Archive | Copper

Investors pile into Peru’s $2 billion Michiquillay copper project – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – October 16, 2017)

More than 20 companies are hoping to grab one of Peru’s hottest copper assets, as the country readies to auction off the rights to develop it in December, authorities said Monday.

The $2 billion Michiquillay copper project, located in the country’s northern Cajamarca region, was originally scheduled to be auctioned off next month, but state bidding agency Proinversión decided to push back the date so that interested companies have more time to submit offers, it said in a statement (in Spanish).

Companies have until Nov. 2 to sign up for the auction. A contract for the project, said the agency, will be awarded on Dec. 20. Continue Reading →

Grasberg mine’s riches still a distant glitter for Papuan communities – by Hans Nicholas Jong (Mongabay – October 13, 2017)

High hopes that the world’s biggest gold mine will finally bring meaningful benefit to the community for which it has for decades been a source of contention have been deflated as negotiations hit a wall.

Freeport McMoRan Inc. (FCX) and the Indonesian government are currently hashing out the details of a long-term agreement for an extension of the company’s contract to operate the giant Grasberg gold and copper mine in Papua province, due to expire in 2021.

Freeport announced in August that it had agreed to divest a 51 percent stake in its Indonesian subsidiary, PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), in which it currently holds a 90.64 percent stake, following sustained pressure by the government to reform a mining sector long seen as not doing enough to benefit local communities or contribute to the national economy. Continue Reading →

In Northern Minnesota, Two Economies Square Off: Mining vs. Wilderness – by Reid Forgrave (New York Times – October 12, 2017)

Proposed mines near the Boundary Waters have become the latest front in the fight over who gets to profit from America’s natural resources.

Minnesota is home to some of the world’s most ancient rocks, as old as 3.5 billion years. Earth has been around for only 4.5 billion years. About 2.7 billion years ago, basalt lava flowed underwater near what’s now the state’s border with Canada; the lava hardened, and the creep of geologic time turned it into a bedrock of greenstone and granite.

On top of it, a layer of sedimentary rock rich in iron ore formed nearly two million years ago, when the region was ocean floor. Then a billion years ago, Earth’s crust cracked open, producing a 50-mile-wide fissure stretching from Lake Superior to Kansas. For the next 100 million years, lava bubbled up into what geologists call the Midcontinent Rift, forming a mineral deposit filled with copper and nickel.

Settlers first made their way to the area in 1865 in a fruitless search for gold. What they did find was iron ore, and lots of it. Rails were laid for iron-ore transport, and the town of Ely was founded a few years later, in 1888. Continue Reading →

Plans to restart giant Bougainville mine stall as operating rights battle rages – by Jonathan Barrett (Reuters U.S. – October 5, 2017)

SYDNEY, October 6 (Reuters) – Plans to reopen one of the world’s biggest copper mines, shut by a civil war on the Pacific Island of Bougainville in 1989, have run into trouble.

The quarter of a million people of Bougainville are tentatively scheduled to vote on independence from Papua New Guinea in June 2019, and revenue from the reopening of the Panguna mine is essential for the otherwise impoverished island to have any chance of flourishing if it becomes the world’s newest nation.

But there is now a struggle over who will run the mine between Bougainville Copper Ltd – the previous operator now backed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Papua New Guinea government – and a consortium of Australian investors supported by the head of the landowners who own the mineral rights. Continue Reading →

[Codelco Copper] Mining’s Journey Into Digital Transformation – by Aaron Hand (Automation World – October 3, 2017)

Through digital technologies, mining organizations today are working on shifting the mindset from increasing throughput to increasing productivity. Beyond that, there is plenty of opportunity to not only further optimization, but help operators make decisions that go straight to the bottom line.

“Once you have stable operations running close to the maximum sustainable throughput, there’s room for some further optimization through advanced applications,” noted Doug Warren, vice president of software, industry solutions, for Schneider Electric. “And how to bring the workforce on that journey through operator training and simulation.”

A key word there is “journey.” Codelco, a Chilean state-owned copper mining company, has spent more than a decade implementing advanced process control (APC) and operator training systems (OTSs) in its pyrometallurgy processes. 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 →

Peru’s Dream of Usurping Chile as Copper King Faces Roadblocks – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – October 3, 2017)

The biggest obstacle to Peru’s dream of some day supplanting Chile as the world’s largest copper producer may be Peru itself.

Despite higher-grade ores and lower mining costs than neighboring Chile, the Peruvian government says the country’s potential in copper is being restricted by too much bureaucracy. Mine owners also complain about weak infrastructure and strong opposition to projects from people who fear increased environmental risks and disruption to their communities.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who was elected last year, is pushing expansion of the mining industry as a key to stimulating growth and reducing poverty. His government wants to exploit ore reserves that are the third-largest in the world. While copper output has been rising in the past two years, it remains well below the amount produced in Chile. Continue Reading →

Imperial Metals Investors Are Counting on Another Billionaire Rescue – by Allison McNeely (Bloomberg News – October 2, 2017)

Has billionaire Murray Edwards stepped in to prop up a troubled Canadian copper miner once more? That’s what investors and analysts are wondering after Imperial Metals Corp. won a second reprieve on its loans until Oct. 13 while bankers review a new financial rescue plan.

Edwards, the company’s largest shareholder who has been involved since 1994, has previously helped bail out Imperial Metals by injecting capital, making a loan and guaranteeing a credit line.

Imperial’s shares and bonds have slumped amid uncertainty as to whether Edwards, and money manager Bruce Berkowitz’s Fairholme Capital Management, the largest bondholder, would step in with additional financing. The Vancouver-based company fed those concerns last month when it disclosed lenders had to grant a waiver to avert default, and warned there’s doubt Imperial can survive without more financing or a debt extension. Continue Reading →

Copper project in Florence wins appeal, could break ground this winter – by Isaac Windes (Arizona Daily Star/Cronkite News – September 29, 2017)

WASHINGTON — Florence Copper officials could break ground on a $24 million “in-situ” copper mining facility by December, after an administrative appeals board last week turned down objections to the project from the Town of Florence and another opponent.

The ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board rejected challenges that the in-situ form of mining — which injects acidic water into copper ore deep underground to draw it out and refine it — could pose a threat to the area’s drinking water.

An attorney for the town said in an email that Florence officials were disappointed with the ruling, which they fear leaves the water supply at risk of pollution, “a condition that is not acceptable to the town.” She said the town is reviewing legal options. But officials with the mining company welcomed the decision, which capped a six-year permitting process. 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 →

COLUMN-What China’s imports tell us about the copper market – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – September 28, 2017)

LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) – The metals market used to treat China’s copper trade figures as a mirror on the world’s industrial growth engine. The more copper, particularly refined copper, China imported, the healthier the outlook for manufacturing activity and demand for all industrial metals.

That’s no longer the case. The copper mirror has been distorted over the years by stocking cycles, the complex flow of metal through China’s bonded warehouse zones, and an increase in the country’s own refining capacity.

There is still plenty of interesting information in the monthly copper trade data. It’s just that it tells us more about the state of the copper market than about the state of China.


[Rio Tinto Copper Mining] Will Bougainville Hold Its Independence Referendum? – by Grant Wyeth (The Diplomat – September 28, 2017)

Tensions between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) have again arisen concerning Bougainville’s independence referendum scheduled for June 2019. PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has informed the national parliament that the criteria established in the Bougainville Peace Agreement of 2001 — which would enable the region to hold a referendum — have yet to be met.

According to O’Neill, the region has yet to establish a solid rule of law, maintain functional government structures, nor has it fully disarmed the island’s militias.  However, the ABG has been arguing for some time that the PNG government has failed to live up to its financial obligations to allow the ABG the resources to fully implement the required conditions.

That the PNG government earlier this year had the power cut to government buildings due to unpaid bills, and lost its vote at the United National General Assembly because of a failure to make its annual contributions, could indicate that the ABG may be justified in its complaints. Continue Reading →

Indonesia’s Freeport victory sets tone for foreign miners – by Fergus Jensen and Ed Davies (Reuters U.S. – September 26, 2017)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – For many Indonesians, investment banker-turned-minister Ignasius Jonan is the man who made trains run on time.

Months after being handed the mining portfolio, the minister notched up a bigger victory; securing majority local ownership of Grasberg – one of the world’s biggest gold and copper mines – following months of difficult negotiations with U.S. giant Freeport-McMoRan Inc.

Foreign control of mines has been sore point for many Indonesians, who view it as a legacy of an authoritarian past when a ruling elite cut sweetheart deals to carve up precious resources.

The framework agreement with Freeport on Aug 29 was seen as a victory for Indonesia and a political win for President Joko Widodo as the U.S.-based company agreed, among other measures, to cut its mine ownership from more than 90 percent to below 50 percent in favor of Indonesian owners. Continue Reading →

Ajax mine: too close for comfort in Kamloops? – by Nelson Bennett (Business Vancouver – September 19, 2017)

Copper-gold mine is just two kilometres from the city limits

“I’m not against mining, but…” That line from a recent letter to the editor in Kamloops This Week pretty much sums up the tone of discussion around the Ajax copper-gold mine – a discussion that has been going on in Kamloops since 2011.

It’s a discussion that promises to get more heated in the coming weeks, now that the mine project is in the public comment period of a joint provincial-federal environmental review.

According to KGHM International Ltd., the Polish company that would develop the mine, Ajax would cost $1 billion to build, create 1,800 short-term jobs over a two-and-a-half-year construction period and 500 permanent jobs once the mine is in operation, and generate an annual payroll of $60 million. Continue Reading →

Editorial: Gold, copper reach new highs – by John Cumming (Northern Miner – September 13, 2017)

The sustained strength in most precious and base metals this year reached breakout levels in September, as a weakening U.S. dollar and renewed optimism over Chinese metal demand pushed metal and mineral prices to new highs.

At press time, the spot gold price had surged to an 11-month high of US$1,336.60 per oz., up US$47.90, or 3.7%, in the last 30 days, up 9% in the last two months and up 17% this calendar year. Gold briefly touched US$1,356.60 per oz. on Sept. 8, before pulling back over the next two days, and seeming endling a two-month run-up from the US$1,211 per oz. level on July 10.

While the U.S. has enjoyed soaring stock markets, a growing economy and falling unemployment levels since Donald Trump was sworn in as U.S. president, the U.S. dollar has steadily lost strength throughout 2017, and has seen an accelerated decline since July, which observers attribute to the U.S. Federal Reserve not raising interest rates and gridlock in Washington, D.C. — which derailed health care reform and threatens to scuttle planned tax cuts. The U.S. Dollar Index is down more than 10% this year to 91.861 at press time. Continue Reading →