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US lifting En+, Rusal sanctions; Freeport to pay 460B rupiah for forest use

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US lifting En+, Rusal sanctions; Freeport to pay 460B rupiah for forest use

TOP NEWS

US to lift sanctions on En+, Rusal

En+ Group PLC and United Co. Rusal PLC will be removed from the U.S. sanctions list in 30 days after the companies made significant restructuring, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whose stake in En+ will fall to 44.95%, will remain sanctioned. The London Metal Exchange said it will end its suspension on Rusal's aluminum once the sanctions are lifted, Reuters reported.

Freeport ordered to pay 460B rupiah for illegal forest use in Indonesia

Indonesia's Supreme Audit Agency ordered Freeport-McMoRan Inc. to pay 460 billion Indonesian rupiah in royalties for illegally using a protected forest to deposit tailings from the Grasberg copper mine. Freeport was also flagged for mining underground at Grasberg without a permit, with damage from the mine's tailings amounting to about US$13.3 billion.

Rio Tinto and China Baowu to discuss extending iron ore joint venture

Rio Tinto and China Baowu Steel Group Corp. Ltd. agreed to discuss extending the Bao-HI iron ore joint venture in Western Australia's Pilbara region, which covers the Eastern Range mine and Western Range project. A pre-feasibility study started by Rio Tinto on the Western Range project is expected to be complete by the end of 2019. The joint venture has sold over 180 million tonnes since its creation in 2002.

DIVERSIFIED

* Following its $10.5 billion acquisition of U.S. oil and gas assets from BHP Group Ltd. at the end of October, London-based major BP PLC reportedly launched the sale of about $3 billion of its legacy U.S. assets to help pay for the purchase, Reuters reported, citing sources.

BASE METALS

* Orion Minerals Ltd.'s scoping study for its Prieska zinc-copper project in South Africa outlined a net present value, discounted at 12.5%, of between A$400 million and A$440 million, a 38% internal rate of return and a three-year payback period.

* Alara Resources Ltd. agreed to sell 19% of its 70% stake in the Al Hadeetha copper mine in Oman to a member of the Al Tasnim Group for about A$10.7 million.

* Hudbay Minerals Inc. closed its acquisition of Mason Resources Corp., owner of the Ann Mason copper project in Nevada.

* Polymetal International PLC completed the previously announced noncash exchange of its Tarutin copper-gold property in Russia for 85% of the East Tarutin copper-gold property in Kazakhstan from Russian Copper Co.

* Heron Resources Ltd. kicked off commissioning activities at its Woodlawn zinc-copper project in New South Wales, Australia, the last major construction step prior to production activities. First production is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019.

* Auryn Resources Inc. optioned to Corporacion Aceros Arequipa SA three mineral concessions located within the Sombrero copper project in Peru.

* Andromeda Metals Ltd. entered into a binding earn-in and joint venture agreement with Environmental Metals Recovery Pty. Ltd. to advance in situ recovery at the company's Moonta copper-gold project in South Australia. The Moonta ISR joint venture covers only the northern part of the Moonta tenement.

PRECIOUS METALS

* AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. is looking to exit its current South African operations and move its listing to London or Toronto, Bloomberg News reported, citing anonymous sources. The planned transfer, which the company has pondered for years, is unlikely to occur before 2020, according to the report.

* The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union lodged an appeal against the South African Competition Tribunal's decision to approve Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s takeover of Lonmin PLC. The companies intend to request an urgent hearing date from the Competition Appeal Court regarding the appeal.

* Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd. will be able to reduce its debt to C$30 million thanks to Pretium Resources Inc.'s US$237 million repurchase of Osisko's gold-silver stream from the Brucejack mine in British Columbia.

* White Rivers Exploration Pty. Ltd., owner of the Kroonstad and Bothaville gold prospects in South Africa, is in talks with "deep-pocketed" companies interested in forming a joint venture over the properties, The Australian reported, citing founder Mark Creasy.

* Lefroy Exploration Ltd. agreed to sell its Murchison gold project in Western Australia to Golden State Mining Ltd. for A$25,000 in cash, 1.7 million Golden State shares and 800,000 options.

BULK COMMODITIES

* By 2022, United Metallurgical Co., OMK CJSC plans to invest 167 billion Russian rubles to upgrade its PJSC Vyksa Steel Works operations, Vedomosti reported. About 70 billion rubles is dedicated to the modernization of the casting and rolling complex, which will increase its capacity to 3 million tons of steel per year.

* IRC Ltd. secured a US$240 million facility from Gazprombank JSC to refinance the finance facility for its K&S iron ore project in Russia with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd and to repay Petropavlovsk PLC loans.

* The European Commission extended until Feb. 1 the deadline of an investigation into steel imports, saying its scope was "unprecedented." The probe, launched March 26, came in reaction to U.S. tariffs on steel imports and over worries that dynamics in the steel market would shift, flooding the EU with steel once bound for the U.S.

* Citing lack of personnel amid a nearly yearlong lockout, Alcoa Corp. said it would cut about half the capacity of the last operating potline at its 74.95%-owned Becancour smelter in Quebec. The smelter, 25.05% owned by Rio Tinto Alcan Inc., has been operating at lower capacity since Alcoa locked out unionized workers Jan. 11.

* The China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association will meet with Chinese aluminum producers to discuss slumping demand and falling prices, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources. Representatives from China Hongqiao Group Ltd. and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. confirmed attendance, according to the newswire.

* Suncorp Group Ltd., QBE Insurance Group Ltd. and Axa are among the world's biggest top insurance firms that vowed not to insure Adani's controversial Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing activist group Market Forces.

* Mechel PAO extended until 2019 an agreement to supply China's Jidong Cement with up to 2 million tonnes of thermal coal mined from its Elga and Neryungrinsky sites in South Yakutia in the Russian Far East.

* GFG Alliance is accused of rejecting tenders for its Whyalla steelworks operations from small business vendors who do not agree to a payment term of 120 days, The Australian reported, citing South Australia's small business commissioner John Chapman. GFG denied the claim, although it revealed that it had vendors who were on 90-day terms, which Chapman found unacceptable.

* Germany's last coal mine, RAG Deutsche Steinkohle AG's Prosper-Haniel, will shut down Dec. 21 after stopping production in September, Financial Times reported.

* Indonesia's thermal coal production could reach between 480 million tonnes and 500 million tonnes in 2019, remaining flat over an estimated 500 million tonnes in 2018, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Indonesian Coal Mining Association.

* Canada said it will grant the request of British Columbia's construction industry to exempt some imported steel and aluminum from its newest import tariffs and quotas, Reuters reported.

* Turkey won its appeal at the World Trade Organization against additional U.S. tariffs on steel imports, Reuters reported, citing Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

* Jupiter Mines Ltd. intends to distribute about 1 billion South African rand in dividends for fiscal 2019, subject to the Tshipi manganese project in South Africa performing on plan and the manganese price holding over January and February 2019.

* Cauldron Energy Ltd. terminated the farm-in agreement allowing Oceltip Metals Pty. Ltd. to earn up to a 60% interest in the Yanrey North tenements adjacent to the former's Yanrey uranium project in Western Australia. Cauldron said Oceltip failed to complete its due diligence in time.

SPECIALTY

* Mineral Resources Ltd. joint venture partner Albemarle Corp. pegged the estimated cost of their processing plant at the Wodgina lithium mine in Western Australia at US$1.6 billion, The West Australian reported. Mineral Resources has not reported a cost estimate for the plant but had implied it may build an operation of a similar size for between US$900 million and US$1.2 billion.

* Rio Tinto is testing Scania AB's new autonomous transport system at its Dampier Salt Ltd. operations in Western Australia. The trucks being trialed are smaller than Rio Tinto's traditional ones.

* Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is concerned about a decline in the growth of the country's diamond reserves, minister Dmitry Kobylkin said in an interview with Interfax. The minister observed that state-owned diamond monopolist PJSC Alrosa is only exploring diamond-mining areas of "high exploration maturity."

* Australian Vanadium Ltd. recommended advancing the Gabanintha vanadium project in Western Australia to a definitive feasibility study, after a pre-feasibility study outlined an ungeared posttax net present value, discounted at 8%, of US$1.41 billion and a 47.5% internal rate of return based on a steady vanadium pentoxide price of US$20 per pound over the operation's initial 17-year mine life. Total capital expenditure was estimated at US$354 million.

* Gem Diamonds Ltd. recovered a high-quality 101-carat and a 71-carat white type IIa diamond from the Letseng mine in Lesotho. The Letseng mine has produced 14 diamonds of over 100 carats this year.

* Navigator Resources Ltd. conditionally agreed to acquire family law services provider AF Legal Pty. Ltd., trading as Australian Family Lawyers.

* Northern Cobalt Ltd. staked 48 mineral claims over the Snettisham vanadium project in southwestern Alaska. As the project was not under any existing mineral claim, the company was able to acquire a 100% interest by pegging the ground and issuing 500,000 ordinary shares to Fireant Resources Pty. Ltd. as consideration for introducing the tenure to the company.

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