Archive | Latin America Mining

Peru’s minerals railway to take 2-3 weeks to resume: government – by Mitra Taj (Reuters U.S. – March 22, 2017)

LIMA – A railway used by copper, zinc and silver mines to transport concentrates from Peru’s central Andes to port is likely be out of action for at least two to three weeks following deadly floods and mudslides, a minister said on Wednesday.

Repairs should take about two weeks, but work in the field was unlikely to start until next week once dangerous river levels had eased, transportation minister Martin Vizcarra told Reuters.

The railway has been closed since Friday, when torrential downpours triggered flooding and mudslides that killed at least 75 people and ruptured the rail line in several places. “The damage wasn’t mild, it was seriously damaged,” Vizcarra said by phone. “It’ll take at least two to three weeks.” Continue Reading →

Escondida workers to end strike as they opt for old contract – by Felipe Iturrieta (Reuters U.S. – March 23, 2017)

ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE – The strike at Chile’s Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, is ending after workers decided to invoke a rarely used legal provision that allows them to extend their old contract, the union said on Thursday.

Hours earlier, talks between the two sides failed, and Escondida, which is operated by BHP Billiton, said it would attempt to restart production. The workers said they would present their decision to the government on Friday and return to work on Saturday.

A swift restart of Escondida, which produced about 5 percent of the world’s copper last year, may bring some relief to the Chilean economy after a strike that has lasted 43 days. But there was little immediate effect on copper prices, with industry experts saying the two sides will still have to tackle major issues in 18 months, when talks must resume. Continue Reading →

BHP Billiton, striking Escondida union to meet Wednesday – by Felipe Iturrieta (Reuters U.K. – March 22, 2017)

ANTOFAGASTA, CHILE – The striking union at BHP Billiton’s (BHP.AX)(BLT.L) Escondida copper mine in Chile, the world’s largest, will meet with the company on Wednesday to resume conversations, both parties said on Tuesday night.

In a letter sent to the members of the 2,500-member Escondida union, labour leaders said they would meet with the company in the hopes of putting an end to the 41-day strike, one of the longest in the history of Chilean mining.

A company spokesman confirmed to Reuters that a meeting would take place on Wednesday, adding that the time of the meeting would be coordinated on Wednesday. Continue Reading →

Into the green land: Emerald mining in Colombia – by Javier Corso (Al – March 20, 2017)

Emerald seekers scour Colombia’s Muzo Valley, searching for the gem that could lift them out of poverty.

Muzo, Colombia – The struggle over land is Colombia’s oldest conflict. For decades the mines of Muzo – widely known as the “emerald capital of the world” – have produced great fortunes for their owners.

In the so-called “Green Wars” during the 1980s, territorial disputes escalated into full-blown conflict as the country’s leading mining families fought over territory.

In those days, the “barequeros” – emerald seekers who dig through debris – gathered by the thousands around the Muzo Valley, hoping that emeralds would arise from the dark soil to rescue them from extreme poverty. Continue Reading →

Salesman Who Bought Gold in Jungle to Fight Laundering Case – by Michael Smith and David Voreacos (Bloomberg News – March 20, 2017)

Juan Pablo Granda had a simple job — go into South American jungles and buy gold for his employer, NTR Metals, to smelt.

After U.S. investigators began examining whether NTR might have helped traffickers convert cocaine profits into cash, the company hired Jones Day to review its practices — and Granda agreed to help the law firm, his lawyer said. So, when NTR told him to fly home last week for a meeting, nothing seemed amiss. But by the time that was over, he’d been fired.

Then his mother called from the home they shared in Miami. “She said, ‘Listen, I’ve got all these FBI agents here, they might want to arrest you,”’ said Granda’s attorney, Edward O’Donnell IV. “So he got in his car and went to his mom’s house. He talked to the FBI agents, and they arrested him.” Continue Reading →

Lithium is the latest hot metal commodity, but investor fever could be cooling – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – March 18, 2017)

Lithium, the lightest metal on earth, has become such a heavyweight in commodities markets that it is increasingly being mentioned in the same sentence as rare earths or vanadium. It’s not a compliment.

Once red hot, those commodities are just the most recent metals to experience a boom/bust cycle of quickly rising prices and a subsequent rush by miners into the space, only to end in burst bubbles.

Demand for lithium, a silvery-white metal called “the new gasoline” by Goldman Sachs, rose 26 per cent in 2016 and is predicted to climb another 39 per cent in 2018. By 2025, demand is projected to increase by 73 per cent as electric vehicles become more viable and an increasing number of countries, including China, tighten restrictions on gas- and diesel-powered cars. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold Corp is exploring selling part or all of one of its flagship mines in Peru, sources say (Financial Post/Reuters – March 17, 2017)

TORONTO — Barrick Gold Corp, the world’s biggest gold producer, is exploring options for its Lagunas Norte mine in Peru, including the sale of part or all of the asset, three people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Barrick, which is working with Toronto Dominion Bank , may prefer to hold 50 percent of Lagunas Norte, but it was unclear if the company wanted to keep control of the open-pit mine as operator, the people added.

The mine could be worth about $1.4 billion, according to industry experts, based on about two times the net asset value ascribed to high-quality gold mines. A Credit Suisse analyst put the mine’s NAV at $711 million. Continue Reading →

Higher copper prices here to stay, says Chile’s Antofagasta – by Marcus Leroux (The Australian – March 15, 2017)

The Times – Steadily growing demand from China and a dearth of new mines mean that higher copper prices are here to stay, Antofagasta claims, as it raised its dividend and posted improved profits.

The Chilean-based mining group has been one of the chief beneficiaries of the rally in copper prices in recent months. The world’s two largest copper mines have halted production, while commodity prices have benefited generally from supply cutbacks and the promise of renewed infrastructure spending in the US.

The company said that there was growing demand from emerging markets, principally China, while production is slowing because the grade of ore being mined is falling and few new mines are being developed. Continue Reading →

Escondida copper mine in Chile says to restart operations (Reuters U.S. – March 14, 2017)

The Escondida copper mine in Chile plans to restart operations after striking workers again rejected an invitation by controlling owner BHP Billiton to return to negotiations, an executive told reporters late Tuesday.

The world’s largest copper mine will first resume work in two areas of the mine that are unrelated to the current talks, Escondida Mine President Marcelo Castillo said at a news conference in the city of Antofagasta.

The company will then begin to do additional maintenance work, before finally re-establishing mining operations and restarting copper production. “We hope that in some way opportunities for dialogue come about…but with the posture that we saw yesterday (from the union) and that all of you saw yesterday, it’s difficult to be able to hope for a conversation in the short term,” Castillo said. Continue Reading →

Chile’s Supreme Court casts shadow over Barrick’s plans to restart Pascua-Lama – by Cecilia Jamasmie  ( – March 15, 2017)

Plans by Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX) to revive its Pascua Lama gold, silver and copper project straddling the border between Chile and Argentina may once again be postponed after Chile’s Supreme Court revoked this week a temporary closure permit granted by the country’s mining regulator Sernageomin in 2015.

Such decision sought to relax certain requirements for Barrick to obtain a new environmental licence for the project, which the top court qualified as an irresponsible measure.

“It authorizes the temporary closure of Pascua-Lama mining operations, without having the necessary measures in place to ensure the physical and chemical stability of the water sources affected by the project,” the judge said according to local paper Diario Financiero (in Spanish). “[Sernageomin also failed to previously determine] the extent of the damage caused by the project through its innumerable environmental violations,” it added. Continue Reading →

Forging mining ties with Mexico – by Staff (Sudbury Star – March 13, 2017)

The Greater Sudbury area now has a mining connection with a Mexican state.

During Mexico Mining Day last week at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto, Nickel Belt Liberal MP Marc Serre signed a letter of intent for the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Services Association and the State of Guerrero.

The three parties agreed to work together for mutual economic benefit. “Collaboration and creating partnerships are important to the growth of our economy, communities and countries,” Serre said in a news release. “Each year, the industry employs nearly 20,000 residents of Northern Ontario.

It’s important to note the amount of time, dedication and succession planning it takes to bring this forward. It has been a pleasure representing our region at PDAC and I believe Greater Sudbury is the best represented city at the convention.” Continue Reading →

BHP eyes temporary workers to break strike at Chile’s Escondida mine – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.K. – March 8, 2017)

SANTIAGO – BHP Billiton (BLT.L) (BHP.AX) may try to restart production at the world’s No.1 copper mine Escondida in Chile using temporary workers once the strike surpasses 30 days, the company told a local radio station on Wednesday.

If their safety could be assured “there is the option of using contractors’ help to try to get production going” and it will be evaluated day by day, Escondida’s corporate affairs director Patricio Vilaplana told Teletrece in an interview.

Local media reported that the company is considering a two-pronged approach as the strike approaches the 30-day mark on Friday – submitting a new contract offer that deals with some of the union’s concerns, and restarting output. BHP declined to comment. Continue Reading →

Argentina Eyeing Lithium Superpower Status Amid Battery Boom – by James Attwood and Jonathan Gilbert (Bloomberg News – March 6, 2017)

Argentina has some good news for Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc., and bad news for lithium producers elsewhere: the country may be about to flood the market with lithium.

After President Mauricio Macri removed currency and capital controls and taxes introduced by his predecessors, about 40 foreign companies began to consider opportunities in Argentina’s mining industry, more than half of those in lithium, according to Mining Secretary Daniel Meilan.

Industry heavyweights Albemarle Corp., Soc. Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, Eramet SA and Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. are among groups looking at expanding or building new lithium operations in Argentina, as part of a $20 billion pipeline of mining projects through 2025, Meilan said Monday in an interview. China’s CITIC is also looking for opportunities, according to the government. Continue Reading →

Brazil mining reform bills may go to Congress in weeks: minister – by Susan Taylor (Reuters U.S. – March 5, 2017)

TORONTO – Bills to reform Brazil’s mining industry are expected to go before Congress in late March or early April and could be enacted by 110 days after that, the country’s mines and energy minister said in an interview on Sunday.

A remodeled mining code, aimed at reviving investor interest, was first proposed in 2009 but stalled in Congress in 2013. To ease its passage, the bill has been broken into two sections that revise government royalties and establish a new regulator.

“We are finishing the discussions inside the government, we are very near closing the discussion for them to go to Congress,” Fernando Coelho Filho said in an interview at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto, which runs Sunday to Wednesday. Continue Reading →

Bolivia’s Desperate Miners Are Doing Desperate Things—Like Murder – by Monte Reel (Bloomberg News – March 2, 2017)

Everyone knows who killed Rodolfo Illanes. So why is his death such a mystery?

Rodolfo Illanes, the vice minister in charge of domestic affairs in Bolivia, held his cell phone to his left ear and struggled to hear the voice on the line. Dozens of angry men crowded around him, some holding heavy wooden sticks, some shouting insults. They were miners, and for a week they’d been blocking several strategic highways throughout the country, demanding changes to a new national mining law.

“They’ve taken me hostage, minister,” Illanes said, speaking on the phone to Carlos Romero, Bolivia’s minister of government affairs. “I was just entering Mantecani alone, and I was counting how many miners were on the hillsides. …”

He’d left the capital city, La Paz, early that morning, Aug. 25, with his driver, and they’d arrived at Mantecani about two hours later. Continue Reading →