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US to lift sanctions on En+, Rusal; Noble Group completes restructuring

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US to lift sanctions on En+, Rusal; Noble Group completes restructuring

TOP NEWS

US to lift sanctions on En+, Rusal

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control intends to lift sanctions previously imposed on En+ Group PLC, United Co. Rusal PLC, and En+ unit JSC EuroSibEnergo within 30 days. However, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who owns major stakes in the companies, will remain sanctioned, including all properties in which he owns an over 50% stake. Meanwhile, the London Metal Exchange said it plans to lift its suspension on Rusal's aluminum if the U.S. lifts its sanctions, Reuters reported.

Noble Group completes US$3.5B restructuring process

Noble Group Ltd. has completed its lengthy US$3.5 billion restructuring, effective Dec. 20, and sold all of its assets to a new holding company, Noble Group Holdings Ltd. The shares in the new company are owned 70% by a senior creditor special purpose vehicle, 20% by Noble Group's shareholders, and 10% by a management special purpose vehicle.

Freeport ordered to pay 460B rupiah for illegal forest use

Indonesia's Supreme Audit Agency ordered Freeport-McMoRan Inc. to pay 460 billion Indonesian rupiah in royalties for illegally using a protected forest to deposit tailings from the Grasberg copper mine. Freeport was also flagged for mining underground at Grasberg without a permit, with damage from the mine's tailings amounting to about US$13.3 billion.

DIVERSIFIED

* Following its $10.5 billion acquisition of U.S. oil and gas assets from BHP Group Ltd. at the end of October, London-based major BP PLC reportedly launched the sale of about $3 billion of its legacy U.S. assets to help pay for the purchase, Reuters reported, citing sources.

BASE METALS

* The Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification in the Solomon Islands denied Axiom Mining Ltd.'s application for a prospecting license for the Kolosori deposit, and requested further information for the application's Tenement D, both part of the Isabel nickel project.

* Hammer Metals Ltd. outlined a maiden inferred resource estimate for the Jubilee copper-gold deposit of 1.4 million tonnes at 1.4% copper and 0.62 g/t gold, containing 20,000 tonnes of copper and 28,000 ounces of gold. Jubilee is part of the Mount Frosty joint venture in Queensland, Australia, owned 51% by Hammer and 49% by Mount Isa Mines Ltd.

* Auryn Resources Inc. optioned to Corporacion Aceros Arequipa SA three mineral concessions located within the Sombrero copper project in Peru. If the option is exercised, Auyrn and Aceros will form an 80/20 joint venture combining the 520-hectare Aceros concessions with 4,600 hectares of Auryn's 120,000-hectare Sombrero land position.

* A worker from contractor company Salfa died on Dec. 19 inside Codelco's El Teniente copper mine in Chile, after falling 8 meters while performing works at the mine's tailings treatment plant. The Chilean state miner and local police forces are investigating the cause of the fatal accident, TV network 24 Horas reported.

* Separately, Codelco's investment plans in Ecuador are reportedly facing problems, daily La Tercera reported, citing sources familiar with the process. The Chilean state miner and its Ecuadorian counterpart Enami EP have not been able to determine what type of society they should form to develop the Llurimagua copper project in Ecuador in a joint venture, the sources said.

* Creditors of Doe Run Peru SRL appointed Carrizales Infraestructura & Servicios Públicos SCRL as the new liquidator firm in charge of the liquidation process of the company's La Oroya metallurgical complex and the Cobriza copper mine in Peru. Carrizales replaces Diriges, which resigned from the contract in November due to differences with the company's creditors, daily Gestion reported.

* MOD Resources Ltd. said positive assays from the A4 Dome target, combined with a preliminary conceptual underground mining study, confirmed its expansion potential for the T3 copper project, part of the Botswana property.

* Alara Resources Ltd. agreed to sell 19% of its 70% stake in the Al Hadeetha copper mine in Oman to a member of the Al Tasnim Group for about A$10.7 million.

* Hudbay Minerals Inc. closed its acquisition of Mason Resources Corp., owner of the Ann Mason copper project in Nevada.

PRECIOUS METALS

* E2 Metals Ltd. is quitting the Neavesville epithermal gold-silver project in New Zealand due to uncertainty regarding the status of exploration and mining activities in the Thames Coromandel District. The company terminated the share sale agreement with EMX Royalty Corp., and has withdrawn from the Pakirarahi No. 1B joint venture. Separately, E2 Metals executed a binding deal to acquire Los Domos Pty. Ltd., which holds a 90,000-hectare portfolio of highly-prospective gold-silver projects in Argentina's Santa Cruz province.

* Mark Creasy's private gold explorer White Rivers Exploration Pty. Ltd., which owns the Kroonstad and Bothaville gold prospects in South Africa, is in talks with "deep-pocketed" companies for potential joint venture development of several of its gold discoveries in the country, The Australian reported. This will be in addition to the White Rivers/Harmony Gold JV in the country with Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd.

* White Metal Resources Corp. secured an option to acquire 100% of the Star Trek gold property in central Newfoundland from Sokoman Iron Corp.

* AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. is looking to exit its current South African operations and move its listing to London or Toronto, Bloomberg News reported, citing anonymous sources. The planned transfer, which the company has pondered for years, is unlikely to occur before 2020.

* The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union lodged an appeal against the South African Competition Tribunal's decision to approve Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s takeover of Lonmin PLC.

* Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd. will be able to reduce its debt to C$30 million thanks to Pretium Resources Inc.'s US$237 million repurchase of Osisko's gold-silver stream from the Brucejack mine in British Columbia.

* Lefroy Exploration Ltd. agreed to sell its Murchison gold project in Western Australia to Golden State Mining Ltd. for A$25,000 in cash, 1.7 million Golden State shares and 800,000 options.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia, is being refused insurance cover from 10 of the words top insurance companies, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing an anti-fossil fuel activist group, Market Forces. Global insurer Axa reportedly said that it will not renew a policy in March 2020 which covers part of the Carmichael rail line.

* Amid falling profits, the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association called a meeting of aluminum producers to discuss declining demand and depressed market prices, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter. The meeting will include representatives from companies including China Hongqiao Group Ltd. and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd.

* Edenville Energy PLC's Lamella clarifier water treatment plant installed at its Rukwa coal project in Tanzania is now fully operational.

* Oracle Power PLC said it replaced Sichuan Provincial Investment Group Co. Ltd. with Beijing Jingneng Power Co. Ltd. as a party to a memorandum of understanding to build a 660-MW power plant for the Block VI coal project in Pakistan. Beijing Jingneng will take-up a 78% equity interest in the project.

* By 2022, United Metallurgical Co., OMK CJSC plans to invest 167 billion Russian rubles to upgrade its PJSC Vyksa Steel Works operations, Vedomosti reported. About 70 billion rubles is dedicated to the modernization of the casting and rolling complex, which will increase its capacity to 3 million tonnes of steel per year.

* The European Commission extended until Feb. 1, 2019, the deadline of an investigation into steel imports, saying its scope was "unprecedented." The probe, launched March 26, came in reaction to U.S. tariffs on steel imports and over worries that dynamics in the steel market would shift, flooding the E.U. with steel once bound for the U.S.

* Citing lack of personnel amid a nearly yearlong lockout, Alcoa Corp. said it would cut about half the capacity of the last operating potline at its 74.95%-owned Becancour smelter in Quebec. The smelter, 25.05% owned by Rio Tinto Alcan Inc., has been operating at lower capacity since Alcoa locked out unionized workers Jan. 11.

* Mechel PAO extended until 2019 an agreement to supply China's Jidong Cement with up to 2 million tonnes of thermal coal mined from its Elga and Neryungrinsky sites in South Yakutia in the Russian Far East.

* GFG Alliance is accused of rejecting tenders for its Whyalla steelworks operations from small business vendors who do not agree to a payment term of 120 days, The Australian reported, citing South Australia's small business commissioner John Chapman. GFG denied the claim, although it revealed that it had vendors who were on 90-day terms, which Chapman found unacceptable.

* Germany's last coal mine, RAG Deutsche Steinkohle AG's Prosper-Haniel, will shut down Dec. 21 after stopping production in September, Financial Times reported.

* Indonesia's thermal coal production could reach between 480 million tonnes and 500 million tonnes in 2019, remaining flat over an estimated 500 million tonnes this year, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Indonesian Coal Mining Association.

* Canada said it will grant the request of British Columbia's construction industry to exempt some imported steel and aluminum from its newest import tariffs and quotas, Reuters reported.

* Turkey won its appeal at the World Trade Organization against additional U.S. tariffs on steel imports, Reuters reported, citing Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

SPECIALTY

* The Chilean Tax Administration will collect about US$1 billion in taxes from the recent sale by fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. of its 24% stake in Chilean lithium miner Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA to Chinese conglomerate Tianqi Lithium Corp. for US$4.1 billion. According to the Ministry of Finance of Chile, this the most significant tax collection in Chile's tax history, daily El Mercurio reported.

* Syrah Resources Ltd. signed a binding agreement with Qingdao Langruite Graphite Co. Ltd. to sell at least 48,000 tonnes of natural graphite from the Balama project in Mozambique in 2019, and an additional 12,000 tonnes at Syrah's option.

* UEX Corp. estimated a maiden mineral resource for its Christie Lake uranium project in Saskatchewan of 588,000 tonnes at 1.57% U3O8 containing 20.4 million pounds of uranium.

* W Resources PLC fed first mined ore ahead of its January 2019 target into its newly completed crusher, which is under commissioning at its flagship La Parrilla tungsten-tin project in Spain.

* Mineral Resources Ltd. joint venture partner Albemarle Corp. pegged the estimated cost of their processing plant at the Wodgina lithium mine in Western Australia at US$1.6 billion, The West Australian reported. Mineral Resources has not reported a cost estimate for the plant but had implied it may build an operation of a similar size for between US$900 million and US$1.2 billion.

* Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is concerned about a decline in the growth of the country's diamond reserves, Minister Dmitry Kobylkin said in an interview with Interfax. The minister observed that state-owned diamond monopolist PJSC Alrosa is only exploring diamond-mining areas of "high exploration maturity."

* Rio Tinto is testing Scania AB's new autonomous transport system at its Dampier Salt Ltd. operations in Western Australia. The trucks being trialed are smaller than Rio Tinto's traditional ones.

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