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Mitsubishi inks A$750M coal sale; Study values Mount Holland at US$2.2B

TOP NEWS

Mitsubishi selling stakes in Australian coal mines for A$750M

Mitsubishi Corp. agreed to sell its 31.4% stake in the Clermont coal mine in Queensland and its 10% interest in the Ulan coal mine in New South Wales held by its Australia-based subsidiary Mitsubishi Development Pty. Ltd for a total of A$750 million to GS Coal Pty. Ltd. and Glencore Coal Pty. Ltd, respectively. The deal is expected to close in 2019. GS coal is a 50/50 joint venture between Glencore and Sumitomo Corp. Reuters wrote that the deal marks the company's exit from thermal coal amid growing pressure from environmentalists, although the company retains its coking coal business.

Kidman values integrated Mount Holland joint venture with SQM at US$2.2B

An integrated pre-feasibility study for Kidman Resources Ltd.'s Mount Holland lithium joint venture in Western Australia with Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA outlined a posttax net present value, discounted at 10%, of US$2.2 billion, a 26.6% internal rate of return and a three-year payback period. Capital expenditures, including contingencies, are now pegged at US$737 million, down from US$755 million. Annual production is projected at 45,254 tonnes of lithium hydroxide, with Kidman's share at 22,627 tonnes.

Explaurum board greenlights Ramelius' improved takeover offer

Explaurum Ltd.'s board unanimously recommended its shareholders accept the improved takeover offer by Ramelius Resources Ltd. Meanwhile, the companies no longer plan to proceed with the strategic investment by Alkane Resources Ltd., and Ramelius will provide short-term funding to Explaurum to meet its financial commitments and for ongoing working capital requirements during the offer period.

BASE METALS

* Cape Lambert Resources Ltd. appointed Kobu Capital to source an engineering, procurement, construction and financing provider to fund and develop the Kipushi Tailings cobalt-copper tailings project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

* Peru's Ministry of Energy and Mines is working with the newly elected authorities of Arequipa region to review the 14 observations made by the public body in the application process for a construction permit for Southern Copper Corp.'s Tia Maria copper project, Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra said. The approval of the license could be postponed, according to daily Gestion. Recently, Southern Copper CFO Raul Jacob said production at Tía María would not start before 2023 if the government delays the permit.

* Cradle Arc PLC applied to the Botswana High Court for 60%-owned subsidiary Leboam Holdings Pty. Ltd., which holds the recently suspended Mowana copper mine, to be placed into provisional liquidation as it conducts discussions to secure alternative funding.

* Thor Mining PLC established the proof of concept for in situ-recovery of copper at its farm-in target, the Kapunda project in South Australia. The company has now started second stage work, which includes relevant approval processes, pump and environmental testing, and a field recovery trial to generate solution and test a variety of metal recovery options.

* Orosur Mining Inc. unit Loryser SA reached a payment plan agreement with creditors in Uruguay, and 68% of the unit's creditors by value have executed the plan. The agreement expects net proceeds from the sale of Loryser's assets in Uruguay and an issue of 10 million common Orosur shares to fully satisfy all amounts owed to Loryser's creditors and provide funds to close operations. The process is expected to complete within two years. Loryser applied to begin reorganization proceedings June 15, citing operational challenges at the San Gregorio gold mine.

* China's annual recycled copper output is expected to reach 3.5 million tonnes by 2020, Fastmarkets MB reported, citing Zhang Xizhong, vice president of the recycling branch of the country's nonferrous metals association CNMIA.

* Ero Copper Corp. secured a new US$130 million debt financing with The Bank of Nova Scotia and Bank of Montreal to refinance the company's current U.S. dollar-denominated senior secured debt worth approximately US$119 million.

* Shareholders of Mason Resources Corp., owner of the Ann Mason copper project in Nevada, approved the proposed takeover from Hudbay Minerals Inc. The deal is expected to close Dec. 19.

* Noranda Income Fund approved a special cash distribution of 3 Canadian cents per unit, payable Jan. 25, 2019, to unit holders as of Dec. 31.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Barrick Gold Corp. will distribute a fourth-quarter dividend of 7 U.S. cents per share, bringing its annual dividend to 16 cents per share. The dividend will be paid Jan. 14, 2019.

* Randgold Resources Ltd. recommended an interim dividend of US$2.69 per share and said it will be the last dividend it pays.

* Meanwhile, Barrick and Randgold completed the last major step toward their proposed blockbuster merger, securing approval from the Royal Court of Jersey. Shares of the combined company will start trading Jan. 2, 2019, on the NYSE and Toronto Stock Exchange under the Barrick name.

* Endeavour Silver Corp. will cut the production rate by half at its El Cubo silver-gold mine in Guanajuato, Mexico, due to its short mine life. Production capacity in 2019 will be 1,500 tonnes per day, with higher operating costs compared to this year.

* The government of Ecuador received a third and final installment of US$20 million, part of a US$65 million advanced royalties payment deal agreed with Lundin Gold Inc. to grant permits for developing the Fruta del Norte gold project. Lundin paid US$25 million in 2016 and US$20 million in 2017, daily El Comercio reported.

* Intermin Resources Ltd. increased resources at its Anthill project in Western Australia by 60% to 2.28 million tonnes at 1.71 g/t gold for 125,500 ounces at a 1 g/t gold cutoff.

* Dome Gold Mines Ltd. contracted IHC Robbins to conduct a definitive feasibility study at its Sigatoka ironsand project in Fiji.

* Newcrest Mining Ltd. increased its stake in SolGold PLC to 15.33% after its Newcrest Holdings (Investments) Pty. Ltd. unit agreed to acquire 27,870,000 SolGold shares for £11.1 million.

* Kopy Goldfields AB sold the Kopylovskoye gold project for US$6 million in cash to a new group of Russian investors after the original buyer failed to agree to a price on time.

* Premier Gold Mines Ltd. secured approval from the federal government for the environmental assessment on its Hardrock gold joint venture in northern Ontario. The study confirms the Hardrock development is not likely to significantly harm the environment, subject to planned mitigation measures and a follow-up program.

* Magellan Gold Corp. reached a preliminary agreement to toll treat mineralized material at its SDA mill in Mexico with the goal of securing a long-term processing deal.

* Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Márquez ordered a probe into mining safety protocols after two workers died due to an unexpected pit slope movement at Alamos Gold Inc.'s Mulatos gold mine in Mexico, BNamericas wrote.

* Silver Viper Minerals Corp. consolidated the landholdings of its La Virginia gold-silver project in Mexico after acquiring three mineral concessions totaling 35,598 hectares from a subsidiary of Pan American Silver Corp.

* Bassari Resources Ltd. said its Makabingui Gold Operation SA unit and Coris Bank International finalized a loan agreement for about US$13 million to complete all predevelopment requirements for the Makabingui gold project in Senegal and acquire additional mining equipment required for production.

BULK COMMODITIES

* China banned 11 steel mills from operating and warned 17 others if they fail to fix the environmental, safety and other breaches highlighted by the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Reuters reported. Guangdong Century Tsingshan Nickel Industry Co. and Xuzhou Dongya Iron and Steel are among those banned, while Jiangsu Shagang Group Co. Ltd. is one of the companies that will get a deadline to remedy violations.

* The Federal Court of Australia cut the number of class-action lawsuits against BHP over the November 2015 Fundao tailings dam disaster at the Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil to one from three, Reuters reported. BHP holds the project under a joint venture with Vale SA. The court allowed only the lawsuit led by shareholder Vince Impiombato to go ahead, which claims losses arising from BHP's failure to meet disclosure requirements.

* WestStar Industrial Ltd. unit SIMPEC Pty. Ltd. secured a A$4.5 million contract to design and build a remote draft survey at Rio Tinto's Cape Lambert port facility in Western Australia. The remote draft survey system for the Rio Tinto Iron Ore facility aims to increase ship turnaround and safety. The system is scheduled to be complete in the second quarter of 2019, and work should begin this month.

* The global demand for coal is expected to remain stable over the next five years through 2023 as the drop in European and North American demand will be offset by higher consumption in India and Southeast Asia, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. Coal's contribution to the global energy mix is expected to decline from 27% in 2017 to 25% by 2023.

* Agrimin Ltd. lodged exploration license applications covering 2,792 square kilometers in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which is highly prospective for sulfate of potash.

* PAO Severstal will supply Zagorsk Pipe Plant with 300,000 tonnes of rolled steel in 2019, providing enough sheet for the next six months, Interfax reported. Under the terms, Severstal will supply Zagorsk with hot-rolled, thick-sheet steel for producing large-diameter pipes.

* Thyssenkrupp AG and Tata Steel Ltd. named Andreas Goss, the CEO of thyssenKrupp's steel division, as the future CEO of the companies' planned European joint venture.

* Mechel PAO expanded its long-term coal supply deal with Itochu Corp., agreeing to supply up to 800,000 tonnes of coking and thermal coal between December 2018 and March 2020.

* Euro Manganese Inc. expects to release a preliminary economic assessment for its Chvaletice manganese project in the Czech Republic in early 2019.

SPECIALTY

* Denison Mines Corp. said its board approved advancing the 90%-owned Wheeler River uranium project in Saskatchewan after a recent pre-feasibility study outlined an increase of about 275% in pretax net present value, discounted at 8%, to C$1.41 billion. In support of the decision, the joint venture approved a C$10.3 million budget for 2019 mainly to initiate an environmental assessment process and engineering studies.

* Anglo American PLC-unit De Beers SA's tenth cycle of rough diamond sales generated revenues of US$540 million, compared to US$455 million in the tenth cycle of 2017 and US$442 million in the ninth cycle this year.

* Eastern Platinum Ltd. kicked off commissioning at its newly constructed chrome plant, and the chrome circuit produced its first chrome concentrate at its Barplats Zandfontein UG2 tailings facility, part of the Crocodile River mine in South Africa. The company targets commercial production in early 2019 and expects to ramp-up to full commercial production during the second quarter.

* MGX Minerals Inc. received interim approval from the Supreme Court of British Columbia regarding its plan of arrangement to spin out 40% of the shares of its unit MGX Renewables Inc. as part of a plan to go public in early February 2019.

* Savannah Resources PLC signed a cooperation agreement with the University of Porto and the Laboratorio Nacional de Energia e Geologia in Portugal to study the treatment, recovery and concentration of spodumene from samples of Grandao and NOA deposits at the Mina do Barroso lithium project.

* Tando Resources Ltd. estimated a maiden JORC-compliant inferred resource at its SPD vanadium project in South Africa of 588 million tonnes at 0.78% vanadium pentoxide. The resource will form the basis of a scoping study on the project.

* Gemfields Group Ltd. generated revenue of US$55.3 million from a recent auction in Singapore of rough rubies, selling 655,623 of the 685,363 carats offered.

* Kibaran Resources Ltd. successfully completed the pilot program for its optimized purification process flowsheet, named EcoGraf, and lodged an international patent. Ongoing customer trials confirmed the suitability of products for lithium-ion battery and advanced carbon product applications in Asia and Europe. The company plans to start operations in 2019.

* Aura Energy Ltd. was granted an exploitation license for its Tiris uranium project in Mauritania.

* Lithium Werks B.V. is considering Poland and other European countries as the site of its storage battery plant, in addition to the €1.6 billion plant it wants to build in China, Reuters reported, citing founder Kees Koolen.

* The Japanese government is prepared to support Lynas Corp. Ltd. in the company's ongoing feud with Malaysia over the Gebeng rare earths plant, The Australian Financial Review reported. Lynas supplies about one-third of Japan's rare earths needs.

* Athabasca Minerals Inc. acquired a 49.2% interest in the Montney In-Basin frac sand project in Alberta.

* Lepidico Ltd. ordered all major mechanical equipment needed for its L-Max pilot plant in Western Australia. The project, now under construction, is slated for commissioning in April 2019.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Exploration budget allocations to the U.S. rose 34% year on year to total US$851.8 million, driven by copper and gold, according to the Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* Outgoing Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila, whose government passed a contentious mining code, hinted at a possible re-election bid in 2023, Reuters reported.

* Industry leaders urged the Western Australian government to loosen restrictions on overseas workers amid a growing skills shortage in the region's mining and resources projects, The West Australian wrote.

* Mexico's mining output fell more than 6% in October, the third consecutive month of decline, BNamericas reported, citing official data. Overall output was down 6.7% from October 2017, following a 6.6% drop in September and August's 7.7% decline.

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