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South African miners' union demanding up to 37% rise in gold-sector wages

TOP NEWS

South Africa miners' union asking for up to 37% rise in gold-sector wages

The National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa is seeking an up to 37% increase in wages for the gold sector in the next two years, Reuters reported, citing a document submitted to the Chamber of Mines. The union wants the basic pay for entry-level underground workers to increase to 10,500 South African rand per month.

Franco-Nevada hikes dividend after booking record Q1 earnings, revenue

Franco-Nevada Corp. increased its quarterly dividend for the 11th consecutive year after the company posted record earnings and revenue in the first quarter. The company's net income in the period rose 41.7% year over year to US$64.6 million, or 35 cents per share, from US$45.6 million, or 25 cents per share. Revenues, meanwhile, were up slightly at US$173.1 million from US$172.7 million last year. The company's board declared a dividend of 24 cents per share, representing 4.3% increase on a quarterly basis.

Barrick investing US$38.1M in Midas Gold for 19.9% stake

Barrick Gold Corp. signed a subscription agreement to invest US$38.1 million in Midas Gold Corp. through a nonbrokered private placement. Midas will use the proceeds to advance its Stibnite gold project in Idaho through to completion of a feasibility study and for permitting related to redeveloping and restoring the project.

DIVERSIFIED

* BHP Billiton Group was successful in convincing a tribunal that its dual-listed Australian and British companies are not associates, in an unreported A$87 million legal battle with the Australian Taxation Office over the company's controversial marketing hub in Singapore, The Australian reported. The legal proceedings are separate from the previously disclosed fight over more than A$1 billion in tax bills slapped on BHP's earnings from the operation. BHP is trying to fight the ATO's assertion that the company's British arm must also pay tax on 58% of the income it reaps from the sales of Australian goods.

BASE METALS

* Boliden AB secured a €770 million two-tranche credit line from a banking syndicate. Company CFO Håkan Gabrielsson said the deal increases the Stockholm-based company's debt maturity profile at lower funding costs.

* Libero Copper Corp. agreed to acquire B2Gold Corp.'s Mocoa copper-molybdenum deposit in Colombia by issuing shares representing a 19% stake in the buyer.

* Vedanta Resources PLC's Zambian unit, Konkola Copper Mines PLC is contesting a tax bill of almost US$18 million imposed by the country's revenue authority after it completed an audit of major mining companies operating in Zambia, Reuters wrote, citing an industry source familiar with the matter.

* Lithium Chile Inc. completed the spinout of its Kairos Metals Corp. unit, which will hold the parent company's copper, gold and silver assets in Chile.

* Horizonte Minerals PLC posted an initial National Instrument 43-101-compliant resource estimate for its Vermelho nickel-cobalt project in Brazil. The project hosts 167.8 million tonnes at 1.01% nickel and 0.06% cobalt containing 1.68 million tonnes of nickel and 94,000 tonnes of cobalt in the measured and indicated categories.

* Auroch Minerals Ltd. terminated an option to earn up to a 75% interest in the Alcoutim copper-zinc project in southeastern Portugal as the project's prospecting license could not be renewed.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Pan American Silver Corp.'s net earnings rose significantly to US$48.2 million in the first quarter from US$20.0 million a year earlier. Silver output in the period slipped to 6.1 million ounces from 6.2 million ounces, while gold output increased to 46,230 ounces from 37,700 ounces. The company approved a dividend of 3.5 cents per share for the quarter.

* Kin Mining NL said a preliminary report from Como Engineers confirmed a material increase in the estimated capital cost of the Cardinia process plant at the Leonora gold project in Western Australia but found no fatal flaws in the plant. The board decided to suspend plant construction activities until it completes additional test work, engineering design scheduling and cost estimates.

* Gold hopeful Orminex Ltd. resumed trading on the ASX on May 7. The company said that Perth, Australia-based investor Wyllie Group participated in its recent A$7 million offering in order to secure a 6% shareholding. Orminex will use the proceeds to resume production at its 51%-owned Comet Vale gold property in Western Australia, where underground mining is expected to resume in 2018.

* Mongolia-focused explorer Steppe Gold Ltd. filed a final prospectus for a C$21.1 million IPO of units at C$2 each, with the offering to close by May 22. The company has secured conditional approval to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange, provided it meets all of the bourse's requirements by July 31. The company's shares are expected to start trading under the STGO ticker on the anticipated closing date.

* Mexican antitrust authorities granted clearance to First Majestic Silver Corp.'s planned acquisition of Primero Mining Corp. in a cash and stock deal, valued at about US$320 million.

* A group of Petropavlovsk PLC shareholders holding a 9.11% interest in the company requisitioned resolutions to remove all existing directors of the company and appoint Pavel Maslovskiy, Roderic Lyne and Robert Jenkins to the board in an annual general meeting scheduled for late June.

* Cradle Arc PLC said that Randgold Resources Ltd. is terminating the joint venture agreement for the exploration and development of the Kossanto West gold project in Mali, without providing details. Kossanto West comprises the Kobokoto Est and Koussikoto licenses, covers 127 square kilometers and forms part of the larger Kossanto property.

* Oklo Resources Ltd. completed the acquisition of the Kandiole Sud gold project in West Mali and plans to immediately start work on the project.

* Uzbekistan intends to keep full control of its gold mines and oil firm, as it prepares to privatize its state airline, Reuters reported, citing Deputy Prime Minister Sukhrob Kholmuradov. "What we see as a key sector which we believe we have to keep (in state control) is mainly gold mining and our main oil company," Kholmuradov said.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. booked a consolidated net loss of 4.26 billion Indian rupees in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2018, widening from a net loss of 983.7 million rupees a year earlier. Revenue in the period rose 27% to 85.99 billion rupees, and EBITDA jumped 38% year over year to 21.36 billion rupees. The company's production of steel and pellets increased 32% and 15%, respectively, to 1.7 million tonnes and 1.8 million tonnes.

* Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau SA's net income in the first quarter plunged 45.6% from a year ago to 448.4 million reais, due to a one-time reversal of contingent liabilities made in 2017. Profit fell despite higher production and sales in the first quarter. Gerdau's crude steel output climbed 3.7% year on year to 4.17 million tonnes and steel shipments rose 7.8% to 3.87 million tonnes.

* Meanwhile, Gerdau said the impact of the U.S. sanctions on steel imports is expected to be positive for the company's business, Metal Bulletin reported, citing CEO Gustavo Werneck Da Cunha. The executive said that the steel quotas will contribute to reducing imports and raising the utilization capacity of its North American operations to 85% from the current 80%.

* Corsa Coal Corp. reported net and comprehensive income from continuing operations slumped to US$2.0 million in the first quarter, from US$11.9 million a year earlier. The company sold 562,000 tons of coal in the quarter, compared with 372,000 tons in the first quarter a year earlier.

* Brazilian antitrust authority Cade approved Yara International ASA's planned acquisition of the Cubatão Fertilizantes complex from Vale SA for about US$255 million. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the month.

* ArcelorMittal tapped Bank of America-Merrill Lynch to dispose of its assets in Italy, Romania, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Belgium, in a bid to secure antitrust clearance for the planned acquisition of Italian steelmaker Ilva International SpA, Reuters reported. The suitors for these assets are likely to come from Europe and Asia.

* Russia's PJSC Acron is in talks with Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro for the potential acquisition of the latter's two fertilizer units, Reuters reported, citing the state-controlled oil company.

* African Rainbow Capital Investments Ltd. flagged delays to its 25%-owned Elandsfontein phosphate mine in South Africa, with the mine and plant now expected to be fully commissioned in August 2019, rather than the end of this year as previously expected, Mining Weekly reported.

* An explosion at stainless steelmaker Aperam SA's Belgian facility injured three people, Reuters reported, citing the company. Firefighters were still attending the fire at the factory, but appeared to have the situation under control, a company spokesperson said. The cause of the explosion and its impact on the operation remain unclear.

* Divers were sent May 9 in a bid to rescue three miners trapped underground after a May 5 earthquake hit Jastrzebska Spólka Weglowa SA's Borynia-Zofiowka-Jastrzebie coal mine in Poland, Reuters wrote. Two miners have died and two others have been rescued.

* Incitec Pivot Ltd.'s net profit, excluding individually material items, slid 3.3% yearly to A$147.1 million, or 8.8 Australian cents per share in the first half of its fiscal 2018. It announced an interim unfranked dividend of 4.5 cents per share.

* An explosion at a small coal mine left two dead and three missing at Hunan Baodian Qunli Coal Mining Co. in China's Hunan province, Reuters reported. The mine produces 120,000 tonnes of coal per year.

* Brazil launched an anti-dumping probe into imports of cast iron pipes from China, India and United Arab Emirates, following indications that the products from these countries were entering the Latin American country at lower prices than local goods, Metal Bulletin reported.

SPECIALTY

* Albemarle Corp.'s first-quarter net income surged 162% year over year to US$131.8 million, while net sales rose 14% to US$821.6 million. The company lifted its full-year EPS guidance to between US$5.10 and US$5.40, reflecting an 11% to 18% increase over the 2017 results.

* First Graphene Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding with Engage Marine for developing graphene-enhanced coatings and ropes as well as other products for the maritime industry.

* Lithium Power International Ltd.'s 50%-owned Minera Salar Blanco SpA sued Chile to stop Codelco from exploiting a lithium deposit where both companies have claims, Reuters reported, citing a lawsuit filed in March. Salar Blanco claims Codelco's permit overlaps its property, alleging it was wrongly issued, although Lithium Power International CEO Martin Howell said in an interview that he hoped that the suit would be resolved in six months.

* Triton Minerals Ltd. signed a second binding off-take agreement for its flagship Ancuabe graphite project in Mozambique. The company will supply up to 16,000 tonnes of concentrate per year to Qingdao Chenyang Graphite for at least five years.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The Congress of South African Trade Unions and the National Union of Mineworkers plan to picket at the chamber of mines on May 10 to demand action against "deteriorating safety standards" in the mining industry, Mining Weekly reported. The NUM said in a statement that more than 33 people had been killed in the sector since the start of this year.

* Government officials and mining experts from Laos and certain members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations convened for a three-day workshop on international standards for sustainable mine closures, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

* The Minerals Council of Australia called on the government to implement economic reforms that will bolster the country's resources sector after the federal budget revealed the significance of the industry's revenues, with record resources exports of A$207 billion just in 2017, Mining Weekly wrote. According to the report, Australia's Treasury Department forecasts mining exports to grow a further 4% in 2017/2018 and 6.5% in 2018/2019.

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