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Glencore, Apollo group among shortlisted bidders for A$2B Rio Tinto coal assets

TOP NEWS

Glencore, Apollo consortium among shortlisted bidders for A$2B Rio Tinto coal assets

The bidding process for Rio Tinto's last remaining coal mines, including the Valeria and Winchester South coal mines in Queensland, Australia, is set to enter its second round, with Glencore Plc and a group led by Apollo Global Management LLC set to be shortlisted as prospective buyers, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. The asset package is estimated to be worth over A$2 billion, and the sources further said Whitehaven Coal Ltd. and South32 Ltd. also made indicative offers for Rio Tinto's Hail Creek and Kestrel coal mines in Queensland by the deadline this month.

Creditors pushing to sell over US$26B assets of loss-making Indian steel companies

Creditors of insolvent Indian companies are seeking approval from the country's new bankruptcy court to sell the assets of as many as 40 companies, including those of steel producers Bhushan Steel Ltd., Essar Steel India Ltd. and Monnet Ispat & Energy Ltd., Bloomberg News reported. People with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that billionaires Lakshmi Mittal and Anil Agarwal are contending for taking over Essar Steel India.

South African mining companies expect to settle silicosis suit in early 2018

A working group comprising six miners operating in South Africa in early 2018 expects to settle a massive class action brought by mine workers suffering from silicosis and occupational tuberculosis. The group, comprising African Rainbow Minerals Ltd., Anglo American Plc, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Gold Fields Ltd., Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd. and Sibanye Gold Ltd., earmarked 5 billion South African rand for the settlement, but attorney Richard Spoor, who brought the case to court, said the value of the final settlement would be disclosed later and no agreement has been signed yet, though a draft deal is on the table.

DIVERSIFIED

* Swiss nongovernmental organization Public Eye filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland against Glencore over its dealings in the Democratic Republic of the Congo related to the alleged embezzlement surrounding the acquisition of mines in the country, swissinfo.ch wrote. Glencore said it had not yet seen the criminal complaint, but the Office of the Attorney General confirmed receiving the documents.

* Rio Tinto Vice President Lawrence Dechambenoit told Mining Weekly that the company is working on an Africa strategy that will be presented to the group executive committee in 2018 as the company seeks to understand the continent more and identify investment opportunities.

BASE METALS

* Nautilus Minerals Inc. said funding talks with various parties, including its major shareholders, are taking longer than expected. While Nautilus remains positive that talks will conclude soon, there is no guarantee a funding deal will be finalized, in which case the company will turn to asset sales, joint ventures and capital restructurings.

* Minotaur Exploration Ltd. completed the sale of nickel mining rights at West Kambalda in Western Australia over tenements held by Maximus Resources Ltd. and Corona Minerals Ltd. to a private group for an undisclosed amount as part of the company's ongoing exit of noncore assets.

* ScoZinc Mining Ltd. said an updated preliminary economic assessment for restarting operations at its ScoZinc zinc-lead mine in Nova Scotia pegged a posttax net present value, discounted at 8%, of C$119.0 million, a 64.8% internal rate of return and a 2.2-year payback period.

* LeadFX Inc. agreed to sell its mining data associated with the mineral claims owned by its North 67 Inc. subsidiary to Valhalla Mining LLC for C$2 million.

* Red River Resources Ltd. noted an increase in the estimated mine life for the West 45 polymetallic massive sulfide deposit, part of the Thalanga zinc project in central Queensland, Australia, to at least 2019 following an increased ore reserve and resource estimate.

* Albert Mining Inc. will use its proprietary artificial intelligence software to detect copper-zinc-silver mineralization at Falco Resources Ltd.'s properties in Quebec that cover about 67,258 hectares.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Gold Fields Ltd. and Gold Road Resources Ltd.'s Gruyere joint venture entered into a five-year, A$400 million mining services contract with Downer EDI Ltd. to mine the Gruyere gold project in Western Australia. Construction of mining infrastructure at the project is scheduled to commence in March 2018.

* The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will provide a €40 million loan to finance the development of the Lapseki and Ivrindi gold mines in Turkey, which are held by Turkish conglomerate Nurol Holding's Tümad unit, Hürriyet Daily News reported.

* Sabina Gold & Silver Corp. said Zhaojin Mining Industry Co. Ltd. unit Zhaojin International Mining Co. Ltd. agreed to invest approximately C$66.1 million in the company by subscribing to a private placement of 24,930,000 common Sabina shares at C$2.65 apiece.

* NewCastle Gold Ltd. and Anfield Gold Corp. shareholders approved the plan of arrangement whereby the two businesses will be acquired by Trek Mining Inc. to create Equinox Gold Corp.

* After acquiring a 50% stake in Barrick Gold Corp.'s Cerro Casale gold project in June, Goldcorp Inc. began to gradually return to Chile after leaving the country in 2014 amid social conflicts over its projects and low commodities prices, Pulso reported. The miner reopened its offices in Santiago and Copiapó and appointed its legal director for Latin America, Mauricio Álvarez, as its new country manager.

* St-Georges Platinum & Base Metals Ltd.'s Kings Of The North Corp. unit signed an option agreement to acquire the gold-prospective Winter House project in Quebec for 6 million Kings Of The North shares and by assuming C$140,000 in current exploration expenses at the property.

* Barra Resources Ltd. completed the acquisition of the issued share capital of Kidman Resources Ltd. unit Coolgardie Mining Co. Pty. Ltd., which holds the mining license for the Burbanks gold mine in Western Australia.

* Orex Minerals Inc., Canasil Resources Inc. and Pan American Silver Corp.'s Plata Panamericana SA de CV signed a nonbinding letter of intent contemplating their cooperation in developing the Sandra-Escobar silver project in Mexico.

* Emmerson Resources Ltd. achieved first gold pour at its Edna Beryl mine in Australia's Northern Territory, part of the Tennant Creek Mineral Field joint venture.

* Tower Resources Ltd. entered into an option agreement with Goldcorp unit Kaminak Gold Corp. to acquire the Voigtberg gold-copper property in British Columbia for 3 million units and C$1.9 million of exploration spending on the project over three years.

* Beadell Resources Ltd. released updated JORC-compliant ore reserves and resource estimates for its Tucano gold mine in Brazil to help the company's year-end budgeting and life-of-mine scheduling. As of June 30, the project is estimated to host total ore reserves of 25.1 million tonnes at 1.83 g/t of gold for 1.5 million ounces and resources of 63.5 million tonnes at 1.82 g/t of gold for 3.7 million ounces.

* Trade union Solidarity said Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s 5 billion South African rand acquisition of Lonmin Plc would make a positive contribution toward economic growth and stability in the mining sector in the longer term, which would further sustainability, Mining Weekly reported.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Mechel PAO signed a memorandum for coal supply with China's Jidong Cement, with Mechel agreeing to supply up to 3 million tonnes of steam coal mined from its Elga and Neryungrinsky mines in Russia, making the Chinese company the chief foreign consumer of Elga's steam coal.

* Itochu Corp. said it increased its dividend forecast for fiscal 2018 on the back of higher profit expectations. The Japanese company will declare an annual dividend of at least ¥70 per share in fiscal 2018, compared to the previous forecast of ¥64 per share.

* Union Metal Corp. appears to be nearing closure as the Ohio-based company flagged 339 layoffs in the next four to eight weeks after dismissing about 200 hourly and salaried employees last week, CantonRep.com reported.

* Itafos said it raised C$86.4 million through a placement of shares to implement its strategic and business development initiatives and for working capital and general corporate purposes.

* Tata Steel Ltd.'s board approved a rights issue to raise up to 128 billion Indian rupees to fund the expansion of its Kalinganagar plant in India's Odisha state and to slash debt. The plan involves boosting capacity by 5 million tonnes per annum to 8 mtpa, covering a total investment of 235 billion rupees.

* Metinvest BV's consolidated revenues jumped 36% year over year to US$6.22 billion in the first nine months of the year, driven primarily by higher steel and iron ore sale prices. The company's adjusted EBITDA soared 39% to US$1.37 billion on a yearly basis.

* A senior official for the Trump administration said a new security strategy may lead to tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in the U.S. to protect the country's economic interests due to national security concerns, Reuters reported.

* World Coal Association Chairman Mick Buffier said he was "disappointed" with the way BHP Billiton Group had depicted his organization's agenda, adding that the company misrepresented the climate policies of the association, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* Troubled French steelmaker Ascometal SA drew interest from four potential buyers, with commodity group Liberty House and Swiss steel company Schmolz + Bickenbach confirming their interest, Reuters reported. According to a union official, Spain's Sidenor is also one of the bidders, while French daily Le Monde said the fourth potential buyer for Ascometal was Italian steel company Beltrame.

* Italy's Marcegaglia abandoned AM Investco, the ArcelorMittal-led joint venture that was vying to buy Italian steelmaker Ilva International SpA, to avoid potential problems with EU antitrust regulators, Metal Bulletin reported, citing market sources.

* Altech Chemicals Ltd. said German state-owned KfW IPEX-Bank approved a project finance debt package of US$190 million for the company's high-purity alumina project, higher than the US$185 million of project finance initially proposed.

* Poland boosted its coal imports as output from the country's top miner is expected to fall short by about 2 million tonnes from its original 2017 output target of 32 million tonnes, Reuters reported Dec. 19, citing Polska Grupa Górnicza sp. z o.o. CEO Tomasz Rogala.

* Brazilian President Michel Temer approved a bill to raise iron ore royalties to 3.5% from 2% despite criticism from the mining sector, Metal Bulletin reported. According to a decree published by the government in the official gazette, the royalty increases will be applied retroactively from Nov. 1.

* Starting in January 2018, Algeria will end its import licensing system for all products, including steel rebar, Metal Bulletin reported, citing local media reports.

SPECIALTY

* Pilbara Minerals Ltd. entered into an off-take agreement to sell at least 1 million tonnes of unprocessed run-of-mine lithium-tantalum material from the Pilgangoora project in Western Australia to Atlas Iron Ltd. on a mine gate sale basis starting in the June 2018 quarter.

* Speciality Metals International Ltd. agreed to purchase the Mount Carbine quarry and two mining leases for an undisclosed price. The company said the mining leases, located within its Mount Carbine tungsten project in Queensland, Australia, are "integral to the successful development" of the project.

* Kibaran Resources Ltd. signed a binding heads of agreement with ProGraphite GmbH to access technical and commercial knowledge in graphite processing for use in battery product applications.

* Lithium and junior miners secured US$42 million in funding in October, the largest of which was a US$23 million capital raising by Neo Lithium Corp. to fund its Tres Quebradas lithium project in Argentina, Mining.com reported.

* Separately, Western Australian lithium miners racked up gains of as much as 4% on the ASX following a slew of developments for the commodity, including the acquisition of Lithium X Energy Corp. by Tibet Summit Industry Co. Ltd unit Tibet Summit Resources Co. Ltd. and NextView Capital, The West Australian reported.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines will adopt the "Towards Sustainable Mining" initiative, a mining sustainability standard developed by the Mining Association of Canada, Mining Weekly reported.

* The U.S. needs to encourage domestic production of critical minerals for the technology and defense industries and reduce reliance on China, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said as he unveiled a report by the U.S. Geological Survey detailing the extent to which the country is dependent upon foreign competitors for its supply of certain minerals, Reuters reported.

* S&P Global Market Intelligence's Pipeline Activity Index was up in November, rising from 91 to 103 as a surge in drilling activity and a healthy increase in significant gold/base metals financings were tempered by declines in the numbers of initial resources and project milestones.

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