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Dominion, Rio Tinto unearth 552-carat diamond; Katanga to be fined by Canada

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Dominion, Rio Tinto unearth 552-carat diamond; Katanga to be fined by Canada

TOP NEWS

Dominion, Rio Tinto unearth 552-carat diamond

Dominion Diamond Mines and Rio Tinto recovered the largest diamond ever found in North America, Bloomberg News reported. The 552-carat yellow gem, which is about the size of a chicken egg, was unearthed from the Diavik mine in Canada's Northwest Territories. Dominion CEO Shane Durgin said the diamond is of gem quality, but refused to give more details regarding its value.

Glencore's Katanga to pay over US$22M for DRC dealings

Glencore PLC's Katanga Mining Ltd. agreed to pay more than US$22 million to the Ontario Securities Commission, Canada's biggest stock market regulator, amid allegations that the company hid risks of doing business with Israeli businessman Dan Gertler, who is accused of bribing officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rio Tinto closes sale of Dunkerque aluminum smelter to Liberty House

Rio Tinto completed the US$500 million sale of the Dunkerque aluminum smelter in France to Liberty House Ltd., part of Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance. Gupta funded the purchase with equity and a five-year loan worth US$350 million, Financial Times reported. Liberty House has vowed to continue operations at the smelter and make investments to develop additional activity around the site, according to the mining giant.

DIVERSIFIED

* BHP Group Ltd.'s A$529 million settlement with the Australian Taxation Office over a transfer pricing dispute would not have been possible without the two bills introduced by former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan in 2012 and 2013 that made it more difficult to shift taxable profits offshore, The Guardian reported.

BASE METALS

* India's environment court voided the Tamil Nadu state government's order to close Vedanta Ltd.'s Tuticorin copper smelter, Reuters reported. But the site is unlikely to resume operations soon as Tamil Nadu is expected to file an appeal in the country's top court.

* Imperial Metals Corp. tapped Bank of Montreal to accelerate a restructuring process that could include the sale of the company for up to US$1 billion, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

* S&P Global Ratings lowered its zinc and nickel price assumptions for 2019 and 2020, reflecting the rising supply expectations for zinc and optimistic demand growth built into the nickel price that will likely rationalize. Nickel prices are now expected at US$12,000 per ton in 2019 and US$12,500 per ton in 2020, while zinc prices are pegged at US$2,700 per ton in 2019 and dropping to US$2,600 per ton in 2020.

* S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research team expects average copper all-in sustaining costs to increase 2.1% year over year in 2018, followed by a drop of 1.3% in 2019.

* Strategic Energy Resources Ltd. joined the Mineral Exploration Cooperative Research Center, a collaboration between mining majors, educational institutions, as well as Geoscience Australia and all the Geological Surveys in Australia. The collaboration aims to develop new exploration tools and deployment methods that will reduce drilling costs and increase the quantity and quality of collected data.

* Ural Mining & Metallurgical Co.'s Electrozinc plant in Russia will completely cease operations after being damaged by a fire in October, Vedomosti reported.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Acacia Mining PLC said it is "not aware" of a probe by the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office over alleged bribery in Tanzania but had been in touch with the authority. The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources as saying there was an ongoing investigation, noting that it was unclear how far along the Serious Fraud Office investigation was.

* Resolute Mining Ltd. started sublevel cave ore production at the new Syama underground mine in Mali, along with the extraction of first ore from the southern end of the Syama sublevel cave, on budget and within schedule. Syama will be the world's first purpose built, fully automated sublevel cave gold mine, according to Resolute's Managing Director and CEO John Welborn.

* Chaarat Gold Holdings Ltd. shares resumed trading on the London Stock Exchange's AIM submarket but fell steadily Dec. 14 as the company secured better terms for the acquisition of the Kapan gold mine in Armenia from Polymetal International PLC.

* Silver Mines Ltd. struck a new deal with Thomson Resources Ltd. to earn up to an 80% interest in exploration license 7391 located near the the former's Bowdens silver project in New South Wales, Australia.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance intends to acquire U.K. steel trader Stemcor London Ltd., Financial Times reported, citing sources. A bid submitted in December included a range of potential valuations, with the lowest just shy of Stemcor's net asset value of US$150 million, according to the report.

* Noble Group Ltd. secured approval from a Bermuda court to proceed with its restructuring plan, Bloomberg News wrote. The greenlight would allow the embattled commodities trader to emerge from restructuring as soon as next week, according to the report.

* Rio Tinto has prepared a plan to protect its workers from asbestos contamination during the construction of a rail line vital to its US$2.6 billion Koodaideri iron ore mine, part of its Hamersley Consolidated operations in Western Australia, The West Australian wrote. The 166-kilometer railway will have a 19-kilometer section that will run through the Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area, 4.9 kilometers of which is located in a partially contaminated control area.

* A massive bushfire caused by lightning briefly halted production at Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.'s Solomon iron ore hub in Western Australia, The West Australian wrote. CEO Elizabeth Gaines said the blaze did not cause damage to the site, which is now back to normal operations.

* China's crude steel output fell to 77.62 million tonnes in November, the lowest since April due to falling profit margins and production restrictions for the winter due to pollution, Reuters reported citing data from the National Bureau of Statistics. The country produced 66.15 million tonnes in November 2017.

* Stephen Smyth, the Queensland district president of coal mining union Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, slammed BHP's plans to set up an in-house contract employment firm, accusing the mining giant's management of "misrepresentation" and insincerity in pursuing reforms, The Australian Financial Review wrote.

* Seven miners were killed and three others were injured in an underground transport accident at Chongqing Energy Investment Group Co. Ltd.'s Fengchun coal mine in China, Reuters reported, citing state-owned Xinhua news agency.

* S&P Global Ratings said Chilean miner CAP SA's low leverage metrics and cash flow generation will allow it to absorb losses from a fatal incident at the Guacolda 2 Port in November. The port is used to ship its pellet production, which accounts for half of its mining unit's output.

* U.S. steelmaker Nucor Corp. expects to set a new annual record by reporting full year consolidated EPS for 2018 in the range of US$7.25 to US$7.30, an increase of about 22% from the company's previous record EPS of US$5.98 in 2008.

* Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s proposed Carmichael coal project in Queensland, Australia could be further delayed after the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, an independent Australian federal agency, found serious flaws in the company's key water management plan to protect an ancient springs complex near the site, ABC reported.

* China's aluminum output in November rose to 2.82 million tonnes, reflecting a 19.2% increase from its year-ago output and rebounding after three consecutive months of decline, Reuters reported.

* CNN reported that 13 people are feared dead after being trapped while illegally mining coal in India's northeastern state of Meghalaya.

* Qatar Aluminium Ltd (Q.S.C)'s shares opened at 18 Qatari riyals, a 78% jump from the initial public offer price of 10.10 riyals, Reuters reported.

SPECIALTY

* Mineral Resources Ltd. struck a binding US$1.15 billion asset sale and share subscription agreement with Albemarle Corp. for the sale of a 50% interest in the Wodgina lithium project and the formation of a joint venture.

* Lynas Corp. Ltd. clarified media reports on the cost of exporting water leach purification residue by saying that the estimated costs, which seem to be much lower than the company's own initial assessments, were made on the basis of an analyst's views and report noted that the figures were only a rough estimate.

* JSC National Atomic Co. Kazatomprom completed the acquisition of a 40.05% stake in Energy Asia (B.V.I.) Ltd., increasing its interests in the Kharasan and Kharassan-2 uranium projects in Kazakhstan. It also acquired a 16.02% participatory interest in the chartered capital of joint venture "Khorasan-U" LLP.

* Firestone Diamonds PLC recovered a 46-carat white diamond from its Liqhobong mine in Lesotho.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will step down at the end of 2018, President Donald Trump tweeted Dec. 15, amid a series of investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest. Zinke pushed for U.S. energy dominance, promoting oil drilling and coal mining, reducing royalty rates and easing land protections.

* Following about two weeks of climate talks in Poland, more than 195 nations including the U.S. and China adopted rules for implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change but punted some key issues to the next annual meeting. The next set of formal climate talks are slated to occur in Chile in 2019.

* A Colombian tribunal suspended the government's awarding of mining licenses until it establishes protected areas, Reuters reported. The country's mines and energy ministry will lodge an appeal against the decision, according to the newswire.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings, a separately managed division of S&P Global. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings.

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