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Mining news summary: Rio Tinto, Conroy Gold, Minco, Red Rock Resources, Ormonde, Coal of Africa

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Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) announced that Rod Eddington and Yves Fortier, non-executive directors of Rio Tinto, will be retiring from the board at the conclusion of the 2011 annual general meetings on 5 May 2011. Andrew Gould, senior independent director, will serve for one more year before retiring at the conclusion of the 2012 meetings.

The timetable has now been set for African Aura’s (LON:AAAM, TSX-V:AUR) big split. Over the past few months the diversified junior miner has been working on a spin-out of its gold assets into a new AIM-listed company called Aureus Mining, while the remaining group – holding the iron assets – will be renamed Afferro Mining.

The split is scheduled to take place on the 13 April 2011 and the last day that investors can buy shares in the combined company - and be entitled to shares in both Aureus and Afferro - will be 7 April 2011.

Stellar Diamonds (LON:STEL)
said this week it has cash of £800,000 (US$1.3 million) after a last October’s £1.9 million share placing as it revealed how it will progress its Tongo and Droujba projects. Its 3,000 metre drilling programme on the Droujba kimberlite in Guinea began last November.

Conroy Gold and Natural Resources (LON:CGNR)
, formerly Conroy Diamonds and Gold,  has commenced infill drilling at its Clontibret gold target in Ireland after a scoping study yielded positive results on both technical and financial grounds.

Chaarat Gold (LON:CGH)
has increased the size of the Contact zone, a part of the Kiziltash project, with the latest batch of drill results. At the moment the contact zone has 2 million ounces in JORC resource - as part of the larger 4 million ounce resource - and drilling is ongoing.

Mariana Resources Ltd (LON:MARL)
has identified a third epithermal gold zone at the Nido Norte target of the Las Calandrias project located in the prospective Deseado Massif gold-silver district of Southern Argentina.

Irish headquartered mineral exploration and development company Minco Plc (LON:MIO) said that its 60 percent owned Canadian subsidiary Xtierra Inc (TSX-V:XAG) will commence a new 2,500 metre drill program in early March 2011 to follow-up on a high grade silver zone entountered along the western margin of the Bilbao silver‐zinc‐copper project in Zacatecas, Mexico.

Ncondezi Coal (LON:NCCL) told investors that initial coal quality results suggest that the Ncondezi project has potential for improved coal yields and potential to produce a ‘prime coal product’ with coking coal properties.

Nyota Minerals Ltd (LON:NYO, ASX:NYO) reported further high-grade intersections into the Feeder Zone which lies beneath the main ore body of the Tulu Kapi gold project in Ethiopia.

Red Rock Resources (LON:RRR)
has added an un-explored iron ore project in Greenland to its diversified collection of interests. It has agreed an option deal with North Atlantic Mining Associates (NAMA) which could ultimately see the AIM-listed firm take a 65 percent stake in the NAMA Greenland (NGL) subsidiary. Initially Red Rock is paying NAMA US$60,000.

Minera IRL (LON:MIRL, TSX-V:IRL)
said that latest drill results and a geophysical survey from the Escondido project in Argentina gave it an “excellent target” for the pending drilling program.

Churchill Mining (LON:CHL)
has been caught up in a legal battle in Indonesia. The dispute centres on an attempt by regional authorities to cancel the licenses that host the world class East Kutai coal project. The East Kutai Regent (Bupati) - the authority that governs the East Kutai administrative region of Indonesia's East Kalimantan Province - had purported to have cancelled the four mining licenses back in September 2010, Churchill revealed.

Rambler Metals and Mining (LON:RMM, TSX-V:RAB) published a new NI43-101 resource for a part of the Ming copper-gold mine. The company is working to start mining at Ming on schedule in the second half of the year.

Strategic Natural Resources (LON:SNRP)
this week revealed it had formally appointed London Commodity Brokers to as its coal broker to advise on the negotiations to agree the company’s first off-take agreements.

Regency Mines (LON:RGM)
announced today that its joint venture with Direct Nickel (DNi) has signed a drilling contract for the next exploration phase at the Mambare-Botue nickel/cobalt project in Papua New Guinea.

Caledon Resources (LON:CDN, ASX:CCD) released a statement in response to a request by the Australian Securities Exchange, assuring the market that the planned takeover by Guangdong Rising Asset Management (GRAM) - a state-owned Chinese mining company, is proceeding.

Caledon Resources’ Chinese bidder said it is confident that the proposed takeover is in the final stages of the approval process in the People’s Republic.

Red Rock Resources (LON:RRR) has boosted its financial position, having entered into a US$9 million loan agreement with YA Global Master SPV Limited.

Ormonde Mining (LON:ORM) revealed on Wednesday that the latest three drill-holes of a 15-hole infill programme at the Barruecopardo Mine in Spain had uncovered tungsten. The results included six metres grading 0.5 per cent tungsten trioxide, three metres at 0.8 per cent and two metres at two per cent.

Davy analyst Job Langbroek gave a bullish assessment of Ormonde Mining with a conservative valuation that implies nearly 80 percent upside from current levels. According to Langbroek, tungsten consumers are very anxious to ensure that alternative supplies become available as China tries to control supply for its own demand.

Vatukoula Gold Mines (LON:VGM) says it will carry out the first exploration around its Fiji operation in almost two decades as it reported a strong rise in full-year sales and earnings. VGM said 2010 had been a year of consolidation. Production rose to 59,658 ounces of the precious metal from 33,757, thanks largely to the investment it made in plant and machinery.

African Eagle Resources’ (LON:AFE)
Dutwa project is likely to be economically viable whatever processing route is chosen, according to a report by Snowden Mining Consultants. The company is currently working towards the completion of Dutwa’s pre-feasibility study, which is due in the third quarter of 2011.

Coal of Africa (LON:CZA, ASX:CZA) said it will begin the ‘rigorous process’ to get the final granting of a new order mining right (NOMR) for the Makhado coking coal project.

Uranium Resources' (LON:URA) drilling programme at the Mtonya project in Tanzania has confirmed its expectations that conditions favourable for roll-front uranium mineralization exist below known horizons.

Horizonte Minerals (LON:HZM) announced a maiden resource of 1.03 million tonnes (Mt) of contained nickel for its wholly owned Araguaia project in Brazil. The company said that the resource exceeded its expectations and demonstrated the potential to be developed into a major nickel deposit.

Growth Equities & Company Research has initiated coverage of Thor Mining PLC (ASX:THR, LON:THR) with a ‘Speculative Buy’ recommendation at a share price of around 2.3 pence, witha a 5.1p target price.

Frontier Mining (LON:FML) has received the second US$4 million loan payment to develop the Benkala copper project in Kazakhstan.

Norseman Gold (LON:NGL, ASX:NGX)
said it has now shifted from a development focus to production in the new year with the emphasis on returning the operations to profitability in the June quarter, as production ramps to maximum mill capacity.

Beowulf Mining (LON:BEM) chairman Clive Sinclair-Poulton described 2010 as an exciting and progressive year for the group. This week the company gave investors the highlights of year’s work in the group’s preliminary results, for the twelve months ended 31 December 2010. At its primary iron ore projects, Ruoutevare and Kallak, an independent scoping/conceptual study confirmed that the projects have considerable promise with a significant resource close to the surface and are amenable to open-pit mining.

Stratex International (LON:STI) has discovered epithermal gold mineralisation at the newly acquired 299 square kilometre Blackrock exclusive exploration licence (EEL) in the northern Afar region of Ethiopia. Shares in the company surged 5% on the news.

Solomon Gold (LON:SOLG) has announced a 203,000 ounce maiden inferred gold resource at the Kauffmans prospect, which forms part of the Rannes project in central Queensland. The new Kauffmans resource doubles Rannes’ total inferred resource to 404,000 ounces.

Centamin Egypt (LON:CEY, TSX:CEE) said that it has received no formal or informal notice from the Egyptian government to curtail, restrict or prohibit any regular gold shipments from the company's operation.

Herencia Resources (LON:HER)
said it expects to start drilling at the Doris copper-silver prospect of its 70 percent owned Paguanta project in northern Chile in seven days.

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