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BHP, Vale to provide combined US$229M package to Samarco

TOP NEWS

BHP to provide up to US$181M funds to Samarco; Vale to contribute US$48M

BHP Billiton Group will grant a short-term facility of up to US$42 million to its Samarco Mineração SA joint venture with Vale SA to fund ongoing repair works, restart planning, and maintenance of facilities in Brazil. A further US$6 million will be provided to cover fees payable to experts appointed in connection with the remediation and compensation programs, while the company will extend US$133 million to the Renova Foundation to undertake remediation and compensation programs identified under the March 2016 agreement between Samarco Mineração, Vale and the Brazilian authorities. Vale, likewise, intends to contribute up to US$48 million in short-term facilities to the Brazilian unit to support its operations in the first half of 2018.

ThyssenKrupp flags potential IPO of JV with Tata Steel, signs deal to secure jobs

ThyssenKrupp AG flagged a potential IPO of its planned steel joint venture with Tata Steel Ltd. within the next six years, Reuters wrote. Separately, Thyssenkrupp struck a deal with its workers to secure steel plants and jobs, removing a major obstacle to the planned merger of its European operations with Tata Steel Ltd.'s European unit. The agreement foresees no forced layoffs or major site closures until Sept. 30, 2026, and will require approval from the members of IG Metall, Germany's most powerful union. Additionally, Thyssenkrupp said it was possible that the planned steel joint venture with Tata Steel could be listed within the next six years.

Wesfarmers to sell Curragh mine for A$700M

Wesfarmers Ltd. agreed to sell its Curragh coal mine in Queensland, Australia, to Coronado Coal Group for A$700 million, under a deal that includes a value share mechanism linked to future metallurgical coal prices. Wesfarmers expects to book a post-tax profit on sale of around A$100 million. The company will also receive 25% of Curragh's export coal revenue generated above a realized metallurgical coal price of US$145 per tonne, paid quarterly over the next two years.

DIVERSIFIED

* BHP Billiton's stock closed at A$29.10 in Australia on Dec. 22, the highest since May 2015, amid a Christmas enthusiasm for resources stocks, which also lifted Rio Tinto shares to A$74.28, The Sydney Morning Herald wrote.

BASE METALS

* Teck Resources Ltd. reached a new wage agreement with a union representing about a quarter of the workforce at its Quebrada Blanca copper mine in Chile, ending the union's eight-day strike at the mine, Reuters reported.

* Environmental activists slammed the Northern Territory government, as it claimed that no report exists on the accidental dumping of thousands of tonnes of waste rock by Glencore Plc's McArthur River zinc mine, The Guardian reported. According to the report, the waste material was dumped in a wrong location, which then combusted and emitted sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

* Codelco will not require a new bond issue to raise funding for its structural projects and refinance debt until up to 2020, as the Chilean state miner has the necessary funding for its operations next year, Diario Financiero reported, citing a statement by CEO Nelson Pizarro during a congressional hearing.

* Finders Resources Ltd.'s proved and probable ore reserves at the Wetar copper project in Indonesia stood at 9.3 million tonnes at 2.1% copper for 196,000 contained tonnes as of Dec. 1, after depletion from copper cathode production of 32,000 tonnes.

* Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. said that federal and state permitting for its Pebble copper property in Alaska will kick off Dec. 22, with the company's Pebble Limited Partnership subsidiary scheduled to file for a U.S. Clean Water Act 404 permit.

PRECIOUS METALS

* About 1,800 workers at Pan African Resources Plc's flagship Barberton gold mine in South Africa embarked on a wildcat strike in a dispute over living allowance, Reuters reported, citing an industry source. The labor action was also called to protest the dismissal of two of the union leaders.

* A civil court in the Colombian city of Ibagué ordered AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. to cease exploration work in gold concessions granted inside the central forest reserve, La República reported. Meanwhile, the court ordered local environmental authorities to verify whether the properties where the miner was authorized to explore are eligible for extractive activities.

* Yamana Gold Inc. reached an agreement to sell Canadian gold exploration assets, including the Kirkland Lake and Hammond Reef gold projects, to Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. for US$162.5 million. The assets are held by the 50/50 Canadian Malartic joint venture between Yamana and Agnico Eagle.

* Pretium Resources Inc. submitted an application to British Columbia's Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to increase the production rate at its Brucejack gold mine to 3,800 tonnes per day. The estimated CapEx for the mill capacity upgrade is less than US$25 million.

* Vector Resources Ltd. signed a heads of agreement with Fimosa Capital Ltd. and Mongbwalu Gold Mines SA to establish a new joint venture for the proposed development of the Adidi-Kanga gold mine in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The joint venture will aim to complete a definitive feasibility study on the project in 2018.

* GBM Resources Ltd. agreed to acquire Minjar Gold Pty. Ltd.'s Twin Hills gold project in Queensland, Australia, for deferred payments of a total A$1.5 million in cash and 50 million common shares.

* Pan American Silver Corp.'s board approved a US$37.8 million capital investment to construct and develop the La Morocha deposit at its Joaquin silver-gold project in Argentina up to commercial production, based on the results of a preliminary feasibility study.

* The Veladero gold project in Argentina, held by Barrick Gold Corp. and Shandong Gold Mining Co. Ltd., will be renamed as Minera del Sol, Diario Jornada reported, citing Barrick's executive director for Argentina, Fernando Giannoni.

* NewCastle Gold Ltd. and Anfield Gold Corp. were granted a final order by the Supreme Court of British Columbia approving the previously announced plan of arrangement whereby the businesses will be combined with Trek Mining Inc. to create Equinox Gold Corp.

* Gateway Mining Ltd. signed a binding heads of agreement to acquire Omni Projects Pty. Ltd., which holds about 1,339 square kilometers of exploration licenses and applications, to expand its landholding at the Gidgee gold project in Western Australia to 300 square kilometers.

* Kalamazoo Resources Ltd. entered an option to acquire three gold projects, dubbed as DOM's Hill, Sisters and Marble Bar, in Western Australia, in a cash and share transaction.

* Anfield closed the previously announced sale of Chapleau Resources Ltd., which holds the Coringa gold project, to Serabi Gold Plc for US$22 million.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Alcoa Corp. intends to permanently close its Rockdale operations site in Texas, including the primary aluminum smelter, aluminum powder plant and associated buildings and equipment. The site has been fully curtailed since 2008. The company also agreed to divest its Portovesme primary aluminum smelter, fully curtailed since 2012 and shuttered since 2014, to the Italian state-owned Invitalia. The company expects to record an estimated charge of US$55 million in connection with the closure of Rockdale, and an estimated US$22 million reserve reduction in connection with the sale of the Italian smelter in the fourth quarter. The net earnings impact of the two actions is estimated to be negative 18 cents per share.

* TerraCom Ltd.'s Blair Athol thermal coal mine in Queensland, Australia, and Baruun Noyon Uul coking coal mine in Mongolia are now producing at nameplate production levels. The company forecasts to achieve a combined annualized production rate of 3.5 million tonnes per annum in 2018.

* Mount Gibson Iron Ltd. entered into a second iron ore off-take agreement with Shougang Group Co. Ltd. subsidiary SCIT Trading Ltd. regarding its Iron Hill mine in Western Australia, after terminating two of three previously entered off-take deals.

* Mechel PAO entered into a coke supply contract with HBIS Group Serbia Iron & Steel. Under the deal, Mechel's Moscow Coke & Gas Plant OAO will supply its Serbian partner with up to 120,000 tonnes of coke products or some 30,000 tonnes quarterly, with supplies to be made in January-December 2018.

SPECIALTY

* PJSC Alrosa's diamond production for 2018 is expected to reach 36.6 million carats, on the back of higher production at the Udachny and Severalmaz mines in Russia. The company's CapEx for next year is planned at 32 billion Russian rubles, as approved by its supervisory board.

* Forty-four people laid off from Oakbay Resources and Energy Ltd.'s Shiva uranium mine in South Africa did not receive their December pay as part of an agreed retrenchment deal with the Gupta-owned company, Mining Weekly reported, citing Democratic Alliance councilor Maritha Coetzee.

* Westgold Resources Ltd. intends to divest its lithium assets and royalties in Western Australia and provided an exclusive option to Triton Minerals Ltd. for such a deal involving the company's royalty holdings and exploration rights in the Mount Marion lithium project, and its royalty holdings in the Buldania lithium project. Westgold also started repairs to the crushing circuit at its Higginsville gold processing plant in Western Australia after an engineering fault was identified.

* Tango Mining Ltd. is acquiring a 75% interest in an alluvial diamond property in Botswana known as the Middlepits project from Metswedi Mining Pty. Ltd. The property consists of one prospecting license and was explored by De Beers SA in the 1970s.

* Six bidders, including Molibdenos y Metales SA, or Molymet; Chinese firms Suchuam Fulin Industrial Group, Shenzheng Matel Tech Co., and Gansu Daxiang Energy Technology; ROSATOM unit OJSC TVEL; and Korean conglomerate Samsung-POSCO, were short-listed as part of the tender offer process by Chilean development agency Corfo for the development of lithium projects in the country, El Mercurio reported. The winning bidder will be named in January 2018.

* South East Asia Resources Ltd. completed the acquisition of Centralist Pty. Ltd., which holds two lithium properties in Serbia.

* TNG Ltd. struck a deal with Carnegie Clean Energy's Energy Made Clean Ltd. unit to assess alternative power options for its preproduction-stage Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron ore project in Australia's Northern Territory.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The Philippines' Mines and Geosciences Bureau is pushing for the reversal of several administrative orders enacted by former environment secretary Regina Lopez next year, including a recommendation to remove the ban on open-pit mining, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

* The U.S. government sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, one of the biggest individual mining investors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for using his relationship with DRC President Joseph Kabila to act as a middleman for mining deals in the country, Bloomberg News wrote. According to the report, the country lost over US$1.36 billion in revenues between 2010 and 2012 over deals with Gertler-linked firms. As a result of the sanctions, assets held by Gertler within U.S. jurisdictions will be blocked and U.S. individuals are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

* The roller coaster ride of prices in the commodities market this year ended with a positive outlook as the majority of S&P Capital IQ's consensus price forecasts, as of Dec. 19, showed higher values compared with the 2016 price averages. A similar trend was present in the previous month's forecast.

S&P Capital IQ 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.