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South32 books lower fiscal H1'18 profit, boosts dividend payout

TOP NEWS

South32 fiscal H1'18 profit drops 12% YOY; higher dividends declared

South32 Ltd. booked a 12% lower net profit of US$543 million in the first half of its fiscal 2018, from a posttax profit of US$620 million in the first half of fiscal 2017. Despite the drop in net profit, the BHP Billiton Group spinoff declared a 3.0 cent special dividend on top of an interim dividend of 4.3 cents per share, which is 19% higher than its inaugural interim dividend of 3.6 cents per share in the same year-ago period.

Barrick Gold sinks to net loss in Q4'17

Barrick Gold Corp. reported a net loss of US$314 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, swinging from a year-ago profit of US$425 million. The company's gold and copper production slid to 1.34 million ounces and 99 million pounds, respectively, compared to 1.52 million gold ounces and 101 million pounds of copper. The company expects to produce between 4.5 million and 5.0 million ounces of gold and between 385 million and 450 million pounds of copper in 2018.

Goldcorp's Q4'17 profit more than doubles YOY despite lower output, sales

Goldcorp Inc.'s net earnings in the fourth quarter of 2017 more than doubled despite the company posting lower gold production and sales on a yearly basis. Net earnings totaled US$242 million, compared to US$101 million posted in the comparable 2016 quarter. For the entire year, net earnings were US$658 million, increasing from US$162 million recorded in 2016.

BASE METALS

* Freeport-McMoRan Inc. subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia and Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara are still awaiting approval for their applications to extend their copper concentrate exports permits, which are due to expire Feb. 16, Reuters reported. Director General of Coal and Minerals Bambang Gatot said the country's mining ministry is evaluating the applications. Under the new rules issued in 2017, mining companies are required to reapply for an export permit every year.

* The regional government of Coquimbo, Chile, gave environmental approval for Antofagasta Plc's planned US$1.1 billion infrastructure upgrades at the Los Pelambres copper mine, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the regional government. The London-listed miner will now seek to obtain the additional permits, including board approval, before starting work on the upgrades to maintain the mine's copper output at 400,000 tonnes per annum.

* Capstone Mining Corp. struck a definitive deal to sell its Minto copper mine in Canada's Yukon Territory to Pembridge Resources plc for US$37.5 million in cash.

* Finders Resources Ltd. reiterated its recommendation to shareholders to reject the "opportunistic offer" from Eastern Field Developments Ltd. after the latter declared it unconditional. Eastern Field said Feb. 14 that five months after announcing its takeover offer of 23 Australian cents per share, it is still the only bidder for Finders, despite the latter's search for "a white knight suitor."

* A decision to proceed with the development of Teck Resources Ltd.'s Quebrada Blanca phase-two expansion project in northern Chile is not expected before the second half, provided the necessary regulatory approval and market conditions are met. Nevertheless, project development expenditures for the first four months of 2018 are anticipated to be about US$100 million, the company said in its fourth-quarter unaudited results report for 2017, daily Diario Financiero reported.

* MaxTech Ventures Inc. agreed to strategic cooperation with Kiuso Corp. of Toronto and Kabwe, Zambia, allowing Maxtech to expand into other battery metals.

* Tethyan Resources Plc signed a binding letter of intent to acquire Balkan Minerals Ltd.'s Taor DOO unit, which owns two exploration licenses adjacent to Tethyan's optioned Suva Ruda license within Serbia's historical Raška lead and zinc mining district.

* Great Atlantic Resources Corp. signed a letter of intent to option a 75% stake in the Kagoot Brook cobalt project in New Brunswick to Explorex Resources Inc.

* S&P Global Ratings lifted its long-term issuer credit rating on First Quantum Minerals Ltd. to B from B-, with a stable outlook. The move reflects the expectation that the company's earnings will improve significantly this year on the back of higher copper prices and it will continue material deleveraging in the coming years.

* EMR Capital plans to double production at the Lubambe copper mine in Zambia to over 40,000 tonnes in the next two years after it completed the acquisition of a majority stake in the asset for US$100 million, Reuters reported.

PRECIOUS METALS

* PJSC Polyus' profit for the fourth quarter of 2017 declined 28% over the third quarter to US$267 million, partly reflecting the decrease in operating profit and impact of noncash items in the period. Reporting a 5% quarterly decline in operating profit to US$391 million, the company said results were impacted by a lower gain on derivatives and lower foreign exchange gains. Revenue remained stable quarter over quarter at US$743 million, while gold sales increased 3% to 597,000 ounces and production dropped 10% to 580,000 ounces.

* Despite lower metal sales, Kinross Gold Corp. swung to net earnings attributable to shareholders of US$217.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, from a year-ago net loss of US$116.5 million. Revenue from metal sales in the period declined to US$810.3 million, from US$902.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, due to lower gold equivalent sales volumes, partially offset by an increase in average realized gold price.

* Newcrest Mining Ltd. declared a fully franked interim dividend of 7.5 U.S. cents per share for the first half of its fiscal 2018 after its net profit attributable to shareholders plummeted 48% year over year to US$98 million. Sales revenue in the period declined 5% year over year to US$1.72 billion. The company's gold production declined 8% over the year-ago output to 1.14 million ounces, while all-in sustaining costs increased 12% year over year to US$860 per ounce.

* Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.'s net profit in the fourth quarter of 2017 declined 44% year over year to US$35.1 million, or 15 cents per share, from US$62.7 million, or 28 cents per share. Quarterly revenues climbed 13% year over year to US$565.3 million from US$499.2 million, and operating costs rose 12.8% to US$287.7 million from US$255.1 million a year earlier. The company declared a quarterly dividend of 11 cents per share.

* Evolution Mining Ltd. reported a 10% year-over-year decline in its statutory profit after tax to A$122.5 million for the first half of its fiscal 2018, but underlying profit after tax improved 8% to A$124.7 million. Sales revenue grew 10% on a yearly basis to A$782.1 million, while EBITDA rose 16% year over year to A$399.1 million.

* DRDGold Ltd. is planning to produce between 147,000 and 153,000 ounces of gold in the year ending June 30, at a cash operating cost of approximately 475,000 South African rand per kilogram. For the first six months of its fiscal 2018, gold output surged 11% on yearly basis to 75,267 ounces with all-in sustaining costs of US$1,187/oz. The company swung to a headline profit of 60.4 million rand from a year-ago loss of 10.2 million rand.

* Hecla Mining Co. reported a fourth-quarter 2017 net loss of US$27.9 million, swinging from a year-ago profit of US$20.3 million as sales dropped to US$160.1 million, from US$164.2 million in the year-ago period. The lower sales were mainly attributed to lower silver, zinc and lead production amid a strike at the Lucky Friday mine in Idaho, which was partly offset by higher realized silver, gold, zinc and lead prices.

* Gascoyne Resources Ltd. said construction at its Western Australia-based Dalgaranga gold project is within budget and about one month ahead of schedule, with first gold expected in three months.

* Gowest Gold Ltd. entered into an agreement to sell gold concentrate to be produced from its Bradshaw gold project in Ontario to China-based Shandong Humon Smelting.

* Argo Gold Inc. agreed to sell its South Wawa gold project in Ontario to RT Minerals Corp. in exchange for 350,000 common shares.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Russia's En+ Group plc tapped foreign banks for the sale of US$1 billion of shares in the company, Reuters reported, citing sources. However, some U.S. banks that worked with En+ on its IPO in November 2017 are reluctant to participate in the share sale, as the company manages the metals and energy assets of Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska, who was included in a U.S. Department of the Treasury list of Russian oligarchs it considered close to the Kremlin.

* En+ Group said it has no formal plans for a secondary public offering, in response to prevailing media reports about a potential offering of the company's shares.

* The Indian government commissioned a 24-member study group tasked to review existing mineral royalty rates excluding coal, lignite and sand, and recommend revisions and propose changes to the royalty regime, Mining Weekly reported, citing a government order. The study group will submit its report in six months.

* Adani Enterprises Ltd. is targeting mine acquisitions outside of Australia even as it struggles to develop its Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Reuters reported. Rajendra Singh, COO of Adani's coal trading business, said the group already owns a mine in Indonesia and it is seeking more options there. "We're also keeping our eyes open for options in other areas like south African countries, countries like Russia," he added.

* State-owned Steel Authority of India Ltd. is inviting expressions of interest for the sale of its alloy steels plant in Durgapur in the Indian state of West Bengal. The plant has the capacity to produce 2.5 million tonnes per year of liquid steel and 1.8 Mt/y of salable steel.

* Creditors of Mechel PAO that were seeking repayments of US$1 billion in loans withdrew a lawsuit against the company, Vedomosti reported. Five of 11 creditors abandoned their claims.

SPECIALTY

* Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. updated the inferred resource estimate for the CH-6 kimberlite pipe at its Chidliak diamond project in Nunavut, Canada, outlining a 58% increase over the previous estimate to 17.96 million contained carats.

* Tawana Resources NL started commissioning the dense media separation circuit at its Bald Hill lithium-tantalum mine in Western Australia, with initial lithium concentrate production in the first quarter, subject to successful wet commissioning, which is slated to begin Feb. 21.

* Botswana Diamonds Plc kicked off a scoping study for its Thorny River diamond project in South Africa. The study, expected to take six months, will further refine the volumes of diamonds in situ and the grade and value per tonne of ore.

* A Chilean court of appeals ratified a previous off-court agreement for the conditional suspension of an investigation into Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA subsidiaries SQM Salar SA and SQM Nitrates SA concerning payments to politically exposed persons between 2018 and 2015. The companies and the National Public Prosecutor's Office agreed to defer prosecution in January, a decision that was opposed and appealed by the country's National Defense Council, daily La Tercera reported.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The Zambian president shook up his cabinet amid efforts to secure a US$1.3 billion loan from the IMF, replacing Christopher Yaluma as mines minister with Richard Musukwa, while Margaret Mwanakatwe took over the finance ministry portfolio from Felix Mutati, Bloomberg News reported.

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. ET and scans news sources published in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Some external links may require a subscription.