atlas Copco for nearly eight months to produce prototype tool ends for Deltion’s space mining multi-purpose tool, called PROMPT (Percussive and Rotary Multi-Purpose Tool).

Atlas and Deltion brought the PROMPT concept and tool designs to Canadore’s industrial design lab at its Commerce Court campus for manufacturing and production. According to a college news release, the centre utilized its “additive manufacturing resources,” including its 3D metal printer and computer numerical control equipment, to prototype the commissioned parts. Continue Reading →

Coal slump not impacting Navajo Mine, officials say – by Noel Lyn Smith (Farmington Daily Times – April 26, 2017)


NENAHNEZAD — Despite a nationwide slowdown in coal production and increased competition from inexpensive natural gas, the owners and the operators of Navajo Mine say they expect to continue doing business as usual.

Bisti Fuels Co., a subsidiary of the North American Coal Corp., has been operating the open-pit mine since Jan. 1, when it completed the transition in management from previous owners and operators, BHP Billiton.

The Navajo Transitional Energy Co., an enterprise of the Navajo Nation, purchased the mine and its equipment from BHP Billiton in 2013 and picked Bisti Fuels to run it. Among the plans to sustain coal mining operations, NTEC and Bisti Fuels are investing in new equipment and upgrading hardware. Continue Reading →

Fight softwood duties with U.S. coal shipment ban, premier urges – by Andrew Duffy and Lindsay Kines (Victoria Times Colonist – April 27, 2017)


If the United States refuses to come to the negotiating table, and the legal wrangling over the softwood lumber dispute drags on, Canada may want to consider retaliatory action, according to the man tasked with representing British Columbia in the matter.

A day after the U.S. imposed duties averaging 20 per cent on lumber shipments to the U.S, David Emerson, B.C.’s special trade envoy to the U.S., said there might be means of getting the Americans to move off their stance that Canada’s lumber industry is unfairly subsidized.

Asked if there’s anything beyond the legal route Canada could do to push for a negotiated settlement, Emerson suggested retaliation is an option. “There’s always a big debate as to whether a country wants to link one trade issue with another. It’s a slippery slope and while it often happens quietly and implicitly, very seldom is it done in an open and transparent way,” Emerson said. Continue Reading →

Cliffs reports loss, but increased iron ore sales – by John Myers (Duluth news Tribune – April 27, 2017)


Cliffs Natural Resources lost $30 million in the first quarter of 2017, saying it spent more on efforts to reduce its debt and improve its long-term corporate health. The $30 million loss included a $72 million cost for restructuring debt in February. The company has cut its debt to about $1.6 billion compared to $2.5 billion at this time last year.

The company’s first quarter adjusted EBITDA — earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization — was $92 million, up 156 percent over last year. EBITDA is considered a good measure of a company’s current operational health.

Cliffs reported consolidated revenues of $462 million, up 51 percent from last year, due to increased sales and higher prices. The company’s U.S. iron ore pellet sales volume in the first quarter of 2017 was 3.1 million long tons, a 63 percent increase when compared to the first quarter of 2016 as a result of increased demand by its customers — domestic steel producers. Continue Reading →

Potash Market Rebound in ‘Full Force’ as Global Demand Improves – by Jen Skerritt (Bloomberg News – April 27, 2017)


Potash prices are recovering after a decade of weakness, lifting the prospects of a turnaround in fortunes for fertilizer companies following a slump in farm spending.

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s second-biggest producer, boosted its full-year earnings forecast on Thursday and said strong demand will continue for the rest of the year as North American farmers seek to replenish soil nutrients after record harvests. Chinese potash shipments are expected to increased in 2017, it added.

The Canadian company’s performance suggests the potash recovery is in “full force,” Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Jonas Oxgaard said in a note. Canpotex — the joint venture handling overseas sales for Potash Corp. and its two largest North American peers, Agrium Inc. and Mosaic Co. — has kept the market tight and driven up prices, while volumes have exceeded expectations in North America and export markets, a positive sign for the companies, he said. Continue Reading →

Philippines bans open-pit mining as minister toughens crackdown – by Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – April 27, 2017)


MANILA – Philippine Environment Secretary Regina Lopez said on Thursday she will ban open-pit mining in the country, toughening a months-long crackdown on the sector she blames for extensive environmental damage.

The ban comes just days before the outspoken environmentalist-turned-regulator faces a confirmation hearing in Congress that could lead to her removal as minister after a storm of complaints from pro-mining groups.

Lopez, who has already ordered the closure of more than half the country’s operating mines and has previously described open pit mines as “madness”, said it was within her prerogative to ban the practice, which is allowed under Philippines mining law. Continue Reading →

Australian-first centre tackles mining scars on WA landscape – by Emma Young (WA Today – April 27, 2017)


An Australian-first project has lured scientists to Perth from across the globe to work with resources companies on restoring huge tracts of WA land left barren after mining is done. The $6.7 million new centre at Curtin University is led by botanist Kingsley Dixon, former director of science at Kings Park and 2016 WA Scientist of the Year.

He said while Australia had strict approvals processes and mine regulation, the end of a mine’s life was far less scrutinised. “A report by the Australia Institute in March showed Australia had 60,000 abandoned mines where the miner has walked away because it’s too hard to patch the hole, put back the veg,” he said.

“Now a federal inquiry happening into how we got this so wrong. “And in this state the scale of the problem is colossal. There are few other mining activities in the world on this scale.” Continue Reading →

Global Warming Costs Mount as Heatwave Hits Chile’s Glaciers – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – April 27, 2017)


(Bloomberg) — High, high up in the Andes mountains above Chile’s capital, at the foot of the glaciers that date from the last ice age, the temperatures were almost balmy this summer. That threatens long-term water supplies to the city of seven million spread out on the plain below.

At the Olivares Alfa glacier, 4,420 meters above sea level, temperatures rose above 10 Celsius on several days in January and rarely fell below zero, said Andres Rivera, a glaciologist at the Center of Scientific Studies in Valdivia. “It is not rare to have above-zero temperatures during summer, but high temperatures day and night, for several days in a row, that was unprecedented,” Rivera said.

The glaciers that supply much of Santiago’s water over the hot, dry summer months shrunk by a quarter to 380 square kilometers in the 30 years to 2013/14, according to a study by the Universidad de Chile. Continue Reading →

Conflicting rulings in Ontario and B.C. muddy the waters in Eco Oro Minerals board battle – by Barbara Shecter (Financial Post – April 25, 2017)


A layer of drama was added to the fight between Eco Oro Minerals Corp. and a group of dissident shareholders Monday after an Ontario regulator and a B.C. court came to different conclusions regarding the battle over control of the board.

The shareholder group, which is trying to oust the board of the precious metals exploration and mining company in favour of their own slate, got a boost when the Ontario Securities Commission ruled early Monday that a disputed share issue by the company required a shareholder vote.

But a ruling from the B.C. Supreme Court later in the day — in response to a separate claim — found that the minority shareholders of Vancouver-based Eco Oro had not met the test for shareholder oppression. It also adjourned a special meeting at which a different vote — over board composition — was to take place Tuesday. Continue Reading →

U.S. launches national security probe into aluminum imports – by David Lawder (Reuters U.S. – April 27, 2017)


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Commerce Department launched an investigation on Wednesday to determine whether a flood of aluminum imports from China and elsewhere was compromising U.S. national security, a step that could lead to broad import restrictions on the metal.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the investigation was similar to one announced last week for steel imports into the United States, invoking Section 232 of a national security law passed in 1962 at the height of the Cold War.

Ross told reporters the probe was prompted by the extreme competitive pressures that unfairly traded imports were putting on the U.S. aluminum industry, causing several domestic smelters to close or halt production in recent years. Continue Reading →

Côté Gold project back on track: IAMGOLD moves Gogama gold project toward feasibility – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – April 26, 2017)


In 2013, IAMGOLD held out a lot of promise for its Côté Gold project near Gogama, acquired a year earlier from Trelawney Mining. But then the price of gold dropped, and the project was put on the backburner.

“As with most mining companies, we just tried to survive,” said Steve Woolfenden, IAMGOLD’s director of environment, during an April 21 talk in Sudbury to kick off that city’s Modern Mining and Technology Week. “We’ve managed through that downturn.”

In the background, IAMGOLD was still chipping away at the environmental assessment (EA) process, and today, the company has emerged with a renewed optimism about the project, although the plan has been amended from its earlier version. Continue Reading →

Iron ore to slide below $US50 in 2018, says Westpac’s Justin Smirk – by Jasmine Ng (Bloomberg/Australian Financial Review – April 25, 2017)


Iron ore is destined to retreat back below $US50 a tonne next year as supplies go on rising, according to the top forecaster, who warned that weakening prices will probably encourage the sale of inventories.

The raw material will drop to average $US62 in the third quarter and $US59 in the final three months of this year before falling through 2018 to a low of $US41, said Justin Smirk, senior economist of Westpac Banking Corp. Westpac placed first in predicting prices in the first quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Iron ore was whipsawed last week after hitting a near six-month low as investors weighed signals of strength in the largest user China, including steel output at a record in March, against prospects for rising supply. Top miners including Brazil’s Vale are bringing on new capacity, bolstering seaborne sales, at the same time that miners in China have been reviving production. Smirk said that there’d been a huge ramp-up in Chinese supply. Continue Reading →