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U.S. appeals court hints at support for Rio’s Resolution copper mine

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October 22, 2021

By Ernest Scheyder

(Reuters) -A U.S. appeals court on Friday questioned whether it had the power to override an act of Congress that gave Rio Tinto Ltd land in Arizona for its Resolution copper mine, which has been challenged by Native Americans. “It’d be nice if Congress or someone would make more sense out of this,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon, as the court appeared likely to support the U.S. government plan to give Rio Tinto the Arizona land.

Apache Stronghold, a group of Native Americans and conservationists, asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn a lower court’s ruling https://www.reuters.com/business/us-judge-will-not-stop-land-transfer-rio-tinto-mine-arizona-2021-02-12 that allowed the government to give Rio the land.

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The 49-minute hearing was the latest development in the long-running clash https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/arizona-mining-fight-pits-economy-evs-against-conservation-culture-2021-04-19/#:~:text=Arizona%20mining%20fight%20pits%20economy%2C%20EVs%20against%20conservation%2C%20culture,-By%20Ernest%20Scheyder&text=But%20U.S.%20President%20Joe%20Biden,in%20a%20drought-stricken%20state between members of Arizona’s San Carlos Apache Tribe, who consider the land home to deities, and Rio and minority partner BHP Group Plc, who have spent more than $1 billion on the project without producing any copper.

Demand has been growing for the red metal used to make electric vehicles (EVs) and other electronics devices.

An attorney for the Apache Stronghold said the group was optimistic the court would rule in its favor, but would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court should it lose. Rio Tinto and BHP declined to comment.

“It’s really hard and frankly dangerous to try to predict which way the court is going to rule based on oral arguments,” Luke Goodrich, an attorney for Apache Stronghold, told a San Francisco press conference after the hearing. “I think they’ll see what the right thing is to do.”

Judges questioned whether they had the power to reverse a 2014 decision by former President Barack Obama and Congress that set in motion a complex process to give Rio federally owned Arizona land that contains more than 40 billion pounds of copper in exchange for acreage that Rio owns nearby.

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The three appeals court’s judges are expected to rule in the near future. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress is debating a bill that would undo https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-house-committee-moves-block-rio-tintos-resolution-mine-2021-09-10 the 2014 legislation that approved the land transfer.

Previous court rulings have allowed the government to give away land it owns, even if the land is considered sacred by some groups. But courts have routinely also found that the government cannot force individuals to do something that would violate religious beliefs.

The Apaches have said that giving this land away to Rio Tinto effectively forces them to violate their religious beliefs, since they would not be able to worship at the site.

U.S. Circuit Judge Mary Murgia, one of the three judges, questioned that argument.

“It seems like you might be asking us to alter this test, and I’m not sure if that’s appropriate for this panel to do here,” Murgia said.

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Goodrich, the attorney for Apache Stronghold, disagreed.

“The religious exercises that they’ve engaged in there for millennia will end” if Rio’s mine is built, he told the court.

Berzon said she was sensitive to the historical mistreatment of Native Americans, but felt bound by law to restrict their deliberations to the narrow question under consideration in the case about whether the government can do what it wants with its own land.

Joan Pepin, a U.S. Department of Justice attorney, told judges that the Congress’s move to give the land away should override any previous agreements Washington may have made with the Apache.

“When a statute and treaty rights conflict, the statue abrogates it,” she said.

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U.S. Circuit Judge Carlos Bea asked whether mediation could resolve the conflict. Attorneys for both side said that was unlikely.

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; additional reporting by Nathan Frandino and Carlos Barria; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Alibaba overhauls e-commerce businesses, appoints new CFO

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December 6, 2021

(Reuters) -Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said on Monday it was reorganising its international and domestic e-commerce businesses and would appoint a new chief financial officer.

The changes come as Alibaba faces headwinds on multiple fronts, including increased competition, a slowing economy and a regulatory crackdown.

The e-commerce giant’s Hong Kong-listed shares slid 8% in early morning trade.

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Alibaba said it would form two new units to house its main e-commerce businesses – international digital commerce and China digital commerce, in a bid to become more agile and accelerate growth.

The international digital commerce unit will house Alibaba’s overseas consumer-facing and wholesale businesses, and include AliExpress, Alibaba.com and Lazada. The unit will be headed by Jiang Fan, whose past roles include president of the Taobao and Tmall marketplaces.

Alibaba will house its domestic commerce businesses in the China digital commerce unit which be led by Trudy Dai, a founding member of Alibaba, it said.

The company’s deputy chief financial officer, Toby Xu, will succeed Maggie Wu as the company’s chief financial officer from April, it said, describing his appointment as part of the company’s leadership succession plan.

Xu joined Alibaba from PWC three years ago and was appointed deputy CFO in July 2019.

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Wu, who helped lead three Alibaba-related company public listings as CFO, will continue to serve as an executive director on Alibaba’s board.

Last month the company slashed its forecast for annual revenue growth to its slowest pace since its 2014 stock market debut and saw sales at its banner event, online shopping festival Singles Day, grow at their slowest rate ever.

(Reporting by Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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China Evergrande shares hit 11-year low after firm says no guarantee it can meet repayments

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December 6, 2021

By Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares of China Evergrande Group tumbled 12% to an 11-year low on Monday after the firm said there was no guarantee it would have enough funds to meet debt repayments, prompting Chinese authorities to summon its chairman.

The shares fell as a 30-day grace period on a coupon payment of $82.5 million due on Nov. 6 comes to an end on Monday.

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Evergrande, once China’s top-selling developer, is grappling with more than $300 billion in liabilities. A collapse could send shockwaves through the country’s property sector and beyond.

In a filing late on Friday, Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer, also said it had received a demand from creditors to pay about $260 million.

That prompted the government of Guangdong province, where the company is based, to summon Evergrande Chairman Hui Ka Yan, and it later said in a statement it would send a working group to the developer at Evergrande’s request to oversee risk management, strengthen internal controls and maintain normal operations.

In a series of apparently coordinated statements late in the evening, China’s central bank, banking and insurance regulator and its securities regulator sought to reassure the market that any risks to the broader property sector could be contained.

Short-term risks caused by a single real estate firm will not undermine market fundraising in the medium and long term, the People’s Bank of China said, adding that housing sales, land purchases and financing “have already returned to normal in China”.

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Evergraned’s stock fell more than 12% to HK$1.98, its lowest since May 2010.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Christopher Cushing)

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Oil gains more than $1/bbl after Saudi price hike

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December 6, 2021

By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose by more than $1 a barrel on Monday after top exporter Saudi Arabia raised prices for its crude sold to Asia and the United States, and as indirect U.S.-Iran talks on reviving a nuclear deal appeared to hit an impasse.

Brent crude futures for February gained $1.69, or 2.4%, to $71.57 a barrel by 0033 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for January were at $67.92 a barrel, up $1.66, or 2.5%.

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On Sunday, Saudi Arabia raised January official selling prices for all crude grades sold to Asia and the United States by up to 80 cents from the previous month.

The price hikes were implemented despite a decision last week by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, to continue increasing supplies by 400,000 barrels per day in January.

Prices were also buoyed by diminishing prospects of a rise in Iranian oil exports after indirect U.S.-Iranian talks on saving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal broke off last week. European officials voiced dismay on Friday at sweeping demands by Iran’s new, hardline government. The talks are expected to resume middle of this week.

Both benchmarks rebounded after falling last week for their sixth week in a row for the first time since November 2018 on concerns that the new coronavirus variant Omicron could impact global economic growth and fuel demand.

In another sign of the turmoil unleashed by the ever-changing pandemic, the head of International Monetary Fund said the global lender is likely to lower its global economic growth estimates because of the new variant.

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Omicron has spread to about one-third of U.S. states as of Sunday.

(Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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