Trump to impose US$50B in tariffs on Chinese imports
President Donald Trump will impose US$50 billion in tariffs on U.S. imports from China in order to curtail "unfair" trading practices and forced transfer of intellectual property from American companies doing business there, two senior White House officials told reporters, as fears of a protectionist wave sent share markets tumbling. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the U.S. would temporarily exempt the European Union, as well as Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea from the levies. Canada and Mexico had already been granted temporary exemptions. Meanwhile, Zhang Xiangchen, China's ambassador to the World Trade Organization, said Beijing is preparing a range of responses to the planned tariffs by the U.S., including a WTO complaint, and will stand up to protectionism, Reuters reported.
Zambian president wants quick resolution to tax dispute with First Quantum
Zambian President Edgar Lungu would like a quick resolution for a dispute between the country's tax authority and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. over a tax bill for almost US$8 billion, Bloomberg News reported, citing Lungu's spokesman, Amos Chanda. "We are very confident in the professionalism in Zambia Revenue Authority that it will deal with investors within the agreed parameters of tax administration," Chanda said, adding that the government does not plan to get involved unless it is "a matter of the last resort and if circumstances demand that an intervention is made."
Zimbabwe 'open for business,' lands US$4.2B platinum mine investment
Zimbabwean Mines Minister Winston Chitando said the government signed a US$4.2 billion mining investment deal that will see Karo Resources Ltd. developing a platinum mine and refinery, Reuters reported. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the agreement indicates the country is "open for business."
* Vedanta Ltd. finalized the terms of its 40 billion Indian rupee debt issue, with the bonds to mature in three years at a likely coupon rate of 8.50%, Mint reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter. The proceeds will be used for debt refinancing, working capital and general corporate purposes.
* Investigations by Swiss prosecutors into alleged bribery payments tied to approval for the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia are probing Rio Tinto's involvement in addition to former Mongolian Finance Minister Bayartsogt Sangajav, Reuters reported, citing an emailed statement from Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General. The Mongolian government requested legal assistance with the case in 2017, which was granted by the Swiss authority.
* Following a strategic review, London-listed Bezant Resources Plc said it is renewing its focus on copper-gold assets in Argentina and the Philippines, citing a positive copper outlook. "The copper price over the last 12 months has risen consistently and we believe that the mid- to long-term potential for copper will be strong," Bezant CEO Laurence Read said.
* Tyranna Resources Ltd. signed an option to acquire the Goodsprings cobalt project by purchasing the issued share capital of US Cobalt Pty. Ltd. in an all-share deal valued at approximately US$2.4 million.
* S&P Global Ratings raised its long-term corporate credit ratings on Barrick Gold Corp. and Kinross Gold Corp. while also affirming its rating on Goldcorp Inc. amid the improving balance sheets of the Canadian gold majors. Barrick's rating rose to BBB from BBB-, while Kinross Gold's rating improved to BBB- from BB+. The outlooks on both firms are stable. Goldcorp's rating was affirmed at BBB+ although its outlook was revised from negative to stable, which also indicates a better balance sheet.
* RNC Minerals engaged PCF Capital Group and Haywood Securities to run a strategic-alternatives process for its Beta Hunt gold project in Western Australia while it moves to focus on its Dumont nickel-cobalt project in Quebec. The Beta Hunt mine has been tentatively valued at between A$15 million and A$20 million, The Australian reported.
* Primary Gold Ltd.'s board formally recommended shareholders to accept China Hanking Holdings Ltd. takeover offer of around A$37.5 million, The West Australian reported.
* Cygnus Gold Ltd. formed a joint venture with a Gold Road Resources Ltd. unit on a 25/75 basis to develop the Yandina gold project in Western Australia.
* S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis presented at a major iron ore conference revealed that China faces increased competition for liquidity, so closing its credit gap needs to be a priority amid mid-grade ore price concerns, while Citi is more bullish for high-grade producers. China is transitioning from an engine of world steel production growth to a steady state with limited year-over-year growth, with a 0.6% rise in crude steel output expected this year, S&P's senior commodity analyst Max Court told the Global Iron Ore & Steel Forecast Conference in Perth, Australia.
* Lenders to the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal in Queensland, Australia, agreed to extend about US$3 billion due on an outstanding loan for eight years, giving the debt-laden terminal operator a lifeline, Reuters reported, citing two unnamed sources. The terminal is owned by Glencore PLC and its partners, including New Hope Corp. Ltd., China's Yancoal Australia Ltd. and Aquila Resources Inc.
* In an interview with Reuters, BHP Billiton Group Chief Commercial Officer Arnoud Balhuizen downplayed the direct impact of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as "quite marginal," as the U.S. "is not such a big steel producer." According to Balhuizen, the direct effect on BHP is "even smaller" given the company's limited exports to the U.S. from Asia.
* Rio Tinto entered into a binding agreement to sell its 75% interest in the Winchester South coal development project in Queensland, Australia, to Whitehaven Coal Ltd. for US$200 million.
* Rio Tinto is bracing for more iron ore price volatility but believes, with BHP Billiton, that China's One Belt One Road initiative will drive huge demand for decades to come amid slowing demand growth from the Asian giant. Rio Tinto's supply chain and services managing director, Ivan Vella, told attendees at the Global Iron Ore & Steel Forecast Conference that the company was "optimistic" about the medium to longer term but sees some slowdown and adjustment in China, especially in demand growth in the construction, infrastructure and automotive sectors.
* The Brazilian steel institute said that the country's exemption from U.S. tariffs will last for 30 days, Reuters wrote.
* According to Brazil's steel institute Aço Brasil, the government will monitor steel imports to detect if there is any diversion of volumes previously exported to the U.S. following the steel tariffs, Metal Bulletin reported.
* The European Union is optimistic that it will be excluded from the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, after European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom recently concluded two days of negotiations in Washington, D.C. European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told Bloomberg News that Malmstrom's U.S. visit was "very fruitful" but did not disclose further details.
* Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. booked attributable net income of 1.38 billion Chinese yuan for 2017, up significantly from 368.4 million yuan in 2016. Revenue amounted to 180.08 billion yuan, representing a nearly 25% increase on a yearly basis.
* Shougang Fushan Resources Group Ltd.'s revenue in 2017 jumped 92% to about HK$3.47 billion, while attributable net profit soared 865% to HK$1.08 billion.
* Kinetic Mines & Energy Ltd. will prioritize acquisitions over dividend payments as it plans to take advantage of a government-led restructuring initiative across China's coal sector to expand its production capacity, according to MK Lau, head of corporate finance and investor relations.
* Saudi Arabian Mining Co., or Ma'aden, tapped BNP Paribas and National Commercial Bank as advisers as it seeks to refinance around US$1 billion of bank debt raised for the company's Ma'aden Bauxite and Alumina Co. unit, Reuters reported, citing banking sources.
* JSW Steel Ltd. could be interested in bidding for debt-laden Essar Steel India Ltd. after creditors rejected offers from ArcelorMittal and VTB Capital-lead Numetal, Metal Bulletin reported, citing sources. "JSW did not show interest two to three months ago when the bidding started, but now it is interested," according to one of the sources.
* In preparation for a tropical cyclone, Metro Mining Ltd. has flown nonessential staff and contractors out of its Bauxite Hills mine in Queensland, Australia, as a precautionary measure. The mine was slated to start mining operations in the week of April 2, but the weather condition may delay it by up to one week.
* Transnet inked a 7.5-year deal with South32 Ltd. paving the way for the transportation of 2.6 million tonnes per annum of manganese and realizing nearly 10.4 billion South African rand in total value for the rail company, Mining Weekly reported. The contract, to be backdated from September 2015, will be valid until March 2023.
* Altius Minerals Corp. agreed to buy 18,797,454 shares of Alderon Iron Ore Corp. from Liberty Metals and Mining Holdings LLC, raising its stake in the miner to about 39%. Separately, Altius Minerals Corp. teamed up with a private third party to buy an additional 44.9% interest in Potash Royalty Ltd. Partnership from Liberty Metals & Mining Holdings LLC for C$75 million in cash plus nominal price adjustments. Of this figure, Altius will pay C$65 million to bring its total interest in Potash Royalties to 91.3% from 52.4%.
* Gensource Potash Corp. entered into a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with a North American agricultural industry player for a potential off-take agreement, covering the purchase of 100% of the 250,000 tonnes per year of potash expected to be produced from the former's Vanguard operations in central Saskatchewan.
* Legacy Iron Ore Ltd.'s inferred resources at its Blue Peter deposit, part of the Mount Celia gold project in Western Australia, increased about 157% to 51,100 ounces. The deposit hosts 607,200 tonnes at 2.62 g/t gold at a 1% cutoff grade.
* Centrex Metals Ltd. sold the Wilgerup and Kimba Gap iron ore projects in OneSteel Manufacturing Pty. Ltd.-owned SIMEC Mining in exchange for royalties of up to A$5 million per mine.
* An updated estimate reduced tungsten resources at TopTung Ltd.'s Torrington property in New South Wales, Australia, after the mineralization was found to be not as continuous as previously thought. The company said that the size of the Wild Kate deposit decreased by 33% with the tungsten grade falling by 54%, while tonnage at the Mount Everard deposit dropped 90% with the tungsten grade increasing slightly, by 4%.
* Chengdu Tianqi Industry Group Co. Ltd. intends to aggressively increase its lithium production and believes that transfer pricing negotiations with the Australian Tax Office will be simplified when its A$700 million lithium hydroxide plant goes online, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing Tianqi Lithium Australia Pty. Ltd. General Manager Phil Thick.
* Tando Resources Ltd agreed to acquire the SPD vanadium project in South Africa by acquiring the issued share capital of Steelpoortvan Pty. Ltd., which has the right to acquire a 74% interest in project owner Vanadium Resources Pty. Ltd. through staged payments of a total 35 million shares.
* Private equity will be nimble in tweaking investment strategy in the mining sector should funding options expand for mine developers in an improving market. A veteran of the space, who preferred not to be named, recently shared this view as he discussed broader private equity themes with S&P Global Market Intelligence.
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