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News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Hold the guacamole. Hipsters and Mexican food fans will have to dig deep for their smashed avocados this summer because poor harvests and soaring demand from China have sent prices soaring. After the great lettuce and courgette shortage of January, which was caused by rain and snow in Spain, there is now an upheaval underway in avocados for British consumers. Wholesale prices of the fruit in the UK have surged more than 50% since the beginning of this year, according to data consultancy Mintec. Supplies have tightened after a late harvest in Mexico, flooding in Peru and drought in California. In Mexico, which accounts for up 70% of global avocado production, strikes by workers have added to the problems. Also 2017 is a “down year” for the crop: avocados naturally alternate between good and poor years for harvest yields. Wholesale prices of medium-sized Hass avocados from Mexico have nearly tripled in the past year to $56.25 a 11kg (25lb) box at the end of April. Morrisons supermarket has tried to tackle rising prices this week by offering a “wonky” version of the fruit, with an irregular shape or blemished skin, for 39p each. This compares with an average supermarket price of £1.05 for a perfect fruit . Roland Fumasi, senior produce analyst for Rabobank in California, said there were fears that prices of Mexican fruit could double again over the summer as demand increased while supplies remained tight. While UK grocers usually buy theirs from Spain, Israel and South Africa, as well as Peru and Chile, the problems in Mexico and California will have an impact in Britain. Fumasi said: “Even though most avocados you see in UK stores are coming from other regions, those regions have to fill the gaps in the US. So they have competition for that fruit. The supply slowdown in Mexico affects consumers everywhere.” Longer term, soaring demand from China suggests prices will remain under pressure. Five years ago Mexico, Chile and Peru shipped 80 tonnes of avocados to China, according to figures from Comtrade, which collects international trade data. But Chinese consumers are fast catching on to the trend that has swept through Australia, the US and Europe, with China last year importing 24,000 tonnes from the three South American countries. Like Americans and Europeans, the Chinese are being tempted by avocado’s reputation as a superfood rich in healthy oils, which has earned it a place in many fad diets. But “butter fruit”, as avocados are called in China, is seen as a badge of a western middle-class lifestyle and are often used in desserts and smoothies as well as in traditional noodle dishes. Demand in the US, the world’s biggest consumer of avocados, is also growing fast. Last year annual consumption had risen to 2.7kg per capita, more than double the 1.2kg recorded a decade ago. British consumers have followed suit. “Demand is phenomenal,” said Alfie Johnson, managing director of Covent Garden Supply, a distributor and major wholesaler of avocados in the UK. “It’s partly new concept restaurants, doing eggs and bacon with avocado. In my book they don’t go together, but a lot of people have them on toast. And there is no question of them not being on the menu.” Johnson said the wholesale arm of his business was now selling 20-30 tonnes of the fruit a week, about four times the volume he was selling five years ago. With supplies tight, he said prices were currently up to £17 per 4kg box, up from £11-£12 six weeks ago. The fall in the value of the pound against the euro and the dollar has also contributed to price rises. Ben Fordham, chief executive of London-based Mexican chain Benito’s Hat, said the company had been forced to change supplier for its avocados as it tried to hold down costs. He said: “People don’t really understand how expensive these fruits are and already question our extra charge for guacamole. It’s difficult for our business. We would be a laughing stock as a Mexican restaurant without guacamole or avocados.”


Liu S.-L.,University of British Columbia | Liu S.-L.,Tunghai University | Pan A.Q.,University of British Columbia | Pan A.Q.,Mintec Inc. | Adams K.L.,University of British Columbia
Genome Biology and Evolution | Year: 2014

Gene duplications during eukaroytic evolution, by successive rounds of polyploidy and by smaller scale duplications, have provided an enormous reservoir of new genes for the evolution of new functions. Preservation of many duplicated genes can be ascribed to changes in sequences, expression patterns, and functions. Protein subcellular relocalization (protein targeting to a new location within the cell) is another way that duplicated genes can diverge. We studied subcellular relocalization of gene pairs duplicated during the evolution of the Brassicaceae including gene pairs from the alpha whole genome duplication that occurred at the base of the family. We analyzed experimental localization data from green fluorescent protein experiments for 128 duplicate pairs in Arabidopsis thaliana, revealing 19 pairs with subcellular relocalization. Many more of the duplicate pairs with relocalization than with the same localization showed an accelerated rate of amino acid sequence evolution in one duplicate, and one gene showed evidence for positive selection. We studied six duplicate gene pairs in more detail. We used gene family analysis with several pairs to infer which gene shows relocalization. We identified potential sequence mutations through comparative analysis that likely result in relocalization of two duplicated gene products. We show that four cases of relocalization have new expression patterns, compared with orthologs in outgroup species, including two with novel expression in pollen. This study provides insights into subcellular relocalization of evolutionarily recent gene duplicates and features of genes whose products have been relocalized. © The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.


Quade J.,University of Arizona | Dettinger M.P.,University of Arizona | Carrapa B.,University of Arizona | DeCelles P.,University of Arizona | And 6 more authors.
Memoir of the Geological Society of America | Year: 2015

We synthesize geologic observations with new isotopic evidence for the timing and magnitude of uplift for the central Andes between 22°S and 26°S since the Paleocene. To estimate paleoelevations, we used the stable isotopic composition of carbonates and volcanic glass, combined with another paleoelevation indicator for the central Andes: the distribution of evaporites. Paleoelevation reconstruction using clumped isotope paleothermometry failed due to resetting during burial. The Andes at this latitude rose and broadened eastward in three stages during the Cenozoic. The first, in what is broadly termed the "Incaic" orogeny, ended by the late Eocene, when magmatism and deformation had elevated to ≥4 km the bulk (∼50%) of what is now the western and central Andes. The second stage witnessed the gradual building of the easternmost Puna and Eastern Cordillera, starting with deformation as early as 38 Ma, to >3 km by no later than 15 Ma. The proximal portions of the Paleogene foreland basin system were incorporated into the orogenic edifice, and basins internal to the orogen were enclosed and isolated from easterly moisture sources, promoting the precipitation of evaporites. In the third orogenic stage during the Pliocene-Pleistocene, Andean deformation accelerated and stepped eastward to form the modern Subandes, accounting for the final ∼15%-20% of the current cross section of the Andes. About 0.5 km of elevation was added unevenly to the Western Cordillera and Puna from 10 to 2 Ma by voluminous volcanism. The two largest episodes of uplift and eastward propagation of the orogenic front and of the foreland flexural wave, ca. 50 (?)-40 Ma and <5 Ma, overlap with or immediately postdate periods of very rapid plate convergence, high flux magmatism in the magmatic arc, and crustal thickening. Uplift does not correlate with a hypothesized mantle lithospheric foundering event in the early Oligocene. Development of hyperaridity in the Atacama Desert by the mid-Miocene postdates the twostep elevation gain to >3 km of most (∼75%) of the Andes. Hence, the record suggests that hyperarid climate was a consequence, not major cause, of uplift through trench sediment starvation. © 2014 The Geological Society of America. All rights reserved.


This paper describes the development of a life-of-mine schedule (LOM) for one of the world's largest known sedimentary copper-cobalt districts located in the Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A particular feature of the Tenke Fungurume LOM schedule is the considerable number of pits/phases for scheduling, each competing to provide the best ore available to a capacity-constrained process facility. This paper discusses the LOM scheduling objectives and constraints, data preprocessing steps such as ore binning, block aggregation and clustering analysis as a scheduling aid, the mine scheduling approach and results and conclusions.


Dutta S.,Mintec Inc. | Bandopadhyay S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Misra D.,University of Alaska Fairbanks
Application of Computers and Operations Research in the Mineral Industry - Proceedings of the 37th International Symposium, APCOM 2015 | Year: 2015

Geostatistical methods have been used in ore reserve estimation for decades. In the recent past, neural networks and accompanying statistical methodologies for pre-processing and post-processing the data have been applied to ore-reserve estimation problems. Although neural networks show great promise in the estimation of ore reserves, application of the methodology to practical scenarios has led to results that have a low degree of confidence. The major reasons for low-confidence results when using the neural network approach are (1) lack of transparency in the model structure, (2) high sensitivity of the neural network to noise in the data, and (3) the influence of extreme values on model results. Apart from deficiencies inherent in methods such as neural networks, model application can be further weakened by a poor choice of the training and validation approach and by segmentation of the data into separate datasets, using approaches that lack scientific reasoning. In the present research, support vector machines were applied to datasets that were created using clustering algorithms. In earlier studies, ore reserve estimation was performed using datasets ("fish blocks") that were created through manual disaggregation of the entire Nome offshore placer gold dataset. To reduce any errors that might have been introduced due to the former approach to dataset creation, clustering algorithms were used. The k-means algorithm and fuzzy c-means algorithm were used to disaggregate the entire dataset. Upon careful inspection of the model results, the fuzzy c-means approach with an optimal number of nine clusters was used. The support vector machines showed improved performance on the clustered datasets as compared with the fish blocks.


Moharana A.,Mintec Inc. | Lonergan J.,Mintec Inc.
2014 SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit, SME 2014: Leadership in Uncertain Times | Year: 2014

A massive slide at Bingham Canyon wiped out a side of the pit and covered the main haul road in and out of the pit. All pre-slide mine designs and schedules were no longer valid. New designs and schedules needed to be developed quickly to provide management with information regarding the immediate post-slide production potential and the time needed to ramp back up to full production. At the time of the slide, an effort was already underway to convert Bingham)s in-house Medium Term Scheduling Process to MineSight®'s Schedule Optimizer (MSSO). One of the main reasons for doing this was to reduce the time needed to produce Medium Term Schedules at Bingham, which involves a complex shovel-based scheduling approach with shovel productivities based on shovel type and the types of mining cuts to which the shovel is assigned over each planning period. The objective of the schedule was to maximize shovel usage, satisfy mill feed requirements of four SAG mills with variable milling rates, and have flexibility in setting truck constraints. This paper will describe how the new MSSO-based mine scheduling process met the challenge of producing new schedules for Binqham in a minimal amount of time.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Innovation Voucher | Award Amount: 5.00K | Year: 2013

For the past 30 years Mintec has been the leading independent source of pricing information for commodities and raw materials, supporting leading manufacturers, retailers and traders with statistical information and expert market analysis. The current Mintec Datagain product enables supply chain professionals to track factors affecting the commodity pricing and to make informed decisions on the timing and extent of purchasing contracts.Increasingly as Mintec attempts to capture business outside the UK for Datagain on our hosted platform, prospective customers are asking for more and more details relating to IT security policies, security model and concepts, data protection and other questions We would like to audit, test, secure and document our systems to ensure that we can answer the questions of our prospective customers and thereby assist us in winning more non-UK business.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Smart - Development of Prototype | Award Amount: 237.01K | Year: 2013

The Intelligent Predictive Analytics for Commodities (IPAC) Project will demonstrate a firstto- market prediction-based data analytics capability for the managing of procurement purchases with insight on the source prices of commodities and raw materials. This will be achieved by applying novel data mining techniques to an extensive archive of commodities prices and contextual data to establish trend characteristics. A key capability will be the price prediction for combinations of commodities and raw materials to identify the lowest, combined price. The innovation in the IPAC Project is based on unique: a) Trend-based data analytics to provide accurate and timely predictions on the expected variations of the prices of commodities and raw materials; b) ‘What If …’ analysis capability from the aggregation of information from a significant data archive with live information on prices combined with a probabilistic based prediction capability; c) Visualisation algorithms that process the output from the predictive trend algorithms and render the information in forms that can be easily manipulated by a user to enable useful ‘What if…’ analyses. A recent state-of-the-art product evaluation has shown there is no other commercial solution providing a predictive-based pricing of commodities and raw materials. The benefits for users therefore are: a) Improved understanding of commodities and raw materials prices enabling subscribers to significantly decrease their procurements costs; b) Subscribers will be able to undertake more sophisticated price analysis strategies by identifying the consequences of combinations of aggregated commodity and raw materials combinations. This will enable better planning of procurement activities. The key outcome will be a prototype demonstrator produced and evaluated to confirm the approach and to ensure the required predictive functionality and performance is achieved. Economic benefit to both subscribers and consumers should follow.


Trademark
Mintec Inc. | Date: 2014-03-11

Computer software for geologic modeling, mine design, mine planning and surveying and mining operations in the field of mineral planning applications; computer software for management of mining operations. Business consulting services in the field of geomodeling and planning of mining operations; Product demonstration for sales purposes of computer software for the mining industry. Training in the use and operation of computer software for the mining industry; Providing educational demonstration seminars in the use of computer software for the mining industry. Mining exploration consulting services; computer aided design consulting in the field of management, geomodeling and planning for the mining industry; consulting services related to the use and implementation of software for the mining industry; Technical support services, namely, troubleshooting of computer software problems for the mining industry.


Trademark
Mintec Inc. | Date: 2011-02-08

Computer software for geologic modeling, mine design, mine planning and surveying and mining operations in the field of mineral mining applications; computer software for management of mining operations. Business consulting services in the fields of geomodeling and planning. Training in the use and operation of computer software. Mining exploration consulting services; computer aided design consulting in the field of geomodeling and planning.

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