China Top Stories

Worst commodity returns since 1987 spawned by virus sell-off

Bloomberg Commodity Index slid for a fifth session Friday, in…

Chinese metals association suggests stockpiling as virus hits demand

The start of stockpiling "can effectively alleviate the increase in…

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Gold goes viral in China as imports hit just under 2 tonnes per day

Consumers made the most of the dip in the price of bullion and mainland China's gold purchases via Hong Kong hit a record 56.9 tonnes in September, a sixfold increase year-on-year and up 30% from August, according to figures released by the Hong Kong government and reported by the FT. Quarterly data from the Hong Kong census and statistics office showed the Middle Kingdom imported about 140 tonnes of gold via Hong Kong in the three months from July to September ahead of the festival season, more than the roughly 120 tonnes for the whole of 2010. Over the last decade China's share of total global demand for bullion has climbed from 6% to 18%.

Silvercorp emerges from short and distort saga awash with cash

Silvercorp Metals on Tuesday reported revenue of $62.1 million for its second quarter, up 71% from the same period last year. Cash flow from operations hit a record $35.2 million, or $0.20 per share, up 140% from 2011 while net income of $18.5 million, or $0.11 per share, showed a 49% increase. Silver production of 1.4 million ounces rose a disappointing 4% but gold production shot up to 2,516 ounces. Silvercorp said it continues to maintain its low cost producer status with a cash production cost per ounce of silver of negative $4.55.

US strategic rare earth reserve closer after key Chinese exporter stops production

A temporary production stoppage by China's largest rare earth exporter makes the creation of an American rare earth stockpile more likely, according to a report by dealReporter that appeared in yesterday's FT. The stoppage was a "wake-up call" for the US Department of Defense because the rare earth elements are needed for a variety of defense applications, writes dealReporter, citing a congressional source. The article quotes congressional sources and three rare earth companies saying that "the creation of a US rare earth strategic reserve is more likely to get the go-ahead after (Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (SHA:600111)) halted production. Such a move would create another source of demand for the metals, likely aiding a rebirth of the US rare earths industry."


Hungry for more acquisitions, Minmetals turns to nickel

Minmetals is not finished acquiring companies to add to its stable of base metal mines, according to Bloomberg. The state-run Chinese miner, with operations in Australia and Laos, a month ago snapped up Anvil Mining for $1.3 billion, thus expanding its reach into Africa. Anvil’s key asset is the Kinsevere mine, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bloomberg reports the firm is planning more takeovers because it needs to extend the life of its mines and boost valuations. Minmetals' stock is undervalued compared to other comparable raw materials producers and consummating more deals would help raise its valuation, says the story, quoting a manager at First Asset Investment Management Inc.:

Sino Vanadium execs give minorities a 180% premium as farewell present

Top management and eight shareholders who control 73.9% of the outstanding shares of TSX-Venture listed Sino Vanadium on Friday announced that they are taking the tiny firm private. The company first listed in June 2009. The share tripled on Friday to 21c and 108,200 shares changed hands compared to the usual 1,000. The company is offering 27c to shareholders who turn in their shares over the next month, so some investors appear to be cashing in early. Sino Vanadium owns 100% of a project in China's Shaanxi Province in the feasibility stage which it says could produce 14% of world vanadium supply.

Chinese firms in Zambia accused of mistreating workers

Chinese-run copper mines in Zambia are routinely mistreating workers and breaking the law by imposing up to 18-hour shifts and flouting international health and safety standards, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. The 122-page report draws on interviews with miners from the country's four Chinese copper operations and the 48 other mines operated my multinational companies. The Chinese companies are subsidiaries of China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Corporation (CNMC), a state-run firm.

96% of non-Chinese rare earth projects will fail, says Jack Lifton

A mining industry consultant says the high processing costs and level of expertise required in bringing rare earth mines into production means most of them will fail. In an interview with Reuters, Jack Lifton, founder of Technology Metals Research, said of the 244 companies hoping to extract REEs, less than 4% will be profitable: "The choke point for all the companies is the question of what they can do with the concentrated REM ore once it's above ground. You can extract the rare earths together, but then you have to separate them...the world's REM separation capacity is 99 percent Chinese and they have unused capacity," Lifton said. "The Chinese overwhelmingly control this and that is the key to the rare earth industry. Without separation capacity, all you have is a loss-making ore concentrate company."

Coal mining deaths in China leading to more imports

A Chinese government policy that purports to make coal mines safer is triggering local supply disruptions. China's dismal, and tragic, accident record at coal mines led the Chinese government to consolidate thousands of small, often-dangerous coal mines to boost safety. As the largest user and producer of coal, the country became a net importer in 2009 for the first time, as the consolidations led to a drop in domestic coal output. (Read an indepth article on China's place in the global coal market in Magazine)