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S&P lifts outlook on BHP Billiton to stable

TOP NEWS

S&P lifts outlook on BHP Billiton to stable

S&P Global Ratings changed its outlook on BHP Billiton Group to stable from negative while affirming the mining giant's A/A-1 corporate credit ratings. The revision reflects the improvement in the rating agency's price assumptions for commodities, which are expected to strengthen the company's ability to generate cash flow compared to a year ago.

China Coal Energy expects swing to profit in FY'16

China Coal Energy Co. Ltd. expects to swing to a net profit of between 1.8 billion Chinese yuan and 2.2 billion yuan for fiscal 2016, compared to a net loss of 2.52 billion yuan a year ago. The company attributed this to improved coal prices, optimized production and cost controls.

China Molybdenum to support BHR's purchase of Lundin's Tenke Fungurume stake

China Molybdenum Co. Ltd. signed a deal with Chinese private equity firm BHR to support the latter's acquisition of Lundin Mining Corp.'s 24% indirect stake in the Tenke Fungurume copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Reuters reported. The country's mining minister, Martin Kabwelulu, meanwhile confirmed that China Molybdenum secured the majority stake in Tenke after state-miner Gecamines SARL dropped its objections over the company's purchase of a 56% stake from Freeport-McMoRan Inc. for US$2.65 billion.

DIVERSIFIED

* Guinean President Alpha Conde claimed that Rio Tinto's termination of senior executive Alan Davies last year was because CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques wanted to settle scores and "get rid" of Davies, disputing the miner's statement that the sacking was due to a US$10.5 million payment made to French investment banker Francois de Combret in 2011, Bloomberg News wrote.

BASE METALS

* Jilin Jien Nickel Industry Co. Ltd. expects its net loss for 2016 to drop to between 1.9 billion Chinese yuan and 2.2 billion yuan, compared to the 2.87 billion yuan loss posted for 2015, mainly due to asset impairments as well as increased finance costs resulting from overdue debts.

* Pasinex Resources Ltd. completed the first sale of lead mineral product from its Pinargozu zinc mining operation in Turkey, comprising 392.9 dry tonnes at a provisional assay of 61.5% lead and 400 g/t of silver, at a provisional value of about US$1,250 per tonne.

* Rescue workers in Peru's Arequipa region recovered the body of one miner from the Las Gemelas copper mine, where six miners are still trapped after a landslide Jan. 20, caused by heavy rains, blocked access to the tunnel, Metal Bulletin reported.

* Aston Bay Holdings Ltd. said BHP unit BHP Billiton Ltd. intends to formally terminate an option agreement to earn a 75% interest in Aston Bay's Storm copper project in Nunavut in northern Canada.

* MMG Ltd. agreed with Dundas Mining Pty. Ltd. to extend the deadline for Dundas to complete the payment for the acquisition of MMG's Avebury nickel project in Tasmania, Australia, to March 31, after Dundas failed to pay the A$23.5 million balance by the initial deadline in December 2016.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Royal Road Minerals Ltd. made a formal offer to acquire all the issued and outstanding common shares of Caza Gold Corp. at 0.16 of a Royal Road share to each Caza share held. Caza's directors have unanimously recommended that shareholders to accept the offer.

* Hochschild Mining Plc said it resolved a dispute with a local community at its Pallancata mine in Peru and the mine will restart operations by Jan. 25. Pallancata's 2017 production forecast is not affected, the company noted.

* Serabi Gold Plc's full-year production in 2016 beat guidance after achieving a 19% year-over-year increase to 39,390 ounces. For 2017, the company expects output of 40,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of between US$950 per ounce and US$975 per ounce.

* Red Rock Resources Plc said it submitted a request for arbitration to the International Chamber of Commerce after Colombia Milling Ltd. failed to acknowledge Red Rock's exercise of the conversion of a US$1.0 million Colombia Milling promissory note and failed to rectify a gold royalty calculation formula.

* Peru's regional government of the Arequipa region brokered a consensus agreement reached between the community of the Tapay district and Compañía de Minas Buenaventura SAA over the Tambomayo gold project, which will require an investment of US$362 million, daily El Peruano reported.

* India's gold imports dropped to US$17.7 billion in the April 2016 to December 2016 period, a 32% drop compared to the US$26.4 billion of imports in the same year-ago period, Live Mint reported. Imports in December 2016 dropped 48.49% to US$1.96 billion, affected by the country's demonetization.

* Eastern Goldfields Ltd. signed an agreement with Heron Resources Ltd. and its spinoff, Ardea Resources Ltd., to acquire mining tenements and gold rights to tenements in Siberia.

* Blackham Resources Ltd. is considering installation of an additional 1.5 million-tonnes-per-annum crushing and grinding circuit at its Matilda/Wiluna gold operation in Western Australia, in addition to the recently refurbished 1.7-Mtpa oxide circuit, after mineral resources at the operation increased to 63 million tonnes at 3.2 g/t of gold for 6.4 million ounces.

* Australian gold and nickel explorer Blackstone Minerals Ltd. closed its first day on the ASX up 2.5% at 20.5 cents.

* Miranda Gold Corp. signed letters of intent to acquire two significant district-scale epithermal vein systems in Colombia dubbed Mallama and San Lucas.

* Transatlantic Mining Corp. made the first shipment of 19.1 tonnes of low-grade gold/silver concentrate to a third party for processing from its Alder Mountain gold operation in Montana.

BULK COMMODITIES

* The Western Australian government struck a state agreement for the construction of a new A$5.6 billion iron ore export facility in the Pilbara region.

* Moody's said it considers Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd.'s forecast of an expected increase of over 770% in consolidated net profit for 2016, from 1.0 billion Chinese yuan a year ago, to be credit positive.

* Beijing Shougang Co. Ltd.'s parent, Shougang Group, plans to raise up to 6 billion Chinese yuan by issuing bonds that can be converted into shares in the listed subsidiary.

* Kibo Mining Plc's integrated bankable feasibility study at its Mbeya coal-to-power project in Tanzania concluded that it is "financially, technically and operationally a very robust project."

* Beny Steinmetz, owner of BSG Resources Ltd., will be questioned by Swiss prosecutors by the end of this month regarding allegations that he paid bribes in Guinea for his company to earn a stake in the Simandou iron ore project, Bloomberg News reported. Steinmetz rejects the bribery allegations.

* Kommersant reported that a partnership of the largest steelmakers of Russia, Russian Steel, sent a request to the Ministry of Transport to prevent the introduction of a take-or-pay system for freight contracts with Russian Railways.

* The Colombian government is in talks with stakeholders to resolve all issues blocking the expansion of the Anglo American Plc-operated Cerrejon coal project near the country's Caribbean coast, after a court recently endorsed a decision to halt works to divert a river near the mine, Bloomberg News reported.

* New Hope Corp. Ltd. secured federal government approval for the expansion of its New Acland coal mine in Queensland, Australia. The company still needs a number of state government permits before its board can consider a final investment decision.

* China Shenhua Energy Co. Ltd.'s coal output in 2016 rose 3.2% year over year to 289.8 million tonnes, while coal sales increased 6.6% to 394.9 million tonnes.

* Cline Group LLC's Canada-based Donkin underground coal mine will start operation before the end of this month and will aim at producing mostly metallurgical coal, along with a smaller amount of steam coal, Coal Age reported.

* Japan is threatening to take India to the World Trade Organization over steel safeguard duties and minimum import prices that slashed Japanese steel exports to India over the past year, Reuters reported.

* China's coal production inched up 1% over the previous month to 311 million tonnes in December 2016, representing its highest level in a year, Reuters reported.

* On the back of strong results during the last three months of 2016, Polish Mining Group reduced its expected losses of more than 362 million zlotys to 326 million zlotys, Puls Biznesu reported, citing Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Poland's deputy minister of energy.

SPECIALTY

* Petra Diamonds Ltd.'s diamond production in the first half of fiscal 2017 jumped 24% year over year to over 2 million carats due to increased contribution from undiluted run-of-mine ore leading to improved grades, and additional tailings production from Kimberley Ekapa mining.

* Birimian Ltd.'s A$107.5 million potential sale of its wholly owned Bougouni lithium project in Mali to Shandong Mingrui Group fell through.

* S&P Global Ratings placed its ratings on Canadian uranium miner Cameco Corp., including its BBB+ long-term debt rating, on CreditWatch with negative implications.

* Codelco opened a process to select partners to jointly develop two lithium projects in Chile's Atacama region, Metal Bulletin reported.

* Edenville Energy Plc selected Sinohydro Corp. of China as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for its Rukwa coal-to-power project in Tanzania.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* London Metal Exchange's Chief Executive Garry Jones is stepping down from his role and will serve as an adviser till the end of the year. He will also retire as the executive director of the LME and LME Clear. LME's COO, Matthew Chamberlain, has been appointed interim chief executive, effective immediately, while Andrew Dodsworth, LME's head of market operations, has been appointed interim COO.

* The mining companies with the 20 largest exploration budgets in 2016 allocated US$2.16 billion for exploration during the year, accounting for 31% of the US$6.89 billion worldwide exploration total.

* Africa remains one of the world's top mining hot spots, accounting for 13% of the global exploration budget in 2016 with a budget of US$916 billion. However, the 2016 budget was 24% lower than in 2015, nudging the region to fourth place worldwide from third place in 2015.

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. London time, and scans news sources published in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Some external links may require a subscription.