US House votes to impeach Trump
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two counts, making him the third president in the country's history to be impeached as partisan conflict roils Congress. The House, controlled by Democratic lawmakers, voted 230-197 and 229-198 on Dec. 18 to approve impeachment charges for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, respectively. The Republican-controlled Senate will act as a jury to either acquit Trump of the charges or convict him and remove him from office. No Republican senators have expressed an inclination to convict and remove Trump, so a conviction is unlikely.
Vale's B-5 tailings dam structurally sound, Brazil's mining regulator says
Brazil's national mining regulator, Agência Nacional de Mineração, said Vale SA's B-5 tailings dam poses no reason for concern, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the agency. The agency said it visited the dam and found some minor, superficial irregularities due to animals and a makeshift motocross course, but it was structurally sound. ANM said B-5 "does not have any relevant structural anomalies that merit concerns."
Antofagasta starts permitting process for Minnesota's Twin Metals project
Antofagasta PLC started the environmental permitting process for its US$1.7 billion Twin Metals copper-nickel-platinum project in Minnesota, Reuters reported. The London-listed copper miner said it submitted a formal mine operation plan to federal and state permitting agencies but expects to wait years before a decision is reached. The move was made possible following a Trump administration order to reverse a 2016 protection order that halts new projects in the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest.
* Ørsted A/S is paying Swiss mining and commodities giant Glencore PLC to take over its LNG business, which it described as "loss-making" and said is expected to remain so "for years to come."
* Western Mining Co. Ltd. completed a debt-for-equity swap to replace debt worth 2 billion Chinese yuan, in which the company brought in the loan asset management units of Agricultural Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China as investors. The two state-run lenders each invested 1 billion yuan to own a 22.725% stake in Western Mining unit Sichuan Huidong Daliang Mining Co. Ltd.
* Kalia Ltd. was ordered to stop operations at its Mount Tore gold tenements on Papua New Guinea's Bougainville Island following the death of local geologist Terry Kilya on the property Dec. 12. The notice from the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources asked the company to repatriate Kilya's body to his family, assist police in catching the perpetrators, and engage with the landowners and resolve all outstanding social issues including land access fee payments.
* Peruvian miner Cia. de Minas Buenaventura SAA will pay C$16 million for a 19.9% stake in Canadian explorer Tinka Resources Ltd. through the subscription of 65,843,620 Tinka shares at 24.3 Canadian cents per share. Closing is expected Jan. 7, 2020.
* In response to Centamin PLC's statement, Endeavour Mining Corp. said the nature of Centamin's interactions continues to suggest that it is unwilling to meaningfully explore the potential benefits of a merger. Endeavour said it continues to believe in the merits of combining the companies, urging Centamin to ask the Takeover Panel for an extension to the "put up or shut up" date to Jan. 31, 2020, to give time for completing the necessary reciprocal due diligence.
* A definitive feasibility study for Big River Gold Ltd.'s Borborema gold project in northeastern Brazil outlined a posttax net present value, discounted at 8%, of US$203 million and a 41.8% internal rate of return. Borborema is expected to produce an average of 71,250 ounces of gold per annum from a single open pit during an initial, stage-one mine life of 10.2 years at all-in sustaining costs of US$839 per ounce.
* Alamos Gold Inc. amended its undrawn revolving credit facility, increasing its size to US$500 million from US$400 million on more favorable terms, with maturity date extended to Dec. 17, 2023.
* Orla Mining Ltd. secured a US$125 million credit facility with Trinity Capital Partners Corp. and other lenders to develop the Camino Rojo oxide gold project in Mexico.
* AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. achieved its first gold pour at the Obuasi gold mine in Ghana on time and on budget after the operation was halted five years ago. Annual gold production is expected to be 350,000 to 400,000 ounces for the first 10 years and above 400,000 ounces over the mine life at all-in sustaining costs of about US$800 per ounce.
* Gold Fields Ltd. received approval from the Atacama Environmental Assessment Commission for its environmental impact study for the Salares Norte project in Chile.
* Nucor Corp.'s board approved the addition of a coil paint line at the company's sheet mill in Mississippi County, Ark., which will result in additional capacity of 250,000 tons per year. The new coil paint line is expected to start up in the first half of 2022.
* National Mineral Development Corp. Ltd. secured Indian government approval to boost the capacity of its Kumaraswamy iron ore mines, part of the Donimalai property, to 10 million tonnes per annum from 7 mtpa for 2020/2021 and 2021/2022. The company also entered into a memorandum of understanding to supply 5 mtpa of iron ore to a proposed integrated steel plant in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
* Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., or Chalco, agreed to pay 1.29 billion Chinese yuan to acquire a 10% stake in Yunnan Aluminum Co. Ltd. through the subscription of 314,050,688 A shares of Yunnan Aluminum at 4.10 yuan apiece. Chalco said the deal allowed it to resolve competition issues with Yunnan Aluminum.
* Murray Energy Corp. spent at least US$5.7 million on gifts and charitable contributions over the two years before filing for bankruptcy protection, according to court documents. The largest privately held coal producer, which was run by Robert Murray before the filing, contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to entities that deny climate science and fight against environmental regulations. Murray has long been an outspoken critic of such regulations, particularly during the Obama administration, and has denied climate change.
* Earth Moving Worldwide emerged as the preferred contractor for Danakali Ltd.'s Colluli sulfate of potash project in Eritrea following a competitive tender process. The mining services cover the preproduction period plus the first five years of production.
* The board of Russian fertilizer-maker PJSC PhosAgro acknowledged the need to improve the company's efficiency, including capital and operating costs, amid pressure in fertilizer prices. The board will submit a new version of the company's 2020 budget by March 1, 2020.
* Japan's crude steel production in the year starting April 2020 is expected to remain flat year over year, Reuters reported, citing the Japan Iron and Steel Federation. Domestic steel demand for construction and manufacturing is projected to fall, while export demand is seen to rise, the report said.
* Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd. reached an agreement with Panasonic Corp. unit Panasonic Corp. Global Procurement Co. to collaborate on developing applications for scandium aluminum alloys, on top of an off-take agreement for up to 5 tonnes per annum of scandium oxide produced from the former's Clean TeQ Sunrise nickel-cobalt-scandium project in Western Australia.
* The government of Western Australia awarded lead agency status to Lynas Corp. Ltd.'s project to build a rare earths processing plant in Kalgoorlie. As lead agency, Western Australia's Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation will provide Lynas with project advice and assistance with managing and coordinating approvals within the project's time frames.
* China Minmetals Corp. established a new subsidiary to mark its entry into graphite, Reuters reported, citing the company's statement on its official Wechat account. China Minmetals Group (Heilongjiang) Graphite Industry Co. will advance the Yunshan graphite mine in Heilongjiang province, the report said.
* U.K.-headquartered Gemfields Group Ltd. said the Zambian government will suspend the 15% export duty on precious gemstones, excluding diamonds, starting Jan. 1, 2020.
* Lucara Diamond Corp.'s final diamond tender of 2019 generated sales proceeds of US$52.9 million, which is 16% higher than the producer's forecast. This brought up total revenue for 2019 to US$192.5 million, exceeding the upper end of its full-year forecast range of US$180 million.
* Gibb River Diamonds Ltd. accepted an offer from the Western Australian government to apply for new tenements at the historical Ellendale diamond mine, which closed in 2015. India Bore Diamond was also invited to apply for other tenements at the site.
* After a recent C$30 million IPO on the TSX Venture Exchange, Uranium Royalty Corp. is on the hunt for assets as it looks to grow its streaming and royalty portfolio, President and CEO Scott Melbye told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an interview. "Eventually we'll have 50 to 100 royalties and streams and be diversified across the global uranium market," Melbye said.
* The U.S. and Canada signed a memorandum of understanding to provide a framework addressing the growing global demand for energy mineral resources. The document encourages responsible and sustainable mining practices, supports mineral supply chains and creates strategies to meet demand for clean energy technology.
* China will ban tailings dams in downstream areas with a high population or with nearby production and living facilities as the country tightens its rules to avoid a disaster similar to Vale SA's dam breach at the Feijao iron ore mine in January, Reuters reported, citing China's Ministry of Emergency Management.
* Nationwide strikes in France against pension reforms have postponed some minor metals deliveries until 2020, Fastmarkets MB reported. "It's very difficult to get material in and out of France and this is practically the last week of the year to ship goods to customers," a European minor metals trader told the news outlet.
* The launch of the Junior Minerals Exploration Incentive in fiscal year 2018, combined with improving market conditions for the sector at the time, appears to have encouraged additional grassroots exploration in Australia, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research team.
* Russia's state geological company, JSC Rusgeology, signed a cooperation agreement with the Republic of Congo's Ministry of Mines and Geology covering exploration of a host of minerals including diamonds and gold. The countries will work together to identify diamond deposits in northern Republic of Congo and carry out predictive mineral mapping in the northwest with a view to finding gold, tantalum, niobium, manganese, nickel and bauxite, according to a statement from Rusgeology.
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