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Cerro Colorado sale falls through; Barrick, Tanzania make progress on tax row


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Cerro Colorado sale falls through; Barrick, Tanzania make progress on tax row


BHP's sale of Cerro Colorado copper mine to EMR Capital falls through

The sale of BHP Group Ltd.'s Cerro Colorado copper mine in Chile to private equity manager EMR Capital Group fell through due to financing issues, Reuters reported. Both parties agreed to call off the transaction "after it became clear that financing conditions would not be met within the agreed upon timeline," a BHP spokesperson told Reuters, without providing additional details.

Barrick, Tanzania make progress on Acacia tax dispute

Barrick Gold Corp. and Tanzania have made progress to resolve a two-year long tax row between the government and Acacia Mining PLC, Barrick's 63.9%-owned unit, however, it is premature to say a deal has been reached, Reuters reported, citing a source. Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported that Barrick reached a deal with Tanzania on a US$300 million payment, which Acacia will make in installments. The terms are under review by a Tanzanian tax working group while it remains unclear if the payment resolved outstanding tax issues.

Germany, Bolivia forge lithium development partnership

Bolivian state-firm YLB forged a partnership with private German company ACI Systems to develop its Uyuni salt flat in Andes, one of the globe's largest deposits. The deal will also cover the construction of a lithium hydroxide plant as well as the establishment of a factory for electric vehicle batteries in Bolivia. The joint venture aims to produce up to 40,000 tons of lithium hydroxide per annum, starting 2022, over a period of 70 years.


* Greece is working to avert the possible closure of Larco SA, Europe's largest nickel producer, and is looking at ways to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply, Reuters reported, citing the country's energy ministry. The state owns a 55% interest in Larco, which owes about €280 million in unpaid electricity bills to state-controlled power utility Public Power Corp.

* Aura Minerals Inc. declared commercial production at its Aranzazu copper-gold mine in Mexico, effective Dec. 10, nearly two months ahead of schedule and below budget.

* Horizonte Minerals PLC's feasibility study for the Araguaia nickel project in Brazil in October indicated a posttax net present value, discounted at 8%, of US$401 million and a 20.1% internal rate of return over an initial 28-year mine life in the operation's first phase. In the second-phase expansion, NPV, discounted at 8%, was pegged at US$741 million, with a 23.8% IRR.


* Cia. de Minas Buenaventura SAA is temporarily suspending production at its Orcopampa gold mine in Peru from Dec. 17 through Jan. 31, 2019, to focus on centralizing the operation.

* Despite having spent more than US$1 billion on early-stage exploration since the founding of the modern Gold Fields in 1998 and the discovery of two multimillion-ounce deposits, Johannesburg-based Gold Fields Ltd. has never taken a project from discovery to production, demonstrating how elusive greenfields exploration success can be, the Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence reported.

* Following mediation talks, Randgold Resources Ltd. resumed operations at its Loulo gold mine in Mali after a weeklong shutdown over a pay dispute, Reuters reported Dec. 12, citing Bani Sacko, head of industry and mines union SECNAMI.

* Anglo American Platinum Ltd. unit Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd. concluded the sale of its 33% interest in the Bafokeng-Rasimone platinum joint venture to Royal Bafokeng Platinum Ltd. and Royal Bafokeng Resources Pty. Ltd., Mining Weekly reported.

* Separately, Rustenburg Platinum Mines entered into a deal with Atlatsa Resources Corp. that will result in the former acquiring the resources in Atlatsa's Kwanda North and Central Block prospecting rights for 300 million rand, Mining Weekly reported. Rustenburg Platinum will write off the 4.6 billion rand in debt owed to it by Atlatsa, including any current and further debt that may be incurred during the care and maintenance period of the Bokoni mine until Dec. 21, 2019.

* Ramelius Resources Ltd. is improving its takeover bid for Explaurum Ltd. by 2 Australian cents per share in addition to the existing consideration of 1 Ramelius share for every 4 Explaurum shares. This brings Ramelius' best and final consideration to 13.4 cents per share.

* Venezuela's settlement deals with two Canadian mining companies over expropriated assets are said to be in jeopardy, Reuters reported, citing sources. A lawyer representing Crystallex International Corp. said the South American country violated the terms of its US$1.4 billion deal in November, while a separate source said a US$1.3 billion settlement with Rusoro Mining Ltd. was upended due to U.S. sanctions on Venezuela. The deals sought to protect Venezuela from creditors aiming to seize control of Petróleos de Venezuela SA unit CITGO Petroleum Corp.

* Administrators appointed to Eastern Goldfields Ltd. disclosed that the collapsed gold miner owed creditors about A$65 million in the wake of a failed recapitalization attempt, The West Australian reported.

* Capital Drilling Ltd. secured a one-year contract extension to conduct exploration and underground grade-control drilling services at AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.'s Geita gold mine in Tanzania starting in January 2019.

* Ariana Resources PLC began work to improve the resource classification to measured and indicated resources at the planned Zeki Pit area of the Kizilcukur gold project, part of the Red Rabbit joint venture in Turkey.

* MACA Ltd. was awarded a A$28 million construction project for Adaman Resources Pty. Ltd.'s Kirkalocka gold project in Western Australia.


* ThyssenKrupp AG's incoming supervisory board member, Martina Merz, has emerged as favorite to lead the company's supervisory board, Reuters reported, citing sources. The supervisory board could add a proposal to appoint Merz as chairperson in the invitation to the company's Feb. 1 annual general meeting, the sources added.

* A South African consortium submitted the winning bid of 3.05 billion South African rand for three major assets of Tegeta Exploration and Resources Pty. Ltd., a Gupta family-linked mining company under administration since February, Bloomberg News reported. The consortium, called Project Halo, will acquire Optimum Coal Mine (Pty.) Ltd., for 2.8 billion rand, Koornfontein Mines (Pty.) Ltd. for 200 million rand and Optimum Coal Terminal (Pty.) Ltd. for 50 million rand, the report added.

* Clive Palmer and Mineralogy Pty. Ltd. filed another case in Western Australia's Supreme Court, demanding that the court make Chinese rival Citic Ltd. pay up the nearly A$200 million in royalties awarded in a 2017 ruling, The West Australian reported.

* Westmoreland Coal Co. CFO Gary Kohn resigned for personal reasons effective Jan. 4, 2019. Kohn's departure comes about two months after the coal producer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

* Nandita Parshad, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's managing director for energy and natural resources, said the development bank is planning to adopt a "no coal, no caveats" financing policy, if approved by a vote Dec. 12, the Financial Times reported. The bank is aiming to curb lending to coal and oil exploration and production projects to combat climate change.

* Western Australia is set to announce a new class of mining lease for minerals found in brine, slashing rental rates for potash producers to A$2.32 per hectare, as compared to standard A$18.70 per hectare, for the first five years of the lease and A$4.64 per hectare from year six onward, The West Australian reported.

* Alcoa Corp. signed contracts with BHP Group, Chevron Corp. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. for the supply of about 25% of its gas needs for its Kwinana, Pinjarra and Wagerup alumina refineries, The West Australian reported.

* An independent expert's review conducted by BDO Corporate Finance (QLD) Ltd. found that Golden Investments (Australia) Pte. Ltd.'s takeover offer to acquire Stanmore Coal Ltd. was insufficient as the value of Stanmore's controlling interest was valued at between A$1.48 and A$1.90 each. The coal miner had rejected the unsolicited offer, saying it "significantly undervalues" the company.

* Mindax Ltd. signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Shenzhen Qianhai Australia-China Prosperous Age Biotechnology Co. Ltd. for potential strategic cooperation on developing the Mount Forrest iron ore project in Western Australia.

* Kibo Energy PLC renewed and expanded its memorandum of understanding with Mozambique state-owned electric utility Electricidade de Mocambique to advance the financing, construction and operation of the Benga independent power project.

* Universal Coal PLC's JORC-compliant mineral ore reserve at its 49%-owned North Block Complex coal operation in South Africa's Mpumalanga province grew 98.4% over the previous estimate.


* Botswana Diamonds PLC is in advanced negotiations with a major diamond producer over a partnership in its Sunland Minerals (Pty.) Ltd. venture, which holds prospecting licenses in the Kalahari and Orapa areas of Botswana. Speaking with S&P Global Market Intelligence, Managing Director James Campbell said "negotiations are far advanced, but you never quite know when the ink will go onto paper, particularly when you are dealing with a large producer."

* Australia will sign a letter of intent with the U.S. for joint research and development of critical minerals, Reuters reported, citing Matthew Canavan, minister for resources and Northern Australia. The U.S. is looking to expand supply sources for 35 minerals used in smartphones, computers and military equipment, while Australia is hoping to ramp up exports.

* JSC National Atomic Co. Kazatomprom shares began trading on the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange, or KASE, on Dec. 11 after broker CAIFC Investment Group transferred shares from the Astana International Exchange.

* Pioneer Resources Ltd. extracted and stockpiled the first block of caesium mineral pollucite from its Sinclair deposit, part of the Pioneer Dome project in Western Australia. The company extracted about 600 tonnes of pollucite, and the first pollucite is scheduled to leave the site in January 2019.

* A feasibility study for Battery Minerals Ltd.'s Balama Central graphite project in Mozambique indicated an internal rate of return of 55% with a 2.3-year payback period.


* Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra is targeting boosting annual mining investment to US$8 billion when his term ends in 2021, compared with the US$4.6 billion forecast for 2018, Bloomberg News reported. According to Peru's Mines and Energy Ministry, the country's Cajamarca region could attract up to US$18.2 billion investment in new projects.

* The world's 25 largest mining companies had an aggregate market capitalization of US$623.18 billion at the end of November, with 15 companies posting month-over-month reductions. The November total was down 10.9% from the aggregate US$699.54 billion capitalization of the top 25 companies at the end of October.

* S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates that benchmark treatment charges, or TCs, will increase in 2019 as concentrate stocks increase. The company assess that concentrate stocks will increase to 4.8 weeks of demand for concentrate in 2019, up from 4.3 weeks in 2018. As a result, the company expects benchmark TCs to be set at approximately 7% of its forecast London Metal Exchange zinc cash price, up from about 5% of 2018 zinc prices.

* The Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence expects Chinese smelter output to increase 5.4% year over year in 2019, which is greater than the 3.6% increase estimated for this year. Smelter output is expected to total 7.1 million tonnes in 2018 and has been driven by the ramp-up of new smelter capacity installed in the second half of this year. Global smelter output will rise by 1.8% to 18.9 Mt in 2019, twice the expected growth of copper mine output of 0.9% to 20.7 Mt.

* Junior and intermediate companies' aggregate financing tumbled 65% month over month in November, the second consecutive monthly decline. The total amount raised for precious metals, base metals and specialty commodities was only US$274 million, a 33-month low.

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