Saturday, April 30, 2011

BHP Billiton Approves Samarco Expansion

29 April 2011

BHP Billiton today announced that the partners of Samarco had approved the US$3.5 billion (BHP Billiton share1 US$1.75 billion) Fourth Pellet Plant Project at Samarco (Brazil). The expansion will increase Samarco iron ore pellet production capacity by 8.3 million tonnes to 30.5 million tonnes per annum (100% basis). First pellet production is expected in the first half of calendar year 2014.
The investment includes:
  • additional mining capacity and a third concentrator at the Germano mine;
  • a third slurry pipeline of approximately 400 kilometres in length; and
  • a fourth pellet plant and enhanced ship loading capacity at the Ponta Ubu site.
BHP Billiton President Iron Ore, Ian Ashby, said “Samarco is a low cost supplier of high quality iron ore pellets and over the last several years has been very successful in growing its resource base. This investment builds on its resource and operational strengths and will further improve Samarco’s competitiveness and market position.”
1 BHP Billiton has a 50% interest in Samarco, with the remaining 50% held by Vale.

  • World Economic Forum and Accenture conclude a two-year study on the Future of Cloud Computing
  • Phase I report, Exploring the Future of Cloud Computing: Riding the Next Wave of Technology-driven Transformation, was published in the spring of 2010
  • Phase II report, Advancing Cloud Computing: What to Do Now? Priorities for Industry and Governments, outlines eight action areas for cloud computing providers and government agencies to ensure the cloud ecosystem lives up to its expectations
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 29 April 2011 – A new report produced by the World Economic Forum with the support of Accenture, Advancing Cloud Computing: What to Do Now? Priorities for Industry and Governments, was launched today at the World Economic Forum on Latin America during a session on cloud computing, which was moderated by Accenture's chairman, Bill Green. The report outlines eight action areas that leading cloud service providers and government representatives agreed to focus on to ensure the positive development of the cloud ecosystem.

  • Latin American governments face battle to grow and keep energy matrix clean
  • Brazil is grappling with renewable fuels amid oil boom
  • More information on the meeting is available at
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 29 April 2011 – Latin American countries face a complex battle to reconcile their rapidly growing energy requirements with the need to combat climate change, energy leaders and experts at the World Economic Forum on Latin America said today.
With many of the region's economies booming and the consumption of fossil fuels rising fast, governments need "courage" to push ahead with the introduction of alternative, low-carbon energy sources such as wind power or bio-fuels.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Modernization of Dansteel heavy-plate mill

DanSteel A/S has awarded an order to SMS Siemag, Germany, for the comprehensive modernization of its heavy-plate mill in Fredericksvaerk, Denmark. The order comprises the supply of a new 4.2-m heavy-plate stand, a new hot-plate leveler and the renewal of the conveying facilities as well as the pertaining X-Pact electrical and automation package. The revamp will take place in autumn 2012.
The DanSteel modernization is one of the largest investments in a European heavy-plate mill during the last few years. The alms of the modernization are to extend the product range and improve the product quality. At the same time, it will also establish the preconditions for a production increase to be realized later.
The new heavy-plate stand replaces DanSteel’s 3.6-m mill stand from the 1960s. It will be Europe’s second heavy-plate stand to be equipped with CVC plus technology. The mill stand will also possess hydraulic roll-gap adjustment systems and equipment for work-roll bending. The maximum rolling force is 80 MN.
The new hot-plate leveler is designed for plates between 5 and 100 mm in thickness and in widths up to 4,200 mm. Its leveling force is 29 MN.
In the electrical and automation field, the supply, the drive technology and the engineering for the new hardware and software components. The automation equipment will be set up beforehand in the SMS Siemag test fields and then tested in accordance with the proven Plug & Work concept. In addition, SMS Siemag will carry out the dismantling of the old systems and the complete installation and commissioning of the new equipment.
Shougang Jingtang orders a continuos annealing line for the production of tinplate
Shougang Jingtang (Shougang Jingtang United Iron & Steel), China, has placed an order with SMS  Siemag, Germany, for the supply of a continuous annealing line. This is already the third annealing line being erected by SMS Siemag in the works on Caofeidian Island, an artificially constructed island off the coast of the Chinese province of Hebei. The line will produce tinplate, which will then be electroplated and used as packaging material. The line is scheduled to go into operation in mid-2013.
The annealing followed by reduction and surface treatment provides the strip in the annealing line with the material and surface properties necessary for the subsequent processing. An outstanding feature of the line is that it can reliably process very thin strips (down to 0.12 mm) under stringent quality demands and at very high speeds. The process thus runs continuously at 750 m/min, but in the entry and exit sections it can even reach 1,000 and, respectively, 1,100 m/min. A further special characteristic is the possibility of rolling strips at a degree of reduction of up to 42%.
The supply scope therefore includes a two-stand inline reduction and skin-pass mill (?DCR, Double Cold Reduction), which is able to attain grades of DR10. Also being supplied is a two-stand offline DCR for the semi-continuous production of tinplate from a batch annealing furnace. The offline DCR also serves as a skin-pass mill for standard steel grades from a pickling line/tandem cold mill.
Essential components of the annealing line are two pay-off reels, a roller- seam welding machine, creep looper, cleaning section, vertical entry accumulator, annealing furnace, DCR mill, inspection accumulator, inspection stand, DUMA oiler, flying shear and two tension reels. The line is designed for strips in the thickness range between 0.12 and 0.55 mm in widths of 700 to 1,280 mm. The materials T2,5, T3, T4, and T5 as well as DR7 to DR10 are produced.
Shougang Jingtang is a Joint venture between Shougang Iron & Steel and Tangshan Iron & Steel. The new annealing line is already the third line of this type to be erected by SMS Siemag on Caofeidian Island. The other two lines went successfully into operation already in 2009 and 2010.

Rio Tinto assumes control of Riversdale Board and proposes de-listing



Rio Tinto has assumed control of the Riversdale Mining Limited (Riversdale) Board with the appointment of two new directors and will seek to de-list Riversdale following the end of its takeover bid.
Rio Tinto Energy chief executive Doug Ritchie was today appointed Chairman of Riversdale. Rio Tinto Coal Australia chief operating officer Darren Yeates and Rio Tinto Energy vice president human resources Rosemary Fagen, were today appointed to the Riversdale Board. Mr Ritchie, Rio Tinto Energy chief development officer – coal Matt Coulter and Rio Tinto Australia managing director David Peever joined the Riversdale Board on 7 April 2011.
Today’s appointments give Rio Tinto five directors on the nine-member Board. As previously foreshadowed, William O’Keeffe has stood down as the Chairman and director.
Mr Ritchie said “The new board will provide fresh impetus for the swift development of Riversdale's assets. We are optimistic about their growth prospects and we have a terrific opportunity to develop a large-scale coking coal resource.
“I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr O’Keeffe in making Riversdale what it is today, a business on the verge of a significant growth phase. It is a remarkable achievement and his contribution through dedicated leadership and commitment should not be underestimated.”
Rio Tinto now holds a relevant interest in more than 73 per cent of Riversdale shares.
Also, in relation to the takeover offer (Offer) for Riversdale by Rio Tinto Jersey Holdings 2010 Limited (RTJ), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Rio Tinto Group, RTJ:
  • intends to seek to de-list Riversdale after the close of the Offer, as described in the letter to Riversdale shareholders sent to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX); and
  • has extended the Offer period by one week to end at 7.00pm (Sydney time) on Friday, 6 May 2011, unless extended further.
The handling fee described in RTJ's Third Supplementary Bidder's Statement will apply throughout the extended Offer period. RTJ may extend the period during which the handling fee will apply by further announcement to the ASX.

The following documents were today sent to the ASX:
  • a notice under section 650D of the Corporations Act extending the Offer period;
  • RTJ's Fifth Supplementary Bidder's Statement dated 29 April 2011;
  • a letter to Riversdale shareholders; and
  • fresh acceptance forms, which have been sent today to Riversdale shareholders who have not yet accepted the Offer.
The Offer will close at 7.00pm (Sydney time) on 6 May 2011, unless extended.

About Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia

ASSOCHAM urges Karnataka government to review iron ore mining leases

Leading chamber ASSOCHAM has asked the Karnataka government to undertake a detailed review of iron ore mining leases and highlight the needs of steel units before the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee while framing new rules.

It said that mining should be moved from unorganized sector to organized if it is to be done in a legal, scientific and environment-friendly manner.The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India said that but any interruption in supply of iron ore to steel industry would throw lakhs of employees out of jobs and their dependents would suffer.

The mines in Karnataka supply iron ore to several large steel plants like JSW, Kirloskar Ferrous, Mukand Ltd and Kalyani Steels. The state also supplies raw material to units located in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and dozens of small and medium-sized sponge iron units.

ASSOCHAM’s Secretary General Mr DS Rawat in a communication to Karnataka chief minister Mr BS Yeddyurappa said that “Absence of iron ore supply would be a death blow to the steel industry which is already grappling with numerous other problems.”One of the observations made by Lokayukta is that several mines entered into raising contracts and transferred mining leases without the state government’s permission in contravention of Rule 37 of Minerals Concession Rules 1960.Mr Rawat said that “There is apprehension that in case a conclusion is arrived at by the apex committee without studying individual agreements and makes a prima facie determination of illegality, it could result in wrongful closure of many mines.”

Steel, iron and other industries have invested Rs 62,000 crore in the landlocked Bellary-Hospet region as it has abundant availability of iron ore. Mr Rawat said that “Shutting down of these industries will also cause loss of immense magnitude to the state exchequer.”

ASSOCHAM said it fully supports the government in ensuring effective implementation of rules and regulations by adhering to systems and procedures as stipulated by various governmental agencies. He said that “We would like to re emphasize that a decision regarding closure of any mine should be done judiciously after investigating all aspects.”Keeping in view the huge investments, employment of lakhs of workers, social responsibilities and dependency of industries on iron ore, ASSOCHAM requested uninterrupted availability of iron ore lumps and fines to meet industrial requirement while framing policies.Last month, Karnataka formed a team of officials to compile a detailed reply over issues raised by CEC on illegal mining in the state.
China starts running National Coal Emergency Reserve Program

It is reported that China's long awaited National Coal Emergency Reserve Program is up and running, but protracted quarrels between coal suppliers and power plant operators have cast a cloud over the ambitious project.
Some companies participating in the initial effort to stockpile coal for energy security could face financial viability issues. And some power operators say the government should significantly increase reserve targets.

Coal companies and power plant operators generally welcomed the government's decision to subsidize construction of coal reserve bases around the country.
The project is expected to reduce pressure for those power companies traditionally forced to dispatch buyers, and sometimes entire management teams, to scour the country for coal every summer and winter.
These seasonal scrambles and threats of coal shortages have long vexed operators, prompting some several years ago to plead that the central government establish a national reserve mechanism to ease the bottleneck.

The program was finally launched in February. Ten coal producers and power plant operators as well as eight port operators were named as participants for building and running the first batch of reserve sites. The initial nationwide stockpile target is 5 million tonnes.

A site in Guangdong Province, the largest so far in southern China, is being developed by Zhuhai Port Co, coal producer Shenhua Group and power plant operators Guangdong Yudean Group. The companies plan to invest CNY 4.3 billion.

Barrick bid suggests copper will be the new gold

Reuters reported that soaring global demand for copper makes the metal a better bet than gold and explains a surprise bid by Barrick Gold Corporation for copper miner Equinox Minerals. Barrick's USD 7.68 billion offer for Equinox trumped one by Minmetals Resources.
Minmetals bowed out of the battle for the copper miner which has been involved in takeover tussles of its own with smaller miners saying Barrick's bid was too rich. The move signals a shift by Barrick away from a near-pure gold play into a more diversified mining company, highlighting the positive demand outlook for industrial metals in an improving global economy.

Mr Pinaki Rath MD of Gold Matrix Resources said that "Perhaps copper is the new gold. The long-term prospects for base metals look good. The risk of rising interest rates as world economies shift from the highly accommodating monetary policy adopted during the global financial crisis to more normal conditions could cap the upside for gold while industrial appetite for copper would support prices.”

Both copper and gold prices have hit record highs this year copper on the London Metal Exchange touched an unprecedented USD 10,190 per tonne in February while spot gold rallied to a record USD 1,518.10 an ounce as recently as Monday. And demand growth from emerging economies like China which currently consumes 40% of world copper output or around 8 million tonnes will keep prices firm while miners struggle keep up.
Mr Judy Zhu analyst at Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai said that "For at least the next three years we are still very bullish on copper as the market will remain in deficit over that period, even under the most conservative global demand forecasts. And there is a possibility that this deficit could be more prolonged if demand grows faster than expectations. Copper is highly exposed to Asia and urbanization in China and India will provide upside momentum for at least the next 10 years and perhaps as long as 20 years."

Both copper and gold markets have seen a huge turnaround from their lows in the post Lehman Brothers financial meltdown with copper prices up threefold from lows struck in December 2008 below USD 3,000 per tonne. Gold prices have risen by a more modest 120% in the same period.

Mr William Adams analyst at FastMarkets said that "It's not a bad time to diversify if you are a gold miner. There are lots of reasons to be bullish on gold, at the same time copper has a stronger long-term outlook. Over the next five years I am by and large bullish and wouldn't be surprised if copper saw an upper range between USD 10,000 to USD 12,000.”

Silver Sutra

Silver soared to new records high of $49.84 at COMEX and Rs 73600 at MCX on 25 April as the U.S. dollar weakened further, uncertainty swelled ahead of a Federal Reserve policy meeting and traders speculated that China will buy precious metals to diversify its $3 trillion foreign-exchange reserves. It is simply going up on panic buying by investors trying to ride momentum as they always do. 

Reasons behind this Hyperbolic move...
The U.S. dollar has lost 20% of its purchasing power just since 2000 and 30% since 1990. 70% of that decline has been since 1978, when the mandate for the Fed was changed to a dual mandate of both price stability and full employment. Since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, the USD has lost 95% of its purchasing power. Reason for Dollar weakness is low interest rate scenario and two quantitative easing measures announced by FED.

Since 1980, the above-ground available gold stores have increased 600%, while above-ground available silver stores have been reduced 90% during the same time frame.

Strong retail demand coming in through Silver Exchange Traded Funds.A significant silver mine needs tens of millions of dollars (in some cases hundreds of millions) in capital to just get started, and could take easily about three to five years before any significant production to begin. Most mined silver is not from silver mines but is a by-product of mining for other minerals such as gold, copper, lead and zinc. Therefore it is not the primary focus of new investment in the mining sector. In fact, only 30% of newly mined silver comes from mines devoted primarily to silver. There are not that many places that can sustain primary silver mining.

In 1980, silver briefly traded at $50; in today's equivalent inflation-adjusted prices, that would be at least $130.

Silver has literally hundreds of uses industrially in today's modern economy -- from computers, tablet computers, smart phones, cell phones, DVDs, mirrored glass, solar power, health care, wound care, and water filtration, to being used as a catalyst in many chemical reactions to produce many products, including plastics.

China has now become a large net importer of silver even while being one of the largest producers. It is believed that China is purchasing and storing large quantities of both gold and silver. China's objective is to make its currency the new reserve for the world, so it can diversify out of the consistently declining U.S. dollar.

It is believed that China is purchasing and storing large quantities of both gold and silver. China's objective is to make its currency the new reserve for the world, so it can diversify out of the consistently declining U.S. dollar.

Last week, S&P credit agency sent shockwaves through the global financial system when it issued a warning on U.S. debt and changed its outlook on the U.S. sovereign credit rating from “stable” to “negative.” This sent Dollar Index lower and the prices of commodities such as oil rocketing back above $110 per barrel and both gold and silver to new highs.

Silver began exploding higher literally on the same day that Ben Bernanke gave his Jackson Hole speech confirming the delivery of QE2. Sure, the defense against currency debasement thesis for silver has clear merit in this case. But the notion that the QE2 liquidity injections may also be providing a powerful fuel behind silver rally should not be overlooked, particularly with the end of QE2 now only a few months away on June 30.

What’s next?The parabolic move in silver is making a lot of veteran traders nervous that an already notoriously volatile market could get even more unstable as the gray metal races toward $50 an ounce. Gains like that make veteran traders nervous as healthy markets don’t go up in a straight line, and that’s what silver’s done. It looks like many investors internationally and one or a few private individuals and states are cornering the silver market. However, there are increasingly large numbers of silver buyers who realize the market can be cornered and they are buying in anticipation of this event. At one stage in 1980’s the Hunt Brothers cornering of the market was a “conspiracy theory” – it soon became fact. I call this move in silver “Hyperbolic” and am concerned about how steep and swift a correction could be.

Silver’s volatility has increased and sharp corrections are likely, however the sharp falls seen after the Hunt Brothers manipulation ended are unlikely today given the very strong supply and demand fundamentals. We should be clear: If a correction occurs, this would not mean the rally is over. It would just be a healthy bull market correction and reflect the normal volatility inherent with these types of investments. Investors must anticipate this volatility before participating in these markets. 

That’s not to say the overall fundamental picture has changed. The concerns over fiat currency and hopes of industrial growth continue to underpin the market. However, because silver has risen so far, so fast without a pause several traders are discouraging stepping into the market without having a long-term motivation to do so.

This volatility also brings along opportunity. We believe we’re only halfway through a 20-year bull cycle for commodities and investors can use these pullbacks as an opportunity to “back up the truck” and load up for the long-haul

Reasons for Silver to tumble

Hot Money - Easy Come, Easy GoPhysical buyers, those are not buy and hold investors, and they can go just as quickly as they came. Remember, the futures market is determined by fund flows, and right now there has been a lot of money to be made in a hot commodity market. But markets and especially commodities are very cyclical in nature, and money flows into these instruments during parts of investing cycles, and out during others.

Silver is much more sensitive to economic demandGiven the relatively small size of the market for silver, it's unlikely that any increase in investment demand would compensate for the decline in consumption by manufacturers and silverware makers in the event of another slowdown.

Bubbles don’t sustain for longWhenever prices of any asset go up this high in such a short time span, it is a bubble, and unsustainable. And no, I am not calling for a top in Silver prices, but what I am saying is that the Silver market is in a bubble, and unsustainable unless a couple of doomsday scenarios happen. Which is always a clue for your investing outcomes, if you need a doomsday scenario to have a long term profitable trade that you’re going to hold for five years, then you really are putting on a low probability trade

US is not Greece or JapanThe US has a spending problem, if worse comes to worse the US will just have to cut back on military spending, and with how far we are ahead of every other country in terms of military spending and expertise, there is a lot of budget tightening room to spare in that area and many other areas. When push comes to shove the US will get their fiscal house in order.

-Umesh Shanmugam(My View)

RBI favours freeing savings bank rates

Your savings bank (SB) accounts could soon start earning anywhere between 4 per cent and 6 per cent per annum. That is much more than the 3.5 per cent per annum that you have been getting for the last one year after the daily product method of calculation was introduced. It was effectively about 2.7 per cent (when interest was paid on the minimum balance in a month) for the seven years before that.
But just be ready for another possibility. Savings bank interest rates could also dip much lower than what prevails currently in a situation where banks are flush with funds.
All this will happen if SB account rates are deregulated. A discussion paper on the subject has been put out by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today.
Deregulation of savings rate has been hinted at for the last several years. But this was deferred for many years because it was felt that a substantial part of such deposits was held by low-income households in rural and semi-urban areas. But other deposit rates (term deposits) were systematically deregulated and freed from administrative control over the last two decades. SB account deregulation is the last in the series of such steps.
SB rates, which were once as high as 6 per cent per annum, were brought down to about 3.5 per cent in March 2003 and have remained stagnant at that level ever since. This has hurt the interests of savers in an inflationary environment where their returns have been negative. Deregulation of savings rate will foster competition among banks — push up savings bank rates, help introduce some product innovations and benefit depositors.
Higher interest rates may push up costs for banks that were hitherto used to relying on CASA (current and savings accounts). There has been fear of asset-liability mismatches because of unhealthy competition, but the discussion paper points out that the experience of deregulation of term deposits doesn't suggest that things will get out of hand.
Importantly, for the RBI, it will help improve transmission mechanism , that is, it will get banks to act in the way that the RBI wants them to move when it alters its policy rates. Currently, the presence of one regulated rate (SB rate) — which doesn't move — has hampered this objective slightly. As the discussion paper notes, other countries have had a positive experience with deregulation, which has also contributed to increased financial savings.

Indian iron ore mining mess - 30 million tonnes of iron ore exported illegally in 7 years

The illegal export of iron ore from Karnataka amounted to 30.68 million tonnes over a period of seven years (2003 and 2010). This is a third of India’s annual exports.
As against the permits issued for export of 46.84 million tonnes during the seven year period, the state exported 77.53 million tonnes of iron ore, the government admitted in its affidavit.

According to an affidavit filed by chief secretary Mr SV Ranganath before the Supreme Court last week “Despite efforts by the government for several years, it is seen that iron ore is being mined and transported without valid permits. Iron ore exported has been generally more than the valid permits issued by the state government.”

SSAB’s report for the first quarter of 2011

The quarter
• Sales increased by 25 % to SEK 11,056 (8,865) million 
• Operating profit improved to SEK 616 (168) million. Currency affects earnings by SEK -300 million.  
• Profit after financial items improved to SEK 504 (83) million. Currency affects earnings by SEK -300 million.            
• Earnings per share of SEK 1.20 (0.44)                  
• Operating cash flow of SEK 237 (256) million and cash flow from current operations of SEK -89 (447) million  
• The net debt/equity ratio amounted to 60 % compared with 58 % at year end
• Shipments of niche products increased by 35 % during the first quarter compared with the first quarter of last year
• Niche products now account for 37 (29) % of steel shipments                   
(Amounts in the report in brackets relate to the corresponding period of last year.)

Comments by the CEO
Demand for steel strengthened during the first quarter and steel prices increased, partly as a consequence of improved underlying demand, and partly due to pre-buying behavior by our customers.                                 
As far as SSAB is concerned, we had a positive development during the first quarter. We saw a clear improvement in earnings compared with the same period of last year, with an operating profit of SEK 616 million.                        
Order intake for SSAB's niche products remained strong, primarily from the Material Handling (which includes the mining industry), Heavy Transport, and Automotive segments. Demand from certain parts of the Construction segment, such as the crane industry, as well as ordinary steels, improved during the quarter.
North America was the region that performed most strongly during the quarter, while the recovery in southern Europe continues to proceed slowly.
We encountered certain disruptions in production at the beginning of the quarter, among other things due to the harsh winter and a chilled hearth in one of the blast furnaces in Oxelösund. Production is now once again stable and we are producing at a normal level. The planned maintenance outage in Mobile has been completed as planned.
Shipments of SSAB's products are expected to increase slightly in the second quarter. Demand is expected to continue at a good level, particularly in Asia and Latin America, but in North America as well. The recovery in southern Europe is proceeding more slowly, while northern Europe has seen a somewhat more positive trend. We anticipate continued strong demand for our niche products. Price levels in renegotiated agreements for the second quarter will be higher than in the first quarter.
There is, however, a continued risk for excess industry capacity unless underlying demand continues to strengthen. Other uncertainty factors going forward are the consequences of the natural disasters in Japan and the unrest in North Africa.
Scrap steel prices have been stable during the first quarter while spot prices for coal and iron ore have continued to increase. This means that our purchase prices will increase during the second quarter. We do not anticipate that the price increases that we are currently carrying out will fully offset the expected increased raw materials prices, but our long-term aim is to compensate in full for increasing coal and iron ore prices.
It is clear that demand for steel has strengthened. During the second half of the year, we know that higher raw materials prices will have an increased impact, while at the same time, we will be carrying out extended maintenance outages due to the investment program.

Government Committed to Ensure Level Playing Field for Media Media Should Act as an Enabler, Giving Voice to the Voiceless- Ambika Soni 

Minister Inaugurates two Day International Colloquium on Freedom of Expression & Human Rights Organised by Press Council of India 

Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Smt. Ambika Soni has said the Government is committed in ensuring level playing field for different segments of the media in order to promote a sustainable growth process and a robust industry. During the period of global recession, the print industry in India grew at a rate of 6.2% despite the downward growth conditions world wide in the media industry. Support was provided to the different newspapers i.e. small, medium and regional through advertisements released by the government. This created an enabling environment within the industry especially the regional press. The growing number of newspaper readers within the country was also an indicator of the growth of the regional press in different forms and dialects. In the broadcast sector, 653 satellite channels had been granted permission till date, while the FM Phase-III roll out shortly would ensure availability of 806 radio stations across 283 cities. The Minister stated this while delivering the key note address at the Inaugural session of the two day International Colloquium on Freedom of expression & human rights here today.

Elaborating further, the Minster said that media needed to avoid sensationalism or trivialization of issues in the pursuit of commercial interests. As the media platform functioned within the environment of instant communication, spontaneity of communication had broken the barriers of the traditional communication and information dissemination moved forward through different outreach tools thereby having a profound impact in the shortest possible time. Minister added media ought to act as an enabler, giving voice to the voiceless in order to ensure that every marginal group was heard, seen and involved in the mainstream by highlighting issues that protected and enhanced the dignity and self-esteem of such groups, hence empowering them.

Highlighting issues on the theme of the colloquium, the Minister said, The free flow of information was an essential requirement of human beings. Society would be stifled and dissatisfied if it was prevented from having access to information or if people did not have the freedom to express themselves. An independent and pluralistic media, which freely provides substantiated information to citizens, was the cornerstone of a robust and democratic polity and acts as a protector of human rights. The Minister stressed that effective functioning of democracy required transparency and transparency thrived on a free two-way flow of information. The power of expression had thus become an inalienable right to express views and opinion.

Elaborating on some of the key initiatives undertaken to ensure accountability and transparency in government, Smt Soni said that the Right to Information Act had proven to be the single most effective instrument for empowering the common man. The setting up of Community Radio Stations in far-flung remote areas had ensured people at the grassroots to get sensitized with quality information and vital statistics on key flagship programmes of the Government such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Rural Health Mission, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Right to Information. Similarly, the MPLAD Scheme through which local development concerns were addressed had proven to be an effective tool to tackle the issue of deprivation at lowest level of programme implementation. At the same time, the government had ensured legislation to protect fundamental rights such as Right to Education, Right to Health, Right to Work, Right to Information and was on the threshold of making the Right to Food an Act of Parliament.

Speaking on the occasion Chairman, Press Council of India, Justice G. N. Ray said the endeavour of Press Council of India was to ensure that media enjoyed the utmost freedom. However, it was necessary that the parameters of media ethics were clearly laid down.

The two day colloquium will lay special emphasis on freedom of expression Vs Rights of the Civil Society, reporting human rights excesses, promoting peace journalism and media as a defender of human rights. Media organizations from various countries like Australia, Austria, Turkey, Israel, Tanzania besides Indian representatives are participating in the deliberations at this International Colloquium.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

  • World Economic Forum on Latin America in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 28-29 April 2011
  • Theme: “Laying the Foundation for a Latin American Decade”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 28 April 2011 – The current shift in global power will boost the status of Latin America, which is still sometimes referred to as the forgotten continent, and will increasingly attract attention from investors trying to capture growth opportunities, said the Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum on Latin America, which starts today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Report Outlines New Strategies to Improve Natural Disaster Risk Management
  • A Vision for Managing Natural Disaster Risk outlines recommendations to reduce the impact of natural disasters
  • Enlarging the knowledge and resource base that governments can draw upon is crucial for disaster preparedness
  • Report highlights central role of country risk manager to coordinate disaster preparedness efforts
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 28 April 2011 – A new World Economic Forum report, A Vision for Managing Natural Disaster Risk, published today, outlines recommendations to improve risk management and reduce the impact of natural disasters. The report, written in collaboration with ARUP, Lloyds of London and Swiss Re, among other companies, provides recommendations to reduce the impact of natural disasters through enhancing physical and financial preparedness by using the resources of both the public and private sectors.

Govt to Evolve a Consensus on Commercial Mining of Coal-Shri Jaiswal

As a part of energy sector reforms, the Government is trying to evolve a consensus on commercial mining of coal. This will not only promote development of coal sector but also competition and better pricing of the coal in the country. This was stated by Shri Sriprakash Jaiswal, Minister of Coal while addressing “Energizing India 2011” summit, here today. The Minister said the captive mining policy for augmenting domestic production has not yielded desired results for various reasons. Ideally, coal sector should have been opened for commercial mining in line with the energy sector reforms that followed in the early nineties. Now the legislation in this regard introduced by the Government is pending in Parliament, he said.

Highlighting the importance of the coal in meeting energy requirements on sustainable basis, Shri Jaisswal said that concerted efforts are being made to augment domestic production both from public sector coal companies and captive blocks through appropriate policy measures. However, there are certain constraints in the way of augmenting production which include obtaining forestry and environmental clearances for coal projects in time, rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected persons, strengthening coal evacuation facilities and development of port infrastructure facilities etc.

Reiterating the need of increasing coal production on priority basis , Shri Jaiswal said that availability of coal in terminal year of the XI Plan 2011-12 will be only about 554 million tonnes, mainly on account of non-receipt of statutory clearances in time and pending R&R issues etc. With the projected demand of about 696 million tonne in 2011-12 there lies a gap of about 142 million tonnes.

Referring to the Government’s initiatives to bridge the demand and supply gap, Shri Jaiswal said, the Government has been encouraging acquisition of coal properties abroad and a number of companies both in private and public sector have achieved some success in this regard. However, as long as we are not in a position to mine and import some significant quantities of coal from these assets, the consumers have to face the related challenges in securing the supplies particularly in view of the price volatility of coal in international markets. Development of required infrastructure for coal movement from the production centres to the consuming centres and strengthening port capacities to handle imports is also a major challenge. Public private partnership in developing these areas would be a desirable approach, the minister observed.

World Bank Assistance to National Ganga River Basin Authority for abatement of pollution of River Ganga

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the Project for cleaning of River Ganga to be implemented by the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) at an estimated cost of Rs. 7000 crore. The share of Government of India will be Rs 5100 crore and that of the State Governments of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal will be Rs 1900 crore. The World Bank has agreed in-principle to provide a loan assistance of US $ 1 billion (approx. Rs 4600 crore) to the Government of India for the NGRBA project, which will form part of the central share of the project. The duration of the project will be eight years.

NGRBA was constituted in February, 2009 as an empowered planning, financing, monitoring and coordinating authority for the Ganga River under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The objective of the Authority, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, is to ensure conservation of the river Ganga and to maintain environmental flows by comprehensive planning and management, adopting a river basin approach.

The project is envisaged as the first phase in a long-term programme of World Bank support to NGRBA. The project will support NGRBA's objective of Mission Clean Ganga. The project has been designed keeping in view the lessons learnt from the previous Ganga Action Plan and International River clean-ups. The project will have three components relating to (a) institutional development for setting up dedicated institutions for implementing the NGRBA program, setting up Ganga Knowledge Centre, strengthening environmental regulators (Pollution Control Boards) and local institutions (ULBs, etc) (b) infrastructure investments including for municipal sewage, industrial pollution, solid wastes and river front management, and (c) project implementation support.

Apache Production Surges 25% in First Quarter to 732,000 boe Per Day
Quarterly earnings top $1.1 billion or $2.86 per diluted share; cash flow exceeds $2.2 billion

HOUSTON, April 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Apache Corporation (NYSE, Nasdaq: APA) reported production of 732,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day and earnings of $1.1 billion, or $2.86 per diluted share, for the three-month period ending March 31, 2011. These compare with production of 586,000 boe per day and net income of $705 million, or $2.08 per diluted share, for the same period in the prior year.
"Apache is beginning the year with a solid, strong performance," said G. Steven Farris, chairman and chief executive officer. "Despite a number of challenges, our diversified portfolio of assets delivered exceptional earnings and operating results. Liquids production increased 57,000 barrels to 358,000 barrels per day, which enabled Apache to achieve stand-out earnings and cash flow as a leading beneficiary of rising oil prices."
Higher oil prices and production from new wells drilled during the quarter and assets acquired during 2010 combined to increase revenues to $3.9 billion, up from $2.7 billion last year. Cash from operations before changes in operating assets and liabilities* increased 43 percent from the prior year to $2.2 billion. Excluding certain items that management believes affect the comparability of operating results, Apache reported adjusted earnings* of $1.1 billion in first quarter 2011 compared with $712 million in the year-earlier period. On a per-share basis, adjusted earnings were $2.90 in the first quarter compared with $2.10 per diluted share in the prior-year period.
Liquid hydrocarbons represented 49 percent of production and 77 percent of revenues. Approximately 60 percent of the company's oil production came from operations outside North America and received in excess of a $10 premium per barrel compared with domestic production benchmarked to West Texas Intermediate prices.
On the operational front, the company achieved several milestones. These include:
  • Apache's most prolific development well in the Forties field (North Sea), which came online at approximately 11,800 barrels of oil per day.
  • In the Permian Basin, Apache is operating 24 rigs, up nearly five-fold from a year ago. Targeting primarily oil objectives, Apache drilled 110 wells including 15 horizontals during the first quarter.
  • Since drilling the first-ever horizontal Hogshooter well last year, Apache has drilled six wells into this oil-rich segment of the Anadarko basin's Granite Wash formation. To date, every well has tested in excess of 1,000 barrels of oil and 2 million cubic feet of gas per day.  
  • The company's first operated deepwater production in the Gulf of Mexico with start-up at the Balboa field.
  • Offshore Australia, Apache's Zola discovery well encountered 410 feet of net gas pay.
  • In Egypt, Apache operated 22 rigs during the quarter, drilling 33 wells, including the company's first wells in the Tayim development lease in West Kalabsha producing from deeper Paleozoic pay. Apache's production remained online throughout the quarter, increasing sequentially from the previous three months.

"We continue to strengthen our land position, both in North America and internationally. Our LNG initiatives, Kitimat in Canada and Wheatstone in Australia, are steadily progressing toward project sanction with their respective joint venture partnerships," Farris said.
"Apache's opportunity set has never been more robust. We have a deep backlog of exploitation opportunities across our portfolio. In addition to our legacy plays in core areas, we have other potentially large-scale, long-life assets such as deepwater, LNG, and unconventional plays that can provide lasting, long-term value to our shareholders."
Apache Corporation is an oil and gas exploration and production company with operations in the United States, Canada, Egypt, the United Kingdom North Sea

Formation Metals' Mexican Subsidiary Acquires Central Core Land Position on El Milagro Silver Project

Vancouver, B.C., April 28, 2011 Formation Metals Inc. (FCO-TSX) ("Formation") is pleased to announce that its 100% owned Mexican subsidiary, Minera Terranova, S.A. de C.V. (the "Company") has recently acquired a central core land package that is surrounded by its 100% owned Mexican silver / lead / zinc El Milagro Project. The Company has been working towards gaining control of the entire land package for over five years and its acquisition is fortuitous considering current silver prices. Initial stages of review are now in progress and existing data is being compiled to develop a systematic surface sampling and mapping program which will delineate future potential drill targets.

The El Milagro Project is located 60 kilometers northwest of the city of Tampico, in the southeast portion of the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. The project is located within the southernmost portion of the Chihuahua Trough, where alkaline dikes and sills along the caldera ring fracture of the Trough carry semi-massive sulphide stockwork zones in altered intrusive rocks.

The primary target defined within the Milagro property is the Santa Maria Vein, a 1-4 meter wide tabular subvertical NNE trending breccia vein that has been mapped over a strike length of 450 meters, with a lead-rich polymetallic assemblage that carries silver grades often in excess of 1,500 grams per tonne (43.8 ounces per ton) and combined lead-zinc grades that often exceed 10%. This target remains open along both strike directions. The new claims are considered a strategic acquisition as they cover a portion of both the northern and southern strike extensions of the Santa Maria Vein.

Previous work by an independent consultant working for the Company returned silver values across the host dike in the Santa Maria workings that vary from 800 to 3,800 grams per tonne (23.4 - 111.0 ounces per ton) over 4 metres. The Santa Maria vein was a relatively recent discovery and as such it is considered probable that other silver-rich veins and replacement zones exist within the area covered by the El Milagro property. Accompanying base metal values include lead assays ranging from 10.3% to 12.3% and zinc assays from 2.8% to 6.8%. Anomalous copper values are also associated with the mineralization. Mineralization is very low in arsenic, mercury and cadmium and only slightly elevated in antimony.

Mr. Eric (Rick) Honsinger, P.Geo., of Formation Metals Inc., is the Qualified Person who has reviewed and approved the content of this news release which is based on historical information.

Formation Metals Inc. is dedicated to the principles of environmentally sound mining and refining practices, and believes that environmental stewardship and mining can co-exist. Formation trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol FCO.

Cheer loud & clear – lead KKR to victory with the Nokia Cheering Squad

Winners to join the Nokia Cheering Squad in Kolkata and meet Shahrukh Khan

New Delhi, April 28, 2011: Continuing with the excitement of the Indian Premier League, Nokia announced call for entries for the ‘Nokia -KKR Cheering Squad’. 10 winners will be inducted into the ‘Cheering Squad’ and will get to cheer the KKR team live at Eden Gardens during the home matches on May 7th and 22nd. The Cheering Squad will be given all the props they need to cheer the team, along with a Nokia N8 to capture and share their experiences at Eden Gardens with KKR fans on Facebook. The Cheering Squad will be introduced to Shahrukh Khan and the KKR team at the post match party in Kolkata on May 7th.

To participate, KKR fans can log onto the Nokia India page on Facebook and leave their loudest and wackiest cheering ideas for the team. The most creative and popular ideas will decide the winners! Winners can share their new found fame by capturing their journey and uploading pics and videos on the Nokia India page on Facebook.

Announcing the contest, Viral Oza, Director- Marketing, Nokia India said, “We always look for newer ways to connect with the youth. Keeping in line with Nokia’s theme of connecting people, the cheering squad will bring fans even closer to the team and motivate the team to do well. The innovative format will allow the chosen winners to share their experiences with KKR fans on Facebook.”

The contest is open for entries from the 27th of April and will go on till the 2nd May. Winners will be announced on May 3rd 2011.

About Nokia
At Nokia, we are committed to connecting people. We combine advanced technology with personalized services that enable people to stay close to what matters to them. Every day, more than 1.3 billion people connect to one another with a Nokia device – from mobile phones to advanced smartphones and high-performance mobile computers. Today, Nokia is integrating its devices with innovative services through Ovi   including music, maps, apps, email and more.  Nokia's NAVTEQ is a leader in comprehensive digital mapping and navigation services, while Nokia Siemens Networks provides equipment, services and solutions for communications networks globally.


            Shri Sudesh Sonthalia , President, Merchants Chamber of Commerce, feels that the following issues should receive immediate attention of the in-coming Government in West Bengal :-

          1.       Restoration of investors confidence and image-building for West Bengal on the basis of its strategic location, large English - speaking skilled work force and taking effective steps for political and social stability should receive top priority.

2.       Agriculture, being the mainstay of the people and following Prof. M. S. Swaminathans vision a revolution in small farms management and production - strategy is imperative, for which group / contact farming and corporatisation of agriculture are essential.

3.       Many industrial units, existing and new, have been held up and their production plans could not be implemented due to land-problems, thus blocking creation of considerable wealth and employment opportunities. Hence, a rational Land - Use Policy based on updated scientific data should be implemented and Land Banks at the District - levels should be set up and made available to the prospective investors for facilitating industrial growth - both large and SME sectors.

4.       Iron & Steel industry is the new growth-area of the State. But the basic raw materials like Iron Ore and Coal are not available in required quality and quantity, thus holding back its growth. Assured linkage of Iron Ore and Coal to these units should receive urgent attention of the new government.

5.       Escalation of prices of essential items should be brought down by taking necessary administrative steps.

6.       SMEs which are playing a critical and catalytic role in the areas of production, employment generation and exports, should get Bank credit at lower rates - at PLR + 2p.c. or so. This issue should be negotiated urgently with the RBI and Union Finance Ministry.

7.       However, the most urgent need is to re-structure and energise the Administration. Quick response to the needs of the people, agriculture and industry, urgent and effective action to reach the set-targets within the given time-frame in all areas, hold the key to the restoration of peoples confidence. Law and Order problem also needs to be reviewed from a fresh angle and solved which is an essential pillar of confidence building.

LKAB invests in the world’s most powerful Locomotives to increase the capacity of ore transports

LKAB's board decided on Wednesday to invest in four new dual-IORE locomotives from Bombardier. The order is an important part of a large investment in LKABs logistics of a billion Swedish krona SEK.

“The investment is strategic to LKAB's development plan and increases train capacity for ore transports to 40 million tons per year. Increased capacity on the Malmbanan line is essential to implement the plan for three new mines and an increase in delivery capacity of 35 % by 2015” says LKAB's CEO Lars-Eric Aaro.
LKAB currently has 13 IORE-locomotives and is now increasing the number to 17 locomotives. IORE-locomotives are designed for extremely heavy rail transport. LKAB's ore trains consist of 68 ore cars with a carrying capacity of 100 tons each. Each train carries 6,800 tons of iron ore and is 750 meters long. Ore shipments are transported from LKAB's mine sites in Malmberget, Svappavaara and Kiruna to LKAB's ore ports in Narvik and Luleå and to the SSAB site in Luleå.
The requirements for the locomotives are very high.
“The ore transports run around the clock in an extreme Arctic climate with large temperature fluctuations and weather variations. The Bombardier locomotives have proven to be reliable in this harsh climate. When the trains in southern Sweden stood still, our ore trains were always on schedule," said Jan Olovsson, project manager.
The four IORE locomotives will be delivered during the period May 2013 to March 2014. The contract also includes spare parts.
Increased capacity
“This investment provides us with a transport capacity of 20 daily trains instead of the current 15 trains on Malmbanan" says Göran Heikkilä, Director of MTAB, Malmtrafik in Kiruna AB, which handles the rail traffic.
Klas Wåhlberg, President of Bombardier Transportation Sweden AB, comments: “Our new order from LKAB is a great success. Our customer appreciates the IORE-locomotives’ high performance and reliability. It is also proof of our well-established co-operation.”

Energy efficient
The IORE-locomotives have a high tractive effort of 1200 kN, the world's most powerful locomotives. The power at the wheels is 10 800 kW, or about 15 000 hp and the axle load is 30 tonnes on each of the 12 driving axles. The IORE-locomotives are very energy efficient and have a built-in energy regeneration. Using so-called asynchronous motors, kinetic energy is converted to electric power when the locomotive brakes. The Bombardier IORE locomotives regenerate on average 25 percent of the energy consumed during transportation. This benefits the environment and LKAB's investment in Green Pellets, the world’s smartest iron ore product.

"We are very proud to be part of LKAB's ongoing success," stated Åke Wennberg, President of Bombardier Transportation's Locomotives & Equipment Division. "The power and performance of these Bombardier locomotives are unequaled and will further strengthen LKAB in their strategic business development."

Final assembly of the new locomotives will take place in Kassel, Germany. The carbodies, bogies and propulsion will be produced at Bombardier’s sites in Wroclaw, Poland, and Siegen and Mannheim, Germany, respectively.

  • Prominent African and global leaders to take part in the 21st World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa, next week
  • South Africa’s President Jacob G. Zuma to host the meeting, which will feature more than 900 participants from over 60 countries – a record for the World Economic Forum on Africa   
Geneva, Switzerland, 22 April 2011 – Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister, is to advise the World Economic Forum, having accepted an invitation to chair a new policy and initiatives coordination board. It will be an informal group bringing together heads of international organizations and government representatives to analyse, assess and coordinate the prioritization, development and impact of multistakeholder initiatives within the global system.

2016: The End of The Age of America?

Whilst Americans are busy shopping at the mall (or too busy scrounging for work), the International Monetary Fund released a forecast that signalled the end of the American economic dominance.
According to the IMF, the Age of America will end in 2016:
In addition to comparing the two countries based on exchange rates, the IMF analysis also looked to the true, real-terms picture of the economies using "purchasing power parities." That compares what people earn and spend in real terms in their domestic economies.
Under PPP, the Chinese economy will expand from $11.2 trillion this year to $19 trillion in 2016. Meanwhile the size of the U.S. economy will rise from $15.2 trillion to $18.8 trillion. That would take America’s share of the world output down to 17.7%, the lowest in modern times. China’s would reach 18%, and rising.

UTI-Opportunities Fund declares tax-free dividend of 8%

UTI-Opportunities Fund declares tax-free dividend of 8% (Rs.0.80 per unit on face value of Rs.10/-). Pursuant to the payment of dividend, the NAV of the dividend option of the scheme would fall to the extent of payout.

The record date for the dividend is May 2, 2011.

All unitholders registered under the dividend option of UTI-Opportunities Fund as on the record date will be eligible for this dividend. Also investors who join the dividend option of the scheme on or before the record date will be eligible for the dividend.

The NAV per unit as on April 26, 2011 was Rs.15.00 under the dividend option.

The scheme has consistently outperformed the benchmark BSE 100 as per table given below:

Fund Performance as April 21, 2011
Performance Comparison with Benchmark Index
Compounded Annualised Returns
BSE 100
One year
Three years
Five years
Since Inception
Assuming that all pay outs during the period have been reinvested in units of the fund at the immediate ex-dividend NAV
Past Performance may or may not be sustained in the future

UTI Opportunities Fund was launched in July 2005 as an open-ended equity scheme. The investment objective of the scheme is to generate capital appreciation and/or income distribution by investing in equity and equity related instruments. The main focus of the scheme is to capitalize on opportunities arising in the market by responding to the dynamically changing Indian economy by moving investments amongst different sectors as prevailing trends change. UTI Opportunities Fund predominantly invests in 4 to 5 sectors that are expected to outperform the broader market in short to medium term.

Mr. Harsha Upadhyaya is the fund manager of the scheme.

About UTI Mutual Fund

UTI Mutual Fund is a SEBI registered mutual fund whose Sponsors are State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of   Baroda   and  Life  Insurance  Corporation of  India.

UTI Mutual Fund has assets under management (average) of Rs.67188.82 crore and investor accounts of 9.88 million under its 82 domestic schemes (Quarter ended March 31, 2011).