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Rio Tinto, Alcoa launch JV to advance carbon-free aluminum smelting


Rio Tinto, Alcoa launch JV to advance carbon-free aluminum smelting

Alcoa Corp. and Rio Tinto are forming a joint venture to advance and market a carbon-free aluminum smelting process that the companies developed. The joint venture, to be called Elysis, will license the technology so it can be used to retrofit existing smelters or build new facilities. Apple Inc., which helped facilitate the collaboration between the iron ore and smelting giants, is providing C$13 million along with specific intellectual property and patents. Collectively, Rio, Alcoa, Apple and the governments of both Canada and Quebec will provide C$188 million towards the initiative.

CSN to proceed with deleveraging by July, says CEO

Cia. Siderúrgica Nacional CEO Benjamin Steinbruch vowed to proceed with the deleveraging of the company by July, Bloomberg News reported. Steinbruch said earlier that the Brazilian steelmaker would conclude asset sales of 2 billion Brazilian reais to 3 billion reais, or between US$600 million and US$901 million, this year to slash its debt, which potentially includes a stake in rival steelmaker Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA. The executive added that he was confident about concluding debt talks with Caixa Economica Federal by the end of this month.

RUSAL nearly triples Q1 profit to US$544M prior to US-imposed sanctions

United Co. Rusal PLC's net profit in the first quarter nearly tripled to US$544 million, with revenue rising 19.5% to US$2.74 billion in the period ended March 31. Sales of primary aluminum and alloys, however, slipped 2.0% yearly to 965,000 tonnes at a 12.4% higher average alumina price of US$382 per tonne. Rusal noted that due to sanctions imposed by the U.S. in early April, any of the company's previous forecast for this year was unreliable and may become irrelevant.


* BHP Billiton Group CEO Andrew Mackenzie said that the Australian government should create incentives for corporations to invest in infrastructure and spend taxpayers' dollars on health and education, The Australian Financial Review reported. The comments came after the government allocated A$24.5 billion to infrastructure in the budget.


* OZ Minerals Ltd. secured a stake of about 35.57% in Avanco Resources Ltd. under its A$418 million takeover offer, which was approved by the latter's board in early May. Avanco's largest shareholder, Appian Natural Resources, with about 18.44% ownership, and BlackRock, with about 11.60% interest, have now accepted the offer. The offer is scheduled to close June 1.

* Grosvenor Resource Corp. agreed to acquire the Powder property in south-central British Columbia. The company intends to conduct a mapping and sampling program to confirm and map the extent of the mineralized zones across the property.

* Vedanta Resources PLC's Tuticorin copper smelter in India is likely to remain closed under an enforced shutdown for at least a week longer after a court set May 17 to hear opening arguments in proceedings to gain approval for a restart, Metal Bulletin reported. The smelter was shuttered in late March after local residents protested against the company's plans to double the capacity at the plant, alleging environmental breaches.


* First Majestic Silver Corp. entered a new precious metal purchase agreement with Wheaton Precious Metals International Ltd. and FM Metal Trading (Barbados) Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, and terminated a pre-existing silver purchase agreement with Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. over its recently acquired San Dimas gold mine in Mexico. Meanwhile, First Majestic secured a US$75 million senior secured revolving term credit facility from the Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal and Investec Bank PLC.

* Hill End Gold Ltd. has appointed PCF Capital Group Pty. Ltd. to undertake a strategic review of the company's Hill End and Hargraves gold projects in New South Wales, Australia, in a bid to unlock their value. The process will be completed by mid-June.

* Latitude Consolidated Ltd. completed the sale of its Mount Ida gold project tenements to Alt Resources Ltd.

* Wheaton Precious Metals' net profit climbed 11.3% year over year in the first quarter to US$68.1 million, or 15 cents per share, with revenues inching up 0.7% year over year to US$199.3 million. Attributable silver output rose 11.7% to 7.4 million ounces, driven primarily by higher production from the San Dimas mine, while gold production slipped 4.9% to 79,657 ounces as a result of weaker output at the Minto and Sudbury mines.

* Hecla Mining Co.'s first-quarter net income slumped to US$8.2 million, from US$26.8 million posted a year ago, primarily due to a US$29.1 million tax benefit booked in the first quarter of 2017. Hecla's board declared a quarterly cash dividend on 0.25 cent per common share as the realized silver price for the quarter failed to meet the company's criteria for a larger dividend.

* Pretium Resources Inc. reported a net loss of US$8.1 million in the first quarter, widening from US$4.3 million a year earlier, while the company's revenue totaled US$89.4 million.

* Stratex International Plc's 30.4%-owned Thani Stratex Ltd. informed the company that Ethiopian authorities did not renew the exploration licenses for the Blackrock and Cussra gold projects in the country. The cancellation will result in Thani Stratex writing off about US$8.7 million in its books. Stratex's share of this write-off is about US$2.7 million.

* Metalla Royalty & Streaming Ltd. announced a definitive all-share deal for a friendly takeover of ValGold Resources Ltd., which values the transaction at C$7.2 million.

* Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd.'s shares have slumped over 40% this year, hitting their lowest levels since 1999 as investors worry over the company's operational issues and cost ratios, Bloomberg News reported.


* ArcelorMittal's first-quarter net income attributable to shareholders improved to US$1.19 billion, compared to US$1.00 billion a year ago. Sales in the three months climbed to US$19.19 billion, from US$16.09 billion in the year-ago quarter. Crude steel production slipped to 23.3 million tonnes, from 23.6 million tonnes, with iron ore output up 4.3% year over year to 14.6 million tonnes.

* The government of Western Australia is trying to broker a sale for Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.'s Koolyanobbing iron ore mine in Western Australia, which is expected to shutter operations by the end of June, The West Australian reported.

* Cokal Ltd. signed a term sheet for a financing package of at least A$67 million to develop its BBM coking coal project in Indonesia with Domain International Holdings Ltd.

* Bowen Coking Coal Ltd. has completed the acquisition of the Hillalong East coking coal project in Queensland, Australia.

* Kommersant reported that Gazprombank opened a credit line of 54.4 billion Russian rubles for 12 years to finance the Tominsky GOK, which Russian Copper Co. is building in the Chelyabinsk region. The project is estimated to require 77.8 billion rubles. The reserves of the Tominsky deposit contain about 2.5 million tonnes of copper. The first phase of the two-phase project, which has an annual capacity of 100,000 to 110,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, is planned to start in the third quarter of 2019.

* Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. reported an attributable net income of ¥91.65 billion in fiscal 2017, swinging from a year-ago net loss of ¥18.54 billion. The company's net sales jumped 18.7% to ¥933.52 billion in the full fiscal year. The Japanese company's fiscal 2018 CapEx are expected to be about ¥63.0 billion, 15.5% lower from a year earlier.

* India's Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. plans to focus on halving its 420 billion rupee debt in the next three years via higher internal accruals and the sale of foreign assets, The Economic Times of India reported, citing Chairman Naveen Jindal.

* Emirates Global Aluminum PJSC's planned IPO is likely to be delayed to 2019 due to volatile aluminum market conditions after the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Rusal, Reuters reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter. A company spokesman, however, reiterated that the IPO remains set for this year, subject to market conditions.

* All miners were evacuated safely after a fire broke out at Evraz PLC's Raspadskaya coal mine in Russia, Reuters reported.


* Image Resources NL secured the draw down of a A$50 million loan note facility, which will allow it to complete the construction and commissioning of its wholly-owned Boonanarring mineral sands project in Western Australia.

* Arctic Star Exploration Corp. increased its land position by 100% on the Timantti diamond project in Finland to 193,700 hectares.

* Western Australia is counting on the lithium boom to help it manage record state debt and is relying on about A$4.7 billion in investments underway or in the pipeline to create jobs, The Australian Financial Review reported. Meanwhile, the royalty income from all other commodities is forecast to increase by A$160 million to a record A$724 million in fiscal 2017-18.

* De Beers SA successfully used blockchain technology to track 100 high-value diamonds from mine to shop and is looking to roll out the platform called "Tracr" later this year, Bloomberg News wrote.

* PJSC Alrosa's diamond sales totaled US$405.3 million in April, declining from US$559.5 million in March. Rough diamond sales came in at US$396.2 million, while polished diamond sales totaled US$9.1 million. The Russian diamond producer's total diamond sales in the January to April period reached US$2.01 billion.

* Nemaska Lithium Inc. priced and closed the books on a senior secured callable bonds offering that was announced in April, raising the full amount of US$350 million. The offering is part of a fundraising for up to US$825 million to build the Whabouchi lithium project in Quebec.


* Miners are relieved not to have been "singled out" in the Western Australian government budget announced May 10 as they were in 2017, but are not happy about being asked to pay for the continuation of services and grants they consider as core to doing business, according to Association of Mining & Exploration Companies CEO Warren Pearce. The state introduced what Pearce said amounts to about A$65 million of increased fees, charges and levies across the broader mining industry.

* Western Australia's resources sector is expected to be a major driver in the state's economy with an estimated A$5.9 billion to be injected in 2018-2019, Mining Weekly reported.

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