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In This List

Rio mulls closing NZ smelter; Protests may weigh on Antofagasta's FY'19 output

A Decade of Underperformance for Gold Discoveries

State of the Market: Mining Q1-2020

Mining Exploration Insights - April 2020

Mining Exploration Insights December


Rio mulls closing NZ smelter; Protests may weigh on Antofagasta's FY'19 output

TOP NEWS

Rio Tinto mulls closing New Zealand Aluminium Smelters

Rio Tinto, the majority shareholder of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd., intends to initiate a strategic review of the smelter to consider all options for its future, including possibly shutting it down. The review comes amid volatile international prices for aluminum, relatively high energy and transmission costs, and an upcoming refurbishment bill to keep one of the potlines operational.

Chilean protests may weigh on Antofagasta's FY'19 copper output

Antofagasta PLC flagged lower copper production in 2020 as it expects grades to decline at its Centinela operation in Chile before rising in 2021. It guided 2020 output at 725,000 to 755,000 tonnes, compared to its 2019 forecast of 750,000 to 790,000 tonnes. Its 2019 forecast includes a possible loss of about 5,000 tonnes of copper as ongoing protests in Chile may disrupt supply deliveries and workers' transport to its operations. Third-quarter copper output rose to 197,000 tonnes from 188,300 tonnes a year ago, and gold production jumped to 77,600 ounces from 48,100 ounces.

Norsk Hydro swings to Q3'19 loss on declining aluminum, alumina prices

Norsk Hydro ASA swung to a third-quarter loss of 1.39 billion Norwegian kroner, or 62 øre per share, against a year-ago profit of 925 million kroner, or 37 øre per share, as the company's realized alumina prices fell by a third and aluminum prices were down 19%. The company said the results mainly reflect a decrease in product prices, partly offset by lower raw material costs and positive effects from higher production in Brazil after the production embargo was lifted in May.

BASE METALS

* Workers at Chilean state copper miner Codelco plan to join a general strike against a hike in public transport costs, shortly after unionized workers at BHP Group's Escondida copper mine downed tools for at least one shift, Reuters reported, citing the head of the union group.

* First Quantum Minerals Ltd. achieved commercial production at its Cobre Panama copper mine in Panama on Sept. 1. The company said it achieved the milestone a month earlier than expected due to a rapid ramp-up of production by the project construction and operations teams.

* Western Areas Ltd.'s Forrestania nickel mine in Western Australia produced 5,259 tonnes of nickel and sold 5,051 tonnes in the first quarter of the company's fiscal 2020.

* Methane poisoning may have been to blame for the deaths of three miners deep below the surface of PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co.'s Taimyr mine in the Arctic Circle, Interfax reported, citing an "informed source." A company representative told S&P Global Market Intelligence that it was unclear if the deaths were the result of methane poisoning but emphasized that the mine's operations were unaffected and continuing.

* OZ Minerals Ltd. will use winning data models from a crowdsourcing campaign as the basis for its maiden drill program at the Mount Woods copper property, part of its flagship Prominent Hill in South Australia, Reuters reported, citing CEO Andrew Cole. Three teams from Australia and Singapore topped the crowdsourcing challenge, which offered up project data and a A$1 million prize pool, the report said.

PRECIOUS METALS

* With a slew of North American gold miners on the cusp of releasing third-quarter earnings, analysts said they expect to see expanding margins on the back of a stronger gold price quarter over quarter. "Quarterly cash flow is going to be a lot better because gold was US$1,309 per ounce last quarter," Haywood Securities analyst Kerry Smith said in an interview. "It's around US$1,474/oz this quarter," added Smith, who with other analysts noted that North America-listed gold miners largely appear to have kept costs under control amid gold's climb.

* West Africa is becoming a leading destination for gold producers and explorers, with miners attracted by the underexplored region's mostly shallow and relatively low-cost deposits concentrated in the gold-rich Birimian belts, Bloomberg News reported.

* Newmont Goldcorp Corp. is safely starting up production at the Peñasquito mine in Mexico after the illegal blockade was lifted Oct. 8. The company has started an approximately 10-day process of bringing the operation back to full production with the support of the state and federal governments, including an ongoing police presence.

* Superior Gold Inc. expects to produce between 70,000 and 85,000 ounces of gold per year at all-in sustaining cash costs below US$1,100 per ounce from its Plutonic gold underground mine in Western Australia from 2020 to 2024. The company is planning an open pit that it expects to boost Plutonic's annual production to at least 100,000 ounces of gold.

* Fresnillo PLC's total silver output in the third quarter, including silverstream, dipped 14.5% yearly to 13.3 million ounces, mainly due to the expected lower ore grade at the Saucito Fresnillo and San Julian mines.

* Centamin PLC's Sukari gold mine in Egypt produced 98,045 ounces of gold in the third quarter, a 17% decrease on a yearly basis. Gold sold from the operation inched up 2% to 108,826 ounces.

* Hochschild Mining PLC's attributable silver equivalent output decreased to 9.83 million ounces in the third quarter from 10.11 Moz in the year-ago period.

* Russian-Zimbabwean joint venture Great Dyke Investments (Pvt.) Ltd. is in advanced talks to secure about US$500 million in funds to build phase one of the Darwendale platinum group metals mining and smelting complex in Zimbabwe.

* Nord Gold SE signed an exclusive agreement with Total Eren SA and Africa Energy Management Platform to build a 13-MW solar photovoltaic power plant that will provide 100% renewable energy to the company's Bissa and Bouly gold mines in Burkina Faso.

* A court hearing on Panthera Resources PLC's petition against the rejection of a prospecting license application for the Bhukia gold-copper joint in India was canceled twice this month due to staffing shortages. The company awaits a new date for the hearing.

* RTG Mining Inc. closed its acquisition of a 90% stake in the Chanach gold-copper project in the Kyrgyz Republic from White Cliff Minerals Ltd.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.'s third-quarter net income slumped year over year to US$90.9 million from US$437.8 million due to tumbling sales margins and volumes for pellets. The year-ago results included a one-time gain of US$228 million related to historical changes in foreign exchange. Adjusted EBITDA fell to US$144.1 million from US$250.3 million.

* Steelmaker and recycler Commercial Metals Co.'s net sales in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2019 rose 18% year over year to US$1.54 billion, reflecting increased capacity from its previously announced rebar assets acquisition. Net earnings for the period jumped to US$86.1 million from US$51.6 million.

* BHP Group and Vale SA joint venture Samarco Mineração SA agreed to pay 40 million Brazilian reais in damages resulting from the 2015 collapse of the Fundão tailings dam, part of its namesake Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil, Notícias de Mineração reported.

* China's semifinished steel imports soared 418% year over year to 370,000 tonnes in September amid tighter restrictions on scrap metal imports, which fell almost 84% year over year in the first nine months of 2019 to 180,000 tonnes, Reuters reported, citing customs data.

* A proposed deal by Ataer Holdings, a subsidiary of Turkish military pension fund Oyak Yatirim Ortakligi AS, to save insolvent British Steel Corp. Ltd. is in danger of collapsing as some of the steelmaker's biggest suppliers are refusing to take price cuts, the Financial Times reported, citing sources close to the matter.

* Russian potash producer PJSC Uralkali confirmed the placement of US$500 million of five-year eurobonds, with the order book oversubscribed twice.

* Swiss steelmaker Schmolz + Bickenbach AG is planning a capital increase of between CHF189 million and CHF 350 million amid a "steel crisis" driven by a weak car market. Major shareholder Martin Haefner pledged up to 325 million francs, potentially increasing his stake to at least 37.5%.

* Swedish steelmaker SSAB AB (publ) posted a third-quarter net profit of 184 million Swedish kronor, plummetting year over year from 1.20 billion kronor due to weak demand in Europe and the planned midterm repair of one of the blast furnaces at its Raahe facility in Finland.

* Dutch aluminum company Constellium SE's third-quarter shipments climbed 4% yearly to 395,000 tonnes from 379,000 tonnes thanks to higher shipments in the packaging and automotive rolled products segment, partly driven by its consolidation of a manufacturing plant in Bowling Green, Ky.

* PJSC PhosAgro joined the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform. The association includes international companies and organizations involved in fertilizer production, research in the field of fertilizers, phosphorus management and recycling, and mineral and organic fertilizer innovation.

* Teck Resources Ltd. deployed two electric buses to transport workers to and from its Fording River and Greenhills metallurgical coal operations in British Columbia to help lower greenhouse gas emissions as the new buses will replace diesel buses in its passenger bus fleet.

* The government of New South Wales plans to introduce legislation to stop considering international emissions when considering approving mines in the Australian state, The Australian reported. The move was prompted by a February court decision that rejected Gloucester Resources Ltd.'s appeal to build the Rocky Hill coal project in the state. The Minerals Council of Australia welcomed the news.

* South Africa's environment ministry rejected a plan by Anglo Operations (Pty.) Ltd. and Canyon Coal to build the Palmietkuilen coal mine in the Gauteng province due to the mine's expected impact on an important agricultural area, Fin24.com reported, citing Netwerk24.com. Palmietkuilen was projected to produce 200,400 tonnes of coal monthly for nearly 50 years, the report said.

SPECIALTY

* Tianqi Lithium Corp. posted a loss of 53.9 million Chinese yuan in the third quarter, swinging from a profit of 379.7 million yuan in the prior year. The Chinese lithium producer said it expects its full-year earnings to drop between 94.6% and 96.4%, to between 80 million yuan and 120 million yuan, due to decreased lithium prices, increased financial expenses and losses caused by a depreciated yuan as it had a large amount of liabilities in foreign currencies.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* China is likely to emerge as the world's first nation mining seabed minerals once global rules are approved in 2020, Reuters reported, citing Michael Lodge, general-secretary of the International Seabed Authority.

* In an open letter, investors with a combined US$11 trillion in assets urged the Australian mining sector to stop supporting lobby groups promoting policies that contradict the Paris Agreement on climate change, Bloomberg News reported. The investors included Aberdeen Standard Investments, M&G Investments and Legal & General Investment Management.

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