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Deal signed on Italy's possible Ilva investment; US Steel flags layoffs


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Deal signed on Italy's possible Ilva investment; US Steel flags layoffs


ArcelorMittal signs deal on potential Italian investment in Ilva steel plant

ArcelorMittal signed a nonbinding agreement with the commissioners of Italy's Ilva International SpA to continue negotiations on a new industrial plan for the troubled steel plant, including a possible equity investment by a government-controlled entity. ArcelorMittal had intended to terminate its acquisition of Ilva after the government removed the company's legal shield over a planned environmental cleanup. The new plan would consider investments in green technology, including through a new company financed by public and private investors. Negotiations are seen running to January 2020.

US Steel flags layoffs in Michigan, swing to Q4'19 loss amid weak market

U.S. Steel Corp. plans to curtail a significant portion of its Great Lakes Works operation near Detroit, Mich., as the company adjusts its capital allocation strategy amid a weak market. The company flagged restructuring costs of about US$225 million and said up to 1,545 workers could be impacted by the indefinite stoppage, though that number is expected to be lower.

Norsk Hydro cuts alumina refinery output after power outage at Brazilian mine

Norsk Hydro ASA said it will temporarily reduce production at its Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil to between 50% and 70% of capacity to prolong its bauxite's inventories' lifetime after a power outage at its Paragominas bauxite mine, which supplies the refinery using a 244-kilometer pipeline. Regular power supply to the mine is expected to resume within five to 10 days. The company noted that it did not expect any impact on its customers and the financial impact would be limited.


* Executives from mining companies including Barrick Gold Corp., Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and Newmont Goldcorp Corp. are expecting a big focus on environmental, social and governance issues as well as on more consolidation in 2020, according to interviews with Bloomberg News.


* Katanga Mining Ltd.'s Kamoto Copper Co. SARL will pay up to US$250 million to acquire a land package near the Kamoto copper concession in Congo from joint venture partner Gécamines SA. Title transfers are expected to take effect in 2020. The Glencore PLC unit owns 75% of Kamoto, with Gécamines holding the remaining 25%.

* Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.'s Pebble LP secretly coordinated with Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy in lobbying efforts for the Pebble copper-gold project, CNN reported, citing newly released emails obtained by the news outlet. Dunleavy was reportedly given detailed advice on strategies and even sometimes used the company's exact language during the lobbying process.

* Chilean state miner Codelco terminated a contract awarded to a consortium led by Japan's Marubeni Corp. to build a desalination plant for the Chuquicamata, Radomiro Tomic and Ministro Hales copper mines, Reuters reported. A new tender will take place within the next 24 months, after the company made adjustments to the project, the report said.

* Copper looks set to shine through the first half of 2020 as global trade tensions ease on the back of a tentative "phase-one" deal between the U.S. and China and manufacturing demand shows modest signs of improvement, some analysts said.

* ICBC Standard Bank scrapped its plan to close its base metals business and will instead merge it with the precious metals unit to slash costs, Reuters reported, citing an emailed statement from the bank.

* Polish copper miner KGHM Polska Miedź SA obtained a five-year, US$1.5 billion unsecured loan with an international consortium of banks, Puls Biznesu reported.

* South32 Ltd. exercised an option to acquire a 50% stake in Trilogy Metals Inc.'s Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects in northwestern Alaska.

* London-listed Metal Tiger PLC plans to buy back up to 155,917,230 shares to reduce its share capital and cut the discount to its share price and improve liquidity. It earmarked up to £500,000 initially for the buyback.

* Bass Metals Ltd. agreed to sell its Tasmania, Australia, assets, which include the Hellyer zinc project and the Mount Block permit, to NQ Minerals PLC.


* Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd. said a security contractor died following an armed attack at the Kalgold gold mine in South Africa. No gold was stolen, and the attack is being investigated by the South African police.

* China launched its maiden gold options contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange amid high prices for the precious metal, Reuters reported.

* The Australian Taxation Office had its A$250 million goods and services tax assessment against EBS Refining upheld in a landmark tax case, after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal struck down the gold refiner's arrangement to obtain refunds from an artificial gold bullion processing and trading scheme, The Australian wrote. The victory meant the tax office operated within the law, and states that have lost about A$1 billion in goods and services tax revenue will find it harder to retrieve monies from the Commonwealth, the report said.

* Shanta Gold Ltd. successfully connected its New Luika gold mine in Tanzania to the state power grid supplied by TANESCO. The cost of state grid power is about half that of self-generated power.

* The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho confirmed Otis Gold Corp.'s five-year operation plan for the Kilgore gold project. While Judge B. Lynn Winmill found that the U.S. Forest Service's environmental assessment was adequate, he directed the agency to update its analysis to include more information about the project's impact on ground and surface water in the Dog Bone Ridge area.

* Resolute Mining Ltd.'s sulfide roaster at the Syama gold mine in Mali has been successfully brought back online and is operating at nameplate capacity.

* Azumah Resources Ltd. received all of the environmental permits from the Ghanaian environmental protection agency, allowing the company to start construction and operation of its Wa-Lawra gold project.


* India's steel production may face a severe shortage of manganese and chrome ore, with the demand-supply imbalance expected to lead to job losses in the long-term, Mining Weekly reported, citing the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries. "Seven working manganese mines and four working chromite mines are going to shut down in few months, by March 31, 2020, leading to wiping out almost 16% manganese ore production in the country and 50% chromite production, thus disrupting raw material supplies for ferroalloys and steel industry creating long term unemployment," federation President Sunil Duggal was quoted as saying.

* Australia's Construction, Forestry, Maritime Mining and Energy Union will appeal the Fair Work Commission's approval of two labor agreements covering BHP Group's in-house labor hires at its Operations Services coal workforce in Queensland and New South Wales, The Australian reported. The two deals contained conditions that are worse than current union-negotiated agreements covering directly employed BHP coal workers, the report said, citing Tony Maher, the union's mining division national president.

* Oceanic Iron Ore Corp.'s preliminary economic assessment for the Hopes Advance iron ore project in Quebec generated a posttax net present value, discounted at 8%, of US$1.4 billion, a 17% internal rate of return and an initial cost estimate of US$1.19 billion.

* Philippine miner Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc. agreed to acquire a 40% stake in Seasia Nectar Port Services Inc. for 450 million Philippine pesos. Seasia Nectar Port operates a dry bulk terminal in Bataan province that handles shipments of coal, silica sand, steel and fertilizer, among other things.

* The Hong Kong Stock Exchange censured Ding He Mining Holdings Ltd. and three of its directors, including Chairman Wang Song Ling, for breaching listing rules and failing to cooperate with the exchange's investigation. Due to the directors' conduct in the case, the exchange concluded that their tenure in the company is prejudicial to investors.

* CIMIC Group Ltd. unit CPB Contractors Pty. Ltd. won three contracts worth A$150 million to carry out work at Rio Tinto's Robe River iron ore operation in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

* Ncondezi Energy Ltd. said its namesake coal-fired power project and coal mine in Mozambique was selected as a priority project under a cooperation agreement between the African nation and China.

* The Thai government renewed an antidumping duty imposed on cold-reduced coiled and uncoiled carbon steel from China, Vietnam and Taiwan for five years to limit supply from the three countries, Bangkok Post reported.

* BCI Minerals Ltd. expects a final investment decision for the Mardie salt and potash project in Western Australia by the third quarter of 2020, with start of construction targeted in early 2021.


* Water downstream of Rio Tinto's QMM ilmenite mine in Madagascar contained high concentrations of uranium and lead, which may harm local residents, Reuters reported, citing a study commissioned by Madagascar-focused British environmental charity The Andrew Lees Trust. "Rio Tinto does not believe that the mining process used at QMM directly introduces any enriched radiological material to the environment," a company representative told the newswire in response to emailed questions.

* The U.S. military is seeking proposals to stockpile rare earth magnets that are vital to manufacturing certain weapons including missiles and fighter jets, Reuters reported, citing a government document. Critics said the plan will not help boost the domestic supply chain, which local producers are hoping for amid China's dominance of the sector.

* Metallica Minerals Ltd. agreed to sell a 50% stake in the heavy mineral sand plant and tenements at Urquhart Point in Queensland, Australia, to Victorian Ferries Pty. Ltd. for a total of about A$1.7 million in stages.

* Mayur Resources Ltd.'s plans to build a pilot plant at the Orokolo Bay industrial sands project in Papua New Guinea are on track for 2020 after the purchase of key plant equipment and mobile machinery.

* New Hope Corp. Ltd. welcomed an appeals court decision that confirmed the Supreme Court of New South Wales' earlier ruling that the company was not bound by a Deed of Cross Guarantee to guarantee the debts of Northern Energy Corp. Ltd. and Colton Coal Pty. Ltd., which own the Colton coal project in Queensland, Australia, with both companies in liquidation.


* The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission voted to propose rules requiring resource extraction issuers to annually disclose payments made to a foreign or the U.S. government pertaining to commercial oil, natural gas and mineral development. The issuer would also have to disclose payments made by its subsidiaries or other entities it controls.

* Tariffs and trade tensions remain significant concerns for large businesses across the U.S., with about 43% of Fortune 500 companies mentioning these issues during earnings calls in the last few months, a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed. Nearly half of earnings calls from the manufacturing and industrial sectors discussed tariff and trade tension impacts. The study also noted that 40% of construction contractors said their businesses would be affected by steel and aluminum tariffs, while 32% were concerned about the effect of new material and equipment tariffs on their operations.

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