US exempts South Korea from steel tariffs, slaps import quota
The U.S. agreed to exempt South Korea from its 25% tariff on steel but imposed a quota on steel imports, Reuters reported, citing South Korea's trade ministry. The third-largest steel exporter to the U.S. will have a quota of about 2.68 million tonnes of steel exports, or 70% of the annual average Korean steel exports to the U.S. between 2015 to 2017, the ministry said. This comes after the U.S. and South Korea reached an agreement to renegotiate a six-year-old bilateral trade deal and U.S. tariffs on imported steel.
India's JSW Steel Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding to consider spending up to US$500 million to upgrade its operations in Texas. The investment will be made in multiple phases and is expected to be completed by March 2020. Funds will be used for backward integration, to create the first melt, and manufacture contiguous plate and pipe facility in Texas.
Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG is said to be considering selling its materials trading division, which accounted for €13.7 billion in sales in 2017, as part of a strategic overhaul to be announced in May, Reuters reported, citing a report by German business daily Handelsblatt. Kloeckner & Co, which had €6.14 billion in 2017 sales, is still interested in acquiring the division. ThyssenKrupp said separately that it has almost completed due diligence on its planned European steel tie-up with Tata Steel Ltd., which is on track for signing in early 2018. Elsewhere, Handelsblatt wrote that ThyssenKrupp may opt to boost its industrial division with acquisitions.
* Mitsui & Co. Ltd. will not extend the deadline for its A$602 million bid for AWE Ltd., set to expire April 6, which was recommended by the company's board following lower bids by Mineral Resources Ltd. and China Energy Reserve and Chemical Group Australia, The West Australian reported.
* Rio Tinto's US$5.3 billion expansion plans for the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia remain on track, despite an ongoing bribery investigation by Switzerland and the country's Anti-Corruption Authority over the project, Bloomberg News reported.
* Mining-sector revenues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo jumped 35.6% in 2017 to US$822.2 million, thanks to higher prices for key export products such as copper and cobalt, Reuters reported, citing data from the country's finance ministry.
* Glencore PLC hit back against claims of "slavery-like" working conditions at its cobalt-producing mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Switzerland-based IndustriALL Global Union recently released a report claiming workers described such conditions at some Glencore mines in the DRC, according to a Bloomberg News report. Glencore denied the claims.
* Glencore is set to be best-positioned relative to peers to defy the impact of a looming trade war between the U.S. and China, according to a note by RBC Capital Markets.
* MMG Ltd. CEO Jerry Jiao felt that both the company and New Century Resources Ltd. were in a "win-win" situation over its decision to off-load the Century zinc mine in 2017, despite the latter company having increased the project's value to almost A$600 million, The Australian Financial Review reported.
* Auris Minerals Ltd. clarified its position on Sandfire Resources NL's rejected proposal for a A$15 million farm-in deal for its Doolgunna, Morck's Well and Cashmans copper projects, saying the original deal would have encumbered all of its current and potential projects and left it with no independence or corporate appeal, The West Australian reported, citing Nonexecutive Chairman Bronwyn Barnes.
* China Minmetals Rare Earth Co. Ltd. is considering participating in the Malmyzh copper project in Russia's Khabarovsk territory, held by a joint venture between IG Copper LLC and Freeport-McMoRan Inc., Kommersant reported. The development of Malmyzh is estimated to be worth US$1.5 billion.
* Vast Resources PLC's updated indicated and inferred resource estimate at the Manaila copper-lead-zinc-silver-gold mine in Romania recorded 78% and 249% increases in open pit and underground resources, respectively.
* MinRex Resources Ltd. agreed to acquire project areas prospective for cobalt, scandium, copper and nickel in New South Wales and Western Australia through the acquisition of Clean Power Resources Pty. Ltd.
* Hundreds gathered in India's Tamil Nadu state to protest the planned expansion of Vedanta Ltd.'s Sterlite copper plant, Mining.com wrote, citing a local media report. The protesters claimed gas emissions and effluents from the facility have been polluting groundwater in the area.
* A workers' union at BHP Billiton Group's Escondida copper mine in Chile agreed to explore early contract talks with the site's management, Reuters reported, citing the union's president, Patricio Tapia.
* Barrick Gold Corp. cut the compensation of Executive Chairman John Thornton and President Kelvin Dushnisky in 2017. Thornton received an incentive of about US$4.3 million in 2017, down 18% from a year earlier. The chairman's total compensation dropped 9.4% year over year to US$7.7 million. Barrick's compensation committee reduced Dushnisky's total compensation by 19% to US$4.2 million. The pay cuts were due in part to "setbacks" experienced by its Acacia Mining PLC unit in Tanzania under an export ban as well as a cyanide spill at its Veladero mine in Argentina.
* Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd.'s attributable net profit for 2017 soared nearly 91% to 3.51 billion Chinese yuan on the back of higher production volumes and product prices as well as an improvement in operational efficiency. The group produced 213,765 kilograms of gold for the year, down 0.39%, while copper output rose 13.3% to 636,008 tonnes.
* Superior Gold Inc. declared commercial production at its Hermes gold project in Western Australia.
* Titan Minerals Ltd. agreed to acquire gold miner Andina Resources Ltd. in an off-market takeover bid. Andina shareholders will receive 1 fully paid Titan share for every 1.18 Andina shares held.
* Gran Colombia Gold Corp. reined-in the size of a planned gold-linked debt offering, revising it to US$95 million instead of US$152 million while dangling holders of near-term debt a new payback deal.
* Red 5 Ltd. said full processing operations resumed at its Darlot gold mine in Western Australia following a period of reduced production rates while issues with the project's first mill were being fixed.
* Westgold Resources Ltd. began wet commissioning of the Tuckabianna process plant, part of its Murchison gold project in Western Australia. Commercial production is slated to start April 1.
* An updated mineral resource at Patagonia Gold PLC's Calcatreu gold project increased the contained gold-equivalent ounces to 1.17 million.
* Stratex International PLC will fast-track exploration at the Dalafin gold project after receiving approval from the Senegal government to option a 70% interest in the project to IAMGOLD Corp. unit AGEM Senegal Exploration Suarl.
* Aben Resources Ltd. and Eagle Plains Resources Ltd. suspended a planned drill program at the Chico gold property in Saskatchewan following a request by a local community and members of a First Nation group.
* Personnel from Mexico's Federal Attorney's Office for Environmental Protection visited Primero Mining Corp.'s San Dimas gold mine in the country's Durango state to evaluate the damage caused by a cyanide spill that reached the Piaxtla river, Mining.com reported.
* The EU commissioned a study to see whether the United States' steel and aluminum tariffs necessitate the bloc preventing predominantly Asian producers from diverting their steel shipments to European markets, Reuters reported. The study is expected to last up to nine months and may prompt the EU to impose quotas or tariffs on steel imports to protect its own industry.
* Global crude steel production increased 3.5% on a yearly basis to 132 million tonnes in February. Chinese output came in at 64.9 million tonnes, representing a 5.9% increase, Reuters reported, citing data from World Steel Association.
* Australia's High Court rejected the Port of Newcastle's bid for it to review successive decisions that have supported Glencore's push to have the world's largest coal port regulated amid shipping price hikes. Glencore hailed the decision that upholds previous decisions that supported its argument that the port needed a regulator.
* Wesfarmers Ltd. said all conditions have been satisfied for the A$700 million sale of its Curragh coal mine in Queensland, Australia, to Coronado Coal Group, clearing the way for the completion of the transaction, expected in late March.
* Korab Resources Ltd. began a review to possibly divest its operations and projects in Western Australia and Ukraine to focus on its Winchester magnesite deposit in Australia's Northern Territory.
* Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. raised 12 billion Indian rupees in a qualified institutional placement. The company sold 51,502,145 equity shares at 233 rupees apiece to qualified institutional buyers.
* China Shenhua Energy Co. Ltd.'s attributable profit in 2017 soared nearly 92% to about 47.80 billion Chinese yuan, and revenue jumped 35.8% to 248.75 billion yuan.
* China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd. said profit attributable to equity holders for 2017 rose to 3.53 billion Chinese yuan from 2.87 billion yuan. The Liaoyang, China-based aluminum producer recorded revenue of 19.46 billion yuan in 2017, a 16.6% increase.
* EU leaders criticized the tariffs imposed by the U.S. on global imports of steel and aluminum and demanded that the bloc be permanently exempted from President Donald Trump's trade action.
* ArcelorMittal plans to invest 75 million Bosnian marks, or about US$47 million, to overhaul a blast furnace at its Bosnian steel plant, aimed at extending the plant's life by 15 to 20 years and improving environmental standards, Reuters reported.
* Thai manufacturers are seeking an exemption from U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, Thai Rath reported.
* Arctic Mining Co. proposed to Russia's Environment Inspection, or Rosprirodnadzor, to settle an infraction by reducing the fine from 954 million Russian rubles to 429.1 million rubles, RBC Daily reported.
* The Association of Indonesian Coal Producers expects that small-scale coal mining companies in the country will go bankrupt due to a regulation that sets the price of coal sold to power plants below their production cost, Indonesia's Antara News Agency reported.
* Gerdau SA will halt the No. 2 blast furnace at its Brazil-based Ouro Branco works for about 60 days for a planned maintenance activity, Metal Bulletin reported. The activity is expected to start in late March or early April.
* Battery Minerals Ltd.'s Montepuez graphite project is on track for commissioning in November, after securing the project's mining license from the Mozambique government.
* The S&P Global Market Intelligence Metals and Mining Research team's outlook for commodities markets remains strong, with consensus forecasts for a majority of the commodities continuing to show higher prices as of March 19, compared with the actual 2017 averages. This trend was highlighted in February and January forecasts.
* Chinese Vice Premier Liu He told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that China will defend its trade interests as U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled plans to impose tariffs on up to US$60 billion of Chinese imports, Reuters reported, citing Chinese press reports.
* World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevêdo called on the body's members to practice restraint and dialogue to prevent any trade tensions.
* The Democratic Republic of the Congo rejected a proposal by mining companies to relax some provisions in a new mining code in return for higher royalties, Reuters reported.
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