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SQM eyes lithium production expansion; B2Gold sinks to Q4'18 loss


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 and expects to increase capacity to 120,000 t/y from the current 70,000 t/y by the end of 2020. Capital expenditure associated with the expansion is estimated at about US$400 million, or US$4,000/t.

B2Gold sinks to Q4'18 loss; FY'18 profit drops on impairment charges

B2Gold Corp. swung to an attributable net loss of US$58.9 million, or 6 U.S. cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2018, from a profit of US$29.9 million, or 4 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Full-year 2018 attributable net profit slumped to US$28.9 million, or 2 cents per diluted share, from US$56.9 million, or 6 cents per diluted share. The Toronto-listed miner's results during the year were affected by a US$55 million net impairment charge at the La Libertad gold mine due to political instability in Nicaragua and by the sale of the Mocoa copper-molybdenum deposit in the second quarter of 2018.

Zijin completes compulsory acquisition of remaining Nevsun shares

Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. completed the compulsory acquisition of the remaining outstanding Nevsun Resources Ltd. shares it did not own, part of Zijin's C$6.00-per-share, all-cash takeover bid. The Chinese miner acquired 23,184,095 Nevsun shares, representing 7.5% of the latter, at the offer price of C$6.00 per share to close the C$1.86 billion acquisition.


* Altius Minerals Corp. booked a royalty revenue of C$17.6 million for December 2018 quarter, 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.


* PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co. shares dropped more than 4% in Moscow on March 13 before pulling back slightly, after billionaire Roman Abramovich's Crispian Investments sold a 1.7% stake in the company at below market value, Bloomberg reported.

* Having been on "care and maintenance" since 2015, TSX Venture Exchange-listed junior Altan Nevada Minerals Ltd. relaunched itself with a restructure and debt-for-equity swap underway and a new focus on its long-dormant Venus copper property in Nevada. At the close of the debt-for-shares conversion, the junior will be worth about C$3 million with just over C$1 million in the bank, corporate director Paul Stephen said in an interview on the sidelines of the Battery Minerals Conference in Perth, Western Australia.

* Great Boulder Resources Ltd. executed an option to earn up to a 75% stake in Ausgold Ltd.'s Winchester copper project in Western Australia.

* Red Mountain Mining Ltd. secured an option to acquire a 70% interest in Crane Copper Mining, which holds a right to develop and process minerals from the smelter slag at the Jinja copper project in Uganda.

* 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 company KME moved to consolidate its ownership of French copper tube and rod manufacturer Tréfimetaux SAS in a €2 million deal, Fastmarkets MB reported.

* Acacia Coal Ltd. was granted the 44-square-kilometer Mount Bruce copper-cobalt exploration license in Western Australia.


* Goldcorp Inc. said the AOMA union is undertaking an illegal work stoppage at 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 project partner Rostec Corp. in exchange for a 0.28% stake in the company, Reuters reported. Polyus' interest in the deposit increased to 63.4% as a result.

* Doray Minerals Ltd.'s largest shareholder, Perennial Value Management, with about a 12.9% stake, confirmed its intention to vote in favor of the company's merger with Silver Lake Resources Ltd., subject to no superior proposal.

* Metminco Ltd. signed a nonbinding indicative offer to acquire Colombia-focused Andes Resources Ltd. for 33.5 new Metminco shares for every Andes share. The deal would give Metminco access to gold- and copper-prospective exploration tenements in the country.

* West Wits Mining Ltd. unit Tambina Gold Pty. Ltd. entered into a farm-in agreement with First Au Ltd. for the latter to earn up to an 80% interest in the Tambina gold project in Western Australia.

* 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.

* Victoria Gold Corp. launched a C$30 million bought-deal offering in a bid to finish the Eagle gold mine at its Dublin Gulch property in Canada's Yukon territory.

* VRX Silica Ltd. said Metalicity Ltd. decided not to progress its option agreement to acquire a 40% interest in the Biranup gold project in Western Australia.

* 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.

* Altus Strategies PLC granted Indiana Resources Ltd. a 30-day extension to complete due diligence over its Lakanfla and Tabakorole gold projects in Mali, which are part of an option deal signed in February.


* 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 declared a strike against the company's ongoing use of labor brokers, Mining Weekly reported. "Our key demand is that [ArcelorMittal South Africa] must permanently employ all workers presently employed by the contractors who render their services to [ArcelorMittal South Africa]," the union said.

* Malaysia is ending its moratorium on bauxite mining March 31 on the condition that miners carry out an environmental impact study of their projects in the country before receiving licenses to restart operations, Reuters reported.

* Duke Energy Corp. is pushing back on a report that shows widespread groundwater pollution at coal ash storage facilities in the U.S. 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.

* Giyani Metals Corp. decreased its stake in Canoe Mining Ventures Corp. to about 9.9% from about 23.7% by selling 9,580,000 Canoe Mining shares for C$538,200.

* Mayur Resources Ltd. signed a binding off-take deal with Qingdao Shinebest to supply 200,000 tonnes per annum of vanadium titano-magnetite sands produced from the Orokolo Bay project in Papua New Guinea for two years.

* The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects coal exports to slide this year and in 2020, after providing welcome relief for U.S. producers in 2018, and projected domestic production to also decline.

* Colorado saw 4% growth in coal jobs in 2018 from 2017 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 is working on a plan to remove steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexican and Canadian products while retaining the overall gains of the tariffs, Reuters reported.


* An International Energy Agency expert forecast at the Battery Minerals Conference in Perth, Western Australia, that electric cars will reach price parity with internal combustion engine cars in five years, but limited driving range, charge infrastructure and high purchase costs remain barriers.

* Walkabout Resources Ltd. is confident that it can confirm binding off-take agreements for at least 75% of the graphite product from its Lindi Jumbo project in Tanzania in the first half.

* General Moly Inc. retained financial advisers to consider a range of strategic alternatives such as capital financing, debt restructuring, and selling the company's assets or even the company itself.

* Gem Diamonds Ltd. recovered 126,875 carats from its 70%-owned Letseng mine in Lesotho in 2018, up from 111,811 carats recovered a year earlier. Average value per carat increased to US$2,131 per carat, from US$1,930 per carat in 2017.

* 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. achieved commercial production at its namesake lithium mine at Pilgangoora in Western Australia's Pilbara region after completing the commissioning of stage-one operations.

* Cia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineracao plans to increase production at its Araxá niobium mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil, to 100,000 tonnes this year from 90,000 tonnes, Valor Economico reported.

* Birimian Ltd. is aiming to complete a definitive feasibility study for its Goulamina lithium project in Mali by the first quarter of 2020, ahead of a final investment decision for the operation by the second half of 2020.

* 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.


* New emissions standards enacted by Western Australia's Environmental Protection Agency may open up potential legal issues against mining operations, which may lead to court disputes holding up the development of Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia, The West Australian reported.

* U.K. lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal with the EU 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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