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Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Mining Week 1/’13: Anglo and Mittal sell iron ore assets

January 6, 2013 Comments off

Top Stories:

  • Anglo and Cliffs sell 5Mtpa Brazilian iron ore mine
    • Anglo American and Cliffs Natural Resources sell their 70% and 30% stakes in the Northern Brazilian Amapa iron ore mine to private miner Zamin Ferrous for approx. $400m. A year after buying their 70% share 4 years ago, Anglo took a $1.5bn writedown on the asset.
    • Sources: Anglo American; Financial Times; Reuters
  • Bumi looses $422m in derivatives trading
    • Bumi Resources, partly owned by Bumi plc and part of the dispute between the Bakri family and Nath Rotschild about the future of Bumi, posted a loss over the first 9 months of 2012 driven by low coal prices and a loss of over $400m on derivatives.
    • The loss on derivatives value was driven by a re-calculation of early payment rights, changing the discount rate of the value of that option from 5.25% to 17.2%.
    • Sources: Bumi Resources results; Financial Times; Wall Street Journal
  • ArcelorMittal sells 15% stake of Labrador Trough for $1.1bn
    • Cash-hungry steel maker and miner ArcelorMittal decided to sell a 15% stake of its Labrador Trough iron ore project in Canada to Chinese steel maker Posco and Taiwanese steel maker China Steel, also signing long-term offtake agreements.
    • Sources: ArcelorMittal press release; Financial Times; The Hindu

Trends & Implications:

  • The sale of iron ore mines or stakes by ArcelorMittal and AngloAmerican signal 2 different trends in the industry:
    • The large miners are actively divesting non-core assets, trying to focus management attention and funding on the large operations and development projects.
    • Many companies are having trouble securing the funds required to execute the enormous development projects that are currently in execution phase in the iron ore industry. Forming partnerships and selling minority stakes is often the cheapest way to obtain funding.
  • The loss reported by Bumi Resouces is not a sign of mismanagement, but rather a sign of cleaning up the books and trying to make sure the assets listed are actually worth what they are listed for. Valuation of options is a highly subjective art, and the management of Bumi Resources apparently chose to take the revaluation hit at a moment when low coal prices were forces the results into the red anyway.

2013 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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Mining Week 47/’12: BHP sells diamonds; Anglo pays for iron ore

November 18, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Harry Winston buys BHP’s diamond business for $500m
    • Diamond retailer Harry Winston has decided to buy BHP Billiton’s diamond business for $500m cash. The business consists of 80% of the EKATI diamond mine in Northern Canada and sorting and marketing units.
    • Both BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto put their diamond businesses up for sale this year. Rio Tinto might be reconsidering that decision as it couldn’t secure a good price for its Diavik mine and its Indian holdings have come back with good exploration results.
    • Sources: BHP Billiton press release; Harry Winston press release; Financial Times
  • Anglo’s Minas Rio iron ore project delayed and more expensive
    • Anglo American announced that Minas Rio, its 26.5Mtpa iron ore project in Brazil, will not start producing before the second half of 2014. The delay is caused by license issues around construction of power transmission lines.
    • Anglo also announced that the total capital cost for the project is “unlikely to be less that $8.0bn”, making this the first major iron ore project which costs more than $300 per millions tonnes capacity.
    • Sources: Anglo American press release; Reuters; mining.com
  • Qatar’s support appears to seal GlenStrata deal
    • The Qatar Sovereign wealth fund has announced it will support Glencore’s offer of 3.2 shares per share for Xstrata, making it very likely that the largest mining deal of the past years will become reality. Xstrata’s shareholders get to vote on Tuesday.
    • Qatar, Xstrata’s 2nd largest shareholder after Glencore, also announced it will abstain from voting on the retention incentive package for Xstrata top management, making it very likely that this >$200m retention package will not become reality.
    • Sources: Qatar holding; Financial Times 1; Financial Times 2

Trends & Implications:

  • Anglo’s issues in Brazil demonstrate the enormous importance of getting power issues for large projects sorted out early. Last month Rio Tinto’s enormous Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia was only hinging on a power supply agreement with the Mongolian and Chinese governments. Many projects in developing countries either need to secure power supply from other countries or have to build their own power plants, forcing them to go through tremendous licensing issues and import natural resources to get their operations powered up.
  • When the Xstrata retention package is voted down, a big group of top-level executives at Xstrata can be expected to start looking for new jobs quickly, opening up a great pool of talent for other companies. The corporate cultures at Xstrata and Glencore are so different that many miners will have to adjust to the more aggressive, top-down culture of the trading house. Many of the top managers will prefer to find a good job in another mining house instead.

2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Mining Week 04/’12: First test for Vale’s CEO vs. Brazilian government

January 29, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Vale starts to fight back against tax rulings
    • Vale announced its plans to appeal to the governments intent to charge $5.6bln worth of taxes on foreign earnings. The clash with the government promises to be the first real test for the new CEO Murilo Ferreira.
    • Mr. Ferreira took over the leadership of the company from Roger Agnelli, who was not reelected partly based on a disagreement with the government (which is control Vale via state-controlled shareholders) over $2bln taxation.
    • Sources: Vale press release; Financial Times; Bloomberg
  • Rio Tinto assumes full control of Oyu Tolgoi

Trends & Implications:

  • Vale estimates the impact of a review of the tax code on the company’s earnings to be approx. 4-5% of earnings. Taxation regimes around the world for specifically iron ore and copper mining are reviewed to make the countries benefit more from ‘extreme’ profits, which could be seen as a temporary phenomenon. However, the key issue in Vale is facing now is a debate about double taxation; paying taxes over profits after taxes realized in countries where the company is operating.
  • Rio Tinto’s control over Ivanhoe will help the company to put in place its management structure and have the project managed by some of its top project developers. Gaining full control of the project in this stage will help Rio Tinto to build the project according to the company’s standards, preventing costly and above all time-consuming future transitions in the operating structure. The global standards that enable effective project management more and more set the world’s largest miners apart from the ‘small’ mining firms with only a few operating assets. Very much like GE has become known as a great ‘project management company’, the world’s largest miners are more and more developing into ‘mine development’ companies in which development speed is the key success factor and navigating politics in developing countries is a key skill.

 

©2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Mining Week 44/’11: Exchange rate and steel headwinds

October 30, 2011 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Peabody and ArcelorMittal get MacArthur; then ArcelorMittal gets out
    • Only 2 days after PEAMcoal, the vehicle set up by Peabody energy and ArcelorMittal to buy Macarthur, announced it obtained a majority interest, Arcelor decided to get out of the combination. The company will sell the 16% of Macarthur it had to Peabody. Peabody had teamed up with ArcelorMittal because an earlier bid had not gained the support of the major shareholders.
    • Sources: Reuters; Financial Times; ArcelorMittal press release
  • Vale suffers $2.8bln exchange rate hit
    • Vale posted disappointing results for the 3rd quarter: the weak Brazilian real compared to the US dollar hit the company hard, iron ore spot prices dropped 27% q-on-q, and production volumes were lower than planned.
    • Sources: Vale press release; Financial Times; Wall Street Journal

Trends & Implications:

  • The move of ArcelorMittal out of the Macarthur acquisition is a surprising sign of hesitance and uncertainty about the development of the global steel market. The company prefers cashing $700mln over having to pay an additional $1.2bln to get 40% of the Australian coal miner. It still plans to build an iron and coal mining business to increase self-sufficiency. US steelmakers are also struggling and iron ores prices have plummeted in expectation of falling steel demand.
  • Exchange rates remain a very important factor in the competitiveness of miners because sales for miners around the world are typically in US dollars, irrespective of the currency in which costs are incurred. As shown in the exchange rate graphs below the Brazilian real has been hit harder than the Australian dollar, key currency for iron ore production of Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, in the past quarter.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Mining Week 43/’11: Uncertainty in Indonesia

October 23, 2011 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Freeport McMoran faces strikes in Indonesia
    • About half of the workers at Freeports’ Grasberg mine went on strike to demand higher pay, forcing the company to shut down operations. Several strikers have been killed by police and unknown gunmen in the past week.
    • Sources: FCX press release; Financial Times; Wall Street Journal
  • Rio Tinto sells aluminium, buys uranium
  • BHP shops for iron ore in Brazil
    • Junior miner Ferrous Resources, worth just over $3bln, is looking for a buyer. BHP Billiton and a Chinese company are talking with management to negotiate a price.
    • Sources: Financial Times; Fox Business

Trends & Implications:

  • Freeport’s social troubles in Indonesia are the latest labor issue in a rise of labor unrest in the latest year after years of relatively peace in the industry. The unrest mainly affects copper producers, which have seen profits rise with high copper prices, but did not want to increase worker’s compensation too much to secure long term competitiveness.
  • The large diversified miners are increasingly focusing their attention on a limited number of extremely large operations, divesting smaller operations. With the spending power of the ‘mining supermajors’ a divide seems to open between the few operators of the world’s key supply areas and the many operators of a range of smaller operations.
  • Rio Tinto might face challenges selling the unwanted aluminium assets in one package. Very few companies are able to do acquisitions worth over $7bln, and many of the companies that have the spending power might face antitrust limitations.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Vale Reaches Pact With Mine Workers

September 30, 2011 Comments off

“Brazilian mining company Vale SA said Thursday it struck a two-year collective labor accord with all of the country’s mining workers’ unions. The accord will give Vale employees an 8.6% pay rise effective November and a further 8% pay increase in November 2012, Vale said in a statement. In addition, the employees will get a bonus each year of 1,400 Brazilian reais ($744.68), the company said.

Also, employees who stay in their posts during the next two years will gain a special one-off bonus equivalent to 1.7 times their monthly salary under the agreement. This is designed to keep employees from leaving Vale to join rival iron-ore producers in Brazil, which is suffering from a shortage of skilled manpower in the mining and metals industry.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, September 22 2011

Observations:

  • Out of 71 thousand of Vale’s employees (Dec 31 2010) approx. 60 thousand work in Brazil.
  • The agreement holds the middle between Vale’s initial 7.5%/y offer and the union’s ‘15%/y plus bonuses’ demands. In previous years Vale gave a 7% increase annually. Inflation rate in Brazil has been around 5-6% over the past years.

Implications:

  • Creative bonus systems will become a more important part of the mining remuneration policies because skilled resources and talent are becoming increasingly scarce in the mining industry.
  • Brazil’s National Mining Plan foresees growth of the domestic iron ore production of 58% from 2011 to 2015. Current high ore prices will help to finance aggressive expansion, but the legislative processes around development and the shortage of workers form two important obstacles to realize this objective.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Chinese Consortium Buying Stake in Brazilian Miner

September 5, 2011 1 comment

“A consortium of five state-owned Chinese companies bought a 15% stake in the world’s largest niobium producer for US$1.95 billion in cash, a move that highlights the race among steelmakers to secure resources amid tightening supply.

Brazil’s Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração, known as CBMM, announced the deal on Friday. The company produces more than 80% of the world’s supply of niobium, which is used to strengthen steel and is widely employed in making cars and natural-gas pipelines.

China, whose steelmaking capacity has recently leapt to over 700 million metric tons a year, is the world’s biggest importer of niobium. Growth in emerging markets has underpinned demand for scarce commodities. World-wide demand for niobium grew 10% annually from 2002 through 2009.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, September 2 2011

Observations:

  • The group of 5 existing clients of CBMM buys 15% of the controlling stake of the Moreira Salles family. The family sold another 15% to a group of Japanese and Korean companies for $1.8bln in March.
  • Niobium is considered a rare earth mineral. Various governments tried to stimulate domestic mining of rare earths because China currently holds over 90% of global rare earth production. In May the new Brazilian government persuaded Vale to look into rare earth production.

Implications:

  • It is not fully clear why the Moreira Salles family sells minority stakes of their company. The almost $4bln the family raised by selling 30% is owned by the family, not by the company, and thus will not be used for expansion of the company. As the family held 55% of the company before this year (the other 45% is held by Unocal), ownership is now fragmented, with 2 or 3 of the shareholder groups required to support any major decision.
  • CBMM is well positioned to be the world’s leading niobium producer in the coming decades, as most of the world’s reserves are located in Brazil. Strengthening ties with this producer is crucial for steel makers in order to control their input prices. It will be a challenge for the large Indian and European steel makers to secure their niobium supplies without buying into a producer too.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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