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Rio, Anglo aim to sell 75% stake in Palabora Mining valued at $700 million

Rio Tinto Group and Anglo American Plc (AAL), which together own about three-quarters of Palabora Mining Co., said they plan to sell their entire holdings in the South African miner as it no longer fits their investment objectives. Palabora’s main asset, a mine that produces copper and magnetite, “is no longer of a sufficient scale” for either Rio or Anglo, and a sale process for their stakes has started, the companies said today. Rio holds about 58 percent of Palabora and London-based Anglo almost 17 percent. Their combined holding is valued at about $700 million based on the closing price of Palabora stock in Johannesburg trading today. Image of copper spools at Palabora mine, courtesy of Rio Tinto

Canada leads mining M&A during first half with slew of big deals

Canada led the world in the number of mining mergers and acquisitions (M&A) for the first half of the year, says Ernst & Young. And while the number of deals fell in comparison to the highly acquisitive first half of 2010, the value of the transactions that took place this year more than doubled compared to the same period last year. The country was the leading buyer in H1 with 196 deals, and also the leading target destination with 129 deals. Australia came second as a buyer and target destination, with 83 and 72 deals respectively.

Commodities rocked as US economy creates zero jobs

Commodity markets were hit this week by shock news that the United States created no jobs in August, sparking speculation that the world's biggest economy could be heading for a double-dip recession. Analysts said the data bolstered expectations that the US Federal Reserve could soon decide to implement another round of quantitative easing -- dubbed QE3 by traders -- to help breathe new life into the struggling economy.

Force majeure lifted at Escondida

Reuters reports that force majeure was lifted at Escondida on Friday at Escondida, the world's largest copper mine. The Chilean mine, whose majority owner is BHP Billiton, was under force majeure on July 27 after a union strike. Force majeure is a clause in legal contracts that frees a party from meeting its obligations due to events beyond its control, such as strike or civil unrest or extreme weather.

Miners pumping $82 billion into Australian economy – 70% more than last year

Beating already rosy expectations new Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show mining companies intend to invest $82.1 billion this financial year on new and expansion projects, representing 55% of total capital expenditure in the country's economy. The spending spree by the resources sector – mostly in Western Australia and Queensland – represents a whopping 70% increase over last year. Mining firms spent 14.4% more last quarter, led by a 22% jump in plant and machinery purchases, and projections show further increases in the future. The positive capex news, accompanied by robust retail spending numbers saw the Australian dollar rise above 107 US cents.

Last-ditch attempt to block start of only US nickel mine

The Columbus Republic reports opponents of a planned nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula are asking a judge to put a state-issued permit for the project on hold ahead of initial blasting expected later this month. Four organizations have asked a judge to issue a stay while considering an appeal of the Department of Environmental Quality's 2007 decision to grant Kennecott Eagle Minerals, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, a permit. Kennecott Eagle is targeting an underground ore deposit that would be the only US mine where nickel is the primary mineral generated instead of a byproduct. The mine could yield up to 300 million pounds of nickel and about 200 million pounds of copper.

Speculators have a field day kicking around Sunridge Gold

Shares of Sunridge Gold rose a brisk 7% in Thursday morning trade after the junior explorer gave an update on drilling at its zinc-gold-copper deposit in the Horn of Africa only to end the day down 2.8%. Near triple the usual number of shares changed hands on the Toronto venture exchange. Investors in the the Vancouver-based company, which apart from its flagship Asmara project in Eritrea also has assets in another paragon of political instability, Madagascar, have enjoyed a wild ride over the more than ten years the company has been listed – an unlucky few snapped up shares in the company at $6.40 in 2003 and those who saw value in the company at $1.30 at the start of 2011 would have lost almost half that investment.