Archive | Latin America Mining

BMO: Miners may revisit dormant mega-projects – by Matthew Keevil (Northern Miner – Matthew Keevil)

Northern Miner

VANCOUVER — The last five years have seen large-cap miners shelve — and often write-down — ambitious, greenfield development projects that carry significant development price tags and heightened risk.

The majors instead focused on stronger operating margins and lighter balance sheets, which were typically characterized by improved free cash flow generation and lower debt.

The last 18 months have marked a shift in sentiment for metal producers, however, as metal prices have strengthened and risk capital markets entered the nascent stages of recovery. Continue Reading →

Dictator-Era Rules Stand Between Carmakers and Lithium Riches – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – October 17, 2017)

A little-known nuclear agency, designated as Chile’s lithium watchdog 38 years ago during the military dictatorship, holds the keys to unlocking the country’s massive reserves amid a nascent electric-car boom.

The Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission, or CCHEN by its Spanish initials, authorizes lithium quotas and exports in a throwback to a 1979 decision to declare lithium “strategic” because it was thought to be a key element in nuclear processes.

While that’s no longer the case, the government has no plans to remove CCHEN from lithium permitting even as authorities work on a new code for an industry struggling to keep up with growing demand from rechargeable batteries. More investor-friendly rules in Argentina have lured some interest away from Chile. Continue Reading →

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 →

China Gobbles Amazon Rainforest Ore to Clean Its Polluted Skies – by R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – October 11, 2017)

A bid by China to clean up pollution in its biggest cities and industrial towns is fueling a push to mine resource riches on the other side of the globe in the Amazon rainforest — one of the most environmentally sensitive areas on Earth.

Smog-laden skies across the world’s most-populated country prompted the government to impose curbs on a domestic steel industry that uses coal-fired blast furnaces to melt iron ore. That’s led to increased demand for higher-grade ore from overseas that can produce more steel with fewer emissions, and profit margins on those shipments have surged.

Exports by Brazil, one of the biggest suppliers, are headed for a fourth straight record in 2017. Top producer Vale SA is shifting production from low-grade reserves in the southeast that have been mined for a century to develop more high-grade deposits in the isolated northern regions of the Amazon, where environmentalists fear further damage to the world’s largest rainforest. Continue Reading →

Glencore to wield power on zinc – by Stephen Bartholomeusz (The Australian – October 4, 2017)

Glencore’s decision to invest up to $US956 million to greatly increase its shareholding in a Peruvian zinc miner may have been motivated by an insight it gained during its dark days in 2015.

Overnight Glencore announced it had reached agreement with shareholders of Volcan Compania Minera, one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, lead and silver, to acquire 27 per cent of the group’s class A shares for $US531 million.

It will make an offer to other Volcan shareholders for up to 48 per cent of the class A shares, which would lift the outlay closer to $US1 billion. Depending on the level of acceptances, Glencore would end up with between 48 per cent and 66 per cent of the class A shares, which have voting rights. It had a pre-existing holding of about 18 per cent of those shares. 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 →

Mining: Ecuador gets Best Country of the Year award (Agence France-Presse – October 4, 2017)

It was Ecuador’s night at the Mining and Money America’s Outstanding Achievement Awards’ night in Toronto, Canada. The contingent, led by Minister of Mining Javier Felipe Córdova, couldn’t control their glee when they received the award for Best Country of the Year.

“I take a lot of pride in our teamwork,” said Córdovaas he accepted the award from Anthony Vaccaro, group publisher of The Northern Miner Group at Glacier Media. “We did this together and I have to thank the companies that have trusted in Ecuador.”

The Best Country of the Year award goes to the country that has shown the best improvement in attractiveness to mineral investors or as Vaccaro put it, “the country that generated a lot of buzz and investor interest.” Continue Reading →

Glencore to spend $956M to increase stake in Peru’s largest zinc producer – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – October 2, 2017)

Miner and commodities trader Glencore (LON:GLEN) is buying 26.73% of the voting shares in Peru’s largest zinc producer, Volcan Compañía Minera SAA, in a deal worth at least $531 million.

The Swiss company will pay $1.215 per class A common share, which will help it boost its current 7.68% interest in Volcan and which could cost Glencore as much as $956 million, depending on the level of acceptances.

“Volcan’s operations are located in the richest polymetallic production area in Peru, producing some of the highest quality zinc concentrates,” it said in the statement. Continue Reading →

Peak Lithium? Not So Fast – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – September 28, 2017)

Does the world have enough lithium? It depends who you ask.A 2008 study by French researcher William Tahil found there were just 3.9 million metric tons of recoverable deposits globally in mineral ores and Andean salt lakes.

That’s little enough that the world would risk running out as demand for lithium-ion car batteries and utility-scale storage ramps up over the coming decades.

A survey the following year by consultants Gerry Clarke and Peter Harben, though, concluded there was about 10 times that amount. Depending on the other parameters applied, those numbers suggest deposits could provide lithium for anything from a further 100 million cars — about 10 percent of the global auto fleet — to 10 billion or more. Continue Reading →

Brazil abandons controversial bid to mine Amazon natural reserve after vehement criticism from conservationists (South China Morning Post – September 26, 2017)

Agence France-Presse – The Brazilian government backed off a controversial proposal to authorise private companies to mine a sprawling Amazon reserve Monday after blistering domestic and international criticism.

President Michel Temer’s office will issue a new decree on Tuesday that “restores the conditions of the area, according to the document that instituted the reserve in 1984”, the Ministry of Mines and Energy said in a statement.

Last week, environmental activist group Greenpeace said at least 14 illegal mines and eight clandestine landing strips were already being used by miners in the Denmark-sized reserve known as Renca in the eastern Amazon. Continue Reading →

OPINION: In the Amazon, a Catastrophic Gold Rush Looms – by Chris Feliciano Arnold (New York Times – September 18, 2017)

CONCORD, Calif. — Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, is willing to sacrifice millions of acres of rain forest in pursuit of a 16th-century boondoggle: fortunes of gold in the Amazon.

In August, Mr. Temer signed a decree to open a rain forest reserve — an area larger than Denmark — to commercial mining, threatening decades of progress on environmental protection and indigenous rights in the Amazon. The approximately 17,800-square-mile National Reserve of Copper and Associates, or Renca, which straddles the northern states of Pará and Amapá, was created by Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1984 to guard mineral resources from foreign exploitation as the country staggered toward democracy.

Today the reserve is a patchwork of conservation areas and indigenous lands. Its protected status has deterred the runaway development rampant elsewhere in the Amazon that has squelched biodiversity, destroyed indigenous communities and reduced millions of acres of rain forest to pastureland. Continue Reading →

Brazilians toil for gold in illegal Amazon mines – by Nacho Doce (Reuters U.K. – September 14, 2017)

CREPURIZAO, Brazil (Reuters) – Informal mining in Brazil is seen by many as a scourge polluting the Amazon rainforest, poisoning indigenous tribes and robbing the nation of its wealth. For others it is a way of life.

Brazilian garimpos, or wildcat mines, are operated by small crews of men, often caked in red-brown mud and working with rudimentary pans, shovels and sluice boxes that have been used for centuries.

More sophisticated operations use water cannons and boats sucking mud from the bottoms of rivers. Regardless of the method, searching for gold and other minerals like cassiterite and niobium is dirty, dangerous and often illegal. “Looking for gold is like playing in a casino,” said a 48-year-old miner. Continue Reading →

Authorities: Gold miners at a bar bragged about slaughtering members of a reclusive Brazilian tribe – by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. (Washington Post – September 11, 2017)

The outside world might never have heard about the suspected massacre if not for some barroom boasting by a group of miners fresh from working an illegal gig in the Amazon jungle. The garimpeiros had bragged that they’d come across members of a reclusive, uncontacted Amazonian tribe near Brazil’s border with Peru and Colombia, authorities say.

The tribe members were greater in number — there were as many as 10 — but the gold miners said they’d gotten the better of them and killed the entire lot, said Carla de Lello Lorenzi, communications officer for Survival International in Brazil, relaying information from reports the group had received.

The miners cut the tribe members’ bodies so that they wouldn’t float, Lorenzi said, then dropped them into the Jandiatuba River. The miners had collected tools and jewelry from the indigenous dead, corroborating their story. Continue Reading →

Tahoe shares surge after Guatemala ruling – by Frik Els ( – September 11, 2017)

Shares in Tahoe Resources (TSX:THO)(NYSE:TAHO) surged on Monday after a Guatemalan court reinstated the company’s license to operate its giant Escobal silver mine.

Shares in the Canadian miner gained as much as 49% at the start of trade before closing up 33% for a $1.5 billion market capitalization in the New York Stock Exchange. Escobal is the world’s third largest primary silver mine with production of 21.2 million ounces of silver in concentrate in 2016.

Vancouver-based Tahoe said the Guatemalan Supreme Court decision reverses an earlier ruling that went against its subsidiary Minera San Rafael (MEM), in an action brought by the anti-mining group, CALAS, against the country’s Ministry of Energy and Mines in May. Continue Reading →

Canada’s Sherritt eyes nickel products for booming battery market – by Nicole Mordant (Reuters Canada – September 11, 2017)

(Reuters) – The rise of electric cars is spurring Sherritt International Corp (S.TO) to consider branching into producing the types of nickel most sought after by battery manufacturers, the chief executive of the Canadian company said on Monday.

David Pathe said Sherritt, which is one of the world’s largest producers of nickel, was studying the economics around building a plant to produce nickel sulphate, a powder-like substance particularly suited for use in batteries.

Sherritt already produces high-grade nickel for use in the stainless steel industry and in sophisticated applications including batteries. The company does not produce nickel sulphate, which consistently fetches a price premium over London Metal Exchange-traded nickel. Continue Reading →