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Brazilian court orders arrest of Vale workers; Exxaro's FY'18 earnings rise 7%


Brazilian court orders arrest of Vale workers, contractors over Feijao disaster

A court in Brazil ordered 11 Vale SA employees and two contractors who worked for auditor TÜV SÜD AG to be arrested and charged following the fatal tailings dam breach at the Feijao mine in January, Reuters reported. The decision comes barely a month after the workers were released by an appeals court order. Vale said the arrests are unnecessary given the people have already given their statements to authorities.

Exxaro reports 7% YOY increase in FY'18 earnings

Exxaro Resources Ltd. reported a 7% increase in headline earnings to 21.59 South African rand per share for 2018, while revenue for the year jumped 12% to 25.5 billion rand and EBITDA rose 1% to 7.3 billion rand. The company paid a final dividend of 5.55 rand per share, increasing the full-year dividend by 55% to 10.85 rand.

Foreign-controlled Indonesian miners to begin off-loading shares, official says

Six foreign-controlled miners operating in Indonesia plan to off-load some of their shares in the near term, in line with the country's mining regulations, Reuters reported, citing Yunus Saifulhak, director of minerals at Indonesia's Energy and Mining Ministry. These companies include Vale's 60%-controlled PT Vale Indonesia Tbk., Newcrest Mining Ltd.'s 75%-owned PT Nusa Hamahera Mineral and Kingsrose Mining Ltd.'s 85%-controlled PT Natarang Mining.


* S&P Global Market Intelligence maintains a constructive short-term outlook for zinc prices after London Metal Exchange three-month prices increased in line with expectations so far in 2019. LME three-month zinc prices traded at US$2,788/t on March 6, up 13.0% from the end of 2018.

* The Russian Direct Investment Fund completed a joint deal with the Russia-China Investment Fund and a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund to acquire a 9.53% stake in The ONEXIM Group's mining company, Intergeo, which is developing the Kingash nickel deposit and Ak-Sug copper deposit in Russia, Reuters reported. Total investments to develop and build infrastructure are expected to exceed 178 billion Russian rubles.

* Hudbay Minerals Inc. reached an agreement with United Copper & Moly LLC to purchase the latter's 7.95% interest in the Rosemont copper project in Arizona and to terminate all of its remaining earn-in and off-take rights. Hudbay will pay US$75 million, comprising US$45 million in cash upfront and three annual US$10 million installments starting July 1, 2022.


* The reported all-in sustaining costs of the largest gold producers dropped to a weighted average of US$826/oz in the fourth quarter of 2018, a 5% decrease from the same companies' weighted average in the previous quarter. The drop came even as most of the companies included in the analysis saw quarter-over-quarter increases in all-in sustaining costs, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence research.

* Fortuna Silver Mines Inc.'s full-year 2018 silver output increased 6% to about 7.98 million ounces due to higher head grades, while gold production declined 4% to 53,517 ounces. The miner's adjusted net income for the year slid to US$38.4 million from US$48.7 million.

* INV Metals Inc. said a March 24 referendum called by the Ecuadorian National Electoral Council to ban mining activities in the Girón Canton subdivision of Ecuador's Azuay province has been suspended. The referendum, should it proceed, may require the Canada-listed explorer to relocate the processing and tailings facility for its Loma Larga gold-copper-silver property.

* Solstice Gold Corp. secured permits for a diamond drilling program of up to 20,000 meters at its Kahuna gold project in Nunavut, Canada.

* SSR Mining Inc. priced a previously announced offering of US$200 million of unsecured convertible senior notes due 2039.

* Sunstone Metals Ltd. expects to start drilling at the Bramaderos gold-copper project in southern Ecuador within the next two to three weeks, after the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment approved the project's environmental impact assessment.

* K92 Mining Inc. will go ahead with an expansion of the Kainantu gold mine in Papua New Guinea, doubling capacity to 400,000 tonnes a year. Capital costs related to the expansion would be about US$15 million over the next year.

* Empire Metals Corp. is spinning off the Buck Lake platinum project in Ontario, its Fox Creek lithium project in Alberta and other Ontario gold projects. Details will be announced shortly.

* Green River Gold Corp. entered into a letter of intent with an independent third party to acquire over 8,200 hectares of mineral rights and 640 hectares of placer rights in the Cariboo mining district of British Columbia.

* Hammer Metals Ltd. agreed to acquire the Bronzewing South gold project in Western Australia from Carnegie Exploration Pty. Ltd. for A$550,000 in shares.

* Sunvest Minerals Corp. terminated its proposed acquisition of the McKinnon Hemlo West gold property in Ontario as it plans to focus on exploration in British Columbia's Golden Triangle region.


* K+S AG expects a significant rise in EBITDA in 2019 to between €700 million and €850 million, from €606 million in 2018, boosted by higher fertilizer prices and rising potash volumes after a severe drought in Germany halted production at its main mine in 2018.

* Russian steelmaker PJSC Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works said its shipments of metal products within the Commonwealth of Independent States grew almost 6% year over year in 2018 to 9.03 million tonnes.

* China Coal Energy Co. Ltd.'s production of commercial coal in February rose 34.8% year over year to 7.21 million tonnes, while sales climbed 7.2% to 13.8 million tonnes.

* The Karlka Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corp. is in talks with BHP Group to sublease the Ethel Creek and Marillana cattle stations in Western Australia's Pilbara region, The West Australian reported. BHP offered the properties for sublease in 2018 amid plans to exit cattle production after a comprehensive review of its operations.

* U.S. mines responsible for 1.9 million tonnes of coal production in 2018 were idle in the last quarter of the year, an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis shows. A majority of the idlings were at mines in Central and Northern Appalachia.

* A federal appeals court denied Murray Energy Corp.'s attempt to challenge a federal labor board's determination that the company used unfair labor practices.

* Construction of phase one of MC Mining Ltd.'s Makhado hard coking and thermal coal project in South Africa will begin in the third quarter after meeting certain criteria, including finalizing about US$20 million in debt funding, securing thermal coal off-take agreements, and a US$30 million equity raising.

* China's daily aluminum output decreased 2% in January and February due to low prices, which caused smelters to shut production, producing a total of 5.69 million tonnes in the first two months of 2019, representing a 5% rise from a year-ago period, Reuters wrote, citing the National Bureau of Statistics. In a separate report, the newswire said the country's daily steel output rose to 2.54 million tonnes in January and February from 2.32 million tonnes in the same two months of 2018 as mills ramped up production due to firm steel margins and less environmental restrictions. Total steel output for the period rose 9.2% year over year to 149.58 million tonnes.

* After a fatal January roof collapse at a mine in Yulin in Shaanxi province in China resulted in suspended operations in the coal-producing city, several mines there will soon resume coal production, Caixin reported. The mines will have a capacity of 130 million tonnes per year, according to a list of mines released by the city.


* China, the largest producer of rare earth elements in the world, also emerged as the biggest importer of the minerals in 2018, Reuters reported, citing analysts. The country's imports of rare earth oxides and oxide equivalents soared 167% year over year to 41,400 tonnes amid an industrywide crackdown on illegal production, according to consultancy Adamas Intelligence.

* Southern Copper Corp. is considering investing in a Canadian miner-owned lithium project in Mexico, which has also drawn interest from a Chinese company, Reuters reported. A spokesperson could not confirm if CEO Oscar Gonzalez was referring to Bacanora Lithium PLC.

* Galan Lithium Ltd. founder and Managing Director Juan Pablo Vargas de la Vega is confident of the substantial upside in and around the company's Candelas project in Argentina despite Galan's share price halving from an all-time high after making a high-grade lithium discovery Feb. 13 to a disappointing result March 11.

* Gem Diamonds Ltd. fetched about US$8.8 million from the sale of a 13.33-carat pink diamond recovered at the Letseng mine in Lesotho. The selling price was a record of US$656,933 per carat for a diamond recovered from the mine.

* Premier African Minerals Ltd.'s share price rose about 18% on March 13 after the company disclosed that the Zimbabwean government proposed a US$6 million investment in the RHA tungsten mine, which has been closed since January 2018 due to a lack of funds.

* Liontown Resources Ltd. will conduct an up to 10,000-meter reverse circulation drilling program at its Buldania lithium project in Western Australia in the second quarter. The program will target the Anna lithium discovery, with the data to be used as a basis for a maiden resource estimate.

* Wealth Minerals Ltd. secured a four-year option to acquire 1,749 hectares of vanadium claims in New Brunswick known as the Meductic property by paying C$720,000 in cash and issuing 2.5 million shares.

* Fission 3.0 Corp. signed a binding agreement to grant Rhyolite Lithium Corp. an option to earn up to an 80% interest in the company's mining concessions in Peru by spending up to C$22 million over five years.

* Graphite One Resources Inc. obtained shareholder approval to convert its existing debt to Taiga Mining Co. Inc. into 13.3 million shares, increasing the latter's stake in the company to 39.5% from 19.22%.

* Triton Minerals Ltd. signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with Qingdao Jinhui Graphite Co. Ltd. to develop the Ancuabe graphite project in Mozambique. The parties expect to execute a binding agreement within six months, which would include off-take of up to 15,000 tonnes per annum of graphite concentrate.

* Pensana Metals Ltd. tapped Wood Group to execute a preliminary feasibility study for the expedited development of the Longonjo neodymium-praseodymium project in Angola.


* BNP Paribas Asset Management will stop investing in companies that get more than 10% of their revenue from thermal coal from the start of 2020 as part of its plan to reduce economic risk within its portfolios as coal becomes an increasingly unpopular source for power generation.

* Financing levels improved by 38% month over month in February, but the year-to-date total is still well below the same period of 2018, according to the Metals and Mining Research team of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Total funds raised for gold were up by US$6.6 million month over month, but the number of completed financings dropped to 50 from January's 55. Funding raised for base/other metals was up 26% on a monthly basis to US$45 million in 30 financings after falling to a 35-month low in January.

* After backlash from indigenous advocates, Brazilian Mining Secretary Alexandre Vidigal de Oliveira defended the government's plan to open the country's indigenous reserves for mining, saying mining in an environmentally sustainable manner will bring needed economic growth, Reuters reported.

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