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SAIL approves long-delayed US$1B automotive steel JV with ArcelorMittal

TOP NEWS

SAIL approves long-delayed US$1B automotive steel JV with ArcelorMittal

Steel Authority of India Ltd., or SAIL, and ArcelorMittal entered into a nonbinding agreement after SAIL approved the long-delayed US$1 billion joint venture to make automotive-grade steel, Reuters reported. SAIL said a definitive agreement with ArcelorMittal will be finalized in due course subject to financial viability, with the joint venture expected to start producing automotive steel in three years.

Freeport, Indonesia nearing deal to transfer Grasberg stake

The Indonesian government and Freeport-McMoRan Inc. could sign a new deal as early as Dec. 17 outlining plans for transferring a majority stake in the Grasberg copper-gold mine to Indonesia's state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Persero), Bloomberg News reported, citing anonymous sources. Under the transaction completion agreement, PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium will look to acquire Rio Tinto's interest in Grasberg by March 2018 and then convert it into an equity stake, two of the sources said.

Workers down tools at Vale's Moatize coal mine in Mozambique

Workers at Vale SA's Moatize coal mine in Mozambique downed tools in a dispute over bonus payments, Reuters reported, citing a Mozambican television station. The move resulted in the stoppage of work at the plant. The workers were seeking the reinstatement of the bonuses, and claimed that the miner had cut the bonus payments due to a sharp decline in global coal prices.

BASE METALS

* The concentration of cobalt supply is rising in terms of the commercial control of its production and of its geographical source. These changes pose a risk, both commercially and geopolitically, to manufacturers relying on cobalt as it becomes increasingly critical with the growth of battery demand, according to the Metals and Mining Research team of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co. inked a five-year, US$2.5 billion term loan facility agreement with a consortium of international financial institutions.

* CuDeco Ltd. resumed processing plant operations and concentrate production at its flagship Rocklands copper mine in Queensland, Australia, after addressing the issues raised by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in late November.

* KGHM Polska Miedz SA is considering its options after British Columbia's provincial authorities refused to issue an environmental assessment certificate for its preproduction-stage Ajax copper-gold property.

* Variscan Mines Ltd. secured a binding option to acquire the Rosario copper project in northern Chile's Atacama region.

* MMG Ltd. made its first shipment of approximately 10,500 wet tonnes of zinc concentrate, part of the commissioning of the Dugald River zinc project in Queensland, Australia.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Torex Gold Resources Inc. said that a majority of the workers at its El Limon-Guajes gold mine in Mexico voted to return to work immediately during the company-organized off-site voting for 520 employees who are eligible to join a union. A union called Los Mineros illegally blockaded the main gate to the mine in early November.

* Royal Bafokeng Platinum Ltd. won a court ruling to transfer workers from Aforika Borwa Mining Solutions, after severing ties with a company connected with the Gupta family, Fin24 reported.

* Calidus Resources Ltd.'s total indicated and inferred resource at its Warrawoona gold project in Western Australia increased 74% to 10.5 million tonnes at 2.11 g/t of gold for 712,000 ounces.

* Colorado Resources Ltd. and Damara Gold Corp. have mutually agreed to terminate the letter agreement over the Kinaskan-Castle copper-gold project in British Columbia.

* Trifecta Gold Ltd. terminated an option agreement with Metals Creek Resources Corp. covering the latter's Squid gold-silver property in Canada's Yukon Territory.

* Aphrodite Gold Ltd. shareholders approved the proposed acquisition by Spitfire Materials Ltd., where the latter will issue 1 share for every 2.8959 Aphrodite shares.

* Teranga Gold Corp. was upgraded from the OTC Pink market and began trading on the OTCQX, under the ticker TGCDF.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Rio Tinto will retrofit additional haul trucks at the Marandoo iron ore mine, part of its Hamersley Consolidated operations in Western Australia's Pilbara region, to add more driverless trucks to its fleet, The West Australian reported.

* Adani Enterprises Ltd. terminated contracts with Downer EDI for the development of the company's Carmichael coal project in Queensland, Australia, with mutual consent, and plans to develop the mine on an "owner operator" model, The Australian Financial Review reported. Adani hired Downer in December 2014 to undertake drilling, blasting and coal haulage at Carmichael, in a contract reportedly worth nearly A$2 billion. The Indian miner, however, said the contract termination was not a sign that the Carmichael project would soon be terminated as well.

* Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.'s stock price tumbled by as much as 17% this year, as it failed to meet Chinese steel mills' demand for high-grade iron ore following the country's crackdown on heavily polluting steel mills, Bloomberg News reported.

* Ukraine's coal imports from January through November in monetary terms reached US$2.43 billion, the bulk of which came from Russia, the UNIAN Information Agency reported, citing the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine.

* Italy's state holding company CDP and Intesa Sanpaolo entered a non-binding agreement to join ArcelorMittal's bid to acquire Ilva International SpA, Reuters reported, citing a source close to the matter. The CDP and Intesa's participation will amount to around €100 million euros, replacing the share in the consortium currently held by Italian steel processor Marcegaglia.

* Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co. Ltd. will raise steel bar and U-shaped steel-sheet pile prices by as much as 4.6% for a second consecutive month as a result of local and international market conditions and expected higher market prices, Reuters reported.

* According to an independent study commissioned by the U.K. government, the country will have £3.8 billion per annum of business opportunities for steelmakers by 2030, Reuters reported. The government also plans to use 3 million tonnes of domestic steel in infrastructure projects over the next five years.

* The worker's strike at Griffin Coal's Collie coal mine in Western Australia is expected to spill over into the new year after the maintenance workers again failed to reach a breakthrough in stalled wage negotiations, The West Australian reported. The maintenance workers at the mine have been striking for a record 17 weeks after the company last year shifted them on to an industry award resulting in wage cuts of up to 40%.

* AK Steel Holding Corp. and members of the United Auto Workers Local 600 union of its Dearborn, Mich., plant ratified a labor agreement, effective until July 31, 2021.

* Mechel PAO signed a protocol of intent on developing ties between Mechel-Steel Management Co. OOO and Kyrgyzstan's state-owned Kyrgyz Temir Zholu. The protocol will run for five years and aims to build systematic cooperation, including product information exchange, as well as cooperation in steel rolls supplies such as broad-gauge rails.

* Jastrzebska Spólka Weglowa SA concluded a five-year coking coal supply deal with voestalpine Rohstoffbeschaffungs Gmbh and Importkohle GmbH in Linz Austria. The contract will take effect April 1, 2018, and is estimated to be worth about 1.35 billion Polish zlotys.

SPECIALTY

* Savannah Resources Plc estimated a maiden inferred resource of 32,000 tonnes contained in 3.2 million tonnes grading 1.0% lithium oxide at the Reservatorio deposit of the Mina do Barroso lithium project in northern Portugal.

* PJSC Alrosa recovered a 98.63-carat large gem-quality diamond from the Jubilee pipe of the Aikhal Division in Russia. Over 20 large rough diamonds of over 50 carats have been extracted from Jubilee this year, said Evgeny Agureev, the director for the company's united selling organization.

* Bass Metals Ltd. kicked off recommissioning of the Graphmada graphite mine in Madagascar.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The trends in juniors companies' exploration budget history are largely the same across all targets in 2017. However, because their business model is essentially risk-driven, aiming for a big return, the juniors have historically been driven more by the precious metals sector, particularly gold and silver, than by base metals, according to the Metals and Mining Research team of S&P Global Market Intelligence. In 2017, data collected for S&P Global's Corporate Exploration Strategies series shows that while gold and other target allocations are up, essentially ending the four-year decline in budgets, base metals allocations by the juniors are down for the fifth consecutive year.

* Pacific/Southeast Asia is the only global region that has reported lower exploration budgets in 2017 compared with 2016, according to the Metals and Mining Research team of S&P Global Market Intelligence. With allocations US$67 million lower year over year, the region's share of global budgets has decreased to 3.8% from 5.3% the year before, continuing its last-place finish since 1999. Data gathered for S&P Global Market Intelligence's Corporate Exploration Strategies series shows that, out of the 14 countries in Pacific/Southeast Asia with budgets in 2016, seven have reported lower exploration budgets year over year in 2017. Only 86 companies are currently exploring in the region, a 22% drop from 110 reporting in 2016.

* Large-scale mining in Chile will require more than 29,000 new technical workers by 2027, with demand focused on maintenance and machine operators, Soy Chile reported, citing a study by Chilean mining association Consejo Minero.

* The government of Odisha, India, ruled out extending the Dec. 31 deadline to recover penalties from miners for illegal mining activities in the province as ordered by the Supreme Court, Mining Weekly reported. According to government data, the amount recoverable from miners will be about US$781 million, which is higher than the US$468 million estimated when the court issued the verdict.

* Metallurgical companies will pay more dividends due to a raft of measures to protect the environment, increased demand and higher prices for basic metals, mostly completed investment cycles, and less debt, Vedomosti reported, citing reviews by UBS.

S&P Global Market Intelligence is owned by S&P Global Inc.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. London time, and scans news sources published in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Some external links may require a subscription.