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In This List

Northern Star to buy Super Pit stake; Top tech firms sued over tainted cobalt

Mining Exploration Insights December

Mining Exploration Insights: Dip in gold drilling weighs on results

Mining Exploration Insights: Is the exploration sector back on recovery?

State of the Market: Mining Q2-2019


Northern Star to buy Super Pit stake; Top tech firms sued over tainted cobalt

TOP NEWS

Northern Star to buy Newmont Goldcorp's 50% stake in Super Pit for US$800M

Northern Star Resources Ltd. reached a deal with Newmont Goldcorp Corp. to acquire the latter's 50% stake in the Kalgoorlie Super Pit gold mine in Western Australia, plus associated assets, for US$800 million. The mine is a 50/50 joint venture between Newmont Goldcorp and Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd. through Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty. Ltd. Northern Star also secured a 120-day option to negotiate the purchase of the former's Kalgoorlie power business for fair market value. The sale is expected to be completed by early January 2020.

Major tech companies sued over child labor in cobalt mines

Human rights firm The International Rights Advocates filed a suit against major technology companies for "aiding and abetting" the use of young children to mine cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The lawsuit alleges Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Google LLC parent Alphabet Inc., Dell Technologies Inc. and Tesla Inc. knew that cobalt used in their products could be linked to child labor. The lawsuit also accuses the companies of failing to regulate the cobalt supply chain, which resulted in child cobalt miners working in "exceedingly harsh, hazardous, and toxic conditions."

Voestalpine further cuts FY'20 EBITDA target on impairments

Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine AG further slashed its fiscal 2020 EBITDA forecast to €1.2 billion, from €1.3 billion flagged in November, as it expects a full-year impairment charge of €280 million, mainly driven by its direct reduction plant in Texas, which is impacted by high iron ore prices and low scrap prices. The results will also include a €80 million write-off on risk provisions, including restructuring costs. The company also said it will cut its dividend payment from 2018's €1.10 per share.

BASE METALS

* Australian miner and explorer Independence Group NL extended the offer period for its bid to acquire Panoramic Resources Ltd. to Jan. 17, 2020, to allow the company to assess its position on breaches of several defeating conditions of the bid. The prospective buyer said it reserves its rights in relation to the breaches, including whether to use them as a basis to scrap its offer.

* Chinese mining company Wanguo International Mining Group Ltd.'s final dividend payment of 2.78 yuan per share will be postponed to Jan. 31, 2020, from Dec. 31 as additional time is required to arrange remittance from China to Hong Kong.

* Multiple industry analysts expect a lift-off for copper in 2020 amid a recovery in global demand for the base metal, Bloomberg News reported. Jefferies analyst Christopher LaFemina wrote in a note to clients that low inventories, high short positions, supply constraints and better demand are creating conditions for the metal to rally.

* U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley is restarting its base metals trading business after pulling out four years ago, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. It will focus on market-making and services for clients such as hedging, and it hired about four people in London, including from rivals, and plans to secure additional staff, the sources said.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Equinox Gold Corp. and LeaGold Mining Corp. management emphasized scale in pitching a merger of the two gold mining companies, noting in a conference call that the move could hasten the combined company's inclusion in indexes.

* Hecla Mining Co. will accelerate the hiring and using of contractors for the Lucky Friday silver mine in Idaho as the operation ramps back up to full production by the end of 2020. The United Steelworkers union said members of Local 5114 in Mullan, Idaho, rejected a proposed agreement to end a longstanding strike at the mine.

* Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. declared a quarterly dividend payment of 6 U.S. cents per share, a 50% increase from its previous dividend of 4 cents per share.

* A unit of Condor Gold PLC agreed to sell the Potrerillos exploration and exploitation concession in Nicaragua to Mako Mining Corp.'s Nicoz Resources SA for US$600,000.

* Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd. officially received an initial 13-year permit to develop the Kochang gold mine in South Korea from the South Gyeonsang Provincial Authority.

* Secova Metals Corp. agreed to acquire the Montauban gold-silver project in Quebec from DNA Canada Inc. The project is expected to start production before the end of 2020.

* Lupaka Gold Corp. submitted a notice of intent to Peru's Minister of Economy and Finance to submit a claim to arbitration under the 2009 Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Peru over an investment dispute related to Lupaka's Invicta gold project.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Los Angeles-headquartered Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. agreed to acquire general line and long bar distributor Fry Steel Co. Inc. for an undisclosed amount, with closing expected in early 2020.

* Indiana-based Steel Dynamics Inc. expects to record fourth-quarter EPS of 49 U.S. cents to 53 cents, dropping from US$1.17 year over year and 69 cents quarter over quarter. The results included the impact of about US$15 million in costs from planned outages at the company's Butler and Columbus flat roll divisions and a reduction in flat roll steel shipments of about 70,000 to 80,000 tons.

* Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals, a 60/40 joint venture between Alcoa Corp. and Alumina Ltd., will permanently shut down its Point Comfort alumina refinery in Texas to eliminate unprofitable capacity. The refinery's annual alumina capacity of about 2.3 million tonnes has been curtailed since June 2016.

* Ukrainian mining and steelmaking group Metinvest BV reported a 39% yearly drop in adjusted EBITDA for the first nine months of 2019 to US$1.23 billion as revenue fell 6% to US$8.49 billion due to lower steel prices and resale volumes.

* A federal judge authorized coal miner Murray Energy Corp. and certain affiliates to obtain up to US$440 million in postpetition financing under a superpriority debtor-in-possession credit facility as part of an ongoing bankruptcy restructuring.

* After threatening to block all bills until Congress secured the pensions and healthcare for coal miners and their dependents, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin announced that his bipartisan legislation to do so was included in the final funding package to keep the government open beyond Dec. 20.

* While industry observers still have low expectations for thermal coal heading into 2020, many expect metallurgical coal prices to rebound in the first half of the year, two analysts wrote in a recent note. Seaport Global Securities LLC analysts Mark Levin and Nathan Martin wrote that in their meetings with institutional clients last week, observers seemed bearish on thermal coal and noted a "growing optimism about a potential rebound in coking coal prices." Meanwhile, in the metallurgical coal space, investors seemed optimistic that the price may soon bottom out amid rallying Chinese steel and iron ore prices.

* The U.S. Commerce Department issued a final order to impose duties of up to 456.20% on certain steel products produced in South Korea and Taiwan that are shipped to Vietnam for minor processing and then exported to the U.S.

* Administrators from KordaMentha were appointed to Bounty Mining Ltd., after a period of depressed coking coal prices, production shortfalls and an inability to secure additional funding, followed by receivers and managers from PwC, who are now in control of the company's assets, undertakings and operations.

* Kaiser Aluminum Corp. reached a five-year labor deal with the United Steelworkers union, effective Oct. 1, 2020, and covering its operations in Newark, Ohio, and Spokane, Wash.

* A bushfire at Gospers Mountain in New South Wales, Australia, is in danger of reaching the Springvale coal mine, the abandoned Wallerawang coal mines or the Mount Piper power station, ABC News reported. Authorities are monitoring the situation.

SPECIALTY

* Australian mineral sands explorer Iluka Resources Ltd. flagged a full-year impairment charge of US$290 million to the carrying value of its underperforming Sierra Rutile operation in Sierra Leone. Iluka expects a write-down of Sierra Rutile's deferred tax assets of about US$115 million. As a result, the operations' carrying value would be reduced to about US$50 million.

* Lynas Corp. Ltd. was not granted approval in Malaysia to increase its lanthanide concentrate processing limit for 2019. The company said the regulator gave it a list of additional reports and management plans required for the application to be reconsidered.

* Kenmare Resources PLC expects to miss the lower end of its full-year 2019 production guidance range of 900,000 tonnes of ilmenite at the Moma titanium mine in Mozambique due to unplanned production downtime. The explorer subsequently cut its full-year 2019 ilmenite production outlook to between 870,000 and 900,000 tonnes.

* A unit of Tectonic Gold PLC was granted an interim land mining contract on the Alexander Bay diamond project in South Africa. The contract allows Tectonic South Africa Pty. Ltd. to resume mining as an independent operator with full project ownership until the final contract is awarded, expected in March 2020.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Goldman Sachs Group Inc. pledged to cut off funding for certain new fossil fuel-related projects, facilitate another US$110 billion in clean energy solutions by 2025 and seek out additional financing options to address the physical impacts of climate change. The investment banking and management firm stopped short of pledging to pull funding for or divest from coal mining, oil and gas companies or the electric utilities that invest heavily in coal-fired generation.

* Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry secured ¥45.9 billion in the country's supplementary budget for the current financial year to boost its resource policy, Reuters reported. The ministry plans to use ¥20.9 billion to diversify its sources of rare earths and cobalt, the report said, citing a budget document.

* Australia-listed explorer Kalia Ltd. had its licenses to operate in the autonomous Bougainville region suspended following the death of a locally born geologist in the northern part of the island, where there is a "known criminal resistance" to mining exploration, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

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