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BHP nixes sale of Cerro Colorado; Barrick, Tanzania progress talks over tax row


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BHP nixes sale of Cerro Colorado; Barrick, Tanzania progress talks over tax row


BHP's sale of Cerro Colorado copper mine to EMR Capital falls through

The sale of BHP Group's Cerro Colorado copper mine in Chile to private equity manager EMR Capital Group fell through due to financing issues, Reuters reported. Both parties agreed to call off the transaction "after it became clear that financing conditions would not be met within the agreed upon timeline," a BHP spokesperson told Reuters, without providing additional details.

Barrick's Acacia Mining advances discussions with Tanzania over tax row

Barrick Gold Corp. and Tanzania have advanced in talks to settle a two-year long tax row involving the African country and Barrick's 63.9%-owned Acacia Mining PLC unit, but it is premature to tell that a deal has been reached, Reuters reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The source told the newswire that the meeting, which included Tanzania government officials, Barrick, and Randgold Resources Ltd., which the Toronto-based miner is acquiring, "appears to have gone well," but with "nothing in writing." A separate same-day report by Bloomberg News, however, reported that Barrick reached a deal with Tanzania on a US$300 million payment, which Acacia will make in installments.

Germany, Bolivia forge lithium development partnership

Bolivian state-firm YLB forged a partnership with private German company ACI Systems to develop its Uyuni salt flat in Andes, one of the globe's largest deposits, Reuters reported. The deal will also cover the construction of a lithium hydroxide plant as well as the establishment of a factory for electric vehicle batteries in Bolivia. The joint venture aims to produce up to 40,000 tons of lithium hydroxide per annum, starting 2022, over a period of 70 years.


* Greece is looking at ways to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply for Larco SA, which operates the Larco nickel project, in an effort to avert the possible closure of Europe's largest nickel producer, Reuters reported. The state holds a 55% interest in Larco, which owes about €280 million in unpaid electricity bills to state-controlled power utility Public Power Corp. SA.

* Southern Copper Corp. CFO Raúl Jacob said the election of Elmer Cáceres as the new regional governor of Peru's Arequipa region should not interfere with the approval process for the construction of the Tia María copper project, as the project's approval is under the jurisdiction of the national government, El Comercio reported. Jacob said in a report by Gestión that the planned start of production at Tia María may be delayed to 2023, from the first quarter of 2021, if Peru's Ministry of Energy and Mines does not grant the construction permits before the end of 2018.

* NGEx Resources Inc. plans to spin out its Josemaria copper project in Argentina's San Juan province into a standalone public company.

* Surge Exploration Inc. signed a definitive agreement for an option to acquire the 1,059-hectare Atacama Cobalto exploration property in Chile from Compañía Minera del Pacífico SA

* Aura Minerals Inc. declared commercial production at its Aranzazu copper-gold mine in Mexico, effective Dec. 10, nearly two months ahead of schedule and below budget.

* Emgold Mining Corp. signed a letter of intent with MSM Resource LLC to lease, with an option to purchase, the Marietta copper property in Nevada.

* Kopore Metals Ltd. will begin a planned exploration program in Namibia after securing the environmental clearance certificates for all eight of its prospecting licenses.

* S&P Global Market Intelligence's Metals and Mining Research estimates that benchmark treatment charges, or TCs, will increase in 2019 as concentrate stocks increase. The company assess that concentrate stocks will increase to 4.8 weeks of demand for concentrate in 2019, up from 4.3 weeks in 2018. As a result, the company expects benchmark TCs to be set at approximately 7% of its forecast London Metal Exchange zinc cash price, up from about 5% of 2018 zinc prices.

* The Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence expects Chinese smelter output to increase 5.4% year over year in 2019, which is greater than the 3.6% increase estimated for this year. Smelter output is expected to total 7.1 million tonnes in 2018 and has been driven by the ramp-up of new smelter capacity installed in the second half of this year. Global smelter output will rise by 1.8% to 18.9 Mt in 2019, twice the expected growth of copper mine output of 0.9% to 20.7 Mt.


* Cia. de Minas Buenaventura SAA is temporarily suspending production at its Orcopampa gold mine in Peru from Dec. 17 through Jan. 31, 2019, to focus on centralizing the operation. This was made in line with its strategy to prioritize Orcopampa's debottlenecking program over ore extraction.

* Despite having spent more than US$1 billion on early-stage exploration since the founding of the modern Gold Fields in 1998 and the discovery of two multimillion-ounce deposits, Johannesburg-based Gold Fields Ltd. has never taken a project from discovery to production, demonstrating how elusive greenfields exploration success can be, the Metals and Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence reported.

* Following mediation talks, Randgold resumed operations at its Loulo gold mine in Mali after a weeklong shutdown over a pay dispute, Reuters reported, citing Bani Sacko, head of industry and mines union SECNAMI.

* Anglo American Platinum Ltd. unit Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd. closed the sale of its 33% interest in the Bafokeng-Rasimone platinum joint venture in South Africa to Royal Bafokeng Platinum Ltd. and Royal Bafokeng Resources Pty. Ltd. Meanwhile, Rustenburg Platinum Mines reached an agreement with Atlatsa Resources Corp., resulting in a 300 million rand acquisition of the resources in Atlatsa's Kwanda North and Central Block prospecting rights.

* Ramelius Resources Ltd. is improving its takeover bid for Explaurum Ltd. by 2 Australian cents per share in addition to the existing consideration of 1 Ramelius share for every 4 Explaurum shares. This brings Ramelius' best and final consideration to 13.4 cents per share.

* Matsa Resources Ltd. inked an agreement with GME Resources Ltd. to acquire the Devon gold project, as well as the surrounding project area, in Western Australia for A$100,000 in cash and shares.

* Landore Resources Ltd. will release a preliminary economic assessment, together with an updated resource estimate, for the BAM gold deposit, part of its Junior Lake property in Ontario, in February 2019.

* Capricorn Metals Ltd. secured a A$107 million funding package from Macquarie Bank to fund the majority of the construction costs for the Karlawinda gold project in Western Australia.


* Project Halo, a South African consortium, has submitted the winning bid of 3.05 billion South African rand for three major assets owned by the Gupta family-linked Tegeta Exploration and Resources Pty Ltd., which has been in administration since February, Bloomberg News reported. The sale includes Optimum Coal Holdings Ltd. for a maximum of 2.8 billion rand, Koornfontein Mines (Pty) Ltd. for 200 million rand, and Optimum Coal Terminal (Pty) Ltd. for 50 million rand, according to the term sheet seen by Bloomberg.

* ThyssenKrupp AG's incoming supervisory board member, Martina Merz, has emerged as the front-runner to lead the company's supervisory board, Reuters reported, citing sources. The supervisory board could add a proposal to appoint Merz as chairperson in the invitation to the company's Feb. 1 annual general meeting, the sources added.

* Unionized railway workers at Aurizon Holdings Ltd., represented by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, are planning to go on strike after pay negotiations hit a snag, Reuters reported. Queensland miners, including BHP Group, Glencore PLC, Anglo American PLC and Peabody Energy Corp., may see coal shipments from mine to port delayed as a result of the strike action.

* Flinders Mines Ltd. made an application to the ASX seeking to delist its shares on the bourse, citing various challenges in progressing its Pilbara iron ore project in Western Australia.

* Clive Palmer and Mineralogy Pty Ltd. filed another case in Western Australia's Supreme Court, demanding that the court make Chinese rival Citic Ltd. pay the nearly A$200 million in royalties awarded in a 2017 ruling, The West Australian reported.

* Western Australia is set to announce a new class of mining lease for minerals found in brine, slashing rental rates for potash producers to A$2.32 per hectare, compared to the standard A$18.70 per hectare, for the first five years of the lease, and to A$4.64 per hectare from the sixth year onward, The West Australian reported.

* The Yerunakovskaya-VIII coal mine in Russia, owned by Evraz PLC's PJSC Raspadskaya unit, suspended mining operations due to fire at a conveyor belt, Vedomosti reported. There were no injuries from the incident.


* Gemfields Group Ltd. CEO Sean Gilbertson said in an interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence that the company is keen on acquiring new sapphire assets in Africa, with the potential deals to be unveiled in the third quarter of 2019. Gilbertson also said the miner is eager to increase both its emerald and ruby footprint.

* Botswana Diamonds PLC is in advanced negotiations with a major diamond producer over a partnership in its Sunland Minerals (Pty) Ltd. venture, which holds prospecting licenses in the Kalahari and Orapa areas of Botswana. Speaking with S&P Global Market Intelligence, Managing Director James Campbell said "negotiations are far advanced, but you never quite know when the ink will go onto paper, particularly when you are dealing with a large producer."

* A definitive feasibility study for Platina Resources Ltd.'s namesake Platina scandium project in New South Wales, Australia, estimated a posttax net present value, at an 8% discount, of US$166 million, with an internal rate of return of 29%.

* Frontier Lithium Inc. expanded its PAK lithium project in Ontario through the addition of 725 claim cells, covering an area of 14,248 hectares.

* Fura Gems Inc. published the maiden inferred resource estimate for its 76%-owned Coscuez emerald mine in Colombia of 6 million carats of emeralds contained in 3 million tonnes grading 2.0 carats per tonne. This is the first resource estimate for emeralds in the South American nation. The explorer vows to gradually phase out access to Coscuez shafts by informal miners while helping locals find alternative employment, Reuters reported.

* Savannah Resources PLC successfully produced saleable quartz and feldspar co-products during an ongoing metallurgical test work program at its Mina do Barroso lithium project in Portugal.

* Advantage Lithium Corp. engaged GHD Chile SA for early engineering at the Cauchari lithium joint venture in Argentina with Orocobre Ltd., toward the completion of a feasibility study by June 2019.


* Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra looks to boost annual mining investment to US$8 billion when his term ends in 2021, compared with the US$4.6 billion forecast for 2018, Bloomberg News reported. According to Peru's Mines and Energy Ministry, the country's Cajamarca region could attract up to US$18.2 billion of investments in new projects.

* The world's 25 largest mining companies had an aggregate market capitalization of US$623.18 billion at the end of November, with 15 companies posting month-over-month reductions. The November total was down 10.9% from the aggregate US$699.54 billion capitalization of the top 25 companies at the end of October.

* Junior and intermediate companies' aggregate financing tumbled 65% month over month in November, the second consecutive monthly decline. The total amount raised for precious metals, base metals and specialty commodities was only US$274 million, a 33-month low.

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