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Noble Group says 2017 loss could hit US$4.98B

TOP NEWS

Noble Group says 2017 net loss could hit US$4.98B after higher Q4 losses

Noble Group Ltd. sees its fourth-quarter 2017 net loss widening to between US$1.73 billion and US$1.93 billion, from the US$1.17 billion net loss booked in the third quarter, as the operating conditions remained challenging in the three-month period. This estimated loss will lead the group to book a full-year 2017 net loss of US$4.78 billion to US$4.98 billion, swinging from 2016's US$8.7 million attributable net profit.

Amplats reinstates H2'17 dividend on 3.89B rand FY'17 headline earnings

Anglo American Plc unit Anglo American Platinum Ltd. reinstated its dividend after six years, declaring a payout of 3.49 South African rand per share for 2017, following a surge of over 3x in its full-year net profit to 1.94 billion rand, from 632 million rand in 2016.

China, Japan take stand on possible US tariffs on steel, aluminum

The Chinese government will take "necessary measures" to protect its rights should the U.S. government proceed with imposing global tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the Financial Times wrote. Meanwhile, Japan's steel sector noted that the proposed tariffs will violate the principles of free trade and called on the U.S. government to make an appropriate decision on the matter. South Korea also expressed concerns over the U.S. Commerce Department's proposed tariffs, saying the move will hit its steel pipe industry in particular, The Korea Herald wrote, citing a trade ministry official.

DIVERSIFIED

* Morgans Financial Ltd. expressed alarm at South32 Ltd.'s "deteriorating" key assets and the miner's apparent rethinking of its entire regional operating model strategy, cutting its rating on the BHP Billiton Group spinoff. South32's first-half results confirmed Morgans' economic concerns for the diversified miner, with unit costs for most of its operations now at levels near or even above where they were when BHP owned them before South32 debuted on its own on the ASX in May 2015. The miner's plan to make its South African energy coal assets a stand-alone business also had Morgans worried.

BASE METALS

* Russian billionaires Oleg Deripaska and Vladimir Potanin are currently locked in a legal standoff over the controlling stake in PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co. Potanin, who holds a 30% stake in Norilsk Nickel, offered to purchase another 5% stake in the company from Roman Abramovich, prompting immediate protest from Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska, who owns a 28% share in Norilsk, moved to block the sale with an injunction in a London court on Feb. 16, causing shares in both his company United Co. Rusal Plc and Norilsk Nickel to drop. Kirill Chuyko, head of equity research and metals and mining at BCS Global Markets, told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the market's reaction to the legal dispute was overblown.

* Rusal reiterated that Crispian Investments Ltd. is not allowed to proceed with any sale of Norilsk Nickel shares until at least after the next High Court hearing scheduled in early March. Crispian was looking to sell 6,313,994 Norilsk Nickel shares to Bonico Holdings Co. Ltd. at US$234.00 per share and US$23.40 per American depositary receipt. Meanwhile, Norilsk Nickel said its operations are not affected by the dispute between Rusal and Crispian and that Rusal was ordered by the court to compensate Norilsk Nickel for any loss that would arise from the relevant court order.

* Indonesia's mining ministry issued a copper concentrate export permit for Freeport-McMoRan Inc. unit PT Freeport Indonesia, Reuters reported, citing a ministry official. The permit allows the company to export just less than 1.25 million tonnes of copper concentrate from its Grasberg copper-gold mine in the country until Feb. 15, 2019. The government also issued an export permit to Medco Energi Internasional unit Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara, allowing it to export 450,826 tonnes of copper concentrate from its Batu Hijau mine over the same period.

* Fortune Minerals Ltd. tapped professional services firm PwC to find a strategic partner or possibly a strategic investor for the company to help develop its Nico cobalt project in Canada's Northwest Territories, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk blog wrote.

* Australian Mines Ltd. signed an off-take agreement term sheet with electric vehicle battery manufacturer SK Innovation to sell 100% of the expected cobalt sulfate and nickel sulfate output from its Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in Queensland, Australia, for an initial seven-year term. Additionally, SK Innovation secured an option to acquire up to a 19.99% stake in Australian Mines by purchasing 669 million shares at 12 Australian cents apiece.

* The recent price rally seen across base metals has been fueled by the depreciating U.S. dollar — exacerbated by fears over U.S. inflation and the recent stock market rout. Fundamentals have largely taken a back seat in proceedings, including in the zinc market. The U.S. dollar trade-weighted index fell 5.8% from its December 2017 closing high of 94.1 — to below 90.0 at the end of January and into February — helping wider commodity prices to strengthen, including zinc which has notably closed above US$3,500/t in February, when the U.S. dollar has been at its weakest since the turn of the year, the Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence wrote.

PRECIOUS METALS

* For the six-month period that ended Dec. 31, 2017, Northern Star Resources Ltd. booked a net profit of A$79.1 million, down 7% on a yearly basis. Revenue, meanwhile, rose 14% to A$435.3 million. The company lifted its interim dividend by 50% to 4.5 cents per share fully franked.

* Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. expects to book a headline loss per share of between 17 and 26 South African cents for the first half of its fiscal 2018, representing a year-over-year improvement of between 76% and 63%, respectively. This compares with a headline loss of 71 cents per share in the year-ago period.

* Regis Resources Ltd. produced 184,034 ounces of gold at its Duketon gold project in Western Australia in the first half of its fiscal 2018, up from 154,702 ounces produced in the year-ago period.

* Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd.'s gold production in the first half of its fiscal 2018 rose 24% year over year to a record 157,795 ounces.

* Bluebird Merchant Ventures Ltd. CEO Colin Patterson said the company is targeting a net profit of US$100 per tonne of gold from a project to reopen shuttered South Korean gold mines, Reuters wrote.

* Dateline Resources Ltd. renegotiated the terms of previously announced deals to acquire the Gold Links mine and the Sooner Lucky Strike mine and the Saguache mill in Colorado.

* Polymetal International Plc struck a deal to increase its stake in the Prognoz silver project to 50% by acquiring a further 45% stake in Polar Acquisition Ltd. for US$72 million in shares.

* Equus Mining Ltd. acquired the precious and base metals-prospective Cerro Diablo project, about 40 kilometers north-northwest of the company's flagship Los Domos gold-silver project in Chile.

* St Barbara Ltd. entered gold hedging contracts for production of 35,000 ounces from its Simberi project in Papua New Guinea, to be delivered in monthly installments from July 2018 to December 2019 at a forward price of A$1,750 per ounce.

* South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers claimed that another worker was killed at Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s Driefontein gold mine, part of the Kloof project, due to electrocution, African News Agency reported. The project was recently suspended pending an investigation after three workers were killed in two separate incidents. The company has not yet confirmed the report.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Mosaic Co. swung to a net loss of US$431.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, from a year-ago net profit of US$12 million. The results were affected by a non-cash US$458 million charge as a result of U.S. tax legislation changes.

* Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska intends to step down from his position as president of aluminum producer United Co. Rusal Plc and power company En+ Group plc, reported Russian newspaper Kommersant. Deripaska wants to take a step back from management of the two Russian industrial giants and focus on developing other assets, particularly the GAZ automotive group, sources added.

* Russian businessman Mikhail Prokhorov agreed to off-load a 6% stake in Rusal to a consortium led by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, Reuters reported. The sale will see Vekselberg and his partners boost their stake in the Russian aluminum giant to 26.5%.

* BHP Billiton's iron ore division is facing a potential labor action, with a union representing tugboat workers at Port Hedland planning to file a notification of dispute against the miner over annual leave and working conditions at the port, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* Worthington Industries Inc. extended the existing US$500 million revolving credit facility until Feb. 16, 2023. The five-year facility was set to mature April 23, 2020.

* The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa said a possible tariff on steel imports by the U.S. government could affect South African markets and may result in weaker domestic production, Reuters reported.

* Tata Steel Ltd. reportedly submitted the highest bid for insolvent Indian companies Bhushan Steel Ltd. and Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd., Metal Bulletin wrote.

* India's steel ministry is urging the country's electrode makers to cut prices for smaller steel companies as local prices surged about 500% after China shuttered some 30% of its graphite electrode production, Reuters reported. Graphite electrodes are used to melt scrap in electric arc furnaces to produce new steel and India is also looking at introducing an export tax to boost domestic supply.

* Evraz Plc signed a five-year contract with Russian Railways to supply 3.2 million tonnes of rail products worth 111.7 billion rubles.

SPECIALTY

* Russian gas producer Novatek won an auction for PJSC Alrosa's gas assets with a bid of 30.3 billion rubles. Alrosa is expected to use up to a third of the proceeds to buy out 10% of its subsidiary PJSC ALROSA-Nyurba shares from Yakutia, while part of the funds will be spent on early repayment of debts, Vedomosti reported citing CEO Sergey Ivanov.

* Zimbabwe will forge a diamond processing deal with Botswana within the next three months, News24 wrote, citing a report from a Zimbabwean newspaper.

* Petra Diamonds Ltd. swung to a net loss of US$117.7 million in the first half of fiscal 2018, from a profit of US$35.2 million in the corresponding period of fiscal 2017, due to a strike at its South African operations in the first quarter, the inability to sell output from the Williamson diamond mine in Tanzania, and a strengthened South African rand against the U.S. dollar. Revenue for the period, however, remained in line with year-ago figures at US$225.2 million.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Glencore Plc and Randgold Resources Ltd. joined a group of major mining companies that plan to make a collective effort to block sweeping mining reforms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bloomberg News reported. Investors want the new group to replace the Chamber of Mines.

* According to an EY report, global mining and metals deal values in 2017 rose 15% year over year to US$51 billion, but the volume of transactions fell 6%. In 2018, EY expects deals to be supported by investment-led strategies, while some activity will be aimed at building portfolios for future growth.

* A high court in South Africa ordered the South African government and the Chamber of Mines to involve communities living in mining areas in ongoing talks about the country's mining charter, Mining Weekly reported.

S&P Global Market Intelligence is owned by S&P Global Inc.

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