Archive | Australia/New Caledonia/Papua New Guinea Mining

Mining Industry Recovery May Bolster Australia’s Economy Again – by Michael Health (Bloomberg News – June 11, 2020)

(Bloomberg) – Australia’s resource industry is set to aid the economic recovery once again as higher prices and expansion plans assist the nation emerging from its coronavirus lockdown.

Mining accounts for nearly 6% of gross domestic product but plays an outsized role in national income, delivering dividends to pension funds and funds for government coffers. Iron ore, the nation’s biggest export, has broken $100 a ton amid off-shore supply concerns, providing a timely budget boost.

The government’s most recent budget numbers from December were based on iron ore falling to $55 a ton, excluding freight, by the June quarter of 2020. The government gains around A$3.7 billion for every $10 in excess of this estimate in the year to June 2021, which will assist the budget position following the massive fiscal injection. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto chief says sorry for sacred caves blast; Australia starts inquiry – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – June 11, 2020)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques on Friday apologised for distress caused by Rio’s destruction last month of two ancient and sacred Aboriginal caves in Western Australia, pledging full cooperation with an Australian government inquiry.

“We are very sorry for the distress we have caused the PKKP in relation to Juukan Gorge and our first priority remains rebuilding trust with the PKKP,” Jacques said in a statement, referring to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people.

With state government approval, the world’s biggest iron ore miner destroyed two caves at Juukan Gorge that had previously contained evidence of continual human habitation stretching back 46,000 years as part of its Brockman mine expansion in the iron-rich Pilbara region. Continue Reading →

BHP agrees not to damage 40 Aboriginal heritage sites without consulting traditional owners – by Lorena Allam and Calla Wahlquist (The Guardian – June 11, 2020)

BHP has said it will not damage 40 Aboriginal heritage sites which it received ministerial permission to destroy without “further extensive consultation” with traditional owners, after Guardian Australia revealed that traditional owners had been legally prevented from speaking publicly about the sites.

It comes amid a mounting shareholder backlash against mining companies for their destruction of Aboriginal heritage, which began with Rio Tinto’s destruction of a 46,000-year-old heritage site at Juukan Gorge last month and has been compared by shareholder groups to widespread bad conduct in the financial services sector before the banking royal commission.

On Thursday BHP said it was clarifying earlier statements by promising not to destroy any of the 40 sites in the central Pilbara to expand its $4.5bn South Flank iron ore mining operation, without further consultation with the Banjima traditional owners. It received a ministerial consent order to destroy them under WA’s outdated Aboriginal heritage laws on 29 March. Continue Reading →

Iron Ore Blasts Past $100 After Pandemic Forces Brazil Mine Halt – by James Attwood and Krystal Chia (Bloomberg News – June 8, 2020)

(Bloomberg) Iron ore futures surged above $100 a ton after Brazil’s Vale SA was ordered to suspend operations that account for about a 10th of its output after workers contracted Covid-19, boosting concerns surging cases will disrupt other mines in the top shipper after Australia.

The ruction is the latest supply shock to hit the global market over the past 18 months, following a dam burst at a Vale mine in 2019 that roiled prices as well as weather-related disruptions this year.

Iron ore could hold above $100 for the next two months, Morgan Stanley said, although it cautioned that a surplus and lower prices were still expected in the final quarter. Higher prices will benefit Australian majors BHP Group, Rio Tinto Group and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto scrambles to curb fallout from heritage site blasts (Financial Times – June 7, 2020)

Simon Thompson, the chairman of Rio Tinto, has scheduled a series of meetings with UK investors as the group scrambles to contain the fallout from the destruction of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site.

The world’s biggest iron ore miner blew up two sacred rock caves last month as part of a mine expansion, sparking an international outcry and calls for an overhaul of Australia’s heritage protection laws.

Legal & General, one of the 10 biggest shareholders in Rio, has spoken out against the incident. The first meetings are scheduled for this week. Continue Reading →

PNG threatens Barrick over alleged gold export attempt – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – June 5, 2020)

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has threatened Barrick Gold with criminal proceedings, claiming the company’s joint venture in the country was planning to illegally export $13 million in silver and gold to Australia.

The country’s mining regulator said that Barrick Niugini Limited (BNL) asked earlier this week for clearance to ship precious metals to the Perth Mint.

The move, the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) said, is considered illegal given that BNL is not allowed to process or ship gold since the government’s refused to extend its mining lease for the Porgera mine almost two months ago. Continue Reading →

Australia to supply critical minerals to India (Mining Technology – June 5, 2020)

Australia has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to supply India with critical minerals needed for the new-energy economy.

The latest announcement comes following the virtual summit between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

Australia Resources Minister Keith Pitt said: “My department has worked closely with the Ministry of Mines to develop the MoU, which focuses on avenues to increase trade, investment and R&D in critical minerals between our two countries. Continue Reading →

Nickel Rush Restarts As Steel And Battery Demand Rises – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – June 4, 2020)

China’s rapid exit from its Covid-19 lockdown has triggered the restart of a rush for nickel, an old-fashioned metal mainly used in making stainless steel, but also a key ingredient in the batteries of electric vehicles.

While not yet attracting the eye of investors in the same way iron ore has with its 30% rise to $100 a ton there has been a strong flow of deals and a hint of stockpiling ahead of a possible nickel shortage.

Over the past two months the price of nickel has risen by 15%, admittedly off a pandemic low of $5 a pound to $5.75, potentially heading back to $8/lb, where it was last October. Continue Reading →

Traditional owners say Rio Tinto knew importance of caves razed for mine (Reuters U.K. – June 5, 2020)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Rio Tinto Ltd knew the cultural and historical significance of two caves in Western Australia years before it blew them up last month as part of an iron ore mine expansion, traditional owners said on Friday.

However, Rio, which won state government approval to destroy the caves in 2013, has said it believed it had consent from the traditional owners of the caves, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP), because they had not explicitly asked that the site not be mined.

The world’s biggest iron ore miner in late May destroyed the sacred Aboriginal caves in the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara that showed evidence of continual habitation dating back 46,000 years. Continue Reading →

Mining firm Rio Tinto sorry for destroying Aboriginal caves ( – May 31, 2020)

Mining giant Rio Tinto has apologised for blowing up 46,000-year-old Aboriginal caves in Western Australia dating back to the last Ice Age.

The Juukan Gorge caves, in the Pilbara region, were destroyed last Sunday as Rio Tinto expanded an iron ore project agreed with the authorities. Many prehistoric artefacts have been found at the remote heritage site.

“We are sorry for the distress we have caused,” said Chris Salisbury, the firm’s iron ore chief executive. “We pay our respects to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP),” he said. The PKKP are the traditional owners of the site. Continue Reading →

Mining company blasts 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site in Australia – by Anna Golubova (Kitco News – May 28, 2020)

(Kitco News) A deliberate mining blast reportedly destroyed one of the oldest known Aboriginal heritage sites in Western Australia.

Rio Tinto, Anglo-Australian mining giant, was given permission to carry out the blasts back 2013 under Section 18 of the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act to expand its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara.

Over the weekend, Rio Tinto detonated explosives near the Juukan Gorge caves — culturally significant sites that date back more than 46,000 years. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Barrick offers PNG landowners a stake to resolve Porgera mine dispute – by Tom Westbrook and Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – May 29, 2020)

SINGAPORE/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) has offered an extra 15% stake in its Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea to local landowners, according to a letter from its CEO, in a bid to break an impasse with the national government over the mine’s future.

Barrick, the world’s second-largest gold miner, was last month refused an extension of its expired lease over the mine that has been troubled by social unrest and pollution concerns.

Any deal would be the first struck by a resources company under economic nationalist prime minister, James Marape, who came to power a year ago seeking to retain a bigger share of the country’s resource riches. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-The spike before the slump? Australian coal exports to China soar in May – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – May 28, 2020)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, May 28 (Reuters) – Australia’s coal exporters are bracing for a slump in shipments to China, making it somewhat ironic that May is likely to be the strongest month in nearly two years for Chinese imports from Down Under.

Traders are expecting that China’s coal imports may fall in coming months amid moves by Beijing to restrict cargoes to protect the domestic mining industry and prices.

While the port restrictions are expected to apply to all coal exporters, including China’s major suppliers of Indonesia, Australia and Russia, it’s also possible that Australian cargoes may suffer more given the ongoing political tensions between Beijing and Canberra. Continue Reading →

Gold Giant Australia Is Firing Back Up a Record Exploration Boom – by Sybilla Gross and David Stringer (Bloomberg News – May 25, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — Gold miners in Australia — set to leapfrog China next year to become the top producer — are resuming a pandemic-disrupted exploration spree as prices surge amid a dearth of major discoveries.

“Gold does really well in volatile times, so my sense of this is we’re on the cusp of a fairly major boom,” said Rob Bills, chief executive officer of Emmerson Resources Ltd., which plans to restart exploration drilling this week as the nation continues to ease Covid-19-related curbs. “Those companies that have got cash will turn the tap on fairly quickly.”

Spending on gold exploration in Australia rose to a new record in the final quarter of 2019, while the annual total of more than A$1 billion ($656 million) was about 20% higher than the previous year, according to government estimates. Continue Reading →

New Century in talks with Brazil’s Vale over nickel-cobalt mine sale – by Nick Toscano (Sydney Morning Herald – May 26, 2020)

Australia’s New Century Resources is in exclusive talks with Brazilian mining giant Vale to take over its troubled nickel and cobalt mine in New Caledonia under a proposed deal that contains a financial contribution from Vale and possible support from the French government.

New Century chief executive Patrick Walta said the company had entered into a 60-day exclusivity period to negotiate the acquisition of a 95 per cent ownership stake in Vale’s Goro mine in the south-west Pacific nation, which has been plagued by problems, delays and cost blow-outs for Vale since mining operations began there in 2011.

Under the proposed deal, Melbourne-based New Century would be effectively paid to take ownership of the Goro mine, with the value of financial contributions from Vale and the potential forgiveness of debts from the French state estimated to be in the vicinity of $1 billion. Continue Reading →