Archive | Copper

COLUMN-Funds keep the faith with the base metals turnaround story – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – January 11, 2017)

LONDON, Jan 11, 2017 – This time last year the base metals complex was all doom and gloom. The London Metal Exchange (LME) index of prices touched 2,049 in January 2016, its lowest reading since the dark days of January 2009, when the world seemed to be spiralling into full-blown depression.

China came to the rescue then and it came to the rescue again last year, Beijing policymakers once again pumping money down the twin metals-intensive channels of infrastructure and construction to reinvigorate economic growth. The LME index has since recovered to 2,768. True, performance has been mixed, largely reflecting each individual metal’s supply dynamics.

But the worst seems to be over for base metals prices, with more upside to come. That, at least, is what fund managers are betting on. There was some marginal reduction in fund positions over the course of December but the money men appear to be largely keeping the faith with the broader turnaround story. Continue Reading →

PolyMet clears major hurdle with federal land exchange – by Josephine Marcotty (Minneapolis Star Tribune – January 9, 2017)

A bitterly contested copper-nickel mine proposed for northeast Minnesota cleared another major hurdle Monday, when the U.S. Forest Service approved a deal to trade 6,650 acres of federally owned forests and wetlands to PolyMet Mining Corp. in exchange for 6,690 acres scattered elsewhere across that part of the state.

The exchange, while expected, is a critical part of PolyMet’s plan because it provides the company access to mineral ore it owns beneath the publicly held land.

“This is an incredibly important milestone for PolyMet,” said Jon Cherry, president and chief executive of the company. It means PolyMet has the rights to 30 square miles of land for its planned $650 million project near Hoyt Lakes, which the company says could create up to 350 jobs. Continue Reading →

Tough labor talks could lead to strike at Escondida copper mine: union – by Anthony Esposito and Antonio De la Jara (Reuters U.S. – January 4, 2017)

SANTIAGO – Workers at BHP Billiton-owned Escondida, the world’s biggest copper mine, could go on strike in February if collective contract talks with the company are unsuccessful, union spokesman Carlos Allende told Reuters on Wednesday.

The warning came after the company rejected all the workers’ demands, Allende said. He said the proposal the company presented would cut the benefits workers receive in their current contract.

“With this attitude the only thing the company is doing is creating an open conflict because the demands were agreed on by the workers,” said Allende. Continue Reading →

Trump win ignites hope for stalled Alaska copper, gold mine – by Nicle Mordant(Reuters – December 21, 2016)

VANCOUVER – A small Canadian miner is confident Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential win will let it proceed with an application for a copper and gold mine in Alaska that has been stalled almost three years by environmental regulators aiming to protect the world’s biggest sockeye salmon fishery.

Ronald Thiessen, chief executive officer and president of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd, said he expected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to announce in the first quarter of 2017 that it will let the application process proceed for the controversial project. He said the company has held discussions with Trump’s transition team, including Myron Ebell, who heads the EPA transition.

Shares in Northern Dynasty, which owns the massive Pebble deposit in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, have more than doubled since the U.S. election on Nov. 8. The shares surged 23 percent on Nov. 9 alone. Continue Reading →

Keep an eye on Dr Copper – by Staff (Mining Journal – December 21, 2016)

Copper, often seen as a true indicator of global economic health due to its variety of end uses, shot up in value post-election on proposed US infrastructure spending and sound economic data out of China.

The price of contracts for copper delivered in three months’ time has risen from US$2.14 a pound on Comex a year ago to $2.5135/lb, according to Bloomberg, with a gain of more than 20% since the start of September.

Bloomberg columnist David Fickling said “there’s a funny thing” about the recent surge in copper prices, arguing a supply crunch rather than a demand surge was a better explanation for the rise. Continue Reading →

China gets an all-clear from the Taliban to mine for copper in Afghanistan – by Mariam Amini ( – December 16, 2016)

The Taliban say they’re giving China the green light to restart a $3 billion mining project, but Afghanistan’s legal government says the militant group is just blowing smoke.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan directs all its Mujahideen to help in the security of all national projects that are in the higher interest of Islam and the country,” the Taliban announced on Nov. 29, adding that a massive copper mine called Mes Aynak is among the sites it is “committed to safeguarding.”

Mes Aynak was signed over to China’s state-owned Metallurgical Group Corporation in 2008.Speaking to CNBC on Friday, the Afghan government dismissed the Taliban’s announcement. Continue Reading →

The Goose-Killing Lake And The Scientists Who Study It – by Sarah Zhang (The Atlantic/Huffington Post – December 14, 2016)

In late November, a flock of migrating snow geese landed in a lake in Butte, Montana. Soon, they began to die. Because what they landed in was the Berkeley Pit, a Superfund site filled with acidic and metal-laden toxic waste from copper mining. The lake was “white with birds;” thousands died. Weeks later, as the story has gone viral, officials are still counting.

The Berkeley Pit had killed migrating geese before. “It was a shock to hear it happening again, on a much larger scale,” says Andrea Stierle, who, along with her husband Don, has been studying the Berkeley Pit for more than three decades. In 1995, over 300 migrating geese landed in the pit and died from ingesting the toxic water.

The Stierles were chemists at nearby Montana Tech at the time, and they were in search of microbes living in the toxic waste water that could make antibiotics and other useful substances. That arrival of the first flock of geese changed the microbial makeup of the Berkeley Pit and likely the outcomes of Stierles’ research, too. Continue Reading →

Copper Supply From Top Mine Threatened as Export Ban Looms (Bloomberg News – December 14, 2016)

Exports from the world’s second-largest copper mine in Indonesia are under threat as a government ban on overseas concentrate shipments is scheduled to come into force from the middle of January.

While ministers are rushing to revise the regulations so miners that have committed to build smelters can continue to export ore concentrates, an intermediate product used to make copper, there’s no guarantee that the deadline will be met. The rules as they stand now only permit shipments of refined metal after Jan. 11.

Richard Adkerson, chief executive officer of Freeport-McMoRan Inc., the world’s biggest publicly traded copper miner and owner of the massive Grasberg mine in Papua province, says he’s confident the issue will be resolved. Continue Reading →

Copper steadies after gains as growth signs build – by James Regan (Daily Mail/Reuters – December 21, 2016)

SYDNEY, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Copper futures steadied on Monday after building on last week’s strong Chinese economic figures, and bullish outlooks by banks and analysts.

Producer prices in China, the world’s top metals consumer, rose at the fastest pace in more than five years in November as prices of coal, steel and other building materials soared.

The stronger-than-expected 3.3 percent surge in prices, along with upbeat factory readings from China, the United States and Europe, add to views that the global economy may be slowly reflating again thanks to a pick-up in industrial activity. Continue Reading →

Remember This? Bruce Mines was kind of a big deal (Soo Today – December 11, 2016)

Driving along Highway 17 East you pass through the town of Bruce Mines, but many people may not realize that it is a town with a long history.

The town’s roots can be traced back to the industry of copper mining. Samuel de Champlain recorded the existence of copper mines on his map of 1632 during the early exploration of this area. Etienne Brule is believed to have spent one winter in the area of Bruce Mines investigating the existence of the copper deposits.

Members of the First Nations tribes in the area had discovered the importance of copper as a valuable item to trade with the white men who had begun arriving in the New World. The actual site of Bruce Mines was established as a settlement in 1842 when the first settlers came from Cornwall, England. Continue Reading →

Thousands of snow geese die after landing in contaminated Montana mine pit – by Debbi Baker (San Diego Union Tribune – December 7, 2016)

Thousands of snow geese died last week in Butte, Montana after a snowstorm forced them to land in contaminated water in an open pit at an old copper mine.

The site, called the Berkeley Pit, was the only open water in the area. Witnesses said it looked like “700 acres of white birds,” said Mark Thompson, environmental affairs manager for Montana Resources, which is responsible for the mine along with Atlantic Richfield Co.

According to The Montana Standard, mine officials estimated that as many as 10,000 of the migratory birds may have perished. Some were found dead or dying in and around town, including two in a Walmart parking lot.Thompson told the Associated Press that as many as 25,000 birds were flying through the area since Nov. 28, thousands more that the usual numbers of between 2,000 and 5,000 a year. Continue Reading →

Stars may align for giant Papua New Guinea copper mine – by James Regan (Reuters U.S. – December 7, 2016)

SYDNEY – After nearly 50 years on the drawing board, the latest backers of Papua New Guinea’s $3.6 billion Frieda River copper project say the time may finally be right for the giant mine – even if some hurdles remain.

Regarded as one of world’s largest untapped copper-gold resources, the deposit has sat dormant as successive owners, including some of the world’s biggest mining houses, proved unwilling or unable to spend the billions of dollars needed to construct a mine in remote jungle far from the country’s coast.

Current owner PanAust Ltd, a former listed Australian miner now a unit of China’s Guangdong Rising Assets Management (GRAM) [GDRAM.UL], has submitted an application for a special mining license to the PNG government for an initial $3.6 billion project. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto boss insists Mongolia dispute is ‘bump in the road’ – by Jon Yeomans (The Telegraph – December 6, 2016)

The boss of FTSE 100 mining group Rio Tinto has insisted a dispute with China over copper exports from Mongolia will be resolved shortly. Jean-Sebastian Jacques, the French executive who was promoted to the top job in July, said the Anglo Australian miner was used to working with the authorities in the region and hoped to resume exports soon.

Last week Rio’s subsidiary in Mongolia was forced to suspend copper shipments from its vast Oyu Tolgoi mine after Chinese authorities closed a border crossing and ordered copper to be shipped via a different route. The miner expressed concerns that queuing trucks were being made to wait in sub-zero temperatures.

China’s action was thought to be due to its displeasure at a visit to Mongolia by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who is not recognised by Chinese authorities. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Chile to capitalize copper producer Codelco with $975 mln (Reuters Latin America – December 1, 2016)

SANTIAGO Dec 1 (Reuters) – Chile’s government will give state-owned copper miner Codelco $975 million in capitalization so the cash-strapped firm can finance its ambitious investment plans, Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdes said on Thursday.

World no.1 copper producer Codelco returns all its profits to the state and is funded by a mix of capitalization and debt.

“This year the government has decided to capitalize Codelco with $975 million … this money will allow the company to continue developing its investment program,” Valdes said at a news conference. Last year, the government handed Codelco $600 million. Continue Reading →

Hooded protesters shut down Los Bronces copper mine in Chile again – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.K – November 26, 2016)

LIMA – Global miner Anglo American Plc (AAL.L) halted all activity at its Los Bronces mine in Chile after hooded protesters seized installations early on Saturday in the second illegal occupation of the copper deposit this month, the company told Reuters.

Anglo said it was not certain who the protesters were. The latest seizure immediately followed what Anglo called an agreement between companies it uses to provide services at the mine and the Federation of Contract Workers union.

But the union indicated that it was not satisfied, and would continue to demand better contracts for workers, blaming Anglo American for an “insufficient” offer given the rise in the company’s shares, which spiked with the price of copper after Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the U.S. presidential election earlier this month. Continue Reading →