BHP mulls exit from World Coal Association, US Chamber of Commerce
BHP Billiton Group made a preliminary decision to leave the World Coal Association and is mulling an exit from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over differences in climate and energy policy. The company published a report that assessed 21 industry associations that hold an active position on climate and energy policy, with the review focused on 10 policies identified as being of key importance for BHP. The report identified seven material differences on climate and energy policy across three associations, namely the WCA, the Chamber and the Minerals Council of Australia.
First Quantum contemplates US$1.5B option on Northern Dynasty's Pebble project
First Quantum Minerals Ltd. entered a framework agreement with Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. for a potential option deal between a First Quantum unit and Northern Dynasty over the latter's Pebble copper project in Alaska. The First Quantum unit will pay US$150 million in equal tranches of US$37.5 million for the initial four-year option period. First Quantum will earn a 50% interest in Pebble LP, which owns the Pebble project, after investing an additional US$1.35 billion in the operating company.
Vale calls Moatize strike illegal, declines bonus increase
Vale SA will not pay the bonuses demanded by its striking workers at the Moatize coal mine in Mozambique, calling the labor action "illegal" and advised employees to return to work and resolve such issues within the competent forums, Reuters reported. The workers downed tools Dec. 15 demanding two bonuses, including a 14th salary and a retention bonus.
* The zinc market remained relatively quiet over the past month, typical at this time of the year when market participants are engrossed in following-year contract negotiations on sale volumes, contract treatment charges and premiums. Although spot treatment charges are expected to rise in the second half of 2018, and 2018 contract treatment charges should also reflect the anticipated increase in concentrate supply, the Metals and Mining Research team of S&P Global Market Intelligence expects smelters to benefit from persistently low treatment charges through to the end of this year amid increased competition for concentrates.
* Horizonte Minerals Plc struck a deal with Vale to acquire the Vermelho nickel-cobalt project in Brazil for US$8 million. Vale approved Vermelho in 2005 with nameplate annual production capacity of 46,000 tonnes of nickel and 2,500 tonnes of cobalt.
* The Ecuador government and Chilean state miner Codelco reportedly started negotiations for the latter to take full ownership of the Llurimaga copper project in Ecuador, from a 51/49 joint venture in favor of the former, El Mercurio reported, citing sources.
* Myanmar Metals Ltd.'s scoping study on development of an open-pit mining operation at the Bawdwin zinc-lead-silver-copper project in Myanmar confirmed its potential to be redeveloped as a large-scale mining operation. The scoping study pegged a long-life, low-cost, low strip-ratio, 250 meter-deep open-pit mine with a conventional milling and flotation circuit to produce zinc and lead-silver-copper concentrates.
* Union workers of Minsur S.A.'s San Rafael tin mine in Peru threatened to go on strike on Dec. 19 if the company does not meet pledges made in the collective bargaining agreement including labor safety and early retirement plans, Gestión reported, citing the trade union.
* China's refined copper production in November jumped nearly 10% year over year to 786,000 tonnes, the highest rate in at least three years, Mining.com reported, citing data from the National Bureau of Statistics. Meanwhile, zinc output for the month rose 7.5% to 603,000 tonnes.
* As a blockade of the El Limon-Guajes gold mine in Mexico drags on, Torex Gold Resources Inc. suspended employment contracts with its workforce, effective Dec. 16, after reporting last week that the majority of the workers had voted to return to work. Torex said it will reconsider the contract suspension if the blockade is cleared by the end of Dec. 20, but it did not sound optimistic. The company said Los Mineros had increased its efforts over the weekend, threatening to cut power to the mine and blocking food and water from reaching police at the site.
* Barrick Gold Corp. granted Skeena Resources Ltd. an option to acquire the past-producing Eskay Creek gold property in British Columbia's Golden Triangle. Barrick will also complete a strategic investment with Skeena for gross proceeds of C$1 million.
* Sandstorm Gold Ltd. agreed to purchase a 2% net smelter royalty held by Acacia Mining plc on the Hounde gold mine in Burkina Faso, operated by Endeavour Mining Corp., for US$45 million.
* Golden Dawn Minerals Inc. inked an option agreement with Huakan International Mining Inc. to acquire the J & L gold project in British Columbia in a cash and share deal.
* Avesoro Resources Inc. completed the acquisition of the Youga and Balogo gold mines in Burkina Faso from majority shareholder Avesoro Jersey Ltd.
* Aura Minerals Inc. and Rio Novo Gold Inc. signed a merger agreement under which Aura will acquire Rio Novo's outstanding share capital by issuing 0.053 of an Aura common share for each Rio Novo share held.
* Aztec Minerals Corp. entered into an option deal to acquire a 75% interest in a package of mineral properties in the Tombstone mining district of Arizona from Baroyeca Gold & Silver Inc. and its U.S. subsidiaries.
* Avocet Mining Plc entered into an agreement to sell all of its assets in Burkina Faso, including the Inata gold mine, together with certain receivables, to the Ghana-based Balaji Group for a total of US$5 million.
* Alacer Gold Corp. posted initial reserves for the Çakmaktepe deposit at the Çöpler operations in Turkey as well as a 70% increase in indicated resources at the Çakmaktepe and Bayramdere deposits. The company's interest in the Çöpler property ranges from 50% to 80%.
* Nusantara Resources Ltd. began a process to engage with a strategic joint venture partner for the development of the Awak Mas gold project in Indonesia.
* Tata Steel Ltd. is in the final stages of testing proprietary steelmaking technology at its Netherlands plant that may potentially reduce carbon emissions and energy use by at least 20%, the Financial Times reported.
* Bauxite Resources Ltd.'s board recommended that shareholders reject Mercantile OFM Pty. Ltd.'s takeover offer to buy 1 of every 2 fully paid shares in Bauxite Resources that it does not already own for 9 Australian cents apiece. The miner said an independent expert found that the offer is neither fair nor reasonable.
* Metals trader Liberty House Group's executive chairman, Sanjeev Gupta, said the company is looking to acquire factories in the Middle East, possibly involving buying manufacturers of steel or aluminum, among others, Bloomberg News reported.
* Meanwhile, Reuters cited Gupta as saying that the group is in talks to purchase and build more U.S.-based steel and industrial assets next year, after buying ArcelorMittal's Georgetown Steelworks. The Georgetown Steelworks, which includes a 540,000 tonne-per-annum electric arc furnace and a 680,000 tpa rod mill, is expected to restart in the spring.
* S&P Global Platts reported that Blackhawk Mining LLC expects to mine and sell more than 14.5 million tons of Central Appalachian metallurgical and thermal coal in 2018 after reaching an agreement with lenders to strengthen the its balance sheet and provide nearly US$100 million of incremental liquidity next year.
* Gateway Mining Ltd. will no longer proceed with its proposed acquisition of Queensland Coal Investment Holdings Ltd. after failing to meet the prerequisites to fulfill the sale agreement.
* Brazil's crude steel output rose 15.3% year over year to 3.03 million tonnes in November, Metal Bulletin reported, citing figures released by national steel institute Aço Brasil.
* Lawyers for Lehram Capital Investments claim that the Gramoteinskaya coal mine in Russia was illegally seized in collusion with local government officials and demanded US$500 million in damages from the government, the Financial Times reported.
* Chilean development agency Corfo and lithium miner Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA agreed to suspend the ongoing arbitration proceedings for 30 days in a renewed push to resolve a dispute over mining claims, Reuters reported, citing Corfo.
* A preliminary economic assessment for Lithium Power International Ltd.'s Maricunga lithium brine project in northern Chile pegged a posttax net present value, discounted at 8%, of US$731 million, a 20.4% internal rate of return, and a 3.25-year payback period.
* Technology Metals Australia Ltd. announced an initial resource estimate for the Southern Tenement area of its Gabanintha property in Western Australia, which hosts inferred resources of 21.5 million tonnes at 0.9% vanadium oxide, or V2O5, and 10.1% titanium dioxide, or TiO2. The resource includes a high-grade area of 10.4 million tonnes at 1.1% V2O5 and 12.6% TiO2.
* Global Geoscience Ltd. said that the initial mining study at its Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron deposit in Nevada confirmed the potential for low-cost open pit mining at rates of 2 million to 4 million tonnes per annum, with 1 million tonnes of mineralization containing about 8,700 tonnes of lithium carbonate and 77,200 tonnes of boric acid.
* Base Resources Ltd. reached a binding agreement to acquire up to a 100% interest in the Toliara heavy mineral sands project in Madagascar from World Titanium Resources Ltd. for a total of US$92 million.
* Alchemist Mining Inc. terminated an option agreement with Great Thunder Gold Corp. to acquire a 70% interest in the Nemaska Lake lithium property in Quebec.
* Lucapa Diamond Co. Ltd. plans to schedule the next sale of alluvial diamonds from the Lulo project in Angola for early 2018. The sale parcel will include 2,160 carats of Lulo production, and it will have the exceptional 129 carat and 78 carat Type IIa D-color diamonds recovered from mining Block 6 in November.
* The Mexican environmental authority granted Great Panther Silver Ltd. all required permits for the construction and operation of the new phase two tailings storage facility at its Topia silver mine in Durango, Mexico.
* The state government of Nebraska conditionally approved tax incentives for NioCorp Developments Ltd.'s Elk Creek superalloy project that are possibly worth more than US$100 million over the first 10 years of the project's commercial operations.
* The Trump administration dropped climate change from the list of national security threats contained in a new report, reversing what had been a key component of its predecessor's argument for reducing carbon emissions, promoting clean energy and other environmental regulations.
* Ecuador's Ministry of Mining expects the mining sector to potentially contribute over US$1 billion in revenues to the country in 2018, primarily through exploration and development of projects, Mining.com reported, citing a ministry statement.
* South Africa's Chamber of Mines said that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as president of the African National Congress and will succeed Jacob Zuma as the party's leader.
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