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Rio Tinto reports lower iron ore output in Q3, trims FY'18 aluminum forecast


Rio Tinto reports lower iron ore output in Q3, trims FY'18 aluminum forecast

Rio Tinto's third-quarter iron ore production and shipments slipped 3% and 5% year over year to 82.5 million tonnes and 81.9 million tonnes, respectively, due to planned maintenance cycles and safety pauses across all operations following a fatality at the company's Paraburdoo iron ore mine in Western Australia. The company also lowered its full-year aluminum production guidance to between 3.4 million and 3.5 million tonnes, from 3.5 million tonnes to 3.7 million tonnes previously, due to the ongoing labor disruptions at the nonmanaged Becancour smelter in Quebec. Meanwhile, mined copper production in the quarter grew 32% year on year to 159,700 tonnes on the back of a 129% increase in output from the Rio Tinto Kennecott smelting facility, driven by higher grades.

Vale books record Q3 iron ore production

Vale SA reported a 10.3% year-over-year rise in third-quarter iron ore production to a record 104.9 million tonnes and an 8.7% increase in pellet production to 13.9 Mt. Manganese, nickel, copper and cobalt output booked double-digit percentage decreases. Iron ore sales jumped 9.4% to 84.0 Mt.

BHP ups stake in SolGold to 11.2%

BHP Billiton Group raised its interest in SolGold PLC, owner of the Cascabel porphyry copper-gold project in Ecuador, to 11.2% from 6.0% through a share subscription agreement. In the deal, BHP agreed to acquire 100 million SolGold shares at 45 pence apiece, and earned the right to nominate one director to the SolGold board. BHP also agreed not to acquire additional SolGold shares for two years, subject to certain exceptions.


* Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd.'s copper concentrate production in the third quarter from the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia increased to 39,400 tonnes from 36,900 tonnes in the year-ago period. Gold concentrate output surged to 77,000 ounces from 31,000 ounces last year due to higher grades and recoveries. Silver concentrate production fell to 230,000 ounces from 239,000 ounces in the same period last year.

* A scoping study for Azure Minerals Ltd.'s Oposura zinc-lead-silver project in Sonora, Mexico, outlined a pretax net present value of A$112 million, an internal rate of return of 76% and a 16-month payback period.

* India's National Green Tribunal will decide on the fate of Vedanta Ltd.'s Tuticorin copper smelter in Tamil Nadu at the end of November, Metal Bulletin reported, citing local media. The property was closed in May after 13 people died during violent protests over alleged pollution.

* Minotaur Exploration Ltd. reached a deal to earn up to an 80% interest in the 629-square-kilometer Windsor base metals project in Queensland, Australia.

* Cradle Arc PLC secured the extension of mining license number 2010/96L from the Botswana Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security. The license, now valid up to May 31, 2020, covers the Mowana copper mine's Thakadu and Makala deposits.


* First Majestic Silver Corp. produced a record 6.7 million silver equivalent ounces in the third quarter, rising 31% year over year. However, amid continuing weakness in silver prices, the company announced a 20% cost reduction program across all operations, expected to be fully realized by the first quarter of 2019. The company did not provide any details on the cost-cutting plans.

* Polymetal International PLC expects to beat its full-year production guidance of 1.6 million gold equivalent ounces by up to 50,000 ounces due to the steady performance of its assets. The company's gold equivalent production for the first nine months reached 1.1 million ounces, a 4% increase year on year.

* Polymetal also increased its stake in the Veduga gold deposit in Russia to 74.3% by acquiring a 31.7% stake in the project's license holder, Amikan LLC, for US$19.7 million in shares.

* Evolution Mining Ltd.'s gold production dropped to 200,218 ounces at all-in sustaining costs, or AISC, of A$885 per ounce in the first of its fiscal 2019 from record output of 220,971 ounces of gold and record-low AISC of A$786 per ounce in the same period a year ago. Gold output at the Cowal mine in New South Wales, Australia, fell yearly to 61,260 ounces at AISC of A$958 per ounce, from 70,140 ounces at AISC of A$712 per ounce.

* Spectrum Metals Ltd. agreed to acquire two mining leases covering the historic Penny West project in Western Australia for A$1 million in cash and shares. The vendors will be granted a 0.5% net smelter royalty.

* Stonewall Resources Ltd.'s scoping study for its Theta Hill gold project in South Africa pegged a posttax net present value, discounted at 7.5%, of up to US$152 million, an internal rate of return of 132% and a 7.6-year mine life.

* Gold Road Resources Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd.'s A$621-million joint venture Gruyere gold project in Western Australia is on track for first gold output in the June quarter of 2019, Mining Weekly reported. Mining will start in November.

* Bunker Hill Mining Corp.'s lease agreement for the Bunker Hill silver mine in Idaho was terminated after it defaulted on payments.

* Harte Gold Corp. achieved first gold pour at the Sugar Zone mine in Ontario. The company also restarted ore production from underground, which will add to the surface stockpile.

* The Western Australian government ordered Hawthorn Resources Ltd. to pay a A$40,000 fine for breaching mining conditions at the Anglo Saxon gold mine, The Guardian reported.

* Australian Mines Ltd. extended the closing date of its IPO for the spinoff of its noncore gold and base metals assets in Western Australia to Nov. 15.

* AuStar Gold Ltd. received approval for renewing mining license MIN 5299, covering its Rose of Denmark gold mine in Victoria, Australia.


* Glencore PLC said it plans to restructure its Hail Creek coal mine in Queensland, Australia, which will result in more than 400 job losses, Reuters wrote. The plan will decrease the workforce from 1360 to 930 and will involve changing the mining methods at Hail Creek. Most of the changes will be implemented by the second quarter of 2019.

* China Coal Energy Co. Ltd. expects to book an attributable net profit of between 4.90 billion Chinese yuan and 5.30 billion yuan in the nine-month period that ended Sept. 30, representing a year-over-year increase of between 55.6% and 68.3%.

* Tata Steel Ltd. is aiming to boost capacity at its recently acquired Tata Steel BSL to 8.3 million tonnes of steel per annum from 5.6 Mt, India's Live Mint reported, citing the latter's new managing director, Rajeev Singhal.

* PJSC Novolipetsk Steel's third-quarter output was flat year over year at 4.4 million tonnes but reflected a 1% increase over the previous quarter due to higher output at its Russian plants. Sales in the period grew 4% to 4.4 Mt thanks to higher sales of slabs, square billets and long products and to growth in high-value-add product sales to international markets.

* Thiess Pty. Ltd. secured a five-year, A$1.2 billion contract to provide mining services at BHP Billiton Group's Mount Arthur coal mine in New South Wales, Australia.

* Highfield Resources Ltd. updated its 2015 feasibility study for the Muga-Vipasca potash project in Spain, estimating a net present value of €1.16 billion, at an 8% discount rate, and an internal rate of return of 23%, with CapEx of €342 million required to achieve the first phase of production.

* U.S. Steel Corp. reached a tentative four-year collective agreement with the United Steelworkers, covering approximately 14,000 union-represented workers, across the company's domestic flat-rolled and iron ore mining facilities as well as tubular operations.

* Australian Bauxite Ltd. subsidiary Alcore Ltd. completed the design phase of its stage-one project on schedule and started acquiring equipment to begin production before year-end, ahead of schedule.


* Lynas Corp. Ltd. started its search for alternative locations in case it is forced to close its rare earths processing operations in Malaysia following a government review, Financial Times reported. CEO Amanda Lacaze said the company's short-term plan is to find a partner in China, while its long-term plan is to re-establish operations outside China, most probably in Australia.

* Chile's recent water restrictions for major lithium producers and TSX Venture Exchange-listed Millennial Lithium Corp.'s focus further south in the same Argentine salar as Centaur Resources has boosted the latter's confidence ahead of the Oct. 25 closing of its 20-Australian-cent-per-share, A$15 million IPO on the ASX due Nov. 8.

* Premier African Minerals Ltd. CEO George Roach said the company will look for other legal processes to secure the remaining equity in its 49%-owned RHA tungsten mine in Zimbabwe, should a proposed equity restructuring process not be complete by the end of the month. The company planned to fully write down the joint venture due to ongoing delays in obtaining final governmental approval for the restructuring.

* Kazakhstan's National Atomic Co. Kazatomprom JSC, the world's largest uranium producer, plans to float up to a 25% stake in an IPO in London and Astana, Reuters reported. Credit Suisse and JPMorgan are acting as joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners for an IPO.

* Select Sands Corp. placed 26 employees at its Northern White frac sand property in Arkansas on temporary furlough until further notice. The decision was driven by a current industry-wide market disruption, which has affected demand for silica fracking sand from Northern White.

* Development work at Lepidico Ltd.'s L-Max lithium pilot plant in Perth, Western Australia, has started, with metallurgical consultancy firm Strategic Metallurgy Pty. Ltd. leading the project. Plant commissioning is scheduled in April 2019, while production is slated to begin the following month.

* Arafura Resources Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding with JingCi Material Science Co. Ltd. for the supply of neodymium-praseodymium oxide from its Nolans project in Australia's Northern Territory.

* First Graphene Ltd. reached a three-year deal with The University of Manchester for the supply of graphene products for research by the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre.


* Mining is seen as the best hope for Greenland's slow-burn independence movement, which came to a head in September when the ruling coalition lost its majority over the issue. Now Australians, who led the last wave of resources-based foreign investment a decade ago, are leading the charge for the sector which experts say is about to springboard into a new phase.

* India is close to resolving its trade disputes with the U.S., although a final agreement has yet to be signed, Reuters reported, citing a trade ministry source. The newswire earlier reported that the two countries could close a new trade deal involving steel, medical devices, agriculture and IT equipment.

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