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BHP Billiton, Glencore suspend Queensland coal production ahead of cyclone

TOP NEWS

BHP Billiton, Glencore suspend coal production in Queensland ahead of cyclone

BHP Billiton Group and Glencore Plc are suspending production at their coal mining operations in Queensland, Australia, amid expectations that a severe tropical cyclone will hit the state on the morning of March 28, Bloomberg News reported, citing company statements.

Vedanta Resources to invest US$1B in Konkola Copper Mines

Vedanta Resources Plc will invest a further US$1 billion in its Zambian Konkola Copper Mines unit, creating 7,000 jobs in the country. According to Reuters, the investment was announced after a meeting between Vedanta Chairman Anil Agrawal and Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

Rio Tinto's midyear dividend projected to almost quadruple YOY

Rio Tinto is projected to almost quadruple its midyear dividend compared to the 45 U.S. cents per share paid in August 2016, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing UBS resources analyst Glyn Lawcock. Lawcock believes that the interim dividend could be higher than US$1.65 per share due to the miner's surging free cash flow, strong balance sheet and limited growth plans.

DIVERSIFIED

* South32 Ltd. will return a further US$500 million to shareholders via an on-market share buyback in Australia. South32 said the share buyback, which will be completed over a 12-month period, is not subject to shareholder approval and will be funded from existing cash reserves. S&P Global Ratings said there will be no immediate impact on the miner's BBB+/A-2 rating.

* Moody's upgraded both the long-term and short-term ratings on Glencore International AG and related entities to Baa2/P-2, with all ratings stable. The upgrade reflects the company's debt reduction, strengthened leverage profile and reset financial framework in 2016.

BASE METALS

* Peru's Energy and Mines Ministry will auction the Michiquillay copper-molybdenum project later this year. The bidding will start despite Votorantim SA subsidiary Compañía Minera Milpo SAA's recent decision to not participate in the bidding after previously expressing interest, daily Gestión reported.

* Argosy Minerals Ltd. terminated its joint venture farm-in agreement with Mining International Pty. Ltd. over the Wee Macgregor copper project in Queensland and decided to commit its attention and funds to its lithium projects in Argentina.

* Ardiden Ltd. secured an option to fully acquire the cobalt-copper-nickel-prospective Bold property in Ontario from Benton Resources Inc. for C$10,000 in cash and 200,000 shares.

* Auroch Minerals Ltd. entered into a binding agreement to earn up to a 75% interest in the Alcoutim copper-zinc project in southeastern Portugal.

PRECIOUS METALS

* China's Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. improved its attributable net profit 11.12% to 1.84 billion yuan in 2016 compared to the previous year. The Hong Kong-listed miner said net profit was comparatively moderate despite higher prices and production, mainly because unsettled 2015 hedging contracts were carried forward into the first half of 2016 to hedge the majority of annual production. While group gold production slipped 13.24% year over year to about 6.9 million ounces, mine-produced output climbed 14.5% to about 1.4 million ounces.

* Eleven people were killed in accidents at two gold mines in China's Henan province March 24, Reuters wrote, citing a report from Xinhua News Agency. Eighteen people were trapped in a pit at China National Gold Group Corp.'s Qinling mine.

* Citizens of Cajamarca, Colombia, voted to ban mining in the region, directly impacting AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.'s La Colosa gold exploration project, daily El Espectador reported.

* Magmatic Resources Ltd. extended the deadline of its planned ASX listing to May 3, setting a revised target of A$4.0 million and dropping plans to accept oversubscriptions to raise a further A$2.0 million.

* KGL Resources Ltd. acquired the Unca Creek exploration project bordering its Jervois copper-silver-gold project in Australia's Northern Territory. The acquisition almost triples the Jervois project area from 37.9 square kilometers to 110.8 square kilometers.

* Southern Gold Ltd. executed conditional agreements with Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd. for the latter to farm-in to two of the company's 17 gold projects in South Korea. During the farm-in, Bluebird will undertake initial feasibility studies over a 12-month period, investing US$1 million in its review of the reopening of the Gubong and Taechang gold mines, after which the parties will form a 50/50 joint venture.

* Spitfire Materials Ltd. signed a conditional agreement to acquire unlisted Australian gold explorer Admiral Gold Ltd. in exchange for 59.5 million fully paid ordinary shares. Admiral has secured joint venture agreements over the Alice River gold project in Queensland and the Mulwarrie gold project in Western Australia.

* Barrick Gold Corp. Executive Chairman John Thornton received US$8.5 million in total compensation in 2016, more than twice the pay package he received in 2015, Bloomberg News reported.

* Shareholders of Luna Gold Corp. and JDL Gold Corp. approved the two companies' merger to create a multiasset mining company named Trek Mining Inc. The transaction is expected to close March 31.

* Carbine Resources Ltd. secured the right to increase its interest in the Mount Morgan gold-copper project in Queensland to 100%, after agreeing to an acquisition price for the remaining 25% stake.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Rio Tinto reportedly chose Credit Suisse to sell its coking coal assets in Queensland, worth up to A$2 billion, sources told The Australian. The bank is not yet formally appointed.

* Vale SA said the U.S. court for the Southern District of New York annulled most of the class action lawsuit filed against the miner and some of its executives over the November 2015 tailings dam disaster at the Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil.

* Coal India Ltd. announced a dividend payment of 1.15 Indian rupees per share, its second payout in less than a month. Bloomberg News estimates the total dividend payment will amount to 7.13 billion rupees.

* PJSC PhosAgro's net profit for full year 2016 increased 64% to 59.88 billion Russian rubles, from 36.43 billion rubles in 2015, despite a 1% drop in revenue from 189.73 billion rubles to 187.74 billion rubles and a 12% decrease in EBITDA from 82.46 billion rubles to 72.37 billion rubles. The higher average exchange rate in 2016 between the U.S. dollar and the ruble had a net positive impact on the company's results.

* Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. CEO Nev Power said India could be the next big source of demand for Australian iron ore given that the South Asian nation is now the world's fastest-growing economy and it will need steel as well as iron ore, The Australian reported. "It still has a long way to go before it catches up to China, but with 1.4 billion people you can see that the demand for infrastructure and commodities is going to increase," Power said.

* Aspire Mining Ltd. entered into a memorandum of understanding for MTGT LLC, owner of the Huren Chuulut iron ore project, to access the company's Erdenet-to-Ovoot railway in Mongolia.

* JSW Steel Ltd. Chairman Sajjan Jindal said the company was keen to acquire distressed alloy companies for its expansion, capitalizing on stress in the sector, Press Trust of India reported.

* The Karnataka state government in India has urged ArcelorMittal to consider setting up an industry in the Ballari district to generate employment opportunities for locals, The Hindu reported.

* China needs to eliminate 800 million tonnes of coal capacity within the 13th Five-Year Plan, with about 290 million tonnes of excessive capacity having been phased out last year. However, that has yet to shift oversupply in the nation's coal industry, according to a senior official from the National Development & Reform Commission, China Economy reported.

* Shanxi Jincheng Anthracite Mining Group said its online auction platform traded 6,000 tonnes of coal in the 10 days after its March 13 debut, Shanxi Daily reported.

* The South Australian Magnetite Consortium, comprised of Magnetite Mines Ltd. and Lodestone Equities Ltd., signed a sale and purchasing letter of intent with Sha Steel for the purchase of 2.0 million tonnes per year of iron ore concentrate.

SPECIALTY

* Western Australian uranium mines approved in the final months of the Barnett government will be allowed to proceed, Bill Johnston, the state's new mines and petroleum minister, was reported as saying by ABC. However, the new government will not grant further approvals. Mines covered by the decision include Toro Energy Ltd.'s Wiluna project, Vimy Resources Ltd.'s Mulga Rock project and Cameco Corp.'s Yeelirrie project.

* Navigator Resources Ltd. intends to acquire an Australian-based, over-the-counter pharmaceutical business, First Pharma Pty. Ltd. The acquisition is expected to close in August.

* Premier African Minerals Ltd. raised over £2 million from an oversubscribed offering of common shares priced at 0.5 penny apiece. Premier African, which owns the RHA tungsten project in Zimbabwe, initially aimed to raise about £1.5 million.

* Rockwell Diamonds Inc. said a judge in Kimberley, South Africa, issued an interim liquidation order against subsidiaries Rockwell Resources RSA Pty. Ltd., HC van Wyk Diamonds Ltd. and Saxendrift Mine Pty. Ltd. over financial claims made by C-Rock Mining Pty. Ltd.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* U.S. President Donald Trump plans to announce on March 27 the formation of the White House Office of American Innovation, which will be led by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, The Washington Post reported. The innovation office is intended to aid in modernization plans and improvement programs, as well as the creation of projects under the president's US$1 trillion infrastructure plan.

* Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who served as the No. 2 official under the outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying, was nominated by all 51 electors representing China's top political advisory body and won 777 votes from the 1,194-strong Election Committee as Hong Kong's next chief executive. All candidates participating in the vote were approved by Beijing, which assumed control of the territory from the U.K. in 1997.

* Kevin Brady, chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, aims to move a tax bill forward by spring, Reuters reported, citing a Fox News interview.

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

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.