Appeals Court Upholds EPA in Coal Ruling
The U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday announced its decision to back the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its coal mining restraints designed to reduce water pollution from surface mining.
The courts ruled in a 3-0 decision the EPA acted accordingly within its right to institute two measures under the Clean Water Act, which addresses damages caused by mountaintop coal removal such as surface mining.
The EPA has implemented two recommendations for miners since 2009: screening mining permit applications made to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and recommending states impose tougher guidelines for issuing mining permits. The recommendations set by the EPA are known as a “final guidance.”
In the ruling, Judge Kavanaugh said EPA’s recommendations are not an agency action reviewable by the courts.
"In our view, EPA and the Corps acted within their statutory authority when they adopted the Enhanced Coordination Process," said Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
"And under our precedents, the Final Guidance is not final agency action reviewable by the courts at this time.”
In a statement, the EPA said it welcomed the ruling and confirmed it is working with states, mining companies and the public to encourage environmentally responsible mining.
"We are committed to consistently using our authority under the Clean Water Act to protect the health and environment of Appalachian communities," said the EPA in a statement.
"The Agency is working with the states, mining companies, other stakeholders and the public to enable environmentally responsible mining projects to move forward.”
Challengers of EPA’s recommendations said the organization was overstepping its authority because the Clean Water Act did not specify such actions.
Barrick profit beats expectations as copper, gold prices up
Barrick Gold has reported a 78% jump in first-quarter profit, beating analyst expectations thanks to rising gold and copper prices, and said it was on track to meet annual forecasts.
Production in the second half is expected to be higher than the first, the gold miner said, thanks in part to the ramp-up of underground mining at the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania and higher expected grades at Lumwana in Zambia, reports Reuters
Barrick’s first-quarter gold production fell to 1.10 million from 1.25 million ounces due partly to lower grades at its Pueblo Viejo mine in Dominican Republic.
Adjusted profit surged 78% to $507mn in the quarter ended March 31, from $285mn a year earlier, and Barrick announced a 9 cent per share quarterly dividend.
Stronger prices helped boost Barrick’s revenue from its copper mines in Chile, Saudi Arabia and Zambia by 31% from the fourth quarter. Overall earnings per share were $0.29, ahead of analysts’ estimate of $0.27.
“We expect a positive stock reaction to the earnings beat and strong cash flow,” said Credit Suisse analysts.
Potential for South Africa merger
Barrick CEO Mark Bristow, who has championed mergers across the gold industry, said he backed the idea of South Africa-listed miners Goldfields and AngloGold Ashanti combining.
Speculation has been swirling around the two companies and Sibanye-Stillwater, whose CEO Neal Froneman floated the idea of a three-way merger.
“I’m a South African, and this country has such a great mining history and it would be great to see a real gold business come out of the many failed discussions that we’ve seen,” said Bristow.
Goldfields declined to comment. In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti said it was focused on delivering on its growth plan to unlock value from its portfolio of gold assets.
Bristow also said he had met with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new mines minister and other officials and was continuing to work on getting $900mn belonging to its Kibali mine joint venture out of the country.
“We have a solution, it just needs to be sanctioned by the appropriate authorities which haven’t been around for a while,” he said, referring to a recent government overhaul by President Felix Tshisekedi.