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Rio Tinto eyeing US$2.2B 'intelligent' iron ore mine, names new chairman

TOP NEWS

Rio Tinto eyeing US$2.2B 'intelligent' iron ore mine, names new chairman

Rio Tinto's iron ore head, Chris Salisbury, said the company will seek shareholder approval in 2018 for the development of a US$2.2 billion "intelligent" iron ore mine at its Koodaideri project in Western Australia, Reuters reported. According to Salisbury, a feasibility study for the project is underway, fully incorporating technologies including robotics and driverless trains and trucks in a single mining operation. Separately, Simon Thompson was named Rio Tinto's next chairman, effective March 5, 2018. Thompson, who joined the Rio Tinto board as a nonexecutive director in 2014, succeeds Jan du Plessis, who will step down as chairman after serving for almost nine years in the position.

Another major Chinese bank against funding Adani's Carmichael coal mine

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China does not intend to fund Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s controversial Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia, ABC reported. China Construction Bank had also rejected financing links with the miner, saying it was not considering involvement with the project.

Mined gold production falls year on year in September quarter

Global gold production was up incrementally in the September quarter to an estimated 24.5 million ounces from the estimated 24.4 million ounces in the June quarter, but 1% less than the year-ago September quarter, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research. Several factors have been driving production lower in 2017, including China's announcement in February that it planned to close 150 gold mines in an effort to consolidate national production.

DIVERSIFIED

* RBC Capital Markets reaffirmed its outperform rating on Anglo American Plc, with an increased target price of 1,950 British pence per share, indicating a potential upside of 38.8%, DirectorsTalk Interviews reported. RBC also reiterated Glencore Plc's outperform rating, with a price target of 470 pence per share, indicating a 37.4% upside potential.

BASE METALS

* Codelco Chairman Oscar Landerretche said CEO Nelson Pizarro should be reappointed in the role when his term ends in 2018 in order to maintain the state miner's focus on cost-cutting and spending, Bloomberg News reported.

* A civil court in Antofagasta, Chile, dismissed a petition filed by union workers of BHP Billiton Group's Escondida copper mine, who claimed unfair treatment and harassment for participating in protests against the company's decision to lay off 3% of its workforce, La Tercera reported.

* Atalaya Mining plc approved a 1 million-tonne-per-annum expansion plan at the Proyecto de Rio Tinto copper project in southwestern Spain, designed to upgrade processing facilities with the goal of increasing production to up to 55,000 tonnes per year. The company intends to raise up to approximately £39 million in a proposed placement to fund the expansion.

* Auroch Minerals Ltd. shares were down over 40% at trading close Dec. 4 after it reported "disappointing" copper and cobalt assay results from two of the four holes drilled at its Tisova cobalt project in the Czech Republic.

* Nautilus Minerals Inc. continues talks with parties to defer immediate cash requirements and said it would need US$10 million by Dec. 20. The funding requirement was initially required by Nov. 30. If it fails to secure the money, the company may need to take steps such as asset sales and capital restructurings.

* First Cobalt Corp.'s three-way merger with CobalTech Mining Inc. and Cobalt One Ltd. was completed after the arrangement was approved by the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

* Red Metal Ltd. executed an option and joint venture agreement with MMG Ltd. subsidiary MMG Exploration Pty. Ltd. over Red Metal's Mallapunyah zinc project in Australia's Northern Territory.

* Aura Minerals Inc. agreed to sell Mineração Vale Verde Ltda., which owns the Serrote da Laje copper-gold project in Brazil, for US$40 million.

* AusRoc Metals Ltd. exited external administration, effective immediately, and reconstituted its board of directors.

PRECIOUS METALS

* PJSC Polyus poured first doré gold from its Natalka project in Russia during the ongoing hot commissioning process at the mill.

* Zhaojin Mining Industry Co. Ltd. canceled the planned spinout of its Dongfang Yanjing unit due to revised business development strategies and other commercial factors.

* Alba Mineral Resources Plc acquired a 49% interest in Gold Mines of Wales, which owns the 106.94-square-kilometer Clogau gold project in the Dolgellau gold belt in Wales, for £316,667 in Alba shares.

* An International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes tribunal awarded about US$30.4 million to Bear Creek Mining Corp. over the cancellation of a mining license for the company's Santa Ana silver-lead project in Peru.

* GBM Resources Ltd. will proceed toward a feasibility study for the Mount Coolon gold project in Queensland, Australia, after a scoping study estimated a pretax net present value of up to A$45.3 million, discounted at 6%, and an internal rate of return of 48.3%.

* QGold Pty. Ltd. intends to make an on-market takeover of Strategic Minerals Corp. NL for 40 Australian cents per share. Prior to the offer, the company owned about 69.15% of Strategic Minerals.

* Draig Resources Ltd. secured a 45-day option to acquire the 557-square-kilometer Yandal South gold project in Western Australia, located close to its Bellevue gold project, from Croft Mining Pty. Ltd. and Weebo Exploration Pty. Ltd.

* Magellan Gold Corp. completed the acquisition of the San Dieguito de Arriba, or SDA, mill in Mexico from Rose Petroleum Plc for US$1.5 million.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Alf Barrios, head of Rio Tinto's aluminum business, said demand growth for the metal will benefit from China's packaging companies, as they switch to aluminum cans from glass for packaging beers and soft drinks. According to Bloomberg News, Rio Tinto sees a 4% rise in aluminum demand over the next five years, without factoring in higher expected demand from the electric vehicles sector.

* En+ Group plc's third-quarter group net profit rose 43.4% year-over-year to US$350 million, from US$244 million in the year-ago quarter, while group revenue increased 17.1% to US$2.88 billion. Meanwhile, the metals segment's third-quarter net profit increased 14.3% to US$312 million, from US$273 million in the same period a year earlier, and revenue improved 19.4% to US$2.46 billion. Aluminum production in the period slightly improved by 1.2% to 931,000 tonnes, with an average realized price of US$2,124 per tonne.

* Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. filed an appeal against a Federal Court decision that awarded the Yindjibarndi people exclusive rights over land in Western Australia's Pilbara region that includes part of its Solomon Hub iron ore project. The company had said the court's decision has no impact on the current and future operations or mining tenure at the Solomon Hub, but Fortescue CEO Nev Power said in a statement that new investments in resources, agriculture and tourism may be affected.

* Coal India Ltd. output and shipments in November increased to the highest monthly levels in at least five years as Indian power plants continued to stock up on coal. According to Bloomberg News, Coal India shipped 50.67 million tonnes and produced 51.3 million tonnes of coal.

* Separately, Fortescue canceled a 25-year power off-take deal with TransAlta, citing breach of contract, The West Australian reported. In addition, the miner signed a new deal with TransAlta's rival utility company, Alinta Energy. The dispute will likely lead to legal proceedings.

* China's crude steel production is forecast to increase 3% this year to 832 million tonnes and by a further 0.7% in 2018 amid an expected ramp up in major mills' operations after the closure of outdated plants, Reuters reported, citing a report by the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute.

* Coal production at Evraz Plc's Raspadskaya coal mine in Russia was suspended after a fire broke out and was later contained, Interfax reported. No one was injured, and a source from the emergency services said production will be suspended until cleanup operations are completed.

* Beowulf Mining Plc remains hopeful that the exploration concession for the Kallak North deposit within its Kallak iron ore project in Sweden will be granted despite a county board's recent refusal to endorse approval for the application. Beowulf CEO Kurt Budge said "the permitting process we have experienced has been inefficient, and our application has been passed back and forth, from one authority to another." The company has until Jan. 2, 2018, to make comments on the board's decision to the government.

* U.S. Market Advisors Law Group PLLC completed an initial investigation on behalf of Kobe Steel Ltd. investors and prepared a proposed class-action complaint to recover investors' losses after the product data falsification scandal involving the company. The complaint has not yet been filed.

* Tata Steel Ltd. will purchase the remaining 74% interest in its joint venture with Bhubaneshwar Power Pvt. Ltd. for 2.55 billion Indian rupees from JL Power Ventures Pvt., DealstreetAsia reported. Tata and its TS Alloys Ltd. unit hold a 26% stake in Bhubaneshwar Power.

* Metallica Minerals Ltd.'s previously announced sale of its SCONI scandium-cobalt project in Queensland, Australia, to Australian Mines Ltd. is now unconditional. The transaction is expected to be completed Dec. 8.

* The members of United Steelworkers Local 1123 at TimkenSteel Corp.'s Ohio facilities ratified a new four-year contract with the company.

* Bowen Coking Coal Ltd. signed an agreement with Aquila Coal Pty. Ltd. and Eagle Downs Pty. Ltd. to acquire the Isaac River coking coal project in Queensland, Australia, for A$200,000 in cash.

* South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers entered a three-year wage deal with Kangra Coal Mine, ending a week-long strike, Mining Weekly reported.

* Canada's Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of aboriginal groups seeking a say in a Yukon Territory government effort to develop coal and iron deposits in a wilderness region, in breach of a treaty requiring the agreement of local native groups, Reuters reported.

* An environmental tribunal in Chile accepted the appeal claim filed by Minera Andes Iron against a prior decision by Chile's highest administrative authority, the Committee of Ministers, that rejected the Dominga iron ore project, El Mercurio reported.

* China's central Shanxi province introduced new rules curbing water use for steel, cement and aluminum production, Reuters reported, citing state media. The new policy will put incremental levies on the producers of steel, cement and aluminum if they exceed mandatory water usage standards.

* Australian iron ore mining stocks, including those of Fortescue, Rio Tinto and BHP, rose up to 1.7% as a result of strong commodity price performances in the previous week, Financial Times reported.

SPECIALTY

* Galaxy Resources Ltd.'s indicated mineral resource estimate at its James Bay project in Quebec increased to 40.8 million tonnes at 1.40% lithium oxide. The estimate, at a 0.62% lithium oxide cutoff, holds 571,200 tonnes of contained metal.

* Mountain Province Diamonds Inc.'s offering of US$330.0 million senior secured second-lien notes due Dec. 15, 2022, will be issued at 97.992% of the aggregate principal amount.

* PJSC Alrosa failed to sell a 51.4-carat diamond called Dynasty in its recent auction, Bloomberg News reported. The company said it did not receive high enough offers for the gem and plans to hold another auction to sell the stone.

* Syrah Resources Ltd. signed a binding deal to supply 20,000 tonnes of natural graphite from the Balama graphite project in Mozambique to Zhanjiang Juxin New Energy Materials Co. Ltd. in 2018.

* Lithium Power International Ltd. entered into a binding deal to sell its Centenario lithium project in Argentina to Albertson Resources Pty. Ltd. nominee Centenario Lithium Ltd. Centenario Lithium paid A$1 million to the company as initial payment to acquire Lithium Power International Holdings (Argentina) Pty. Ltd., which holds the properties.

* The United States Geological Survey and the Geological Mining Service of Argentina said there are 53 lithium exploration projects underway in the South American country, implying US$2 billion in investments, International Mining reported, citing a report by the Ministry of Mining and Energy of Argentina.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it will not act on a proposal that requires miners to show their financial capability to clean up the land after finishing mining operations, Reuters reported.

* Several Western Australian mining companies are scrambling to reapply for leases ahead of an upcoming ruling from the state's High Court, which could invalidate almost a quarter of the 564 leases issued in the state since 2006, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* Chile and Peru have competitive but not extraordinary mining portfolios, but Peru has reform measures to attract foreign investments that Chile does not, said the president of Chilean mining association Sonami and former Antofagasta Plc CEO Diego Hernández. However, Chile's attractiveness to foreign investments may improve, provided whoever wins the upcoming presidential elections implements a swift plan to reactivate the sector, daily El Mercurio reported.

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