The QS World University Rankings by Subject released this week lists the world’s top universities in 46 individual subject areas.
The rankings are based on data for academic reputation from a survey of more than 70,000 academics, research citations per paper and its so called H-index which measures the impact of a scholar or scientist.
The engineering – mining and mineral field has 51 entries and the top tier is dominated by US, Australian and Canadian universitiesWhat sets QS apart from similar rankings of educational institutions is a fourth component of the ranking – employer reputation. A survey of over 40,000 employers ranks schools according to the quality of recruits.
The mineral and mining engineering ranking was introduced for the first time ever last year.
The QS engineering – mining and mineral field has 51 entries and the top tier is dominated by US, Australian and Canadian universities. Top rated Colorado School of Mines, established in 1859, is placed well above the competition with a score of above 90.
Established in 1986 Curtin University in Western Australia’s mining faculty shot up the rankings from 19th to second place ahead of Queensland University which also moved up 7 places in the rankings.
Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals fall just outside the top 20 while South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand is in joint 22nd after falling 4 places.
Indian School of Mines (ISM) University, Dhanbad ranks 24th while the top ranked Chinese school, the University of Mining and Technology based in Xuzhou is placed 27th.
Image of the Twangiza gold mine courtesy of Banro Corporation.
An armed attack on the Twanziga gold mine in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Tuesday has resulted in four casualties.
Among the dead are three policemen that were guarding the mine and one of the robbers, according to a statement on Banro Corp’s (TSX:BAA) website.
The incident occurred early Tuesday morning and involved an attempt by the seven-member raiding party to break through the gate. Police fired on the robbers, ending the assault. A security guard was also injured during the altercation. No items were stolen and the mine continues to operate normally, Banro said. The attempted break-in was recorded on security cameras and has been reported to authorities. An investigation is underway.
The open-pit mine, which started commercial production in 2012, is one of four gold mines operated by Banro in the DRC. It was expected to produce 110-120,000 ounces in 2016.
According to Reuters the mine has been “plagued by illegal miners squatting on the site and by armed groups, some of the dozens of militias that remain active despite the official end to a regional conflict in 2003.”
Banro’s stock, listed on the Toronto main board, lost 2.27% today to close at 21.5 cents a share.
World number two miner Rio Tinto is exiting the world’s largest mining project, by selling its stake in Guinea’s Simandou iron ore to partner Chinalco, potentially opening up a new path to development for the $20 billion project.
According to a statement by Melbourne-based Rio the deal is worth between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion payable when Simandou starts commercial production and based on output. Rio says a final agreement could be inked within six months. In February this year Rio wrote down the value of Simandou by $1.1 billion, before deciding to shelve the project.
Rio owns 46.6% of Simandou south; Chinalco’s stake is 41.3% and the Guinea government holds 7.5%. Earlier this month the World Bank’s financing arm – the International Finance Corporation – sold its its 4.6% interest.
With complete control, Beijing-based Chinalco may revive the stalled project with the backing of the Chinese governmentRio has already spent more than $3 billion on the project having first acquired the property in the late nineties. With complete control, Beijing-based Chinalco may revive the stalled project, no doubt with the backing of the central government. In September Chinalco took private its Hong Kong listed mining arm, primarily focused on copper.
China consumes more than 70% of the world’s seaborne iron ore and is on track to import one billion tonnes of the steelmaking raw material this year. Imports have gradually displaced domestic production, pushing dozens of Chinese iron ore mines into bankruptcy.
The shelving of the project has been devastating news for Guinea. Simandou by itself would’ve been the world’s fifth-largest producer at 95 million tonnes per year.
Simandou with over two billion tonnes of reserves and some of the highest grades for direct-shipping-ore in the industry (66% – 68% Fe which attracts premium pricing) has a back-of-the-envelope calculation value of more than $110 billion at today’s prices.
The initial agreement signed in May 2014 called for a new 650km railway across the West African country to Conakry, Guinea’s capital in the north, plus a new deep water port at a conservatively estimated cost of $7 billion; infrastructure investments that would double the economy of the impoverished country.
The impoverished nation, which was one of the worst affected country’s by the recent Ebolo epidemic, and is in dire need of infrastructure to develop other parts of the industry, particularly the export of bauxite, the primary ore used to manufacture aluminum. Bauxite represents some 80% of the country’s export earnings. Chinalco is primarily an aluminum manufacturer.
Simandou’s chequered history
Rio Tinto held the licence for the entire deposit since the early 1990s, but was stripped of the northern blocks in 2008 by a former dictator of the country.
BSG Resources, a company associated with Israeli diamond billionaire Beny Steinmetz acquired the concession later that year after spending $160 million exploring the property.
In 2010 BSGR sold 51% to Vale for $2.5 billion. The Rio de Janeiro-based company stopped paying after the first $500 million after missing a number of development milestones. Then the new Guinean government under Conde launched a review of all mining contracts awarded under previous regimes and launched an investigation into the Vale-BSGR joint venture.
The Guinea government withdrew the mining permit in April last year, accusing BSGR of obtaining its rights through corruption. BSGR has denied wrongdoing and filed an arbitration request in an attempt to win compensation from the Western African nation.
The US district court threw out the case in November last year saying Rio “had waited too long to file the lawsuit” under the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, which calls for a four year time limit.
Rising demand for hard-to-find rare earths (REEs) needed for high tech gadgets, green energy and batteries used by hybrid vehicles continues to push mining companies to scour the ocean floors.
The latest of them is Ocean Minerals LLC, a deep sea mining firm based in Houston, Texas, which announced Wednesday that it has inked an agreement with the Cook Islands government for exclusive prospecting and exploration rights around the country’s seabed.
According to Ocean Minerals, a recent study of alternative sources of REEs conducted by Houston-based Deep Reach Technology, indicates there are potential new sources of rare earth elements and scandium in the South Pacific Ocean’s area.
The firm believes it has reserved “the most promising areas,” containing important concentrations of heavy REEs and scandium. The later, when added in small quantities to aluminum, creates a metal alloy extremely light, strong, corrosion resistant, heat tolerant, and weldable.
Texas-based Ocean Minerals LLC believes it has reserved “the most promising areas,” containing important concentrations of heavy REEs and scandium.The use of such an alloy in automobiles and aircraft could yield fuel savings while protecting lives, the company said in the statement.
From 2001 to 2014 the United Nations’ ISA issued over 30 exploration permits for the Pacific, Mid-Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Since then, more and more companies have been applying for rights to scour the oceans’ floors.
The heightened interest pushed ISA to update its proposed regulatory framework for deep-sea mining in 2014, which translated into allowing private firms to apply for minerals as well as oil and gas extraction licenses beginning this year.
Scientists have expressed their concern about the potential impacts of deep-sea mining in unique and fragile ecosystems. Through the MIDAS project, a group made up of researchers, industry actors, NGOs and legal experts from 32 organizations across Europe, they are currently gathering data to determine what damage, if any, might be done by mining and so inform regulators of what needs to be put in place to protect the deep sea environment.
The Cook Islands are a chain of 15 islands about 4,800 km south of Hawaii and about 3,200 km northeast of New Zealand. Ocean Minerals’ rights are in the island nation’s exclusive economic zone, or the 200-nautical-mile zone extending from a country’s shores that gives it rights to undersea activity.
A new report BMI Research says the Chinese government will continue to ramp up rare earth metal exports in a bid to regain control of rare earth pricing policy. The country produces more than 85% of the global supply of the 17 elements.
A surge in exports from China since a ruling by the WTO deemed the country’s export quotas illegal and particularly after the lifting of exports tariffs in May, caused a further slide in prices which have been declining rapidly from peaks reached in 2011.
Among the hardest hit have been dysprosium and cerium, which saw prices fall from $65,865 a tonne and $883 a tonne, respectively in May 2015, to $37,524 a tonne and $685 a tonne by September 2016 , respectively according to BMI.
China’s policy of consolidating domestic producers and processors while encouraging exports saw the sole US producer of rare earths Molycorp fall into bankruptcy in July last year. While Australia’s Lynas has withered the storm, projects in Greenland, which has the potential to rival China’s biggest production centres, Russia, India and elsewhere have struggled to gain traction amid the low price environment.
As a result the US will continue to be beholden to China for more than 90% of its rare earth imports.
Workers clean gold bars at Endeavour Mining’s Tabakoto mine in Mali
A new report by SNL Metals and Mining shows Africa at the top of tables when it comes to the value of gold still in the ground.
Using the combined value of reserves and resources reported by explorers and mining companies active on the continent, the research company, calculated a figure of $1.48 trillion for primary gold projects.
Canada and the US came in second with gold in situ values as at September 8 of $1.26 trillion.
For gold in non-gold primary projects, Asia-Pacific was the key contributor in terms of resource value, accounting for $692 billion of the total according to SNL.
When it comes to the value of gold resources where it is mined as a secondary product alongside other metals, Africa falls down the rankings with less than $100 billion on the books.
As for revenue, calculated by multiplying 2015 total gold production from primary gold mines with the 2015 average gold spot price, Asia-Pacific and Africa are once again the most as most valuable gold regions, with gold revenues of $20.2 billion and $16.1 billion, respectively.
Gahcho Kué is expected to contribute $5.2 billion (Cdn$6.7 billion) to Canada’s economy and provide 1,200 new jobs.
Situated almost 300 kilometres east of Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the mine — a joint venture between De Beers Canada (51%) and Mountain Province Diamonds (49%) — has so far provided a $341 million (Cdn$440 million) boost to the NWT economy, the reports says. It has also contributed a further $272 million (Cdn$350 million) to the rest of Canada, according to the figures released by De Beers.
But what makes the mine especially important is the fact that two of Canada’s major diamond mines — Diavik and Ekati — are approaching the end of their productive lives, and —although it’s smaller— Gahcho Kué would be able to offset the production drop-off.
The report, which looks into the socio-economic impact of the Anglo American-owned diamond company in Canada, also highlights De Beer’s contribution to the country’s economy over the past 10 years:
More than Cdn$7 billion to Canada’s gross value added (GVA), with exports supported by DeBeers mining operations bringing Cdn$4 billion in foreign currency into the country’s economy. In 2015, they represented 28% of Canada’s export earnings from diamonds.
Cdn$55 million in support to First Nations through Impact Benefit Agreements (2006-2015).
An expected Cdn$24 million contribution to Alberta’s economy by the recent move of headquarters from Toronto to Calgary.
Cdn$750 million in exploration across Canada since 1961, supporting almost 100 jobs each year on average.
Responsible for the discovery of more than 170 kimberlites to date.
“In the 50 years we have been in Canada, we have seen how our business can be a catalyst for delivering both economic and social value, locally, regionally and across the country,” De Beers Canada’s chief executive Kim Truter said in a statement.
He noted that, only last year, De Beers’ activities contributed Cdn$1.2 billion ($930 million) to the Canadian economy.
An Australian prospector has discovered a massive 145-ounce gold nugget worth more than $250,000.
Dubbed ‘Friday’s Joy’, the nugget was found with a Minelab metal detector in an already work-over area at the southern edge of central Victoria’s Golden Triangle, an area well known for yielding gold, finding the top of the nugget only around 30cm below the ground.
The prospector who found the nugget wanted to stay anonymous.
“I thought it was rubbish at first, maybe an old horseshoe,” the man said,“I was in total disbelief as I didn’t think nuggets of this size were still around.”
An avid prospector – having prospected for more than ten years – the man had an agreement with his other gold prospecting enthusiast friends to split the proceeds on any large gold item found when they went prospecting together.
Upon the find, he was unsure of what to do at first.
“It’s like catching a big fish and not knowing what to do with it,” he said.
“I washed it in water, covered it in aluminium foil and kept it in my oven on the first night.”
The man did not intend to quit his job and retire, instead aiming to buy a van and travel around Australia, sightseeing and prospecting.
The nugget is currently in a bank vault, with a replica in construction. Plans for an auction are also underway.
Minelab’s regional sales and marketing director Fraser Kendall said the company was thrilled a customer made such a discovery.
“He was prospecting in an area that others had clearly worked over and this just goes to show that there’s plenty of gold still coming out of Victoria,” he said.
China may be slowing, but a commodities rebound is under way and the world’s biggest miner knows where the next growth story is building – emerging economies in South-east Asia.
Combined gross domestic product in the ASEAN-5 nations – Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam – will rise about a third to $US3 trillion ($3.9 trillion) in the five years to 2020, fuelling commodities-intensive infrastructure projects. Momentum like this across Asia will help maintain and increase commodity demand, BHP Billiton’s chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said this week.
BHP’s staggering loss explained
Fairfax resources writer Peter Ker breaks down what’s behind BHP Billiton’s enormous $8.3 billion loss.
“People have been so used to believing that commodities was a China story, and that with China decelerating where’s the growth going to come from?” Nathan Lim, Sydney-based head of research for Morgan Stanley’s wealth management division, said by phone. “That incremental demand is coming from the emerging markets, and that’s the part people don’t have their head around.”
Thailand is considering more than $US50 billion of infrastructure spending, while Vietnam has begun major projects including a $US10 billion rail modernisation, Indonesia is seeking to accelerate road to ports programs and Philippine President Rodrigo Duerte has promised new railroads and airport runways. These markets are “back on their growth path after a period of under-performance”, according to Lim.
Commodities surged the most in the first half since the 2008 financial crisis as China’s economy stabilised and policy makers backed growth. The World Bank forecasts commodities will rebound next year after hitting the bottom of the cycle and Citigroup agrees, saying last month it’s bullish on raw materials for 2017.
A bellwether of commodities’ demand is steel. New demand across South-east Asia is seen increasing the market for China’s steel exports, which notched record volumes in the first seven months of 2016 and have supported rising iron ore imports.
China is already exporting about 12 per cent of its output and could raise sales overseas further, according to BHP’s Mackenzie. India will also import more iron ore, as will nations across Southe-ast Asia, he told analysts in a presentation Tuesday.
“We look to use steel as a proxy, though you would naturally find the same dynamics for other commodities as well, whether it’s aluminium or copper or bauxite,” Morgan Stanley’s Lim said. Steel demand in the ASEAN-5 will grow at about 6 per cent this year and in 2017 on infrastructure building, according to the World Steel Association. Consumption of 74.6 million tons in 2017 will be more than in regions including Africa and the Middle East, and compares to forecast demand in China of 626.1 million tons, the association said in April.
Fortescue Metals Group, the No. 4 iron ore exporter, said in March it saw emerging sources of steel demand across Asia and in India. China is no longer the sole driver for the $US120 billion copper market, according to Andrew Cole, chief executive of OZ Minerals, a producer that’s also developing Australia’s biggest unmined deposit of the metal.
“Global demand for copper is becoming increasingly diversified, both geographically and by industry sector,” he said in an August 10 interview with Bloomberg Television. “We are seeing increasing diversification through other counties outside of China, which is an important factor that we need to remember.”
Still, global industrial production – output of mining, utilities and manufacturing – is well below historical levels and China “remains the only real growth story”, Macquarie Group said in an August 15 note.
The impact of action early this year to stimulate China’s economy is now fading, the bank said.
China accounts for about 65 per cent of iron ore imports, takes 21 per cent of seaborne metallurgical coal and consumes about half the world’s copper, according to a joint report this month by Westpac Banking Corp and Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation, Science.
BHP, Whitehaven Coal, Alumina and Evolution Mining are among the companies that Morgan Stanley’s Lim sees benefiting from the emerging Asia growth story. BHP’s second-half underlying profits jumped 95 per cent, while coal producer Whitehaven reported Thursday it swung back to a net profit in fiscal 2016 from a loss the previous year.
“We are not saying that we have discovered a new China, or that India is going to become the new China,” Lim said. “The underlying message is that the reason we are seeing demand coming from ex-China, is that it’s the emerging markets where we see the next leg of growth.”