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Vedanta plans US$8B investment; Israel Chemicals inks 5-year potash supply deal

TOP NEWS

Vedanta planning US$8B investment over 3 years

Vedanta Group founder and Chairman Anil Agarwal said Vedanta Ltd. intends to spend US$8 billion over the next three years to expand output capacity across the group, including a 1 million-tonne expansion in aluminum and 800,000 tonnes in zinc, BloombergQuint wrote. Agarwal said the company would spend US$300 million to expand capacity to 2.5 Mt at recently acquired Electrosteel Steels Ltd. Indian media outlets quoted Agarwal as saying the company is planning to invest between US$3 billion and US$4 billion to develop a new steel plant in Jharkhand, India. The plant will have an annual capacity of 4.5 million tonnes and will become part of Electrosteel at Bokaro.

Israel Chemicals inks 5-year potash supply deal with India's largest importer

Israel Chemicals Ltd. signed a five-year supply agreement with Indian Potash Ltd., the country's largest potash importer, for 600,000 tonnes per year in 2019 and 2020, increasing to 650,000 tonnes per annum from 2021 to 2023, including options. Prices will be based on Indian market rates at the time of supply. The company signed a contract in August to supply 550,000 tonnes of potash to its Indian customers between September 2018 and June 2019.

Rusal chairman steps down after US sanctions waiver pact

United Co. Rusal PLC Chairman Matthias Warnig resigned as part of a significant restructuring the Russian company agreed on to have U.S. sanctions removed, Reuters reported. Warnig's departure is one of the conditions of the deal. Rusal expects to pick his successor Dec. 27.

DIVERSIFIED

* Rio Tinto is pursuing a dual listing for its 59% stake in Iron Ore Co. of Canada Inc. in New York and Toronto in the first half of 2019, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the situation. The mining major is targeting a valuation of about US$4 billion in the IPO, the sources said, noting that the plans depend on market conditions improving. While the company had failed to sell its Iron Ore Co. of Canada stake for between US$3.5 billion and US$4 billion in 2012, the option is not off the table, the sources added.

BASE METALS

* Yunnan Tin Co. Ltd. intends to undertake debt financing of up to 1.5 billion Chinese yuan for working capital. The maturity will be set at no more than three years, but the interest rate has yet to be determined.

* Winmar Resources Ltd. decided to withdraw from options over the United Reef and Calcite Lake projects in Ontario, which it secured through an agreement with CBLT Inc. The company will retain the Bloom Lake cobalt project in Ontario and is finalizing plans for the next phase of exploration work at the property.

* PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co. terminated the agreement to sell South African assets to Botswana state-owned BCL Ltd., including a 50% stake in the Nkomati joint venture, citing "serious breaches of contract." The company said it will continue to seek damages from BCL to cover losses it suffered due to the state miner's failure to honor its obligations.

* Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co. Ltd. plans to invest US$147.2 million for a new copper project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Reuters reported. The company expects to launch the project by September 2019. It has an estimated annual production capacity of 30,000 tonnes of electro-deposited copper.

* Japan's Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd. sees the global nickel deficit nearly halving to 49,000 tonnes in 2019 from 93,000 tonnes in 2018 on the back of higher production of primary metals by global suppliers and lower-grade nickel pig iron in Indonesia, Reuters reported.

* Sandfire Resources NL exercised its option to enter into a joint venture with White Rock Minerals Ltd. over the latter's Red Mountain zinc project in central Alaska.

* Consolidated Zinc Ltd. increased its ownership in the Plomosas zinc-lead-silver mine in Mexico from 51% to 90%.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Centamin PLC expects to miss its full-year guidance of 480,000 ounces of gold production from its Sukari mine in Egypt by up to 2% and expects a gold pour of 135,000 to 140,000 ounces in the fourth quarter. Cash costs for 2018 are expected toward the top end of the previous guidance of US$625 per ounce to US$640/oz, with all-in sustaining costs of about US$900/oz sold.

* Coeur Mining Inc. reported an initial proven and probable reserve estimate at its Silvertip silver-zinc-lead mine in British Columbia of 1.6 million tonnes, including 48.2 million silver equivalent contained ounces at an average grade of 930 g/t. An updated resource estimate showed an 18% increase in the total resource to measured and indicated resources of 28.4 million silver equivalent ounces at an average grade of 752 g/t.

* Enterprise Metals Ltd. is content to be without a managing director for now, after having acquired more ground at its Murchison gold project in Western Australia, for which it is looking for an operating partner, in an environment where midtiers have an appetite for growth and sentiment around gold is rising. The junior was acquiring the rights to an 80-square-kilometer exploration license covering northern extensions of structures hosting the Cuddingwarra gold deposit and Emily Well copper-zinc deposit on Westgold Resources Ltd.'s Central Murchison property.

* Tribune Resources Ltd. and Rand Mining Ltd. are expected to reject Northern Star Resources Ltd.'s A$150 million offer for their collective 49% interest in the East Kundana gold joint venture in Western Australia, The Australian reported. The companies see the offer as "grossly inadequate," the report added. The transaction was expected to be complete Jan. 31, 2019.

* Aurelia Metals Ltd. finalized the transition to contract mining at its Peak gold-copper-lead-zinc mine in New South Wales, Australia. Pybar Mining Services Pty. Ltd. will undertake all underground development and production mining activities at the site for an initial five-year term.

* Navarre Minerals Ltd. and Catalyst Metals Ltd. agreed on the terms of a joint venture for the Tandarra gold project in Victoria, Australia. The formal transfer of a 51% stake in Tandarra to Catalyst is in progress.

* Kalamazoo Resources Ltd. signed the agreement to sell its Snake Well gold project in Western Australia's Murchison region to Adaman Resources Pty. Ltd. for A$7.0 million.

* Enterprise Metals Ltd. entered into an agreement to acquire the rights to gold-copper‐zinc exploration license application 20/944, expanding the Murchison gold project in Western Australia.

* VTB Capital, one of Russia's largest gold traders, slashed gold exports in 2018 due to higher demand from the country's Central Bank and weaker demand in China, Reuters reported, citing VTB Capital commodities head Atanas Djumaliev. The bank sold 11 tonnes of gold to China this year.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan expects additional U.S. tariffs on Turkish imports to be lifted, Reuters reported. The U.S. increased tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum to 50% and 20%, respectively, in August.

* Westmoreland Coal Co. is seeking approval from a bankruptcy court to sell its Buckingham coal mine in Ohio for US$1 million to an as-yet-unformed holding company and give that company the opportunity to acquire 15 other mines.

* The new rental rate for potash tenements announced by the government of Western Australia will benefit the more advanced projects in the state with funding the various studies to enter production. Meanwhile, the advantages offered to the wider industry may be less easily felt, market watchers said. Humphrey Knight, a potash analyst with consultancy CRU, told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the rental rate change will undoubtedly provide a helping hand to those existing developers and may allow an economically viable potash project to enter production earlier than originally expected.

* Amid downward pressures on the economy, China's environment ministry said the country would embrace more efficient measures in its fight against pollution in 2019, though it will not reduce the pollution-reduction targets or relax the punishment faced by companies that violate the rules, Reuters reported.

* The Indian government deferred the auction of two iron ore mines in the state of Odisha without any explanation for the move, India's The Economic Times reported, citing the mines ministry. The Chandiposhi iron ore block hosts reserves of 47.1 million tonnes, while the Purheibahal block hosts reserves of 46.8 million tonnes.

* Bounty Mining Ltd.'s share price on the ASX dropped over 16% in late-afternoon trading as it slashed output guidance for the December quarter to 142,000 tonnes of salable coal from previous guidance of 163,000 tonnes of salable coal. Additionally, the cash-strapped miner secured a working capital facility of up to A$20.0 million to support operations at the Cook colliery in Queensland, Australia, and Cook CHPP, for the possible purchase of mining equipment for Cook and for the repayment of a prepaid sales agreement with Lido Trading.

* As 2018 comes to a close, the U.S. coal sector is on track to return to a trend of declining fatal accidents. The industry opened the decade with 48 fatalities in 2010, followed by 20 in each of the next three years. The annual fatality count then steadily declined before hitting an all-time low of just eight in 2016. However, fatalities nearly doubled in 2017, with 15 coal miners dying on the job, according to U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data. Ten fatalities have been attributed to the sector in 2018.

* Israel Chemicals subsidiary Dead Sea Works Ltd. reached an agreement to settle a dispute with the Israeli government over royalties. Dead Sea Works agreed to pay US$27 million in royalties by Dec. 25, including interest and linkage, from 2000 to 2017.

* Indian union minister Suresh Prabhu said the country's commerce ministry is in favor of increasing import duties on aluminum to support domestic manufacturers, Press Trust of India reported. "The proposal is under examination and we support the proposal," Prabhu said.

* Rescue teams are trying to reach 15 coal miners who have been trapped underground for 13 days in India's Meghalaya state, Reuters reported. However, the chances of survival look slim after floodwaters rushed through the illegal "rat-hole" pit, the report added.

* Evraz PLC and Russia's Vnesheconombank may form a joint venture based on Sibuglemet in a deal that will further strengthen Evraz's position in the coking coal market, Vedomosti reported.

* Evraz responded to media speculation over the potential combination of its coal assets with those of Sibuglemet Holding OOO. The company said it has a strategic interest to explore possible options for Sibuglemet's coal assets to increase the long-term security of supply of a wide range of coking coal grades required for its operations. However, its board has not considered or made any decisions regarding a deal.

* The Queensland Supreme Court ordered Thiess Pty. Ltd. to pay an employee A$720,000 after a workplace accident at the now-mothballed Burton Downs coal mine left him with a lower back injury in 2011, The Australian reported.

SPECIALTY

* BlackEarth Minerals NL posted an initial resource estimate for the Haja graphite deposit at its Maniry project in southern Madagascar for an inferred resource of 9.0 million tonnes at 5.79% total graphitic carbon for 521,100 tonnes of contained graphite using a cutoff of 5% TGC. The company intends to complete a scoping study on Maniry based on the Razafy deposit in January 2019.

* Northern Minerals Ltd.'s first heavy rare earth carbonate shipment, totaling 2,578 kilograms, from its Browns Range pilot plant in Western Australia left for customers in China.

* PJSC Alrosa plans to sell more than 80 noncore assets in 2019, aiming to fetch about 6.1 billion Russian rubles. The list includes three legal companies, 14 objects of realty and land, 15 under-building objects and 49 housing objects.

* Maxim Shkadov, director general of Russian diamond manufacturer Kristall, is leaving the company to join Alrosa ahead of an expected merger between the companies, IDEX reported. A decision to formally merge the companies has not been made.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Profits of Chinese industrial companies for the first eleven months of 2018 rose 11.8% from a year ago to 6.12 trillion Chinese yuan, Bloomberg reported. Sector-wise, mining and ferrous metals smelting recorded the largest increases, while ferrous metals and nonferrous metals smelted had the steepest fall.

* The Mining Industry Council of Thailand and the Ministry of Industry are in negotiations over a policy that raised the royalty rate for exports of some types of minerals to 7% from 4%, Thailand's Khao Sod reported. Earlier in November, a group of 13 mining operators asked the ministry to revise the regulation.

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