Australian billionaire woos Canadians, hoping to build big coal mine in Rocky Mountains By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Australian mining heiress and Chairman of Hancock Prospecting group Gina Rinehart prepares to award medals to competitors at Australian Synchronised Swimming Championships in Sydney

By Jeff Lewis

TORONTO (Reuters) – Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Pty is hoping a charm offensive, from annual fundraising parties to local refurbishments at a golf course, will help overcome opposition to a massive new coal mine in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.

Hancock unit Riversdale Resources’ Grassy Mountain mine, which is forecast to produce 4.5 million tonnes of steelmaking coal per year, would span 2,800 hectares and could set a precedent for new projects in the region. Opponents say the project would harm wildlife and water in the area.

In June, the province of Alberta, home to most of Canada’s oil reserves, rolled back 1970s-era restrictions on open-pit coal mining to jumpstart an economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and plunging oil prices.

The proposal for Grassy Mountain predates that change. But Alberta’s move is at odds with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s effort to wean the country from coal and comes as a growing number of banks, insurers and investors shun the fossil fuel due to climate concerns.

Public hearings are slated to begin in October for the Grassy Mountain, which requires federal and provincial approvals.

Hancock is among a raft of Australian companies with projects in the region, aiming to ship coking coal from Alberta to Asian markets. Atrum Coal (AX:) and privately held Montem Resources are also pursuing nearby mines and exploration ventures, as is private developer Cabin Ridge Project Ltd.

The company has sponsored annual Australia Day fundraising bashes, and also opened a newly rebuilt golf course this month, accompanying eight new holes at the local Crowsnest Pass Golf Club. The work helped clear the way for a coal loadout near the course.

Hancock, which took over the firm that owned Grassy Mountain last year, matched funds raised at this year’s event to support a local senior’s association in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta.

Still, landowners remain worried about water use and habitat destruction in an ecologically sensitive mountain corridor renowned for postcard scenery and wildlife.

“I think 10 years down the road the water will be polluted to the point that we may not be able to grow crops,” said alfalfa farmer Norm Watmough, 76, whose holiday cabin abuts the mine lease. “It’s going to destroy southern Alberta.” Hancock declined to comment and referred questions to filings in which the company details its plans to treat wastewater.

Landowners said they are worried that selenium from waste rock could leach into nearby waterways. The company has said in filings that it plans to pump water with high selenium and nitrate concentrations to saturated zones in pits and build waste rock dumps at higher elevations to minimize risks.

Miners have welcomed Alberta’s move to loosen environmental protections to increase open-pit mining along the Rockies’ eastern slopes.

Canada has committed to eliminate coal-fired power by 2030 and last month said it would assess climate impacts of new thermal coal mines and exports.

Coking coal is “less of a concern at the present time than thermal coal,” Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said. “But to the extent that there are significant (project) impacts that can’t be mitigated, then obviously that becomes a lot more challenging.”

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Top U.S. health official says approval of COVID vaccines unlikely before November By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration

By Carl O’Donnell and Mrinalika Roy

(Reuters) – Any potential COVID-19 vaccine backed by the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” program is unlikely to receive a green light from regulators any earlier than November or December, given the time needed for a large-scale clinical trial, the National Institutes of Health director said on Thursday.

In a call with reporters, Francis Collins said he thinks testing a vaccine in at least 10,000 people could potentially give enough evidence of safety and efficacy to clear it for wider use. U.S. late-stage vaccine trials launched so far aim to recruit up to 30,000 people.

“I would not expect to see, on the basis of what we know scientifically, that we would be at the point where the FDA could make such a judgment until considerably later than October 1st,” Collins said, referring to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Maybe November or December would be my best bet.”

He added that he is confident that at least one of the six vaccines funded by the initiative will be shown to be safe and effective by the end of the year.

President Donald Trump said last week it was possible the United States would have a coronavirus vaccine before the Nov. 3 election, a more optimistic forecast on timing than anything suggested by his own White House health experts.

Collins expects that the first tens of millions of doses of vaccine produced in the United States will be allocated to those most in need, such as patients at higher risk of complications or front line healthcare workers.

The U.S. government has helped finance the development of several vaccines and therapies through the program aimed at accelerating access to medicines to fight COVID-19.

U.S. public health officials last month charged a group of independent scientists and ethicists with developing guidelines to determine who should get the first doses of a vaccine, once one becomes available.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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S&P 500 dips but index not far from record levels By Reuters


© Reuters. A man walks a dog in the shade past the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during hot weather in New York

By Caroline Valetkevitch

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 eased in afternoon trading on Thursday after briefly trading above its record closing high level for a second day, with the Dow also falling in the wake of a disappointing forecast from Cisco Systems Inc (O:).

The S&P 500 earlier broke above its record closing high of 3,386.15 from Feb. 19. Its intraday record high of 3,393.52 was also set on Feb. 19.

But an 11.6% slump in Cisco Systems Inc (O:) weighed on the Dow and S&P 500 after the company forecast first-quarter revenue and profit below estimates.

Apple Inc (O:) rose 1.4% to about $458.38, helping to support the Nasdaq.

Jobless claims fell below 1 million for the first time since efforts to curb the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States began five months ago.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased to 963,000 for the week ended Aug. 8, the lowest level since mid-March. But the expiration of a $600 weekly jobless supplement at the end of July likely contributed to the decline.

Data last week showed the economy has regained only 9.3 million jobs of the 22 million jobs lost between February and April, indicating a long road to reach pre-pandemic levels.

But Wall Street has recovered most of the trillions in market capitalization lost during the start of the pandemic and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was the first of the three major indexes to hit a record high in June. The Dow remains below its February peak.

“The outlook for earnings in the next few quarters seems to be getting watered down by a lot of big companies,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“It’s making for a sluggish market without a real catalyst to push it up and over the hurdle for good,” he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average () fell 135.44 points, or 0.48%, to 27,841.4, the S&P 500 () lost 11.98 points, or 0.35%, to 3,368.37 and the Nasdaq Composite () added 14.74 points, or 0.13%, to 11,026.98.

Markets continue to hold on to hopes the Democrats and the White House can reach agreement on a stimulus package to help the economy recover. Unemployment benefits have been a sticking point in their talks.

The U.S. presidential election is expected to add another layer of uncertainty into markets, with roughly 12 weeks remaining until Election Day.

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (N:) jumped 14.0 after the firm said it will start its first phase of reopening theaters in the United States from Aug. 20, covering more than 100 venues.

Tapestry Inc (N:) fell 2.2% even as it beat quarterly sales estimates.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.61-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.34-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 13 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 60 new highs and 16 new lows.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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AIG appoints David McElroy CEO for general insurance business By Reuters


© Reuters. American International Group Inc. (AIG) headquarters seen in New York

(Reuters) – American International Group Inc (N:) on Thursday promoted David McElroy to the post of chief executive officer of general insurance and executive vice president with immediate effect.

McElroy, who was president and chief executive officer of the North American operations of general insurance at AIG, will also join the AIG executive leadership team and report to Peter Zaffino, the insurer’s president and global chief operating officer. [nBw9G8kn9a]

McElroy takes over the role of CEO, general insurance from Zaffino in a move that gives Zaffino more time to spend on corporate-wide initiatives and puts him in place to eventually take over as CEO from Brian Duperreault, Wells Fargo (NYSE:) analyst Elyse Greenspan said.

Zaffino was named president of AIG, one of the largest U.S. insurers, in December. (https://reut.rs/3fRZhfd)

“Our view has always been that Duperreault would step down and hand the reins over to Zaffino when there was line of sight to consistent improved performance within its General Insurance business,” Greenspan said.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Lockdown lands domestic abuse on British financial sector radar By Reuters


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: General view of the Canary Wharf financial district in London

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By Sinead Cruise and Kirstin Ridley

LONDON (Reuters) – Some of Britain’s biggest financial and legal firms have stepped up support for staff and customers suffering domestic abuse after the coronavirus lockdown shed new light on the scale of a problem affecting millions nationwide.

Legislation now progressing through parliament suggests this is costing Britain 66 billion pounds ($86 billion) a year, with official figures estimating around 2 million people, mainly women aged 16 to 74, suffer some form of domestic abuse.

The Domestic Abuse Bill will introduce a statutory definition that includes physical violence but also emotional, coercive and economic abuse, after extensive lobbying by the charity Surviving Economic Abuse and the financial sector.

As the coronavirus pandemic forces millions to work from home and calls to helplines surge, Lloyds Banking Group (L:) and NatWest Group (L:) have teamed up with charities SafeLives and Surviving Economic Abuse to offer financial as well as practical aid to victims.

And with remote working increasing social isolation, some firms are also striving to help staff.

Lloyds, Britain’s biggest retail bank with about 65,000 employees, has launched an emergency programme that offers vulnerable staff and their children refuge in a hotel, travel and living expenses, as well as advice and compassionate leave.

Law firm Linklaters is offering a similar package, saying the crisis had put the onus on employers to tackle what the United Nations calls a “shadow pandemic” of violence against women.

“For too long it has been left to a small number of highly specialist, feminist organisations to make the case for bringing an end to domestic abuse, and trying to find the means to do that,” SafeLives’ Chief Executive Suzanne Jacob said.

“As major companies start to think in a new way about their workforce and their customers, so much more is possible.”

Domestic abuse charity Refuge said it has received more than 40,000 calls since Britain’s lockdown began in March and, as restrictions eased, the number of people needing emergency accommodation rose 54% in the first week of July.

The FICC Markets Standards Board last month warned that abuse can go undetected without face-to-face interaction, which has declined during widespread remote working.

“What could have been seen purely as a domestic issue all of a sudden was more clearly a workplace issue and you have to take action,” Jenny Lloyd, diversity and wellbeing manager at Linklaters, said.

The Metropolitan Police, which covers London, said domestic violence reports rose by a third in the six weeks to April 24, while its officers made around 100 arrests a day.

“With more people working from home than ever before, this issue needs urgent attention in many employers,” a spokesman for employee union Unite said.

CRITICAL ROLE

Economic or financial abuse can leave victims with no access to money or bank accounts and vulnerable to debts built up by their partners, even after they have fled an abusive home.

With thousands of tell-tale datapoints at their fingertips, financial firms are often on the frontline of the fight against such abuse, but cannot act before a customer asks for help.

NatWest launched a 1 million pound fund in June to provide financial lifelines to victims without the means to rebuild their lives. This will make grants to cover the costs of food and household bills.

More than a dozen companies have approached SafeLives for advice and help in devising support packages since March.

“People have had a number of lights turned on about what it might mean to have a duty of care to staff when they are not in a typical workspace,” SafeLives’ Jacob said.

NatWest’s Customer Protection Manager Kim Chambers said her team provided support to 325 people in the second quarter, with 70% saying their abusers had used money to control them.

Barclays (L:), HSBC (L:) and insurer Aviva (L:), have trained thousands of staff to identify signs of financial abuse so they can respond better to those at risk.

Banks can now also offer to block joint accounts in dispute, remove names without both parties present and open new accounts with different sort codes to hide a victim’s new location.

“Banks have a critical role to play in supporting survivors of economic abuse,” NatWest CEO Alison Rose said.

($1 = 0.7645 pounds)





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