Archive | Asia Mining

“One Belt, One Road”, China, Globalization and the International Oligarchy – by Kerry R. Bolton (Foreign Policy Journal – October 19, 2017)

What was once called “imperialism” is now “globalization”, and China taking a lead is no reason for celebration by opponents of the US’s Empire.

In estimating the significance of geopolitical maneuvering by the USA, EU, China, and Russia, more can be discerned by looking at the organ grinders rather than their monkeys. One might expect this to be axiomatic, but apparently not, and it can be readily dismissed as “conspiracy theory” by journalists, academics and other intellectually banal types; unless it is a Clintonesque conspiracy theory that is of a Russophobic character.

I would still contend that when looking at Russia under Putin, it is usually that “what one sees is what one gets,” but not so the other major geopolitical world players. One must look beyond the public figures of the USA, China and EU, to get a fuller picture of what is transpiring on the world stage among these players. Continue Reading →

China’s Jinchuan eyes new nickel, cobalt project to tap electric vehicle boom – by Tom Daly (Reuters U.S. – October 20, 2017)

BEIJING (Reuters) – Jinchuan Group [JCHRP.UL], China’s top nickel producer, will next year start building a new project in Guangxi that will produce raw materials for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, its chairman said, looking to tap the sector’s “explosive” demand.

The project, in the southern port city of Fangchenggang, where Jinchuan already smelts copper and nickel, will have annual production of 30,000 tonnes of nickel and 3,000 tonnes of cobalt by 2020, Wang Yongqian said in an emailed Q&A with Reuters.

The company’s three main metals “are all raw materials for electric cars,” Wang said, forecasting “explosive growth” in EVs in China over the next five-10 years. Wang was in Beijing this week to attend the 19th Communist Party congress. Continue Reading →

Australia’s Chinese dream must go beyond iron ore – by Michael Smith(Australian Financial Review – October 19, 2017)

Credit Suisse’s top China economist Dong Tao was given a bodyguard to escort him to the airport in Brazil after his 2013 speech predicting the commodities super cycle was over sent the country’s mining stocks down 5 per cent. When he made a similar speech in Australia later that year, no one believed him.

Tao is back in Australia this week with similar bearish comments about Chinese demand for iron ore and coal. This time round, the market would be wise to pay more attention. Tao, one of the first to predict the end of the China-driven commodities super cycle, says Australia’s weakness is that it has relied too long on China’s insatiable appetite for steel and is not planning for the Asian nation’s transition to a consumption-led economy.

“It is obvious Australians can sell beef and wheat to the Chinese but it can do a hell of a lot more if people do their homework properly,” Tao, a managing director for Credit Suisse’s private banking operations in the region, says. Continue Reading →

Rio Holds Talks With Indonesia About Exit from Giant Mine – by Brett Foley and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – October 20, 2017)

Rio Tinto Group has held talks with Indonesian groups, including state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, about a possible exit from its interest in the giant Grasberg copper and gold operation, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Executives at Rio held meetings in recent weeks, including in Indonesia, on a potential sale of its income stream asset that’s part of the joint venture agreement with Grasberg’s operator Freeport-McMoRan Inc., said the people, asking not to be identified as details are private.

Rio is studying a range of options that could enable it to sell on its interest, the people said. There’s no guarantee that the talks will advance, or that any deal will eventuate, the people said. Continue Reading →

Resource nationalism as imperialism – by Arianto Sangadji (Inside Indonesia – Oct/Dec 2017)

Foreign investment in large-scale mining has encountered serious obstacles

Over the past decade, foreign investment in large-scale mining has been hampered by the enactment of Law No. 4/2009 concerning mineral and coal, which replaced the more liberal Law No. 11/1967. The replacement act and its subsequent regulations have been the subject of intense national policy debate.

Apart from a host of uncertainties due to regulatory changes, some argue that the new law substantially undermines favourable conditions for foreign mining investment. Initially, at least, the policies restricted the inflow of transnational mining capital.

Most criticism of the current development of mining investment is directed at government policy for being heavily nationalistic, for example the prohibition on exporting unprocessed ores in the 2009 law; the mandatory requirement for in-country processing and refining; and the imposition of partial but significant divestiture of foreign mining capital on domestic mining firms, both-state owned and private. Continue Reading →

Iron Ore Rallies as China Imports Bust 100 Million Ton Level – by Jasmine Ng (Bloomberg News – October 13, 2017)

Iron ore imports by China surged above 100 million metric tons to a record, smashing the previous high set in 2015, as the country’s concerted push to clean up the environment stoked demand for higher-grade material from overseas while hurting local mine supply. Prices rallied.

Purchases of iron ore expanded to 102.8 million tons in September from 93 million tons a year ago, surpassing the previous record of 96.3 million tons in December 2015, according to customs data on Friday.

Over the first nine months, imports climbed 7.1 percent to 817 million tons, putting full-year purchases on course to top 1 billion tons by a comfortable margin. Continue Reading →

China Gobbles Amazon Rainforest Ore to Clean Its Polluted Skies – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – October 11, 2017)

A bid by China to clean up pollution in its biggest cities and industrial towns is fueling a push to mine resource riches on the other side of the globe in the Amazon rainforest — one of the most environmentally sensitive areas on Earth.

Smog-laden skies across the world’s most-populated country prompted the government to impose curbs on a domestic steel industry that uses coal-fired blast furnaces to melt iron ore. That’s led to increased demand for higher-grade ore from overseas that can produce more steel with fewer emissions, and profit margins on those shipments have surged.

Exports by Brazil, one of the biggest suppliers, are headed for a fourth straight record in 2017. Top producer Vale SA is shifting production from low-grade reserves in the southeast that have been mined for a century to develop more high-grade deposits in the isolated northern regions of the Amazon, where environmentalists fear further damage to the world’s largest rainforest. Continue Reading →

India’s National Mineral Policy Requires a Radical Overhaul – by Karan Bhagat (Bloomberg News – October 9, 2017)

The Ministry of Mines has recently set up the K R Rao Committee in response to a Supreme Court directive. This was contained in a Court judgement pertaining to illegal mining in Odisha (Common Cause vs Union of India & Ors). The Committee’s professed purpose is to take a fresh look at India’s National Mineral Policy, which has not been reviewed since 2008, and come up with a fresh version by the end of 2017.

In the Odisha mining case, the Supreme Court spelled out what constitutes illegal mining and established that in such cases, the full value of minerals so extracted may be recovered from the offender.

In particular, the Court made clear that mining in breach of the terms of a lease – in excess of volume limits, outside lease areas and in the absence of necessary environmental clearances – is illegal. Continue Reading →

Column: In people vs Adani’s coal mine, people may win – by Clyde Russell (Reuters India – October 9, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – Can thousands of people standing in lines to spell out “Stop Adani” actually scupper the Indian company’s plans to develop a huge coal mine in the Australian outback?

Perhaps a more relevant question is whether the protesters are enough to make Australia’s federal and Queensland state politicians lose their nerve, and quietly withdraw support for what is the world’s largest new coal mine planned.

While Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Party, which holds federal power, and the Labor Party, which rules Queensland state, have maintained their backing for Adani Enterprises’ Carmichael mine so far, both have also previously backed down on political issues over possible electoral losses. Continue Reading →

INTERVIEW: How an Activist Minister in Philippines Took on the Mining Barons – by Fred Pearce (YaleEnvironment360 – October 5, 2017)

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Gina Lopez, who served as the Philippines’ environment chief, talks about her embattled, short-lived tenure and explains why it’s so difficult to rein in the country’s powerful and environmentally destructive mining industry.

Gina Lopez is the scion of a wealthy Filipino family that owns the nation’s largest media conglomerate. Yet despite her privileged background, she has followed an unconventional path — living in an Indian ashram, working anonymously as a missionary in Africa for 11 years, and ultimately becoming an environmental activist in her native land.

That work, especially her campaign against the Philippines’ corrupt and highly destructive mining industry, brought her to the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte, a controversial figure best known for ordering the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers when he was mayor of Davao City. In June 2016, Duterte appointed Lopez as Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Russia takes advantage of China’s North Korea coal ban – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – October 3, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Oct 3 (Reuters) – China’s coal import data for August flung up an interesting anomaly in the form of renewed imports from North Korea, but of far more interest is the surge in cargoes from Russia.

Customs data showed that China imported 1.6 million tonnes from North Korea in August, the first allowed since February when Beijing tightened sanctions against its neighbour as part of international efforts to restrict the isolated dictatorship’s nuclear weapons programme.

While this generated media headlines, it’s likely nothing more than a blip as Beijing had already said it would allow North Korean cargoes stranded at Chinese ports by the sanctions to be cleared. What is more interesting is how Russia has effectively supplanted North Korea as a supplier of relatively good quality coal to China. Continue Reading →

Indonesia’s giant copper nationalisation may be good news for Rio Tinto – by Matthew Stevens (Australian Financial Review – October 4, 2017)

For the best part of a quarter of a century Rio Tinto has struggled to extract any sort of return from its still accumulating $US2 billion investment in the routinely controversial Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia.

But some sort of pay day seems close at hand. Rio’s 40 per cent share in future production from the mine in the West Papua skies is emerging as a pivotal subject of dispute in the latest tug-of-war between Grasberg’s developer and senior owner, Freeport-McMoRan, and the Indonesian government.

Indonesia’s endgame is to inflate the level of local ownership of Grasberg from 9.36 per cent to a controlling 51 per cent. And, after years of bickering that most recently saw Freeport’s copper export licences suspended for 15 weeks, Freeport’s resistance of that ambition appeared to crack with a late-August agreement between miner and government on the pathway to nationalisation. Continue Reading →

Philippine environment minister wins confirmation; miners optimistic – by Enrico Dela Cruz and Manolo Serapio Jr (Reuters U.S. – October 4, 2017)

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine lawmakers confirmed Roy Cimatu as Environment Secretary, giving the former soldier the task of deciding whether to implement reforms spearheaded by predecessor Regina Lopez that led to mine closures – but cost her the job.

A 71-year-old ex-military chief, Cimatu was picked for the post by President Rodrigo Duterte in May, after firebrand environmentalist Lopez failed to win Congressional confirmation. Lopez had ordered 26 of 41 mines in the world’s top nickel ore supplier be shut or suspended to protect water resources.

Miners welcomed Cimatu’s confirmation on Wednesday, saying they’re ready to work with him to support the mining industry. Shares of top nickel ore exporter Nickel Asia Corp jumped nearly 3 percent. Continue Reading →

US Mining Giant Takes on Indonesian Government over Mine Divestiture (Asia Sentinel – September 30, 2017)

Freeport McMoRan refuses to go along with Jakarta’s takeover plan

Freeport-McMoRan Inc, the US-based mining giant, has come out swinging publicly against plans by the Indonesian government to take over a controlling interest in its Grasberg Mine, the world’s largest gold mine and the second largest copper mine, located on high on the side of a remote mountain in the province of Papua.

The Phoenix, Arizona company owns 90.64 percent of PT Freeport Indonesia, the principal operating subsidiary. The Indonesian government currently owns the remaining 9.36 percent.

In a Sept. 28 letter to the secretary general of Indonesia’s finance ministry, Rick Adkerson, Freeport’s chief executive, said the company, which has operated the mine since 1972, “has worked to be responsive to the government’s aspirations for 51 percent ownership but has been consistently clear that the divestment is conditional upon the transactions reflecting fair value of the business through 2041 and that Freeport retain management and governance control. These are non-negotiable positions.” Continue Reading →

In Pakistan’s coal rush, some women drivers break cultural barriers – by Syed Raza Hassan (Reuters U.S. – September 29, 2017)

ISLAMKOT, Pakistan (Reuters) – As Pakistan bets on cheap coal in the Thar desert to resolve its energy crisis, a select group of women is eyeing a road out of poverty by snapping up truck-driving jobs that once only went to men.

Such work is seen as life-changing in this dusty southern region bordering India, where sand dunes cover estimated coal reserves of 175 billion tonnes and yellow dumper trucks swarm like bees around Pakistan’s largest open-pit mine.

The imposing 60-tonne trucks initially daunted Gulaban, 25, a housewife and mother of three from Thar’s Hindu community inside the staunchly conservative and mainly-Muslim nation of 208 million people. “At the beginning I was a bit nervous but now it’s normal to drive this dumper,” said Gulaban, clad in a pink saree, a traditional cloth worn by Hindu women across South Asia. Continue Reading →