July’s top news stories

1 August 2018 (Last Updated August 6th, 2018 15:00)

Anglo American will spend $5.3bn on the Quellaveco project, a new copper mine in Peru, while Cameco suspended production at its McArthur River and Key Lake uranium sites in Canada for an indefinite period in response to a weak uranium market. Mining-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from July 2018.

July’s top news stories
Anglo American expects the Quellaveco project to to generate a post-tax internal rate of return of 15%, with a four-year payback and an EBITDA margin of more than 50%. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Anglo American to build $5.3bn copper mine in Peru

Anglo American announced it will spend $5.3bn on a new copper mine in Peru known as the Quellaveco project following a sharp increase in the company’s profits in the first half of the year.

The London-based mining firm’s profits increased 11% to $4.58bn during the first six months of this year.

Anglo American is now eager to invest in copper following the increase in revenue, which is expected to grow in demand due to its uses in power grids and electric vehicles.

The world’s largest mining companies have also been drawn to copper recently as it has been trading at a one-year low, making the element a relatively safe investment.

Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said: “After several years of extensive preparatory work, we are very pleased to develop the project together with our partners Mitsubishi.

“We are grateful for the strong support we have gained from our host communities and at the national level.”


Cameco suspends production indefinitely at uranium sites in Canada

Cameco suspended production at its McArthur River and Key Lake uranium sites in Canada for an indefinite period in response to the weakening uranium market.

The company expects to cut around 550 jobs as a result of the closures in Saskatchewan, including the personnel that have been on temporary layoff since January.

Cameco will also downsize the workforce at its corporate office by 150 positions, comprising employees and vacancies, in a bid to further reduce costs.


Rio Tinto achieves first delivery of iron ore with autonomous train

Rio Tinto achieved its latest milestone following the first delivery of iron ore through an autonomous train in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The autonomous train, featuring three locomotives, carried around 28,000t of iron ore and travelled more than 280km from Rio Tinto’s mining operations in Tom Price to the port of Cape Lambert on 10 July.

The vehicle’s journey was monitored remotely by operators from Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre in Perth, which is situated more than 1,500km away.


Barrick enhances partnership with China’s Shandong Gold

Barrick Gold signed an enhanced strategic cooperation agreement to strengthen its ties with China’s Shandong Gold Group and explore new acquisition opportunities.

The development follows a deal made by the two companies last year, which saw Shandong Gold Mining acquire a 50% interest in Barrick’s Veladero mine in Argentina for $960m.

The companies are expected to share technical expertise and best practices in areas such as mining technology, information technology, information management and digital innovation under the initiative.


Volcan to buy remainder of Vedanta for £778m

Volcan Investments, a family trust of UK-headquartered diversified metals and mining company Vedanta Resources’ majority shareholder and chairman Anil Agarwal, proposed to acquire the remaining stake in Vedanta for £778m.

The planned acquisition values the total issued share capital of Vedanta at £2.32bn.

The offer is aimed at simplifying the corporate structure of Vedanta and its subsidiaries.

Volcan has offered to buy the rest of the shares it does not already own in the firm at a price of £8.25 per share as part of the deal.


Caterpillar partners with Newmont on underground vehicle automation

Mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar signed an agreement to partner with US-based gold producer Newmont Mining to develop and improve the technology used to automate underground hard rock mining vehicles.

The companies’ joint efforts will be supported by Cashman Equipment, a Nevada-based dealer of Caterpillar systems.

The initiative will see the parties initially focus on Caterpillar’s semi-autonomous system for underground loaders, known as ‘command for underground’.


BHP begins construction on $3.61bn South Flank iron ore project

BHP commenced construction on its A$4.88bn ($3.61bn) South Flank iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA) after receiving approval from the state government.

The company intends to develop an 80 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) mine at South Flank to replace production from the Yandi mine, which is expected to reach the end of its mine life by the mid-2020s.

The project has been designed to expand on the existing Mining Area C hub and is being developed in collaboration with joint venture (JV) partners Mitsui and Itochu.


Tianqi Lithium gets board approval for $382m Greenbushes mine expansion

Chinese firm Tianqi Lithium’s board reportedly approved an additional A$516m ($382m) investment for the Greenbushes mine expansion in WA.

The expansion, along with the debottlenecking of the existing lithium concentration plants, is expected to boost the operation’s lithium concentrate production capacity to a total of 1.95 million tonnes (Mt).

Talison Lithium, a JV between Tianqi (51%) and its partner Albemarle (49%), is acting as the operator of the project.


Karo Mining launches $4.2bn platinum mine project in Zimbabwe

Karo Mining reportedly launched its $4.2bn platinum mine in the Mhondoro-Ngezi platinum belt in Chegutu, Zimbabwe.

The project coincides with efforts by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to revive the country’s economy following the end of his predecessor’s rule, which lasted more than three decades.

The Zimbabwean Government intends to attract foreign companies to invest in the country’s mining sector as part of the initiative.


Wheaton to buy gold and palladium from Sibanye Gold

Wheaton Precious Metals, through its subsidiary, reached an agreement to buy gold and palladium from the Stillwater and East Boulder mines (Stillwater), which are located in the US state of Montana and currently owned by South African firm Sibanye Gold.

The deal requires Wheaton to make an upfront payment of $500m to Sibanye, followed by ongoing payments equal to 18% of the spot gold price and spot palladium price until the advanced payment is reduced to nil.

Wheaton will subsequently be expected to pay 22% of the spot gold price and spot palladium price as part of the arrangement.