BHP to Shut Australia Nickel Business as Glut Upends Market – by Paul-Alain Hunt, Thomas Biesheuvel, and Mark Burton (BloombergBNN News – July 11, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — BHP Group Ltd. will close its loss-making nickel business in Australia until at least early 2027, after a global glut of the metal spread havoc through the market.

The company will place its Nickel West business on “care and maintenance” from October due to low prices of the metal used in electric-vehicle batteries, it said in a statement Thursday. It will also halt the development of its West Musgrave nickel mine.

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Glencore warns of nickel job losses unless labour costs controlled – by Brad Thompson, Tom Rabe and James Hall (Australian Financial Review – July 12, 2024)

https://www.afr.com/

Global mining heavyweight Glencore says the future of its nickel and cobalt operations in Australia will hinge on keeping a lid on labour and energy costs and access to infrastructure.

In what shapes as another blow to Anthony Albanese’s critical minerals ambitions, Glencore warned it was closely monitoring the situation and the future of its Murrin Murrin mine in Western Australia, which employs about 1500 people and is the nation’s biggest source of cobalt.

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BHP’s Nickel West closure could mark end of Australian nickel industry, analyst says – by Emily JB Smith and Ethan French (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – July 11, 2024)

https://www.abc.net.au/

The closure of mining giant BHP’s nickel operations in Western Australia will have ripple effects far and wide and could signal “the end of the Australian nickel industry”, according to a prominent mining analyst.

BHP announced yesterday it would begin suspending operations at the Kwinana nickel refinery in Perth, the Kalgoorlie smelter and its major mines at Mt Keith and Leinster in the state’s Goldfields from October. BHP said market conditions were to blame for its decision to either redeploy or offer redundancies to 1,600 of its frontline workers, while hundreds more contractors would be impacted.

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Coalition nuclear policy leaves traditional owners of Kakadu uranium mine worried – by Jane Bardon (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – July 2, 2024)

https://www.abc.net.au/

Mirarr traditional owner Corben Mudjandi is desperate for his spectacular land at Jabiluka to be incorporated into Kakadu National Park, which surrounds it, rather than mined for its uranium. “Its sacred to us, and it’s a piece of human history, 65,000 years, we want Jabiluka not mined; we want to show people the beauty of nature, and what we call home,” he said.

Mr Mudjandi is worried the federal Coalition’s plan to open nuclear plants if it wins government could drive demand for Jabiluka’s uranium. The Mirarr are also concerned that almost a year after Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) applied to extend its uranium mining lease over Jabiluka for another decade, the Northern Territory and federal governments have not yet decided whether to reject or approve it.

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Anglo Suspends Production at Australian Steelmaking Coal Mine – by Paul-Alain Hunt and Victoria Cavaliere (Bloomberg News – June 30, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — A fire at Anglo American Plc’s biggest metallurgical coal project in Australia halted production, with the miner saying it may take months for it to be extinguished. Anglo, which is seeking to sell the mine as part of a turnaround plan, fell as much as 4%.

A methane explosion on Saturday caused the fire at the Grosvenor underground mine, which accounts for about 30% of the company’s annual production of coking coal in Queensland state, Anglo said in an emailed statement Monday. No one was injured.

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Australia’s Paladin Energy to buy Canada’s Fission Uranium for $1.14-billion – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – June 25, 2024)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Australia’s Paladin Energy Ltd. has reached an agreement to buy Canadian mining development company Fission Uranium Corp. in a friendly transaction worth $1.14-billion, as Fission lays down a big bet on a uranium project in Saskatchewan. Kelowna, B.C.-based Fission is developing the Patterson Lake South (PLS) project in the Athabasca Basin region of Saskatchewan, and hopes to be in production by the end of the decade.

Paladin is offering 0.1076 of its shares for each Fission unit, or $1.30 a share, a premium of just under 26 per cent compared to Friday’s closing price on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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Mining M&A stokes coal race against cleaner power – by Antony Currie (Reuters – June 20, 2024)

https://www.reuters.com/

MELBOURNE, June 20 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Coal is doomed, or so the energy thesis goes. Many banks, insurers and investors have backpedalled from or abandoned the carbon-belching fossil fuel, prompting companies that excavate it to complain they cannot get mainstream or affordable financing.

One corner of the industry, however, is burning strongly: the coking, or metallurgical, variety used to make steel. For sellers, it’s a diamond underneath the growing pile of mining M&A. Buyers, however, are in a race against low-emissions alternatives to justify their strategies.

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New Caledonia crisis: Does France fear China will dominate Pacific colonies? – by Christine Rovoi (Pacific Media Network – June 7, 2024)

https://pmn.co.nz/

If you think the French Empire – powerful in the 19th and 20th centuries – no longer exists, you may want to think again. Thirteen colonies fly the French flag and speak the French language today. Independence has not yet come to these territories, and New Caledonia is among them.

Located less than 2400km north of Aotearoa New Zealand, New Caledonia has a population of 272,000 (2019 Census) with 40 per cent the Indigenous Kanaks. The Pacific island nation is reeling from political unrest following the 13 May protests, led by pro-independence supporters, in the capital Noumēa last month.

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Australian miners at the forefront of the robotics revolution – by Smruthi Nadig (Mining Technology – June 7, 2024)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

As robotic technology advances, Australian mining companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP are among the leaders in deploying automated systems to enhance operational efficiency and safety.

Australia has a strong robotics industry that focuses on automation in both the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, which sets it apart from other robotics markets. GlobalData research indicates that 29% of robotics companies in Australia cater to the mining sector. Besides the robotics industry itself, the main industries served by robotics suppliers are metal and machinery, with 47% of suppliers serving these industries.

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New resources boom in Western Australia’s north likely to lift rents further as housing supply is stretched – by Charlie McLean (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – June 6, 2024)

https://www.abc.net.au/

As Western Australia’s mining and energy sectors shape up for their latest boom, residents in the state’s mining heartland are scrambling to keep a roof over their heads. Rents in the Pilbara’s two biggest mining towns, Karratha and Port Hedland, have increased by more than 120 per cent in five years, driven by an influx of resource workers and a shortfall of homes.

And with more than $160 billion in new mining and energy projects in the pipeline, the influx of mining work and mining money is leaving other residents behind. “I love the weather … the scenery, the people here are amazing,” Karratha mother Debbra Duff said.

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EU Policy. Commission clinches raw materials deal with Australia – by Marta Pacheco (Euronews Green – May 28, 2024)

https://www.euronews.com/

The European Commission today (28 May) announced it has forged its 13th trade partnership designed to source critical raw materials from outside the bloc, with Australia.

Valdis Dombrovskis and Thierry Breton, respectively commissioners for trade and the internal market, appeared alongside signatory Australian trade minister Don Farrell, claiming the deal was “based on mutual benefits” — enabling the EU to diversify supply, and the development of Canberra’s domestic critical minerals sector.

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New Caledonia unrest pushes nickel sector deeper into crisis (France 24 – May 28, 2024)

https://www.france24.com/en/

Noumea (AFP) – Weeks of unrest in New Caledonia have plunged the archipelago’s nickel industry, already on government life support, closer to catastrophe, sector representatives say. The French Pacific territory is the world’s third-biggest producer of nickel, behind Indonesia and the Philippines, and ahead of Russia and Australia.

Nickel, a silver metal used as an alloy to make stainless steel, electronic components and jewellery, is also a key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries, making it critical for a transition towards cleaner energy.

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Why a Small Pacific Island Territory Is Upending Nickel Prices – by Rishi Iyengar (Foreign Policy – May 21, 2024)

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Violent riots in New Caledonia are having an outsized global impact on critical mineral supply chains.

The tiny Pacific island territory of New Caledonia entered its second week of deadly riots on Monday, with protesters blocking roads and shutting down the airport. At least six people have been killed so far, and dozens of businesses have been looted and burned, prompting France—which governs the archipelago—to impose a 12-day state of emergency.

New Caledonia has been under French control since 1853, and it voted to remain that way as recently as 2021 despite a growing pro-independence movement. However, that movement exploded into violence last week after France approved a constitutional amendment to the island territory’s voting rules that critics say will dilute the representation of the island’s Indigenous Kanak people.

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Critical minerals need insulation from China’s market manipulation – by Angus Barker (Australian Strategic Policy Institution – May 21, 2024)

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/

Investors can handle lots of different risks. They can price risks in construction, interest rates, weather and, with hedging, price movements in product markets. But the one risk they can’t price is political risk, the chance of some government action ruining profits. You can’t hedge against it.

How should we respond when, as the chief executive of critical-minerals company Iluka said this month, when accusing China of rigging rare earths prices, ‘monopolistic production, combined with interference in pricing … is resulting in market failure’? How should we respond when price risk is political risk?

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Behind New Caledonia’s Riots, a Fight Over Vast Reserves of Nickel – by Matthew Dalton and Sam Schechner (Wall Street Journal/MSN.com – May 20, 2024)

https://www.msn.com/

PARIS—Before riots swept New Caledonia last week, President Emmanuel Macron aimed to put the remote territory—and its massive reserves of nickel—at the center of France’s push to secure raw materials for the clean-energy transition and compete against China in manufacturing electric vehicles.

Those plans are colliding with a hard-line local political movement that seeks independence from France and is refusing to go along. The rioting exploded after lawmakers in Paris approved legislation to give more voting rights to New Caledonia’s nonindigenous population, diluting the influence of the native Kanak people.

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