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Rio Tinto exiting Australian coal with US$2.25B Kestrel mine sale


Rio Tinto to exit Australian coal with US$2.25B Kestrel mine sale

Rio Tinto agreed to sell its 80% stake in the Kestrel thermal and metallurgical coal mine in Queensland, Australia, to EMR Capital and PT Adaro Energy Tbk. for US$2.25 billion. The latest deal brings Rio Tinto's proceeds from recent Queensland coal divestments to US$4.15 billion.

China seeking compensation from US for lost trade due to metals tariffs

China is seeking compensation from the U.S. for potential lost trade due to the tariffs on steel and aluminum announced by President Donald Trump earlier this month in what could be the first step toward a formal dispute between the two countries in the World Trade Organization, Bloomberg News reported. The Asian nation dismissed the claim of the U.S. that the new tariffs are on national security grounds. China said the tariffs are proposed by the U.S. to protect domestic producers.

CSN targeting over US$900M asset sales in 2018

Cia. Siderúrgica Nacional is looking to conclude asset sales of around 2 billion to 3 billion Brazilian reais, or between US$600 million and US$901 million, this year to slash its debt, Reuters reported, citing CEO Benjamin Steinbruch. The executive did not elaborate on potential assets that could be off-loaded, but sources said that the company could sell its interest in rival steelmaker Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA.


* BHP Billiton Group approved a dividend reinvestment plan for its shareholders, which is expected to be operational for the fiscal 2018 final dividend. The plan allows shareholders to reinvest their dividends to purchase additional ordinary shares in the company.


* Chemaf Sarl, a junior cobalt miner in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is building a processing plant at its Mutoshi copper-cobalt mine, Bloomberg News reported, citing Chairperson Shiraz Virji. The proposed plant will open in September 2019 and will have the capacity to produce 20,000 tonnes of cobalt per annum six months after opening.

* OZ Minerals Ltd. CEO Andrew Cole said that no agreement has been reached with Glencore PLC for the sale of its 8.27% interest in Brazil-focused copper-gold miner Avanco Resources Ltd., The Australian Financial Review reported. OZ Minerals recently announced plans to launch an off-market takeover offer for Avanco.

* Vedanta Ltd. plans to close smelting operations at the Tuticorin copper project in India for approximately 15 days as part of a regular maintenance program.

* Zinc producer PJSC Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant produced 183,002 tonnes of salable SHG zinc and zinc-based alloys in 2017, a 4.7% year over year increase.

* Meteoric Resources NL signed a binding agreement to acquire the Gillies cobalt project in Ontario in a cash and shares deal.

* Atalaya Mining PLC produced 37,164 tonnes of copper from its Proyecto de Rio Tinto in 2017, the project's first full year of commercial production, a 42% increase over 2016 production. This year, the company expects to produce contained copper of between 37,000 and 40,000 tonnes. Atalaya is expanding the project capacity to 50,000 to 55,000 tonnes per year at a capital cost of €80.4 million, with commissioning scheduled for the second half of 2019.


* Russia-focused gold miner Petropavlovsk Plc signed a forward sales agreement with Gazprombank for 96,000 ounces of the precious metal.

* Canadian-listed Galway Gold Inc. filed an application for arbitration under the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement as part of its efforts to recover losses from the Colombian government with respect to its Reina de Oro gold-copper project in the country.

* Matsa Resources Ltd. settled the acquisition of the Red October gold mine and associated infrastructure in Western Australia with Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd.

* Fireweed Zinc Ltd. secured an option from Constantine Metal Resources Ltd. and Carlin Gold Corp. to buy three gold-prospective properties — MC, MP and Jerry — covering 624 claims in Canada's Yukon Territory. Separately, Golden Ridge Resources Ltd. granted Fireweed an option to purchase its North Canol property, also in Yukon, in exchange for cash and share payments.

* Balmoral Resources Ltd. posted an initial estimate of gold resources at its Martiniere project, which forms part of the company's Detour Gold Trend property in Quebec. Indicated resources contain a total of 591,000 ounces of gold, comprising open pit resources of 6.8 million tonnes at 1.96 g/t and underground resources of 1.1 million tonnes at 4.54 g/t.

* Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd. said two workers were fatally injured in a seismic-related fall-of-ground incident at the company's Joel gold mine in South Africa. An investigation is underway.


* Glencore is mulling bidding for the Optimum coal operations in South Africa, which the commodities trader sold to a Gupta family-connected firm in 2015, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources.

* Norsk Hydro ASA is holding talks with Pará state's environmental authorities to resume normal operations at its Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil.

* Meanwhile, Norsk Hydro will move to shut down half of its alumina capacity at the Alunorte refinery in the next two weeks to preserve equipment, Reuters reported, citing sources. The company was forced to slash its output to half after allegations of a toxic leak. The company will be forced to completely close three of seven alumina lines at Alunorte if it fails to resume operations. The plant could completely shutter the lines within about two months, the report added.

* K+S AG plans to boost production 25% at its Frisia Zout vacuum salt plant in the Netherlands to 1.2 million tonnes per year by the end of 2020. The company did not define the expansion cost in a March 27 press release, but a K+S spokesperson told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the investment required would be in the low tens of millions of euros.

* While Germany remains in favor of giving concessions to the U.S. to prevent tariffs on European steel and aluminum, France is looking to pressure China over state subsidies and overcapacity in the steel industry, Bloomberg News reported, citing unidentified government officials from both countries.

* A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the U.S. has been trying to make an issue of China-US trade ties under the pretext of "national security" recently. However, Chinese steel only accounts for less than 3% of the total U.S. steel imports.

* Canada is moving to grant the Canada Border Services Agency additional powers that will enable it to step up efforts to crack down on companies that try to dodge import duties and ship cheap foreign steel and aluminum through local markets, The Canadian Press reported.

* Anglo American PLC will resume mining operations at its Minas Rio system in Brazil after suspending activities since March 12 as a result of a pipeline leak, Reuters reported. Anglo said it secured approval to restart operations from environmental watchdog Ibama as it works to clean up the affected area.

* Metro Mining Ltd. said Tropical Cyclone Nora passed its Bauxite Hills mine in Queensland, Australia, without causing any damage to the site or equipment. The company's workforce is remobilizing to the site now, with operations expected to commence in the week of April 9.

* Chinese winter production cuts could be extended for the rest of the year as the county's Ministry of Ecology and Environment urged 28 northern cities to close factories amid heavy smog in the region, Reuters wrote, citing a Shanghai Securities News report.

* Chemicals and raw materials expert Red Adams, founder of database portal Artikol, believes that the environmental drive such as that surging in China could supercharge the titanium dioxide market so it could one day challenge the much bigger aluminum market.

* Cia. Siderúrgica Nacional posted a profit in the fourth quarter of 2017 of 377.4 million Brazilian reais, swinging from the year-ago net loss of 55.7 million reais. Net revenue in the quarter increased 10% year over year to about 5 billion reais due to higher prices for steel products and iron ore.

* Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. amended its iron ore price guidance to about 65% of the average benchmark Platts 62 CFR index for the fiscal year ending June 30 due to a slowdown in Chinese construction activity and the potential impact of global trade tensions. The first fiscal half revenue realization was 68% of the average Platts 62 CFR index.

* Australian Aboriginal Mining Corp., or AAMC, tapped PCF Capital to help it raise between A$30 million and A$35 million for the acquisition of the Wonmunna iron ore project in Western Australia from Ascot Resources Ltd., The Australian reported. AAMC also secured an agreement with Fortescue to deliver iron ore from Wonmunna to its Cloudbreak mining hub.

* JSW Steel Ltd. Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal said the company was not allowed to submit a bid for Essar Steel India Ltd. as the lenders were not up for giving "a new entrant a chance," Mint reported. Essar Steel reopened the bidding process but limited it to the six companies that had already filed expressions of interest.

* Maxtech Ventures Inc. signed a letter of interest to form a joint venture with Andorra Participacoes e Emprendimentos Ltda. to develop a 40,000-hectare property prospective for manganese in Brazil's Para state.

* Gensource Potash Corp. entered into a second nonbinding memorandum of understanding with a North American agriculture industry player to sell 250,000 tonnes per year of potash production from the company's facilities to be built in Saskatchewan, where it is developing the Vanguard potash project.


* Tronox Ltd. announced an offering of US$615 million aggregate principal amount of 6.50% senior notes due 2026. The proceeds will redeem about US$584 million of 7.50% senior notes due 2022.

* Force Commodities Ltd. entered into a joint venture on the Kanuka lithium project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

* Sunrise Resources PLC received requests from potential customers to supply raw perlite for commercial-scale expansion trials. The company is now planning to excavate and process bulk samples from its CS pozzolan-perlite project in Nevada.

* An employee died after falling onto a conveyor belt at De Beers SA's Venetia diamond mine in South Africa, African News Agency reported, citing a police statement. The statement also said the incident was being treated as a "case of culpable homicide."

* Debswana Diamond Co. (Pty.) Ltd.'s diamond production rose 11% to a three-year high of 22.2 million carats in 2017, Reuters reported. The joint venture between the Botswana government and De Beers expects further growth this year as lower taxes in the U.S. leave consumers with more to spend on luxury goods.


* The Philippines' Mining Industry Coordinating Council has delayed the review of 26 mines in the country ordered closed or suspended in 2017, with the Department of Finance saying the final outcome of the assessment is now scheduled to take six months instead of three, Bloomberg News reported.

* Cash balances at the end of the second half of 2017 were up 2.2% overall for 627 mining companies listed on the ASX and the London Stock Exchange. The companies saw cash balances grow from US$49.56 billion at the end of the first half of 2017 to US$50.68 billion at the end of the second half.

* Rothschild recommended that Kazakhstan's privatization program include pre-sales to investors before shares are put on the market, Reuters reported. The state-owned Samruk-Kazyna fund is looking to reduce its holdings in several assets, including uranium producer National Atomic Co. Kazatomprom JSC.

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