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Rio Tinto enters physical metals trading business

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Rio Tinto enters physical metals trading business

TOP NEWS

Rio Tinto moves into physical trading for metals and minerals

Rio Tinto moved into physical trading of self-produced metals and minerals in a bid to get better prices, the Financial Times reported, citing the company's CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques. The company is currently trading small volumes of bauxite, alumina and aluminum, "but at some point in time, over the medium and long term, we could increase our trading activities," Jacques said.

Interior retracts approval for Westmoreland Coal's expansion at Rosebud mine amid 'internal miscommunication'

Westmoreland Coal Co. has not received federal approval to expand its Rosebud coal mine in Montana, Bloomberg News reported, citing the U.S. Department of the Interior, which noted that a previous approval statement was incorrect and a result of "internal miscommunication."

Agrium, PotashCorp net final regulatory approval for merger

Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. secured final approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for their proposed merger to create Nutrien. With all regulatory approvals in place, the companies expect to close the transaction Jan. 1.

DIVERSIFIED

* Mining companies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including local units of Glencore Plc, China Molybdenum Co. Ltd., Randgold Resources Ltd., Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. and MMG Ltd., urged the government to reconsider a new legislation that will raise royalties on copper, cobalt and gold, among others, to 3.5%, Bloomberg News reported. The new bill also seeks to introduce a profit-windfall tax and a doubled state's free share of 10%.

BASE METALS

* London copper rose to its highest level in almost four years on Dec. 27, to US$7,240 per tonne, after China ordered Jiangxi Copper Co. Ltd. to reduce output for at least one week before a new assessment on local pollution levels is carried out, Bloomberg News reported.

* A large group of trade unions in Chile's mining sector is set to start negotiations for new collective labor agreements in 2018. In the case of Codelco, worker groups at the El Teniente, Radomiro Tomic, Headquarters, and Ministro Hales divisions, supervisor unions at Chuquicamata and Andina, and professional associations at the Gabriela Mistral and Ministro Hales units are expected to discuss new deals. Meanwhile, unions at Antofagasta Plc's Lomas Bayas and Los Pelambres projects, and BHP Billiton Group's Escondida and Spence mines are also scheduled to renegotiate, daily Soy Chile reported.

* Codelco awarded an approximately US$20 million contract to Spain's OHL to support the operation and maintenance of the canal for the transport of slurry, tailings and industrial wastewater at the El Teniente copper mine in Chile, International Mining reported.

* An official from Indonesia's Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources said that US$5.03 billion has been invested into the construction of nickel smelters by 13 companies in the first 10 months of 2017, the Jakarta Globe reported. A government regulation issued earlier this year required miners to process raw materials locally before exporting them.

* Osisko Metals Inc. entered into a definitive deal to acquire the base metals-prospective Key Anacon claims and surrounding area in New Brunswick's Bathurst Mining Camp from Hunter Brook Holdings Ltd.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Eldorado Gold Corp. reorganized its board to make it "leaner and more concentrated," with a reduced total of eight directors compared to the previous 10 members. Eldorado noted that departing directors will not be replaced, and the board has also reduced director compensation.

* Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg's Renova Group sold its stake in gold producer Petropavlovsk Plc, a Renova spokesman Andrey Shtorkh told Reuters, without disclosing the details of the transaction. Meanwhile, Kommersant and Vedomosti reported that Renova is negotiating the sale of the Kamchatka gold project in Russia to OJSC GV Gold.

* Newton Resources Ltd. extended the exclusive period to enter a memorandum of understanding with Suriname Mining Co. for the development of a gold mine in Suriname from ending on Dec. 31 to June 30, 2018.

* Patagonia Gold Plc entered a definitive agreement for the previously announced acquisition of the Calcatreu deposit from Pan American Silver Corp. for US$15 million. The company intends to advance the Calcatreu project in 2018 by exploring the area immediately around the existing resource.

* Argentine authorities approved the environmental impact assessment for SSR Mining Inc.'s Chinchillas silver project in the country's Jujuy province. Development activities will now commence, with first ore feed to the Pirquitas mill expected in the second half of 2018.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Serbian power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije, or EPS, has started operations at a new €60 million open pit coal mine, which is expected to produce between 5 million tonnes and 6 million tonnes of lignite a year. The move aims to secure supplies for the company's biggest power generating complex over the next decades.

* Thousands of locals in northeastern Morocco continue to protest after two brothers died while illegally mining coal from a tunnel 85 meters below the ground. According to the South China Morning Post, demonstrators are calling for more jobs and development in the area.

* Kobe Steel Ltd. is facing three separate lawsuits in the U.S. on the allegations of repeatedly falsifying data on aluminum, copper, iron and steel products, and knowingly selling products that failed quality control tests. Rosen Law Firm, Bronstein, Gewirtz & Grossman LLC and Block & Leviton LLP filed class actions against the company and certain of its officers and directors on alleged violation of federal securities laws.

* Next year, Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA directors will mull an increase in prices for its contract with its 70%-owned hot-dip galvanizing unit, Unigal, Valor International wrote. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., which owns the remaining 30% stake, is against any change in the contract.

* Tian Poh Resources Ltd. said it received support from the Mongolian Ministry of Energy to advance a feasibility study for its proposed coal-to-gas project, in which coal from its Nuurst coal deposit would be gasified to supply residents of Ulaanbaatar.

* Tata Steel Ltd. is ramping up production at its Khondbond iron ore mine in Odisha, India, to fuel the recently announced expansion of the Kalinganagar steel plant, Press trust of India reported, citing a company official said.

* Indonesian coal miner PT Toba Bara Sejahtra Tbk plans to issue medium-term notes worth US$250 million to refinance its debt and further expand its businesses, The Jakarta Post reported. The notes, which will be listed in the Singapore Exchange, will mature in five years with a maximum interest rate of 10% per annum.

SPECIALTY

* In a call with S&P Global Market Intelligence, National Atomic Co. Kazatomprom JSC has clarified that it will honor its current contract to supply Iran with 950 tonnes of uranium concentrate but that the timing is dependent on the approval of the six countries that make up the UN Security Council. The contract with Iran was extended to 2020, from initially 2017, Kazatomprom CEO Galymzhan Pirmatov previously told journalists in a press briefing.

* Meanwhile, Kazatomprom sold its 10% stake in Westinghouse Electric Co. to Toshiba Corp., recording a profit of US$85 million on the initial investment of US$540 million.

* Eduardo Bitran, head of Chilean development agency Corfo, said Chile could earn between US$4.7 billion and US$7.55 billion in royalties by 2030 from a new contract with Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, if the parties can resolve their ongoing dispute over mining royalties in the Salar de Atacama deposit, Reuters wrote.

* Russian gas producer Novatek is considering a bid for PJSC Alrosa's gas fields, while oil giant Rosneft might not participate in the auction due to tight deadlines, Reuters wrote. Novatek allegedly already informed Russia's Anti-Monopoly Service of its intention to buy the assets when they will be auctioned on Feb. 19 at a starting price of 30 billion Russian rubles.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Brazil's President Michel Temer signed off a bill that will create a new regulatory agency for the mining sector. The new public body, which will replace current watchdog DNPM, is expected to make the licensing approval process more efficient, news agency Senado reported.

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.