BHP's Q1'18 copper output up 14% despite Escondida delays
BHP Billiton Group reported an increase in copper output for the September quarter and left its guidance unchanged despite the delayed ramp-up of the expansion of the Escondida mine in Chile. Overall copper production increased 14% to 404,000 tonnes, with the increases from Escondida and the South Australia-based Olympic Dam mine partially offset by a decline in output from the Pampa Norte mine in Chile. Meanwhile, iron ore production in the September quarter dipped 3% year over year to 55.6 million tonnes on an attributable basis due to an expected reduction in output from Western Australian operations.
SEC files fraud charges against Rio Tinto, former executives
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Rio Tinto, former CEO Thomas Albanese and former CFO Guy Elliott with fraud for allegedly violating federal securities laws related to an unsuccessful acquisition of coal assets. The executives are accused of inflating the value of coal assets acquired in Mozambique for US$3.7 billion, which were sold a few years later for US$50 million. Rio Tinto said it will vigorously defend the charges.
Vale seeks partner for New Caledonia nickel ops
Vale SA is working with Scotiabank for the potential sale of a stake in its New Caledonia nickel operations, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The miner has held talks with several Chinese groups, including Shenzhen-based Gem Co., which recycles and refines nickel cobalt for use in batteries.
* Australian explorer Ardea Resources Ltd. plans to evaluate a potential demerger of its noncore gold and base metals projects. The company's key focus is its Kalgoorlie project in Western Australia, which is prospective for both nickel and cobalt, and it recently raised A$5.5 million to accelerate drilling to define a reserve and upgrade the resource for the KNP cobalt zone.
* A Swedish civil court in the city of Skellefteå began reviewing a claim filed against Boliden AB subsidiary Boliden Mineral AB by about 800 Chilean citizens over health issues resulting from the dumping of smelter sludge by the company near the city of Arica in the 1980s. The plaintiffs request US$12.3 million in compensations over damages, daily El Mercurio reported.
* Amur Minerals Corp. estimated that open pit mining from its Kun-Manie project in Russia can generate an EBITDA of over US$1.6 billion, based on a nickel price of US$7.27 per pound. The four open pit defined deposits contain 77 million tonnes of ore averaging 0.73% nickel for 564,100 tonnes and 0.20% copper for 151,500 tonnes, with platinum and palladium as by products.
* Copper producer KGHM Polska Miedz SA does not expect any significant impact on sales or core earnings from the recent breakdown of a smelter in the city of Glogow in Poland, Reuters reported. The miner said in the week of Oct. 9 that an accident at the smelter would result in production dropping by 14,000 tonnes.
* Altus Strategies Plc was granted the 412 square kilometers Daro exploration license over the copper and gold deposits in the Tigray Regional State of northern Ethiopia.
* Hochschild Mining Plc's attributable production in the third quarter totaled 10.3 million silver equivalent ounces, compared to 9.9 million silver equivalent ounces a year ago. Silver production increased to 5.3 million ounces, from 5 million ounces, and gold production rose to 67,230 ounces, from 66,380 ounces.
* Metminco Ltd.'s feasibility study for its Miraflores gold project in Colombia pegged a posttax net present value of US$72.3 million, discounted at 8%, and a 25% internal rate of return. The project will annually produce 45,000 ounces of gold and 22,600 ounces of silver on average over about 9.5 years. The estimate was based on a maiden ore reserve estimate of 4.3 million tonnes grading 3.29 g/t gold for 456,000 contained ounces.
* Newly listed Riversgold Ltd. is undertaking an exploration program at its Kurnalpi project in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia, starting with a maiden drilling program, just a week after it lit up the boards of the ASX following a successful IPO.
* Sula Iron & Gold Plc plans to look for interested partners for a joint venture or farm out of its Ferensola gold project in Sierra Leone. The company is also looking to acquire additional assets.
* Torex Gold Resources Inc. kicked off a US$15 million infill drill program at its Media Luna gold project in southwest Mexico. The program will include 105,000 meters of drilling and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.
* Vital Metals Ltd. can earn a 50% joint venture stake in three gold exploration permits in Niger, covering 4,289 square kilometers in total, from a private Turkish company SUMMA. The company is required to spend a total of US$6 million on exploration within 2.5 years.
* Pan African Resources Plc subsidiary Barberton Mines Pty. Ltd. successfully concluded a one-year wage agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers. The agreement is in addition to the three-year wage agreement with the United Association of South Africa.
* Superior Gold Inc. expects commercial production at its Hermes gold project in Western Australia in the first quarter of 2018.
* Korab Resources Ltd. secured rights to a 100% interest in seven exploration license applications in Western Australia totaling 210 square kilometers.
* Option contracts expiring Nov. 28 and Jan. 29, with one kilogram of gold as underlying, were launched by the Multi Commodity Exchange of India, The Hindu reported.
* Newcrest Mining Ltd. will invest A$93 million to expand the West Dome open pit at its Telfer gold mine in Western Australia to extend the life of the open pit by around four years to about 2023.
* Jaguar Mining Inc. lowered its full-year gold production forecast to between 87,000 and 92,000 ounces of gold, from about 95,000 ounces of gold previously announced. The reduction was mainly due to lower than anticipated production from the Turmalina mine in Brazil.
* PAO Severstal's attributable net profit in the third quarter plummeted to US$297 million, or 37 U.S. cents per share, from US$429 million, or 53 cents apiece, a year ago. The quarter's results included a US$112 million income tax expense and a US$23 million foreign exchange loss. Revenue for three months totaled US$1.97 billion, up from US$1.59 billion in the year-ago quarter.
* The board of directors at Severstal recommended that shareholders at a Nov. 24 extraordinary meeting approve a dividend of 35.61 Russian rubles per share for the three months that ended Sept. 30.
* Botswana-focused coal developer Minergy Ltd. has decided to seek a U.K. listing instead of Johannesburg due to negative investor sentiment attached to South Africa, MiningMx reported, citing CEO Andre Bojé.
* The U.S. Department of Justice stepped into Kobe Steel Ltd.'s data-falsification scandal, as a new report claimed that the steelmaker's plants had been rigging product quality data for decades. Kobe Steel said its U.S. subsidiary received a request from the Justice Department seeking documents related to compromised products sold to U.S. customers.
* Nanjing Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. expects its nine-month net profit to reach 2.05 billion Chinese yuan, up 800% year over year, Securities Times reported.
* A conceptual engineering study into an expanded plant for Avenira Ltd.'s Baobab phosphate project in Senegal estimated CapEx of US$53.4 million to increase nameplate capacity from the current 500,000 tonnes per year to 1 million tonnes per year of high-grade phosphate rock concentrate.
* Seven miners were killed while another went missing after part of an illegal coal mine in Turkey's Sirnak province caved in, Reuters reported.
* A legal dispute between Chile's state-backed development agency Corfo and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA over the latter's lithium lease in the Salar de Atacama region will return to arbitration after talks failed. A decision on the arbitration is expected to be handed down by the end of the year.
* A scoping study on Plymouth Minerals Ltd.'s San Jose lithium-tin project in Spain's Extremadura region estimated a pretax net present value, discounted at 8%, of US$401 million, an internal rate of return of 28% and a payback period of 2.7 years.
* Battery Minerals Ltd.'s value engineering study for its Montepuez graphite project in Mozambique slashed CapEx to US$42.3 million, operating expenses to US$337 per tonne and the payback period to less than two years.
* Sheffield Resources Ltd. appointed GR Engineering Services Ltd. as preferred engineering, procurement and construction tenderer of the mineral processing plant and facilities for the Thunderbird mineral sands project in Western Australia.
* Sheffield separately said that Taurus Mining Finance Fund and Taurus Mining Finance Annex Fund agreed to arrange and underwrite a US$200 million project development facility to advance Thunderbird.
* Vedomosti reported that rough diamonds may be exempted from value added tax in Russia. PJSC Alrosa will be able to sell diamonds to Russian cutters without VAT.
* Anglo American Plc said the provisional rough diamond sales for its De Beers SA unit dropped to US$370 million in the eighth sales cycle of the year from US$507 million in the seventh sales cycle and US$494 million in the eighth cycle of 2016.
* Peninsula Energy Ltd. decided to exit and sell its 74% interest in the Karoo uranium projects in South Africa through an active process over the remainder of the year.
* Southern China's Jiangxi province unveiled 19 measures to tighten control over the supply chain of rare earths, jrj.com reported. Only companies with a production quota are allowed to engage in mining, imports and sales.
* The British government will begin a consultation for a proposed amendment of policies related to mergers in Britain, such as those that raise national security concerns. The proposal, which was set out by U.K. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, calls for the lowering of the threshold of mergers that the government can intervene in to those with a U.K. turnover of over £1 million.
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