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In This List

Italy agrees to buy 18% of Ilva plant; Court validates Rio's Oyu Tolgoi deals

Mining Exploration Insights - April 2020

Mining Exploration Insights December

Mining Exploration Insights: Dip in gold drilling weighs on results

State of the Market: Mining Q2-2019


Italy agrees to buy 18% of Ilva plant; Court validates Rio's Oyu Tolgoi deals

TOP NEWS

Italy agrees to purchase 18% of Ilva steel plant

The Italian government is willing to acquire an 18% stake in Ilva International SpA in a bid to retain ArcelorMittal as a buyer for the steel plant, Reuters reported, citing newspaper Il Messaggero. The government is planning to purchase the interest either through state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti or state-owned investment agency Invitalia, and will offer to restore the ArcelorMittal's legal protection over the Ilva plant related to an environmental cleanup.

Mongolian court validates Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi investment deals

The Administrative Court of First Instance in Mongolia validated Rio Tinto's 2015 investment agreements over the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine expansion, contrary to what the mining giant flagged in November, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing a statement from the court's official website. The company had said earlier that reports indicated that the court favored a claim that the government did not follow due process in finalizing the deals.

Nippon Steel to shut down more furnaces to cut costs

Nippon Steel Corp. may shut down more blast furnaces in Japan in addition to the two furnaces scheduled for closing in March 2024, to save on costs on the back of falling demand and lower steel prices in Asia, according to the company's executive vice president, Katsuhiro Miyamoto, Reuters reported. "All of the facilities including blast furnaces are possible targets of consolidations," Miyamoto said. The company is set to shut down two furnaces in Japan by around March 2024.

DIVERSIFIED

* Indonesia's Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources forecast that its construction of smelters until 2022 will only reach 52 smelters, missing the target of 68 smelters, Bisnis Indonesia reported. The 52 smelters will comprise 29 for nickel, nine for bauxite, four for steel, four for copper, two for manganese, and four for lead and zinc. Indonesia expects the 29 nickel smelters to have a total input capacity of nearly 70 million tonnes per annum, lower than the previous outlook of 37 nickel smelters operating in 2021 with 91 million tonnes of input capacity, Reuters reported, citing the ministry's minerals director, Yunus Saefulhak.

BASE METALS

* Pure Minerals Ltd.'s pre-feasibility study for development of the Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub in Queensland, Australia, outlined a posttax net present value of A$568 million and a 20.1% internal rate of return. The pre-production capital expenditure for the battery chemicals refinery was estimated at US$300 million, with a US$49 million contingency. Operating expenditure was anticipated to be A$155 million.

* Legend Mining Ltd.'s stock soared as much as 100% after it emerged from a trading halt and announced the discovery of massive nickel-copper sulfides at the Rockford project within its Fraser Range property in Western Australia. The 70.15-meter disseminated sulfide halo that was discovered starts at 76 meters below surface and is open in all directions.

* Western Areas Ltd. noted that most staff at its Forrestania nickel project in Western Australia returned to work over the weekend following repairs after a bush fire. The company said it does not expect any impact to nickel production or cost guidance for fiscal 2020.

* A Swiss court ordered an unnamed whistleblower not to discuss allegations of accounting fraud at zinc producer Nyrstar NV, an affiliate of Trafigura Group Pte. Ltd., with any third parties, according to a Bloomberg News report. The gag order comes after regulatory authorities in Belgium initiated an investigation of Nyrstar in August based on the allegations.

* Australian copper explorer Tiger Resources Ltd. plans to restructure US$246 million in debt owed by subsidiary Société d'Exploitation de Kipoi SA. The proposal may result in the senior lenders exchanging a significant portion of their debt for equity in Tiger Resources.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Amid a flurry of gold sector mergers, acquisitions and proposed deals, industry experts and leaders flagged exploration underinvestment, reserve-replacement pressure and lackluster asset margins as creating challenges and opportunities for miners and investors. "The basic problem is that there is very little of quality to buy out there, and what quality there is, is too expensive," Brent Cook, a partner with Exploration Insights, told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an email.

* PT. Indika Energy Tbk agreed to invest up to US$40 million in Nusantara Resources Ltd.'s Awak Mas gold project in Indonesia in exchange for up to a 40% interest in Nusantura unit and project owner PT Masmindo Dwi Area. Indika's subsidiary PT Petrosea Tbk will be awarded the front end engineering and design contract for the project.

* Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said negotiations are underway in parallel with the international arbitration proceedings to address the dispute over the closure of Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd.'s Chatree gold mine, Matichon reported. The prime minister added that the order to close the gold mine is necessary to protect people's health.

* IronRidge Resources Ltd. kicked off an about 6,500-meter aircore drilling program at its Zaranou gold project in Cote d'Ivoire to test an about 8-kilometer strike with hard-rock artisanal mining, anomalous geochemistry and coincident magnetic anomalies.

* Vango Mining Ltd. secured an about 8.79% stake in Lodestar Minerals Ltd. through a A$600,000 investment.

* MegumaGold Corp. agreed to earn up to a 70% interest in Genius Metals Inc.'s Meaghers gold property in Nova Scotia via a staged earn-in.

* Four miners died and one was seriously injured after a rock fell at Village Main Reef Ltd.'s Tau Lekoa gold mine in South Africa, Reuters reported. The mine's spokesperson, James Duncan, said the rock fell following two seismic events.

* Policemen in Brazil carried out 85 search warrants in five states as part of an investigation on a smuggling ring that has allegedly exported 1.2 tonnes of gold bought since 2017 from wildcat miners in the frontier region between Brazil and Venezuela, Reuters reported.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance Ltd. agreed to acquire the Duffel aluminum plant in Belgium from Novelis Inc., in keeping with EU conditions for approving Novelis' US$2.6 billion takeover of Aleris Corp., which previously raised competition concerns, Reuters reported, citing a GFG Alliance statement.

* Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the country would accept a U.S. proposal regulating steel in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, but only if the regulation would take effect at least five years after the pact's ratification, Reuters reported. U.S. and Mexican negotiators are "very close" to finalizing the USMCA, according to a Washington-based source privy to the matter, Reuters reported.

* Hbis Co. Ltd., or Hesteel, will issue a bond offering of up to 1.5 billion Chinese yuan Dec. 11 to repay its loans. The interest rate of the notes will be fixed at between 3.4% and 4.9%, with maturity of the bonds set at five years.

* The board of Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority recommended the Minister of Environment to approve development of Reward Minerals Ltd.'s Lake Disappointment sulfate of potash project.

* Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau SA signed a fee-based agreement with Swedish bearings maker AB SKF to boost productivity and reduce unplanned downtime at the Charqueadas and Araçariguama steel mills in Brazil.

SPECIALTY

* PJSC Alrosa's supervisory board is considering to withdraw from the non-state pension fund Almaznaya Osen, which is 99.75%-owned by the diamond producer and counts current and retired Alrosa employees among its customers, as it is far from the company's core business.

* Lithium Australia NL formally established Soluna Australia Pty. Ltd., a 50/50 joint venture with DLG Power Battery (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. that aims to fill the growing demand for lithium-ion battery products in the energy storage industry.

* Savannah Resources PLC unit Matilda Minerals Lda. was granted a mining license over a new concession that forms a key part of the Mutamba heavy mineral sands project in Mozambique, which is a joint venture with Rio Tinto.

* Lynas Corp. Ltd. selected a site in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, for a new cracking and leaching plant following the completion of due diligence. Located near the Australian rare earths producer's Mount Weld mine, the proposed plant will be used to upgrade rare earth concentrate produced from the mine that is currently exported to its Malaysian processing facility.

* Peninsula Mines Ltd.'s previously announced deal with Battery Mineral Resources Ltd. to merge their graphite tenements in South Korea into one company, Korea Graphite Co. Ltd., will no longer proceed.

* ioneer Ltd. signed a nonbinding letter of intent contemplating the purchase of up to 250,000 tonnes of sulfur annually from Shell Canada Energy Ltd., for use in the Rhyolite Ridge lithium project in Nevada.

* Lithium Consolidated Ltd. entered a formal share sale agreement to acquire Warrigal Mining Pty. Ltd., which holds the right to secure some 26 exploration permits in Western Australia.

* Cougar Metals NL breached the non-disparagement provisions of its agreement with DNI Metals Inc. on the Vohitsara graphite project in Madagascar, according to the decision by an arbitrator.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Global Tailings Review chair Bruno Oberle said new global standards should be able to differentiate the requirements for new and existing dams, Reuters reported. The review was launched in response to the fatal disaster that occurred in Vale SA's Feijao iron ore mine in January. The report noted that according to Oberle, new global standards for mining waste should factor in the difficulties of making existing dams compliant.

* Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.'s founder and chairman, Andrew Forrest, is believed to have given in-principle agreement to invest in Sun Brilliance Pty Ltd.'s A$130 million 100-MW solar project in Cunderdin town in Western Australia, ABC News reported. Forrest's investment will reportedly be made through Squadron Energy, a unit of his private investment vehicle Minderoo. The terms were kept confidential, the report said.

* A report on transformation in the South African mining sector has been released by the Mineral Council, which plans to take the government to court in 2020 to challenge economic empowerment requirements in the new Mining Charter, saying it will discourage investment. Member companies have largely met the requirements of the 2010 Mining Charter, which was in effect until 2018, according to the report that was commissioned by the Minerals Council, with CEO Roger Baxter saying there had been "substantial compliance and significant progress" in the industry, and in its efforts to improve.

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