Archive | Australia/New Caledonia/Papua New Guinea Mining

Rio Tinto posts jump in iron ore output, flags stronger 2018 (Reuters U.S. – July 16, 2018)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Global miner Rio Tinto said on Tuesday that its second-quarter iron ore shipments from Australia rose 14 percent and indicated its annual production would be at the upper end of its guidance.

The miner said it expected iron ore shipments for the year to be at the upper end of its range of 330 million to 340 million tonnes, driven by productivity improvements and fewer weather-related disruptions compared with the same quarter last year.

It had said earlier it did not expect tensions over a global trade war to materially affect steel demand. Each of the four big iron ore miners are expected to log record production in the second quarter, given a ramp up in China’s steel demand in the quarter, Shipbroker Clarksons Platou Securities said. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto, BHP, Vale tipped to report strongest ever quarterly iron ore exports – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – July 15, 2018)

The world’s three biggest iron ore miners are expected to confirm the industry’s strongest ever quarterly export figures this week, helping to explain recent weakness in prices for the bulk commodity.

Big miners have exercised restraint in both supply and rhetoric in recent years in a bid to calm fears the iron ore market could be flooded with supply, but port statistics suggest the miners’ inexorable export growth reached new heights in the three months to June 30.

Brazilian miner Vale is expected to announce record quarterly production of 96.3 million tonnes when it kicks off reporting season early on Tuesday morning Australian time, and Rio Tinto is expected to report strong numbers of its own several hours later. Continue Reading →

[Kambalda, Australia] Mining town faces loss of bank, doctor, petrol station as it fights for survival – by Jarrod Lucas (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – July 15, 2018)

What would happen if your town lost its bank, doctor’s surgery, and petrol station within the space of a few months? That is the prospect facing the residents of a West Australian mining town which boomed during the 1960s and 70s but is now facing a fight for survival.

Kambalda was built on the discovery of nickel in 1966 and Australia’s first nickel sulphide mine, known as the Silver Lake shaft.  Fly-in, fly-out was not allowed in the early days, but it has slowly crept into the community in recent years with the construction of a workers’ camp.

The decade since the global financial crisis struck has not been kind to Kambalda, with its population falling from 2,689 to 2,539 between the 2006 and 2016 Census polls.

Town hit by closure of four nickel mines Continue Reading →

Robot Trains Are Slashing Mining Costs in Australia’s Outback – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – July 13, 2018)

Snaking through Western Australia’s Outback, a driverless train has made the first autonomous delivery of iron ore from a Rio Tinto Group pit to a coastal port, as the No. 2 miner looks to reap the benefits from a $940 million plan deploying the world’s biggest robots.

The maiden 280-kilometer (174 mile) journey was completed Tuesday carrying a cargo of 28,000 metric tons and by the end of the year almost all of Rio’s 200 locomotives used to transport the steelmaking ingredient through the Pilbara region will travel without a driver.

It’s an extension of a step change that’s already using driverless trucks and autonomous drills on remote mine sites and moved scores of jobs to operating centers in city-based office blocks. Continue Reading →

Bidding war begins as WA once again searches for workers to fuel a mining boom – by Kathryn Diss (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – July 11, 2018)

Last time the workers flew in from all over the country and abroad to earn the big money on Western Australia’s iron ore mines. Companies were offering ridiculous wages and conditions.

But when the mining boom ended, the workers moved on. Five years later and the iron ore game is again ramping up, but poaching the workers needed might not be as easy this time around.

“It’s not being reflected across the broader construction price index which are still very weak, but we are seeing certain skill sets where we are seeing higher wages bid. Continue Reading →

Lithium is exploding but Canada’s distance from China has miners at a disadvantage – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – July 7, 2018)

Australia is in the midst of a lithium mine boom whereas Nemaska will be the first new lithium project in Canada in years, when construction is finished around 2020

This spring, Nemaska Lithium Inc’s chief executive Guy Bourassa returned to Canada from a trip to Asia, jet lagged and tired — and still months away from closing a deal to sell lithium from his company’s planned operations in Quebec to South Korean battery maker LG Chem Ltd.

“It seems to be taking longer than we expected,” Bourassa said in an April interview with the Financial Post. This week, Bourassa finally closed the deal. LG Chem will buy 7,000 tons per year for five years beginning in 2020, when his mine and conversion plant are expected to be operating.

A major stumbling block, he explained in an interview this week, which helped drag negotiations out for six months, was figuring out where to obtain the ‘market’ price for lithium. Continue Reading →

Rio and BHP to win from China’s blue-sky wars – by Matthew Stevens(Australian Financial Review – July 5, 2018)

China has moved to further embed pollution controls across a broader sweep of its industrial landscape in a move that reinforces the shared view of Australia’s biggest miners that price premiums being earned by quality iron ore and coal are now enrichingly structural.

A new three-year action plan announced on the official government website more than doubles the number of major cities targeted for pollution with the migration of the regime south beyond the provinces that surround Beijing to the Yangtze delta and Shanghai.

Confirmation of reforms that were first flagged towards the end of last winter’s successful blue-skies campaign acts as reinforcement of BHP’s planned changes to the Pilbara product mix and of Rio Tinto’s pursuit of mining capacity flexibility that will allow it to best respond to China’s increasingly seasonal raw-materials demand pull. Continue Reading →

Stern Hu release: Here’s why the former mining executive was convicted in China (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – July 4, 2018)

Australian citizen and former Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu has been released from jail after nine years in detention in China. It’s a long time since the former head of the mining company’s iron ore team in Shanghai was convicted, so here’s a refresher on the case.

When was Mr Hu arrested and convicted?

Mr Hu and three of his Chinese colleagues were arrested in 2009 during contentious iron-ore contract talks between top mining companies and the steel industry in China. The next year, they were convicted of accepting bribes totalling about $14 million and stealing trade secrets. Mr Hu was given a 10-year sentence, which was reduced for good behaviour.

What did we find out during the case? Continue Reading →

Bankers Have Gone AWOL in the Race to Build More Lithium Mines – by David Stringer and Mariko Ishikawa (Bloomberg News – July 3, 2018)

After clinching a deal with a Chinese battery maker in 2016, James Brown figured bankers would be eager to fund his new lithium mine. Altura Mining Ltd. was racing to ship the raw material from Australia to the world’s biggest electric vehicle market as demand was surging.

Instead, while lithium prices kept rising, Brown spent a Christmas holiday cold-calling lenders and jetted around the globe to raise the money. Eventually, Minneapolis-based Castlelake LP, a private equity firm, helped arrange $110 million in bonds. But there was a catch: an interest rate as high as 15 percent, or almost double what banks normally charge for more conventional mining ventures.

“We’d been trying banks we’d known for years,” said Brown, Altura’s managing director, who previously spent 22 years with coal producer New Hope Corp. “They said: Guys we love it, we just don’t have a mandate (for lithium). If you came to us with coal, gold or iron ore, you’d have no worries.” Continue Reading →

Jean-Sebastien Jacques is redesigning Rio Tinto for the new world order – by Matthew Stevens (Australian Financial Review – July 1, 2018)

Jean-Sebastien Jacques is a leader well-suited to the now routine tempests of the Trump era. If there is a theme consistent through the fluid narrative of his opening years as Rio Tinto chief executive it is that the practices of the past are now no guide to the needs of the present and future.

Jacques is not prepared to take anything for granted – free trade, social licence, the way we work, trust in sovereigns or the relationships between corporations and the social orders it inhabits.

Rio’s boss was at his free-speaking, free-thinking entertaining best before an audience gathered for that annual oddity, the Melbourne Mining Club’s London dinner. Jacques subsequently garnered headlines by once again warning that miners faced a return of double-digit inflation. Continue Reading →

Investment in Queensland mines ‘hot to trot’ (The Courier-Mail – June 28, 2018)

Queensland is in the world’s top five regions for the production of key commodities like zinc, bauxite and silver and is one of the largest seaborne exporters of coal in the world. Yet, challenges remain going forward. QBM and BDO co-hosted an exclusive lunch and invited some of the state’s top players to discuss current trends.

Queensland’s Resources Investment Commissioner Todd Harrington spends his days chasing dollars. He says the current state of play has improved on a few years ago. “We deal a lot with the Japanese, about their own strategy for what they are trying to do here,” he says.

“I know a lot of them are hot to trot, a lot of them are engaging. The Aurizon issue is front-of-mind but overall sentiment is they are optimistic it will be resolved. Continue Reading →

Australia’s Atlas Iron backs billionaire’s buyout offer – by Byron Kaye and Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – June 28, 2018)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian iron ore miner Atlas Iron (AGO.AX) on Friday endorsed a A$390 million ($287 million) buyout from billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, taking the mining heiress closer to securing two key shipping berths in the west of the country.

A subsidiary of Rinehart’s company launched an unconditional cash bid for the miner last week, trouncing a A$280.2 million scrip offer made in April by Mineral Resources (MIN.AX) and prompting that company to cancel its bid.

A successful bid could open the door for Rinehart to develop two more berths at Port Hedland that are alongside her existing operations, as Hancock Prospecting moves into the next stage of expansion at its Roy Hill iron ore mine. Continue Reading →

Kalgoorlie pub advertises for male skimpy barmaids to shake up mining town’s image – by Jarrod Lucas (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – June 28, 2018)

A pub in outback Western Australia is advertising for male skimpy barmaids to shake up Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s reputation as a male-dominated mining town.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder, 600 kilometres east of Perth, is famous for gold mining — as well as its around-the-clock drinking culture, skimpy barmaids and strip of historic brothels along Hay Street. While it has become more family-friendly in recent years, the Hannans Hotel thinks there might be a new market for male skimpies.

By donning the uniform of a G-string and an optional bow tie, a male skimpy could potentially earn the same as their female counterparts who regularly take home up to $2,000 a week working behind the bar. The concept of the male skimpy was briefly trialled more than a decade ago in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and is now being revived by Hannans Hotel. Continue Reading →

Forrest targets Rinehart in new twist in Atlas war – by Brad Thompson(Australian Financial Review – June 26, 2018)

Andrew Forrest has taken off the gloves and come out swinging in his billionaire brawl with Gina Rinehart over control of Atlas Iron.

Mr Forrest dramatically escalated the dispute when NCZ Investments, a wholly owned subsidiary of his Fortescue Metals Group, turned to the Takeovers Panel with a series of explosive allegations in relation to Atlas and a $390 million takeover bid from Mrs Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and its subsidiary, Redstone.

The move represents the official declaration of war in the long-standing hostilities between the two Perth-based Rich Listers, who briefly saw eye-to-eye in 2010 during the campaign against Kevin Rudd’s resource super profits tax. Continue Reading →

Why reports of coal’s death are greatly exaggerated – by Tim Treadgold ( – June 24, 2018)

As much as it might annoy environmentalists it seems the anti-coal crusade of the past 10 years has produced a perverse result. Global coal consumption is rising, coal prices are edging back towards record territory and coal mining companies are becoming the invisible stars of the resources sector.

It wasn’t supposed to be like that with coal routinely vilified as the environment’s number one enemy. That’s a view accepted by Australian governments and some in Europe — but not in Asia or other regions with emerging economies, such as Africa.

If US writer Samuel Clemens (also known as Mark Twain) was alive today he might even be tempted to say the same thing about coal as he said about himself: “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. In the case of coal’s resurrection there is no end in sight. Continue Reading →