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S&P downgrades Mosaic over Vale fertilizer deal

TOP NEWS

S&P downgrades Mosaic over Vale fertilizer deal

S&P Global Ratings downgraded Mosaic Co.'s corporate credit rating and issue-level ratings to BBB- from BBB on the back of the planned acquisition of Vale SA's fertilizer business for US$2.5 billion. According to S&P, the deal comes at a time when fertilizer pricing has been depressed. The firm maintained a stable outlook for Mosaic in anticipation that the miner will prioritize free cash flow generation rather than shareholder rewards and additional acquisitions.

Court orders Vedanta Resources unit to pay US$103M to ZCCM

The High Court of Justice in the U.K. ordered Vedanta Resources Plc unit Konkola Copper Mines Plc to pay about US$103 million to Zambian state-owned copper miner ZCCM Investments Holdings Plc over a copper price agreement, Bloomberg News reported. The payment is due within 30 days, and Konkola said it was in talks with ZCCM and other relevant stakeholders to resolve all outstanding issues within this period.

Brazil files lawsuit against ThyssenKrupp's CSA steel mill

Brazilian state prosecutors filed a public civil lawsuit against ThyssenKrupp AG's Companhia Siderurgica do Atlântico slab mill in Brazil and local authorities over an "illegal operating authorisation" granted to the slab producer in 2010, Metal Bulletin wrote. The lawsuit could jeopardize the sale of the loss-making plant as Ternium SA, which restarted talks to acquire the plant in October and pulled out on the deal recently considering the regulatory and tax risks involved, Reuters reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

BASE METALS

* A lawyer for detained Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz said the proceedings are a way for the Guinean government to "illegally expropriate" BSG Resources Ltd.'s mining rights in the country, Reuters reported. Steinmetz was detained Dec. 18 over bribery and corruption allegations.

* Meanwhile, Reuters wrote separately that Israeli police detained Asher Avidan, former president of a company linked to Steinmetz's BSG Resources, in a widening inquiry into allegations of bribery and corruption in Guinea.

* Queensland Mining Corp. Ltd. and its subsidiaries Sierra Line Pty. Ltd. and Mt. McNamara Pty. Ltd. inked an option and joint venture agreement with Teck Resources Ltd. unit Teck Australia Pty. Ltd. on the White Range copper project in Queensland. Teck was granted an option to earn a 70% interest in the White Range #1, Kuridala South, White Range Consolidated and Copper Canyon East tenements.

* Rox Resources Ltd. is seeking offers for the potential sale of its interest in the Bonya copper project in Australia's Northern Territory, Mining Weekly reported. The company plans to divest its interest in the project to focus on its nickel projects in Western Australia. Rox holds a 51% stake in Bonya and has elected to increase its interest to 70% by spending A$1 million by December 2017.

* RNC Minerals raised US$11.5 million in facilities from Auramet International LLC to repay all outstanding loans owed to HudBay Minerals Inc.

* Aurora Minerals Ltd. is investing in Australian public unlisted company One Asia Resources Ltd. via a private placement comprising 5,555,556 ordinary fully paid shares in One Asia at 18 Australian cents apiece for a total of A$1.0 million.

PRECIOUS METALS

* S&P Global Ratings upgraded its corporate credit rating on Coeur Mining Inc. to BB- from B+ with a stable outlook. The upgrade reflects anticipated sustained improvement in the miner's credit measures, which saw its debt reduced by more than half from 2015 year-end levels.

* Great Panther Silver Ltd. struck a deal to acquire the Coricancha gold-silver-lead-zinc-copper mine and mill complex from Nyrstar NV subsidiary Nyrstar Coricancha SA.

* Goldplat Plc said that Ghana's government renewed the company's license to purchase and deal in gold for a period of three years. Under the terms, the company's Gold Recovery Ghana Ltd. unit will pay a 5% royalty to the government on all minerals obtained from its operations.

* Avanco Resources Ltd. estimated an initial resource estimate for the Blanket zone at its CentroGold project in northern Brazil, comprising 12.2 million tonnes at 1.8 g/t of gold for 694,000 ounces in the inferred category.

* Ascot Resources Ltd. said the final results from the expanded 2016 drill program at its past-producing Premier property in British Columbia intersected 1.50 meters at 125.50 g/t of gold and 69.6 g/t of silver in the 609 zone area, within a broader interval of 14.80 meters at 13.71 g/t of gold and 26.5 g/t of silver.

* Triple Flag secured its first silver streaming agreement with Milpo UK, a subsidiary of Compañía Minera Milpo SAA, for most silver output from the Cerro Lindo polymetallic mine in Peru, Mining Weekly reported. Triple Flag will make an upfront payment of US$250 million to Milpo by Dec. 21 and pay 10% of the spot silver price per ounce for deliveries starting January 2017.

* Newrange Gold Corp negotiated an agreement to acquire the entire Pamlico mining fleet, which has an estimated value of more than US$1.5 million, from a private party at no additional cost by making the discounted, early payment for the Pamlico gold mine in Nevada.

* Hunt Mining Corp. signed an agreement to sell existing tailings at the Martha project area for processing at Pan American Silver Corp.'s 29804 Manantial Espejo mill in Argentina.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Unlike Mosaic, S&P Global Ratings said Vale's ratings are not immediately affected by the purchase deal that will see Mosaic acquiring Vale's fertilizer business.

* According to Press Trust of India, the Indian government intends to review the status of 72 previously allocated coal blocks, which were either allotted or auctioned to companies including Steel Authority of India Ltd., Hindalco Industries Ltd., JSW Steel Ltd. and NTPC Ltd.

* Alcoa Corp. joint venture Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals secured its first major third-party contract to supply about 400,000 bone dry tonnes of bauxite from its Huntly mine in Western Australia.

* ArcelorMittal's Kryviy Rih iron ore unit in Ukraine won a case associated with environmental damage worth more than 72 million Ukrainian hryvnia at the Higher Economic Court of Ukraine against the prosecutor's office acting in the interests of the state in the person of the State Ecological Inspectorate in Dnipropetrovsk region, Interfax reported.

* The environmental regulator of Zoucheng city in China's Shandong province ordered 30 companies, including seven big coal-fired power plants, to either cut output by 60% or shut down completely in a bid to curb pollution as smog blanketed northern parts of the country, Reuters reported.

* Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. is asking a judge to intervene in a dispute over US$6 million with a conservationist who bought Cliffs' last coal mines. According to a complaint, Seneca Coal Resources LLC failed to comply with its post-closing bonding requirements and to pay Cliffs.

* Global crude steel output for the 66 countries reporting to the World Steel Association totaled 132.4 million tonnes in November, representing a 5.0% year-over-year increase. China's crude steel output during the period came in at 66.3 million tonnes, up 5.0% on a yearly basis.

* Brazil's flat steel association Inda expects domestic sales of flat steel to rise by 5% year over year in 2017, Metal Bulletin reported. Meanwhile, flat steel sales in 2016 are projected to drop by 5% year over year to 3.20 million tonnes.

SPECIALTY

* Largo Resources Ltd. intends to produce, qualify and sell its vanadium products at the specifications required for use in the aerospace alloy market via Glencore Plc unit Glencore International AG, the existing exclusive off-taker of all vanadium products currently produced from the Maracas Menchen mine in Brazil.

* The Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum approved the main mining lease for Pilbara Minerals Ltd.'s Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia.

* Tawana Resources NL has decided to exercise the option to acquire Lithco No. 2 Pty. Ltd., which holds an earn-in right over the Bald Hill lithium-tantalum mine in Western Australia. This will result in the company becoming a joint venture partner of Alliance Mineral Assets Ltd. in the project.

* Millennial Lithium Corp. secured an additional 300 hectares of core salar mining rights at Pastos Grandes lithium project in Argentina, increasing its holdings in the area to 6,361 hectares.

* Wealth Minerals Ltd.'s Chilean subsidiary entered a letter of intent for an option to acquire a 100% royalty-free interest in the Laguna Verde lithium property.

* Metalicity Ltd. is acquiring a 579-square-kilometer lithium exploration portfolio in the Pilbara region of Western Australia from Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., including the Lynas Find North lithium project.

* Birimian Ltd. entered an off-take agreement with a Chinese lithium battery manufacturer to supply the lower of either 200,000 tonnes per annum or 25% of total annual production of over 6% spodumene concentrate.

* Bacanora Minerals Ltd. said it is in advanced talks with a significant Asian off-take partner for the supply of battery-grade lithium carbonate. The company plans to start production from its Sonora project in Mexico in 2019, with a full capacity of 35,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Research by S&P Global Market Intelligence showed continued momentum in the performance of mining shares. S&P Global Market Intelligence's Pipeline Activity Index rose from 80 to 84 month over month to reach a 44-month high in November, as increases in junior and intermediate company financings and announced initial resources at projects and mines were somewhat tempered by declines in the number of reported drill assays and project milestones.

* The World Bank will lend Zambia over US$100 million to reduce environmental health risks in polluted mining areas and support economic diversification, Mining Weekly wrote.

* R. Sukhyar, chairman of the Indonesian Smelter and Mineral Processing Association, raised concern about the Indonesian government's plan to allow more exports of raw and partly processed minerals, saying a "flip-flop policy" would disappoint companies that have invested heavily in constructing smelters, The Jakarta Post reported.

* India may cancel tariffs on over 70% of the goods traded with China under the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, Live Mint reported.

* Australia's Bureau of Meteorology alerted oil and gas producers and iron ore miners in Western Australia to a weather system that is building up and is expected to develop into a Category 2 tropical cyclone as it approaches the coastline of Western Australia over Christmas, The Australian Financial Review reported.

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

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time, and scans news sources published in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Some external links may require a subscription.