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Vedanta halts Nchanga on Zambia tax; ex-Xstrata CEO sets up new mining venture


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Vedanta halts Nchanga on Zambia tax; ex-Xstrata CEO sets up new mining venture


Tax concerns prompt Vedanta to halt Nchanga copper mine operations in Zambia

Vedanta Resources PLC unit Konkola Copper Mines PLC halted operations at its Nchanga mine in Zambia after the government imposed a 5% import duty on copper concentrates, Reuters reported. In a note to employees seen by the newswire, Konkola said the mine would be suspended from Jan. 4 due to the low availability of acid due to downsizing at the Nchanga smelter. The duty has made smelting imported concentrates commercially unviable, the company added.

Ex-Xstrata CEO Mick Davis sets up new mining venture

Former Xstrata CEO Mick Davis set up a new mining venture, Niron Metals, which will look for global opportunities in industrial materials, including nickel, zinc and copper, The Daily Telegraph reported. The venture has two additional directors: Varda Shine, former sales boss of De Beers SA, and Marcos Camhis, founder and CEO of Switzerland-based Fos Asset Management.

India's Meghalaya state fined 1B rupees for failing to stop illegal mining

India's environmental court fined the Meghalaya state government 1 billion Indian rupees over its failure to stop illegal coal mining, Press Trust of India reported. The National Green Tribunal said the state violated a 2014 ban on coal mining as the majority of 24,000 mines are operating without licenses, leases or environmental clearance.


* Marquee Resources Ltd. intersected high-grade mineralization within and beyond the constraints of the current mineral resource model at its Werner Lake cobalt project in Ontario. The company expects a positive update to the mineral resource estimate in the first quarter.

* Wolfden Resources Corp. reported a mineral resource estimate at its Pickett Mountain zinc-lead-copper project in Maine, with indicated resources of 2.05 million tonnes grading 19.32% zinc equivalent and inferred resources of 2.03 million tonnes grading 20.61% zinc equivalent using a cutoff grade of 9% zinc equivalent.

* The International Copper Study Group forecast that annual copper mine capacity will grow at an average of 2.2% per annum through 2021, with growth of 0.5% seen in 2018 and 2019, accelerating to 4% in the following two years as more projects and expansions come online. Copper mine production capacity is expected to hit about 26 million tonnes by 2021.

* TopTung Ltd. will not proceed with the planned acquisition of Meteoric Resources NL's Midrim copper and Laforce nickel projects in Quebec. The company said the move is based on market conditions and a decision to focus on evaluating its current Canadian portfolio.

* Symbol Mining Ltd. nearly doubled its landholding at the Macy zinc-lead joint venture with partner Goidel Resources Ltd. to 982.8 square kilometers, after the Nigerian Mining Cadastre Office granted six additional exploration licenses.

* Rambler Metals & Mining PLC applied for voluntary delisting of its common shares from the TSX Venture Exchange in a bid to save administrative costs associated with a dual listing. The company's shares will continue to trade on the London Stock Exchange's AIM segment.

* Rockfire Resources PLC decided to relinquish its two Mount Visi exploration licenses, EL2051 and EL2322, part of its New Britain copper project in Papua New Guinea, due to poor exploration results in difficult terrain and will instead focus on its projects in Queensland, Australia. Rockfire retains EL1462 at Nakru, which awaits approval for renewal.


* At least 40 miners were killed and 10 others injured after a gold mine collapsed in Afghanistan, CNN reported. A landslide caused the collapse, which occurred during heavy snowfall, police spokesperson Sanaullah Rohani told the newswire.

* Resolute Mining Ltd. produced 73,691 ounces of gold in the December 2018 quarter, reflecting a 33% increase on a quarterly basis. The increase was supported by a more than 50% jump in output at the Syama mine in Mali to 56,207 ounces in the period.

* Sandstorm Gold Ltd. achieved record sales of 57,600 attributable gold equivalent ounces in 2018.

* Santa Fe Gold Corp. is acquiring the Billali, Jim Crow and Imperial Mines gold projects in New Mexico in a US$10 million deal. The company said the mines "should be able to be ramped up for mining in a relatively short time." It did not outline potential production or capital cost figures, and it plans to ship ore directly to smelters to decrease costs.

* Dampier Gold Ltd. acquired 80% of the Menzies and Goongarrie exploration projects located 100 kilometers north of Western Australia's Kalgoorlie gold mining district. The company issued 10 million shares and paid A$20,000 to vendors Magnum Mining and Exploration Ltd. and Discovery Capital Ltd.

* Authorities in Mauritania granted Algold Resources Ltd.'s request for more time to complete a feasibility study on its Tijirit gold project beyond the original deadline of 2018-end.

* King River Resources Ltd. intersected a high-grade gold zone during reverse circulation drilling at its Mount Remarkable gold project in Western Australia. The new zone, at the eastern edge of the Trudi main grid, returned a result of 4 meters at 19.88 g/t gold, including 1 meter at 69.30 g/t gold from 21 meters, and is open to the east.


* Japan is exploring countermeasures to protect the assets of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. from seizure in South Korea, Bloomberg News reported, citing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Lawyers for South Koreans who were allegedly forced to work for Japanese companies during World War II filed court applications to seize Nippon Steel & Sumitomo assets in South Korea.

* Operations at the Mitsubishi Corp. and BHP Group Ltd.-owned Saraji coal mine in Queensland, Australia, resumed after a person died in a machinery accident Dec. 31, 2018, Australian Mining reported. Meanwhile, CFMEU Mining and Energy is urging BHP to inform its workforce about areas of concern at all seven coal mines the company operates in central Queensland.

* Kibo Energy PLC intends to fast-track the remaining technical work to complete an integrated bankable feasibility study for its 85%-owned Mabesekwa coal independent power project in Botswana and review commercial opportunities for it.

* Private equity firm Blue Point Capital Partners LLC sold its stake in Elyria, Ohio-based Alco Manufacturing Corp. LLC for an undisclosed sum. Alco makes precision turned unleaded steel, brass and aluminum couplings and fittings for various end markets, including agriculture, construction, industrial production, oil and gas exploration, forestry, mining, utility and material handling equipment.

* Yankuang Group Co. Ltd., the ultimate parent of Yancoal Australia Ltd., will purchase bonds belonging to the Hunter Valley coal mines in New South Wales, Australia, for US$200 million as part of a previous financing deal, The Australian reported. In February 2016, Yancoal lost control of the Ashton, Austar and Donaldson mines after a US$950 million debt funding to a consortium of financiers, including China's Industrial Bank Co. Ltd. and Bank of China.

* IndiOre Ltd. cancelled the phase-three expansion of the company's Kurnool plant in India's Andhra Pradesh state after poor results from recent drilling. Reverse circulation drilling resulted in no intersections of any mineralization of adequate grade or thickness to justify mining on any of the project areas. IndiOre started the process to dismantle the process plant and site equipment, reducing employee counts and remediating the sites.

* Analysts said they were not surprised by Westmoreland Coal Co.'s plan to sell its Buckingham coal mine in Ohio and pay a holding company to take several others because the operations have high reclamation costs and shrinking profitability.

* The electric sector's coal demand in the U.S. is projected to decline from 606 million tons in 2018 to 537 million tons in 2019 and come under additional pressure through 2022. Announced coal retirements over the next four years combined with lower natural gas prices are projected to push coal generation demand to a low point of 427 million tons per year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* China launched another key coal railway line, Shuozhun, which connects the leading coal-producing region of Inner Mongolia with the Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces, Xinhua News Agency reported. The 214.5-kilometer line has an annual freight transport capacity of 52.6 million tonnes.


* Societe Miniere de Bisunzu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's biggest miner of coltan, will end its ITSCI certification, citing rising costs, company Communications Director Philippe Stuyck told Reuters. Coltan is an ore that contains niobium and tantalum and is used in technology such as mobile phones and laptops. The ITSCI scheme is a responsible supply-chain initiative many companies use to ensure the minerals they use are free from conflict, child labor and human rights abuses. Jean Malic Kalima, the chairman of the Rwanda Mining Association, estimated certification costs at US$130 to US$180/t, based on the mineral involved.

* China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology unveiled new guidelines laying out national efforts to prohibit illegal mining and recycling of rare earth materials and ensure that unauthorized facilities are eliminated, Reuters reported. China is responsible for more than 90% of the global supply of rare earth elements.

* Energy Fuels Inc. resumed vanadium production from tailings pond solutions at its wholly owned White Mesa uranium mill in Utah and produced the first batches of vanadium concentrate, also known as black flake. The company also plans to invest US$4.2 million to increase uranium production to be able to capitalize on a potential improvement in uranium market conditions. It expects to achieve monthly production rates of 200,000 to 225,000 pounds of vanadium pentoxide by the end of the first quarter and maintain this level of output during 2019 and through at least half of 2020.

* Shefa Yamim (A.T.M.) Ltd. said carmeltazite, a mineral found in one of its gemstones, the trademarked Carmel Sapphire, was recognized and approved as a new mineral by the International Mineralogical Association Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification.

* Black Rock Mining Ltd. struck a three-year deal with Taihe Soar (Dalian) Supply Chain Management Co. Ltd. to supply up to 100,000 tonnes of natural flake graphite from the Mahenge graphite mine in Tanzania.

* Mayur Resources Ltd. secured up to US$25 million in funding from China Titanium Resources Holdings Ltd. in return for a 49% stake in the Orokolo Bay industrial mineral sands project in Papua New Guinea.


* The mining industry is closely monitoring election results in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which will mark the end of President Joseph Kabila's rule, Bloomberg News wrote. The country, which held presidential elections Dec. 30, 2018, is one of the most important but difficult mining jurisdictions in the world. Major concerns voiced in 2018 included a new mining code that increased royalties and added taxes.

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