March’s top news stories

3 April 2018 (Last Updated April 4th, 2018 12:13)

Rio Tinto signed a $2.25bn agreement with a consortium to divest its entire 80% interest in the Kestrel underground coal mine in Queensland, Australia, thereby completing the company’s exit from coal mining business. Steel manufacturer Posco signed a partnership deal to buy lithium from Australia-based Pilbara Minerals and set up a downstream processing joint venture (JV) in South Korea. Mining-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from March 2018. 

Rio Tinto to sell Kestrel coal mine stake for $2.25bn

Rio Tinto signed a $2.25bn agreement with a consortium to divest its entire 80% interest in the Kestrel underground coal mine in Queensland, Australia, thereby completing the company’s exit from coal mining business.

The consortium includes private equity manager EMR Capital (EMR) and PT Adaro Energy.

The proposed sale marks Rio Tinto’s exit from the coal sector and follows two other recently signed divestment deals in the coal business.


Posco signs strategic partnership deal with Pilbara Minerals

Steel manufacturer Posco signed a partnership deal to buy lithium from Australia-based Pilbara Minerals and set up a downstream processing joint venture (JV) in South Korea.

Posco will purchase an initial 80,000tpa of chemical- grade spodumene concentrate from Pilbara’s Pilgangoora Stage 2 project as part of the off-take agreement.

The off-take will eventually scale-up to 240,000tpa, subject to Pilbara’s participation in a downstream 30,000tpa lithium carbonate / lithium hydroxide conversion plant in South Korea under a JV with Posco.


Downer gains $467.5m contract at BMA’s Blackwater mine, Australia

Downer Group secured a A$600m ($467.5m) contract to provide mining and related services at the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) owned Blackwater coal mine in Central Queensland, Australia.

The contract is valid for a term of three years and will see Downer offer overburden removal and haulage, equipment maintenance and drilling services.

The latest agreement extends the relationship between the parties by consolidating two existing contracts.


Hecla Mining to acquire Klondex Mines for $462m

Hecla Mining Company reached a deal to acquire all outstanding shares in Klondex Mines, which owns Fire Creek, Midas and Hollister mines, for total consideration of $462m.

The deal will see Hecla offer shares in Hecla common stock and the newly formed company Klondex Canada in exchange for the acquisition, in addition to cash.

The transaction is anticipated to allow the company to acquire seven land positions with extensive exploration, development and production potential in Nevada.


Alrosa demonstrates new device to detect synthetic diamonds

Russian miner Alrosa Group unveiled a new commercial device to combat ‘unscrupulous’ suppliers who mix synthetic lab-made stones with diamonds of natural origin.

The Termed Alrosa Diamond Inspector helps identify natural polished diamonds, polished diamonds manufactured from synthetic and treated diamonds, and non-diamond imitations such as cubic zirconia and moissanite, among others.

Alrosa developed the device in collaboration with specialists from the Federal State Budgetary Institution Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials (FSBI TISNCM).


US court calls for reduced mining in Montana and Wyoming

A US federal court ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to reduce mining operations in the states of Montana and Wyoming in order to address concerns regarding climate change.

The case was filed by a coalition of environmental groups with the aim of persuading the court to direct the BLM to ban mining activities within the region.

The plaintiffs contended that the BLM approved the resource management plans (RMPs) without considering alternatives that would reduce the amount of coal available for leasing in each field.


New report warns mining firms to increase cybersecurity measures

The results of a new study conducted by Inmarsat suggest that mining firms should improve their cybersecurity measures in order to gain maximum value from Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

The research noted that mining companies are finding it difficult to keep up with the new security challenges presented by the deployment of IoT systems.

Approximately 100 mining companies worldwide took part in Inmarsat’s ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise’ report.


First Cobalt signs deal to buy US exploration firm

Canadian firm First Cobalt signed an agreement to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares in exploration company US Cobalt in order to strengthen its position.

The C$149.9m ($115m) all-share deal is expected to enhance the company’s cobalt portfolio.

According to the transaction, First Cobalt will issue 1.5 common shares for each US Cobalt common share issued and outstanding.


Polymetal and Dolfinflip to sell Dolinnoye property in Kazakhstan

Polymetal International and its partner Dolfinflip signed an agreement to divest 100% stake in the Dolinnoye gold property in the Republic of Kazakhstan to JSC AK Altynalmas.

The property has been declared non-core and is situated in Kazakhstan’s Aktogay district.

It is jointly owned by Polymetal and Dolfinflip on an equal basis.


MGX Minerals signs deal to develop new lithium extraction process

MGX Minerals signed a letter of intent (LoI) with Orion Laboratories and Light Metals International (LMI) to jointly develop and commercialise a new extraction process for lithium production.

The new process is expected to focus on extracting hard-rock lithium from spodumene concentrate.

It will be developed under the direction of Orion president and CEO James Blencoe, who has experience in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of specialised equipment for advanced chemical production.