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Tianqi Lithium snapping up most of Nutrien's SQM stake for over US$4B

TOP NEWS

Tianqi Lithium snapping up most of Nutrien's SQM stake for over US$4B

Tianqi Lithium Corp. agreed to acquire all of Nutrien Ltd.'s A shares in Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA at US$65.00 apiece, for a total of about US$4.07 billion. The transaction would leave Nutrien with 20,166,319 SQM B shares, which it expects to divest in due course.

Centerra selling royalty portfolio, silver stream in US$200M deal

Centerra Gold Inc.'s AuRico Metals Inc. unit agreed to sell its royalty portfolio and a silver stream on the Kemess project in British Columbia to Triple Flag Mining Finance Bermuda Ltd. for total consideration of US$200 million. The Kemess property includes the Kemess North, Kemess East and Kemess South projects and the feasibility-stage Kemess Underground project.

EuroChem withdraws from Ukraine amid restrictions on Russian fertilizer imports

Fertilizer producer EuroChem Mineral Chemical Co. OJSC is completely withdrawing from the Ukrainian market following moves by the government to restrict imports of fertilizers originating in Russia. EuroChem is a Switzerland-based, diversified fertilizers producer controlled by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko and holds significant assets in Russia. EuroChem sold its stake in Ukrainian distribution subsidiary Agrocentre EuroChem-Ukraine to the business' former management, a spokesperson confirmed.

DIVERSIFIED

* Australian law firm Phi Finney McDonald plans to file a class-action lawsuit against BHP Billiton Group, arguing the company misled investors over the 2015 dam burst at its Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil that killed 19 people, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

* BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie said the company is looking at incremental and large-scale growth options in a bid to add about US$31 billion of value. The diversified miner outlined US$4 billion of low-cost latent capacity options across its operations, including de­bottlenecking, which can result in US$16 billion of net present value.

* Three of the world's largest oil traders, including Glencore PLC, are vying to acquire Petrobras unit Petrobras Oil & Gas BV, or Petrobras Africa, Reuters reported, citing industry and banking sources with knowledge of the matter.

* Hindalco Industries Ltd.'s net profit in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2018 rose 12.8% yearly to 6.16 billion Indian rupees on a stand-alone basis, with revenue down 1.2% to 116.81 billion rupees.

BASE METALS

* Freeport-McMoRan Inc. CEO Richard Adkerson said negotiations between Rio Tinto and the Indonesian government over the mining major's 40% stake in the Grasberg copper mine have narrowed to price alone, and an agreement would likely translate into a prompt closure of the transaction, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* Nine workers' unions from Codelco signed a petition requesting the government of President Sebastián Piñera not to reappoint Nelson Pizarro as CEO of the Chilean state miner, Diario Financiero reported.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Fund managers at the ResourceStocks conference in Sydney believe that the time is right for Australia's cashed-up midtier gold producers to diversify their portfolio base by looking abroad. The consensus among the keynote panel is that they should look at cross-border transactions, partly because there appear to be so few left in Australia.

* Yamana Gold Inc.'s Cerro Moro operation in Argentina poured its first gold and silver doré and is on track to achieve commercial production in the second quarter.

* It makes sense for Midas Gold Corp. to partner with gold major Barrick Gold Corp. in a recent US$38.1 million financing to develop a large and complex gold project like Stibnite in Idaho. That's the view of Joe Mazumdar, an Exploration Insights analyst who has followed the project over the years. "Having a major — only they can do it," Mazumdar told S&P Global Market Intelligence, pointing to the capital costs of the project, which were estimated at US$970.3 million in a 2014 study.

* A previous article by S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research recorded the trend toward lower major gold deposit discovery rates over the past decade. While this holds true for all regions, there have been some significant changes in where major new deposits are being found; notably, there have been less in the Asia-Pacific region and more in Africa.

* After achieving record production in the fourth quarter of 2017, most producers saw gold production falling in the first quarter of 2018, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research. Among 61 gold producers reporting in the March quarter, each producing at least 50,000 ounces in the period, production was down by more than 1.3 million ounces compared with the fourth quarter of 2017 but was up more than 200,000 ounces compared with the year-ago period.

* Santana Minerals Ltd. agreed to acquire the Becker gold project in Chile by acquiring the issued share capital of Collerina Cobalt Ltd. unit Carlin Resources Pty. Ltd., which holds the right to earn up to an 85% interest in the project.

* Lumina Gold Corp. completed its first resource update for the Condor property in Ecuador since acquiring the project in 2016.

* Coronet Metals Inc. closed the acquisition of 1161097 B.C. Ltd., which owns the Cariboo, Lac La Hache and Pinto gold projects in British Columbia.

* LeaGold Mining Corp. will move toward completing its proposed C$314 million deal for Brio Gold Inc. after securing approval from Mexico's Comisión Federal de Competencia Económica, the last required government approval for the acquisition.

BULK COMMODITIES

* The European Union is ready to negotiate with the U.S. and open its markets further to U.S. imports in a bid to prevent a potential trade war between the parties amid U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Reuters wrote, citing EU leaders.

* Meanwhile, the Japanese government is considering tariffs on US$409 million of U.S. exports in retaliation against the U.S. duties on its products, Reuters reported, citing Japanese media reports.

* Atlas Iron Ltd. flagged a possible noncash impairment charge of A$75 million to A$100 million in 2018 relating to lower grades and increasing costs and said it is on track to hit the lower end of its guidance for the year's shipments, which ranges from 9 million to 10 million tonnes.

* Societe Miniere de Boké resumed operations at its bauxite mine in Guinea as most of the workers returned following a nearly two-week strike, Reuters reported.

* Tata Steel Ltd. swung to a profit of 146.88 billion Indian rupees in its fiscal fourth quarter from a year-ago loss of 11.68 billion rupees, driven in part by a one-off pensions gain. Meanwhile, Tata is aiming to boost its flat steel capacity by 5.6 million tonnes per annum following the acquisition of Bhushan Steel Ltd., Metal Bulletin reported.

* JSW Steel Ltd. reported the highest-ever operational and financial performance for its fourth fiscal quarter and the full fiscal year ended March 31. Consolidated net profit soared 186% year over year to 28.79 billion Indian rupees for the quarter.

* Trade unions called on Tata Steel to boost future payouts to U.K. pensioners, after the Indian company reported a significant surplus in its retirement scheme following changes that affected thousands of steelworkers, the Financial Times reported. The union said the surplus was higher than estimated and supports their case to restore pension benefits for scheme members.

* A feasibility study for Verdant Minerals Ltd.'s Ammaroo phosphate project in Australia's Northern Territory estimated a posttax net present value, discounted at 10%, of A$344 million and an internal rate of return of 18.1%. The two-stage project is estimated to produce 1 million tonnes per annum of phosphate rock concentrate from the first stage, covering year one to five of the initial 20-year mine life.

* BlueScope Steel Ltd. priced a US$300 million issue of 4.625% guaranteed senior bonds maturing May 25, 2023. Proceeds from the bond will be used to repay debt.

* About half of China's steelmaking capacity will have to comply with tougher emissions standards by 2020, Reuters reported. The plan will require 480 million tonnes of annual capacity to meet ultra-low emissions standards, and the target will rise to 900 million tonnes of annual capacity by 2025.

* China's coal-rich Shanxi province laid out plans to close 35 mines in 2018, slashing an additional 22.4 million tonnes of coal capacity on top of 16 million tonnes of backward mining capacity it announced it would cut in March. The province aims to advance its coal industrial structure through safer and more efficient facilities and clean production.

SPECIALTY

* Evgeny Agureev, head of PJSC Alrosa's sales division, told Reuters that the company is seeking to be "one of the global leaders in sales of polished colored diamonds," a market dominated by Rio Tinto and De Beers SA.

* Kidman Resources Ltd. signed a binding agreement to supply lithium produced by Western Australia Lithium to Tesla Inc. for an initial three years, though terms of the deal were not disclosed. Western Australia Lithium is a 50/50 joint venture between Kidman and Chile's SQM.

* Singapore-based veteran investment banker Alberto Migliucci has called surging valuations for lithium miners and assets in anticipation of growing demand for electric car batteries a "bubble that's about to burst." Addressing the ResourceStocks conference in Sydney, Migliucci, the CEO and founder of boutique corporate advisory Petra Commodities, said lithium was passing through a "silly season," not unlike the period from 2009 to 2011 when the thermal coal price went from about US$30/tonne to $150/tonne.

* Six Sigma Metals Ltd., formerly Botswana Metals Ltd., executed an option to acquire the Chuatsa vanadium-titanium and Shamva lithium projects in Zimbabwe by acquiring up to an 80% interest in Mirrorplex Pty. Ltd.

* Eramet said the acquisition of ASX-listed Mineral Deposits Ltd. is not a "must have" and warned that it would be several years before the Senegal-based mineral sands asset delivers cash to its owners, The Australian Financial Review reported. Mineral Deposits recently urged its shareholders to reject the French company's A$287.5 million takeover offer.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.'s plan to develop the London Metal Exchange business in China remained a key theme at the LME Asia Week this year in Hong Kong. Li Gang, the bourse's co-head of market development, and other panelists warned that it was challenging to develop the LME business in China due to concerns from regulators as well as competition from local Chinese exchanges, but CEO Charles Li said the exchange will continue to collaborate and discuss with Chinese regulators on the initiative.

* Six environmental groups filed a lawsuit against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt for abandoning a regulation that would have required hard-rock miners to prove that they have funds to clean up hazardous substances released at mine sites, Reuters reported.

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