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Court OKs seizure of Nippon Steel assets; no talks planned on US tariffs removal

Greenhouse gas and gold mines Nearly 1 ton of CO2 emitted per ounce of gold produced in 2019

Essential Metals & Mining Insights - September 2020

Essential Metals & Mining Insights - August 2020

State of the Market: Mining Q2-2020


Court OKs seizure of Nippon Steel assets; no talks planned on US tariffs removal

TOP NEWS

South Korean court allows seizure of Nippon Steel assets

A South Korean court granted a request to seize the Korean assets of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. over Japan's wartime forced labor, Yonhap News Agency reported. Lawyers representing South Korean plaintiffs asked the court to seize 81,075 shares of the POSCO-Nippon Steel RHF Joint Venture between Nippon Steel and POSCO.

No talks planned on lifting US tariffs on Canadian steel, aluminum

U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum Jan. 7, but there are no plans for discussions on lifting the sanctions, Reuters reported, citing an anonymous Canadian source.

Tata Steel posts mixed bag for fiscal Q3'19 with production up, sales down YOY

Tata Steel Ltd. produced 3.33 million tonnes of crude steel in the third quarter of its fiscal 2019, increasing from 3.27 Mt the year before, while sales fell to 2.97 Mt from 3.30 Mt. The company attributed the decline in sales to seasonal headwinds, particularly in terms of softer automotive demand and inventory replenishment.

DIVERSIFIED

* China Molybdenum Co. Ltd., Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. and Sumitomo Corp. approved the development of a new block cave mine called E26 Lift 1 North at the Northparkes copper-gold joint venture in New South Wales, Australia. The companies will invest over A$200 million over 3.5 years, and construction is scheduled to start within the month. The project will produce about 40 million tonnes of ore over 10 years; full production is expected in mid-2022.

* New Gold Inc. produced 110,559 ounces of gold and 20.8 million pounds of copper in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to 114,025 ounces of gold and 21.7 million pounds of copper in the third quarter.

BASE METALS

* The Indian Supreme Court has allowed Vedanta Ltd. to reopen its Tuticorin copper smelter by declining to stay an order from the country's environmental court, Reuters reported, citing the company's lawyer.

* First Quantum Minerals Ltd. President Clive Newall said the company will ramp up production at the Cobre Panama copper project in Panama in 2019, and bondholders should benefit as the country's stronger credit rating feeds into the debt's prices, Bloomberg News reported.

* Taseko Mines Ltd. ramped up injection and recovery processes in a test phase of its Florence copper project in Arizona.

* Nautilus Minerals Inc. must secure a loan or another source of funding by Jan. 14 to continue operations. The company is in talks with an arm's-length party to secure a US$5 million loan, and extended the term of its existing secured loan facility of up to US$34 million for 30 days.

* About an additional 3.07% of shares in Nevsun Resources Ltd. were tendered under the extension period of the C$6.00-per-share all-cash takeover bid from Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd., which now owns about 92.44% of the total issued and outstanding shares of Nevsun. The Chinese gold miner will secure the remaining Nevsun shares via compulsory acquisition.

* Aeris Resources Ltd. expanded the Tritton copper mine in New South Wales, Australia, to 2,160 square kilometers after securing exploration license EL8810.

* Pacific Rim Cobalt Corp. plans to complete a National Instrument 43-101-compliant maiden resource estimate in 2019 at its Cyclops nickel-cobalt project in Indonesia's Jayapura province.

* First Cobalt Corp. engaged Brown and Caldwell as its primary environmental and permitting consultant for the Iron Creek cobalt project in Idaho. The company is targeting an updated resource estimate for Iron Creek toward the end of the first quarter.

* The Chilean copper sector is expected to triple its use of sea water for industrial processes in the next 10 years, Reuters reported, citing copper agency Cochilco.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. achieved record gold production for the fourth quarter of 2018 at 230,993 ounces, up 28% over the previous record of 180,155 ounces achieved in the third quarter.

* Ramelius Resources Ltd. produced 52,623 ounces of gold in the December 2018 quarter from its operations in Western Australia, topping the guidance of between 48,000 and 52,000 ounces.

* Great Panther Silver Ltd. halted operations at the Guanajuato mine, part of its flagship Guanajuato mine complex in Mexico, to reduce costs. The company plans to shift all production at the Guanajuato complex to the lower-cost San Ignacio mine this year as it realigns its Mexican operations.

* Sibanye Gold Ltd. said a mediator for the ongoing strike at the company's gold mines in South Africa will approach the Labour Court to seek guidance on the verification of union membership after the miner disagreed with the striking Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union about the terms of reference for the process, Mining Weekly reported.

* Shareholders approved Pan American Silver Corp.'s US$1.07 billion takeover of Tahoe Resources Inc.

* Harte Gold Corp. achieved commercial production Jan. 1 at its Sugar Zone gold mine in Ontario.

* Dacian Gold Ltd. on Jan. 1 achieved commercial production at its Mount Morgans gold operation in Western Australia.

* Indian gold imports fell 20% in 2018 to 762 tonnes as high local prices amid a weaker Indian rupee in the world's second-largest gold-consuming market discouraged buyers, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar with the data.

* Tanzania appointed Dotto Biteko as its new mining minister amid a prolonged clash between the government and Barrick Gold Corp. unit Acacia Mining PLC over a US$190 billion tax dispute, Reuters reported.

* Teranga Gold Corp. delivered a record 245,230 ounces of gold in 2018, exceeding the high end of its increased production guidance range of up to 240,000 ounces. Construction at the company's Wahgnion mine in Burkina Faso is proceeding on schedule, and the mine is expected to start producing before the end of 2019.

* PanTerra Gold Ltd.'s operations at the Las Lagunas gold-silver project in the Dominican Republic temporarily ceased after one of the six Albion reactors ruptured. The incident resulted in no injuries to the personnel at the operation. The nontoxic slurry in the tank spilled into a purpose-built, lined environmental pond.

* Landore Resources Ltd. updated the mineral resource estimate for the BAM gold deposit, part of its Junior Lake property in Ontario, to 28.8 million tonnes at 1.03 g/t of gold containing 951,000 ounces.

* An updated preliminary economic assessment on K92 Mining Inc.'s Kora and Kora North gold deposits, part of an expansion project at its Kainantu mine in Papua New Guinea, estimated a pretax net present value of US$710 million, discounted at 5%, with a 350% internal rate of return.

* Rubicon Minerals Corp. plans to conduct expansionary drilling of up to 20,000 meters at its Phoenix gold project in Ontario, as part of a 2019 exploration program worth up to C$12 million.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Ferrexpo PLC's total pellet production in the fourth quarter of 2018 climbed 7.2% over the previous quarter to 2.9 million tonnes, while full-year pellet output was up 1.6% to 10.6 million tonnes. Sales volume for 2018 is expected at about 10.2 million tonnes, compared to 10.5 million tonnes in 2017, impacted by reduced barge shipments due to low water levels on the Danube River in the second half of 2018.

* Compass Minerals International Inc.'s sales of highway deicing salt products in the fourth quarter of 2018 declined to around 2.8 million tonnes, from 3 million tonnes in the comparable 2017 period. Sales of all salt products were also down at 3.5 million tonnes in the quarter, from 3.6 million tonnes.

* The U.S. government's decision to remove sanctions on Russian aluminum producer United Co. Rusal PLC will benefit limited U.S. consumers, Reuters reported. Rusal supplied only around 10% of the U.S. market in 2017. "The tariffs will be paid by American consumers and the only winners are American primary [aluminum] producers who do not have to pay the duty," a source at an aluminum producer said.

* Downer Group secured a five-year rail renewal services contract with Rio Tinto, adding to the track construction and tire management services it previously provided to the mining major, Australian Mining reported. A 1,700-kilometer rail network connects Rio Tinto's 16 iron ore mines in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

* The Fair Work Commission in Australia ordered BHP Coal Pty. Ltd. to reinstate veteran mineworker Gregory Macklin and pay A$44,000 in lost earnings after the regulator found that the worker was unfairly dismissed for refusing to train a contractor, The Australian reported. Macklin was primarily a grader in BHP's coalmining department at the Goonyella Riverside mine in central Queensland.

* SouthGobi Resources Ltd. said the Hong Kong Stock Exchange asked it to investigate the conduct of former senior executives that "raises suspicions of serious fraud, misappropriation of company assets and other criminals acts" between 2016 and the first half of 2018.

* The board of National Mineral Development Corp. Ltd. approved a proposal to buy back up to 10 billion Indian rupees in shares.

* Mosaic Co. inked a memorandum of understanding to supply phosphate rock and phosphate fertilizers, including premium products, to with China's Sinochem.

* North China's Hebei province plans to reduce steel capacity by 14 million tonnes, coal capacity by 9 million tonnes and coke capacity by 3 million tonnes in 2019, China Securities Journal reported, citing data released by provincial government.

* China's Shanghai city intends to slash coal consumption by more than 5% by 2020 over the 2015 level, and cap the ratio of coal in primary energy consumption under 33%, according to a statement posted on the website of the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Ecology and Environment.

* Atrum Coal Ltd.'s resource estimate for the Elan South area, part of the Elan hard coking coal project in Alberta, increased 170% to about 97 million tonnes. The indicated resource totaled 31.3 million tonnes, while the inferred resource stood at 66 million tonnes.

SPECIALTY

* Lucara Diamond Corp. approved a US$14.8 million budget to complete a feasibility study for an underground mining operation at its flagship Karowe diamond mine in Botswana. The company expects to fetch between US$170 million and US$200 million from the sale of 300,000 carats to 320,000 carats of diamond from Karowe in 2019.

* The ASX will remove Hardey Resources Ltd. after it uncovered a series of questionable disclosures and a breach of listing rules related to the acquisition of the Nelly vanadium mine in Argentina and Vanadium Mining, The Australian reported. The regulator found that Adam Blumenthal's Everblu Capital and its associates were the major beneficiaries from the two transactions, while Everblu had worked to conceal its involvement from both the ASX and Hardey shareholders.

* Anfield Energy Inc. acquired the West Slope project, which consists of nine past-producing uranium-vanadium properties in Colorado, from Cotter Corp.

* Shareholders of MRG Metals Ltd. unanimously approved the renegotiated deal to acquire three heavy minerals sands projects in Mozambique at a lower purchase price.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* ASX metals and mining IPO capital raisings had their best year in over a decade, defying commodities' broader volatility, which is expected to make life tough for another year. However, one analyst believes that there are too many of them and more mergers are needed. According to the ASX, nearly A$1.4 billion was raised in metals and mining IPOs in 2018, turbocharged by Nickel Mines Ltd.'s A$200 million float and Jupiter Mines Ltd.'s A$240 million listing. That total figure is a substantial increase from A$183 million in 2017 when there were 32 floats, and even in 2007, when there was just A$876 million raised in 126 floats.

* The number of projects reporting drill results plunged in December 2018 to 224 after hitting new heights in October and November, although the number of reported drillholes increased slightly, by 177 for a total of 4,624, according to a Metals and Mining Research Team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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