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BHP may more than double Olympic Dam copper output with heap leach tech

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Essential Metals & Mining Insights – February 2021

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Top electric vehicle markets dominate lithium-ion battery capacity growth

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Essential Metals & Mining Insights - January 2021


BHP may more than double Olympic Dam copper output with heap leach tech

TOP NEWS

BHP may more than double Olympic Dam copper output with heap leach tech

BHP Billiton Group's asset president of the Olympic Dam copper mine in South Australia, Jacqui McGill, said that the heap leach technology being tested in a ramped-up pilot plant may more than double the mine's yearly output to 450,000 tonnes. McGill also outlined BHP's capital spending on Olympic Dam to be about A$600 million for 2017-2018, including the previously announced A$350 million smelter maintenance program.

Analysts expect Rio Tinto to significantly raise shareholder returns

UBS analyst Glyn Lawcock said Rio Tinto may return as much as US$10.5 billion over the next 18 months to shareholders, The Australian Financial Review wrote. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank economist Paul Young said the miner could unload US$2 billion worth of annual buybacks starting next year.

Sibanye Gold flags up to 7,400 job cuts in South Africa

Up to 7,400 jobs may be affected as Sibanye Gold Ltd. looks to restructure the loss-making Beatrix West and Cooke gold projects in South Africa. The move follows various attempts by the company to contain losses at these operations.

DIVERSIFIED

* Vale SA CFO Luciano Siani Pires said that if the miner's voluntary share conversion is successful, it will be able to tap the stock market to fund investments instead of relying on debt, Bloomberg News reported. The company last sold stock in July 2008 through a US$11.5 billion transaction.

BASE METALS

* Vedanta Resources Plc is offering US$1.0 billion of 6.125% bonds due 2024, the proceeds of which will be used to fund its offers to purchase for cash any and all of its outstanding US$774.8 million 6.00% bonds due 2019 and US$900.0 million 8.25% bonds due 2021, and to pay other existing debt.

* Uranium Equities Ltd. notified Antasitua Chile SPA that it will not proceed with the option and joint venture agreement to earn an 80% interest in the Plateado cobalt project in Chile.

* Mitsui & Co. Ltd.'s Caserones copper mine in Chile is now running at around 90% capacity, recovering from a forced suspension of operations for three weeks after a blackout caused by heavy snow and rain in May, Reuters reported, citing CFO Keigo Matsubara.

* India raised about around 4 billion Indian rupees, or US$62.8 million from off-loading a 6.8% interest in state-run miner Hindustan Copper Ltd., Reuters reported, citing the finance ministry. After the sale, its stake in the miner will reduce to 76.05%.

* BMI Research lowered its forecast for Russian nickel production this year, and added that the outlook for the country's domestic production over the next five years looks bleak, Mining Weekly wrote.

PRECIOUS METALS

* A new gold explorer, Riversgold Ltd., is moving toward a listing on the ASX with the planned launch of an IPO to raise up to A$8.0 million. Australia's second largest gold miner, Evolution Mining Ltd., agreed to become a cornerstone investor with a firm commitment of A$2.5 million, which will give it a stake of between 13.6% and 16.2% in Riversgold.

* Kinross Gold Corp. President and CEO Paul Rollinson said in a conference call that the company is not considering to resume dividends "at the present time" but it is a "question we might entertain post 2020." The gold miner cut dividends back in 2013 under pressure from a falling gold price. Rollinson also described a conservative strategy for mergers and acquisitions.

* Hudbay Minerals Inc. swung to net profit of US$25.6 million in the second quarter, from a year-ago net loss of US$5.7 million. The company, however, registered year-over-year production declines in copper, gold and silver.

* Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd. booked record earned gold equivalent output of 10,863 ounces in the second quarter, an increase of 12% over the same quarter in 2016. The company's net earnings attributable to shareholders, meanwhile, fell to C$11.0 million from C$15.7 million in the year-ago period mainly due to a foreign exchange loss and the absence of dividend income following the sale of its shares in Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corp.

* First Majestic Silver Corp.'s net earnings for the second quarter declined to US$1.4 million, from US$6.1 million in the year-ago period, as revenues fell 9% to US$60.1 million. The company reduced its planned capital expenses for the year by US$17.5 million to US$106.5 million, due to an unexpected weakness in cash flows caused by a number of labor issues and work stoppages.

* Endeavour Silver Corp. cut its 2017 production guidance to a range of 4.8 million to 5.2 million ounces of silver and 49,100 to 51,200 ounces of gold. The company's silver production dropped 26% to 1.1 million ounces in the second quarter on an annual basis, while gold production fell 17% to 13,058 ounces.

* Alamos Gold Inc.'s second-quarter gold production rose to 105,900 ounces, up from 92,464 ounces the year before, as the company's Young-Davidson mine in Ontario achieved record production of 47,300 ounces.

* De Grey Mining Ltd. will proceed toward a pre-feasibility study incorporating the Indee and Turner River gold projects in Western Australia's Pilbara region after a scoping study estimated the combined project will produce about 290,000 ounces of gold over a five-year life, delivering an undiscounted pretax net cash flow of A$112 million based on a gold price of US$1,250 per ounce.

* Auryn Resources Inc. acquired the rights to the Tacora and Andamarca properties contiguous to its Huilacollo gold project in Peru through two separate transactions with private Peruvian owners.

* The first half of the year saw the global demand for gold drop 14% because of a decline in purchases made by exchange traded funds, Reuters reported, citing a report from the World Gold Council.

* Red 5 Ltd. executed two separate deals to acquire the King of the Hills and the Darlot gold mines in Western Australia from Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd., respectively. To acquire the Darlot project, Red 5 will pay A$18.5 million, while it agreed to pay A$16 million for the King of the Hills mine.

* According to Global Mining Research Ltd., Australia's top gold producers, including Evolution Mining Ltd. and Northern Star Resources Ltd., may be required to take their US$5 billion acquisition spree to the U.S. and Canada to add operations of sufficient scale and quality, Bloomberg News reported.

* EMR Capital received several unsolicited inquiries from interested buyers for the company's majority-owned Martabe gold mine in Indonesia, Reuters reported. The company, however, said in an emailed statement that no formal sale process is ongoing.

* Greece plans to launch arbitration proceedings by the end of August to resolve development issues related to Eldorado Gold Corp.'s projects in the company.

* The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled in favor of Skeena Resources Ltd. regarding a dispute over the company's option to earn a 100% equity interest in the mineral and Crown-granted claims called the Elizabeth gold property.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Mitsui & Co. Ltd. posted a ¥35.1 billion year-over-year increase in profit attributable to owners of the parent for its mineral and metal resources segment to ¥54.4 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2018.

* PJSC Novolipetsk Steel plans to boost iron ore processing capacity to 37 million tonnes by 2018, bringing concentrate output to 17.4 million tonnes annually. The capacity hike will cover 100% of the company’s iron ore needs.

* Sumitomo Corp.'s attributable profit stood at ¥78.2 billion in the quarter that ended June 30, increasing by ¥55.6 billion from the same period of 2016. The company said basic profit for its mineral resources businesses also increased in the period, driven by higher mineral resources prices.

* The government of the Solomon Islands granted Pacific Bauxite Ltd. prospecting license PL04/17, covering the South West New Georgia bauxite project, for up to seven years.

SPECIALTY

* Australian Vanadium Ltd.'s focus is firmly fixed on bringing its Gabanintha project in Western Australia into production as soon as possible, but the ASX-listed junior is keeping its options open when it comes to potential investment by the larger players.

* Redzone Resources Ltd. entered into an option agreement with two vendors, securing an option to fully acquire the Lucky Mica claim group in Arizona, which covers the Fortner and Boyd lithium deposit.

* Tronox Ltd. signed a definitive agreement to sell its Alkali Chemicals business to Genesis Energy LP for US$1.33 billion in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of this year.

* SepFluor's wholly owned subsidiary Nokeng Fluorspar Mine broke ground at the site of its 1.7 billion South African rand Nokeng fluorspar mine in South Africa, Mining Weekly reported.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* South Africa's Department of Mineral Resources refuted the Chamber of Mines' claim that the department has already implemented the proposed moratorium on new mining rights or prospecting right applications after July 19, despite the closing date for comments on the proposal being set on Aug. 4, Miningmx reported.

* Ross Large, a geology professor at the University of Tasmania, warned that mining in Tasmania could end in the next 10 years if the current trend of decreased mining activity in the Australian state continues, ABC wrote.

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