January’s top stories: Freeport-McMoRan’s $17bn investment in Indonesia

5 February 2015 (Last Updated February 5th, 2015 18:30)

Freeport-McMoRan plans to spend $17bn on building a copper smelter in East Java, Indonesia, Kansanshi Mines reveals it will not invest $1.5bn in its Solwezi expansion until the Zambian Government issues a tax refund, while Rio Tinto offers to drop its $1.6bn royalty from the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia to resolve its dispute with the government. Mining-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from January 2015.

January’s top stories: Freeport-McMoRan’s $17bn investment in Indonesia

Mine

Freeport-McMoRan invests $17bn in new copper smelter in Indonesia

freeport mcmoran

Freeport-McMoRan announced plans to build a copper smelter and develop its gold and copper mines in East Java, Indonesia, with an investment of around $17bn.

The company is said to have signed a preliminary agreement with PT Petrokimia Gresik to build the smelter, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Freeport-McMoRan president director Maroef Sjamsuddin was reported by Bloomberg as saying the smelter will cost more than $2bn and a further $15bn will be spent on the long-term development of underground copper and gold deposits at its Grasberg mine complex in Papua.

Freeport's latest decision comes after the announcement made by Indonesia Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman in January last year, saying that the government would ban the company's local unit from shipping copper concentrate outside of the country.

Kansanshi Mines withholds $1.5bn investment in Zambia over tax issue

Kansanshi Mine

Kansanshi Mines stated that it would not invest $1.5bn in the ongoing expansion of its facility in Solwezi unless the Zambian Government provided a tax refund.

Kansanshi Mines was quoted by Zambia Reports as saying that, as the company is yet to receive $230bn in tax refunds, it will not be able to investment in new projects until it receives the money.

As per new tax laws, the threshold of mining royalties has increased from 4% to 20%.

Labour Minister Fackson Shamend told the news agency that the government is hopeful of paying the delayed VAT funds through the Ministry of Finance.

US introduces regulation to reduce underground coal mine accidents

US Mine

US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released the final rule for underground coal mines to reduce potential pinning, crushing, or striking incidents.

As per the new guidance, underground coal mining operators must install proximity detection systems on place-changing continuous mining machines.

The detection system will use electronic sensors to help both mining machines and miners detect motion or the location of one object relative to another, to prevent accidents.

The sensors can be programmed to form a perimeter around a continuous mining machine and a receiver worn by the machine operator interacts with the sensors installed at the machine's corners.

Chilean agency re-evaluates Barrick Gold's Pascua-Lama penalties

Pascua-Lama

Chilean environmental regulator Superintendence for the Environment (SMA) is re-evaluating penalties on Barrick Gold's Pascua-Lama project located on the border of Chile and Argentina in the Frontera district.

Reuters cited SMA head Cristian Franz in an interview published in Diario Financiero as saying that: "The new sanction can fall anywhere on the spectrum allowed by the law, which goes from a warning to revoking the environmental permit, including fines."

In May 2013, SMA fined the Canadian mining company $16m for not complying with some of the country's environmental requirements at Pascua-Lama gold and silver project.

During that time, the Supreme Court refused to hear Barrick's appeal when the country's Environment Court found the fines were not well determined.

Sable Mining signs deal to export iron ore through Liberia

A subsidiary of Sable Mining, West Africa Exploration (WAE) signed a deal with Liberia to allow the export of iron ore through the country from its Nimba iron ore project in south-east Guinea.

The company signed the infrastructure development agreement (IDA) with the Liberian Government for development, ownership rights, financing, and use and operation of rail and port infrastructure in the country.

The 25-year deal will allow Sable to export iron ore from WAE's Mount Nimba project to the Port of Buchanan.

ArcelorMittal sells interest in its Russian coal mines

ArcelorMittal

Steel and mining company ArcelorMittal announced the sale of its interest in Severny Kuzbass coal mines to Russia's private coal trader National Fuel Company (NTK), for an undisclosed amount.

Severny Kuzbass is said to operate two coal mines in Siberia, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service reported.

The mines were acquired by the company from Russian steel producer Severstal for $652m in 2008, and are located in the Kemerovo region of Siberia, Russia.

As part of the transaction, ArcelorMittal will sell assets such as the coal mines of Berezovskaya and Pervomaskaya, which jointly produce 700,000t of coal a year.

Arrium to close South Australian iron ore mining operations

Arrium announced plans to close its iron ore mining operation in South Australia, resulting in the loss of almost 600 jobs.

The company's latest decision aimed to increase cash generation and deliver for sale around nine million tonnes a year (Mtpa) of iron ore for sale.

Arrium's re-design plan follows the substantial decline in iron ore prices over the last half year, as well as growing uncertainty around the timing of a price recovery.

Iron ore prices are said to be at five-year low and down 45% compared with previous years. This has pushed Arrium into a position where it is absorbing cash despite significant achievements in reducing costs and capital expenditure, the company said.

Rio Tinto may drop $1.6bn royalty from Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia

Rio Tinto offered to forgo the $1.6bn royalty it would earn from the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia, in an attempt to resolve its dispute with the government.

The mining major is still awaiting clearance for the $5.4bn underground phase expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi mine.

According to the Australian, Rio Tinto believes that the expansion will unlock the mine's value.

The mining company reportedly posted part of its offer on a Twitter account, saying that the Mongolian Government will receive more than half the cashflow from the project under the proposed deal, the paper added.

Cliffs Natural Resources starts restructuring work at Bloom Lake

Cliffs Natural Resources announced that Bloom Lake General Partner and some of its affiliates, including Cliffs Québec Iron Mining, began restructuring proceedings in Montreal, Québec.

Proceedings commenced under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (Canada) (CCAA).

Recently, the Bloom Lake Group suspended operations and has been exploring options to sell certain of its Canadian assets for several months.

The decision to seek protection under the CCAA was taken after analysing legal and financial analysis of the options available to the Bloom Lake Group, which is no longer generating any revenues.

Indian Government to sell 10% stake in Coal India

The Indian Government planned to sell up to 10% of Coal India in a bid to raise around Rs240bn ($3.9bn) at the current market price, to bridge its fiscal deficit.

According to Coal India, the government planned to offload 315.8 million shares, or a 5% stake, through an offer for sale with an option to sell similar number of shares as a greenshoe deal.

Following the sale, the government will be able to meet half of the Rs434.2bn ($7bn) revenue target from stake sales in the public sector, Business Standard reported.