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US sanctions Iran's metal producers; NDMC set to explore Bunder diamond deposits


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US sanctions Iran's metal producers; NDMC set to explore Bunder diamond deposits


US Treasury announces sanctions on Iran's metal producers after missile strikes

The U.S. followed through on its threat of fresh sanctions against Iran after military tensions between the two countries in recent days, targeting several Iranian government officials and the nation's metals industry and other economic sectors. The Treasury Department designated 17 Iranian metals producers and mining companies, along with three other entities based in China and the Seychelles which the agency believes are helping Tehran conduct trade in metals.

India's NMDC set to explore Rio Tinto-abandoned Bunder diamond deposits

State-owned National Mineral Development Corp. Ltd. is set to explore and mine diamonds at the Rio Tinto-abandoned Bunder deposits in India’s central state of Madhya Pradesh, which may contain millions of carats of diamonds, Reuters reported, citing the Mineral Resource Department’s secretary Neeraj Mandloi. Rio Tinto had plans to invest up to US$500 million on the project, but pulled out due to legal battles with green activists and delays in acquiring environmental permits.

BHP, Fortescue conflict may derail A$350M housing buyback at Port Hedland

A backroom brawl between BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. over secret port access deals is threatening to derail a A$350 million housing buyback at Port Hedland, Australia's largest mining port, The Australian reported. Fortescue has long believed that the Harriet Point Agreement, a secret deal signed between BHP and the Western Australian government, grants its rival final say in any developments at Port Hedland.


*Copper prices started 2020 on an upward trajectory, reflecting the U.S. and China's official plans to sign on Jan. 15 a long-sought trade agreement, which includes some trade relief and helps alleviate the trade tensions between the countries, S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research team reported. As a result, London Metal Exchange three-month copper prices have increased to average US$6,132/t so far in January from an average of US$6,103/t in December 2019.

* Base metals producer Central Asia Metals PLC exceeded its full-year copper production guidance for 2019 even as fourth-quarter output came in 6.7% lower than in the same period of 2018. Production of 3,138 tonnes in the final quarter from the company's flagship Kounrad Dump site in eastern Kazakhstan brought full-year copper output to 13,771 tonnes, ahead of guidance of 12,500tonnes to 13,500 tonnes.

* The Federation of Indian Mineral Industries urged the Indian government to remove a 2.5% import duty on copper concentrates, citing the country's need to import the material due to lack of domestic supply, Mining Weekly reported.

* Nexa Resources SA agreed with Peru's government to sponsor pre-professional and professional programs for youth in the farming communities in Ica that will be affected by the company's Cerro Lindo zinc-lead-copper silver operation, reported, citing a statement by the Ministry of Energy and Mines.


* Mexico-based Fresnillo PLC is the world's leading primary silver miner and Mexico's largest gold producer, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research team. Fresnillo, formed from a spinoff of Industrias Peñoles SAB de CV's precious metals assets, budgeted US$160 million for exploration in 2019, down 20% from the US$200 million allocated in 2018. The lion’s share of the 2019 budget was devoted to Mexico, with smaller amounts earmarked for Chile, Peru, Argentina and regional programs in Latin America.

* Sibanye Gold Ltd. which trades as Sibanye-Stillwater, exercised an option to subscribe for ordinary shares in DRDGold Ltd., increasing its shareholding from 38.05% to 50.1%, after its initial shareholding in the company increased 147% in value over the last 17 months. Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman said that by securing the DRDGold stake, Sibanye is increasing value for stakeholders, adding that the DRDGold team has a proven track record in implementing the Far West Gold Recoveries project and reaching its 500,000-tonne-per-month planned phase one capacity.

* Rating agency Moody's said Anglo American PLC's planned acquisition of London-listed Sirius Minerals PLC may increase the mining giant's financial risk profile for a number of years.

* St Barbara Ltd. completed its expenditure obligation under the first earn-in period pursuant to the Lake Wells gold project in Western Australia.

* The TSX will delist Lydian International Ltd.'s ordinary shares, effective at the close of market on Feb. 5. The company said that it does not intend to appeal the decision or seek an alternative listing.

* International Millennium Mining Corp. and Phoenix Capital Enterprises Ltd. agreed to terminate their deal to complete a business merger and reverse takeover transaction, which would have resulted in IMMC acquiring all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Tengri Coal and Energy Pte. Ltd. in exchange for newly issued IMMC common shares.


* Tata Steel Ltd.'s Indian steel production totaled 4.46 million tons in the third quarter of its fiscal 2020, rising from 4.38 million tons year over year. Sales increased yearly to 4.84 million tons from 3.89 million tons and grew 17% quarterly from 4.13 million tons. The company expects Indian steel prices to improve with strong retail demand and ongoing restocking demand from dealers.

* India's largest iron ore producer National Mineral Development Corp. Ltd. is planning to produce 48 million tonnes in fiscal 2020 to 2021, beginning April 1, as the state-owned company expects higher demand, Argus Media reported. The report noted that domestic iron ore prices hiked by 8% to 30% in January as mills and pellet producers stock up in anticipation of tightening in supplies after March, when several private mining firms' leases are set to expire. The company produced a total of 22 million tonnes of iron ore during fiscal 2019 to 2020.

* Siemens AG will pursue the provision of signaling systems to Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s Carmichael coal project in Queensland, Australia, despite protests from anti-coal activists. “Keeping our promises is Siemens’ highest priority… In this case, there is a legally binding and enforceable fiduciary responsibility to carry out this train signaling contract,” Siemens President and CEO Jose Kaeser said in a statement.

* Russian fertilizer producer PJSC PhosAgro is planning the sale of a new batch of dollar-denominated eurobonds, Interfax reported, citing an anonymous banking sector source, as the company offered to buy back up to US$150 million of its 3.95% notes due in 2021.

* The Oak Grove coking coal mine in the US state of Alabama has been idled and no information on a restart is available, according to market sources and the coal's marketer, Javelin Global Commodities (UK) Ltd., S&P Global Platts reported.

* Polish coking coal producer Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa SA plans to spend 700 million Polish zlotys from its contingency fund to expand its capacity and bankroll other investments, Reuters reported, citing CEO Wlodzimierz Herezniak. The company reportedly earmarked 2 billion zlotys for investments this year.

* Norsk Hydro ASA forecast a sale of between 40,000 tonnes and 50,000 tonnes of its Circal-branded aluminum in 2021, Reuters reported, quoting Hydro’s Extruded Solutions head Egil Hogna.

* Civil unrest looms as miners in Goa lost their jobs and have been strapped for cash for almost two years due to the shutting down of an iron mine in Goa, India, Sunday Guardian Live reported.


* Base Resources Ltd. increased its fiscal year 2020 production guidance for rutile to between 75,000 and 81,000 tonnes, for ilmenite to between 335,000 and 355,000 tonnes, and for zircon to between 29,000 and 32,000 tonnes.

* In full-year 2019, Image Resources NL produced 270,000 tonnes of heavy mineral concentrate from the Boonanarring mineral sands in Western Australia, within the company’s twice-increased guidance of between 260,000 tones and 280,000 tonnes. The company updated its production forecast for full-year 2020 to between 300,000 tonnes and 330,000 tonnes, from the previous estimate of between 280,000 tonnes and 300,000 tonnes.

* EcoGraf Ltd. contracted GR Engineering Services Ltd. for the development of a 20,000-tonne per annum battery graphite facility in Western Australia.

* Several sectors in Bolivia rejected the appointment of Juan Carlos Zuleta as the new executive manager of the state-owned Bolivian Lithium deposits, Prensa Latina reported.


* Data analytics firm GlobalData said 61% of mine sites it surveyed made investments in mine communication systems in 2019, up from 55% in 2018, Mining Weekly reported. Their investments included private long-term evolution networks or 5G wireless technology. The survey involved 179 respondents from Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, the report said.

* Brazil's government told European diplomats that it is pursuing its plans to allow mining on tribal lands, according to Mining and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque, noting that "significant leadership" from native communities had requested for the opportunity to mine on their own properties, Reuters reported.

S&P Global Platts and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

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