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EU urged to file WTO complaint against US over steel import duties

TOP NEWS

EU urged to file WTO complaint against US over duties on steel imports

Germany's minister for foreign affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, urged the European Union to consider filing a complaint against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization over the latter's plan to impose duties on steel plate imports from five EU member states, Reuters reported. The U.S. Department of Commerce recently made a final finding that Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan dumped certain steel plate products in the U.S. market below fair price, allowing the U.S. to impose duties ranging from 3.62% to 148% on the exports, Reuters wrote in a separate news brief.

Yancoal rivals attempt to block US$2.45B purchase of Rio Tinto coal ops

Yancoal Australia Ltd. slammed rivals that urged regulators to impose strict conditions on its planned US$2.45 billion acquisition of Rio Tinto's Coal & Allied Industries Ltd. unit, warning that the deal could give the Chinese government too much influence over Australian coal exports, The Australian reported.

Freeport close to temporarily resuming concentrate exports from Indonesia

Freeport-McMoRan Inc. unit PT Freeport Indonesia is close to reaching a deal with the Indonesian government to allow the company to temporarily resume exporting copper concentrates from its Grasberg mine, Reuters reported, citing Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan. The deal would allow Freeport to resume concentrate exports for the next six months while a new permit is negotiated.

BASE METALS

* Glencore Plc's Mopani Copper Mines Plc unit has invested US$1.3 billion in its Zambian operations to modernize the mine and extend its life by up to 30 more years. The investment was allocated to capital projects such as equipping the new Synclinorium, Mindola Deeps and Mufulira Deeps shafts, which are expected to come online by the end of 2018.

* Striking workers at Freeport-McMoRan Inc.'s Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru voted to end a nearly three-week strike, agreeing to resume work March 31, Reuters reported, citing the union. The work stoppage that started March 10 halted 95% of output at the site. However, Cerro Verde was able to produce at about 50% of its normal capacity a few days later, after contract workers were hired to operate key areas.

* Chile's mining production index fell 16% in February compared with the same month in 2016, and declined 9% compared with January this year, mainly due to lower copper output because of the recent strike at BHP Billiton Group's Escondida mine. Copper production reached 376,948 tonnes, down 16.7% year over year, according to data from official statistics institute INE.

* U.S. commodity hedge fund Blenheim Capital Management expects copper and zinc prices to increase in the coming months amid supply constraints and Chinese demand, Reuters reported.

* Pan American Silver Corp. is expected to sign investment agreements in April with state miner Comibol to jointly develop the Santa Isabel zinc project in Potosí, Bolivia. The company operates the San Vicente silver-zinc project in that same region, daily Los Tiempos reported.

* Cazaly Resources Ltd. applied for an exploration license on over 73 square kilometers of land known as the Lake Innes project in New South Wales, Australia, that hosts several known nickel-cobalt resources.

* The Peruvian government plans to hold a new round of bidding for the La Oroya smelter in Junín before a liquidation deadline in August after a third auction failed to draw offers for the 100-year-old facility, Reuters reported.

PRECIOUS METALS

* The government of Argentina's San Juan province restricted Barrick Gold Corp. from adding cyanide to its Veladero gold mine's heap leach facility. The restriction followed an order by the province to halt some operations at the mine after a pipe carrying gold and silver solution ruptured on the night of March 28.

* Resolute Mining Ltd. Managing Director and CEO John Welborn told attendees at the Western Australian Mining Club luncheon that he questioned the value Australian gold players create for shareholders, urging the industry to pick up its game. Welborn said shareholders continued to provide funds, but with little return so far.

* GBM Resources Ltd. terminated the A$10 million loan agreement with National Federal Capital Ltd., voiding its merger agreement with WCB Resources Ltd.

* Australian gold miner Dragon Mining Ltd. is moving to delist from the ASX and shift to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange following a A$17.5 million fully underwritten capital raising. At least 53% of the company's shares are controlled by three shareholders not located in Australia, and a further 16.36% of investors are not Australian residents.

* Matsa Resources Ltd. acquired a 90% interest in two exploration licenses with a combined area of 43.32 square kilometers, increasing the total area of the Lake Carey gold project in Western Australia to 425.2 square kilometers.

* MacDonald Mines Exploration Ltd. has signed a binding letter of intent to acquire the Holdsworth property in Ontario from Noble Mineral Exploration Inc. The property covers about 285 hectares and is part of the land package that comprises MacDonald Mines' Holdsworth gold-silver property.

* Golden Star Resources Ltd. has entered into a commitment for a US$25 million secured loan facility with Ecobank Ghana Ltd.

* After completing a six-month review period, Ashanti Gold Corp. exercised the option to earn 51% of Goldplat Plc's interest in the Anumso gold project in Ghana.

BULK COMMODITIES

* A roof collapse at one of the belt roads in Yancoal Australia Ltd.'s Austar metallurgical coal mine in New South Wales last weekend, before the arrival of Cyclone Debbie, will hamper two weeks' worth of production, a spokesperson confirmed to S&P Global Platts.

* Turkmenistan opened a US$1 billion, Belarusian-built potash plant in a bid to diversify from its natural gas exports. According to Reuters, the new plant aims to export 1.2 million tonnes of fertilizers per year to China and India, though Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said the plant will produce 1.5 million tonnes a year.

* Tata Steel Ltd. completed the €5.5 million divestment of its indirectly held Kalzip Guangzhou Ltd. unit to Shanghai Qinheng International Trade Co. as the Indian steelmaker continues to off-load nonprofitable assets to slash debt, Bloomberg News wrote.

* Trading sources told Reuters that Chinese ports have enough iron ore stockpiles to build nearly 13,000 replicas of the Eiffel Tower, with imported ore piling up at ports amid increasing domestic production. Consultancy firm SteelHome said inventory of imported ore at 46 Chinese ports reached 132.45 million tonnes March 24, the highest since the firm started tracking the data in 2004. A third of the stockpiles belongs to traders, while local steel mills own the rest.

* Steel Authority of India Ltd. is set to post record iron ore production upon closing the current fiscal year, with an output of 19.2 million tonnes from its captive iron ore mines, Mining Weekly reported, citing a company official.

* The Indian government is considering revisions to the regulations covering coal mine auctions in the country, Press Trust of India reported, citing Coal Minister Piyush Goyal.

* Australia's Wollongong Coal Ltd. won a court case against India's Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd. over the latter's failure to pay about US$63 million for coal it was supplied. The Supreme Court of New South Wales in Australia ordered Gujarat NRE to pay Wollongong Coal about US$59.7 million and subsidiary Wongawilli Coal Pty. Ltd. US$10.4 million.

* Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA requires a "strong president" to end the current debt crisis affecting the company, said the president of Ternium SA in Brazil, Paolo Bassetti, in an interview with daily Estado de Minas. Ternium is one of the controlling shareholders that forced out former CEO Rômel de Souza, who was replaced by Sérgio Leite. Ternium and Techint Group are key players in an ongoing boardroom conflict with Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. over shareholder power at the Brazilian steelmaker.

* Due to the severe weather associated with a cyclone in Queensland, Australia, New Hope Corp. Ltd. has put in place wet weather protocol measures. There are no significant impacts on mining operations. Meanwhile, the company's coal loading facility at the Port of Brisbane, Queensland Bulk Handling, suspended operations March 30.

* Indian steelmaker JSW Steel Ltd. is planning to raise up to US$750 million through an offering of nonconvertible senior unsecured fixed-rate bonds, Metal Bulletin reported, citing a company statement. Proceeds will be used to retire some of the company's debt and fund CapEx, among other things.

* The Rio Grande do Sul state government in Brazil has granted Aguia Resources Ltd.'s Rio Grande phosphate project priority status, the company said.

SPECIALTY

* FMC Corp. signed a definitive agreement with DuPont, under which FMC will acquire a portion of DuPont's Crop Protection business, while DuPont will acquire FMC Health and Nutrition and also receive US$1.2 billion in cash.

* An upgraded mineral resource estimate at Kibaran Resources Ltd.'s Epanko graphite project in Tanzania increased the total resource by 40% over the June 2015 estimate. The total resource at the Epanko project now totals 30.7 million tonnes grading 9.9% total graphitic carbon for 3.05 million tonnes of contained graphite, using an 8% cutoff grade.

* U3O8 Corp. staked the La Niquelina mine in Argentina, which previously produced uranium, cobalt and nickel. Mineralization at La Niquelina comprises the five-element vein type, which typically contains silver, nickel, cobalt, arsenic and bismuth or uranium.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Britain will have to make "significant progress" on finalizing the terms of its departure from the European Union before beginning talks on a new trade arrangement, but European Council President Donald Tusk suggested those talks could begin before the end of this year.

* Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was forced to shelve a plan to cut company taxes for big business due to opposition from the senate, five weeks before a budget release that aims to retain the country's AAA credit rating. According to Bloomberg News, BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie joined other business leaders in urging the parliament to pass the full tax cuts to boost Australia's investment environment.

* In his first speaking engagement as the new Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum at a Western Australian Mining Club luncheon in Perth, Bill Johnston left the industry hanging on the topics of the planned sale of the Utah Point bulk handling facility and the future of uranium mining in the state.

* The South African mining sector's profits before taxes improved by 72.2 billion rand year over year in 2016 after a decline of 68.0 billion rand in 2015, Fin24 reported, citing a statement from Chamber of Mines chief economist Henk Langenhoven.

* From 2013 through 2016, mining and exploration companies raised nearly US$90 billion to support their operations worldwide. The aggregate raised for Latin American and Asian operations accounted for more than a third of the total, and the aggregate raised for Europe, the U.S. and Pacific/Southeast Asia accounted for less than a quarter of the total. Lesser amounts were raised for work in Australia, Canada and Africa.

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

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.