NEWS IN BRIEF
Good Week for Osisko Mining; the company hit a new gold zone at its Windfall project in Quebec, drilling 20.4 gold grams per tonne over 28 metres. “There is a lot of room for Windfall to grow,” said CEO John Burzynski
Bad Week for copper, down 16 per cent since June, as US President Trump has escalated his global trade war, putting tariffs on $34bn of Chinese goods. “Copper has become the lightning rod for concerns about economic growth,” wrote ANZ Bank
China's Spying on Rio
Stern Hu, colleagues believed, was a classically-trained violinist who drank pineapple juice at boozy dinners. In Rio Tinto's Shanghai office, where he was head of iron ore trading, Hu was so squeaky clean that he was known as “Vanilla”. Then in 2010, he was arrested and imprisoned for taking bribes and stealing state secrets.
Eight years on, and within days of Hu's release, a detailed account of his ordeal has appeared in Businessweek, based on conversations over three years.
Rio Tinto lost $1.3bn (£800m) in revenue during a “nightmarish” clash with Beijing, according to intelligence officials, as China played rough, blocking price increases for its steel industry. Hu had drawn up a list of buyers that had failed to honour contracts and was planning to shunt them from one-year to three-month deals, costing buyers millions of dollars. Soon after, he was arrested.
Rio's executives meanwhile noticed that their computers were acting strangely. Near London Bridge, a Rio representative was summoned to MI5, one of Britain's intelligence agencies: six countries had breached the company's IT systems. All the while, Rio was trying to rebuff a $150bn takeover by BHP and a raid on its shares by Chinese steel group Chinalco, one if its largest customers.
Rio Tinto, which fired Hu after he was convicted in a closed-door trial, declined to comment for the article.
Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist who has spent decades campaigning against America's environment agency, the EPA, has been appointed as its new head.
Wheeler, an appointee of President Donald Trump, “is low key and likes to keep a low profile,” colleagues said, but comes to the role armed with detailed knowledge of the EPA's statutes that he has previously worked to roll-back. Wheeler's predecessor, Scott Pruitt, who was also a climate-sceptic, was fired after paying $1,560 for 12 fountain pens.
India: “Maybe Risky”
Mercedes-Benz has added a new mineral to its list of commodities that are “maybe risky from a human rights perspective.” Mica, a sparkling element used to make cars look shiny, is commonly mined by children in India, and Mercedes says it has dropped a “sub-supplier” after inspecting three mines and finding “isolated abuses.”
Mercedes does not buy mica, which is also in lipstick and wallpaper, but has been mapping-out its supply chain to get in front of criticism, having been caught by CNN buying cobalt mined by children.
In response to an investigation by Reuters, diamond groups have similarly distanced themselves from a pattern of suicides in India's jewellery polishing district, caused by unsteady pay and poor conditions.
Thanks to copper and luxury wool, Mongolia's once again one of the world's fastest-growing economies, according to new figures released by the World Bank
Geologist Joe Mazumdar, editor of Exploration Insights, only really wanted to be a big game vet, he tells Global Mining Observer
How Henry Kissinger and a group of bankers in London turned Chile into the world's largest copper producer
At Grasberg in Indonesia, one man using a bulldozer that he drove down a mountain has unlocked $3bn to $6bn of metal each year