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BHP Billiton seeks early dismissal of Samarco spill-related homicide charges

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BHP Billiton seeks early dismissal of Samarco spill-related homicide charges

TOP NEWS

BHP Billiton seeks early dismissal of homicide charges over Samarco dam spill

BHP Billiton Group launched an aggressive defense of eight of its current and former executives who were charged with homicide in connection with the tailings dam breach at the Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil, which claimed 19 lives, The Australian Financial Review reported. The company's lawyers filed a petition of habeas corpus with the Federal Court of Appeals seeking an early dismissal of the charge.

Codelco swings to FY'16 profit on cost-cutting measures

Chilean state-miner Codelco posted a pre-tax profit of US$435 million in 2016, swinging from a massive year-ago loss of US$2.19 billion, on the back of cost-cutting measures and a bumper fourth quarter, Reuters reported. The company's attributable copper output, however, declined by 1.4% year over year to 1.71 million tonnes due to declining ore grades at the miner's key deposits.

Tata Steel posts YOY increases in Q4, FY'17 steel output, sales

Tata Steel Ltd.'s salable steel production totaled 3.11 million tonnes in its fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, up year over year from 2.55 million tonnes, while sales improved to 3.18 million tonnes, compared with 2.72 million tonnes a year earlier.

DIVERSIFIED

* Glencore Plc entered into a definitive deal with HNA Innovation Finance Group Co. Ltd., pursuant to which the latter can acquire a 51% interest in the company's petroleum products storage and logistics business for US$775 million.

* Anglo American Plc terminated the cash tender offer to buy back securities due May 2020 and September 2020 for a total of up to US$250.0 million. The tender offer was conditional upon the issue of new notes, which has not occurred.

BASE METALS

* London Metal Exchange slapped a US$1.4 million fine on Glencore unit Access World for falsifying documents detailing zinc movements from New Orleans, Reuters reported. The allegations surfaced last year after zinc purchasers accused the company of falsifying documents to manipulate the zinc market in a complaint filed with a U.S. federal court. The company agreed to pay the fines without admitting any wrongdoing.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Moody's said Goldcorp Inc.'s plan to spend more than US$700 million on a series of acquisitions to create a joint venture with Barrick Gold Corp. to develop the Cerro Casale and Caspiche gold-copper deposits in Chile is credit negative as the moves will reduce Goldcorp's liquidity, and the company is expected to generate negative free cash flow of about US$350 million.

* Resolute Mining Ltd. Managing Director and CEO John Welborn told attendees at the Western Australian Mining Club luncheon that he questioned the value Australian gold players create for shareholders, urging the industry to pick up its game. Welborn said shareholders continued to provide funds, but with little return so far.

* The Australian government will crack down on tax fraud in the gold trading industry, with new legislation to apply retrospectively from April 1, which will require entities buying gold, silver and platinum that have been provided as a taxable supply for GST purposes to apply a reverse charge.

* Golden Arrow Resources Corp. received notice from Silver Standard Resources Inc. to exercise its option to form a 75/25 joint venture to combine the Chinchillas and Pirquitas properties in Argentina into a single new operation.

* An updated mine plan for Perseus Mining Ltd.'s Sissingue gold mine in Ivory Coast pegged total construction CapEx of US$107 million and an after-tax internal rate of return of about 28% with payback in 39 months. The project will produce 358,000 ounces of gold over a five-year mine life at all-in site costs of about US$628 per ounce.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Despite opposition, POSCO plans to push forward with the development of the Hume coal project as it filed environmental approval documents with the New South Wales government, outlining A$498 million in mine development plans, The Australian Financial Review reported. The miner aims to extract about 3 million tonnes of coal per annum from the mine, with first exports expected around 2021.

* Mosaic Co. reported an incident at its Esterhazy K2 potash mine in Saskatchewan involving a skip, a device used to transport potash to the surface, that resulted in a 200,000-to-300,000-tonne production loss. The production loss is anticipated to weigh on second-quarter sales volumes.

* Coal India Ltd. will earmark about US$1.3 billion in CapEx during fiscal 2017/18, Mining Weekly reported, citing Coal Minister Piyush Goyal. This comes as the miner is expected to close the current fiscal year, ending March 31, with a 2.5% growth in production missing the 11% target and a 2% growth in sales, lower than production growth of 8.5% recorded in fiscal 2015/16.

* Steel Authority of India Ltd., or SAIL, is set to post record iron ore production upon closing the current fiscal year, with output of 19.2 million tonnes from its captive iron ore mines, Mining Weekly reported.

* German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called on the EU to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization over a decision by the Trump administration to impose anti-dumping duties on steel imports from Europe. He accused Washington of attempts to distort competition that "are not in line with WTO rules."

* Yancoal Australia Ltd. slammed rivals who urged regulators to impose strict conditions on its planned US$2.45 billion acquisition of Rio Tinto's Coal & Allied Industries Ltd. unit, warning that the deal could give the Chinese government too much influence over Australian coal exports, The Australian reported.

* Yancoal Australia may not receive a promised cash injection from a Bank of China subsidiary after it missed the second deadline to provide a US$175 million loan, as part of the 2016 commitment to lend the miner US$375 million for working capital, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* A roof collapse at one of the belt roads in Yancoal's Austar metallurgical coal mine in New South Wales, before the arrival of Cyclone Debbie, will hamper two weeks' worth of production, a spokesperson confirmed to S&P Global Platts.

* Turkmenistan opened a US$1 billion, Belarusian-built potash plant in a bid to diversify from its natural gas exports. According to Reuters, the new plant aims to export 1.2 million tonnes of fertilizer per year to China and India, though Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said the plant will produce 1.5 million tonnes a year.

* Trading sources told Reuters that Chinese ports have enough iron ore stockpiles to build nearly 13,000 replicas of the Eiffel Tower, with imported ore piling up at ports amid increasing domestic production. Consultancy company SteelHome said inventory of imported ore at 46 Chinese ports reached 132.45 million tonnes March 24, the highest since the company started tracking the data in 2004. A third of the stockpiles belongs to traders, while local steel mills own the rest.

* A large South Korean ore carrier is missing in the South Atlantic with 22 crew members unaccounted for, Reuters reported, citing the country's foreign ministry and news reports. Two Filipino crew members have been rescued, while a search is underway to recover the remaining crew members. The carrier was sailing from Brazil to China carrying iron ore.

* Australia's Wollongong Coal Ltd. won a court case against India's Gujarat NRE Coke Ltd. over the latter's failure to pay about US$63 million for coal it was supplied. The Supreme Court of New South Wales in Australia ordered Gujarat NRE to pay Wollongong Coal about US$59.7 million and subsidiary Wongawilli Coal Pty. Ltd. US$10.4 million.

* Sumitomo Corp. struck a deal with Mukand Ltd. to acquire a 49% interest in the latter's specialty rolled steel manufacturing unit, Mukand Alloy Steels Pvt. Ltd. Mukand Alloy will process semi-finished specialty steel products and will sell processed products. The deal is valued at US$434 million, according to a Metal Bulletin report.

* Tata Steel Ltd. completed the divestment of its indirectly held Kalzip Guangzhou Ltd. subsidiary to Shanghai Qinheng International Trade Co. for €5.5 million, as the Indian steelmaker continues to offload nonprofitable assets to slash debt.

* The power joint venture between China and the provincial government of Sindh in Pakistan, Sino Sindh Resources (Pvt.) Ltd., is seeking an increase in mining tariff for its US$3.1 billion project at the Thar coalfield to US$47.27 per tonne against US$40.62 per tonne determined by the Thar Coal Energy Board, The News International reported, citing an official.

* Katowice Coal Holding closed the sale of four mines and a service company to the Polish Mining Group, which concludes the merger of mining assets of both companies into one entity, Puls Biznesu reported.

* An independent strategic review of Flinders Mines Ltd.'s Pilbara iron ore project in Western Australia estimated an optimal production rate of about 45 million tonnes per annum at 58% to 59% iron for a mine life of more than 14 years.

* SouthGobi Resources Ltd. released updated reserve and resource estimates for its Ovoot Tolgoi coal mine in Mongolia. The mine hosts measured resources of 201.9 million tonnes, indicated resources of 100.3 million tonnes and inferred resources of 89 million tonnes.

SPECIALTY

* Chinese mining company Chuanshan will invest US$40 million to explore and mine diatomite at Marigat in Kenya's Baringo County, The East African reported. The investment will create jobs, with the government earning a 5% production royalty, the country's Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu said.

* An upgraded mineral resource estimate at Kibaran Resources Ltd.'s Epanko graphite project in Tanzania increased the total resource by 40% over the June 2015 estimate. The total resource at the Epanko project now totals 30.7 million tonnes grading 9.9% total graphitic carbon for 3.05 million tonnes of contained graphite, using an 8% cutoff grade.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* President Donald Trump signed two executive orders March 31 designed to curb "unfair and nonreciprocal trade," as White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro described it.

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's scientific integrity office is reviewing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's recent comments on climate change for potential violations of the agency's policies, Reuters reported.

* Construction and mining equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar Inc., is shutting down its Aurora, Illinois, plant, which will result in about 800 job losses, as the company shifts production to other U.S. facilities, Reuters reported.

* Britain will have to make "significant progress" on finalizing the terms of its departure from the European Union before beginning talks on a new trade arrangement, but European Council President Donald Tusk suggested those talks could begin before the end of this year.

* Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was forced to shelve a plan to cut company taxes for big business due to opposition from the Senate, five weeks before a budget release that aims to retain the country's AAA credit rating. According to Bloomberg News, BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie joined other business leaders in urging the parliament to pass the full tax cuts to boost Australia's investment environment.

* In his first speaking engagement as the new Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum at a Western Australian Mining Club luncheon in Perth, Bill Johnston left the industry hanging on the topics of the planned sale of the Utah Point bulk handling facility and the future of uranium mining in the state.

* Economists believe that Australia's first-quarter gross domestic output could decline by 0.4% in the worst-case scenario in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie, which mostly hit coal production, exports and construction activity, Reuters reported. The country's A$1.7 trillion economy is likely to slow to under 2% growth in the quarter from 2.4% in the previous quarter.

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

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time, and scans news sources published in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Some external links may require a subscription.