Chinese takeover buy of world’s largest mining project

October 29th, 2016

Simandou iron ore mine image www.www-globalcommodities.com

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-guinea-simandou-signing-may-2014 image www.www-globalcommodities.com

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.

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Shortly after BSGR’s rights were stripped Rio filed a lawsuit for billions of dollars against both Vale and BSGR in New York courts for what it called a “steal” of its previously-owned concession. Rio alleged BSGR paid a $200 million bribe to Guinea’s former minister using funds from Vale’s initial payment.

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.

rio-tinto-simandou-port-visit-conde-900-506 image www.www-globalcommodities.com

 

Henry Sapiecha

US miner on the hunt for rare earths in the Cook Islands

October 14th, 2016

 

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.

The announcement comes on the heels of a 15-year contract between India and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which grants New Delhi exclusive rights to explore for Polymetallic Sulphides (PMS) in the Indian Ocean.

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.

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Henry Sapiecha

USA remains just about fully dependent on China rare earths

October 14th, 2016

Molycorp-Rare-Earths-facility-in-Mountain-Pass-California.-image www.www-globalcommodities.com

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.

us-rare-earth-import-destinations chart image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Henry Sapiecha

Africa gold reserves said to be worth $1.5 TRILLION

September 23rd, 2016

endeavour-tabakoto-africa-gold image www.www-globalcommodities.com

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.

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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.

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Henry Sapiecha

World’s largest, newest diamond mine to inject $5.2bn into Canada’s economy

September 9th, 2016

worlds-largest-newest-diamond-mine-to-inject-5-2-billion-into-canadas-economy-300x250 www.www-globalcommodities.com

Gahcho Kué, co-owned by De Beers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds, is located at Kennady Lake, about 280 km northeast of Yellowknife. (Image courtesy of De Beers Group)

Gahcho Kué, the world’s largest new diamond mine due to begin production later this month, is expected to contribute $5.2 billion (Cdn$6.7 billion) to Canada’s economy and provide 1,200 new jobs, a report released Thursday by majority owner De Beers shows.

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.

debeers-diamond-mines-map image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Courtesy of De Beers Group.

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.

www.www-gems.com

www.worldwidediamonds.info

www.gem-creations.com

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Henry Sapiecha

Prospector discovers $300,000 nugget at Ballarat Victoria Australia

August 25th, 2016

gold-nugget 5 kilo ballarat vic image www.www-globalcommodities.com

January 18, 2013

A 5.5kg gold nugget estimated to be worth up to $300,000 has been found by a prospector in bush near Ballarat.

The prospector, who wished to remain anonymous, discovered the nugget on Wednesday at a depth of 60cm and footage of the discovery was soon posted on YouTube.

Once the signal had been tracked through an expensive metal detector, the prospector kicked off leaf mulch from the surface and decided to dig after the ground looked in original condition.

News Limited reports Ballarat Mining Exchange Gold Shop owner Cordell Kent said the prospector initially thought he had found a car bonnet, but detected a glint of gold after he started digging.

“He cleaned the top of it and the gold kept expanding … he saw more and more gold … he couldn’t believe what he was seeing,” he said.

The nugget is worth about $282,000 in weight, but is worth more because of the rarity and size of the nugget.

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Henry Sapiecha

Huge 4 kilo gold nugget discovered in Victoria Australia

August 25th, 2016

Fridays-Joy-4 kilo gold nugget image www.www=globalcommodities.com

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.

Kendall added that the nugget was on par with the 159.3 ounce ‘Cindy’s Pride’, and surpassed prospector Mick Brown’s 87-ounce ‘Fair Dinkum’ gold nugget found last year near the Wedderburn, around 200km north of Melbourne; it was later auctioned for $175,000.

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Henry Sapiecha

A commodities rebound is moving fast forward right on China’s doorstep

August 21st, 2016

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.”

commodities -graph-2 image www.www-globalcommodities.com

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.

Financial crisis

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.

steel-worker-at-work image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Commodities surged the most in the first half since the 2008 financial crisis as China’s economy stabilised and policy makers backed growth. Photo: Jessica Shapiro

Steel proxy

“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.

BHP's CEO Andrew Mackenzie image www.www-globalcommodities.com

Momentum across Asia will bolster commodity demand, BHP’s CEO Andrew Mackenzie said this week. Photo: Bloomberg

“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.”

commodities-graph image www.www-globalcommodities.com

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.”

Bloomberg

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Henry Sapiecha

 

Seven rare earth minerals that run our world-Infographic shows it all here

August 17th, 2016

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Henry Sapiecha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IS NEWMONT TO BE THE WORLDS LARGEST GOLD PRODUCER

July 29th, 2016

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The world’s number one and two gold producers both released second quarter results and production guidance the past week.

For Barrick Gold, 2015 year was the last period of 6m-plus ounces of production which was already substantially down from its peak of 7.7 million ounces in 2010 and 2011.

While its financials came in slightly below expectations the Toronto-based company stuck to its annual output forecast of between 5 million and 5.5 million ounces.

Barrick has been shedding assets at a clip in an effort to tackle its heavy debt load and to achieve its 2016 target will have to find another $1 billion before the end of the year.

Earlier this week there were reports the miner is close to selling its 64% stake in Tanzania’s Acacia Mining (LON:ACA) for as much as $1.9 billion. And buried in Barrick’s Q2 release was an announcement that it’s looking for a buyer for half of Australia’s Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines.

This deal will make Newmont the world's top gold minerNewmont Mining owns the other half and Barrick handed over operational control of the the iconic mine called the Super Pit to Denver-based Newmont a year ago. The mine some 600km west of Perth has produced 50 million ounces over 30 years and fully developed the cut will be 3.6 kilometers long, 1.6 kilometers wide and up to 650 meters deep.

Newmont would be the natural buyer and has expressed interest in the mine in the past which could fetch as much as $1 billion. The company sports one of the stronger balance sheets in the sector having embarked on a debt reduction program earlier than its rivals and recently selling its Indonesian Batu Hijau copper-gold operation for $1.3 billion.

Unlike many of its rivals Newmont has been building its portfolio and last year acquired the Cripple Creek & Victor gold mine in Colorado. Newmont also has five key projects that are in execution stage including the Turf Vent project in Nevada and Merian mine in South America expected to start production late in 2016.

Newmont said in its results its Northwest Exodus project in Nevada is approved and will start production this quarter. In addition unapproved projects “represent upside of between 200,000 and 300,000 ounces of gold production beginning in 2018.”

While far from certainties should Barrick’s deals go ahead, Newmont picks up Kalgoorlie, the companies’ production guidance pans out and all things being equal (which they never are in gold mining) next year Denver and not Toronto will be the home of the world’s number one gold mining company.

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Henry Sapiecha

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