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US exempts South Korea from steel tariffs

TOP NEWS

US exempts South Korea from steel tariffs, slaps import quota

The U.S. agreed to exempt South Korea from its 25% tariff on steel but imposed a quota on steel imports, Reuters reported, citing South Korea's trade ministry. The third-largest steel exporter to the U.S. will have a quota of about 2.68 million tonnes of steel exports, or 70% of the annual average Korean steel exports to the U.S. between 2015 and 2017, the ministry said. This comes after the U.S. and South Korea reached an agreement to renegotiate a six-year-old bilateral trade deal and U.S. tariffs on imported steel.

ThyssenKrupp said to plan materials trading unit sale

Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG is said to be considering selling its materials trading division as part of a strategic overhaul to be announced in May, Reuters wrote, citing a report by German business daily Handelsblatt.

India's JSW Steel investing up to US$500M in Texas

India's JSW Steel Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding to invest up to US$500 million in expanding operations in Texas. The company's Texas operations supply the energy, petrochemicals, defense and other heavy-equipment sectors in the U.S.

DIVERSIFIED

* Mitsui & Co. Ltd. will not extend the deadline for its A$602 million bid for AWE Ltd., which is set to expire April 6, The West Australian wrote. Mitsui topped the bids by Mineral Resources Ltd. and China Energy Reserve and Chemical Group Australia, obtaining the support of AWE's board.

BASE METALS

* OZ Minerals Ltd. intends to make an off-market takeover offer to acquire Brazil-focused copper-gold miner Avanco Resources Ltd. Avanco shareholders will receive A$8.5 cash and 0.9 OZ Minerals shares per Avanco share.

* Antofagasta PLC averted a strike at its Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile as around 82% of the unionized workers approved a new labor contract, Reuters reported. The new contract includes an average salary increase of 3% and a signing bonus of US$30,500 per head.

* Workers ended a partial strike at First Quantum Minerals Ltd.'s Cobre Panama copper project in Panama and will return to work over the coming weeks. It is not clear if the strike, which began March 9, will slow Cobre Panama's construction timeline or resulted in any concessions made to workers.

* PolyMet Mining Corp. unit Poly Met Mining Inc. negotiated a 12-month payment extension and reduction in interest rates on approximately US$152 million of debt owed to Glencore PLC.

* Vulcan Minerals Inc. signed a binding letter of intent granting Fjordland Exploration Inc. an option to acquire a 65% working interest in 30 mineral claims in Labrador. The claims are contiguous to the mineral tenure held by Fjordland and Commander Resources Ltd. as part of their South Voisey's Bay nickel-copper-cobalt project.

* Rio Tinto's US$5.3 billion expansion plans for the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia remain on track, despite an ongoing bribery investigation by Switzerland and the country's Anti-Corruption Authority over the project, Bloomberg News reported.

* Mining-sector revenues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo jumped 35.6% in 2017 to US$822.2 million, thanks to higher prices for key export products such as copper and cobalt, Reuters reported, citing data from the country's finance ministry.

* Vast Resources Plc's updated indicated and inferred resource estimate at the Manaila copper-lead-zinc-silver-gold mine in Romania recorded 78% and 249% increases in open pit and underground resources, respectively.

* MinRex Resources Ltd. agreed to acquire project areas prospective for cobalt, scandium, copper and nickel in New South Wales and Western Australia through the acquisition of Clean Power Resources Pty. Ltd.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Anglo American PLC and Lumina Gold Corp. signed a letter of intent to negotiate a potential US$57 million joint venture covering the latter's Pegasus A and B concessions in Ecuador. The companies aim to seal a definitive agreement in the next five months.

* Effective March 27, Newcrest Mining Ltd. will recommence mining operations at its Cadia East property in Western Australia. Processing, however, remains suspended. Operations at the company's Cadia mine were suspended earlier in the month following a tailings dam breach.

* Hecla Mining Co. is suing Montana environmental regulators for labeling the company and its top executive as "bad actors," Mining.com reported. Montana's department of environmental quality recently said the company will need to return over US$30 million to resolve a bill for pollution cleanups.

* Kinross Gold Corp. agreed to pay the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about C$950,000 to settle civil charges in connection with a probe over allegations of improper payments made to government officials and certain internal control deficiencies at the company's West African mining operations. Meanwhile, the SEC said Kinross did little to verify payments to politically connected consultants and vendors in Ghana and Mauritania were being used for their stated purpose, Reuters reported.

* Lundin Gold Inc. completed a previously announced US$400 million financing, with the funds to be used for the development of its Fruta del Norte gold project in Ecuador.

* Superior Gold Inc. declared commercial production at its Hermes gold project in Western Australia.

* Red 5 Ltd. said full processing operations resumed at its Darlot gold mine in Western Australia following a period of reduced production rates while issues with the project's first mill were being fixed.

* Westgold Resources Ltd. began wet commissioning of the Tuckabianna process plant, part of its Murchison gold project in Western Australia. Commercial production is slated to start April 1.

* An updated mineral resource at Patagonia Gold Plc's Calcatreu gold project increased the contained gold-equivalent ounces to 1.17 million.

* Stratex International Plc will fast-track exploration at the Dalafin gold project after receiving approval from the Senegal government to option a 70% interest in the project to IAMGOLD Corp. unit AGEM Senegal Exploration Suarl.

BULK COMMODITIES

* The EU commissioned a study to see whether the United States' steel and aluminum tariffs necessitate the bloc preventing predominantly Asian producers from diverting their steel shipments to European markets, Reuters reported. The study is expected to last up to nine months and may prompt the EU to impose quotas or tariffs on steel imports to protect its own industry.

* China's commerce ministry said Beijing is willing to step up communications and coordination with the EU to cope with chaos arising from U.S. trade tariffs, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the U.S. is in discussions with China to resolve outstanding trade differences.

* Global crude steel production inched up 3.5% on a yearly basis to 132 million tonnes in February. Chinese output came in at 64.9 million tonnes, representing a 5.9% increase, Reuters reported, citing data from World Steel Association.

* Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. intends to redeem US$1.55 billion of its 9.750% senior secured notes due 2022.

* Australia's High Court rejected the Port of Newcastle's bid for it to review successive decisions that have supported Glencore's push to have the world's largest coal port regulated amid shipping price hikes. Glencore hailed the decision that upholds previous decisions that supported its argument that the port needed a regulator.

* Wesfarmers Ltd. said all conditions have been satisfied for the A$700 million sale of its Curragh coal mine in Queensland, Australia, to Coronado Coal Group, clearing the way for the completion of the transaction, expected in late March.

* A U.S.-based subsidiary of Russian steel producer PJSC Novolipetsk Steel applied for exemption from the U.S. import tariff on steel slabs, Reuters reported, citing NLMK USA CEO Robert Miller. "We requested an overall exclusion for slabs. Nothing country specific," said Miller.

* BHP Billiton Group awarded CIMIC Group Ltd.-owned Thiess a A$185 million contract to provide additional mining services for the mining major's Mount Arthur coal operation in New South Wales, Australian Mining reported.

* ArcelorMittal intends to challenge a decision by creditors to reject its bid for debt-laden Essar Steel India Ltd. in court, the Financial Times reported. VTB Capital-led Numetal, which was also ruled ineligible to bid for Essar, plans to appeal the decision too, a person close to the company said.

* Coal India Ltd. is expected to supply an estimated 27 million tons per annum to thermal power companies via long-term supply agreements secured through bidding in September 2017, Mining Weekly reported.

* Korab Resources Ltd. initiated a review to possibly divest its operations and projects in Western Australia and Ukraine to focus on its Winchester magnesite deposit in Australia's Northern Territory.

* India's iron ore production is expected to total around 210 million tons in the financial year ending March 31, representing a 9% increase over the previous period, Mining Weekly reported, citing preliminary government data.

SPECIALTY

* IsoEnergy Ltd. entered into an agreement with Cameco Corp., Orano and JCU Canada Exploration Ltd. to acquire the 6,800-hectare Dawn Lake North Block, which forms part of the Dawn Lake uranium joint venture property in Saskatchewan. The claim block is contiguous with IsoEnergy's recently acquired Geiger uranium property and will expand the project area to around 12,594 hectares.

* Battery Minerals Ltd.'s Montepuez graphite project is on track for commissioning in November, after securing the project's mining license from the Mozambique government.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The announcement of further tariffs and an escalation of protectionist sentiment from the U.S. last week continued to put pressure on metals prices. While numerous trading partners managed to secure an exemption from proposed U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, concerns over tit-for-tat measures by China and the potential implications for the wider global economy weighed heavily on investor sentiment.

* Russia's six leading listed metal companies are forecasting higher spending this year, with combined CapEx estimated at US$5.68 billion, reflecting a 52% increase over their 2015 total, the Financial Times reported.

* Zimbabwe is working toward ensuring clarity on the country's mining policy as it seeks to attract investment, Bloomberg News reported, citing Mines Minister Winston Chitando. The country has secured around US$6 billion in new mining investments since November 2017. The amendments to Zimbabwe's mining laws are expected to be completed by May, Chitando added.

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. S&P Global Market Intelligence provides links to external sites where these offer further, relevant information to our readers. While we ensure that such links are functional at the time of publication, we are not responsible in instances where those links are unavailable later.