Lundin Gold CEO looking for acquisitions, open to a takeover

With its first commercial production around the corner, Lundin Gold is looking at options to grow – including acquisitions. The company’s only asset, Fruta del Norte in Ecuador, will reach commercial production in the second quarter, CEO Ron Hochstein said Thursday in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office. The low-cost mine is expected to produce more than 300 000 oz of gold this year, and average 325 000 oz over its expected 14-year mine life. The company’s largest shareholder, Melbourne-based Newcrest Mining, is supportive of a potential acquisition, as is the Lundin family, also a major owner, Hochstein said. “The challenge for us is going to be finding something that’s accretive for our shareholders.”

Freeport looks poised to turn corner after five-year bumpy road

It’s been a rough haul for Freeport-McMoRan, but the future may be looking up. In the past five years, the world’s largest publicly traded copper miner was forced to sell assets and shares to manage debt as it weathered fall-out from the collapse of the commodity super cycle. It emerged from multiyear talks over its Indonesian mine to secure long-term rights, and hung on as production at the flagship operation tumbled during the switch from open pit to underground mining.

Greta Thunberg’s endorsement lands Polish coal miner in hot water

A Polish coal mining union chided one of its leaders for meeting climate activist Greta Thunberg as a misstep that undermines their efforts to keep coal as the country’s key source of energy. The meeting -- held in coal-dependent Poland earlier this month -- made it to the speech that Thunberg, 17, gave at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday. She accused the global leaders of giving up on the climate change fight.

Palladium’s fading stockpiles draw warning of prolonged deficit

As palladium’s record-breaking rally makes guessing the size of stockpiles more important than ever, one thing at least is clear – they’re getting a lot smaller. Inventories held by producers, investors and users have been key to feeding a market that’s faced supply deficits for the past eight years. While their size is largely a mystery, researcher Metals Focus estimates that stockpiles have almost halved in the past decade to equal about 14 months of demand.

Indonesian mining giant seeks to triple aluminium production

PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium has set a long-term goal of tripling its production capacity by expanding operations to the island of Borneo as it seeks to utilise the region’s abundant bauxite reserves. The State-owned company known as Inalum plans to boost capacity to 750 000 tons by building a 500 000-tons smelter in North Kalimantan, on the Indonesian side of Borneo, as power supply constraints limit the expansion of its sole facility in Kuala Tanjung, North Sumatra, according to MD Oggy Achmad Kosasih. He didn’t give a timeline. The existing smelter relies on electricity from a hydro plant that can only provide enough power for 250 000 tons of aluminum a year, Kosasih said in an interview on Monday in Kuala Tanjung. The company is trying to increase output to 300 000 tons by upgrading its furnace, he said.

From mining’s saviour to homicide charges, the fall of Vale’s chief

Fabio Schvartsman was supposed to be the fresh face that would help Vale, the world’s biggest iron-ore miner, advance the company after a 2015 dam collapse. Instead, the 65-year-old is facing homicide charges after the company’s latest deadly disaster. While he knew little of mining and metals, Schvartsman had more than doubled the shares at Klabin, Brazil’s largest paper producer, where he secured financing to roll out low-cost projects and gained a reputation for cost efficiency. He was named to lead Vale in May 2017, just as it brought the industry’s largest new project online, boosting both production and profit. Now, two-and-a-half years later, Schvartsman -- who left the top post in March -- stands accused of 270 counts of homicide as a result of a second dam collapse. He’s charged with knowing ahead of time of safety issues at the massive Brumadinho tailings dam and helping hide them prior to the deadliest such event in Brazil’s history. Ironically, Schvartsman began his role as the Vale CEO with a vow never to allow a repeat of the 2015 disaster. Now, he’s awaiting a judge’s decision on the state charges he faces, and is facing the possibility of federal charges ahead.

Job cuts will depress South Africa’s limping economy even more

Less than a month into 2020, South African companies have already announced thousands of job cuts. In a country where a third of the labour force is already unemployed, this will put even more strain on demand and economic growth. Almost 8 000 jobs are at risk as companies including Telkom, the country’s largest fixed-line operator, and Walmart’s local unit Massmart Holdings plan to reduce their headcount after slumps in earnings. That’s after Sibanye-Stillwater cut positions at its Marikana operations as part of restructuring plans and Glencore issued a notice of possible reductions at its Rustenburg ferrochrome smelter.

Ghana delays mining fund IPO to review royalty payment processes

Ghana is delaying the sale of $750-million of shares in a gold mining fund as the government reviews the rules and processes that dictate mineral royalty payments, according to people familiar with the matter. The West African nation initially prepared to hold the public offering this month, but has postponed the plan until March, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The fund will be structured to receive royalties and pay dividends from these inflows, prompting the government to reassess whether its systems are sufficiently robust to secure all income due, they said.

Iron-ore output far from certain as Vale homicide charges filed

Vale was dealt back-to-back blows on Tuesday as Brazilian officials announced criminal charges including for homicide in the wake of last year’s deadly dam collapse, while a prosecutor indicated additional output cuts may be on the horizon. Former CEO Fabio Schvartsman was charged with 270 counts of homicide, and the world’s largest iron ore miner and a contractor, TUV SUD, were accused of environmental crimes. Minas Gerais state prosecutors allege that the 65-year-old executive, who was at the helm when the Brumadinho disaster unleashed a deluge of sludge that buried a small town, knew about the risks, but made false statements and hid information to protect the company’s share price. “Fabio Schvartsman acted directly to create corporate incentives, not to avoid risks, but to channel efforts into protecting Vale’s market value,” William Coelho, a state prosecutor, told reporters in Minas Gerais. Schvartsman took over in 2017, a little less than two years after the Mariana tailings dam collapsed in a separate accident, killing 19. “He entered the role with the slogan ‘Mariana Never Again,’ but it was a false slogan.”

Unit at Sasol’s Lake Charles plant remains shut after fire

Sasol is still assessing the damage from an explosion and fire at its Lake Charles plant in Louisiana a week after the incident. The explosion at the low-density polyethylene unit at Lake Charles on January 13 could be heard across southwest Louisiana and blew the hurricane doors off a fire department building located next to the plant, according to local broadcaster KPLC. The unit – one of two large polymers plants – is a key part of Lake Charles’ operations.