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Transnet declares force majeure; Anglo lifts 2019 Minas Rio output forecast

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Transnet declares force majeure; Anglo lifts 2019 Minas Rio output forecast

TOP NEWS

Transnet says South African rail export line sabotaged

South Africa's Transnet resumed operations at one of two rail lines connecting mines to the Richards Bay coal export terminal, Reuters reported. The company declared force majeure on coal exports Dec. 21 after an investigation revealed that the recent train derailment happened after a rail line was severed using a blowtorch, BusinessDay Live reported. A rail link connecting mines to the Richards Bay export terminal in South Africa was blocked after 51 wagons of a 200-wagon carrying about 16,600 tonnes of coal derailed.

Anglo American lifts 2019 Minas Rio output forecast

Shortly after resuming operations, Anglo American PLC increased its 2019 production guidance for the Minas Rio iron ore operation in Brazil, after securing regulatory approval relating to the Step 3 license area. The company expects iron ore production at Minas Rio to reach between 18 million and 20 million wet tonnes, up from the previous guidance of between 16 million and 19 million wet tonnes.

Sibanye strike 'remains protected' after court decision, union says

A feud over the legality of a monthlong strike at Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s operations in South Africa remains unresolved after a court decision to have an independent group assess the situation. The decision was a temporary victory for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union giving it legal legs to continue the strike that began Nov. 21.

DIVERSIFIED

* Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques expects slowness in asset sales in 2019 as the company nearly completes reshaping its core assets in iron ore, copper and aluminum, the Financial Times reported. The executive noted that the company would decide what to do with the US$3.5 billion of proceeds from the Grasberg deal before its annual results in February.

BASE METALS

* Freeport-McMoRan Inc. CEO Richard Adkerson said the company will build a copper smelter with a processing capacity of up to 2.6 million tonnes of copper ore as part of the new contract of PT Freeport Indonesia, Indonesia's Antara News Agency reported.

* Ascendant Resources Inc. filed a preliminary short-form base shelf prospectus to offer up to C$100 million of securities for sale from time to time during a 25-month period. The net proceeds will be used for potential mineral property acquisitions, working capital and general corporate purposes.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Gascoyne Resources Ltd. slashed the 2019 production guidance for its Dalgaranga gold project in Western Australia to 92,000 to 102,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of between A$1,220 and A$1,320 per ounce, compared to guidance in August of 105,000 to 115,000 ounces at AISC of A$1,200/oz to A$1,300/oz. The forecast production was impacted due to a reduction in mineral inventory of 22,000 ounces in the updated Gilbey's resource model. The company also secured a A$12 million loan from mining contractor NRW Holdings Ltd., effectively extending payment terms to about 75 days.

* Barrick Gold Corp. is laying off nearly 95 employees, over half its workforce at the Toronto head office, ahead of the completion of its merger with Randgold Resources Ltd., Reuters wrote, citing the Globe and Mail. The move will affect the company's finance, capital allocation, communications and investor relations divisions. Long-serving director Anthony Munk, son of Barrick founder Peter Munk, is also stepping down, the report added.

* Peru's environmental regulator OEFA ordered Gold Fields Ltd. to fix tailings water running off from the drainage system at its Cerro Corona gold mine in Cajamarca region. The company is required to implement a water monitoring system, install a water storage system, and repair the beds and banks of both the La Hierba stream and the Tingo Maygasbamba river, daily El Gestión reported.

* Westgold Resources Ltd. is buying Doray Minerals Ltd.'s Andy Well and Gnaweeda gold projects for A$9 million plus A$6 million in bonus milestone payments as part of its strategy in Western Australia's central Murchison region, which Managing Director Peter Cook says is one of Australia's biggest gold aggregation plays.

* Global Fortune Investment Ltd. entered an agreement with Expose Resources Ltd to negotiate a joint venture deal over an exploration license, which forms part of the company's flagship Horse Rock gold project in Western Australia.

* FireFox Gold Corp. completed its previously announced C$2.1 million IPO, and its shares will start trading on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol FFOX, effective Dec. 27.

* Barkerville Gold Mines Ltd. closed the second tranche of a private placement, raising C$29.5 million, to fund the exploration and development of the Cariboo gold project in British Columbia and for general corporate purposes.

* Michael Fotios, former head of collapsed miner Eastern Goldfields Ltd., is facing jail time after changing his previous plea of not guilty to guilty to seven Commonwealth tax charges, The West Australian reported.

* Goldcorp Inc. bought a 9.74% stake in Central Timmins Exploration Corp. for C$1 million and agreed to buy some of the junior's mineral claims for C$258,624.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Whitehaven Coal Ltd. will "vigorously defend" a claim brought on by former mining magnate Nathan Tinkler, who alleged a breach of contract by the company over a 2012 deal. Tinkler filed the claim in the Supreme Court of Queensland in Australia on behalf of himself and a number of parties who received milestone shares in Whitehaven in May 2012.

* Gulf Manganese Corp. Ltd. and Mighty River International Ltd. agreed to settle all their outstanding claims and dismiss a legal action. Mighty River started proceedings in November 2017 against Gulf Manganese in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, alleging that the latter failed to meet its obligations under an October 2013 agreement.

* Rescuers recovered bodies of nine workers that were trapped after a fire broke out at PJSC Uralkali's Solikamsk potash mine in Russia, Reuters reported, citing Russian news agencies. The fire has yet to be extinguished, the report added.

* A methane explosion 800 meters underground at OKD as's CSM coal mine in the Czech Republic killed 13 miners and severely damaged parts of the mine, Reuters reported.

* China's exports of alumina fell about 37.9% to 285,696 tonnes in November, compared to 460,072 tonnes in October, Reuters reported, citing data released by the General Administration of Customs.

SPECIALTY

* Canada-listed CellCube Energy Storage Systems Inc. said the cost of its vanadium redox flow battery units which can discharge power for four hours and eight hours is expected to fall by 50% to US$150 per kilowatt hour and US$100 per kilowatt hour, respectively, within four years, Bloomberg wrote, citing President Stefan Schaus. "The stationary energy storage market is in an inflection point," Bloomberg quoted Schaus as saying, who added that lithium-ion batteries may find it harder to compete against vanadium redox technology.

* China Minmetals Corp. subsidiary China Metallurgical Group Corp. launched the initial phase of a new energy battery project in China's Tangshan city, which will annually produce 40,000 tonnes of nickel-cobalt-manganese hydroxides, and 20 tonnes of high-purity scandium oxide, Reuters reported. The products are in demand from the new energy vehicles, energy storage and power generation sectors. The project will cost over 4 billion Chinese yuan across two phases, targeting annual production of 60,000 tonnes of nickel-cobalt-manganese hydroxides and 40 tonnes of scandium oxide after the second phase.

* Lucapa Diamond Co. Ltd. declared that US$4 million will be distributed among the Lulo mine partners, of which the company will receive US$1.6 million in line with its 40% interest in the project. The company added that it will also receive a US$4 million loan repayment from Lulo.

* Premier African Minerals Ltd. received a letter from Zimbabwe's Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development, asking for clarification on the history of the company's involvement and the restructuring of RHA Tungsten Pvt Ltd., and included a statement to the effect that the government is willing to inject funds to revitalize the RHA tungsten mine operator.

* Speciality Metals International Ltd. is in advanced negotiations with Cronimet Holding GmbH for a conditional participation for the staged development of the former's Mount Carbine tungsten project in Queensland, Australia, allowing for the purchase of the Mount Carbine quarry and mining leases through alternative financial instruments.

* Peninsula Energy Ltd. signed a new five-year agreement for toll milling uranium-rich resin from its Lance projects in Wyoming, with its existing toll milling service provider Uranium One Americas Inc. The agreement will take effect Jan. 1, 2019, and can be extended for further five years.

* VRX Silica Ltd. lodged an application for its first silica sand mining lease at its Arrowsmith North prospect, part of the Arrowsmith silica sand project in Western Australia. A drilling program to increase resources and improve classification is expected to complete in the March quarter of 2019.

* Berkeley Energia Ltd. failed to secure a permit from the municipality of Retortillo in Spain to build the Salamanca open-cast uranium mine, Reuters reported. According to the report, the municipality ruled that the company does not own the land required for the project, and has failed to present the relevant documentation.

* Metalicity Ltd. received proceeds from the recent sale of its Pilbara lithium project to Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA of US$$1 million, and a 1% net smelter royalty from all products. The company will use the proceeds to further exploration at its recently secured copper exploration projects in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* A report by the Peruvian central bank indicated that social conflicts are the leading reason behind delays to operations at mining projects, accounting for 21% of the total, El Comercio reported. This is followed by issues with projects' technical feasibility at 20%, limited access to capital causing 19% of delays, while bureaucratic red tape was responsible 18% of the time. Only five of 26 mining projects that were being explored seven years ago and passed through the environmental permitting were now operational, according to the report.

* A review of 1,597 companies listed on the Australia, London, New York and certain Canadian stock exchanges with comparable data shows the mining industry's aggregate cash holdings decreased 1.8% to US$45.16 billion at the end of the third quarter, from US$46.01 billion at the close of the second quarter, according to the Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* Primetech, formerly Kopex, and Przedsiębiorstwo Budowy Szybów, signed a conditional agreement to sell a 95.01% package of PBSz shares to Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa SA. PBSz specializes in mining services, such as shaft construction and drilling of underground tunnels, Puls Biznesu reported.

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