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Vale suspends Brazilian mine; Sumitomo may miss Ambatovy nickel output guidance


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Vale suspends Brazilian mine; Sumitomo may miss Ambatovy nickel output guidance


Vale suspends another Brazilian mine on inconclusive stress test results

Vale SA said it temporarily halted operations at its Alegria iron ore mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil, on a preventive basis after receiving inconclusive results from stress tests, which could not guarantee the stability of its structures. The company said the suspension will impact up to about 10 million tonnes per annum of production. Operations will resume once the ongoing studies are completed with the assurance of stability under stress conditions.

Sumitomo may miss revised production guidance at Ambatovy nickel joint venture

Sumitomo Corp. warned that it may miss its revised annual production guidance after a fire forced the company to suspend its Ambatovy nickel plant in Madagascar for about two weeks in February, Reuters reported. The nickel production forecast from Ambatovy had been cut to between 38,000 and 40,000 tonnes, from between 40,000 and 43,000 tonnes.

Clean TeQ eyes partnership to fund Sunrise project development

Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd. is considering bringing in an equity partner to fund the US$1.49 billion development costs of its Sunrise nickel-cobalt project in New South Wales, Australia, Mining News reported. CEO Sam Riggall said the company received indicative commitments for A$500 million from four banks, and the number is expected to grow with Chinese investments.


* Jervois Mining Ltd. expects to land a joint venture partner by the end of 2019 for developing its Nico Young nickel-copper project in New South Wales, Australia, and is in discussions with different parties for a 20% to 40% joint venture arrangement, Reuters reported, citing CEO Bryce Crocker.


* Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. swung to a profit of US$6.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, from a year-ago net loss of US$137.7 million. Revenue dropped to US$196.6 million, from US$242.5 million in the prior year, mainly due to lower sales and prices for silver.

* Sibanye Gold Ltd. said South Africa's labor court declared that the extension of a labor agreement the company reached in November 2018 to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and other nonunionized workers is valid.

* Citigroup Inc. is planning to sell several tons of gold it received as collateral from Venezuela's central bank against a US$1.6 billion loan, a setback on President Nicolas Maduro's efforts to hold onto the country's quickly shrinking reserves, Reuters reported. A US$1.1 billion first-tranche repayment was due March 11. The gold has a market value of about US$1.36 billion. Citibank plans to deposit the US$258 million surplus in a New York bank account, two sources said.

* French prosecutors launched a new probe into alleged tax fraud by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, whose family runs PJSC Polyus, after similar charges were dropped in 2018, London's Financial Times reported. Kerimov was detained in 2017 after being accused of being the ultimate beneficiary of certain shell companies' acquisition of several villas, including one worth more than €150 million.

* Gold has recently come back to the spotlight amid global political uncertainty, but experts at the 121 Mining Investment Hong Kong conference are still cautious over the outlook for gold prices. Samson Li, a senior metals analyst at Refinitiv GFMS, noted the start of risk-off sentiment in late 2018, which he said was related to investors lacking confidence due to a downturn in the Chinese economy.

* Emgold Mining Corp. kicked off its four-year option to acquire 91% of the Casa South property in Quebec after completing the first option payment of C$75,000.

* X-Terra Resources Inc. said it signed an agreement to fully acquire nine mining claims surrounded by its Ducran gold property in Quebec.

* IDM Mining Ltd. secured security holder approval for Ascot Resources Ltd.'s takeover offer, whereby each IDM Mining shareholder will receive 0.0675 of an Ascot share for each share held.

* Worried about the company's "seemingly misleading disclosures," some Guyana Goldfields Inc. shareholders engaged an independent consultant to review the resource model at the company's Aurora gold mine.

* ArcWest Exploration Inc. signed a definitive agreement to sell its Willoughby gold-silver property in British Columbia to StrikePoint Gold Inc.

* The power line at Gold Resource Corp.'s El Aguila gold project in Mexico is now connected to a new local power grid. The company previously generated electricity for the project from diesel fuel.


* Vale SA blocked attempts by Brazilian authorities to audit the tailings dam at its Feijao iron ore mine months before the fatal burst, Reuters reported, citing news website G1, which quoted Minas Gerais state prosecutor William Garcia. Lawyers for the mining major reportedly did not provide the dam's safety documents and argued that its stability was validated by its hired auditor TUV SUD AG.

* Mechel PAO reported a 74% drop in fourth-quarter 2018 profit to 1.63 billion Russian rubles, compared to the third quarter, while revenue fell 5% to 75.57 billion rubles. Full-year attributable profit rose 9% from 2017 to 12.63 billion rubles, and revenue for 2018 increased 5% year over year to 312.57 billion rubles.

* Worthington Industries Inc.'s net earnings in the third quarter of its fiscal 2019 fell to US$26.8 million, from US$79.1 million a year ago, due to a US$13 million pretax charge for a replacement program related to certain composite hydrogen fuel tanks and inventory holding losses of US$10.8 million in the steel processing segment. Net sales in the quarter inched up 4% year over year to US$874.4 million due to higher average selling prices in steel processing.

* Private equity firm Resource Capital Fund, a majority 48% shareholder in coking coal developer Riversdale Resources Ltd., rejected Gina Rinehart's offer to fully acquire the company but left the door open for a higher offer, The Australian Financial Review reported.

* Pure Alumina Ltd. signed a binding agreement to acquire Toronto-based high-purity alumina producer Polar Sapphire Ltd. for C$25.8 million in shares and cash. The company aims to expand its high-purity alumina production to 5,000 tonnes per annum within three years.

* Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. set up a research and development center in Karratha, Western Australia, to explore opportunities to apply autonomous mobility technology in an urban environment.

* PJSC PhosAgro's net income in the fourth quarter of 2018 grew 6% year over year to 4.50 billion Russian rubles, from 4.26 billion rubles in the year-ago period, on higher prices and the depreciation of the ruble against the U.S. dollar.

* Anglo American PLC allocated over US$162 million to invest in rehabilitating its Australian operations over the next five years, Mining Weekly reported. About US$82 million will be used to restore its open cut Dawson coal mine, and US$40 million is earmarked for the Capcoal open cut mine.

* ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd. denied claims by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa alleging that its members, employed by contractors, are forced to work for poor wages and in bad working conditions. The union is on strike at the company's Vanderbijlpark operations.

* Thyssenkrupp AG and Tata Steel Ltd. secured an eight-day extension of the deadline to submit antitrust concessions for their planned European steel joint venture, Reuters reported. The European Commission is now expected to release a decision May 13 instead of April 29.

* China may cut its iron ore imports by 40% to about 600 million tonnes in as few as five years, which may lead to devastating effects on Australian producers, J Capital partner and steel analyst Tim Murray said, according to The West Australian. Murray attributed the potential shift to Beijing's plans to cut stimulus for the local housing sector.

* Thanks to steady demand and higher prices, OCP SA, the world's top phosphate exporter, booked a 19% rise in its 2018 full-year net profit to 5.4 billion Moroccan dirhams, Reuters reported. Revenue jumped 15% to 55.9 billion dirhams.

* The Nova Scotia government has issued four compliance orders and six warnings to Cline Group LLC since limited operations started at its Donkin coal mine in January, CBC News reported. The mine was suspended in late December 2018 following a roof collapse at the site.

* After a difficult fourth quarter of 2018, metallurgical coal-focused producer Ramaco Resources Inc. is charging ahead with an "aggressive growth model" to double its size in the next three to four years.


* Pilbara Minerals Ltd. CEO Ken Brinsden told delegates at the Lithium & Battery Metals Conference in Perth, Western Australia, that "it feels like there needs to be some consolidation" by the world's major lithium producers targeting smaller companies, particularly in the Pilbara.

* Australian explorer Lindian Resources Ltd. will undertake a formal mediation process in April to end a long-running battle around a disputed option agreement for up to 75% of the Kangankunde rare earths project in Malawi.

* Base Resources Ltd.'s pre-feasibility study at its Toliara mineral sands project in Madagascar outlined a posttax net present value, discounted at 10%, of US$671 million, a 22.4% internal rate of return and a four-year payback period. The project is estimated to produce 25.7 million tonnes of ilmenite, 1.7 million tonnes of zircon and 266,000 tonnes of rutile during its 33-year mine life.

* PJSC Alrosa fetched US$14.6 million from separate auctions of rough and polished diamonds held simultaneously in Hong Kong.

* Lucapa Diamond Co. Ltd. reported a 90% increase in the diamond resource at its Lulo mine in Angola to 80,400 carats.

* Neometals Ltd. delayed the feasibility study for its proposed 10,000-tonne-per-year lithium hydroxide processing plant in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, due to higher-than-expected capital costs and weak market conditions, The West Australian reported.

* Bluejay Mining PLC denied market speculation that it is planning a fundraising and said it has sufficient funds to support its operations into spring 2020. It remains in talks with a Rio Tinto unit regarding a deal to assess the commercial potential of Bluejay's Dundas ilmenite-titanium project in Greenland.

* A consortium of National Aluminium Co. Ltd., Khanij Bidesh India Ltd., Hindustan Copper Ltd. and Mineral Exploration Co. Ltd. plans to enter the lithium-ion battery manufacturing business, Mining Weekly reported. The joint venture is said to be eyeing assets in Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.

* Belmont Resources Inc. was granted water rights at its 2,056-hectare Kibby Basin lithium property in Nevada.

* Woomera Mining Ltd. secured exploration license E74/632 for its Mount Cattlin lithium project in Western Australia, bringing the total project area to 128 square kilometers across three tenements.


* Australia's Labor party proposed to coordinate with the Western Australian government and other parties to build a A$46 million mining research center named Australian Future Mines to help discover the nation's untapped resources, The West Australian reported, citing Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

* Amnesty International blamed the electric vehicle industry for producing many of its batteries using carbon-intensive fossil fuels and minerals sourced through human rights violations such as child labor, while calling itself "environmentally friendly," Reuters wrote. "Electric vehicles are key to shifting the motor industry away from fossil fuels, but they are currently not as ethical as some retailers would like us to believe," the group said.

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