From the Editor - Steve Fiscor - May 2017

By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

Apple to End Its Reliance on Mining

During April, Tim Cook the CEO of Apple, the 8th largest publicly held company, pledged to end its reliance on mining and make all its products only from renewable or recycled sources. It was the Thursday before Earth Day and who would expect less from a company with such a strong environmental sustainability track record. In its Environmental Responsibility Report, the technology leader outlined its accomplishments and some of its goals. Apple has been tracking and reducing its carbon footprint for years and in 2016 it reported that 96% of the electricity that the company consumed globally came from renewable sources.

The slogan for the report is: “To ask less of the planet, we’re asking more of ourselves.” Two of the mining-related questions it asks are: Can we get 100% of our supply chain to move to 100% renewable energy? Can we one day stop mining the Earth altogether? The first question can be addressed by the engineering cliché that nothing is impossible, some projects just cost more than others. That expression can’t be applied to the second question, which has probably been asked rhetorically, but nonetheless it has been asked. Stop mining the Earth simply does not compute. Apple, however, might be able to one day make all of its products from recycled or renewable sources, but the rest of the world cannot.

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From the Editor - Steve Fiscor - April 2017

By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

The Truth Hurts

In mid-March, Agence France-Presse (AFP) posted an article, “Jakarta Mining Policy Shift Sparks Turmoil,” which was picked up by most of the wire services, especially the local news outlets in Indonesia. As far as mining pieces in the mainstream press go, it was fair. It documented Indonesia’s about-face on its mineral exports, saying it is creating another headache for mining companies struggling to work with the country. That policy change has led to a standoff with one of its biggest partners in the mining business, Freeport-McMoRan.

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From the Editor - Steve Fiscor - March 2017

By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

Optimism Rises in the Mining Business

 To say the mood at this year’s annual meeting of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) was noticeably upbeat would be an understatement. The event opened with a keynote address from Doug Silver, portfolio manager for Orion Mine Finance. Readers might recall that Orion financed the Stornaway diamond project in Canada. Silver was guardedly optimistic as many of the seasoned professionals in the mining business are these days. He pondered the industry’s ability to find financing and whether traditional financiers may already be too late for the next upward cycle.

The annual SME meeting took place in Denver this year and the technical sessions were packed with engineers as they normally are, but the biggest difference was the demeanor among the delegates. For the last eight years, this has been a depressed group of beat down dogs, as the despair from regulatory overreach took its toll. This year, however, they were standing tall, proud and happy.

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Embracing a Different Outlook and New Tools

Happy New Year! The big news this month is Sibanye Gold acquiring the Stillwater Mining Co., an iconic U.S. platinum group metals (PGMs) miner based in Montana. In a little less than four years, Sibanye, which was spun out of Gold Fields in February 2013, has grown from a South African gold miner to a South African precious metals miner to a multinational precious metals miner. Readers might recall that the company also acquired several South African platinum mining operations. Besides being a bit ambitious, what makes this move a little different from previous acquisitions is that Sibanye is pursuing a healthy mining company on the other side of the world. With Stillwater producing substantially more palladium than platinum, Sibanye would control roughly 13% of global platinum and palladium production and become the third largest producer of both metals. Sibanye has placed a big bet on PGMs and a classic U.S. mining operation.

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From the Editor

Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief, EMJ, Engineering Mining Journal
Steve Fiscor heads a world class group of writers and editors serving the mining and construction markets. He has served as editor-in-chief for E&MJ since 2003 and Coal Age since 2001. He writes articles on mining and processing, organizes the technical programs for several conferences, and produces many of MMI's ancillary products.

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