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Rusal names new chairman; Glencore, Anglo's Collahuasi seek US$3.2B investment


Rusal appoints new chairman as part of US sanctions waiver pact

United Co. Rusal PLC appointed nonexecutive director Jean-Pierre Thomas as the new chairman, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Former Chairman Matthias Warnig stepped down earlier in the week as part of a significant restructuring the Russian company agreed on to have U.S. sanctions removed.

Glencore, Anglo American's Collahuasi seeks mine-life extension with US$3.2B investment

The Glencore PLC and Anglo American PLC-owned Compañía Minera Doña Inés de Collahuasi SCM is seeking an environmental permit to extend the life of the Collahuasi copper mine in Chile with an estimated investment of US$3.2 billion, Reuters reported. Collahuasi, which has an estimated production of 545,000 tonnes of copper this year, will upgrade its operations to improve efficiency and production.

Rio Tinto deploys AutoHaul program at Western Australia iron ore operations

Rio Tinto successfully deployed the AutoHaul program across its iron ore operations in Western Australia's Pilbara region, establishing the world's largest robot and automated heavy-haul, long-distance rail network. The company does not expect any job cuts in 2019 even after deploying the automated system, Reuters reported. The miner operates about 200 locomotives on more than 1,700 kilometers of track in the Pilbara region, transporting ore from 16 mines to four port terminals.


* Vale SA's board of directors approved a contract renewal for CEO Fabio Schvartsman for a new term.

* Selling shareholders of Wanguo International Mining Group Ltd. agreed to continue negotiations past the deadline with potential buyers who intend to acquire about 40.126% of the company's enlarged issued share capital as the parties have yet to sign a formal agreement.

* Zara Resources Inc., which owns the Forge Lake gold and Pigeon River nickel-copper projects in Ontario, entered into a definitive deal to acquire Washington-based cannabis company Blacklist Holdings Inc. via a reverse takeover. The transaction is Zara's latest attempt to exit mining.


* Antofagasta PLC CEO Iván Arriagada said the company expects production in 2019 to increase to between 750,000 and 790,000 tonnes of copper, driven by higher average grades, particularly at its Centinela and Zaldivar mines in northern Chile, daily El Mercurio reported.

* Southern Copper Corp. unit Southern Peru Copper Corp. China Minmetals Corp. and Jiangxi Copper Co. Ltd.-controlled Lumina Copper Corp., and Cia. de Minas Buenaventura SAA are reportedly considering setting up a mining cluster in Peru's Cajamarca region to share infrastructure, transportation and services common to the development of their Michiquillay, Galeno and Conga projects, respectively, daily Gestión reported, citing officials of Peruvian mining association SNMPE. The aim would be to reduce development costs for the projects, which are close to each other in the La Encañada district.


* Patagonia Gold PLC agreed to acquire four additional exploration property blocks in Argentina's Santa Cruz province from Goldcorp Inc. The company will purchase the Las Mellizas, San Agustin, La Esperanza and Mancha Blanca property blocks in exchange for a 1% net smelter royalty on any future production.

* First Majestic Silver Corp. entered into a share sale agreement to raise up to US$50 million to fund development at its existing mines and for additional working capital.

* Defiance Silver Corp. and ValOro Resources Inc. will close their merger Dec. 31 to create a diversified explorer with an advanced portfolio of Mexican silver and gold projects.

* Discovery Minerals Ltd. executed a letter of intent to form a joint venture with the owners of the War Mountain gold-silver project in Idaho.


* About 26 loss-making coal mines in Spain that rely on state financial support to continue operating are set to be closed at the start of 2019, in line with an EU order, Reuters wrote.

* India is in talks to secure exemptions from U.S. steel tariffs, the country's steel secretary, Binoy Kumar, said, according to Reuters. The country plans to apply for exemptions from Canada in January.

* Australian Potash Ltd. CEO Matt Shackleton is eyeing the domestic market long term, having just delivered 3 tonnes of potassium-rich feeder salts to its Perth, Australia-based pilot plant to produce sulfate of potash trade samples for potential Chinese off-takers.

* Israel Chemicals Ltd.'s Dead Sea Works Ltd., Dead Sea Bromine Co. Ltd. and Dead Sea Magnesium Ltd. units in Israel have a fixed asset value of about US$6 billion, based on an independent valuation.

* Ferroglobe PLC will suspend production at its Niagara Falls facility in New York by Dec. 30, impacting 100 employees. Ferroglobe made the decision after assessing "various production adjustments to optimize utilization rates and logistics to customers," CEO Pedro Larrea said in a statement.

* Japanese crude steel production is expected to decline 0.4% year over year to 26.31 million tonnes in the January-to-March quarter due to troubles at some steel plants, Reuters reported, citing the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

* The Thai Industrial Standards Institute seized substandard steel products worth 2.08 billion baht in 2018, Thailand's Daily News reported.

* Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd. acquired 10,288,697 shares of Karnalyte Resources Inc. at 17 Canadian cents apiece in a rights offering, increasing its stake to 38.7% from 21.5%.

* Total U.S. coal production for the week ended Dec. 22 increased 1.5% year over year to 15.9 million tons from 15.7 million tons, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


* The Chilean government plans to delay its arbitration with Albemarle Corp., with the expectation that the company will make a new offer to fulfill the terms of a 2016 contract, Reuters reported, citing a source close to the negotiations. The company had to provide up to 25% of its annual lithium production, at discounted rates, to battery-metal producers in Chile under the contract.

* Melior Resources Inc.'s board decided to terminate the proposed merger with Metallica Minerals Ltd. as the latter will not be able to satisfy certain conditions by the Dec. 31 completion deadline. The company will continue its focus on ramping up production at its Goondicum ilmenite project in Queensland, Australia, and will try to complete its transfer from British Columbia to Australia, where it intends to apply for official quotation of its shares.

* Russian state-owned Rosatom offered the Chilean government technology it claims could boost lithium extraction rates, Reuters reported, citing lobbyist transparency filings. "If the Russian technology meets with your requirements and expectations ... Uranium One Group would be willing to introduce it ... for projects operated by Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, Albemarle ... and other concessionaires, with the goal of increasing their production quotas," said lobbyists for the Uranium One Group, a Rosatom unit.

* Diamond Fields Resources Inc. released a maiden inferred resource estimate for its Beravina project in Madagascar. At a cutoff grade of 9% zirconium dioxide, the project hosts 1.5 million tonnes at 15.3% zirconium dioxide, 22.7% zirconium silicate, 0.3% hafnium dioxide, 537 parts per million of thorium dioxide and 46 ppm of U3O8.

* Voltaic Minerals Corp. entered into a binding assignment agreement with 1146915 B.C. Ltd. and underlying claim owners regarding two mineral claims covering about 6,778 hectares in Argentina's Salta province.


* Presidential elections are set to take place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this weekend, with three main candidates battling against the Congo's long-serving leader, Joseph Kabila, which may lead to the mineral-rich country's first transfer of power through voting since independence in 1960, Bloomberg reported.

* In a rare move, the Indian government decided to give back land to farmers in the state of Chhattisgarh, which Tata Steel Ltd. returned to the state in 2016 due to delays in building its project amid protests and other hurdles, Reuters wrote. Citing research organization Land Conflict Watch, Reuters added that that about 660 land disputes across the country have delayed hundreds of projects and forced millions of people from their farms.

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