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

http://uk.reuters.com/

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 →

RNC, private equity firm Waterton Global form nickel-focused partnership – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – March 22, 2017)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Canadian miner Royal Nickel Corp (RNC) has joined forces with private equity firm Waterton Global Resource Management (WGRM) to buy, develop and operate nickel assets.

The companies on Wednesday announced that they had inked a joint venture (JV) accord that will result in Waterton buying a 50% stake in RNC’s Dumont nickel project, in Quebec, for C$30-million in cash. The transaction values Dumont – billed as one of the world’s largest undeveloped nickel deposits – at about C$60-million.

RNC and Waterton have also agreed to inject $17.5-million each into the newly established limited partnership that will own Dumont, support its advancement to development, as well as to acquire other high-quality nickel assets globally. The JV entity’s objective is to establish a pure-play nickel company with multiple projects operating in stable jurisdictions. Continue Reading →

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

http://www.nationalreview.com/

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 →

Key measures aimed at energizing Canadian high-tech clusters, like those in Ottawa-Gatineau – by James Bagnall (Ottawa Sun – March 23, 2017)

http://www.ottawasun.com/

Perhaps we should be a little insulted. There’s a section in Wednesday’s federal budget that highlights how a multitude of measures aimed at accelerating innovation are supposed to work.

The government wants us to create innovation superclusters — “dense areas of business activity” capable of attracting the very best talent and companies from around the world. To give us an idea of what these look like, the budget lists four urban areas that have already achieved this distinction: California’s Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tel Aviv and the Toronto-Waterloo corridor.

A nod in the direction of the capital region would have been nice. While it’s true Ottawa and Gatineau long ago lost the distinction of being the planet’s most important supercluster in matters of telecommunications technology, the cities’ innovators are mounting an impressive comeback. Continue Reading →

Silver Wheaton Corp wants a name change to reflect that gold makes up more than half its revenue – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – March 23, 2017)

http://business.financialpost.com/

TORONTO — Vancouver-based streaming company Silver Wheaton Corp. is proposing a name change to Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. as it seeks a brand that better reflects the increasingly large contribution gold is making to its bottom line.

“A lot of investors judged our book by its cover and so we’ve decided to change the cover,” chief executive officer Randy Smallwood said in an interview Wednesday. “The name change really reflects the fact that we are truly a precious metals company and not just a silver company.”

In 2004, Silver Wheaton pioneered the concept of financing miners upfront in return for a portion of future production at a fixed discounted price. The company started off in the silver space but has seen a marked increase in gold production since 2013. Continue Reading →

Australia’s Rinehart children cleared to sue billionaire mother – by Sonali Paul(Reuters U.S. – March 22, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

The children of mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, have been cleared by a court to sue their mother for what they describe as mismanagement of a multi-billion dollar family trust, in a long-running family feud.

Rinehart’s daughter Bianca, who is now trustee of the family trust, said Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd – the mining company set up by her grandfather, Lang Hancock, and run by her mother – did not pay A$500 million ($380 million) in dividends that she said were due to shareholders, one of which is the family trust.

The trust’s only asset is a 24 percent stake in Hancock Prospecting, which has reaped billions of dollars from iron ore assets in Western Australia. Continue Reading →

COMMENT: New chapter for Canadian diamonds? – by Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal – March 22, 2017)

http://www.canadianminingjournal.com/

“It’s been 10 years since Falconbridge and Inco were snapped up by Glencore
(then Xstrata) and Vale, respectfully. Canadians are still stinging from
the loss of our world leadership position in nickel production. We still
produce it, but the profits go elsewhere. Those profits include not only
cash from the metal sold but the innovation and proprietary technology
that generate worldwide acclaim.”

This writer has a fondness for Canadian diamonds, as do many CMJ readers. The stones are beautiful, world famous and conflict free – an excellent accomplishment for a sector that didn’t exist 35 years ago.

But could the Canadian diamond industry go the same way our nickel producers did – into foreign ownership?

The Washington Companies have expressed interest in acquiring Dominion Diamond Corp., owner of Canada’s first producer, the Ekati mine, and 40% owner of the Diavik mine (along with Rio Tinto). WashCorps made an offer on March 19 of US$13.50 per share for Dominion in a deal worth US$1.1 billion. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Mining Association of Canada welcomes several Budget 2017 measures

Urges swifter action to improve Canada’s investment climate

OTTAWA, March 22, 2017 /CNW/ – The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) welcomes Budget 2017’s planned investments in key areas such as infrastructure and innovation, but encourages the federal government to act quickly on these items to improve Canada’s investment climate.

This is especially important given that Canada has experienced nine consecutive quarters of declining business investment and is facing competitiveness challenges from global developments.

“Budget 2017 contains important steps that have the potential to restore Canada’s place as the world’s top destination for mineral investment and place to do business, including addressing the infrastructure shortage in Canada’s remote and northern regions and supporting industry’s innovation efforts. Continue Reading →

Does Norilsk Nickel deserve to be Russia’s environmental gold standard? – by Charles Digges (Bellona.org – March 22, 2017)

http://bellona.org/

Norilsk Nickel, the giant Northern Siberian nickel producer and historically one of the country’s biggest polluters, won a prestigious environmental nod from the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs for closing down one of its most infamously befouling facilities

Norilsk Nickel, the giant Northern Siberian nickel producer and historically one of the country’s biggest polluters, won a prestigious environmental nod from the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs for closing down one of its most infamously befouling facilities.

According to the Russian business daily Vedomosti, the environmental award from the industrialists’ union is one of the organization’s key annual events. Russia’s environmental minister, Sergei Donskoi, who presented the prize, called Norilsk Nickel “the absolute leader in environmental change occurring in the industrial policy in Russia.” Continue Reading →

If the elites are wrong about their ‘man-made climate change’ fixation, they’ll pay dearly for it – by John Robson (National Post – March 22, 2017)

 

http://www.johnrobson.ca/

http://news.nationalpost.com/

“In addition to the multitude of scientists who work in fields so remote
from climate as to have no professional opinion, there are countless
geologists, physicists, chemists and others who dissent over how much
(a) climate is changing (b) man is responsible and (c) it is dangerous.”

It’s impossible to ignore Donald Trump for any length of time. Even if he didn’t have his “finger on the button”, and whether you blame a “basket of deplorables” or “the elites” for his success, the obvious breakdown of trust between the public and those in authority is ominous. So we shouldn’t go about making it worse, right?

Clearly I am one of those who often uses “elites” in a pejorative sense, along with synonyms like “the chattering classes.” I have nothing against people earning respect through intelligence, wisdom, energy and above all character. Continue Reading →

Iron Ore Takes a Battering as Bear Market Engulfs China Futures – by Ranjeetha Pakiam (Bloomberg News – March 22, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Iron ore is getting battered. After rounds of warnings that this year’s rally may be overdone, the raw material is in retreat as doubts gather about the strength of demand in China as steel sells off and record port stockpiles put a spotlight on rising supplies.

In China, futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange sank into a bear market as steel in Shanghai posted the longest run of declines this year, while the SGX AsiaClear contract in Singapore fell for a fourth day. Benchmark spot prices from Metal Bulletin Ltd. extended a loss below $90 a dry metric ton to the lowest since Feb. 9.

“Steel demand in China is clearly robust, but iron ore prices remain very elevated versus fundamentals, and it’s only a matter of time before they normalize to below $60,” Ian Roper, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd., said in an email. “We’ve had a negative view on prices for a while but they’ve held up longer than we expected.” Continue Reading →

Indonesia port graft investigation disrupting coal shipments – by Fergus Jensen and Henning Gloystein (Reuters U.S. – March 22, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

Indonesia is cracking down on corruption and widespread graft at some of its top coal export hubs, disrupting shipments to destinations across Asia.

Indonesia is the world’s top exporter of thermal coal, still the main feedstock for global power generation. Interruptions to coal’s output and shipment can impact seaborne prices of the fuel as well as wholesale electricity markets.

The investigations that began on Friday are targeting port operations along the large anchorage area off Samarinda in East Kalimantan, officials said on Wednesday, delaying ships waiting to load new supplies from the region’s mines. Continue Reading →

Tribunal favours Barrick, Antofagasta in Pakistan lease denial case – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – March 21, 2017)

http://www.mining.com/

A World Bank’s tribunal has ruled in favour of Tethyan Copper Co. (TCC), a joint venture between Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE: ABX) and Antofagasta (LON:ANTO), in relation to the denial of a mining lease for the multi-billion-dollar Reko Diq copper and gold reserve in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.

The decision by the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), issued on Monday, confirms that Pakistan violated several provisions of its bilateral investment treaty with Australia, where Tethyan Copper is incorporated, Barrick said in a statement. The ruling also rejects Pakistan’s final defense against liability.

The case dates back to 2011, when the provincial government of Balochistan rejected TCC’s application for a mining licence at the remote Reko Diq site, near the Afghan-Pakistan border, even though the firm had been awarded a licence for exploration in the area in 2006. Continue Reading →

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

https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/

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 →