January Newsletter – 25.01.2021


  • 11 Chinese gold miners rescued after two weeks underground
  • China Dec coal imports from Australia plunge to zero on import restrictions
  • CHART: US spending less on electric cars than three years ago
  • Vale and Brazil state do not reach agreement over Brumadinho
  • What’s wrong with Zambia? Glencore makes drastic exit
  • Eldorado Gold and QMX Announce Friendly Acquisition of QMX by Eldorado
  • How Long Will Coal Remain King in India?
  • Rio hit by new tensions, new geology problems in Mongolia

China mine rescue: Nine found dead during rescue in Shandong province

Nine Chinese miners have been found dead a day after 11 of their colleagues were rescued after two weeks trapped in a gold mine in Shandong province.

The mayor of Yantai city was quoted by state broadcaster CCTV as confirming the deaths. One miner remains unaccounted for.

The miners became trapped in the Hushan mine when the entrance to the tunnel collapsed after a blast on 10 January.

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There was joy on Sunday after the 11 were brought to the surface.

TV footage showed the first miner, who was blindfolded to protect his eyes from the light, being lifted out as emergency workers cheered.

About an hour after his rescue, 10 more miners were brought out from a different section of the mine. CCTV said one of them was injured.

Several others were seen walking by themselves, supported by rescue workers, before being transported to hospital.

“From Sunday afternoon to this afternoon, rescue workers have not stopped searching, and found a further nine trapped miners who unfortunately all died,” Yantai Mayor Chen Fei told a briefing on Monday.

“Along with one miner who died on Thursday, the bodies of the nine deceased miners were all lifted out of the mine.”


China Dec coal imports from Australia plunge to zero on import restrictions

BEIJING: China did not allow any coal cargos from Australia to pass the customs clearance in December as it targeted various Australian products with unofficial import restrictions, but inflows from other countries rose.

Both thermal coal, mainly used as fuel at power generation plants, and metallurgical coal for steelmaking from Australia fell to zero in December, according to data from the General Administration of Customs on Wednesday.

But coal arrivals from other sources, such as Indonesia and Russia, increased last month as Beijing granted approval to power plants to import coal from various countries without clearance restrictions, except Australia.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra have come under increasing strain amid a series of disputes over trade, politics and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The customs data also showed that the share of Australian thermal coal slipped to 34.19% of China’s total imports of the fuel in 2020 from 39.72% in 2019.

However, the share of Australian coking coal rose to 48.68% of China’s total purchases last year from 41.31% in 2019, partially due to a supply disruption from Mongolia during the coronavirus outbreak.


CHART: US spending less on electric cars than three years ago

Data from BloombergNEF, the media company’s green energy research arm, shows Europe overtaking the Asia Pacific region – mainly China – in investment in transport electrification, including buses, commercial vehicles and charging infrastructure.

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Source: BloombergNEF. Note: * ET investment includes investment in vehicles and charging infrastructure. 2020 investment numbers are based on preliminary EV sales data. Totals include estimated vehicle prices. Excludes two- and three-wheelers. Private charging investment for commercial vehicles not captured.

Out of a total of $139 billion spent worldwide, outlays in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region more than doubled last year to $66 billion. In contrast, in the US, spending has stagnated and in 2020, Germany alone attracted more investment in electrified transport than the US, thanks mainly due to strict emissions rules in the EU.

BloombergNEF found that spending in China also decreased, but the authors of the report ascribe this more to cheaper average costs of EVs, a saturated electric bus market in the country (China accounted for 99% of all e-bus sales worldwide over the last four years) and a shift away from heavy commercial electric vehicles.

The fourth and fifth largest markets are the UK and France. Europe as a whole represented 48% of global electrified transport investment in 2020, followed by China at 33%. The US represented just under 13% of total investment in 2020.


Vale and Brazil state do not reach agreement over Brumadinho

Vale has not reached an agreement on a settlement for damages regarding the deadly Brumadinho dam disaster and negotiations are currently on hold, an official with the government of Minas Gerais said on Thursday.

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The state government and Vale had been in meetings to discuss an agreement, but those negotiations ended unsuccessfully on Thursday, Mateus Simões, a state official, told Reuters.

In November, the head of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais rejected the miner’s proposed settlement of around 21 billion reais ($3.97bn).

Minas Gerais is requesting 54.6 billion ($10.3bn) in compensation, a figure that includes relocation and the psychological damage suffered by survivors and the victims’ families.

Brumadinho dam collapsed in January 2019, leaving 270 people dead. The disaster cost former chief executive Fabio Schvartsman his job and he now faces homicide charges. It also triggered a global inquiry into the status of 726 tailing dams.


What’s wrong with Zambia? Glencore makes drastic exit

The drastic decline of Zambia’s mining sector was never more apparent than it was this week when Glencore announced its exit from the country by selling its stake in Mopani Copper Mines for one meagre US dollar to state-controlled investment vehicle ZCCM Investment Holdings.

The mine has been a cash drain for Glencore due to its operational challenges and high costs, so much so that it had agreed to sell its majority stake in the asset and the repayment of $1.5bn of transaction debt.

Having built a reputation for taxing mining companies to the brink under the administration of President Edgar Lungu, Zambia has naturally fallen out of favour with mining industry players, Glencore has just been adamant enough to call it quits. The question is, will other miners operating in the country follow in these same footsteps?

To date, Mopani has been funded by borrowings from Glencore’s subsidiary Carlisa Investments Corp. and other members of the Glencore group.

On completion, US$1.5 billion of debt will remain owed by Mopani to Glencore group creditors on the following terms:


Eldorado Gold and QMX Announce Friendly Acquisition of QMX by Eldorado

ELDORADO GOLD CORPORATION (TSX: ELD; NYSE: EGO) (“Eldorado”) and QMX GOLD CORPORATION (TSX-V: QMX) (“QMX”) are pleased to announce that they have entered into a definitive arrangement agreement (the “Agreement”) pursuant to which Eldorado will acquire all of the outstanding shares of QMX (not already owned by Eldorado) for total consideration of approximately C$132 million on a 100% and fully diluted basis or C$0.30 per QMX share (the “Arrangement”).   Eldorado currently owns 68,125,000 shares of QMX, or approximately 17% of QMX shares outstanding, which it purchased at C$0.06 per share in a private placement on December 30, 2019.


How Long Will Coal Remain King in India?

Despite market turbulence brought by the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 proved to be a formative year for India’s clean energy transition.

Solar prices hit record lows, definitively ousting coal as the cheapest source of electricity. The government held creative auctions designed to facilitate adding greater amounts of intermittent renewables on the grid. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed India’s commitment to reaching its bold renewable energy targets, claiming the country will ultimately exceed its Paris climate goals.

But the growing adoption of solar, wind and other clean energy technologies doesn’t tell the full story of India’s energy shift. It is impossible to ignore the role of coal.

State-owned enterprise Coal India is the largest coal mining company in the world. The coal sector is a major source of revenue for states and the central government. Also, while renewable energy capacity is dramatically increasing, coal still provides around 70 percent of the country’s electricity.

Last year, the Modi government sought to boost the domestic coal mining sector with a series of commercial auctions. The government has also repeatedly delayed the implementation of pollution regulations for coal plants, effectively throwing the dirtiest coal plants a lifeline.

As the third-largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions in the world today with an economy that’s poised to see massive growth in the future, what happens to India’s energy mix will have a significant impact on the entire planet and its inhabitants.


Rio hit by new tensions, new geology problems in Mongolia

Rio Tinto’s threat to abort the start of underground mining at the $US6.5 billion ($8.4 billion) Oyu Tolgoi project unless concessions are granted by the Mongolian government is neither appropriate nor necessary, according to the Rio subsidiary in charge of the project.

Turquoise Hill Resources’ objection to Rio’s brinkmanship over the underground expansion of Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoi mine came as new geological problems were revealed at the existing open pit that will hamper copper and gold production in the next two years.



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