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Rio Tinto's iron ore project approved; Endeavour given longer for Centamin bid


Rio Tinto's A$1B Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 approved amid low price outlook

Western Australia's government has approved Rio Tinto's US$749 million Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 iron ore project, which includes a new crusher and a 13-kilometer overland conveyor to transport crushed ore to existing transfer infrastructure. The conveyor will help lower the mine's greenhouse gas emissions by 3.5% compared to road haulage. The new phase of the Western Turner mine will enable Rio Tinto to sustain approved production of 30 million tonnes a year, with construction due in the first quarter of 2020 and first ore to be delivered during the third quarter of 2021.

Endeavour secures more time to lob bid for Centamin

The U.K. Panel on Takeovers and Mergers approved Centamin PLC's request to give additional time to Endeavour Mining Corp. to make a takeover offer for the latter, or announce that it will not be doing so. The deadline was extended to Jan. 14, 2020, from the original Dec. 31 after the two companies agreed to the exchange of certain due diligence information. Centamin said it continues to believe that the possible offer materially undervalues the company and advised shareholders to take no action.

Coronado idles metallurgical coal mine in Virginia, furloughs over 600 miners

Coronado Global Resources Inc. furloughed more than 600 employees at its Buchanan No. 1 mine in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy was told Dec. 16 that employees at the metallurgical coal mine would be "furloughed until a trade deal was reached between the U.S. and China on coal exports," an official with the agency told S&P Global Market Intelligence on Dec. 23. The agency was informed Dec. 23 that the mine would return to full production on Jan. 1, 2020.


* Local prosecutors are investigating a €200 million line of credit issued to Democratic Republic of Congo-owned Gécamines SA in October 2017 by Ventora Development, formerly Fleurette Mumi, due to possible money laundering and fraud, Reuters reported, citing unidentified sources. Ventora Development is owned by Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, who is under U.S. sanctions.

* Val-d'Or Mining Corp. sold 10 of its exploration properties prospective for precious and base metals, located in Quebec, to privately owned Progenitor Metals for a consideration of C$1.1 million, 80% of which will go to Val-d'Or and 20% will go to Golden Valley Mines Ltd. Val-d'Or acquired the properties from Golden Valley Mines.

* Northfield Capital Corp. acquired ownership and control of 6,680,000 common shares and 6,680,000 share purchase warrants, representing 10.3% of the issued and outstanding shares of Murchison Minerals Ltd.


* Nevada Copper Corp. shipped first copper concentrate from its Pumpkin Hollow copper project in Nevada. The company expects to complete the ramp-up to full commercial production in the first half of 2020.

* OceanaGold Corp.'s partly owned Locrian Resources Inc. entered into a deal to explore ArcWest Exploration Inc.'s oxide peak property in northern British Columbia. Locrian can earn an initial 60% stake in the property by funding over a three-year period cumulative exploration expenditures of C$2.4 million and staged cash payments of C$55,000.

* NorZinc Ltd. closed the sale of a 1% net smelter return royalty over the company's Prairie Creek zinc-lead-silver mine in the Northwest Territories for C$8 million.


* AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and IAMGOLD Corp. agreed to sell their stakes in a Malian joint venture which holds the Sadiola mine for a total of US$105 million in stages to Allied Gold Corp. The companies each own a 41% stake in the mine, with the government of Mali owning the remaining 18%. The conditions for the deal to close, which include Malian government approval, are expected to be met by the end of April 2020. Prior to closing, AngloGold and IAMGOLD will receive a cash dividend of US$6.2 million each from the mine's holding company, while the government will receive US$2.7 million.

* Lydian International Ltd. and its units in Canada and the U.K. were granted protection from creditors by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for an initial 10 day period, which expires Jan. 2, 2020. The company has been unable to develop its Amulsar project in southern Armenia due to illegal blockades, and the company's lenders refused to further extend a previously announced forbearance agreement, which expired Dec. 20.

* Royal Road Minerals Ltd. entered a letter of intent with Mineros SA to negotiate a joint venture over the former's Guintar and Niverengo concessions and its Margaritas title application in Colombia's Antioquia District. Under the terms, the joint venture need to be formed before Jan. 30, 2020.

* Resolute Mining Ltd. forward sold an additional 30,000 ounces of gold at US$1,501 per ounce in scheduled monthly deliveries of 5,000 ounces between July 2020 and December 2020.

* Royal Nickel Corp. outlined a maiden proven and probable reserve for its Beta Hunt gold mine in Western Australia of 3.4 million tonnes at 2.8 g/t of gold containing 310,000 ounces, using a 2.0 g/t gold cutoff grade. About 290,000 ounces of the contained gold reserve estimate are in the probable reserve category.

* Austral Gold Ltd. closed the previously announced deal to acquire Troy Resources Ltd.'s remaining 30% interest in the Casposo silver-gold mine in San Juan, Argentina, by purchasing the outstanding common shares of Casposo Argentina Ltd. for US$200,000.

* AIC Mines Ltd. said that Vulcan Copper Ltd. breached its obligation to pay the first installment of the deferred consideration of US$1.0 million regarding the Kitumba sale agreement inked in September 2018.

* Arcus Development Group Inc. completed the sale of its Dan Man property to Newmont Goldcorp Corp.'s subsidiary Kaminak Gold Corp.

* Explor Resources Inc. completed its merger with Galleon Gold Corp.


* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed not imposing financial responsibility requirements for facilities in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry under a section of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Based on the examination of "modern management practices and modern environmental regulations," the EPA said it determined that petroleum and coal products manufacturers do not present a level of risk of taxpayer-funded response actions that warrant the financial responsibility requirements.

* Nippon Steel Corp. unit Nippon Steel Nisshin Co. Ltd. will temporarily stop production at the No. 2 blast furnace at Kure Works around mid-February 2020, and focus on production from the No. 1 furnace, in a bid to improve production efficiency and further stabilize operations. Both blast furnaces were operating at a low utilization rate due to a fire accident at Kure Works in August.

* Indonesian state-owned PT Bukit Asam Tbk seeks to increase coal production to 30 million tonnes in 2020, compared to the 28.5 Mt anticipated this year, Reuters reported, citing company officials. About 60% of Bukit Asam's 2020 production will go to an Indonesian state-run power utility, while 30% will be exported, mostly to India, according to Adib Ubaidillah, the company's director of commerce.

* The Canadian government will launch a strategic assessment that will look into how new thermal coal mine projects in the future will be examined under the government's Impact Assessment Act, International Mining reported. The assessment will include, but not be limited to, environmental and health impacts of thermal coal mining, market analysis of projected demand for thermal coal, and the use of thermal coal mining including its impact on the country's international commitments and initiatives.

* Pacific Bauxite Ltd. went into voluntary administration after its failure to attract support along with unsuccessful negotiations to sell its bauxite deposits in the Solomon Islands.


* The Superior Court of Québec granted bankruptcy protection to Nemaska Lithium Inc., allowing the company sufficient time to settle its refinancing efforts in order to complete the construction and start operations at its Whabouchi lithium project in Quebec.

* Moody's downgraded the corporate family rating of Tianqi Lithium Corp. to B1 from Ba3, citing weak measures to lower its leverage that increased on the back of its acquisition of Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA. "The ratings downgrade mainly reflects the materially smaller-than-expected proceeds from Tianqi Lithium's rights issue. Such a situation will result in the company's slower-than-expected deleveraging and tighter-than-expected liquidity," said Gerwin Ho, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody's.

* Ucore Rare Metals Inc. and Materion Corp. will form a consortium to jointly apply to the U.S. Department of Defense for funding for the construction of a rare earths processing plant, Reuters reported.


* China's Solid Waste and Chemicals Management Bureau issued import quotas for 270,885 tonnes of high-grade copper scrap and 275,465 tonnes of aluminum scrap for 2020, being the first quotas for next year, Reuters reported. The Asian country is working towards completely cutting down imports of scrap metal classified as waste by the end of the next year.

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