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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Court approves settlement between Russian coal producers

Saturday, 11 Feb 2012

Supreme Commercial Court reports that the court has approved an amicable agreement between two coal mining companies in a USD 9.3 million dispute.

Vorkutaugol sought to recover debt from the Vorgashorskaya mine under a claim assignment agreement that it signed with the St Petersburg based Nord Invest in March 2010.

Vorkutaugol is a part of Severstal. It is the largest hard coking coal producer in Russia. Vorkutaugol produced 8.1 million tonnes of coal in 2010.

Severstal is one of the world's leading vertically integrated steel and mining companies. It has assets located in Russia, North America and Europe.

(Sourced from

Zambia poised to become leading regional coal producer

Saturday, 11 Feb 2012

The Times of Zambia reported that Zambia is poised to become a leading coal producer in the region by 2013 due to increased investments in the mining sector.

Mines Minister Wilbur Simuusa said given the current rate of development in the mining industry supported by strong economic growth as well as attractive commodity prices of coal on the international market, Zambia was poised to become the leading coal producer in the region.

The Zambian government expects the country's coal production to hit 200, 000 tonnes per month by mid 2013 and this is attributed to the current upgrades going on at the country's largest coal producer, Maamba Collieries Limited and new projects to be undertaken during the year.

The Zambian minister however said that the coal mining industry had not yet developed to the level of the copper mining sector and that more investment needed to be attracted in the sector to improve production.

The country's largest coal producer is targeting to start producing 100, 000 tons of coal by mid 2013 due to investments pumped in by the new owners, Nava Bharat of Singapore, who acquired a 65% stake in the mine in 2010.

(Sourced from Xinhua)

Iron ore prices steady in Hebei and mills see negative outlook

Saturday, 11 Feb 2012

Impacted by weak steel market, Chinese steel mills are not positive about raw material market, saying they can’t see support to higher import prices and moreover there could be a possible decline later on.

Contrary to bullish sentiment among Chinese miners, mills are stabilizing Chinese mined ore purchase prices.

Currently, in Tangshan and Qian’an, most mills dealt 65% fines at CNY 1,270 per tonne while miners quoted at CNY 940 per tonne to CNY 950 per tonne on wet basis, 17% excluded.

In Qianxi and Zunhua, mills bought 65% fines at CNY 1,250 per tonne, verus miners’ quotation of CNY 920 per tonne on wet basis, 17% excluded.

In Handan and Xingtai, mills’ purchase price for for fines vary from CNY 1,300 per tonne to CNY 1,350 yuan.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Mongolia coal rail plans delayed on financing issues

Fri Feb 10, 2012

ULAN BATOR Feb 10 (Reuters) - Mongolia's ambitious plan to build a railway network capable of delivering its surging coal output to foreign markets is likely to be delayed as a result of financing difficulties and bureaucratic deadlocks, government officials said on Friday. Purevbaatar Luvsandavag, vice-chairman of the Mongolia Railway Authority, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Coal Mongolia conference in Ulan Bator that the government had not even raised the $50 million required to fund a series of feasibility studies and project designs drawn up last year.

"We still don't have permission from the government to announce an open tender to build the railways, and in general there is still a deadlock when it comes to funding and building infrastructure," he said.
He said the government had sought funding for the projects through overseas equity markets, instead of the railway authority's preferred option involving public-private partnerships with investors from Japan and South Korea.

J. Bat-Erdene, state secretary at Mongolia's transportation ministry told the conference on Thursday that the government was planning to list 49 percent of state-owned Mongolian Railway Corp on the domestic stock exchange to raise funds for construction. Mongolia is experiencing a mining boom that is expected to transform its tiny economy in the coming decade, but it has so far struggled to monetise its copious mineral reserves and needs to spend billions of dollars on developing a transportation network capable of reaching consumers.

The government is also wary of the geopolitical and economic risks of being overly dependent on its giant southern neighbour, China, even though it has a guaranteed market for copper and coking coal. Mongolia exported 22 million tonnes of coal in 2011, with virtually all of it delivered south to China at more than $25 per tonne lower than the international average.

It plans to build an extensive cross-country railway that would eventually connect its huge Tavan Tolgoi coal project in the south Gobi desert to the rail networks of Russia, giving it access to markets in Japan and South Korea, but critics have said the route is not economically feasible.

The government remains reluctant to give permission for Mongolian Mining Corp (MMC) to construct its own 267-km private railway into China, saying a pre-existing route into China would make it more difficult to attract financing for the route east into Russia. An MMC official told Reuters the company was "still waiting" for the project to be approved.

Construction on the two routes -- east into Russia and south into China -- is expected to begin at the same time, but Baasanjav Enkhbaatar of the World Bank's mining infrastructure investment support project told the conference that neither project was likely to begin before 2017.

Indian iron ore exports to recover to below highs - Mr Trivedi

Friday, 10 Feb 2012

India mining secretary said that India's iron ore exports will recover from this year's depressed levels but will not rise above 100 million tonnes as a crackdown on illegal sales pays off. Mr Vishwapati Trivedi said stricter controls of mining were helping determine the natural level of export his euphemism for legal sales in the long run from the world's third biggest supplier, whose major customer is China.

Mr Trivedi told Reuters in an interview said that "Natural export level is actually an outcome of all this. There will be an export level which ... will be between where we were last year and where we are this year.” Traders have already slashed forecasts for 2011/12 exports from India to around 50 million tonnes, about half last year's figure, dropping it below South Africa in the export rankings. The fall will come after the Supreme Court banned mining in some areas and the government hiked export taxes to crush illegal sales.

In 2010/11, India exported 97 million tonnes of iron ore and has exported about 100 million tonnes a year for several years, mainly to China. But Trivedi said those figures may have included illegal ores. He said that "Natural export level would be over a set of several years when you have got everything going fine, no illegal exports, then you assess the natural levels.”

(Sourced from Reuters)

Tata Steel sees India sales rising, Europe volatile

Fri Feb 10, 2012

* Sees first two quarters in FY13 to be weak for Europe
* Expects 1 mln T additional India sales in FY13
* Shares rebound 4 pct after sliding initially

MUMBAI, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Tata Steel, the world's No. 7 steelmaker, expects demand recovery in its key European market to be volatile, but is hopeful the situation may improve in the second half of the coming fiscal year that begins in April, a top official said.The company, which operates two-thirds of its global capacity in Europe, on Thursday posted its first quarterly loss in more than two years, as prices there fell sharply on the back of weak demand.

"The feeling is, in Europe, FY12/13 will be a mirror image of FY11/12 ... the first two quarters may be weaker than the last two," Chief Financial Officer Koushik Chatterjee said in a conference call with analysts on Friday. Tata Steel's consolidated margins slumped to 5.9 percent in the December quarter from 11.6 percent a year earlier. Prices fell about $43 a tonne on average in the quarter as the European debt crisis impacted decisions of buyers.

Earlier this month, ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, posted an unexpected quarterly net loss , while Korea's POSCO, the world No 3, reported a smaller-than-expected profit rise. "Recovery in Europe will be very volatile. For next year, we will be keeping our target at the current year's production level," Chatterjee said. Tata Steel, which mothballed a hot strip mill in south Wales in December, is operating only two of four blast furnaces at Scunthorpe in England.

Last month the company said it would cut 200 jobs at four European plants as part of a restructuring of its European steel tubes business.


The steelmaker, however, expects additional sales of one million tonnes in 2012/13 in India, as new capacity is added at its facility in Jamshedpur in the eastern state of Jharkhand. Tata Steel will complete a planned expansion of its Indian capacity to 9.7 million tonnes by March from 6.7 million tonnes now, Chatterjee said.

Sales at its Indian operations, which account for a quarter of its global capacity of 28 million tonnes, rose 16 percent during the December quarter, and the company expects demand to improve in coming quarters as interest rates ease and investment picks up. Shares in the company, valued at about $9 billion, initially fell 4 percent on the unexpected quarterly loss. They later rebounded on hopes the company's margins have bottomed out and are likely to recover in coming quarters.

At 12:41 p.m. (0711 GMT), the shares were up 4.2 percent in a Mumbai market down 0.5 percent. The stock lost 50 percent of its value in 2011, but has recovered nearly 40 percent so far in 2012 with foreign funds among the big buyers.


Thiess wins AUD 325 million coal contract

Friday, 10 Feb 2012

Leighton Holdings subsidiary Thiess has won a AUD 325 million contract to build a coal seam gas processing plant in southern Queensland.

The contract involves the construction of six field compression stations and one central processing plant in the Surat Basin, which is near Dalby, to service QGC's Queensland Curtis LNG Project.

Coal seam gas mining company QGC is a subsidiary of global gas giant the BG Group.

The facilities will process gas that will be transported through an underground pipeline network to Gladstone where the gas will be liquefied.

Mr Bruce Munro MD at Thiess said that “Thiess has a culture of valuing and building long-term partnerships and we are proud to work with QGC on this project of state significance.”

The company said that work will begin in February 2012 and is expected to be completed in April next year.

Thiess said that at its peak the project will employ about 570 workers.

(Sourced from Ninemsn)

BHP's Australia coal mines face week-long strike

Friday, 10 February 2012

Several of BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Australian coking coal mines will be hit by a seven-day strike from next Wednesday as a dispute over a new workplace agreement drags on, a labor union said Thursday.Workers will down tools at the Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Peak Downs, Saraji, Norwich Park, Gregory Crinum and Blackwater mines that BHP co-owns with Mitsubishi Corp. , the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said in an emailed statement.
Roughly 3,500 members of the CFMEU and two other unions jointly bargaining with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance staged rolling strikes over several months late last year. They suspended the action in December to continue negotiations.

Stephen Smyth, district president at the CFMEU, said the new round of work stoppages was necessary because BHP had failed to address workers' concerns despite 15 months of talks.
"The workers here feel they have been left with no choice but to ramp up industrial action," Smyth said. "BHP is making enormous profits out of its coking coal operations in central Queensland, but it doesn't want to listen to its workforce."

Marius Kloppers, chief executive of Melbourne-based BHP, Wednesday told analysts during a conference call--following the release of the company's half-year results--that the dispute wasn't about money, but centered on union demands that would impede the company's ability to manage the operations.

"It is extraordinarily important to have that right to manage if you are committing billions, perhaps tens of billions of dollars in expansion," Kloppers said. "So we would have liked this to end six months ago, but we must unfortunately insist that management's right to manage is sacrosanct."
Source: Market Watch

Mines nationalisation not S.Africa's policy: Zuma

Fri Feb 10, 2012

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma said on Friday nationalising mines was not the policy of his African National Congress (ANC)government, as he sought to lay to rest speculation over government intentions for the mining industry.

"We have answered this question many times, we are very clear ... nationalisation is not ANC or government policy," he said in answer to a question during a televised breakfast briefing. "Our policy is mixed economy," he added.

Senior members of the Zuma administration have been trying to quash the idea - raised by the radical youth league of the ruling ANC - of mine nationalisation in the world's largest platinum producer.

Two cabinet members told a global mining conference in Cape Town this week that nationalisation was not a viable option.

A mining sector study submitted to the ANC leadership this month rejected nationalisation as an "unmitigated disaster". It proposed a 50 percent tax on mining profits as a way to help the poor better benefit from South Africa's mineral riches. (sourced

Iron ore stocks at Chinese ports approaching alarm line

Friday, 10 Feb 2012

Mr Zhang Chunliang scheduler from Dalian Port Ore Terminal Company Limitev said that iron ore piled at docks in Dalian Port can be seen everywhere, most of which are shipped from Brazil and Australia. Although current capacities are approaching the alarm level, more ships are on the way.

Mr Zhang said that mills and traders usually take cargos away soon after unloading. Impacted by gloomy downstream demand since last year, there is an obvious slowdown in taking deliveries. They had loading and unloading of around 2.5 million tonnes in January 2011 but the figure has now fallen to 1.6 million tonnes in this January.

He said that this is not the only case many other ports in China are also facing full yards. Period of storage of some cargos even exceed half a year, versus the normal three months.

Up to February 3rd 2012, iron ore inventory at 36 Chinese ports totaled around 99.15 million tonnes. Most traders say demand for spot port will improve this week but are only cautiously optimistic over the question if prices will step up adding mills are seeing deficit, downstream steel consuming industries are slowing down and large rises will be confined by sizable port inventories.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tepco to raise gas turbines capacity at Kashima power plant

Thu Feb 9, 2012

TOKYO Feb 9 (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on Thursday it was making three emergency units at its Kashima power plant permanent, and upgrading their capacity to make up for power shortages caused by the shutdown of nuclear reactors over safety fears.

The Kashima plant, east of Tokyo, currently has a total capacity of 4,400 MW.

The units being upgraded were originally emergency gas-fired turbines that the Kashima plant relied on to generate more power after a March 2011 tsunami and earthquake damaged some Japanese nuclear reactors and led to the closure of several others.

The three units, which are due to start operating on a full-time basis in July, are capable of generating a combined 804 MW of power, but the upgrade, which will end by July 2014, will increase their capacity to 1,248 MW, Tepco said.

Tepco has also said it would upgrade three other emergency turbines at its Chiba power plant.

All but three of the Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are off-line, mostly for safety checks and the government is keen to boost power output to avoid a serious crunch in the summer, when demand for electricity peaks.

(sourced Reuters)

Ukrainian PM sees economic advantage of coal usage if price tops UAH 1600 per thousand cubic meters

Thu, 09 Feb 2012

Ukrainian News Agency reported that Mr Mykola Azarov Prime Minister of Ukraine thinks usage of coal will be economically advantageous if the gas price exceeds UAH 1,500 of UAH 1,600 per thousand cubic meters.

He said that "If the gas price exceeds fifteen of sixteen hundred hryvnias, coal usage becomes more economical for us."

In his words, the current price for imported gas is much higher, that is why it is necessary to employ the available domestic resource to the maximum possible extent.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, Ukraine since mid 2011 has been in negotiations with Russia on lower price for gas; it has plans to cut gas imports to 27 billion cubic meters in 2012.

With the 2009 contracts Ukraine is bound to buy at least 33.3 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia a year.

As to Mr Azarov, currently the price makes round USD 416 per thousand cubic meters.

National Security and Defense Council Secretary Mr Raisa Bohatyriova assumes that price for the gas imported from Russia may be USD 700 per thousand cubic meters if the cost of oil at the world markets hits USD 150 per barrel.


Optimum Coal H1 profit down 45 pct, sees better H2

Thu Feb 9, 2012
* H1 headline EPS 76.04 cts vs 139.22 cts
* H1 saleable coal output down 16 pct
* Cuts FY export production outlook

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Optimum Coal, the takeover target of top commodity trader Glencore, on Thursday forecast a better second half after strikes at one of its mines hit output and led to a 45 percent drop in first-half profit.

Optimum said headline earnings per share for the six months to the end of December were 76.04 cents, compared to 139.22 cents previously. Headline EPS are the main profit gauge in South Africa and strip out certain one-time items.

Optimum said first-half production of saleable coal fell 16 percent to 5.9 million tonnes.

Production of coal destined for exports fell 20 percent to 2.9 million tonnes, while output of coal destined for power utility Eskom slumped 11 percent to 3 million tonnes.

The company, South Africa's sixth largest coal producer, cut its full-year guidance for export saleable production from Optimum Collieries to between 4.6-4.8 million tonnes on the back of the labour disputes.

The company had initially forecast for Optimum Collieries to deliver between 5.3-5.5 million tonnes of coal destined for exports. The revision should impact Optimum's previous full-year guidance of total coal output of around 13.7 million tonnes.

The company said that while export coal prices had recently softened to about $105 per tonne due to what could be a prolonged European recession, inventory re-stocking would support prices in the near term.

It also expected the domestic coal market to remain strong with robust demand from Eskom ensuring strong uptake.

Coal producers targetting export markets have been squeezed by lack of adequate rail capacity and delivery challenges faced by the country's state-owned logistics group Transnet.

Optimum said things were improving with Transnet's freight rail unit moving coal to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal at an annualised rate of 70 million tonnes over the last five months of 2011.

Transnet also plans to free up additional capacity on the coal export line by diverting all the general freight via a new line through Swaziland.

"This is extremely encouraging from a coal export and project development perspective," Optimum Chief Executive Mike Teke said in a statement.

Optimum shares are up 0.69 percent so far this year, compared with a 6.22 percent rise in the JSE All-Share index .


Union says BHP Australian coal workers to strike

Thu Feb 9, 2012

SYDNEY Feb 9 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton's Bowen Basin coal workers will strike for seven days next week in the latest chapter of a months-long battle with the world's biggest miner, the miners' union said on Thursday.

"Workers at the Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Peak Downs, Saraji, Norwich Park, Gregory Crinum, and Blackwater mines will be involved in the strike from midday next Wednesday," the union said.

The action could support spot metallurgical coal prices, which have tumbled to around $215 per tonne this week, down from the 2011 high of $350 per tonne when prices were driven up by flooding that nearly halted coal production in Queensland state.

About 3,500 unionised workers at the BHP Billiton-Mistubishi Alliance (BMA) mines have been staging rolling work stoppages since they first approved strike action in June 2011. The total workforce at the mines is around 10,000.

Union members have been striking for greater job security and more pay as rising commodity prices boost mining sector profits, but they have so far been unable to reach an agreement with BMA.

BHP Billiton reported a rare fall in earnings on Wednesday, in part due to labour battles and weaker commodity prices, but still brought in $9.94 billion in half-year profits.

"We are extremely disappointed as we have consistently demonstrated our commitment to negotiating constructively with the unions...strike action will not change our position, as has been the case for the past eight months," BHP said in a statement on Thursday.

BHP's chief executive told reporters on Wednesday that the company desired nothing more than to "reach an agreement with the minimum amount of fuss".

BMA-operated mines have a combined output capacity of more than 58 million tonnes per year of mostly metallurgical coal, representing about a fifth of annual global trade.

Analysts have estimated that a full week of 12-hour stoppages at the mines would cut production by up to 1 million tonnes.

The BMA strike action follows a week-long strike at the BHP Billiton-operated Port Kembla coal terminal which exports around 10 million tonnes of coal and coke per year and processed about 5 percent of seaborne metallurgical coal, used for steelmaking, last year.

(sourced Reuters)

Russian Railways to build USD 1.7 billion coal line in Indonesia

Thursday, 09 Feb 2012

It is reported that Russia's state railway company Russian Railways intends to build a train link to transport coal in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province on Borneo.

Mr Andrey Shigaev project director of Russian Railways said that the project will be financed by private investors and Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank.

Mr Awang Faroek governor of East Kalimantan said that "The first stage of the railway will be meant for coal, but hopefully we can also use it for crude palm oil plantation harvests, rubber and people."

It is expected that the first phase, covering 185 kilometers of track, will cost around USD 1.7 billion and is scheduled to enter service in the first quarter of 2017, bringing 20 million tonnes of capacity online in the first year.

A further 60 kilometers will be added as a second stage, representing an investment of USD 0.7 billion.


Iron ore prices in India likely to increase on supply shortage - Report

Thursday, 09 Feb 2012

Business Standard reported that iron ore prices are likely to harden in the Indian domestic market in the next few months owing to shortage of the commodity in Karnataka.

As per report, the supply from Karnataka, about 25% of the national output, is likely to decline if the Supreme Court accepts the recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee for putting a cap on production at 30 million tonnes per annum.

The report added that “Presently, iron ore lump prices are between INR 6,000 and INR 8,000 a tonne in the domestic market. These are likely to go up by 3% to 4% during the current quarter.”

Prices are INR 2,700 per tonne to INR 3,700 per tonne, at the e auctions in Karnataka. This excludes royalty, forest development tax and transportation charges.

(Sourced from BS)

Liberty Coal announces coal mine acquisition in Kentucky

Thursday, 09 Feb 2012

Liberty Coal Energy announced that on February 1st 2012, the Company entered into a letter of intent for the acquisition of private mineral leasehold rights to a certain coal mining property in Owsley County, Kentucky with AMS Development LLC and Colt Resources, Inc.

In consideration for the Letter of intent, Liberty will pay USD 20,000 within 5 days of the date of the Agreement, which will give Liberty 45 days to complete its due diligence, which is well underway. If the Company elects to proceed to development at the end of the due diligence period, it will pay an additional USD 60,000 to purchase the rights to the existing mining permit.

The Owsley property comprises approx 1000 acres of fee surface and coal rights, and has a mine plan in place and a phase 1 permit technically approved by the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources. The permit may be activated by posting the required reclamation bonds and liability insurance.

The surface mineable recoverable coal resource on the project is in excess of 2.6 million short tons. The coal mineable by augur methods is in excess of 950,000 short tons. An additional 2.2 million short tons are recoverable by deep mining, however underground coal is not part of the existing permit.

As part of the Agreement, the Company has agreed to enter into lease and royalty agreements with AMS Development LLC and Colt Resources, Inc., pursuant to which AMS and Colt would receive a royalty of USD 5.00 per tonne. Performance and minimum royalty provisions will apply.

Mr Ed Morrow president of Liberty said that "We are pleased to have access to this advanced project. We believe the project can be in production in approximately 90 days after ground breaking. We project initiation of development in Spring 2012."

Maamba Collieries commences coal sales

Thursday, 09 Feb 2012

MAAMBA Collieries Limited has commenced coal sales with projected sales of 270,000 tonnes of high-grade coal this year amounting to about USD 23 million. The firm, which is under new management following the acquisition of 65 percent shares by Nava Bharat of Singapore in 2010, will from April this year sell 30,000 tonnes of coal per month on the local market.

Maamba Collieries head of corporate affairs Janardhan Lavu said the firm is also finalising enquiries from firms including Universal Mining and Chemical Industries Limited, Zambezi Portland Cement and Dangote Cement.

Mr Lavu said this in an interview on Thursday in Lusaka. He said that “Maamba Collieries has been receiving a lot of enquires and the time has come to commence the movement of coal on executed orders.”

He said the firm is also eyeing regional markets with initial exports of 10,000 tonnes per month.

He added that “We are also targeting Congo DR, Namibia and Malawi and we expect to export 10,000 tonnes of high-grade coal per month this year. We exported 4,000 tonnes of coal to Congo DR last year and will export more depending on the demand.”

Mr Lavu said plans are underway to sell over one million tonnes of washed coal in 2014. He said that “We have projected to sell 70,000 tonnes monthly next year and between 100,000 and 120,000 tonnes in 2014.”

Mr Lavu said Maamba Collieries has the capacity to sell about 120,000 tonnes of washed coal per month but this capacity is dependent on the demand.

He, however, said the demand for coal is currently high, adding that Universal Mining and Chemical Industries Limited alone are expected to procure about 20,000 to 30,000 tonnes per month.


Champion Minerals conveys 51pct interest in Attikamagen Iron Property

Thursday, 09 Feb 2012

Champion Minerals Inc reports that, pursuant to the Attikamagen Option and Joint Venture Agreement entered into with Labec Century Iron Ore Inc a subsidiary of Century Iron Mines Corporation, Champion has signed and delivered to Labec Century transfers conveying a 51% interest in the Attikamagen Iron Property to Labec Century. After review, Champion has confirmed that Labec Century has fulfilled its obligation to fund USD 7,500,000 in exploration and development work expenditures on the Attikamagen Iron Property required to earn the Initial Interest.

Labec Century has the option to increase its interest to 56% by funding a further USD 2,500,000 in exploration and development work on the Attikamagen Iron Property on or before May 12, 2013 and to further increase its interest to 60% by funding an additional USD 3,000,000 in exploration and development work on the Attikamagen Iron Property on or before May 12th 2014. Subject to Labec Century completing its applicable options, Labec Century and Champion will form a joint venture reflective of their proportionate ownership interests in the Attikamagen Iron Property.

Mr Thomas G Larsen president and CEO of Champion said that "Champion is very pleased that Century Iron Mines Corporation, through its subsidiary, Labec Century, is progressing exploration of the Attikamagen Iron Property and that it has attracted WISCO International Resources Development & Investment Limited as a very strong minority partner in the Attikamagen Iron Property. To Champion, WISCO's recent agreement to fund Labec Century with USD 40,000,000 for a 40% interest in Labec Century speaks loudly about the potential in the Attikamagen Iron Property."

Exxaro yet to reach 50 pct of African Iron

Thursday, 09 Feb 2012

South African miner Exxaro Resources is 27% shy of reaching the minimum acceptance level in its USD338 million take-over bid for Perth-based iron ore explorer African Iron, with one week left to go.

Exxaro currently has a stake in Republic of Congo-focused African Iron of 22.93%.

The suitor, which is South Africa's second largest coal producer, last week declared its offer final and free from defeating conditions including regulatory action but exluding the 50 per cent minimum acceptance level.

It also said there would be no extension to the offer closing date of February 14.

Exxaro has offered 51 cents per share, which will increase to 57 cents per share if the suitor acquires a 75% or more stake in the target.

Exxaro will also pay 31 cents per listed option, rising to 37 cents per listed option if the 75% threshold is reached.

African Iron's directors last month accepted the offer in respect of the shares and listed options in the company that they personally owned.

Its major shareholder, resources investment firm Cape Lambert Resources, has sold most of its interest in African Iron and pledged to divest the remainder into the offer.

(Sourced from

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Government wakes up to J&K coal miners demands

Wednesday, 08 Feb 2012

Minister for Industries and Commerce, Mr SS Slathia said the government will sympathetically consider the demands of coal mine workers in view of the tough nature of their job.

He asked the management of Jammu & Kashmir Minerals Ltd to come up with a workable and financially viable action plan to meet the genuine demands of the workers and employees.

Chairing a meeting of Board of Directors, JKML, Mr Slathia, according to an official statement, constituted a high level committee comprising Commissioner/Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Special Secretary, Finance, Managing Director, JKML and representative from the Law Department.

The committee will examine all the demands of the coal mine workers and employees adding that recommendations and suggestions of the committee shall be deliberated in a Special Board Meeting of the corporation shortly.

Mr Slathia said that “We shall have to take a humanitarian view of the demands and problems of Coal Mine Workers in view of their tough job as compared to other PSUs.”

The Minister asked the management to formulate target oriented and production linked business plan to ensure a sound economic base for sustained growth of the organization.

He also called for introducing Voluntary Retirement Scheme in a big way to minimize wage bill of the corporation.

He directed for increasing coal and gypsum production which has a vast market, adding that production should be the bench mark of the Corporation’s business plan.

He said there is a potential of 3500 tonne of coal and 100,000 tonne gypsum production which needs to be exploited in the next year adding that the Corporation should reactivate its men and machinery to achieve this target.

(Sourced from

Indian Supreme Court panel moots market rates for Karnataka iron ore

Wednesday, 08 Feb 2012

Iron ore miners and consumers in Karnataka, including NMDC, the country's largest iron ore producer and JSW, India's largest private sector steelmaker, will have to grapple with higher costs and lower production if the Supreme Court accepts the recommendations of a panel set up to probe illegal mining in the state.

NMDC and JSW may have to pay a higher price for iron ore while other smaller and regional players, such as Mysore Minerals and MSPL, may lose some mines.

In a series of sweeping and unprecedented recommendations, the Central Empowered Committee has recommended the cancellation of 49 licences and proposed capping the state's annual production at 30 million tonnes. It has said even captive iron ore will be sold at market rates and called for all ore, from old mines as well as new, to be auctioned. But the silver lining for steelmakers will be the opportunity to grab leases when they are auctioned after cancellation.

JSW will henceforth have to buy ore at market rates even from the Thimmappangudi mine, in which it has 70% share. State run Mysore Minerals, which has supply arrangements with Mukand and Kalyani Steel, will lose a mine and will have to excavate the remaining five iron ore blocks on its own.

NMDC in addition to being penalised will lose 10% of its revenue towards a mining infrastructure development fund. MSPL, despite its long public crusade against illegal mining during the Reddy brothers' raj, will also lose one of its five mines.

Sesa Goa's plans to enhance capacity to 10 million tonnes per annum in Chitradurga will be curtailed as the limit for the Chitradurga/Tumkur district has been fixed at 5 million tonnes per annum.

The Supreme Court, which has accepted all of the CEC's recommendations so far, is likely to hear the matter again on Friday.

(Sourced from ET)

Australian iron ore exports

Wednesday, 08 Feb 2012

Australia trade data shows that December saw a strong rebound in Australian iron ore exports, up 18% to an all time high of 46.2 million tonne (wet basis). This, in turn, ensured an annual total of almost 460 million tonne in 2011, up 9% on the corresponding 2010 level.

China accounted for 70% of the total exports, followed by Japan at 17% and South Korea at 10%. Most of the annual rise was due to increased shipments to China, with an increase of 34 million tonne year on year to a new record of 321 million tonne.


MMEX Mining announces agreement for final closing for Colombia Metallurgical Coal Project

Wednesday, 08 Feb 2012

MMEX Mining Corporation announced that it executed on February 2, the final document prior to funding its exclusive option agreement for its Colombia metallurgical coal mining business plan.

Mr Jack Hanks, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MMEX, announced that MMEX and its Colombia partners have entered into the final amended agreement to acquire its 50% interest in its first metallurgical mine project in Colombia.

In addition, Hanks confirmed, that amended permits for the concession to allow production up to 1.6 Million tons of coal have been issued by regulatory authorities.

Mr Hanks said that "We are anticipating closing on our exclusive option agreement by February 29th 2012. We have signed the amended agreement to close and are in the final steps of the financing. We are very pleased that the concessions have now been awarded all of the permits necessary to produce up to 1.6 million tonnes of high quality metallurgical coal in Colombia."

Iron Ore-Upturn stalls on slow China steel market

Wed Feb 8, 2012

* Mills hesitating to buy more iron ore after recent rise
* BHP: China raw material demand growth may ease longer term
* Rio allots $3.4 bln to boost Australian ore mining

SINGAPORE, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Iron ore steadied on Wednesday after a recent spike in spot prices spurred caution among buyers who are worried a slow steel market in top consumer China cannot justify sustained gains in prices of the raw material. Offers for imported iron ore in China were unchanged from Tuesday, with Australian Pilbara fines quoted at $143-$145 per tonne, Newman fines at $146-$149 and Yandi fines at $131-$133, Chinese consultancy Umetal said.

"Steel mills are hesitant to buy more iron ore, given lacklustre steel demand and prices," said a purchasing manager for an iron ore trading firm in Shanghai. Some Chinese steel producers, especially the smaller mills, could be incurring losses with iron ore prices at current levels, which were similar to spot rates in mid-October when prices of some steel products, like billet, were around 200 yuan
($32) more than they are now, he said. Iron ore with 62 percent iron content .IO62-CNI=SI was
nearly flat at $144.70 a tonne on Tuesday, according to the Steel Index, after hitting a 2-1/2-month high of $144.80 on Monday.

The Chinese have made a slow return to the market after the week-long Lunar New Year break in late January, with a winter-halted construction sector, a heavy steel user, also feeding the sluggishness.
China's daily crude steel output fell 1.3 percent in the middle of January to 1.669 million tonnes, compared to the previous 10 days. Shanghai rebar futures have risen a modest 3 percent so far
this year, with the most-active May contract gaining 1.5 percent to close at 4,337 yuan a tonne, tracking firmer Chinese equities.

"Fundamentals are pointing towards a weak steel market in China, but there's a bit of tightness on supply of prompt cargoes from Australia and Brazil due to weather issues, so that's supporting iron ore," said a physical iron ore trader in Singapore. A seasonal cyclone period in Australia and heavy rains in
Brazil have disrupted some shipments from the world's two biggest iron ore exporters, although traders don't foresee a sustained boost to prices from those.

Iron ore shipments to China through Australia's Port Hedland, one of the world's biggest export terminals, fell 15 percent in January from December, according to data released by the port authority on Wednesday. Australian miner BHP Billiton warned on Wednesday the rate of China's demand growth for steelmaking ingredients could slow as "underlying economic growth rates revert to a more sustainable level."

BHP made the comment after reporting its first half-year profit fall in two years as iron ore, copper and coal prices dropped and costs rose. Still, BHP, the world's No. 3 iron ore miner, said demand
fundamentals for the raw material remained strong in the short to mid-term, a view evidently shared by second-ranked Rio Tinto, which set aside $3.4 billion to expand iron ore mining in Australia.

Shanghai rebar futures and iron ore indexes at 0403 GMT

Contract Last Change Pct Change
SHANGHAI REBAR* 4294 20.00 0.47
PLATTS 62 PCT INDEX 146.5 0.00 0.00
THE STEEL INDEX 62 PCT INDEX 144.7 -0.10 -0.07
METAL BULLETIN INDEX 144.48 0.26 0.18

*In yuan/tonne
#Index in dollars/tonne, show close for the previous trading day
($1=6.3049 Chinese yuan)

Brazil government would help Vale vessels to operate in China

Wednesday, 08 Feb 2012

Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said that Brazil government is ready to help Vale SA in the negotiations with the Chinese government for its large vessels, which are able to carry about 400,000 metric tonnes of iron ore, to operate in the Asian country.

Mr Lobao told reporters in Brasilia that Vale hasn’t asked for the government’s help in the issue.

(Sourced from Bloomberg)

Vale iron ore ships face elevated cancellation risk - HSBC

Wednesday, 08 Feb 2012

HSBC Shipping Services Ltd said that there’s an elevated risk that Vale SA, the Brazilian mining company amassing a fleet of 35 of the world’s largest iron ore carriers, may cancel some of the contracts.

The vessels, each able to hold as much as 400,000 metric tonnes of ore, are excluded from China by port entry requirements for very large vessels that were tightened last week. The rules apply to dry bulk vessels larger than 350,000 deadweight tonnes, the China Shipowners Association said. Vale, the world’s largest ore producer, says it’s operating six vessels above that size, of which it owns four and charters two.

Vale remained committed to the construction of the remaining 29 ships, the Rio de Janeiro based company said last week, as part of plans to spend USD 8.1 billion on new ships and take greater control over freight costs from Brazil to China, its fastest growing market in Asia.

HSBC said in the report that “The shipbuilding program might look like an expensive mistake, but it is potentially even worse than that if they are banned from entering China. Six have already entered service and some of the remainder must now be at elevated risk of cancellation.”

None of the existing Vale owned ore carriers have been permitted to call at Chinese ports. The Berge Everest, owned by BW Group Ltd. and under a long-term contract to Vale, called at Dalian in December. Chinese shipowners opposed the vessels’ introduction on concern it would worsen a capacity glut and plunging rates. China is the biggest global user of iron ore, a steelmaking ingredient.

(Sourced from Bloomberg)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

S.Africa adopts strategy to add value to minerals

Tue Feb 7, 2012

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa will encourage companies to process raw minerals before they are exported, the mines minister said on Tuesday, to increase value-added jobs in the resource industry.

Africa's largest economy is keen to diversify its mining sector through the processing of raw minerals before export, known as beneficiation.

"A beneficiation strategy has been adopted by government. Five minerals which will be a priority are manganese, iron ore, coal, platinum and titanium," Susan Shabangu told a news briefing on the sidelines of an annual mining conference.

She said the strategy would not lead to a "complete ban on exports", but did not give futher details.

South Africa accounts for about 80 percent of global platinum supply, so any move to add value to the precious metal will be keenly watched by markets.

Saddled with an official jobless rate of 25 percent, South Africa is desperate to create jobs.

(sourced Reuters)

S.Africa mines minister targets CEOs on fatalities

Tue Feb 7, 2012

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa's mines minister said on Tuesday that industry chief executives should be held liable for avoidable fatalities, also raising the possibility of court action.

Targeting chief executives would take her safety drive to new levels as the government tries to stem the death toll in the country's mines, the world's deepest and among the most dangerous.

"Fatalities which could have been avoided, we feel that CEOs must be held liable for those accidents, because they are responsible for the operations. As they show interest in how they grow the profits they must also show interest in safety," Susan Shabangu told Reuters in an interview.

Asked if this meant possible court action, she said: "These are some of the issues that we must look at. For me the courts are the last option. But legislation provides for us to go to courts."

Earlier she told the annual African mining conference in Cape Town that the platinum industry's contribution to fatalities in the mining sector remained a "serious concern" and defended safety stoppages which she said had contributed to a drop in accident rates.

South Africa's platinum sector has been battered by oversupply, squeezed margins and an uncertain economic outlook, making producers increasingly vocal about regulatory pressures, particularly the impact of inspections and stoppages as part of the government's zero-harm target.

"The department has been greatly concerned about lack of improvement in compliance and fatalities in the major platinum mines," Shabangu said.

"The platinum sector alone contributes about 30 percent of all fatalities which remains a serious concern."

The gold sector has also been subject to increased scrutiny and Graham Briggs, chief executive of Harmony Gold, South Africa's third largest gold producer, described the government's campaign on Monday as punitive.

Harmony cut its full-year output target by 13 percent because of the stoppages.

Shabangu said that there was a slight drop in mining fatalities to 123 in 2011 from 127 in 2010 and that 13 miners have been killed so far this year in South Africa.

She also said in her speech that the governing African National Congress (ANC) had reinforced in a key policy document that nationalisation, long feared by the country's mining industry, was not a viable option.

"I must indicate that we welcome the fact that the report of the ANC task team on nationalisation has reinforced the ANC's earlier decision that nationalisation is not a viable policy for South Africa," she said.

(sourced Reuters)

Mozambique's Maputo hot spot for South African coal

Tuesday, 07 Feb 2012

Mozambique capital Maputo is hotting up as a magnet for companies aspiring to be significant South African coal exporters, following a Vitol joint venture deal.

Industry sources said that the port has been used on a small scale for coal exports which shippers were unable to move from the main export hub, Richards Bay Coal Terminal but is now the centre of major expansion plans for South African coal.

A recent visitor to the port said that two exporters have in the last few months started using the main Maputo harbour, which has no loading equipment, for the first time and gleaming new fencing has been set up around stockpiles there.

A handful of mining majors own RBCT, by far the cheapest, most efficient port, but new entrants have mostly failed to gain a foothold there.

An executive involved in South African projects said that "If you want to be producing South African coal for export, don't ever think you are going to get into Richards Bay Maputo is really the only option.”

Would be entrants already see Glencore well established. At Maputo it accounts for a third of the 3 million tonnes a year of exports and is also using the main harbour which has no loading equipment.

This deadlock has been frustrating for rival, large trading firms wanting to catch up with Glencore's roughly 20 year head start in building an integrated global coal business including investments in mines and ports and myriad offtake agreements.

(Sourced from Thomson Reuters)

Iron ore price to rise in Northeast China Liaoning

Tuesday, 07 Feb 2012

In Western Liaoning, mainstream quotation for 66% fines rose to CNY 810 to CNY 830. Transaction remained thin as traders and part beneficiation plants were unwilling to sell at current price level. Cargos delivered to Lingyuan Steel remained few even after the mill raised its purchase price for 66% fines by CNY 80 to CNY 1,140 but we do not see a strong demand behind as Lingyuan’s Chinese ore inventory are relatively high at around 30 day level.

In Eastern Liaoning, mainstream quotation for 65% fines was assessed in the range CNY 790 to CNY 810 in Benxi and Fushun. Local mills said no purchase price adjustments in near term because of unclear market trend and relatively high inventories. As most beneficiation plants have yet to resume to work, supplies to mills has a sharp decline. Our contact told us Tonghua Steel now only had 2,000 tonnes per day versus the normal 8,000 tonnes per day.


Coking coal prices could correct to USD 200 in 2012 - Mr McCloskey

Tuesday, 07 Feb 2012

Dow Jones reported that coking coal prices could correct downward to $200 a metric a ton in 2012, but the caveat is the Australian weather that could determine the supply dynamics in the year ahead.

Mr Gerard McCloskey a consultant and former owner of UK based McCloskey Group told an audience at the Mining Indaba “There will be a correction of prices down to USD 200 per tonne.”

Mr McCloskey added “But it's a great price.”

He noted that the price for coking coal has remained above USD 200 a tonne for six consecutive quarters already.

He noted that the key caveat would be the amount of rain that falls in the Queensland basin in Australia this year. Heavy rainfall could shut down exports from the world's largest seaborne coking coal region as it has done so in the past, most notably last year.

McCloskey said that if Australia were to produce at levels last seen in the first half of 2010 when it was uninterrupted by rain, that's an extra 30 million tonnes coming into a 140 million tonne market.

He told "That's a lot to take, which could result in weaker prices.”

He added that there are already signs of oversupply in the market, with shipments of US coking coal anchored off the coast of China, waiting to be sold.

McCloskey said prices would weaken, but told the audience not to panic because they will still be well above costs.

(Sourced from DJ News)

Steam coal prices mixed despite gas and oil rise

Tuesday, 07 Feb 2012

Reuters reported that steam coal prices made modest gains of around 75 cents per tonne on Monday as the arrival of more cargoes balanced against a freeze across much of Europe, which drove up gas and oil prices.

A February delivery DES ARA parcel of multi origin, including American coal, was bid at USD 96.75 and offered at USD 98.00, up 75 cents.

A March DES ARA for coal was bid at USD 96.50 and offered at USD 100.50, down 50 cents.

A March South African cargo was bid at USD 105.00, down 50 cents.

Several European utilities and utility/traders signed term contracts two years ago to import American coal, which have kept stockpiles swollen through a winter that has been unusually mild until the latest cold snap.

As more US and Colombian cargoes arrive in Europe while spot buying remains weak, some downward pressure is expected on prices. How far this will be offset by a resumption of large scale Chinese imports, remains to be seen.

Floods in Australia and heavy rains during the past month in Indonesia are already delaying shipments, but so far end users have not been compelled to seek replacement tonnes.

(Sourced from Reuters)

KOSEP calls for thermal coal tenders

Tuesday, 07 Feb 2012

KOSEP has issued two tenders for a total of 380kt of thermal coal. Tender KOSEP-Coal-2012-SP02-1 is for 120,000 tonnes of minimum 5,500 kcal/kg coal either at FOBT or CFR prices.

Tender KOSEP-Coal-2012-SP02-2 is for 260kt of minimum 4,600 kcal/kg coal. Delivery for both tenders is between March 25 and June 30.

According to The Tex Report, bids close February 14. Meanwhile, Taipower has received 4.875 million tonnes of offers for its 1.125 million tonne sub bituminous tender which closed February 2.

Tex reports Taipower received offers from eight bidders including Glencore, Advance Trading, Flame SA, Vitol Asia and Right Link Industry.

(Sourced from

Zyl finds buyer interest in Mbila coking coal output

Tuesday, 07 Feb 2012

Australian mining company Zyl, which last year attracted takeover interest said six companies have approached it about securing more than 600,000 tonnes a year of coking coal from its planned Mbila mine in South Africa.

Zyl said that the expressions of interest, including one from an unnamed international mining company, cover the full production expected by the company in the first phase of the mine’s development.

The Perth-based company said it was seeking to formalise the interest and would update the market in due course.

Zyl has previously said it expects to begin production at the mine, located in KwaZulu-Natal province, in the second quarter of 2013, and to reach full production of 840,000 tonnes a year by the second quarter of 2014. It has estimated Mbila has resources of almost 125 million tonnes, not including land where the company holds a prospecting right.

Zyl in December 2011 appointed Macquarie Capital as an adviser after it was approached by two unnamed parties interested in either a partnership or takeover.


M&A Mania Smelts The Iron Ore Industry

Tue,February7, 2012

Last Thursday, Swiss miner Xstrata and commodities trader Glencore announced a potential blockbuster merger that would shake up a few of mining’s biggest industries.

According to Reuters, the deal is set to total $80 billion. And the newly combined firms “would rank as the world’s largest thermal coal exporter, the largest zinc producer and third-largest copper miner…”

Many analysts are already predicting a jump in the price of coal, copper and zinc in the coming weeks.

But the all-share merger would also disrupt another big mining industry… iron ore. And investors will want to pay close attention.
Iron Ore Equals Big Profits

Over the past 10 years, iron ore has had a run even gold can’t touch.

From August 2001 to August 2011, prices jumped 1,266%. Gold jumped 566% comparably.

Today, about 70% of iron ore traded in the world is accounted for by three companies – BHP Billiton, Vale and Rio Tinto. And they’re raking in massive profits.

Reuters reports, “Iron ore sells for around $140 per tonne to China… and only costs about $20 to $30 per tonne to mine.” China’s steelmakers aren’t very happy about paying such high prices. But since October 2011, they’ve had a little bit of a reprieve.

The “big three” have flooded the market with iron ore supplies, driving the price lower, to around $120.

As explains, the iron ore’s big players are “concentrating on building market share rather than maximizing prices. This way the giants drive high-cost producers out of the business.”

If Glencore and Xstrata don’t want to get left out in the rain, they should make this merger happen.

And there are two main reasons it’s more likely to happen than not.
Glencore and Xstrata Make Sense

First, Glencore already owns 34% of Xstrata. So both companies already understand the risks and advantages this merger carries. And it should make it that much easier for them to agree on a final price.

Second, Xstrata has been trying to gain a stake in the iron ore industry for years. In 2009, the company attempted to purchase Anglo American (AAUKF.PK). The deal would have made Xstrata the fifth-most-profitable company in the iron ore market. But talks fizzled and the deal fell through.

Now the proposed merger between Glencore and Xstrata has reignited speculation of another takeover attempt coming for Anglo American, the world’s fourth-largest iron ore producer.

A few other companies also stand to be bought up if a deal is reached, as well.
Iron Ore M&A Heating Up

First Quantum Minerals (FQVLF.PK), Fortescue Metals Group (PINK: FSUMF.PK) and Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX) are also being seen as potential targets.

But Freeport may also be too expensive for Xstrata and Glencore and could end up as more of a competitor than potential takeover.

Only time will tell. But this is one development that should begin unfolding in just the next few weeks.

Disclosure: Investment U expressly forbids its writers from having a financial interest in any security they recommend to our subscribers. All employees and agents of Investment U (and affiliated companies) must wait 24 hours after an initial trade recommendation is published on online - or 72 hours after a direct mail publication is sent - before acting on that recommendation.


Iron Ore-Spot seen ticking higher, China steel eyed

Tuesday, 07 February 2012

Iron ore may extend modest gains this week as more Chinese steel producers return to the spot market to stock up, but a sluggish domestic steel market is likely to cap any gains in price.Chinese steel prices have been largely steady so far this year with activity in the domestic construction sector, a heavy steel user, yet to fully resume.

"Construction activity is still low because it's still winter in the northern part of China and we only expect steel demand to return later this month or in March," said a Shanghai-based iron ore trader.Mirae Asset Securities said it was keeping its "underweight" stance on China's steel sector this year, particularly the large state-owned steel mills."The structural driver of steel demand - urbanization - remains a valid long-term call, but it may halt in 2012 if the central government continues its crackdown on house prices," the brokerage said in a note.

China's slack steel demand meant a slow start for iron ore this year, which gained a modest 3.5 percent versus a more than 12 percent rise for copper, another key construction material.The most-traded May rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange has risen 3 percent so far this year, closing nearly flat at 4,330 yuan ($690) a tonne on Monday.Iron ore with 62 percent iron content rose 0.1 percent to $143.30 a tonne on Friday, according to the Steel Index, its highest level since Nov. 22.

"Iron ore prices could rise further this week with some more mills going back to the market and traders taking positions," said the Shanghai trader.Offer prices for Australian ore in China rose by at least a dollar on Monday, with 61.5-grade Pilbara iron ore fines quoted at $142-$144 a tonne, cost and freight, and 58-grade Yandi fines at $130-$132, said industry consultancy Umetal. Indian 63.5/63-grade fines were offered at $148-$151 a tonne, up $2 from Friday, said Umetal.

Traders are eyeing another tender by global miner BHP Billiton due to close later on Monday, particularly with prices moving higher at recent tenders.BHP last sold Yandi fines at $130.5 a tonne, C&F on Friday, up from $130 on Thursday, traders said.But a sizeable amount of iron ore at Chinese ports, which is readily available and which buyers can buy in smaller tonnages unlike fresh spot cargoes, may limit appetite for more imports, traders said.

Stockpiles of imported iron ore at major Chinese ports reached 101.49 million tonnes last week, with shipments from the three biggest exporters -- Australia, Brazil and India -- rising, Chinese consultancy Mysteel said on Friday. (sourced Reuters)

Ship Prices Decline as Much as 20% as Rates Plunge, HSBC Says

Tuesday, 07 February 2012

Ship prices fell as much as 20 percent in the last few weeks as the Baltic Dry Index, a measure of rates to transport dry-bulk commodities, plunged to a 25-year low, HSBC Holdings Plc said.Three dry-bulk vessels built since 2000 were reported as sold last week, setting benchmarks for lower prices, the bank’s London-based shipping-services division said in an e-mailed report.

“These levels, a drop of 10 percent to 20 percent since the end of last year, may not be good news to owners, but buyers will welcome the correction,” HSBC said. “Now there has been some action, we do expect others to follow suit, especially if more ships come on the market for sale.”

Prices may be set to decline further as potential buyers seek cash to purchase vessels amid constrained bank financing, according to the report. The index on Feb. 3 dropped to 647, the lowest level since August 1986, according to the Baltic Exchange, a London-based assessor of commodity-shipping costs. The gauge last climbed on Dec. 12. (sourced Bloomberg)

New wage pact sees 88% hike in CIL basic

Tue,Feb07, 2012

Kolkata: The new wage pact signed by the state-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) last week has seen an 88 per cent increase in minimum basic of its employees to Rs 15,712 per month, as against Rs 8,360 during the previous deal.

The National Coal Wage Agreement (NCWA) IX covers the two public sector coal firms — CIL and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL). The pact signed with trade Unions last week also saw a 25 per cent rise in wages, which put an additional burden of Rs 6,500 crore on the firm.

The hike, covering 3.63 lakh non-executive work force, would be effective retrospectively from 1 July 2011 is for a five-year period. “The minimum basic in NCWA IX now will be Rs. 15,712 per month, an increase of 88 per cent from Rs 8,360 of NCWA VIII. The other important highlights of the agreement are a special allowance of 4 per cent of revised basic; HRA of 2 per cent of the basic pay for those who have not been provided with residential accommodation in other than urban area; post retirement medicare scheme for retired non-executives and their spouses to be finalized within 3 months,” a CIL statement said.

The agreement was inked in Delhi between central trade unions — like the Congress-backed Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Left backed-CITU and AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh — and the Kolkata-based firm’s management. “ As per the NCWA VIII, which came into effect from July 1, 2006 workers got a raise of 24 per cent in the wages, which had an impact of around Rs 2,500 crore, so this was more than what they had expected,” , R Mohandas, director (personnel) of Coal India Ltd (CIL) had said.

While CIL offered a hike of 10 per cent when the talks started, the workers unions were demanding a 50 per cent hike. (sourced BS)

Forward e-auction coal may be reserved for power firms

Additional 6-7 mt to be available for the sector if proposal implemented

Tue, Feb 07, 2012

New Delhi:The government is considering reserving forward e-auction of coal, exclusively for the power sector. The proposal could be part of the detailed road map being finalised by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for the smooth sailing of power companies amid a severe coal crunch that is hurting investments worth thousands of crore.

The proposal is part of the discussions currently being held by the PMO with representatives of infrastructure sectors, including coal and power, for easing coal availability, according to sources. If implemented, it could make an additional six-seven million tonne (mt) coal available for the power sector. Forward contracts account for 15 per cent of the 45 mt Coal India (CIL) sells through e-auction every year.

The status report and a blueprint for action would be prepared within two weeks to solve the ongoing coal crisis. This could also include asking CIL to supply coal to power companies at a negotiated 85 per cent of the contracted quantity.

The move comes after month-long discussions of a committee of secretaries (CoS) headed by the PM’s principal secretary Pulok Chatterjee. The PMO is currently evaluating a road map to ramp up supply on the basis of the data on expected production received from the coal ministry and discussed in the first meeting of the CoS last Wednesday.

The meeting came a day after the government forced CIL to roll back a 12.5 per cent rise in coal prices due to a new grading system based on gross calorific value. Earlier, power companies had raised the issue with the government.

The PM has emphatically expressed the need to resolve the crisis after taking on board concerns raised by a delegation of power companies’ heads earlier this month, sources said. “At Wednesday’s meeting, the PMO asked the coal ministry the extent of supply of contracted quantity that can be met by CIL so that Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) can be signed. The PMO would firm-up a final decision on the matter soon,” a source close to the development said.

Normally, CIL first signs Letters of Assurance (LoAs) with consumers, which get converted to FSAs after the consumer meets certain obligations of project development within a time frame. The LoAs specify the terms and conditions of supply on the basis of a mutually agreed variation in annual contracted quantity (ACQ).

Historically, LoAs have been signed by CIL at 90 per cent of ACQ, meaning CIL would face penalty for a shortfall below 90 per cent and incentivised for excess supply over 90 per cent.

However, the world’s largest coal miner has, off late, started insisting on signing FSAs at only 50 per cent of ASQ, fearing penalty at the back of a severe dip in production. In fact, it has only signed three FSAs since March 2009 as delayed environment clearances took a toll on production.

Around 18,500 Mw capacity power projects commissioned since then – requiring 90 MT coal annually — are likely to operate at 55 per cent of their capacity.

CIL’s output remained flat at 431 mt last financial year. Production during six months ended September this year was down 11 per cent, declining for the first time in the company’s foreseeable history. The company’s share price at the Bombay Stock Exchange on Monday closed at Rs 321.8, up 1.4 per cent as compared to previous close.

(sourced Business Standard)

Barry Rogliano Salles weekly Dry Bulk Newsletter no 770

Tuesday, 07 February 2012

It was another week of heavy losses in all dry bulk segments, but there were some signs of a reversal in the Cape market.The BDI reached 647 points, illustrating a decline of about 11% w-o-w. The BCI lost just 2%.

Source: Barry Rogliano Salles(BRS)

BHP Billiton Coal Workers in Australia Vote to Resume Strikes

Tue,Feb7, 2012

BHP Billiton Ltd.’s coking coal miners in Australia, the world’s largest exporter, voted to resume striking after rejecting the company’s latest offer on employment and accommodation.Workers voted to reject the offer on Feb. 3 and may strike for as many as seven straight days at seven of BHP’s coal operations in Queensland state, Steve Pierce, district vice president of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, said today by phone. The unions have not yet set a date for the stoppages to commence, he said.

About 3,500 workers at BHP’s mines in Queensland’s Bowen Basin have held rolling strikes since June over pay and conditions, before suspending industrial action in December to resume contract talks.

Labor unions globally are stepping up demands for higher wages and improved conditions as record commodity prices swell profits at mining companies. “The company cannot, and will not, diminish its rights and obligations to manage the business, nor will we accept productivity-destroying arrangements as currently proposed by the unions,” Kelly Quirke, a Melbourne-based spokeswoman for BHP said by phone. “Strike action will not change our position, as has been the case for the past eight months.”

(sourced Bloomberg)

Monday, February 6, 2012

SC panel suggest cancellation of 49 mining leases

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

Economic Times reported that a committee set up by the Supreme Court tasked with investigating illegal mining in Karnataka has submitted its final report containing recommendations that could radically change how mining is done in the country.

The Central Empowered Committee, in its report submitted on Saturday, has recommended the cancellation of leases of 49 mines that have violated the terms of their licence. It is also believed to have recommended the auction of these leases. These mines produce up to 10 million tonnes of iron ore per year.

The people familiar with the report said that 45 mines cleared of any wrong doing will be allowed to mine as soon as the ban is lifted while 72 other mines will resume only after they have paid penalties.

The collected fines could be used to establish a Sustainable Mining Development Fund and setting up dedicated mining infrastructure for the area.

A moratorium on future leases, until the state has recovered forest lost to illegal mining and established dedicated mining infrastructure, is also on the cards.

(Sourced from ET)

CFMEU miners vow to strike in coking coal Bowen Basin

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

ABC reported that the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said that it will push ahead with industrial action in Queensland's Bowen Basin that could disrupt the world's supply of coking coal.

Late last week, mass meetings of coal miners endorsed a week long shutdown of BMAs seven Queensland mines.

It is the culmination of a 15 month enterprise bargaining dispute between BMA and the CFMEU.

CFMEU spokesman Steve Smyth said that negotiations have broken down over the key issues of housing, safety representatives and equal pay for equal work.

He says union officials will meet this week.

He said “We go away and look at what has the least amount of impact on our members and the most impact on the company.”

He says strike action will take place in the next couple of weeks but workers are prepared for any company retaliation.

In a statement, BMA asset president mr Steve Dumble said that industrial action will harm employees and delay an outcome and the unions should return to the negotiating table.

(sourced from

TNB keen to develop coal based power plant in Bangladesh

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

Tenaga Nasional Bhd is keen to develop a 1,400 MW coal based power plant in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh worth USD 2.5 billion (MYR 7.525 billion) on a joint-venture basis, to meet the demand for power in the country.

Special Envoy (Infrastructure) to India and South Asia, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu revealed that the national utility giant and the Bangladesh Power Development Board had declared interest to jointly develop the project and a decision on the matter was imminent.

"There will be investments from both sides."

Indeed, according to a source close to the deal, the Bangladeshi government has already engaged TNB and had proceeded with a letter of intent indicating its interest to establish a joint venture for the purpose.

Sources said that "Currently both sides are deliberating to reach an understanding on the equity sharing and electricity production cost for the import based coal fired mega power plant.”

Ms Samy said that "TNB is a company which possesses years of experience in power generation and Bangladesh needs a lot of power. This is why the (Bangladeshi government) wants to work together with us.”

He told that "TNB had gone and seen the place and now they are in the midst of performing their own due diligence.”

If the deal goes through, the joint venture will mark TNB's foray Bangladesh's power sector.

(Sourced from BERNAMA)

Downer EDI bags AUD 570 million iron ore mining contract from Karara Mining

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

Downer EDI announced that it has been awarded AUD 570 million, 6 year magnetite mining contract with Karara Mining Limited for the provision of services at the Karara Iron Ore Project in Western Australia.

(sourced from Reuters)

PT Berau Coal to issue USD 500 million bonds

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

Indonesian coal miner PT Berau Coal Energy Tbk is planning to issue USD 500 million of bonds, at a interest rate of 9% to refinance its debt and fund capital expenditure.

Indonesian companies are readying themselves to jump into the dollar bond market to take advantage of the foreign money they expect to flood the country after Moody's was the second ratings agency to upgrade the country to an investment grade status last month.

Berau Coal will hold an extraordinary general meeting on March 6 for shareholder approval for the notes, which will have a maximum fixed interest rate of 9% and a semi annual coupon.

Berau Coal, controlled by Indonesia-based private equity firm Recapital Advisors, has not yet appointed a financial advisor on the deal.

(Sourced from Thomson Reuters)

China needs more coal

Mon, Feb06, 2012

BEIJING: China should increase coal production and imports and curb exports to ensure ample supplies for power generation, as the country heads for another year of power shortage, the China Electricity Council said.

Coal consumption by power plants will grow some 150 million tonnes in 2012, which requires new coal supplies of more than 300 million tonnes in the domestic market, the council, an association representing power firms, said in a report on its website (

The government should control the price of coal shipped to power plants, raise electricity prices in a timely manner, approve construction of more coal transport railways and power transmission lines, and deepen power demand management and restructure the economy to help balance the power market, it said.

The council forecast maximum power shortfalls of 30 – 40 gigawatts this year, similar to peak shortfalls of more than 30 GW in 2011.

It estimated that power demand will grow by about 9.5 percent from a year earlier to 5.14 trillion kilowatt hours this year and power generating capacity to increase by 85 GW to 1,140 GW by year-end.

China’s power consumption rose 11.7 percent on year to 4.69 trillion kWh in 2011 and it added about 90 GW of generating capacity.

The country overtook Japan as the world’s top coal importer for the first time ever last year, importing a record 182.4 million tonnes of the black hydrocarbon, dwarfing Japan’s 175.2 million tonnes.

China also exported 14.66 million tonnes of coal last year, mainly to users in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Chinese customs data showed.

China is the world’s largest coal producer and consumer, and nearly half its production of more than 3.2 billion tonnes is burned by power plants.


Daiichi Chuo Targets U.S. Coal Export Boom as It Adds Bulk Ships

Monday, 06 February 2012

Daiichi Chuo Kisen Kaisha (9132), a Tokyo- based shipping line, said it’s targeting a boom in coal exports from the U.S. as shale gas production frees up the fuel for sales overseas. The shares were poised for their biggest gain since at least 1974.

“Exports of coal from the U.S. could easily double in the next three or four years,” Saburo Koide, president of the company, said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. “We’ve already had several inquiries on shipping coal from there,” he said, declining to name potential customers.
The shipping line plans to add an office in Brazil as early as next month to handle imports to South America, expanding its overseas branch network that includes China and India, Koide said. The U.S. can boost coal exports as much as 110 million tons by this year as low natural gas prices erode the fuel’s domestic demand, the International Energy Agency said last month.
“We’re going to see more bulk ships traveling to the U.S.,” Koide said. “China and India are already strong markets for coal. Brazil is also expanding.”

Daiichi shares climbed 25 percent, headed for the biggest gain since at least September 1974, to 141 yen as of 1:37 p.m. in Tokyo. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.1 percent.
Shale Rock
The development of shale gas reserves in the U.S. is reducing the country’s reliance on coal for power stations, opening the way for the fuel to be exported. The U.S Energy Department forecast coal’s market share for power generation will decline to 43.5 percent this year from 44.9 percent in 2011, according to Simmons & Co. International.

Marcellus shale rock formation, stretching across the U.S. Northeast, has enough reserves to meet the nation’s gas demand for about six years, according to estimates from the Energy Department. Global coal demand may expand 2.8 percent a year to 2016 amid demand from emerging economies, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said last month.
“Demand for coal from developing countries is increasing as their populations and economies expand,” Koide said. Daiichi already has won some contracts to transport coal from the U.S., he said.
Daiichi plans to expand its fleet to 280 ships by the end of March 2016, from 195 vessels in March, according to the company’s mid-term forecast. The shipping line plans to add 111 vessels including capesizes and panamaxes in this period.

In comparison, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (9104), operator of the world’s largest merchant fleet, had 917 ships at the end of March, according to its annual report. The shipping line is the largest shareholder of Daiichi with a 26 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Daiichi will make a loss of 3.8 billion yen ($49 million) on sales of 148 billion yen in the year ending March 31, the company said in October. It’s scheduled to announce earnings for the third quarter on Jan. 31. Koide declined to comment on the company’s earnings forecast.
Source: Bloomberg

CISA: China's Iron Ore Prices to Stay Low

Monday, 06 February 2012

China Iron and Steel Association predicts in its report this week that Chinese steel production will move slowly but steadily alone with rebounding demand; iron ore price is expected to run low due to hiking domestic iron ore output and sizable port inventories, although demand will rise in accordance with steel production.

In 2011, China 's iron ore import price averaged $ 163.84, up 28.13% year on year, based China Customs; In the meantime, Chinese-mined concentrates rose 15.06%, versus the rise of 10.13% in CISA's China Steel Price Index (CSPI); Large and medium sized steel markers in China posted falling profit to 87.53 billion yuan and declining margin to 2.42% in the year, based on CISA. Apparently iron ore price is still high compared to the persistent weakness in steel market.
In January 2012, Chinese steel market was confined by demand and credit, leading to downtrend in construction, cold rolled coil and strip and stagnancy in hot rolled coil, plate, section and special steels, said CISA.

The market saw no loosening in government policies and credit pressure for real economies remained in place. Before Chinese new year festival, steel mills and trading companies faced heavy pressure from loans; previous active winter restocking and other supportive forces didn't come up this year; liquidating intention was strong on bearish prospect due to falling economic growth in the first quarter and concern about property market regulation.

Although expectation of loosening monetary policy is getting strong, rehearsal of prudent monetary policy in 2012 from China ' s central bank seems a denial to a reverse later on. Key steel consuming industries, including property, railway, machinery, auto, are slowing down; post-festival demand is expected to be low for a relatively long time; drops in raw material prices would be limited; mills will face heavy cost pressure; Steel inventories, particularly of construction steel are rising noticeably.

For a long time, post festival, Chinese steel market will be facing slow demand recovery, rising inventories and low steel prices.
Source: Steel Home

Vale-China standoff over mega iron ore ships deepens

Monday, 06 February 2012

Beijing has effectively barred mega iron ore ships owned by Brazilian miner Vale SA, stepping up protection of the domestic shipping industry and control over imports of the key steelmaking ingredient.
China's Ministry of Transport on Tuesday, citing a downturn in the shipping industry, banned giant dry bulk vessels and oil tankers with immediate effect. It did not specifically mention Vale in the new regulation, which affects all large vessels including the fleet of 400,000 deadweight tonne vessels called Valemaxes.The statement comes just a month after Vale managed to unload iron ore from its 388,000-tonne vessel Berge Everest at Dalian port. The shipment swiftly drew an outcry from the influential China Shipowners Association, which has been actively lobbying Beijing to ban Vale's giant carriers.

The Shipowners Association and powerful steelmakers have said that Vale's fleet of giant carriers could be a "Trojan horse", which would allow the miner to monopolize the shipping and the iron ore markets in the world's largest importer of the raw material by sending supplies cheaper than could rivals such as Australia's Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton ."At the end of the day, they (China) want to support their own. They are not interested in whether Vale will be able to provide cheap imports in comparison to Australian imports," said George Lazardis, an analyst at Greek broker Intermodal.

"They are interested in giving support to their shipowners, which are starting to become a significant force over the past couple of years, and to help that part of the industry grow."At present, no Chinese ports have regulatory approval to receive dry bulk carriers of more than 300,000 tonnes, and industry sources have said Berge Everest's entry to Dalian's Port was probably a bureaucratic fluke.

Chinese financial magazine Caixin said on Tuesday that Vale had apparently got around the regulation in December by using the Berge Everest, a carrier owned by a Singapore company and leased back to the Brazilian miner, to deliver ore. Chinese maritime regulations require shipowners, or representatives, to cooperate with customs when applying for special entry permits.The transport ministry said its decision to bar the mega ships was also in part linked to maritime safety issues.

With Beijing keeping its ports closed to Valemaxes, the Rio de Janeiro-based miner will have to rely on a costlier trans-shipment hub in the Philippines to ensure its mega ships, each costing around $110 million, remained employed. Vale is already building an Asian distribution center in Malaysia that will be able to stock 60 million metric tons, about a fifth of the firm's annual output of 300 million tonnes, starting in 2014.

The world's largest dry bulk floating storage vessel, Ore Fabrica, owned by Vale, has docked in the Philippines' Subic Bay Freeport, a spokeswoman for the port told Reuters on Tuesday.
The 280,000 deadweight tonne vessel will serve as a platform to transfer iron ore from the so-called Valemaxes to smaller ships for transport to China and other Asian markets such as Japan and South Korea.

Vale inked a contract with Rongsheng Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries of China in 2008 to build 12 carries valued at $1.6 billion and is counting on a fleet of 35 Valemaxes to slash shipping costs to China to help it better compete.

But China's latest snub shows Vale may have made a bad and costly investment in one of the most talked-about shipbuilding ventures of this decade.The episode also highlights the difficulties foreign firms face when doing businesses in China, where many senior executives are closely intertwined with the Chinese government and can wield immense power in influencing policy decisions.

China Shipowners Association Executive Vice-President Zhang Shouguo is also a former deputy director of the water transport division of the Ministry of Transport.With the government owning a raft of companies, what would be commercial information in a capitalist countries could also become a state secret in China.Rio Tinto's iron ore negotiations manager, Stern Hu, was arrested and charged in 2009 for stealing state secrets and sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Source: Reuters

CIL workers to strike on February 13 on wage pact

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

TNN reported that the Rashtriya Colliery Mazdoor Sangh, one of the biggest unions of the Coal India Ltd, has called a daylong strike on February 13 to protest the poor hike in wages of workers.

Over 108,000 workers of the CIL and its nine subsidiary companies are member of the RCMS.

RCMS president and former MLA Mr Israil Ansari alleged that the company and the Union coal ministry had cheated the workers by not keeping their promises.

He said “We feel cheated and have decided to go on a day's token strike on February 13. If the management does not amend the agreement, which is against the interest of the workers, we will call a three day strike in the second phase.”

The date for the three-day strike in yet to be decided

He threatened that if the CIL management and the ministry failed to make amendments at the earliest, the workers might even go for an indefinite strike.

There are around 360,000 workers in the CIL and its subsidiary companies.


Australian company wants Swazi coal

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

It is reported that an Australian based company has shown interest in the mining of coal at Mpaka.

The company, known as Midwinter Resources said that it has entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of Teeman, a company incorporated in Swaziland and this is contingent on a number of conditions, including due diligence and shareholder approval.

Teeman’s main asset is a prospecting right application over 16 square kilometres in Swaziland, which includes the Mpaka Colliery, with potential for an underground resource.

According to Midwinter Resources website, this acquisition would allow Midwinter to diversify its activities while maintaining a focus on developing raw material inputs into the iron and steel industry.

The Mpaka Colliery, operated by Gencor until 1992, produced coal that was used as a reductant in the production of ferrochrome and ferromanganese in Mpumalanga, South Africa, as well as an export thermal coal product.


Iron Ore-Spot seen ticking higher, China steel eyed

Mon Feb 6, 2012

* Slow China steel market keeping iron ore rise in check
* Iron ore stockpiles at Chinese ports top 100 mln T

SINGAPORE, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Iron ore may extend modest gains this week as more Chinese steel producers return to the spot market to fill stockpiles, but a sluggish domestic steel market is likely to cap any price rise. Chinese steel prices have been largely steady so far this year with activity in the domestic construction sector, a heavy steel user, yet to fully resume. "Construction activity is still low because it's still winter in the northern part of China and we only expect steel demand to return later this month or in March," said a Shanghai-based iron ore trader.

Mirae Asset Securities said it was keeping its "underweight" stance on China's steel sector this year, particularly the large state-owned steel mills. "The structural driver of steel demand - urbanization - remains a valid long-term call, but it may halt in 2012 if the central government continues its crackdown on house prices," the brokerage said in a note. China's slack steel demand meant a slow start for iron ore this year, gaining a modest 3.5 percent versus a more than 12 percent rise for copper, another key construction material. The most-traded May rebar contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange has risen 3 percent so far this year, and little changed at 4,337 yuan a tonne by the midday break on Monday.
Iron ore with 62 percent iron content .IO62-CNI=SI rose 0.1 percent to $143.30 a tonne on Friday, according to the Steel Index, the highest since Nov. 22.

"Iron ore prices could rise further this week with some more mills going back to the market and traders taking positions," said the Shanghai trader. But a sizeable amount of iron ore at Chinese ports, material that is readily available and which buyers can buy in smaller tonnages unlike fresh spot cargoes, may limit appetite for more imports, traders said. Stockpiles of imported iron ore at major Chinese ports reached 101.49 million tonnes last week, with shipments from the three biggest exporters -- Australia, Brazil and India -- rising, Chinese consultancy Mysteel said on Friday.

Shanghai rebar futures and iron ore indexes at 0337 GMT

Contract Last Change Pct Change
SHANGHAI REBAR* 4337 5.00 0.12
PLATTS 62 PCT INDEX 145 0.50 0.35
THE STEEL INDEX 62 PCT INDEX 143.3 0.20 0.14
METAL BULLETIN INDEX 143.06 0.24 0.17

*In yuan/tonne
Index in dollars/tonne, show close for the previous trading day


4 coal mines shut in Australia on floods

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

Reuters reported that heavy rains shut four coal mines in eastern Australia on Friday as military helicopters evacuated stranded residents from inundated towns and authorities warned of further flash flooding.

Emergency services authorities said that more than 11,000 people in Queensland state have been isolated by the flooding and thousands had been evacuated.

Whitehaven Coal said it had shut four mines due to heavy rainfall, but the mines were not flooded and no equipment had been damaged. Other miners and liquefied natural gas producers reported their operations had so far not been affected.

The Queensland Resources Council said many of the state's mines were still carrying water from last year's wet season and it was monitoring mining areas.

A spokeswoman for Xstrata, the world's largest thermal coal exporter, which has mines in both New South Wales and Queensland, said it was not aware of any impact due to the wet weather. In the northwestern district of Queensland, Xstrata said it had resumed operations at its Ernest Henry copper mine following a short suspension last week to ensure the safety of staff.

Another coal major, Rio Tinto, said it would not comment on production.

The Bureau of Meteorology said heavy rains were likely to add to already overflowing rivers and warned of localised flash flooding. It cancelled a severe weather warning for parts of New South Wales.

The 2011 floods also damaged crops and inundated coal mines, pushing up prices for coal. Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and accounts for roughly two-thirds of global trade of coking coal, used for steel production.

(Sourced from Reuters)

Australian floods force thousands from their homes

Mon Feb 6, 2012

* One dead in flooding, thousands evacuated
* Coal industry largely unaffected by floods
* Flooding causes damage to agriculture, property

PERTH, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Thousands of Australians were forced from their homes on Monday because of floods that have risen to record levels in some areas and killed one person, and authorities issued warnings for more than a dozen rivers in Queensland and New South Wales states.

Australia's coal industry, which is concentrated in Queensland and New South Wales, was largely unaffected, easing concern about a repeat of last year's disastrous floods that sent global coal prices soaring.

But heavy rain is expected to take a toll on the region's agriculture, particularly on cotton, sugarcane, soybean and corn.

About 2,500 people were evacuated from the Queensland town of St. George, where flooding is expected to reach a record level of 14 metres (45 feet) or higher, state police said.

"We're hearing from people whose families have lived on the property for 100 or more years who've never seen water in their homes who have now got water up to the roof," Queensland Premier Anna Bligh told Sky news.

"So we know that something that's never been seen before is on its way."

St. George was also hit in 2011, when flash floods across Queensland and New South Wales killed about 35 people, swamped 30,000 houses, and wiped out roads, bridges and rail lines.

The flooding across the two states this year has resulted in tens of thousands of people being cut off in the last few days, with some having to battle with deadly snakes as they scrambled for dry ground.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has forecast that flooding will continue for weeks in some areas.

The town of Moree, the centre of the New South Wales' cotton industry was cut in half by record floodwaters, and some estimated that each farm in the area could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crops.

Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and accounts for roughly two-thirds of global trade of coking coal, used for steel production. The 2011 floods pushed up global coal prices as production was brought to a near standstill.

"The coal mines themselves are not experiencing any difficulties," Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said.

"So far, the Queensland coal industry, as far as we are aware, has missed the flooding."

On Friday, Whitehaven Coal said it had shut four mines because of heavy rain, but the mines were not flooded and no equipment had been damaged.

Global miner Xstrata said there was no impact on its operations.

"It's business as usual," spokeswoman Kathryn Lamond said.

But the industry was still concerned about disruption if there was no let-up in the rain and more flooding, Roche said.

Many mines are still carrying significant volumes of water from last year's floods, so more heavy rain is a danger.

Storm damage was estimated to have cut Australia's commodity-weighted economy's gross domestic product growth (GDP) by A$20 billion, or 1.5 percent, in the 2010-2011 financial year.


BHP seals Gabon iron ore deal

Monday, 06 Feb 2012

A government official from the Central African nation's government told Reuters that Gabon and mining firm BHP Billiton have reached a deal over the Belinga iron ore concession in Gabon.

Mr Sosthene Nguema Nguema a member of Gabonese government delegation in charge of overseeing the Belinga project, said the concession had been removed from China's CMEC as the company, which was awarded the license in 2007, did not have sufficient expertise to mine the resource.

BHP Billiton declined to comment but Mr Nguema said an official agreement would be signed soon, without giving any further details.

(Sourced from Reuters)