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In This List

Rio's FY'19 iron ore output slips 3%; 1,142 jobs to go at Sibanye's Marikana ops

Mining Exploration Insights December

Mining Exploration Insights: Dip in gold drilling weighs on results

Mining Exploration Insights: Is the exploration sector back on recovery?

State of the Market: Mining Q2-2019


Rio's FY'19 iron ore output slips 3%; 1,142 jobs to go at Sibanye's Marikana ops

TOP NEWS

Rio Tinto's FY'19 iron ore production, shipments slip 3%

Rio Tinto's fourth-quarter 2019 Pilbara iron ore production and shipments slipped 3% and 1% year over year, respectively, to 83.6 million tonnes and 86.8 Mt. Full-year iron ore production and shipments from Pilbara decreased 3% to 326.7 Mt and 327.4 Mt, respectively, with the lower shipments attributed to poor weather and operational challenges in the first half of 2019. For 2020, Rio Tinto expects Pilbara iron ore output to total 330 Mt to 343 Mt.

Sibanye's Marikana restructuring retrenches 1,142 jobs

Sibanye Gold Ltd. said 1,142 jobs would be retrenched as part of a restructuring at its struggling South African Marikana platinum group metals operation, acquired from Lonmin PLC in 2019. In addition, the number of contractors was reduced by 1,709, while 1,612 employees accepted voluntary separation packages, 53 retired and 259 jobs were cut through natural attrition.

Vale halts tailings operations at Esperança iron ore mine

Vale SA decided to stop operations of the waste and tailings pile at the Esperança iron ore mine in Brazil soon after the company took control of Ferrous Resources Ltd. in 2019. Vale said it took the preventive measure to conduct a technical evaluation and work to improve safety at the site.

BASE METALS

* Zinc inventories in the London Metal Exchange are close to 20-year lows at about 50,000 tonnes amid expectations by market participants of a supply surplus this year, Reuters reported.

* Juan Carlos Liu, Peru's minister of energy and mines, said Southern Copper Corp.'s Tia Maria copper project will not begin operations before 2024, which gives the government a few years to talk with local communities regarding local water supply and other environmental concerns, La República reported.

* Broken Hill Prospecting Ltd. completed the transfer of its stake in the Thackaringa cobalt project in New South Wales, Australia, to joint venture partner Cobalt Blue Holdings Ltd.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Canadian miner Kinross Gold Corp. closed its US$283 million acquisition of the Chulbatkan gold project the Khabarovsk region in Russia's Far East from N-Mining Ltd. Kinross said it received approval from Russian antitrust regulators in October 2019 and noted that all other conditions precedent regarding the acquisition are now satisfied.

* Resolute Mining Ltd.'s gold production in the fourth quarter of 2019 totaled 105,293 ounces at an all-in sustaining cost of US$1,419 per ounce, while full-year production totaled 384,731 ounces at an all-in sustaining cost of US$1,090/oz. The miner expects full-year 2020 output of 500,000 ounces at an all-in sustaining cost of US$980/oz.

* Coeur Mining Inc. produced 359,418 ounces of gold in 2019, meeting guidance. Silver output totaled 11.7 million ounces, below guidance of 12.2 Moz to 14.7 Moz. Zinc production was 17.1 million pounds, well below the guidance of 25.0 million to 40.0 million pounds, while lead production was at 16.6 million pounds, also falling below guidance of 20.0 million to 35.0 million pounds.

* Toronto-headquartered New Gold Inc. produced 101,423 ounces of gold equivalent in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to preliminary figures. This brought the full-year total to 486,141 ounces, within annual guidance of 465,000 to 520,000 ounces.

* A consortium of Chinese investors led by Fosun International Ltd. plans to abandon a proposed acquisition of Russian gold miner GV Gold, RBC reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

* Canada's Argonaut Gold Inc. achieved record annual gold-equivalent output of 186,615 ounces in 2019, increasing 13% year over year but falling short of the company's 2019 production target of 200,000 ounces. Argonaut produced 47,521 ounces of gold equivalent in the fourth quarter of 2019.

* Proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass Lewis & Co. LLC recommended that Detour Gold Corp. shareholders vote for the proposed transaction by Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Detour Gold.

* B2Gold Corp.'s indicated mineral resource at its Fekola mine in Mali jumped to 6.1 million ounces of gold, a 15.4% increase compared to the Dec. 31, 2018, estimate.

* Private resource-focused merchant bank Palisades Goldcorp Ltd. increased its stake in Canada-based Mexican Gold Corp. to 36.6%. The company purchased 18,278,488 common shares of Mexican Gold and warrants to purchase another 11,875,000 shares. Mexican Gold is exploring the Las Minas gold project in Mexico's Veracruz state.

* ASX-listed Manas Resources Ltd. withdrew from a January 2018 agreement to earn up to 85% of the Gonsan gold project in Cote d'Ivoire citing lack of progress in the grant of mineral permits as well as the costs and challenges related to exploring the property.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Brazil's Federal Public Prosecutor Office aims to resume a 155 billion Brazilian real lawsuit against Vale and BHP Group joint venture Samarco Mineração SA should the three companies fail to comply with agreements intended to aid the people affected by the 2015 collapse of a tailings dam at the Samarco iron ore mine, a source told Notícias de Mineração.

* Rio Tinto launched formal studies on developing its Winu copper-gold discovery in Pilbara, Western Australia, The Australian reported. The company reportedly upgraded the project to the study stage from the advanced exploration stage while increasing spending on an "order of magnitude" study, part of its early stage economic studies on Winu.

* Anglo American PLC's workers at its Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil's Minas Gerais state developed a productivity and safety project that aims to help the miner save up to 2 million Brazilian reais per year, Notícias de Mineração reported. The diversified mining major said the workers developed the project with a new logistics system that would allow the arrival of imported inputs by rail, with the movement of 1,800 tons of iron ore per year.

* Russian steelmaker PAO Severstal reported a 10% quarterly drop in crude steel production to 2.71 million tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2019. The company said production was affected by short-term maintenance work at its basic oxygen furnace and electric arc furnace facilities as well as lower output from the electric arc furnace following the sale of the Balakovo mini-mill in the previous quarter.

* Rio Tinto majority-owned subsidiary Iron Ore Co. of Canada Inc. executed a pension risk transfer deal with Sun Life Financial Inc.

* Macquarie Group Ltd.'s Green Investment Group entered into two long-term agreements to supply power to ERAMET Norway A/S from its Tysvær and Buheii onshore wind farms in Norway. The unit of French mining company ERAMET SA produces manganese alloys for the global steel industry.

* Russian iron ore exports to China via the Trans-Baikal railway shot up 62% to 1.7 million tonnes in 2019, according to state-owned JSC Russian Railways' Trans-Baikal subsidiary, known as ZabZD.

* China's aluminum output dropped 0.9% to 35.04 million tonnes in 2019 as major smelters underwent unplanned outages, Reuters reported. The newswire also reported that the country's crude steel output jumped 8.3% to 996.34 Mt, setting a second consecutive annual record.

* A federal judge upheld former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's misdemeanor conviction on charges of conspiring to violate mine safety laws. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger said in a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia that prosecutors' failure to disclose certain evidence during the former executive's trial did not result in prejudice to Blankenship.

SPECIALTY

* Anglo American's diamond unit, De Beers SA, is considering slashing its roster of handpicked buyers and changing the way diamonds are allocated among them amid their struggle to generate profits, Bloomberg News wrote, citing people familiar with the matter.

* ASX-listed Lynas Corp. Ltd. is facing legal action in the Malaysian High Court that challenge the government's decision to renew the company's operating license for the Gebeng rare earths plant. The company said the three petitioners who filed the case had their previous court challenges dismissed.

* Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA will issue and sell US$400 million in 4.250% senior unsecured notes due 2050, which will be used for general corporate purposes, including funding its capital expenditure program and reducing its outstanding debt.

* Juan Carlos Liu, Peru's energy and mining minister, said he is confident that the country will have regulations for the domestic exploitation of lithium prepared this year, Reuters reported.

* BlackEarth Minerals NL is fast-tracking the progress of its Maniry graphite project in Madagascar, with off-take discussions and bulk sample testing ongoing.

* Gemfields Group Ltd. plans to list on London Stock Exchange's AIM segment by Feb. 14. The company said it does not intend to raise capital in connection with the planned listing.

* The board of South Africa-based Merafe Resources Ltd. proposed a restructuring that will allow the company to directly hold 100% ownership in Merafe Ferrochrome and Mining Pty. Ltd. The group now has a 100% indirect interest in Merafe Ferrochrome through its Merafe Chrome and Alloys Pty. Ltd. unit, which does not conduct any business. Merafe Chrome is the conduit through which Merafe receives dividends from the Glencore PLC/Merafe chrome joint venture.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The U.S. Senate passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement 89-10, bringing a process of more than two years to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement almost to a close. The deal, passed in the House on Dec. 19, 2019, now moves to President Donald Trump's desk for signing, which the White House has indicated will come soon. After Trump's signature, it is up to Canada to ratify the deal for full implementation in North America as Mexico has already ratified the deal.

* Indiana Resources Ltd. and Winshear Gold Corp. will seek talks ahead of arbitration, claiming that Tanzania breached bilateral investment treaties for placing their respective nickel and gold assets up for tender. Both notifications trigger a six-month period to resolve the issue with the government, after which they will go to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes for arbitration.

* Western Australia's Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety advised miners to prepare and review their contingency plans during cyclone season, which has started in some regions within the state.

* Dozens of regulated electric utilities in the U.S. are at a high risk of climate change-related physical or financial impacts over the next decade or two due to rising average temperatures and more intense and frequent storms, rainfall and floods, Moody's Investors Service said in a new report.

* The rise in sea levels and corresponding natural disasters carry wide-ranging credit implications for sovereigns, with Vietnam, the Bahamas, Egypt, Suriname and other small island nations at the greatest risk, Moody's said in a report.

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