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Vale execs to be indicted over Feijao; US sanctions to target Iran metals sector


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Vale execs to be indicted over Feijao; US sanctions to target Iran metals sector


Vale, TÜV SÜD employees to be indicted over Feijao tailings dam collapse

A total of 15 to 20 people are expected to be indicted in relation to the early 2019 collapse of the tailings dam at Vale SA's Feijao iron ore mine in Brazil, Reuters reported, citing Andressa de Oliveira Lanchotti, coordinator of a task force of prosecutors. The group expected to be charged includes executives from the mining giant, employees from German inspection company TÜV SÜD AG and the two companies themselves, according to the report.

Report: New US sanctions to target Iran's metals sector

Iran's metals sector will likely be hit by U.S. President Donald Trump's new wave of sanctions against the country, Bloomberg News reported, citing a source familiar with the administration's plans to "keep squeezing" Iran's economy following the killing of commander Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 2. According to the source, the sanctions will likely be targeting Iran's non-oil sectors, as part of a previously disclosed plan to choke off other sources of revenue now that the U.S. has clamped down on its oil exports.

Kirkland Lake Gold vaults into list of top 10 explorers

With a 40% year-over-year increase in its budget for gold exploration to US$114.5 million, Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. was the 10th largest explorer in 2019, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research team. Due to higher than originally planned spending, however, Kirkland had increased its forecast spend for 2019 to US$120 million to US$140 million.


* A unit of China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment issued import quotas for another 26,566 tonnes of high-grade copper scrap, the second batch of import quotas published by the ministry for the year, Reuters reported. Quotas for 7,544 tonnes of aluminum scrap and 3,180 tonnes of steel scrap imports were also awarded.

* Central Asia Metals PLC's full-year 2019 copper production from the Kounrad copper recovery plant in central Kazakhstan totaled 13,771 tonnes, falling from the previous year's output of 14,049 tonnes but surpassing guidance. Meanwhile, production from the SASA lead-zinc mine in Macedonia hit the upper end of the guidance range at 23,369 tonnes of zinc and 29,201 tonnes of lead.

* Indonesia greenlighted environmental impact studies for battery-grade nickel plants to be built in the Morowali regency, Reuters reported, citing Luhut Pandjaitan, the country's coordinating minister for maritime and investment affairs. At least five such plants are being built in the country, including projects by Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co. Ltd., GEM Co. Ltd. and Tsingshan Holding Group Co. Ltd.

* GSP Resource Corp. inked a letter of intent to acquire the Alwin copper-gold-silver project, which includes the past-producing Alwin copper mine in British Columbia, from vendors Richard John Billingsley and S. Gaye Richards for C$250,000 in cash, 4.5 million common shares, and a 1.8% royalty.


* A 2018 appeal by the Patay indigenous community seeking for a revision of the water quality baseline at Barrick Gold Corp.'s Pascua-Lama gold mine in the Chile-Argentina border was rejected by Chile's Supreme Court, Mining Journal reported.

* Centamin PLC's preliminary fourth-quarter 2019 gold output at the Sukari gold mine in Egypt increased 51% quarterly to 148,387 ounces, resulting from improved feed grade, metallurgical recoveries, and year-end plant drawdown of gold-in-circuit. Full-year 2019 output, meanwhile, increased 2% to 480,529 ounces. Output for full-year 2020 is expected to range from 510,000 ounces to 540,000 ounces.

* Rio Tinto unit Rio Tinto Exploration Pty. Ltd. completed the acquisition of a 51% stake in Antipa Minerals Ltd.'s Citadel gold project in Western Australia after sole funding over A$11 million of exploration expenditure on the project. Rio Tinto has now assumed the operator role in the joint venture and has until Jan. 30 to decide whether to sole fund an additional A$14 million of exploration expenditure within three years to increase its interest in the project to 65%.

* Sandstorm Gold Ltd. hit record sales of 63,800 attributable gold equivalent ounces in full-year 2019, with record realized preliminary revenue amounting to US$89.4 million.

* LeaGold Mining Corp.'s production in the fourth quarter of 2019 totaled 93,982 ounces of gold, while sales totaled 92,601 ounces of gold. Full-year gold production, meanwhile, totaled 375,445 ounces, with gold sales of 379,776 ounces.

* Equinox Gold Corp. achieved total production of about 201,000 ounces of gold in full year 2019, meeting the guidance range of 200,000 to 235,000 ounces. The company said its all-in sustaining costs are expected to be within the guidance of between US$940 and US$990 per ounce of gold sold.

* MAS Gold Corp. will begin legal proceedings against Golden Band Resources Inc., after the latter failed to respond to its notifications related to the ownership of the La Ronge South gold joint venture in Saskatchewan.

* Sierra Metals Inc.'s board of directors approved a plan to return up to US$30 million to shareholders in 2020. The company said that it is now in a position to start returning capital to shareholders as it has entered a new phase as a generator of free cash flow.

* Kerr Mines Inc. expects to conclude the permitting process for its Copperstone gold project in Arizona shortly. The company awaits the decision of record and the approval of the existing mine plan of operation. All other permits have been secured.


* India's coal minister Pralhad Joshi said that the country will lift restrictions on the use of coal mined locally and ease bidding rules starting March to attract foreign mining companies and reduce imports, Reuters reported.

* U.S. steelmaker Nucor Corp. pushed up prices, for the fifth time since late October 2019, for new orders of hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized sheet by at least US$40/ton. ArcelorMittal and PJSC Novolipetsk Steel also raised prices, in a sign of a potential upturn for the sector, Bloomberg News reported.

* The Western Australian port of Port Hedland set a new iron ore shipping record of over 515 million tonnes in 2019, topping its 2018 total of 508.5 million tonnes, primarily due to shipments from miners Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. and Roy Hill Holdings Pty Ltd., The Australian Financial Review reported.

* Monadelphous Group Ltd. was awarded a contract by BHP Group to provide upgrades to existing conveyor equipment, power switching and stackers at the Area C iron ore mine in Western Australia. Work is due for completion in the third quarter.

* Teck Resources Ltd. signed an agreement with Ridley Terminals Inc. allowing it to boost metallurgical coal shipments through the latter's facilities on the West Coast of Canada from 3 million tonnes per year to 6 million tonnes per year starting in January 2021.

* Brazil's Agência Nacional de Mineração approved Meridian Mining SE's trial mining license on Jaburi within the Espigão manganese project. The license was approved for the production of 30,000 tonnes of manganese oxide concentrate per annum, and is valid until Sept. 13, 2021.


* U.S. Department of Energy secretary Dan Brouillette set aside a ban on licenses for the export of weapons-grade uranium for making medical isotopes for two years. The ban was supposed to begin Jan. 3, Reuters reported.

* Kenmare Resources PLC's fourth-quarter 2019 heavy mineral concentrate production from the Moma titanium mine in northern Mozambique dropped 34% yearly to 264,700 tonnes, with ilmenite and primary zircon output totaling 203,900 tonnes and 10,900 tonnes, representing declines of 26% and 28%, respectively. Shipments, however, increased 23% to a record-high 352,900 tonnes.

* Lucapa Diamond Co. Ltd. recovered a 117-carat diamond from the Lulo alluvial mine in Angola. The gem-quality stone is the 14th over-100-carat diamond recovered from Lulo and the first for 2020.

* Galaxy Resources Ltd. shares closed with an 8% gain on the ASX after the company said that December 2019 quarter lithium concentrate production at the Mount Cattlin mine in Western Australia totaled 43,222 dry tonnes, near the upper end of its guidance of 45,000 dry tonnes.

* The government of Salta Province and its regulatory bodies approved the environmental impact report and the development of the next stage works at Argosy Minerals Ltd.'s Rincon lithium project in Argentina.


* Overall drilling activity metrics decreased month over month in December 2019, continuing a trend seen in December 2019 of the previous two years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research team. The total number of reporting projects drilled declined by 19 to 213, which is still above the year-to-date average of 204, and the number of companies reporting dropped to 198, from 220 in November 2019.

* While most other regions saw decreasing investment in exploration in 2019, Australia's budgets increased for the third consecutive year, by nearly US$200 million over 2018, S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research reported. Explorers allocated just over US$1.5 billion to Australia in 2019, a seven-year high, and Australia's 16% share of the global budget was a 17-year high. The increases were driven by higher allocations for copper and gold by producers.

* BMW became the first company from the automotive sector to join the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, a program that promotes socially and environmentally responsible mining by providing independent third-party verification and certification for industrial-scale mines, Mining Weekly reported.

* India's Supreme Court ordered the Union government to impose a condition to miners that to secure a mining lease and environment clearance, they have to ensure that they would restore the grass and other vegetation over that particular area, Deccan Herald reported.

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