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Vedanta halting Nchanga on Zambia tax woes; 40 dead in Afghan gold mine collapse


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Vedanta halting Nchanga on Zambia tax woes; 40 dead in Afghan gold mine collapse


Tax concerns prompt Vedanta to halt Nchanga copper mine ops in Zambia

Vedanta Resources PLC's Konkola Copper Mines PLC unit halted operations at its Nchanga mine in Zambia after the government imposed a 5% import duty on copper concentrates, Reuters reported. In a note to employees seen by the news wire, Konkola said the mine would be suspended from Jan. 4 due to the low availability of acid as a result of downsizing at the Nchanga smelter. The duty has made smelting of imported concentrates commercially unviable, the company added.

At least 40 people dead in Afghan gold mine collapse

At least 40 miners were killed and 10 others injured after a gold mine collapsed in Afghanistan, CNN reported. A landslide caused the incident, which occurred during heavy snowfall, police spokesman Sanaullah Rohani told the news wire.

India's Meghalaya state fined 1B rupees for failure to stop illegal mining

India's environmental court slapped a fine of 1 billion Indian rupees on the Meghalaya state government over its failure to stop illegal coal mining, Press Trust of India reported. The National Green Tribunal said the state violated a 2014 ban on coal mining, with the majority of 24,000 mines operating without licenses, leases or environmental clearance.


* An international intergovernmental organization that tracks copper market data forecast that annual copper mine capacity will grow at an average of 2.2% per annum through 2021, with growth of 0.5% seen in 2018 and 2019, accelerating to 4% in the following two years as more projects and expansions come online. Copper mine production capacity is expected to hit about 26 million tonnes by 2021.

* Jiangxi Copper Co. Ltd. entered into an agreement with Yantai Guofeng Investment Holdings Co. Ltd. to acquire a 65% equity interest in the latter's wholly owned Yantai Guoxing Copper Co. Ltd. for 325 million Chinese yuan. After the transaction, Yantai Guofeng will hold a 35% stake in Guoxing Copper.

* TopTung Ltd. informed Meteoric Resources NL that it will not proceed with the planned acquisition of the Midrim copper and Laforce nickel projects in Quebec. TopTung said the move is based on market conditions and a decision to focus on evaluating its current Canadian portfolio.

* NorZinc Ltd. plans to reduce its landholdings and focus on developing its three base metal deposits in Newfoundland amid an expected 80% rise in license costs. NorZinc owns the high-grade Lemarchant, Boomerang-Domino and Long Lake zinc-lead-copper-gold-silver deposits as well as the historical Tulks East claim block.

* The Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office granted Symbol Mining Ltd. and joint venture partner Goidel Resources Ltd. six additional exploration licenses, expanding their landholding to 982.8 square kilometers near the Macy zinc mine.

* Central Asia Metals PLC increased an existing US$120 million facility from off-take partner Traxys SA, to US$151 million to refinance its debt and consolidate its borrowings under one facility.


* Resolute Mining Ltd. produced 73,691 ounces of gold in the December 2018 quarter, reflecting a 33% increase on a quarterly basis. The increase was supported by a more than 50% jump in output at the Syama mine in Mali to 56,207 ounces in the period.

* Sandstorm Gold Ltd. achieved record sales of 57,600 attributable gold equivalent ounces in 2018.

* Santa Fe Gold Corp. is acquiring the Billali, Jim Crow and Imperial Mines gold projects in New Mexico in a US$10 million deal. The company said that the two mines "should be able to be ramped up for mining in a relatively short time." It did not outline potential production or capital cost figures, with plans to ship ore directly to smelters to decrease costs.

* Dampier Gold Ltd. agreed to acquire an 80% interest in the Menzies gold and Goongarrie gold-base metals prospective exploration licenses in Western Australia from Magnum Mining & Exploration Ltd.

* Authorities in Mauritania granted a request from Algold Resources Ltd. for more time to complete a feasibility study on its Tijirit gold project beyond the original deadline of 2018-end.

* Metals Exploration PLC confirmed that major shareholders MTL (Luxembourg) SARL Ltd. and Runruno Holdings Ltd. approved an extension until Jan. 31 for Metals Exploration to meet the conditions of a US$6.6 million short-term loan. The company went into default after failing to meet the Dec. 31, 2018, deadline of completing a previously announced mezzanine debt facility.


* Yankuang Group Co. Ltd., the ultimate parent of Yancoal Australia Ltd., will purchase bonds belonging to the Hunter Valley coal mines in New South Wales, Australia, for US$200 million, as part of a previous financing deal, The Australian. In February 2016, Yancoal lost control of the Ashton, Austar and Donaldson mines after a US$950 million debt funding to a consortium of financiers, including China's Industrial Bank Co. Ltd. and Bank of China.

* Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono urged South Korea to take immediate steps to avoid measures that are unfair to Japanese companies, Reuters reported. The move comes after an October 2018 ruling by a South Korean court, which ordered Japanese steel producer to pay four South Koreans 100 million won each to compensate for forced labor during World War II. Meanwhile, Japan is exploring countermeasures to protect the assets of Nippon Steel from seizure in South Korea, Bloomberg News reported, citing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

* IndiOre Ltd. cancelled the phase-three expansion at its Kurnool iron ore project in India's Andhra Pradesh state and began the process of dismantling the process plant and site equipment, after poor results from recent drilling. IndiOre initiated an independent review in Australia and India to determine the project's history.

* Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane is confident that the Labor party will quash a proposed bill that would ban coal mining in Queensland's Galilee Basin, the site of Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s controversial Carmichael coal mine, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* Analysts said they were not surprised by Westmoreland Coal Co.'s plan to sell its Buckingham coal mine in Ohio and pay a holding company to take several others because the operations have high reclamation costs and shrinking profitability.

* Electric-sector's coal demand in the U.S. is projected to decline from 606 million tons in 2018 to 537 million tons in 2019, coming under additional pressure through 2022. Announced coal retirements over the next four years combined with lower natural gas prices are projected to push coal generation demand to a low point of 427 million tons per year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* China launched another key coal railway line, called Shuozhun, which connects the leading coal producing region of Inner Mongolia with the Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces, Xinhua News Agency reported. The 214.5-kilometer line has an annual freight transport capacity of 52.6 million tonnes.


* China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology unveiled new guidelines laying out national efforts to prohibit illegal mining and recycling of rare earth materials and ensure that unauthorized facilities are eliminated, Reuters reported. China is responsible for more than 90% of the global supply of rare earth elements.

* Black Rock Mining Ltd. struck a three-year deal with Taihe Soar (Dalian) Supply Chain Management Co. Ltd. to supply up to 100,000 tonnes of natural flake graphite from the Mahenge graphite mine in Tanzania.

* Northern Uranium Corp. agreed to cede the company's control to resource-focused investment company Palisade Global Investments Ltd., which intends to use Northern Uranium as a vehicle to continue exploration on the Northwest Manitoba uranium project and other assets.

* Mayur Resources Ltd. secured up to US$25 million in funding from China Titanium Resources Holdings Ltd. in return for a 49% stake in the Orokolo Bay industrial mineral sands project in Papua New Guinea.

* PepinNini Lithium Ltd. restated the resource estimate for its Pular lithium project after terminating the exploration purchase option over the lithium-prospective Patilla Mina in Argentina's Salar de Pular. Pular now hosts a measured resource of 91,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent and an inferred resource of 82,000 tonnes LCE.


* The mining industry is closely monitoring the election results in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which will mark the end of President Joseph Kabila's rule, Bloomberg News wrote. The country, which held presidential polls Dec. 30, 2018, is one of the most important but difficult mining jurisdictions in the world. Major concerns voiced last year included a new mining code that increased royalties and added taxes.

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