Developments to Watch

By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief

One of the big stories this month is BHP Billiton spinning off a group of assets as the company plans to get back to basics (See Leading Developments, p. 4). The $16 billion deal, the largest of its kind in the mining business, drew immediate fire from analysts and stockholders, who were anticipating something else. If the new company, which has no name and will not be headquartered in Melbourne, were a restaurant, the menu would be described as an eclectic mix. The new company could become a takeover target. In this business climate, there are only a few companies with deep enough pockets to buy everything on the menu, but some may order a al carte.

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Looking for a Fix

After sweeping changes were announced for the London silver fix, the London gold fix will likely follow suit. Gold prices are set twice daily by the London Gold Market Fixing (LGMF) at 10:30 and 15:00 and are expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. The silver price is set once daily at 12:00 by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and is expressed in U.S. dollars per troy ounce. The fixes provide benchmarks for mining companies to settle contracts, and more recently, to price exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

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The Mid-year Report

The first half of 2014 is history and, despite all of the moaning from groups not actively involved in mining and mineral processing, the mining business has stabilized from the shakeout it experienced starting in 2013. The news department and the opening spread (See Leading Developments, p. 4-5) in particular showcase the current state of the mining business. E&MJ leads off this month with the best news South Africa could have received, which came toward the end of June when striking platinum miners agreed to return to work. Hopefully, they have reached a lasting agreement and can begin working toward restoring that segment.

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Harnessing the Power of Partnerships

During mid-May, Sam Walsh, CEO, Rio Tinto, spoke at Infrastructure Week in Washington, D.C. The weeklong event discussed solutions, approaches and best practices being developed nationwide to modernize the aging infrastructure in the U.S. Walsh was the keynote speaker at a forum hosted by the International Finance Corp. (IFC), where he discussed the power of innovative partnerships in building infrastructure projects that create growth.

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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.