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Norsk Hydro's Alunorte cleared by state; First Quantum beats FY'18 copper target


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Norsk Hydro's Alunorte cleared by state; First Quantum beats FY'18 copper target


Norsk Hydro's Alunorte refinery cleared by state agency to resume operations

Norsk Hydro ASA's Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil was cleared by the environmental agency in the state of Pará, SEMAS, to resume normal operations. The production embargo was also lifted by SEMAS, however, it does not allow for immediate resumption of full operations at Alunorte as the embargo of the Federal Court remains in force.

First Quantum improves Q4 copper output, beats FY'18 guidance with new record

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. produced 158,304 tonnes of copper in the fourth quarter of 2018 and a record 605,853 tonnes in the full year, beating its 2018 forecast of 595,000 tonnes of copper. Copper output reached 154,319 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 573,963 tonnes in the full year. Copper sales climbed to 156,212 tonnes in the fourth quarter, up from 151,905 tonnes on a yearly basis.

BHP ending contract with last Australian-crewed iron ore ships

BHP Group Ltd. will no longer renew its contract with the last two Australian-crewed ships that carry iron ore from Port Hedland in Western Australia, replacing them with foreign crews and vessels. The Maritime Union of Australia said nearly 80 Australian seafarers will be replaced by "highly exploited" foreign crews paid as low as A$2 per hour.


* Diversified miner Vale SA signed a long-term energy supply contract with Brazilian wind and solar power developer Casa dos Ventos for a 151.2-MW project, in its bid to be 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy generation in Brazil by 2030. The project, with investment responsibility by Casa dos Ventos, has its energy contracted for 23 years and is expected to begin commercial operation by the first half of 2020.


* Ontario-based Lundin Mining Corp. produced 199,630 tonnes of copper in 2018, declining from 202,989 tonnes in 2017, but within the year's guidance of 193,750 to 201,250 tonnes. Meanwhile, zinc and nickel output beat the full-year production guidance with 152,041 tonnes and 17,573 tonnes, respectively, compared to 149,319 tonnes and 22,081 tonnes a year ago.

* Nexa Resources SA's zinc equivalent output in the fourth quarter of 2018 slipped 2.4% year on year to 150,000 tonnes, from 153,500 tonnes in 2017. However, the company still hit its 2018 production guidance for all metals, driven by a production recovery in the quarter.

* Lawyers for Vedanta Resources PLC asked England's Supreme Court for its pollution lawsuit related to the Nchanga copper mine in Zambia to be heard in the African country and not in London, Reuters reported.


* Riversgold Ltd.'s two discoveries at its Farr-Jones project in Western Australia's Eastern Goldfields have given managing director Allan Kelly confidence that more such finds are there, in a region broker Argonaut says could well be a "dark horse."

* Hochschild Mining PLC achieved record full-year attributable production in 2018 of 39.0 million silver equivalent ounces, compared to 38.0 million ounces a year ago, on the back of record output at Inmaculada and strong performance at Pallancata. The company produced 19.7 million ounces of silver and 260,440 ounces of gold in the year, up from 2017 output of 19.1 million ounces of silver and 254,930 ounces of gold.

* Detour Gold Corp. produced a record 158,200 ounces of gold from its Detour Lake mine in Ontario in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to 150,046 ounces a year ago. Gold sales in the quarter reached 172,935 gold ounces. The company's 2018 capex is estimated to be below the guidance of US$265 million to US$285 million, while sustaining capex is expected to be lower than the US$206 million forecast.

* SSR Mining Inc. produced 54,306 ounces of gold at its Marigold mine in Nevada in the fourth quarter of 2018, reflecting a 7.1% decline on a quarterly basis. The Seabee operation in Saskatchewan produced 20,473 ounces of gold during the three-month period, down 26.4% quarter over quarter.

* Centerra Gold Inc.'s fourth-quarter 2018 gold output totaled 288,367 ounces, allowing the company to exceed its full-year guidance with production of 729,556 ounces. Year-ago gold production totaled 216,752 ounces in the fourth quarter and 785,316 ounces in the full year.

* IAMGOLD Corp. agreed to forward sell 150,000 ounces of gold, to be delivered in 2022, with a gold floor price of US$1,300 per ounce and a cap price of US$1,500 per ounce. In exchange, the company will receive a prepayment of US$170 million in December 2019.

* Hecla Mining Co. reported a 16% year-over-year increase in fourth-quarter 2018 gold production to 70,988 ounces, while silver production over the same period fell 9% to 2.7 million ounces.

* McEwen Mining Inc.'s fourth-quarter 2018 gold production reached 29,291 ounces, down from 48,609 ounces in 2017. Full-year 2018 gold production came in at 135,124 ounces, up from 109,947 ounces in 2017.

* Kingsrose Mining Ltd. secured the Indonesian equivalent of an environmental impact assessment for its Way Linggo gold project in Indonesia.

* Lion One Metals Ltd. purchased drilling assets from Geodrill for its Tuvatu gold project in the Fiji Islands.

* Blina Minerals NL acquired an 11% interest in New Zealand-focused gold explorer Condamine Resources Ltd. through an investment of A$250,000.

* Newmont Mining Corp. shares continued to slide amid lukewarm response from analysts and investors over its US$10 billion takeover of Goldcorp Inc., Financial Times wrote. Newmont was down 2.6% at US$30.94, giving the company a market value of US$16.4 billion.

* The longstop date of Sibanye Gold Ltd.'s proposed takeover of Lonmin PLC was extended to June 30 from Feb. 28. Meanwhile, Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman said the company has a contingency plan in place for an impending strike at its platinum group metals operations in South Africa, Mining Weekly reported.

* Gabriel Resources Ltd. closed a US$20 million financing to fund its arbitration battle over the Rosia Montana gold project in a bid for C$5.7 billion in compensation from Romania, which is accused of unfairly blocking the project's development.

* IDM Mining Ltd. secured federal environmental assessment approval for its Red Mountain gold project in British Columbia, under which the company must fulfill more than 120 conditions throughout the life of mine to mitigate the project's effects to the environment.

* TMAC Resources Inc. secured approvals for two Type A water licenses for the Madrid and Boston projects, part of the Hope Bay gold property in Canada's Nunavut Territory, allowing the company to move forward with mine construction and operations.


* Peru's environmental regulator OEFA ordered Shougang Corp. unit Shougang Hierro-Peru SA to suspend transportation and storage of minerals and storing of concentrates at its new plant at the Marcona iron ore project in the Ica region due to leakage of particulate material. The halt will remain in place until the company controls the leakage to prevent potential environmental damage in the San Nicolas bay area, daily Gestión reported.

* Aahana Global Resources & Investment Pte Ltd will acquire about 19.9% of Cokal Ltd. by purchasing the company's shares owned by the Platinum funds, which are currently in receivership and liquidation. Aahana plans to participate in the development of Cokal's BBM coal project in Indonesia.

* Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance is looking for further steel acquisitions in the U.S. and mulling an expansion of its new Keystone Consolidated Industries plant in Illinois. The company is also looking to restart a second furnace at Liberty Steel Georgetown in South Carolina, which will add up to 500,000 tonnes of capacity, and examining proposals to boost permitted liquid steel production at the Peoria plant in Illinois from 800,000 tonnes to 1.1 million tonnes per year.

* Coal exports from Queensland, Australia, reached a record 223 million tonnes, surpassing the previous record set in 2016 by 2 million tonnes. Queensland coal was exported to 30 different countries or territories.

* Anglo American PLC CEO Mark Cutifani is willing to stay beyond his 2020 mandate, sources told Reuters. Duncan Wanblad, group director of strategy and business development, effective from March, is seen as a potential successor of Cutifani, the report said.

* China Coal Energy Co. Ltd.'s coal production inched up 2.1% year over year to 77.13 million tonnes in 2018, from 75.54 million tonnes in 2017.

* South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers plans to launch a protest in Pretoria to demand the immediate payment of salaries for over 2,000 workers at the Optimum and Koornfontein collieries, Mining Weekly reported. The union said the workers have not received salaries for the past three months.

* The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in a case to determine whether the CEO of coal miner Murray Energy Corp. interfered with his employees' right to report unsafe working conditions to the federal government.

* Vedanta Ltd. will raise its primary foundry alloy and aluminium silicon t-ingot production to 300,000 tonnes from 30,000 tonnes by the end of 2019, Fastmarkets MB wrote.

* Compared to 2018 levels, coal production is expected to decline 9.9% to just 680 million tons by 2020, the first time annual production has been below 700 million tons since 1978, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


* Chilean nuclear watchdog CCHEN may kick off a fraud probe into lithium exports after an audit discovered significant errors in the record of sales of the battery metal from Albemarle Corp. and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA during the 1984 to 2015 period, Reuters reported. The agency's executive committee members are considering a further probe into the errors to determine if they were deliberate and part of a fraudulent scheme.

* Tarku Resources Ltd. signed a nonbinding letter of intent for an option to acquire the Lac Fabien vanadium project, which comprises 35 mining titles in Quebec.


* MineHub Technologies Inc. and IBM are working with Goldcorp, ING Bank, Kutcho Copper Corp., Ocean Partners USA Inc. and Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. to use blockchain technology to boost efficiency in mining. The first use case will be built on the MineHub platform and will manage concentrate from Goldcorp's Penasquito mine in Mexico throughout its path to market.

* Mexican Sen. Napoleon Gomez Urrutia said mining companies in the country had room to pay more taxes, and they should prepare for new labor rules and laws over their operations, Reuters reported. "We want them to do it in a voluntary and flexible manner, without conflicts. That’s the goal, but they have brutally resisted," Urrutia said.

* Though Africa is the second-largest continent and a significant producer of almost every minable commodity, allocations to Africa increased only 14.1% to US$1.28 billion in 2018, according to the Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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