|Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018"||Frontier Securities||Tokyo Japan|
|"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award||ICC WTO||London|
Bitcoin has been kicking the stuffing out of most mining stocks lately, as the cryptocurrency continues to climb to new heights.
Over the last three months bitcoin has doubled in value every month, but with the gains have come some truly scary volatility. In the last week of November bitcoin dropped $2,000, plunging from north of $11,000 to $9,428 in just one session. But as of Sunday, bitcoin was on the move again, last trading at $11,274.
So it seems only natural that with many investors piling into cryptocurrency and blockchain technology companies, some precious metals companies might be tempted to make a pivot.
That's exactly what happened with a small Israeli gold company that decided six weeks ago to refocus on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. According to its website Natural Resource Holdings (TLV:NLH) has acquired five deposits in North America hosting a combined 1,590,000 ounces of gold, 34.5 million ounces of silver, and 430,000 tonnes of zinc/lead. Then the focus changed to bitcoin.
In the last month and a half the shares of NLH have leapt 1300% in Israeli New Shekels. According to Bitcoin.com the company's first step is to acquire a Canadian bitcoin mining farm, and is in negotiations with BACKBONE Hosting Solutions to buy 75% of its shares in exchange for 75% of its own stock. Bitcoin.com says the announcement has made NLH the 10th most actively traded stock on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Could other gold companies follow suit and lead to an eclipse of gold by bitcoin, with a rush of investors fleeing the gold space? According to renowned precious metals investor Frank Holmes, the answer is likely no.
That's because gold has other uses besides currency, it doesn't need massive amounts of power to be traded, and it is far more liquid. Or in his words:
For one, cryptos are strictly forms of currency, whereas gold has many other time-tested applications, from jewelry to dentistry to electronics.
Unlike cryptos, gold doesn’t require electricity to trade. This makes it especially useful in situations such as hurricane-ravished Puerto Rico, where 95 percent of people are reportedly still without power. Right now the island’s economy is cash-only. If you have gold jewelry or coins, they can be converted into cash—all without electricity or WiFi.
Finally, gold remains one of the most liquid assets, traded daily in well-established exchanges all around the globe. Every day, some £13.8 billion, or $18 billion, worth of physical gold are traded in London alone, according to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). The cryptocurrency market, although expanding rapidly, is not quite there yet.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved US$120 million in financing to support Mongolia’s efforts to restore debt sustainability, strengthen the social protection system, and enhance the competitiveness of the economy on Friday. The Mongolia Economic Management Support Operation First Development Policy Financing (DPF) comes at a critical juncture and aligns with the country’s moves towards strong policy adjustment.
A sharp drop in commodity prices and foreign investment, compounded by expansionary policies, created severe economic challenges for Mongolia. The budget deficit grew rapidly and borrowing on the international markets both contributed to a four-fold increase in government debt, while expansionary policies contributed to a sharp currency depreciation and a significant loss of international reserves since 2013.
“This program endorses many of the measures that the government has taken to put Mongolia’s economy on a healthier path. Policy reforms in priority areas will help fiscal adjustment, strengthen the social protection system, and improve the competitiveness of the economy. Together with the long-term and affordable financing from the program, the reforms will help stabilize government debt, while strengthening the social safety net,” said James Anderson, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia.
Although Mongolia’s legal system includes controls over fiscal deficits, these controls were largely circumvented in the past several years through off-budget expenditures. By consolidating off-budget and quasi-fiscal expenditures, spending priorities will be debated during budget negotiations. Reducing capital expenditure – the largest source of spending increase in 2016 – is also a priority target. Measures to boost revenues include a more progressive personal income tax system that will reduce taxes for lower income groups, as well as increases in excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco, supporting both health and revenue objectives. Other reforms to expand the tax base will follow in the coming years.
The program also endorses the government’s efforts to rebalance the social welfare system in favor of the poor, notably by strengthening the Food Stamp Program and laying the foundation for a poverty-targeted benefit. Mongolia experienced a sharp increase in poverty between 2014 and 2016, a reminder of the need for a robust system of protecting the poorest during economic downturns. The program includes reforms aimed at making the pension system sustainable.
Strengthening the investment climate will help Mongolia to unlock its long-term potential and reduce its reliance on commodity exports. Important reforms in this area include strengthening investor protection, streamlining permit requirements, strengthening animal health management to promote livestock production and exports, and improving the trade environment.
Exploring Cooperation Opportunities for Joint Management between Forest User Group and Private Sector as part of National Strategy Development www.reddplus.mn
Sustainable Forest Management and controlled harvesting offers a considerable opportunity to provide economic opportunities from forests. It supports enterprise and livelihood development, and ensures that forests are resilient to fire and pests. This is achieved through ensuring there is not competition for resources, such as water and light. Forest User Groups are a key factor in management of over 3 million hectares of forest estate, supporting livelihoods of 120 groups, and maintaining forests which provides vital ecosystem services, such as non-timber forest products, water and permafrost protection.
The workshop offers opportunity for private sector companies and community members to present problems and constraints and to decide on opportunities for cooperation and solutions for improved management in Mongolia. Civil society input is an important part of the stakeholder consultation process, and Mongolia is leading the way, in ensuring local stakeholders inputs are included in the strategy.
The workshop was organized under the REDD+ Mongolia’s civil society platform called the Forest and Sustainable Development Council. This was established to provide input to the development of policies and measures, and ensure local stakeholder and communities viewpoints are considered. The Council has provided considerable input towards development of the national REDD+ strategy and currently has over 18 representatives of organizations. A REDD+ strategy will be developed which aims to reduce forests degradation, enhance forests resources and provide economic opportunities for Forest User Groups and Enterprises as part of Mongolia’s sustainable development goals.
AN APPEAL launched by a WA mining executive imprisoned in Mongolia has failed.
Mo Munshi, a dual UK and Australian citizen, has been in detention in Ulaanbaatar since June.
The November appeal upheld the original sentence of 11 years in prison and penalty damages of 31 billion Mongolian Tugriks (around $16.7 million Australian dollars), but the court added a further penalty involving the suspension of mining licences.
Mr Munshi’s case now goes to the Mongolian Supreme Court and, according to his son Arif, may be heard “sometime in January 2018”.
“Dad could be moved at any point to a regional closed prison. Visitation rights are one short visit in 90 days and one long visit once in 120 days”.
He said the restrictions apply to lawyers and family alike. “Consular staff may be able to visit more often but they are unclear as to what they intend to do if dad gets moved” he said.
Radio 6PR was contacted by a man from Tasmania by the name of Ben who claims to be connected to the Mongolian ex-pat community.
Ben said that he had been in touch with a foreign national who had spent time in a cell with Mr Munshi and that “Mo’s back is in very bad shape and he is struggling to walk”.
Mr Munshi’s Perth lawyers who travelled to Mongolia in September described the conditions in detention as “bleak”, and echoed the family’s concerns about his deteriorating health.
They say he has been imprisoned in Mongolia for a civil matter and have called on the Federal Government for assistance.
Arif said the lack of assistance was disappointing. “It’s extremely distressing for us,” he said.
North Koreans have toiled and slept at construction sites in Mongolia, they have operated cashmere sewing machines, and their acupuncture skills are highly prized in one of the few democracies employing them.
But the nearly 1,200 North Koreans living in the country wedged between Russia and China must now pack their bags as Mongolia enforces tough United Nations sanctions severely curbing trade with Pyongyang.
The UN estimated in September that 100,000 North Koreans work abroad and send some $500 million in wages back to the authoritarian regime each year.
But the UN Security Council ordered nations to stop providing guest worker permits to North Koreans after Pyongyang detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb.
The US is now pushing for more sanctions after the regime tested another intercontinental ballistic missile in late November.
North Koreans have to leave Mongolia by the end of the year as their one-year work authorisations will not be renewed, the labour ministry said.
“Private entities will not be able to offer new contracts due to the UN resolution. Mongolia has been following every part of the resolution,” Shijeekhuugiin Odonbaatar, a Mongolian foreign ministry official, said.
The number of North Koreans working in Mongolia has dropped every year since peaking at 2,123 in 2013.
There were 1,190 North Koreans employed in the vast country of three million people as of November – often under murky work and living conditions.
Most of the North Koreans who work abroad are in China and Russia, but they have also been found elsewhere in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Across the world, they work 12-hour to 16-hour days, with only one or two days off per month. The North Korean government takes between 70 and 90 per cent of their monthly wages, which range from US$300 to US$1,000, according to the US State Department.
But their days abroad are numbered.
Some 150 North Koreans have left Angola. In Qatar, the contracts of some 650 construction workers will expire next year. Poland, where as many as 500 have laboured, will not renew work permits.
The head of a Russian parliamentary delegation visiting North Korea this week said “everything” must be done to allow those who have already received work permits to finish their jobs in Russia, where an expert estimates around 30,000 live.
In Mongolia, construction companies have hired North Koreans for their reputation for working long hours without complaint.
They live in toolsheds of construction sites or in the basements of flat projects. They never take time off or even leave the construction sites as they are not allowed to wander in the city on their own.
In September, a 27-year-old North Korean worker died after falling from a flat in a residential complex under construction in Ulan Bator.
A South Korean Christian activist who has sought to help North Koreans said he wished that Mongolians would do more for those who work in poor conditions.
Rio Tinto’s delivery of superior shareholder returns underpinned by $5 billion productivity drive www.riotinto.com
Rio Tinto today reinforced its focus on delivering superior cash returns for shareholders over the short, medium and long term as it unveiled key features of its drive to generate $5 billion of additional free cash flow over the next five years.
In a presentation to investors at a seminar in Sydney, Rio Tinto demonstrated how it leads the sector in delivering cash returns to shareholders, returning 40 per cent of cash generated to shareholders in the first half of 2017 – representing about half of all the returns by the top miners.
Rio Tinto also reiterated an unwavering focus on safety and cash generation and provided for the first time a detailed review of how it will drive further productivity across its portfolio, from mine through to market.
Reaffirming its successful value-over-volume strategy built on world-class assets, a strong balance sheet, disciplined capital allocation and operational excellence, Rio Tinto said its portfolio of high-quality products had a strategic competitive advantage in commodities that are playing a key role in global urbanisation. Providing customers with the quality products that are in high demand in key markets secures a premium and positions Rio Tinto to continue to outperform its peers.
Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “All the evidence shows that our value-over-volume strategy is working: delivering superior cash returns for our shareholders, including $8.2 billion announced in 2017. We returned to shareholders 40 cents in every dollar of cash generated by the business in the first half.
“Looking ahead, the $5 billion productivity programme will help drive value over the next five years. With our top-tier assets producing quality low-cost products in high demand, a strong growth pipeline and the best balance sheet in the industry, we have a strong platform for future growth. Our Group target of $1.5 billion of annual additional free cash flow from 2021 will ensure we can continue to lead the pack in delivering superior cash returns to our shareholders.”
Rio Tinto also provided an update on how it plans to keep growing its business, including significant brownfield, high-return growth, replacement and productivity improvement opportunities. Options under consideration include the Koodaideri project in the Pilbara, brownfield Aluminium options in Canada, the Resolution copper project in the US and the Jadar lithium project in Serbia. These projects will build on recent investments in high-quality growth projects – Silvergrass (iron ore in Western Australia), Amrun (bauxite in Queensland) and Oyu Tolgoi (copper and gold in Mongolia) – that will deliver internal rates of return of more than 20 per cent.
Industry fundamentals remain sound, supported by a healthy global economic outlook. While Rio Tinto remains optimistic about China in the medium to long term, there could be a slowdown over the next six months, with a weakening in construction, infrastructure and automotive demand growth during that period.
Canada’s First Cobalt Corp. (TSX-V:FCC) (ASX:FCC), the largest landowner in the Cobalt Camp in Ontario, announced the completion of its merger with CobalTech Mining Inc. by way of plan of arrangement.
The arrangement was approved by the Supreme Court of British Columbia but it remains subject to final approval of the TSX Venture Exchange. In the meantime, trading of shares of CobalTech will be halted. The shares have to be delisted from the TSX Venture Exchange at close of December 4, 2017.
As a result of the merger, CobalTech shareholders will receive 0.2632 of a common share of First Cobalt for each CobalTech share held and CobalTech will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Cobalt. All outstanding share purchase warrants of CobalTech have also been exchanged.
First Cobalt, a firm that began drilling at the Cobalt Camp in 2017, controls over 10,000 hectares of prospective land and 50 historic mining operations as well as a mill and the only cobalt refinery in North America permitted to produce battery materials.
The company is currently advancing its Silver Centre property, a 2,100-hectare site in the historic mining camp located 400 kms north of Toronto and 25 kms south of Cobalt, Ontario. The property includes the formerly active Keely-Frontier mine, a high-grade mine that produced over 3.3 million pounds of cobalt and 19.1 million ounces of silver.
The miner expects to discover new high-grade cobalt and silver mineralization at the site, based on results from a 2012 exploration program.
“Over a very short period we have created the largest cobalt exploration company in the world, controlling almost half of what we believe may be the most prospective cobalt district outside of the DRC. We intend to pursue an aggressive exploration program in 2018 while continuing to assess other growth opportunities," First Cobalt's President & Chief Executive Officer, Trent Mell, said in a corporate press release.
Rio Tinto has appointed Simon Thompson as chairman. Mr Thompson, who joined the Rio Tinto board as a non-executive director in 2014, will become chairman on 5 March 2018. He succeeds Jan du Plessis who will step down as chairman and from the Rio Tinto board on the same date after serving almost nine years as chairman.
Mr Thompson has over 20 years’ experience working across five continents in the mining and metals industry. From 1995 to 2007, he worked for the Anglo American group, holding a number of senior positions, including executive director of Anglo American plc, chief executive of the Base Metals Division, chairman of the Exploration Division, and chairman of Tarmac. His experience as a non-executive director includes serving on the boards of AngloGold Ashanti, Rusal and Newmont Mining Corporation.
Mr Thompson has been chairman of 3i Group plc since 2015 and was chairman of Tullow Oil plc from 2012 to 2017. Earlier in his career, he held investment banking positions at S.G. Warburg and N M Rothschild.
Rio Tinto senior independent director Ann Godbehere said “The Rio Tinto board would like to thank Jan for his significant contribution as chairman of Rio Tinto. He led the board during considerable transformation of the company.
“The board is delighted to have appointed Simon to chair Rio Tinto. He brings to the role a deep understanding of the mining industry, as well as a strong track record as a non-executive.”
Simon Thompson said “I am honoured to accept this role and to succeed Jan as chairman. Rio Tinto is in great shape, with a strong management team, world-class assets and a successful strategy. I look forward to leading the board as we work with J-S and his team to ensure that Rio Tinto continues to deliver superior returns for its shareholders by maintaining its capital discipline and ‘value-over-volume’ approach”.
Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis said "I am really pleased to be succeeded by Simon, especially given how closely we have worked together since he joined the board some three years ago. I wish him the very best. I am handing over the baton at a time when the business is in great shape and Rio Tinto has the strongest balance sheet in the sector”.
Upon assuming the role of chairman, Mr Thompson will step down as chairman of the Rio Tinto remuneration committee and will also cease to be a member of the audit committee. Sam Laidlaw, who previously chaired the remuneration committee at HSBC Holdings plc, will succeed Mr Thompson as chair of the Rio Tinto remuneration committee with effect from 5 March 2018.
TOKYO -- Call it a consequence of Beijing tightening its ban on poor-quality steel made from melted scrap, but China is fast becoming a major exporter of scrap iron.
A campaign to shut down furnaces that produce steel that fails to meet environmental and quality standards has created a 68 million-ton glut of scrap iron in China, said Seiichi Hayashi, head of Steel Recycling Research, a Japanese scrap iron research firm.
The export drive began in April, and as scrap found its way to Vietnam, one of Japan's largest markets for scrap iron, the Japanese industry was left to fret.
China's scrap iron exports spiked to 15,000 tons in April from a monthly average of 240 tons in the first quarter of 2017. They further skyrocketed to 80,000 tons in May and 510,000 tons in September. This compares with Japan's monthly average of 680,000 tons during the first 10 months of the year.
Concerns about the Chinese deluge temporarily pushed down scrap iron prices in Japan. But since Beijing regards scrap iron as an important resource, it levies a 40% export tax on the material, dimming prospects that China will start flooding markets with cheaper product in the near future.
"We are not overly concerned that Chinese exports may flood the Japanese market and cause prices to sink," said Kazuyoshi Aizawa, president of a scrap dealer in Kawasaki.
Tokyo Steel Manufacturing this spring did import Chinese scrap for its plant in Kyushu, in the south of the country.
For plants in Kyushu, which is close to China, this makes sense, said an executive at a steelmaker that uses electric furnaces in Japan's eastern Kanto region. But the company has no intention of following suit because transportation costs would offset the benefits, the executive added.
There are also concerns about the quality of Chinese scrap iron. "We cannot be 100% confident about the quality," said a manager in charge of purchasing at a blast-furnace steelmaker. "We have no plan to buy [Chinese scrap] no matter how cheap it is."
Attitudes are different in other Asian markets. In September, when Chinese scrap iron exports hit this year's monthly high for the first 10 months of the year, China exported 68,000 tons to Vietnam. Japan exported 129,000 tons to the country that month.
The figures alarm the Japanese industry because monthly Chinese exports to Vietnam were less than 10,000 tons until May and 20,000 tons in June.
Chinese exports can take land routes to Vietnam, which gives them a big advantage over those from Japan. "Offers for Japanese scrap iron from Vietnam have been decreasing," Aizawa said. "There is no doubt that Chinese exports are roiling Asian markets."
If Japanese exports decline due to Chinese competition, Hayashi of Steel Recycling Research said, domestic scrap prices will fall.
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has released an analysis of images taken inside a damaged reactor.
The images were captured during a probe of the No.3 reactor by a remote-controlled robot in July.
The probe confirmed for the first time the existence of lumps that are likely to be fuel debris as well as damaged components of the reactor.
Fuel debris is a mixture of melted nuclear fuel and broken reactor parts. It is believed to be accumulating inside the containment vessels of the 3 reactors that underwent meltdowns at the plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Company officials said on Thursday night that one of the images taken just below the pressure vessel of the No.3 reactor shows damaged tube-shaped devices that were used to insert control rods into the reactor.
They said they also confirmed that the cables laid along a supporting structure called a pedestal were severely damaged.
The officials said the cables, which are connected to thermometers, will melt only at temperatures over 1,000 degrees Celsius. They said this could suggest that molten fuel and other objects fell from the reactor and inflicted the damage on the cables.
Tokyo Electric plans to conduct further analyses as part of its efforts to work out ways to remove the fuel debris. The removal is an important step toward decommissioning the disabled plant.