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  • TREND: Mexican cartels, a threat to mining business

    Worsening security linked to drug cartel activity in Mexico's Guerrero state is having a growing impact on mining business. The first reported incident came in February when 13 people, including one employee and three subcontracted workers at Torex Gold's US$800mn Limón-Guajes gold project, were kidnapped. Torex temporarily suspended construction at the project while local community members conducted a search for the missing people. This was followed by Belgium-based Nyrstar's decision to suspend operations at its nearby Campo Morado mine, citing systematic intimidation of its workers. The mine produces zinc, copper, gold and silver. In March, authorities reported an investigation into the kidnapping of four Goldcorp workers employed at the company's Los Filos operation in Guerrero state. Three were found dead days later, with their bodies showing signs of torture, while a fourth was released, according to local press reports. IMPACT The recent kidnappings show drug cartels are not deterred from conducting activities around major international mining businesses that have strong federal support, Scotiabank head of gold and precious metals Trevor Turnbull told BNamericas previously. The incidents also show authorities that have failed to bring the security situation under control, despite the high profile disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students in the state last year, Turnbull added. As well as halting or disrupting production and construction, kidnappings and intimidation are having a major impact on recruitment for mining business, with the start-up of Limón-Guajes delayed after a contractor pulled out. Security fears led Scotiabank to downgrade Torex' stock and will impact takeover demand for the company, according to Turnbull. The situation will require that miners take extra security precautions at mines and projects in the state, which is likely to have a substantial effect on costs. OUTLOOK Whether security in Guerrero improves or worsens will hinge on efforts by the Mexican government to regain control of the country's fifth-biggest gold producing state. The signs so far are not promising. Despite deploying federal security forces in towns across the state, authorities have so far been unable to significantly impede drug cartel activities, which include extortion and kidnappings. More concerted efforts by the federal government, in collaboration with the communities and executives from the mining business, will be needed to bring order to Guerrero. Pictured: Federal police reinforcements deployed in Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico. CREDIT: AFP$header

  • Peru to invest US$950mn in northern jungle infra

    Peru's government said it plans to invest 3bn soles (US$950mn) in infrastructure and other projects in an area of the country's northern jungle once overrun by guerrillas and drug traffickers. Government spending in the upper Huallaga valley, where the government this week lifted a state of emergency after 37 years, will now focus on road, bridge, potable water and sewerage projects, President Ollanta Humala said. "We're going to reinforce the budget in the upper Huallaga," Humala said in a TV broadcast. "What was previously spent on security will largely be allocated to infrastructure, social programs and the modernization of agriculture." The government in 2012 originally set a 2.2bn-sol budget for Huánuco region, where a section of the Huallaga valley is located, and part of that budget was allocated to the armed forces, Humala said. With guerrilla violence ebbing and the drug trade relocating further southeast, the government can now focus on infrastructure such as a 22.6mn-sol water and sewerage investment in the region's Cholón district, he said. The Huallaga valley, once the cradle of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency and the world's largest producer of coca leaf, the raw ingredient for cocaine, now produces coffee, cacao and rice, spurring the government to boost investment in agro-industry projects, Humala said. "The era of violence is over," Humala said. "Now there's a new mentality in the upper Huallaga to compete with other parts of Peru to export to the world." Humala, who was elected in 2011 on pledges to invest more in health, education and transport infrastructure, ends his mandate in July 2016 following elections next April. Humala has awarded US$18bn in public-private infrastructure concessions since 2011.$header

  • US, Cuba to reopen embassies after 54 years

    The US and Cuban governments have agreed to reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, respectively, restoring diplomatic relations severed unilaterally in 1961 by the administration of then US president John F. Kennedy. "We don't have to be imprisoned by the past," President Barack Obama said in the Rose Garden at the White House. He added that US Secretary of State John Kerry would formally travel to Havana before September to "raise the American flag over our embassy once more." Obama also called on the US Congress to lift the trade embargo that prevents US citizens from traveling to Cuba or doing business on the island nation. The announcement comes after the countries normalized relations in December, and following talks between Obama and Castro in April, the first between its leaders in more than 50 years. Since then, the US has taken Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and has approved a ferry service from Florida to the island. "With this change we will able to substantially increase our contacts with the Cuban people. We'll have more personnel at our embassy and our diplomats will have the ability to engage more broadly across the island," Obama said. "On issues of common interest, like counter-terrorism, disaster response and development, we will find new ways to cooperate with Cuba." In a letter from Cuban President Raúl Castro to Obama, the Cuban government simultaneously announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. "Cuba makes this decision based on the reciprocal intention to develop respectful relations of cooperation between our peoples and governments," Castro stated in the letter cited by the official Cuban communist party newspaper Granma. The two countries had maintained interests sections in each other's capitals since 1977, under the legal protection of Switzerland. Meanwhile, official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina said the reestablishment of relations was a step in the right direction, but warned there was still a long way to go, citing the US embargo and the "illegal occupation" of Guantánamo Bay.$header

  • US, Cuba to reopen embassies after 54 years

    The US and Cuban governments have agreed to reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, respectively, restoring diplomatic relations severed unilaterally in 1961 by the administration of then US president John F. Kennedy. "We don't have to be imprisoned by the past," President Barack Obama said in the Rose Garden at the White House. He added that US Secretary of State John Kerry would formally travel to Havana before September to "raise the American flag over our embassy once more." Obama also called on the US Congress to lift the trade embargo that prevents US citizens from traveling to Cuba or doing business on the island nation. The announcement comes after the countries normalized relations in December, and following talks between Obama and Castro in April, the first between its leaders in more than 50 years. Since then, the US has taken Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and has approved a ferry service from Florida to the island. "With this change we will able to substantially increase our contacts with the Cuban people. We'll have more personnel at our embassy and our diplomats will have the ability to engage more broadly across the island," Obama said. "On issues of common interest, like counter-terrorism, disaster response and development, we will find new ways to cooperate with Cuba." In a letter from Cuban President Raúl Castro to Obama, the Cuban government simultaneously announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. "Cuba makes this decision based on the reciprocal intention to develop respectful relations of cooperation between our peoples and governments," Castro stated in the letter cited by the official Cuban communist party newspaper Granma. The two countries had maintained interests sections in each other's capitals since 1977, under the legal protection of Switzerland. Meanwhile, official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina said the reestablishment of relations was a step in the right direction, but warned there was still a long way to go, citing the US embargo and the "illegal occupation" of Guantánamo Bay.$header

  • TREND: Big data's big impact on insurance sector

    Big data, the large amount of information about almost any individual that is available thanks to the development of computers, data storage and the internet, will have a profound impact on many industries, including insurance. Up to the present day, the insurance business has been based on the distribution of risks associated with a pool of individuals and setting a premium based on the average risk of this pool. The risk associated to each individual has been largely unknown: this is the main change which comes with the analytical tools provided by big data. As an individual's risk becomes much clearer from his or her habits, the need for risk-pooling to compensate for unknown risks decreases. Insurance specialists will be able increasingly to develop almost tailor-made products for each client. The information provided by big data also goes beyond that provided by the internal collection of a company, as is the case with business intelligence. Big data, as it is not restricted to internal sources of information, expands significantly the knowledge an insurance company can have of a potential client, and the risks associated with him/her. One of the most obvious developments in the insurance business brought about by big data analysis, as there will be less need to compensate unknown risks, will be in the overall reduction of premium prices. The use of big data analysis will also help to reduce the impact of fraud, which also affects premium prices. Most insurers are still a long way from developing tailor-made products based on big data. For Ignacio López, marketing and sales director of AXA in Spain, cited by media outlet Pymeseguros, "you have to think big, but act small at first. You have to start by learning how to use the information that is already available. " For López, the insurance sector is characterized by knowing very little about its clients. A technology trend which will indirectly work in favor of big data collection is the development of wearable devices. According to an Accenture study cited by Pymeseguros, 63% of insurance companies believe that the use of wearable devices will become widespread within two years, and 31% say that they already use them to communicate with clients, employees or partners. Pictured: Wearable devices developed by Spanish telecom firm Telefónica.$header

  • US, Cuba to reopen embassies after 54 years

    The US and Cuban governments have agreed to reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, respectively, restoring diplomatic relations severed unilaterally in 1961 by the administration of then US president John F. Kennedy. "We don't have to be imprisoned by the past," President Barack Obama said in the Rose Garden at the White House. He added that US Secretary of State John Kerry would formally travel to Havana before September to "raise the American flag over our embassy once more." Obama also called on the US Congress to lift the trade embargo that prevents US citizens from traveling to Cuba or doing business on the island nation. The announcement comes after the countries normalized relations in December, and following talks between Obama and Castro in April, the first between its leaders in more than 50 years. Since then, the US has taken Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and has approved a ferry service from Florida to the island. "With this change we will able to substantially increase our contacts with the Cuban people. We'll have more personnel at our embassy and our diplomats will have the ability to engage more broadly across the island," Obama said. "On issues of common interest, like counter-terrorism, disaster response and development, we will find new ways to cooperate with Cuba." In a letter from Cuban President Raúl Castro to Obama, the Cuban government simultaneously announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. "Cuba makes this decision based on the reciprocal intention to develop respectful relations of cooperation between our peoples and governments," Castro stated in the letter cited by the official Cuban communist party newspaper Granma. The two countries had maintained interests sections in each other's capitals since 1977, under the legal protection of Switzerland. Meanwhile, official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina said the reestablishment of relations was a step in the right direction, but warned there was still a long way to go, citing the US embargo and the "illegal occupation" of Guantánamo Bay.$header

  • Mexico's ICA seeking to build four hydroelectric plants

    Mexico's largest construction company ICA is planning to build four hydroelectric plants in Puebla state with an investment of US$150mn, but the firm still requires approval from various authorities before it can move forward. The project, which will use a cascade system with a flow of 12m3/s, would be located in the Acapulco river basin in Puebla state and will have a installed capacity of 65MW, Gerardo Serrato Angeles, energy director at Grupo ICA told BNamericas. "The energy would be used to supply our own projects, such as airports and aqueducts, as well as the industrial sector and commercial industry," he said. Mexico's environment and natural resources ministry (Semarnat) last month issued a resolution in its environmental gazette explaining that the project was "not applicable". That means that "the applicant - ICA - withdrew the project, so the project does not apply" a spokesperson at Semarnat told BNamericas. ICA withdrew the project because Semarnat asked the firm to include a social impact study, Serrato explained. "The impact study has already been submitted to Mexico's energy ministry Sener, they are evaluating it and then we will submit the application to Semarnat," he added. "The projects were not canceled or rejected by the environmental authority. they were just postponed to obtain the permit." he said. Various Mexican environmental organizations, such as the coalition of organizations for the right to water (COMDA), have railed against the construction of these kinds of projects. "We will always be respectful of the needs of communities and never impose a project on them," Serrato said. If the authorities eventually approve the project, national water authority Conagua may give a water concession to ICA for 30 years, with the possibility of extending it for other 30 years, he said. If the project receives authorization, ICA will start construction by the end this year or in early 2016, he added.$header

  • US, Cuba to reopen embassies after 54 years

    The US and Cuban governments have agreed to reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, respectively, restoring diplomatic relations severed unilaterally in 1961 by the administration of then US president John F. Kennedy. "We don't have to be imprisoned by the past," President Barack Obama said in the Rose Garden at the White House. He added that US Secretary of State John Kerry would formally travel to Havana before September to "raise the American flag over our embassy once more." Obama also called on the US Congress to lift the trade embargo that prevents US citizens from traveling to Cuba or doing business on the island nation. The announcement comes after the countries normalized relations in December, and following talks between Obama and Castro in April, the first between its leaders in more than 50 years. Since then, the US has taken Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and has approved a ferry service from Florida to the island. "With this change we will able to substantially increase our contacts with the Cuban people. We'll have more personnel at our embassy and our diplomats will have the ability to engage more broadly across the island," Obama said. "On issues of common interest, like counter-terrorism, disaster response and development, we will find new ways to cooperate with Cuba." In a letter from Cuban President Raúl Castro to Obama, the Cuban government simultaneously announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. "Cuba makes this decision based on the reciprocal intention to develop respectful relations of cooperation between our peoples and governments," Castro stated in the letter cited by the official Cuban communist party newspaper Granma. The two countries had maintained interests sections in each other's capitals since 1977, under the legal protection of Switzerland. Meanwhile, official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina said the reestablishment of relations was a step in the right direction, but warned there was still a long way to go, citing the US embargo and the "illegal occupation" of Guantánamo Bay.$header

  • US, Cuba to reopen embassies after 54 years

    The US and Cuban governments have agreed to reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, respectively, restoring diplomatic relations severed unilaterally in 1961 by the administration of then US president John F. Kennedy. "We don't have to be imprisoned by the past," President Barack Obama said in the Rose Garden at the White House. He added that US Secretary of State John Kerry would formally travel to Havana before September to "raise the American flag over our embassy once more." Obama also called on the US Congress to lift the trade embargo that prevents US citizens from traveling to Cuba or doing business on the island nation. The announcement comes after the countries normalized relations in December, and following talks between Obama and Castro in April, the first between its leaders in more than 50 years. Since then, the US has taken Cuba off its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and has approved a ferry service from Florida to the island. "With this change we will able to substantially increase our contacts with the Cuban people. We'll have more personnel at our embassy and our diplomats will have the ability to engage more broadly across the island," Obama said. "On issues of common interest, like counter-terrorism, disaster response and development, we will find new ways to cooperate with Cuba." In a letter from Cuban President Raúl Castro to Obama, the Cuban government simultaneously announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. "Cuba makes this decision based on the reciprocal intention to develop respectful relations of cooperation between our peoples and governments," Castro stated in the letter cited by the official Cuban communist party newspaper Granma. The two countries had maintained interests sections in each other's capitals since 1977, under the legal protection of Switzerland. Meanwhile, official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina said the reestablishment of relations was a step in the right direction, but warned there was still a long way to go, citing the US embargo and the "illegal occupation" of Guantánamo Bay.$header

  • Mining Projects: Limón-Guajes overcomes challenges

    Torex Gold's Limón-Guajes project in Mexico's Guerrero gold belt promises to be one of the world's largest mining projects with the lowest cost, according to the company. And with around six months to go before the start of production, the Canadian junior appears to have met every challenge head-on while preserving impressive economics. PROJECT OUTLINE Limón-Guajes, located in Torex's Morelos Sur concession, is an open pit gold mining project which will produce 375,000oz/y gold over an 11-year mine life at cash costs of US$504/oz. The low cost and high production stem from the project's large, high grade measured and indicated resource of 4.95Moz gold at 2.79g/t. Construction began in 2013. CAPEX, NORTH NOSE Torex announced an increase in capex in January to US$800mn from US$725mn. However, higher production in this mining project in 2015 and 2016 means the IRR will not be affected. The increased early stage output will come from the North Nose pit, which was initially earmarked for production late in the mine life, the company said in a release. Development of the North Nose cost US$22mn, which was not included in original capex calculations, and will add 72,000oz to stockpiles to be processed in 2015. After-tax IRR is estimated at 24.2% at US$1,276/oz gold. LABOR, COMMUNITY CHALLENGES The higher capex also results from costs related to labor and community challenges. In particular, the US$800mn figure includes US$47mn of contingency, partly due to social unrest in Guerrero state. Mining projects are long term, what means investors want to have visibility on the social outlook of a country before making decisions. The unrest has impacted the willingness of construction contractors and their employees to come to the state when there is sufficient work elsewhere, Torex said. "The potential impact of this to cost and schedule is difficult to quantify, which is one of the reasons that, even after effectively finalizing the engineering work, the contingency has been left at a significant level," the company added. The higher capex also reflects increased costs of relocating residents, with more families than expected requiring new homes and higher costs per home needed to obtain community acceptance for the mining project, Torex said. The capex rise also includes higher earthwork and inflationary costs and processing plant adjustments. TIMELINE, FINANCE Despite the higher capex, Limón-Guajes remains fully funded, and a US$60mn second draw on the project finance facility was received on January 28. A loan signed with six banks in August after 18 months of negotiations comprised US$300mn for project finance and a cost-overrun facility of US$75mn, with the remaining funding from a 2012 bought deal financing. CONCLUSION Limón-Guajes' economics and timeline appear almost untouched despite an array of challenges linked to inflation, financing, technical, labor and community issues, and the mine will immediately put Torex on the map as a significant Mexican gold producer. Pictured: Earthworks at Limón-Guajes, one of Torex´s mining projects. (CREDIT: Torex Gold)$header

  • Brazil's public sector fiscal deficit widens

    Brazil's public sector fiscal deficit was 6.9bn reais (US$2.2bn) in May, driven by a weak performance by the central government. The deficit (primary surplus minus interest payments) is the highest it has been this year and further weakens confidence in Brazil's economy. The figure of 6.9bn reais compares with a consensus expected surplus of 7bn reais. Some analysts such as Goldman Sachs had forecast an 8bn reais surplus. The primary fiscal deficit is equivalent to 7.9% of the country's GDP and has increased from the 6.2% recorded in the 12-month period up to December 2014, according to Goldman Sachs. Key to explaining the deficit are interest expenses, which in turn are dragged up by massive expenses in exchange-rate swaps to back up the value of the real against the US dollar. Over the past 12-month period, dollar-swaps totaled 116bn reais (2.1% of GDP), which translates into a 24.8% implicit interest rate on total net public debt, up from 19.3% in December. During May, the real depreciated 6.2%, adding 22.1bn reais to the public sector's net interest bill, from the dollar swaps issued in the month. Two of the main concerns of market analysts such as Goldman Sachs are that the modest target for 2015 of a primary surplus of 1.1% of GDP could be relaxed, and that the fiscal adjustment is excessively skewed toward taxes and public spending cuts rather than toward non-productive spending or non-investment current spending.$header

  • Why is Newmont Mining important to Latin America?

    Colorado-based Newmont Mining, founded in 1921 and one of the world's largest gold producers, has regional operations of mining in Peru and Suriname. In Peru, Newmont Mining owns a 51.35% interest in Minera Yanacocha, whose properties include the mining operations at Yanacocha and the Conga project. But mining in Peru is facing huge challenges. Newmont Mining suspended construction at Conga in late 2011 because of violent protests over water use. Since then, Minera Yanacocha has been working on reservoir projects at the site to quadruple the local water supply and has been considering different alternatives to be able to develop the Conga project. Conga is one of the biggest investment projects in Peru's US$60bn mining portfolio. Average output over the first five years has been estimated at 650,000-750,000oz/y gold and 160M-210Mlb/y copper. The Conga project, Peru (CREDIT: Newmont Mining) In Peru, Newmont Mining also has a 46.94% interest in the La Zanja gold operation. Mining in Peru is crucial for the whole Southamerican economy. Mining outside Peru In other Latin American operations, Newmont Mining has a 75% interest in the Merian gold project in northeastern Suriname. Directors approved full funding for the Merian project and construction began in August 2014. At end-2014, Newmont reported 3.6 million attributable ounces of gold reserves. Also, Newmont had a 44% stake at the La Herradura mine in Mexico's Sonora desert, but it sold its interest to joint venture partner Fresnillo PLC in October 2014. Consolidated ounces of gold sold from Newmont Mining's South American assets (not including Mexico) has been declining over the years from 1.33Moz in 2012, to 1.02Moz in 2013 and 966,000oz in 2014. Meanwhile total production costs have increased, from US$715/oz in 2012 to US$1,022 in 2013 and US$1,069 in 2014. Yanacocha, Peru (CREDIT: Newmont Mining). Newmont Mining's worldwide consolidated ounces sold of gold came to 5.47Moz in 2012, 5.49Moz in 2013 and 5.24Moz in 2014, meaning South American operations for the company weighed in at 24.2%, 18.6% and 18.4%, respectively. Newmont has approximately 30,000 employees and contractors, the majority of whom work at operations in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Indonesia and Ghana. But mining in Peru is one of the major pillars of the company. It is the only gold company included in the S&P 500 Index and Fortune 500, and in 2007 was the first gold company to form part of the Dow Jones Sustainability World index.$header

  • Brazil's public sector fiscal deficit widens

    Brazil's public sector fiscal deficit was 6.9bn reais (US$2.2bn) in May, driven by a weak performance by the central government. The deficit (primary surplus minus interest payments) is the highest it has been this year and further weakens confidence in Brazil's economy. The figure of 6.9bn reais compares with a consensus expected surplus of 7bn reais. Some analysts such as Goldman Sachs had forecast an 8bn reais surplus. The primary fiscal deficit is equivalent to 7.9% of the country's GDP and has increased from the 6.2% recorded in the 12-month period up to December 2014, according to Goldman Sachs. Key to explaining the deficit are interest expenses, which in turn are dragged up by massive expenses in exchange-rate swaps to back up the value of the real against the US dollar. Over the past 12-month period, dollar-swaps totaled 116bn reais (2.1% of GDP), which translates into a 24.8% implicit interest rate on total net public debt, up from 19.3% in December. During May, the real depreciated 6.2%, adding 22.1bn reais to the public sector's net interest bill, from the dollar swaps issued in the month. Two of the main concerns of market analysts such as Goldman Sachs are that the modest target for 2015 of a primary surplus of 1.1% of GDP could be relaxed, and that the fiscal adjustment is excessively skewed toward taxes and public spending cuts rather than toward non-productive spending or non-investment current spending.$header

  • Atotonilco Wastewater Treatment Plant

    The Atotonilco wastewater treatment plant will have a maximum design capacity of 4.3Mm3/d. It is expected to treat 60% of Mexico City's wastewater, which will later be used for irrigation purposes. The project will benefit 700,000 people living in the Mezquital valley, of which 300,000 live in irrigation zones. More than 8,880 direct and indirect jobs will be created.$header

  • Mexico's ICA seeking to build four hydroelectric plants

    Mexico's largest construction company ICA is planning to build four hydroelectric plants in Puebla state with an investment of US$150mn, but the firm still requires approval from various authorities before it can move forward. The project, which will use a cascade system with a flow of 12m3/s, would be located in the Acapulco river basin in Puebla state and will have a installed capacity of 65MW, Gerardo Serrato Angeles, energy director at Grupo ICA told BNamericas. "The energy would be used to supply our own projects, such as airports and aqueducts, as well as the industrial sector and commercial industry," he said. Mexico's environment and natural resources ministry (Semarnat) last month issued a resolution in its environmental gazette explaining that the project was "not applicable". That means that "the applicant - ICA - withdrew the project, so the project does not apply" a spokesperson at Semarnat told BNamericas. ICA withdrew the project because Semarnat asked the firm to include a social impact study, Serrato explained. "The impact study has already been submitted to Mexico's energy ministry Sener, they are evaluating it and then we will submit the application to Semarnat," he added. "The projects were not canceled or rejected by the environmental authority. they were just postponed to obtain the permit." he said. Various Mexican environmental organizations, such as the coalition of organizations for the right to water (COMDA), have railed against the construction of these kinds of projects. "We will always be respectful of the needs of communities and never impose a project on them," Serrato said. If the authorities eventually approve the project, national water authority Conagua may give a water concession to ICA for 30 years, with the possibility of extending it for other 30 years, he said. If the project receives authorization, ICA will start construction by the end this year or in early 2016, he added.$header

  • Peru to invest US$950mn in northern jungle infra

    Peru's government said it plans to invest 3bn soles (US$950mn) in infrastructure and other projects in an area of the country's northern jungle once overrun by guerrillas and drug traffickers. Government spending in the upper Huallaga valley, where the government this week lifted a state of emergency after 37 years, will now focus on road, bridge, potable water and sewerage projects, President Ollanta Humala said. "We're going to reinforce the budget in the upper Huallaga," Humala said in a TV broadcast. "What was previously spent on security will largely be allocated to infrastructure, social programs and the modernization of agriculture." The government in 2012 originally set a 2.2bn-sol budget for Huánuco region, where a section of the Huallaga valley is located, and part of that budget was allocated to the armed forces, Humala said. With guerrilla violence ebbing and the drug trade relocating further southeast, the government can now focus on infrastructure such as a 22.6mn-sol water and sewerage investment in the region's Cholón district, he said. The Huallaga valley, once the cradle of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency and the world's largest producer of coca leaf, the raw ingredient for cocaine, now produces coffee, cacao and rice, spurring the government to boost investment in agro-industry projects, Humala said. "The era of violence is over," Humala said. "Now there's a new mentality in the upper Huallaga to compete with other parts of Peru to export to the world." Humala, who was elected in 2011 on pledges to invest more in health, education and transport infrastructure, ends his mandate in July 2016 following elections next April. Humala has awarded US$18bn in public-private infrastructure concessions since 2011.$header

  • Pemex Transformación Industrial S.A. de C.V.

    PGPB, the gas and basic petrochemicals subsidiary of Mexican state oil company Pemex, is engaged in the processing, transportation and sale of natural gas, liquid hydrocarbons (including LPG), and basic petrochemical products such as ethane, natural gasoline and sulfur. The firm operates ten gas processing complexes, more than 2,670km of gas pipelines, 15 compression stations, five pumping stations, 22 liquefied gas distribution terminals, and eight international interconnections with the United States. Under Pemex's reorganization, Pemex Gas y Petroquímica Básica and Pemex Refinación have been collapsed into a single subsidiary, Pemex Transformación Industrial.$header

  • New Uruguay pension association demands change

    A new pension association in Uruguay has called for changes to the way new members are incorporated into the pension system, local press reported. Three out of the country's four pension fund managers (AFAPs) formed this week a national pension association called Anafap. All these AFAPs are private sector firms while the country's largest AFAP, state-controlled República, decided not to join the new trade group. In a study, the private sector firms are calling for an end to República's growing market domination. By law, new members entering the system who do not choose an AFAP themselves are automatically assigned to the AFAP that charges the lowest fee: República, which is gaining thousands of new customers every year this way. Anafap instead wants a system that assigns new members to the AFAP offering the highest net return – or investment return minus fee. This way the private players would have a chance to win some of the new members entering the system. The association believes such a change would lead to higher pensions in the future as well as reduced market concentration and herd behavior in Uruguay's domestic capital market where República is a dominant force, according to the reports.$header

  • KGHM's Sierra Gorda mine starts commercial production

    Chile's Sierra Gorda mine, operated by Polish miner KGHM International, has begun copper commercial production and completed its first molybdenum shipment. "The copper plant has been operating for over 60 days at 65% of its designed capacity," the Polish firm said in a statement, adding that all major expenditures have been incurred to bring the mine into commercial production. The firm added that the concentrate is currently being transported via rail to the neighboring port of Antofagasta. KGHM owns a 55% stake in the mine, while Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining owns the remaining 45%. Sumitomo added that the ramp-up stage of Sierra Gorda continues and that operations are expected for the next 20 years, with average annual production of 220,000t copper, 11,000t molybdenum and 2t gold. Sierra Gorda, located in northern Antofagasta region (II), was one of three new mines that started operations in 2014, together with state copper producer Codelco's Ministro Hales and Lumina Copper Chile's Caserones.$header

  • After Brazil, Xiaomi eyes Mexico and Colombia

    After its arrival in Latin America via Brazil, Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi is looking to reach the Mexican and Colombian markets next. Brazil was the "first stage" in Xiaomi's launch in Latin America, global vicepresident Hugo Barra told El Financiero. However, no formal dates have been announced as yet for any other markets, as explained to BNamericas by Latin American director Leo Marroig during Xiaomi's launch in Brazil. The company, currently the world's fifth largest smartphone brand in terms of units shipped, started operations Latin America's largest economy on June 30, its first market outside Asia. Brazil has therefore become the first country to have local production of Xiaomi's devices after China. Xiaomi will initially be selling its mid-tier Redmi2 smartphone in the country, in addition to the Mi Band smartband, the Mi Powerbank recharger and accessories. Manufacturing will be carried out by Taiwan's Foxconn through its factory in Jundiaí in São Paulo state. Sales will be made exclusively online, with marketing being focused on social media and word-of-mouth.$header

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