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Colombia expedites Cerrejon mine expansion to meet coal output target

TOP NEWS

Colombia expedites Cerrejon mine expansion to hit 90 million-tonne coal output target

The Colombian government is working to expedite the expansion of the Cerrejon coal joint venture owned by Anglo American Plc, BHP Billiton Group and Glencore Plc in a bid to boost the country's coal production to a record of over 90 million tonnes this year, Bloomberg News wrote.

Australia backs A$900M expansion of New Hope coal mine

Australian Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg approved the A$900 million expansion of New Hope Corp. Ltd.'s New Acland coal mine in Queensland, ABC reported.

Court rejects Blankenship appeal

A U.S. federal appeals court upheld former Massey Energy Co. CEO Donald Blankenship's conviction for conspiracy and one-year prison sentence relating to the 2010 explosion at the company's Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia that killed 29 workers, Reuters said in a news brief.

DIVERSIFIED

* Guinean President Alpha Conde claims 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

* Vedanta Resources Plc Chairman Anil Agarwal said collaboration between his company's Hindustan Zinc Ltd. unit and Anglo American Plc would have been a "good match," admitting that he tried to engage with Anglo American in the first half of 2016 to discuss potential ideas, including a business combination, but Anglo American rebuffed the chairman's informal approach, Bloomberg News wrote.

* Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. shares are poised to hit a four-year high after the shares' value more than tripled since the U.S. election amid speculation that the incoming administration will allow the company to proceed with the development of its stalled Pebble copper project in Alaska, Bloomberg News reported.

* Yunnan Tin Co. Ltd. expects to swing to a net profit of between 76 million Chinese yuan and 114 million yuan, or between 5.16 fen per share and 7.74 fen per share, in 2016, compared to a net loss of about 1.97 billion yuan, or 1.34 yuan per share, in 2015.

* TNG Ltd. is on track with its planned spinout of its noncore Australian base metal assets, with a listing on the ASX set for early in the second quarter.

* Australian Vanadium Ltd. has agreed to sell its precious and base metals rights on the Gabanintha project in Western Australia and its 100% equity in the Peak Hill project located in the Bryah Basin.

* On the back of a 63% increase in production volumes, Finland's state-owned Terrafame swung to a €12.2 million operating profit in the fourth quarter of 2016, from a €42.5 million loss in the previous quarter, Reuters reported.

* Copper miner Antofagasta Plc is exiting the Alto Maipo hydroelectric power project by selling its entire 40% stake to partner AES Gener, the Chilean arm of U.S. power group AES Corp., Reuters reported, citing CEO Ivan Arriagada.

* A civil court ruled that Antofagasta Plc's Los Pelambres and contractor company Fraser Alexander Chile will have to pay 40 million Chilean pesos to the family of a worker who died in an accident in November 2010, daily Diario Financiero reported.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Saudi Arabian Mining Co.'s net profit in full-year 2016 fell 33.8% year over year to 400.6 million Saudi Arabia riyals, or 34 halalas per share. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the company swung to a net profit of 15.7 million riyals, compared to a 5.7 million riyal net loss in the year-ago quarter.

* OceanaGold Corp. poured the first gold dore bars at its Haile gold mine in South Carolina, producing 445 ounces.

* S&P Global Ratings revised its outlook on Russian gold miner Polyus Gold International Ltd. and its subsidiary PJSC Polyus to positive from stable, while the affirming long-term corporate credit rating on both companies at BB-. S&P expects Polyus Gold to maintain a conservative financial policy as it moves forward with a new dividend policy and a planned secondary public offering.

* An independent preliminary economic assessment for Geologix Explorations Inc.'s Tepal gold-copper project in Mexico estimated an after-tax net present value of US$169 million, at a 5% discount rate, and an internal rate of return of 24%. The project will require initial CapEx of US$214.2 million to establish an open-pit contract mining operation.

BULK COMMODITIES

* PAO Severstal's crude steel production increased 2% to 11.6 million tonnes and hot metal production improved 1% to 9.3 million tonnes in full-year 2016, compared to the previous year. Sales for consolidated steel products and Russian Steel products each declined 1% year over year to about 10.7 million tonnes.

* Alcoa Corp.'s Portland aluminum smelter in Victoria, Australia, will be able to continue operations until 2021 after the company secured a funding package of over A$200 million from the Australian government, The Australian reported.

* China's coal output in December 2016 reached 311 million tonnes, its highest level in a year, as miners increased production to meet higher demand from utilities during the winter season, Reuters wrote, citing data from the National Bureau of Statistics. Full-year coal output was down 9% on a yearly basis to 3.64 billion tonnes.

* Japan is threatening to take India to the World Trade Organization over steel safeguard duties and minimum import prices that slashed Japanese steel imports to India over the past year, Reuters reported. The country is also concerned by the U.S. potentially taking protectionist steps under the incoming Trump administration.

* The management of the Elandsfontein phosphate mine in South Africa is offering a 25,000 South African rand cash reward in exchange for information that will lead to the conviction of unauthorized individuals who gained access to a restricted construction area and severed cables to certain equipment Jan. 18, Fin24 reported.

* CITIC Ltd. may be forced to suspend its Sino-Iron mine in Western Australia as Clive Palmer continues to delay the approval of an expansion for the US$10 billion project, The Australian reported.

* Hesteel Co. Ltd.'s net profit attributable to shareholders is expected to range between 1.50 billion Chinese yuan and 1.60 billion yuan for full-year 2016, representing an increase of between 161.57% and 179.01% from the 573.5 million yuan posted a year ago.

* Gansu Jiu Steel Group Hongxing Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. expects to swing to a net profit of about 78 million Chinese yuan in full-year 2016, from a net loss of 7.36 billion yuan posted a year ago, due to a rebound in steel prices and reduced operational costs in 2016.

* Strategic Minerals Plc witnessed record domestic sales of magnetite in full-year 2016 from its Cobre mine in New Mexico. Domestic magnetite sales increased 24% year over year to about US$1.6 million, for 25,385 short tons.

* SouthGobi Resources Ltd. has received a lawsuit notice from the Khan-Uul district civil court of first instance in Mongolia, filed by a fuel supplier of its subsidiary, SouthGobi Sands LLC, regarding the nonpayment of 22.2 billion Mongolian tugriks. The subsidiary disputes the amount claimed by Magnai Trade in the proceedings and has filed an application with the court to dismiss the litigation.

* Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA CEO Rômel de Souza plans to open arbitration proceedings against Sumitomo Corp. as a result of the Japanese group's decision to reject a capital reduction for 1 billion Brazilian reais in iron ore unit Mineração Usiminas SA, a joint venture in which Sumitomo owns a 30% stake with the remaining held by Usiminas. The funds are crucial to the Brazilian steelmaker because they are part of the creditors' demands in its debt renegotiation, daily Valor Econômico reported.

* The environmental regulator of Brazil's Sao Paulo state, Cetesb, fined Vale SA's fertilizers unit Vale Fertilizantes SA 8 million Brazilian reais over the emission of pollutants during a Jan. 5 fire incident at its Cubatão facility, daily Valor Econômico reported.

* Mineração Morro do Ipê, formerly known as MMX Mineração, the owner and operator of the Tico Tico and Ipê iron ore mines in Serra Azul province in Minas Gerais state, will resume operations in March this year, Notícias de Mineração reported.

* Davenport Resources Ltd. traded as low as 20% below its IPO price of 20 Australian cents on its first day on the ASX. However, the Australian potash explorer recovered most of its losses, closing 2.5% lower at 19.5 cents on Jan. 20.

* OJSC Novolipetsk Steel's crude steel output in the fourth quarter of 2016 increased 8% year over year to 4.2 million tonnes due to improved productivity following repairs and strong demand for its products, including billet exports. However, group sales in the quarter dropped 4% to 3.6 million tonnes, attributed to a 17% decline in semifinished product sales.

* Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. Ltd. unit Yancoal Australia Ltd.'s attributable coal output totaled 4.51 million tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2016, up 21% from the corresponding year-ago period. Sales volume during the period came in at 6.18 million tonnes, reflecting a 25% year-over-year increase.

SPECIALTY

* S&P Global Ratings placed its ratings on Cameco Corp., including its BBB+ long-term corporate credit rating on the miner, under CreditWatch with negative implications. It estimates that Cameco's 2016 earnings and core credit ratios will be below S&P's previous expectations after the company said it expects adjustments to net earnings to reach about C$180 million to C$220 million.

* Kidman Resources Ltd. and Marindi Metals Ltd. have been ordered by the Supreme Court of Western Australia to attend mediation to resolve a dispute over the lithium rights at Kidman's Mount Holland lithium project. Marindi launched legal action against Kidman in mid-November 2016, claiming that the two companies struck a deal under which it holds an option to acquire the lithium rights at the Earl Grey deposit.

* Canada's Lithium Americas Corp. has landed a US$112 million investment by The Bangchak Petroleum Public Co. Ltd. to fund the construction of its Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project in Argentina.

* Mustang Resources Ltd. sent its first commercial batch of rubies to U.S. service providers and customers, comprising 6,221 carats including two rare 24-carat stones.

* Albemarle Corp.'s bondholders submitted €533.3 million in principal amount of 1.875% senior notes due 2021 under its cash tender offer by the early tender date of Jan. 18. Based on the results, the company will not accept for repurchase the 4.150% senior notes due 2024 as the €533.3 million will exceed the maximum repurchase amount of about US$325.2 million. The tender offer has been closed.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* In 2016, Africa produced nearly 17 million ounces of gold, representing almost 18% of worldwide total production. Gold production in the region is in a state of flux, as the geopolitical boundaries of top gold-producing countries are beginning to shift.

* The developing countries that rely heavily on mining are expected to be hit the hardest by automation in the mining industry, with as much as a 4% decline in national GDP, The Guardian wrote, citing a recent study on the impact of automation in the mining sector.

* The U.K.'s exit from the European Union is slowing down Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.'s launch of a London-Hong Kong connect, which aims to introduce futures products of the London Metal Exchange to Hong Kong and mainland investors, according to CEO Charles Li.

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.