Archive | Asia Mining

COLUMN-China’s Nov commodity imports confirm trends; copper the outlier – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – December 10, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 11 (Reuters) – The sharp rebound in China’s imports of major commodities in November was more of a return to normal service than any sign of a resurgence in demand in the world’s largest buyer of natural resources.

Certainly, it’s appealing to look at the November numbers and conclude that China’s appetite for commodities is storming ahead, but that ignores the reality that the data was affected by the week-long holidays in early October.

In the past three months, China’s commodity imports were extremely strong in September, with record iron ore purchases, unbelievably weak in October and now roaring back to strength in November. Continue Reading →

Iron Ore From Paradise Wins No Takers as China Upends Market – by Swansy Afonso (Bloomberg News – December 8, 2017)

A China-led flight to quality in the global iron ore market is punishing producers of the lower-grade material, with miners in India facing an increasing battle to find buyers for their cargoes as demand dwindles.

In Goa, exporters are struggling to sell even a quarter of what they shipped last year, according to Glenn Kalavampara, secretary at the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters’ Association. “There’s absolutely no market,” he said by phone from Panaji, capital of the western state that’s better known for its sparkling beach resorts. “The preference for higher-grade ore is a major concern.” he said.

While Indian exports account for just a fraction of the global seaborne market of about 1.4 billion tons that’s dominated by Vale SA, Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd., the plight of the low-grade shippers highlights the new dynamic. Continue Reading →

Massive Oyu Tolgoi mine to more than double gold production in 2018 – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – December 7, 2017)

Rio Tinto-controlled Turquoise Hill (TSX:TRQ) is expecting its majority-owned Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia to churn in 2018 more than double the amount of the precious metal forecast for this year, with operating costs dropping about 2.8%.

In an update that went almost unnoticed, the Canadian miner said earlier this week it expected the massive Mongolian mine to produce 240,000 to 280,000 ounces of gold concentrate next year, more than double the 100,000 to 140,000 ounces initially expected for 2017.

The Vancouver-based company also forecast the mine to generate 125,000 to 155,000 tonnes of copper in 2018, slightly less than the 130,000 to 160,000 tonnes predicted for this year. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Indonesia’s Freeport-Rio plan masks longer-term issues – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – December 7, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 7 (Reuters) – A proposed three-way deal between the Indonesian government, Rio Tinto and Freeport-McMoRan to clean up the ownership of the giant Grasberg copper-gold mine looks like one of those rare situations where everybody wins.

Except that it isn‘t. Certainly all parties may walk away feeling that they have achieved the best outcome, assuming the complicated deal can be pulled off at a price acceptable to all three.

But this ignores the wider picture in which any short-term advantage is likely to be offset by compounding longer-term problems. First, a brief re-cap of what’s at stake. Grasberg is the world’s second-largest copper mine, as well as being one of the five-biggest gold mines, and is further advantaged by having high grades and low costs. Continue Reading →

Iron Ore Enters Bull Market as China’s Curbs Supercharge Steel – by Jake Lloyd-Smith and Ranjeetha Pakiam (Bloomberg News – December 3, 2017)

Iron ore has rallied back into a bull market. Prices are surging as China’s crackdown on steel output this winter runs down inventories, helping mills’ profitability and stoking demand for high-grade ore even as investors discount signs of ample supply.

Spot ore with 62 percent iron content jumped 3.7 percent to $72.68 a metric ton, the highest since Sept. 14, according to Metal Bulletin Ltd. That’s more than 20 percent up from the low hit in late October, meeting the common bull-market definition. Earlier, on Monday, futures in Asia rallied, with the SGX AsiaClear prices rising 2.9 percent to $71.29 a ton.

Iron ore’s gains — which will aid miners including Rio Tinto Group, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA — are buttressed by China’s unprecedented push to rein in steel output this winter to cut pollution. Continue Reading →

Indonesia plans to buy out Rio’s share of Grasberg copper mine – by Wilda Asmarini and Fergus Jensen (Reuters U.K. – December 5, 2017)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia plans to acquire Rio Tinto’s 40 percent participating stake in the Grasberg copper mine operated by the local division of Freeport-McMoRan Inc, part of government plans to control more of the country’s resources.

Under a joint venture formed in 1996, Rio has a 40 percent interest in Freeport’s Grasberg contract, entitling it to 40 percent of production above specific levels until 2021 and 40 percent of all production after 2022. Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport said in August it would divest 51 percent of PT Freeport Indonesia to the Indonesian government, to meet local ownership rules.

Indonesia plans to complete the acquisition of Rio’s interest in the mine in 2018, as part of a purchase of a 51 percent stake in Freeport Indonesia by the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) and other government units, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Tuesday. Continue Reading →

China coal cities secure $310 mln ADB loan to revitalise economies  (Reuters U.K. – December 5, 2017)

SHANGHAI, Dec 5 (Reuters) – Four cities in northeast China have secured a loan of $310 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to revitalise their economies, the bank said on Tuesday, two years after mass layoffs at local coal mines triggered unrest in the region.

The cities of Hegang, Jixi, Qitaihe and Shuangyashan – in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province – were the major casualties of a 2015 decision by state-owned Longmay Group to slash coal production, close depleted mines and lay off as many as 100,000 local workers, part of nationwide efforts to tackle overcapacity and shore up prices in the sector.

Thousands of miners marched through Shuangyashan early last year to protest against unpaid wages by the Longmay Group, which had been making losses since 2012. Continue Reading →

Kazakh supply shock to jolt uranium price – by Frik Els ( – December 4, 2017)

The announcement made by uranium giant Cameco a month ago that it’s suspending operations at its flagship McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan, Canada did little to move to languishing uranium price.
Last week the nuclear fuel was pegged at $23 a pound, a level it has hovered around for long stretches of 2017. On Monday, the world largest producer of uranium, surprised the beleaguered market with a larger than expected cut to production of its own.

Kazakhstan’s state-owned Kazatomprom announced intentions to reduce its output of U3O8 by 20% or 11,000 tonnes (around 28.5m pounds) over the next three years beginning in January 2018.

According to the company roughly 4,000 tonnes will be cut in 2018 alone “representing approximately 7.5% of global uranium production for 2018 as forecast by UxC.” Continue Reading →

COLUMN-China trims appetite for coal imports, but prices hold up – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – December 4, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 4 (Reuters) – There are indications that China’s appetite for imported coal may be starting to ease in line with Beijing’s efforts to limit the use of the fuel over winter in a bid to lower air pollution.

China’s seaborne imports were 18.26 million tonnes in November, down from 20 million in October, according to vessel-tracking and port data compiled by Thomson Reuters Supply Chain and Commodity Forecasts.

It’s the fourth consecutive monthly decline for seaborne coal imports, according to the data, and it comes as the authorities impose productions cuts on coal-consuming industries such as steel. Continue Reading →

Indonesia eyes global playing field with state mining conglomerate – by Wataru Suzuki (Nikkei Asian Review – November 30, 2017)

JAKARTA — The day began with dozens of Indonesian government officials and state mining executives shuffling in and out of marathon meetings at one of Jakarta’s oldest hotels. By late afternoon Wednesday, they had opened a new chapter in the country’s efforts to revitalize the mining sector.

Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, a state-owned aluminum refiner known as Inalum, was transformed into a holding company that controls nonferrous metal producer Aneka Tambang, coal company Bukit Asam and tin miner Timah. The government’s 65% stake in each of the three listed companies has been transferred to Inalum. The remaining shares will remain publicly traded.

The shift is designed to create a national mining champion that can compete with global giants like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. The news conference that followed the deal offered an early glimpse of how the strategy will play out. Continue Reading →

Turkey launching smart coal strategy, energy minister says (Daily Sabah – December 1, 2017)

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak said the government’s basic principle has been to act with smart, rational strategies in all the processes of coal, indicating that they were launching a “smart coal strategy.”

Speaking at the opening of the 2nd Coal Action Plan Workshop Thursday, Minster Albayrak said that domestic coal is of great importance to reduce external dependence on energy.

Meanwhile, he also said that the domestic car is an important source to be evaluated with regard to employment and added value. “In all the processes of coal, our basic principle has been to act with smart and rational strategies,” the minister said with regards to the smart coal strategy. Continue Reading →

Meet the woman drumming up resistance against mining companies and future typhoons in the Philippines – by Sophie Morlin-Yron (The Ecologist – December 1, 2017)

SOPHIE MORLIN-YRON talks to activist and former Philippine environment secretary Gina Lopez about banning open-pit mines, battling climate change and winning the 2017 Seacology Prize

Comprising some 7,000 islands in the tropical Western Pacific, the Philippines prides itself as one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Among the archipelago’s many endemic species are several flying frogs, the Philippine mouse deer and the endangered Philippine eagle, also called the monkey-eating eagle.

Its atolls and turquoise waters hide natural treasures too. For example, the spectacular Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a World Heritage Site, is 130,028 hectares of beautiful lagoons and coral islands where rare birds and marine turtles come to nest.

“We are a country of beautiful volcanoes, mountains, rivers, and corals. It’s absolutely spectacular,” says Regina ‘Gina’ Lopez, who was the winner of the 2017 Seacology Prize in recognition of her environmental advocacy, which among many other things has led to a ban on open-pit mining. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Is China’s aluminium sector too relaxed about U.S. dumping moves? – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 30, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Nov 30 (Reuters) – It will be tempting for China’s aluminium market participants to dismiss as inconsequential the latest move by the U.S. Commerce Department to impose anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on imports of aluminium alloy sheet.

The proposed moves would affect only a small amount of China’s aluminium exports, but the main issue isn’t the economic value of the U.S. action, but rather where it ultimately may lead.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in announcing the move on Nov. 28, said it was “one more step” in fulfilling President Donald Trump’s campaign against what he termed unfair trade practices. Continue Reading →

Mining mire spreads in Indonesia – by John McBeth (Asia Times – November 28, 2017)

While US mining giant Freeport McMoran’s contract dispute has hogged headlines, smaller foreign miners are next in the government’s nationalistic sights

American mining giant Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold may dominate headlines for its endless negotiations with the Indonesian government over the fate of its rich Grasberg mine, but spare a thought for the small foreign mining firms who are getting trampled in the process.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has recently sent an ultimatum to eight Contract of Work (CoW) holders that it will be “unable to provide any services to company activities” if the hold-outs fail to sign a 37-page amended contract by the end of the year.

Riding a wave of resource nationalism that began at the start of the commodity boom in the mid-2000s, the ministry has already rejected one firm’s request for an extended feasibility study and turned down another’s 2018 work program, both of which are needed to raise additional finance. Continue Reading →

Indonesia has ‘no clear structure’ for a Freeport deal yet – by Fergus Jensen and Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.S. – November 23, 2017)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises, tipped to oversee an acquisition of a majority stake in the local unit of Freeport-McMoRan Inc, has “no clear structure” yet for the deal, a ministry official said on Friday.

Under a framework agreement announced in August, Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport said it would divest 51 percent of PT Freeport Indonesia (PT-FI), but there has been little progress since then.

Freeport, operator of Grasberg, the world’s second-largest copper mine, also agreed to build a second smelter in Indonesia and to invest up to $20 billion in expansions. Continue Reading →