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Newmont to boost dividend by 79%; First Quantum builds up takeover defenses


Newmont changes name, boosts quarterly dividend

Major gold miner Newmont Goldcorp Corp. plans to boost its quarterly dividend by 79% from 14 U.S. cents per share to 25 cents per share. Newmont Goldcorp said it expects to declare the dividend, which is subject to final approval, in April and is continuing a US$1 billion share buyback announced in early December 2019. The miner also outlined a corporate rebranding and name change to Newmont Corp.

First Quantum builds up takeover defenses with shareholder rights plan

Copper miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. launched a shareholder rights plan that allows shareholders to buy more First Quantum shares at a "substantial" discount if any investor acquires 20% or more of the company. In adopting the plan, First Quantum said it wants to ensure shareholders "are treated fairly in connection with any takeover bid for the company." Under the plan, shareholders get one share-purchase right for each issued and outstanding share of First Quantum they own. The rights do not apply to the investor or group of related investors with a 20% or more stake, First Quantum said.

Chile leaves Codelco to fund US$20B investment program on its own

Chilean state miner Codelco was left to fund a US$20 billion program to boost copper output on its own or else see its production slump as copper grades decline, Bloomberg News reported. Chilean Finance Minister Ignacio Briones said the government has no plan for capital injection into the state miner, which is already weighed down by US$19.4 billion of debt, as the country aims to spend US$3 billion this year to support the economy and help counteract the impact of more than two months of social unrest that began in October 2019.


* London-listed NQ Minerals PLC achieved record lead and zinc concentrate production at its Hellyer gold mine in Tasmania, Australia, in the fourth quarter of 2019. Lead concentrate output reached 8,160 tonnes and zinc concentrate output totaled 4,904 tonnes.

* Surge Exploration Inc. sold its Trapper Lake copper-gold mineral claims in British Columbia to Brixton Metals Corp. for 350,000 shares of Brixton. The Trapper Lake property adjoins Brixton's Thorn gold project.


* Idaho-based Hecla Mining Co. booked a 25% yearly increase in fourth-quarter silver output to 3.4 million ounces and a 5% rise in gold production to 74,773 ounces. Full-year 2019 silver production climbed 22% to 12.6 million ounces, and gold output grew 4% to a record 272,873 ounces. Meanwhile, Hecla said unionized workers at its Lucky Friday silver mine in Idaho ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, ending a strike that began in March 2017. Lucky Friday is expected to ramp up to full production by the end of 2020.

* Toronto-based gold miner Barrick Gold Corp. had the world's fourth-largest exploration budget overall in 2019 and the second-largest budget for gold behind rival and partner Newmont Goldcorp, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research team.

* West Africa-focused Teranga Gold Corp. achieved record full-year 2019 gold production of 288,768 ounces, increasing 18% year over year and beating the annual guidance range of 245,000 to 270,000 ounces. The improvement was credited to the newly commissioned Wahgnion mine in Burkina Faso and the Sabodala mine in Senegal as both exceeded guidance.

* Vancouver, British Columbia-headquartered K92 Mining Inc. reported record fourth-quarter 2019 production of 23,646 ounces of gold equivalent from its Kainantu gold mine in Papua New Guinea. Annual gold equivalent production rose 74% yearly to 82,256 ounces, beating the upgraded guidance range of 72,000 to 80,000 ounces.

* Great Panther Mining Ltd. entered into a US$11.3 million gold dore prepayment agreement with Samsung C&T Corp. subsidiary Samsung C&T U.K. Ltd. The deal involves the delivery and sale of about 3,000 ounces of gold contained in dore per month for two years from Great Panther's Tucano gold mine in Brazil.

* PT Merdeka Copper Gold Tbk. and PT J Resources Asia Pasifik Tbk are looking to combine their gold assets in the Gorontalo province in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Merdeka Copper controls the Pani mining IUP through its 66.7% ownership of PT Pani Bersama Jaya, while J Resources Asia controls a 100% interest in the Pani project through PT J Resources Nusantara.

* Aurcana Corp. signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Blue Grass mining claim, which is contiguous to its Revenue-Virginius silver project in Colorado, through a swap of certain mineral properties by Aurcana unit Ouray Silver Mines Inc. and Caldera Mineral Resources.

* Toronto-based Rubicon Minerals Corp. started a feasibility study for its Phoenix gold project in Ontario after reporting a 38% increase in the site's contained gold resources. The property now hosts 811,000 ounces of gold contained within 3.9 million tonnes of measured and indicated resources grading 6.45 g/t gold, using a 3.0-g/t gold cutoff grade.

* Sunstone Metals Ltd. increased its stake in the Bramaderos gold-copper project in Ecuador to 87.5% after an amendment to the earn-in joint venture.

* London- and Toronto-listed Altus Strategies PLC agreed to acquire a 2% net smelter royalty on its Lakanfla gold project in Mali by issuing 2 million shares to AGMEX SARL.

* Dampier Gold Ltd. will proceed to earn a farm-in interest on Torian Resources Ltd.'s Zuleika gold project in Western Australia after completing due diligence proceedings.


* Samarco Mineração SA, a joint venture between Vale SA and BHP Group, declined a formal request from creditors to continue talks about restructuring its US$2.9 billion in defaulted debt, which increased risks for its bond holders, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

* While the fires in Australia are reportedly not expected to die down anytime soon, Wood Mackenzie does not expect a significant impact on the massive coal-exporting nation's supply chain. Should Australian producers reduce or halt production, they could likely meet their export needs with stockpiles at the mine or port and refill output over time.

* Champion Iron Ltd.'s board of directors unanimously recommended plans to redomicile to Canada from Australia to increase the company's attractiveness to more diverse financial markets and to Canadian institutional investors.

* Worthington Industries Inc. acquired a majority ownership of 63% in Samuel Steel Pickling Co., the company's joint venture with Samuel Son & Co. Ltd., which now holds 37% equity in the venture.

* Nutrien Ltd. entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Agrosema Comercial Agricola Ltda., an agriculture retailer in southern Brazil. The Canada-based fertilizer producer said the acquisition complements its current retail operations in Brazil and will create another market channel for products from its Agrichem business in Ribeirao Preto, Sao Paulo.

* The concept study into Jupiter Mines Ltd.'s Tshipi Borwa manganese mine expansion is complete. A comprehensive feasibility study based on a production profile of 4.5 million tonnes will start soon.


* Mining giant Rio Tinto awarded French services provider Sodexo SA with a A$15.4 million contract extension for rehabilitating the Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia, which will close at the end of this year, Australian Mining wrote.

* Australia's ioneer Ltd. reached a deal with an environmental group to stop new activities at the company's Rhyolite Ridge lithium project in Nevada in exchange for the group withdrawing a lawsuit filed to protect Tiehm's buckwheat, a rare desert wildflower, the Associated Press reported.

* Global Advanced Metals USA Inc. said it is ensuring a stable, uninterrupted supply of tantalum to the U.S. market in advance compliance with the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020 that prohibits the U.S. Department of Defense from acquiring tantalum from nonallied foreign nations, specifically Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

* Havilah Resources Ltd. said elevated levels of rare earth elements were found when reassaying the drill samples from the company's Kalkaroo copper-gold-cobalt deposit and the Croziers copper prospect in South Australia. Studies have already started to investigate the potential for economic recovery of a rare-earth-elements concentrate as a byproduct at Kalkaroo.

* EcoGraf Ltd. formalized a partnership with Australia's Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Center, where the company will provide the research center with technology needed to find ways to make extracting and refining battery minerals more efficient. The company said its graphite purification technology at its planned Kwinana development in Western Australia will provide critical material for the center's research programs.


* The Federation of Indian Mineral Industries approached India's finance ministry to propose a number of indirect mining tax incentives to revive the country's mining sector, Mining Weekly reported. The group proposed canceling a 30% export tax on iron ore exports applicable for all outward shipments with an iron content of 58% and above, the report said.

* Since 2010, more than 600 environmental, social and governance-related resolutions likely would have never advanced under a newly proposed rule by the U.S. SEC, according to data the Sustainable Investments Institute shared with S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* Despite facing low odds of enactment, U.S. lawmakers are likely to keep pushing ambitious legislation in 2020 to address climate change as they sharpen their messages on the issue ahead of the November elections, according to an exclusive S&P Global Market Intelligence report.

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