Archive | United States Mining

America’s mining policy undermines national security – by Jeff A. Green (The Hill – December 14, 2017)

Jeff A. Green is president and founder of J.A. Green & Company, a bipartisan government relations firm based in Washington D.C.

After nearly two decades of war, the American military must address a readiness crisis. Both Congress and the Trump administration are working to rebuild the military’s front-line forces. But readying America’s industrial base to support the force of the future requires further action.

The Department of Defense should be gravely concerned that disruptions in America’s mineral supply chain could undermine our national security. The U.S. military uses 750,000 tons of minerals each year to keep our country and troops safe. However, the U.S. is now entirely reliant on other countries for at least 20 minerals needed to build fighter jets, engines, radar, missile defense systems, satellites, precision munitions and other key technologies.

These key minerals enable the “overmatch” that Secretary of Defense James Mattis demands, which ensures we can not only win any war, but win it in overwhelming fashion. Continue Reading →

Holler promises: Subsidising coal production is a really bad idea (The Economist – December 14, 2017)

WELCH AND WILLIAMSON, WEST VIRGINIA – ON A brisk early-autumn morning in Welch, seat of the poorest county in America’s third-poorest state, four young men methodically demolish an old car-parts factory. The men wielding sledgehammers are not vandals, but construction trainees hired by Coalfield Development, a local non-profit, and they are working hard.

The low, solid building has good bones, but has fallen into disrepair from extended disuse. The same is true of Welch itself. The beautiful stone and brick buildings, complete with carved mullions, stone flares along rooflines and other architectural flourishes, show that once upon a time this town had confidence and money. Discount shops and boarded-up shopfronts testify to a harder present.

McDowell County is the heart of Appalachia, a once-Democratic region that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump. Mr Trump won four of America’s top five coal-producing states (Illinois, with much of its population concentrated in and around liberal Chicago, was the exception). Continue Reading →

Mining Mogul Murray Gets Coal in His Stocking—and Wants More – by Tim Loh (Bloomberg News – December 14, 2017)

The day after Donald Trump’s election, coal mogul Robert E. Murray praised him in Biblical terms, saying the Republican had the courage and zeal to put miners back to work.

“God picked the most imperfect people on the planet to carry out his will,” the chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corp. said at the time. “Who better than Donald Trump?”

More than a year after his election, the president hasn’t disappointed. Trump has already “cleaned up” more than one-third of a three-and-a-half page list of policy proposals that Murray gave the White House, the coal executive said in an interview. He’s hardly been the only energy executive pushing Trump to shift U.S. policies more in favor of fossil fuels, but few have been as vocal. Continue Reading →

Rising Coal Exports Give Short-Term Aid to an Ailing Industry – by Clifford Krauss (New York Times – December 13, 2017)

A shake-up in global coal trading has delivered some oxygen to the struggling American mining industry, driving up exports to energy-hungry countries. But the relief may not last.

United States coal sales abroad over the first three quarters of the year surpassed exports for all of 2016, according to government figures. Energy experts project an increase of 46 percent for the full year, adding more than $1 billion to coal companies’ revenues.

Those are crucial dollars for an industry trying to stabilize itself after nearly a decade of declining prices, expanding competition from natural gas and wind and solar energy, and bankruptcies. Domestic coal-fired power plants continue to close despite promises of regulatory relief by the Trump administration, making the exports all the more critical. Continue Reading →

U.S. court upholds Grand Canyon uranium mining ban, but allows mine nearby – by Valerie Volcovici (Globe and Mail/Reuters – December 12, 2017)

A U.S. federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower-court ruling keeping a ban on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon, but also upheld a separate decision allowing a uranium mine nearby to open.

The decisions by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, related to cases argued last December, come as Congress and the Trump administration seek to expand mineral extraction on public lands.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last month proposed lifting the Obama-era mining ban on land near Grand Canyon National Park, an area of natural beauty in the western United States that also historically served a number of uranium mines. Continue Reading →

Canadian energy firms take issue with Trump administration’s nod to coal, nuclear power – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – December 9, 2017)

Canadian energy companies have entered a battle over the U.S. electricity market in which natural gas, hydroelectric and renewable-energy providers are opposing Trump administration efforts to favour coal-fired and nuclear generators with premium payments for “reliability.”

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has formally proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) impose rules creating new rate structures under which coal-fired and nuclear electricity generators could recover additional costs from consumers based on their contribution to system reliability.

That’s because those generating stations provide base-load power and maintain a 90-day source of fuel on site, unlike those providing electricity from other sources. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Indonesia’s Freeport-Rio plan masks longer-term issues – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.K. – December 7, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 7 (Reuters) – A proposed three-way deal between the Indonesian government, Rio Tinto and Freeport-McMoRan to clean up the ownership of the giant Grasberg copper-gold mine looks like one of those rare situations where everybody wins.

Except that it isn‘t. Certainly all parties may walk away feeling that they have achieved the best outcome, assuming the complicated deal can be pulled off at a price acceptable to all three.

But this ignores the wider picture in which any short-term advantage is likely to be offset by compounding longer-term problems. First, a brief re-cap of what’s at stake. Grasberg is the world’s second-largest copper mine, as well as being one of the five-biggest gold mines, and is further advantaged by having high grades and low costs. Continue Reading →

Newmont Poised to Oust Barrick as World’s Top Gold Producer – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – December 6, 2017)

Newmont Mining Corp.’s Gary Goldberg has the title of world’s biggest gold producer within his grasp. The chief executive officer raised his 2018 production forecast to a range of 4.9 million to 5.4 million ounces.

That exceeds Barrick Gold Corp.’s 2018 guidance of 4.8 million to 5.3 million given in February, which doesn’t include the impact of the sale of 50 percent of a mine in Argentina.

While Newmont is already ahead of Barrick by market value, the midpoints of the two companies’ 2017 guidance indicate Barrick will keep Newmont at bay this year in terms of output. That’s not the case in the following years. Continue Reading →

Trump to Shrink Utah Monuments Holding Artifacts, Minerals – by Jennifer A Dlouhy and Justin Sink (Bloomberg News – December 4, 2017)

President Donald Trump said Monday that he’ll shrink two national monuments in Utah that contain stunning red-sandstone vistas, historic relics and energy resources, arguing his predecessor overstepped in protecting the land.

Trump traveled to Salt Lake City for the announcement, and also met with leaders of the Mormon Church. He was accompanied on Air Force One by Utah Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, who is contemplating whether to run for re-election next year when he’ll turn 84.

“Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” Trump said. “They’re wrong. The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best, and you know the best how to take care of your land.” Continue Reading →

A tale of tailings: Eagle Mine seeks permit change related to waste dumped in Humboldt pit – by Lisa Bowers (The Mining Journal – December 3, 2017)

ISHPEMING — Area residents were given the opportunity Monday to weigh in on a proposed change in operations at the Eagle Mine’s Humboldt Tailings Disposal Facility.

Lundin Mining Corp., the parent company of the Eagle Mine, requested an amendent to a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permit issued in 2010 which would allow the company to place tailings, the waste material generated when processing ore, at a higher elevation than what is currently permitted in the Humboldt pit.

The orignal permit required the surface elevation of tailings not to exceed 1,420 feet above sea level in the 350 foot-deep Humboldt pit. The proposed amendment, if approved, would allow tailings to reach 1,515 feet above sea level. Continue Reading →

Coal mining executive who spent a year behind bars for intentionally violating worker safety standards will run for SENATE against endangered Democrat in West Virginia – by Geoff Earle (Daily Mail – November 29, 2017)

A mining company CEO who did time in prison for conspiring to violate mine safety in connection with a massive mine explosion is running against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia.

Don Blankenship did a year-long stint in a California prison after getting convicted of willfully breaking safety standards. He got convicted after the Upper Big Branch disaster that resulted in the deaths of 29 miners in 2010.

Manchin won election in 2012 with 60 per cent of the vote, but is considered vulnerable because of the voting patterns in the state he represents. He voted through most of President Trump’s nominees, and votes with the president about two-thirds of the time. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Is China’s aluminium sector too relaxed about U.S. dumping moves? – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – November 30, 2017)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Nov 30 (Reuters) – It will be tempting for China’s aluminium market participants to dismiss as inconsequential the latest move by the U.S. Commerce Department to impose anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on imports of aluminium alloy sheet.

The proposed moves would affect only a small amount of China’s aluminium exports, but the main issue isn’t the economic value of the U.S. action, but rather where it ultimately may lead.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in announcing the move on Nov. 28, said it was “one more step” in fulfilling President Donald Trump’s campaign against what he termed unfair trade practices. Continue Reading →

U.S. repeal of carbon rule criticized in coal country – by Kara Van Pelt (Reuters U.S. – November 28, 2017)

CHARLESTON, W. Va. (Reuters) – Health groups, environmentalists and a former coal miner criticized the Trump administration’s proposal to dismantle an Obama-era rule to slash carbon emissions from power plants at a public hearing held in the heart of coal country on Tuesday.

The hearing also heard from many coal supporters who said that the plan would cost utilities billion of dollars, which would likely result in mining job cuts.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted the two-day hearing in West Virginia on its proposal to axe the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s strategy on climate change. It was the only meeting scheduled on the rule, which President Donald Trump has said would devastate the coal industry. Continue Reading →

U.S. environmentalists file lawsuit to overturn approval of Canadian copper mine – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud ( – November 27, 2017)

Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition and the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter have filed a lawsuit in federal court in the hope that it rescinds the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of Hudbay Minerals’ (TSX, NYSE:HBM) Rosemont Project in southern Arizona.

The $1.5-billion Rosemont Project is an open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, about 50 km southeast of Tucson. It is expected to be the third-largest copper mine in the United States, accounting for approximately 10% of the country’s total copper production, and it received a Final Record of Decision from the Forest Service back in June, 2017.

But before Hudbay reaches such big production goals, it has to deal with environmentalists’ concerns and legal actions. In the case of the recent lawsuit, the four organizations involved allege that the mine would violate nearly a dozen state and federal laws, threaten water resources and destroy Coronado National Forest land. Continue Reading →

Indonesia has ‘no clear structure’ for a Freeport deal yet – by Fergus Jensen and Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.S. – November 23, 2017)

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises, tipped to oversee an acquisition of a majority stake in the local unit of Freeport-McMoRan Inc, has “no clear structure” yet for the deal, a ministry official said on Friday.

Under a framework agreement announced in August, Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport said it would divest 51 percent of PT Freeport Indonesia (PT-FI), but there has been little progress since then.

Freeport, operator of Grasberg, the world’s second-largest copper mine, also agreed to build a second smelter in Indonesia and to invest up to $20 billion in expansions. Continue Reading →