Archive | Asia Mining

COLUMN-Indonesia rocks the nickel market (again) – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – January 13, 2017)

Jan 13 Almost exactly three years ago Indonesia rocked the global nickel market by banning the export of unprocessed minerals. At the stroke of a presidential pen the flow of nickel ore feeding China’s massive stainless steel sector was cut off.

Now Indonesia has done it again, this time by part reversing that ban. The London Metal Exchange nickel price initially slumped 5 percent on the news to a four-month low of $9,660 per tonne before recovering to $10,275 at the Thursday close.

The tremors have spread to the equities market with the shares of Australia’s nickel producers and Indonesia’s own PT Vale Indonesia experiencing similar turbulence. Continue Reading →

China imported record 1.02b tonnes of iron ore in 2016 – by Ranjeetha Pakiam(Australian Financial Review – January 14, 2017)

Bloomberg – Iron ore imports by China surged to a record above 1 billion tonnes last year as unexpectedly strong steel production and lower local mine output combined to fire up demand in the world’s top buyer for cargoes from Australia and Brazil, supporting a rebound in prices.

Asia’s top economy imported 1.024 billion tonnes in 2016, up 7.5 per cent from a year earlier, according to customs data issued on Friday: that’s about 32 tonnes a second, according to Bloomberg calculations. Purchases last month totalled about 89 million tonnes, compared with 96.3 million tonnes a year earlier.

Iron ore surged more than 80 per cent last year as China added stimulus to sustain economic growth, bolstering steel production, soaking up rising low-cost mine supply and shredding bears’ forecasts. Continue Reading →

Coal Recovery Too Good to Resist for World’s Biggest Shipper – by Fitri Wulandari and Eko Listiyorini (Bloomberg News – January 13, 2017)

Indonesia will exceed its coal production target for another year as miners cash in after prices recovered from a five-year collapse.

The world’s biggest exporter will produce about 489 million metric tons this year, 18 percent above the government-mandated target, according to energy ministry forecasts. That’s up from last year’s output estimated at 434 million tons and would be at least the third year in a row that the nation has produced more than it planned.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy has been trying to cap its coal output in an attempt to preserve resources for future generations of Indonesians. That’s proving a challenge as resurgent prices tempt producers to maximize output from new and existing mines to meet demand at home and abroad. Continue Reading →

Nickel smelters consider suing Indonesia after ore export ban U-turn – by Wilda Asmarini and Fergus Jensen (Reuters U.S. – January 13, 2017)

JAKARTA – A major Chinese investor in Indonesia’s smelter industry said on Friday it was considering legal action and would put on hold its expansion plans in the country, after the government abruptly reversed a ban on the export of nickel ore and bauxite.

Indonesia’s government faced a sharp industry backlash after it unveiled sweeping new rules on Thursday allowing the export of nickel ore and bauxite under certain conditions. The policy change was a blow to Indonesia’s smelting industry which took off after the country banned mineral ore exports in 2014 to spur higher-value processing.

Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry, a unit of China’s De Long Nickel Co Ltd, and other smelter operators are jointly reviewing legal steps against the Indonesian government, Virtue Dragon’s general manager Rudi Rusmadi told Reuters by telephone. Continue Reading →

Indonesia eases export ban on nickel ore, bauxite – by Wilda Asmarini and Bernadette Christina Munthe (Reuters U.S. – January 12, 2017)

JAKARTA – Indonesia introduced new rules on Thursday that will allow exports of nickel ore and bauxite and concentrates of other minerals under certain conditions, in a sweeping policy shift from the key global supplier.

The broad changes cover areas including permit extensions, which can now be applied for up to five years in advance of expiry, and rules on divestment.

The changes also require nickel and bauxite miners to dedicate at least 30 percent of their smelter capacity to process low-grade ore, defined as below 1.7 percent nickel or below 42 percent aluminum. Continue Reading →

Oversupply prompts Kazakh uranium production cut (World Nuclear News – January 10, 2017)

Kazakhstan plans to produce 10% less uranium in 2017 than previously planned in response to ongoing oversupply in the uranium market, KazAtomProm chairman Askar Zhumagaliyev announced today.

In total, Kazakh uranium production for 2017 will be 2000 tU less than previously planned. The reduction is roughly equivalent to 3% of total global uranium production based on 2015 figures.

Kazakhstan’s uranium mining operations are either wholly owned by state-run company Kazatomprom or operated through joint ventures between KazAtomProm with international partners. The exact production levels for each mine and joint venture have been determined and approved by their respective management boards, based on the circumstances and economics of each operation, and vary from the 10% aggregate, KazAtomProm said. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-Indonesia to issue new mining rules this week -minister – by Wilda Asmarini and Bernadette Christina Munthe (Reuters U.S. – January 10, 2017)

Jan 10 Indonesia will issue new rules for miners this week, the mining minister said late on Tuesday, which will cover contracts and permits, exports, taxes, divestment obligations and domestic processing requirements, among other issues.

Indonesia announced in 2014 a ban on ore shipments to push miners to build smelters to process ore locally, but gave some concessions to concentrate producers after protests from the industry. As part of this push, a ban on the export of mineral concentrates from Indonesia is due to kick in on Jan. 12.

Rules now being drafted will allow concentrate shipments to continue beyond that deadline in certain cases, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Continue Reading →

After Jharkhand toll, 2016 one of deadliest years for mine workers – by Anil Sasi (Indian Express – January 3, 2017)

Eastern Coalfields, where the latest accident has taken place, is a subsidiary of State-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL), the world’s largest coal miner.

Thursday night’s mine collapse at Eastern Coalfields Ltd’s Lal Matia coal mine in Jharkhand rounds up one of the deadliest years for those toiling deep in the bowels of the earth.

The 17 mine worker deaths reported till January 1 sharply push up the mining fatality count for this year, which stood at 65 across both coal and non-coal mines during just the first six months of this year, for which latest data is available — translating into a fatality every three days. More than a dozen workers remain trapped.

In a sector whose safety record is far from inspiring, at least 122 people more were documented to have met with a serious accident during this period, which translates into a serious accident every one and a half days. With a fatal accident every three days, mining is arguably the most dangerous profession in India, alongside ship-breaking. Continue Reading →

Bre-X tale rich with Hollywood drama – by Jennifer Wells (Toronto Star – December 30, 2016)

Nearly two decades later, the gold-digging investment fraud gets the silver-screen treatment.

It’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre meets Wall Street! How could it not be a movie? That was the husband speaking, lo these many years ago now. Certainly the component parts were all there. For atmospherics: the steam heat of the Indonesian jungle, replete with tigers and cobras and a gator infested river.

Greed? The muscle-bound tactics of some of the largest gold mining companies on the planet would fit that bill, their actions adorned by a cadre of bedazzled brokers and enabling analysts. Corruption? The Suharto regime was rich in the stuff. Intrigue? Surely the surprise helicopter exit of a geologist — a 250-metre plunge into a tropical rainforest — would tweak a viewer’s interest. Continue Reading →

Tibetans in anguish as Chinese mines pollute their sacred grasslands – by Simon Denyer (Washington Post – December 26, 2016)

JIAJIKA, CHINA — High in western China’s Sichuan province, in the shadow of holy mountains, the Liqi River flows through a lush, grassy valley, dotted with grazing yaks, small Tibetan villages and a Buddhist temple. But there’s poison here.

A large lithium mine not only desecrates the sacred grasslands, villagers say, but spawns deadly pollution. This river used to be full of fish. Today, there are hardly any. Hundreds of yaks, the villagers say, have died in the past few years after drinking river water.

China’s thirst for mineral resources — and its desire to exploit the rich deposits under the Tibetan plateau — have spread environmental pollution and anguish for many of the herders whose ancestors lived here for thousands of years. The land they worship is under assault, and their way of life is threatened without their consent, the herders say. Continue Reading →

No respite for shuttered iron ore miners as rally falls short – by Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – December 21, 2016)

MANILA – While this year’s spectacular rebound in iron ore prices has been a godsend for the world’s biggest miners, it has not gone high enough for smaller, less-efficient producers that still have pits shuttered and equipment idle.

The price of the steelmaking material has nearly doubled in 2016 to above $80 a ton, a boon for miners such as Vale, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto which extract the material at a cost of less than $20 per ton.

But smaller producers from China to Sweden still face hard times as their output costs can be as much as $100 a ton due to lower grades and fewer economies of scale. “Every mine I know remains shut down,” Pan Guocheng, chief executive of mining company China Hanking Holdings Ltd, told Reuters by phone. Continue Reading →

Coal Traders See End of Price Rally as China Ramps Up Output – by Ladka Mortkowitz Bauerova (Bloomberg News – December 21, 2016)

Coal’s recovery was one of the biggest surprises in commodities this year, but it’s all poised to end as output rises from China, producer of half the world’s supply.

After half a decade of declines, European prices rebounded more than 80 percent as China, also the world’s biggest consumer of the fuel, boosted imports. Benchmark month-ahead contracts will fall by more than 25 percent by the end of next year, according to the median in a Bloomberg survey of six analysts and traders.

Just as Chinese policy limiting mining days kick-started the rally, a gradual boost in domestic output during autumn will accelerate a slide, according to analysts. Once seasonal winter demand in the northern hemisphere is over, China will need less imports at the same time as abundant output by other producers will keep a lid on prices from Australia to Antwerp. Continue Reading →

Commodity forecasting is a guessing game on China, Trump, OPEC – by Clyde Russell (Daily Mail/Reuters – December 21, 2016)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 21 (Reuters) – It’s that time of year when crystal balls get taken out and polished up, but forecasting commodity markets for 2017 is less certain than usual given the unpredictability of the three main likely drivers.

After a largely stellar year in 2016, the outlook for major commodities is likely to come down to the actions of Donald Trump, the Chinese government and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Note the word “actions” in the above paragraph, as what these three players actually do will ultimately have a far larger bearing than what they say they are going to do. Take China for example. This year saw most analysts surprised by the strength of both China’s coal and iron ore imports, which led to rallies in the prices of both commodities. Continue Reading →

[Indonesia] Smelting industry held hostage by policy uncertainty – by Viriya P. Singgih (Jakarta Post – December 20, 2016)

A plan to allow more exports of raw and partly processed mineral products has irked businesses that have already invested heavily in smelters intended to add value to mineral ores and generate a multiplier effect for the economy.

The businesses argue that such a policy would not only send a chilling message to the international community that Indonesia cannot hold to its commitments, but also harm the downstream industry and put more pressure on the global prices of several mining commodities already experiencing a supply glut.

A draft regulation prepared by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, a copy of which was recently obtained by The Jakarta Post, will allow companies with mining licenses (IUP), or special mining licenses (IUPK), or former holders of contracts of work to have the privilege of getting five-year export licenses. Continue Reading →

Japan’s base metal firms tap materials market for growth – by Yuka Obayashi (Reuters U.S. – December 19, 2016)

TOKYO – Stung by years of falling base metals prices, Japanese mining and smelting firms are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in specialized materials used in electric vehicles, smartphones and a host of everyday electronic devices.

Companies such as Sumitomo Metal Mining and JX Nippon Mining & Metals, a unit of JX Holdings, are seeking a steady revenue stream in the face of narrow smelting margins and recent heavy write-offs on base metals mines.

The firms hope to cash in on a push by global automakers into electric vehicles as well as new uses for their metals in the coming era of the Internet of Things when everything from screwdrivers to cars is expected to be linked to the Internet. Continue Reading →