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Norsk Hydro prepares to restart Alunorte plant after netting key permit

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Norsk Hydro prepares to restart Alunorte plant after netting key permit

TOP NEWS

Norsk Hydro nets key permit for restart of Alunorte plant

Norsk Hydro ASA secured approval from Brazilian federal environmental agency IBAMA to use a press filter for processing bauxite residues, which will extend the life of its bauxite residue deposit area 1 and enable its Alunorte alumina refinery to restart at 50% capacity. This comes days after the Norwegian firm said it would suspend production and lay off workers at Alunorte, as the residue deposit area on the site was close to reaching its capacity.

PhosAgro agrees US$1B deal to supply fertilizer to India

PJSC PhosAgro said that Indian Potash Ltd. agreed to purchase up to 2 million tonnes of fertilizer produced by the former from 2019 to 2021, valued at about US$1 billion. The parties also plan to consider the joint implementation of investment projects in the mineral fertilizer sector.

Kirkland Lake Gold to continue cheap deal hunt, chairman says

Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. Chairman Eric Sprott said he will continue to look for out-of-favor companies and management teams that would come cheap for merger and investment opportunities, even if such moves get heavy criticism as they have in the past. Sprott said in his keynote address to the Precious Metals Investment Symposium in Perth, Australia, that it was the case in one of his first investments when he got into gold, when it was about US$250 per ounce, by investing in Goldcorp Inc. with its Red Lake mine.

BASE METALS

* Consolidated Nickel Mines PLC is eyeing a production restart at the Munali nickel mine in Zambia in the first quarter of 2019, Reuters reported. The struggling mine was placed on care and maintenance in late 2011 due to low metal prices. The company's Mabiza Resources Ltd. unit said it has developed a new geological model and mining method, which will help reduce operating costs to make the mine economical at low nickel prices.

* London Metal Exchange CEO Matt Chamberlain said the exchange was preparing a proposal that will enable it to ban cobalt brands on the approved list that are believed to be tainted by human rights abuses, Reuters reported. The proposal will take effect by the third quarter of 2019, and target the brands trading at a large discount, Chamberlain added.

* Tiger Resources Ltd. signed a second deed of forbearance with its senior lender group, deferring the repayment till Oct. 31, 2019. The initial deed of forbearance singed in September 2017 was scheduled to conclude Oct. 24, 2018.

* The British Columbia Securities Commission, or BCSC, and Carl Vance Loeber, president and a director of Nickel One Resources Inc., reached a settlement over the filing of a deficient technical report for a mineral property that the miner acquired in February 2017, Mining Weekly reported.

* New Century Resources Ltd. will begin shipping zinc concentrate produced at its Century zinc mine in Queensland, Australia, in late October, after the successful refurbishment of its transshipment vessel.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Ramelius Resources Ltd. produced 51,428 ounces of gold from the company's operations in Western Australia in the September quarter, hitting the lower end of the guidance range of between 50,000 and 54,000 ounces.

* Centamin PLC's third-quarter total gold production at its Sukari gold mine in Egypt fell 25% yearly to 117,720 ounces but represented a 27% increase from second-quarter output of 92,803 ounces due to month-on-month improvements in the open pit and underground operations.

* Mali's 2018 industrial gold production is still expected to rise by around 21% to 60 tonnes despite slightly lower than expected output so far, Reuters wrote, citing Aboubacar Ogognagaly, head of the mines division.

* Village Main Reef Ltd. agreed to a three-year wage deal with the National Union of Mineworkers, the United Associations of South Africa and Solidarity, fin24 reported. Meanwhile, negotiations between Sibanye Gold Ltd. and the NUM, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, UASA and Solidarity are ongoing under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, the report added.

* Nusantara Resources Ltd. Managing Director Mike Spreadborough dismissed market concerns that it would struggle to fund its now development-ready Awak Mas open-pit gold project in South Sulawesi due to negative perceptions around Indonesia, saying Australians are notorious for misunderstanding their nearest northern neighbor.

* New Dimension Resources Ltd. reported an updated resource estimate for its Las Calandrias gold-silver project in Argentina. The property hosts 391,000 ounces of gold and 6.1 million ounces of silver in indicated resources, while inferred resources contain 42,100 ounces of gold and 401,500 ounces of silver.

* Resolute Mining Ltd. hedged 35,000 ounces of gold at an average price of A$1,728 per ounce between June 2019 and December 2019, which is at a premium to Resolute's budgeted gold price of A$1,700 per ounce for its Ravenswood gold mine in Queensland, Australia.

* Evolution Mining Ltd. received regulatory approval from the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment to increase the plant processing rate at its Cowal gold mine by 31% to 9.8 million tonnes per annum.

* Doray Minerals Ltd. signed a binding agreement to divest its Andy Well gold project in Western Australia to a Galane Gold Ltd. unit for A$10 million in cash and shares. Galane also secured the right to earn-in to the nearby Gnaweeda gold project through staged expenditure commitments.

* The Western Australian government ruled out the possible purchase of two major gold specimens from RNC Minerals' Beta Hunt mine, despite calls to keep them for their significance in the state's mining heritage, The West Australian reported.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Vitol Group and Trafigura Group Ltd. will bid for South Africa's Optimum Coal Holdings Ltd, which is under bankruptcy protection, Bloomberg reported. The due diligence period starts Oct. 8, and the bids are expected to be finalized by the end of November.

* A German court ruled that RWE AG will not be allowed to clear the company-owned Hambach forest for mining until a court reviews the claims from an environmental group that opposes the mining project, Reuters reported. The company said it would lose as much as €5 billion if it is unable to continue mining lignite by removing the last portion of the forest.

* Rio Tinto and Hancock Prospecting Pty. Ltd. opened the Baby Hope iron ore mine, part of the larger Hope Downs joint venture operation in Western Australia, which is expected to sustain existing capacity at the Hope Downs 1 operation. In addition, the companies agreed to invest in automating the operation's hauling and drilling processes.

* U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sees wage increases as a likely outcome of the ongoing contract negotiations between U.S. steel companies and the United Steelworkers union, Reuters reported. U.S. Steel Corp. and ArcelorMittal USA LLC are in talks with the United Steelworkers union, which represents about 31,000 workers.

* U.S. coal exports totaled 9.1 million tonnes in August, up 5.5% from July and up 17.3% from the year-ago month, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

* In the week of Oct. 1, an analysis of coal producers' market capitalization found that the top 12 publicly traded U.S. companies saw their total market value grow US$2.69 billion since early November 2017 to US$12.73 billion as of Sept. 28, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Eight of the top 12 saw increases in market capitalization during that period, including Peabody Energy Corp., which retained its top spot on the list with a 45.3% increase that brought its value to US$4.72 billion.

* A federal bankruptcy court in the U.S. rejected FirstEnergy Solutions Corp.'s attempt to cancel a "burdensome" 6.5 million-ton annual coal supply contract with Murray Energy Corp.

* Australian Potash Ltd. said it will benefit from the A$35 million of funding the federal and state governments committed for upgrading a 100-kilometer section of the Great Central Road between the company's Lake Wells project and Laverton in Western Australia, which starts January 2019.

* Thai Mocambique Logistica SA's plan to develop a US$2.8 billion coal transportation project, which includes a railway line and port in Mozambique, is in jeopardy of collapsing as it has not secured commitments from coal miners that would use the line, Bloomberg News reported.

* Yara International ASA consolidated the ownership of Galvani Indústria Comércio e Serviços SA for US$70 million in cash over three years, a conditional future payment related to project success, and the transfer of certain assets to the Galvani family. Yara Brazil will wholly own the industrial unit in Paulínia with integrated single super phosphate production and a fertilizer bulk blend facility, and the Serra do Salitre project, with an annual production capacity of about 1.2 million tonnes of phosphate ore and 1.5 million tonnes of finished fertilizer.

SPECIALTY

* The Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission, or CCHEN, refused to lift Albemarle Corp.'s lithium production quota, saying the information provided by the company was not sufficient to justify the increase, Reuters wrote, citing a report by local newspaper La Tercera. The company secured approval for Corfo in March to increase production to between 120,000 and 140,000 annual tonnes of lithium, from the 65,000 to 80,000 tonnes originally authorized.

* Bolivia is set to select a new junior partner in the coming weeks to help industrialize its two lithium-rich salt flats — Coipasa and Pastos Grandes — from among seven interested companies that submitted proposals, Reuters reported. "The evaluation will take at least two to three weeks, maybe a bit more," said Luis Alberto Echazu, the deputy minister of High Energy Technologies.

* Lynas Corp. Ltd. shares closed nearly 10% higher Oct. 5 on the ASX after an environmental review of the company's rare earths processing plant in Malaysia turned out to be more conciliatory than earlier, Reuters reported. Earlier, Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze called upon the Malaysian government to conduct a fair, objective and transparent review of the rare earths refinery.

* Northern Minerals Ltd. produced the first rare earth carbonate through its Browns Range pilot plant in Western Australia, following the start of commissioning of the plant in June.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Zambia remains open to engaging in dialogue with mining companies over the government's plan to hike mining taxes, Reuters wrote, citing a statement from the Finance Ministry. The ministry said that it took of criticism by Zambia's Chamber of Mines and would appoint a tax policy review committee to deal with technical issues related to the proposed changes in the tax regime.

* India plans to put up for sale another 100 mines in the next six months following the recent e-auction of 50 mineral blocks in the country, which included 23 limestone, 17 iron ore, four gold, two each of manganese and graphite blocks, and one bauxite and diamond block each, Press Trust of India reported, citing the Ministry of Mines.

* While most delegates at the Joburg Indaba conference in Johannesburg applauded South Africa's new mining legislation, some concerns remain, particularly around junior mining and exploration.

* The London Metal Exchange is targeting launching 10 new contracts in the first quarter of 2019, ranging from hot rolled coil steel to alumina, as well as cobalt, a key material for electric vehicle batteries, Reuters reported. The LME already has a physically-settled cobalt contract, but it seeks to gain more traction with a cash-settled product. The exchange also plans to launch a contract for lithium, which is expected to come later, possibly in 2020.

* Consensus price forecasts for the commodities market remain generally positive, with most price projections for 2018 as of the end of September higher than in 2017. However, the recent continuance of a commodity price retreat saw many of the estimates revised down in the past month, a Metals and Mining research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence wrote.

* Brian Graves, a partner at law firm Fasken, suggested that more mining companies may be considering securing metals streaming deals as opposed to seeking traditional forms of finance, as continued volatility in commodity prices has made it difficult for miners to access debt and equity financing, Mining Weekly wrote.

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