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China makes veiled rare earths threat; ArcelorMittal to reduce output

TOP NEWS

China makes veiled threat to use rare earths as trade-war weapon

China's state planning agency issued a statement seen as a veiled threat that the country could restrict the export of its rare earth minerals amid mounting trade tensions with the U.S., Chinese publication Global Times reported. Lynas Corp. Ltd.'s shares hit their highest in over five years on the development as it will become the only significant source of rare earths material for the U.S. military and key industries if China follows through on the threat, The Australian Financial Review wrote.

ArcelorMittal to further cut European steel output, be carbon neutral by 2050

ArcelorMittal will reduce primary steelmaking production at its French and German operations and will extend a planned blast furnace stoppage at its Bremen, Germany, plant due to weak market demand and high import levels in Europe. The company will also launch in 2020 a new target to significantly reduce its carbon dioxide emission, replacing its current 8% carbon footprint reduction target by 2020.

Risk of dam burst at Vale's Gongo Soco mine lower than expected

Vale SA said the unstable embankment at the Gongo Soco iron ore mine in Brazil has a lower risk of disintegrating than previously thought, based on the miner's latest analysis of the site. There is a great probability that the slope will remain inside the extraction site, with no major consequences to the nearby Sul Superior tailings dam, according to COO Marcelo Barros. Environment Secretary Germano Vieira of Brazil's Minas Gerais state had said the tailings dam had up to a 15% chance of collapsing.

DIVERSIFIED

* Following a complaint from nongovernmental organization Public Eye against Glencore PLC in 2017, Switzerland's top prosecutor opened a criminal investigation of unidentified people suspected of bribing foreign officials for raw materials, Bloomberg wrote, citing the Office of the Attorney General. The probe is not focused on Glencore or a specific person.

BASE METALS

* Glencore entered into a long-term revolving agreement to supply cobalt hydroxide to European recycler Umicore SA's battery materials value chain, which will be sourced from Glencore's KCC and Mutanda mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

* A debottlenecking study for restarting First Cobalt Corp.'s idled namesake refinery in Ontario outlined the potential to more than double production by increasing the initial capital investment.

* S&P Global Ratings said the liquidation proceedings that Zambia initiated on Konkola Copper Mines PLC will not affect Vedanta Resources Ltd.'s credit profile due to the unit's small contribution to the parent entity's operating cash flows.

* Caravel Minerals Ltd. will proceed to a pre-feasibility study at its namesake copper project in Western Australia after a scoping study estimated a posttax net present value, discounted at 7%, of A$705 million with a 20% internal rate of return, a four-year payback period and a 23-year mine life.

* South32 Ltd. secured an option to acquire an up to an 80% stake in Superior Resources Ltd.'s Nicholson zinc project in Queensland, Australia, by spending A$6 million on exploration within five years.

* Argonaut Resources NL, the 30% joint venture partner in the Torrens copper project in South Australia, accused 70%-owner Aeris Resources Ltd. of botching the program after the latter decided to pause drilling.

* The Minnesota State Court of Appeals upheld an environmental review for PolyMet Mining Corp.'s NorthMet copper project following a challenge from several groups.

* Searchlight Resources Inc. signed a letter of intent granting Emgold Mining Corp. an option to acquire the New York Canyon copper-molybdenum-gold property in Nevada.

* ASX-listed Accelerate Resources Ltd. will reduce fixed costs by up to 46% within the next 12 months "in recognition of the tightness of current capital markets."

PRECIOUS METALS

* Newcrest Mining Ltd. is buying water in the open market to try to overcome a drought that would affect its Cadia gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, The Australian Financial Review reported. Newcrest has reportedly been buying water in recent weeks for about A$1,000 per megaliter, nearly triple 2016 prices. Glencore PLC is facing the same issues at its CSA copper mine in the state.

* Tanzania will not allow Acacia Mining PLC to manage its mines in the country, reiterating that it will only engage with Barrick Gold Corp. to resolve a long-running dispute, Bloomberg News reported, citing government spokesperson Hassan Abbasi.

* Former Core Gold Inc. CEO and now activist shareholder Keith Piggott said Zhaojin Mining Industry Co. Ltd. is keen to reenter negotiations over its previously proposed C$100 million investment in Core Gold.

* Authorities from Mexico's Zacatecas state offered to mediate an agreement to end a two-month blockade by local villagers at Newmont Goldcorp Corp.'s Penasquito gold mine, Reuters reported, citing Zacatecas Secretary General Jehu Salas.

* Hecla Mining Co. is facing a lawsuit from Rosen Law Firm over statements in which the company claimed that its Nevada operations have positive or self-funding cash flow despite its struggles.

* TriStar Gold Inc. agreed to grant Royal Gold Inc. a 1.5% net smelter royalty and a 1% NSR option on the Castelo de Sonhos gold property in Brazil as well as 19,640,000 TriStar share warrants for a total of US$8.0 million.

* Moroccan miner Managem recovered 241 kilograms of gold cargo seized by Sudanese authorities over alleged smuggling, Reuters reported.

* Alamos Gold Inc. obtained the approval of Ontario's environment ministry to proceed with the phase-two expansion of its Island gold mine.

* Victoria Gold Corp. amended its existing US$175 million in debt facilities. It raised its senior secured facility to US$100 million from US$75 million and reduced a subordinated secured credit facility to US$75 million from US$100 million.

* Alba Mineral Resources PLC said it expanded areas of gold mineralization at the Clogau gold project in the U.K. based on results from a soil sampling program.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Champion Iron Ltd. unit Québec Iron Ore Inc. entered into an agreement in principle with la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec for a preferred share offering of C$185 million and a commitment for a fully underwritten US$200 million credit facility with The Bank of Nova Scotia and Societe Generale to fund strategic initiatives and refinance the unit's current outstanding credit facilities. The company also agreed to acquire Ressources Québec Inc.'s 36.8% equity interest in the unit for C$211 million, increasing its stake to 100%.

* Potash producer Nutrien Ltd. is considering expanding its annual production capacity by 5 million tonnes after 2023, with an option to add another 5 million tonnes afterward. The additional capacity would come from expansions to Nutrien's existing Canadian mines.

* Mosaic Co. resumed mining at its Catalão phosphate mine in Brazil, and the operation is running at full capacity. The mine was idled as the phosphate producer worked to bring the mine's tailings dam into compliance with new safety regulations imposed by the Brazilian government. Production at the Tapira mine is expected to restart in the third quarter after the mine secures its safety certificate.

* The U.K. government identified potential buyers for British Steel Corp. Ltd., which was recently placed under liquidation by the high court, the official receiver said in a statement.

* Queensland's government is asking coal miners in the Australian state to "voluntarily" contribute a collective A$70 million of their profits for a new regional infrastructure fund in return for a freeze on royalty increases, The West Australian reported. The state government will pitch in another A$30 million. The total amount is expected to be raised in three years.

* A Mexican federal judge issued an arrest warrant for former Petróleos Mexicanos SA de CV CEO Emilio Lozoya and steelmaker Altos Hornos de México SAB de CV Chairman Alonso Ancira, who has already been detained in Spain, over allegations of graft and corruption, Reuters reported, citing Mexican news agency Notimex. The Mexican attorney general's office said numerous arrest warrants were being executed, the newswire added separately.

* The share prices for U.S. steelmakers such as AK Steel Holding Corp. dropped after the price of hot-rolled coil steel dipped below a key level for the first time in 19 months, while iron ore prices have been on the rise, Bloomberg reported.

* A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio reintroduced bills intended to encourage the steel industry to produce fuel from a substance the government designates as a hazardous waste.

* Fenix Resources Ltd. signed a cooperation agreement with the manager of the Port of Geraldton, the Mid West Ports Authority, to negotiate port access to export iron ore from its Iron Ridge project in Western Australia.

* Following a strategic review, Centaurus Metals Ltd. will undertake a new pre-feasibility study for the Jambreiro iron ore project in Brazil, slated for completion by the end of June.

* ASX-listed Cape Lambert Resources Ltd.'s share price jumped 30% in late-afternoon trading on the ASX after it executed a nonbinding terms sheet for a A$15 million finance facility.

* Afarak Group PLC signed two agreements to acquire additional ownership in certain South African mining assets for 2,123,343 shares.

SPECIALTY

* Galaxy Resources Ltd. plans to establish itself as a battery chemicals producer by investing in a processing plant in China, where the company will ship spodumene concentrate from its Mt Cattlin lithium mine in Western Australia for processing into either lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide, The Australian Financial Review reported. Chairman Martin Rowley also revealed that the company is in talks with three parties for the sale of a minority stake in its Sal de Vida lithium project in Argentina.

* Lucapa Diamond Co. Ltd. generated US$3.5 million in revenue from the sale of a parcel of 7,008 carats of rough diamonds recovered from its 70%-owned Mothae mine in Lesotho.

* Fund manager Newgate Capital Partners sees Lynas Corp. as one of the most strategic assets on the ASX, with the potential to triple production from the Mount Weld rare earths mine in Western Australia, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* Namibian Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo said he has no objection to Rio Tinto's sale of its 69% stake in the Rossing uranium project to China National Uranium Corp. Ltd. as long as it is in line with the country's laws, Reuters wrote.

* Mineral Commodities Ltd. sued environmental activists for defamation over their remarks on the approval of an exploration license for the company's Xolobeni mineral sands project in South Africa, Fin24.com reported.

* Total indicated and inferred resources at Bluejay Mining PLC's Dundas ilmenite project in Greenland grew 15% to 117 million tonnes grading 6.1% ilmenite.

* Premier African Minerals Ltd. canceled a drilling program at its Zulu lithium project in Zimbabwe after it failed to agree on a revised pricing structure for a drilling contract with KME Plant Hire (Pty.) Ltd.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque said negligence in the mining sector was the main reason behind the recent disasters in the industry, without pinpointing specific instances or companies, Reuters reported. The minister said neglect of public power also contributed to the string of disasters.

* Brazil National Agency of Mining Director General Victor Hugo Bicca is forecasting mining royalty collection to reach 3.5 billion Brazilian reais this year, from 3.04 billion reais in 2018, Valor Econômico reported.

* After restricting scrap metal shipments into the country, China plans to grant import licenses and the first batch of import quotas by the end of June, slightly earlier than the industry expected, Reuters reported, citing a government spokesperson.

* Centrist parties lost ground in the European parliamentary elections but are still expected to form a coalition with the Liberals and Greens as the threatened populist insurgency failed to materialize.

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