BHP Group Ltd. is facing an unfair dismissal claim from the driver involved in last year's iron ore train derailment in Western Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. BHP declined to comment on the claim, but confirmed that the driver is no longer a BHP employee. The driver's lawyer, Tim Kucera, said the company should also take responsibility as there were also issues with the systems over which the driver had no control. Kucera added that the incident made it difficult for the experienced driver to find new work.
Fire damages part of Rio Tinto's Cape Lambert port facility
A fire at Rio Tinto's Cape Lambert port facility, which broke out during a maintenance shutdown, damaged a section of the plant; however, no injuries were reported, according to The West Australian. Operations at the port are closed only in the area affected by the fire, and an investigation is underway.
Vale SA will be developing and monitoring artificial intelligence initiatives across its units through its newly launched Artificial Intelligence Center in Brazil. Vale said projects delivered in the center have saved the company more than US$20 million, and it expects another US$37 million in benefits from upcoming initiatives.
* Glencore PLC lost its exclusive marketing rights for two of Libya’s main crude oil export grades, sources told Reuters. The company had gained the rights to the Sarir and Messla grades in 2015 when it was one of the few foreign firms willing to deal with the war-torn country.
* Anglo American PLC expects South America to be its main growth area for base metals in the coming years, Reuters wrote, citing the company's head of operations in Brazil, Ruben Fernandes, who is soon to become the global head of base metals.
* Acacia Mining PLC's North Mara gold mine received an environmental protection order to pay a fine of 300 million Tanzanian shillings, equivalent to about US$130,000, over alleged environmental breaches. The company said operations at the mine are unaffected, and it is reviewing the technical basis of the allegations.
* Sibanye Gold Ltd. lowered its 2018 gold production guidance to about 1.1 million ounces due to the ongoing strike at its South African operations by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. The company had expected to produce 1.13 Moz to 1.16 Moz in the year.
* Barrick Gold Corp. CEO Mark Bristow told Bloomberg News that the company is still keen to invest in the mineral-rich deposits along the Chile-Argentina border despite the shutdown of the Chilean side of the Pascua-Lama gold-silver mine. Bristow expressed optimism that the issue will be resolved in the future.
* Torex Gold Resources Inc. reported record production of 354,000 ounces of gold for 2018, with 348,000 ounces sold. The company added that gold production is expected to be higher in the second half than in the first half.
* Semafo Inc. achieved record quarterly production of 95,200 ounces of gold for the fourth quarter of 2018, with full-year production of 244,600 ounces falling within guidance.
* Alacer Gold Corp. reported full-year production of 170,865 ounces of gold in 2018, in line with its production guidance.
* The World Gold Council expects gold to be increasingly attractive as a hedge in 2019 as a result of increased market uncertainty and expansion of protectionist economic policies. Structural economic reforms are also expected to spark demand for gold in jewelry, technology and as means of savings in the year.
* Alto Metals Ltd. is rebuilding momentum, assisted by a "high-powered" research committee, in what financial advisory Bell Potter said is a "crucial" year for the junior's Sandstone gold project in Western Australia.
* Perseus Mining Ltd. awarded a US$95.1 million engineering and supply contract for the Yaoure gold project in Cote d'Ivoire to Lycopodium Ltd.
* In light of recent drilling results, Integra Resources Corp. decided to defer drilling at other areas of its DeLamar gold-silver project in Idaho to focus on the Sullivan Gulch deposit, aiming to drive further resource expansion. It plans to delay the start of the resource estimate update to the second quarter, with a preliminary economic assessment scheduled for the second half.
* DRA Global secured an engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Dargues gold mine in New South Wales, Australia. The construction of a 355,000-tonne-per-annum gold processing facility and mine backfill plant will start in February, and first ore is expected to be processed in early 2020. The mine will produce about 50,000 ounces of gold per annum in the first six years of production.
* Some investors are unconvinced by thyssenkrupp AG's restructuring plan, which faces risks in 2019 ranging from economic uncertainty to cartel fines, Reuters reported.
* U.K.'s minister for communities and local government, James Brokenshire, is urged by several groups to reject The Banks Group Ltd.'s proposed Highthorn coal project at Druridge Bay, The Guardian reported. If approved, the project will outlast the government's 2025 deadline for phasing out coal. Brokenshire's predecessor, Sajid Javid, previously blocked the project, but the High Court reversed his decision.
* China will ban the expansion of new iron and steel projects in 2019, Reuters reported, citing Xinhua's interview with Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology. The ban will also apply to the cement and flat-glass industries, while the country will continue its strict control on additional primary aluminum capacity.
* Iron ore shipments to China from Port Hedland in Australia, which is used by BHP, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. and Hancock Prospecting Pty. Ltd., jumped 14% in December 2018 to 37.4 million tonnes, compared to 32.9 million tonnes in November 2018, Reuters reported.
* Despite warning from the automotive industry over the impact of tougher import rules, India's steel ministry continued to push carmakers to partner with steel firms to use locally made steel, sources told Reuters.
* The Australian government's Takeovers Panel received an application from minority shareholder Brendon Dunstan to stop Flinders Mines Ltd. from going ahead with its proposed delisting from the ASX.
* China Northern Rare Earth (Group) High-Tech Co. Ltd. estimated that its 2018 net profit attributable to shareholders will rise by 150 million Chinese yuan to 240 million yuan, equivalent to a year-on-year increase of 37% to 60%, Shanghai Securities News reported, citing an exchange filing. The improvement was attributed to the disposal of assets.
* The Spanish Nuclear Safety Council endorsed Berkeley Energia Ltd.'s safety studies for the Salamanca uranium mine, a source told Reuters. But Berkeley still needs a broader approval from the nuclear watchdog and government stakeholders to commence work. Berkeley said it has not received any formal notice regarding the matter.
* Mineral Commodities Ltd. entered into a term sheet to earn up to a 90% interest in a lithium-tantalum-prospective tenement package in Western Australia by paying A$45,000 and sole-funding exploration work.
* Lucara Diamond Corp. unearthed a 127-carat white gem diamond from its Karowe diamond mine in Botswana.
* Xiamen Tungsten Co. Ltd. issued a short-term bond offering of 600 million Chinese yuan with a maturity of 260 days.
* An updated resource estimate for Sigma Lithium Resources Corp.'s Grota do Cirilo lithium project in Brazil defined measured and indicated resources of 45.7 million tonnes grading 1.38% lithium oxide, a 254% increase in tonnage as compared to the estimate included in a March 2018 technical report.
* Australian Vanadium Ltd. raised about A$7.4 million through the conversion of ASX-listed options, strengthening its cash position to accelerate development at the Gabanintha vanadium project in Western Australia.
* Barrick CFO Graham Shuttleworth said it's too early to tell how the victory of opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo presidential elections will affect the country's contentious mining code, Bloomberg News reported. Although Tshisekedi had called the new tax and royalty rates "anti-investment," his powers to relax rules are likely to be constrained initially, consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft said.
* Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are expected to sign an agreement this month for an investment of more than US$10 billion in Pakistan's oil refining, petrochemicals, renewable energy and mining sectors, Dawn reported.
* As the partial federal government shutdown over President Donald Trump's proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall stretches on, the rulemaking process at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ground to a halt. And that could imperil some of the Trump administration's signature energy-related rulemakings, according to former top EPA officials with expertise on the policy process.
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