Moody's downgradedUsinas Siderúrgicas de Minas GeraisSA's corporate family rating to Ca from Caa1 and to Ca.br from Caa1.br,with a stable outlook. The ratings agency said that the downgrade to Ca reflectsprimarily the standstill agreement that has suspended principal payments of Usiminas'debt and covenant compliance requirements for 120 days, starting on March 18. "Theratings continue to incorporate the continued deterioration of market fundamentalsfor steelmakers in Brazil and Usiminas' diminishing ability to generate cash flowfrom its operations," Moody's added.
Unpaidworkers walk off Anglo American's Callide coal mine
Workers at AngloAmerican Plc's Callidecoal mine in Queensland, Australia, have walked off site as they claim to be owedthousands of dollars in unpaid wages, TheObserver reported.
PJSC MMC NorilskNickel secured a creditfacility of up to US$800 million for an eight-year period to financethe construction of the Bystrinskoyecopper-gold-iron project in Russia. The facility was arranged by Sberbank CIB inthe form of project financing without recourse to Norilsk Nickel based on financialresults and the economic assessment of the project.
* The Quiulacocha-Excélsior tailings deposit of Cerro de PascoResources SA in Peru's Pasco region holds potential resources of silver, zinc, lead,copper and gold that would amount to several trillion dollars, general manager GretaCastillo tolddaily El Comercio. The company alreadyhas submitted an environmental impact study for an exploration project.
* PJSC MMC NorilskNickel secured a creditfacility of up to US$800 million for an eight-year period to financethe construction of the Bystrinskoyecopper-gold-iron project in Russia. The facility was arranged by Sberbank CIB inthe form of project financing without recourse to Norilsk Nickel based on financialresults and the economic assessment of the project.
* Separately, Kommersant and Vedomostireported that Norilsk Nickel will pay its shareholders 30% to 60% of EBITDA. Thedividend payout ratio is planned to be linked to the company's debt load.
* A preliminaryeconomic assessment on AsiametResources Ltd.'s BeruangKanan Main copper deposit in Kalimantan, Indonesia, targets annual productionof 25,000 tonnes of 99.99% copper metal. The study estimates an after-tax net presentvalue, discounted at 10%, of US$204.3 million, and an after-tax internal rate ofreturn of 38.7%. Gross revenue is expected at US$1.27 billion.
* The goal of KGHMPolska Miedz SA's SierraGorda copper project this year is to reduce the cash cost by 10%. Thecompany also has had to lay off about 12% of its work force, daily Diario Financiero reported,citing CEO Maciej Sciazko. The cash cost stood at US$2.58 per pound in the secondhalf of 2015.
* Amur MineralsCorp. said that the total contained nickel at its Maly Kurumkon/Flangovydeposit has increasedabout 25% to 366,600 tonnes, and the resources suitable for conversion to reservesthat can be used in a mine plan have been increased 126% to 285,200 nickel tonnes.The global nickel equivalent for the entire Kun-Manie project has increased from 831,000 tonnes to 958,000tonnes, the company added.
* Codelcochairman Óscar Landerretche tolddaily Pulso it would be discussing withnew external investors to support the miner's global expansion. The company is workingto exploit synergies with private miners as in the case of its Andina unit withLos Bronces and between RadomiroTomic division and ElAbra. He also admitted that the company has been assessing the purchaseof assets.
* First ColombiaGold Corp. struck a deal to fully acquire Singa Energy Solutions, an energy production andconsulting company. Effective immediately, First Colombia will start operating anddoing business under the new trade name, Singa Energy Solutions.
* The government of Indonesia has yet to decide on how much itwill pay for a 10.64% stake in Freeport-McMoRanInc.'s local unit PT Freeport Indonesia as the government is still reviewingthe US$1.7 billion price offered by the company, Tempo reported, citing Bambang Gatot, director general of mineralsand coal for Indonesia's Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry. "We are stilldiscussing the price for the government to make a verdict. We only need to decideon its price," Bambang added.
* A syndicate of underwriters co-led by BMO Capital Markets andClarus Securities Inc. agreed to buy, on a bought deal basis, 17,250,000 of 's common shares at C$4.35each for gross proceeds of C$75 million.Net proceeds will be used for exploration at Mana and Natougou gold properties in Burkina Faso, to furtherenhance financial flexibility with respect to Natougou, for working capital andgeneral corporate purposes.
* Vast ResourcesPlc has decided notto give consent to the subscription of £1.25 million from Crede Capital, thesecond tranche of the financing agreed with Crede. The company denied consent asthe subscription would result in Crede being interested in over 25% of Vast's sharecapital, it said.
* Newmarket GoldInc. said Eric Sprott will purchase10 million common shares of the company from Luxor Capital Partners LP and affiliatesat US$2.25 per share for a total of US$22.5 million.
* Just a few days after achieving commercial production at themine, Torex Gold Resources Inc.temporarily suspended operationsat its El Limon-Guajesgold project in Mexico until further notice due to an illegal blockade. The blockadewas initiated by three families demanding payments from the company for allegedenvironmental damages.
* Joseph Mathunjwa, president of South Africa's Association ofMineworkers and Construction Union, or AMCU, warned that the union may bring Sibanye Gold Ltd. operations to a halt on April 6, to protestagainst the company's three-year wage agreement reached with other unions in October2015.
* Saudi ArabianMining Co., or Ma'aden, on April 1 started commercial production at the Ad Duwayhi gold mine. The company expects to rampup gold production to 180,000 ounces annually by the end of this year. Meanwhile,the start of commercial production at the Jabal Sayid copper mine of its affiliate, Ma'aden BarrickCopper Co., has been delayed from first quarter 2016 to "allow for final mechanicaltesting to be completed." Ma'aden Barrick is jointly owned on a 50/50 basisby Ma'aden and Barrick Gold Corp.
* Following its mergerwith Lake Shore Gold Corp.,Tahoe Resources Inc. announcedcombined guidance for 2016 that included total gold production of between 370,000ounces to 430,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of US$950 to US$1,000 per ounceof gold, net of byproduct credits. Meanwhile, silver production will come in atbetween 18 million ounces to 21 million ounces at AISC of US$10 to US$11 per ounceof silver produced, net of byproduct credits.
* PT Antam (Persero)Tbk signed a memorandum of understanding with PT Freeport Indonesia and PT Smelting for the developmentof an anode slime processing and precious metal refinery.
* The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed the application to commence a proposed securitiesclass action against Eastern PlatinumLtd. filed by a current director and two former directors of the company.
* Three employees of PrimeroMining Corp. died in an aircraft crash-landing near Tayoltita airportin Mexico, Mining Weekly reported.
* Moody's downgradedUsinas Siderúrgicas de Minas GeraisSA's corporate family rating to Ca from Caa1 and to Ca.br from Caa1.br,with a stable outlook. The ratings agency said that the downgrade to Ca reflectsprimarily the standstill agreement that has suspended principal payments of Usiminas'debt and covenant compliance requirements for 120 days, starting on March 18. "Theratings continue to incorporate the continued deterioration of market fundamentalsfor steelmakers in Brazil and Usiminas' diminishing ability to generate cash flowfrom its operations," Moody's added.
* Workers at AngloAmerican Plc's Callidecoal mine in Queensland, Australia, have walked off site as they claim to be owedthousands of dollars in unpaid wages, TheObserver reported.
* Ferrexpo Plc'stotal pellet production in the first quarter remainedsteady year over year at 2.9 million tonnes. Production of 65% pellets increased12.7% year over year to 2.8 million tonnes, while production of 62% pellets dropped71.4% year over year to 123,800 tonnes.
* Vale SAcame close to halting operations at its Brucutu iron ore mine in Minas Gerais state, Brazil, dueto delays in obtaining a license for its Norte tailings dam. However, the minerreceived a provisional approval on April 1 that prevented the suspension, Notíciasde Mineração reported.
* Kommersant reported that Russia's government mayrevise the rules of coal mining in the country. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev agreedto the proposal of the governor of Kuzbass, Aman Tuleyev, to conduct a large-scaledegassing of ultra-hazardous mines which extract the main amounts of coking coalfor the steel industry and to prohibit the production until the end of degassing.The mining industry believes that the substitution of coal by imports can cost upto US$1 billion a year.
* Russian coal and steel group Mechel OAO agreed to sell a 49% stake in its flagship Elga coal mine in Russia to state-owned Gazprombankfor 34.3 billion Russian rubles, in a deal that provides the troubled miner andsteelmaker with much-needed breathing room from creditors as it prepares to refinanceits debt pile. According to the company, the deal also gives Gazprombank the rightto sell the holdings back to Mechel in the future.
* Fortescue MetalsGroup Ltd. said it will shiftto an owner-operator model at the Christmas Creek iron ore mining operations withinits Chichester Hubproperty in Western Australia, effective from Sept. 30 upon completion of the currentmining services contract with Downer EDI Ltd.
* South Korean steelmaker POSCO said it plans to invest around U$19 million to build a wire rod processingplant in Jeffersonville, Ind., The Korea Herald reported.According to the company, the plant will cover a 34,000-square-meter area and willhave an annual production capacity of 25,000 tonnes of wire rod.
* ArcelorMittal'sArcelorMittal USA unit plans to enterinto a new, five-year senior secured asset-based revolving credit facility of upto US$1 billion. The credit facility is expected to close in the second quarter.
* CIBC World Markets analyst Jacob Bout said willcut the low end of its predicted earnings guidance of 90 U.S.cents to US$1.20 per share that the company provided in late January, owing to thecontinued decline in potash prices, the Financial Post reported.
* Brazilian environmental regulator Ibama rejected Votorantimunit Sul-Americana de Metais' license application for the Vale do Rio Pardo ironore project in country's Minas Gerais state as the planned tailings dam is not environmentallyviable, Business News Americas reported.
* Creditors of ArriumLtd. shot down the US$927million recapitalization proposal from U.S.-based GSO Capital PartnersLP, leaving the future of thousands of workers and the Whyalla steelworks in SouthAustralia hanging in the balance.
* Fitch Ratings downgraded JSW Steel Ltd.'s long-term issuer default rating to BB fromBB+. The outlook remains negative.
* Pan African ResourcesPlc completed the acquisitionof the Uitkomst Collieryfrom Oakleaf Investment Holdings and ShandukaResources (Pty) Ltd. for a revised purchase consideration of 176 millionSouth African rand.
* Paringa ResourcesLtd. started a bankablefeasibility study on BuckCreek No. 2 Mine in Kentucky, following a positive scoping study. Ascoping study into the No. 2 mine found that for capital expenditure of US$44 million,the mine would deliver a 3.8 million-tonne-per-annum operation with a mine lifeof 20 years. "Typically, a coal project in the US at this stage would movedirectly into construction; however, we will complete the BFS to identify key areasfor optimization," company CEO David Gay said.
* Lithium AmericasCorp. and Sociedad Quimicay Minera de Chile SA joint venture, the Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project in Jujuy province,could begin construction in early 2017 and start operations 24 months later, LithiumAmericas CEO Tom Hodgson said, daily El Mercurioreported.
* The largest-ever blue diamond will go up for auction in Geneva,Switzerland, Australian Mining reported.The 14.62-carat stone is expected to fetch between US$38 million and US$45 million.
* MZI ResourcesLtd. Managing Director Trevor Matthews said the company plans to significantly extend the production capacity of 110,000 tonnesper annum at its flagship Keysbrookmineral sands project in Western Australia, The West Australian reported.
* Denison MinesCorp. released the results of a preliminary economic assessment on theWheeler River uraniumproject, which peggedbase case pretax net present value of C$513 million at an internal rate of returnof 20.4% and initial CapEx of C$560 million on a 100% ownership basis. Assumingcontract price of US$44 per pound of U3O8, the Gryphon deposit is expected to produce40.7 million pounds of U3O8, over a seven-year mine life, at a cash operating costof US$14.28 per pound of U3O8, while the Phoenix deposit will produce 64.0 millionpounds of U3O8, over a nine-year mine life, at a cash operating cost of US$22.15per pound of U3O8. The Wheeler project is a joint venture between Denison, and
* An updated feasibility study on Nemaska Lithium Inc.'s Whabouchi lithium project in Quebec pegged a posttax net present value of C$1.16 billion at adiscount rate of 8%, an internal rate of return of 30.3% and a payback period ofabout 2.4 years at a base-case scenario.
* Bolivia's exports of zinc, lead, copper, tin, silver, gold,tungsten and antimony dropped 19.5% year over year to US$237 million through February,Business News Americas reported,citing a report from the national statistics institute.
* Pressure is mounting on the Canadian government to addressa host of abuses allegedlycommitted by Canadian mining corporations in Latin America. Questionable businesspractices in the region by Canadian miners have been alleged for years, with multiplelawsuits now in play. HudBay MineralsInc. is accused in the shooting death of an aboriginal leader in Guatemala,while Tahoe Resources Inc.is under fire in the shooting of two protesters at its Escobal silver-gold-lead-zinc mine in Guatemala.
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