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India opens coal-mining market after 40 years, to auction 23 coal mines

TOP NEWS

India opens coal-mining market after 40 years, to auction 23 coal mines

For the first time in more than 40 years, India would be allowing private mining companies to mine and sell coal, with a total of 23 mines to be auctioned during the year, Bloomberg News reported, citing Susheel Kumar, the country's coal secretary. India's Ministry of Coal will auction four mines to both state-run and private firms beginning April 1, with an additional 19 mines to be offered later in the year.

Rio Tinto receives approaches for remaining Australian coal assets

A few weeks after Rio Tinto agreed to sell some Australian coal operations for up to US$2.45 billion, the global mining giant received approaches for its remaining coal mines in the country, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News. According to the sources, the company is considering options for its stakes in the Hail Creek and Kestrel coking coal mines in Queensland, including a potential sale that could fetch up to US$1.5 billion. However, a formal sale process will not start until Anglo American Plc makes a final decision on whether to off-load its coking coal mines in Australia, the sources added.

Production suspensions weigh on Glencore's FY'16 output

Glencore Plc's total production in 2016 was in line with the guidance, with year-over-year drops in copper, zinc and coal output reflecting suspensions at various operations. Copper production dropped 5% year over year to 1.4 million tonnes due to production suspensions at its African copper assets, partly offset by improved grades and volumes at its South American assets.

BASE METALS

* The Philippine government has ordered the shutdown of 23 mines in the country, with a focus on nickel producers, which account for half of the country's nickel output, Reuters reported, citing a ministerial press conference. The country also ordered suspensions at an additional five mines, including OceanaGold Corp.'s Didipio gold mine.

* A feasibility study for Panoramic Resources Ltd.'s Savannah nickel-copper-cobalt project in Western Australia estimated that the mining of Savannah North will extend the mine life to 10.25 years. Annual metal-in-concentrate production is expected at 9,700 tonnes of nickel, 5,000 tonnes of copper and 670 tonnes of cobalt for total life-of-mine production of 99,200 tonnes of nickel, 51,500 tonnes of copper and 6,900 tonnes of cobalt.

PRECIOUS METALS

* AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.'s headline earnings for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016, are expected to come in at between US$104 million and US$118 million, representing an increase of 242% to 262% on a yearly basis. Gold production is expected to range from 3.60 million ounces to 3.65 million ounces for the year, in line with its guidance.

* Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd. declared an interim dividend of 50 South African cents per share, after the company returned to a net profit attributable to owners of 1.54 billion South African rand in the first half of its fiscal 2017, up from a loss of 445 million rand a year earlier. The company produced 553,862 ounces of gold, 8% higher than the 513,576 ounces produced in the previous six months.

* Richmont Mines Inc. expects consolidated gold production to increase by up to 15% year over year in 2017, to between 110,000 ounces and 120,000 ounces, driven by a strong performance from its Island gold mine in Ontario.

* Guyana Goldfields Inc. said an updated feasibility study for its Aurora gold mine in Guyana boosted the project's mineral reserves by 15% over the previous estimate, to 3.5 million ounces gold, net of depletion. The expanded project will generate a net present value of US$850 million, at a 5% discount rate, and will produce 3.3 million ounces of gold over a 15-year mine life at an average cash cost of US$612 per ounce.

* The government of Mali agreed to pay Hummingbird Resources Plc about US$11 million for an additional 10% stake in the Yanfolila gold project.

* StratMin Global Resources Plc executed binding heads of agreement with Signature Gold Ltd to acquire all of the latter's issued share capital. StratMin will issue up to £9.5 million worth of equity, to be allocated pro rata to Signature shareholders.

* Genesis Metals Corp. entered into a binding agreement to acquire a 100% undivided interest in the Hygrade property in Quebec, from Les Ressources Tectonic Inc. The property comprises nine contiguous claims covering 254 hectares and is located within the boundaries of Genesis' Chevrier gold project.

* A South African court ruled in favor of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. subsidiary Ivanplats Pty. Ltd., paving the way for the company to proceed with the relocation of informal graves near its Platreef platinum project in Limpopo province.

BULK COMMODITIES

* PAO Severstal's net profit in 2016 jumped to US$1.62 billion from US$562 million in 2015, mainly due to a foreign exchange gain of US$483 million, compared to a US$624 million forex loss a year ago.

* Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. lifted its fiscal 2016 net profit forecast to ¥80.0 billion, or ¥90.00 per share, compared to ¥60.0 billion, or ¥68 per share, expected previously. Company affiliates are expected to post higher earnings, leading to the upgraded guidance.

* Outokumpu Oyj reported a net profit of €144 million, or 35 cents per share, for 2016, increasing 67% from €86 million, or 23 cents per share, booked a year earlier. For the final quarter of 2016, Outokumpu booked a net profit of €192 million, or 46 cents per share, down year over year from €308 million, or 74 cents per share. The company's board proposed a dividend of 10 cents per share for 2016.

* Mitsubishi Corp.'s metals business recorded a profit of ¥130.3 billion for the nine months that ended Dec. 31, 2016, an increase of ¥153.6 billion on a yearly basis from ¥23.3 billion. The rise was mainly due to higher earnings in the Australian coal business due to lower production costs and higher market prices, as well as larger dividends from investments, and one-off gains from the company's withdrawal from a nickel project.

* Overworked miners and overused equipment will likely drive China to cut back coal miners' workweeks again in the near future, according to George Dethlefsen, CEO of Corsa Coal Corp.

* Although the U.S. is on the attack against China over subsidies provided to some of its aluminum producers, the Asian powerhouse has far greater worries than the penalties it faces from the World Trade Organization case. China is more focused on the government's move to reduce pollution and shut down up to 30% of aluminum capacity in Henan, Shandong and Shanxi.

* Chile commenced an anti-dumping probe into imports of steel grinding rods from China, Metal Bulletin wrote, citing Chile's anti-distortions commission. The probe was launched Jan. 31.

* Brazilian steel association Aço Brasil signed a deal with the country's competition regulator Cade to settle charges of anti-competitive actions amounting to US$86,132, Metal Bulletin wrote.

SPECIALTY

* Toyota Tsusho Corp.'s net profit attributable to owners of the parent for the nine months ended Dec. 31, 2016, jumped 81.2% year over year to ¥63.52 billion, or ¥180.52 per share. Consolidated net sales for the period dipped 7.2% year over year to ¥5.810 trillion, mainly due to yen appreciation.

* Graphex Mining Ltd. reported an 80% increase in the mineral resource at its Chilalo graphite project in Tanzania. The Chilalo resource now stands at 16.9 million tonnes grading 10.2% total graphitic carbon, comprising 5.2 million tonnes of indicated and 11.7 million tonnes of inferred resources.

* Australia's AVZ Minerals Ltd. has inked a US$6 million deal to acquire a 60% interest in the Manono lithium-tin-tantalum mine in Democratic Republic of Congo.

* IsoEnergy Ltd. acquired the Mountain Lake uranium deposit in the Hornby Bay Basin in Nunavut, Canada. The property, acquired via staking, consists of five claims totaling 5,625 hectares.

* Millennial Lithium Corp. secured an option to buy a 100% interest in the Pocitos West project in Argentina, which covers 15,857 hectares of prospective lithium brine concessions.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* India is planning to use drones to track illegal miners in a move to curb unsanctioned diggers, Bloomberg reported. According to the technical secretary at Indian Bureau of Mines in Nagpur, Piyush Sharma, the illegal miners usually manage to run away before the authorities can catch them. "Drones will be effective in a way that we will have pictures, which can be used as evidence," Sharma said.

* According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the country's mines exported a record A$13.4 billion of metals and coal in December 2016, compared to the previous record of A$12.4 billion in December 2013, The Australian reported.

* The U.S. Senate, by a vote of 54-45, approved a resolution to overturn a rule intended to cut water pollution from coal-mining waste, Reuters reported.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time, and scans news sources published in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Some external links may require a subscription.