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Mitsubishi inks A$750M coal sale; Australian court cuts BHP's Samarco lawsuits


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Mitsubishi inks A$750M coal sale; Australian court cuts BHP's Samarco lawsuits


Mitsubishi selling stakes in Australian coal mines for A$750M

Mitsubishi Corp. agreed to sell its 31.4% interest in the Clermont coal mine in Queensland, Australia, and 10% interest in the Ulan coal mine in New South Wales for A$750 million. The Australian assets, held by wholly owned Mitsubishi unit Mitsubishi Development Pty. Ltd, are being divested as the company looks to "optimize its asset portfolio."

Australian federal court puts 2 of 3 BHP lawsuits over Samarco on hold

The Federal Court of Australia cut the number of class-action lawsuits against BHP Group Ltd. over the November 2015 Fundao tailings dam disaster at the Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil to one from three, Reuters reported. BHP holds the project under a joint venture with Vale SA. The court allowed only the lawsuit led by shareholder Vince Impiombato to go ahead, which claims losses arising from BHP's failure to meet disclosure requirements.

Kidman values integrated Mount Holland joint venture with SQM at US$2.2B

An integrated pre-feasibility study for Kidman Resources Ltd.'s Mount Holland lithium joint venture in Western Australia with Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA outlined a posttax net present value, discounted at 10%, of US$2.2 billion, a 26.6% internal rate of return and a three-year payback period. Capital expenditures, including contingencies, are now pegged at US$737 million, down from US$755 million.


* Glencore PLC's Katanga Mining Ltd. confirmed that it will pay C$30 million to settle the Ontario Securities Commission's probe into the company's business dealings in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Aristotelis Mistakidis, Glencore's head of copper trading, was slapped with a C$2.5 million fine and a four-year director ban in Ontario, while Katanga CEO Johnny Blizzard, who will resign within 30 days, received a C$400,000 fine and a two-year ban.

* PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Persero) aims to close this week its US$3.85 billion acquisition of a 51% stake in the Grasberg copper mine in Indonesia, Reuters reported.

* Aqua Metals Inc. is nearing completion of the first phase of its two-phase capital improvement program. The company has also started processing a portion of hard metallic lead into lead ingots. Aqua Metals expects to reach neutral to positive contribution margin in the first quarter of 2019.

* Orosur Mining Inc. unit Loryser SA reached a payment plan agreement with creditors in Uruguay, and 68% of the unit's creditors by value have executed the plan. The agreement expects net proceeds from the sale of Loryser's assets in Uruguay and an issue of 10 million common Orosur shares to fully satisfy all amounts owed to Loryser's creditors and provide funds to close operations.

* Pacific Empire Minerals Corp. entered into an option agreement with a group of vendors to consolidate over 90 square kilometers of land in the Babine porphyry copper district in central British Columbia.

* Cradle Arc PLC applied to the Botswana High Court for 60%-owned subsidiary Leboam Holdings Pty. Ltd., which holds the recently suspended Mowana copper mine, to be placed into provisional liquidation as it conducts discussions to secure alternative funding.

* Vizsla Resources Corp. agreed to acquire NorthBase Resources Inc., owner of the Blueberry property located in the Babine porphyry copper district in central British Columbia.

* BHP commenced the operations of the underground Kalta decline at its Olympic Dam operations in South Australia. Australian Mining reported. The underground ramp is set to improve access to high-grade copper resources at the mine's southern area.


* Gold Fields Ltd. reached an agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers to end a 45-day strike at its South Deep gold mine in South Africa. The two parties also agreed to renegotiate collective and other agreements and establish a program to address issues between the management and the union.

* Pretium Resources Inc. closed its previously announced US$480 million debt facility with The Bank of Nova Scotia, Societe Generale and ING Capital LLC. The loan will refinance its existing construction credit facility for the Brucejack gold mine in British Columbia.

* A preliminary economic assessment on Erdene Resource Development Corp.'s Khundii gold project in Mongolia defined an after-tax net present value, discounted at 5%, of US$99 million, with a 56% internal rate of return and a two-year payback period.

* Sibanye Gold Ltd. and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union headed to labor court Dec. 18 to fight over the legality of a nearly month-long strike. The court's ruling is set to decide whether AMCU has the legal right to strike and, by extension, if Sibanye Gold can impose a wage agreement on all workers.

* Explaurum Ltd.'s board unanimously recommended its shareholders accept the improved takeover offer by Ramelius Resources Ltd. Meanwhile, the companies no longer plan to proceed with the strategic investment by Alkane Resources Ltd., and Ramelius will provide short-term funding to Explaurum to meet its financial commitments and for ongoing working capital requirements during the offer period.

* Nigeria's first gold refinery, owned by local firm Kian Smith Trade & Co., is expected to more than triple its capacity within five years after commencing production in June, Reuters reported, citing company Vice Chairman Nere Teriba.

* Jiulian Resources Inc. secured a five-year area-based permit to establish drill sites at its Big Kidd gold project in British Columbia, reported.

* Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. commenced mine development work at the Platreef platinum project in South Africa. Shaft 1's continuing advance has intersected 29 meters of high-grade mineralization from underground, beginning at a depth of 780 meters.

* Monarques Gold Corp. consolidated the land surrounding its Wasamac gold project in Quebec through an exchange of mineral claims with Globex Mining Enterprises Inc.


* Scheduled production halts at K+S AG's Werra potash plant in Germany were shortened due to recent rainfall that improved the water level on the Werra river. Stoppages will only occur from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26, with full production to resume at the plant's three sites starting Dec. 27.

* PJSC Novolipetsk Steel will invest up to 34 billion Russian rubles to reconstruct a blast furnace at its Lipetsk site, which should increase its capacity by 8% to 3.4 million tonnes of pig iron per year.

* PJSC PhosAgro expects its 2019 capital expenditures to amount to 34 billion Russian rubles, excluding capitalized repairs. PhosAgro will keep capex at roughly the 2018 level of 32 billion to 33 billion rubles in the next two or three years.

* Mechel PAO spent 467 million Russian rubles to purchase 150 railcars as part of its efforts to upgrade its coal transport fleet.

* Thiess Pty. Ltd. secured a A$150 million contract extension to continue providing mining services at the Caval Ridge coal mine, a 50-50 joint venture of BHP and Mitsubishi Corp. in Queensland, Australia.

* WestStar Industrial Ltd. unit SIMPEC Pty. Ltd. secured a A$4.5 million contract to design and build a remote draft survey at Rio Tinto's Cape Lambert port facility in Western Australia. The remote draft survey system for the Rio Tinto Iron Ore facility aims to increase ship turnaround and safety. The system is scheduled to be complete in the second quarter of 2019, and work should begin this month.

* China banned 11 steel mills from operating and warned 17 others if they fail to fix the environmental, safety and other breaches highlighted by the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Reuters reported. Guangdong Century Tsingshan Nickel Industry Co. and Xuzhou Dongya Iron and Steel are among those banned, while Jiangsu Shagang Group Co. Ltd. is one of the companies that will get a deadline to remedy violations.

* Japan expects its crude steel output in the year starting April 2019 to rise slightly due to local firm infrastructure demand, Reuters reported, citing the Japan Iron and Steel Federation.


* Anglo American PLC-unit De Beers SA's tenth cycle of rough diamond sales generated revenues of US$540 million, compared to US$455 million in the tenth cycle of 2017 and US$442 million in the ninth cycle this year.

* Gemfields Group Ltd. generated revenue of US$55.3 million from a recent auction in Singapore of rough rubies, selling 655,623 of the 685,363 carats offered.

* Meanwhile, the Zambian Revenue Authority cleared Gemfield's Kagem Mining Ltd. unit after a tax evasion probe, Mining Weekly reported.

* Denison Mines Corp. said its board approved advancing the 90%-owned Wheeler River uranium project in Saskatchewan after a recent pre-feasibility study outlined an increase of about 275% in pretax net present value, discounted at 8%, to C$1.41 billion. In support of the decision, the joint venture approved a C$10.3 million budget for 2019 mainly to initiate an environmental assessment process and engineering studies.

* Portugal anticipates in 2019 the launch of a tender for lithium exploration licences, Reuters reported, citing secretary of state for energy Joao Galamba. As part of the tender process, the government will also look at investment commitments for a local lithium processing unit, which would be a first in Europe.

* Amulet Diamond Corp. will not exercise its option to acquire Firestone Diamonds PLC's assets in Botswana, which include the latter's interest in the BK11 diamond mine.

* Eastern Platinum Ltd. started commissioning its newly constructed chrome plant at the Crocodile River platinum mine in South Africa, and the chrome circuit produced its first chrome concentrate.

* MGX Minerals Inc. received interim approval from the Supreme Court of British Columbia regarding its plan of arrangement to spin out 40% of the shares of its unit MGX Renewables Inc.

* Kibaran Resources Ltd. successfully completed the pilot program for its optimized purification process flowsheet, named EcoGraf, and lodged an international patent. Ongoing customer trials confirmed the suitability of products for lithium-ion battery and advanced carbon product applications in Asia and Europe. The company plans to start operations in 2019.

* Graphite-focused DNI Metals Inc. signed a letter of intent with a private company to develop the former's black shales vanadium-polymetallic deposit in Alberta.


* Although financings by junior and intermediate companies continue to disappoint, an uptick in new initial resources and positive project milestones in November may be an indication that the sustained strength in drilling activity in 2018 may be paying off, according to the Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* The Australian Labor Party is pushing for a ban on mining camp arrangements in Western Australia that involve fly-in, fly-out workers sharing rooms between swings and shifts, The West Australian reported.

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