Archive | United States Mining

[Defense-critical rare-earth elements] Bad Trade Policies Are Hurting U.S. National Security – by Mike Fredenburg (National Review – March 23, 2017)

American negligence has allowed China to seize control of the rare-earth elements critical to our national defense. President Trump should reverse this sorry state of affairs.

That our government sat idly by as we became completely dependent on other countries to supply us with defense-critical rare-earth elements (REEs) is scandalous. That the country we are now dependent on for REEs is China, a hostile power, is unforgivable. China is not our friend; any objective analysis of its actions and comments over the last 30 years would conclude that Beijing views the U.S. as its primary enemy.

That is why Republican congressman (and former Marine) Duncan Hunter of California has proposed a bill to redress this dangerous situation by allocating 1 percent of the Department of Defense’s administrative-overhead budget — about $50 million per year — to incentivize the resumption of domestic production of defense-critical REEs.

The summary of Hunter’s METALS (Materials Essential to American Leadership and Security) Act warns that the rights to the largest REE mine in the United States, Mountain Pass in California, are in danger of being purchased by a company with strong ties to Russia. Continue Reading →

U.S.A. CONGRESSMAN NEWS RELEASE: Hunter Introduces METALS Act to Curtail U.S. Dependence on Foreign-Sourced Strategic and Critical Materials Supporting National Defense

March 7, 2017 – Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced the Materials Essential to American Leadership and Security (METALS) Act. The legislation rectifies a dangerous lapse in the supply chain for strategic and critical materials essential for numerous defense and national security applications.

“The U.S. must no longer be wholly dependent on foreign sources of strategic and critical materials,” said Rep. Hunter. “The risk of this dependence on national security is too great and it urgently demands that we re-establish our depleted domestic industrial base.”

Presently, the People’s Republic of China dominates the production of rare earth elements, controlling more than 90 percent of global production. These critical materials are key components of everything from high technology consumer electronics to advanced weapons systems, including the Joint Strike Fighter. Continue Reading →

Resolution mine official calls permitting process a barrier to business – by Dustin Quiroz (Cronkite News Arizona PBS – March 21, 2017)

WASHINGTON – The Resolution Copper Mine in Arizona would be operating by now in most countries, but is still years away from getting all the permits it needs to begin mining in the U.S., a company official testified Tuesday.

Nigel Steward, managing director of copper and diamonds for Rio Tinto, the multinational mining company developing the Resolution project, told a House Natural Resources subcommittee that “outdated, inefficient” permitting is a “major barrier” to mining companies.

“To date, Rio Tinto has spent over $1.3 billion on the Resolution project for permitting, studies and project shaping, the project is years away from a final permit,” Steward said in his prepared testimony. “In other countries, this project would likely be coming to the end of the permitting process.” Continue Reading →

Freeport threatens action over copper mine dispute – by Sara Schonhardt (Wall Street Journal/The Australian – March 20, 2017)

Freeport-McMoRan’s standoff with Indonesia over the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine is entering a new phase, as the company scales back operations while trying to force a resolution to the dispute.

Last month, the US miner threatened to take Indonesia to arbitration, saying new rules the country imposed on miners in January violated the terms of an operating agreement struck in 1991 that runs to 2021.

The rules are part of a broad ­effort to gather more revenue from the mining sector. Under the rules, Freeport is banned from ­exporting a form of unrefined copper until it agrees to new operating rights that would eventually force it to cede control of Grasberg, the second-largest copper mine in the world, to Indonesian entities. Continue Reading →

Indonesia’s long relationship with Freeport at crossroads – by Staff (Asian Corrospondent – March 16, 2017)

AMERICAN mining giant Freeport-McRoRan Copper & Gold may soon pull out of Indonesia after more than four decades due to prolonged conflict with the government. The company, which is the country’s oldest international investor and largest taxpayer, has been embroiled in a battle with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration over new national mining regulation.

Legislation introduced in January 2017 requires Freeport to convert its business contract into a special mining licence, dictating the company must divest 51 percent of shares in its local subsidiary within a decade and build a new US$2 billion smelter.

With economic nationalism a key aspect of Jokowi’s agenda, the government is also demanding higher royalties, land relinquishments and more materials to be procured from local suppliers. Continue Reading →

The frustrating truth behind Trump’s promises to coal country – by Philip Bump (Washington Post – March 14, 2017)

President Trump celebrated the February job gains announced last week in a tweet Tuesday morning that was chock-full of graphics from Fox Business network. Included in the highlights are two bits of data that were central to Trump’s campaign argument: increases in employment in manufacturing and in mining.

The importance of Trump’s insistence that he would bring back coal mining jobs — a claim he made repeatedly — was reinforced in a recent Post article looking at the concerns of voters in West Virginia, the heart of Appalachian coal country.

Our Jessica Contrera spoke with a man named Clyde, who explained the mental calculation that went into his support of Trump last year, despite worries that his election might negatively affect his Medicaid. Continue Reading →

New mines bank on steel industry’s need for metallurgical coal – by Brian Bowling (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – March 12, 2017)

Contractors for Corsa Coal Corp. are busy digging a hole larger than a football field in Somerset County. Their goal is the Middle Kittanning seam — buried about 120 feet deep.

The Canonsburg-based company is on schedule to open its Acosta Deep Mine in May, with a plan for at least 70 miners to remove about three miles of metallurgical-quality coal — used in steelmaking — over the next decade. Starting a new mine in an era when many are shutting down feels good, said Robert Bottegal, Corsa’s general manager for engineering.

“There will be some more jobs in the area, which is great,” Bottegal said. The number of bituminous coal mines operating in the United States plummeted from 1,010 in 2001 to 431 in 2015, according to the U.S. Continue Reading →

‘Coal is in decline’ and it looks like not even Donald Trump can pull the industry’s long-term future out of the fire – by Geoffrey Morgan (Financial Post – March 8, 2017)

At their most generous, Las Vegas oddsmakers put the chances of Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidency at 25 to one. In other words, a long shot and one that likely mirrored any potential rebound by the country’s thermal coal miner stocks.

Coal mining companies have faced a constant “onslaught” of new regulations in the months and years leading up to the most recent U.S. election, said Cloud Peak Energy Inc. chief financial officer Heath Hill, including Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was designed to encourage cleaner burning natural gas and renewable power at the expense of coal-fired electricity.

“It was effectively a ‘keep coal in the ground’ campaign, where the NGOs were really well supported by the administration’s coordinated regulation and implemented rules in a way that were very disadvantageous to the coal industry,” Hill said. Continue Reading →

Indonesia mining policy shift sparks fresh turmoil (Channel News Asia – March 5, 2017)

AFP – Jakarta – A controversial U-turn on mineral exports has sparked turmoil in Indonesia’s key mining sector, providing a fresh headache for firms struggling to work in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Despite sitting atop some of the world’s most abundant natural resources, successive governments have failed to take advantage of its vast riches, with critics blaming badly thought-out and nationalistic policies that make the country an uncertain place to invest.

And the latest overhaul has sparked a potentially damaging standoff with one of the United States’ biggest miners and a major investor in the country. Jakarta in January relaxed a 2014 landmark ban on shipments of raw mineral ores, which was originally aimed at spurring the domestic smelting industry but led to mine closures, job losses and a fall in government revenues. Continue Reading →

The conscience of a Liberal: Coal is a state of mind – by Paul Krugman – New York Times – March 1, 2017)

The big news from last night’s speech is that our pundits is not learning. After all the debacles of 2016, they swooned over the fact that Trump — while still lying time after time and proposing truly vile initiatives — was able to read from a teleprompter without breaking into an insane rant. If American democracy falls, supposed political analysts who are actually just bad theater critics will share part of the blame.

But that aside, I was struck by Trump’s continued insistence that he’s going to bring back coal jobs. This says something remarkable both about him and about the body politic.

He is not, of course, going to bring back coal mining as an occupation. Coal employment’s plunge began decades ago, driven mainly by the switch to strip mining and mountaintop removal. A partial revival after the oil crises of the 70s was followed by a renewed downturn (under Reagan!), with fracking and cheap gas mainly delivering the final blow. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Winner of the 2016 Carnegie Mineralogical Award Announced

Carnegie Museum of Natural History named Anthony R. Kampf the winner.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History is pleased to announce that Anthony (Tony) R. Kampf, PhD, is the winner of the 2016 Carnegie Mineralogical Award. Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Director Eric Dorfman, PhD, presented the award to Kampf on February 12, 2017 during the Saturday night awards banquet at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
The Carnegie Mineralogical Award honors outstanding contributions in mineralogical preservation, conservation, and education and is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the field of mineralogy.

“Dr. Kampf has consistently provided a high level of service to the amateur and professional mineral communities. I am very pleased to see him honored as the recipient of the 2016 Carnegie Mineralogical Award,” said Marc Wilson, curator of collections of the Section of Minerals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Continue Reading →

Freeport sees ‘no return to business as usual’ at Grasberg mine: document – by Fergus Jensen (Reuters U.S. – March 1, 2017)

JAKARTA – Freeport-McMoRan’s Indonesian unit sees “no returning to business as usual”, an internal company memo said, as the miner cut output and laid off workers at its giant Grasberg copper mine in a battle with Jakarta over mining rights that has paralyzed its operations.

Freeport’s Indonesian unit has shelved plans to invest $1 billion a year in long-term underground expansion at the world’s second-biggest copper mine, the company said in a memo to all staff on Feb. 28, citing a stoppage to Grasberg exports since mid-January resulting from changes to Indonesian mining rules.

Copper ore output from the Grasberg mine in Papua will be cut to 95,000 tonnes a day in 2017 from 140,000 tonnes previously estimated, it said in the document reviewed by Reuters. Continue Reading →

Showdown in Indonesia Brings World’s Biggest Gold Mine to Standstill – by Krithika Varagur (Voice Of America – February 27, 2017)

JAKARTA — The American mining company Freeport-McMoRan has brought the world’s biggest gold mine, in the Indonesian province of West Papua, to a standstill. The corporation is butting heads with the Indonesian government over protectionist mining regulations.

And now that Freeport has started to dismiss tens of thousands of workers, the local economy is poised to take a huge hit. In Mimika Regency, the West Papua province containing the Grasberg gold mine, 91 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is attributed to Freeport.

Freeport Indonesia abruptly stopped production on February 10 and laid off 10 percent of its foreign workers. It employs 32,000 people in Indonesia, about 12,000 of whom are full-time employees. The freeze was a reaction to a shakeup in Freeport’s 30-year contract with the Indonesian government, signed in 1991. Continue Reading →

US isn’t prepared to meet mineral, metal demands – by Hal Quinn (The Spectrum – February 10, 2017)

Hal Quinn is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Mining Association (, which advocates on behalf of America’s mining and minerals resources.

A new government report suggests we must revisit the regulatory regime that restricts hard rock mining in the United States. A surge in demand is coming for the minerals and metals needed in every sector of our economy, and we are woefully unprepared to meet it.

The problem is not a lack of domestic resources. We have them in spades. In fact, the U.S. possesses an estimated $6.2 trillion in minerals reserves. But we still import nearly $7 billion in minerals and metals each year. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2017 Mineral Commodity Summary, America is import-dependent for half or all of 50 key mineral commodities. And this import dependency is only poised to grow. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Shareholders tell miner Freeport to get tough with Indonesia – by Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – February 27, 2017)

Feb 27 Shareholders are pressuring miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc to stand up to the Indonesian government over changes the Southeast Asian country wants to make in the U.S. miner’s contract, Freeport’s chief executive officer said on Monday.

Rio Tinto Plc, which is a partner in Freeport’s massive Grasberg copper and gold mine in Indonesia, is also supportive of Freeport’s tougher approach toward Jakarta, CEO Richard Adkerson said. In some of his strongest language yet on the issue, Adkerson said the new regulations sought by Indonesia were “in effect a form of expropriation of our assets and we are resisting it aggressively.”

“Many of our shareholders feel that we have been too nice. Now we are in the position of standing up for our rights under the contract,” Adkerson told a mining conference of institutional investors in Hollywood, Florida. Continue Reading →