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US to lift sanctions on En+, Rusal; Noble Group completes restructuring

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COVID-19 Impact & Recovery: Private Equity

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Lithium prices rally cobalt prices correct

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COVID-19 Impact & Recovery: Investment Banking

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COVID-19 Impact & Recovery: Governments


US to lift sanctions on En+, Rusal; Noble Group completes restructuring

TOP NEWS

US to lift sanctions on En+, Rusal

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control intends to lift sanctions on En+ Group PLC, United Co. Rusal PLC and En+ unit JSC EuroSibEnergo within 30 days. Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who owns major stakes in the companies, will remain sanctioned, including all properties in which he owns over a 50% stake. Meanwhile, the London Metal Exchange said it plans to lift its suspension on Rusal's aluminum if the U.S. lifts its sanctions, Reuters reported.

Noble Group completes US$3.5B restructuring process

Noble Group Ltd. completed its US$3.45 billion restructuring, effective Dec. 20, and sold all of its assets to a new holding company, Noble Group Holdings Ltd. The shares in the new company are owned 70% by a senior creditor special-purpose vehicle, 20% by Noble Group's shareholders and 10% by a management special-purpose vehicle.

Codelco seals agreements to supply up to 300,000 tonnes of copper to 3 companies

Codelco agreed to sell 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes of copper each to Nexans SA, China Minmetals Corp. and Southwire Co. in rolling deals known as "evergreens" from 2019 to 2021, Reuters reported, citing sources close to the matter. Evergreens are contracts that are extended if both parties agree. Additionally, sources told the newswire that Codelco is negotiating a three-year deal with China Ordins Group Co. Ltd. and has signed a one-year deal with a unit of Jiangxi Copper Co. Ltd. Codelco is shifting its focus to customers requiring higher volumes, and its new strategy involves selling less to commodity traders.

DIVERSIFIED

* Following its $10.5 billion acquisition of U.S. oil and gas assets from BHP Group Ltd. at the end of October, London-based major BP PLC reportedly launched the sale of about $3 billion of its legacy U.S. assets to help pay for the purchase, Reuters reported, citing sources.

BASE METALS

* A-Cap Energy Ltd. entered into a definitive farm-in and joint venture agreement with Blackham Resources Ltd. to earn a 75% interest in the nickel, cobalt and associated metals of the latter's Wiluna project in Western Australia.

* The Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification in the Solomon Islands denied Axiom Mining Ltd.'s application for a prospecting license for the Kolosori deposit and requested further information for the application's Tenement D; both are part of the Isabel nickel project.

* Hammer Metals Ltd. outlined a maiden inferred resource estimate for the Jubilee copper-gold deposit of 1.4 million tonnes at 1.4% copper and 0.62 g/t gold containing 20,000 tonnes of copper and 28,000 ounces of gold. Jubilee is part of the Mount Frosty joint venture in Queensland, Australia, owned 51% by Hammer and 49% by Mount Isa Mines Ltd.

* MMG Ltd. entered into a US$10 million agreement with Minmetals North-Europe AB for the sale of about 10,000 dry metric tonnes of zinc concentrate from the company's Dugald River project in Queensland, Australia.

* Auryn Resources Inc. optioned to Corporacion Aceros Arequipa SA three mineral concessions within the Sombrero copper project in Peru. If the option is exercised, Auyrn and Aceros will form an 80/20 joint venture combining the 520-hectare Aceros concessions with 4,600 hectares of Auryn's 120,000-hectare Sombrero land position.

* A worker from contractor company Salfa died Dec. 19 in Codelco's El Teniente copper mine in Chile after falling 8 meters while working at the mine's tailings treatment plant. The Chilean state miner and local police forces are investigating the cause of the fatal accident, TV network 24 Horas reported.

* Separately, Codelco's investment plans in Ecuador are reportedly facing problems, daily La Tercera reported, citing sources familiar with the process. The Chilean state miner and its Ecuadorian counterpart, Enami EP, have not been able to determine what type of society they should form to develop the Llurimagua copper project in Ecuador in a joint venture, the sources said.

* Creditors of Doe Run Peru SRL appointed Carrizales Infraestructura & Servicios Públicos SCRL as the new liquidator firm in charge of the liquidation process of the company's La Oroya metallurgical complex and the Cobriza copper mine in Peru. Carrizales replaces Diriges, which resigned from the contract in November due to differences with the company's creditors, daily Gestion reported.

* MOD Resources Ltd. said positive assays from the A4 Dome target, combined with a preliminary conceptual underground mining study, confirmed its expansion potential for the T3 copper project, part of the Botswana property.

* Alara Resources Ltd. agreed to sell 19% of its 70% stake in the Al Hadeetha copper mine in Oman to a member of the Al Tasnim Group for about A$10.7 million.

* Hudbay Minerals Inc. closed its acquisition of Mason Resources Corp., owner of the Ann Mason copper project in Nevada.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Aquila Resources Inc. said the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin dismissed the federal lawsuit brought by the Menominee Indian Tribe in Wisconsin challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' failure to exercise jurisdiction over the company's wetlands permit for its Back Forty gold project in Michigan. The tribe had claimed that the federal government was responsible for issuing the wetlands permit.

* Equinox Gold Corp. reported that its Aurizona gold project in Brazil is nearly complete and on schedule to achieve commercial production near the end of the first quarter of 2019. The company also said it expects to put first ore through its new crusher at the mine in early January 2019.

* E2 Metals Ltd. is quitting the Neavesville epithermal gold-silver project in New Zealand due to uncertainty regarding the status of exploration and mining activities in the Thames Coromandel District. The company terminated the share sale agreement with EMX Royalty Corp. and withdrew from the Pakirarahi No. 1B joint venture. Separately, E2 Metals executed a binding deal to acquire Los Domos Pty. Ltd., which holds a 90,000-hectare portfolio of highly prospective gold-silver projects in Argentina's Santa Cruz province.

* Mark Creasy's private gold explorer, White Rivers Exploration Pty. Ltd., which owns the Kroonstad and Bothaville gold prospects in South Africa, is in talks with "deep-pocketed" companies for potential joint venture development of several of its gold discoveries in the country, The Australian reported. This will be in addition to the White Rivers/Harmony Gold JV in the country with Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd.

* White Metal Resources Corp. secured an option to acquire 100% of the Star Trek gold property in central Newfoundland from Sokoman Iron Corp.

* AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. is looking to exit its current South African operations and move its listing to London or Toronto, Bloomberg News reported, citing anonymous sources. The planned transfer, which the company has pondered for years, is unlikely to occur before 2020.

* Independence Group NL's pre-feasibility study at the Tropicana gold joint venture in Western Australia confirmed underground mining beneath the Boston Shaker open pits as a technically and financially viable option. The joint venture, owned 30% by the company and 70% by AngloGold unit AngloGold Ashanti AU Ltd., will now move to a feasibility study which is expected to be complete in the third quarter of 2019.

* The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union lodged an appeal against the South African Competition Tribunal's decision to approve Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s takeover of Lonmin PLC.

* Panthera Resources PLC signed a definitive term sheet with Galactic Gold Mines Private Ltd. to form a partnership to advance the Bhukia gold-copper project in India. Galactic will buy a 10% stake in Panthera unit Indo Gold Pty. Ltd. for US$1.25 million, earning an additional stake in the unit by providing support and services to advance the Bhukia project.

* Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd. will be able to reduce its debt to C$30 million thanks to Pretium Resources Inc.'s US$237 million repurchase of Osisko's gold-silver stream from the Brucejack mine in British Columbia.

* Lefroy Exploration Ltd. agreed to sell its Murchison gold project in Western Australia to Golden State Mining Ltd. for A$25,000 in cash, 1.7 million Golden State shares and 800,000 options.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Marubeni Corp. expects aluminum premiums from Japanese buyers to increase to between US$100 per tonne and US$130/t in late 2019 due to a fall in global supplies, even though supplies from Rusal are expected to return to the market, Reuters wrote. "We didn't expect the U.S. to lift the sanction on Rusal this early, but aluminum market has largely discounted the lifting for some time," Hideya Kitamura, general manager at Marubeni's light metals section, was quoted as saying.

* Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia, is being refused insurance coverage from 10 of the world's top insurance companies, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing anti-fossil fuel activist group Market Forces. Global insurer Axa reportedly said it will not renew a policy in March 2020 that covers part of the Carmichael rail line.

* Amid falling profits, the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association called a meeting of aluminum producers to discuss declining demand and depressed market prices, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter. The meeting will include representatives from companies such as China Hongqiao Group Ltd. and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd.

* Edenville Energy PLC's Lamella clarifier water treatment plant installed at its Rukwa coal project in Tanzania is now fully operational.

* Oracle Power PLC's shares in London jumped after it announced it is replacing Sichuan Provincial Investment Group Co. Ltd. with Beijing Jingneng Power Co. Ltd. as one of the consortium partners in the Block VI coal and minemouth power plant project in Pakistan's Thar desert. Beijing Jingneng will take up a 78% equity interest in the project. Oracle Power shares were up nearly 60% in late-morning London trades following the announcement.

* Mineral Resources Ltd. made its first cargo shipment of 105,517 tonnes of iron ore fines from the Koolyanobbing mine in Western Australia, The West Australian reported.

* Steel prices in China reached their highest in five weeks on higher demand expectations based on Beijing's planned measures to support the economy, Reuters reported. The market also reacted to concerns that steel supplies could fall amid Chinese production cuts for the winter.

* United Metallurgical Co. OMK CJSC plans to invest 167 billion Russian rubles by 2022 to upgrade its PJSC Vyksa Steel Works operations, Vedomosti reported. About 70 billion rubles is dedicated to modernizing the casting and rolling complex, which will increase its capacity to 3 million tonnes of steel per year.

* The European Commission extended the deadline of an investigation into steel imports to Feb. 1, 2019, saying its scope was "unprecedented." The probe, launched March 26, came in reaction to U.S. tariffs on steel imports and over worries that dynamics in the steel market would shift, flooding the EU with steel once bound for the U.S.

* Citing lack of personnel amid a nearly yearlong lockout, Alcoa Corp. said it would cut about half the capacity of the last operating potline at its 74.95%-owned Becancour smelter in Quebec. The smelter, 25.05% owned by Rio Tinto Alcan Inc., has been operating at lower capacity since Alcoa locked out unionized workers Jan. 11.

* Mechel PAO extended until 2019 an agreement to supply China's Jidong Cement with up to 2 million tonnes of thermal coal mined from its Elga and Neryungrinsky sites in South Yakutia in the Russian Far East.

* GFG Alliance is accused of rejecting tenders for its Whyalla steelworks operations from small business vendors who do not agree to a payment term of 120 days, The Australian reported, citing South Australia's small business commissioner, John Chapman. GFG denied the claim, although it revealed that it had vendors who were on 90-day terms, which Chapman found unacceptable.

* Germany's last coal mine, RAG Deutsche Steinkohle AG's Prosper-Haniel, will shut down Dec. 21 after stopping production in September, Financial Times reported.

* Indonesia's thermal coal production could reach between 480 million and 500 million tonnes in 2019, remaining flat compared to an estimated 500 million tonnes this year, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Indonesian Coal Mining Association.

* Canada said it will grant the request of British Columbia's construction industry to exempt some imported steel and aluminum from its newest import tariffs and quotas, Reuters reported.

* Turkey won its appeal at the World Trade Organization against additional U.S. tariffs on steel imports, Reuters reported, citing Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

SPECIALTY

* The Chilean Tax Administration will collect about US$1 billion in taxes from fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd.'s recent sale of its 24% stake in Chilean lithium miner Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA to Chinese conglomerate Tianqi Lithium Corp. for US$4.1 billion. According to Chile's Ministry of Finance, this the most significant tax collection in Chile's tax history, daily El Mercurio reported.

* Syrah Resources Ltd. signed a binding agreement with Qingdao Langruite Graphite Co. Ltd. to sell at least 48,000 tonnes of natural graphite from the Balama project in Mozambique in 2019 and an additional 12,000 tonnes at Syrah's option.

* UEX Corp. estimated a maiden mineral resource for its Christie Lake uranium project in Saskatchewan of 588,000 tonnes at 1.57% U3O8 containing 20.4 million pounds of uranium.

* W Resources PLC fed first mined ore ahead of its January 2019 target into its newly completed crusher, which is under commissioning at its flagship La Parrilla tungsten-tin project in Spain.

* Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is concerned about a decline in the growth of the country's diamond reserves, Minister Dmitry Kobylkin said in an interview with Interfax. The minister said state-owned diamond monopoly PJSC Alrosa is only one exploring diamond-mining areas of "high exploration maturity."

* Rio Tinto is testing Scania AB's new autonomous transport system at its Dampier Salt Ltd. operations in Western Australia. The trucks being trialed are smaller than Rio Tinto's traditional ones.

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