News in Brief

By Siobhan Lismore-Scott, Kasia Patel, Antonio Torrisi
Published: Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Rio Tinto sets out growth plan for minerals Cofermin to create two new companies Australia to cancel alumina export tax to China Bosai Minerals reach wage agreement after strike Microdermis iodine-based antiseptic adopted by US Army in fight against Ebola

Rio Tinto sets out growth plan for minerals

Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto set out its vision for the future in December, reiterating that it expects its minerals business to grow in line with a rising middle class in China.

The company said that, in the six months to June 2014, it reduced its exploration and evaluation costs in its diamonds and minerals segment by $627m and its working capital costs by $271m. Capex was reduced by $541m.

Alan Davies, CEO of the diamonds and minerals sector, pointed out that the company will continue to invest in high value projects like the Richard Bay Mineral’s Zulti South mineral sands offering, which is working towards its feasibility study.

Zircon, titanium dioxide (TiO2), salt and refined borates demand is expected to increase to 2030, driven by a growing middle class in emerging economies. In terms of percentage, Davies said, the amount of Chinese upper middle class households is expected to grow from 14% in 2012, to 54% in 2022.

Demand will outpace (existing) supply in TiO2 from 2015, from 2017 for borates and after 2017 for zircon, Rio Tinto said.

At an investor seminar in London,  Rio Tinto CEO  Sam Walsh  said: "When you look at EBITDA*  margins, the quality and longevity of resources and reserves, and potential for expansion and growth,  there is no question our  world-class assets  will generate sustainable returns for decades to come."

Cofermin to create two new companies

Siobhan Lismore-Scott

Cofermin Group confirmed to IM that it will be branching out to operate two companies within its group as of 1 January 2015, with one of the companies focusing exclusively on Chinese minerals.

MINERALS Gmbh + Co KG will focus on the trading and distribution of raw materials out of China such as graphite, bauxite, magnesia and silicon carbide and will work with Cofermin’s bauxite processing facility, Cofermin Tianjin, to "focus on broadening our services out of China," the company said.

Cofermin Chrome GmbH + Co KG will take over and expand all chrome ore activities of Cofermin Rohstoffe, it added.

Five new colleagues, unnamed at the time of going to press, will join Cofermin’s team, which is headquartered in Essen, Germany.

"Through this addition of raw material experts our group’s structure will expand and become even stronger," the company said.

Cofermin runs offices in Katowice in Poland, Moscow in Russia, Tianjin and Tokyo in Japan. It trades over 100 products worldwide, from alumina to zirconia, to markets such as foundry, steel, refractories, building materials, mineral processing, ceramics, glass, fertiliser, welding and waterjet cutting. 

The company supplies Europe, Russia and Asia for a large number of international raw material and additives producers. A key area of Cofermin’s activities is the development of new resources, especially secondary raw materials.

The company was founded in 2000 by four managing partners - Tim Geldmacher, Pawel Golak, Bernhard Kruger and Ralf Ossen - all ex Frank&Schulte experts in marketing and distribution, processing and trading of ores and minerals.

Australia to cancel alumina export tax to China

Antonio Torrisi

Australia will not impose export taxes on over 85% of its products traded to China, including alumina.

This will be extended to 93% of commodities within the next four years and 95% after its full execution.

The reform will remove the 

present 17% import tax on alumina imports from Australia to China.

Bosai Minerals reach wage agreement after strike

Antonio Torrisi

The management of Bosai Minerals Group Co Ltd reached an agreement with trade unions in December after workers went on strike to demand higher wages in November.

Managers agreed to a retroactive 6.5% wage rise, following talks.

Workers went on strike in November to demand higher pay.

The company initially offered a 6% increase in salaries, but workers at the bauxite plant in Linden, Guyana, pushed for a 7-8% rise, before settling on 6.5%.

Bosai Minerals produces brown fused alumina from two facilities, belonging to its subsidiaries Pinguo Jinshan Fused Alumina Co. and Guizhou Huangping Fused Alumina Co., with production capacities of 90,000 tpa and 30,000 tpa, respectively.

The group also produces calcined bauxite, with an annual capacity of 600,000 tpa. It acquired Omai bauxite mine in Guyana in December 2006, accessing 200m tonnes bauxite reserves.

Microdermis iodine-based antiseptic adopted by US Army in fight against Ebola

Kasia Patel

Privately-owned life sciences company Microdermis Corp. has launched a new iodine-based antiseptic product, which will be deployed by the US Army to help fight the spread of Ebola in West Africa.

The antiseptic skin product, Provodine, is applied as a final molecular barrier for healthcare workers and emergency responders using traditional layers of protective equipment.

Speaking to IM, Peter Lentini, chief science officer, said that testing showed that Provodine kills the Ebola virus (and everything else it has been tested against) "rapidly and persistently". Further testing to document the longevity of kill is underway.

Provodine can also be safely used on the most sensitive areas of the body, unlike many other branded antiseptic products, Microdermis said.

Microdermis has now ramped up Provodine production to meet the needs of the US Army both domestically and abroad, Lentini told IM.

The company is also positioning manufacturing in anticipation of increased demand from NGOs and other governments involved in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

Iodine demand expected to ramp up

Following the Japanese nuclear disaster in 2011, a variety of factors contributed to an increase in the price of industrial iodine, including the panic buying of iodine radiation pills and a drop in supply, as some Japanese production was damaged during the disaster.

According to Lentini, the Ebola situation might also contribute to an increase in iodine demand.