Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mining Business Environmental Changes

Mining Business Environmental Changes
November 5, 2010
By:  Marco G.


Production mining is a difficult endeavour, and there are no shortcuts to success.  In the modern business world, there is a sea of change that is happening in how the public perceives mining companies and their environmental practices.  Investors are advised to monitor this trend.

Taseko "Prosperity" Cancelled

The Canadian government delivered a rounding blow to Taseko Mines (TGB) on November 1, 2010.  In a scathing rebuke to the Canadian miner about their proposed  copper and gold "Prosperity" project in British Columbia, Environment Minister Prentice denied their operating permit. 

This observer was appalled at Taseko's proposed actions of filling in the area Native's ancestral grounds on "Fish Lake" with mine tailings.  "Oh, don't worry, it will be all right, we will dig you another lake".  In 2010, for a supposed modern miner to behave in such a fashion, was astounding, and I do not know how the markets could not see this?  Franco-Nevada (FNNVF.PK) even had signed a royalty agreement in May 2010 of $350 million with Taseko for future off take of the Gold production. 

Both Taseko and Franco-Nevada management must have been wearing blinders for them to not understand the enormity of this environmental issue.

China Closing Smaller Coal Mines

Does the reader remember the incident of the 100 kilometer long traffic jam in Northern China this summer?  Well, is the reader aware of the cause of the traffic jam?   China has been closing and consolidating smaller environmentally unsound and unsafe coal mines. 
China relies on coal for around 70 per cent of its energy needs. About half of this is local coal, a large proportion coming from the small and inefficient mines that litter inland China. For many years, thousands of small and illegal coal mines in Shanxi province (west of Beijing) supplied the capital and surrounding towns with cheap coal. Given the lack of investment by mine owners in safety, compounded by the poor implementation of standards by local authorities, these mines are the most dangerous in the world.
The main cause of the traffic jam was the flood of coal trucks bringing coal from further away areas to the Beijing capital region. 

Even with electrical shortages looming, due to the coal shortage, the Chinese government is acting to revamp the mining landscape in China.  Smaller coal mines with unsafe and unsound practices are being forced to close.  Larger miners are designated as consolidators and they have the option of purchasing and revamping the smaller closed mines.  This is being enacted upon thousands of small coal mines in China

Gold Miners in Latin America

There has been a spate of environmental issues that have cropped up for large Gold miners in Latin America this year.  Investors in New Gold (NGD) were surprised earlier this year when the Mexican authorities cancelled their Environmental Impact Statement with  their Mexican Cerro San Pedro mine.  Similarly Barrick (ABX) and Gold Corp (GG) denied any possible sulphide leakage from their Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic.   Most recently in October, the Guatemala government is charging  Gold Corp (GG) with pollution at their Marlin Mine in Guatemala.


These are examples of governmental responses to unpopular, unsound and unsafe mining practices.  There is a sea of change in environmental business practices that are impacting miners around the globe.  Investors are well advised to monitor this trend and take resulting action for their investments.

Disclosure: The author has no stake in the miners mentioned but is long junior mining equities.
Important Disclaimer

The information and opinions contained within this document reflect the personal views of the author and should be viewed as food for thought and amusement only. The author may from time to time have a position in any of the securities mentioned. There are no guarantees of the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information contained herein. Independent due diligence and discussions with one’s own investment and business advisor is strongly recommended. These writings are not to be construed as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security or as an endorsement of any product or service. We do not request or receive compensation in any form in order to feature companies in this publication. It is prohibited to copy or redistribute this document to any type of third party without the express permission of the author. This document may be quoted, in context, provided proper credit is given.

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