(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines is forming a government task force to resolve legal cases involving its mining assets, trying to push forward with their sale, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said.Lawsuits have hampered the government’s efforts to privatize the assets, Dominguez said in a statement on Sunday. The new inter-agency team seeking to untangle the legal issues will include representatives from the finance and environment departments.Among the mining assets under litigation include the nickel mines of Nonoc Mining and Industrial Corp. in Surigao del Norte, the copper-gold project of Maricalum Mining Corp. in Negros Occidental and the gold-copper mines of North Davao Mining. The finance department said assets of these companies were foreclosed by the government and eventually auctioned off, but the winners didn’t fulfill their obligations, resulting in litigation.San Miguel Corp.’s major shareholder, Top Frontier Holdings Inc., counts the Nonoc mine in its assets. Manila Standard in July 2018 quoted San Miguel President Ramon Ang as saying that his group remains keen on a plan for a $1.5 billion nickel-processing plant near the mine.Meanwhile, Basay Mining Corp.’s copper mines in Negros Oriental and a nickel mine previously ran by Marinduque Mining and Industrial Corp. in Western Samar aren’t operating because of legal concerns involving their disposal.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Copper has touched $7,000 per metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, having climbed roughly 60% from a late-March nadir. The industrial metal is trading at levels unseen since 2018 despite a surge in coronavirus infections in Europe and beyond, stockpiles rising off recent lows, and expectations of a surplus in 2021. The reason is China, which is dominating the 24-million-ton per year market like never before thanks to a recovery that is outpacing other economies.The metal’s rebound from four-year lows in March mirrors the rally in that other gravity-defying asset class, the FANG-powered U.S. stock market. Copper’s rally has exceeded expectations, given that the most pessimistic forecasts for pandemic-related supply disruptions haven’t been borne out. Peru’s production fell in August from a month earlier, hit by worker shortages, but output in Chile, the world’s top exporter, increased. BHP Group-operated Escondida, the Chilean copper mine that’s the world’s largest, avoided a strike last week, even if workers at Lundin Mining Corp.’s far smaller Candelaria downed tools in the country.China’s industrial production gained momentum to rise a forecast-beating 6.9% in September from a year earlier; excavator demand has jumped, along with car sales. Fiscal stimulus, an imminent five-year plan that will boost clean energy investments, and an expansionary monetary policy are all supporting the recovery. Meanwhile, an appreciating yuan has increased consumers’ purchasing power.China’s influence is hardly new — or surprising, given it’s the only major economy the International Monetary Fund expects to see expand in 2020. In industrial metals, though, this year has marked a significant increase in its clout. The country now accounts for more than 50% of demand in nickel, steel, copper and aluminum, analysts at BMO Capital Markets say — a level that only Japan has ever come near, and China’s North Asian neighbor peaked at less than 15% of global volumes.Indeed, China’s dynamics have been enough to put copper back on a rising path after a short-lived drop earlier this month, when U.S. President Donald Trump was diagnosed with coronavirus. That’s partly because inventories are still close to historic lows, making the price more likely to swing on supply hiccups, like Lundin’s disruption. But it also hints at a market watching the macroeconomic signals rather than output specifics, and expecting China, which has already imported more copper than it did in 2019, to keep on spending its way through post-pandemic convalescence.The five-year plan is set to include ample sums for electrification, clean energy and electric cars, which use four times as much of the metal as a standard vehicle. They are already forecast to make up the bulk of copper growth over the next decade or so, along with charging infrastructure. Then there are the aggressive decarbonization ambitions. All of that, and hopes of a spending spike in the fourth quarter from the likes of State Grid Corp. of China, explains the persistent net long positions among money managers in CME copper, up again, according to the latest Commitments of Traders Report. There are fewer bears out there, too, compared to much of early 2020 and 2019.The bigger question is whether that is enough to hold the metal at or close to current levels, especially if China’s rush begins to fade before the rest of the world recovers, or before Beijing’s five-year plan and its green ambitions rev up. A price consistently above $6,000 is also more likely to encourage companies to approve new projects, as they did after 2017, analysts at CRU Group pointed out in a September study. Cashed-up diversified miners and even iron ore-focused diggers may pile into copper acquisitions with greater enthusiasm, too.Still, supply is unlikely to be the immediate cause if the rally does stumble. The reality is that even at lower prices, miners have been eyeing up deals for some time, given the metal’s gleaming green-economy prospects. Unfortunately, theory is easier than practice. Anyone needing a reminder could do worse than consider BHP’s Olympic Dam copper operation in Australia, where ambitions and scale have shrunk again this week. It’s a far cry from a vision that once included the world’s largest open pit. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues. Previously, she was an associate editor for Reuters Breakingviews, and editor and correspondent for Reuters in Singapore, India, the U.K., Italy and Russia.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Iron ore continued to enjoy a tailwind from record Chinese steel production, although the weight of ore supply is likely to keep prices in check. Vale produced more than expected last quarter, while BHP’s shipments also rose as demand continues to benefit from China’s rebound.On the macro front, China kept its Loan Prime Rates unchanged, signaling its satisfaction with the state of the economy. The third-quarter GDP breakdown confirmed the decisive role of manufacturing, and construction in particular, in the recovery so far.Earnings fallout included a slide in Tianqi Lithium’s stock after losses widened ahead of a key debt repayment. Citigroup thinks a turnaround may require the sale of equity or assets. In contrast, Zijin Mining saw healthy gains after its results, with another strong quarter in prospect due to higher gold prices and copper output, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.Events Today(All times Beijing unless shown otherwise)China LNG & Gas International Exhibition & Summit, Shanghai, day 1Citi Global Natural Resources Virtual Conference 2020, day 1Today’s ChartChinese steel and aluminum output hit all-time highs in September, testament to the importance of state-backed investment to the nation’s rebound from the pandemic. But for steel, at least, the surge could be nearing its peak with the approach of winter production curbs to control pollution and as private consumption takes a greater role in the recovery.On the WireChina NDRC Approved 17.2B Yuan Fixed-Asset Projects in Sept.Coal Mine Explosion in China’s Shanxi Province Kills 4: XinhuaChina Energy Use Per GDP Unit Rises 0.2% in Jan.-Sept.: NBSLinglong Tyre Rebounds After Assuring Thailand Operations NormalXinyi Solar Jumps; Citi Lifts Views on Solar Glass Price OutlookMuyuan Foodstuff Estimates Raised at CICC After 3Q Profit SurgeLundin to Halt Chile Copper Mine With Second Union to StrikeGazprom’s Gas Flow to China 20% Above Contracted Volumes Oct. 19The Week-AheadWednesday, Oct. 21China Sept. output data for base metals and oil products. TentativeChina LNG & Gas International Exhibition & Summit, Shanghai, day 2Citi Global Natural Resources Virtual Conference 2020, day 2Thursday, Oct. 22Woodside Petroleum, Santos quarterly production reportsChina LNG & Gas International Exhibition & Summit, Shanghai, day 3Cnooc briefs on 3Q earnings, 17:35EARNINGS: CnoocFriday, Oct. 23China 2nd batch of Sept. trade data, incl. agricultural imports; gas imports breakdown; oil products trade breakdown; alumina and rare-earth product exports; bauxite, steel & aluminum product imports. From ~11:00China weekly iron ore port stockpilesShanghai exchange weekly commodities inventory, 15:30EARNINGS: Yanzhou Coal, Angang Steel, ChalcoSunday, Oct. 25China 3rd batch of Sept. trade data, including country breakdowns for energy and commodities. TentativeEARNINGS: China Shenhua EnergyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.