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Endeavour drops planned Centamin buy; Vale starts Feijao environmental recovery


Endeavour drops planned Centamin takeover

Africa-focused gold producer Endeavour Mining Corp. decided to drop its planned takeover of London- and Toronto-listed Centamin PLC after the takeover target did not seek an extension to the Jan. 14 deadline for the prospective buyer to make a firm offer. Endeavour said the information Centamin provided during the due diligence process was not enough for it to be confident about lodging a firm offer. Centamin said the same day that its board decided the Endeavour offer "materially undervalued" the company and its prospects. The company also declared a final dividend of 6 U.S. cents per share for 2019. In December 2019, Centamin rejected Endeavour's C$2.52 billion all-share takeover bid.

Vale launches pilot project for environmental recovery at Feijao dam breach area

Brazilian miner Vale SA launched a pilot project called Zero Milestone aimed at the environmental recovery of an area affected by the Feijao iron ore mine's tailings dam breach in Brumadinho, Brazil. The project aims to reestablish the original conditions of the Ferro-Carvão stream, revegetate the riparian forest with native plants and recover the Paraopeba river. The investments in the program are part of the funds for emergency containment works in Brumadinho, which should amount to 1.8 billion Brazilian reais by 2023.

Freeport-McMoran has no plans to pursue major strategic deals in coming years, says CEO

Copper major Freeport-McMoRan Inc. CEO Richard Adkerson said the company has no plans to pursue any major strategic deals during the next three years, The Wall Street Journal reported, downplaying any potential approaches after Barrick Gold Corp. CEO Mark Bristow said in mid-December 2019 that it made sense to start an "intellectual conversation" about a potential merger with Freeport. Adkerson said the company will focus on converting its Grasberg copper-gold project in Indonesia into an underground operation from an open pit, after which Freeport-McMoRan would be in a position to look at alternatives that could be attractive to shareholders.


* BHP Group director Lindsay Maxsted will not stand for reelection at the company's 2020 annual general meeting. He will remain a member of the risk and audit committee until retirement, the company said.


* Peru's environmental regulator authorized Glencore PLC's Antapaccay copper-gold mine in Peru to modify the environmental impact study of the US$590 million Tintaya Integración - Coroccohuayco expansion project, which was submitted in April 2018. The approved modifications include reactivating some components in the Tintaya mine and modifications to the Antapaccay project, daily Gestión reported.

* A preliminary economic assessment for Ascendant Resources Inc.'s Lagoa Salgada zinc project in Portugal defined a posttax net present value of US$106 million and a 31% internal rate of return, at an 8% discount.

* Indonesia approved environmental impact studies for at least five factories to produce battery-grade nickel chemicals in Morowali, Pacific Rim Cobalt Corp. said, citing coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan. Spending on new nickel processing plants in Indonesia is expected to total US$20 billion by 2024, the company noted.

* PolyMet Mining Corp. is exploring all options for the NorthMet copper project, which includes filing a petition for review to the Minnesota Supreme Court regarding the Minnesota Court of Appeals' decision to remand the company's permit to mine and dam safety permits back to the Department of Natural Resources for a contested case hearing.

* New World Resources Ltd. secured the right to acquire the historical, high-grade Antler copper deposit in Arizona. The company plans to start its maiden drilling at Antler this quarter, immediately followed by initial mine designs and economic studies.


* Canada's Torex Gold Resources Inc. expects to produce between 420,000 and 480,000 ounces of gold in 2020 at all-in sustaining cost of US$900 per ounce to US$960/oz.

* Anglo Asian Mining PLC produced 82,795 gold equivalent ounces in 2019 at budgeted metal prices, compared to 83,736 gold equivalent ounces produced a year ago, as an increase in copper output was offset by lower gold and silver production.

* Paramount Gold Nevada Corp. secured a water permit for its Grassy Mountain gold project in Oregon.

* Hummingbird Resources PLC's gold production in 2019 was 115,649 ounces, meeting full-year guidance of 110,000 to 125,000 ounces. Output in 2018 totaled 91,620 ounces.

* Canadian miner Roxgold Inc. achieved record gold production of 41,162 ounces in the fourth quarter of 2019 and record full-year 2019 gold output of 142,204 ounces. The company expects to produce 120,000 to 130,000 ounces of gold per annum from its Yaramoko gold project in Burkina Faso for the next three years.

* The government of Senegal approved IAMGOLD Corp.'s mining permit application for the Boto gold project initially for 20 years. The company said it started work to advance the project toward full construction and eventually start production.

* Rhodium prices surged 31% this month to US$7,925 per ounce, reaching its highest since 2008, Bloomberg News reported, citing price data from Johnson Matthey PLC. Rhodium, mainly used in autocatalysts, rallied twelvefold in the past four years and outperformed all major commodities as demand from the auto sector rose due to stricter emission rules.

* Black Tusk Resources Inc. entered into an agreement to acquire Chalice Gold Exploration Corp., owner of the South Rim project in British Columbia. Black Tusk will issue 10.0 million common shares to shareholders of Chalice, and the property is subject to a 2% net smelter royalty.

* A mud rush-related incident at Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd.'s Tshepong gold mine in South Africa killed one worker. An investigation is underway.

* Petratherm Ltd. was granted the Comet gold project tenement, EL6443, in South Australia, allowing exploration activities to proceed.


* BlackRock Inc., the world's largest asset manager, will exit investments that present a high sustainability-related risk, including thermal coal producers, as part of an effort to make climate change the focus of its investment strategy. "We don't yet know which predictions about the climate will be most accurate, nor what effects we have failed to consider. But there is no denying the direction we are heading," CEO Larry Fink said in a letter. "Every government, company, and shareholder must confront climate change."

* Fluor Corp. erected the first 1,500 tons of modules in the ore handling plant at BHP Group's US$3.6 billion South Flank iron ore project in Western Australia. Fluor said the construction milestone is in the critical sequence to first ore.

* Elmore Ltd. executed an agreement with Trendsheer Holdings to process iron ore and gold from the Frances Creek project in Australia's Northern Territory. Elmore said it is preparing to move its mobile crushing and screening plant to the site in February.

* The Indian Supreme Court allowed Vedanta Ltd.'s foreign units to participate in the tenders for the surplus alumina of state-run National Aluminium Co. Ltd., Bloomberg News reported. The top court's decision affirmed an earlier ruling by the High Court of Odisha state, which National Aluminium challenged as its tenders were meant for exports. At that time, the lower court accepted Vedanta's position that it should be eligible for the tenders as it operated from an export-oriented zone.

* Ridley Terminals Inc. in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, exported 772,986 tonnes of thermal and metallurgical coal in December 2019, up 184% from the previous month, Prince Rupert Port Authority data showed. The month-over-month jump was the highest since a 213% increase in March of the same year. In 2019, coal exports through the terminal totaled 8.6 million tonnes, up 10.7% from 2018 exports and the most annual exports since 2013.

* Australia-based Stanmore Coal Ltd.'s run-of-mine coal production in the December 2019 quarter rose 8% year over year to 864,000 tonnes while salable coal output dipped 5% to 609,000 tonnes. The company narrowed its half-year underlying EBITDA guidance to A$50 million to A$52 million, from up to A$56 million, due to a recent decline in coking coal prices and delayed sales and increased full-year cost guidance to A$107 per tonne, excluding royalty.

* Emmerson PLC said the construction of access roads will be the only required preproduction capital expenditure for the entire logistics solutions of its Khemisset potash project in Morocco. Total estimated cost for the road connection to an existing highway is about US$2 million, including a 15% contingency.

* China's total 2019 iron ore imports rose 0.47% yearly to 1.069 billion tonnes, just below the 2017 all-time record of 1.075 billion tonnes, Reuters reported, citing customs data.

* Meanwhile, Chinese demand for high-grade iron ore is expected to fall during the winter season as steel mills are allowed to use lower and cheaper grades of the steelmaking raw material to cut costs, Reuters reported. Demand for high-grade ore usually increases during winter when the country forces smokestack industries to curb output and use cleaner raw materials to reduce air pollution, the report said.


* SRG Mining Inc. signed four off-take agreements to supply 89,000 tonnes of graphite to be produced from its Lola graphite project in Guinea over three years. The deals represent about 60% of the company's anticipated production during that period.

* Savannah Resources PLC unit Mutamba Mineral Sands SA was granted a mining license in Mozambique, completing the grant of the three core, contiguous concessions of the Mutamba heavy mineral sands project held under a joint venture with Rio Tinto. The license covers 11,807 hectares and is valid to September 2044, with a potential 25-year extension.

* China exported 3,657 tonnes of rare earths in December 2019, up 39% from November as purchases increased ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday starting Jan. 24, Reuters reported. Rare earth shipments in the full year, however, were at the lowest since 2015 at 46,330 tonnes in 2019 due to weak demand from global manufacturing.


* Global M&A activity is expected to continue at a slow pace in 2020, dragged down by a potential decline in deals in North America, where companies are in "wait-and-see mode" amid lingering trade, economic and political uncertainties, Willis Towers Watson PLC said. The U.S. will drive the M&A slowdown, with companies reluctant to take on big deals as they prepare for a possible recession, according to the advisory and broking firm.

* South Africa's mining industry body called on the government to ease the power crisis by bringing in new private-sector power sources following power cuts by state-owned utility Eskom, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Minerals Council South Africa.

* The U.S. removed its designation on China as a currency manipulator as both countries prepare to sign their "phase one" trade deal Jan. 15. The initial trade deal between the U.S. and China contains "enforceable commitments" from Beijing to "refrain from competitive devaluation, while promoting transparency and accountability," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the department's latest biannual report to Congress on economic and exchange rate policy.

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