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Rio Tinto mulls New Zealand aluminum smelter closing; Newmont restarts gold mine


Rio Tinto mulls closure of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters

Rio Tinto, the majority shareholder of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd., advised Meridian Energy Ltd. that it intends to initiate a strategic review of the smelter to consider all options for its future, including closure. Rio Tinto has advised Meridian that it will provide the market with an update on the strategic review by the end of the first quarter of 2020. The electricity contract between Meridian and New Zealand Aluminium Smelters allows for full termination or for the latter to reduce consumption to 400 MW from 572 MW, in both cases on 12 months' notice to Meridian.

Newmont restarts production at Penasquito gold mine

Newmont Goldcorp Corp. is safely starting up production at the Penasquito mine in Mexico after the illegal blockade was lifted on Oct. 8. The company has started an approximately 10-day process of bringing back the operation to full production, with the support of the state and federal governments, including an ongoing police presence.

Anglo warns of risk to FY'20 copper output amid 'unprecedented' Chilean drought

Anglo American PLC's third-quarter copper output fell 8% year over year to 158,900 tonnes as a severe drought in central Chile weighed on output at its Los Bronces mine, prompting the company to lower the upper end of its full-year production target by 10,000 tonnes, to 650,000 tonnes. The company flagged the "unprecedented" drought as a risk to its 2020 output, with output at Los Bronces suffering in the quarter due to lower plant throughput due to water shortages.


* First Quantum Minerals Ltd. achieved commercial production at its Cobre Panama copper mine in Panama on Sept. 1. The company said that it achieved this milestone one month earlier than expected as a result of a rapid ramp-up of production by the project construction and operations teams.

* Copperbank Resources Corp. formed a new subsidiary, CopperBank Royalties Corp., to augment the company's portfolio of established copper projects. The company will launch the subsidiary with two royalty assets from its Contact copper project in Nevada and the Copper Creek project in Arizona.

* Methane poisoning may have been to blame for the death of three miners deep below the surface of PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co.'s Taimyr mine in the Arctic Circle, Interfax reported, citing an "informed source." A company representative told S&P Global Market Intelligence that it was unclear if the deaths were the result of methane poisoning, but emphasized that the operations of the mine were unaffected and continuing.

* Metminco Ltd. negotiated commercial terms and executed a non-binding term sheet for the sale of its noncore Mollacas copper project in Chile to an unlisted company for US$1.0 million.


* With a slew of North American gold miners on the cusp of releasing third-quarter earnings, analysts said they expect to see expanding margins on the back of a stronger gold price quarter over quarter. "Quarterly cash flow is going to be a lot better because gold was US$1,309 per ounce last quarter," Haywood Securities analyst Kerry Smith said in an interview. "It's around US$1,474/oz this quarter," added Smith, who with other analysts noted that North America-listed gold miners largely appear to have kept costs under control amid gold's climb.

* Third-quarter production for Russia's largest gold producer PJSC Polyus climbed 9% year over year to reach a quarterly record of 752,700 ounces. Gold sales climbed 4% to 729,000 ounces, while revenue grew 29% to about US$1.06 billion as its average selling price jumped 23% to US$1,482 per ounce.

* Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd. posted record production of 96,324 ounces of gold for the first quarter of its fiscal 2020 with all-in sustaining costs of A$964 per ounce. Output was ahead of the company's fiscal 2020 production guidance of 350,000 to 370,000 ounces and below its all-in sustaining cost guidance of A$1,025/oz to A$1,075/oz.

* Silver Range Resources Ltd. has optioned the Hannapah property, covering the Richardson mine, in Nye County, Nev., to Mercury Exploration Company Inc.

* Russian-Zimbabwean joint venture Great Dyke Investments (Pvt.) Ltd. is in advanced talks to secure about US$500 million in funds to build phase one of the Darwendale platinum group metals mining and smelting complex in Zimbabwe.

* TVI Pacific Inc.'s 30.66%-owned TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. subsidiary closed a US$28.5 million omnibus loan and surety agreement with China Banking Corp. for the Balabag gold-silver project in the Philippines.

* An armed gang entered DRDGold Ltd.'s Ergo gold plant in South Africa, killing a security officer and stealing an estimated 17 kilograms of gold contained in calcine concentrate. The company said it will support the South African Police Service's efforts to apprehend the suspects.

* Millennium Minerals Ltd. secured a A$7.5 million extension to the A$20 million term loan facility previously agreed with its major shareholder, IMC Group. The extended facility will provide additional liquidity while it ramps up production from the new Golden Gate mining center at the Nullagine gold project in Western Australia, completes the transition to an owner-operator model for load and haul operations, and starts strategic exploration initiatives.

* African Gold Group Inc. has contracted Epoch Resources (pty) Ltd to undertake the company's feasibility study for its tailings storage facility at the Kobada gold project in Mali.

* TNG Ltd. has started the process to seek a dual listing on the London Stock Exchange.

* Alt Resources Ltd. executed a nonbinding term sheet with Blue Cap Mining Pty. Ltd. for the development of mining operations at the Tim's Find gold project contained within the company's Mount Ida and Bottle Creek gold projects in Western Australia.

* Nord Gold SE signed an exclusive agreement with Total Eren SA and Africa Energy Management Platform to construct a 13-MW solar photovoltaic power plant that will provide 100% renewable energy to the company's Bissa and Bouly gold mines in Burkina Faso.


* Nucor Corp. reported third-quarter earnings of US$275 million, tumbling from US$676.7 million a year ago, with EPS falling to 90 cents from US$2.13 amid steel market weakness. The comparable period included a noncash impairment of US$110 million related to Nucor's natural gas well assets and a gain of US$24.8 million related to insurance recoveries.

* Whitehaven Coal Ltd.'s salable coal production in the September quarter jumped 23% year over year to 4.9 million tonnes, while run-of-mine coal production climbed 22% to 4.4 Mt. Total coal sales in the first quarter of the company's fiscal 2020 increased 14% year over year to 5.5 Mt.

* Arch Coal Inc. reported net income of US$106.8 million, or US$6.34 per share, in the 2019 third quarter, compared with US$123.2 million, or US$6.10 per share, in the prior-year period. The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus GAAP earnings estimate for the third quarter was US$3.17 per share. Revenue came in at US$619.5 million, compared with US$633.2 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

* Clive Palmer's Waratah Coal Pty Ltd. applied for a 35-year mining lease to develop a new coal mine near Adani Enterprises Ltd.'s Carmichael project in Queensland, Australia, Reuters reported.

* China is on track to increase its coal imports by more than 10% this year, Reuters reported, citing traders and analysts. Coal imports are expected to reach 276 million tonnes well before the end of 2019, compared to 281.23 million tonnes imported in 2018, the report said.

* PJSC PhosAgro has joined the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform. The association includes international companies and organizations involved in fertilizer production, the search for innovative solutions and research in the field of fertilizers, phosphorus management and recycling, and mineral and organic fertilizer innovation.

* Bounty Mining Ltd.'s CM13 continuous miner was successfully extracted from under the roof fall that happened at the company's Cook coal project in Western Australia.


* Advantage Lithium Corp.'s pre-feasibility study for its Cauchari joint venture lithium project in Argentina estimated an after-tax net present value, discounted at 8%, of US$671 million and a 20.9% internal rate of return. The study is based on production of battery-grade lithium carbonate from a stand-alone plant with a nameplate capacity of 25,000 tonnes per annum. Initial capital expenditure is estimated at US$446 million, including a 20% contingency, with cash operating costs of US$3,560 per tonne of lithium carbonate. The payback period is estimated at 4 years and 10 months.

* Kibaran Resources Ltd. will seek to change its name to EcoGraf Limited to reflect its strategy to be a long-term supplier of natural flake and battery graphite products.

* Vision Lithium Inc. entered a binding letter of intent with two individual vendors and the Manto Sipi Cree Nation community in Manitoba to acquire the Godslith lithium property. The company said that it will issue 4 million shares and grant a 3% net smelter royalty to the vendors in exchange for all the rights, titles and interests in the unpatented mineral claims and mineral exploration licenses covering about 5,107 hectares.


* Newmont Goldcorp Corp. executive vice president and chief technology officer Dean Gehring said in an interview that the mining industry as a whole is doing a much better job of working to earn the public's trust than it has in the past, and the trend is "absolutely in the right direction." But the sector could be doing more, Gehring said. Several industry experts at the Future of Mining Americas conference in Denver stressed the need for the mining sector to work to earn and maintain communities' and the greater public's trust.

* Onsite Rentals, which rents equipment to miners and construction companies, aims to raise up to A$253 million in an IPO priced in the range of A$2.87 to A$3.15 per share, according to The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk. The company is majority-owned by U.S. institutional investors.

* Emeco Holdings Ltd. fended off media speculation over its potential acquisition of contract mining services provider BGC Contracting Pty Ltd. "Emeco explores opportunities to add value to the Emeco Group and its shareholders on an ongoing basis, [BGC Contracting] being just one of many in recent times," it said.

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