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UK fraud office preparing formal probe into Glencore, Gertler dealings in DRC

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UK fraud office preparing formal probe into Glencore, Gertler dealings in DRC

TOP NEWS

UK fraud office preparing formal probe into Glencore, Gertler dealings in DRC

The U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office, or SFO, is preparing a formal bribery probe into Glencore PLC's dealings with Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler and Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila, Bloomberg News reported, citing anonymous sources. As Glencore is based in Switzerland, the prosecutor will be required to establish its jurisdiction because the company's shares are traded in London. Glencore's shares were down about 4.4% at the market close in London on May 18, according to the newswire.

Oleg Deripaska to cede majority control over En+ Group to address US sanctions

En+ Group PLC's board endorsed Independent Chairman Gregory Barker's proposal and strategy, dubbed the Barker plan, in a bid to lift U.S. sanctions imposed against the company in April. In April, the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control outlined terms for the relief of sanctions, and in line with these terms, the Barker plan will see Oleg Deripaska ceding control over En+ Group, with his stakes to be reduced below 50%, and influence over the company's board through the appointment of a majority of independent directors. Barker accepted Deripaska's resignation as a nonexecutive director, with immediate effect.

US finalizes critical minerals list

The U.S. Department of the Interior published a final list of 35 metals and minerals in the Federal Register that it considers "critical" as part of a push by the Trump administration to consider ways to lessen U.S. dependence on foreign supplies. The list is the same as a draft version proposed in February, with the report expected to come out in August.

DIVERSIFIED

* The Queensland Treasury has included BHP Billiton Group's partner in Australia, Mitsubishi Corp., in a royalty assessment for 2005 to 2015, which could result in tax claims around the miner's offshore trading hub growing beyond A$1.4 billion, The Australian reported. The Queensland Office of State Revenue is already chasing A$329 million over a royalty review, which is being contested by BHP in the Queensland Supreme Court. Mitsubishi's involvement, meanwhile, could add over A$300 million in extra royalties.

* Vale SA CEO Fabio Schvartsman said the company is expected to reach its US$10 billion debt target later in the year, following which the mining major will focus on giving out more cash to shareholders, Bloomberg News reported.

BASE METALS

* Vedanta Ltd. said the closure of the Tuticorin copper smelter in India's Tamil Nadu state is causing a copper deficit and increased prices in the country, given that the facility contributes about 35% in India's primary copper market, Reuters reported.

* Freeport-McMoRan Inc. President and CEO Richard Adkerson met with Indonesia's energy and mineral resources minister May 18, though further details of the meeting were not disclosed, The Jakarta Post reported.

* Independence Group NL lifted its stake in Orion Minerals Ltd. from 4.2% to 11.1% after subscribing to A$5 million in Orion shares at 5 cents each. The proceeds of the placement will be partially used to fast-track developing the Prieska zinc-copper project in South Africa.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Sibanye Gold Ltd. CEO Neal Froneman is confident that the company's planned takeover of Lonmin PLC will proceed as expected, Reuters reported. "I remain confident that this transaction will close and it will close in the form that we originally and always expected," Froneman said.

* K92 Mining Inc. expects to produce between 42,000 and 46,000 gold equivalent ounces this year. The company produced 9,324 ounces of gold and 165,976 pounds of copper in the first quarter, with gold equivalent output reaching 9,729 ounces.

* Manas Resources Ltd. entered into a deal to earn up to a 70% interest in Perseus Mining Ltd.'s Mbengué gold project in Côte d'Ivoire.

BULK COMMODITIES

* EN+ Group's net profit in the first quarter soared 152% year over year to US$667 million, while revenue climbed 17% to US$3.44 billion, on the back of a higher aluminum price on the London Metal Exchange. The Russian group's aluminum production rose 2.3% to 931,000 tonnes, while alumina output was flat at about 1.9 million tonnes.

* ThyssenKrupp AG's anticipated deal signing over a 50/50 European steel joint venture with Tata Steel Ltd. by the end of June could be pushed back as Tata Steel's Dutch works council takes its time to assess the venture, Reuters reported. Dutch works council President Frits van Wieringen told Reuters that the assessment would take up to three months from its May 1 start date.

* India's JSW Steel Ltd. acquired Italy-based steel producer Acciaierie e Ferriere di Piombino, or Aferpi, for about 6 billion Indian rupees, Metal Bulletin reported.

* Viktor Vekselberg's Renova Group said it settled its debts to western banks before the U.S. sanctions against it take effect in June, the Financial Times reported. Meanwhile, Vekselberg reduced his stake in steelmaker Schmolz + Bickenbach to 12.6% from 42% previously.

* India and the European Union have drawn up lists of U.S. products that could be subject to tariffs in response to President Donald Trump's levies on steel and aluminum, Reuters reported, citing WTO filings. India would target U.S. exports of cashews, palmolein and soya oil. The U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel could cost India an additional US$31 million and US$134 million, respectively, the report added.

* The Japanese government notified the WTO that it reserves the right to take counter-measures against U.S. tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, Reuters reported, citing Japan's foreign ministry.

* The Russian Economy Ministry said the U.S. refused to discuss its steel and aluminum tariffs within the framework of the WTO, Reuters reported, citing Interfax news agency. Russia also seeks to inform the WTO that it may introduce measures in response to Washington's trade tariffs.

* BHP is said to be reviewing long-term coal haulage contracts for up to 10 million tonnes of coal annually as it has objections to a revised June maintenance schedule for Aurizon Holdings Ltd.'s Goonyella railway track in Queensland, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* Tata Steel completed the purchase of a controlling stake in Bhushan Steel Ltd. after settling about 352 billion Indian rupee in loans the bankrupt steelmaker owed, The Economic Times of India reported. Meanwhile, the state-owned Bank of India would be able to realize around 19.93 billion rupees as a result of the transaction, Press Trust of India reported.

* Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. said that strong global demand of steel has offset the impact of the recent U.S. import duties on the metal, Reuters reported. The company, whose U.S.-bound steel shipments comprise about 4% of its total exports, saw more than 90% of its customers continuing to purchase products following the imposition of the tariffs.

* Russian steelmaker TMK booked an 80% year-on-year drop in first-quarter net profit to US$8 million on the back of a decrease in foreign exchange gains, though EBITDA rose to US$160 million, from US$142 million a year ago, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, TMK plans to continue its supply of billets to the U.S. even if it fails to secure an exemption from the import tariffs, Vedomosti reported, citing a company executive.

* Chinese steel mills are investing in shredding equipment to turn cars and other junk metal into raw materials for steel production as the government toughens pollution rules, Reuters reported, noting mills' increased liquidity after bumper profit margins in 2017.

* China will shut down more outdated steel plants and bring its total capacity to less than 1 billion tonnes by 2025, Reuters reported, citing Yu Yong, president of the China Iron and Steel Association. The country is targeting closing another 30 million tonnes of capacity this year.

* China's Kingtec Steel Corp. is moving to apply for bankruptcy amid debt problems. According to Reuters, the company attributed the decision to the poor steel business environment in Xinjiang and its deteriorating operational conditions.

* Officials from Turkey's economy ministry told Reuters that the government plans to impose countermeasures on the U.S. in response to the latter's steel and aluminum import tariffs. Turkey's measures will target U.S. goods such as coal, paper and petrochemical products, among others.

* Centrex Metals Ltd. signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with Gujarat State Fertilisers & Chemicals Ltd. for the off-take of approximately 300,000 tonnes of phosphate rock from the Ardmore project in Queensland, Australia.

* Vietnam's Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corp. fired its second blast furnace, which will boost its production capacity of carbon steel to 7 million tonnes once both its blast furnaces are running at full capacity, Metal Bulletin reported. Formosa Ha Tinh is said to be lining up plans for a third blast furnace, according to the market sources.

SPECIALTY

* The Kazakh government plans to sell at least 25% of state-owned uranium miner National Atomic Co. Kazatomprom JSC, estimated to be worth about US$3.5 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported. Akhmetzhan Yessimov, head of the country's sovereign wealth fund Samruk Kazyna, said the government has hired Wall Street banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., to offer shares of Kazatomprom in London or Hong Kong.

* Oakdale Resources Ltd. flagged an asset impairment of A$2.8 million for its fiscal 2018 that ends June 30 due to a value write-down of its graphite tenement in South Australia. Following a review, it decided to relinquish 49% of the tenement.

* Noble Group Ltd. unit Talaxis Ltd. signed a definitive agreement to earn up to a 75% interest in the Songwe Hill rare earths project in Malawi from Mkango Resources Ltd.

* Lucapa Diamond Co. Ltd. raised US$3 million through the sale of a parcel of 1,632 carats of alluvial diamonds from the Lulo diamond project in Angola, representing an average price of US$1,838 per carat.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Zimbabwean Mines Minister Winston Chitando confirmed the removal of a clause requiring mining companies to list on the local exchange as part of the country's proposed mining bill, Reuters reported. "For the record, Zimbabwe will not compel companies to list on the stock exchange. This does not fit into the new economic dispensation," said Chitando. Meanwhile, Chitando said Zimbabwe's new ownership policies for platinum and diamond mining will be released by the end of June, Bloomberg News reported.

* Batirai Manhando, head of Zimbabwe's Chamber of Mines, said the country needs up to US$11 billion to modernize mining operations and push production to maximum capacity over the next five years, Reuters reported. According to Manhando, all mines in the country are operating below capacity, with the exception of platinum mines.

* Western Australia and Argentina agreed to build a stronger mining and resource relationship, Mining Weekly reported. The deal will encourage investment between the parties and increase export opportunities for the Australian state's mining, equipment, technology and services sector, said Bill Johnston, Western Australia's mines and petroleum minister.

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