From expropriations in Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina to violent opposition in traditionally mining-friendly jurisdictions such as Peru and Chile, the rising political tensions pose a risk to a decade-long bonanza mining companies have enjoyed.
Commodity trader Glencore is tightening its grip on the global zinc market by moving material to inaccessible locations, forcing industrial users to pay high physical premiums for a metal that is in surplus.
For centuries, pilgrims have thronged to the Chilean mountain town of Andacollo – to worship at the historic church and to mine the dusty hills for copper. Now a new wave of pilgrims is worshipping at the altar of Andacollo – Canadians, in the form of Teck Resources Ltd., which that has spent more than US$ 440 million expanding an open-pit copper project on the edge of town.
The race is on for mining companies vying to become the world's next big producers of heavy rare-earth minerals, used to manufacture components for everything from vent fans for jet engines to laser-guided systems for smart bombs.