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Rio Tinto's iron ore project approved; Endeavour given longer for Centamin bid


Rio Tinto's A$1B Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 approved amid low price outlook

Western Australia's government has approved Rio Tinto's US$749 million Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 iron ore project, which includes a new crusher and a 13-kilometer overland conveyor to transport crushed ore to existing transfer infrastructure. The conveyor will help lower the mine's greenhouse gas emissions by 3.5% compared to road haulage. The new phase of the Western Turner mine will enable Rio Tinto to sustain approved production of 30 million tonnes a year, with construction due in the first quarter of 2020 and first ore to be delivered during the third quarter of 2021.

Endeavour secures more time to lob bid for Centamin

U.K.'s Panel on Takeovers and Mergers approved Centamin PLC's request to give additional time to Endeavour Mining Corp. to make a takeover offer for the latter, or announce that it will not be doing so. The deadline was extended to Jan. 14, 2020, from the original Dec. 31 after the two companies agreed to the exchange of certain due diligence information. Centamin said it continues to believe that the possible offer materially undervalues the company and advised shareholders to take no action.

Coronado idles metallurgical coal mine in Virginia, furloughs over 600 miners

Coronado Global Resources Inc. furloughed more than 600 employees at its Buchanan No. 1 mine in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy was informed Dec. 16 that employees at the metallurgical coal mine would be "furloughed until a trade deal was reached between the U.S. and China on coal exports," an official with the agency told S&P Global Market Intelligence on Dec. 23. The agency was informed Dec. 23 that the mine would return to full production Jan. 1, 2020.


* Local prosecutors are investigating a €200 million line of credit issued to Democratic Republic of Congo-owned Gécamines SA in October 2017 by Ventora Development, formerly Fleurette Mumi, due to possible money laundering and fraud, Reuters reported, citing unidentified sources. Ventora Development is owned by Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, who is under U.S. sanctions.


* China listed its first exchange traded fund for nonferrous metals on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the Shanghai Futures Exchange said, according to Reuters. The Dacheng Nonferrous Metals Futures ETF tracks the Shanghai Futures Exchange's nonferrous metals futures prices and is only the country's second commodity ETF.

* Nevada Copper Corp. shipped first copper concentrate from its Pumpkin Hollow copper project in Nevada. The company expects to complete the ramp-up to full commercial production in the first half of 2020.

* OceanaGold Corp.'s partly owned Locrian Resources Inc. agreed to explore ArcWest Exploration Inc.'s oxide peak property in northern British Columbia. Locrian can earn an initial 60% interest in the property by spending C$2.4 million on exploration and paying C$55,000 cash over three years.

* NorZinc Ltd. closed the sale of a 1% net smelter return royalty over the company's Prairie Creek zinc-lead-silver mine in the Northwest Territories for C$8 million.

* Val-d'Or Mining Corp. sold 10 of its exploration properties prospective for precious and base metals in Quebec to privately owned Progenitor Metals for C$1.1 million, 80% of which will go to Val-d'Or and 20% to Golden Valley Mines Ltd. Val-d'Or acquired the properties from Golden Valley Mines.

* Northfield Capital Corp. secured a 10.3% interest in Murchison Minerals Ltd. for investment purposes.


* Lydian International Ltd. and its subsidiaries Lydian Canada Ventures Corp. and Lydian U.K. Corp. Ltd. were granted protection from creditors by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for an initial 10-day period, which will expire Jan. 2, 2020. The company intends to seek financing or sale options for the Amulsar gold project in southern Armenia during the protection period, and finalize financing discussions for potential foreign investment arbitration proceedings against the Armenian government.

* Arena Structured Private Investments (Cayman) LLC filed a writ of summons in the Supreme Court of Western Australia claiming about A$5.1 million from New Energy Minerals Ltd. based on debts allegedly owed by the latter under an unsecured convertible note deed. A previous statutory demand from Arena was set aside by the Supreme Court of Western Australia in July, New Energy noted.

* Royal Road Minerals Ltd. entered a letter of intent with Mineros SA to negotiate a joint venture over the former's Guintar and Niverengo concessions and its Margaritas title application in Colombia's Antioquia District. Under the terms, the joint venture need to be formed before Jan. 30, 2020.

* Resolute Mining Ltd. forward sold an additional 30,000 ounces of gold at US$1,501 per ounce in scheduled monthly deliveries of 5,000 ounces between July 2020 and December 2020.

* Royal Nickel Corp. outlined a maiden proven and probable reserve for its Beta Hunt gold mine in Western Australia of 3.4 million tonnes at 2.8 g/t of gold containing 310,000 ounces, using a 2.0 g/t gold cutoff grade. About 290,000 ounces of the contained gold reserve estimate are in the probable reserve category.

* Austral Gold Ltd. closed the previously announced deal to acquire Troy Resources Ltd.'s remaining 30% interest in the Casposo silver-gold mine in San Juan, Argentina, by purchasing the outstanding common shares of Casposo Argentina Ltd. for US$200,000.

* AIC Mines Ltd. saidVulcan Copper Ltd. breached its obligation to pay the first installment of the deferred consideration of US$1.0 million regarding the Kitumba sale agreement inked in September 2018.

* Arcus Development Group Inc. completed the sale of its Dan Man property to Newmont Goldcorp Corp.'s subsidiary Kaminak Gold Corp.

* Explor Resources Inc. completed its merger with Galleon Gold Corp.


* Five people were injured at POSCO's largest steel mill in Gwangyang after an explosion, which also knocked out a generator facility, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. The company said the incident had no impact on operations and the facility where the incident occurred is for research, and not related to production.

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed not imposing financial responsibility requirements for facilities in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry under a section of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Based on the examination of "modern management practices and modern environmental regulations," the EPA said it determined that petroleum and coal products manufacturers do not present a level of risk of taxpayer-funded response actions that warrant the financial responsibility requirements.

* Nippon Steel Corp. unit Nippon Steel Nisshin Co. Ltd. will temporarily stop production at the No. 2 blast furnace at Kure Works around mid-February 2020, and focus on production from the No. 1 furnace, in a bid to improve production efficiency and further stabilize operations. Both blast furnaces were operating at a low utilization rate due to a fire accident at Kure Works in August.

* The Canadian government will launch a strategic assessment that will look into how new thermal coal mine projects in the future will be examined under the government's Impact Assessment Act, International Mining reported. The assessment will include, but not be limited to, environmental and health impacts of thermal coal mining, market analysis of projected demand for thermal coal, and the use of thermal coal mining including its impact on the country's international commitments and initiatives.

* Pacific Bauxite Ltd. went into voluntary administration after its failure to attract support along with unsuccessful negotiations to sell its bauxite deposits in the Solomon Islands.


* PepinNini Lithium Ltd. signed a binding term sheet to acquire eight gold projects in South Australia from unlisted public company Patron Resources Ltd. The company will issue shares equivalent to a 20% stake to Patron to purchase the latter's two wholly owned subsidiaries, valuing the deal at about A$1.2 million.

* The Superior Court of Quebec granted bankruptcy protection to Nemaska Lithium Inc., allowing the company sufficient time to settle its refinancing efforts to complete the construction and start operations at its Whabouchi lithium project in Quebec.

* Ucore Rare Metals Inc. and Materion Corp. will form a consortium to jointly apply to the U.S. Department of Defense for funding for the construction of a rare earths processing plant, Reuters reported.


* The Shanghai Futures Exchange will relax limits on trading positions for product contracts starting in 2020 to boost trading activity and participation, according to Reuters. Among other commodities, the Chinese exchange offers trading in metals including copper, nickel, aluminum and zinc.

* China's Solid Waste and Chemicals Management Bureau issued import quotas for 270,885 tonnes of high-grade copper scrap and 275,465 tonnes of aluminum scrap for 2020, being the first quotas for next year, Reuters reported. The Asian country is working toward completely cutting down imports of scrap metal classified as waste by the end of the next year.

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