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Court allows Nippon Steel asset seizure; Grasberg's copper exports to fall

Greenhouse gas and gold mines Nearly 1 ton of CO2 emitted per ounce of gold produced in 2019

Essential Metals & Mining Insights - September 2020

Essential Metals & Mining Insights - August 2020

State of the Market: Mining Q2-2020


Court allows Nippon Steel asset seizure; Grasberg's copper exports to fall

TOP NEWS

South Korean court allows seizure of Nippon Steel assets

A South Korean court granted a request to seize the Korean assets of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. in a dispute over Japan's wartime forced labor, Yonhap News Agency reported. Lawyers representing South Korean plaintiffs asked the court to seize 81,075 shares of the POSCO-Nippon Steel RHF Joint Venture between Nippon Steel and POSCO. Meanwhile, Japan's Foreign Ministry summoned South Korea's ambassador to demand discussions, based on an article of a 1965 treaty that settled claims decades ago, according to Reuters.

Indonesia expects copper exports from Grasberg to fall in 2019

Copper concentrate exports from Freeport-McMoRan Inc.'s 48.8%-controlled Grasberg copper-gold mine in Indonesia are expected to fall to 200,000 tonnes this year from about 1.2 million tonnes in 2018, Reuters wrote, citing Yunus Saefulhak, the director of minerals at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry. Output from the mine is forecast to decline due to a change from open pit to underground mining, according to the official.

Tata Steel posts mixed bag for fiscal Q3'19 with production up, sales down YOY

Tata Steel Ltd. produced 3.33 million tonnes of crude steel in the third quarter of its fiscal 2019, increasing from 3.27 Mt the year before, while sales fell to 2.97 Mt from 3.30 Mt. The company attributed the decline in sales to seasonal headwinds, particularly in terms of softer automotive demand and inventory replenishment.

BASE METALS

* Sierra Metals Inc. reported that refurbishing of the Piedras Verdes mill at the Bolivar copper-silver-gold mine in Mexico's Chihuahua state was completed early. The work to increase mine production and mill throughput from 3,000 tonnes per day to 5,000 tonnes per day by mid-2020 remains on track.

* The Finance Commission of Chile's Senate unanimously approved a bill to repeal a law that requires the state-owned copper miner Codelco to pay 10% of its revenues to the military, Mining Journal reported. The law dates from the 1950s and allocated parts of Codelco's sales to the armed forces.

* Terramin Australia Ltd. agreed to acquire Private Mine No. 53 in South Australia, which covers the historical Kitticoola copper-gold mine, from Kitticooler Holdings Pty. Ltd.

* Central Asia Metals PLC expects its full-year production at 12,500 to 13,500 tonnes of copper, 22,000 to 24,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate, and 28,000 to 30,000 tonnes of lead. In 2018, the company produced 14,049 tonnes of copper, 22,532 tonnes of zinc and 29,388 tonnes of lead, compared to 14,103 tonnes of copper, 21,585 tonnes of zinc and 29,881 tonnes of lead produced in 2017.

* First Quantum Minerals Ltd. President Clive Newall said the company will ramp up production at the Cobre Panama copper project in Panama this year, and bondholders should benefit as the country's stronger credit rating feeds into the debt's prices, Bloomberg News reported.

* Nautilus Minerals Inc. must secure a loan or another source of funding by Jan. 14 to continue operations. The company is in talks with an arm's-length party to secure a US$5 million loan and extended the term of its existing secured loan facility of up to US$34 million for 30 days.

* First Cobalt Corp. engaged Brown and Caldwell as its primary environmental and permitting consultant for the Iron Creek cobalt project in Idaho.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Beadell Resources Ltd. missed 2018's reduced gold production guidance of 125,000 to 135,000 ounces by 1.3%. The company produced 123,336 ounces in 2018, compared to 127,764 ounces in 2017.

* Centamin PLC's fourth-quarter 2018 gold production dropped 11% year over year to 137,600 ounces from its Sukari gold mine in Egypt. Full-year 2018 production slipped 13% year over year to 472,418 ounces, missing the 480,000-ounce guidance.

* Titan Minerals Ltd. received environmental approval for its Vista gold plant and mill in Peru. The company will be allowed to start commercial production once it secures an operator's permit, which it expects to receive shortly.

* Dacian Gold Ltd. achieved commercial production Jan. 1 at its Mount Morgans gold operation in Western Australia. Gold output from the mine in the December-2018 quarter totaled 37,930 ounces, up 30% from the September-2018 quarter.

* Venezuela challenged sanctions imposed by the U.S. at the World Trade Organization, saying that banning sales of Venezuelan gold, trade restrictions, and discriminatory treatment of Venezuela's debt and transactions in digital currency breach international rules, Reuters reported.

* Cora Gold Ltd. appointed Wardell Armstrong International for preliminary metallurgical test work at its Sanankoro gold discovery in southern Mali to assess the amenability for cyanide leach extraction of gold from oxide mineralization. Results are expected in the second quarter.

* New Gold Inc. produced 110,559 ounces of gold and 20.8 million pounds of copper in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to 114,025 ounces of gold and 21.7 million pounds of copper in the third quarter.

* Ramelius Resources Ltd. produced 52,623 ounces of gold in the December-2018 quarter from its operations in Western Australia, topping the guidance of between 48,000 and 52,000 ounces.

* Great Panther Silver Ltd. halted operations at the Guanajuato mine, part of its flagship Guanajuato mine complex in Mexico, to reduce costs. The company plans to shift all production at the Guanajuato complex to the lower-cost San Ignacio mine this year as it realigns its Mexican operations.

* Sibanye Gold Ltd. said a mediator for the ongoing strike at the company's gold mines in South Africa will approach the Labour Court to seek guidance on verifying union membership after the miner disagreed with the striking Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union about the terms of reference for the process, Mining Weekly reported.

* Shareholders approved Pan American Silver Corp.'s US$1.07 billion takeover of Tahoe Resources Inc.

* Harte Gold Corp. achieved commercial production Jan. 1 at its Sugar Zone gold mine in Ontario.

* An updated preliminary economic assessment on K92 Mining Inc.'s Kora and Kora North gold deposits, part of an expansion project at its Kainantu mine in Papua New Guinea, estimated a pretax net present value of US$710 million, discounted at 5%, with a 350% internal rate of return.

* Fresnillo PLC appointed André Sougarret Larroquete as COO, following the retirement of Roberto Díaz.

* Mandalay Resources Corp.'s proven and probable gold reserves, net of depletion, at the Costerfield gold-antimony mine in Victoria, Australia, grew 26% yearly to 154,000 ounces contained in 537,000 tonnes grading 8.9 g/t. Antimony reserves in the proven and probable categories slid 10% to 15,500 tonnes grading 2.9%.

BULK COMMODITIES

* CIMIC Group Ltd.'s Sedgman Pty. Ltd. secured a A$155 million engineering, procurement and construction contract at QCoal Pty. Ltd.'s Byerwen coal mine in Queensland, Australia. Early work has started, and the project will conclude in early 2020.

* Thyssenkrupp AG unit thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG won a contract from ArcelorMittal to supply a new coke battery for the Tubarão steel plant in southeastern Brazil's Espirito Santo state.

* Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. are asking to postpone the lifting of sanctions on United Co. Rusal PLC, En+ Group PLC and JSC EuroSibEnergo to allow time for further scrutiny. The chairs of seven U.S. House committees asked for a 30-day period to counter the recommendation from the U.S. Treasury Department to lift the sanctions placed in April 2018. United Co. Rusal shares and En+ Group global depositary receipts fell sharply as trading opened in Moscow on Jan. 9.

* The U.S. government's decision to remove sanctions on Russian aluminum producer Rusal will benefit limited U.S. consumers, Reuters reported. Rusal supplied only about 10% of the U.S. market in 2017.

* Compass Minerals International Inc.'s sales of highway de-icing salt products in the fourth quarter of 2018 declined to about 2.8 million tonnes, from 3 million tonnes in the comparable 2017 period. Sales of all salt products were also down at 3.5 million tonnes from 3.6 million tonnes.

* Downer Group secured a five-year rail-services renewal contract with Rio Tinto, adding to the track construction and tire management services it provided to the mining major, Australian Mining reported.

* The Fair Work Commission in Australia ordered BHP Coal Pty. Ltd. to reinstate veteran mineworker Gregory Macklin and pay A$44,000 in lost earnings after the regulator found that the worker was unfairly dismissed for refusing to train a contractor, The Australian reported. Macklin worked in BHP's coal mining department at the Goonyella Riverside mine in central Queensland.

* SouthGobi Resources Ltd. said the Hong Kong Stock Exchange asked it to investigate the conduct of former senior executives that "raises suspicions of serious fraud, misappropriation of company assets and other criminals acts" between 2016 and the first half of 2018.

* The board of National Mineral Development Corp. Ltd. approved the repurchase of up to 102,040,815 shares of the company, or a 3.23% stake, worth 10 billion Indian rupees at 98 rupees per share.

* Mosaic Co. signed a memorandum of understanding to supply phosphate rock and phosphate fertilizers, including premium products, to China's Sinochem Fertilizer Co. Ltd.

* North China's Hebei province plans to reduce steel capacity by 14 million tonnes, coal capacity by 9 million tonnes and coke capacity by 3 million tonnes in 2019, China Securities Journal reported, citing data the provincial government released.

* China's Shanghai city intends to slash coal consumption by more than 5% by 2020 compared to the 2015 level and cap the ratio of coal in primary energy consumption to under 33%, according to a statement from the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Ecology and Environment.

SPECIALTY

* Peninsula Mines Ltd. wholly owned subsidiary Korea Graphite Co. Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding with Tera Technos Co. Ltd., a South Korean carbon composite anode material producer, for a potential off-take deal.

* The ASX will remove Hardey Resources Ltd. from the bourse after uncovering a series of questionable disclosures and a breach of listing rules related to the acquisition of the Nelly vanadium mine in Argentina and the purchase of six assets held by Vanadium Mining Pty. Ltd.

* Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc. plans to start sales of graphite concentrates from the Matawinie project in Quebec in the first quarter. A preliminary economic study is also expected this year, which outlines commercial production of 30,000 tonnes per year of purified, value-added spherical graphite.

* Advantage Lithium Corp. expects to release an updated resource estimate for its Cauchari lithium joint venture in Argentina with Orocobre Ltd. in the first quarter that is expected to bring resources into the measured and indicated categories.

* Lucara Diamond Corp. approved a US$14.8 million budget to complete a feasibility study for an underground mining operation at its flagship Karowe diamond mine in Botswana. The company expects to fetch between US$170 million and US$200 million from the sale of 300,000 to 320,000 carats of diamond from Karowe in 2019.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The number of projects reporting drill results plunged in December 2018 to 224 after hitting new heights in October and November, although the number of reported drillholes increased slightly, by 177 for a total of 4,624, according to a report by the Metals and Mining Research Team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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