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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

S&P cuts Italy ratings one notch, outlook negative

Tue Sep 20,2011

REUTERS - Standard and Poor's downgraded its unsolicited ratings on Italy by one notch to A/A-1 and kept its outlook on negative, a major surprise that threatens to add to concerns of contagion in the debt-stressed euro zone.

The single currency skidded over half a cent to $1.3606 after S&P said the cut reflected its view of Italy's weakening economic growth prospects.

Italy's fragile governing coalition and policy differences within parliament will likely limit the government's ability to respond decisively to the challenging domestic and external macroeconomic environment, the agency said.

"In our opinion, the measures included in and the implementation timeline of Italy's National Reform Plan will likely do little to boost Italy's economic performance, particularly against the backdrop of tightening financial conditions and the government's fiscal austerity program," said S&P.

The move from S&P came as a surprise as the market had thought Moody's was more likely to downgrade Italy first. Moody's last week said it would take another month to decide on its action.

The downgrade came as Greece struggles to meet demands from lenders for yet more austerity measures.

"It's just more of the same negative news," said Stephen Roberts, a senior economist at Nomura in Sydney.

"It only adds to the contagion risk over Greece and has encouraged the flight to safety in markets here," he added, pointing to a sharp fall in the Australian dollar on the news.

S&P 500 futures also dropped 0.7 percent and early hopes for a bounce in Asian shares on Tuesday looked to be still-born now.

European stocks had already slid on Monday, while yields on Italian and Spanish bonds rose sharply on fears of a Greek default, compounded by the failure of EU finance ministers to agree new steps to resolve Europe's debt crisis at weekend talks.

International lenders told Greece on Monday it must shrink its public sector and improve tax collection to avoid running out of money within weeks as investors spooked by political setbacks in Europe dumped risky euro zone assets.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos held what Greece termed "productive and substantive" talks by telephone with senior officials of the European Union and International Monetary Fund after promising as much austerity as necessary to win a vital next instalment of aid.

Before the talks, which will resume on Tuesday evening after meetings of experts through the day, the IMF representative in Greece spelled out steps Athens must take to secure the 8 billion euro loan payment it needs to pay salaries and pensions next month.

India, China acquire coal assets in Queensland

By Andrew Fraser,From The Australian

September 20, 2011

ALMOST all the coal in Australia's next major coalmining area, the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, has already been sold to Indian or Chinese interests, three years before mining is due to start.

Hancock Coal has announced it would be selling 79 per cent of its interests in the proposed Alpha coalmine in the Galilee Basin, 100 per cent of another mine, Kevin's Corner, and rail and port infrastructure to Indian company GVK Coal for $1.2 billion.

Figures obtained by The Australian show that the five major projects proposed for the Galilee Basin have reported resources of 20.5 billion tonnes, of which all but 1.2 billion tonnes has already been contracted to Indian or Chinese companies.

The GVK Coal purchase consists of three mines with 7.9 billion tonnes, as measured under the industry's Joint Ore Reserve Committee (JORC) standard. This is only slightly more than the Carmichael project bought by India's Adani (7.8 billion tonnes).

These two Indian buyers account for roughly 80 per cent of the available coal in the Galilee Basin, with Clive Palmer's Waratah Coal project currently having a listed resource of 3.7 million tonnes.

Mr Palmer aimed to develop his holdings through a listing of his company, ResourceHouse, on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, but when this failed, the Chinese government's EximBank increased its contribution from $5.6bn to $6.8bn while Chinese state-owned enterprises would put in a further $600 million. Mr Palmer claims the entire output of the mine will go to China in a deal worth $60bn over 20 years.

While there are still several Australian companies with small holdings in the Galilee Basin, the only Australian company with any interest is Bandanna Energy, which in partnership with US company AMCI has the Galilee South resource of 1.2 billion tonnes.

GVK, has coal-fired power stations in India which need a reliable supply of coal. GVK is planning a vertically-integrated operation similar to that of Adani, which owns not only the mine, but also the railway line taking the coal to the port and the port itself.

While Hancock has yet to build the 500km railway necessary to take the coal from the Galilee Basin to the coal port of Abbot Point, the deal with GVK allows the Indian company to take over Hancock's interests in these two pieces of infrastructure.

Hancock has already been allocated space at the expansion of Abbot Point to handle its coal exports, and the corridor on which the company plans to run a railway line is the subject of an Environmental Impact Study.

The project still needs approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board as well as a various state and federal government environment approvals, but GVK is hoping to get these and build the necessary infrastructure so coal exports can start from 2014.

GVK is controlled by Indian billionaire GV Krishna Reddy who earlier this year hosted a $20m wedding of his granddaughter in India.

Hancock Coal head Gina Rinehart attended the wedding along with federal Coalition members Julie Bishop, Barnaby Joyce and Teresa Gambaro.

Senator Joyce, a vigorous opponent of excessive foreign ownership of Australian assets, said he wouldn't comment on individual cases but that he would have preferred Hancock to develop the resources itself. "But I support spreading the risk away from China and developing our relations with India," he said.

US steel mill shipments up 7 percent year-to-date

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported Monday that for the month of July 2011, US steel mills shipped 7,409,450 net tons (nt), a 3 percent decrease from the previous month, but a 14.3 percent increase from the 6,481,886 nt shipped in July 2010. Shipments year-to-date in 2011 are 52,189,307 a 7 percent increase versus 2010 shipments of 48,790,026 for the first seven months.

Flat-rolled product shipments showed notable differences in July from June: hot rolled sheet shipments were up 3 percent; cold rolled sheet shipments fell 4 percent and hot dipped galvanized sheet shipments were down 8 percent.

Tags: hrc , crc , galvanized , flats , USA , North America , production , consumption , steelmaking

(sourced steelorbis)

Brazil's CSA sees steel output up 67 pct by 2012

Sept 20, 2011

* CSA to ramp up output despite economic crisis
* Company suspends capacity expansion plans

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - ThyssenKrupp's $6.5 billion Rio de Janeiro slab mill will raise output by 67 percent to 5 million tonnes per year by 2012, a company official said on Monday.

CSA ThyssenKrupp, a joint venture with Brazilian mining giant Vale , is ramping up production despite a slowdown in the United States and Europe and turmoil in global capital markets, Financial Vice President Rodrigo Tostes said in an interview.

"We are in a ramp-up phase and next year we will reach peak production," Tostes said in an interview. "Our advantage is that we have captive clients with long-term contracts. We are going to follow through with our plans" despite the current economic crisis, he said.

He added that the company no longer has plans to expand its production capacity, as had been suggested earlier.

Tostes said CSA recently reached output of 3 million tonnes of steel products, and expects average output to remain at that level until the end of the year.

Some 40 percent of its products are sold to Europe, while the remainder goes to the United States.

Brazilian steelmakers dependent on local market demand have been struggling with greater competition from cheap Chinese imports.

(sourced Reuters)

NMDC raises iron ore output, steelmakers unhappy with e-auction prices

September20, 2011

According to local media reports, Indian state-owned iron ore miner National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) has increased iron ore production from India's Karnataka state up to 30,000 mt per day to meet the shortage faced by iron and steel making units in southern India.

NMDC is currently producing in the range of 28,000-30,000 mt a day. The company has planned to increase daily production to 35,000 mt; however, the rains in the region have not allowed this.

NMDC is the only company allowed to mine iron ore from Karnataka where the supreme court has banned mining activities. With NMDC increasing its production and the e-auction of iron ore stocks in the state, the demand of raw material in the state is expected to be relieved.

However, steelmakers are not very pleased with the base price for e-auction commencing on Wednesday. After the auctioning of the first batch of 400,000 mt, the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) suggested that the reserve price has been determined disregarding the predominant market prices, thus exploiting the buyers who are in serious need of raw material

Tags: iron ore , raw mat , India , Indian Subcon , Southeast Asia , production , economics , steelmaking , South Asia

(sourced steelorbis)

Australia revises mining production outlook

Sep20, 2011

SYDNEY, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Following are the latest forecasts for production and exports of key Australian mineral
resources released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences on Tuesday.

All figures are in millions of tonnes, except gold:

New Old *
fcast fcast
2011/12 2011/12
Iron Ore 470.2 466.7
export 449 437
Coking coal 161 172
export 156 164.2
Thermal coal 219.2 222.4
export 154.8 152.6
Refined copper 0.503 0.503
export 0.387 0.387
Copper mined 1.066 0.996
Nickel mined 0.221 0.203
Nickel refined 0.131 0.131
Aluminium 1.993 1.993
Bauxite 68.2 68.2
Alumina 20.705 20.705
Zinc mined 1.581 1.553
Gold (tonnes) 276.9 276.9

* Previous forecasts were released on June 21

(sourced Reuters)

Tokyo Steel lifts all product prices in October

Tue Sept20, 2011

TOKYO(Reuters) - Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co , Japan's biggest construction steelmaker, said on Tuesday it would raise all product prices for October shipment by 3,000 to 5,000 yen ($39-65) per tonne.

It was the first time it raised product prices across the board in seven months. It cited growing demand from the construction market, including large projects in Tokyo and increased demand for quake-resistant structures. ($1 = 76.405 Japanese Yen)

(sourced Reuters)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Foreign investors pray for end to Mongolia's mining ban

Mon,Sep19, 2011

By David Stanway

ULAN BATOR, (Reuters) - Foreign investors in mineral-rich Mongolia hope parliament will revoke a controversial law banning mining in the country's river and forest areas when it convenes for its busy autumn session next month.

The ban, imposed in 2009, has been derided as "half-baked" and "knee-jerk" by representatives of foreign mining investors in Ulan Bator. While dozens of projects have been shut down, hundreds more remain in operation, but in a state of legal limbo.

"Nobody really knows which projects are banned -- the problem is you don't know if you will wake up one morning and find that laws have changed and your mine is no longer legal," said a representative with a foreign mining firm in Ulan Bator.

Hundreds of foreign firms have been coveting Mongolia's copious and mostly untapped deposits of coal, copper, gold and uranium, but legal and political uncertainties cast a shadow over their investments, and analysts worry that the country could lose out.

"Is Mongolia the place to be, or is it Colombia?" asked Bernard Guarnera, president of mining consultants Behre Dolbear. "We vote Mongolia but mining companies have to make a decision based on certainty and stability."

Nearly 2,000 mining licenses came under review as a result of the 2009 law and hundreds were suspended, but Mongolia is not yet able to enforce the rules in full because it does not have the funds to pay compensation.

"I hope this law will be cancelled," said Chuluuntseren Otgochuluu, the director of an independent think tank called the Economic Policy and Competitiveness Research Centre.

"This law is very good in context of health and the environment, but the problem is that many licenses have already been issued and the mines are already operating, and have been taken by banks as collateral. The cost of taking them is huge, and we will also lose trust."


Following the democratic revolution of 1990, isolated Mongolia was desperate to attract as much foreign investment as possible, but a decade of laissez-faire regulation put the country's scarce water supplies in jeopardy, and soaring commodity prices also prompted a policy rethink.

It was a parliamentary backbencher who introduced the water and forest bill, which was passed despite opposition from the government.

The problem, said Chimed-ochir Bazarsad, Mongolia representative with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), was timing. Had Mongolia defined where miners could operate before the boom began, it wouldn't have the problems it is facing today.

"At the end of the 1990s we tried to map out where are the ecologically important areas that need to be protected in terms of watersheds, biodiversity and cultural value -- it should have been very clearly defined before the boom," he said.

"The government didn't do it and now it is trying to determine no-go areas after already issuing the mining licenses, so now it is all about negotiation."

The president, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, has suspended approvals of all new mining projects until comprehensive new regulations are drawn up.

As technically illegal mining operations continue to operate, environmentalists have tried to take the law into their own hands, with activists even known to attack mines with hunting rifles in order to disable machinery.

Some say it has not only caused uncertainty among investors, but has also given opportunities to "ninja miners" -- illegal privateers armed with pans and shovels who pay no regard to the environment.

Most of the "ninjas" were driven into the perilous industry 10 years ago when a catastrophic winter killed off much of their livestock.

Chimed of WWF said the ninja miners were impossible to regulate, and were now entrenched in their communities with well-established trade networks.

Mongolia has a history of introducing and then hastily repealing populist legislation aimed at squeezing more revenues from its mining boom. In 2001, it revoked a gold export tax imposed in 1998, and a mining windfall profit tax was also cancelled in 2009 after two years of complaints.

While many hope the forest and water law will also be repealed, its parliamentary backers are determined to keep it. Environmentalists also say revoking the law would be equally knee-jerk.

Dugersuren Sukhgerel, executive director of an non-government organisation known as Oyu Tolgoi Watch, said it was clear that miners were gaining too much influence in Mongolian politics.

"The miners say 'give us the right environment', but what they mean is 'give us a lawless environment'," she said.

(sourced Reuters)

Taipower expands its coal carrier ships fleet

Monday, 19 Sep 2011

CAN reported that state owned electricity provider Taiwan Power Company invested NTD 6.3 billion to expand its coal carrier ships fleet in an effort to save costs in transporting coal.

Besides its Dian Chang No 1 and 2 ships currently in service, Taipower purchased four more vessels this year. Among them, three ships have started operation while the fourth will be handed over from the shipbuilder next month.

According to Taipower, the six ship fleet can transport 8 million tonnes of coal per year. This cuts down the costs of shipping and raises the amount of coal transported in house from 10% of Taipower total coal imports to 30%.

Mr Hsu Chen-hu an official with the company said the expansion will not only lower transportation costs but help stabilize the domestic coal supply. He said that coal-fired power plants account for 40% of the power supply in Taiwan. Coal demand is expected to rise when the company remodels its Linkou and Dalin power plants.

Taipower is confident in this investment. Mr Hsu said the firm invested some NTD 2.8 billion in the first two ships in 2001 and the cost was recovered within five years.

He added that according to the figures from last year, Dian Chang No 1 and 2 saved the company NTD 5.5 billion compared with renting ships.

By 2018, Taipower expects domestic demand for coal to grow from 27 million tonnes this year to 30 million tonnes. The number will increase to 40 million tonnes by 2022.

(Sourced from CAN)

Crude steel production of India’s JSW Steel hit by mining ban

Monday, 19 Sep 2011

One of the largest Indian steelmakers JSW Steel Ltd posted a six percent year-on-year growth in crude steel production in August of the current Indian financial year. JSW produced 664,000 mt of crude steel in the given period. The increase in production is due to the commencement of the 3.4 million mt per year expansion at JSW Steel's Vijayanagar plant in July.

During August, JSW Steel produced 484,000 mt of flat rolled products, up eight percent, while it produced 125,000 mt of long rolled products, up 44 percent, both compared to the corresponding period of the previous financial year.

According to the JSW Steel statement, the crude steel production in August could have been higher, if it were not for the mining ban in the Bellary district of Karnataka state in India. Due to the iron ore shortage, JSW Steel had to cut its production. Crude steel production in September is severely impacted and the production cut is expected to continue.

Tags: raw mat , longs , flats , India , Indian Subcon , production , steelmaking , JSW Steel , crude steel , South Asia

(sourced steelorbis)

Peabody extends offer for Australia's Macarthur to Oct. 14

Sep19, 2011

SYDNEY, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Peabody Energy and ArcelorMittal have extended their $5.2 billion takeover bid for Australia's Macarthur Coal until Oct. 14, the companies said on Monday.

Macarthur last month accepted a sweetened A$16 per share bid from Peabody and Arcelor after failing to find a rival bidder.

The bid had been due to expire on Sept. 27.

Nippon and Sumitomo withdraw from Namisa iron ore JV in Brazil

September19, 2011

With the approval of the Brazilian antitrust agency Cade, Japanese steelmakers Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metals have withdrawn from the Namisa iron ore joint venture, which is 60 percent owned by the Brazilian steelmaker Cia Siderurgica Nacional (CSN). While Nippon Steel had a 16.2 percent stake in the Namisa joint venture, Sumitomo had a 6.6 percent share.

Cade also allowed Nippon Steel to increase its stake in CSN's rival, Brazilian flat rolled producer Usiminas since it is no longer affiliated with CSN. To this end, Nippon Steel is considering a partnership with another Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau.

Tags: iron ore , Brazil , Japan , Far East , South America , production , fin. Reports , mining , Gerdau , East Asia and Pacific , South Asia

Indian steel ministry roots for 30pct duty on iron ore exports

Monday, 19 Sep 2011

PTI reported that the Indian steel ministry will soon write to the finance ministry demanding to hike export duty on iron ore to 30% from the current 20%, a move to ensure that there is no shortage of the raw material for the domestic steel makers in the long run.

A source close to the development told PTI that "A proposal in this regard has been cleared by the Indian steel minister Mr Beni Prasad Verma. It will now be sent to the finance ministry for its approval and implementation.”

The proposal has also kept in mind the deteriorating level of country's raw material reserves.

The government in the budget had hiked duty on iron ore, both fines and lumps, to 20% in order to discourage exports and encourage value addition.

After the duty hike, exports of iron ore has declined by about 22% to 25.2 million tonnes in April-July to the corresponding period last fiscal. The Federation of the Indian Mineral Industries expects iron ore exports to fall by over 20% to 75 million tonnes in the current fiscal from 98 million tonnes in 2010-11.

(Sourced from PTI)