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In This List

New Zealand may sue Rio over toxic waste; First Quantum swings to Q4'19 loss

Mining Exploration Insights - April 2020

Mining Exploration Insights December

Mining Exploration Insights: Dip in gold drilling weighs on results

State of the Market: Mining Q2-2019


New Zealand may sue Rio over toxic waste; First Quantum swings to Q4'19 loss

TOP NEWS

New Zealand may sue Rio Tinto over smelter waste

The New Zealand government threatened to sue mining giant Rio Tinto for its failure to remove toxic waste from its Tiwai Point aluminum smelter, the Australian Associated Press reported, citing a Radio NZ interview with David Parker, the country's environment minister. Recent floods in the area reportedly increased the risk of a breach at the company's waste storage facility, the report said.

First Quantum swings to Q4, FY'19 loss

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. posted an attributable net loss of US$115 million, or 17 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2019, swinging from a profit of US$198 million, or 29 cents per share, in the prior year-ago period. Copper production for the quarter grew to 204,270 tonnes from 158,304 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2018, while copper sales went up to 205,964 tonnes from 156,212 tonnes. For full-year 2019, the miner swung to an attributable net loss of US$57 million, or 8 cents per share, from a profit of US$441 million, or 64 cents per share. Meanwhile, First Quantum declared a final dividend of 0.5 cent per share, bringing up its total dividend for the year to 1 cent per share.

Rare earth miner Lynas' shares rise amid reports of Malaysian license approval

Lynas Corp. Ltd. shares closed 8% higher on the ASX following reports that the Malaysian government agreed to renew the operating license for the company's Gebeng rare earths processing plant until March 2023, Reuters reported, citing Malaysian news website MalaysiaKini. However, Lynas said the same day that it had not received any notification of a renewal, adding that it submitted the license renewal documentation to the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board and is awaiting a decision.

DIVERSIFIED

* South32 Ltd.'s net profit in the first half of its fiscal 2020 plummeted 84% to US$99 million, or 2 U.S. cents per share, from US$635 million, or 12.4 cents per share, in the comparable year-ago period. Revenue in the six months ended Dec. 31, 2019, slipped 16% to US$3.22 billion as underlying EBITDA tanked 48% to US$678 million and underlying earnings tumbled 80% to US$131 million. The company's results were affected by volatile macroeconomic conditions that weighed on the prices of its key commodities and by a temporary increase in its underlying effective tax rate. South32 declared an interim dividend of 1.1 cents per share plus a special dividend of 1.1 cents per share, down 78% and 35%, respectively, from year-ago payouts.

BASE METALS

* China's Henan Yuguang Gold & Lead Co. halved the capacity of its 300,000-tonne-per-annum zinc smelter amid the spread of the new coronavirus, Reuters reported, citing sales director Li Xiaodong. The transport restrictions imposed during the outbreak have prevented the company from selling its high inventories of sulfuric acid. Falling zinc demand was also a factor behind the shutdown, the report said.

* Nexa Resources SA booked fourth-quarter 2019 net loss of US$2.7 million, swinging from a year-ago net profit of US$56.6 million. Net revenue for the quarter amounted to US$585.8 million, broadly in line with year-ago figures of US$583.4 million. Zinc production over the three months fell 19.7% yearly to 82,900 tonnes, with lead production down 16.2% to 12,300 tonnes. Copper production, meanwhile, rose 10.6% to 10,200 tonnes. Nexa also declared a cash dividend of 37.7533 cents per share.

* German copper and precious metals producer Aurubis AG's operating earnings before tax fell 23% to €31 million in its first fiscal quarter from €40 million a year ago as the company flagged a €34 million impact of a planned maintenance shutdown at the Hamburg plant. Revenues rose 4% to €2.71 billion due to higher precious metal prices.

* Swedish mining and smelting company Boliden AB booked a net profit of 1.36 billion Swedish kronor in the fourth quarter of 2019, falling from 1.87 billion kronor in the prior year. Operating profit declined to 1.74 billion kronor from 2.09 billion kronor due to lower grades at the Kevitsa nickel-copper mine in Finland and the Aitik copper and Garpenberg zinc mines in Sweden that dragged down volumes.

* Glencore PLC unit Katanga Mining Ltd. widened its full-year 2019 net loss to US$770.3 million from US$708.4 million.

* Sandfire Resources Ltd. is facing a mine safety investigation after floodwaters broke through from an open pit into the underground mine at its DeGrussa copper operation, The Australian reported. While no serious injuries were reported, the incident threatened the safety of 32 workers who waited for hours before leaving the site. The operation was suspended Feb. 10 and resumed Feb. 12, the report said.

* The Greek parliament approved a restructuring plan for debt-laden nickel producer Larco SA, Reuters reported. Lawmakers reportedly passed a measure requiring the appointment of an administrator by March, a wage reduction of about 25% and the launch of a tender to sell the company's smelter and some of its mines, the report said.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. posted a net profit in the fourth quarter of 2019 of US$331.7 million, or US$1.38 per diluted share, reversing a net loss of US$393.7 million, or US$1.68 per share. For full-year 2019, the Canadian miner also returned to profit of US$473.2 million, or US$1.99 per diluted share, from a loss of US$326.7 million, or US$1.40 per share. The return to profit in both the fourth quarter and full-year 2019 was primarily attributed to higher gold sales volumes and higher realized gold prices. Payable gold production hit a record high in the fourth quarter of 494,678 ounces from 410,712 ounces in the prior-year period, as full-year 2019 output increased to 1.78 million ounces, also a new record high, from 1.63 Moz. Meanwhile, Agnico Eagle declared a quarterly dividend of 20 cents per share, increasing from 17.5 cents per share in the previous quarter.

* For the fourth quarter of 2019, Yamana Gold Inc. declared a net profit of US$14.6 million, or 2 cents per share, overturning a net loss of US$61.4 million, or 6 cents per share in the fourth quarter of the previous year. Revenue, however, slumped to US$383.8 million from US$483.4 million. Gold production for the period declined to 221,595 ounces from 292,483 ounces, as silver production also fell to 2.97 million ounces from 3.26 Moz.

* Sandstorm Gold Ltd. posted a record attributable gold equivalent ounces sold of 63,829 ounces for its full-year 2019, rising from its 2018 total of 57,646 ounces. The company realized a full-year 2019 net income of US$16.4 million, increasing from US$5.9 million. Meanwhile, Sandstorm will move up to the NYSE main board from NYSE American, effective Feb. 21.

* Under a revised mining plan, Royal Gold Inc. forecasts gold equivalent production at the Rainy River operation in Ontario to average at 289,000 ounces per year from 2020 to 2028, based on proven and probable reserves of 2.64 million ounces of contained gold and 6.27 Moz of contained silver as of Dec. 31, 2019, at a gold price of US$1,275 per ounce and silver price of US$17/oz.

* Barrick Gold Corp. and Teranga Gold Corp. secured certain key approvals from the government of Senegal for the sale of a 90% stake in the Massawa gold project to Teranga for up to US$430 million. The approvals include a formal consent to Teranga's plans to integrate Massawa into its Sabodala gold mine and the government waiving its right to purchase up to an additional 25% of Massawa. Closing is expected in the first quarter.

* Newmont Corp.'s 2019 gold mineral reserves jumped 53% year over year to 100.2 million attributable ounces after adding about 50 Moz through the acquisition of Goldcorp Inc., the launch of the Nevada Gold Mines joint venture with Barrick and its exploration programs.

* OceanaGold Corp. outlined an updated resource estimate for the Martha underground mine, part of the Waihi project in New Zealand. Indicated resource stood at 824,000 ounces of gold contained in 4.93 million tonnes grading 5.20 g/t gold, and inferred resource was estimated at 614,000 ounces contained in 4.10 Mt grading 4.66 g/t gold.

* Eric Sprott, through 2176423 Ontario Ltd., raised his stake in Generation Mining Ltd. to 11.30% on a partially diluted basis after participating in the latter's bought deal offering that raised C$10.7 million.

* Emerald Resources NL unit Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd. will begin the first large scale gold mining operations at the Okvau project in Cambodia in 2021, following an exploration program that spanned more than a decade, The Phnom Penh Post reported, citing Yos Monirath, director-general of the Ministry of Mines and Energy's General Department of Mineral Resources.

* Construction progress at Fortuna Silver Mines Inc.'s Lindero gold project in Argentina was delayed in December 2019 and January 2020 due to a lack of contractor personnel. The company said the issue has been addressed, and the project is now scheduled to transition from construction and commissioning to operations in the second quarter of 2020.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Germany's thyssenkrupp AG swung to a net loss of €364 million in its fiscal first-quarter from a year-ago profit of €68 million due to restructuring expenses, increased debt interest expense and one-time charges related to the planned sale of its elevator business.

* Alfred Schindler, a board member of Swiss elevator-maker Schindler Holding AG, said the company will file lawsuits against a merger deal between thyssenkrupp's elevator unit and KONE Oyj, Reuters reported. Schindler added that the largest lift manufacturer in the world, Otis Elevator Co., may also take legal action if a deal materializes.

* Israel Chemicals Ltd.'s net income in the fourth quarter of 2019 declined to US$48 million, or 4 U.S. cents per share, from US$82 million, or 6 cents per share, a year ago. Sales dropped to US$1.11 billion from US$1.41 billion as an improvement in specialty fertilizer sales was more than offset by declines in the company's industrial products, potash and phosphate segments.

* The China Iron and Steel Association called on the country's transport ministry to "take forceful measures" to help mills overcome transport disruptions caused by the new coronavirus, Reuters reported, citing a document. The group reportedly flagged the impact of lockdowns on cities and road on mills' access to raw materials such as iron ore, coking coal and limestone as well as their outbound shipments of steel products.

* The Indian government plans to import more coking coal from Mongolia and Russia as part of an effort to reduce reliance on Australia, Mining Weekly reported. India has started negotiations on whether Indian coal companies will acquire stakes in coking coal assets in Mongolia and Russia or coal miners in these two countries will enter into long-term supply deals with Indian importers, the report said.

SPECIALTY

* Mexico's undersecretary for mining, Francisco Quiroga, said investors from at least five countries, namely Canada, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S., are considering investments in the Latin American country's nascent lithium extraction and production industry, Reuters reported. "What we're offering is more than the promotion of mining — but instead mining complemented by activities along the entire production chain, including manufacturing — and there's been a lot of interest," Quiroga said.

* Gem Diamonds Ltd.'s revenue in the fourth quarter of 2019 surged 41% over the third quarter of US$51.3 million as diamond sales climbed 17% to 29,945 carats and the achieved average price increased 21% to US$1,713 per carat.

* Energy Fuels Inc. raised US$16.6 million through a bought-deal share placement at US$1.47 apiece, with proceeds to be used to fund its uranium mining operations.

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