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Rio Tinto's FY'19 iron ore output slips 3%; Barrick's Q4'19 gold output up QOQ


Rio Tinto's FY'19 iron ore production, shipments slip 3%

Rio Tinto's fourth-quarter 2019 Pilbara iron ore production and shipments slipped 3% and 1% year over year to 83.6 million tonnes and 86.8 Mt, respectively. Full-year iron ore production and shipments from Pilbara, meanwhile, both decreased 3% to 326.7 Mt and 327.4 Mt, with the lower shipments attributed to poor weather and operational challenges in the first half of 2019. For 2020, Rio Tinto expects Pilbara iron ore output to total 330 Mt to 343 Mt.

Barrick's Q4'19 gold output, sales rise QOQ

Barrick Gold Corp. reported preliminary gold production of 1.44 million ounces for the fourth quarter of 2019, rising from 1.31 Moz in the third quarter of 2019. Gold sales climbed to 1.41 Moz from 1.32 Moz, with average gold prices reaching US$1,481 per ounce. Financials for 2019 will be released Feb. 12. Cost of sales in the December 2019 quarter is expected to be in line with the September 2019 quarter, when Barrick's share came in at US$1,065/oz.

Severstal's Q4'19 crude steel, hot metal production down QOQ

PAO Severstal's crude steel production in the fourth quarter of 2019 slid 10% from the previous quarter to 2.71 million tonnes due to short-term maintenance works at the basic oxygen furnace and electric arc furnace facilities and lower electric arc furnace production in the period after the sale of the Balakovo mini-mill in the third quarter. Maintenance works at the blast furnace facilities caused hot metal output to dip 4% to 2.36 Mt. Meanwhile, consolidated steel product sales declined 6% to 2.65 Mt.


* Ecuador exported the first 22,000 tonnes of copper concentrate from the Mirador copper mine, owned by a joint venture between Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Co. Ltd. and China Railway Construction Corp. Ltd., to the Chinese city of Tongling, Reuters reported. The shipment was valued at about US$25 million by Ecuador's energy ministry, the report said.

* Juan Carlos Liu, Peru's Minister of Energy and Mines, said Southern Copper Corp.'s Tia Maria copper project will not begin operations before 2024, which gives the government a few years to develop a dialogue with local communities regarding local water supply and other environmental concerns, La República reported.

* PolyMet Mining Corp.'s subsidiary Poly Met Mining Inc. will file a petition for review of the NorthMet copper project to the Minnesota Supreme Court, seeking to overturn a state Court of Appeals decision remanding the company's permit to mine and dam safety permits to the Department of Natural Resources.


* Sibanye Gold Ltd. said 1,142 jobs would be retrenched as part of a restructuring at its struggling South African Marikana platinum group metals operation, acquired from Lonmin PLC last year. In addition to the retrenched employees, the number of contractors was also reduced by 1,709, while 1,612 employees accepted voluntary separation packages, 53 retired and 259 jobs were cut through natural attrition.

* Resolute Mining Ltd.'s gold production in the fourth quarter of 2019 totaled 105,293 ounces at all-in sustaining cost of US$1,419 per ounce, while full-year production totaled 384,731 ounces at AISC of US$1,090/oz. The miner expects full-year 2020 output of 500,000 ounces at AISC of US$980/oz.

* For full-year 2019, Coeur Mining Inc.'s total gold production reached 359,418 ounces, meeting the miner's guidance of between 334,000 and 372,000 ounces. Silver produced totaled 11.7 million ounces, below the guidance of 12.2 million ounces to 14.7 million ounces. Zinc production was at 17.1 million pounds, well below the guidance of 25.0 million pounds to 40.0 million pounds, while lead production was at 16.6 million pounds, also well below the guidance of between 20.0 million pounds and 35.0 million pounds.

* Mandalay Resources Corp.'s production in the fourth quarter of 2019 from its Bjorkdal and Costerfield mines totaled 15,739 ounces of gold, higher than the 15,430 ounces of gold produced in the same period of 2018. Antimony produced from Costerfield totaled 684 tonnes during the period, higher than the 561 tonnes in the fourth quarter of the previous year. The company has set a guidance of between 95,000 and 109,000 gold equivalent ounces with an average all-in cost per ounce of gold equivalent between US$1,195 and US$1,345.

* The World Gold Council anticipates an increase in gold investment demand in 2020 due to financial and geopolitical uncertainty as well as low interest rates, Mining Review Africa reported. Meanwhile, the council launched its Qaurum analytics tool that would help understand how gold reacts under diverse macroeconomic and geopolitical conditions. Qaurum "provides investors with a framework for evaluating gold's performance consistent with approaches used for other asset classes," said John Reade, chief market strategist at the council.

* A consortium of Chinese investors, led by Fosun International Ltd., plans to abandon a proposed acquisition of Russian gold miner GV Gold, RBC reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

* Proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass Lewis & Co. LLC recommended Detour Gold Corp. shareholders to vote for the proposed transaction by Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Detour Gold.

* Black Tusk Resources Inc. closed the acquisition of Chalice Gold Corp. and staked some additional claims to expand its newly acquired South Rim project.


* Vale SA decided to stop the operations of the waste and tailings pile at the Esperança iron ore mine in Brazil, soon after the company took control of Ferrous Resources Ltd. last year. Vale said it took the preventive measure to conduct a technical evaluation and carry out work to improve safety at the site.

* Brazil's Federal Public Prosecutor Office aims to resume a 155 billion Brazilian reais lawsuit against Vale and BHP Group joint venture Samarco Mineração SA, should the three firms fail to comply with agreements intended to aid the people affected by the 2015 collapse of a tailings dam at the Samarco iron ore mine, a source told Notícias de Mineração.

* A key portion of a Brazilian investigation over the January 2019 disintegration of a tailings dam at Vale's Feijao iron ore mine is set to conclude in June, following the local police's consultation with foreign experts to aid in pinpointing the causes of the disaster, Reuters reported.

* Russian iron ore exports to China via the Trans-Baikal railway shot up 62% to 1.7 million tonnes in 2019, state-owned JSC Russian Railways' Trans-Baikal subsidiary, known as ZabZD, reported.

* Rio Tinto's majority-owned subsidiary, Iron Ore Co. of Canada Inc., executed a pension risk transfer deal with Sun Life Financial Inc.

* China's full-year 2019 aluminum output dropped 0.9% to 35.04 million tonnes as major smelters underwent unplanned outages, Reuters reported. The newswire also reported that the country's crude steel output jumped 8.3% to 996.34 Mt, setting a second consecutive annual record.

* Anglo American PLC's workers at its Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil's Minas Gerais state developed a productivity and safety project, which aims to help the miner save up to 2 million Brazilian reais per year, Notícias de Mineração reported. According to the diversified mining major, the workers developed the project with a new logistics system that would allow the arrival of imported inputs by rail, with the movement of 1,800 tons of iron ore per year.

* Norwegian state-owned Statkraft AS signed a long-term agreement to supply 20% of steel producer CMC Poland Sp. z o.o.'s power consumption at a fixed price. The contract — part of a growing wave in Europe of so-called virtual, or financial, power purchase agreements — will start in 2021 and will coexist with a physical supply contract.

* The German government presented a plan outlining the financing and timeline of the country's exit from coal power generation, putting the country on a path to eliminating the fuel from its mix by the late-2030s. As part of the deal, the coal-heavy states of Brandenburg, North Rhine Westphalia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt are set to receive €14 billion until 2038 at the latest to help them through the transition. Utility RWE AG will receive €2.6 billion in compensation for shuttering its lignite powered plants.


* Lucara Diamond Corp. entered into a collaboration with Louis Vuitton and the HB Company to manufacture its historic, record-setting 1,758-carat Sewelô diamond recovered from its Karowe mine in Botswana. Lucara will receive an up-front non-material fee for the diamond and retain a 50% interest in the individual polished diamonds that will result. Further, 5% of all the retail sales proceeds generated from the historic collection will be invested directly back into Botswana through Lucara's community-based initiatives.

* Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA will issue and sell US$400 million in 4.250% senior unsecured notes due 2050, which will be used for general corporate purposes, including the funding of its capital expenditure program and the reduction of its outstanding debt.

* Juan Carlos Liu, Peru's energy and mining minister, said he is confident that the country would have regulations for the domestic exploitation of lithium prepared this year, Reuters reported.

* Fortum Oyj is acquiring 100% shareholding in CrisolteQ Oy, a Finnish specialist in recycling of valuable metals in lithium-ion batteries, for an undisclosed price. The acquisition will strengthen Fortum's position in the recycling of high-value materials within Europe and will support its existing battery business.

* BlackEarth Minerals NL is fast-tracking the progress of its Maniry graphite project in Madagascar, with off-take discussions and bulk sample testing ongoing.


* The U.S. Senate passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement 89-10, bringing a the two-year-plus process to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement almost to a close. The deal, passed in the House on Dec. 19, 2019, now moves to President Donald Trump's desk for signing, which the White House has indicated will come soon. After Trump's signature, it is then up to Canada to ratify the deal for full implementation in North America, as Mexico has already ratified the deal.

* Indiana Resources Ltd. and Winshear Gold Corp. will seek talks ahead of arbitration claiming that Tanzania breached bilateral investment treaties for placing their respective nickel and gold assets up for tender. Both notifications trigger a six-month period to resolve the issue with the government, after which they will go to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes for arbitration.

* Western Australia regulator Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety advised miners to prepare and review their contingency plans during cyclone season, which has started in some regions within the state.

* The U.S. Treasury Department will allow a 90-day period through April 9 to wind down transactions in Iran's construction, mining, manufacturing and textile sectors that were affected by the new U.S. sanctions last week, Reuters reported.

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