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Rio Tinto to fetch US$1.7B from sale of Hail Creek, Valeria mines to Glencore

TOP NEWS

Glencore to buy Rio Tinto's Hail Creek, Valeria coal mines for US$1.7B

Glencore PLC agreed to acquire Rio Tinto's 82% stake in the Hail Creek coal mine and a 71.2% stake in the Valeria coal project, both in Queensland, Australia, for US$1.7 billion in cash. Subject to regulatory approvals, the deal is expected to close in the second half. Rio Tinto said separately that the process is underway to sell its remaining Australian coal assets, including the Kestrel mine in Queensland.

Shareholder takes Noble Group to court, S&P flags 'cross-defaults'

Noble Group Ltd. shareholder Goldilocks Investment Co. filed a lawsuit against the Hong Kong-based commodities trader and its executives in the Singapore High Court, alleging the company inflated profits and its balance sheet to raise money, Bloomberg News reported, citing court documents. Separately, S&P Global Ratings downgraded the company's debt rating to D from CC after the company missed the principal and coupon payments on two of its outstanding U.S. dollar notes due March 20.

First Quantum confirms receiving 76.5B kwacha tax bill from Zambia

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. confirmed it received a 76.5 billion kwacha tax bill from the Zambian Revenue Authority for the alleged underpayment of customs duties. The company, however, refuted the assessment, saying it "does not appear to have any discernable basis of calculation." Reuters earlier reported that the regulator issued the bill to an unnamed "prominent mining company" for classifying imported goods as mining machinery, which attract no customs duty.

DIVERSIFIED

* Vedanta Ltd. is planning to raise up to 45 billion Indian rupees by issuing secured, nonconvertible debentures in one or more tranches. A board meeting is scheduled for March 23.

* Rio Tinto plans to use excess liquidity to cut gross debt by about US$2.25 billion. The company issued redemption notices for about US$1.4 billion of its 2021 and 2022 U.S. dollar-denominated notes and launched a cash tender offer to buy back up to US$850 million of its euro-denominated notes due 2020 and 2024.

* Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques said lower corporate taxes in Australia are needed "sooner rather than later," The Australian reported. Jacques added that the mining giant would not issue a special shareholder payout prior to the release of its half-year results in August, The Australian Financial Review wrote.

* Glencore launched an offering of US$500 million nondilutive cash-settled convertible bonds due 2025, guaranteed by Glencore, Glencore International AG and Glencore (Schweiz) AG.

BASE METALS

* Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg said the company is ready to sell its cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to China if the price was good, Reuters reported. However, the commodities trader said it was not changing its production strategy in the DRC.

* New Age Exploration Ltd. posted an upgraded inferred mineral resource estimate at the Redmoor tin-tungsten joint venture in the U.K. that it holds on a 50/50 basis with Strategic Minerals PLC through Cornwall Resources Ltd. The resource now stands at 4.5 million tonnes grading 1.00% tin equivalent.

* Zambia upgraded its copper production estimate for 2017 to 800,000 tonnes, from the 786,731 tonnes announced last month, after including output from small-scale producers, Reuters reported, citing Ministry of Mines Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda.

* Unionized workers at Antofagasta Plc's Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile agreed to extend a period of government-mediated talks to reach an agreement over a new labor contract, Reuters reported.

* PolarX Ltd. estimated a maiden JORC-compliant inferred resource for the Zackly copper-gold deposit in Alaska, part of its Alaska Range project, of 3.4 million tonnes grading 1.2% copper, 2.0 g/t gold and 14.0 g/t silver from surface.

* Cobalt 27 Capital Corp. Executive Chairman Anthony Milewski said the most pressing issue for electric vehicle manufacturers is securing supplies of battery minerals, including cobalt, Mining Weekly reported.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Eco Oro Minerals Corp. is seeking US$764 million in compensation from the Colombian government over issues it faced developing the Angostura gold-silver property. It is the first time Eco Oro has pinned down the amount of compensation it claims Colombia owes in damages, and it did so in a filing made to the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

* White Cliff Minerals Ltd. will advance its Aucu gold project in Kyrgyzstan and its cobalt-nickel assets in Western Australia. The company's main focus will be on its Aucu project, but the cobalt-nickel portfolio has "a realistic chance of being developed" in the current cobalt pricing environment, Managing Director Todd Hibberd said.

* B2Gold Corp. sought to reassure investors that it does not expect to be directly affected by a possible new mining code in Mali. The company said it has a stabilization agreement governing its Fekola gold mine in the country. B2Gold's stock dipped Mar. 19 after a media report quoted a government minister as saying Mali would consider taking unilateral action in crafting the new mining code.

* Hengxing Gold Holding Co. Ltd.'s posttax net profit increased 18% year over year to 240.3 million Chinese yuan, while revenue jumped by 31% to 960.5 million yuan.

* An updated estimate for Radisson Mining Resources Inc.'s O'Brien gold project in Quebec increased gold contained in the indicated category by 95% to 233,491 ounces from 119,819 ounces. The project hosts indicated resources of 1.1 million tonnes grading 6.45 g/t of gold and inferred resources of 1.2 million tonnes grading 5.22 g/t of gold for 194,084 ounces.

* PJSC Polyus aims to produce up to 15% of the world's antimony, which the company plans to source from its Olimpiada gold deposit in Russia, Reuters reported. The total amount of high-content antimony ore to be mined at the deposit between 2017 and 2026 is pegged at 11 million tonnes. Polyus has already signed deals for all of its 2018 production of the metal and is preparing to make its first delivery to China.

* S&P Global Ratings placed its ratings on Hecla Mining Co., including the B corporate credit rating, on CreditWatch with positive implications following the U.S.-based silver-gold miner's acquisition of Klondex Mines Ltd. for US$462 million.

* Red 5 Ltd. expects full processing operations at its Darlot gold mine in Western Australia to resume toward the end of the week, following reduced production rates while issues with the first mill of the project were being fixed.

* Katoro Gold PLC suspended feasibility work on the Imweru gold project in Tanzania until it reaches a final decision on the economic viability and further development of the property. The announcement saw its shares fall over 20% in early morning London trade.

BULK COMMODITIES

* The U.S. SEC said the District Court in Manhattan should deny a motion by Rio Tinto and two of its former executives to dismiss fraud charges filed against them in relation to coal assets in Mozambique, Reuters reported. According to the SEC, the defendants "violated multiple provisions of the federal securities laws by engaging in a prolonged fraudulent course of conduct."

* The SEC submitted a 2012 email by Rio Tinto's former managing director of Mozambique Coal, Eric Finlayson, as an exhibit in the court. The email states that the constraints on transporting coal out of Mozambique had delivered a "huge value loss" to the company's business there, which it did not write down until the following year, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* The board of PJSC PhosAgro recommended that shareholders approve a dividend of 1.94 billion Russian rubles, or 15 rubles per share, to be paid from the company's 2017 net profit. The proposed dividend will be paid to shareholders on record as of June 13.

* Rio Tinto, which secured an exemption from U.S. tariffs for its Canadian aluminum exports, sees fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China weighing on its stock, Reuters reported.

* Prophecy Development Corp. will write off its Chandgana coal project investment in Mongolia in its 2017 results on the back of slower-than-expected development due to continued political uncertainty in the country.

* A court in Brazil ordered Cia. Siderúrgica Nacional-owned Minérios Nacional to take emergency measures to guarantee the stability of two tailing dams at the Fernandinho iron ore mining complex in the country's Minas Gerais state, Metal Bulletin reported. The order is not expected to affect the mine's output, which is currently about 18,000 tonnes per month.

* China Coal Energy Co. Ltd.'s attributable profit in 2017 reached 3.49 billion yuan, up from a profit of 1.72 billion yuan booked in 2016.

* Maanshan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. booked a net profit of 2.69 billion yuan in 2017. The company will distribute a cash dividend of 16.5 fen per share.

* Japanese aluminum buyers agreed to pay 25% higher premiums for metal deliveries in the second quarter, at US$129/tonne, Reuters reported, citing sources directly involved in the pricing talks. The agreed premium compares to US$103/t paid in the first quarter and is the highest in three years.

* A bankable feasibility study for Aguia Resources Ltd.'s Três Estradas phosphate project in Brazil estimated a posttax net present value of US$212 million, at a 5% discount rate, and internal rate of return of 18.3%.

* Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko told a news conference that there was a "high chance" some Japanese steel and aluminum products will be excluded from U.S. tariffs, saying specific items "contribute greatly to U.S. industries and many of them have little substitute," Reuters reported.

* China is expected to close more mines as its supply-side reform moves to the next phase and it targets eliminating more zombie companies, Zhu Baoliang, chief economist and director of economic forecasting at China's State Information Center, told delegates at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

* IRC Ltd. is expecting to swing to profit for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, due to an increase in revenue of more than fivefold to approximately US$110 million.

* Looking to return to the ASX, Jupiter Mines Ltd. is targeting A$240 million, higher than the originally expected amount of between A$150 million and A$200 million. The company, which holds a 49.9% stake in the Tshipi manganese mine in South Africa, lodged a prospectus with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

* Fox River Resources Corp. completed the sale of 71 acres of land in Manitoba for C$1 million.

SPECIALTY

* Voyageur Minerals Ltd. signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with Innovation Metals Corp. to access the latter's proprietary processing technology for the production of high-purity barium sulfate, or barite.

* enCore Energy Corp. completed the acquisition of Metamin Enterprises Inc. unit Metamin US Inc. for C$55,000 and 3 million enCore shares at 5 Canadian cents apiece.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The chief diplomatic adviser to the Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila defended recent changes to the country's mining laws, saying rising prices for metals such as cobalt required the government to take action to ensure more corporate profits are shared with Congolese citizens. The new law Kabila signed earlier in March, which raised royalties and taxes on operators, "says that the super profit that mining companies are making, let's share 50-50," Barnabe Kikaya bin Karubi said.

* Juicy premiums in recent M&A offers suggest that some miners see value in beaten-down stocks, analysts said. Recently, the premium in a proposed merger between Alio Gold Inc. and Rye Patch Gold Corp. was 35%, based on a 20-day volume-weighted average price, while Hecla Mining offered a 59% premium to the 30-day volume-weighted average price in a takeover bid for Klondex Mines.

* India will sell another 35 out of the 112 auction-bound mineral blocks in the next two months, Press Trust of India reported, citing the mines ministry. It auctioned off 35 mineral blocks on March 12 while another 35 are at various stages of bidding.

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