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Posts tagged ‘Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee’

Week in review

November 2nd, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for October 27 to November 2, 2012

by Greg Klein

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No one ever said mining’s risk-free

A Chinese gang leader has been sentenced to death for illegal mining and a number of assaults. A story covered by China Daily and Industrial Minerals on Wednesday reported that Pan Guangjuan and his gang had been running a rare earths operation in Guangdong province from November 2011 to February 2012. On conviction he was also fined $24,000 and deprived of his political rights for life. The death sentence comes with a two-year reprieve.

Other countries have been cracking down too—not only on illegal mining, but illegal mining by Chinese. On Monday prosecutors in the Philippines dropped charges against two Chinese after police and military raided gold dredging operations. According to Reuters, small-scale gold mining, legal and illegal, is widespread in the Philippines but up to 90% of production is smuggled to China via Hong Kong.

A mining and exploration retrospect

In Ghana over 90 Chinese were arrested last month during a crackdown in which a teenage boy died, the Financial Times reported. A previous Ghanaian raid on illegal miners resulted in 38 Chinese being deported last September. Chinese are playing an increasing role in illegal mining in Ghana, partly because of their access to Chinese dredging equipment, the FT stated. The story quoted an official for the Ghana Chamber of Mines, who said, “There are environmental issues, poor working conditions and child labour problems because they use Ghanaian children. They pay them whatever they want, and there are no contracts or safety standards.”

Another government official quoted by the FT said, “Most of these Chinese illegal miners are heavily armed and shoot at anyone that gets near them.”

Are gold reserves lent out, sold short or stored safely?

Over 60 countries store gold in underground vaults at New York’s Federal Reserve Bank. Now a GATA-esque movement is growing in the country that is, theoretically, the world’s second-largest gold owner. On Tuesday Spiegel reported that a member of Germany’s governing coalition, Peter Gauweiler, has finally found limited success in his long campaign to repatriate his country’s gold. The Frankfurt-based central bank will bring home 150 tons of gold over three years for inspection. The Bundesbank also plans to count and weigh the gold bars stored in New York.

The move responds to a damning indictment from Germany’s Federal Audit Office, which criticized the Fed for refusing access to German auditors. Hardly reassured by the planned audit, politician Heinz-Peter Haustein told media that “all the gold has to be shipped back,” Spiegel reported.

Not surprisingly, the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee was all over the story this week. An article by Lars Schall covered a Thursday speech given by Bundesbank executive Andreas Dombret. He told his New York audience that Germany’s “bizarre public discussion” will soon pass.

“We are confident that our gold is in safe hands with you,” Schall quoted him. “The days in which Hollywood Germans such as Gert Frobe, better known as Goldfinger, and East German terrorist Simon Gruber masterminded gold heists in U.S. vaults are long gone. Nobody can seriously imagine scenarios like these, which are reminiscent of a James Bond movie with Goldfinger playing the role of a U.S. Fed accounting clerk.”

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Week in review

October 26th, 2012

A mining and exploration retrospect for October 20 to 26, 2012

by Greg Klein
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B.C. avalanche kills mining contractor

A surveyor working for Seabridge Gold TSX:SEA lost his life in northwestern British Columbia on Tuesday. According to a company statement, “Two experienced surveyors were working on a slope near the camp located at Sulphurets Creek when the avalanche occurred. One was able to get to safety; the other was swept into a gully and did not survive. A trained emergency rescue team was at the site of the accident within minutes.”

A mountainous, isolated but busy mining and exploration region east of the Alaska Panhandle, B.C.’s Golden Triangle is subject to heavy snow. Media reports, however, said the avalanche came unusually early in the season.

The B.C. Coroners Service identified the victim as 50-year-old Pat Lawrence Desmarais of Telkwa, B.C.

Cautious optimism about South Africa

A somewhat reassuring tone accompanied news from South Africa this week. On Thursday Bloomberg reported that “gold producers represented by the Chamber of Mines signed an agreement with labour unions over changes to pay and job categories today. Members have ‘overwhelmingly’ accepted the offer which, when added to a [previous] two-year deal, will see wages increase by as much as 20.8%.” Media accounts imply that as gold miners return to work, other miners will follow.

A mining and exploration retrospect

Also on Thursday, Reuters said the strikes caused Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to cut his 2012 GDP forecast from 2.7% to 2.5%. He emphasized more time is needed to determine the strikes’ full impact but “we will take that knock, recover from it and move on because life doesn’t end now or next week. Life moves on.”

On Friday Kitco.com provided another weekly summary of how major companies are faring in South Africa.

Dehua debacle drags on

Mandarin is no longer a requirement for Canadian miners who want to work for Canadian Dehua International’s Canadian projects. But it’s “definitely an asset.”

The company ignited controversy earlier this month over its plan to import thousands of Chinese to work in four proposed coal mines in northeastern B.C. The federal and provincial governments support the plan, partly because the company said recruitment efforts within Canada failed. The United Steelworkers union then revealed that the company, along with HD Mining International (40% held by Canadian Dehua and 55% by Huiyong Holdings), had made Mandarin-language skills essential for at least 70 positions advertised in Canada.

Now the company has downgraded that requirement to “definitely an asset.” On Wednesday the Vancouver Province reported eight such ads on the Mining Association of British Columbia’s Web site. By Friday four were still in place, for a civil engineer, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer and mining engineer.

A Wednesday Vancouver Sun story reported that Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) urged the federal government to suspend the Chinese miners’ work permits “until an investigation determines whether Canadians were given an adequate chance to show they can fill the jobs.”

The outrage is hardly limited to Canada. On Friday Taiwanese animators Next Media Animation presented their take in a video. With admirable consideration for Canadians, they even provided an English-language version.

Read more about Canadian Dehua’s personnel policy here and here.

Central banks move in mysterious ways

Gold resumed its unsteady rise above $1,700 after dropping to Wednesday’s $1,698.70, the lowest price since September 7, Bloomberg reported. “More and more central banks are getting involved in the gold market,” the news agency quoted David Meger of Vision Financial Markets in Chicago. In an article re-posted by MarketWatch on Saturday, 24/7 Wall St. compared central bank gold reserves with their corresponding countries’ GDP and other economic highlights. There were some surprises.

The Netherlands ranks 63rd in the world for population and 17th for GDP, but ninth for gold reserves (612.5 tonnes). Like some other European countries, the Netherlands hasn’t yet sold all the gold required under the Central Bank Gold Agreement, 24/7 Wall St. stated. “It may need that gold to protect itself if the euro comes unravelled.”

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