April Newsletter – 23.04.18


Behre Dolbear has exhibited at IOM3 Conference, London, UK, last week. Tanya Matveeva has presented a talk named “Importance of Geology for Mineral Processing – examples from projects in Russia and Kazakhstan”, which was well received by the audience.


Aluminum Stash Visible From Space Turned to Gold for Trader


  • Castleton is said to start selling stockpiled metal in U.S.
  • Trader benefiting from premium surge on tariffs and sanctions

Two years ago, a commodity trading house started stockpiling thousands of tons of aluminum near a bend in the Mississippi River outside New Orleans.

Now Castleton Commodities International LLC, the trader backed by hedge fund luminaries including Paul Tudor Jones, is sitting on a veritable gold mine as a scramble for aluminum unfolds in the wake of U.S. sanctions against United Co. Rusal and Donald Trump’s aluminum tariffs.

Metal stockpiles near Louisiana in 2018, below, and in 2014.Source: 2018 DigitalGlobe

Castleton has started selling down its aluminum stash, which at its peak held about 500,000 metric tons of the metal, according to people familiar with the matter. That would be worth about $1.5 billion at today’s prices.

Sales for around half of that volume have already been agreed, and the trading house is making regular shipments out of the facility in Braithwaite, Louisiana, one of the people said, asking not to be named discussing private matters. Among the buyers: Glencore Plc, the top buyer of Rusal’s aluminum, which has been forced to scramble to cover its obligations to supply customers after the sanctions on the Russian company.


Latin America the leading region in new global wave of exploration

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Worldwide, the mining industry has been recovering from the slump that started in 2012.

“After a challenging 2013/14 when the prices of commodities plummeted across the board, 2016 and 2017 have seen resurging prices for aluminium, copper, zinc, nickel, lead, palladium and, more modestly, gold,” observed Dr Remi Piet for Americas Market Intelligence in January.

“Several factors explain the positive pricing trend, which is likely to continue over the coming months. Chinese infrastructure investments jumped 19% last year, while industrial output grew in the US by 1.8% in 2017, the first and largest increase since 2014. Both drivers of demand are likely to continue in the short to midterm.”


Samarco mine disaster compensation plan update

Reuters Staff

* BHP: Mining company Vale SA said on Friday that a Brazilian court has postponed to June 25 the deadline for when it must reveal its compensation plan for victims of the 2015 Samarco mine disaster. Samarco iron ore mine is jointly owned by Vale and BHP .


Deep-sea mining: scientists say collaboration is key

Valentina Ruiz Leotaud

Researchers from the University of California San Diego and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are advocating for collaborations between academia and industry when it comes to finding a balance between exploiting mineral resources from the seabed and protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Matthew Alford, a physical oceanographer with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the UC -San Diego, and Thomas Peacock, director of the Environmental Dynamics Laboratory at the MIT, are making the call following a field study investigating potential impacts of extracting minerals such as cobalt, copper, and nickel from the deep-sea.

According to a university press release, the two conducted a simulation of sediment plumes that would be created by seabed mining. From onboard research vessel Sally Ride and using samples obtained from a proposed mining area in the deep Pacific Ocean, they ejected plumes of particle-laden water like those that would be produced during such operations. Their goal was to understand how the plume disperses in the water column between the surface and the seafloor. From these data, researchers can assess how such plumes can affect marine life and over what distance.



London aluminium rises as Rusal rally resumes

Reuters Staff

BEIJING, April 23 (Reuters) – London aluminium prices rose by as much as 1.7 percent on Monday as a rally driven by supply concerns after the United States slapped sanctions on Russian producer United Company Rusal regained momentum.

    The metal had closed down in the previous two sessions but is still up by around 25 percent so far this month.

    Most other base metals also rose but London nickel fell by as much as 2.2 percent, continuing its retreat from a three-year high of $16,690 a tonne seen on April 19 as fears of

additional sanctions eased.

    “In general it seems that the markets and indeed its participants all coped with the ‘storm’ and now it is a case of letting the prices find a new level at which they are comfortable,” Malcolm Freeman, CEO of Kingdom Futures, wrote in a note.

    However, the possibility of Germany going into a recession may well see prices “testing the downside once again,” he added.



After crackdown, Philippines plans fresh mining curbs

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines is planning to limit the amount of land that miners can develop at any one time to boost environmental rehabilitation, a move that miners say may cut output of nickel ore in last year’s top supplier to China.

The new curbs, contained in a draft government order reviewed by Reuters and confirmed by senior officials, follow a crackdown last year that has left more than half the country’s mines facing suspension or closure due to environmental breaches.

Mining is a deeply contentious issue in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country after past examples of environmental mismanagement.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who warned miners to follow tighter environmental rules or shut down shortly after he took office in 2016, has so far upheld a ban on new open pit mines, despite a push by senior officials to soften the policy.

The latest move will initially target the country’s 30 nickel mines, which made up more than half of the country’s 50 operating mines as of end-2017. But officials say it could eventually extend to other metals.

Miners will be limited to a production area ranging from 50 to 162 hectares (124 to 400 acres) at any one time, depending on their size of production and whether they have a processing plant, according to the draft government order.


South Africa to Appeal Ruling on Black Ownership of Mines


  • DMR files leave to appeal April 4 ruling on ownership rules
  • Chamber will join as respondent to separate charter case

South Africa has sought leave to appeal a court judgment earlier this month over a crucial black-ownership principle in the country’s Mining Charter, the nation’s mining lobby said.

The Chamber of Mines has been notified that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and the Department of Mineral Resources filed the application, it said in a statement Monday. The High Court in Pretoria on April 4 ruled that the first two versions of the country’s charter didn’t require producers to top up black-shareholding levels in perpetuity if they previously met the minimum 26 percent requirement.

“The chamber is currently reviewing the specified grounds of appeal, although the DMR’s appeal appears to center on the majority judges obiter dictum comments about the legality of the 2010 charter and the enforceability of the charters,” the lobby group said.



Traders Can’t Decide If Sanctions Are Good Or Bad for Norilsk

Alex Nicholson and Natasha Doff, Bloomberg

  • Climbing nickel prices send Norilsk’s stock on 3-day surge
  • Commodity market spooked by brand changes amid Rusal jitters

Here’s a good one to file under market absurdity: Russian mining stock Norilsk Nickel has been climbing this week because nickel prices rose on speculation Norilsk Nickel is under threat from sanctions.

Yes, really.

This is how it happened: First, traders sold the stock after the White House shut fellow Russian metals company United Co. Rusal out of international markets.

Metals investors then drove up the price of nickel on concern that global supply would be damaged if Norilsk — one of the world’s biggest producers of the commodity — suffered the same fate as its Russian peer. Assessing what the jump in the metal price means for Norilsk’s profits, stock traders then piled back in.

Weirder still is the confusion that’s been driving some of the big moves in nickel prices. The commodity climbed as much as 12 percent on Wednesday when two of Norilsk’s defunct brands were delisted. The move had been flagged months before, but jittery traders jumped to the conclusion that sanctions might be pushing the company out of the supply chain.



How gold is improving cancer treatment

Valentina Ruiz Leotaud

Researchers at the University of Queensland have developed new nanotechnology that includes gold particles and that is aimed at monitoring the diversity of individual cancer cells circulating in the body.

The groundbreaking technique was tested on blood samples from melanoma patients and was able to track critical changes in spreading tumour cells before, during and after treatment.

“We have developed a simple technology which uses a special type of gold nanoparticle attached to different antibodies, which can stick to different proteins on a wide variety of circulating tumour cells. These nanoparticles emit a unique barcoded signal when hit with laser light, and this signal changes ever so slightly if that nanoparticle encounters a circulating tumor cell and sticks to it, making them easy to detect,” said UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology PhD student Jing Wang in a media statement.



Bolivia to invest in billion-dollar lithium deal with ACI Systems

Reuters Staff

LA PAZ (Reuters) – Bolivia will manufacture and market lithium batteries along with German company ACI Systems GmbH, which will invest $1.3 billion in the project, the country’s manager of the lithium deposits told the Bolivian state radio on Saturday.

Along with Argentina and Chile, Bolivia is part of South America’s so-called “lithium triangle,” one of the largest global reservoirs of the key mineral for the production of car batteries.

    “The German company ACI Systems has been selected as the strategic partner,” Juan Carlos Montenegro, head of state-owned company Bolivian Lithium Deposits, or YLB by its Spanish initials, told Patria Nueva radio.

He said the joint venture deal will be inked as soon as possible so that operations can begin in about 18 months.

    Bolivia has almost a quarter of the world’s lithium resources.