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Norsk Hydro to buy Rio Tinto aluminum assets for US$345M

TOP NEWS

Norsk Hydro to buy Rio Tinto aluminum assets for US$345M

Norsk Hydro ASA signed a binding agreement to acquire Rio Tinto's Icelandic aluminum plant, Rio Tinto Iceland Ltd., its 53.3% stake in Dutch anode facility Aluminium & Chemie Rotterdam BV. and its 50% stake in Swedish aluminum fluoride plant Alufluor AB for US$345 million. The deal is expected to be finalized in the second quarter.

Steel, iron ore prices rise after top Chinese steelmaking city extends cuts

Steel mills in China's Tangshan city were ordered to extend the winter production cuts that were set to expire when the heating season ends in March, the Financial Times reported, citing a statement from the local government in Tangshan. The announcement sent Singapore-traded futures for March delivery of 62% iron ore to its highest level since April 2017, marking up to a 1.5% increase to US$79.15 per tonne. Shanghai-traded steel reinforcement bar for May delivery was up by as much as 3.8% to 4,047 Chinese yuan per tonne, the highest since early December 2017.

Report: Trump leans toward 24% global tariff on steel imports

U.S. President Donald Trump favors a global tariff of 24% on steel imports, the harshest of the three actions recently recommended to him by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bloomberg News reported. Trump is also considering a 10% duty on all aluminum imports, up from the 7.7% proposed by the department, according to the report, which cited three sources familiar with the matter.

DIVERSIFIED

* Some of the world's largest private equity firms are assessing BHP Billiton Group's shale assets, The Australian Financial Review reported. Expectations are also firming that the mining major will return the proceeds from the sale, estimated at more than US$10 billion, to shareholders.

* Rio Tinto is continuing to invest in the U.S. after recently approving a further US$368 million investment to advance its Resolution copper joint venture in Arizona, owned on a 55/45 basis with BHP. Rio Tinto will open a sales and marketing office in Chicago this year, in addition to its previously announced commercial and marketing hub in Singapore.

BASE METALS

* United Co. Rusal Plc is preparing to trigger a "shoot out" scenario to end a shareholder conflict over control of Russian metals and mining giant PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co. Rusal's billionaire owner, Oleg Deripaska, who holds a 28% stake in Norilsk Nickel, sought an injunction in a London court Feb. 16 to stop Roman Abramovich's Crispian Investment Ltd. from selling his minority share in the company to rival Vladimir Potanin's Whiteleave Holdings Ltd., triggering a stalemate. To break the deadlock, Rusal proposed to activate a "shoot out" protocol, by which either party can buy out the other's stake.

* Titan Mining Corp. signed a long-term off-take agreement with Glencore Plc for 100% of the zinc concentrate production at its Empire State mine in New York. The contract will start on the first production of concentrate at the mine, which is expected to achieve commercial production early in the second quarter.

* Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. announced a 50% increase in the indicated mineral resources at the Kakula copper discovery, part of the Kamoa-Kakula project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, outlining 174 million tonnes at 5.62% copper using a 3% copper cutoff grade. Kakula's strike length now extends to 13.3 kilometers and remains open for significant expansion.

* Osisko Metals Inc. completed the previously announced acquisition of Pine Point Mining Ltd. in an all-share deal. Newly formed company Generation Mining Ltd. will hold all of the assets and liabilities of Pine Point except the Pine Point zinc-lead project in Canada's Northwest Territories.

* New Century Resources Ltd. signed a binding term sheet with Nyrstar NV for a 5.5-year off-take agreement for the supply of 600,000 dry tonnes of zinc concentrate from the Century zinc project in Queensland, Australia.

* Altus Strategies Plc was granted six mining license permits covering 96 square kilometers comprising the Zaer copper-tungsten-tin exploration license in Morocco. In addition, the company relinquished the early stage Oulmes, Ment, Tamatert and Ouarzazate licenses in Morocco.

* Chilean President-elect Sebastian Pinera is seeking to create two new management units at Codelco to improve operations, his choice for mining minister, Baldo Prokurica, told local daily La Tercera.

PRECIOUS METALS

* South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers said Pan African Resources Plc plans to lay off 1,722 workers at its Evander gold mine in the country due to deteriorating infrastructure at the site, high operating costs, labor costs and a weak gold price, Reuters reported. The mine has a total workforce of 1,812 people.

* Lundin Gold Inc. plans to raise US$400 million in a private placement to fund the development of its Fruta del Norte gold project in Ecuador, which is expected to achieve its first production by the end of 2019. Newcrest Mining Ltd. is taking part in the offering and will invest US$250 million to own 27.1% of Lundin Gold. Lundin and Newcrest also agreed to form a joint venture to explore eight concessions surrounding the property.

* A preliminary economic assessment and revamped plan for Coeur Mining Inc.'s Rochester silver-gold project in Nevada more than doubled the project's net present value, at a 5% discount, to US$609 million from US$280 million and extended the mine life to 2038 from 2031.

* Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd. posted a 21% increase in proven and probable mineral reserves at its Eagle River gold mine in Ontario to 416,000 ounces at 12.2 g/t gold of gold compared to the December 2016 estimate.

* Sibanye Gold Ltd. claims to have mostly ended the illegal mining activity at its mines in South Africa after arresting nearly 1,400 illegal miners at its gold shafts in 2017, Reuters reported, citing CEO Neal Froneman. The company spent 300 million South African rand to curb illegal activity in 2017 and plans to spend the same in 2018 on tougher controls at its mines' entry points.

* Premier Gold Mines Ltd. reported a 333% increase in mineral reserves at the Nevada-based South Arturo gold joint venture with Barrick Gold Corp., outlining proven and probable reserves of 1.1 million ounces of gold at 13.60 g/t of gold.

* Torex Gold Resources Inc. denied reports that suggested the company's land access agreement with the Real Del Limon Ejido was terminated. It said it is working in compliance with the terms of the lease and a small group of families in the Ejido with the apparent support of the Los Mineros Union is trying to extort the company by camping near the El Limon crusher facility to interrupt mining at the pit.

* Northam Platinum Ltd. booked a net loss of 283.8 million South African rand, or 81.1 South African cents per share, for the first half of its fiscal 2018, sinking deeper in the red from the loss of 226.6 million rand posted a year ago. Meanwhile, Northam, which is in the middle of spending 5.5 billion rand on growth projects, plans to create 6,500 new mining jobs in the next four to five years, Mining Weekly reported.

* Algold Resources Ltd. updated the mineral resource estimate at its Tijirit gold property in Mauritania to indicated resources of 94,250 ounces of gold at an average grade of 4.08 g/t of gold and inferred resources of 394,690 ounces of gold at an average grade of 4.07 g/t of gold. In comparison, the property previously hosted inferred resources of 357,920 ounces of gold at an average grade of 4.18 g/t of gold.

* A miner at Caledonia Mining Corp. Plc's Blanket gold mine in Zimbabwe died in a mining-related accident Feb. 23. Production was suspended in the section pending an investigation.

* Ramelius Resources Ltd. produced a record 91,162 ounces of gold in the first half of its fiscal 2018, a 35% increase from 67,546 ounces of gold in the year-ago period.

* Stratex International Plc's 7.84%-owned Aforo Resources Ltd. signed two option deals to acquire gold projects in Ivory Coast, including Nord Gold SE's Niare project. Aforo also allowed the Sinoe gold project license to lapse and sold its Ivory Coast gold project for US$225,000.

* Condor Gold Plc submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in Nicaragua an amendment to an environmental and social impact assessment statement for the construction of a 2,800-tonne-per-day processing plant at the La India gold project that does not require resettling about 1,000 people.

* Rimfire Pacific Mining NL said New Gold Inc. will no longer proceed with the earn-in agreement to acquire up to a 70% interest in the Fifield gold project in New South Wales, Australia.

BULK COMMODITIES

* BlueScope Steel Ltd.'s net profit jumped 23% year over year to A$441.2 million in the first half of its fiscal 2018, which ended Dec. 31, 2017. Sales revenue increased 7% yearly to A$5.48 billion from A$5.19 billion. The company declared a fully franked interim dividend of 6 cents per share, higher than the 4 cents per share declared a year ago, and extended a share buyback program by A$150 million.

* NYSE-listed Warrior Met Coal Inc. is offering US$125 million of 8.00% senior secured notes due 2024 in a private offering. The net proceeds, together with cash on hand, will be used to pay a special cash dividend of up to US$350 million.

* Anglo American Plc completed the sale of its 88.17% interest in the Drayton thermal coal mine and Drayton South project in New South Wales, Australia, to Malabar Coal Ltd.

* U.S. aluminum producer Century Aluminum Co. intends to restart idled production lines at its Kentucky smelter and recall about 350 workers if President Donald Trump implements aluminum import curbs, Reuters reported. The company could probably bring the facility back to full output of about 265,000 to 270,000 tonnes annually by early 2019, co-CEO Michael Bless said.

* CITIC Resources Holdings Ltd.'s full-year 2017 group profit attributable to shareholders increased 42.8% year over year to HK$518.3 million from HK$363.0 million in 2016. Revenue for the company's aluminum smelting segment dropped to HK$709.5 million from HK$948.2 million, while coal segment revenues increased to HK$828.7 million from HK$520.6 million on a yearly basis. The company's board proposed a final dividend of HK$2.50 per share, rising from HK$1.50 per share a year earlier.

* Goldman Sachs placed the equity valuation of ASX-hopeful Riversdale Resources Ltd. at between A$723 million and A$1 billion ahead of its planned IPO, The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk reported. Riversdale Resources holds the Grassy Mountain coking coal project in Alberta as its flagship asset, part of the Crowsnest Pass complex.

* A source told Press Trust of India that JSW Steel Ltd. is close to buying Italian steel company Aferpi for 6 billion Indian rupees, with the deal expected to be finalized by the end of March or the start of April.

* Tata Steel Ltd. is requesting taxpayer support for a £60 million project to upgrade a production line at its Port Talbot steelworks in the U.K., The Sunday Times reported. The project involves modernizing the facility's continuous annealing process line to make lighter, stronger galvanized steels.

* Norsk Hydro formed a task force to investigate the alleged leak of alumina residue from its Alunorte refinery in Para, Brazil, following heavy rainfall Feb. 16-17.

* Blake Trading, which is majority-owned by a Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. subsidiary, plans to develop a second iron ore mining operation in Namibia, Reuters reported. Mining at the new facility will start with processing 1 million tonnes of ore per year, increasing to 10 million tonnes thereafter.

SPECIALTY

* Gupta family-owned Shiva uranium mine, part of Oakbay Resources and Energy Ltd.'s Dominion operations in South Africa, failed to pay salaries for the week to Feb. 23, an employee told Business Day Live.

* Rare earths has been a "school of hard knocks" for juniors struggling with a market that has no Elon Musk to light the way as he has done for lithium stocks, but analysts believe that the stage is set for a genuine revival they are branding "Rare Earths 2.0."

* An updated resource estimate at Savannah Resources Plc's Mina do Barroso lithium project in Portugal marked a 200% increase in inferred resources to 94,100 tonnes of lithium carbonate contained in 9.1 million tonnes grading 1.03% lithium carbonate.

* Lucara Diamond Corp. agreed to purchase for 13.1 million shares Clara Diamond Solutions Corp., whose primary asset is a secure digital sales platform that will transform how rough diamonds are sold. Lucara plans to commercialize the Clara platform using a selection of diamond production from its Karowe mine in Botswana.

* Zimbabwe resumed diamond sales after a one-year hiatus, recently concluding a test sale that raised US$829,067, China's Xinhua News Agency, citing Mines Minister Winston Chitando.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* China's Communist Party proposed eliminating a two-term limit on the presidency, a move that could potentially pave the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping to maintain his authority years after his second term expires, The Wall Street Journal reported.

* Latin America continues to be the favorite exploration location, with a total budget of US$2.38 billion for 2017, representing a 20% year-over-year increase, which lifted the region's share of the global budget to 30.0%, from 28.5% in 2016. The top three countries in the region — Chile, Peru and Mexico — constitute 68% of the total budget of the region, according to the Metals & Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* The market capitalization of listed mining companies is twice what it was two years ago, and 2017 saw the first annual increase in exploration budgets for nonferrous metals after four consecutive years of declining expenditure, according to the Metals & Mining Research team at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* Puls Biznesu reported that Poland granted companies 850 million Polish zloty of subsidies from the state budget between 2015 and 2017 for Restructuring of Mines, or SRK, for social welfare for departing miners. Nearly 9,000 miners benefited from the social protection, consisting of mining holidays and severance pay, according to SRK data.

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.