Direct support to those industries with a future [Australian mining] – by Henry Ergas (The Australian – February 06, 2012)

This opinion piece came from:

A MAJOR report released today by Rio Tinto shows just how foolish ACTU president Ged Kearney is to dismiss mining as merely “digging things out of the ground”.

And just how wrong-headed the Gillard government is to focus on locking resources into the industries of the past rather than freeing them for those of the future.

The report, by my former colleagues Brian Fisher, long-time head of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and Sabine Schnittger examines the technological revolution in mining.

The report’s findings (available at are striking: automation is comprehensively transforming mining. Within a decade, that transformation will lead to a “mine of the future” in which myriad robotic devices, controlled from vast distances, undertake functions ranging from tunnelling to blasting, sorting and transporting ores.

Read more

How Glencore and Xstrata nailed the $76bn deal – by Danny Fortson (The Australian – February 6, 2012)

This article is from:

TUCKED in a corner of the Google bar at Davos, Ivan Glasenberg was in cracking form. Dark and intense, with his hair slicked back, the chief executive of Glencore sipped on a Diet Coke while chatting about mining and waving to acquaintances.

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting is Glasenberg’s natural habitat. It is stuffed with billionaires — he himself is worth about pound stg. 5 billion ($7.3bn) — and world leaders, whom he courts, and who court him, thanks to his command of the most powerful commodities trader.

There was another, secret, reason for his good humour. Glasenberg was about to clinch a deal he had pursued for five years — a merger between Glencore and Xstrata, the FTSE 100 mining company that he helped create.

The $US82 billion ($76bn) merger, likely to be confirmed on Tuesday in London, is a personal coup for Glasenberg and Mick Davis, his counterpart at Xstrata. It also has profound ramifications for the world economy.

The marriage will unite Glencore’s army of razor-sharp traders — the Goldman Sachs of zinc, copper, iron ore, coal and oil — with Xstrata’s globe-spanning portfolio of mines, stretching from the Australian outback to South Africa and the Peruvian Andes.

Read more

[Mining prostitution] ‘Coal girls’ hit paydirt at Queensland’s booming mining towns – by Kathleen Donaghey, Daryl Passmore and Jackie Sinnerton (Brisbane Courier Mail – November 6, 2011)

This article is from: [Brisbane, Australia]

THEY are the coal girls happy hookers striking it rich in booming mining towns across the state.

Fly-in, fly-out “working girls” travelling from as far away as New Zealand to the resource-rich regions of Queensland and Western Australia are making as much money in one or two days as mine labourers earn in a week.

But the booming unregulated sex industry is ringing alarm bells, with fears for the women’s safety and concerns over rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

The rich pickings up to $2000 a day are attracting scores of women to communities bursting with cashed-up men deprived of female company for weeks.

The women stay for a few days, or weeks, in hotels, motels or caravan parks before flying home or moving on to the next mining town in a circuit.

Researchers studying the impacts of the growth in fly-in, fly-out or drive-in, drive-out practices have even photographed a stretch limosine used by a prostitute as a mobile workplace in pub carparks.

Read more

Darwin base shows shift in U.S. priorities – by Matthew Fisher (National Post – February 3, 2012)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA  At first glance there was no connection between U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement in November the U.S. was establishing a permanent base for 2,500 Marines near Darwin and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s revelation late Wednesday U.S. combat forces expect to quit Afghanistan early.

But there is. The announcements underscore how quickly U.S. global military priorities are shifting to the Pacific, where Beijing’s ambitions have become a white-hot issue.

The U.S. military focus is now on Asia, where a new strategic order is being established with the U.S. and Australia working closely together. Canberra’s strategic concerns were highlighted in the 2009 White Paper on defence, which concluded China was a potential direct threat and the country must have “defence in depth.”

The Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy said more or less the same thing last year.

Read more

Commodities: Now is a good time to load up on CARBS – by Garry White (The Telegraph – November 27, 2011)

This article came from:

The City loves acronyms. We’ve had BRICS, PIIGS, SPDRs and BASICs – but now we have another to add to the Square Mile’s lexicon. The CARBS.

The CARBS are the major commodity producing countries – Canada, Australia, Russia, Brazil and South Africa – according to a report published last week by Citigroup’s equity strategists. They argue that “CARBS make you strong” and these countries should be considered a distinct asset class in their own right.

Between them the CARBS control commodity assets worth almost $60 trillion (£38.7 trillion) and 29pc of the world’s landmass. They produce between a quarter and a half of most major commodities.

The crux of Citi’s argument is sound. Basically, it’s all about the amount of infrastructure these countries will have to build if they are going to fully exploit the opportunity they have in their commodity reserves. “CARBS are the new carnivores,” Citi argues.

Read more

Mining Companies Take the Long View – by Robb M. Stewart and John W. Miller (The Wall Street Journal – December 14, 2011)

The near-term outlook isn’t great. So why are miners expanding their capacity?

There seems to be plenty for the mining industry to worry about. Prices of many commodities have tumbled in recent months. Production costs have risen sharply. The economies of two of the industry’s most important customers, China and the U.S., look like they may be heading for slower growth, maybe even recession in the U.S.

But the biggest mining companies in the world aren’t fretting. They continue to sink billions of dollars into projects to expand their output capacity.

That’s because they expect demand in the long run to be far beyond what it is now or whatever level it might reach in the next couple of years. And unlike some of their small competitors, which might have to scale back operations or even shut down if the pressures on the industry don’t ease soon, the big miners appear to have wide enough profit margins and big enough cash reserves to weather a rough stretch.

Read more

Red centre of attention [Australian mining movie] – by Michael Bodey (The Australian – July 30, 2011)

THE common expression of civic pride captured in bronze, stone or metal and given pride of place in a town’s centre is the likeness of an explorer, a leader or an athlete of distinction.

In Dampier, on Australia’s northwest shoulder, locals erected a statue in honour of a folk hero who helped galvanise the town as the area emerged as a mining hub in the 1970s. It just happened that leader was a dog: a wandering and faithful kelpie dubbed Red Dog.

Tales of Red Dog’s travels as far south as Perth and far north as Broome, his loyal companionship of many locals and his fearsome farts were such legend the dog became a defining figure for the burgeoning mining region, a figure representing the toughness and gypsy nature of the area’s growing band of employees.

So much so, Australian authors Nancy Gillespie and Beverly Duckett wrote books about the Pilbara wanderer before the English author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres, wrote his own semi-fictionalised and ultimately bestselling book about the kelpie’s adventures.

Read more

The $200,000-a-Year [Australian] Mine Worker – by John W. Miller (Wall Street Journal – November 16, 2011)

Resources Boom Fuels Demand for Underground Labor, Spurs Skyrocketing Pay; a $1,200 Chihuahua.

MANDURAH, Australia — One of the fastest-growing costs in the global mining industry are workers like James Dinnison: the 25-year-old high-school dropout from Western Australia makes $200,000 a year running drills in underground mines to extract gold and other minerals.

The heavily tattooed Mr. Dinnison, who started in the mines seven years ago earning $100,000, owns a sky-blue 2009 Chevy Ute, which cost $55,000 before a $16,000 engine enhancement, and a $44,000 custom motorcycle. The price tag on his chihuahua, Dexter, which yaps at his feet: $1,200.

A precious commodity himself, Mr. Dinnison belongs to a class of nouveau riche rising in remote and mineral-rich parts of the world, such as Western Australia state, where mining companies are investing heavily to develop and expand iron-ore mines. Demand for those willing to work 12-hour days in sometimes dangerous conditions, while living for weeks in dusty small towns, is huge.

Read more

The Business Case For [Aboriginal]Respect: [Australia’s] Pluton Resources – by David Hicks (The Global Commodities Report – October, 2011)

Published by New Vanguard Media, The Global Commodities Report is a digital magazine about the benefits of resource business.

With an innovative zero-impact exploration program and a partnership with the indigenous Mayala People, Australia’s Pluton Resources landed both a prestigious Golden Gecko environmental award and an iron ore mining agreement where others had failed: on an uninhabited, culturally significant, island off the northwest Australian coast.

Picture a miner out in a boat fishing off the northwest coast of Australia in the Kimberley region, scanning the iron-red shoreline of uninhabited Irvine Island, knowing that historic mistrust of the mining industry keeps its resources out of reach, and wondering to himself, “How can we make this work?”

Pluton Resources Limited Managing Director, Tony Schoer, had already worked on two nearby mining projects. “I knew this area well because I had worked on Koolan Island in the 1980’s and I was the joint venture representative for Cockatoo Island, so I knew of Irvine Island. We used to go fishing close by and you can see iron concentrations in the cliffs.”

Read more

Africa provides a rich seam for resources sector – by Kevin Rudd ( The Australian – October 24, 2011)

Kevin Rudd is Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs

AFRICA is starting to surprise us. We have known for some time that the continent is changing. After the “lost decade” of the 1980s, many African governments have been democratising and liberalising their economies.

But when we find that, today, six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are from Africa, it’s worth taking a much closer look.

When we do, we see not only Africa’s growth, but the remarkable transformation of Australian business in Africa, particularly in the mining sector. Rewind 20 years, and the involvement of Australian resource companies in Africa was almost non-existent.

Now, about 40 per cent of all Australian overseas mining projects are in Africa. At least 230 Australian companies are active in the resource sector on the African continent. Between them, they are pursuing 650 individual projects in 42 countries. Their total investment is estimated at a whopping $24 billion.

Read more

Iron ore the latest commodity to slide – by Brenda Bouw (Globe and Mail – October 21, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Iron ore was the one commodity left largely unscathed in the recent market rout, until now. The price of the key industrial commodity, which is used to make steel, has slumped in recent weeks and is expected to keep dropping as demand falls on a weakening Chinese economy and fallout from the European debt crisis.

Steel mills have been cutting iron ore purchases as they curb production, while major iron ore producers such as BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto PLC move forward with plans to ramp up output of the mineral.

The combination of lower demand and increased supply is putting pressure on iron ore prices, which had held steady even as other key industrial metals such as copper and aluminum were in freefall.

Read more

NEWS RELEASE: Australian-based Mining IQ puts on Top 10 Mining Blog list

News Release

October 13, 2011

Toronto – Australian-based Mining IQ, a mining guide and international learning and communications portal, has put on its list of Top 10 Mining Blogs, one of only two Canadian sites to be included.

Mining IQ says, “This blog [] aims to build awareness among the media, the general public and political decision makers about the economic and social benefits of sustainable mining practices in the 21st Century. It has a really admirable mission statement and it rings true with the content on the site.”

RepublicOfMining owner/blogger Stan Sudol says, “My Blog has been on the Web for almost four years and I am incredibly honoured to be recognized half-way around the world by Australian-based Mining IQ, located in one of the great mining nations on the planet. It shows the enormous global impact that Blogs have in their ability to communicate important and balanced information about a much maligned industry.”

Mining IQ continues, “We especially like the variety of categories available on the site with commentary from aboriginal mining to mining education and from women in mining through to green mining. Stan Sudol has hit the nail on the head with his enlightened approach.”

Read more

Rich in Land, [Australian] Aborigines Split on How to Use It – by Norimitsu Onishi (New York Times – February 12, 2011)

The New York Times has the third highest weekday circulation in the United States (after USA Today and the Wall Street Journal) and is one of the country’s most influential newspapers.

BROOME, Australia — Australia is experiencing a natural resources boom, driven by China’s headlong modernization, that is often described as a once-in-a-century phenomenon. It has minted billionaires out of businessmen who deal in iron ore and coal, and it has enriched many Australians by increasing the value of their homes and creating well-paying jobs.

But it has conspicuously left out Aboriginal Australians, whose home ownership and education levels fall below the national averages. High unemployment and widespread alcoholism have continued to debilitate isolated Aboriginal communities here in northwestern Australia, on the other side of the continent from the major cities along the eastern coast.

As resource companies push ever deeper into Australia’s remotest areas, however, Aboriginal leaders are leveraging their rights as traditional landowners to negotiate deals with companies and governments that are seeking to develop their holdings. They say the potential windfall — hundreds of millions of dollars — will rescue their communities from their long dependence on welfare and state subsidies.

Read more

Gold Fever Gripping the Australian Outback – by Matt Siegel (New York Times – August 15, 2011)

The New York Times has the third highest weekday circulation in the United States (after USA Today and the Wall Street Journal) and is one of the country’s most influential newspapers.

SYDNEY, Australia — Four years ago, Marco Nero was on top of the world. He was earning more than $1 million working as a film effects designer for some of the world’s most prestigious digital animation houses. His mind, however, was elsewhere.

Mr. Nero, 40, was increasingly spending his office hours poring over Web sites for anything he could find about an unlikely subject: gold. Like Humphrey Bogart’s character in the classic 1948 film “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” he realizes now, he was developing a full-blown case of gold fever, a condition whose genesis he traces to a trip to a prospecting supply shop in the Sydney area.

“I happened to talk to the gentleman that was behind the counter, and he showed me a 2-ounce gold nugget he had and it was a beautiful piece. I held that in my hand,” he said. “I was probably hooked at that point.”

Shortly thereafter, despite protests from friends and family, he quit his job to hunt for gold.

Read more

Mine workers dig in on wages, pensions, benefits – by Brenda Bouw (Globe and Mail – July 6, 2011)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous impact and influence on Canada’s political and business elite as well as the rest of the country’s print, radio and television media. Brenda Bouw is the Globe’s mining reporter.

Mine workers are flexing their muscles amid surging commodity prices and increased labour shortages, setting the stage for more union unrest.

Workers at some of the world’s largest copper, gold and coal mines have either walked off the job or are threatening to strike, pushing demands for higher wages, and better job security and benefits.

The labour activism is playing out worldwide, from rolling strikes at Australian coal mines jointly owned by BHP Billiton Ltd. and Mitsubishi Corp., to walkouts at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold’s giant Grasberg mine in Indonesia. African gold producers AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd. are also facing labour action, as is Chile’s state-owned copper giant Codelco.

Mining companies are trying to hold their ground to prevent a further spike in costs, at the same time maintaining output levels to capitalize on near-record prices for gold, copper, silver and coal. Prolonged strike action could lead to production shortages that would in turn drive up prices for resources as it did with nickel last year following lengthy strikes by workers at Brazilian mining giant Vale SA’s Canadian operations.

Read more