Tag Archives: China

Taga: Volatile nature of mining impacts bauxite

The number of bauxite export cannot be estimated for 2017 because of volatile nature of the mining business, says director Mineral Development Dr Raijeli Taga. Picture: Luke Rawalai

Serafina Silaitoga | The Fiji Times | May 17, 2017

Director Mineral Development Dr Raijeli Taga said this resulted in one shipment being sent so far this year to China.

This, she said, was sent in March.

Despite this situation, Dr Taga said XINFA Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd would continue with its mining operation to stockpile for later export when the commodity price improved.

“The number of bauxite export cannot be estimated for 2017 due to volatile nature of the mining business,” she said.

“Further exports will be purely a business decision of the tenement holder which will depend on the market price in terms of profitability and sustainability of their operations.

“If the export price is not feasible then the tenement holder would continue with the mining activity and export when the price is right.”

For last year, Dr Taga said the export declined because of low commodity price in China who was the primary buyers of Fijian bauxite.

“Since the bauxite from Fiji is not of premium grade, it has to compete with bauxite from countries such as Australia, Mongolia and Indonesia which are of superior grade,” she said.

“According to the quarter one update of 2017 from the Bauxite Index, the Chinese domestic alumina prices have fallen from recent highs in January, as supply was ramped up to take advantage of the higher prices.

“Subsequently, it assumed that the bauxite export would be very similar to 2016 unless the price improves.”

However, announcements, she said indicated that bauxite import would remain weak as China had suspended spot import for three months because of ample cheaper DOM (Days on Market) supply.

She said Beijing also announced plans for winter cuts


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Indigenous women speak out against extractive industries in the Amazon

amazon indigenous women

Land is Life

Yesterday at United Nations Headquarters, Alicia Cahuiya (Vice President of NAWE, the Waorani Nation of Ecuador) and Gloria Ushigua (President of Ashiñwaka, the Sápara Women’s association) from the Ecuadorian Amazon spoke out against the threats to Indigenous rights due to extractive industries in their lands and territories.

With support from Land is Life and Acción Ecológica, the two leaders traveled to New York for the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. They are here to request a meeting with the Permanent Mission of China to the UN following the signing of two new oil projects between the Ecuadorian government and Chinese oil companies to explore oil reserves in their ancestral territories without their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

“We are here to defend our rights because they are contaminating our lands and rivers… and the Ecuadorian government is not defending the rights of the Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation, the Taromenane”
– Alicia Cahuiya, Vice President of NAWE

The Amazonian women were also joined in solidarity by Indigenous leaders from North America and Asia. “Our strength is the unity of the communities affected by extractive actions,” declared Beverly Longid of Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation.

Ms. Cahuiya and Ms. Ushigua read the letter to the Chinese Mission to the UN and are hoping to arrange a meeting in the coming days. They expect that United Nations system will listen to their voices and fully respect their rights.

The Amazonian women launched an emergency appeal from within the UN to seek international solidarity of all Indigenous Peoples, citizens and governments around the world to defend their traditional cultures and territories.

The letter to the Chinese Mission


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Offshore nuclear power plants next step for seabed mining?

china nuclear power

China’s Daya Bay nuclear power plant is land-based, but future plants may be offshore

Platforms at sea to house nuclear power plants to provide electricity for seabed mining…


Breakbulk | 29 Feb 2016

Heavy lift professionals could face dramatically different and unique challenges if China’s nuclear power industry follows through with a top official’s proposal to build the world’s first nuclear power plant at sea.

Xu Dazhe, director of the China Atomic Energy Authority, who also serves as head of the nation’s space agency, proposed the ocean-based power plant idea Jan. 27, according to state media.

The plan calls for building platforms at sea that can support relatively small nuclear power plants to provide electricity for seabed mining operations in deep waters and desalination plants near the nation’s shoreline.

Shipbuilding industry officials say they support the plan, which is already the subject of major research initiatives by science institutes linked to China National Offshore Oil Corp. and the state-run nuclear industry.

Under the plan, according to media reports, the project would include building floating as well as submersible power plant platforms. The latter would be deployed in areas where stormy seas are prevalent.

The report gave no timetable for launching the project. China is building dozens of land-based nuclear power plants and marketing its technology overseas.

U.S.-based nuclear power plant builder Westinghouse proposed building offshore nuclear power stations in the 1970s, including a plant near the beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey. But the plan was scrapped after the Three Mile Island plant disaster in 1979.

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China tries to lure India with deep sea mining deal in Indian Ocean

Saibal Dasgupta | Times of India

China has come up with a sweetheart deal to break through India’s resistance to its attempt to access the Indian Ocean. It is offering India an opportunity to participate in joint seabed mining in the ocean, which has strong potential of yielding expensive minerals.

“China and India are both developing countries and contractors with the International Seabed Authority, so we have a lot in common and plenty of opportunities for further cooperation,” said He Zongyu, deputy director of the China Ocean Mineral Resource R&D Association.

The offer comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit to China starting May 14. The issue is likely to figure in the official level talks.

China is looking towards India for accessing the Indian Ocean because it feels that Sri Lanka cannot be fully relied upon for this task. The new government in Sri Lanka has suspended work on two Chinese funded projects including the construction of port city of Colombo, which had been contracted by the previous government.

The offer of joint seabed exploration was made recently by Chen Lianzeng, deputy director of China’s State Oceanic Administration, who visited India on April 20. He also suggested the two countries enhance cooperation on oceanic research and development.

India is an ideal partner because the two countries are almost at the same level in terms of the development of deep seabed mining, He said.

“If we cooperate, we could share the costs, the risks and the benefits,” He said.

Though called “association”, it is really an official body enthrusted with the task of exploration and development of ocean floor and subsoil.

India may have to consider not just the risks of allowing access to the Indian Ocean but the fact that deep seabed mining is an extremely expensive business. The cost for one mining site is upwards of $1.6 billion, according to He.

Besides accessing the Indian Ocean, China wants New Delhi to give up its plans for joint exploration for oil with Vietnam in a portion of the South China Sea, which China claims as its own territory. China has been opposing this part of India-Vietnam relationship for a long time.

China won a contract from the International Seabed Authority for a polymetallic sulfides exploration area of 10,000 square kilometers in the southwest Indian Ocean in 2011. It has also signed two contracts for exploration areas in the Pacific Ocean.

“But the rich findings in the Indian Ocean make this area a focus for China’s future work,” the official Xinhua news agency said.

Last March, a Chinese manned deepsea submersible Jiaolong finished a 118-day expedition in the Indian Ocean. It discovered several new hydrothermal vents-deep-sea fissures that emit hot water. The findings could help research into resources and environments of seafloor sulfide deposits that contain various metals, Xinhua said.

China also sent research vessel Dayang Yihao making it the first time that two major oceanic research facilities working in the Indian Ocean at the same time.

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Shipment of bauxite to China expected at the end of this month

Watisoni Butabua | Fiji Village

Bauxite mining

Bauxite mining

The first shipment of more than 80,000 tonnes of bauxite to China for this year is expected to leave Fiji at the end of the month.

Aurum Explorations Fiji Limited Mine Manager Basilio Vanuaca said the delay is due to bad weather experienced in Nawailevu, Bua.

He said the company’s aimed is to export 800,000 tonnes of bauxite to China before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the bauxite mining company is awaiting government to approve the mining license for a new site.

Vanuaca said the Mataqali Naita of Votua village in Lekutu, Bua, have agreed to give their land for bauxite mining to be done around 500 metres from the current site in Nawailevu.

He said the landowners after consultation agreed to the project, citing growth in development opportunities.

More than 200 people are employed at the current bauxite mining site.

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India’s ‘deep-sea mining’ capability gets a fillip

Abhijit Singh | Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis

Over the past few years, ‘deep sea-mining’ has been the subject of a lively debate among maritime analysts. With global appetite for minerals and rare metals growing, the competition for deep sea-spaces rich with poly-metallic nodules and hydrothermal deposits has been increasing. Much of the interest in deep-sea mining has been led by the discovery that poly-metallic sulphides – a great source of valuable minerals such as gold, silver and zinc – also contain valuable rare-earth metals, a commonly used ingredient in modern day electronic devices and gadgets. As a result, many countries have embarked upon a drive to upgrade their under-sea mineral exploration and extraction capabilities.

Against this backdrop, the recent acquisition of India’s deep-sea exploration ship ‘SamudraRatnakar’ by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) is a noteworthy development. A state-of-the-art platform acquired from South Korea, the SamudraRatnakar is equipped with sophisticated deep-sea survey instruments like doppler profilers, multi-beam sonars, acoustic positioning systems, marine magnetometers and a marine data management system, which give it a qualitative edge over other survey ships.

While its many features are meant to facilitate modern geo-scientific oceanographic research, the new ship’s chief attribute is its cutting-edge deep-sea exploration capability. With an impressive array of instruments and a modern on-board laboratory, the new ship represents a technological leap in India’s sea-mining prowess. It is worth noting that India already has a limited deep-sea exploration capability in the form of the SagarNidhi (a research vessel operated by the National Institute of Ocean Technology). The SamudraRatnakar, however, is far more advanced in its features and systems that enable a rigorous survey of the sea-bed, and an accurate analysis of the excavated material. Not surprisingly, it is being seen as an illustration of India’s determination to be a serious player in deep sea mining and research.

India is not the only nation with interests in sea-bed mining. By a predictable coincidence, China – which controls more than 95% of rare earth metals – also heads the list of states with a deep interest in deep-sea mineral exploration. Over the past decade, China has established a healthy lead over all its competitors and has the most sophisticated program in extracting valuable minerals from the sea-bed.

The initiative that India is now displaying in deep-sea mining seems linked to China’s perceived ‘strategic-play’ in the Indian Ocean. In 2011, when the International Sea Bed Authority’s (ISBA’s) decided to allow the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) to undertake exploration for poly-metallic sulphides in a 10,000 sq. kms area in the south-west Indian Ocean it caused a flutter in the Indian strategic community, which saw the development as a geo-strategic gambit aimed at extending China’s footprint in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

What did not draw much attention then was the fact that the COMRA’s exploration rights in the Indian Ocean were over and above its existing allocation in the Western Pacific. A 15-year contract with the seabed authority in 2001 had given China rights to explore 75,000 sqkms of seabed for poly-metallic nodules (small rocks containing metal ore – manganese, copper, cobalt, etc) in which it has shown rapid progress in extracting the minerals.

This is significant because ISBA’s 2011 decision resulted in China establishing mining rights in two major oceanic systems that contain the world’s most important sea lines of communication. To be sure, China’s deep-sea exploration rights weren’tapparently acquired through any backroom maneuveres or use of geo-strategic clout. The license to explore the Western Indian Ocean sea-bed was, in major part, attributable to a concerted effort at scouting the seas and gathering evidence for the presence of mineral nodes on the sea bed. In fact, China’s mining rights in the IOR were given six years after a Chinese government-sponsored expedition team found clues of an enormous belt of poly-metallic sulphides in a deep-sea rift south of Madagascar.

India’s recent efforts to be a serious player in the strategic arena of deep sea mining have resulted in the commissioning of a rare-earth mineral processing plant in Orissa, and a project to up-grade older exploration ships. ‘Deep-sea mining’ has now been officially recognised as a future frontier of scientific research, a notion first detailed in the vision plan outlined by a National Security Council policy paper in 2012. Interestingly, the policy document also covered the broader domain of ‘rare earths’, mandating the creation of a stockpile of ‘strategically critical input metals’. As a corollary, New Delhi has commenced a search for partners that it could combine forces with to bolster its efforts towards exploration and mining of rare minerals.

One such agreement was concluded with Japan in November 2012. As part of the larger framework of Indo-Japan strategic collaboration, an agreement was signed for the exploration and production of rare earths, following which India is setting up a monazite processing plant in Orissa. Japan – the second largest consumer of rare earths -is driven by its anxiety of China’s monopolistic practices, and has been leading efforts to openup the market.

A significant component of Tokyo’s new policy of regional integration is building capacity for extraction of rare earths. The new approach was much in evidence during Japan’s recent offer to Vietnam to assist in the construction of a Research and Technology Transfer Centre in Hanoi.Encouraged by Tokyo’s ‘rare earths diplomacy’, New Delhi is now said to be mulling over a proposal for deep-sea mining and production technology from Tokyo under the strategic dialogue framework, and the acquisition of more deep-sea exploration vessels.

India’s anxieties vis-a-vis Chinese deep sea mining capability are sharpened by Beijing’s history of using of rare earths as a ‘bargaining chip’ to extract strategic concessions. Consider, for instance, the 2010 episode when China blocked Japan’s supply of rare-earth minerals for two months over skirmishes relating to disputed territorial claims in the China Seas. So strong and pervasive has China’s ‘hard-bargaining’ tactics been with respect to rare earths, that in 2012 the World Trade Organization even created a panel to investigate its pernicious influence on the market.

The latest addition to India’s deep sea exploration capability must, however, be tempered with the reality of its efforts so far in this area. Despite being a “pioneer investor” in the Indian Ocean’s mineral exploration and mining sector, and the allotment of 150,000 sq. km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin by the ISBA in 2002, India’s lack of initiative and action in deep-sea mining has been striking. Following years of exploratory inaction, mining rights in many of the blocks in the south-west Indian Ocean had to be surrendered to the ISBA.

By a rough estimate, the total mass of nodules in the area allocated to India in the Indian Ocean is about 380 million metric tonnes. But merely having a deep sea exploration vessel will not be sufficient to find and extract the material. India will need trained scientists and onboard equipment operators and a focused action plan to get to the minerals at the bottom of the sea.

While a start has undoubtedly been made, if India desires to seriously challenge China’s sea-bed mining superiority, it will need to develop its capability to explore for hydro-thermal sulphides deposits and the chance to extract valuable rare-earths. Until then China’s dominance in the field will continue to be a cause for concern for India.

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France yet to signal direction on rare earth exploration in Pacific


The mining of rare earth minerals in the Pacific could be a step closer, with the United Nations International Seabed Authority publishing a plan for managing the extraction of the precious metals.

The metals, which are vital for manufacturers of items like cameras, computers and aeroplanes, are reportedly in strong supply in seabeds around French Polynesia.

A report from Radio New Zealand International says China currently holds a lion’s share of the export market in the rare minerals, but new discoveries in Greenland and the Pacific Ocean seabed could signal significant movement in the market.

Last year, a pro-independence politician Richard Tuheiava called for a law change that would allow French Polynesia to explore and mine in the exclusive economic zone that is controlled by France.

The emerging industry could provide relief for France with jobs and investment opportunities.

In his speech after winning this year’s election, President Gaston Flosse said exploration of rare earths would be on his agenda.  
In French President Francois Hollande’s campaign he promised French Polynesia recognition of its natural resources, but he has so far not signalled which direction France will take on the issue.

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