Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump talked about the U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, but there are no discussions planned on lifting the sanctions, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. "There are no specific negotiations taking place, nor are there any specific negotiations scheduled," the source said, in contrast to a statement from Trudeau's office that said the two leaders had "discussed next steps in addressing steel and aluminum tariffs."
Sibanye expects hit from gold strike in South Africa
Sibanye Gold Ltd. expects its earnings to be pulled down by the strike at its gold mines in South Africa, Bloomberg News reported. The strike, launched Nov. 21, 2018, by workers allied with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, has resulted in inconsistent production at three mines, spokesperson James Wellsted said. He ruled out a possible restructuring due to the strike but said a review could be made if the impact is severe.
China Molybdenum, Sumitomo approve new mine at Northparkes copper-gold joint venture
China Molybdenum Co. Ltd., Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. and Sumitomo Corp. approved the development of a new block cave mine called E26 Lift 1 North at the Northparkes copper-gold joint venture in New South Wales, Australia. The companies will invest over A$200 million over 3.5 years, and construction is scheduled to start within the month. The project will produce about 40 million tonnes of ore over 10 years; full production is expected in mid-2022.
* Goldman Sachs analysts lowered their near-term outlook on metals as China's economy has "decelerated notably," Bloomberg News wrote. The bank now sees copper at US$6,100 per tonne in three months and US$6,400/t in six months, down from earlier forecasts of US$6,500 and US$7,000, respectively. "We expect metals to stay under pressure in the first quarter," the analysts wrote. They also lowered price forecasts for aluminum to US$1,900/t from US$2,100/t over three months, cut the six-month forecast to US$1,950/t from US$2,000/t, slashed three-month price targets for zinc to US$2,500/t from US$3,300/t, and cut the six-month target price to US$2,400/t from US$3,000/t.
* Argent Minerals Ltd. will dispute the findings by AusIndustry, following a review of the research and development claims the explorer made for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 financial years. The Australian precious and base metals explorer was advised by AusIndustry that it may be required to repay up to A$1.4 million, plus penalties and interest, following the review.
* Chile's state copper agency, Cochilco, said the country's copper production may increase nearly 30% over the next 10 years, Reuters reported. Cochilco said Chile's output could reach a record of 7.25 million tonnes of copper as early as 2025. Numerous new projects and expansions will offset a 19% decline in production by existing, aging Chilean mines to 4.46 million tonnes per year.
* About an additional 3.07% of shares in Nevsun Resources Ltd. were tendered under the extension period of the C$6.00-per-share all-cash takeover bid from Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd., which now owns about 92.44% of the total issued and outstanding shares of Nevsun. The Chinese gold miner will secure the remaining Nevsun shares via compulsory acquisition.
* Aeris Resources Ltd. expanded the Tritton copper mine in New South Wales, Australia, to 2,160 square kilometers after securing exploration license EL8810. Exploration activities within the newly acquired tenement will be conducted within the year, initially focusing on historical data compilation and geological mapping.
* Benz Mining Corp. terminated the reverse takeover of Fox Automotive Switzerland AG, saying the latter was not in a position to provide the necessary public disclosure information required for a reverse takeover transaction in a timely manner.
* Pacific Rim Cobalt Corp. plans to complete a National Instrument 43-101-compliant maiden resource estimate in 2019 at its Cyclops nickel-cobalt project in Indonesia's Jayapura province.
* Imperial Metals Corp. decided to suspend operations at the Mount Polley mine in British Columbia due to declining copper prices. The suspension plan includes the milling of low-grade stockpiles, which is expected to extend the operations to the end of May.
* ECobalt Solutions Inc. reduced risks in the Idaho cobalt project after increasing the target production rate by 50% to 1,200 tonnes per day in a new mine plan. The plan will allow eCobalt to produce more cobalt earlier, thereby increasing cash flows at the beginning of the mine life, improving payback and overall project economics amid recent market volatility.
* Sofia Med SA, a Bulgarian copper producer and a unit of Elvalhalcor Hellenic Copper and Aluminium Industry SA, secured a €25 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Reuters reported. Several lenders are extending parallel financing as part of an €85 million long-term joint financing package to help Sofia Med set up a new research and development unit and to develop new higher-value-added copper products.
* Fitch Solutions Macro Research sees global refined copper demand outpacing production and maintaining the deficit until 2021, mainly due to solid demand from China's power and infrastructure sector as well as increasing electric vehicle production, Mining Weekly reported.
* Consolidated Zinc Ltd. reported that its Plomosas zinc-lead-silver mine in Mexico produced 3,472 tonnes of ore grading 10.2% zinc and 2.4% lead for a total 354.14 tonnes of zinc and 83.33 tonnes of lead mined in December 2018.
* Indian gold imports fell 20% in 2018 to 762 tonnes as high local prices amid a weaker Indian rupee in the world's second-largest gold-consuming market discouraged buyers, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar with the data.
* Sumitomo Corp. committed to spend up to ¥5 billion to advance Novo Resources Corp.'s gold projects in Australia. Novo said it extended and expanded a 2017 memorandum of understanding that saw Sumitomo help Novo move the Beatons Creek gold project in Western Australia toward production.
* Tanzania appointed Dotto Biteko as its new mining minister amid a prolonged clash between the government and Barrick Gold Corp. unit Acacia Mining PLC over a US$190 billion tax dispute, Reuters reported. Biteko has been deputy mining minister since January 2018 and is the third mining minister in the country since President John Magufuli's election in 2015.
* Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. produced a record-high 230,993 gold ounces for the fourth quarter of 2018, up 39% from the fourth quarter of 2017. The company's consolidated production for 2018 totaled 723,477 ounces, 21% higher than 2017.
* Teranga Gold Corp. delivered a record 245,230 ounces of gold in 2018, exceeding the high end of its increased production guidance range of up to 240,000 ounces. Construction at the company's Wahgnion mine in Burkina Faso is proceeding on schedule, and the mine is expected to start producing before the end of 2019.
* PanTerra Gold Ltd.'s operations at the Las Lagunas gold-silver project in the Dominican Republic temporarily ceased after one of the six Albion reactors ruptured. The incident resulted in no injuries to the personnel at the operation. The nontoxic slurry in the tank spilled into a purpose-built, lined environmental pond.
* Defiance Silver Corp. and ValOro Resources Inc. completed their friendly merger, effective Dec. 31, 2018. Defiance shareholders own 86.07% of the combined company, while former ValOror shareholders own about 13.92%.
* Resolute Mining Ltd. clarified that it has not made any decision associated with the potential sale or spinoff of its Ravenswood gold mine in Queensland, Australia, although it expects to conduct a strategic review of the asset in the first half. The Australian reported earlier about the move, which comes as the company is seeking a dual listing in London and is shifting its focus to Africa.
* Landore Resources Ltd. updated the mineral resource estimate for the BAM gold deposit, part of its Junior Lake property in Ontario, to 28.8 million tonnes at 1.03 g/t of gold containing 951,000 ounces. The company also outlined a potential mineralized deposit with a possible resource of 14.8 million tonnes at 0.93 g/t containing 441,000 ounces.
* Great Panther Silver Ltd.'s board urged shareholders to vote in favor of its proposed takeover of Beadell Resources Ltd. and name change in a Feb. 11 special meeting.
* Ascot Resources Ltd. agreed to acquire IDM Mining Ltd. in a deal that will consolidate the companies' gold projects in the Golden Triangle region of northwestern British Columbia; closing is expected by the end of March.
* Lumina Gold Corp.'s common shares started trading on the OTCQX Best Market in the U.S. under the symbol LMGDF as it looks to expand its shareholder base. The company's shares will continue to trade on its primary exchange, the TSX Venture Exchange, under the symbol LUM.
* Ferrexpo PLC's total pellet production in the fourth quarter of 2018 climbed 7.2% over the previous quarter to 2.9 million tonnes, while full-year pellet output was up 1.6% to 10.6 million tonnes. Sales volume for 2018 is expected at about 10.2 million tonnes, compared to 10.5 million tonnes in 2017, impacted by reduced barge shipments due to low water levels on the Danube River in the second half of 2018.
* Nucor Corp. plans to build a US$1.35 billion mill in the U.S. Midwest capable of producing 1.2 million tonnes per year of steel plate products and expected to be fully operational in 2022. The new mill will enable Nucor to produce over 97% of the plate products demanded in the U.S. market, including new products, while creating 400 new jobs.
* Atrum Coal Ltd.'s resource estimate for the Elan South area, part of the Elan hard coking coal project in Alberta, increased 170% to about 97 million tonnes. The indicated resource totaled 31.3 million tonnes, while the inferred resource stood at 66 million tonnes.
* As Poland prepares to adopt an energy strategy for the next two decades, environmental groups are urging the government to reduce its dependence on coal more quickly than planned, the Financial Times reported. According to the draft proposal from the Polish energy ministry published in November 2018, coal will continue to play a significant role in the country's energy mix until at least 2040.
* Batchfire Resources Pty. Ltd. is seeking investors to raise up to A$100 million in debt and is considering an equity investment worth about A$25 million, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk reported. The coal miner purchased the Callide thermal coal mine in Queensland from Anglo American PLC in late 2016.
* A coal miner was killed at an Illinois coal facility Jan. 5, marking the first industry fatality of 2019, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration confirmed. John Ditterline, an employee with underground mining contractor S & L Industries, was found at the Hamilton County coal mine pinned between an airlock door and the coal rib. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
* Two people were killed in another mining-related accident in India's Meghalaya state, The Economic Times of India reported. The accident occurred while a rescue operation was ongoing to recover 15 miners who have been trapped in an illegal coal mine in the state since Dec. 13, 2018.
* Meanwhile, the Indian state of Nagaland decided to ban illegal coal mining and impose a provisional ban on all the companies that have been issued mining licenses, in the wake of the Meghalaya coal mining incidents, NDTV reported. The Nagaland Cabinet set up a committee to review the issue of coal mining and the resultant environment-related damages.
* Two people died and another four are missing after a Panama-flagged ship carrying coal out of a Russian port sent a distress signal off the northern coast of Turkey, Reuters reported. The coast guard said the distress signal concerned a "possible sinking" of the ship. Seven of 13 crew members have been rescued.
* Shareholders of MRG Metals Ltd. unanimously approved the renegotiated deal to acquire three heavy minerals sands projects in Mozambique at a lower purchase price.
* Leading Edge Materials Corp. formally initiated an internal strategic review to assess all potential opportunities to maximize shareholder value and enable the company to accelerate customer engagement in the European battery-materials industry. The move comes after shareholders flagged that the company's current share price does not adequately reflect the miner's underlying value and asset portfolio.
* Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA secured approval from Chile's environmental regulator for a US$25 million compliance plan that will cut the lithium miner's extraction of brine and fresh water at its Salar de Atacama operation, Reuters reported. The environmental regulator filed charges against the company in late 2016 related to several violations.
* The world's largest niobium producer, Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração, is planning to boost its ferro-niobium capacity by 50% to 150,000 tonnes per annum over the next two years with an investment of about US$200 million, Fastmarkets MB reported.
* Chilean lithium carbonate exports reached US$949 million in 2018, significantly up from US$686 million in 2017, Reuters reported. The increase is attributed to growing prices and demand for the key material used in electric vehicle batteries, the country's central bank said.
* Canex Energy Corp. agreed to acquire cannabis company Choom Holdings Inc.'s Island Green Cure Ltd. and Medi-Can Health Solutions Inc. subsidiaries.
* ASX metals and mining IPO capital raisings had their best year in over a decade, defying commodities' broader volatility, which is expected to make life tough for another year. However, one analyst believes that there are too many of them and more mergers are needed. According to the ASX, nearly A$1.4 billion was raised in metals and mining IPOs in 2018, turbocharged by Nickel Mines Ltd.'s A$200 million float and Jupiter Mines Ltd.'s A$240 million listing. That total figure is a substantial increase from A$183 million in 2017 when there were 32 floats, and even in 2007, when there was just A$876 million raised in 126 floats.
* Japan is eyeing the exploration of seafloor massive sulfides, which could cater to the country's demand for basic metals, BBC News reported. Although finding such deposits at the seafloor could be tough, just one of these deposits is thought to contain enough zinc to supply Japan's demand for a year.
* Suely Araujo, the head of Brazilian environmental protection agency Ibama, resigned after President Jair Bolsonaro pointed out the irregularities in the agency's budget for rental vehicles, Reuters reported.
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