China snaps up steel as pandemic creates two-speed global market

China’s steel buyers have pounced on cheap offers from around the world to feed buoyant demand at home, with flows to the biggest market reaching levels unseen since the global financial crisis. Imports of finished steel products jumped last month to nearly 1.9-million tons, just short of the haul seen in September 2009. Then, as now, imports rose as a domestic recovery made it more profitable to ship in some products as prices languished on a global market still crippled by an economic collapse. China’s domestic hot-rolled coil prices have traded at unusual premiums to international prices as the coronavirus pandemic ravages international demand. The World Steel Association expects China’s usage will rise 1% this year thanks to government spending on infrastructure -- in sharp contrast to the 17% decline predicted for developed economies.

Riley gets port access

Junior Venture Minerals has inked a port access agreement for its Riley iron-ore mine, in in Tasmania, with TasPorts. Venture on Thursday said that the agreement fully secured the pathway for production from the mine gate to shipping, and effectively meant that mining could immediately start, subject to the completion of financing.

GlobalData expects iron-ore consumption to decrease 2.8% this year

Global iron-ore consumption is likely to decrease by 2.8% this year, as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on the mining sector, as well as owing to decreased demand in the automotive industry, says analytics and data company GlobalData. It points out that the automotive industry accounts for about 17% of global iron-ore consumption and that light vehicle sales had decreased significantly worldwide in the year to date.

Vale to relocate 50 people near dams, expanding ‘safety zone’

Brazilian miner Vale said on Wednesday it will relocate about 50 people near a series of tailings dams in the state of Minas Gerais to reflect concern that a wider area could be hit by a potential dam burst. Vale said in a securities filing that the move to expand the "safety zone" around the Forquilha dams in the case of a dam collapse had been taken based on more conservative studies and an "extreme" hypothesis. The expansion of the zone for the dams that are part of its Paraopeba complex complies with an agreement reached with Minas Gerais prosecutors, after the Brumadinho dam burst last year, killing more than 270 people.

A miner blew up ancient human history. Now an industry may pay

Scraping away delicately at the reddish-brown earth of northwestern Australia’s vast Pilbara region, a team of archaeologists uncovered a record of life dating back more 40 000 years. Buried in natural shelters at the base of a cliff were thousands of stone and wooden tools, the sharpened fibula bone of a kangaroo and braided strands of hair. They worked quickly inside the Juukan Gorge rock shelters to recover the artefacts -- and needed to. The team was a salvage squad, sent in with a tight deadline to excavate a site in the path of an encroaching iron ore mine and approved for destruction. Blasts carried out in late May by Rio Tinto Group flattened the features in the central Hamersley Range, more than 1 000 km northeast of Perth. Now the fallout is mounting for the London-based producer, and new risks are being posed to an iron ore sector that produces Australia’s top export, forecast to generate earnings of A$100-billion in the year ended June 30.

Kogi adopts phased approach to funding, work on Agbaja project

ASX-listed Kogi Iron has announced that it will adopt a staged funding and development programme to ensure the development of its Agbaja cast steel project, in Nigeria, continues to progress. The company also revised down its initial envisaged production rate during Phase 1 of the project to 250 000 t/y to rather help protect shareholder value at the moment, considering the challenging environment.

Vale signs deal with authorities on Covid-19 monitoring at Itabira mines

Brazilian miner Vale has signed an agreement on monitoring for possible coronavirus cases at its Itabira complex, a major iron ore production facility temporarily shuttered earlier this month out of health concerns, authorities said on Thursday. A number of sanitary measures including testing all workers every 21 days were agreed with labor prosecutors in Minas Gerais state and with a local court, the authorities said, adding that Vale now had 15 days to draw up the details of a virus mitigation plan. Prosecutors will use reports the company has agreed to produce regularly to decide on possible new actions at the complex, where changes in production levels can potentially affect iron ore prices internationally.

Vale can reopen Itabira complex after coronavirus measures

Brazilian iron-ore miner Vale has received permission to reopen mines in the Itabira complex shuttered due to coronavirus concerns, the company said in a Wednesday filing, adding there was no change to its production guidance. Vale said it had received permission to reopen the mines from Minas Gerais state labor inspectors. They concluded that the measures Vale had taken to mitigate the threat from the virus and protect its workforce were sufficient to restart works, the company said. Nonetheless, Vale said work would kick off gradually.

Kogi’s Nigerian operations impacted by Covid-19 prevention measures

ASX-listed iron-ore miner Kogi Iron reports that, although no employees of its Nigeria-based subsidiary KCM Mining, its Nigeria-based Agbaja Cast Steel project or the greater Agbaja plateau community, have been infected with Covid-19, the operation has been materially impacted on by measures taken to prevent Covid-19 from reaching the area. Recent measures and initiatives include limited travel and activities on the Agbaja plateau and monitoring and adhering to government directives.

Guinea signs Simandou iron deal with SMB-Winning consortium

Guinea on Tuesday signed an agreement with a consortium for the development of its giant Simandou iron-ore reserve, another step towards the realisation of a project which it hopes will bring a $15-billion windfall over the 25-year lifespan. The deal includes the construction of a 650 km railway from Guinea's mountainous forest region to the coast, and a deep sea water port, which will unlock the development of blocks 1 and 2 of the rich Simandou iron reserve. It is expected to be minerals-rich Guinea's largest industrial mining project to date.