Archive | Australia/New Caledonia/Papua New Guinea Mining

Eighty tonnes in a single scoop: Mega-mining iron ore – by Phil Mercer (BBC News/Sydney – June 21, 2018)

It is the rock that has fortified Australia’s recession-defying economy. Iron ore has helped to raise living standards in the country, supercharge pension funds, and bankroll governments. It is the key ingredient of steel, and is Australia’s most lucrative export.

Last year, the trade, mostly to China, as well as South Korea and Japan, was worth 63bn Australian dollars ($45bn; £35bn).

Over the past decade booming export volumes have soared by more than 200%. It is without doubt an economic colossus, and Australia is the world’s largest exporter of iron ore. But given that global iron ore prices have fallen sharply over the past decade, should Australia try to move away from the sector? Continue Reading →

Miners’ big spend shows commodities optimism – by Robert Guy (Australian Financial Review – June 18, 2018)

A $2 billion acquisition spree by South32 and Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting has underscored the more upbeat outlook on commodity prices among industry heavyweights, with the scramble to buy or develop world class assets and infrastructure heating up as the world’s largest miners emerge from years of austerity.

Australia’s largest miners have moved aggressively to stamp their dominance in key commodity markets amid expectations of strong Asian economic growth over the next decade, with South32’s $1.7 billion bid for Arizona Mining heralding its intent to be a bigger player in base metals, while Hancock Prospecting’s bold $390 million bid for Atlas Iron could position Australia’s wealthiest woman as a bigger player in iron ore shipments from Port Hedland.

The big miners are slowly opening their wallets after many years of cost cutting and a focus on improving shareholder returns, as management teams look to replace aging mines, maintain production and lay the foundation for future earnings growth. Continue Reading →

Australia’s Atlas gives Mineral Resources three days to match Rinehart bid – by Staff (Reuters U.S. – June 18, 2018)

(Reuters) – Australian iron ore miner Atlas Iron (AGO.AX) said on Tuesday that it would give Mineral Resources (MIN.AX) three business days to match a buyout offer made from Hancock Prospecting.

Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and mining services group Mineral Resources are waging a bidding battle for Atlas, which operates in the iron ore rich Pilbara region of Western Australia and has undeveloped tenements.

Hancock had offered A$0.042 per Atlas share, or A$390 million ($289 million) on Monday, substantially more than Mineral Resources’ A$280 million offer made in April. Hancock said last week it had built up a 19.96 percent stake in Atlas. Continue Reading →

Rio spending $2.2bn on iron-ore supply – by Esmarie Swanepoel ( – June 18, 2018)

PERTH ( – Diversified miner Rio Tinto on Monday revealed that it will be spending some $2.2-billion over the next three years on replacement mines for its iron-ore operations in the Pilbara, including initial spending on the proposed Koodaideri, West Angelas and Robe Valley developments.

Rio’s iron-ore CEO Chris Salisbury told investors and analysts that the company’s strategy was to optimise its Pilbara assets to deliver value for shareholders.

“Our iron-ore business delivered $7.3-billion of free cash flow in 2017 and we will continue to maximise free cash flow by pursuing a value-over-volume approach, built on a portfolio of world-class assets that deliver our premium iron ore product, the Pilbara Blend. Continue Reading →

[Australia Mining] Greenies behind ‘tofu curtain’ blamed for suffocating mining industry – by Chris Smith ( – June 14, 2018)

Mining bosses are taking aim at “Greenies”, saying their activism is preventing projects that can enhance Australia’s most successful industries. The mining industry is responsible for a $55-billion injection into Queensland’s economy and employs 40,000 people.

But coal and gas executives have joined forces to issue a warning, that Green activists hiding behind a “tofu curtain” are crippling their industry and its future. Chris Smith couldn’t agree more, slamming “far-lefties” for standing in the way of the nation’s progress.

He says the “tofu curtain” isn’t just plaguing Queensland but is evident right around the nation. “There’s a clear divide between the far-lefties that just want to save the environment no matter what… and us. Continue Reading →

Australia takes over Chile as world’s No.1 lithium producer – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – June 12, 2018)

Australia has taken over Chile as the world’s largest lithium producing nation boosted mainly by record output at two major mines, data from United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows.

Down Under produced 18,700 tonnes of lithium in 2017, according to the USGS, thanks mainly to Western Australia-based mines — Galaxy Resources’ Mt Cattlin and Mt Marion, owned by Neometals and China’s Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium.

Chile, which holds the largest known lithium reserves in the world (about 52%), only produced 14,100 tonnes of the white metal last year, which meant its market share dropped to 32.8% from 37.6% in 2016. Australia, instead, went from having 36.8% of the global market to 43.5% in the same period. Continue Reading →

WA could cop $500 million rehab bill if Chinese abandoned mine: Mineralogy – by Emma Young (Western Australia Today – June 12, 2018)

Chinese-owned mining companies could skip a $529 million bill for environmental damage caused by an iron ore mining project in Cape Preston, in WA’s Pilbara, a report from Clive Palmer’s mining company Mineralogy has found.

Mr Palmer signalled “urgent legal action” in the WA Supreme Court to halt mining at the Sino Iron and Korean Steel projects until environmental obligations were met.

Mineralogy was to act as trustee of the $529 million fund to ensure the site could be restored at the end of the mine’s estimated 25-year life. But it has commissioned from mining rehabilitation expert Mike Slight that it says confirms rehabilitation funds have gone unpaid. Continue Reading →

Coal comfort: Queensland budget to benefit from surging mining royalties – by Ben Smee (The Guardian – June 8, 2018)

Windfall of $1bn shows state remains reliant on resources even amid renewables push

Surging coal prices will help to underwrite the upcoming Queensland budget. The state is expected to announce it has earned about $1bn more than initially forecast from royalties.

The windfall will help the Palaszczuk Labor government pay for infrastructure spending and handouts in next week’s budget, and will likely speed up the state’s projected return to surplus.

But it will also bring into focus the extent to which the state remains reliant on royalties from mining – one of the “pillars” of the Queensland economy – while the government also pushes forward with a transition to renewable energy sources. Continue Reading →

Australian coal prices hit 6-year high as Asia demand spikes – by Henning Gloystein and Sonali Paul (Reuters U.S. – June 7, 2018)

SINGAPORE/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian thermal coal prices have risen to their highest level since 2012 as hot weather across North Asia spurs buying ahead of the peak summer demand season.

Spot prices for thermal coal cargoes for export from Australia’s Newcastle terminal last closed at $115.25 per tonne, the highest level since February 2012. Thermal coal, the world’s most used fuel for electricity generation, has surged by 130 percent since its record lows below $50 per tonne in 2016 following a years-long decline.

Prices have been driven up by economic growth, especially in Asia, along with constraints on supply due to earlier mine closures and high hurdles to developing new mines amid concerns about pollution and global warming. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Coal prices boosted by rare simultaneous demand from Asia’s top buyers – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – June 7, 2018)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, June 7 (Reuters) – Coal prices in Asia are being driven to multi-year highs by a rare combination of simultaneous demand growth in the region’s top four importers.

Depending on the price used, thermal coal is either close to a two-year high or near the strongest in six years as China, India, Japan and South Korea imported more of the polluting fuel in the first five months of this year compared to the same period in 2017.

The Australian thermal coal benchmark, the weekly Newcastle Index, ended last week at $108.89 a tonne, not far from the $110.60 hit in late February, which was the highest price since March 2012. Continue Reading →

Lithium booms shows no sign of slowing as new refinery announced for WA – by Jarrod Lucas and Jon Daly (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – June 6, 2018)

A Western Australian lithium miner is tipping the current boom for battery technologies will last at least a decade, as plans were revealed on Wednesday for a new lithium refinery in the Goldfields.

China’s appetite for lithium continues to drive the boom, with lithium most commonly used in new generation batteries for electric vehicles and home power storage. Lithium miner Neometals has revealed plans to build a downstream processing plant in Kalgoorlie-Boulder at a cost of about $200 million, creating more than 100 jobs.

The decision marks potentially the biggest economic shake-up for the regional mining hub since the construction of the Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter in the 1970s and the start of the Super Pit gold mine in the late 1980s. Continue Reading →

Australia’s Iron Ladies of Mining Tech – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – June 2018)

A digital-technology revolution is rocking the world’s mining industry just as it has seen a symbolic influx of women into executive roles long reserved for men.

Two iron ore projects in Australia demonstrate what’s happening as the world’s biggest mining companies, BHP and Rio Tinto, move closer to committing more than $3 billion each to what Rio Tinto calls “intelligent mining” and BHP “the mine of the future.” Both are about to make radical changes in their most profitable divisions by designing mines without the burden of legacy equipment, some of which hasn’t changed in decades.

Driverless trains and trucks, already being used in a number of projects, will be joined by an array of sensors, radar controls and Wi-Fi systems that will provide the data to control every aspect of work in the Koodaiderie and South Flank mines–all the way through to rail transport and the final stage of ship loading. Continue Reading →

BHP appoints new Olympic Dam boss – by Peter Ker and Simon Evans (Australian Financial Review – May 29, 2018)

BHP Billiton’s head of geoscience Laura Tyler will take charge of the Olympic Dam copper, gold and uranium mine, confirming her status as a rising star within the executive ranks of the global miner.

Ms Tyler, who has also been chief of staff to BHP’s chief executive Andrew Mackenzie, will replace Jacqui McGill as asset president of the famous South Australian mine.

Ms McGill, who has been one of the faces of the company through its “Think Big” television campaign, will leave BHP in the wake of the change. Continue Reading →

Battery taskforce powers up to supercharge WA lithium potential – by Stuart McKinnon (The West Australian – May 24, 2018)

A taskforce to investigate how WA can cash in on a “once-in-a-generation” lithium and battery minerals boom will make recommendations to the State Government within six months.

Announcing the taskforce in Maylands in front of two Tesla demonstration Model X electric cars yesterday, Mines Minister Bill Johnston said the downstream processing of lithium and other battery minerals in WA could create thousands of highly skilled, high-paying jobs.

He said the taskforce, consisting of senior government representatives, would engage with companies operating in the sector and take advice from an industry reference group. Continue Reading →

A Lithium Valley in Western Australia could power the world – by Cameron Jewell (Fifth – May 24, 2018)

There’s more than 100,000 jobs and $50 billion in economic activity up for grabs if a “Lithium Valley” is set up in Western Australia, according to Curtin University’s Professor Peter Newman, one of the authors behind a new report calling for the state to become a battery manufacture and technology leader.

According to Newman, Western Australia is a one-stop shop for all the materials needed to power the new economy, and says a “Lithium Valley” should be set up in Kwinana, Perth, leveraging off the recent announcement of a lithium hydroxide refinery being built, and Tesla’s recent meeting with the state government.

The report – Lithium Valley: Establishing the case for energy metals and battery manufacturing in Western Australia – says WA is home to the world’s most accessible abundance of energy metals, including lithium, cobalt, vanadium, tin, tantalum, nickel, manganese, magnesium and rare earths – essential components in batteries and other renewable tech. Continue Reading →