Anglo American's write down - not quite as bad as Rio Tinto's

Miner setback.

Seems like all the mining giants are suffering write-downs at the moment. Earlier this month it was Rio Tinto, and now it's Anglo American, which has written down the value of its Minas-Rio iron ore project in Brazil by $4bn.

This looks odd against the positive production figures that both companies posted in the last quarter - but the mining industry is cyclical - and the move anticipates a bit of a tougher season.

So far only Rio Tinto have had to get rid of their chief exec though: their mistake  - a $3bn writedown on an African coal project - was just too big.
Cynthia Carroll of Anglo American is unlikely to see the same fate as Tom Albanese. Here's the FT:

Ms Carroll’s mistake over Minas Rio in Brazil was more forgivable than Mr Albanese’s. She underestimated the ability of Brazilian bureaucracy to delay development work. But the mine remains a valuable asset, expected to produce ore at a cash cost of $30 a tonne compared with a forecast 2013 average sale price of $120. Mr Albanese overestimated the quality of Rio’s coal reserve in Mozambique. That undercut his credibility as a miner.

But it's the season to be cautious. BHP have written down asset values, and there is speculation that Xtrata could be on its way.

Anglo American has suffered write downs. Photograph: Getty Images
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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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