Archive | International Media Resource Articles

A Mining Billionaire Takes His War on Slavery to the UN – by Katie Robertson (Bloomberg News – September 21, 2017)

Andrew Forrest walks up to CEOs and confronts them with the ugly truth: You may be a slaveholder. The Australian billionaire, who founded Fortescue Metals, one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, has spent years trying to convince anyone who will listen that slavery thrives in the modern world—and that they need to do something about it.

Since confronting the practice in his own company’s supply chain, Forrest has been on a mission to abolish forced labor and human trafficking. This year, he made it to the United Nations.

A special panel of world leaders addressing global slavery was chaired by U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday on the sidelines of the General Assembly and was attended by UN Secretary General António Guterres and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump, among others. Continue Reading →

How Merkel’s Green Energy Policy Has Fueled Demand for Coal – by Brian Parkin and Weixin Zha (Bloomberg News – September 21, 2017)

Germany still gets 40 percent of its electricity from coal-fired plants.

By 2030, the eastern German town of Poedelwitz will likely be razed to get at the rich veins of coal beneath its half-timbered houses. The reason: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s effort to steer Germany toward greener energy, which has unexpectedly meant booming demand for dirty coal.

While Merkel aims to wean the country from nuclear power and boost renewable energy, the shift has been slow—Germany’s 140-plus coal-fired plants last year supplied 40 percent of the country’s electricity—and Poedelwitz is flanked by open-pit lignite mines that feed a 2 gigawatt power plant a few miles away.

“This is unparalleled destruction of the environment,” says Jens Hausner, a farmer who has seen 17 of his 20 hectares consumed by digging equipment that looks like something out of a Mad Max movie. In a bit more than a decade, the hulking machines are expected to claw through the town’s 13th-century church and 40 or so remaining homes. Continue Reading →

Trump’s Breathtaking Hypocrisy on Coal Mining – by Vivian E. Thomson (Scientific American – September 22, 2017)

Pres. Donald Trump’s contempt for climate change science is well known. Now we see that his administration has put on hold a study of the connections between mountaintop coal mining and the health of nearby communities—research that was requested by West Virginia health authorities and is being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. This action demonstrates the president’s disregard for the health of coal miners, their families and their friends.

I have a bit of experience in this area, as a former air pollution regulator. From 2002 to 2010, while a full-time faculty member at the University of Virginia, I was a member of the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board. Virginia is a longtime coal state, and the board confronted several controversial issues concerning coal-related air pollution. Among them, in 2009, was a case of dust pollution in southwestern Virginia.

In a country hollow in the Appalachian town of Roda, Va., coal trucks were driving along a narrow, steep-sided road leading to and from the area’s surface mines, which have scarred the landscape in every direction. Streams of trucks were raising clouds of dirt in their wakes, as coal dust in their beds and mud caked on the trucks flew into the air. Residents counted 10 trucks per hour, 20 hours a day, on weekdays. Continue Reading →

Iron Ore Routed in Woeful Week as Questions Stack Up on China – by Jasmine Ng (Bloomberg News – September 22, 2017)

Iron ore’s rounding off a woeful week on another soft note as persistent concern about demand in China fuses with expectations of rising supply and falling steel futures to hurt prices. A risk-off mood among investors as North Korean tensions simmered compounded the damage.

The benchmark spot price has tumbled 12 percent this week, the worst performance since May 2016. In China, futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange have slumped into a bear market and capped a fourth week of declines, the longest in five months, while Singapore’s SGX AsiaClear contracts are chalking up a weekly loss of almost 10 percent.

Iron ore is in retreat as investors fret about the impact on steel production in China of environmental checks even before winter curbs kick in, which may further hurt demand. This year, steel output has been running at a record pace in the top supplier, aiding iron ore. Continue Reading →

Investors betting on electric cars send millions into lithium ETF – by Evelyn Cheng ( – September 21, 2017)

Investors are betting on a surge in electric car sales after indications that China, the world’s largest market for the vehicles, may soon wind down production and sales of cars using fossil fuel.

From the time China’s state-run Xinhua newspaper reported the news on Sept. 11 through Tuesday’s close, investors poured about $143 million into the Global X Lithium & Battery Tech exchange-traded fund (LIT), according to Tuesday alone drew $49.8 million in inflows, nearly 10 percent of the now $651 million fund.

That kind of interest in an ETF, especially one so narrowly focused, is “extremely rare,” said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA. “A really strong 2017 has triggered strong investor interest at a time when a lot of money is going into well diversified and cheap ETFs.” Continue Reading →

Tanzania orders wall built around tanzanite mines to end illegal trade – by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala (Reuters U.S. – September 20, 2017)

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzania’s president ordered the military on Wednesday to build walls around its tanzanite mines and directed the central bank to buy the precious stone to boost reserves – the latest twist in a spat with mining firms over alleged tax evasion.

President John Magufuli’s government accuses mining firms of cheating Tanzania out of its fair share of mineral wealth through tax dodging and smuggling, allegations they deny.

“All tanzanite gemstones will be controlled and will pass through one gate and he (Magufuli) ordered the (central) Bank of Tanzania to take part in the tanzanite buying trade,” a statement from the presidency said. Continue Reading →

Glencore industrial dispute putting pressure on NSW coal supplies – by Mark Ludlow and Angela Macdonald-Smith (Australian Financial Review – September 20, 2017)

Protracted industrial action at 10 of Glencore’s NSW coal mines and a congested rail network are contributing to supply issues in Australia’s largest state, with fears it could affect the grid’s ability to keep the lights on this summer.

Amid growing concerns about coal-fired power generators being unable to secure enough coal supplies, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has vowed to maintain the industrial unrest at Glencore mines where negotiations have stalled over 10 separate enterprise agreements.

CFMEU national president Tony Maher said the industrial action organised by the unions at about eight mines across the Hunter Valley had had a “material” impact on Glencore’s operations and was affecting their ability to supply coal to customers. Continue Reading →

The graphite fix: Inside China’s newest commodity addiction – by Manolo Serapio Jr and Tom Daly (Reuters U.S. – September 21, 2017)

MANILA/BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s aggressive environmental protection campaign has tightened supplies of graphite electrodes used in steelmaking, boosting the fortunes of big producers like Fangda Carbon as mills search far and wide for a material now in short supply.

Beijing’s campaign for clearer skies has closed thousands of mills and mines producing low-quality steel and coal, and makers of electrodes, particularly those near big cities, have not been spared.

Graphite electrodes are used to melt scrap in electric arc furnaces to produce new steel. Their main ingredient is high-value needle coke – named because of its shape – which is made from either petroleum or coal tar. As China tightened the screws on polluting industrial plants, about 30 percent of its graphite electrode production capacity has been shut and some provinces have restricted output, said Dawn Brooks, a consultant at CRU. Continue Reading →

Billionaire Agarwal to Boost Anglo Stake by Up to $2 Billion – by Ruth David and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – September 21, 2017)

Anil Agarwal, an Indian mining billionaire, is buying 1.5 billion pounds ($2 billion) worth of additional Anglo American Plc shares, increasing his stake in the blue-chip British miner that’s benefited from a recovery in commodity prices.

Agarwal said Wednesday the purchase, which is the equivalent of about 9 percent, was a family investment and he doesn’t intend to make a takeover offer for the company, according to a statement. It comes on top of the 12.43 percent stake he’s built since an announcement in March that his Volcan unit was investing in the company.

The Indian tycoon, who is set to become the largest shareholder ahead of South Africa’s Public Investment Corp. after the purchase, offered to merge part of his mining empire with Anglo American last year, only to be rebuffed. The London-based mining group has been seen as a candidate for a potential breakup through splitting some of its South African assets from the global mining business. Continue Reading →

We Must Think Deeply And Profoundly About How We Posit Business As A National Asset – by Bonang Mohale (Huffington Post South Africa – September 20, 2017)

We need to demonstrate to 55 million South Africans that 23 years of democracy have benefited everybody.

Banking and financial services, in general, are quite a critical and pivotal part of our economy. In fact, since our mining days, this is probably the fastest-growing sector in terms of a percentage of the GDP, but also in terms of a percentage of the number of people that it employs.

So, mining used to be probably our biggest sector at about 18 percent of GDP. South Africa was the number-one goods producer in the world. Manufacturing was 24 percent and now it is sitting at 40 percent. Manufacturing in gold has dropped, but services, in general, have increased, driven mostly by financial services.

This is important because if you want to be internationally competitive, then you want to make sure that your people have absolute access to the 21st-century technology. And banking has done that for us, South Africa’s banking system is among the top five in the world. Continue Reading →

Iron Ore Sinks as ‘Peak Steel’ Call, Supply Angst Rattle Market – by Jasmine Ng (Bloomberg News – September 20, 2017)

Iron ore has been dragged back into the $60s after getting hit by a barrage of bad news, with persistent concern about rising global supply, fresh questions about the outlook for demand in China, and a warning from Australia’s central bank that the top buyer may be nearing peak steel.

The benchmark spot price for ore delivered to Qingdao slumped 10 percent in the past four days, ending at $68.85 a dry metric ton on Tuesday, the lowest since July, according to Metal Bulletin Ltd. The sell-off in the commodity, which hit almost $80 in August, took a breather on Wednesday as prices rebounded but remained below the $70 threshold.

“As we get into the fourth quarter, we see demand in China pulling back, demand for steel pulling back,” Paul Butterworth, research manager for steel raw materials at CRU International Ltd., said in an interview in Singapore. “It’s quite likely the steel mills will say ‘well, we’ve got sufficient material on hand at the moment, so we can withdraw from the market for now’.” Continue Reading →

Rally in zinc price raises spectre of substitution – by Eric Onstad (Reuters U.S. – September 19, 2017)

LONDON, Sept 19 (Reuters) – A sharp rally in zinc prices is posing the threat that industrial users will find ways to substitute the metal with cheaper alternatives or use less, curbing overall consumption.

High prices may also dampen a nascent move by Chinese automakers to use more zinc for galvanising, while the Western car sector could employ thinner coats of zinc alloys to help meet tough emission rules by cutting vehicle weight.

“We expect zinc prices to carry on going up for at least another 12 months, so I think there’s clearly a growing risk of demand destruction in some shape or form,” said analyst Andrew Thomas at consultancy Wood Mackenzie. Benchmark zinc on the London Metal Exchange has doubled since January last year, hitting a peak of $3,231.75 a tonne in late August, the highest in a decade. Continue Reading →

Iron ore price sheds 3.5pc to dip below $US70 – by Samantha Woodhill (The Australian – September 20, 2017)

Iron ore spot prices have fallen below $US$70 a tonne for the first time since July, shedding 3.5 per cent overnight. The spot price was today at $US68.30 a tonne, with futures also indicating weak prices.

ANZ senior commodities analyst Daniel Hynes said the fall followed comments by the Reserve Bank of Australia in its September meeting, the minutes of which were released yesterday.

“The weaker sentiment in the market was fuelled by comments from the RBA, which said prices are expected to fall ahead of the ongoing expansion of the global iron ore supply chain,” he said. Continue Reading →

Goldplat miner seeks to tame Africa risk – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – September 19, 2017)

LONDON (Reuters) – Upheaval in Tanzania, where the government has made huge tax demands and seized minerals, has triggered changes in neighboring Kenya, which should reassure the industry, said the CEO of Goldplat (GLDP.L), which operates a gold mine there.

Chief Executive Gerard Kisbey-Green said he was nevertheless seeking to diversify his portfolio to cover more African nations and to expand into platinum group metals as he strives to offset African risk.

This year, the mining industry has reeled from South Africa’s proposed new mining charter and changes in Tanzania, where the government is locked in a tax dispute with Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) subsidiary Acacia (ACAA.L). Continue Reading →

Implats May Cut 2,500 Jobs to End Losses at Biggest Mine – by Liezel Hill (Bloomberg News – September 19, 2017)

(Bloomberg) — Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. may cut at least 2,500 jobs at its Rustenburg mining complex in South Africa as the world’s second-largest producer of the metal seeks to stem losses and adjust to lower prices.

Impala has notified unions and the government to begin a mandated consultation process ahead of proposed cuts and restructuring at its largest operation, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement Monday. Additional action may be needed in the future, the miner said.

The Rustenburg operations, which employ about 31,000 people, are experiencing “severe financial pressure” after costs rose and as rand-denominated platinum prices remain low, Impala said. Labor productivity and platinum output have also declined in the past few years, it said. Continue Reading →