April Newsletter – 11.04.2023

  • Coal use climbs worldwide despite promises to slash it
  • Saudi Arabia shortlists 13 bidders as it embarks on mining exploration
  • China expands gold reserves at central bank for fifth month
  • Peru will mine more copper in 2023, lithium permits pending
  • Saudi Arabia will mine minerals, but can it extract maximum added value?
  • OZ Minerals gets Vietnam’s nod for its $6.4bn buyout by BHP
  • Lithium: A white gold rush excites Cornwall – but who gains?

Coal use climbs worldwide despite promises to slash it

“The more new coal projects come online, the steeper the cuts and commitments need to be in the future,” said Flora Champenois, the report’s lead author and the project manager for GEM’s Global Coal Plant Tracker.

The burning of coal for electricity, cement, steel and other uses went up in 2022 despite global promises to phase down the fuel that’s the biggest source of plan et-warming gases in the atmosphere, a report Wednesday found. The coal fleet grew by 19.5 gigawatts last year, enough to light up around 15 million homes, with nearly all newly commissioned coal projects in China, according to a report by Global Energy Monitor, an organisation that tracks a variety of energy projects around the globe.

New coal plants were added in 14 countries and eight countries announced new coal projects.

That 1 per cent increase comes at a time when the world needs to retire its coal fleet four and a half times faster to meet climate goals, the report said. In 2021, countries around the world promised to phase down the use of coal to help achieve the goal to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).


Saudi Arabia shortlists 13 bidders as it embarks on mining exploration

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources has moved one step closer to giving out mining exploration licenses for two of its sites as it shortlisted 13 bidders amid a drive to develop the Kingdom’s mining sector.  

The new opportunity will see the shortlisted bidders compete for permission to dig for valuable metals in two key exploration sites in Riyadh and Asir. 

The Ar Ridaniyah site, located in the Saudi capital, contains zinc and silver deposits, and spans over an area of 75 sq. km. 

Whereas the Muhaddad site in Asir has copper, zinc, lead, and gold deposits and covers 139 sq. km.  

The announcement comes as the ministry aims to support investors, enhance investment in the mining sector and encourage national industries.  

The shortlisted bidders include African Rainbow Minerals, Alara Saudi Ventures, AMAK, Barrick Gold Corporation, and ERG Arabia.  


China expands gold reserves at central bank for fifth month

China boosted its gold reserves for a fifth straight month, extending efforts by the world’s central banks to boost their holdings of the precious metal.

The People’s Bank of China raised its holdings by about 18 tons in March, according to data on its website on Friday. Total stockpiles now sit at about 2,068 tons, after growing by about 102 tons in the four months before March.

Nations have been building up stockpiles of bullion amid heightened geopolitical risks and high inflation. Central-bank demand rose for a second year in 2022, and the biggest buyers in January of this year were Turkey, China and Kazakhstan, according to the World Gold Council.

This flurry of purchases by China’s central bank is the first since a ten-month run that ended in September 2019. Prior to that, the last wave of inflows ended in late-2016.


Peru will mine more copper in 2023, lithium permits pending

Peru expects to produce 2.8 million tonnes of copper this year, a senior official said on Monday, representing an almost 15% jump from 2022, in a bright spot for the Andean nation’s top export.

Peru, the world’s no. 2 copper producer, saw output affectedsince Decemberfollowing anti-government protests and road blockades spurred by the ouster and jailing of former President Pedro Castillo.

The mining sector is now “working as normal,” Energy and Mines Minister Oscar Vera told reporters after providing the new forecast. A Reuters analysis in early March showed that major copper mines were cranking up.

The country mined some 2.44 million tonnes of copper last year, according to ministry data.

Vera added officials are also working to reduce approval times for mining projects, from about two years to about six months.


Saudi Arabia will mine minerals, but can it extract maximum added value?

The kingdom wants to leverage its untapped mineral deposits to boost non-oil exports and incentivize local manufacturers to turn raw materials into high-value products.

Commodity exporters rarely squeeze most of the value out of the raw materials they produce. Gulf countries are no exception. For the past half-century, the oil-and-gas-rich region has supplied fossil fuels to power global economic activity, but largely failed to industrialize beyond its role as a commodity exporter.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants to challenge the status quo and bring a larger chunk of the oil value chain closer to home. The country’s state oil company, Saudi Aramco, joined forces with TotalEnergies in December 2022 to build a new $11 billion petrochemicals complex in Jubail.

The kingdom also wants to dig out some of the $1.3 trillion of untapped mineral deposits that it claims to hold underground, including copper, phosphates, gold, zinc and uranium. In 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources became separate from the Ministry of Energy as Saudi Arabia aims to become an industrial and mining powerhouse.


OZ Minerals gets Vietnam’s nod for its $6.4bn buyout by BHP

Australia’s OZ Minerals said on Tuesday its A$9.6 billion ($6.38 billion) buyout by BHP Group has received Vietnam’s Competition and Consumer Authority’s approval.

Prominent Hill mine site in South Australia.

In early February, OZ Minerals had also received approval from Brazil’s competition regulator, the Administrative Council for Economic Defence, for the proposed buyout.

The copper-gold producer on Dec. 22 entered a scheme implementation deed with the world’s largest listed miner, BHP, to proceed formally with the takeover.

The scheme still remains subject to other conditions, including approval by OZ Minerals’ shareholders, and by an Australian court. The scheme meeting is scheduled to be held on April 13, according to OZ Minerals.


Lithium: A white gold rush excites Cornwall – but who gains?

Towering over a high street in a former mining heartland, a statue of a pitman reminds Cornwall of its industrial past.


In this part of south-west England, the mining industry used to be an economic powerhouse and in recent years, it’s been making a tentative comeback.

A new generation of miners are hoping the natural resources that put Cornwall on the map will once again bring wealth to the county.

This time, the miners are using cutting-edge technology to get their hands on lithium – a metal used to make batteries for everyday electronic devices we all rely on, from laptops to smartphones.

These lithium-ion batteries also power the electric cars that will be crucial to cutting carbon emissions and limiting the worst effects of climate change.

The mining industry has the potential to revitalise the tourism-dependent economy of Cornwall, where some areas are among the most deprived in England.

But while the mining revival excites much of Cornwall, there’s uncertainty over whether lithium really will be the golden ticket the area has long been waiting for – benefitting people in a way that doesn’t harm the environment while bringing back well-paid mining jobs.

Economic prize

In 2020, Cornish Lithium found significant levels of the metal in hot springs underground near Redruth, enough to create hundreds of jobs. It’s also been drilling for lithium in hard rock at a disused china clay pit near St Austell.

The company is aiming to start production by 2026 and expects to extract about 10,000 tonnes of lithium each year. That’s about 12.5% of the 80,000 tonnes the UK is forecast to need a year by 2030.

They’ll be competition from British Lithium, a rival company that’s looking to mine the metal from an open pit in St Austell.