China plans US$3B retaliatory tariffs on US products
China's commerce ministry announced plans to impose tariffs on up to US$3 billion of U.S. imports in response to U.S. tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum products from China. U.S. President Donald Trump will impose US$50 billion in tariffs on U.S. imports from China, two senior White House officials told reporters, but the U.S. would temporarily exempt the EU, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea. Canada and Mexico had already been granted temporary exemptions. According to Reuters, shares of U.S. steel and aluminum companies plunged March 22 after the government announced more tariff exemptions.
Tata Steel said to make 350B rupee all-cash bid for Bhushan
Tata Steel Ltd. forwarded an all-cash bid of 350 billion Indian rupees to take over insolvent Indian steelmaker Bhushan Steel Ltd. from its creditors, Bloomberg News wrote, citing " a person with knowledge of the matter." Tata said the same day that its bid was declared successful. If it completes the acquisition by March 2019, Tata will become the country's largest steelmaker.
Adding to Noble Group Ltd.'s deepening problems, Indonesian coal miner PT Atlas Resources Tbk sued the company and is seeking over US$260 million in compensation, Bloomberg News wrote. The Indonesian company also wants to cancel marketing deals with Noble Group and one of its units and unwind equity transactions with the company. Noble Group confirmed the lawsuit but said it is "not aware of the grounds for the claim."
* Glencore PLC disclosed that women working in its oil trading business earn 28% less on average than men, with 57% lower bonuses, Bloomberg News wrote.
* Codelco reached a 36-month labor deal with the professionals' union at the Ministro Hales copper mine, which was met by a 75% approval from the union members, Reuters reported.
* Centerra Gold Inc. announced the restart of the second ball mill circuit at the Mount Milligan copper-gold mine in British Columbia. Mill operations were suspended in December 2017 due to insufficient water resources and were partially restarted in February. The company expects the mine to achieve sustainable mill throughput levels averaging approximately 55,000 tonnes per day for the second half of the year.
* About 40 union workers blocked access to the Mantos Blancos copper mine, operated by joint venture Mantos Copper SA, protesting against alleged illegal layoffs and other anti-union practices by the company, union leader Giovanni Pérez said. The company declined to comment on the incident, news radio Cooperativa reported.
* Southern Copper Corp. brought forward the date of the beginning of operations of its Los Chancas copper-molybdenum project in Peru's Apurimac region to 2022 from 2025, Gestión reported, citing a Form 10-K annual report filed with the SEC. Southern Copper plans to conduct the project's environmental impact assessment in the first months of this year.
* The eerie stillness at the Pilbara Conglomerate Gold Conference spoke volumes of the early stage and therefore perceived uncertainty around the investment story since "watermelon seed" gold nuggets were found in August 2017, but juniors struggling to gain traction locally can take heart in renewed investment interest from Canada.
* Amid a favorable gold price environment, S&P Global Ratings upgraded its long-term corporate credit rating on Canadian gold miners Barrick Gold Corp. and Kinross Gold Corp. and revised its outlook on Goldcorp Inc. to stable. The long-term corporate credit rating for Barrick was upgraded to BBB from BBB-, with a stable outlook. Kinross was upgraded to BBB-, from BB+, with a stable rating.
* Wesizwe Platinum Ltd. expects to book attributable headline EPS of between 18.88 South African cents and 23.91 cents, lower than the 25.15 cents booked a year earlier.
* Private equity group Greenstone Resources II LP acquired a 29.82% interest in Serabi Gold PLC via a US$15.0 million strategic investment of 297,759,419 shares at 0.5 pence each.
* Carbine Resources Ltd. will cease project expenditures and stop all work at the Mount Morgan gold-copper project in Queensland, Australia, effective immediately. The decision to stop work is a result of the company not being able to improve the terms of agreements to increase returns to an acceptable level.
* Crystal Exploration Inc. signed a letter of intent with PPM Phoenix Precious Metals Corp. for an option to earn up to a 75% interest in the Lawyers gold-silver property in British Columbia.
* RNC Minerals engaged PCF Capital Group and Haywood Securities to run a strategic-alternatives process for its Beta Hunt gold project in Western Australia while it moves to focus on its Dumont nickel-cobalt project in Quebec. The Beta Hunt mine has been tentatively valued at between A$15 million and A$20 million, The Australian reported.
* China's steel traders are worried about a prolonged downturn as stockpiles accumulate and prices continue to drop, Reuters reported. "We were too optimistic that the price rally would continue this year with ongoing environmental measures and capacity cutbacks," said Wang Wei, a rebar trader based in China's Liaoning province.
* The trustee for Noble Group's US$379 million 3.625% senior notes due 2018 filed a notice of default against the company due to its failure to pay the principal amount March 20. The Hong Kong-based commodities trader said the 2018 noteholders who have not signed the restructuring agreement can take action, but "it would be very difficult to successfully wind up the company, which is the only realistic remedy available to such a holder."
* Rio Tinto iron ore CEO Chris Salisbury told Reuters that the company does not expect a "remarkable change" in the global iron ore market's supply and demand balance through 2019, though the executive flagged the possible moderation of steel demand growth in China.
* Reuters calculated that aluminum producer China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd.'s net income in the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2017, reached 1.52 billion Chinese yuan, the highest in at least five years, amid higher sales of new products for the transportation sector.
* The British government blocked the development of a new open cast coal mine in northeastern England after a public inquiry, Reuters wrote. The Banks Group's rejected project was approved by a county council in 2017.
* China Iron and Steel Association Deputy Secretary General Li Xinchuang told the Global Iron Ore & Steel Forecast Conference in Perth, Australia, that the Chinese government's supply-side reforms will continue unabated while encouraging mergers and acquisitions activity to reduce domestic steel production capacity further.
* S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis presented at a major iron ore conference revealed that China faces increased competition for liquidity, so closing its credit gap needs to be a priority amid mid-grade ore price concerns, S&P senior commodity analyst Max Court told the Global Iron Ore & Steel Forecast Conference in Perth, Australia.
* Brazilian steel institute Aço Brasil said the country's exemption from U.S. tariffs will last for 30 days, Reuters reported. Separately, the steel institute said the government will monitor steel imports to detect if there is any diversion of volumes previously exported to the U.S. following the steel tariffs, Metal Bulletin reported.
* Japan will be in talks with the U.S. over trade issues stemming from steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, adding that retaliation may destroy the system of free trade, Reuters reported, citing Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko.
* Russia's Ministry of Industry and Trade intends to propose a list of restrictions on U.S. goods in response to the American steel and aluminum tariffs, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Evtukhov told Interfax.
* Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. booked attributable net income of 1.38 billion yuan for 2017, higher than the approximately 960 million yuan profit it flagged in late January and up significantly from its 368.4 million yuan net profit in 2016. The company's board did not propose any final dividend for 2017.
* The judicial reorganization of MMX Mineração e Metálicos SA is experiencing difficulties 15 months after the company requested legal protection against creditors. Through an injunction claim, a group of creditors managed to suspend a general shareholders meeting scheduled for March 21, which would have reviewed a judicial recovery plan proposal, Valor Econômico reported.
* Bellzone Mining PLC amended a number of loan agreements with Hudson Global Group Ltd. and CS International (S) Pte. Ltd., covering extended availability period for one Hudson loan and extended repayment dates on all loans.
* Shougang Fushan Resources Group Ltd.'s revenue in 2017 jumped 92% to about HK$3.47 billion, while attributable net profit soared 865% to HK$1.08 billion.
* Saudi Arabian Mining Co., or Ma'aden, tapped BNP Paribas and National Commercial Bank as advisers as it seeks to refinance about US$1 billion of bank debt raised for the company's Ma'aden Bauxite and Alumina Co. unit, Reuters reported, citing banking sources.
* JSW Steel Ltd. could be interested in bidding for debt-laden Essar Steel India Ltd. after creditors rejected offers from ArcelorMittal and VTB Capital-lead Numetal, Metal Bulletin reported, citing sources.
* RBC Daily reported that Gaz-Alliance, owned by Ukrainian businessman Sergey Kurchenko, received its status as the only supplier of coal from Donbass. Its competitors have filed a complaint with the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia and the Federal Security Service.
* In preparation for a tropical cyclone, Metro Mining Ltd. flew nonessential staff and contractors out of its Bauxite Hills mine in Queensland, Australia, as a precautionary measure. The mine was slated to start mining operations the week of April 2, but the weather may delay it by up to a week.
* Transnet signed a 7.5-year deal with South32 Ltd., paving the way for the transportation of 2.6 million tonnes per annum of manganese and realizing nearly 10.4 billion South African rand in total value for the rail company, Mining Weekly reported. The contract, to be backdated from September 2015, will be valid until March 2023.
* Altius Minerals Corp. agreed to buy 18,797,454 shares of Alderon Iron Ore Corp. from Liberty Metals and Mining Holdings LLC, raising its stake in the miner to about 39%. Separately, Altius teamed up with a private third party to buy an additional 44.9% interest in Potash Royalty Ltd. Partnership from Liberty Metals & Mining Holdings LLC for C$75 million in cash plus nominal price adjustments.
* Gensource Potash Corp. entered into a nonbinding memorandum of understanding with a North American agricultural industry player for a potential off-take agreement covering the purchase of 100% of the 250,000 tonnes per year of potash expected to be produced from the former's Vanguard operations in central Saskatchewan.
* Members of the Kanyika community in Malawi are taking legal action against Globe Metals & Mining Ltd.'s Malawian subsidiary, Globe Metals & Mining (Africa) Ltd., and the government to seek compensation for exploration on its land. The group alleged that the company carried out exploration and mining activities on an area of the Kanyika niobium project without honoring its compensation obligations.
* Pilbara Minerals Ltd. Managing Director and CEO Ken Brinsden projects that the prices of electric vehicles will fall to A$10,000 as China's lithium battery technology development is rapidly improving against competing nations, including Australia, The West Australian reported.
* Neometals Ltd. is working toward the recovery of raw battery materials, including lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper, from expired batteries at its Montreal facility to supplement its existing mining output, Bloomberg News reported.
* Two independent advisory firms recommended that shareholders approve Mountain Province Diamonds Inc.'s C$176 million all-share acquisition of the issued share capital of Kennady Diamonds Inc.
* The Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources delayed the final decision on mine closures and suspension orders imposed by former Environment Secretary Regina Lopez to next month, with an official saying "we are still finalizing some details," Manila Bulletin wrote.
* Goldman Sachs lost its spot in the top three commodities banks for 2017 and fell below rivals JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Citibank for the first time, Reuters wrote, citing data from analytics firm Coalition.
* China's Zhejiang provincial government plans to turn 180 mines under its administration to green mines — defined by the central government as mines that require lower energy consumption and produces less environmental damage, China Land and Resources reported. The local authorities launched a three-year program that aims to upgrade mines in its administration to qualify.
* Private equity will be nimble in tweaking investment strategy in the mining sector should funding options expand for mine developers in an improving market. A veteran of the space, who preferred not to be named, recently shared this view as he discussed broader private equity themes with S&P Global Market Intelligence.
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