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South Africa withdraws from moratorium over new mining rights, renewals

TOP NEWS

South Africa holds off on proposed moratorium over new mining rights, renewals

South Africa's Department of Mineral Resources and the Chamber of Mines have reached an agreement, under which the government will not pursue the proposed suspension of processing applications for new mining and prospecting rights and renewals of existing rights.

BHP may more than double Olympic Dam copper output with heap leach tech

BHP Billiton Group's asset president of the Olympic Dam copper mine in South Australia, Jacqui McGill, said the heap leach technology being tested in a ramped-up pilot plant may more than double the mine's yearly output to 450,000 tonnes. According to The Australian Financial Review, McGill also outlined BHP's capital spending on Olympic Dam to be about A$600 million for 2017 through 2018, including the previously announced A$350 million smelter maintenance program.

Analysts expect Rio Tinto to significantly raise shareholder returns

UBS analyst Glyn Lawcock said Rio Tinto may return as much as US$10.5 billion over the next 18 months to shareholders, The Australian Financial Review wrote. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank economist Paul Young said the miner could unload US$2 billion worth of annual buybacks starting next year.

DIVERSIFIED

* Vale SA CFO Luciano Siani Pires said that if the miner's voluntary share conversion is successful, it will be able to tap the stock market to fund investments instead of relying on debt, Bloomberg News reported. The company last sold stock in July 2008 through a US$11.5 billion transaction.

BASE METALS

* Following a string of electrical outages, BHP Billiton is looking at ways to boost Olympic Dam's power supply while reducing the associated costs as it aims to expand output at the mine, Reuters reported.

* Vedanta Resources Plc is offering US$1.0 billion of 6.125% bonds due 2024, the proceeds of which will be used to fund its offers to purchase for cash any and all of its outstanding US$774.8 million 6.00% bonds due 2019 and US$900.0 million 8.25% bonds due 2021, and to pay other existing debt.

* Uranium Equities Ltd. notified Antasitua Chile SPA that it will not proceed with the option and joint venture agreement to earn an 80% interest in the Plateado cobalt project in Chile.

* Mitsui & Co. Ltd.'s Caserones copper mine in Chile is now running at about 90% capacity, recovering from a forced suspension of operations for three weeks after a blackout caused by heavy snow and rain in May, Reuters reported, citing CFO Keigo Matsubara.

* India raised about 4 billion Indian rupees, or US$62.8 million, from off-loading a 6.8% interest in state-run miner Hindustan Copper Ltd., Reuters reported, citing the finance ministry. After the sale, its stake in the miner will be reduced to 76.05%.

* BMI Research lowered its forecast for Russian nickel production for 2017 and added that the outlook for the country's domestic production over the next five years looks bleak, Mining Weekly wrote.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Negotiators for Hecla Mining Co. and the United Steelworkers convened Aug. 3 in a bid to end a strike that started March 13 at the company's Lucky Friday silver mine in Idaho, S&P Global Platts wrote, citing Hecla spokesman Luke Russell.

* A new gold explorer, Riversgold Ltd., is moving toward a listing on the ASX with the planned launch of an IPO to raise up to A$8.0 million. Australia's second-largest gold miner, Evolution Mining Ltd., has agreed to become a cornerstone investor with a firm commitment of A$2.5 million, which will give it a stake of between 13.6% and 16.2% in Riversgold.

* Kinross Gold Corp. President and CEO Paul Rollinson said in a conference call that the company is not considering resuming dividends "at the present time" but it is a "question we might entertain post-2020." The gold miner cut dividends in 2013 under pressure from a falling gold price. Rollinson also described a conservative strategy for mergers and acquisitions.

* Hudbay Minerals Inc. swung to net profit of US$25.6 million in the second quarter from a year-ago net loss of US$5.7 million. The company, however, registered year-over-year production declines in copper, gold and silver.

* Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd. booked record earned gold equivalent output of 10,863 ounces in the second quarter, an increase of 12% over the same quarter in 2016. The company's net earnings attributable to shareholders fell to C$11.0 million, from C$15.7 million in the year-ago period, mainly due to a foreign exchange loss and the absence of dividend income following the sale of its shares in Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corp.

* First Majestic Silver Corp.'s net earnings for the second quarter declined to US$1.4 million, from US$6.1 million in the year-ago period, as revenues fell 9% to US$60.1 million. The company reduced its planned capital expenses for the year by US$17.5 million to US$106.5 million due to an unexpected weakness in cash flows caused by a number of labor issues and work stoppages.

* De Grey Mining Ltd. will proceed toward a pre-feasibility study incorporating the Indee and Turner River gold projects in Western Australia's Pilbara region after a scoping study estimated the combined project will produce about 290,000 ounces of gold over a five-year life, delivering an undiscounted pretax net cash flow of A$112 million based on a gold price of US$1,250 per ounce.

* Auryn Resources Inc. acquired the rights to the Tacora and Andamarca properties contiguous to its Huilacollo gold project in Peru through two separate transactions with private Peruvian owners.

* The first half of the year saw the global demand for gold drop 14% because of a decline in purchases made by exchange-traded funds, Reuters reported, citing a report from the World Gold Council.

* According to Global Mining Research Ltd., Australia's top gold producers, including Evolution Mining Ltd. and Northern Star Resources Ltd., may be required to take their US$5 billion acquisition spree to the U.S. and Canada to add operations of sufficient scale and quality, Bloomberg News reported.

* Greece plans to launch arbitration proceedings by the end of August to resolve development issues related to Eldorado Gold Corp.'s projects in the country.

* The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled in favor of Skeena Resources Ltd. regarding a dispute over the company's option to earn a 100% equity interest in the mineral and Crown-granted claims called the Elizabeth gold property.

BULK COMMODITIES

* China Shenhua Energy Co. Ltd. temporarily suspended or reduced operations at its Ha'erwusu and Baorixile coal mines in the country starting this month due to a delay in land requisition for the mines.

* Revenues from Itochu Corp.'s metals and minerals business rose to ¥54.8 billion in the first quarter of its fiscal 2018, ¥17.6 billion more than in the year-ago period, on the back of higher iron ore and coal prices along with increased sales volume from the iron ore business.

* The number of fatalities recorded in U.S. coal mines increased to 10 so far this year, compared to a record low of eight deaths last year, the Associated Press reported.

* Exports from Queensland, Australia, reached a record of A$65.9 billion over the last 12 months, bolstered by a significant surge in the value of its coal exports, Mining Weekly wrote.

* Mitsui & Co. Ltd. posted a ¥35.1 billion year-over-year increase in profit attributable to owners of the parent for its mineral and metal resources segment, to ¥54.4 billion for the first quarter of its fiscal 2018.

* The government of the Solomon Islands granted Pacific Bauxite Ltd. prospecting license PL04/17, covering the South West New Georgia bauxite project, for up to seven years.

SPECIALTY

* More than 130 miners have been evacuated from PJSC Alrosa's Mir underground diamond mine in eastern Siberia after water flooded the mine Aug. 4, Reuters reported. No casualties have been reported.

* Lucara Diamond Corp. reduced its annual guidance for recovered carats to between 265,000 and 285,000 carats, from the previous guidance of 290,000 to 310,000 carats, on the back of reduced mined ore volumes. The company also slashed its sales volume forecast for the year to between 260,000 and 275,000 carats, from the previous target of 290,000 to 310,000 carats.

* Australian Vanadium Ltd.'s focus is fixed on bringing its Gabanintha project in Western Australia into production as soon as possible, but the ASX-listed junior is keeping its options open when it comes to potential investment by the larger players.

* Redzone Resources Ltd. entered an option agreement with two vendors, securing an option to fully acquire the Lucky Mica claim group in Arizona, which covers the Fortner and Boyd lithium deposit.

* Tronox Ltd. signed a definitive agreement to sell its Alkali Chemicals business to Genesis Energy LP for US$1.33 billion in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the second half.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The value of mergers and acquisitions across the global mining sector rose 71% year over year in the second quarter to US$14.8 billion, driven by corporate activity in the precious metals sector, according to a new report by EY.

* Glencore Plc's global coal head, Peter Freyberg, said Australia should consider delaying its goal to fight climate change and prioritize the country's energy security and economic growth, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

S&P Global Platts and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

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