OAKLAND, Calif. — Even as the Raptors celebrate their first NBA championship in franchise history, there will undoubtedly be naysayers downplaying the win because of the circumstances surrounding the victory.Golden State star Kevin Durant missed the first four games of the series with a right calf injury and tore his Achilles when he returned for Game 5 after his team fell behind 3-1. And with the Warriors in a solid rhythm and vying to knot things at three games apiece in Game 6 Thursday, Klay Thompson’s left knee buckled as he landed following a dunk attempt; the injury would later be revealed to be a torn ACL.No one in their right mind would ignore the reality of those brutal injuries, or the effect they had on what could have been an even more competitive series. But focusing too much on those issues arguably takes away from something that became clear about Toronto this season: The Raptors regularly took — and more often than not, capitalized on — calculated risks all year long. Those wise gambles played a key role in their success, both in the finals and leading up to it.Pay close attention, and you’ll notice that Toronto coach Nick Nurse experiments with several things1Like having his point guards dribble the ball to the middle of the floor, as opposed to over to a sideline, before calling a timeout. While this might fly under the radar for just about everyone, Warriors coach Steve Kerr picked up on it, and, after asking around, learned that doing so allowed a team to then select which side of the floor they wanted to inbound the ball from following the break. just enough to engineer an advantage for his team. He illustrated a willingness to try, more than once, some rare defenses that are seen more often at the middle-school level than in the NBA. The 51-year-old, who had coached almost everywhere before this, found success toward the end of Game 2 when he sent his team out to contain Stephen Curry with a box-and-one after Thompson went down that night. Using that look — and holding Curry scoreless with it in Game 2 — helped the Raptors feel comfortable tightening the screws on Curry with the same defensive scheme in Game 6, after Thompson was forced to exit again.Beyond that, Nurse opted to tweak his second-half starting lineup in Game 3 to include Fred VanVleet over Danny Green, even though Green had hit three triples in the first half. He stuck with that third-period shift the rest of the series, feeling that VanVleet’s ball-handling and stingy perimeter D on Curry were useful to begin the half.By now, we all know the first two changes the Raptors made, dating back to last summer. Team president Masai Ujiri jettisoned Dwane Casey, who would go on to win Coach of the Year, to replace him with Nurse, who had never been an NBA head coach. And the executive would later deal away Toronto’s all-time leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan, sending him to the Spurs to get Kawhi Leonard — a move that seems obvious in hindsight but also carried at least some risk, given Leonard’s quad issues and his unwillingness to commit to Toronto once his deal was up at the end of this season. (Also noteworthy: The Raps didn’t toss someone like Pascal Siakam, who later blossomed into one of the NBA’s most valuable players from a contract standpoint, into the deal to acquire Kawhi. Again, a highly calculated move.)Since then, the 27-year-old Leonard has rewarded Ujiri’s gamble by putting himself firmly in the conversation for best player in the world. Kawhi dominated long stretches of the conference semifinal series against the Sixers, then changed the complexion of the conference finals matchup with Milwaukee by taking defensive responsibility for likely league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. He moved on to Antetokounmpo for Games 3-6, and Toronto won all four of those contests to reach the finals. All told, Leonard finished with 732 points throughout the playoffs, the third most ever in one postseason — after LeBron James (748) in 2018 and Michael Jordan (759) in 1992.There’s also something to be said for the Raptors’ split-second decision-making on the court. They were the NBA’s most efficient team in transition, and they bludgeoned the turnover-prone Warriors with that ability in Game 1. (Golden State claimed to not know what to expect that night because of how long it had been since they’d played one another.) Toronto entered the postseason as the league’s best defense at recovering loose balls, and Kawhi made a living in the series off of traveling great distances to come up with momentum-shifting offensive boards.All those sorts of plays require a robot-like calculation of whether the risk is worth taking, but it generally felt as if Toronto — a long, deep club of high-IQ players — won those battles against the two-time defending champs. (There was one play where the Raptors’ bet didn’t pay off, and it tied the series.)For all the dice-rolling the Raptors did this season — we haven’t even mentioned the Marc Gasol trade, for instance — they took seemingly no risks with Leonard’s health and load management. Thursday had to have been incredibly sweet for Kawhi, given that he earned the title on the exact same floor where, just over two years ago, he suffered an ankle injury on a controversial play that almost immediately derailed his team’s chances of competing for a title.The Raptors were still incredibly fortunate in plenty of ways throughout this run. The absences of Durant and Thompson, for instance, allowed Nurse to deploy those aggressive zone hybrids on Curry, knowing that no other scoring threat would be able to take advantage. We wrote about the abundance of fortunate bounces on the rim the Raptors got during the playoffs, and Kyle Lowry — who was dominant Thursday — scored a key basket late that seemed to fit that profile.And years from now, we still may not have any explanation for what VanVleet did over these final four weeks of the postseason. We already mentioned that he defended Curry admirably, but he essentially became a different player altogether during the second half of the playoffs, killing opposing defenses with his long-range triples and devastating late-clock offense.Exactly two years ago today, we wrote a story that tried to imagine what a team that could beat the Warriors would look like. In it, we laid out what we believed to be the key factors: a club that could either beat or slow down Golden State in transition, a team with a lot of length and versatility, and a club that could shoot. With all of that in mind, we mentioned San Antonio, which still had Leonard at the time; a budding Milwaukee club; Boston; and Utah. (We weren’t as high on Cleveland because of the Cavs’ horrendous defense.) One team we didn’t even bother mentioning at the time was the Raptors, who had fared worse against the Warriors in the regular season over a three-year span than any other NBA club, in terms of minutes spent leading Golden State.But what that goes to show you is how aggressive Ujiri was in his overhaul of Toronto, not just acquiring Leonard’s otherworldly talent but also using Nurse’s ideas, Siakam’s length and Gasol’s floor spacing and defensive IQ.So, no: The Warriors weren’t at full strength for these NBA Finals. But if you think Toronto became a champion — and won 17 of the 24 quarters in this series — solely because of that, you’re selling the club short. The Raptors have been gambling for a long time now, and their ability to place bets at just the right time is a huge part of the reason they’ll be hosting a parade in the coming days.
Heading into last weekend’s PGA Championship, Australia’s Jason Day had cracked the top five in nearly a third of the major championships he’d entered. He finished in the top 10 nearly half of the time. But he’d never hoisted one of those shiny trophies they give the tournament winner. That changed Sunday, when Day won the PGA Championship, breaking the record for lowest to-par score (-20) in a major.Yet Day’s record-shattering performance also highlights just how easy it was to go under par at the majors this season. While Day’s week at the PGA ranks No. 1 according to cumulative strokes below par, it’s nowhere near the best in modern history1Which, for the purposes of this article, began in 1958 — the first year the PGA Championship adopted a stroke-play format. if we examine it using our familiar z-score system, which measures each performance relative to the field (by how many standard deviations a player’s score was below the field average, for players who made the cut).Z-scores reward not only excellence relative to par, but also dominance in comparison to one’s peers on the same course at the same time. And Day’s competitors also shot very well when held up to Whistling Straits’ par-72 standard: The average of players who made the cut was 3.6 strokes under par, which ranks fifth-lowest of any major tournament since 1958. That number explains the big disconnect between Day’s amazing to-par score and his middling (by major-winning standards) z-score:Last weekend’s low-scoring PGA Championship also capped off a season of great performances by the field in majors. July’s British Open featured the lowest to-par scoring average (-5.6) of any major since 1958, and April’s Masters Tournament (-2.4) ranked 11th-lowest. Combined, this year’s quartet of majors saw the lowest scoring average (relative to par) of any season since 1958, and the only time in that span that the average cut-maker across all majors in a season was under par.The majors in 2014 ranked second-lowest, so we’re seeing an unprecedented spate of low-scoring performances in recent seasons, though it’s not clear what’s driving the trend. We can turn to the usual sources of speculation: technological improvements outstripping course designs, a (subconscious?) movement toward friendlier scoring conditions to improve golf as a television product, an incredible font of young talent emerging in the wake of Tiger Woods’s heyday, etc.Whatever the cause, it’s leading to players like Day going low on the game’s biggest stage, even if their performances aren’t historically great relative to their peers.He didn’t win the PGA Championship, but Jordan Spieth is still having one of golf’s greatest seasons.
After weeks of golazos, flops and inaccurate estimates of stoppage time, the World Cup is nearly over. We’ve been tracking, and forecasting, each team’s chances as the tournament has unfolded, and we thought it would be fun to look back at how the final between France and Croatia got made. Our final pre-match predictions give France a 59 percent and Croatia a 41 percent of winning it all in Russia — but at the start of the knockout round, their chances of winning the trophy were only 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Here are the paths each team took to the final game.Check out our latest World Cup predictions.
Ohio State safety Jermale Hines was selected in round five by the St. Louis Rams with the 158th overall selection, joining former teammate James Laurinaitis. Hines played as a true freshman at OSU and found himself on the field early for special teams. His sophomore year, he played the “star” position at OSU, a linebacker-defensive back hybrid position. At 6-foot-1, 216 pounds, Hines excelled early on in his role, and could play many positions for the Rams. “I feel like I’m very versatile,” Hines said March 11 after his OSU Pro Day workout. “You can play me at a lot of different positions, and that’s something I feel will definitely help me.” Hines moved back to free safety his junior year, where he started for the Buckeyes for his final two seasons. Hines recorded 159 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks over his four years at OSU. Hines was also a part of four Big Ten championships and two BCS bowl wins, and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010.
In the end it took a woman with a terrifying nickname and a secret notebook to end the curse of the penalty shoot-out.With the score 3-3 at the end of normal time in the Olympic women’s hockey final, a dreaded shoot out beckoned. One last hurdle before the team could claim a deserved gold.After years of failure at international level, up stepped goalkeeper Maddie Hinch to show that players from these islands can hold their nerve.A daunting sight in her pads and mask, the Team GB goalkeeper – known as ‘Mad Dog’ for her reckless bravery – blocked all four Dutch penalties.Meanwhile, Helen Richardson-Walsh capitalised on a foul by the Dutch keeper to score a penalty stroke, before Hollie Webb found the net, unleashing wild celebrations.It was one of the most rapturously received of Team GB’s many medals of the Rio 2016 games, forcing the postponement of BBC’s News at Ten and propelling the relatively niche sport on to the front pages.Behind the victory lay a team of women whose steel and determination has captured the imagination of viewers at home.The BBC said around 9 million people watched the final and Great Britain Hockey hopes the team’s success will lead to a surge in people wanting to take part in the sport.Alex Danson, Team GB’s striker, said: “That’s something the organisation feels – and us as athletes feel – so strongly about. We came here to do a job and if the by-product of that is people back home want to pick up a stick then please get to your clubs.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. There was passion aplenty, exemplified by Georgia Twigg, the 25-year-old trainee lawyer who collapsed during Wednesday’s semi-final after being hit in the face by the ball, only to go back on the pitch after receiving stitches.Kate Richardson-Walsh, the team captain, also knows all about the sport’s potential risks. During Team GB’s first match of the 2012 Games against Japan her jaw was fractured by a blow from a stick. Following surgery she returned, just three games later, wearing a protective mask.As well as bravery there had also been intense hours of preparation. Before the final Hinch, who studied sport and exercise science at Loughborough University, taped notes on to her water bottle with prompts for how she wanted to play the game. Maddie Hinch of Great Britain against Laurien Leurink of Netherlands during the Women’s Hockey final at the Rio 2016 OlympicsCredit:Fernando Soutello/Soutello/AGIF/REX/Shutterstock She also compiled a notebook outlining the Dutch player’s penalty-taking techniques. “The notebook is purely for the shoot-out,” she told The Telegraph after the match. “In there I have the players that I think will step up and for each of those players I have a plan of what I will do against them.“Under pressure players tend to resort to what they know best, so I come up with a plan and that gives me confidence. I definitely think that plays a mental game against them, because if I was them, I would be wondering what was in the book about me.”But, the 27-year-old from Pulborough, West Sussex, admitted that, despite her preparation, there had been nerves at the prospect of facing the Dutch. After all, the Netherlands are the world’s No 1 team, have won gold at the last two Olympics and are the reigning world champions. “Any hockey goalkeepers who say they have never closed their eyes and thought, ‘Please don’t hit me’, are lying,” said Hinch. Her start in goal was down to a PE teacher. “I was apparently incredibly dramatic playing rounders, diving everywhere for the ball, and Miss Lambert told me ‘we must get you in goal at hockey next term’,” she said. “I had never even really heard of hockey, I’d never seen it or played it. I think as a new kid they nominated me because no-one else wanted to put the pads on.“At first I didn’t enjoy it at all, I didn’t understand what could be enjoyable about it, putting on 15kg of smelly kit and rolling the ball out to other people all the time. But I found out that there are days when you are treated like a hero when you have a good game, and now I love it.” Team GB Women’s Hockey TeamCredit:Pip for Investec Hinch said she has been stunned by the reaction of the British public to the team’s triumph. “My brother texted me to say ‘you’re trending on Twitter’. He didn’t mention anything about the gold medal – that came later,” she said.“I’ve heard the viewing figures on TV were huge and that’s exactly what we do this for, so people will watch the sport. We were completely unaware of how much people were starting to pay attention to us.” The goalkeeper had almost given up hope of Olympic glory after failing to be picked in 2012.“I had my heart set on being reserve keeper at London 2012, but I missed out on that and that was a big knock to me, I just thought ‘will I ever get to play?’,” she said. Maddie Hinch’s water bottle, with added match notes Shona Mccallin and Maddie Hinch of Team GB celebrate victory after beating the Netherlands in the Rio 2016 Games Women’s Hockey finalCredit:Fernando Soutello/Soutello/AGIF/REX/Shutterstock Britain did not even qualify in women’s hockey for Athens 2004, so low had the fortunes of the sport fallen. But after a bronze in London, funding for hockey went up and led to a 25 per cent increase in women taking part.More are now surely set to follow where Hinch and her team-mates led the way.And that nickname? “I’ve been told that I’m a little bit nuts, but I think I’m one of the more sane people out there,” said Mad Dog. For Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh history was made in more ways than one. The pair became the first same-sex couple to ever win gold at the Olympics and the first married couple to win gold for Britain since Cyril and Dorothy Wright in the sailing in 1920.”To win an Olympic medal is special,” said Kate. “To win an Olympic medal with your wife there next to you, taking a penalty in the pressure moments is so special. We will cherish this for the rest of our lives.”Helen added: “It’s difficult to put into words what this means. Seventeen years ago, when I started my career, we were so far off this. It has taken so much hard work and it means absolutely everything.”The couple married in 2013, with the entire squad from the 2012 Games invited to the reception. Helen said recently: “Nobody had a problem with it before but it just wasn’t an open talking point. Now if you’ve got a boyfriend, girlfriend or are married it’s a non-issue. It’s not a taboo, it’s just part and parcel of who we are and it’s special. It makes me proud of my sport.”Next season they will be playing club hockey in Holland, where the game is the country’s second most popular sport after football, and Kate, now 36, confirmed that Friday night’s final would be her last international appearance.”I will retire as a reigning European champion with England and an Olympic champion with Great Britain,” she said. Several of her team-mates also faced obstacles on the way to glory.Defender Crista Cullen came out of retirement to play in Brazil. The 30-year-old had already returned to Kenya, her childhood home, where she obtained a pilot’s licence and set up a wildlife conservation business.But – having won bronze at London 2012 – she was persuaded to have one last attempt at gold in Rio.“To fight for an Olympic medal is what gets us up every morning, let alone to be in a gold medal match,” she said. Danson was initially turned away from England hockey trials because of her poor fitness levels.Undaunted she knuckled down and returned with a fitness rating higher than that required by the Royal Marines and went on to become the joint top scorer at London 2012.
A 14-year-old girl obsessed with serial killers prepared a “kill list” including the names of her friends, mother and brother before she attempted to murder her best friend by stabbing her at school, a court heard.A jury was told the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, lured her friend at the start of a school day to a quiet part of the grounds where she said she was going to give her a present.But James Newton-Price QC, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court that when the defendant had got her friend alone, she asked her to close her eyes and hold out her hand before she pulled out a kitchen knife and stabbed her in the chest.The girl escaped with a minor injury as she opened her eyes and managed to pull back as she saw the defendant lunge at her, the prosecutor said.He told the jury that the defendant had researched fatal stab wounds in the early hours of the morning of the alleged attack at the Hampshire school on April 25. Mr Newton-Price said: “The defendant was for a period of time obsessed with serial killers and school shootings and the notoriety that attaches to those who commit those crimes.”She had even at one stage prepared what she described in her own words as a ‘kill list’ of those she didn’t like at her school.”She had even thought about how to kill her own mother and brother and she discussed how to do so in the two or three weeks leading up to an incident in which she stabbed her friend at school.”It seems that she decided to kill her best friend. She had already researched online how to kill swiftly and effectively with a knife.”She carried out further research about the position of the heart and the fatality of stab wounds in the early hours leading up the incident.”Mr Newton-Price said that the defendant had targeted the friend out of revenge for tampering with her Instagram and Tumblr social media profiles in the previous summer.The defendant, who is now aged 15, denies charges of attempted murder and wounding with intent. She had even thought about how to kill her own mother and brother and she discussed how to do so in the two or three weeks leading up to an incident in which she stabbed her friend at schoolMr Newton-Price Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Show more “He was a very hard worker. He used to do a farming job and milk round at the weekend because they had six children to bring up.”Mr Mansfield said his father’s two passions were football and horse racing.He said: “He was a big fan of Georgie Best and Saturday would be football day and racing day. He would have 20p on six horses winning and if he won £2 or £3 he would have thought he won the lottery.”When I told him how much they bought (Manchester United player Paul) Pogba for, my dad just could not comprehend. His eyes were just dazzled.”He was old-fashioned and he always used to say ‘they need some wingers’.”Manchester United paid a world-record £89 million for Pogba this summer. A centenarian who was thought to be the oldest man in the UK and put his longevity down to drinking vinegar has died aged 108.John Mansfield, known as Jack, died on Sunday evening just weeks from his 109th birthday.In October he was named the oldest man in the country, according to the website Oldest in Britain, which relies on members of the public submitting information on people aged 105 and above.Mr Mansfield, who had six children with his late-wife, Beatrice, and also leaves behind 10 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild, passed away in his sleep at Tynefield Court care home, in Etwall, Derbyshire at 5pm.He was born in Bradley, near Ashbourne, in December 1907, living through both world wars. His son, Richard Mansfield, paid tribute to the avid Manchester United fan, who worked at Co-op coal and did manual labour on farms for much of his working life.The 70-year-old, who lives in the same village of Mayfield, near Ashbourne, where his father had lived for 70 years before moving to the care home this year, said: “He swore by vinegar.”He would drink it. Last time I saw him alive on Saturday he had a bottle of vinegar on his table and it was half gone. He used to say, ‘if you’ve got an ailment drink some vinegar’.”Mr Mansfield said his father had even carried out manual labour until he was 98, when he helped plant an apple tree.”He was very independent up to then and he put himself to bed and got himself up and dressed. He would still go out in the garden on his two sticks. Show more
Mark DobsonCredit:Central A group of corrupt financiers who carried out a £245 million loan scam and squandered the profits on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays are facing lengthy jail terms.Consultant David Mills, 59, bribed HBOS manager Lynden Scourfield, 54, with designer watches, sex parties and “boys’ jollies”.The perks were a reward in exchange for him agreeing inappropriate loans to struggling businesses, which allowed Mills and his associates to profit from high consultancy fees. Many of the businesses went bankrupt as a result and some of the owners lost their homes.Stephen Rowland, of the Crown Prosecution Service fraud division, said: “This had a very real impact on a lot of people, individuals who had worked had to build up companies.”They found themselves losing their companies and in many cases losing their homes as well as suffering enormous emotional strain and trauma.”There’s no way this was a victimless crime – as a result of this crime, real people suffered great hardship.” David Mills and his wife Alison arriving at courtCredit:ustavo Valiente/Central Mr Rowland said: “There was a very seedy side to this case and that’s indicative of the kind of mindset and the kind of sleazy elements of these kinds of crimes.”One company, Clode, was operating within its £2.9 million overdraft in 2002 when a meeting was held to discuss its financial position – its total indebtedness to the bank by 2007 was £20.558 million.Mills was found guilty of conspiracy to corrupt, four counts of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property. His wife was convicted of conspiracy to conceal criminal property. Lynden ScourfieldCredit:Central News Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. John CartwrightCredit:Gustavo Valiente /Central Bancroft, who was convicted of conspiracy to corrupt, three counts of fraudulent trading and one of conspiracy to conceal criminal property, received £1 million in payments from Mills and the high-risk companies being helped by HBOS.Cartwright, from Hyde, Cheshire, was convicted of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property, while Dobson, from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, was found guilty of conspiracy to corrupt and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.They are all due to be sentenced on Thursday. Scourfield’s accountant, Jonathan Cohen, 57, was acquitted of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to conceal criminal property. Mills and his wife Alison Mills, 51; Michael Bancroft, 73; Mark Dobson, 55; and John Cartwright, 71, were convicted of various roles in the fraud between 2003 and 2007 after a four-month trial at Southwark Crown Court.Scourfield, who pleaded guilty last year, looked after corporate customers experiencing financial difficulties at HBOS’s branch in Reading, Berkshire, until 2007 when he resigned.Mills lavished the banker with clothes, jewellery, luxury hotels, business-class flights and expensive meals at an oyster bar and a cheesecake restaurant.His wife also played an active role in the scheme. She invited Dobson and the Scourfields to go on trips to Ascot, while Mills, Bancroft, Scourfield and their wives holidayed together in Barbados to celebrate her 40th birthday. Michael BancroftCredit:GUSTAVO VALIENTE/Central Mills treated Scourfield to a Cartier watch worth more than £3,000, a Barbados trip and a six-star, all-inclusive cruise on the Mediterranean in the second most expensive accommodation on the ship, the two-bedroom Royal Suite.The pair attended several parties with high-end escorts at a flat in west London, where a number of sex acts were carried out.One woman who worked at Fantasy – a porn magazine company under Scourfield’s portfolio – said she was asked to arrange girls for the “posh t— banker friends”.
Staff tried to tranquilise the wolf after it was found outside the perimeter near the A361, but said it was out of range.Armed zookeepers were deployed and Ember was shot dead.A statement by the park said: “Had there been any way to save her we would, of course, have taken it.“Euthanasia is, and always would be, our last resort.”However, she had somehow escaped her enclosure and had made her way to an area that was beyond the range of a tranquiliser dart, and potentially within reach of a busy road.”The safety of our visitors, and the public, has to be our priority and our keepers were put in the unenviable position of making a decision that no animal lover should have to make.” Ember came to the Park in 2016Credit:Jackie Thomas/SWNS The park said it would bolster its “already robust” security checks to make sure there is no repeat escape. Visitors present at the time of the breakout, which was discovered at around 11 on Friday, claimed on social media keepers tried to tranquilise the wolf several times before resorting to a firearm.Cotswold Wildlife Park spokesman said: “As a precaution, all visitors and other staff were notified immediately.”Those that were indoors were asked to remain where they were.”At no time were members of the public in any danger as the wolf was away from the visitor area throughout.”To say we are devastated is an understatement.”The five cubs born this year were the first in first born in the history of the park.Ember and two-year-old male wolf Ash arrived at Cotswold Wildlife Park from Sweden in October 2016 as part of a breeding programme. Our keepers were put in the unenviable position of making a decision that no animal lover should have to makeCotswold Wildlife Park A wolf shot dead after escaping from a zoo may have climbed over a defective electric fence.Three-year-old Eurasian wolf Ember, who gave birth to five cubs this year, was killed by a keeper after being discovered outsider her enclosure at Cotswold Safari Park on Friday.An investigation by the park has now reportedly found the electric fence surrounding the pen was not properly charged, raising fears the animal simply climbed over. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Last year, the then universities minister Jo Johnson urged vice-Chancellors to tackle grade inflation Credit: Christopher Furlong Universities are ignoring students’ lowest module scores, a report has found, as it warns that the practise could lead to grade inflation.Dozens of institutions use the “discounting” mechanism to leave out the courses in which undergraduates got the poorest results when calculating a student’s final degree classification, according to a survey of universities.A report was conducted by Universities UK, the vice-Chancellor membership body, and Guild HE, a group for leaders of higher education institutions, following concern that institutions were seeking to boost results by manipulating their degree algorithm.It found that there is widespread variation in how universities calculate the degree classifications, including how much weight is given to modules in different years of study – known as the degree algorithm.“This project was undertaken because of concerns that design decisions on degree algorithms were being systematically used to inflate the proportion of first or upper second-class degrees awarded by an institution,” the report said. “If only the worst, outlying marks are omitted, it is possible that this would lead to grade inflation,” the report said.David Allen, a lecturer at the University of the West of England’s Bristol Business School, said “If you have university which is discounting [the worst grades] this must be inflating the grades. It didn’t take much to scratch the surface to see that this is pretty dire. It is an unfair system”.Mr Allen, who has researched the effects of varying degree algorithms, found that an institution could have double the proportion of first-class degree holders than another university with an identical set of student grades.Last year, the then universities minister Jo Johnson urged vice-Chancellors to tackle grade inflation which he said is “ripping” through universities. The problem risks creating a “dangerous impression of slipping standards”, he said.The proportion of students leaving university with top honours has reached record levels in the last five years, data released earlier this year shows.More than 104,000 students – or one in four – graduated with a top degree classification last year, a five-fold increase on the number graduating with a First in 1999. While it found “limited evidence” to suggest this is the case, the report concluded that there must be more accountable governance in place to oversee the issue of degree algorithms.It said that while the “discounting” mechanism is intended to “recognise consistent performance by omitting outliers” from the final degree classification, this is rarely how it is used in practise.
Traffic accidents were reported across Merseyside and Greater Manchester during the morning, and some schools in the worst hit areas were forced to close for the day.Many complained that they thought spring would never come after the wintry weather returned, and some said the snow was “even worse than last week.” Credit:Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty The Beast from the East has left behind a legacy of potholes on UK roads, the RAC has warned.Figures relating to pothole breakdowns have doubled following last week’s widespread snow and ice, according to the RAC.Water froze in road cracks when the Beast from the East struck causing surfaces to crumble causing fresh potholes to appear.RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “While the snow caused serious short-term travel disruption, motorists will sadly be suffering its consequences for months and possibly years to come.”Our roads were already in a poor state of repair before the extreme cold weather hit.”Siberian weather was the last thing they needed as the freezing conditions wreak havoc with any road surface in bad repair. But roads have continued to be battered once again this week as the the Pest from the West wreaked havoc on Britain’s roads on Thursday morning.Yesterday heavy snowfall caused significant disruptions in West Yorkshire after the Met Office warned the worst-hit areas could see four inches of snow. There were several reports of snow-related bus accidents both in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, where a bus skidded on ice and hit a wall and a bus crash on Churwell Hill in South Leeds.Police in the area, which was particularly badly hit, warned motorists not to travel unless it was absolutely necessary after dealing with a spate of road accidents. Credit:Leon Neal/Getty “We fear this spring may see the emergence of almost as many potholes as daffodils.”The RAC received an average of 218 call outs for pothole related issues, including damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels, between Sunday and Tuesday. This is compared with 104 from February 1 to March 3.According to the Local Government Association councils are currently fixing a pothole every 19 seconds despite funding pressures.AA president Edmund King added that the figures represented the “tragic toll” English weather had taken on UK roads.. UK government ministers have announced a review into how water firms handled last week’s bad weather. Jason Stanley, a bus driver from Leeds took to Facebook to apologise for not being able to carry out his bus route: “Sorry to the good patient folks of Leeds I’ve tried my best but got stuck after 2 hours of trying, and thanks to the gent that brought myself and the other driver a hot coffee.”A yellow ice warning was in place for parts of the UK, Northern Ireland and a swathe of Scotland until 9am, with forecasters advising slippery patches are likely to form on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths.The south of the UK enjoyed spells with occasional rain, however, as households in London and parts of the South West finally have access to running water after days without due to pipe damage after the cold snap.Water companies said they have restored supplies to most customers after days of weather-related problems, which left thousands of homes in southern England without their supply. A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We know road surfaces are a concern for all road users and that is why we are providing local highway authorities in England, with just under £6 billion to help improve the condition of our local highway networks.”We are also giving local authorities a record £296 million through the pothole action fund – that’s enough to fix just under 6 million potholes. This includes an additional £46 million as announced in December last year, to help councils repair potholes that may have formed over this winter season.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Passing sentence Judge Cross said: “It’s quite obvious there’s a real risk of serious injury caused by people cycling in pedestrian areas in this city.”People simply don’t realise when riding their bikes on footpaths they can kill people. It’s obvious that there are real, dangers inherent in anybody riding their bicycle on a pavement the risks to members of the public should not be ignored.”Here though there are a number of features which distinguish this case from others which are obvious to anybody who walked about this city.”The incident occurred on August 21 last year.Earlier this month the Department of Transport said it was considering a report saying cyclists involved in fatal accidents should be brought into line with motorists and charged with a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling. The inquiry was announced after 44-year-old mother-of-two Kim Briggs was knocked over and killed by bicycle courier Charlie Alliston. He also kept in touch with her family to check on her wellbeing and offered to do odd jobs for her husband whilst she was in hospital. Cyclists who ride on pavements are “potential killers”, a senior judge has warned as he hit out at the number of people ignoring safety rules.Judge Anthony Cross QC warned anyone riding their bikes on footpaths posed a “serious risk” to pedestrians and said they would have to face crown court and jail if they knocked someone down – and were caught.He made the comments at Manchester Crown Court as he spared a photography student from going to prison. Jesus Medina knocked down 72-year-old Marlene Crossley on a footpath, as she emerged from a corner shop in Salford. The pensioner suffered a fractured hip after being spun round by the force of the impact and despite surgery she has not recovered her full mobility and she struggles to sleep at night.Medina, 24, from Fallowfield, Manchester, had been facing up two years jail after he admitted an offence under the obscure Victorian law of “causing harm by wanton and furious driving.” But he was ordered to complete 40 hours unpaid work and pay Mrs Crossley £750 compensation after the court heard how he stayed at the scene of the accident to comfort the victim and gave his details to police. Market Street in Manchester was one of the places the judge said he saw cyclists riding their bikesCredit:Yadid Levy /Alamy Stock Photo Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Over 12 days in January, the cast were recalled to the Ardgowan estate near Inverclyde, Scotland, which had to be re-dressed with props… Ed Westwick, a key member of the ensemble cast, was accused in November of historic allegations of sexual assault, which he denies. But as the drama finally airs on BBC One on Easter Sunday, the programme-makers have revealed the extraordinary lengths to which they went in order to salvage the production, including re-shooting 35 scenes – at a cost of up to £2 million – that replaced Westwick with another actor, Christian Cooke. When Ordeal by Innocence was dropped from the BBC Christmas schedules, Agatha Christie fans feared it would never see the light of day.
Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi terrorist attach “might have been averted” if two pieces of intelligence had been interpreted differently by MI5Credit: Facebook Suspected British jihadis will be monitored more closely and convicted terrorists given longer prison sentences as part of a package of new counter-terrorism measures to be unveiled.Technology companies will also be called on to do more to tackle extremist content posted online, while new powers will be introduced to fast track terror suspects to jail before they have finalised any plans for an attack.Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, is also expected to announce a new approach to targeting the growing threat of right wing extremism, illustrating how potential sources of terrorism have become increasingly diverse. His keynote speech follows a review of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy, known as Contest, and coincides with the anniversary of the London Bridge and Borough Market attack.Meanwhile, the family of James McMullan who was killed in that attack, have told The Sunday Telegraph how they have been barred from fitting a bronze plaque at the spot where he was murdered.The Home Office yesterday warned that Britain faces a severe threat from Islamist terrorism for at least another two years.MI5 and counter terrorism police are currently running more than 500 live operations involving roughly 3,000 “subjects of interest” at any one time.However, more than 20,000 people who have previously been investigated and categorised as a “closed subject of interest” could still pose a threat. Salman Abedi was categorised as one such individual at the time of his attack at the Manchester Arena last year which resulted in 22 people being killed and hundreds injured.A report by David Anderson QC into four of the five attacks of 2017 concluded that the Manchester arena attack “might have been averted” if two pieces of intelligence about Abedi had been interpreted differently by MI5.The new security measures to be unveiled are expected to focus on the importance of trying to spot those like Abedi who may have become radicalised again.An extra 1,000 security services staff will also be recruited to collect and analyse data as well as keep suspects under better surveillance.MI5 will also be expected to share information about suspected extremists more widely with other organisations, including local councils and neighbourhood policing units.Extra resources will be provided for areas such as Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester to help monitor Muslim extremists. Mr Javid, who will attend a memorial service to mark the anniversary of the London Bridge attack, said: “The Government is absolutely committed to doing everything possible to tackle the terrorist threat. It is my first priority every day in this job.“We are working with the police, intelligence and security agencies, the private and public sector and international partners to make sure we have the best plans in place.”Ahead of the commemorative events which will also include a minute’s silence to remember the eight people murdered, the Prime Minister Theresa May said that the capital’s resolve against terrorism has never been stronger.“My message to those who seek to target our way of life or try to divide us is clear – our resolve to stand firm and overcome this threat together has never been stronger,” she said.Security agencies and police have foiled 12 Islamist and four extreme right-wing plots since March last year. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Sajid Javid, Home Secretary, is to make a key announcement on counter terrorism measuresCredit:David Rose/The Telegraph
Bill Bryson has said the people of Britain need to “stop tearing their country down”, and that expats like him help remind the people who live here how great the country is.The Anglo-American writer made the comments ahead of joining a group of seven US expats, who are walking the 569-mile “Bryson Line”. They are trekking from Cape Wrath to Bognor Regis, in order to raise £100,000 for British charities, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children.This walk is based on his book, The Road to Little Dribbling, in which the author works out the longest distance one can walk through Britain in a straight line. The expats have re-created this, sticking to it as closely as possible using public footpaths.Mr Bryson told The Telegraph: “They’re just trying to demonstrate that there are a lot of people like us who live in Britain voluntarily…people spend a lot of time tearing Britain down and taking it for granted but it’s actually a brilliant place.“It’s one of the great benefits of immigrants who remind us there are a lot of good reasons to be pleased with wherever you are.” Bill Bryson the author photographed with American ex-pat Kate HedgesCredit: Heathcliff O’Malley Although he is not joining the group for the entire 30-mile walk, Mr Bryson is very enthusiastic about the project, for which he has called himself a “benign cheerleader.” The author, who became a British citizen in 2015, is very enthusiastic about Britain’s countryside and thinks we should be getting out and walking in it more.He explained: “All of us could do with a lot more exercise and fresh air, what I’ve been telling people for 40 years is you have an incredibly beautiful country here, so use it and value it. We live in a very expensive time but you don’t have to pay anyone to enjoy our beautiful landscapes. “The National Parks system here is really wonderful. You have so many miles of public footpaths in Britain. In a little country it’s an incredible number. On the whole you already are doing a really good job.”Mr Bryson also revealed he is thinking about updating and re-releasing perhaps his most famous book, A Short History Of Nearly Everything, which explores the histories and current status of science.He said: “The book could certainly do with being updated. A lot has happened in 15 years. One of the things I would like to do is revise it and bring it up to date. It’s just a question of getting some of the figures up to the present.” The Bryson Line walkers begin their journey on Saturday June 9th and finish on July 8th 2018. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Related’I couldn’t look at a football’ after the World Cup — NeymarJuly 21, 2018In “Sports”World Cup fever builds as fans, teams pour into RussiaJune 14, 2018In “Sports”World Cup: Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to qualify for quarter-finalsJuly 2, 2018In “Sports” In this Friday, July 6, 2018 file photo Brazil’s Neymar holds his shinbone during the quarterfinal match between Brazil and Belgium at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena, in Kazan, Russia. (Photo: AP)SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — Neymar used a sponsor’s ad to admit he exaggerated some of his reactions after being fouled during the World Cup in Russia. The video, published Sunday and broadcast on several Brazilian TV networks, features the striker accepting criticism for the first time and promising to pick himself up.The striker scored two goals in the tournament and was not too disappointing until his team got knocked out by Belgium in the quarter-finals, but fans and players have spoken much more about his theatrics on the pitch, which included dives, rolling and frequent arguing with referees.“You may think I exaggerate. And sometimes I do exaggerate. But the truth is I suffer on the pitch,” Neymar said in the ad sponsored by personal care products maker Gillette.Since Brazil’s elimination, Neymar only spoke about the defeat in Russia via Instagram. In the ad he tried to explain why he did not speak right after the Belgium game, which fostered even more criticism of his behaviour at home.“When I leave without giving interviews it is not because I only want the victory laurels. It is because I still haven’t learned to disappoint you. When I look impolite, it is not because I am a spoiled kid. It is because I have not learned how to be frustrated,” the player said.Neymar said his football style is akin to a boy’s that “sometime charms the world, sometimes irritates the whole world.””I fight to keep that boy alive inside of me, but not on the pitch,” he said.“You may think I fall too much,” Neymar continued. “But the truth is I did not fall. I fell apart,” he said, in a reference to Brazil’s quarter-finals elimination against Belgium. “That hurts more than any step on an operated ankle.”The piece ends with Neymar’s pledge to be a new man less than a month after Brazil was knocked out of the World Cup.“I took long to accept your criticism. I took long to look at myself in the mirror and become a new man,” Neymar said. “I fell, but only who falls can pick himself up.”Neymar ends his ad asking fans to make a choice.“You can keep casting stones. Or throw these stones away and help me stand. When I stand, all of Brazil stands with me,” he said.On July 20, at his first public appearance after the World Cup, Neymar did not talk about his exaggerations. Instead, he said he wasn’t upset with critics that made fun of his theatrics in Russia.
It noted that the submission was made to Persaud on September 21, 2018, in Whim Bloomfield, Berbice Local Authority Area (LAA), for the LGE 2018. The PPP is challenging on the grounds that the said decision is unlawful, illegal, and unreasonable and is in violation of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act.The document also cites Persaud’s alleged refusal to withdraw the applicant’s name and the names of 49 other electors. It said unless the names were withdrawn, the election in the LAA would be tainted with “illegality and fraud”. It also noted that Persaud’s refusal happened before the deadline on September 26, 2018.Moreover, GECOM CEO Lowenfield, who mysteriously disappeared on the day of the deadline and could not be reached by any of the PPP-appointed GECOM Commissioners was still being questioned.Former Speaker and Attorney-at-Law Ralph Ramkarran, S.CAlthough the CEO claimed that his lawyer was his alibi for him being unavailable for hours prior to the deadline for nominators’ names to be removed from disputed lists, former House Speaker and columnist Ralph Ramkarran also questioned his disappearance.He wrote in his weekly column, Conversation Tree, “Did it have to be on this particular day that Mr Lowenfield had to attend his lawyer’s chambers to sign an affidavit, a process that takes no more than an hour, counting the travelling time from GECOM’s High Street Office to the Attorney General’s Chambers in Carmichael Street, a ten-minute drive away?”Ramkarran said disappearing acts of election officials or being out of touch at critical moments of the elections process have a particularly sordid history. “For the future, it is hoped that at important junctures the Chief Elections Officer will be available at all times, day and night, to his senior staff, Election Commissioners and the Chairman.”He argued that Returning Officers (ROs) should be similarly available to selected officials of contesting parties and be helpful rather than obstructive. Their duty, he reminded, is to solve problems, not to create them, and to exercise flexibility and discretion in removing obstacles to the smooth flow of the elections process, without violating any law. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedGECOM facilitating increase in number of possible seats APNU, AFC could win in LGE- PPP GSSeptember 3, 2018In “latest news”PPP flouts GECOM’s readiness for LGEJuly 9, 2014In “Politics”GECOM’s Chairman accused of colluding with OppositionAugust 6, 2014In “Politics” Dr Henry JeffreyThe Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) handling of the compliant filed by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) as it relates to the backers’ lists for the Local Government Elections (LGE) has been criticised.“I would have expected GECOM to take a more hands-on approach or attitude and try to, once things are found out, deal with them in a legal and sensible way,” said Political analyst, Dr Henry Jeffrey, who noted that the approach taken by GECOM was not the best, as he believes the issue could have been dealt with more skillfully.Nevertheless, he said all parties should await a decision, as the matter was now before the courts.The former Government Minister also suggested that the concerns raised by the PPP were valid and spoke to a culture that was ingrained in society.He said it was not unexpected of the PPP to bring this matter to the attention of GECOM and the courts.He believes that there would continue to be more electoral matters ahead of LGE and beyond, heading into 2020 when the General Election was constitutionally due.Dr Jeffrey said this would test the credibility and autonomy of GECOM to deliver free and fair elections.“It is definitely ingrained in our culture, but it wasn’t unexpected … I don’t think they (GECOM) were hands-on enough on that matter and I am not at all certain that this issue could be resolved amicably without the intervention of the courts,” he added.The PPP through one of its constituency candidates in Berbice had filed legal proceedings against GECOM and an individual to have the names fraudulently affixed to the backers’ lists for LGE in the Ancient County (Berbice) removed.Shafraz Beekham was named applicant, with the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield and Orlando Christopher Persaud as the respondents.The document outlines that the challenge is seeking to have the names of 49 other electors appearing on the list of backers in support of the Alliance For Change (AFC) constituency candidates removed.
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedPublic Health Ministry touts new management system in light of countrywide drug shortagesApril 7, 2017In “Health”A&E doctors at Skeldon Hospital stage sit-in over drug shortagesApril 9, 2018In “Health”ANSA McAL sole sourcing scandal: Lawrence breaks silence, admits to authorisingMarch 11, 2017In “Business” A group of persons are currently gathered in front of the Public Health Ministry on Brickdam calling for transparency and accountability in the health sector, among other concerns.The protesters are calling for a thorough and impartial investigation into the recent deaths of the three children who died at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) due to alleged negligence on the part of health officials. One person related that he is fed-up of the drug shortage which continues to plague the country saying that this matter needs to be addressed by the Administration. The young man who is a friend of a nurse explained that his friend found herself in hot water after publicly decrying the drug shortage to treat snake bites and other health implications on the West Coast of Demerara.A few persons who spoke with INews also questioned why Ministers and other Government officials have to fly out of the country for medical treatment, saying that they believe they themselves (Government) do not have confidence in the health care sector.Meanwhile, a mother who lost her baby during birth at another hospital said she stands in the gap for all hurting mothers who lost their children at the hands of medical practitioners.She is calling on the relevant authorities to provide answers on the death of her child who died during birth on October 23, 2018.
George Jones, Chairman, imparted some encouraging views on China and iron ore in his presentation at Gindalbie’s 2008 Annual General Meeting. His view – which, he says “is supported by recent discussions I have had with a number of senior Chinese business leaders and other experienced China analysts – is that there is a solid ‘bottom line’ of demand for key raw materials that will continue to underpin and sustain quality Australian resource projects. While there is evidence of a slowdown in Chinese economic growth from its peak of 11.9% last year, it is unlikely it will experience a so-called ‘hard landing’ where GDP growth slows to 5% per annum.” Jones went on to quote AMP Capital Investors Chief Economist, Shane Oliver, as another believer in China. “The key reasons for this are: The Chinese economy is now of a size where even growth of 7 or 8% will still translate into solid underlying and long-term demand for key raw materials, particularly steel-making raw materials. As it is, China still predicts long-term growth rates of between 8 and 10% The Chinese banking system is fundamentally sound compared with its counterparts in the Western World with no dependence on foreign capital The Chinese corporate sector is generally in good shape with the level of gearing falling and a high level of retained earnings. Also, while the stock market has fallen in line with global markets, it is important to remember that the equity market only accounts for 15% of corporate financing Consumer spending in China has remained strong thanks to a high level of domestic savings, low gearing and minimal equity exposure amongst Chinese households Monetary policy is being aggressively eased in China, with two interest rate cuts in the last two months and inflation falling The Government has confirmed it is increasing spending on infrastructure and providing other forms of fiscal stimulus to the economy. We saw evidence of this last week with the $855 billion economic stimulus package, which will be spent on a raft of construction and infrastructure projects. There is enormous pressure within China – and indeed a strong political imperative – for the Government to maintain economic growth and provide infrastructure to support the high rate of urbanisation.“All of this gives me comfort that China will continue to grow, and grow strongly for many decades to come, providing a solid underpinning to the long-term outlook for commodities – a view which is supported by recent comments from BHP Billiton Chairman Don Argus and Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Albanese.“Having said all this, there is little doubt that the sudden downturn in China has had some severe short-term effects. For one, Chinese steel mills and iron ore buyers have reacted to the current crisis by moving quickly to push for lower prices – a move which is not surprising given the stunning price rises of the last two years. Predictably, major producers such as Rio Tinto and Vale have responded quickly by announcing cuts in production. This should be understood in the context of retaining supply-demand balance and positioning ahead of the annual contract price negotiations, which are already in the preliminary stages.“I believe that the current crisis will put the squeeze on the speculative end of the iron ore sector but I do not believe it spells the end for every iron ore project in the world. Companies with strong business plans, quality assets and, importantly, long-term partnerships with Chinese steel mills, will be well placed to weather the storm and, in the longer term, survive and thrive.“We are also seeing the Chinese Government’s push for consolidation of the Chinese steel industry rapidly gathering momentum – with the industry likely to be dominated by three or four giants, with AnSteel being one of these. Ultimately that is probably a good thing for the stability and long-term growth of the iron ore industry.”He spoke of Gindalbie having either achieved – or being close to achieving – all of its “key goals for the year despite the extraordinarily difficult financial market and economic conditions that have arisen. These milestones have included completion of subscription agreements with our partner, AnSteel, progressing project financing and ordering long-lead items for the Karara iron ore project.“Since mid-year we have seen unprecedented turmoil in global markets. Gindalbie has not been immune to the effects of this worldwide financial tsunami, with our share price falling to levels not seen since 2005.“Gindalbie has accepted an offer from AnSteel to fund our share of the equity contribution towards the estimated A$1.8 billion project development cost through a A$162 million share placement to be undertaken at an issue price of A$0.85 per share – a 105% premium to the market price. In the context of the current market conditions, I believe this represents a very significant achievement. The Board decided to accept this proposal after carefully weighing up the alternatives. We had always intended to raise equity to fund our contribution; however, I structured our original Joint Venture Agreement with the option to ask AnSteel to arrange debt finance in case markets were not conducive to an equity raising. I think it’s fair to say that none of us anticipated that both debt and equity markets would come under such pressure at the same time, making the terms and conditions for a A$162 million loan highly unattractive to us from a corporate risk perspective.“I firmly believe that the alternative of a share placement to AnSteel at a significant premium represents by far the best outcome and is in the best interests of all shareholders. In the current environment, the opportunity to de-risk our balance sheet and secure this funding on such attractive terms represents a major coup for Gindalbie and a strong vindication of our joint venture relationship and project development model. Details of this matter will be put in front of all shareholders for approval as soon as possible.“Once this transaction is completed, AnSteel will have a 36% stake in Gindalbie and be our largest shareholder, fully aligned with all other shareholders. AnSteel has confirmed it is poised to make its final equity payment of A$143.7 million and, following completion of this placement, will have invested close to A$600 million in Gindalbie shares and Karara equity contributions. Once the final payments are made early next year, our joint venture company, Karara Mining, will have cash resources of approximately A$450 million, while Gindalbie itself will be debt-free at the corporate level and have uncommitted cash reserves of around A$40 million. This provides a buffer from any unforeseen future market events while also giving us the flexibility to develop other projects within our Mid West portfolio.“I do acknowledge shareholders’ concerns regarding the dilution that occurs with share placements, but I firmly believe that having Ansteel as both a partner and big shareholder will give Gindalbie a greater opportunity to grow into a significant resources group with the ability to deliver substantial returns to shareholders. AnSteel has made it clear to me that they want to help Gindalbie develop into a major resources group focused on the carbon steel materials sector.“This brings me to the point I have been making about Gindalbie and the Karara Joint Venture for years: it is companies with direct long-term relationships to the larger steel mills which will survive this crisis the best. In our case, we have a joint venture partner which is one of the pillars of the Chinese steel industry. Importantly, Ansteel is earning a 50% direct stake in the Karara project and is also our major shareholder. Their interests are firmly aligned with ours and it is important to remember that Karara will supply most of the feed for the new state-of-the-art steel mill they have just completed at BuYuQuan in northeast China.“There will also be other collateral benefits from the current crisis. Delays or cancellations of major new iron ore projects means that the forecast supply surplus that many predicted would drive down prices in years to come will not eventuate. A more balanced supply-demand equation, with underlying growth, will help keep commodity prices at reasonable levels. “The fall in the Australian dollar has also offset the fall in prices for many commodities and will ultimately benefit Australian mining companies and mineral exporters. Also, the recent slowdown is already having a noticeable impact in freeing up the tight market for equipment, materials and personnel in the Western Australian resource sector – and this, combined with lower oil prices, has the potential to flow through very quickly to help keep a lid on capital costs for new projects and should lead to lower operating costs.”
In Peru, the aggregate amount of investments in mining increased by 20% over the first four months of 2013 against the same period in the previous year, reaching $2.626 billion, Minister of Energy and Mining (MEM) Jorge Merino recently announced. Merino said that these indicators confirm that Peru is still an attractive mining destination for investors worldwide. The company investing the highest amount was Xstrata Las Bambas, which assigned $540 million (90.2% more than the previous year) to the execution of the megaproject of the same name located in the province of Cotabambas (Apurímac). Second place went to Minera Chinalco, with $296 million (36.6% more than in 2012), for the execution of Toromocho, a copper project located in the Junín region.Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde follows with an investment of $237 million (78.1% more than the amount invested in 2012) for the expansion of a polymetallic project (copper, gold and molybdenum) in Arequipa.Merino declared that the positive trend in the progress and development of large-scale projects translated into greater direct employment opportunities. Accordingly, as of April 2013, 216,000 professionals and qualified technicians were working in different mining entities, a figure significantly higher than the one reported in April 2012 (197,059).However, in May, Reuters reported that Glencore Xstrata has agreed to sell Las Bambas to a buyer approved by China’s monopoly watchdog by September 15, 2014 in exchange for Beijing’s blessing over Glencore’s $35 billion acquisition of Xstrata, completed in April. Xstrata approved development of Las Bambas over a four-year period in August 2010, four months before Glencore first unveiled merger plans with Xstrata.“We are very happy with the quality of the investment and the standards… that have been developed by Xstrata,” Merino said on the side of conference promoting Latin American mining projects. “We expect as a government to keep that standard,” he said.Reuters reported that “according to media reports, Glencore Xstrata has appointed BMO Capital markets and Credit Suisse to identify potential buyers of the Las Bambas project, which is one of the largest copper-mining prospects in the world. Analyst’s valuations of the project range from about $4.4 billion to nearly $7 billion.“Large Chinese resource companies such as Chinalco and MMG Ltd are among a list of potential buyers.”Las Bambas is planned to produce a minimum of 400,000 t/y of copper, with commissioning to start in late 2014. At that rate, it would be close in production to Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi mine, which has just begun shipping concentrate in Mongolia and about half the size of the BHP Billiton-controlled Escondida mine in Chile, the world’s largest.Glencore Xstrata yesterday announced the commencement of a process to sell its entire interest in the Las Bambas copper mine project. It has appointed BMO Capital Markets and Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) to act as financial advisors in connection with the sale process.After resizing the Toromocho project (Junín) because of the larger than expected reserves, Chinalco has decided to increase to $4.8 billion the total amount invested in this important Peruvian copper project. “This is a very important investment, that demonstrates our reliable legal framework and the characteristics of the Peruvian geology,” said Merino, after supervising the progress of the construction works at Toromocho.It has 1,500 Mt of proven copper reserves; however “as the project advances, this figure will surely increase, because of its validity period of 25 years that may be extended”.Toromocho, generator of 12,000 jobs, is expected to begin its production stage in December and reach an operating output of 300,000 t/y of fine copper, and not the 270,000 t estimated in a first projection.“This project, together with Cerro Verde, Las Bambas, Antapaccay, Constanza and others, will allow Peru to produce after mid-2015 more than 2.8 Mt of fine copper per year, which make us recover the second place among the world’s top copper producers,” Merino said.He added that Peru is an attractive country for investors due to its geographical location, with competitive production costs which are the cheapest of the region.