Botswana's president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, is looking to land a new long-term diamond sales agreement with De Beers SA, with better terms for more job creation and increased local processing of the gems. According to Bloomberg News, Masisi said preparations for the talks with De Beers are at an advanced stage as the parties' current 10-year agreement expires in 2020.
The South African Reserve Bank approved Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s proposed acquisition of Lonmin PLC and the transaction is still expected to close in the second half of the year, subject to certain conditions, Mining Weekly wrote. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority will assess whether the merger would have adverse effects on competition.
Guinean bauxite miner losing US$1M per day as strike prompts production halt
Bauxite production has been suspended at Societe Miniere de Boké's mine in Guinea for the last 10 days due to a workers' walkout, Reuters reported. Some of the employees decided to down tools following the arrest of a union leader earlier in the month, said Frederic Bouzigues, the company's director general. The company has already lost between 1 million and 1.2 million tonnes of scheduled bauxite output because of the strike, with losses running to US$1 million per day.
* Glencore PLC unit Katanga Mining Ltd.'s first-quarter contained copper production nearly tripled to 27,019 tonnes, representing a rise of 185.6% from the fourth quarter last year, after ore mining resumed in late 2017 following the completion of phase one of the WOL project, part of the Kamoto copper operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
* Analysts called into question Lundin Mining Corp.'s choice to work with Euro Sun Mining Inc. in a proposed C$1.5 billion joint bid for Nevsun Resources Ltd. Through the rejected proposal, Lundin would buy Nevsun's copper-gold development assets in Serbia, which it has long coveted, while Euro Sun would acquire Nevsun's operating Bisha zinc mine in Eritrea. At issue is Euro Sun's ability to run a mining company in Eritrea. The country is a thorny jurisdiction that is subject to United Nations sanctions and, as a totalitarian regime, is often criticized for human rights abuses.
* In proceedings to determine control of PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co., Oleg Deripaska told a court in London that he will not agree with the sale of shares in the miner by Roman Abramovich to Vladimir Potanin, the Financial Times wrote. Deripaska-controlled United Co. Rusal PLC is seeking to block Abramovich from selling the interest to Potanin, arguing it violates an earlier shareholder agreement.
* An updated preliminary economic assessment for Panoro Minerals Ltd.'s Antilla copper property in Peru improved the project's value and reduced costs. Using a copper price of US$3.05/lb and applying a 7.5% discount rate, the project's after-tax net present value rose to US$305.4 million from US$225 million previously, while the internal rate of return now stands at 25.9%. The payback period was also reduced to 3.0 years from 4.1 years.
* Meteoric Resources NL signed a binding deal to acquire the Joyce River cobalt-copper-gold project, covering an area of 4.6 square kilometers in Ontario, in a cash and shares deal.
* Privately held, UAE-based gold trader Sakthi Trading Group is looking to build two gold refineries in Africa and is seeking US$246 million in investments in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Reuters reported, citing Sakthi CFO Mahesh Patil. The company also plans to expand its Africa gold mining interests and is mulling a listing in Singapore.
* Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. President and CEO Randy Smallwood told Mining Weekly that the company reached out to the Canadian Revenue Authority to settle a dispute over the income earned by the company's offshore subsidiaries, before the matter goes to the tax court in 2019, but has not secured a deal yet. Smallwood also said the company continues talks over three streaming deals worth over US$500 million and that management hopes to close the transactions over the next several months.
* Taranis Resources Inc. delivered first gold from the Thor polymetallic project to a refinery in British Columbia.
* Lonmin Plc CEO Ben Magara urged authorities to approve the company's merger with Sibanye Gold Ltd. as soon as possible, as the move will generate 1.5 billion South African rand in synergies and save 12,600 jobs, Mining Weekly reported. Meanwhile, Lonmin CFO Barrie van der Merwe said the company's ability to remain a going concern over the next 12 to 18 months has "material uncertainties," as it continues to hold discussions alternative providers of finance, Reuters reported.
* Shanta Gold Ltd. intends to undertake further exploration near its flagship New Luika mine in Tanzania after cutting costs in 2017 to cope with tougher mining laws, Reuters reported, citing CEO Eric Zurrin. "We will be doing more drilling at our flagship asset, it's our crown jewel," Zurrin said, adding that the company is targeting to boost its reserves and expand production.
* Barrick Gold Corp. said Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corp., operator of the Pueblo Viejo gold mine in the Dominican Republic, signed a 10-year natural gas supply contract with AES Andres DR SA that will enable the conversion of the Quisqueya I power generation facility from heavy fuel oil to natural gas. The move is expected to save about US$54/oz of gold over the life of mine. Pueblo Viejo Dominicana is a joint venture between Barrick and Goldcorp Inc.
* Rio2 Ltd. will merge its operations with Atacama Pacific Gold Corp., where Atacama Pacific shareholders will receive 0.6601 shares in the combined company for each Atacama Pacific share held and Rio2 shareholders will receive 0.6667 shares in the combined company for each Rio2 share held.
* Thor Explorations Ltd. aims to bring the first large-scale gold mine in Nigeria online by early 2020, said CEO Segun Lawson in a telephone interview with Reuters. The West African country is seeking to diversify its economy away from oil and gas.
* Tajiri Resources Corp. exercised its exclusive option to purchase the Reo gold project in Burkina Faso from Middle Island Resources Ltd. The companies also agreed to amend the terms in their previous agreement, with Tajiri to issue 5 million shares to Middle Island upon entering the option, rather than in tranches.
* ThyssenKrupp AG's net income in the second quarter of its fiscal year 2017-18 surged to €243 million from a loss of €879 million a year ago, though net sales fell 2% to €10.75 billion.
* T2 Resources Fund Pty. Ltd. increased its takeover offer for all of the issued Realm Resources Ltd. shares to A$1.00 per share, valuing the company at over A$253 million. The previous off-market offer for each Realm share stood at 90 Australian cents apiece and the offer period is now also extended to June 11.
* Cia. Siderúrgica Nacional's net profit in the first quarter swelled over 1,100% year over year due to the gain accrued from the adjustment of the fair value of shares in Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA, or Usiminas. The Brazilian steelmaker's net profit surged 1,159% year over year to 1.49 billion Brazilian reais in the quarter, compared to 117.6 million reais a year ago.
* BlueScope Steel Ltd. expects its underlying EBIT for the second half ending June 30 to be around A$680 million, compared to the previous guidance of A$606 million. The company attributed the improvement to continued strong performance at its North Star mini-mill in Ohio on higher realized steel spreads.
* Steel Dynamics Inc. inked a definitive agreement to acquire CSN's Indiana-based unit for US$400 million. The transaction will expand Steel Dynamics' annual flat roll steel shipping capacity to 8.4 million tons and total shipping capability to 12.4 million tons and is expected to be accretive to near-term earnings and per-share cash flow.
* Sinosteel Corp. agreed to invest US$1 billion in Zimbabwe to build a power plant and increase ferrochrome output, Reuters reported, citing the country's president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
* Rio Tinto's autonomous Autohaul program could reduce the time required to carry iron ore from the miner's Western Australian mines to port by about 20%, The Australian Financial Review reported. Steve McIntosh, Rio's growth and innovation head, said the Autohaul project was expected to be "fully operational with full regulator sign-off" before the year ends.
* MACA Ltd. executed a framework agreement to provide crushing and screening services for BHP Billiton Group's Area C iron ore project in Western Australia, beginning around October. The contract term is for three years plus two one-year options to extend, with the combined value of the works expected to generate revenues up to A$27.5 million per annum.
* Karnalyte Resources Inc., after a comprehensive review of its business, operations and strategy in the first quarter, updated its strategic plan and intends to diversify its business into two fertilizer products — potash and nitrogen.
* Alcoa Corp.'s Alcoa Nederland Holding BV subsidiary priced an offering of US$500 million aggregate principal amount of 6.125% senior notes due 2028. The offering is expected to close May 17.
* Whitehaven Coal Ltd. completed the acquisition of Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd.'s 30% joint venture interest in the Tarrawonga mine after it received ministerial consent and approval for the transfer.
* PJSC Alrosa will bolster its marketing efforts and will explore new opportunities in gem cutting, Bloomberg News wrote. As part of Alrosa's move into polishing, CEO Sergey Ivanov said the company could participate in the auction for Kristall Production Corp., which the Russian government is considering privatizing.
* Galaxy Resources Ltd.'s updated definitive feasibility study for its Sal de Vida lithium project in northwest Argentina pegged a net present value of US$1.48 billion, discounted at 8%, a 26.9% internal rate of return and a payback period of three years.
* Tianqi Lithium Corp. and Albemarle-owned Talison Lithium Ltd. plans to expand its Greenbushes lithium project in Western Australia with a budget of over A$600 million, The West Australian reported. The expansion will double the project's lithium production capacity to 2.3 million tonnes per year, starting in 2021.
* Lynas Corp. Ltd. said the fluctuations in its share prices may have been influenced by the recent change in the Malaysian government and not media articles, particularly a report that its rare earth refinery will undergo a review. The company reiterated that its operations are compliant with government standards.
* Gwede Mantashe, South Africa's mines minister, said the government aims to finalize and gazette the third version of the country's mining charter in June, later than his initial May target, Reuters reported.
* The Chilean government announced the formation of the Office of Large Sustainable Projects, with the intent of reducing red tape for large investment projects that will ultimately increase economic and job growth in the country, Reuters reported.
* Major mining firms operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that a commission formed to draft detailed regulations to implement a new mining code had completed its work, Reuters reported. However, the miners said that they were not given the opportunity to negotiate over key issues in the code as the talks were restricted to drafting the regulations within already set parameters, Reuters reported. Mining companies including Glencore, Randgold Resources Ltd., AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. and China Molybdenum Co. Ltd. were represented on the drafting commission.
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