Archive | Australia/New Caledonia/Papua New Guinea Mining

Australian mining’s macho image worsens pain of labor shortage – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – September 21, 2018)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – When the song “Eagle Rock” played at a bar in an outback Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie late one night, a dozen young men scattered around a pool table dropped their trousers and heartily sang along in their underwear.

Later that night, they piled behind the counter of the bar attached to the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM), singing an anthem that began, “We are engineers,” and finished with an obscene description of how they treat women.

The scenes, in the background of an industry conference, cut against a hard reality the sector faces: a dearth of skilled applicants, and a workforce hurting for diversity and struggling to hire women. Continue Reading →

[Nuclear Testing Australia] Remembering The Black Mist – by Karen Wyld ( – September 19, 2018)

Karen Wyld is an author and freelance writer of Martu descent, living on Kaurna country in South Australia

Recently I viewed the Black Mist Burnt Country exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. Launched on 27 September 2016, to mark the 60th anniversary of nuclear bomb testing at Maralinga in South Australia, the exhibition has already covered a lot of ground touring the eastern states.

This exhibition is a vivid and reflective collation that is raising awareness of the impact of nuclear testing in Australia. The cost for British and Australian army personnel and civilians was high. More so for Aboriginal people, who often weren’t even considered before the bombs went off.

Given re-emergence of interest in uranium mining and intent to construct waste dumps on Aboriginal lands, despite strong community opposition, this exhibition is also a stark reminder of how little some people have learnt from the past. Continue Reading →

BHP ditching ‘Billiton’ from its name, trims CEO pay rise – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – September 18, 2018)

World’s largest miner BHP Billiton (ASX, NYSE:BHP) (LON:BLT) is rolling out the second phase of a $10 million rebranding campaign launched last year, which may see it become dropping “Billiton” from its name an attempt to emphasize its Australian roots.

Documents released Tuesday to the Australian Securities Exchange, show the miner will ask shareholders at the annual meeting in October to vote to rename the company as BHP Group.

The rebranding, the first since BHP used the late actor Bill Hunter 30 years ago in its “Big Australian” promotion, can also be seen as an effort to regain public trust after the damage to the firm’s image caused by the November 2015 dam burst at its Samarco joint-venture in Brazil. Continue Reading →

The rare rainforest tree that bleeds metal ( – September 17, 2018)

Pycnandra acuminata is a rare tree native to the shrinking rainforests of New Caledonia that has the rare ability to collect large quantities of nickel from the ground. Its blue-green sap reportedly contains up to 25% nickel.

Trees, or plants in general for that matter, and heavy metals like nickel and zinc don’t really go well together, and that’s what makes Pycnandra acuminata and a few other rare tress species known as “hyperaccumulators” so special.

They have somehow evolved to suck out normally toxic levels of heavy metals from the soil and store it in their stems, leaves and seeds. Unfortunately, heavy deforestation in New Caledonia has put this remarkable tree on the list of endangered trees before scientists could even figure out how and why it can tolerate such high quantities of nickel in its latex-like sap. Continue Reading →

RNC Minerals does it again with another Beta Hunt gold haul in Kambalda – by Josh Chiat (The West Australian – September 16, 2018)

The Kambalda mine that produced more than $15 million worth of spectacular gold specimens a fortnight ago from a single deep cut 500m underground has turned out another precious stone after development restarted after the announcement.

A specimen stone weighing 43kg and estimated to contain 1100 ounces of gold, valued at about $1.8 million, was recovered after work resumed underground at the Beta Hunt gold mine.

The stone, along with another piece weighing 7kg and containing 190oz, will be taken to the Perth Mint and added to a haul that included what was believed to be two of the biggest gold specimens discovered. Continue Reading →

A ‘once-in-a-lifetime find’ has Eric Sprott thinking this is the start of something big for a small TSX gold explorer – by Brenda Bouw (Globe and Mail – September 17, 2018)

Well-known gold bug Eric Sprott is signalling he plans to stick with his holdings in RNC Minerals after the Toronto-based company announced a “once-in-a-lifetime” gold discovery that sent its stock skyrocketing last week.

RNC shares soared 261 per cent to a near eight-month high of 32.5 cents over last Monday and Tuesday after the company announced on Sept. 9 that it uncovered 9,250 ounces of high-grade gold worth US$15-million at its Beta Hunt mine in Western Australia the week before.

The discovery captured global media attention from news outlets such as the Financial Times, the BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC). “There’s a big potential here that this is not going to be a one-off,” Mr. Sprott said of the discovery on Friday on his weekly podcast, calling it “the biggest discovery in a small amount of tundra the world has ever witnessed.” Continue Reading →

Tesla Lithium Dash Could Slow as Mine Project Faces Hurdle – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – September 13, 2018)

An Australian mining lithium project that has an agreement to supply Tesla Inc. faces a legal hurdle that may delay plans to start production, potentially spurring shortages of the mineral used in batteries for electric cars.

A court in Perth recommended Western Australia’s mining ministry shouldn’t approve an exemption from past minimum exploration-expenditure obligations at the Mt. Holland hard-rock project, lithium giant SQM said in a statement on Wednesday.

Development of Mt. Holland, owned by SQM and Kidman Resources Ltd., could be slowed if the ministry doesn’t award the exemption, SQM said. Continue Reading →

Adani ditches plan to build rail line for Carmichael coalmine Lisa Cox and Austalian Associated Press (The Guardian – September 13, 2018)

Adani has ditched plans to build a new rail line from Abbot Point to get coal out of Queensland’s Galilee Basin, opting for a cut-price solution using existing lines.

The Indian miner had planned to build a new 388km line from its controversial Carmichael mine to Abbot Point for export, but now says it will “instead leverage existing rail infrastructure”.

The new proposal will make use of the existing Aurizon rail infrastructure that runs to Abbot Point. A new narrow-gauge rail line of about 200 km would be constructed to connect the existing network to the Carmichael mine site, reducing the length of the track Adani would have to build by 188km, and significantly reducing the cost. Continue Reading →

Lucky strike in outback WA could spark ‘mini gold rush’ for prospectors and miners – by Jarrod Lucas (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – September 12, 2018)

Prospectors and exploration companies seeking to strike it rich have been re-energised by the discovery of rare gold specimens at a mine in outback Western Australia.

Some are saying it could spark a “mini gold rush” for a town down on its luck. In the days since the spectacular find at Kambalda, 630 kilometres east of Perth, a wave of excitement has washed over the nickel mining town which has been on its knees in recent times.

One exploration company holding ground adjacent to the Beta Hunt mine, where $15 million worth of gold-encrusted rocks were found 500 metres below the surface, has already been inundated with calls. It is just the tonic for Kambalda — a tight-knit community built on the discovery of Australia’s first nickel mine in 1966 — which has been hit by hundreds of job losses with the closure of four major mines in three years. Continue Reading →

[Royal Nickel] Toronto miner unearths boulder that contains 9,000 ounces of gold in Australia, worth about $15M – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – September 11, 2018)

Rare is the story of a modern mining company that unexpectedly strikes a mother lode of gold.

But Toronto-based junior mining company Royal Nickel Corp. announced Sunday night that its employees in Australia at the Beta Hunt mine — which the company has been trying to sell since April — removed a golden boulder like few others in the world: Within a single cube of earth that measured roughly three meters wide, three meters long, and three meters deep, they found 9,000 ounces of gold including two large lumps — all told worth around $14 or $15 million at current prices. That’s equivalent to roughly 40 per cent of RNC’s $35 million market capitalization as of last week.

“It was a nickel mine for years and years,” said Mark Selby, chief executive of RNC. “But we bought it because there were a bunch of gold deposits sitting beneath it.” Royal Nickel stock surged 83 per cent to $0.16 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday. Continue Reading →

‘Let me buy Rio Tinto’: China’s brazen bid to buy our companies – by Peter Hartcher (Sydney Morning Post – September 11, 2018)

Within two days of being sworn in as the 38th Treasurer of Australia, Joe Hockey found himself in a traditional-style hut on the island of Bali. Chinese officials had been back and forth to the hut again and again to arrange to the last detail the meeting that Hockey was about to have with China’s finance minister.

But when Lou Jiwei entered, Hockey was utterly unprepared for his opening words. Lou shook the Australian’s hand, sat down, lit a cigarette without asking Hockey’s permission and said: “Why won’t you let me buy Rio Tinto?” the giant Anglo-Australian mining conglomerate.

It was Hockey’s first meeting with his Chinese counterpart, once ranked by Forbes magazine as the 30th most powerful person on earth. Recovering from his surprise, Hockey replied: “That’s fine – as long as you’ll let Qantas buy China Southern”, one of the Middle Kingdom’s big three airlines. Continue Reading →

‘I Nearly Fell Over Looking at It.’ Miners Stumble Upon $10 Million in Gold From a Single Blast – by Grace Dobush (Fortune Magazine – September 10, 2018)

Miners in Western Australia have unearthed more than 9,000 ounces of gold from a single blast over the past few days. That’s more than 560 pounds (255 kilograms), or $10 million of gold if you want to just cash it in.

The quartz rocks encrusted with gold were found in Beta Hunt, primarily a nickel mine, in the town of Kambalda, in an area of Australia known as the Goldfields.

Miner Henry Dole is credited with hitting the mother lode. “I’ve been an airleg miner for 16 years. Never in my life have I ever seen anything like this,” he told ABC News. “I nearly fell over looking at it … we were picking it up for hours.” Continue Reading →

Journo’s new book shines light on nickel – by Josh Chiat (Kalgoorlie Miner – September 6, 2018)

A pioneering mining journalist who bore witness to the Goldfields’ first nickel boom as a reporter at Kalgoorlie’s ABC bureau believes there is a bright future for the cyclical base metal.

Ross Louthean came to Kalgoorlie-Boulder as a young journalist from Port Pirie in the late 1960s and witnessed the onset and development of the famous Kambalda nickel district.

He also lived in the region through the Poseidon crash — the nickel exploration boom in the 1970s which prompted the regulation of Australia’s stock markets after a reported find near Laverton fuelled by speculation pumped shares in penny stock Poseidon Nickel to more than $280 a share in a matter of weeks. Continue Reading →

Tiny WA town of Greenbushes is ground zero for global lithium energy revolution – by Sean Smith (The West Australian – September 2, 2018)

Just out of sight of the South Western Highway, in State forest between the tourism hotspots of Bridgetown and Balingup, one of WA’s oldest mining centres and its sleepy host town are at the heart of a global energy revolution.

More than a century after the area was first worked by tin miners, the Greenbushes mine and the town of the same name on its doorstep have emerged front and centre of the State’s multibillion-dollar development boom around lithium.

The metal and its chemical compounds have long been used in aluminium smelting, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, glassware and ceramics. Its light weight and energy density means it is also found in the batteries powering laptop computers, mobile phones, calculators and digital cameras. Continue Reading →