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Vale shareholders aim to disperse company ownership in new shareholder accord

TOP NEWS

Vale shareholders aim to disperse company ownership in new shareholder accord

Major Vale SA shareholders, including Bradespar SA and Mitsui & Co. Ltd., are close to endorsing a plan to turn the miner into a company with dispersed shareholding within six years, under which no major shareholder will control the decision making for the company, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. Vale's current 20-year shareholder accord expires in April, and a company securities filing confirmed that a new shareholder agreement is under discussion.

AngloGold in talks to lay off 849 in South Africa

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. is in talks with unions over its plan to lay off 849 workers out of its 25,000 employees in South Africa, Reuters reported, citing a company document, which attributed the layoffs to "operational requirements." The company confirmed that it was in talks with unions and regulators that may lead to layoffs, but did not comment on the number to be affected.

BHP, Vale enter preliminary agreement with federal prosecutors over Samarco disaster

BHP Billiton Group, Vale SA and their Brazilian iron ore joint venture Samarco Mineração SA entered a preliminary agreement with the Federal Prosecutors' Office in Brazil, under which the parties will provide a total security of 2.2 Brazilian reais to support the social and environmental remediation programs necessitated by the tailings dam disaster of November 2015. The parties have agreed to conclude negotiations over the 155 billion reais civil claim settlement by June 30.

DIVERSIFIED

* Despite a challenging second quarter of fiscal 2017, BHP Billiton Group spinoff South32 Ltd. remains on track to achieve production guidance for the majority of its operations for the full financial year. The second fiscal quarter results showed declines in the production of energy coal, manganese alloy, silver and lead compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

* Hawkeye Gold & Diamond Inc. signed a deal to purchase the 123.8-hectare Bonanza property, which encompasses the historical Bonanza Pit, a copper, gold, silver, zinc and magnetite skarn prospect on British Columbia's Vancouver Island for C$5,000 and 250,000 shares.

BASE METALS

* Moody's released upward adjustments to its pricing sensitivities for base metals this year, expecting political issues and speculation to continue driving short-term market activity and high volatility. Moody's expects increasing base metal prices to fall back over the course of 2017, except zinc prices, in the absence of "meaningful improvement in supply/demand fundamentals."

* Freeport-McMoRan Inc.'s unit is asking the Indonesian government for fiscal and legal guarantees that its taxes will remain the same as it transfers to a special mining permit under the country's new mining rules, Reuters reported, citing Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama.

* Chilean President Michelle Bachelet enacted a law that redirects resources from the country's Copper Reserve Law to capitalize state miner Codelco for US$475 million per year in 2016 and 2017, daily La Tercera reported.

* The director of Mirabela Mineração, Milson Mundim, said the company intends to resume operations this year at its Santa Rita nickel mine in Itagibá, Bahía state, Brazil, which was suspended in June 2016 after the liquidation of the parent company, Mirabela Nickel Ltd., Notícias de Mineração reported.

* An independent peer review of the feasibility study for PanAust Ltd. and Highlands Pacific Ltd.'s Frieda River copper-gold joint venture in Papua New Guinea suggested several alternatives to improve the project economics, including establishing a smaller initial project.

* Celsius Resources Ltd. will purchase Opuwo Cobalt Pty. Ltd., which holds an option to acquire the Opuwo cobalt project in Namibia.

* Union workers at BHP Billiton's Escondida copper mine in Chile have reaffirmed that they will not agree to any cut in benefits, Metal Bulletin wrote.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Barrick Gold Corp. unit Acacia Mining plc produced 829,705 ounces of gold in 2016, a 13% year-over-year increase that beat guidance for the year.

* Red 5 Ltd. will put the processing plant at its Siana gold project in the Philippines on temporary standby by the end of January due to delays in the processing of the environmental compliance certificate required for the construction of the mine's long-term tailings storage facility.

* Highvista Gold Inc. mutually agreed with Minerales y Yacimientos Mexicanos Sacreamento SA de CV to end sale negotiations for its Mexican mining exploration assets ahead of a reverse takeover bid by a group of third parties and its planned exit from the mining sector.

* Polymetal International Plc struck a deal with Polar Silver Resources Ltd. to acquire up to a 50% stake in the Prognoz silver deposit in Yakutia, Russia.

* Investors appear to be taking a more cautious approach to Australian gold floats this year, with companies undertaking more realistic capital raisings and witnessing modest trade in their first days on the ASX. MineLife analyst Gavin Wendt told S&P Global Market Intelligence that there was a lot of hype around gold in late 2016, prior to Donald Trump's election as president of the U.S., and investors were getting into gold floats simply because other players in the sector had done well.

* Although base metals prices strengthened in 2016, gold remained the top-explored commodity during the year. Due to the overall decline in exploration budgets, gold's share of the global budget surpassed its 2012 share of 47% and accounted for 48% in 2016.

* Shanta Gold Ltd. expects to produce 80,000 ounces to 85,000 ounces of gold this year at all-in sustaining costs of US$800 per ounce to US$850 per ounce. The company achieved record gold production in 2016 of 87,713 ounces, beating the year's guidance of 82,000 ounces to 87,000 ounces.

* Sierra Metals Inc. posted the second highest level of annual and quarterly metal production in the company's history. The company produced 11.4 million silver equivalent ounces and 79.5 million copper equivalent pounds in 2016, both representing 4% year-over-year increases and achieving full-year guidance.

* The US$3.5 billion NuevaUnion gold-copper-molybdenum joint venture between Goldcorp Inc. and Teck Resources Ltd. will undergo an environmental impact review in the second half, a process which is expected to last a year, Goldcorp told investors this week, daily Pulso reported.

* Primero Mining Corp. produced 176,139 gold equivalent ounces in 2016 to meet its revised output guidance for the year. Primero anticipates that 2017 production levels will be in line with 2016 but at reduced unit costs.

* A rockfall at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd.'s 20 shaft in Rustenburg, South Africa, killed one worker and injured another, Mining Weekly reported, citing Johan Theron, the company's spokesperson.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. expects its 2016 profits to increase about 7.3 times the year-ago figures and reach 1.6 billion Chinese yuan, with attributable net profit forecast to jump 85% to 380 million yuan.

* The flooding and final capping of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc.'s Penobsquis potash mine in New Brunswick has been approved by the provincial environment department, CBC News reported.

* Encanto Potash Corp. finalized a 20-year off-take agreement comprising at least 5 million tonnes of potash per year with the National Federation of Farmers' Procurement, Processing and Retailing Cooperatives of India Ltd., Mining.com wrote.

* The Hong Kong stock exchange plans to kick off a U.S. dollar-denominated, cash-settled iron ore futures contract in this year in a bid to compete with U.S. and Asian counterparts, Reuters reported.

* The US$90 million claim filed by Shanxi Coal International Energy Group Co. Ltd.'s Shanxi Coal Import & Export Co. Ltd. unit against CITIC Resources Holdings Ltd.'s CITIC Australia Commodity Trading Pty. Ltd. subsidiary in 2014 was transferred to the Southern Branch of the Qingdao Public Security Bureau. CITIC said the legal proceedings, under which Shanxi claims CITIC breached a contract to deliver certain aluminum ingots, will be terminated following the transfer.

* Moody's upgraded Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.'s corporate family rating to Ba1 from Ba2 on the basis of substantial debt reduction, cost improvements, and limited near-term capital expenditures. The rating agency also upgraded the senior unsecured and senior secured ratings of Fortescue unit FMG Resources (August 2006) Pty. Ltd. to Ba2 and Baa3, from B1 and Ba1, respectively. The ratings outlook is stable.

* Rio Tinto plans to cut 45,000 tonnes of aluminum output, worth up to A$110 million, from its Boyne aluminum smelter in Queensland, Australia, and will let up to 30 workers go due to an increase in electricity prices in the state.

* Evraz Plc's crude steel output dropped 5.7% year over year to 13.5 million tonnes in full-year 2016, while iron ore pellet production remained at the same level with just a 0.2% increase year over year to 6.5 million tonnes. Coking coal concentrate production increased 4.9% on a yearly basis to 14.3 million tonnes, and output of vanadium in final products declined 12.4% to 12,861 kilograms of pure vanadium equivalent.

* Kommersant reported that United Co. RUSAL Plc will kick off its road show of eurobonds Jan. 20 in Europe, North America and Asia, in a bid to raise over US$500 million to refinance part of its debt of about US$8 billion.

* Davenport Resources Ltd. will start trading on the ASX on Jan. 20. Davenport has been trying to list since late last year and expected to first hit the boards of the ASX in October 2016.

* Anglo American Plc has shortlisted bidders for the sale of some of its South African coal assets, including New Vaal, Kriel and New Denmark, as the company plans to focus on mining diamonds, platinum and copper, Bloomberg News reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.

* U.K. financier Edi Truell has renewed an offer to take over Tata Steel Ltd.'s British Steel Pension Scheme to allow its members to keep their full benefits, Reuters reported. Tata is in discussions with shareholders to cut pension benefits for the 130,000 members of the scheme via a spinoff into a stand-alone entity.

* The U.S. Commerce Department finalized its finding of dumping of certain imports of carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from China, Reuters reported. A final dumping margin of 68.27% was set for Jiangyin Xingcheng Special Steel Works Co. Ltd., the only respondent in the case, the department stated.

* An updated pre-feasibility study for Potash Ridge Corp.'s Blawn Mountain potash project in Utah estimated average after-tax life-of-mine cash flow of US$128 million per annum for a surface mining operation that will produce 232,000 tons of potassium sulfate per year.

* OJSC Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works kicked off shipments of flat steel products to Iran through Kazakhstan's port of Aktau, Metal Bulletin wrote, citing the company's spokesman.

SPECIALTY

* S&P Global Ratings downgraded its long-term corporate credit ratings for AREVA SA to B from B+, with a developing outlook, mainly due to a condition attached to the European Commission's approval of AREVA's planned €5 billion capital increase.

* De Beers SA will pilot fixed-price forward contracts in its auction sales starting Feb. 16 to give customers guaranteed access to future supply and price certainty, Mining Weekly reported.

* British miner Cornish Lithium signed a definitive mineral rights agreement with Strongbow Exploration Inc. to explore for lithium in Cornwall, Reuters reported.

* Marenica Energy Ltd. kicked off a revised scoping study at its 75%-owned Marenica uranium project in Namibia, which will take into account the reduction in mine development costs and the company's "U-pgrade" processing technology.

* Pilbara Minerals Ltd. awarded RCR Tomlinson Ltd. the engineering, procurement and construction contract for a 2 million-tonne-per-annum lithium-tantalum plant at its Pilgangoora project in Western Australia. The contract contains an incentivized target cost of A$138 million, with a guaranteed maximum price of A$148 million.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Mining fatalities in South Africa fell to a new record low of 73 in 2016 from 77 in 2015 amid the government's efforts to improve safety practices, Reuters reported, citing Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

* Rescuers worked to free seven miners trapped for two days in a tunnel covered by a landslide in southern Peru, Reuters reported.

S&P Global Ratings and SNL Metals & Mining, an offering of 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.