Archive | United States Mining

Freeport Indonesia mine grinds to complete halt: union – by Fergus Jensen and Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.K. – February 16, 2017)

JAKARTA – All work has stopped at Freeport-McMoRan Inc’s giant copper mine in Indonesia and its workers are planning a demonstration against the government’s move last month that halted exports of copper concentrate to boost domestic industries, a union said.

A prolonged stoppage at the world’s second-biggest copper mine would support copper prices, near 21-month highs this week, but would also deny the Indonesian government desperately needed revenue from one of its biggest taxpayers.

Freeport had said the Grasberg mine would have to slash output by 60 percent to approximately 70 million pounds of metal per month if it did not get an export permit by mid-February, due to limited storage. Continue Reading →

From Appalachia To Standing Rock, Water Is Life – by Mary Anne Hitt (Huffington Post – February 13, 2017)

Mary Anne Hitt is director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

I live in West Virginia, one of the states where residents can now expect more toxic coal pollution in our streams and rivers thanks to a repeal of mining safeguards by the Republican-controlled Congress.

A few short days after that disastrous decision, the White House cancelled an environmental review and then approved the permit for the Dakota Access pipeline, which threatens the drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux and millions more people downstream.

The Standing Rock Sioux have long opposed the Dakota Access pipeline because of the risk to drinking water, and this week’s decision was one more painful demonstration of how quickly some political leaders will put profits over public health and tribal sovereignty. Continue Reading →

Russian-born billionaire has US rare earths mine in his sights – by Andrew Topf ( – February 14, 2017)

Assets at Molycorp’s Mountain Pass to be auctioned in March

It’s the kind of announcement that will raise hackles among U.S. nationalists and especially those concerned about the loss of control of America’s strategic mineral resources.

According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal (requires subscription), Russian-born billionaire Vladimir Iorich is connected to a Swiss investment fund that has put a bid on the Mountain Pass Mine formerly run by Molycorp before it was forced into bankruptcy. The news outlet states that Pala Investments, established by Iorich in 2007, is part of a buyout group that bid $40 million for the mine’s assets.

A former member of Forbes’ list of the world’s richest billionaires, Forbes says that Iorich is a Russian-born German citizen who made his fortune as a large shareholder in Russian mining and steel company Mechel AOA, run by Russian billionaire Igor Zyuzin. Continue Reading →

Regulation isn’t killing Trump’s ‘clean, beautiful coal,’ the economy is – by Barrie McKenna (Globe and Mail – February 13, 2017)

OTTAWA — Among President Donald Trump’s schemes to restore U.S. economic greatness perhaps none is more misguided than his pledge to put coal miners back to work.

“We will unleash the full power of American energy, ending job-killing restrictions on shale oil, natural gas and clean, beautiful coal,” Mr. Trump told congressional Republicans at their recent annual retreat in Philadelphia.
Lawmakers cheered. “And we are going to put our coal miners back to work,” he added. The applause grew louder. Good luck with that. Coal isn’t clean, it isn’t beautiful, and most compellingly, it is not economic.

Powerful market forces – more so than the “job-killing” regulations Mr. Trump rails about – are unstoppably pushing the sooty fuel and its workers to extinction. And no rational economic policies will bring those jobs back. Continue Reading →

China May Be a Hitch in African Miner’s Bid for U.S. Platinum – by David McLaughlin and Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – February 9, 2017)

What’s to keep South Africa’s biggest gold miner from buying a U.S. palladium producer? China, perhaps.

Sibanye Gold Ltd. is seeking regulatory approval for its $2.2 billion takeover of U.S.-based Stillwater Mining Co. Adding Stillwater’s two Montana mines — the only platinum-group operations in the U.S. and the biggest outside South Africa and Russia — would make Sibanye the world’s third-biggest palladium producer.

A Chinese consortium owns about 20 percent of Sibanye, making it the miner’s biggest single shareholder. That may spark concerns at the U.S. body that reviews whether purchases of businesses by foreign buyers could threaten national security. That regulator — the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. — has looked warily on some high-profile investments by Chinese investors. Continue Reading →

[Strategic Minerals] We have a national security crisis: Let’s do nothing – by John Moody (Fox News – February 8, 2017)

John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News.

Can the United States do anything to reverse a dangerous dependence on crucial mineral supplies that put our future military security in the hands of China? We may be about to find out.

The challenge to our future security was outlined in a grim, largely overlooked report from the U.S. Geological Survey. In stark terms, it demonstrated that the U.S. is 100 percent reliant on foreign producers for at least 20 elements and minerals, some of them of strategic importance to our military. The most common source: China.

As Bellwether noted last week, a group of 17 materials, known collectively as rare earths, are produced almost exclusively by China. That’s the country President Trump has labelled a currency manipulator and trade cheat and which he has vowed to bring to heel in future bilateral negotiations. Continue Reading →

China’s secret Trump card: Could Beijing deprive our military of critical defense components? – by John Moody (Fox News – February 3, 2017)

John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News.

Candidate Donald Trump promised to bring jobs back to America, rebuild our military, and on trade get tough with China, which he said was “raping” our economy. President Trump may find his administration the victim of exactly the job-exporting policies he railed against and face the very real possibility that China could cut off U.S. access to 17 rare materials vital to our advanced aircraft and guided missile systems.

Among major U.S. military projects imperiled by a potential China squeeze play is a $340 billion Navy program to create new, Columbia-class nuclear submarines, and a new electro-magnetic aircraft launch (EMAL) system, which the Navy hopes to use for catapults that launch planes from aircraft carriers.

The 17 materials, known as rare earth elements (REE), are essential to the production of the high-performance permanent magnets used in both those systems, as well as in motors and missiles, GPS systems, satellite imaging, night vision goggles, and consumer products like smartphones and flat television screens. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Trump’s job promises won’t help struggling coal counties – by Alison Stine (Reuters U.S. – February 9, 2017)

I watched the mountains, what was left of them, during soccer practice. While my son tumbled on a field with other five-year-olds, I cast my eyes across the river, where the hills were a pale brown with deep gorges and no trees: foothills with flat, bulldozed tops.

Two hundred years ago, my home in rural, Southeastern Ohio contained some of the county’s largest coal deposits. Three billion tons of coal was pulled from the ground in the state mostly by hand, loaded and shipped across the country via train and canals. Towns sprung up around coal, populated by miners who shopped at company stores, who were paid by the ton, and who often only saw daylight on Sundays.

The small towns and villages of my Appalachian county were called the little cities of black diamonds. Such was the value of coal, as precious as gems. Coal paid for towns. Coal paid for schools. Coal built the Tecumseh Theater in Shawnee, the Marietta and Pittsburgh Railroad. Continue Reading →

White House plans directive targeting ‘conflict minerals’ rule: sources – by Sarah N. Lynch and Emily Stephenson (Reuters U.S. – February 8, 2017)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is planning to issue a directive targeting a controversial Dodd-Frank rule that requires companies to disclose whether their products contain “conflict minerals” from a war-torn part of Africa, according to sources familiar with the administration’s thinking.

Reuters could not learn precisely when the directive would be issued or what the final version would say. However, a leaked draft that has been floating around Washington and was seen by Reuters on Wednesday calls for the rule to be temporarily suspended for two years.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the document. The sources spoke on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the plan. Continue Reading →

[Oregon mining] EDITORIAL: Mining threat renewed (Register Guard – February 9, 2017)

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is in one of the more remote parts of western Oregon, not within easy reach of the main population centers in the Willamette Valley.

Its location in the southwestern corner of the state is both an asset and a liability. The 100,000 acres of public land — 95,805 acres of it national forest and 5,216 acres of it under the Bureau of Land Management — has remained unspoiled. Its streams and rivers run crystal clear, its salmon runs are a magnet for fishermen.

But its location, tucked away in the mountains east of Brookings and Gold Beach, west of Grants Pass, straddling the Oregon-California border, also means it’s not on the radar screen of many Oregonians who might otherwise be concerned about the threat it is now facing. Continue Reading →

Disruptions at top two copper mines threaten global supply – by Wilda Asmarini (Reuters U.S. – February 8, 2017)

JAKARTA – Disruptions at the world’s two biggest copper mines by strikes and other issues this week are threatening to reduce global supplies of the metal, pushing benchmark prices back towards their highest levels for the year so far.

BHP Billiton said it would halt output in Chile at its Escondida mine, the biggest copper producer, during a strike to begin on Thursday. Freeport-McMoRan Inc warned it will scale back output at its Grasberg mine in Indonesia, the second-biggest, amid a smelter strike and issues over renewal of its mining permit.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange gained more than 2 percent during trading on Wednesday to $5,925 a ton on the supply threat, with analysts noting they had already been expecting tighter supplies this year. [MET/L] Continue Reading →

American Coal Has New Playbook to Dig Itself Out – by Tim Loh (Bloomberg News – February 7, 2017)

Boosted by higher prices and presidential promises of aid, U.S. coal is having a comeback season. Yet a looming quandary remains: Demand continues to shrink.

In the boom-bust cycles of old, the fuel’s use grew relentlessly as a fleet of coal-fired power plants fed America’s hunger for electricity. Now, a new age of clean, cheap natural gas and renewables has emerged, thanks to the shale boom and fears of global warming. That’s led to almost 50 gigawatts of coal-fired generating capacity being shut down since 2012, enough to power New York and Vermont combined. And no new coal plants are being built.

In the past decade, six major suppliers have gone bankrupt, some more than once. Now, some producers say they’re remaking their playbooks to survive in a dwindling market. High rates of return and credit ratings are seen as more key to the future than boosting production. Continue Reading →

Senate Votes to Reverse Obama-Era Coal Rule, Sends to Trump – by Ari Natter and Catherine Traywick (Bloomberg News – February 3, 2017)

Republicans in Washington took their biggest step yet to reverse Barack Obama’s regulatory legacy, dusting off a little-used congressional tool and voting to kill a rule aimed at protecting streams from the effects of coal mining.

With the Senate following the House in voting for the measure, President Donald Trump is now poised to be the first president in 16 years to sign a regulatory repeal resolution. It will be only the second rule overturned by the Congressional Review Act — and for Republicans it’s just a start. They have a long queue of other rules they want to repeal the same way.

“A lot of the talk of the election is now going into action,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, said on the Senate floor before the vote. She called the coal-mining rule a “last minute power grab aimed at giving more power to the federal government.” Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: US Mines Produced an Estimated $74.6 Billion in Minerals during 2016 (Release Date: JANUARY 31, 2017)

United States mines in 2016 produced an estimated $74.6 billion of raw mineral materials, a slight increase from 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey announced today.

The information comes from the 40th annual Mineral Commodity Summaries report, the earliest comprehensive source of 2016 mineral production data for the world. It includes statistics on more than 88 mineral commodities that are important to the U.S. economy and national security. The report identifies events, trends and issues in the domestic and international minerals industries.

“The Mineral Commodity Summaries provide crucial, unbiased statistics that decision makers and policy makers, in both the private and public sectors, rely on to make business decisions and national policy,” said Steven M. Fortier, Director of the USGS National Minerals Information Center. “Industries – such as steel, aerospace and electronics – processed non-fuel mineral materials and created an estimated $2.8 trillion in value added products in 2016, which contributed 15 percent to the total U.S. Gross Domestic Product.” Continue Reading →

Republicans take first steps to kill Obama-era regulations – by Lisa Lambert(Reuters U.S. – January 30, 2017)

WASHINGTON – Republicans on Monday continued their drive to loosen U.S. regulation, taking the first step to kill five Obama-era rules on corruption, the environment, labor and guns under the virtually untested Congressional Review Act.

The House Rules Committee sent to the full chamber three regulations enacted under former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, to ax. They were the Stream Protection Rule, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “resource extraction rule,” and one on gun buying.

Republicans put as much urgency on limiting what they consider over-regulation that stifles economic growth as they do on overhauling the tax code and dismantling the Affordable Care Act, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Continue Reading →