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COY 17 - Reddy for climate action!

Break Free From Plastic - Fri, 01/13/2023 - 05:08

The 17th U.N. Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY 17) - held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, is the youth precursor event to COP27, organised by YOUNGO, the official Children and Youth Constituency to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This event aimed to serve as a capacity building forum for knowledge and cultural exchange to prepare youth for inclusion and participation at COP 27.

I am Taylen Reddy, a 22-year-old intersectional climate activist from Durban, South Africa. In May 2020, right at the dawn of the covid-era, I founded Zero Waste Durban. We are a non-profit organization working towards establishing sustainable solutions to the plastics and waste crisis in Durban with the inclusion of pushing for corporate accountability and implementation of regulatory policies. I am also a 2022 Global Youth Ambassador for Break Free From Plastic, having attended COY 17 with support from the amazing people at BFFP. Zero Waste Durban was recently registered as a core-member of Break Free From Plastic!

I had high expectations for COY, expecting to learn a lot about sustainable solutions and ways that we, as public citizens, can do our part towards meeting the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). I was also, however, cautious of Greenwashing that could take place, as it does happen so often at large events such as this – especially with Coca-Cola, the number one plastic polluter in the world as a sponsor of COP 27. My main aim was combating false solutions to the plastic crisis such as sessions held at the conference by a recycling company with the largest facilities in the MENA region – promoting recycling as the main solution while boasting about their sales of recycled bottles to the world’s biggest plastic polluters. My greatest experiences at COY 17 came from networking and meeting new people from all over the world, many of whom were familiar with BFFP and the work we do to call out the top polluters. I feel that I gained a lot of experience at public speaking and interacting with like-minded people, as well as people with a different outlook on certain issues. I was interviewed by a professor at a Swedish university as part of a research project where I detailed INC-1 and the Global Plastics Treaty, highlighting the importance of it and the link between plastic production and climate change – from the extraction of fossil fuels to produce the plastics, right until challenges with the disposal of most plastics.

Participants engaging in a session titled “Why is plastic a concern?”

One of the biggest issues I had with the event was the prominence of plastics – found everywhere, from the food that was sold to attendees (sandwiches, wraps and salads) all packaged in single use plastics, to beverages sold in PET bottles and coffee in cups with plastic lids. There were also a few planning issues, where some sessions were cancelled or postponed and the new venues were not made clear to participants, causing confusion.

Overall, the conference was great for getting groups of young leaders from all over the world actively engaged in discussions regarding the climate crisis. It also brought people from many different cultures together, giving them a space to share their experiences and knowledge so we can all fight towards the same goal – climate justice!

Young leaders engaging in discussions on the COY 17 main stage

Upon arriving back in Durban, I was thrown into the chaos of preparing for the BFFP Global Day of Action and release of the 2022 Brand Audit Report. COY17 gave me a fair outlook of what to do (and more importantly, what not to do) when planning a large event as Zero Waste Durban hosted a ‘Trashiversary’ Party and return to sender action for Coca-Cola – who were about to be named the world’s top plastic polluter for the 5th year in a row. You can read more about our event in an upcoming blog post by BFFP Senior Ambassador, Rafael Eudes.

West Coast Natural Gas Forwards Rebound Amid Seemingly Endless Deluge; Northeast Slips Further

NGI Shale Daily - Thu, 01/12/2023 - 14:21

A divergence in natural gas prices occurred along the forward curve from Jan. 5 through 12, with a relentless stretch of winter weather leading to a recovery in West Coast prices, while springlike conditions on the East Coast sent prices lower there. 

February fixed prices ultimately averaged 65.0 cents higher through the period, while the summer strip (April-October) picked up 6.0 cents and the winter 2023-2024 held steady, NGI’s Forward Look data showed.

A week after finally backing off recent highs, West Coast markets bounced back as the brutal winter conditions that started in December were set to continue for the foreseeable future. The National Weather Service (NWS) said the region continued to be stuck in a storm pattern, with two low pressure systems seen impacting the coast through the weekend.

[LatAm Energy Trends: From Mexico down to Argentina, from natural gas and LNG to crude oil and ESG, listen in as NGI’s Christopher Lenton and Rice University’s Francisco Monaldi discuss what to expect from the energy markets of Latin America in 2023. Tune into the Hub & Flow podcast now.]

Both systems would be accompanied by ample moisture and produce widespread precipitation. The most impactful precipitation is to remain focused along the coasts of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest through late Friday. Precipitation then would expand south on Saturday and east on Sunday.

“Northern California has been hammered with heavy precipitation events over the past couple weeks, and any additional rainfall could pose a threat of flash flooding,” NWS forecasters said.

This weekend, snow was expected in the higher elevations of the West, and heavy mountain snow was possible in parts of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades. Heavy mountain snow also could be possible for the higher peaks of the central and southern Rockies.

Though temperatures are not all that extreme for winter – with highs in the 50s and 60s – the volatile weather pattern this winter has fueled volatility across the West. Aging infrastructure, regular pipeline maintenance that has restricted gas flows, a years-long drought and other issues have all come to a head and led to unprecedented price spikes in the region.

After slipping last week, prices recovered during the Jan. 5-12 period.

Malin February fixed prices climbed $5.010 to reach $18.725/MMBtu, while the summer strip picked up a far more modest 15.0 cents to average $3.620, Forward Look data showed.

The 15-cent climb for the summer months appears to take into account the heavy rains that should lead to a much-improved hydroelectric supply outlook and thus, the potential for storage inventories in the region to be replenished.

Lake Oroville, for example, has a capacity of about 3.5 million acre-feet. Before the series of atmospheric rivers, it was storing less than 1 million acre-feet of water. Since the beginning of December and the arrival of the storms, water levels have risen to more than 1.7 million acre-feet, according to the California Department of Water Resources. Three more forecast storms are expected to raise levels more by 400,000-500,000 acre-feet. 

Low water levels at Lake Oroville in 2021 forced the Edward Hyatt Power Plant to shut down for the first time since it opened in 1967.

Malin winter strip prices commanded a steeper 55.0-cent climb to $6.740, while the Calendar 2024 strip moved up 25.0 cents to $4.720, according to Forward Look.

In Northern California, PG&E Citygate February rose $5.050 through the period to $20.416, and the summer climbed 21.0 cents to $6.250. Winter prices averaged 65.0 cents higher at $8.023, and the Calendar 2024 strip averaged 27.0 cents higher at $6.130.

The hefty premiums for the upcoming winter are a direct reflection of the chaos that has ensued across the West Coast this season. The continued drag on natural gas when spare pipeline space is hard to come by has stoked huge price swings on a daily basis.

On the supply side, it also has resulted in a massive drawdown of storage inventories that never quite recovered from a 51 Bcf reclassification to cushion gas by Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. in the summer of 2021.

On Thursday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Pacific region inventories slipped by 5 Bcf to 160 Bcf. While this is a modest improvement to historical levels, the market has a long way to go before reaching the 206 Bcf year-earlier level and the 235 Bcf five-year average.

Northeast Continues To Slide

The East region also made some noise in the latest EIA storage report. Against a backdrop of mild weather, it added 9 Bcf to stocks. At 700 Bcf, inventories as of Jan. 6 were less than 5% below year-ago levels and only 2 Bcf below the five-year average, according to EIA.

The increase in storage – a rare January occurrence and in the East no less – was largely expected by the market, but was significant nonetheless, according to Enelyst’s Het Shah, managing director of the online energy chat.

“At this point, is winter over?” he asked. “We have sufficient gas to get us through.”

With mostly moderate temperatures expected in the region for the next 12 days or so, inventories are likely to remain elevated as withdrawals should fall short of historicals for this time of year.

The modest winter demand in January and improvement in storage likely drove losses across the Northeast forward curves over the Jan. 5-12 period, particularly in New England.

Algonquin Citygates February fixed prices fell $1.510 during this time to reach $16.012, while the summer strip slipped only 2.0 cents to $3.380, according to Forward Look. Prices for the upcoming winter were down $1.910 to $14.385, while the Calendar 2024 strip averaged 56.0 cents at $8.140.

Smaller losses were seen along the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. system, though there was a huge disconnect between NY and non-NY prices for February. The prompt month at Transco Zone 6 non-NY slid 5.0 cents to $10.139, while Transco Zone 6 NY fell 2.0 cents to $2.960, Forward Look data showed.

Elsewhere across the Lower 48, February fixed prices ranged mostly from $3.00-6.00 amid the continued span of mild weather. NatGasWeather said Thursday the much warmer-than-normal pattern would continue the next 11 days, keeping heating degree days on a national level well below normal. A minor bump in demand was forecast Friday-Sunday as a weather system tracks into the Southeast, but the overall mild pattern would remain intact.

The ongoing warmth should continue to bode well for storage. In addition to the East, inventories have improved dramatically in the South Central region as well. Stocks there rose a net 27 Bcf for the week ending Jan. 6, which resulted in a nearly 5% surplus to the five-year average.

Total working gas in storage stood at 2,902 Bcf, which is 140 Bcf below year-earlier levels and 40 Bcf below the five-year average.

Notably, Thursday’s longer-range European model showed colder temperatures finally returning in the last full week of January, particularly across the northern United States. Even more, the data shows the cold air sticking around through at least Feb. 15.

“We must give bulls the benefit of the doubt they could have something cooking as long as the weather data doesn’t trend notably warmer for Jan. 24-31, making each new weather model run important ahead of the weekend break,” NatGasWeather said.

The prospects for heightened demand because of the cold was enough to boost Nymex futures on Thursday, albeit only slightly. The February contract settled at $3.695, up 2.4 cents from Wednesday’s close.

The post West Coast Natural Gas Forwards Rebound Amid Seemingly Endless Deluge; Northeast Slips Further appeared first on Natural Gas Intelligence

Global outrage as oil executive named head of UN climate talks

Oil Change International - Thu, 01/12/2023 - 06:22
C: Masdar Corporate

There is universal condemnation today on the breaking news that the United Arab Emirates has appointed a veteran oil industry insider to preside over the upcoming UN climate talks that will happen later this year in Dubai.

The news this morning that Sultan al-Jaber, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil, will be the new chair of the climate talks is a new low for the UN climate process.

The COP’s credibility was already battered by recent events in Egypt, with accusations of greenwashing, undue corporate influence of fossil fuel lobbyists, and attacks and intimidation of climate activists by the host nation.

The announcement ironically came the day after the journal Nature published an editorial saying that: “UN climate conferences are too beholden to oil and gas interests. Like-minded nations must come together to keep climate hopes alive.”

But the appointment of Al-Jaber, who is described as a “veteran technocrat” seems to be the final straw for many climate activists and experts.

The polluting oil-pumping fox has literally taken over the hen house. As Aljazeera points out this morning: Al-Jaber’s firm “pumps some 4 million barrels of crude a day and hopes to expand to 5 million daily, generating more of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide that the UN annual climate negotiations aim to limit.”

Tasneem Essop, the executive director of Climate Action Network International, told the Guardian that if Al-Jaber, “does not step down as CEO, it will be tantamount to a full-scale capture of the UN climate talks by a petrostate national oil company and its associated fossil fuel lobbyists.”

She added: “As civil society we [will] demand that Al Jaber does the right thing and either stand aside or step down.”

Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate activist, told the Financial Times: “We cannot have another COP where fossil fuel interests are allowed to sacrifice our futures to eke out another few years of profit.”

Alice Harrison of Global Witness added: “You wouldn’t invite arms dealers to lead peace talks. So why let oil executives lead climate talks?”

Blair Palese, the managing editor of Climate and Capital Media, told me: “I didn’t think COP could get any more absurd than naming Coke, the world’s biggest (oil-based) plastics offender, the official sponsor of the global climate talks for COP27. I was wrong! By appointing an oil sultan as COP28 President, the UAE takes the prize for global trust breaker in a climate crisis.”

Colleagues at OCI were outraged too: Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy manager at OCI, said: “This is tantamount to putting the head of a tobacco company in charge of negotiating an anti-smoking treaty. This appointment risks further undermining the credibility of global climate talks and threatens the action and leadership needed for a rapid and equitable phase out of all fossil fuels, which over 80 countries called for during last year’s COP.”

Activists and academics expressed outrage on Twitter too:

The President of the next crucial international climate negotiations, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, is the CEO of major oil company ADNOC. He is working to increase its output of crude oil from 3 million barrels of oil a day in 2016 to 5 million by 2030. Does that make any sense to you? https://t.co/Te7sTYuDhW

— James Dyke (@JamesGDyke) January 12, 2023

Al Jaber's appointment as #COP28 President is outrageously regressive and deeply problematic to say the least!

Fossil fuels are the root cause of the #ClimateCrisis. His position as CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company raises grave conflict of interest issues. pic.twitter.com/w6MJfY59Mr

— Harjeet Singh (@harjeet11) January 12, 2023

And my colleague David Tong tweeted:

Appointing an oil company CEO to preside over the #climate talks is utterly shameless.

ADNOC doesn't even seem to report its climate pollution, let alone have targets to cut it. When the IEA says there's no room for new fields for 1.5ºC, ADNOC plans to extract more & more.

— David Tong (@Davidxvx) January 12, 2023

The post Global outrage as oil executive named head of UN climate talks appeared first on Oil Change International.

UAE announces head of national oil company to lead COP28 climate talks, endangering climate goals civil society warns

Oil Change International - Thu, 01/12/2023 - 05:53

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:

Nicole Rodel, Oil Change International, nicole [at] priceofoil.org 

 

UAE announces head of national oil company to lead COP28 climate talks, endangering climate goals civil society warns

12 January 2023 – Today, the United Arab Emirates launched its COP28 presidency and placed the chief of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) at the head of this year’s climate talks, amid deep civil society apprehension of this major conflict of interest.

Sultan Al Jaber, head of the world’s twelfth-largest oil company by production, will be responsible as the COP28 President for holding governments and the fossil fuel industry accountable to global climate goals to limit warming to 1.5°C, which entails, according to the International Energy Agency, an immediate end to all new oil and gas extraction projects.

Recent OCI research has shown that the UAE is poised to become the third largest expander of oil and gas production between 2023 and 2025 and ADNOC the second largest expander company. ADNOC’s new oil and gas production over the next 3 years would lock in over 2.7 Gt of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to one year of the European Union’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. 

COP27 in Egypt in November 2022 saw more than a 25% spike in fossil fuel lobbyists’ presence, ultimately blocking stronger language on phasing out all fossil fuels; and similar could be expected at COP28.

Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy manager at Oil Change International, said:  

“This is a truly breathtaking conflict of interest and is tantamount to putting the head of a tobacco company in charge of negotiating an anti-smoking treaty. This appointment risks further undermining the credibility of global climate talks and threatens the action and leadership needed for a rapid and equitable phase out of all fossil fuels, which over 80 countries called for during last year’s COP. While countries should be focusing on how to rapidly decarbonize the global economy, the COP risks becoming a festival of greenwashing, false solutions and shady fossil fuel deals, a trend that was started by the Egyptian Presidency in 2022.

The new COP28 President is not the CEO of any oil and gas company: ADNOC’s investment decisions in the next few years will make it the second largest expander of oil and gas production globally, despite clear warnings from the International Energy Agency and the UN that any new oil and gas production is incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C. ADNOC will surely tout its investments in renewable energy but the reality is that the climate talks will be run by the CEO of a company betting on climate failure. These are the worst possible credentials for an upcoming COP President.”

The post UAE announces head of national oil company to lead COP28 climate talks, endangering climate goals civil society warns appeared first on Oil Change International.

Book Review Part II: ‘Public Responses to Fossil Fuel Export: Exporting Energy and Emissions in a Time of Transition’

FracTracker - Wed, 01/11/2023 - 08:13

In second installment of this book review, Ted Auch, PhD, reviews chapters 4-8 of Public Responses to Fossil Fuel Export. Published in January 2022, this work explores the social dimensions of the global fossil fuel export system, with a focus on public perceptions and responses to new infrastructures.

The post Book Review Part II: ‘Public Responses to Fossil Fuel Export: Exporting Energy and Emissions in a Time of Transition’ appeared first on FracTracker Alliance.

Surging molybdenum price adds weight to new year rally for copper producers

Mining.Com - Tue, 01/10/2023 - 12:13

Copper prices started the new year with a bang – touching fresh six-month highs on Tuesday. Copper for delivery in March touched $4.0795 per pound or just shy of $9,000 a tonne, bringing gains for the first week of 2023 to over 8%. 

Measured from last year’s summer lows the bellwether metal is up nearly 30% on optimism over a post-covid recovery in China, which consumes more than half the world’s copper, and long-term demand growth spurred by the energy transition. 

In a new note, BMO Capital Markets points out molybdenum has been one of the strongest base metal performers in the recent past with the latest spot assessments at ~$32 per pound or $70,500 per tonne – more than 50% higher than November-end levels.   

Molybdenum is often produced as a byproduct of porphyry copper mines with global production worldwide of 300,000 tonnes primarily destined for the steel industry.  

BMO says with demand conditions still relatively muted due to softness on global steel markets output, the price surge for molybdenum is mainly driven by supply issues:

“With the ongoing output challenges at Codelco, responsible for ~50% of Chilean molybdenum supply, Chilean output remains well below the five-year average, though November did mark a return to y/y growth. 

“Meanwhile, Peru’s output is also down y/y, while other key primary producers such as China and the U.S. are also facing production headwinds.”

BMO says the the gains in molybdenum should help by-product credits at many copper operations, reducing headline costs and profits at producers.

Copper mining stocks on a tear

A revived copper price is boosting the sector’s top producers, led by Southern Copper Corp (NYSE:SCCO) which is up 18.8% so far in 2023. Southern Copper, headquartered in Mexico City, is the world’s fifth largest copper producer in terms of volume. 

Freeport-McMoran (NYSE:FCX) traded up nearly 4% on Tuesday in heavy volumes of almost 9 million shares by early afternoon. The Phoenix-based company is the world’s second-largest copper producer after Chilean state company Codelco and is up 16.8% just in the past week. 

Investors in London-listed Chilean producer Antofagasta (LON:ANTO) are enjoying double digit gains in 2023 as are those who took a bet on Poland’s KGHM (WSE:KGH), which has gained 17% in Warsaw this year. 

Even First Quantum Minerals (TSE:FM), locked in a bitter dispute with Panama over government revenues from the Vancouver-based company’s 300,000 tonnes per annum copper mine, is up 9% in 2023 as investors bet on a swift resolution.  

Zijin Mining (SHA:601899,HKG:2899), which at around 500,000 tonnes per annum is the world’s ninth largest copper producer, last year acquired the world’s largest primary molybdenum-only mine with annual output of 27,200 tonnes per year.  Shares of rapidly-growing Zijin, which is also a significant precious metals producer, are up 8.3% in Shanghai year to date.  

Lundin Gold stock rises as it beats production guidance for second straight year

Mining.Com - Tue, 01/10/2023 - 10:37

Lundin Gold (TSX: LUG), which owns and operates one of the world’s highest grade gold mines in southeast Ecuador, has exceeded its production guidance for the second year in the row.

On Tuesday, the Vancouver-based company reported its operating results for the fourth quarter of 2022, showing gold production of 121,139 oz. from the flagship Fruta del Norte mine.

This resulted in total gold production of 476,329 oz. for the year, exceeding the high end of the company’s 2022 guidance of 460,000 oz.

Of the total quarterly gold production, 78,756 oz. were produced as a concentrate and 42,383 oz. as doré. During the same quarter in 2021, the company produced 107,915 oz. of gold.

In Q4 2022, the Fruta del Norte mill processed approximately 420,838 tonnes at an average throughput rate of 4,574 tonnes per day; the average grade of ore milled was 10 grams per tonne, and average recovery was 89.6%.

“We continue to push the boundaries of what Fruta del Norte is capable of, and noteworthy improvements have been made across the board as compared to last year,” Lundin Gold CEO Ron Hochstein said in a media release.

“Our average throughput of 4,574 t/d this fourth quarter is proof that there is a lot more we can get out of Fruta del Norte, and I’m particularly excited to continue building on our successes in 2023,” he added.

The Fruta del Norte project was first acquired by Lundin Gold in late 2014, eight years after its original discovery by Aurelian Resources. Construction began in 2017 and first gold was poured in 2019.

Commercial production began at Fruta del Norte in February 2020. Over an estimated 13-year life, the underground mine is expected to have average production of 340,000 oz. per year, based on its current throughput capacity of 4,200 t/d.

Shares of Lundin Gold shot up 4.3% by 1:30 p.m. ET following the guidance beat. The company’s market capitalization sits at C$3.5 billion ($2.6bn).

Dynasty Gold shares hit new high on best assays to date from Thundercloud property

Mining.Com - Tue, 01/10/2023 - 09:07

Dynasty Gold (TSXV: DYG) has released assay results from its Phase 1 2022 drill campaign at the Thundercloud property located 47 km southeast of Dryden, Ontario. These results are the best ever reported from the project, the company says, constituting the discovery of wide zones and high-grade gold-bearing quartz veins that require further delineation.

A total of four near-surface shallow holes were drilled within the known Pelham area, where most of the past drilling has been done. Three of those resulted in the discovery of a new area of high-grade gold mineralization in quartz veins. Rock samples from the area contained up to 246 g/t gold over a 1.5-metre core length.

One hole intercepted 1.31 g/t gold over 121 metres from 102 metres, including an interval of 15.06 g/t gold over 9 metres and 43.47 g/t gold over 3 metres. Another intercepted 7.35 g/t gold over 51 metres from 88.5 metres, which represents the longest intercepts with the highest gold grades to date.

“We are thrilled with these outstanding results in our first drill program on the property,” Dynasty CEO Ivy Chong said in a news release. “They are the highest gold grades, the longest and the widest intercepts ever drilled at the property. These drill results indicate a much bigger resource potential with higher grades at Thundercloud.”

The data, Chong says, will assist the company in building a structural model for an NI 43-101 resource update at the Thundercloud property, as well as future drill target planning for resource expansion.

“Current assay results obtained by Dynasty Gold from the Thundercloud property are particularly of interest, in that the results clearly indicate that the property has potential for both large-tonnage with high-grade and vein deposits,” Roman Shklanka, director of Dynasty Gold, added.

The 2,250-hectare Thundercloud property is located in the central Wabigoon greenstone belt of Western Ontario, which contains numerous gold showings, deposits and past producers including the Big Master mine (1902-1943) and the Laurentian mine (1906-1909). Exploration results to date have indicated potential for bulk-tonnage orogenic gold mineralization. Close to 30 million oz. of gold have been discovered in the area in recent years.

In September 2021, Dynasty Gold acquired a 100% interest in the Thundercloud property after amending its agreement with Teck Resources. The project currently hosts an NI 43-101 gold resource estimate of 182,000 of oz., based solely on historic drilling (over 12,000 metres) from the Pelham zone area.

Following the latest drill result release, shares of Dynasty Gold more than tripled to hit a new high of C$0.43 on Tuesday. By noon ET, the stock had come down to C$0.34, still a 229% increase over its previous closing price. The company’s market capitalization is C$12.7 million ($9.4m).

5 Energy Industry Trends to Watch in 2023

Breaking Energy - Tue, 01/10/2023 - 08:53

What’s next for the organizations powering our world?

Vale evaluates offers for $2.5 billion base metals unit

Mining.Com - Tue, 01/10/2023 - 06:09

Vale (NYSE: VALE), the world’s second largest iron ore miner and top nickel producer, has shortlisted suitors for 10% of its base metals business estimated to be worth nearly $2.5 billion.

The Brazilian miner, which last year hired advisers to assess options for the unit, told the Financial Times that top bidders included carmakers, state investors and pension funds.

The stake sale is part of Vale’s decision to separate its iron ore operation from its copper, nickel and platinum assets, into a new firm named Vale Base Metals that will be based in the UK, according to Brazilian media.

The spin-off, yet to be approved by the board, would have independent governance and a board that includes deep underground mining and electric-vehicle specialists. 

Vale Base Metals would have nickel mines in Canada and Indonesia, copper mines in Brazil, and interests in cobalt and platinum group metals.

“This thing can get even bigger than Vale. Not tomorrow, not even next year — when you look long-term,” chief executive Eduardo Bartolomeo told FT.com.

Separating the two sides of the business is key to accessing “competitive” capital needed for an estimated $20 billion of base metal investments, Bartolomeo said in December.

The plan has been on Vale’s cards for years as most nickel and copper assets the company has were acquired via the $17 billion acquisition of Canada’s Inco, in 2006.

Europe needs to invest over €300 billion in the next two years to reach climate goals — study

Mining.Com - Tue, 01/10/2023 - 05:13

Europe needs to invest €302 billion annually to build relevant infrastructure over the next two years if it wants to reach its goals of becoming climate neutral by 2050 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, a new study has shown.

According to the paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, major investments in power generation from renewable energies, electricity grids, storage devices and other infrastructure are urgently required across the EU and neighbouring countries. 

To reach this conclusion, the authors of the study built on 56 relevant technology and investment studies from academia, industry and the public sector. They focused on the countries in the EU but also took into account data on the UK, Norway and Switzerland. 

In their view, the most dramatic increase in the need for investment is in power generation from renewable energies. 

“In order to drive forward the decarbonization of all areas of life, around 75 billion euros need to be invested in solar and wind power plants in the coming years. This is 24 billion euros more per year than in the recent past,” Bjarne Steffen, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich and co-author of the study, said in a media statement.

The situation is similar when it comes to the expansion of distribution networks and railways. In these areas, too, 40% to 60% additional financial flows are required compared to the 2016–2020 period to expand electrification and shift traffic from road to rail.

Steffen and his co-author Lena Klaaßen also noted that the war in Ukraine is reinforcing these trends further. 

“To import as little gas as possible from Russia, Europe would have to invest around 10 billion euros more per year in solar energy and wind power. In comparison, significantly less investment—around 1.5 billion euros per year—is needed in additional natural gas infrastructure such as LNG terminals,” Steffen said.

According to the paper, fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are likely to tie up less capital in the future in Europe. The investment required in conventional power plants in particular is set to fall by 70% within the space of a few years.

New policies

Klaaßen pointed out that the money to make such big investments is readily available in  Europe — given the size of the continent’s equity and bond markets. The main challenge, however, is to put the necessary political policies in place quickly enough to ensure that capital flows into the right projects.

“Political measures should be tailored to funding in those sectors where there is the greatest need for investment,” she explained. “For example, existing regulations in the EU focus on identifying sustainable securities, despite the fact that important climate-relevant infrastructure is not at all financed via the equity markets.”

The researcher mentioned that the expansion of renewable energies, in contrast, is often made possible by private investors such as pension funds and banks. Yet, the data show that the public sector could minimize its risk through revenue warranties and by making approval procedures as quick and predictable as possible.

First Quantum to appeal Panama order to halt giant copper mine

Mining.Com - Tue, 01/10/2023 - 03:41

Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM) said on Tuesday it planned to appeal an order by Panama’s government to halt its giant copper mine in the country as the two sides remain in talks over a new contract that would increase royalties paid by the miner.

The Central American country’s government decided in December to create a plan to halt operations at Cobre Panama copper mine. The move, unusual among Latin American countries, came after the Vancouver-based miner missed a deadline to ink a new contract due to disagreements on royalties and tax payments.

Panama has demanded First Quantum to pay a corporate tax of at least $375 million a year, along with a profit-based mineral royalty of 12% to 16%, which represents a steep rise on the $61 million the company paid in 2021.

First Quantum said on Tuesday it was prepared to agree with, and in part exceed, the objectives that the government outlined in a pre-agreement reached in January 2022 regarding revenues, environmental protections and labour standards. 

“I don’t think we’re very far away,” chief executive officer Tristan Pascall said in a Tuesday call with analysts to provide an update on the negotiations. “There has been progress and movements since December 14 and these final items do need to be resolved, but they do need to be resolved fairly for us to close this out.”

First Quantum noted the minimum payment structure proposed is both unique and unprecedented in the mining industry. 

“Under the newly proposed profit-based royalty, the government would receive revenue that is multiple times higher than under both the existing contract and the current Panamá Mining Code,” First Quantum said in the statement. “The proposed royalty rates would be amongst the highest, if not the highest, paid by copper miners in the Americas,” it noted.

The company noted that it has already given a number of concessions to the government, including elimination of $250 million in tax credits and a limit to the ones that can be used in any one year going forward. 

It also said it was ready to place Cobre Panama, responsible for 1.4% of global copper supply, into “care and maintenance” if the country did not offer certain legal protections.

First Quantum has demanded assurances that the current revised mining code will be in place beyond the current administration, as Panama is gearing up for a general election, expected in May this year.

Operations continue as normal, the miner said, with no disruption to production for now.

The miner also noted it had notified the country about two arbitration proceedings, days after the order to halt operations.

Panama weighs mine options

The Panamanian government is reportedly working with a financial advisor to identify new potential partners for Cobre Panama, which raises concerns about the country nationalizing the asset or removing First Quantum’s license to operate, experts at BMO say.

“Our base-case expectation is that the government’s position is part of a broader negotiation; however, the recent escalation does raise uncertainty about First Quantum’s ability to operate in the country long term, and the risk that investors will see in Panama going forward,” BMO Metals and Mining analyst, Jackie Przybylowski, wrote.

From a copper market perspective, any sustained outage at the mine would further tighten global supplies, contributing to an expected annual deficit of 4.7 million tonnes by 2030.

“The government is prepared to face all potential legal scenarios that may arise and will continue to ensure that workers’ labor rights are maintained and protected,” the Commerce and Industry Ministry said earlier this month.

Cobre Panama is the biggest foreign investment in the Central American nation, supporting 40,000 jobs. (Image courtesy of Minera Panama.)

The local unit of First Quantum, Minera Panamá, said that suspending jobs to reduce expenditure would be “a last resort”. 

Still, the company would need to cut “the various programs and projects that we undertake in the communities and beyond which benefit so many Panamanians.” 

Cobre Panama achieved commercial production in September 2019. The asset is estimated to hold 3.1 billion tonnes in proven and probable reserves and at full capacity can produce more than 300,000 tonnes of copper per year, or about 1.5% of global production of the metal.

The company says it has invested around $10 billion in Cobre Panama, the largest private investment ever in the country, and was contemplating expanding the processing capacity of the mine from 85 million tonnes per year to 100 million tpy in 2023. This would have allowed it to boost production to nearly 360,000 tonnes of copper by the end of this year and to 350,000-380,000 tonnes in 2023.

First Quantum is one of the world’s top copper miners and Canada’s largest producer of the metal. It produced 816,000 tonnes of copper in 2021, its highest ever, thanks mainly to record output at Cobre Panama.

The Cobre Panama mine complex, located about 120 km west of Panama City and 20 km from the Atlantic coast, contributes 3.5% of the Central American country’s gross domestic product, according to government figures.

Fairly uncommon move

Panama’s decision is a major blow to chief executive Tristan Pascall, who succeeded his father, Phillip, in May.

Latin America is the region where risks of asset seizures and taxes hikes have increased the most in the past two years, risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft estimates.

The practice, however, has been rare in Latin America’s recent past. One of the last major expropriations was in 2012, when then-Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government seized a 51% stake in the country’s largest oil and gas producer, YPF SA, from Repsol SA.

Almost ten years later, in April 2022, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador declared lithium a “strategic mineral” whose exploration, exploitation, and use are the exclusive right of the country, through a new state-run company called Litio para Mexico, or Lithium for Mexico.

Copper shipments from Cobre Panama. (Image courtesy of Cobre Panama.)

Patriot Battery Metals appoints VP ESG, senior advisor, environment and permitting

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/09/2023 - 16:05

Patriot Battery Metals (TSX-V:PMET) (ASX: PMT) (OTCQX: PMETF) announced Monday the appointment of Alix Drapack, P.Eng., MBA, ICD.D to its Management Team in the role of Vice President Environment, Social and Governance (ESG).  Drapack will oversee the company’s ESG activities including Environment, Community relations and First Nation relations, agreements, and partnerships.

The company also announced that  Andrée Drolet, P.Eng. has joined the PMET team as senior advisor Environment and Permitting. Drapack and Drolet are two highly experienced professionals in their respective fields and will be instrumental for the advancement of the Corvette property located in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Region of Quebec, Patriot Battery Metals said.

Alix Drapack, P.Eng., MBA, ICD.D, is a Professional Engineer with over 30 years of experience in managing mining, environmental and transportation/infrastructure projects in Canada and the USA, spanning operations, consulting, and corporate office settings.  Drapack was the Chief Sustainability Officer for Osisko Mining Inc. where her portfolio included health & safety, environment, human resources, and indigenous and community relations.

During her time at Osisko she focused on permitting the Windfall Lake Project in Northern Quebec and initiated and led the combined federal and provincial environmental assessment process for the Hammond Reef Gold Project in Ontario, a proposed 30,000t per day open pit gold mine near Atikokan Ontario which included permitting involving impacts to fish bearing waterbodies with the federal Department of Fisheries and Ocean (DFO).

Andrée Drolet is a mining Engineer, member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, with 23 years of experience in the mining industry. She worked in water and mine waste management, mine closure and permitting. Drolet was the Environment Director for Osisko Mining Inc., leading the environmental assessment and the permitting of the Windfall project located on the traditional territory of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi.

Best Maple Gold assays yet widen target at old Agnico Eagle mine in Quebec

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/09/2023 - 12:43

Maple Gold Mines (TSXV: MGM) says new assays from the past-producing Eagle mine at its Joutel project in Quebec are the strongest yet and show a wider mineralized corridor than previously thought.

Drill hole EM-22-015 intersected 10.3 grams gold per tonne over 7.8 metres from 228 metres downhole, including 41.1 grams over 1 metre, Maple said in a news release on Monday. Only 20% of the drilling at Eagle last year remains to be reported. Joutel lies 700 km northwest of Montreal in the Abitibi gold belt.

The same hole, which is 60 metres down-plunge from historical high-grade, near-surface drill results, intersected 4.3 grams gold over 3.9 metres from 217.1 metres depth including 6.6 grams gold over 2 metres, the company said.

The Eagle assays reveal gold near surface in concentrations greater than 10 grams per tonne in an area along the north mine horizon that’s had limited drilling and remains open further down-plunge, Maple chief executive officer Matthew Hornor said in the release. The results have widened a mineralized corridor to more than 100 metres and bode well for plans to restart the namesake underground mine that Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX: AEM; NYSE: AEM) ran as its first operation from 1974 to 1986.

“Drill results continue to support the company’s view that multiple sub-parallel gold horizons exist beyond what was historically mined at Eagle,” Hornor said. “This represents just one of several compelling follow-up targets that we are excited to pursue in 2023.”

Historical results from E-19, the geologically similar hole near EM-22-015, returned 19.6 grams gold per tonne over 7.9 metres and 17.5 grams gold over 5.6 metres, Maple said.

Eagle’s main mine horizon, hosted in mixed epiclastic and pyroclastic rocks of the northern part of the Joutel-Raymond volcanic complex, extends into a sill-like microgabbro occurring close to the Harricana fault, Maple said.

The south mine horizon is in a mix of fine-grained crystal tuffs and laminated sediments hosting most of the gold-bearing semi-massive sulfide mineralization cut by irregular quartz veinlets, according to the company. The north mine horizon is associated with coarser lapilli-tuffs that allowed deposits of abundant matrix sulfide to form, it said.

Last year, Maple bought the Eagle mine from Globex Mining Enterprises (TSX: GMX) for C$2.4 million. Maple holds the adjacent Douay project in a 50:50 joint venture with Agnico Eagle. The JV includes the former Telbel mine in the Joutel project, but not Eagle. Agnico mined Telbel from 1983 to 1993. Telbel and Eagle together produced 1.1 million oz.

The plan to revive Eagle, which lies near the Harricana River, would require draining water that’s seeped into shafts and tunnels over the past 30 years and likely the construction of a water treatment plant. The company needs to conduct a prefeasibility study on the project, Hornor said in an interview with The Northern Miner in November.

Maple’s total indicated resources at Douay and Joutel are 10 million tonnes grading 1.59 grams gold per tonne for 511,000 oz. contained metal, according to an update in March. Another update might come next year, Hornor said in the interview.

He also said Maple was in “advanced and detailed” talks with three potential acquisitions to help it boost its contained gold resources to 5 million oz. from 3 million ounces.

Last month, Maple reported assays showing continuity of the south mine horizon at relatively shallow vertical depths and the broadening of the area’s mineralized zone.

Drill hole EM-22-13 cut 2.3 grams gold per tonne over 10.4 metres, including 5 grams gold over 3.2 metres from 257 metres downhole. Drill hole EM-22-16 returned 3.1 grams gold over 7.3 metres, including 4 grams gold over 3.6 metres from 193 metres depth.

Maple Gold shares rose by more than 4% in early Monday afternoon trading in Toronto, valuing the company at C$81 million ($60.5m).

Top 50 mining companies in 2022: coal, lithium win big, China investors lose out

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/09/2023 - 11:16

World’s top 50 mining companies end 2022 rock solid but Chinese stocks slide down the rankings despite surging coal and lithium prices, and Russian miners trading in Moscow finally succumb.

Commodity prices are always volatile, but in 2022 metal and mining markets reached new levels of turbulence, as the pandemic played out in China, inflation plagued the developed world and the Ukraine war upended global energy. 

Copper ended the year more than 20% below the all-time record hit in March, the gold market’s highs and lows during the year were more than $400 apart, lithium prices  continued their exponential run, tin prices collapsed, against all odds coal prices surged to never-seen levels, potash advanced to 14-year peaks, uranium enjoyed the best market since Fukushima and nickel made good on its reputation as the devil’s metal.  

The MINING.COM TOP 50* ranking of the world’s most valuable miners added $165 billion over the course of the fourth quarter erasing steep losses suffered since their March highs.

Collectively, the world’s biggest mining companies are now worth $1.39 trillion, just a shade below the combined market cap at the end of 2021. That compares to a 9% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and a nearly 20% decline in the S&P500. 

The year started with a big bang and measured from individual stocks’ 52-week highs – almost all hit in March/April – the top 50 has shrunk by more than $1 trillion. It’s a precipitous decline but compared to other sectors, notably big tech, much of those losses were recouped by the end of the year.

Greenback clapback  

Market cap declines on the LSE, ASX, TSX and elsewhere were compounded by a soaring dollar against all major currencies. 

For instance BHP, which flirted with a $200 billion market cap in April and briefly displaced oil giant Shell as the most valuable stock on the FTSE in a symbolic changing of the guard, is now worth nearly $50 billion less in US dollar terms. 

That compares to a 23% share price gain over 2022 in Sydney for the world’s number one mining company, as Australian investors sought out currency hedges. 

Coal, oil on fire

After spending time outside the top 10 in 2021 Glencore’s position at no. 3 at a valuation of $86 billion now seems secure after a stunning 68% gain on the LSE and a 28% jump in USD terms. 

The Swiss giant is benefitting from a strategy not to ditch coal like its peers – despite growing pressure – and a trading arm making the most of sky high prices for energy.   

Vancouver’s Teck Resources, thanks to its exposure to Canadian oil sands and coal, made it onto the best performer list, joining Chinese heavyweights Shaanxi Coal up over 40% and Yanzhou Coal up a third in value this year in dollar terms despite the weak renminbi. 

Coal India, the world’s number one producer of steam coal, is also enjoying a bull market, up over 38% in 2022. 

Lithium leap

A 150% jump in global average lithium prices in 2022 and record prices for spodumene saw the combined worth of the five lithium companies in the top 50 jump to just shy of $100 billion, despite Pilbara Minerals being pushed out of the ranking.

Lithium producers’ representation in the ranking is likely to grow, with Pilbara Minerals now sitting just outside the top 50 and peers IGO and Allkem also within reach. With such a wide field in Australia and elsewhere, the lithium industry is also ripe for consolidation, particularly with today’s lithium prices moderate and demand continues to expand rapidly over the coming years as expected.    

SQM, the world’s number two producer of the battery raw material gained 10 spots and 60% in value last year. Santiago-based SQM is the second best performer after Saudi Arabia’s Ma’aden, a rapidly growing precious and base metal miner and a beneficiary of the kingdom’s push to diversify its economy.   

Chinese chill

A superstrong lithium market was not enough to save China’s Ganfeng and Tianqi from steep losses in 2022 as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen markets remain in turmoil amid a rapidly changing covid environment and warnings about the economic prospects world’s top consumer of commodities. 

Despite coal keeping Shaanxi and Yanzhou deep in the black, underperforming base metal producers Zijin, China Moly and Jiangxi Copper and weakness in electric vehicle raw material producers China Northern Rare Earth and Huayou Cobalt meant that the combined value of Chinese companies in the ranking shrunk by $47 billion over the course of the year.

At $184 billion, the value of the 10 Chinese companies in the top 50 dipped below that of US and Canadian entrants for the first time in years. 

With few listed candidates that could join the top tier at the moment (JDC Moly sits at position 61 and Zhaojin at 71), some M&A and IPOs may be needed to see the country regain its dominance.  

Russian retreat  

While trading on Western markets in Russian stocks have been halted, the country’s miners, much like the rouble and the Moscow Stock Exchange, have defied gravity. But neither have they been able to capitalise on strong nickel, PGM and gold prices.   

Norilsk Nickel, thanks to captive investors on the MCX, is still worth north of $30 billion but its relative weakness to its peers saw it drop out of the top 10 for the first time. The PGM, nickel and copper producer had been the fifth most valuable company at end-June.

Diamond giant Alrosa drops out of the top 50 after falling 16 places during the final quarter while Polymetal appears unlikely to make a return to the top 50 after a dismal year which saw units of the gold miner trading in London sink  77% over the past year.   

A $8 billion decline in market cap over the year places Polyus at number 29 with a valuation of $14.8 billion. The Moscow-headquartered company, which is approaching 3 million ounces of annual output and enjoys the world’s largest gold reserves was knocking at the door of the top 10 as recently as 2020.

Click on table for full-size view:

*NOTES:

Source: MINING.COM, Mining Intelligence, Morningstar, GoogleFinance, company reports. Trading data from primary-listed exchange at December 30, 2022 where applicable, currency cross-rates Jan 3, 2023. 

Percentage change based on US$ market cap difference, not share price change in local currency.

Market capitalization calculated at primary exchange from total shares outstanding, not only free-floating shares. Agnico Eagle market cap change based on combined value of Agnico and Kirkland Lake before merger.

As with any ranking, criteria for inclusion are contentious issues. We decided to exclude unlisted and state-owned enterprises at the outset due to a lack of information. That, of course, excludes giants like Chile’s Codelco, Uzbekistan’s Navoi Mining, which owns the world’s largest gold mine, Eurochem, a major potash firm, Singapore-based trader Trafigura, and a number of entities in China and developing countries around the world.

Another central criterion was the depth of involvement in the industry before an enterprise can rightfully be called a mining company.

For instance, should smelter companies or commodity traders that own minority stakes in mining assets be included, especially if these investments have no operational component or warrant a seat on the board?

This is a common structure in Asia and excluding these types of companies removed well-known names like Japan’s Marubeni and Mitsui, Korea Zinc and Chile’s Copec. 

Levels of operational or strategic involvement and size of shareholding were other central considerations. Do streaming and royalty companies that receive metals from mining operations without shareholding qualify or are they just specialised financing vehicles? We included Franco Nevada, Royal Gold and Wheaton Precious Metals.

Lithium and battery metals also pose a problem due to the booming market for electric vehicles and a trend towards vertical integration by battery manufacturers and mid-stream chemical companies.  Battery producer and refiner Ganfeng Lithium, for example, is included because it has moved aggressively downstream through acquisitions and joint ventures.   

Vertically integrated concerns like Alcoa and energy companies such as Shenhua Energy where power, ports and railways make up a large portion of revenues pose a problem, as do diversified companies such as Anglo American with separately listed majority-owned subsidiaries. We’ve included Angloplat in the ranking but excluded Kumba Iron Ore in which Anglo has a 70% stake to avoid double counting.

Many steelmakers own and often operate iron ore and other metal mines, but in the interest of balance and diversity we excluded the steel industry, and with that many companies that have substantial mining assets including giants like ArcelorMittal, Magnitogorsk, Ternium, Baosteel and many others.

Head office refers to operational headquarters wherever applicable, for example BHP and Rio Tinto are shown as Melbourne, Australia, but Antofagasta is the exception that proves the rule. We consider the company’s HQ to be in London, where it has been listed since the late 1800s.

Please let us know of any errors, omissions, deletions or additions to the ranking or suggest a different methodology.

Gold price hits 8-month high on Fed slowdown bets

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/09/2023 - 09:46

Gold prices hit an eight-month high on Monday, helped by a drop in the US dollar after economic data late last week raised hopes for slower rate hikes from the Federal Reserve going forward.

Spot gold inched 0.3% higher to $1,870.43 per ounce by 12:20 p.m. ET, after reaching an intraday high of $1,880.90 earlier in the session. US gold futures were up by 0.4% to $1,877.50 per ounce.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

Meanwhile, the US dollar slipped 0.8% to its lowest in seven months, making gold cheaper for overseas buyers. Benchmark US 10-year Treasury yields were also hovering near a three-week low.

“Interest rates are looking like they’re going to continue higher. But they do have a limit of what they can do and the market is pricing that in,” said Bob Haberkorn, senior market strategist at RJO Futures, in a Reuters note.

“We are also seeing some flight to safety. Technically, gold looks like it has more room to go because it’s been strong through all these resistance points that we continue to see,” he added.

Gold prices jumped nearly 2% on Friday after data showed a moderation in US wage growth and a contraction in activity in services industries in December.

Money market bets show 75% odds of a 25-basis point hike at the Fed’s February policy meeting, with the terminal rate expected just below 5% by June.

Traders now await Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech at a central bank conference in Stockholm on Tuesday and the closely watched US consumer price index data due later this week, which could offer more cues on the rate hike path.

(With files from Reuters)

Ivanhoe hits upper end of 2022 guidance, expects higher output this year after debottlenecking

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/09/2023 - 09:08

Ivanhoe Mines (TSX: IVN) reported on Monday that its flagship Kamoa-Kakula mining complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produced a total of 333,497 tonnes of copper in concentrate during the past calendar year.

Kamoa-Kakula’s 2022 copper production represents the upper end of the company’s original guidance range of 290,000 to 340,000 tonnes. It also represents a 215% increase over 2021 — its first year of commercial production.

The lower end of the 2022 production guidance was raised to 325,000 tonnes last year following the successful ramp-up of Kamoa Copper’s Phase 2 concentrator plant, which was commissioned several months ahead of schedule and declared commercial production on April 7, 2022.

“Kamoa-Kakula has firmly established a track record of excellence during the development of Phase 1 and Phase 2 operations, which has led to an industry-leading growth profile in terms of copper production that will continue as we bring Phase 3 online,” Ivanhoe’ co-chair Robert Friedland said in a press release.

Friedland said Kamoa-Kakula stands out among its peers as one of the few mining operations worldwide to strongly deliver on its original 2022 production guidance, which he said “is a further testament to the team of engineers and contractors who commissioned the Phase 2 concentrator several months ahead of schedule.”

The 2023 annual production guidance for Kamoa-Kakula is estimated at between 390,000 and 430,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, following the anticipated completion of the debottlenecking program early in the second quarter of 2023.

The debottlenecking program, which would soon increase the rate of annualized production to 450,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, is at the moment over 90% complete. All major equipment for the program has been delivered to the site, and the final step of installation will take place over the next few months, with cold commissioning targeted for April 2023.

“With the Phase 3 expansion well on track, including the integration of Africa’s largest single-line blister-copper flash smelter, Kamoa-Kakula is poised to become one of the world’s leading producers of vital copper metal for global markets … a producer that will have one of the lowest, if not the lowest, carbon footprints in the industry,” Friedland added.

The Kamoa-Kakula 2023 integrated development plan, which will include both the Phase 3 and Phase 4 expansions as well as the smelter, is expected to be released later this month, in addition to cash cost and capital expenditure guidance.

Shares of Ivanhoe Mines traded 0.3% lower by noon ET Monday. The Vancouver-based miner has a market capitalization of C$13.9 billion ($10.4bn).

Eskom CEO de Ruyter survives alleged poisoning attempt

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/09/2023 - 08:39

South Africa’s power utility Eskom Holdings has revealed that police are investigating an alleged attempt to poison outgoing chief executive Andre de Ruyter.

The company’s boss, who leaves the post at the end of March, said the stated incident happened on December 13, a day before his resignation was made public

De Ruyter became suddenly ill after drinking a cup of coffee that reportedly contained cyanide at his office in Johannesburg, EE Business Intelligence first reported.

Pravin Gordhan, the minister overseeing Eskom and other state companies, on Saturday confirmed that de Ruyter had informed him of the alleged attempt to poison him. “This attempt on his life will be thoroughly investigated and those responsible must be charged,” Gordhan said.

One of the working hypotheses is that those behind the attempted murder did not know that de Ruyter had already quit. The coffee machine at Eskom’s Johannesburg headquarters was out of service, according to a source external to Eskom, quoted by EE Business Intelligence. The executive was served the drink from a different source using his usual mug. He immediately felt dizzy and confused, forgetting familiar words and vomiting.

After taking the post in January 2020, De Ruyter made many enemies as he led a company-wide clampdown on corruption and organized criminal behaviour, including sabotage of infrastructure, at Eskom plants. 

He faced increasing political pressure, which culminated in his departure, after failing to solve a crisis in the company responsible of record levels of power cuts in Africa’s most industrialized economy.

Copper price at over 6-month peak as China reopens border

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/09/2023 - 07:48

The copper price jumped to a more than six-month high on Monday as demand prospects brightened after China reopened its borders.

Copper for delivery in March rose 3% on the Comex market in New York, touching $4.03 per pound, or $8,866 per tonne.

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange hit its highest since June 23, 2022 at $8,711 earlier in the session.

The most-traded March copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 1.5% at 66,090 yuan ($9,750.52) a tonne.

Mainland China opened sea and land crossings with Hong Kong and ended a requirement for incoming travelers to quarantine.

The reopening of China’s borders marks the end of Covid Zero, a strategy that left the world’s second-biggest economy isolated for three years and weighed heavily on the economy.

On Sunday, more than 36,000 people from Hong Kong departed the city via its land borders, all but one of which go directly to mainland China, according to government data. That’s eight times as many as the departures made a day before and the biggest outflow since Feb. 3, 2020, according to government statistics and data compiled by Webb-Site.com.

“The events of last weekend have seemingly changed many people’s views on the global economy…This in turn has led to talk of green shoots of recovery, full steam ahead for the Chinese, and thus the global economy,” Malcolm Freeman, a director at broker Kingdom Futures, said in a note.

The US dollar eased on China’s reopening of its borders and rising hopes that the US Federal Reserve would slow the pace of its interest rate hikes following the December jobs report.

(With files from Reuters and Bloomberg)

Researchers solve major issues blocking development of lithium-sulphur batteries

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/09/2023 - 06:06

In a new study, researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory advanced sulphur-based battery research by creating a layer within the battery that adds energy storage capacity while nearly eliminating a traditional problem with sulphur batteries that caused corrosion.

In their paper, the scientists explain that a promising battery design pairs a sulphur-containing cathode with a lithium metal anode. In between those components is the electrolyte, or the substance that allows ions to pass between the two ends of the battery.

Early lithium-sulphur (Li-S) batteries did not perform well because sulphur species (polysulfides) dissolved into the electrolyte, causing its corrosion. This polysulfide shuttling effect negatively impacts battery life and lowers the number of times the battery can be recharged.

To prevent this polysulfide shuttling, prior research focused on placing a redox-inactive interlayer between the cathode and anode. The term ​“redox-inactive” means the material does not undergo reactions like those in an electrode. But this protective interlayer is heavy and dense, reducing energy storage capacity per unit weight for the battery. It also does not adequately reduce shuttling. 

To address this, the Argonne group developed a porous sulphur-containing interlayer. Tests in the laboratory showed initial capacity about three times higher in Li-S cells with this active, as opposed to inactive, interlayer. More impressively, the cells with the active interlayer maintained high capacity over 700 charge-discharge cycles.

“Previous experiments with cells having the redox-inactive layer only suppressed the shuttling, but in doing so, they sacrificed the energy for a given cell weight because the layer added extra weight,” said Guiliang Xu, a chemist and co-author of the study. ​“By contrast, our redox-active layer adds to energy storage capacity and suppresses the shuttle effect.”

To further understand the redox-active layer, the team conducted experiments at the 17-BM beamline of Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source. The data gathered from exposing cells with this layer to X-ray beams allowed them to ascertain the interlayer’s benefits.

The data confirmed that a redox-active interlayer can reduce shuttling, reduce detrimental reactions within the battery and increase the battery’s capacity to hold more charge and last for more cycles. ​

“These results demonstrate that a redox-active interlayer could have a huge impact on Li-S battery development,” said Wenqian Xu, a beamline scientist at APS. ​“We’re one step closer to seeing this technology in our everyday lives.”

Going forward, the team wants to evaluate the growth potential of the redox-active interlayer technology. ​“We want to try to make it much thinner, much lighter,” Guiliang Xu said.

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