Fresh hurdle for GMDC's alumina refinery

Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC)'s ambitious Rs 15,000-crore aluminium park in Kutch, Gujarat, is facing fresh hurdle. For the proposed project to be set up with one million tonne alumina refinery and a 0.5 million tonne aluminium smelter in partnership with the public sector National Aluminium Co (Nalco), GMDC is now struggling to source electricity for use in conversion from raw materials to finished products. Nalco has put a condition in the bid that GMDC should arrange electricity at a rate of up to Rs 2.2 a unit for the smelter. That is the viable power cost for any smelter. So, investment in the smelter is conditional. If they can arrange electricity at Rs 2.2 a unit, they have the smelter; if this is not possible for them to arrange, there would be no smelter. If the two companies decide not to set up the smelter and, instead, go ahead only with the plans for the refinery, the project cost would be reduced to Rs 4,400 crore. According to the tender GMDC floated, the company would supply bauxite, while the partner would account for all the investments to set up the refinery.
However, now, GMDC is keen on picking up 26 per cent stake in the joint venture. In December, GMDC Chairman G S Gadhvi had said earlier that the company might buy 26 per cent stake in the venture by using its internal accruals. If needed, it could even borrow some funds, he had added. In April, a detailed project report would be presented to the Nalco board, which would decide on the company's investment in the joint venture. The Nalco official said the company was keen on letting GMDC hold 26 per cent stake, as this would ease the monetary pressure on Nalco. In 2010, GMDC had floated tenders to find a partner. However, it had to extend the deadline twice, as it couldn't find any takers. In November 2011, it finalised Nalco as a partner for the project. Since then, there is hardly any progress on this project.

  Kazakhmys takes bigger than expected $2.2 bln hit on ENRC stake

Kazakh copper miner Kazakhmys has taken a bigger than expected $2.22 billion impairment on the value of its 26 percent stake in London-listed rival ENRC. Kazakhmys, which has already reported earnings excluding the impact of the stake, said that ENRC contributed $548 million of core profit - earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) - to the group. London-listed Kazakhmys had warned last month that it would write down the value of its holding in ENRC, making Kazakhmys the latest miner to take a hit from acquisitions attempted or completed during the boom years. ENRC itself has written down the value of assets in Kazakhstan and Africa. The group said that the carrying value of its holding in ENRC was reduced to a little more than $2 billion, or roughly 375 pence a share.

  Japan copper- alloy product output to climb 5.4%

Japan's demand for copper and copper-alloy fabricated products may gain 5.4 percent in the year starting in April on a weaker yen and government stimulus. Demand for products, including sheets and tubes, may rise to 800,500 metric tons, compared with 759,500 tons this fiscal year, the Japan Copper & Brass Association said, citing preliminary data. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he's confident of achieving a 2 percent inflation target, rebutting doubters who predict his efforts will fail as he prepares to strengthen monetary stimulus. Japan reported its longest run of trade deficits in three decades as exports fell in February and import costs rose on a weaker yen and an extra reliance on fossil fuels because of nuclear-plant shutdowns. “We'll probably see a full-scale recovery in demand after this summer,” said Keizo Tani, association research manager. “The yen's weakness will help the export industry and the government's efforts to revive growth will improve overall sentiment in the domestic market.” Production declined 4.8 percent to 61,010 tons in February from a year earlier, slumping for a fourth month, the industry group said. In January, output totaled 56,637 tons, down 5.4 percent from a year ago. “Benefits from the weaker yen have yet to be felt in the industry,” Tani said, referring to the monthly output data. The Japanese currency has fallen 9.4 percent against the dollar this year amid Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's calls for aggressive monetary easing to end deflation. The yen touched 96.71 on March 12, the weakest level since August 2009. Copper wire and cable shipments, including exports and domestic business, fell 6.2 percent to 55,700 tons in February from a year earlier, dropping for a third month, the Japanese Electric Wire & Cable Makers' Association said on March 19. The group will issue a forecast for the next fiscal year on March 25.

  Base metals advance as copper climbs after ECB cut and US data

Industrial metals including copper and lead climbed after the European Central Bank reduced interest rates to a record and US filings for unemployment benefit fell to 5 year low, boosting the outlook for demand.Copper for delivery in three months rallied as much as 1% to USD 6,916.25 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange and traded at USD 6,909.50 in Shanghai. It has lost 1.7% this week, the sixth decline in seven, on concern that economic growth in China, the largest user may falter.
The ECB cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.5% from 0.75%. In the US applications for unemployment insurance payments fell 18,000 to 324,000 in the week to April 27, the fewest since January 2008, while consumer sentiment climbed to the highest in more than 5 years. The US is the second largest consumer of the metal used in pipes and wires. Mr XuLiping an analyst at HNA Topwin Futures Company said that “The good economic data from the U.S. aided the technical rebound for metals. We are still in a sell on rally environment as growth in China, which accounts for 40% of the global consumption, is in question.” Copper for delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.6% to CNY 50,000 per tonne. The July contract on the Comex gained 0.6% to USD 3.1240 per pound.The National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said that China's non manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 54.5 from 55.6 in March. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.Lead futures in London rebounded after dropping into a bear market amid concern that global growth may slow. The metal climbed as much as 1.5% to USD 1,970 per tonne and traded at USD 1,967.50. It remains on course for a weekly loss.

  Mines ministry inks pact with Nalco for higher output

National Aluminium Company Ltd (Nalco) has signed an agreement with the Union Ministry of Mines regarding physical and financial targets for 2013-14 financial year. As per the Memorandum of Understanding signed in New Delhi between Union Mines secretary R H Khwaja and Nalco Chairman and Managing Director Ansuman Das, the sales turnover target has been fixed at Rs 7,757 crore, which is about 10 per cent higher than that of the current fiscal, a company release said. As regards physical performance, Nalco has been given an annual production target of 64.50 lakh tonnes of bauxite, 21.5 lakh tonnes of alumina, 4.05 lakh tonnes of aluminium and power generation of 6341 million units, it said. Among new projects, the proposed milestones would be a new alumina refinery in Gujarat, addition of a new stream of 10 lakh tonnes in the existing alumina refinery based on Pottangi bauxite deposit, Nalco's third wind power project at Damanjodi and the solar power project at any suitable location in the country. Besides, the company has set targets for on-going Utkal-E coal mine project at Angul and upgradation of 4th stream of alumina refinery at Damanjodi. As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility activity, Nalco shall continue to provide free education to 250 tribal children of peripheral villages of Mines and Refinery

  Global unwrought aluminium stocks at 1.285 mn tonnes in Feb

World unwrought aluminium stocks were at 1.285 million tonnes in February versus a revised 1.304 million in January, International Aluminium Institute (IAI) data showed. Unwrought stocks in February 2012 stood at 1.425 million tonnes. Total aluminium stocks, or unwrought aluminium plus unprocessed scrap, metal in process and finished semi-fabricated products, was at 2.321 million tonnes in February. That was up from a revised 2.302 million in January, and down from 2.389 million a year earlier.

Big Australian zinc mine nears end

China's MMG Ltd expects an 8 percent drop in its zinc production this year as its Century zinc mine in Australia, the world's second largest, nears depletion, its chief executive said. The mine, scheduled to run dry in three years and a major supplier to Holland's Budel smelter, which is owned by Nyrstar, produced a record 514,000 tonnes of zinc metal in concentrate in 2012, according to MMG Chief Executive Andrew Michelmore. That was second in output only to Alaska's Red Dog mine, owned by Teck Resources. "This (decline) is mainly driven by the lowering of grades from the Century mine as it heads for its closure in 2016," Michelmore said. MMG, which also operates two smaller zinc mines in Australia, expects total 2013 production of 550,000 tonnes. Zinc prices have tumbled 14 percent since February, hurt by oversupply and weak demand from steelmakers that use the metal as a rust retardant. The benchmark three-month London Metal Exchange zinc is currently hovering around $1,912 a tonne. MMG is digging a second mine in Australia that will replace less than half the output of Century, exacerbating a looming supply pinch on global markets that could surface in the next few years as industrial productivity in China and the United States grows and other mines close, according to Michelmore. The global zinc market was in surplus by 40,000 tonnes in January, the most recent data from the International Lead and Zinc Study Group shows.

  Codelco's copper output down

Codelco, the world's No. 1 copper producer, saw its output skid 5.1 percent last year due to dwindling performance at its massive, ageing deposits in northern Chile, which dragged down production to its lowest level since 2008. Lower ore grades, harder rocks and deeper deposits crimped output, which fell to 1.647 million tonnes in 2012, state-run Codelco added. The massive Chuquicamata mine, as wellas the Salvador and RadomiroTomic deposits saw their production fall last year, though higher production at the small Gaby mine, El Teniente and Andina lessened the overall loss. The tumble crystallizes the major challenges ahead for Codelco, which has launched an ambitious long-term investment plan of about $28 billion with the aim of producing more than 2 million tonnes of red metal by 2021. Codelco's battle to fight ebbing output is symptomatic of a wider challenge in leading copper producer Chile, as accidents, labor unrest, energy woes and extreme weather threaten to curb forecast jumps in output. Additionally, Codelco is shouldering soaring costs.
The company said its direct cash costs skyrocketed 40 percent to $1.635 per pound of copper last year compared with 2011 due to higher prices for supplies, workers and mining exploitation. But Codelco's profits before tax and extraordinary items jumped 7 percent to $7.518 billion due to the effect of the purchase of a stake in global miner Anglo American's Suroperations after months of legal wrangling. A slightly lower price for Chile's top export copper and Codelco's lower production and shipments of the metal limited the increase. Including Anglo Sur and El Abra, Codelco's output reached 1.758 million tonnes last year.
Codelco has said it expects to produce more this year than last, as the new Ministro Hales mine comes on line. Codelco has already announced a record annual investment of more than $5 billion this year, from about $4 billion in 2012. A port strike in northern Chile has not forced Codelco to buy copper on the spot market to meet contract obligations, CEO Thomas Keller said during a press conference to present results. The company has been unable to export some metal due to a strike by port workers at Angamos, located roughly 65 kilometers (40 miles) from the city of Antofagasta.

Partial surrender of NALCO's surplus land

The public sector aluminium major National Aluminium Company (Nalco) expects its partial surrender of mining land at its key Panchpatmali (north central block) bauxite deposit will soon be cleared by the state mines department. Nalco intends to surrender 2,087 ha of its 3,404 ha mining lease area where no bauxite deposit was found after exploration. The proposal was sent two years ago and the state mines department has recently asked the company to submit details of payment made towards Net Present Value (NPV) of the trees on this patch of land at the time of forest land diversion. "We hope the proposal will get through soon, probably ahead of renewal of lease for the rest area”, said an official of the company. The return of the excess land, which does not have any bauxite deposit, will help the aluminium maker save money in terms of payment of lease dead rent and NPV in case of forest land diversion.The company, in 2002, had surrendered 1,288 ha as it did not find bauxite deposit in those areas, out of original 4,692 ha land allotted to it. After recent surrender proposal of 2,087 ha, Nalco will have 1,315 ha area in its possession including 1,294 ha forest land. "Surrendering of unused land relieves us from carrying the responsibility of the said area. Since we are operating in a Naxal-infested zone, we cannot always monitor activities of each and every individual in this hilly site”, the official said. During 2009, members of banned Naxalite organisation raided the Panchpatmali mines and disrupted the mining operation there for several days. The lease agreement for Panchpatmali bauxite mine in north and central block expired in November 2012. The mine, estimated to have 150 million tonne bauxite left, is currently running under temporary work permit granted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).

Smelter plans rest on power rate

Long-seated plans by India's Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) to set up both a 1Mt/yr alumina refinery and a 500kt aluminium smelter in Kutch, Gujarat, are still in abeyance.
The company's partner in the project, Nalco, has said that the development of an aluminium smelter would only be feasible if GMDC managed to secure a power contract at a rate of Rs2.2 per unit. If not, there would be no smelter, according to an anonymous Nalco executive speaking to India's Business Standard. Nalco came on board as GMDC's partner in November 2011 and, says Business Standard, the project has moved at a snail's pace ever since.

Rio Tinto to cut costs to remain competitive

Rio Tinto Group needs to cut costs to remain competitive amid very tough times for its aluminum, coal and uranium businesses.Mr Sam Walsh CEO of Rio Tinto said that “China's economy dipped in the first 3 months of the year and the world economy remains volatile.”
Mr Walsh said that "There will be reductions. This is not easy. This is a process that is very very tough, but we need to get on top of our costs. We don't have targets for reductions in people. We do have targets for reductions in costs. This is a process that is very, very tough.”He said that "But we need to get on top of our costs, we need to have a business that will be competitive, and when I look at both our energy and aluminium businesses they are going through very tough times.”
In February Rio Tinto announced its first full year loss after taking USD 14 billion write down on the value of its aluminum and coal assets including a USD 38 billion cash deal for Alcan Inc in 2007 that made it the world's second largest producer of aluminum. The company is cutting 217 jobs at its London head office as part of USD 5 billion in planned cost reductions and will trim 2013 capital spending to USD 13 billion from USD 17 billion last year.Waning global demand for commodities is prompting Rio and rival miners of commodities from gold to coal to trim assets and staff as they are squeezed by unfavorable foreign exchange rates, falling prices and rising costs. Iron ore, which accounts for 91% of Rio Tinto's net income fell 4.5% to its lowest level this year.The price of copper, seen as a bellwether commodity due to its range of industrial uses, gyrated as downbeat industrial data from China contrasted with better than expected US job growth. Copper for delivery in three months at the London Metal Exchange hit an 18 month low May 1 before recording its biggest 1 day jump over a similar period May 3rd 2013.

Rusal announces alumina refinery modernisation programme

UC Rusal's Alpart and Windalco alumina refineries in Jamaica, which are currently being idled, will soon be up and running following a modernisation programme that will include a shift from coal to gas as the main energy source for steam production. Natural gas supplies to three plants will begin in 2016 and the work will be carried out by Rusal with US-based BP Energy Company (BPEC) and Sea One AG of Switzerland.
Natural gas will be supplied from the USA under long-term contracts with BPEC and delivered to Jamaica through Sea One's LNG Lite Marine Gas Monetization System.
The system will liquefy the natural gas at non-cryogenic temperatures at a plant that is expected to be located in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and then transported by sea on ocean-going carriers to a planned receiving facility at Port Esquivel. Here the gas will be fractionated and delivered via pipeline to the Rusal refineries. Cost-wise, Rusal believes that natural gas will prove far cheaper than LNG or heavy oil schemes. Vladislav Soloviev, first deputy CEO of UC Rusal, said, “We expect that this modernisation will enable us to restart idled Alpart and Kirkvine refineries,” and added that the alumina produced at the plants will supply Greenfield smelters in Eastern Siberia. According to Soloviev, “Shifting steam production to gas will boost performance of our Jamaican refineries as steam generation forms a great part of our cost of sales.”

Alcoa to spend USD 275 million to boost auto sheet capacity

Alcoa Inc plans to invest USD 275 million over 3 years to boost the capacity of a Tennessee plant to produce aluminum sheet for the automotive industry.Alcoa will expand the facility in Alcoa, Tennessee and convert some of its can sheet capacity into automotive sheet production. It did not specify how much automotive sheet capacity would rise.Aluminum can sales are expected to slow in the United States this year as more consumers cut their soda consumption in favor of healthier options that are not usually sold in cans such as water.At the same time, Alcoa expects to quadruple aluminum sheet sales to automakers by 2015 as tough new environmental standards push car manufacturers to reduce the weight of their vehicles. Aluminum is more expensive than conventional steel but is much lighter.The company said the changes at the Tennessee plant would add 200 full time and 400 temporary construction jobs. It was considering shutting down an additional 11% of its aluminum smelting capacity due to weak aluminum prices. It already has 13% sitting idle.

Century acquires Rio Tinto Alcan's Sebree smelter

Monterey, California-based Century Aluminum Company has announced that it is buying Rio Tinto Alcan's Sebree aluminum smelter in Henderson County, Kentucky. Sebree employs over 500 people and has an annual production capacity of 205kt/yr of primary aluminum. Michael Bless, Century's president and CEO, said: "We are well acquainted with the Sebree smelter and its excellent management team and talented group of employees. We believe that, with these facilities under common ownership, we will derive real benefits in better serving customers and through improving both operations with the sharing of best practices in safety, technical and operational practices and procedures. My colleagues and I are anxious to welcome Sebree's men and women into the Century group of companies."
According to Bless, Sebree, like Hawesville, is a globally competitive operation 'in every area other than the cost of power', adding that gaining access to competitive energy was crucial for the continued viability of both Hawesville and Sebree.
"We hope that the tentative agreement we have reached for Hawesville will be the first step towards obtaining market priced power," said Bless. Century will acquire the smelter for $61 million in cash (after $4 million in purchase price deductions) and will receive $71 million in working capital, subject to customary adjustments. As part of the transaction, RTA will retain all the historical environmental liabilities of the Sebree smelter and has agreed to fully fund the pension plan being assumed by Century's subsidiary at closing.The transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including the consent of Kenergy Corporation to the assignment of the smelter's existing power contract, which will terminate on January 31, 2014.

Vedanta still pleading for bauxite – and now the locals get involved

Vedanta Aluminium bosses are pleading with the Odisha State Government to get the bauxite flowing so that it can re-open its Lanjigarh alumina refinery, after a delegation from the Kalahandi and Rayagada districts told the Kalahandi collector and district magistrate that the plant should resume operations immediately. In early December 2012, the plant closed due to a lack of bauxite and despite offering top dollar to its rivals, Vedanta has been unable to restart the plant. Vedanta president and COO Mukesh Kumar said the plant had been pleading for bauxite for some time. In a letter to Odisha's Steel & Mines Secretary he insisted that urgent action be taken in line with a Memorandum of Understanding between Vedanta and the Government of Odisha way back in June 2003 and amended in April 2007.
Kumar said that the plant's closure had impacted the overall economy of the area, leaving thousands jobless. Those directly affected are planning to meet Naveen Ptnaik, Odisha's chief minister to put their case.

Sapa's Shanghai extrusion plant raises its game

Sapa Profiles' extrusion facility in China, located North West of Shanghai, which represents a strategic step for the company in establishing the group's first aluminium extrusion plant in China, has recently benefitted from the Sapa Group's capital improvement plan. The plant, known as Sapa Profiles Jiangyin Co, comprises 16 presses with a total capacity of 95kt. Canada-based Nitrex Metal recently received an order from the plant for a turnkey nitrocarburizing system comprising furnace, racking, control system and process technology tailored for aluminium extrusion dies. The new order, claims Nitrex, is part of the Sapa Group's plan to enhance the plant's heat treat operations, raise output capacity and bring new solutions to local customers. Nitrex is a developer and supplier of automated turnkey nitriding systems for the aerospace and automotive industries.

Nickel futures down on overseas trends and subdued demand

Amid a weak trend in the global markets and subdued domestic demand, nickel traded a shade lower at INR 833.20 per kg in futures trade on Tuesday as speculators reduced their positions.
At the Multi Commodity Exchange, nickel for delivery in April shed 70 paise or 0.08%, to INR 833.20 per kg in a business turnover of 375 lots. The metal for delivery in May also down marginally by 10 paise or 0.01%, to INR 841.40 per kg in a turnover of 204 lots. Analysts said that the fall in nickel prices at futures trade was mostly in tandem with a weakening trend in the base metals at the LME as weakness in Japanese and South Korean industrial output added to global demand concerns.

UC Rusal to modernise Aughinish alumina refinery

UC Rusal has announced the next stage in its modernisation programme for the Aughinish alumina refinery in Ireland. The next stage – shifting steam production from heavy oil to gas as its main energy source – will reduce carbon emissions by 5%, particulate pollutants by 33% and nitrogen oxide by 38%. Sulphur oxide emissions will be totally eliminated. According to Rusal, the rationale behind gas-powered steam production is the low cost of gas and the inherent environmental benefits. Foster Wheeler AG will supply the steam generators and auxiliary equipment. Installation begins in 2014. “The two steam generators will be designed to generate a total of 300 tonnes per hour of reliable, high-pressure super-heated steam and will completely replace the oil-fired boilers,” said Rusal. Valeriy Matvienko, Rusal's alumina division director, said, “The shift to gas-powered steam production will enable Aughinish to significantly increase its economic and environmental performance, which is of great importance in the current market conditions and in light of the upcoming EU Directive on industrial emissions, scheduled to come to force in 2016. It is a real boost to the refinery's efficiency, which is already one of the highest performing in the industry.”

Sterlite copper smelter stays shut until at least May 14

India's top copper smelter will stay shut until at least May 14th 2013 when an environmental court meets again to review the case prolonging 6 week shutdown that has pushed up copper concentrate processing fees in Asia.
The Sterlite Industries plant which meets half of India's copper demand was closed on March 30 after residents complained of emissions that led to breathing problems. Justice Swatenter Kumar of the National Green Tribunal, a special fast track environmental court said that an expert panel's report had to be given to all parties and set the next hearing for May 14th 2013.
The smelter's closure has pushed about 3,000 tonnes per day of copper concentrates onto the market. The plant produces 30,000 tonnes of refined copper a month and nearly half of the output goes to China.

Nalco shuts down 200 pots in smelter plant

Acute shortage of coal forced the National Aluminium Company to close down more than 200 pots in its smelter plant bringing down the production of aluminium by 250 tonne per day. Prior to this, Nalco was running 823 pots of the 960 pots in the smelter plant and the present shut down is bound to reflect on the aluminium production. A higher official of Nalco said , “We have now started shutting down pots in a gradual manner so that the whole process will be completed within a week. The total metal production which remained an average of 1100 tonne will come down to 850 tonne now. The decision to cut down aluminium production was taken after the company was forced to curtail power generation to 600 MW from the current 800 MW.” Coal crisis at Nalco began after operation of its feeding coalmine Bharatapur at Talcher coalfield of Mahanadi Coalfield Limited was stopped by the Central Mines Safety Department following death of a casual worker. It was almost nil through the merry go round system. It drew coal from the other MCL mines which remained short of its demand. At present, coal stock in Nalco stockyard is below one lakh tonne which will suffice for just 5 days. The official said that we have been receiving 8,000 tonnes to 9,000 tonnes of coal instead of linkage demand of 13,000 tonnes per day to 14,000 tonnes per day from April 1. The shortfall of 66,000 tonnes has reduced the stock to an extent that it is not even feasible to operate all seven power units. Hence, the decision was taken to slash power generation by shutting down more units in the captive power plant.

China April copper imports drop to 22 month low on demand

Copper imports by China declined to the lowest level in 22 months in April raising concern that demand is waning from the biggest user.
The General Administration of Customs said that inbound shipments of the refined metal, alloy and products were 295,799 tonnes last month. That was the lowest since June 2011 down 7.4% from March and 21% lower than a year earlier. A drop in imports may help bring down local stockpiles as both official and private surveys showed China's manufacturing expanded at a weaker pace in April. Inventories tallied by the Shanghai Futures Exchange lost 12% last month and declined 1.6% last week.
Mr Fang Junfeng an analyst at Shanghai Cifco Futures Company said, “Lower than expected imports put Chinese demand again in question. The arbitrage window has improved since March, so market participants expected imports to grow.” According to the customs data, China's export and import growth both accelerated in April and exceeded forecasts. Total exports rose 14.7% while imports advanced 16.8%. Orders to remove the metal from LME warehouses in Asia, known as the canceled warrants surged to a record 81,800 tonnes on May 2 as inventories in Asia declined 4.9% from a record on April 23 to 261,550 tonnes.
Mr Sijin Cheng an analyst at Barclays Plc said, “Tight scrap supply due to lower copper prices and tougher customs inspections has prompted some smelters to cut output in late April.”

Copper mine implementation committee meets locals in Myanmar

The committee that probed the Letpaduangtaung copper mine's incident met with local residents in the Sarlingyi township of Sagaing Region.
The report made by the probe commission led by opposition leader Mr Aung San Suu Kyi, advocates continuing the project while calling for compensating fair amount for confiscated lands and reviewing the contract of Chinese backed copper mine taking into consideration the best interest of the local residents.
A local representative who attended the meeting said, “The local people are interested in the new contract. They want to see how the new contract will benefit them. The new contract is said to have been submitted to the Attorney General Office for its legal validity. Then, it will be submitted to the Myanmar Investment Commission and to the government of President Thein Sein.”
The copper mine project is JV between military owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and China based Wanbao Company. The villagers staged protests last year as their farms and lands were confiscated for the project.
In November, the sit in protestors at the project area were cracked down by the police using bombs containing phosphorous, for which there were widespread criticisms from the local and international communities.
The local who attended the meeting said, “The officials explained that the development of a country cannot rely only on agriculture but it needs to extract metals. It is not an easy matter to invest billion of US dollars or thousand of billion kyats on a mining project, and so mining projects will be cooperated not only with China but also with other countries.

Indian zinc futures soften on global cues

Indian zinc prices traded lower by 0.49% to 102.45 per kilogram in futures trade as speculators offloaded their positions, tracking a weak global trend. At the Multi Commodity Exchange, zinc for delivery in June declined by 50 paise or 0.49% to INR 102.45 per kilogram in business turnover of 148 lots. Likewise, the metal for delivery in the May contract softened by 45 paise or 0.44% to INR 101.30 per kilogram in 2,511 lots. Analysts said that the weakness in zinc at futures trade was mostly attributed to a weak global trend. Meanwhile, zinc dropped 0.4% to USD 1,888 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange.

Rio Tinto expects Mongolia nod for copper exports soon

Rio Tinto expects to win approval from the Mongolian government in the next 2 weeks to transport copper out of its USD 6.2 billion Oyu Tolgoi mine, a key project for the company as it reins in spending in other areas. Mr Sam Walsh CEO of Rio Tinto said that the opening of the mine hinges on resolving issues over transport and shipping with the government and discussions were progressing well. We are still looking for some approvals in relation to exactly how we transport and ship the material that we expect to receive in the next couple of weeks.
Progess on Oyu Tolgoi could help offset the impact of disruptions caused by a huge landslide at Rio Tinto's Bingham Canyon mine in Utah last month. The firm estimated 2013 refined copper production from the US mine would be about 100,000 tonnes less than expected. The Oyu Tolgoi project, run by Rio Tinto and two thirds owned by its Turquoise Hill Resources unit, is a vital source of growth for the company as it looks to ease its hefty dependence on its iron ore business. The mine is expected to account for more than 30 percent of Mongolia's gross domestic product with copper production forecast to reach 450,000 tonnes annually. Mr Jan du Plessis chairman of Rio Tinto and Mr Walsh defended the company's plans to press forward with expansion in iron ore. The world's No.2 iron or miner expects to reach 290 million tonnes a year capacity by the Q3 of this year. Capacity is due to expand further to 360 million tonnes a year by the H1 of 2015 despite investors clamouring for higher dividends instead of splashing out on mega projects and some analysts suggesting a slowdown in the expansion would shore up iron ore prices and boost Rio's shares.

Commissioning of new alumina capacity delayed against depressed alumina prices

Construction of some new alumina capacities in China slowed against sluggish alumina prices and production cuts at aluminum smelters. One alumina producer in Henan said that it will postpone the commissioning of newly built 600,000 MT per year alumina capacity to August from originally scheduled mid June. Similarly, an ongoing 200,000 MT per year alumina project in Inner Mongolia which was originally scheduled to come online early this year will not enter operations until July or August this year due to sluggish alumina markets. Prices for alumina long term contracts have been tracking aluminum prices down so far this year with the settlement price for alumina long-term contracts in May down more than CNY 100 per MT from January. A number of aluminum smelters have cut or suspended production due to losses from depressed aluminum prices. As of the end of April over 900,000 MT per year in aluminum capacity has been cut across China eroding alumina demand by 1.8 million tonne per year. Loss making situation in aluminum markets is spreading into alumina industry causing some new alumina capacities to be commissioned at a slower pace. Rising imported bauxite prices and increased risks of imported bauxite shortages are pushing up costs at alumina producers relying on imported bauxite. As such, some alumina producers using imported bauxite may scale back output in the future.

EMAL USD 4 billion aluminum project on track

Emirates Aluminium, a JV between Abu Dhabi investment fund Mubadala and Dubai Aluminum is planning a further smelter expansion around 2017. The group is on track to complete its USD 4 billion Phase II by the end of 2014 when it capacity will rise to 1.3 million tonnes from the current 800,000 tonnes a year making it one of the largest single site smelters in the world. The global aluminum industry is already facing a massive stock overhang which is growing each month as smelters produce more than the world economy needs.
Mr Saeed Al Mazrooei CEO of EMAL said that EMAL is still planning to build more capacity however as it expects demand for aluminum to rise from 46 million tonnes to 60 million tonnes by 2015. The international market is growing for aluminum in many countries China, India, Brazil and US. This demands us to grow.” Mr Al Mazrooei said that he hoped so adding that the company's state backed owners would unveil details later. EMAL exports the majority of its production to the US, Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Only about 200,000 tonnes is consumed locally. He said that EMAL which burns vast quantities of natural gas to make the electricity it needs to operate the energy intensive aluminum industry, has secured supplies for phase one and two from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Jacobs receives another contract from Minera Chinalco

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc received a contract from Minera Chinalco Peru SA to perform a feasibility study for the expansion of its Toromocho copper mining facilities in the Morococha District of Peru. Officials did not disclose the contract value but noted that the project is expected to be executed out of Jacobs Lima, Peru office with assistance from its Santiago, Chile and Tucson, Ariz, US offices. Jacobs has been working on the Toromocho copper project since 2006. The mine is located at an altitude of 14,700 to 16,400 feet. The current phase of engineering procurement and construction management is nearing completion. Under the original design, the facility is capable of treating 117,200 tons of ore per day and producing in excess of 210,000 tons of copper annually, plus byproducts of silver and molybdenum.
Major equipment required for the proposed capacity expansion includes apron feeders, a conveyor system for mill feed, a semi autogenous grinding mill, a ball mill and cyclones, flotation cells, a tailings thickener and all associated equipment. The existing plant layout allows for the integration of new equipment required for the current expansion. Mr. Andy Kremer VP of Jacobs Group said ,"We are delighted to further support Minera Chinalco on their proposed expansion. We have several years' experience working as an integrated team on the Toromocho project. Given the ongoing construction activities on site, the knowledge we have already acquired will be extremely valuable as we consider optimum solutions and tie-in designs needed to incorporate the planned expansion into the existing facilities.”

Government officials visit Sohar Aluminium

Mr Muhana bin Saif al Lamki governor of North Al Batinah, Walis and other government officials visited Sohar Aluminium and interacted with employees recently at an invitation from Mr Said al Masoudi acting CEO of Sohar Aluminium. The employees appreciated this initiative and praised the company's working atmosphere and infrastructure. The dignitaries familiarized themselves with the entire process of manufacturing aluminium during their visit to Carbon Plant, Reduction Pot and Cast House. This also provided the dignitaries with an insight into the excellent level of safety measures provided at the work place. Mr Al Masoudi said that “Safety of our workforce is the essence of Sohar Aluminium's operations. We believe that our employees are our greatest asset and thus we all strive to ensure the safety and well being of each and every person working at Sohar Aluminium.” The officials also visited Sohar Aluminium Training Academy which imparts world class training to aspiring workforce. The Academy offers continuous training and development programs at different levels right from short courses to post graduate certification. The Training Academy is currently conducting training programs to accelerate SA's Omanisation process in the plant by developing operators to technician levels.”
An invitation from Mr Said al Masoudi acting CEO of Sohar Aluminium. The employees appreciated this initiative and praised the company's working atmosphere and infrastructure. The dignitaries familiarized themselves with the entire process of manufacturing aluminium during their visit to Carbon Plant, Reduction Pot and Cast House. This also provided the dignitaries with an insight into the excellent level of safety measures provided at the work place. Mr Al Masoudi said that “Safety of our workforce is the essence of Sohar Aluminium's operations. We believe that our employees are our greatest asset and thus we all strive to ensure the safety and well being of each and every person working at Sohar Aluminium.” The officials also visited Sohar Aluminium Training Academy which imparts world class training to aspiring workforce. The Academy offers continuous training and development programs at different levels right from short courses to post graduate certification. The Training Academy is currently conducting training programs to accelerate SA's Omanisation process in the plant by developing operators to technician levels.”

Aluminium capacity growth hinges on Odisha resources

Soon after the closure of its bauxite starved 1 million tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh an official of Vedanta Aluminium was asked whether the company would consider moving the plant out of Odisha in case the raw material deadlock was not broken. Not an outrageous question by any means. Denied mine development at the 90 MT bauxite deposit in the Niyamgiri hills because of cancellation of stage two environment clearance in August 2010 by the central ministry of environment and forests and incessant protests by the local Dongria Kondh tribals, the company for whatever reasons, was not bailed out by state owned Odisha Mining Corporation organising supply from its own sources.
This is despite an earlier understanding. Vedanta ran the refinery as long as it could, braving severe logistical challenges in getting bauxite from wherever possible, at high cost. Refinery operations were finally suspended on December 5th 2012. The Vedanta official said that if an aluminium complex can be run in Odisha, then you don't stand a chance anywhere else in the country. This is the only state which is richly endowed with both bauxite and non coking coal. Has Vedanta finally got a reason to see light at the end of the tunnel in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on bauxite mining in Niyamgiri? The court order said that clearances to the mine venture would be subject to gram sabhas deciding cultural and religious claims of the tribes and forest dwellers of Kalahandi and Rayagada districts.
Mr Saswat Mishra chairman of Odisha Mining Corporation is on record saying that "This is a positive order. The apex court judgment has sorted out most allegations levelled against the project in the past. The order is a step closer for doing mining at Niyamgiri hills but it is too premature to think mining can begin soon." He said that so, the agony of Vedanta refinery which is to be expanded to 5 MT subject to sorting out regulatory issues is not going to end too soon unless of course, the state starts feeding the plant with bauxite from its own sources.

Tin exports from Indonesia tumble most in 5 months in April

Tin shipments from Indonesia dropped 16% in April from a month earlier, the steepest decline in five months after smelters cut production because of a slump in prices. The Trade Ministry said that exports, which include tin ingot and solder fell to 7,853.1 tonnes last month from 9,295.7 tonnes in March. Shipments were 7,489.3 tonnes a year earlier.
Mr Hidayat Arsani president of the Indonesian Tin Mining Association said that tin which tumbled into a bear market this month in London lost 13%t this year to USD 20,401 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange. The drop prompted some Indonesian smelters to cut or halt output as prices were below production costs. Costs average USD 22,000 per tonne for most smelters. Mr Arsani said that “Who can produce under this condition? Some smelters only rely on their inventories to survive for now. The question is what will happen if the stocks run out and prices remain low? People will go bankrupt.”
According to the median of 12 estimates in a Bloomberg survey in April, price of tin, used in soldering and packaging will rally to USD 24,000 by end of December as shipments from Indonesia may drop. Indonesia's exports may fall 19% to 80,000 tonnes this year as the country imposes higher purity limit starting in July. Ministry data showed that Indonesia shipped tin to 12 countries last month with Singapore taking 64% of sales. Other destinations were Malaysia, Thailand and Japan. Shipments in the first four months of the year jumped 16 percent to 34,658 tonnes.

AMG Aluminum agrees to sell 45pct equity interest in Nanjing Yunhai KB Alloys

AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group NV said that AMG Aluminum has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its 45% equity interest in Nanjing Yunhai KB Alloys Company Limited or YKB to Nanjing Yunhai Special Metals Company Limited. The transaction is expected to close during the Q2. According to the company, this is the next step in AMG Aluminum's strategy to streamline its organization and support its global customers, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. AMG Aluminum will continue to serve this region through its wholly owned subsidiary, AMG Aluminum China located in Jiaxing, China. AMG Aluminum is a provider of aluminum master alloys and grain refiners for the aluminum industry. It has over 350 employees and five ISO 9001 manufacturing plants in Brazil, China, the UK and the US.

EMAL keen to expand further at Kizad

Emirates Aluminium is eying further growth at its site in the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi even as its first expansion project is still under way. EMAL is adding a potline to its smelter complex that will increase capacity from 800,000 tonnes a year to 1.3 million tonnes a year. The Phase 2 project is slated for commissioning this December but the next expansion after that is already envisaged.
Mr Saeed Fadhel Al Mazrooei CEO of EMAL said that "We are hoping that our success with Phase 1 and Phase 2 will provide us with the basis to develop a bigger plant." Phase 2 will turn EMAL JV between the Abu Dhabi strategic investment company Mubadala Development and Dubai Aluminium into the world's fifth-largest aluminium producer. Further expansion is justified by a bullish outlook on demand for the metal.
Mr Al Mazrooei said that "The international market is growing. There is growth in many countries this demand has to grow. He expects global demand to rise from 46 million tonne per year now to about 60 million tonne per year in 2015.

Chalco posts Q1 net loss of CNY 975 million

Aluminum Corporation of China Limited posted a Q1 net loss of CNY 975 million hurt by higher costs and lower aluminium prices. Its Q1 results compared with a net loss of CNY 1.09 billion a year earlier. Chalco's Hong Kong listed shares ended down 2.7% before the results were announced, lagging a 0.7% rise in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Vedanta seeks clarity on HZL stake sale

The government proposes to sell its residual stake in Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) to the Vedanta group and raise Rs 14,000 crore, according to the Budget. However, investment bankers say the government needs to clarify how it will sell the stake to Vedanta. There is no clarity on these issues. The government will have to clearly say whether it will sell by auction or via the offer-for-sale route," said a banker, who did not wish to be named.
According to investment bankers, many questions need to be answered. For example, will the group get an option to match the best price, if an auction is held for the government's stake sale? As long as such ambiguities remain, the stake sale to Vedanta is likely to get delayed. This also means Anil Agarwal, the company's chairman, who made a Rs 17,000 crore offer to buy the government's residual stake in both unlisted Balco and Hindustan Zinc by this month-end, will have to wait. The Centre holds 30 per cent stake in HZL worth Rs 14,577 crore, going by the prevailing stock price. However, bankers said the stock price was not the right valuation, as the stock is not liquid with only five per cent stake in the market. The valuation will also have to take into account the Rs 7,295 crore cash on the company's balance sheet as on September 2012, they said. Besides, as HZL was set up by an Act of Parliament, the government will have to clarify whether the stake sale needed Parliament approval, bankers added. In a recent interview, Agarwal had reiterated his Rs 17,000-crore offer to the government. He said he had no problem even if the government wanted to remain an investor in the company. According to Agarwal, HZL was one of the most profitable companies in the metals sector, after the group managed to turn around the company in record time. The performance of HZL after Vedanta takeover by Vedanta can be gauged by the fact that the government, which had the option to buy HZL shares at that time at Rs 500 crore, is getting Rs 14,500 crore. For the government, it is important to raise funds to meet its disinvestment target set in the Budget. The stake sale of HZL and the offer made by Agarwal will come in handy for the government to meet the target. However, this will largely depend on whether the government sells the shares in a transparent and open system, said bankers.

Dow Reaches 15000 as copper jumps while treasuries fall

US stocks rallied, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to 15,000 for the first time and Treasuries slid as faster than forecast employment growth bolstered optimism in the world's largest economy. Copper surged the most since 2011 to lead commodities higher.The Dow climbed 171.97 points or 1.2% to 15,003.55 and the S&P 500 advanced 1.3% to 1,617.62 in New York above 1,600 for the first time. 10 year Treasury yields jumped 10 basis points to 1.72% after reaching the lowest level of the year. Copper surged almost 6% and zinc increased 3.6%. The Spanish 10 year yield dipped below 4% for the first time since 2010 and Greek rates slid below 10%.US payrolls expanded by 165,000 workers last month and revisions to the prior two months of data added a total of 114,000 jobs to the employment count in February and March. The jobs report overshadowed other data showing weaker than forecast growth in service industries and a drop in factory orders.Mr James Dunigan who helps oversee USD 112 billion as chief investment officer in Philadelphia for PNC Wealth Management said that “This certainly gives some indication that there's life in the economic recovery. Recent evidence suggested economic growth was down shifting in the second quarter. The good news versus what the market thought added some confidence here.”

China copper output data analysis in March 2013

Refined Copper According to China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, during March, China saw a 9.9% YoY growth in refined copper output to 560,500 tonnes.The latest SMM survey found the average operating rate at domestic copper smelters rose to 91.98% in March and was due in large part to higher operating rates at copper semis producers after the Chinese New Year holiday. This improved demand for refined copper, also allowed copper smelters with ample raw material supply to run at higher rates.