Archive for the ‘SECURITY & SAFETY’ Category


Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Turmoil in North Africa

puts heat on phosphate

Barry FitzGerald
February 7, 2011

The political turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia has raised the potential for the same sort of winds of change to start blowing in Morocco, the world’s dominant producer of phosphate.

THE political turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia has raised the potential for the same sort of winds of change to start blowing in Morocco, the world’s dominant producer of phosphate.

Fitch Ratings, for one, thinks that Morocco is unlikely to suffer contagion in the short term, even if it also suffers from the same sort of social inequality that is breeding unrest elsewhere on the Dark Continent.

There is a bunch of investors out there who are not so sure. They are the ones that last week chased Phosphate Australia (ASX: POZ) from 11.5¢ to 19.5¢ by the close of trade on Friday – a gain of 69 per cent, if you don’t mind.

Fellow Northern Territory phosphate developer, Minemakers (ASX: MAK), has also benefited from the question marks over Moroccan supplies. Its shares have bounced from below 40¢ a month ago, to 59¢ on Friday.

Those gains came as Stuart White from the Institute for Sustainable Futures at Sydney’s University of Technology was telling a US conference that political instability in North Africa and the Middle East was an additional component in a looming supply-demand gap in global phosphorus resources.

”Morocco alone controls the vast majority of the world’s remaining high quality phosphate rock. Even a temporary disruption to the supply of phosphate on the world market can have serious ramifications for nations’ food security,” the good professor said.

Sort of puts the high price of bananas in perspective.

GARIMPEIRO has been banging on about the market’s apparent undervaluation of Exco Resources (ASX: EXS) since before his hair went grey.

The last rant was back in August last year when Exco was a 33.5¢ stock. It is now a 58.5¢ stock, valuing the company at a little more than $200 million (undiluted). So the undervaluation has been at least partly addressed, not because anyone listens to Garimpeiro, mind you.

No, the reason has been the stellar performance at the group’s White Dam goldmine in South Australia. The project really hit its straps in the December quarter, producing its gold at a class best, for mines without the benefit of by-product credits, of $289 an ounce.

All that allowed Exco to pay off its gold loan. It now looks forward to generating a net cash flow of more than $5 million a month for the rest of the financial year. As good as the December quarter effort was, it is the group’s Cloncurry copper project in soggy north Queensland that remains its key asset.

Xstrata’s Ernest Henry treatment plant sits 8 kilometres away and is the obvious place for Exco’s resource to be processed. But after more than five years of shadow-boxing on the subject, no deal has been struck.

If a deal is not struck some time soon, you would have to think a stand-alone development is on the cards. Either way, there is good reason to value Exco’s Cloncurry project at upwards of $400 million (61 million tonnes containing 519,400 tonnes of copper and 500,000 ounces of gold).

That’s what Shaw Stockbroking did in its recent report on Exco that set a target price for the stock of $1.12. Fox-Davies Capital has a target price on the stock of 88¢ a share. Needless to say, both targets are well north of the current share price.

WHEN you’ve got Tony Sage’s Cape Lambert (ASX: CFE) on the share register with a 17 per cent stake, it is best to get on with things.

And so it is with last year’s float of Peruvian exploration specialist Latin Resources (ASX: LRS). It has not set the world on fire since raising $6 million in September. But it could be a different story in 2011, with last year’s float giving Latin the funds to do some serious work on the portfolio of coastal iron ore projects it has assembled over the three years in a country that relies more on its resources industry than does Australia, if that is possible.

Watch out for drilling programs to generate news in the months ahead at the Guadalupito, Ilo Norte, Ilo Sur and Mariela projects. Garimpeiro’s listing there is more than alphabetical; it is saying that Guadalupito in particular is the one to watch.

It is part of a large coastal placer deposit of magnetite and other heavy mineral-bearing sands in an uninhabited part of Peru, some 25 kilometres north of the port town of Chimbote, home to Peru’s biggest steel smelter.

Some smarter guys than Garimpeiro reckon it has got serious potential as a multi-commodity play covering magnetite, andalusite, monazite rare earths elements, mineral sands, wolframite and, for good measure, maybe gold.

What would make it even more interesting would be if Latin could secure a bigger ground position than it already has. On that score, Garimpeiro’s Peruvian cousins have passed on the tip that a deal that would allow Guadalupito to shape up as something potentially much bigger for Latin could be close at hand.

THE ability of junior explorers to re-invent themselves is a joy to behold. That’s just what TNG has been doing, switching its focus from its Manbarrum zinc-lead project in the Northern Territory to its Mount Peake iron-vanadium project, also in the Top End.

The change of focus has put some much needed pep into the group’s share price. It motored off to 12¢ a share on Friday, a gain of 3.1¢ or 34.8 per cent on the day. Still, Garimpeiro can remember writing up TNG when it was a 50¢ stock and more.

While TNG may well extract some value from Manbarrum before long, it’s the potentially large scale Mount Peake project that is going to provide the near-term interest. A scoping study into the project’s potential is likely to hit the ASX platform this week.

The market’s main interest will be in what the study says about a new hydrometallurgical process that TNG and the Perth-based metallurgical consultant, METS, have been working up for use at Mount Peake to extract the metal units of vanadium, titanium and iron.

The new process has the potential to deliver major capital and environmental advantages over the conventional pyrometallurgical processes (roasting), making it a possible game-changer for TNG and its Mount Peake ambitions.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Lead shipments halted

after contamination scare

Lucy Rickard
January 1, 2011 – 12:30PM

The Western Australian State Government has put a halt to lead shipments through the Fremantle ports, after a company allegedly breached the conditions for transporting the product.

Acting Environment Minister Peter Collier told Magellan Metals to immediately cease lead shipments through the port after advice received from the Office of Environmental Protection Authority indicated lead may have leaked from containers.

Mr Collier said the state’s environmental watchdog will be taking over investigations & looking into the matter.

“The OEPA advises there is extensive monitoring of lead contamination along the transport route from the mine to the port, and to date no Magellan lead has been detected through that monitoring program,” he said.

“However, given the environmental conditions concerning lead levels inside the containers may have been breached, it is in the public interest for shipments to cease.” Whilst the matter is investigated.

Owner and operator of Magellan Metals, Ivernia, released a statement early this afternoon detailing the company’s position on the order to halt lead movement & transportation.

“All lead concentrate produced at the Magellan Mine is transported in double-lined bags inside sealed steel containers,” the statement read.

“Extensive monitoring, sampling and analysis from close to 300 individual soil, air, and water samples sites has not shown the presence of any lead from the Magellan Mine along the road and rail route after more than a year of transport operations.

“Ivernia, along with its wholly-owned subsidiary Magellan Metals Pty Ltd, is working with government agencies to investigate the possible source of lead detected by air monitoring equipment within containers.

“The Company is focused on addressing issues that may be identified in relation to its loading operations and recommencing transport operations as soon as the issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the Government of Western Australia.”

The statement said that the order was issued to halt all lead transport after monitoring equipment installed by an independent inspector “identified the presence of airborne lead from Magellan within a small number of containers”.

“All airborne lead levels in the sealed containers were consistently below accepted occupational health levels established by the Australian National Occupational Safety and Health Commission,” the statement read.

Mr Collier said the government will wait for the formal advice of the authority before determining the long-term future of lead shipments via Fremantle.

The company was given the green light to transport lead through the area in August 2009 after it was banned from operating out of Esperance, where contamination from lead dust led to the death of thousands of birds in 2006 and 2007.

The decision to approve Magellan’s use of the port city for exporting lead sparked community outrage in the Greens-held seat of Fremantle, despite an increased monitoring of product transport.

The approval for Magellan Metals involved stringent guidelines for transporting the lead to the port included the use of double laminated and sieve-proof bags for all lead concentrate products.

Sourced & published  by Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, December 30th, 2010

California woman arrested

in insider trading case

By Jonathan Stempel and Emily Chasan

NEW YORK | Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:05pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday charged a California woman with leaking secrets about technology companies to two hedge funds in exchange for illegal payments, expanding their probe into insider trading.

Winifred Jiau is at least the sixth person arrested since U.S. authorities raided three hedge funds last month, ratcheting up the pressure on the industry in their more than two-year-old probe.

Primary Global Research LLC, an “expert network” firm that linked investors such as hedge funds with industry experts, in a statement said it used Jiau as a consultant from September 2006 to December 2008, when “the relationship was ended.”

The period roughly corresponds with the time frame in which prosecutors said Jiau’s alleged illegal activity took place.

Jiau’s lawyer was not immediately available to comment.

Prosecutors accused Jiau, 43, of selling inside information about publicly traded companies including computer chipmakers Marvell Technology Group Ltd and Nvidia Corp to hedge funds, including the founder of a New York fund that prosecutors did not identify.

They said the information was sold through an expert network firm, in exchange for more than $200,000 of payments funneled through that firm, also not identified.

Nvidia spokesman Hector Marinez said Jiau had been a contractor at Nvidia before leaving about a year ago. Marvell did not return a request for comment.

Hedge funds pay expert network firms for access to experts who are supposed to offer insights on industry trends.


Jiau was charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy, and could face 20 years in prison on the securities fraud charge, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York.

The defendant was arrested at her Fremont, California, home on Tuesday, and ordered detained by U.S. Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas at a hearing Wednesday in San Francisco.

A bail hearing is set for January 3. It is unclear whether Jiau’s case will eventually be transferred to New York.

Jiau’s arrest follows criminal charges on December 16 against three technology company executives who allegedly sold secrets about companies including Apple Inc and chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Also charged on that date was James Fleishman, a salesman at Primary Global, which had used the executives as consultants.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, December 29th, 2010
Cuban eggs, not cigars, fall ‘foul’ of U.S. Customs

December 23, 2010 11:55 AM ET
MIAMI (Reuters) – A Cuban-American father and daughter face a possible jail term or hefty fines after their attempt to bring 72 unhatched pigeon eggs from Cuba to the United States fell foul of U.S. Customs. | Full Article

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Friday, November 19th, 2010

Miners missing after NZ

coal shaft blast

November 19, 2010 – 12:44PM

Up to 30 miners are missing after an explosion at a New Zealand coal mine.

The blast occurred at the Pike River Coal mine near Greymouth on the south island about 4.30pm (2.30pm AEDT) today.

Regular updates here

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In a statement, police said there were people ‘‘known to be in the mine’’.

‘‘Emergency services are currently attending an incident at the Pike River Coal Processing Plant in Atarau which is half way between Greymouth and Reefton,’’ police said.

Local mayor said he had been told up to 30 miners are unaccounted for.

‘‘It’s not good news. (Police) say there’s between 25 and 30 miners unaccounted for after a big explosion at the mine,’’ Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn told Radio New Zealand.

Chairman John Dow refused to comment when contacted by The Press, but chief executive Peter Whittall is expected to comment soon.

The Pike River Mine is on the opposite side of the Paparoa Ranges from the now closed Strongman State Mine where 19 miners died in an explosion in 1968.

The Pike River mine has been beset by delay, most particularly the collapse of an air ventilation shaft when it was close to opening for production.

The mine is the source of high grade coal used in steel production, most particularly for the Indian market.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Chile hopes for earlier rescue of trapped miners

By Antonio de la Jara
and Jorge MedinaPosted 2010/09/21 at 2:16 pm EDT

COPIAPO, Chile, Sep. 21, 2010 (Reuters) — Rescuers could free 33 miners weeks earlier than expected as drills work around the clock to bore an escape shaft to the men trapped underground for 47 days.

Workers operate the Xtrata 950 drill, which is digging a hole for trapped miners to escape from, in Copiapo, some 725 km (450 miles) north of Santiago September 21, 2010. The first of three rescue drills last Friday reached 33 Chilean miners trapped for six weeks half a mile (0.70 kilometre) underground, but it will still take weeks to widen the shaft enough to extract the men. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

Rapid progress by three drills has improved the chances of reaching the miners in October instead of November as first thought, a senior official in the challenging rescue operation told Reuters on Tuesday.

The men have been trapped in a copper and gold mine 2,300 feet below Chile’s arid Atacama desert since it caved in on August 5.

Their fight for survival has captivated the attention of the Chilean nation and drawn support from foreign presidents, Pope Benedict and World Cup soccer stars.

“It is likely that the rescue operation will take place in October if we have no delays,” said the official, who asked not to be named because he was not allow to speak publicly.

Relatives said they are confident the miners will be back on the surface in early October, but worry about their mental health after spending weeks in the dimly-lit and hot tunnel.

“I want to take him home as soon as possible,” said Alicia Campos, mother of trapped miner Daniel Herrera. “But I fear he will not come out of the mine the same person who went in.”

Chile’s government brought in a team of NASA experts and submariners for advice on how to keep the miners mentally and physically fit during their prolonged confinement in the dark.

Rescuers are in contact with the miners down several small ducts through which they deliver food and water, letters from relatives and even soccer videos.

The men were in high spirits on the weekend when they cheered and clapped as they watched celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Chile’s independence on a small video projector linked to the surface by optic fiber cable. They watched singers perform for their relatives near the mine.

Rescuers also lowered them traditional meat pies and soda — a reprieve from a strict diet aimed at keeping the men healthy, but thin enough to fit through the rescue shaft.

The miners, who range from a former professional soccer player to a first-time miner and a Bolivian immigrant, have exchanged letters and videos with their relatives — including images of the birth of the daughter of one of them.

The miners keep busy clearing away debris that falls into the mine as the drill bores through the earth above them.

The Chilean Navy is building rescue capsules — dubbed the “Phoenix” for the mythical bird that rises from its ashes — that will be used to winch the men to the surface one by one after the bore hole diameter is widened to 28 inches.

(Writing by Alonso Soto; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha