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SQM plans lithium capacity expansion; BHP crew halted wrong train in derailment


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SQM plans lithium capacity expansion; BHP crew halted wrong train in derailment


SQM aims to expand lithium production capacity with US$400M investment

Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA CEO Ricardo Ramos said the company expects to triple its lithium sales to 150,000 tonnes per year by 2025. The company aims to increase its lithium production capacity in Chile to 180,000 t/y, with an increase to 120,000 t/y from the current 70,000 t/y capacity anticipated by the end of 2020. CapEx associated with the expansion is estimated at around US$400 million, or US$4,000/t.

BHP rail crew locked down wrong train in November 2018 derailment

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's preliminary report over the November 2018 derailment of BHP Group's iron ore train in Western Australia found that the mining giant's rail crews mistakenly applied handbrakes to an empty iron ore train and not to the runaway train. A spokesperson for the miner said applying manual brakes to the correct train would not have been enough to stop the rollaway event, The West Australian reported.

Report: Reko Diq project development relies on Pakistani military's nod

Mining firms will need to secure the Pakistani military's approval to develop the long-stalled Reko Diq copper-gold project in the Balochistan province, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources. The project, which is estimated to host 5.9 billion tons of ore, has been derailed by a multibillion-dollar legal dispute between the Pakistani government and its former owners, Antofagasta PLC and Barrick Gold Corp., who are both seeking claims of up to US$11.5 billion over the denial of a mining lease in 2011.


* Altius Minerals Corp. booked a royalty revenue of C$17.6 million for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2018, compared to C$17.1 million in the prior quarter. The company's 2019 royalty revenue is expected to range from C$67 million to C$72 million.


* Aus Tin Mining Ltd. terminated a services contract with Jemrok Pty. Ltd. covering its Granville tin project in Tasmania, Australia, after the appointment of liquidators to Jemrok. The company is also preparing for the start of owner mining at the Granville East mine.

* Italy-based semifinished copper-products firm KME moved to consolidate its ownership of French copper tube and rod manufacturer Tréfimetaux SAS in a €2 million deal, Fastmarkets MB reported.


* The AOMA union is undertaking an illegal work stoppage at Goldcorp Inc.'s Cerro Negro gold-silver mine in Argentina, but the cause remains unclear. Processing was discontinued due to depleted surface stockpiles after mining stopped March 8.

* PJSC Polyus gained a further 5% interest in the Sukhoi Log gold deposit in Russia from its project partner Rostec Corp., in exchange for a 0.28% stake, Reuters reported. Polyus' interest in the deposit has increased to 63.4% as a result.

* Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. completed the compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares of Nevsun Resources Ltd.

* SSR Mining Inc. is offering US$200 million of unsecured convertible senior notes due 2039. The company plans to grant the initial purchasers an option to purchase up to an additional US$30 million of the notes.

* Seabridge Gold Inc. said it will likely prioritize developing the Iron Cap deposit at its KSM project in British Columbia after an updated estimate increased the deposit's gold-copper resources.

* Newcrest Mining Ltd. reached a deal with Greatland Gold PLC to earn up to a 70% joint venture interest in the latter's Havierton gold tenement in Western Australia's Paterson province by spending US$65 million over six years.

* Titan Minerals Ltd. and Core Gold Inc. agreed to enter into exclusive takeover talks over their previously announced merger They terminated a go-shop period in which Core Gold was permitted to solicit superior proposals and have increased the break fee payable to Titan to C$3 million from C$500,000.

* Buccaneer Gold Corp. terminated its letter of intent for a merger with a U.S.-based cannabis company and intends to apply to list its shares on the Canadian Securities Exchange while continuing as a mining exploration company.

* A maiden resource estimate for Intermin Resources Ltd.'s Crake prospect within its Binduli gold project in Western Australia, outlined indicated and inferred resources of 1.1 million tonnes grading 1.59 g/t gold for 57,700 ounces of gold, at a 1.0 g/t gold cutoff.

* Tietto Minerals Ltd. intersected 1 meter grading 103.17 g/t gold in an ongoing 30,000-meter drilling program at its Abujar-Gludehi deposit in Cote d'Ivoire.


* ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd. introduced contingency measures at its various plants to minimize the potential impact on production after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, or Numsa, declared a strike against the company's ongoing use of labor brokers, Mining Weekly reported. "Our key demand is that AMSA must permanently employ all workers presently employed by the contractors who render their services to [ArcelorMittal South Africa]," the union added.

* Duke Energy Corp. is pushing back on a report that shows widespread groundwater pollution at the nation's coal ash storage facilities. The report, based on public filings compiled by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, documented groundwater pollution at 91% of coal-fired power plants using data made available under a 2015 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule.

* The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects coal exports will slide this year and next after providing welcome relief for U.S. producers in 2018, while projecting that domestic production will also decline.

* Colorado saw a 4% growth in coal jobs in 2018 to reach 1,304 after years of losses, Colorado Public Radio reported. In 2017, coal mine employment in the state totaled 1,252.

* U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the government was working on a plan to remove steel and aluminum tariffs over Mexican and Canadian products while retaining the overall gains of the tariffs, Reuters reported.

* A power outage that hit Venezuela on March 7 destroyed state-owned aluminum smelter Venalum's remaining operational units and Bauxilum's alumina production units, Argus Media reported. A senior official at Venalum said the plants are unlikely to be repaired for at least a year, adding that the primary aluminum and alumina sectors are "dead for the foreseeable future."

* Sirius Minerals PLC said a "major global financial institution" emerged as a potential backer for the company's Woodsmith polyhalite mine in the U.K., the Financial Times reported. The company said it received a "conditional proposal" from the unnamed institution to develop Woodsmith, adding that it has decided to suspend talks with existing prospective lenders as the new funding proposal offered a more "flexible and attractive solution."

* Investigators are preparing to re-enter a New Zealand coal mine where 29 people were killed in a disaster caused by methane explosions more than eight years ago, with an aim to recover the miners' remains, Reuters reported, citing an official.

* Hbis Co. Ltd., or Hesteel, plans to raise up to 8 billion Chinese yuan through a placement and will use the proceeds to refinance debt.

* Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. issued a short-term debt offering of 3 billion Chinese yuan, with the interest rate of the notes fixed at 2.9% and maturity at 180 days. It will use the proceeds to refinance debt.

* Queensland's Department of Environment and Science granted an application to amend the environmental authority for the stage-three project of New Hope Corp. Ltd.'s New Acland coal mine.


* Strike Resources Ltd. entered into an agreement to acquire a 90% interest in the 12,000-hectare Solaroz lithium brine project in Argentina.

* Altura Mining Ltd. declared commercial production at its namesake lithium operation in Western Australia.

* Lithium-boron supplier ioneer Ltd. tapped Kemetco to build and operate the metallurgical test work pilot plant for the Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project in Nevada.

* Xiamen Tungsten Co. Ltd. said Tianqi Lithium Corp. and Chengtun Mining Group Co. Ltd. will each acquire a 3% stake in its lithium battery arm, Xiamen Tungsten New Energy Material Co. Ltd., for 49.9 million Chinese yuan each.


* U.K. lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal with the European Union in a 391-242 vote, paving the way for votes on a no-deal Brexit and potentially on a delayed departure from the bloc.

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