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BHP to increase free cash flow returns to shareholders, CEO says


BHP to increase free cash flow returns to shareholders, says CEO

BHP Billiton Group CEO Andrew Mackenzie said the company intends to return a bigger proportion of free cash flows to shareholders in the near future, The Australian Financial Review reported. In a separate same-day report by The Australian, Mackenzie said the sale of the company's U.S. shale assets is attracting greater interest due to higher oil prices and U.S. tax reforms, adding that BHP is making good progress with its exit from the onshore energy business. The executive, however, ruled out the sale of conventional oil assets.

Anglo to invest in fuel-cell technology via venture capital unit spinout

Anglo American PLC plans to spin out its internal venture capital unit to raise funds for investment in hydrogen fuel-cell technology, the Financial Times reported. The spinoff will look to buy interests in new hydrogen startups that are focusing on the adoption of fuel-cell cars instead of battery-powered electric vehicles, Anglo American Platinum Ltd. CEO Chris Griffith said. The vehicle industry adopting hydrogen fuel cells, which use platinum as a catalyst to lower the fuel cell's temperature, may result in higher demand for the metal.

Tianqi Lithium nears US$4.3B acquisition of 24% SQM stake from Nutrien

China's Tianqi Lithium Corp. is close to acquiring a 24% stake in Chilean lithium miner Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, or SQM, from Nutrien Ltd. for US$4.3 billion, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the transaction. According to the report, Tianqi is in talks with institutional investors and banks for financing, and the acquisition will be funded by bank and mezzanine loans and working capital.


* Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques said on a conference that the mining industry will have to work hard to protect margins and generate cash amid rising costs and increased political risk, reported. The executive said cost inflation driven by oil near US$80 per barrel is affecting the entire sector and all commodities, while resource nationalism is gaining ground. Jacques added that resource companies need to build "the United Nations of the mining industry" to battle rising resource nationalism and cost inflation, Reuters reported.


* KGHM Polska Miedz SA's consolidated first-quarter net profit fell 38% year over year to 439 million Polish zlotys on the back of lower output and sales. The company also shut down its Sierra Gorda copper mine in Chile after a contractor died in an accident during routine maintenance work, according to Reuters.

* During the court hearing about a dispute regarding the sale of Roman Abramovich-held PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co. shares, Vladimir Potanin took the stand and denied allegations that he had threatened United Co. Rusal PLC director Maxim Sokov in meetings, Bloomberg reported. Oleg Deripaska-controlled Rusal is seeking to block Abramovich from selling a 3.99% interest to Potanin for US$1.48 billion.

* The next decade of investment in copper will be critical for the future world's increasingly electrified needs as a deficit in the metal's production is already beginning to show, financial services firm Martin Place Securities' executive chairman, Barry Dawes, said during a conference.

* Codelco's strategic plan for its flagship Chuquicamata open pit copper mine until 2025 aims to reduce costs by 21% in the next eight years, from the current US$1.27/lb of copper to less than US$1.00/lb, and increase the mine's life by 40 years by turning it into an underground operation, Pulso reported, citing a presentation to workers by the project's general manager, Mauricio Barraza.

* Operations at Hillgrove Resources Ltd.'s Kanmantoo copper project in South Australia will temporarily halt as a result of a mechanical failure with its primary crusher. Repair work will take 7 to 10 days to complete but will reduce the scheduled quarterly shutdown in July by three days.

* Tharisa PLC acquired a 90% stake in Salene Chrome Zimbabwe Pvt. Ltd., which holds the right to three special grants covering approximately 9,500 hectares in Zimbabwe.


* Endeavour Mining Corp. booked an adjusted first-quarter net profit of US$28 million, compared to US$10 million a year earlier, after posting record gold production as all mines met or exceeded guidance. Gold output was up 39% year on year to 185,000 ounces, while all-in sustaining costs per ounce fell to US$774 from US$895 for continuing operations over the period.

* ASX-listed juniors are warning that the much-anticipated increase in corporate activity in the gold mining sector may stall due to a lack of substantial projects for majors to acquire.

* Quinto Resources Inc. signed a letter of intent to buy private Canadian company Conga Mining Inc., which holds the right to acquire the Combia gold project in Colombia.

* Capital Mining Ltd. called in administrators.

* The Renova Group-controlled Ekaterinburg nonferrous metals processing plant in Russia was suspended by the London Bullion Market Association from its gold and silver good delivery lists, effective May 14, citing "ownership related issues," Reuters reported. The Russian company and its key shareholder Viktor Vekselberg were sanctioned by the U.S. in April.

* China Gold International Resources Corp. Ltd.'s first-quarter gold production at the CSH mine increased 4.3% year over year to 36,042 ounces, while the Jiama mine produced 10,222 ounces of gold and 7,061 tonnes of copper, representing an increase of 25.3% and a decrease of 6.9%, respectively, after phase-one expansion achieved commercial production Dec. 31, 2017. Net profit after income taxes decreased year over year to US$2.0 million from US$6.4 million, while revenue increased 30% to US$106.7 million.

* Roxgold Inc. achieved record gold production of 40,452 ounces in the first quarter, representing a 14% yearly increase, due to higher-than-expected output from the Yaramoko mine in Burkina Faso. As a result, the miner increased its full-year gold production guidance to between 120,000 and 130,000 ounces from between 110,000 and 120,000 ounces.

* Rupert Resources Ltd. closed the previously announced acquisition of the Hirsikangas and Rantasalmi gold properties in Finland via a C$4.2 million all-share buy of privately owned Canadian company Northern Aspect Resources Ltd.


* Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. Chairman Andrew Forrest said the company is looking at early stage projects in Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia in a bid to replicate its Pilbara iron ore business, Mining Weekly reported. Forrest also noted Fortescue's potential diversification into battery materials including copper, lithium, nickel and graphene.

* A federal judge in California struck down Oakland's ban on coal shipments, saying it is a "breach of the development agreement" in a case between the city council and a developer of a proposed export terminal.

* S&P Global Ratings raised the long-term issuer credit rating and associated issue rating on Alumina Ltd. and its senior unsecured debt to BBB- from BB+, with a stable outlook. The ratings change reflects the improved earnings and cash flows of the company's joint venture, Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals, and the stronger credit quality of its operating company, Alcoa Corp.

* Tata Steel Ltd. secured final court approval for the acquisition of debt-laden Bhushan Steel Ltd. According to a Bloomberg News report, the tribunal rejected objections to Tata's bid from Bhushan creditor Larsen & Toubro Ltd. and the steel company's workers. Tata offered 352 billion Indian rupees for the asset and will also pay another 12 billion rupees to creditors and convert the remaining debt owed to banks to equity.

* Striking workers and Iron Ore Co. of Canada Inc. are mired in disagreement as the strike enters its eighth week. "There has been no contact with the company," said Brian Keough, the treasurer of the United Steelworkers Local 5795, which is the main union on strike. A spokesperson for the company did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

* Yara International ASA completed the acquisition of the Cubatão Fertilizantes complex in Brazil from Vale SA for about US$255 million, with the operating capital value subject to post-closing adjustment.

* Brazil's Cia. Siderúrgica Nacional is considering the sale of its Lusosider Projectos Siderúrgicos SA flat steel subsidiary in Portugal in an effort to cut debt, Metal Bulletin reported, citing CEO Benjamin Steinbruch. The decision is also motivated by the imposition of the European Union's antidumping tariffs against Brazil-originated hot-rolled coil. Meanwhile, CSN plans to lift its flat steel prices by 7.5% to 10% by June due to the devaluation of the Brazilian real and higher international prices, Metal Bulletin reported.


* PJSC Alrosa's rough diamond sales rose 43% quarter on quarter to 13.4 million carats in the first quarter amid a 26% fall in production. Revenue surged 58% to 96 billion Russian rubles, and net profit doubled to 33.2 billion rubles.

* The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies urged Australia's state and federal governments to encourage investments in the lithium-ion battery sector as the association released a report unveiling that Western Australia mined about 60% of the world's lithium and produced all the other minerals required to construct batteries, Mining Weekly reported.

* Dominion Diamond Mines said it could lay off 150 entry-level workers at its majority-owned Ekati diamond mine in Canada's Northwest Territories and replace them with contract workers due to "high levels of absenteeism," CBC News reported, citing Dominion CEO Patrick Evans.

* Tungsten Mining NL announced that the placement for developing the Mount Mulgine tungsten project in Western Australia was heavily oversubscribed and will raise A$47 million, more than double the A$20 million envisaged.

* AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group NV announced the startup and commissioning of its first lithium concentrate processing plant at the Mibra mine in Brazil.

* Sheffield Resources Ltd. signed a binding agreement with the Shire of Derby-West Kimberley for a minimum 20-year access to a bulk handling facility and associated infrastructure at the Port of Derby, which will ship concentrates from the Thunderbird mineral sands project in Western Australia.

* Desert Lion Energy Inc. estimated a C$7 million capital cost for the phase-one flotation plant, which will be used to process the fines from the historical run of mines stockpiles at the Rubicon and Helikon mines in Namibia at a rate of between 350,000 and 400,000 tonnes per year.

* Lithium Power International Ltd. agreed to extend the completion date of the sale of its Centenario lithium project in Argentina to Albertson Resources Pty. Ltd. by a month, to June 14.


* Argentina and Chile pledged to revitalize an existing mining treaty between the countries to facilitate developing cross-border mining projects, the Argentine Undersecretary for Mining Sustainability Juan Biset said at Paydirt's Latin America Downunder conference in Perth, Australia.

* Northern Sphere Mining Corp. entered into a strategic alliance with Blockchain Ready Inc. to advance a blockchain platform for the mineral exploration industry.

* BMI Research said the recent reimposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran is anticipated to have a limited impact on the country's mining and metals industry in the short term and is expected to do "little additional damage to an industry already crippled by a myriad of domestic operational challenges," Mining Weekly reported.

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