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Panel blames liquefaction for Vale dam burst; Albemarle targets US$5.0B in 2024


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Panel blames liquefaction for Vale dam burst; Albemarle targets US$5.0B in 2024


Expert report out on deadly Vale dam collapse; Germany investigating auditor

An expert panel hired by Vale SA to conduct an investigation over the disintegration of a tailings dam at the Feijao iron ore mine in Brazil in January concluded that the failure and resulting flow slide was the result of flow liquefaction, or sudden loss of strength, within the tailings in the dam. The panel said that there were no "apparent signs of distress" to the dam structure prior to the burst that killed hundreds. Meanwhile, German prosecutors opened an inquiry into TÜV SÜD AG, suspecting that it illegally signed off on the stability of a tailings dam at Feijao, Reuters reported.

Albemarle looking to double lithium output, up to US$5.0B revenue by 2024

Lithium major Albemarle Corp. is targeting revenue of between US$4.4 billion and US$5.0 billion in 2024, with adjusted EBITDA of US$1.5 billion to US$1.8 billion, and free cash flow between US$800 million and US$1.0 billion. President and CEO Luke Kissam said annual lithium production capacity in 2024 is expected to more than double to 225,000 tonnes, Reuters reported the same day.

Steelmakers thyssenkrupp, Voestalpine, Salzgitter fined €646M for price fixing

Steelmakers thyssenkrupp AG, Voestalpine AG and Salzgitter AG were fined a total of about €646 million as part of a settlement with German anti-cartel watchdog Bundeskartellamt over price fixing in the country's steel industry. The antitrust authority said that thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG, voestalpine Grobblech GmbH and Salzgitter's Ilsenburger Grobblech GmbH unit, as well as three unnamed individuals, colluded to fix prices and surcharges for quarto plates, a kind of steel used for construction, bridges, ships and pipelines.


* BHP Group Chief Transformation Officer Jonathan Price will step down from his position in 2020 after overseeing the transition of transformation programs into the assets and functions over the first half of the year. "Transformation will now become a core accountability of every leader within BHP and will be accelerated through their delivery plans to realise the full value of this opportunity," CEO Andrew Mackenzie said.

* Chinese graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, is investigating China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Co. Ltd.'s deputy general manager Yang Qi on serious breaches of discipline, according to Reuters, which wrote that the allegations are a "common euphemism for corruption."

* Swiss mining and commodities giant Glencore PLC will join the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, an industry collaboration that uses blockchain technology to support responsible sourcing and production practices. Glencore said that its participation is expected to improve its transparency and supply chain traceability.


* A new tailings pond constructed by Grupo México SAB de CV is reportedly posing a new threat to the local population after the company spilled about 11 million gallons of copper sulfate acid solution carrying heavy metals in 2014 from the Buenavista mine into the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers, Fronteras Desk reported, citing a new report by the nonprofit PODER.

* Copper prices jumped to a seven-month high of US$2.8310 per pound, reported, after the U.S. and China reportedly agreed the terms for a "phase one" deal, as part of which the U.S. is considering lowering existing tariffs, though legal text is yet to be finalized. U.S. President Donald Trump is willing to delay the next round of fresh tariffs on nearly US$160 billion of Chinese goods, originally scheduled to take effect Dec. 15, after China pledged US$50 billion in farm purchases next year, sources told Reuters and Bloomberg.

* Indonesia President Joko Widodo vowed to defend the government against a complaint filed by the European Union in the World Trade Organization over the country's planned ban on nickel ore exports, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Cabinet Secretariat. Widodo said the government would not backtrack on the export restriction.

* In a bid to boost its cash position, Dizon Copper-Silver Mines Inc.'s board put up for sale 20,534 square meters of land in the Philippines' Zambales province. It was previously being used for a copper concentrate storage facility and loading-out pier.


* Barrick Gold Corp. CEO Mark Bristow said the company's finances were strong enough to support the start of a new mine or even carry out a transaction without taking any outside help, Bloomberg News reported. "We're going to settle all the near-term debt, and we're left with debt that's only due from 2023 onwards," Bristow said.

* Xtract Resources PLC and Nexus Capital Holdings Ltd. terminated their collaboration agreement to exploit alluvial gold deposits at the former's Manica concession in Mozambique. Xtract will now be in charge of 100% of gold revenue and costs of its Mozambican subsidiary Explorator Ltda.

* Resolute Mining Ltd. launched a strategic review to assess options for Bibiani gold mine in Ghana, including recent expressions of acquisition interest from third parties. Acquired in 2014, Bibiani has on-site processing facilities for a 3 million tonne per annum mill and plant, as well as underground mining infrastructure. Resolute placed Bibiani on care and maintenance after acquiring it to flesh out plans to recommission it as a larger underground mine.

* One of Kalia Ltd.'s geologists died from injuries sustained in a fall during field work at the company's Mount Tore tenements in Papua New Guinea.

* Gateway Mining Ltd. secured additional prospective tenements covering 262 square kilometers to the north of Gidgee gold project in Western Australia through low-cost acquisition deals, a joint venture and new exploration license applications.

* Royalco Resources Ltd. said that an independent board committee recommended that shareholders accept Fitzroy River Corporation Ltd.'s proposed off-market takeover of shares it does not own.

* The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy approved amendments to the mining and air use permits for Aquila Resources Inc.'s Back Forty gold project to align them with the project design outlined in the August 2018 open pit feasibility study as well as in its wetlands permit issued in June 2018.


* thyssenkrupp is hoping to win contracts related to the construction of a new factory by Tesla Inc. close to the German capital, Klaus Keysberg, a board member in charge of steel and materials services at the conglomerate told German business daily Handelsblatt, according to Reuters.

* Norwegian aluminum producer Norsk Hydro ASA signed a US$1.6 billion revolving multicurrency credit facility with the margin linked to the company's emissions reduction target. The facility, available for general corporate purposes, has a five-year tenor with two one-year extension options. It replaces the company's undrawn US$1.7 billion facility signed in 2013.

* Marubeni Corp. agreed to acquire shares in Canada-based Alliance Magnesium Inc., which plans to build a C$100 million magnesium ingot commercial plant in Quebec, with Marubeni's investment at C$16.7 million. Construction will start in 2020, with first production expected in the same year.

* Charlotte, N.C.-based steelmaker Nucor Corp. flagged a sharp drop in fourth-quarter EPS due to low prices, year-end seasonality and a planned outage that impacted the performance of its three segments. The company said Dec. 12 that it expects its fourth-quarter EPS to be between 25 U.S. cents and 30 cents, down from US$2.07 in the year-ago period and 90 cents in the third quarter.

* Cargill sold its first cargo of iron ore to a Chinese steel mill via a cloud-based electronic trading platform this week as part of a move to streamline the transaction process, the trading house told S&P Global Platts.


* Lynas Corp. Ltd. said it expects to submit a compliant tender amid reports that the U.S. Army plans to invest in a rare earths plant as part of the country's efforts to boost domestic supplies of the materials used in military weapons and technology. The Army will reportedly fund at least one project and up to two-thirds of a refiner's cost.

* Rio Tinto filed an appeal against Australian Takeovers Panel's decision to suspend Energy Resources of Australia Ltd.'s A$476 million renounceable entitlement offer. In its decision, the panel said minority shareholders will be unlikely to participate as it requires shareholders to invest additional capital to avoid dilution.

* China's Tianqi Lithium Corp. will launch its previously announced fundraising of up to 7 billion Chinese yuan on Dec. 17, through a placement of 342,596,383 shares priced at 8.75 yuan apiece.

* The board of Russia's majority state-owned diamond monopoly PJSC Alrosa approved the sale of its 99.75% stake in the Almaznaya Osen Non-State Pension Fund without indicating when the transaction could take place. The deal will have a positive financial effect for Alrosa and result in more effective management of the fund's assets, CEO Sergey Ivanov said.


* Six large mining company stocks are trading more than 20% below analysts' mean target prices, implying a strong upside potential for investors, an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis found. Of the top 25 companies by market capitalization, 19 mining company stocks are trading below analysts' mean target prices. Six of the top companies are trading above analysts' price targets.

* Zambia may have to completely shut down hydropower plants at the Kariba dam, which it depends on along with Zimbabwe , due to low water levels, Bloomberg News reported. The Zambian government is trying to minimize the impact of power shortages on copper mining companies, which generate about 70% of the country's export earnings.

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

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