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Norsk cleared to restore Alunorte output; Zambia to seize Konkola's assets

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Norsk cleared to restore Alunorte output; Zambia to seize Konkola's assets

TOP NEWS

Court allows Norsk Hydro to resume normal production at Alunorte

The Federal Court in Belem, Brazil, lifted the remaining production embargo under a criminal lawsuit on Norsk Hydro ASA's Alunorte alumina refinery, allowing normal production to resume. Norsk Hydro expects Alunorte to run at 75% to 85% capacity within two months. Alunorte has been running at 50% capacity since March 2018 as ordered by authorities due to a suspected leak at the site. The embargoes on the DRS2 bauxite residue disposal area remain in place.

Zambia to seize Vedanta's copper assets amid mining tax row

Zambian President Edgar Lungu said the government plans to take over Konkola Copper Mines PLC's copper assets in the country as tensions with the mining sector continue to brew over higher taxes imposed earlier this year, Bloomberg News reported. The Vedanta Resources PLC unit said it has not received formal notification of the African country's asset seizure, although it is seeking an urgent meeting with Lungu to discuss the miner's future.

Amplats suspends half of workforce at Mototolo following unprotected strike

Anglo American Platinum Ltd. dismissed about 50% of its underground workforce at the Mototolo platinum mine in South Africa following an unprotected strike that began May 12. The company laid off 643 people, according to Reuters, in a response to a strike from the General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa. Amplats said the impact on production is minimal so far, and it is exploring options to ensure that Mototolo restarts full production as soon as possible.

DIVERSIFIED

* Anglo American PLC will partner with the Pitta Pitta people to explore for mineral prospects in Queensland, Australian Mining wrote. The Pitta Pitta people will work together with Anglo American's discovery team to conduct surveys and protect cultural heritage finds.

BASE METALS

* Workers unions No. 1, 2 and 3 of Codelco's Chuquicamata operations rejected an offer made by the Chilean state miner totaling 13.7 million Chilean pesos per worker, which included an end-of-negotiation bonus of 8.8 million pesos, and a 1.2% wage increase for 36 months. The unions and the company agreed to seek a consensus deal before May 24, when Codelco is expected to submit a new offer for the unions, news radio Cooperativa reported.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Sibanye Gold Ltd. ended media speculation by confirming that the increased all-share deal it reached with Lonmin PLC late April, which entitled Lonmin shareholders to 1 Sibanye-Stillwater share for every share they owned, is final and will not be increased.

* Meanwhile, Lonmin has started a process to cut 4,100 workers from six of its mines that are being closed after running out of profitable ore, Bloomberg News reported.

* SolGold PLC CEO Nick Mather opened the door to the company's second-largest shareholder, BHP Group, to increase its stake in the company, Reuters reported. In October 2018, BHP raised its interest in SolGold to 11.2% from 6% after a £45 million share subscription agreement.

* Core Gold Inc.'s 7% shareholder and former CEO Keith Piggott urged the company's shareholders to vote against a merger with Titan Minerals Ltd. citing "disturbing details" about the latter's operations at its Tulin processing plant in Peru. "Titan has tried to conceal their environmental damage at the Tulin processing plant by surreptitiously burying cyanide tailings outside the plant area in the dead of night," Piggott said.

* Shares of Canadian gold miner Pure Gold Mining Inc. will be admitted May 21 to the London Stock Exchange's main market, under the ticker PUR.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Vale SA suspended the transport of freight on the Belo Horizonte branch line between Sabará and Barão de Cocais as a precautionary measure after recently identifying movements on the northern slope of the structure at the Gongo Soco mine pit in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The suspension will remain in place until the company completes further risk analysis. Minas Gerais' environment secretary said that the tailings dam for the mine has a 15% chance of bursting, Reuters reported.

* Manganese sulfate hopeful Pilbara Metals Group has found a shell to backdoor list onto the ASX this year, after having held off its initial IPO previously planned for the first quarter, Managing Director Rob Mandanici told S&P Global Market Intelligence. This would allow it to raise between A$4.5 million and A$6 million.

* Votorantim SA unit Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio is planning a 300 million Brazilian reais investment to dry-process tailings from its Aluminio alumina plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Valor International reported. The project development will start this year and is expected to be operational by 2020.

* The Western Australian Supreme Court decided in favor of Clive Palmer, dismissing an appeal from Citic Ltd. against the validity of an iron ore royalty agreement over the Sino-Iron project, The Australian reported. The Chinese company pays about US$10 per tonne to Palmer's Mineralogy Pty Ltd. for the ore shipped under the deal, which totals to about A$1 million per day.

* Mining experts in New Zealand entered the shuttered Pike River coal mine to investigate the reasons behind a 2010 accident involving a series of explosions which killed 29 people, Reuters reported, citing Justice Minister Andrew Little, who is responsible for the re-entry operation. The experts will also look to retrieve the remains of the victims from the Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd.-owned mine.

* Kommersant reported that the lobbying association of metallurgists, Russian Steel, asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia to simplify the issue of emissions permits for those expiring this year, including for Evraz PLC's Raspadskaya coal mine. Russian Steel believes that companies will not have time to obtain new permits due to a sudden change in legislation. The companies will have to pay fines or stop production if the permits expire.

* U.S. Steel Corp., Nucor Corp. and AK Steel Holding Corp. lauded the Trump administration's decision to drop steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, Bloomberg News reported. The steelmakers also urged authorities to "stay vigilant" to prevent circumvention schemes.

* The London Metal Exchange dismissed Glencore PLC's complaint over its failure to make quick aluminum deliveries from warehouses owned by ISTIM UK in Port Klang, Malaysia, sources told Reuters.

* The United Mine Workers of America is seeking a wage increase for miners employed by subsidiaries of Murray Energy Corp. by reopening a collective bargaining agreement it signed with the companies. A senior union official said 2,000 active members employed by Murray have not had a pay raise in 3.5 years.

* Adani Mining Pvt. Ltd. CEO Lucas Dow slammed the Queensland Labor government about its refusal to approve the long-delayed Carmichael coal project after the Labor Party's election defeat in the state.

SPECIALTY

* Anglo American unit De Beers SA's provisional sales for rough diamonds slid to US$415 million in the fourth sales cycle, compared to US$581 million in the third sales cycle and US$554 million in the fourth cycle of 2018. De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver said the lower sales are due to macroeconomic uncertainty as the industry enters "a seasonally slower period with Indian factories closing temporarily for the traditional holiday period."

* Lynas Corp. Ltd. plans to spend A$500 million through 2025 to boost production and build an initial processing plant in Western Australia. The company also aims to invest in its processing facility in Malaysia, where it is facing regulatory issues over the removal of radioactive residue from its Gebeng rare earths plant.

* First ore was fed to W Resources PLC's newly commissioned jig and mill Plant at its La Parrilla tungsten mine in Spain. Construction of the new large-scale concentrator plant is expected to complete in June, with commissioning in July.

* Gemfields Group Ltd. raked in US$22.4 million from an auction of higher-quality rough emeralds in Singapore. The gemstones were extracted from its 75%-owned Kagem mine in Zambia.

* The China Tungsten Industry Association urged its members to cut tungsten concentrate output by 10% this year amid poor market conditions, Fastmarkets MB reported, citing an unnamed source.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* BHP revised its estimates for the low end of electric vehicles penetration in the global light vehicle fleet to a minimum of 7%, from 5% previously, for 2035, and 27%, from 21% previously, for 2050.

* EcoMag Ltd. plans to build a A$130 million processing plant to recycle wastewater from the Karratha, Western Australia, operations of Rio Tinto unit Dampier Salt Ltd. and extract 80,000 tonnes per year of high-purity hydrated magnesium carbonate, which can be used in steelmaking, fertilizers, plastics and rubber, glass, water treatment, smartphones and as a flame retardant, The West Australian reported. The project could deliver an annual revenue of up to A$1 billion.

* President Donald Trump is set to meet with Democratic leaders for a second round of talks on a potential infrastructure package that could involve the energy sector. CEOs and representatives from more than 75 companies will also gather on Capitol Hill this week to push for climate legislation, including to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions.

* Chile's gross domestic product in the first quarter rose 1.6% year on year amid a 3.6% drop in mining activity driven by low prices, declining ore grades and heavy rains in the country's northern desert, Reuters reported.

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