Zimbabwean Mines Minister Winston Chitando said the government signed a US$4.2 billion mining investment deal that will see Cyprus-based Karo Resources developing a platinum mine in the African country. According to Reuters, the company is expected to start working on the project in July and the mine is slated to produce 1.4 million ounces of platinum group metals per year by 2023.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu is encouraging a "quick negotiation" between the country's tax authority and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. over the miner's US$7.9 billion tax bill, Bloomberg News reported, citing Lungu spokesman Amos Chanda. Chanda also said the government will not interfere with the matter unless it is "a matter of the last resort and if circumstances demand that an intervention is made."
Four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Brazilian pension funds, led by Previ, are looking to sell some of their Vale SA stakes through a public offering that could fetch up to 8 billion Brazilian reais, equivalent to about US$2.4 billion.
* Rio Tinto's head of new ventures and its lithium division, Andrew Latham, said the company was "actively looking" to invest in metals it expects to be impacted by the electric vehicle market, The Australian reported. Latham said the market is expected to have a positive impact on battery minerals, including tin, silver, tungsten, lithium, cobalt and nickel.
* Anglo American PLC is cautiously considering the acquisition of new projects as markets for commodities including coal and copper improve, the Financial Times reported. Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani said the company is always looking for potential acquisitions but will first work on improving its existing projects.
* Vale SA accepted for repurchase about US$968.3 million of its outstanding 5.875% guaranteed notes due 2021, which had a total of US$1.25 billion outstanding.
* Vedanta Ltd. finalized the terms of its 40 billion Indian rupee debt issue, with the bonds to mature in three years at a likely coupon rate of 8.50%, Mint reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter. The proceeds will be used for debt refinancing, working capital and general corporate purposes.
* First Quantum Minerals Ltd. Chairman and CEO Philip Pascall said the 76.5 billion Zambian kwacha, or US$8 billion, tax claim it received from the Zambian tax regulator relates to imports of US$540 million of equipment and consumables it brought into the country between January 2012 and December 2017 for the Sentinel mine at its Trident - Sentinel copper-nickel operation. The tax bill includes roughly US$5.7 billion in interest, Pascall said, with US$2.1 billion in penalties and a US$150 million duty-related assessment.
* Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. is in strategic discussions with "significant" mining companies and investors regarding its assets. Several investors that have expressed interest have no material limit on the provision of capital, Ivanhoe said, but there can be no assurance that any transaction will be completed. Shares in the company were up over 9% in Toronto.
* The Swiss attorney general's office confirmed a probe into Rio Tinto's alleged bribery activities relating to its Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia, Reuters reported. The allegations stem from US$10 million transferred to a former Mongolian finance minister who helped launch the project in 2009, which the Mongolian government is also investigating. Mongolia requested legal assistance with the case in 2017.
* Bezant Resources PLC is renewing its focus on its copper-gold assets in Argentina and the Philippines, including the Mankayan project, due to the strong fundamentals of copper in the medium to long term.
* Tyranna Resources Ltd. signed an option to acquire the Goodsprings cobalt project by purchasing the issued share capital of US Cobalt Pty. Ltd. in an all-share deal valued at approximately US$2.4 million.
* Barrick Gold Corp. spokesman Andy Lloyd said the gold miner has not received any notification from Zambia's tax authority over a tax assessment, Bloomberg News reported.
* Russian gold miner PJSC Polyus is not looking for a new deal to replace the agreement struck with a consortium of Chinese investors led by Fosun International Ltd. to acquire a 10% stake in the company, Director of Investment for Polyus Victor Drozdov told S&P Global Market Intelligence.
* Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. swung to a net loss of US$137.7 million in the fourth quarter 2017 from a profit of US$10.9 million in 2016.
* Eldorado Gold Corp. narrowed its net loss attributable to shareholders in the fourth quarter of 2017 to US$20.7 million from a year-ago net loss of US$32.5 million. In the full year, the Vancouver-based company's loss shrunk to US$9.9 million from US$344.2 million in 2016.
* Cygnus Gold Ltd. formed a joint venture with a Gold Road Resources Ltd. unit on a 25/75 basis to develop the Yandina gold project in Western Australia.
* Manitou Gold Inc. agreed to acquire Argo Gold Inc.'s RockStar gold project in Ontario in a cash and stock deal.
* The European Union is optimistic that it will be excluded from the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, after European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom recently concluded two days of negotiations in Washington, D.C. European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told Bloomberg News that Malmstrom's U.S. visit was "very fruitful" but did not disclose further details.
* Lenders to the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal in Queensland, Australia, agreed to extend about US$3 billion due on an outstanding loan for eight years, giving the debt-laden terminal operator a lifeline. Two sources told Reuters that the extension had been agreed but not yet signed by the parties. The terminal is owned by Glencore and its partners, who have until September to either refinance the loan or pay off the full amount over the next 15 years.
* In an interview with Reuters, BHP Billiton Group Chief Commercial Officer Arnoud Balhuizen downplayed the direct impact of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as "quite marginal," as the U.S. "is not such a big steel producer." According to Balhuizen, the direct effect on BHP is "even smaller" given the company's limited exports to the U.S. from Asia.
* A World Trade Organization compliance panel said the U.S. did not completely adhere to a 2014 ruling against its anti-subsidy tariffs on a range of Chinese products, including steel cylinders and aluminum extrusions, and the U.S. had not correctly used third-country prices to assess the subsidies. According to Reuters, China's complaint, if successful, could pave the way for retaliatory sanctions against the U.S.
* Kinetic Mines & Energy Ltd. will prioritize acquisitions over dividend payments as it plans to take advantage of a government-led restructuring initiative across China's coal sector to expand its production capacity, according to MK Lau, head of corporate finance and investor relations.
* Rio Tinto entered into a binding agreement to sell its 75% interest in the Winchester South coal development project in Queensland, Australia, to Whitehaven Coal Ltd. for US$200 million.
* Legacy Iron Ore Ltd.'s inferred resources at its Blue Peter deposit, part of the Mount Celia gold project in Western Australia, increased about 157% to 51,100 ounces. The deposit hosts 607,200 tonnes at 2.62 g/t gold at a 1% cutoff grade.
* Rio Tinto is bracing for more iron ore price volatility but believes, with BHP Billiton Group, that China's One Belt One Road initiative will drive huge demand for decades to come amid slowing demand growth from the Asian giant. Rio Tinto's supply chain and services managing director, Ivan Vella, told attendees at the Global Iron Ore & Steel Forecast Conference that the company was "optimistic" about the medium to longer term but sees some slowdown and adjustment in China, especially in demand growth in the construction, infrastructure and automotive sectors.
* The consensus among analysts at the Global Iron Ore & Steel Forecast Conference was that Chinese steel mills' preference for higher-grade ore and continuing discounts for lower grades is a structural shift, not cyclical, which will favor the "big four." Citigroup Asia commodities strategist Tracy Liao told attendees that the company expects 58% and 62% grade differentials to stay wide for longer.
* Creditors reviewing offers for debt-laden Essar Steel India Ltd. rejected the bids ArcelorMittal and Numetal submitted, as they failed to meet eligibility criteria, The Hindu reported.
* Jeffries Japan Ltd. analyst Thanh Ha Pham said Kobe Steel Ltd. should consider divesting its steel assets and shift its focus to its aluminum, industrial compressors and power supply divisions, saying its steel business is "too small to be competitive" against its bigger rivals, Bloomberg News reported.
* Centrex Metals Ltd. sold the Wilgerup and Kimba Gap iron ore projects in South Australia to OneSteel Manufacturing Pty. Ltd.-owned SIMEC Mining in exchange for royalties of up to A$5 million per mine.
* France's Ascoval is looking for a majority partner to continue steelmaking operations beyond 2019, Metal Bulletin reported. The company aims to boost its finished steel production to 245,000 tonnes this year from 190,000 tonnes in 2017, despite uncertainty around its ownership status. Ascoval is a joint venture between Ascometal SA and Vallourec SA.
* Korab Resources Ltd. said an updated pre-feasibility study to develop its Winchester magnesite deposit as a direct shipping ore operation in Australia's Northern Territory estimated pretax earnings from the project at up to US$614.2 million over the project's 12-year life.
* Chengdu Tianqi Industry Group Co. Ltd. intends to aggressively increase its lithium production and believes that transfer pricing negotiations with the Australian Tax Office will be simplified when its A$700 million lithium hydroxide plant goes online, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing Tianqi Lithium Australia Pty. Ltd. General Manager Phil Thick.
* Bearing Lithium Corp.'s board approved a plan to spin off its stake in Commander Resources Ltd., its interests in exploration projects in Canada's Yukon Territory and a lithium project in Nevada into a newly incorporated subsidiary. Bearing Lithium intends to seek a listing of the spinoff company's shares on the TSX Venture Exchange.
* Tawana Resources NL intends to restructure its assets in a bid to focus on its flagship Bald Hill lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia. The company will spin out its Cowan and Yallari lithium projects in Western Australia and its Mofe Creek iron ore project in Liberia to a wholly owned public company.
* Tando Resources Ltd. agreed to acquire the SPD vanadium project in South Africa by acquiring the issued share capital of Steelpoortvan Pty. Ltd., which has the right to acquire a 74% interest in project owner Vanadium Resources Pty. Ltd. through staged payments of a total 35 million shares.
* Tronox Ltd. subsidiary Tronox LLC agreed to sell the assets and liabilities of its electrolytic operations in Nevada to EMD Acquisition LLC for US$13 million. The transaction is expected to close in mid-2018.
* An independent capital cost review for Vital Metals Ltd.'s Watershed tungsten project in Queensland, Australia, lowered the estimated CapEx to A$105.8 million, from A$172 million in the 2014 definitive feasibility study.
* The Greenland government granted Alba Mineral Resources PLC a 12-month moratorium on the exploration expenditure commitment for the Amitsoq graphite project, the license for which was renewed for a further five years.
* The number of positive project status changes increased in the September 2017 quarter but fell off in the December quarter. However, the number of production startups at new mines, expansions and reopenings in the fourth quarter of 2017 was the highest quarterly total for the year. The number of negative project milestones declined in the third quarter of 2017 and fell to zero in the final quarter, according to the Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.
* The world's 50 biggest investment banks booked higher metals-related revenue in 2017 compared to oil sector-related revenue as relatively stable crude prices discouraged hedging activity. The banks generated revenue of US$1.6 billion from trading, selling derivatives and other activities in metals, compared to US$1.4 billion in oil, Reuters reported, citing financial industry analytics firm Coalition.
The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. ET and scans news sources published in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Some external links may require a subscription.
S&P Global Market Intelligence provides links to external sites where these offer further, relevant information to our readers. While we ensure that such links are functional at the time of publication, we are not responsible in instances where those links are unavailable later.