Engineering & Mining Journal

MAY 2017

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NEWS - THIS MONTH IN COAL 28 E&MJ • MAY 2017 www.e-mj.com es of developing the vast Waterberg coal- fields in the north of the country are likely dead for now. Waterberg has long been viewed as a replacement for the deplet- ing Mpumalanga region fields with up a 500 billion mt resource. The region has escaped development up to now because of complex geology, a lack of rail infra- structure and poor water resources that will make exploitation costly. "In short, the Waterberg is a very big coal deposit, requiring large resources to mine it profitably," Prevost adds. "The scarcity of water makes impossible to open new mines there at this moment." Yancoal Secures Approval to Buy Rio Tinto's Australian Coal Mines The $2.5 billion U.S. deal between Yan- coal and Rio Tinto has been approved by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), according to Xinhua. The Australian-based Yancoal, controlled by a Chinese parent company, now has regu- latory approval to close the deal that will see them pick up key mines as Rio Tinto continues to divest its Australian assets. "Today's FIRB approval is a positive step forward for Yancoal, its sharehold- ers and the Hunter Valley, demonstrating the Australian government's support for continued investment into the local re- sources sector," said Reinhold Schmidt, CEO, Yancoal. The deal is still waiting for approval from shareholders of both companies. North Korean Ships Head Home After China Refuses Shipment A fleet of North Korean cargo ships is heading home to the port of Nampo, ac- cording to the Asia Times, after China ordered its trading companies to return coal. Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on February 26, cutting off the country's most important export product. To curb coal traffic between the two countries, China's customs department issued an official order on April 7 telling trading companies to return their North Korean coal cargoes, said three trading sources with direct knowledge of the order. A source at Dandong Chengtai, one of China's biggest buyers of North Ko- rean coking coal, said the company had 600,000 metric tons (mt) of North Ko- rean coal sitting at various ports, and a total of 2 million mt was stranded at Chinese ports. Eikon data shows that most of these ships have recently left Chinese coal ports, including Weihai and Peng Lai, re- turning to North Korea full or mostly filled with cargo. Previously, Reuters reported that Malaysia briefly prevented a North Korean ship carrying coal from China from entering its port in Penang because of a suspected breach in sanctions. The ship was eventually allowed to unload its 6,300 mt of anthracite coal. To make up for the shortfall from North Korea, China has ramped up imports from the United States in an unexpected boon for US President Donald Trump, who has declared he wants to revive his country's struggling coal sector. Eikon data shows no US coking coal was exported to China between late 2014 and 2016, but ship- ments soared to over 400,000 mt by late February. This trend was exacerbated af-

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