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BHP Billiton's Escondida copper mine workers start voting on possible strike

TOP NEWS

BHP Billiton's Escondida copper mine workers starting vote on possible strike

More than 2,500 union workers at BHP Billiton Group's Escondida copper mine in Chile started voting Jan. 27 on whether to go on strike. The voting process will last until Jan. 31. If workers decide to strike, by law the company can request a five-day extension period to negotiate a last proposal, daily El Mercurio de Antofagasta reported.

Yancoal's US$2.45B purchase of Rio Tinto coal assets faces hurdles

Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. Ltd. unit Yancoal Australia Ltd. is facing several hurdles in its planned US$2.45 billion acquisition of Rio Tinto's Australian coal operation, as the company has now sought local investor support to fund the purchase, The Australian wrote.

Newcrest books higher H1 gold, copper output on Lihir improvement

Newcrest Mining Ltd. improved its gold and copper output in the first half of the 2017 financial year following increased throughput at the Lihir Island mine in Papua New Guinea and the Cadia East mine in New South Wales, Australia. Copper output climbed to 48,899 tonnes in the first half of the fiscal year, from 38,918 tonnes a year earlier, while gold production slightly increased from 1.20 million ounces to 1.23 million ounces.

DIVERSIFIED

* OceanaGold Corp. produced 416,741 ounces of gold and 21,123 tonnes of copper for full-year 2016, achieving guidance for gold and beating it for copper. For this year, the company expects to produce 550,000 ounces to 610,000 ounces of gold at all-in sustaining costs of US$600 to US$650 per ounce sold.

* Northern Shield Resources Inc. staked a new property, containing 88 claims, in Labrador Trough, Quebec, which will be primarily explored for copper-nickel-platinum group elements mineralization.

BASE METALS

* Metallurgical Corp. of China Ltd.'s MCC Sierra Grande formally began the dismissal of 220 workers and the cessation of operations at its iron ore mine in Chile's Rio Negro province. The company will keep 40 workers for maintenance purposes, daily Clarin reported.

* Fitzroy River Corp. Ltd.'s A$10.5 million off-market takeover bid for Royalco Resources Ltd. has become unconditional. The company said it will accelerate payment of the 20-cent-per-share cash consideration to Royalco shareholders that have accepted its offer.

* Canadian explorer Copper One Inc. plans to fight a decision by the Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources to suspend the company's claims at the Riviere Dore copper project.

* OZ Minerals Ltd. achieved its full-year copper output guidance, producing 29,758 tonnes of copper in the fourth quarter of 2016, bringing full-year 2016 production to 116,882 copper tonnes and hitting the lower end of the 115,000 tonnes to 125,000 tonnes forecast.

* According to BMI Research, tin prices will likely gradually surge to US$22,500 per tonne by 2021, amid a sustained market deficit starting 2018 and depleting inventories, MiningWeekly reported.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Plata Panamericana SA de CV officially inaugurated the US$150 million expansion project of its La Colorada gold-silver mine in Durango state, Mexico, which is expected to increase production to 1,800 tonnes of gold, silver, and lead and zinc concentrates, daily El Sol de Zacatecas reported.

* Kommersant reported that Nord Gold SE, owned over 90% by Alexei Mordashov, may buy minority shareholders stakes or delist from the London Stock Exchange. The company feels that it is undervalued and there is no rotation among key minority shareholders, which would increase the liquidity of its securities. If delisted, Nordgold may return to the market between 2018 and 2019. The free-float of the company is estimated at US$125 million.

* Randgold Resources Ltd.'s Loulo-Gounkoto gold mining complex in Mali is expected to report a production record for the fourth quarter of 2016, CEO Mark Bristow said. According to Bristow, the company was on track to beat its 2016 production guidance of 670,000 ounces of gold. Meanwhile, negotiations are underway to resolve an illegal sit-in at the company's Tongon mine in Ivory Coast, which was started Jan. 26 by some employees demanding annual ex gratia payments.

* Geopacific Resources Ltd. completed the agreement to earn up to an 80% stake in Kula Gold Ltd.'s Woodlark Island gold project in Papua New Guinea.

* Aldridge Minerals Inc. has acquired or has the right to access 91.1% of the Yenipazar polymetallic project area in Turkey.

* Alliance Mining Corp. secured an option to acquire property in Manitoba's Bissett gold camp from Tiberius Gold Corp. Alliance can earn a 100% stake in the property by paying C$1.3 million in cash or shares over a four-year period.

* ECR Minerals Plc has decided to restart on-the-ground activities to advance the Sierra de las Minas gold project in Argentina.

* An Ontario court imposed a C$55,000 fine on Goldcorp Inc. and C$40,000 on contractor Miller Paving over a worker injury in September 2014, Mining Weekly reported, citing a court bulletin. The contract worker was injured when a hopper containing sand toppled over at the Porcupine mine near Timmins.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Leris Braga, mayor of Brazil's Santa Barbara city, declined to approve a plan for BHP Billiton Group and Vale SA joint venture Samarco Mineração SA to use water from a nearby river to complete an ongoing environmental study that is required by Minas Gerais state regulators to restart the Samarco mine operations, Bloomberg News reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. Braga is asking for a separate study to test possible disruptions to the river's water flow.

* Wood Mackenzie believes that the executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump to leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership may result in higher steel costs for U.S. manufacturers and a reduction in high-value exports, CNBC reported. The reversal of the TPP is not an entirely positive outcome for the U.S. steel industry, analysts wrote.

* The former executive chairman of Waratah Resources Ltd., Benjamin Kirkpatrick, has been convicted of misleading the market and causing the Australian iron ore and coal miner to breach its continuous disclosure obligations. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission claimed that Waratah Resources announced on Oct. 14, 2013, that it had established a A$100 million trade finance facility with the Bank of China when no such facility had been established or agreed upon.

* Universal Coal Plc began open-pit mining at its New Clydesdale operation in South Africa after securing a five-year, 650,000-tonne-per-annum export contract.

* Prophecy Development Corp. signed a definitive agreement to acquire Randsburg International Gold Corp.'s 20% interest in the Titan vanadium-titanium-iron project in Ontario. Prophecy currently holds an 80% stake in Titan.

* Russian fertilizer-maker PJSC PhosAgro plans to gradually increase production to 8.5 million tonnes by 2020, as CEO Andrey Guryev expects the global fertilizer market to rebalance itself after falling Chinese exports, which have dropped by 30% since 2015, Reuters reported. "We expect China's inefficient plants to close. And because it will lead to certain shortages, their big enterprises will divert their deliveries towards the domestic market," Guryev said.

* Delo.ua reported that Wigmore Street Investments No. 3 plans to sell the remainder of its shares of Ferrexpo Plc, the U.K. iron ore company with major assets in Ukraine, and completely go out of that business. It will sell 78 million shares, or 13% of Ferrexpo capital, with the securities to be placed with institutional investors.

* According to analysts, ArcelorMittal's EBITDA will surge by 17.86% year on year, Metal Bulletin reported. The company's EBITDA is expected to clock in at US$6.16 billion for 2016, compared with US$5.23 billion in 2015.

* The European Union has imposed definitive anti-dumping duties of 30.7% and 64.9% on Chinese imports of stainless steel tubes for five years. China's Commerce Ministry said it had "serious doubts" about the decision, which had severely damaged the interests of Chinese exporters and violated World Trade Organization rules.

SPECIALTY

* A group of shareholders collectively owning a 6.57% stake in West Africa-focused lithium and gold explorer Birimian Ltd. have called for a general meeting to vote on the removal of two of the company's directors. The shareholders want Chairman Winton Willesee and director Hugh Bresser voted off the board and Michael Langford and James McKay appointed as directors.

* Richland Resources Ltd. produced 839,898 carats in the fourth quarter of 2016, beating the quarter's target of 800,000 carats, at a total operating cost of 79 U.S. cents per carat.

* A fire that broke out at AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group NV's Mibra tantalum mine in Brazil on Jan. 19 will not have any material financial impact to the company and its lithium output. The company noted that it is insured for both the damage sustained to the concentrator and losses attributable to the company as a result of a production interruption.

* The Supreme Court of Western Australia granted Kidman Resources Ltd.'s request to separate any determination of damages in the proceedings commenced by Marindi Metals Ltd. in November 2016. The trial, set for May 29, will deal exclusively with the issue of whether or not an agreement existed between the companies over lithium rights to the Mount Holland project in Western Australia and will only proceed to determine damages payable to Marindi later if the action is successful.

INDUSTRY

* Former Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista will return to Rio de Janeiro to face charges of paying about US$16 million in bribes to former governor Sergio Cabral, Reuters reported.

* India's Ministry of Mines looks to auction mineral blocks overseas, MiningWeekly reported, citing an official from the ministry. The government will begin redrafting legislation to auction the mineral resources in the next two months, the source noted.

* Macmahon Holdings effectively rejected a A$174 million takeover offer from mining contractor CIMIC Group, advising the former's shareholders to take no action on the former's unconditional cash bid worth 14.5 Australian cents, The Australian reported.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. London time, and scans news sources published in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Some external links may require a subscription.