Archive | Latin America Mining

BHP commits $2.5bn to extend life of Spence copper mine in Chile – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – August 17, 2017)

http://www.mining.com/

Mining giant BHP (ASX:BHP) greenlighted Thursday a long-awaited $2.46 billion expansion of its Spence copper mine in Chile, which will add another 50 years to the operation’s productive life.

The decision comes at a time when copper prices have reached their highest levels since late 2014 and will boost BHP’s annual copper production by around 185,000 tonnes of copper over the first decade of the expanded operation, with first production expected in 2021.

Spence’s expansion contemplates the construction of a concentrator plant and a desalination plant at Mejillones port, located about 60 km north of Antofagasta city, which will be built and operated by a third party. BHP has committed to a 20-year lease nominally worth $1.43 billion. Continue Reading →

As Good as It Gets: Iron Ore Risks a Reversal as China Cools – by Jasmine Ng (Bloomberg News – August 15, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Iron ore in the $70s a ton may be as good as it gets for some time. After rallying hard in June and July, the commodity may see its gains unravel over the second half as steel production in China eases back from a record pace just as global miners pump up volumes.

The robust demand that’s supported gains may fade as steelmakers start to dial back output, according to Capital Economics Ltd., which came out first among forecasters in the second quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Others expecting a drop include Citigroup Inc., Sucden Financial Ltd., Axiom Capital Management Inc. and hedge fund Academia Capital.

“There was some fundamental support for iron ore’s rally, namely strong growth in China’s steel output,” Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics, said by email. “Stocks at China’s ports are now stubbornly high and if, as seems likely, steel production and demand eases back later in the year, then we see iron ore prices coming under renewed pressure.” Continue Reading →

Canadian bishops call out their country’s mining companies for destructive practices abroad – by Dean Dettloff (America: The Jesuit Review – August 15, 2017)

https://www.americamagazine.org/

Canadian mining companies with operations abroad need to be more heavily regulated at home, says a recent letter from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (C.C.C.B.) addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We, as Canadians, are among the privileged,” the letter says. “We cannot remain indifferent to the cry of the poor or to the repercussions of environmental degradation on our common home. We cannot accept the unethical way Canadian mining companies have been operating in Latin America or other regions of the world, taking the absence of effective regulatory schemes as a reason to shirk their ethical responsibilities.”

Written by Most Rev. Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., the bishop of Hamilton and president of the C.C.C.B., the letter was also sent to Canadian officials Chrystia Freeland, the minister of foreign affairs; James Gordon Carr, the minister of natural resources; and Carolyn Bennett, the minister of indigenous and Northern affairs. Continue Reading →

Environmentalism: A Slippery Slope of Ignorance and Hypocrisy – by Saurabh Malkar (Modern Diplomacy – August 13, 2017)

http://moderndiplomacy.eu/

Perusing through my morning news digest, I came across an article from The Daily Mail featuring a story on the employment of child labor in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

While I can be chillingly apathetic to social plight, especially, when it doesn’t concern my loved ones: something I impute to my upbringing in a third world country; I was deeply moved by this story, which shed light on the horrors of artisanal cobalt mining, employing children, working in dangerous conditions, with no safety measures, and being paid a pittance. The kicker, though, of this story was that much of this cobalt would go into battery packs that would be installed in electric cars marketed to gullible, do-gooders around the world.

But, why would one want to buy cars that take hours to refuel and can only be refueled at specific points, thus, imposing a massive time cost on their usage? These contraptions don’t match in utility to gasoline-powered cars, let alone surpassing them. No wonder governments around the world are trying to get consumers to buy electric cars through purchase subsidies and tax exemptions of all sorts. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Mitsui, Cobra in talks with BHP over desalination plant – sources – by Gram Slattery (Reuters U.S. – August 10, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A consortium made up of Mitsui & Co and Grupo Cobra is in exclusive talks with BHP Billiton Plc to build an $800 million desalination plant at its Spence copper mine in Chile, two sources with knowledge of the process told Reuters this week.

This means BHP, the world’s biggest mining house, is advancing the contracting process for a planned $2.5 billion expansion at Spence, a project that has been on ice for years.

A number of other companies bid on constructing the plant, including a consortium of Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management and Spain’s Acciona, but BHP has selected the Mitsui group to go ahead with bilateral negotiations, said the sources, who requested anonymity because the matter is private. Continue Reading →

This Canadian Copper Giant is Missing Best of Metal’s Surge – by Danielle Bochove and Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – August 11, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

As copper producers from Freeport-McMoRan Inc. to BHP Billiton Ltd. ponder what to do with the windfall from surging prices, First Quantum Minerals Ltd. has no such dilemma.

Unlike most of its peers, First Quantum’s copper sales are fully hedged — at an expected average price of $2.37 a pound for the second half of the year. That means it’s largely watching from the sidelines as the metal surges above $2.90 for the first time in more than two years.

The Vancouver-based company began hedging in 2015 to lock in the value of its output so as to avoid breaching debt covenants while developing a project in Panama. But as copper has risen more than 30 percent in the past year, the trade has proven to be a liability: the company posted a net loss of $35 million in the second quarter as its hedge book lost $97 million. It plans to continue hedging next year, although to a lesser extent. Continue Reading →

A Canadian company wants to help artisanal miners produce “clean gold” – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud (Mining.com – August 8, 2017)

http://www.mining.com/

SEF Canada, a Vancouver-based firm that specializes in corporate social responsibility, recently launched a project called “Clean Gold Community Solutions” and it is taking its first steps in Ecuador.

“This is our newest economic development strategy built around artisanal mining communities,” said Suzette McFaul, SEF’s Managing Director. “Acknowledging that artisanal miners are entrepreneurs, we have a solution to assist them to become sustainable businesses. This includes business knowledge, access to funding and technology to process gold.”

Following a series of meetings with local leaders to understand their needs and how they see the future of their community, McFaul and her team are about to sign an agreement to help them update an existing gold processing plant in northern Ecuador to make it safer and more profitable. Continue Reading →

Lithium processors prepare to meet demand in era of electric car – by Pratima Desai and Zandi Shabalala (Reuters U.K. – August 7, 2017)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Producers of processed lithium – an essential element for batteries used in electric cars – are agreeing long-term contracts with their customers to fund the investments needed to address a looming shortfall.

Demand for battery-grade lithium compounds is expected to skyrocket in the next decades in tandem with soaring demand for electric cars as governments and individual consumers try to reduce their carbon footprint.

Although there’s plenty of lithium around, the problem is ensuring there is enough capacity to process it. Battery makers and other end-users such as car manufacturers will need to sign multi-year deals that encourage large producers to invest more, and faster, industry sources say. Some of that is already happening. Continue Reading →

Goldman turns bullish on iron ore – for the moment – by Jasmine Ng (Australian Financial Review/Bloomberg – July 28, 2017)

http://www.afr.com/

Goldman Sachs boosted its iron ore forecasts after better-than-expected demand in China raised prices, but warned that it remains bearish on next year amid prospects for plentiful mine supplies and a worldwide glut.

The three-month forecast was raised to $US70 a tonne from $US55, and the year-end target increased by $US5 to $US60, according to a report from analysts including Yubin Fu and Max Layton received on Thursday. Next year, prices are still expected to drop, it said.

Iron ore has surged in recent weeks to top $US70 a tonne on sustained demand from China, the largest user. Steel mills in the country have benefited from rising product prices and strong profit margins after the government shuttered some capacity, and remaining producers are making record volumes. Continue Reading →

UN Singles Out Tycoon German Larrea’s Grupo Mexico For Unfulfilled Pledge In Ecological Disaster – by Dolia Estevez (Forbes Magazine – July 28, 2017)

https://www.forbes.com/

Three years after a mine belonging to Grupo México caused the worst ecological disaster in Mexican history, the mining giant owned by Mexico’s second richest person, German Larrea Mota Velasco, has failed to fulfill its obligations with the victims, a new UN report said.

“Business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights independent of States’ abilities and/or willingness to fulfill their own human rights obligations,” the UN said after a special Working Group visited Mexico to review how business practices affect human rights.

In August 2014, Buenavista del Cobre, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, spilled 10 million gallons (40,000 cubic meters) of copper sulphate and heavy metals into the Sonora and Bacanuchi rivers. This environmental disaster affected approximately 24,000 people directly and 250,000 people indirectly in seven municipalities on the banks of the Sonora River, 25 miles south of the Arizona border. Continue Reading →

Brazil mining reforms seen passing Congress despite opposition – by Jake Spring and Alexandra Alper (Reuters U.S. – July 26, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Mining reforms decreed by Brazilian President Michel Temer are likely to pass Congress, a legislative leader told Reuters on Wednesday, despite opposition from an industry trade group.

The revisions to the mining code, announced on Tuesday, would raise government mining royalties. But officials said they would also cut industry red tape by creating a new regulatory agency and speeding up approvals.

Temer, who is under investigation for corruption, has argued that changes across many sectors of the economy are necessary to shore up government finances as Brazil emerges from its worst recession on record. Continue Reading →

World’s Biggest Miner Speeds Hunt for Copper in ‘Last Frontier’ – by David Stringer, Laura Millan Lombrana and Stephan Kueffner (Bloomberg News – July 25, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner, has opened an office and is seeking to add staff in Ecuador as it advances a search for copper in a nation that’s becoming the sector’s exploration hot-spot.

Melbourne-based BHP’s local unit, Cerro Quebrado, will spend about $82 million on exploration, having established a base in the capital, Quito, and advertised for workers including a senior geologist. The value of Ecuador’s mining sector could rise to $7.9 billion by 2021 from $1.1 billion this year as major players arrive, according to Fitch Group’s BMI Research.

BHP joins Australian competitors including billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Pty, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. and Newcrest Mining Ltd. in establishing offices or adding exploration licenses in the nation, according to Rodrigo Izurieta, president of Ecuador’s Mining Chamber. Continue Reading →

Op-Ed Were the raw materials in your iPhone mined by children in inhumane conditions? – by Brian Merchant (Los Angeles Times – July 23, 2017)

http://www.latimes.com/

Brian Merchant, an editor at Motherboard, is the author of “The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone.”

Last year, I visited the sprawling mines of Cerro Rico, the “rich hill” that looms over Potosi, Bolivia. Four centuries ago, it supplied the silver that bankrolled the Spanish empire. Today, miners who work in the same tunnels as 16th century conscripted Incan laborers are providing tin for Apple products like the iPhone. It’s a powerful paradox — our most cutting-edge consumer devices are made from raw material obtained by methods barely advanced beyond colonial times.

Cerro Rico couldn’t be farther from Silicon Valley. Cigarette-scarred devil idols mark the mine entrances. Its support beams are split and cracked, and the air in the tunnels is thick with suffocating silica dust. According to a BBC report, the average lifespan of a Cerro Rico miner is 40 years. Worse, a UNICEF report found that children as young as 6 years old have worked in its tunnels.

Tin isn’t the only ingredient in an iPhone that’s obtained in ways that don’t quite match Apple’s “Supplier Code of Conduct,” which states that “all workers in our supply chain deserve a fair and ethical workplace.” Continue Reading →

Cuba seeks to revive mining sector with new lead and zinc mine – by Sarah Marsh (Reuters U.S. – July 22, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

MINAS DE MATAHAMBRE, Cuba (Reuters) – A new lead and zinc mine in northwestern Cuba is on track to start production in October as part of the Caribbean island’s attempt to breathe fresh life in its mining sector, the joint venture Emincar overseeing the project said this week.

While nickel exports are already one of Communist-run Cuba’s main foreign currency earners, the cash-strapped country has untapped potential in other mineral deposits, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The $278 million Castellanos mine will produce annually 100,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate and 50,000 tonnes of lead concentrate, said executives at Emincar, the venture between Swiss-based commodities giant Trafigura and Cuban state firm Geominera. Continue Reading →

Iron King Vale Is Expected to Post Record Output in Volatile Market – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – July 19, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The reigning iron-ore king Vale SA is expected to set another quarterly production record, giving investors more to ponder in what has been a seesawing year for the main steel-making ingredient.

On Thursday, the Rio de Janeiro-based company probably will report second-quarter output of 91.4 million metric tons, including third-party purchases, up from 86.8 million a year earlier, according to the average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Vale is coming off its biggest-ever production year, churning out 348.8 million tons in 2016. It’s projecting 360 million to 380 million tons this year for an even bigger share of the market. The record-setting pace has been fueled by the development of low-cost reserves in northern Brazil, including ramping up the industry’s biggest project, S11D. Continue Reading →