Archive | Australia/New Caledonia/Papua New Guinea Mining

Australia Is Dry as a Bone, and Miners Need Water to Stay Afloat – by David Winning (Wall Street Journal – January 16, 2020)

SYDNEY—A crippling drought in eastern Australia is threatening production of commodities from coal to gold, sparking a scramble by companies for water to keep their operations going.

The affected mines and processing operations are in arid regions a hundred or more miles inland of most of the areas hit by unprecedented bush fires. The severe drought conditions are expected to persist despite rain falling or forecast in the region in coming days.

Eastern Australia is a major supplier of metals and minerals to global markets, with more coal leaving its ports for customers in Asia than anywhere else in the world. Continue Reading →

Adani’s coal mine plans, and why coal is still so lucrative – by Jeannette Cwienk (Deutsche Welle – January 16, 2020)

According to the MCC, there are 256 coal-fired power plants with a
capacity of 246 gigawatts being built worldwide, as well as another
359 power plants with a capacity of 311 gigawatts in the planning phase.

Siemens’ support for Adani’s coal mine in Australia has outraged environmentalists, but it’s not a unique case. Hundreds of companies and countries around the world are planning to expand their coal activities. But why?

An estimated 500 tankers a year will travel back and forth between Australia and India in the future. Fully loaded with coal, they’ll sail right through the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world, which is already under threat.

And that’s just one reason why environmental activists are outraged by Indian Adani Group’s plans for mining coal. Once completed, its Carmichael mine in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland will be one of the largest in the world, emitting 705 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere each year, according to climate protection alliance Fridays for Future. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold forges ahead on Papua New Guinea mine in face of local backlash – by Jeff Lewis and Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – Janaury 15, 2020)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Barrick Gold Corp is set to elevate its troubled Papua New Guinea mine to its top-tier assets, despite landowner and government demands to cede a larger stake and deteriorating security at the joint venture with China’s Zijin Mining.

With a 20-year lease renewal application in the balance, Barrick has faced backlash from Papua New Guinea (PNG) landowners and residents. Critics say the Porgera mine has polluted the water supply and created other environmental and social problems, with minimal economic returns for locals.

Seven people have died at the Porgera mine since September, including three so-called illegal miners last month in clashes that prompted Barrick’s local entity to appeal for government intervention. Continue Reading →

Billionaire Targeted by Greta Thunberg Undeterred by Coal Protesters – by P R Sanjai (Bloomberg News – January 13, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — The Indian conglomerate coming under increasing pressure over its controversial coal mine in Australia said it won’t let protests dissuade it from completing the project.

The group, controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani, is responding to an uptick in scrutiny over the Carmichael development, including from high-profile teen activist Greta Thunberg.

While the mine and rail project has been a target of environmentalists since it was proposed in 2010, its facing fresh global attention as Australia suffers unprecedented brushfires and as Germany’s Siemens AG comes under attack for its contract to provide rail signaling systems. The Munich-based company said Sunday that it will honor that commitment, defying demands of demonstrators in Germany. Continue Reading →

Australia’s wildfires should get us finally thinking rationally about nuclear power – by Kelly McParland (National Post – January 8, 2020)

One attitude change that might help would be a re-evaluation of nuclear, which is emission-free but hobbled by public fears

I was watching a TV news report on the wildfires in Australia the other day when the announcer suddenly veered off on a tangent.

Until then the report had focused on the astounding images: people huddling on beaches or bobbing offshore on boats, desperately spraying homes with garden hoses against backdrops of burnt-orange skies out of an apocalyptic nightmare.

No doubt there was more to tell, but without warning the host launched into a finger-pointing session on global warming. There was nothing new or different, more a case of claiming victory. Hah, people are suffering! See! We were right! Admit it, this is all your fault! Continue Reading →

Why Scott Morrison slammed calls to end coal mining as ‘reckless’: Australia’s $52billion industry employs 50,000 – as China builds dozens of power plants and India’s power consumption surges by 22 per cent – by Stephen Johnson (Daily Mail Australia – December 23, 2019)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected calls from radical climate change activists to ban the export of coal – an industry worth $52billion a year. For the first time since the early 1970s, Australia exports are worth more than imports, thanks to strong demand from China and India for this electricity-generating commodity.

Radical climate change activists, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, want Australia to immediately cease exporting coal, as the world’s two most populated nations build new coal-fired power stations – with Australian coal.

They stormed the Prime Minister’s Kirribilli House residence in Sydney last week, as he holidayed in Hawaii, demanding that he ban the fossil fuel. Doing so would cost Australia more than $52billion and jeopardise the jobs of 50,000 people involved in coal mining. Continue Reading →

How rare earth shocks lifted an upstart Australian mining company – by Melanie Burton, Yuka Obayashi and Aaron Sheldrick (Reuters Canada – December 17, 2019)

MOUNT WELD, Australia/TOKYO (Reuters) – Sprawled across a spent volcano on the remote edge of the Great Victoria Desert in Western Australia, the Mount Weld mine seems a world away from the U.S.-China trade war.

But the dispute has been a lucrative one for Lynas Corp (LYC.AX), Mount Weld’s Australian owner. The mine boasts one of the world’s richest deposits of rare earths, crucial components of everything from iPhones to weapons systems.

Hints this year by China that it could cut off rare earths exports to the United States as a trade war raged between the two countries sparked a U.S. scramble for new supplies – and sent Lynas shares soaring. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto’s plan to clean up Ranger uranium mine in doubt after hedge fund objects – by Ben Butler and Ben Smee (The Guardian – December 17, 2019)

Mining giant Rio Tinto’s plans to clean up the controversial Ranger uranium mine have been thrown into doubt after objections from a Singapore-based hedge fund.

The mine is owned by ASX-listed Energy Resources Australia (ERA), which in turn is 68% owned by Rio Tinto. ERA is required to remediate the mine site and return it to a state fit to be incorporated in the surrounding Kakadu national park, by 2026.

There have been longstanding concerns about the risk of a uranium leak from the Ranger mine, amplified by its location at the eastern end of the remote national park in the Northern Territory. Continue Reading →

The next mining boom? Rare earths and the rise of Australia’s ‘other’ minerals – by Nick Toscano (Sydney Morning Herald – December 13, 2019)

Lithium, cobalt, titanium, rare earths – expect to hear more about them as we transition to green technologies. But what are they, actually? And what are they for?

Coal and iron ore are the heavy hitters of minerals in Australia. They’re our two top mining commodities by far, together accounting for 30 per cent of national exports.

But a handful of other minerals have become rather fashionable in recent times. They account for a small fraction of our export earnings and it’s mostly small operators that dig them out of the ground, with just a couple of big names in the mix. Yet they are rapidly becoming more important and edging their way into common parlance as result.

The sci-fi-sounding rare earths is one. Titanium is another. “He’s a man of titanium,” US President Donald Trump declared of our Prime Minister Scott Morrison this year, adding a zeitgeisty, if incomplete, fast fact: “You know, titanium’s much tougher than steel.” Continue Reading →

China has big stake in Bougainville independence – by Alan Boyd (Asia Times – December 12, 2019)

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is likely to take a hard line on complete independence for Bougainville, despite the breakaway island province’s recent overwhelming vote to establish its own nation.

How the situation is handled will have major implications for regional stability, particularly as China aims to pull Bougainville as a new independent nation into its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

PNG Prime Minister James Marape has accepted the referendum result, announced on Wednesday, but committed his government only to developing “a road map that leads to a lasting peace settlement” in consultation with Bougainville authorities. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Australia energy market operator turns Scrooge on coal lobby – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – December 12, 2019)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Australia, which vies with Indonesia for the title of the world’s largest coal exporter, is planning for an electricity future where use of the polluting fuel dwindles and is rapidly replaced by renewable energy sources.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which controls the country’s largest electricity and natural gas markets, released a report on Thursday outlining the future development of the country’s electricity market. As Christmas approaches, it made for miserly tidings for the coal miners and politicians supporting the industry.

The report said that 63% of Australia’s current coal-fired generation is likely to close by 2040. It will be replaced by a possible tripling of rooftop solar power, as well as pumped hydropower, utility-scale batteries and distributed batteries, which would include households and businesses. Continue Reading →

Bougainville referendum: region votes overwhelmingly for independence from Papua New Guinea (The Guardian – December 11, 2019)

The autonomous region of Bougainville has voted overwhelmingly in favour of becoming independent from Papua New Guinea, paving the way for the group of islands to become the world’s newest nation.

More than 180,000 people in Bougainville, a collection of islands flung 700km off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the Solomon Sea, participated in a referendum over the last few weeks that has been nearly 20 years in the making. Almost 98% of people (176,928 people) voted for independence and less than 2% (3,043 people) voted to remain as part of Papua New Guinea but with “greater autonomy”. There were 1,096 informal ballots.

Those gathered in Buka to hear the announcement of the results from the chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission’s chair Bertie Ahern burst into cheers and applause when the result was announced. As the writs were signed by commissioners after the result, the crowd burst into song. Continue Reading →

Backes expects China may get New Caledonia nickel stake ( – December 9, 2019)

New Caledonia’s Southern Province president has indicated that the Brazilian miner Vale may well have no option but to sell its assets in New Caledonia’s south to Chinese investors.

Sonia Backes said this year Vale had lost $US200 million. She said in its current state, Vale would not find a buyer and therefore she was in favour of the company adopting a new strategy.

Ms Backes made the comment in an interview with the Nouvelles Caledoniennes days after Vale put its plant at Goro up for sale, with yet to be determined job losses. Continue Reading →

Vale to exit New Caledonia, eyes Indonesia to boost nickel output – by Eric Onstad and Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – December 4, 2019)

LONDON (Reuters) – Brazil’s Vale SA plans to exit its troubled New Caledonia assets but still aims to ramp up nickel output ahead of rising demand for electric batteries, executives said on Wednesday.

The planned divestment of nickel operations in New Caledonia comes after Vale said last month it would write down the mine and incur a non-cash impairment charge of about $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter.

A year ago, the world’s top nickel producer unveiled plans to invest $500 million in the mine after failing to find a partner for the operation. Continue Reading →

Vale puts New Caledonian nickel operation up for sale – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – December 4, 2019)

Brazilian mining giant Vale (NYSE:VALE) is selling its ailing Goro nickel operation on the Pacific Island of New Caledonia, which has been strewn with operational problems ever since it came on stream, two years behind schedule, in 2011.

The company, the world’s top nickel producer, had been hoping to attract a partner for the loss-making asset, but the lack of success prompted it to go it alone. Exactly a year ago, Vale announced it would invest $500 million in the project, mainly on a waste storage facility, between 2019 and 2022.

The company, however, has never fully mastered the challenging high-pressure-acid-lead (HPAL) technology used to convert ore to nickel oxides. Continue Reading →