Chile is the third most attractive country for copper mining investments behind Canada and Australia according to a report from the Chilean Copper Committee, Cochilco that includes fifteen leading countries in the industry and was released this week by Mining minister Hernan de Solminihac in Santiago.
“After analyzing all variables, Chile is placed in third place among the most attractive countries for investments behind developed mining powerhouses such as Canada and Australia”, said Solminihac.
The ranking was based taking into account structural aspects of the different economies from the World Economic Forum and the Heritage Foundation records, as well as information on investing conditions in the mining sector in countries provided by the Fraser Institute.
According to the Chilean minister Cochilco took into account six variables: macroeconomics, political stability, labour specialization, business infrastructure, licences and geological potential.
“The work included the fifteen countries with the largest copper mining developments in the next decade with a total of 120 projects which imply investments in the range of 240 billion dollars”, said Solminihac. Of that number of projects, 32% are in Chile.
Chile is also the world’s leading producer and exporter of copper and is enjoying the benefits of world demand bonanza led by China. Read the rest of this entry »
Ancient ruins of Mes Aynak threatened by planned Chinese mining project.
Mes Aynak, Afghanistan – Ruins dot each hilltop in mountainous Mes Aynak, an hour’s drive south of the capital Kabul. Buddhist monasteries stood here for hundreds of years, and Afghan workers under the supervision of archaeologists are racing to uncover remnants of the past.
The four-square-kilometre site contains the remains of 2,000-year-old villages, but archaeologists say they believe the area has likely been inhabited for 5,000 years. Green-tinged rocks are everywhere: in the ancient walls, jutting out of the ground. That’s because this is one of the most copper-rich spots in the world.
It’s also why archaeologists have a sense of urgency to uncover Mes Aynak. The mining rights to the area have been sold to a Chinese company in a $3bn deal, Afghanistan’s largest commercial contract.
How New Mexico’s copper industry wrote its own rules
Close your eyes, and picture a radical. Bill Olson is not that guy. With a neat brown beard and a fondness for western shirts and jackets, even the occasional bolo tie, he’s the quintessential water nerd. When asked, over coffee and a blueberry scone, to talk about groundwater, he actually grins. Delightedly.
In short, he’s not exactly the person you’d expect to find at the center of a controversy over New Mexico’s environmental rules. And yet, here he is.
Olson is a former bureau chief at the New Mexico Environment Department, which regulates how industry impacts the state’s natural resources. Specifically, he has worked to keep groundwater—the underground aquifers that provide most of New Mexico’s drinking water—from becoming contaminated.
“I’m passionate about groundwater and protection issues,” he says. “It’s something that’s important to me.” It’s early May, and the state has just wrapped up a few grueling weeks’ worth of hearings about a new water pollution rule for copper mines.
To industry, the new rule represents the chance to profit and create jobs in New Mexico. Others see it as an abdication of the state’s responsibility to protect groundwater—and a move to hand over the public’s water to private companies. Read the rest of this entry »
Outside, it’s minus 30 degrees Celsius as a February wind blasts across the Central Asian steppe and through the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar. Inside Government House, President Tsakhia Elbegdorj delivers a televised speech that simultaneously warms his people and chills foreign investors.
The country’s 76 legislators have convened to debate the future of one of the planet’s richest copper and gold mines, Oyu Tolgoi, which is 66 percent owned by London-based Rio Tinto Group (RIO) and 34 percent owned by the state. Elbegdorj tells them Rio Tinto has let the project’s total cost balloon by $10 billion. The higher expenses, which Rio Tinto disputes, would diminish and delay profits the government shares in, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its May issue.
“The time has come for the Mongolian government to take Oyu Tolgoi matters into its own hands,” Elbegdorj says to cheers from the lawmakers. His demands include giving Mongolian employees more management positions on the project, which is scheduled to begin exporting copper concentrate by June.
Few things matter more today in the political and economic life of this landlocked country of 2.8 million people than foreign investment to develop its mineral wealth. Mining money has spawned gleaming office towers, pricey gated communities and luxury-car dealerships in the capital. And yet, half of all Mongolians still live like their nomadic ancestors in circular felt yurts that can be dismantled and moved. Read the rest of this entry »
SYDNEY, May 9 (Reuters) – Rio Tinto could be two weeks away from gaining Mongolian approval to ship copper from its Oyu Tolgoi mine, helping offset a slide in revenue from its U.S. copper business as it faces pressure to slash costs and sell non-core assets.
A landslide at the firm’s Bingham Canyon copper mine in Utah in April, which could result in over $700 million in lost sales revenue based on Reuters calculations, was unlikely to force a rethink on assets sales, Chief Executive Sam Walsh told shareholders at the annual meeting in Sydney on Thursday.
There has been speculation that moves by Rio Tinto to sell its Northparkes copper mine in Australia could be delayed until full production resumed at Bingham Canyon.
“We are not expecting that that (the landslide) will have a difference” on divestment decisions, said Walsh, adding the firm would also not be draw into a “fire sale” of businesses.
Rio Tinto hired Macquarie Bank to sell its majority stake in Northparkes, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. . Rio Tinto and Macquarie declined comment. Japan’s Sumitomo Corp. own 20 percent of the mine. Read the rest of this entry »
Possible blockade of mine road across reserve could be start of ‘catastrophic’ uprising across Canada, think-tank warns
OTTAWA — A threat by a B.C. First Nation to shut down a B.C. mine is a small sign of a potentially “catastrophic” uprising in Canada if Aboriginal Peoples don’t become full participants in natural resource extraction, a prominent think-tank warned Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Wet’suwe’ten First Nation threatened to shut down the $455-million expansion of the Huckleberry Mines Ltd. copper/molybdenum operation, 123 kilometres southwest of Houston, in northern B.C.
Wet’suwet’en Chief Karen Ogen said Wednesday the mine’s access road and power transmission line crosses her band’s reserve near Owen Lake. She said the Wet’suwet’en would likely start by charging a toll on mine workers and contractors using the road. But if the band’s demand for jobs for its members are not met, she threatened more drastic action.
“If we have to the hydro lines will come down,” she vowed. The warning of possible violence across Canada comes from Douglas Bland, a professor emeritus at Queen’s University in Kingston. Bland, in one of two reports on resource development and First Nations published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, argued Canadians should take heed of the Idle No More movement that held protests across Canada against federal inaction on key issues. Read the rest of this entry »
BHP Billiton, the world’s largest resources group, has sold a small, noncore copper mine in Arizona and an associated railway company for $650m, bringing its sale of assets in the past year to $5bn, BHP announced on Monday.
Analysts widely expect further asset sales from Australia-based BHP after Marius Kloppers stepped down as CEO. He was replaced by Andrew Mackenzie who has said he will focus on securing profit margins and cash flows by ensuring optimal performances from the group’s assets.
BHP sold Pinto Valley and the San Manuel Arizona Railroad Company to Canada’s Capstone Mining for $650m in cash in a deal subject to regulatory approval. The transaction should be concluded in the second half of this year.
“The sale of Pinto Valley is an excellent outcome for BHP Billiton shareholders,” Peter Beaven, president of BHP Billiton Copper, said yesterday. “It is consistent with our strategy and it takes the transaction value of divestments announced over the last 12 months to $5bn.”
Analysts said the price was well above what the market was expecting and that it was no surprise BHP was selling the business because of its small size and limited remaining life. Read the rest of this entry »
The Legacy of Copper Mining in Arizona Documentary
“Arizona produces more copper than any other state. This brief history shows how Arizona’s copper mining built a state and changed a nation. This documentary was sponsored by ASU, Daniel Buckley, Freeport McMoRan, Intel, Channel 8, and Resolution Copper Company and was presented to the Arizona Mining Alliance and American Copper Council in May of 2012.”
Salaries in Arizona’s mines are more than twice those for the average job, says a new mining industry-financed report. When benefits are included, the average worker in the mining industry earned $108,000 a year as of 2011, says the report from Kent Hill, a research professor in economics at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.
The average pay and benefits for people working in mining-related jobs not directly in the industry, such as suppliers, is $80,000, he reports. The average for all Arizona workers, including benefits, is about $47,000, he says. Read the rest of this entry »
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The landslide that washed over the terraced steps of a mining pit nearly a mile deep left only the tip of one giant electric-powered shovel poking out of the dirt. The rubble buried three of them, along with 14 enormous haul trucks.
Even more of Kennecott Utah Copper’s equipment lay buried under uneven piles of rubble as high as 300 feet at the bottom of the pit west of Salt Lake City.
It will take months for the major U.S. copper mine to recover from the devastating landslide, even though it had been anticipated by the company. It ran farther out than expected, burying equipment that had been staged there for a dig-out.
Yet company officials tried to sound optimistic Thursday as they opened Bingham Canyon mine to view for the first time since the April 10 slide. “There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a future in mining here,” Kennecott Utah Copper chief Kelly Sanders said. “We’ll meet this challenge.”
Sanders said the company might be able to resume limited ore digging within days, but a full recovery could take a year. Kennecott, which will work from a stockpile, will run out of copper in months and has cut its production goal for 2013 by half. The company has asked 2,100 workers to take vacation or unpaid leave, but few are doing so yet. Read the rest of this entry »
The mining industry has enriched Chile. But its future is precarious
ANTOFAGASTA – TOURIST shops sell polished copper trinkets. Building after building sports a bit of copper cladding. Even the taxi-drivers in Santiago, Chile’s capital, know the price of copper. It is not hard to guess what the country’s biggest export is.
Copper has been kind to Chile. It provides 20% of GDP and 60% of exports. Thanks to it, Chile’s economy is expanding by nearly 6% annually, while inflation and unemployment are enviably low. Poverty rates have tumbled; public services are mostly good. Chile has other strengths, such as agriculture, tourism and even high-tech. But small shifts in the copper price make headlines.
The copper mines themselves are far from the capital. Escondida, the world’s biggest (and the source of over 5% of global supplies) is a 1,300km (800-mile) trek north, in the middle of the Atacama desert. BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, operates two gigantic pits there.
The deeper one is 3.9km from side to side and 650 metres from brim to bottom. Trucks as big as houses, working non-stop, haul 1.5m tonnes of rock out of Escondida each day. Managers may drive 150km in a shift. Last year the mine disgorged 1m tonnes of metal. Overall, Chile produces a third of the world’s copper. Read the rest of this entry »
Copper and nickel are two metals modern society cannot get enough of, but there is not enough to go around, says Rick Mills, publisher of Ahead of the Herd. Add in mounting production costs and you have a supply-and-demand disaster in the making. But when it comes to making fiberglass and aluminum, Mills says in this interview with The Metals Report that he sees a revolution in the making, and its name is anorthosite.
The Metals Report: Rick, you have concerns about supply problems for many industrial metals. Let’s start with the importance of copper and nickel to global growth.
Rick Mills: Modern society would grind to a halt without copper and nickel. Nickel has more than 100,000 applications. Copper is everywhere as well. But growing structural imbalances in the supply-and-demand equation do not bode well for future resource extraction. Mining is extremely capital intensive. The initial capital expense (capex) of building and developing a mine is high.
Company-built infrastructure assets—roads, railways, bridges, power generating stations, seaports—are often needed to extract and transport the ore and concentrate. Second, the operating expenses (opex)—rubber tires, wages, fuel, camp costs—are not stable; they keep going up.
The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.
VANCOUVER — Canadian base metal producer Hudbay Minerals(HBM-T) laid a foundation for success on the Flin Flon greenstone belt in northern Manitoba roughly 85 years ago. During that time the company has developed 26 mines in the region and moved around 145 million tonnes of ore. And with one major development project nearly complete and a strong resource base, Hudbay looks poised to tap the mineral wealth of Flin Flon’s volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits for a long time to come.
The heart of Hudbay’s current production is its flagship 777 underground mine in Flin Flon, which has been producing copper, zinc, gold, and silver in concentrate since around 2004. The 777 operation was especially important for the company in 2012, when it was going through a transition period due to the permanent closure of its Trout Lake and North Chisel mines.
In 2013, 777 will again be Hudbay’s main profit driver, with production expected to total 1.6 million tonnes of ore grading 2.18% copper, 4.41% zinc, 1.94 grams gold per tonne, and 30.89 grams silver per tonne.
“The life of mine at 777 is around eight years, but we still see good potential to extend that life,” commented president and CEO David Garofalo during a first quarter presentation. “For the last several years our replacement ratio on production has been roughly one third, and we’re optimistic we can continue to do that and extend the mine life beyond that 2021 timeline through additional exploration.” Read the rest of this entry »
(Reuters) – Trader Glencore is expected to agree to concessions this week to ease Chinese worries over its grip on the supply of copper, clearing the final regulatory hurdle in its $32 billion acquisition of miner Xstrata.
After months of negotiations, Glencore is expected to have agreed to yield some ground, with analysts and market sources pointing to a likely sale from among Xstrata’s promising – though challenging – greenfield copper projects, which could include Las Bambas in Peru, due to begin production in 2015.
Industry sources said a solution might also involve giving China a guaranteed slice of the group’s copper production.
Xstrata is already the world’s fourth-largest producer of copper and aims to increase output by more than 50 percent from 2011 levels by 2015, as projects like the $5.2 billion Las Bambas mine ramp up.
Xstrata and Glencore combined account for around 7 percent of global copper supply, a percentage expected to rise, with mines in Chile, Peru, Australia and in emerging regions like Africa’s copper belt.
As a result, Chinese regulators reviewing the biggest ever mining tie-up have focused on the new group’s presence in the red metal, and specifically copper concentrate, the intermediate product that feeds smelters and refineries. Read the rest of this entry »
April 12 (Reuters) – A landslide at Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon mine in Utah extended further into the pit than predicted, and there was greater damage to equipment than previously estimated, Rio’s Kennecott unit said on Friday.
Kennecott Utah Copper, which operates the mine that is near Salt Lake City, said it had not yet determined the impact of the slide, which occurred late on Wednesday, or a time frame for resuming mining operations.
Photos published by Salt Lake City’s Deseret News show debris extending from the top of the massive pit mine to its floor, slicing through terraced roads and burying trucks.
“The size of the slide was significant,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We don’t have information yet regarding the magnitude or impact. We do know that the flow into the pit extended beyond the scenarios we forecasted, having a greater impact on equipment.”
The company said on Thursday that all employees were accounted for and safe. In its latest statement, Kennecott said there had been some damage to equipment and to a building structure in the mine. It said experts had not been granted access to the mine. Read the rest of this entry »
Company has enough ore to refine for right now, will decide when it’s safe to work in the pit later, but visitors center will remain closed. Kennecott Utah Copper said Thursday its Bingham Canyon Mine experienced a large landslide, but no injuries were reported.
The slide occurred about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday along the pit mine’s northeast wall, said Rio Tinto-Kennecott spokesman Kyle Bennett. The landslide, however, was anticipated and all employees had been evacuated ahead of time.
“We started noticing movement in that part of the mine in February,” Bennett said, indicating at that time the mine’s wall was slipping a fraction of an inch each day.
As the slipping continued and began to accelerate in the following weeks, Kennecott moved workers out of the area, utility lines were rerouted and the modular building that housed the mine monitoring equipment was relocated to safer ground. Kennecott also closed its visitors center for the rest of the year.
By early Wednesday, the northeast wall of the mine was slipping at a rate of 2 inches a day. “At 11 a.m. yesterday we moved everyone out, including those who were working in the bottom of the mine,” Bennett said, adding there were only 37 workers still laboring in the mine at that time. “All of our employees are safe and accounted for.” Read the rest of this entry »