Anglo to invest in fuel-cell technology via venture capital unit spinout
Anglo American PLC plans to spin out its internal venture capital unit to raise funds for investment in hydrogen fuel-cell technology, the Financial Times reported. The spinoff will look to buy interests in new hydrogen start-ups that are focusing on the adoption of fuel-cell cars, instead of battery-powered electric vehicles, Anglo American Platinum Ltd. CEO Chris Griffith said. Adoption of hydrogen fuel cells by the vehicle industry, which use platinum as a catalyst to lower the fuel-cell's temperature, may result in higher demand for the metal.
Tianqi Lithium nears US$4.3B acquisition of 24% SQM stake from Nutrien
China's Tianqi Lithium Corp. is close to acquiring a 24% stake in Chilean lithium miner Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, or SQM, from Nutrien Ltd. for US$4.3 billion, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the transaction. According to the report, Tianqi is in talks with institutional investors and banks for financing, with the acquisition to be funded by bank and mezzanine loans and working capital.
BHP to increase free cash flow returns to shareholders, says CEO
BHP Billiton Group CEO Andrew Mackenzie said that the company intends to return a bigger proportion of free cash flows to shareholders in the near future, The Australian Financial Review reported. In a separate same-day report by The Australian, Mackenzie said the sale of the company's U.S. shale assets is attracting greater interest due to higher oil prices and U.S. tax reforms, adding that BHP is making good progress with its exit from the onshore energy business. The executive, however, ruled out the sale of conventional oil assets.
* Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques warned the mining industry that it will have to work hard to protect margins and generate cash against amid rising costs and increased political risk, Mining.com reported. The executive said that cost inflation driven by near US$80 per barrel oil is affecting the entire sector and all commodities, while resource nationalism is gaining ground. Jacques added that resource companies need to build "the United Nations of the mining industry" to battle rising resource nationalism and cost inflation, Reuters wrote.
* Vedanta Resources PLC appointed South African-born Deshnee Naidoo to lead the company's African operations, Reuters reported. Naidoo will oversee the company's copper and zinc mines in Zambia, South Africa, Namibia and Tasmania.
* KGHM Polska Miedz SA's consolidated first-quarter net profit fell 38% year over year to 439 million Polish zlotys, on the back of lower output and sales. The company also shut down its Sierra Gorda copper mine in Chile after a contractor died in an accident during routine maintenance work, according to Reuters.
* Codelco's strategic plan for its flagship Chuquicamata open-pit mine until 2025 aims to reduce costs by 21% in the next eight years, from the current US$1.27 per pound of copper to less than US$1.00 per pound, and increase the mine's life by 40 years by turning it into an underground operation, Pulso reported, citing a presentation by the project's general manager, Mauricio Barraza, to workers.
* Operations at Hillgrove Resources Ltd.'s Kanmantoo copper project in South Australia will temporarily halt as a result of a mechanical failure with its primary crusher. Repair work on the replacement of the failed bearing, together with other planned preventive maintenance, will take between 7 to 10 days to complete, but will reduce the scheduled quarterly shutdown in July by three days.
* Tharisa PLC acquired a 90% stake in Salene Chrome Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd., which holds the right to three special grants covering approximately 9,500 hectares in Zimbabwe.
* Endeavour Mining Corp. booked an adjusted first-quarter net profit of US$28 million, compared to US$10 million a year earlier, after posting record gold production as all mines met or exceeded guidance. Gold output was up 39% year on year to 185,000 ounces, while all-in sustaining costs per ounce fell to US$774 from US$895 for continuing operations over the period.
* United Arab Emirates-based Sakthi Trading Group is seeking US$246 million in investments as it looks to construct two gold refineries in Africa, Reuters reported, citing company executives. The privately held gold trader plans to build the refineries and related processing centers in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
* The Renova Group-controlled Ekaterinburg nonferrous metals processing plant in Russia was suspended by the London Bullion Market Association from its gold and silver good delivery lists, effective May 14, citing "ownership related issues," Reuters reported. The Russian firm, as well as its key shareholder Viktor Vekselberg, were sanctioned by the U.S. in April.
* The South African Reserve Bank approved Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s proposed £285 million acquisition of Lonmin PLC, moving the transaction a step closer to completion, which is still expected in the second half of this year, Mining Weekly wrote. Separately, Reuters wrote that the British Competition and Markets Authority will assess whether the merger would reduce competition in the sector.
* China Gold International Resources Corp. Ltd.'s first-quarter gold production at the CSH mine increased 4.3% year over year to 36,042 ounces, while the Jiama mine produced 10,222 ounces of gold and 7,061 tonnes of copper, representing an increase of 25.3% and a decrease of 6.9%, respectively, after phase one expansion achieved commercial production Dec. 31, 2017. Net profit after income taxes decreased year over year to US$2.0 million from US$6.4 million, while revenue increased by 30% to US$106.7 million.
* Roxgold Inc. achieved record gold production of 40,452 ounces in the first quarter, representing a 14% yearly increase, due to higher than expected output from the Yaramoko mine in Burkina Faso. As a result, the miner increased its full-year gold production guidance to between 120,000 ounces and 130,000 ounces, from between 110,000 ounces and 120,000 ounces.
* Rupert Resources Ltd. closed the previously announced acquisition of the Hirsikangas and Rantasalmi gold properties in Finland, via a C$4.2 million all-share buy of privately owned Canadian group Northern Aspect Resources Ltd.
* S&P Global Ratings raised the long-term issuer credit rating and associated issue rating on Alumina Ltd. and its senior unsecured debt to BBB- from BB+, with a stable outlook. The ratings change reflects the improved earnings and cash flows of the company's joint venture, Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals, and the stronger credit quality of its operating company, Alcoa Corp.
* S&P Global Ratings downgraded Compass Minerals International Inc.'s corporate credit rating from BB to BB-, and its issue-level rating on secured debt from BB+ to BB and on unsecured debt from BB- to B+, with a negative outlook. The decline reflected the rating agency's expectations that leverage will remain in the range of between 4x and 5x, with EBITDA margins of around 22% over the next year.
* Tata Steel Ltd. secured final court approval for the acquisition of debt-laden Bhushan Steel Ltd. According to a Bloomberg News report, the tribunal rejected objections to Tata's bid from Bhushan creditor Larsen & Toubro Ltd. and the steel company's workers. Tata offered 352 billion Indian rupees for the asset, and will also pay another 12 billion rupees to creditors and convert the remaining debt owed to banks to equity.
* Striking workers and Iron Ore Co. of Canada Inc. are mired in disagreement as the strike enters its eighth week. "There has been no contact with the company," said Brian Keough, the treasurer of the United Steelworkers Local 5795, which is the main union on strike. A spokesperson for the company did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
* Yara International ASA completed the planned acquisition of Cubatão Fertilizantes complex in Brazil from Vale SA for about US$255 million, with the operating capital value subject to post-closing adjustment.
* UBS has been reaching out to coal companies to convince them to acquire Wesfarmers Ltd.'s 40% stake in the Bengalla coal project in New South Wales, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk reported. UBS was tasked with creating some competitive tension in a bidding process as Wesfarmers looks to exit coal, the report added.
* Brazil's Cia. Siderúrgica Nacional is considering the sale of its Lusosider Projectos Siderúrgicos SA flat steel subsidiary in Portugal in an effort to cut debt, Metal Bulletin reported, citing CEO Benjamin Steinbruch. The decision is also motivated by the imposition of the European Union's anti-dumping tariffs against Brazil-origin hot-rolled coil. Meanwhile, CSN plans to lift its flat steel prices by 7.5% to 10% by June due to the devaluation of the Brazilian reais and higher international prices, Metal Bulletin reported.
* Australia's Northern Territory extended a moratorium on seabed mining to until 2021, ABC reported. The ban, first enacted for three years in 2012 and extended for another three years in 2015, aims to deter growing interest in deposits of manganese along the coast of Arnhem Land and the Gulf of Carpentaria.
* Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi is looking to land a new long-term diamond sales agreement with De Beers SA, with better terms for more job creation and increased local processing of the gems. According to Bloomberg News, Masisi said preparations for the talks with De Beers are at an advanced stage as the parties' current 10-year agreement expires in 2020.
* Sheffield Resources Ltd. signed a binding agreement with the Shire of Derby-West Kimberley for a minimum 20-year access to a bulk handling facility and associated infrastructure at the Port of Derby, which will ship concentrates from the Thunderbird mineral sands project in Western Australia.
* Desert Lion Energy Inc. estimated a C$7.0 million capital cost for the phase one flotation plant, which will be used to process the fines from the historic run of mines stockpiles at the Rubicon and Helikon mines at a rate of between 350,000 tonnes and 400,000 tonnes per year.
* Lithium Power International Ltd. agreed to extend the completion date of the sale of its Centenario lithium project in Argentina to Albertson Resources Pty Ltd. to June 14, from May 14 previously.
* Gwede Mantashe, South Africa's mines minister, said the government aims to finalize and gazette the third version of the country's mining charter in June, later than his initial May target, Reuters reported.
* BMI Research said the recent re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran is anticipated to have a limited impact on the country's mining and metals industry in the short term and is expected to do "little additional damage to an industry already crippled by a myriad of domestic operational challenges," Mining Weekly reported.
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