News Archive

Wallbridge secures US$8m for bulk sampling

The first draw on the bridge loan, with Auramet International, hinges on Wallbridge completing a minimum C$2 million equity raise.

Auramet has also been granted a call option on 6,000oz of gold struck at C$1,780/oz (US$1,381/oz) and Wallbridge has agreed to a gold purchase and sale agreement, whereby Auramet will buy 100% of the bulk sample gold production in 2018 and 2019 and the first year of commercial gold production.

Cardinal advances Namdini

Cardinal advances Namdini

Capricorn moves fast to launch

Capricorn moves fast to launch

Metals X powers up

Metals X powers up

Kingston commences major drilling program at 2.8Moz Misima Gold Project

Kingston commences major drilling program at 2.8Moz…

Wallbridge said dewatering the pit and underground was 50% complete and the bulk sampling would focus on material grading 18g/t-25g/t within 125m of surface.

Wallbridge shares retreated to a 52-week low seen last May of C6.5c, having reached 14.5c in November.

Meanwhile, the gold price was around US$10 an ounce lower than this time yesterday at $1,340/oz, as markets settled as the end of the first quarter and the Easter break loom.

Larger gold equities were lower in Australian trade today, including Newcrest Mining (AU:NCM) which yesterday restarted mining at its Cadia operations following a tailings dam breach on March 9.

Finally, Canadian explorer NuLegacy (CN:NUG) also closed lower, down about 5% yesterday, after announcing late winter snow had dumped close to 1m of snow on parts of its Red Hill property in Nevada and delayed its planned drilling programme.

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Spare Me

Alas, my long standing and vociferous disdain for all professional sport, the Australian cricket team in particular, has not protected me from the slings and arrows of my British chums ever on the hunt for an excuse to give me a kicking. And gosh aren’t they laying in now for all they are worth.

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RESOURCEStocks Q&A: Southern Gold’s Simon Mitchell

RESOURCEStocks: Southern Gold is building the company by looking to rejuvenate former mines in South Korea and through successful exploration in Western Australia’s Goldfields, where you’re moving to underground operations having just completed the Cannon openpit. You were recently granted formal tenure over the Hampyeong project in South Korea, are you looking to further expand the portfolio?

Simon Mitchell: We are! Our recent announcement of the acquisition of the Aphae project is testament to this and it underlined our ability to secure tenure in South Korea, something which isn’t straight forward. We are seeing great exploration targets in Korea and can see ourselves building a very valuable portfolio, principally targeting the epithermal gold-silver projects in southern South Korea. We are looking for another Hishikari – a high grade, long life epithermal gold-silver mine in Japan and a tier-one asset – as we believe all the right geological building blocks are in place.

RS: Also in South Korea, your London-listed joint venture partner Bluebird Merchant Ventures (LN:BMV) has reported recent progress, gaining access to the former Kochang underground mine, and indicating the tailings potential at the former Gubong mine. Are you happy with the rate of progress, and is BMV on track to deliver a development framework report by mid-year?

SM: Yes they are. It might be in July rather than June but they are broadly on track.  Gubong has been difficult to access but remains the large-scale prize for the mid term, while Kochang is a small high-grade system that may be amenable to rapid development.

Bluebird are already making very good progress at Kochang having opened up several levels, installed ladder systems for easy and safe access and have started a comprehensive underground sampling programme. Expect to see some spectacular grades from this one!

RS: What is your perspective on the newly-discovered tailings potential at Gubong, which could add a new dimension to the project?

SM: In terms of the Gubong tailings, yes I have had a few Southern Gold shareholders raise this with me when Southern Gold tends to underplay it, notwithstanding the Bluebird Merchant Ventures’ excitement. The reality is that tailings retreatment, while technically possible, faces a huge range of issues and so my excitement is tempered somewhat. Will we have a look at this? Yes, we will. Will it be a quick and easy cash flow source? Probably not, but let’s see. The Kochang mine represents a far easier and quicker path to production with significantly less social issues so that’s my bet for quick and easy cash flow.

ochang may be amenable to rapid developmentKochang may be amenable to rapid development

RS: Southern Gold is also looking to revitalise another former South Korean mine and your drilling has identified high-grade gold and silver at the former Weolyu silver mine – how is that project advancing this quarter?

SM: To be honest, we are on hold at Weolyu because we need underground drilling equipment in country and this is taking a little while to organise. So, our activity level on this front is more logistical. It is in process however and the Weolyu target remains a very exciting one but we need the right gear on site. Drilling activity at Weolyu should pick up mid-year but we are looking at drilling deeper into that mountain to chase the high-grade gold-silver veins we have mapped underground at the top of the mountain. There is plenty of room for a big mineralised system given the veins are open in just about every direction.

RS: Turning to Western Australia, your Cannon gold mine development partner Westgold Resources (AU:WGX) recently announced the sale of its South Kal operations – will this have any impact on your nearby Cannon underground development where Westgold has a five-year right to mine?

SM: From a legal perspective, this should not have an impact. The agreement was with the subsidiary that has been sold to Northern Star [Resources (AU:NST)]. At this stage, we believe things will move forward as planned but we await to have this confirmed by direct discussions with Northern Star once they take possession of the assets, expected in April. In any event, we have provisions in the legal agreement that protect the Southern Gold position: if the project doesn’t proceed and cash flow starts within 12 months, the right to mine falls away and we get the project back – and keep the upfront A$1.5 million (US$1.15 million) payment!

We are looking for another Hishikari – a high grade, long life epithermal gold-silver mine in Japan and a tier-one asset

RS: Beyond Cannon, which Goldfields exploration projects are taking priority in the coming months and why?

SM: We are drilling at three sites over the next six to eight weeks. We are looking at our first drill programme at the Cowarna project at a prospect called Pryde. This is a target that has been begging to be drilled for years and we have finally got all the regulatory approvals in place – which wasn’t easy, I have to add! We are targeting Banded Iron Formation-hosted gold, not unlike what Silver Lake [Resources (AU:SLR)] are mining a few kilometres away.

The other drill targets are at Monument South and Transfind Extended. At Monument South, we have good results from our geochemistry and hyperspectral projects, both conducted with the CSIRO. The Monument prospect is a stone’s throw away from the Cannon mine, so we are hopeful of finding a satellite or extension deposit along the same Cannon shear to the southwest.

At Transfind Extended, there is a lot of visible gold in near-surface samples and the prospectors have been active here. We don’t expect this to be a big deposit but it is quite possible that we have a high quality one with exceptional grade, not unlike the Transfind deposit itself which was an openpit approaching 5g/t Au.

RS: Last June, Southern Gold declared a special dividend thanks to the cash-generation from the Cannon openpit. What do you hope to be telling shareholders in mid-2018?

SM: We are not likely to declare another dividend given that we have not realised the full return on the underground stage at Cannon yet. This might be a question for the next financial year, but we will of course look at our capital requirements going forward and balance this against ensuring a near-term return to shareholders. I am quietly hopeful that during the course of 2018 shareholders will see an appreciation in the Southern Gold share price as the market starts to reflect the progress being made on the new project developments, particularly with our partners Bluebird Merchant Ventures in South Korea. Bluebird’s share price has already started to go for a run in London, it’s just a matter of time before the ASX catches up.

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SoftBank Vision Fund, Saudi Arabia to create world’s biggest solar power firm

NEW YORK (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp’s (9984.T) Vision Fund will invest in a solar power generation company in Saudi Arabia, creating the world’s biggest solar producer, as it steps up its involvement in the kingdom, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of SoftBank Group Corp is seen at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

The project is expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, Softbank’s CEO Masayoshi Son told reporters in New York. That would add to around 400 GW of globally installed power capacity and is comparable to the world’s total nuclear power capacity of around 390 GW as of the end of 2016.

The initial phase of the project for 7.2 GW of solar capacity will cost $5 billion, with $1 billion coming from Softbank’s Vision Fund and the rest from project financing, Son said.

The final investment total for the 200 GW of generation, including the solar panels, battery storage and a manufacturing facility for panels in Saudi Arabia, will eventually total around $200 billion, he said.

Last May, SoftBank announced it raised over $93 billion for the Vision Fund, the world’s largest private equity fund with backers including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Apple and Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry (2317.TW).

In October, SoftBank Group Corp said it will work with Saudi Arabia on the development of “Neom”, a new business and industrial city in the country.

Son is pursuing his vision of a future powered by interconnected devices and artificial intelligence. He established the Vision Fund, which, in conjunction with the Delta Fund set up to invest in Chinese ride-sharing firm Didi Chuxing, has funneled $27.5 billion into 20 tech firms as of the end of December.

Despite being one of the world’s sunniest countries, Saudi Arabia does not generate much power from solar, which makes up just a marginal amount of its largely oil-fired power production.

Reporting by David French in NEW YORK; additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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On China trade clash, Wall Street embraces Trump’s poker face

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – To Wall Street money managers who make bets for a living, U.S. President Donald Trump’s aggressive stance against China on trade looks like a high-stakes poker hand – but they believe they can play it for all it’s worth.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Fears that Trump could set off a trade conflict have roiled Wall Street since March 1, when the president announced plans to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, risking retaliation from major trade partners like China, Europe and neighboring Canada.

It’s been a roller coaster ride, with markets slumping after Trump last Friday moved to impose up to $60 billion in tariffs on some Chinese imports and China declared plans to retaliate with duties of up to $3 billion of U.S. imports even as it urged the United States to “pull back from the brink.”

China’s willingness to negotiate spurred a rebound on Monday, though jitters in the tech sector drove markets back down on Tuesday.

Investors remain concerned about a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, but some big players are sanguine about their prospects to make money even as they try and dissect Trump’s strategy on trade.

The former celebrity businessman on March 2 tweeted, “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” shocking economists who cite evidence that trade wars in the past have been destructive to economies involved.

“Other administrations have gone to trading partners like China and asked for a fairer deal, only to get a cigar put out on their forehead,” said Steve Chiavarone, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors. “I suspect Trump’s bucking of norms is absolutely part of his negotiating tactics.”

Chiavarone and others said they remain confident the SP 500 will rise significantly this year.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump, surrounded by business leaders and administration officials, prepares to sign a memorandum on intellectual property tariffs on high-tech goods from China, at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“So far you are talking about small amounts of tariffs in niche sectors,” said Phil Blancato, head of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management in New York. “For anyone who is looking for an opportunity to enter the market here at better valuations, this is it.”


“He has shown himself to act aggressively, quickly and unilaterally, and that’s brought China to the negotiating table,” said Ben Phillips, chief investment officer of EventShares exchange traded funds. “I truly think they are worried about him taking unilateral action and harming China’s economy.”

Fears of a trade war, which could hurt U.S. multinationals and dull the benefits of deep corporate tax cuts enacted this year, have helped push the SP 500 down nearly 4 percent since the end of February.

The Trump administration has demanded that China immediately cut its $375 billion trade surplus with the United States by $100 billion, a position seen by some as an opening tactic in a long negotiation.

China could respond to U.S. measures with a range of tariffs aimed at U.S. multinationals, or even farmers in rural regions who helped Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s bellicose stance with U.S. trade partners reflects a negotiating style outlined in his 1987 book, “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” said Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York.

“You propose something horrific, and then when you pull back what you want is not as painful as feared,” Pursche said. “The problem is the other side isn’t dumb. Eventually, they’re going to figure that out.”

Reporting by Noel Randewich, additional reporting by April Joyner and Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Alden Bentley

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China Anbang’s former chairman Wu contests all charges against him

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – The former chairman of Anbang Insurance Group Co Ltd [ANBANG.UL], Wu Xiaohui, contested all charges against him in a high-profile trial that began in Shanghai on Wednesday, adding he was unaware whether his activities had violated the law.

FILE PHOTO: Chairman of Anbang Insurance Group Wu Xiaohui attends the China Development Forum in Beijing, China March 18, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Wu’s trial for alleged economic crimes, including fundraising fraud and embezzlement, comes a month after the government seized control of the once-high flying insurer and announced that Wu was being prosecuted, as Beijing cracks down on big-spending conglomerates and financial risk.

Anbang, the privately-held Chinese company that owns the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York city and other marquee properties around the world, had been one of the most aggressive investors behind a wave of overseas acquisitions by China’s firms that have attracted the attention of global regulators and investors.

The prosecutors found that in 2011 Wu concealed his actual control over Anbang and intentionally faked financial statements to cheat China’s insurance regulator for approvals to sell insurance products to the public for investment, according to a statement from the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court.

In July 2011, Wu broke the rules by telling his company to sell investment-purpose insurance products that exceeded the approved amount.

  • Anbang’s former chairman contests all charges against him: Shanghai court

By Jan. 5, 2017, Anbang had oversold 723.9 billion yuan ($115.32 billion) of insurance products and transferred some of the funds to his other companies for investment, debt repayment and personal spending. Wu swindled 65.2 billion yuan, the court statement said.

The downfall of Anbang, which got its start as an auto insurer, came after the government trained its sights on acquisitive non-state firms amid a sweeping program to lower debt and financial risk in the economy.

Anbang declined to comment on the start of the trial.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters building of Anbang Insurance Group is pictured in Beijing, China, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

The court said parliamentarians, journalists and others, including family members of Wu, attended the hearing.

Wu, known for his hard-driving, hands-on approach and single-minded ambition, was detained in June, sources have said.

After a spate of high-profile deals worth more than $30 billion, Anbang began to run into roadblocks even before Wu’s detention, though, failing to close on a handful of investments and facing criticism over its opaque shareholding structure.

On Feb. 23, the government took control of Anbang Group for a period of a year. During the takeover, the company would be managed by officials from the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), the central bank and other key financial regulators and government bodies.

It is unclear how Wu’s trial will affect Anbang or its ability to conduct business, but regulators have said they will undertake an equity restructuring of the insurer and protect the rights and interests of its consumers and stakeholders.

Private conglomerates in China have recently attracted regulatory attention for their aggressive acquisitions of overseas assets. Some insurers were punished for using client money derived from high-yield investment products sold to consumers for risky investments. This has particularly jarred with authorities concerned about an economy over-reliant on credit.

($1 = 6.2775 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Josephine Mason, Fang Cheng, Matthew Miller and Shu Zhang in Beijing, and John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI; Editing by Michael Perry and Jacqueline Wong

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Argonaut ups El Castillo

Mexico-focused miner Argonaut Gold (CN:AR) has upped the mine life, through to 2025, for its El Castillo complex as it announced increased reserves for both that operation and its separate La Colorada mine.

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Shares skid on specter of tighter tech regulation, U.S.-China trade spat

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares fell on Wednesday after Wall Street was knocked hard by concerns about tighter controls on the tech industry, denting a brief global equities recovery driven by hopes that the risk of a U.S.-China trade war was easing.

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

They extended losses further after China’s state-run Global Times reported China will soon announce a list of retaliatory tariffs on United States exports to China.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 1.5 percent, turning red for the week, led by information technology shares .MIAPJIT00PUS, such as Tencent (0700.HK). Japan’s Nikkei .N225 fell 1.3 percent.

U.S SP500 mini futures ESc1 fell 0.4 percent in Asia, a day after the SP 500 .SPX lost 1.73 percent and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 2.93 percent, making the benchmark indexes’ fourth decline in five sessions.[.N]

The info tech sector .SPLRCT was the worst hit with a fall of 3.5 percent, as investors expect tighter control on the industry following a furor over use of Facebook (FB.O) data by political consultants.

Facebook fell 4.9 percent on Tuesday, taking its losses to almost 18 percent since March 16, when the firm first acknowledged the problem. Twitter (TWTR.N) fell 12 percent while Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O) fell 4.5 percent.

Another weak spot was Nvidia (NVDA.O), which fell 7.8 percent after the chipmaker temporarily suspended self-driving tests across the globe after an Uber Technologies Inc UBER.UL autonomous vehicle killed a woman.

Investors rotated out of the tech sector, which had long outperformed the market on hopes of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT).

“There is a sense that there will be more regulations on Facebook or FANG and that the cost of compliance will increase,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, chief strategist at Mizuho Securities.

The so-called FANG quartet of tech stocks, which includes Facebook, (AMZN.O), Netflix (NFLX.O) and Alphabet, has been a darling of many investors.

European stock futures point to lower openings for European stocks, with futures for Germany’s Dax FDXc1 .GDAXI and France’s Cac FCEc1 .FCHI down 0.9 percent and those for Britain’s FTSE FFIc1 .FTSE falling 0.7 percent.

The report that Beijing plans to announce retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods rekindled worries about a Sino-U.S. trade war.

While the market remains highly vulnerable to news headline like this, recent reports of behind-the-scenes talks between Washington and Beijing spurred some optimism.

“It would be in China’s interest to pursue trade rather than taking retaliatory actions. So eventually, they are likely to avert a trade war and strike a deal that will please (U.S. President Donald) Trump and increase trade,” said Hiroshi Watanabe, economist at Sony Financial Holdings.

“The market is still nervous, and there’s a feeling you never know what Trump will do. But excessive wariness is likely to gradually wane,” he added.

In the currency market, the dollar changed hands at 105.51 yen JPY=, not far from Monday’s 16-1/2-month low of 104.56, as the Japanese currency was supported by the risk-averse mood.

The euro lost steam after soft euro zone economic data and comments from European Central Bank policymakers flagging low underlying inflation.

Economic sentiment in the 19-countries sharing the euro slipped for the third month in a row in March while bank lending slowed.

Erkki Liikanen, an ECB Governing Council member, said that underlying inflation in the euro zone may remain lower than expected even if growth is robust, so the central bank needs to remain patient in removing stimulus.

Another member, Jozef Makuch from Slovakia, also struck a similarly cautious tone.

The euro EUR= traded at $1.2415, having lost steam after it rose to $1.24765 the previous day.

Germany’s 10-year Bund yield DE10YT=TWEB also hit a two-month low below 0.500 percent, having taken a downward shift since hitting a 1-1/2-year high of 0.795 percent in Feb. 15.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield US10YT=RR dropped to 2.770 percent, its lowest level in seven weeks. The two-year yield US2YT=RR stood at 2.270 percent.

“In short, markets had priced in policy normalization by the world’s central banks too much,” said Tohru Yamamoto, chief fixed income strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Oil prices stepped back as a report of increasing U.S. crude inventories from industry group American Petroleum Institute (API) surprised many traders.

U.S. WTI crude futures CLc1 dropped 0.8 percent to $64.72 while Brent crude futures LCOc1 traded 0.7 percent lower at $69.62 per barrel, off Monday’s high of $71.05, which was its highest since late January.

Editing by Kim Coghill and Sam Holmes

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NXP Semiconductors sells China JV stake as Qualcomm takeover awaits Beijing nod

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. chipmaker NXP Semiconductors NV (NXPI.O), the target of a $44 billion takeover by Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) that is awaiting approval by Chinese anti-monopoly regulators, has sold its stake in a Chinese chip-design joint venture.

FILE PHOTO: A man works on a tent for NXP Semiconductors in preparation for the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 4, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/File Photo

NXP sold its 40 percent of Suzhou ASEN Semiconductors Co Ltd to Taiwanese venture partner Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (2311.TW) for $127 million, according to a stock exchange filing on Tuesday.

The sale could potentially help ease competition concerns by lowering NXP’s exposure to the Chinese market as the country’s commerce ministry considers Qualcomm’s takeover bid.

Qualcomm has received approval from the other eight of nine required regulators to finalize its acquisition.

In January, NXP announced the end date for the transaction was extended to April 25, following multiple prior extensions.

A spokesman for NXP said the transaction was “part of the usual pruning of NXP’s asset portfolio,” and not related to the acquisition.

Qualcomm and the commerce ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on Wednesday.

Chinese regulators are considering the deal at a time of heightened trade tension between China and the United States over a proposed U.S. plan to introduce tariffs on imports from China, including in high-tech sectors.

Last month, the U.S. government blocked the acquisition of Qualcomm by Singapore’s Broadcom Ltd (AVGO.O), citing national security concerns and worries about China gaining the upper-hand in fifth-generation (5G) mobile network technology.

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Christopher Cushing

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