Archive | Australia/New Caledonia/Papua New Guinea Mining

[Australia] Opinion: Mining employment returns to boom-time footing – by Matthew Stevens (Australian Financial Review – September 17, 2019)

An imminent return to boom-time employment levels in the Australian mining sector is likely to accelerate labour cost inflation that is already evident in the industry’s most active hubs in Western Australia and Queensland.

A landmark review of near-term investment intentions by the Australian Mines & Metals Association has identified $41 billion worth of projects that are likely to be installed across our mining nation over the five years to 2024.

As a result, AMMA anticipates that direct employment by the mining sector will grow by about 8 per cent – or more than 20,000 – between now and 2024. The AMMA study quoted an unnamed gold mining executive as saying: Continue Reading →

Collapse of PNG deep-sea mining venture sparks calls for moratorium – by Ben Doherty (The Guardian – September 15, 2019)

The “total failure” of PNG’s controversial deep sea mining project Solwara 1 has spurred calls for a Pacific-wide moratorium on seabed mining for a decade.

The company behind Solwara 1, Nautilus, has gone into administration, with major creditors seeking a restructure to recoup hundreds of millions sunk into the controversial project.

The Solwara 1 project (Solwara is pidgin for ‘salt water’) planned to mine mineral-rich hydrothermal vents, formed by plumes of hot, acidic, mineral-rich water on the floor of the Bismarck Sea. But the project has met with fierce community resistance, legal challenges, and continued funding difficulties. Continue Reading →

Mining industry predicts nuclear will be cheapest power – by Aaron Patrick (Australian Financial Review – September 16, 2019)

The mining industry has declared that nuclear power could be the cheapest way to generate electricity in the next decade, an audacious claim that advocates of wind and solar power are likely to bitterly dispute.

The chief executive of the Minerals Council of Australia, Tania Constable, said a new generation of compact nuclear reactors should be legalised because they could generate electricity for as little as $60 a megawatt hour – which is much less than the $98.10 average price last year in the renewable pioneer of South Australia, and higher than any other state in the National Electricity Market.

“Apart from existing run-of-water hydro, nuclear is the only energy source capable of providing affordable zero-emissions power 24/7 at industrial scale,” Ms Constable said as part of a submission to a federal inquiry into nuclear power. Continue Reading →

Broad [Australian] coalition opposes nuclear power – by Colin Brinsden ( – September 15, 2019)

More than 40 groups representing millions of Australians have come together to issue a clear message to the federal government that the nation’s energy future is renewable, “not radioactive”.

However, the mining industry is calling for the ban on nuclear energy to be lifted. The coalition of groups has submitted a shared statement in response to the federal parliamentary inquiry into the prospects for nuclear power in Australia.

Submissions to the inquiry close on Monday. “The groups maintain nuclear power has no role in Australia’s energy future and is a dangerous distraction from real progress on our pressing energy and climate challenges and opportunities facing Australia,” the Australian Conversation Foundation said. Continue Reading →

PNG demands Wafi-Golpu gold stays in-country, urges Newcrest, Harmony talks – by Jonathan Barrett (Reuters U.S. – September 12, 2019)

SYDNEY, Sept 13 (Reuters) – Papua New Guinea wants to keep 40% of gold produced from the proposed Wafi-Golpu project, the country’s commerce minister said, creating a potential hurdle to an agreement with co-owners Newcrest Mining and Harmony Gold.

The miners had been hoping to secure a mining lease over the major gold and copper deposit earlier this year, before a change in PNG’s leadership and a shift in minerals policy led to delays.

“We’d like to see Newcrest come to the negotiating table on this,” PNG’s Minister for Commerce and Industry Wera Mori told Reuters in a phone interview late on Thursday. Continue Reading →

A Forgotten Gold-Rush Hub Is Producing More Than It Has in a Century – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – September 10, 2019)

Deep under gum-tree lined paddocks in southern Australia that delivered a bullion bonanza in the 19th Century, the unexpected promise of a second gold rush is luring a new generation of prospectors from billionaires to global miners and weekend panhandlers.

As prices soar, production in the goldfields of Victoria state is rising again and has already climbed to the highest since 1914 as mining companies dig deeper and new technology helps to uncover once hidden and richer deposits in a region that almost rivaled the Californian gold rush and was thought to have petered out decades ago.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in all my life — it’s like finding a safe underground,” David Baker, managing partner of gold investor Baker Steel Capital Managers LLP, and a visitor to mines for more than 30 years, said following a tour last month of Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd.’s Fosterville mine, the flagship for the region’s revival. “You don’t get better than that unless you can dig into Fort Knox.” Continue Reading →

Lithium bulls need to chill out – by Neil Hume (Financial Times – September 10, 2019)

Quick to develop supply will keep a lid on prices

Battery metal bulls suddenly have more to cheer about. This week saw the flashy launch of VW’s ID. 3, a mass-market hatchback that symbolises the potential market for the lithium that powers its battery. Last week, China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) bought an 8.5 per cent stake in Australian lithium miner Pilbara Minerals.

The investment by China’s biggest battery producer — and supplier to carmakers including VW, Toyota and Volvo — was seen as a vote of confidence for the sector, which supporters say will be a big beneficiary from decarbonisation and the mass adoption of electric vehicles.

“While there has been commentary talking down the current state of lithium markets, it has belied the significant interest we have continued to see from the strategic players,” said Ken Brinsden, managing director of Pilbara. Continue Reading →

Cobalt 27 faces investor outcry amid accusations it’s selling ‘crown jewel’ assets at a loss – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – September 7, 2019)

Proposed buyout has some shareholders feeling like the company bought high and sold low as it tries to steer investors from cobalt to nickel

Toronto-based Cobalt 27 Capital Corp., which billed itself as an investment in the electric vehicle revolution, is facing outcries from some of its largest shareholders as it tries to sell its most valuable assets during a market low-point.

The company roared into the market in mid-2017 with an initial public offering, ultimately raising hundreds of millions of dollars to stockpile and acquire royalties on cobalt, an essential metal used in lithium-ion batteries. Within about a year the price of cobalt had hit a five-year peak, only to crash in the latter half of 2018 and never fully recover.

Now the company wants to steer its investors into nickel and to sell its main cobalt assets to its largest shareholder, Pala Investments. Other shareholders would receive $3.57 in cash, plus equity in Nickel 28, a new company that would hold the remaining assets including a stake in a nickel mine in Papua New Guinea. Continue Reading →

[Australia Raventhorpe Nickle Mine] Mining Albany for jobs – by Toby Hussey (The West Australian – September 4, 2019)

A surging nickel price has prompted the owner of a Ravensthorpe mine site to restart operations early next year, creating more than 350 jobs. First Quantum Minerals confirmed on Tuesday it would re-open its Ravensthorpe nickel operation in the next six months, with a region-wide job search beginning next week.

That search will include an Albany jobs fair on Tuesday, when senior First Quantum HR staff will explain the jobs available, skills required, and proposed rosters, and answer applicants’ questions.

The Albany Advertiser understands the company will be looking for employees with skills ranging from qualified electricians to non-qualified roles in administration, agriculture and transport. Continue Reading →

Papua New Guinea may shut Chinese-owned nickel plant after spill – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – August 29, 2019)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A nickel processing plant owned by Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) that spilled mine waste into Papua New Guinea’s Basamuk Bay faces compensation claims and possibly closure, the head of the country’s minerals authority said on Thursday.

MCC’s Ramu nickel plant located in Madang, on the country’s northeastern coast, spilled waste into the bay over the weekend which caused the surrounding ocean to turn red and left a muddy residue on the rocky shoreline, according to locals and photographs of the incident.

The spillage occurred when a plant operator did not notice a pump failure during a maintenance shutdown, causing a tank to overflow and mining waste to disperse into the ocean, Jerry Garry, managing director of PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) said. Continue Reading →

Changing of the guard as mining’s mini-boom loses steam – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – August 30, 2019)

A three-year boom in prices for some of Australia’s most important commodities is fast losing steam, tempting investors to change horses mid-race.

Saul Eslake was tempting fate. As the keynote speaker for a sparsely attended mining conference during the deathly bottoms of the commodity cycle, the prominent economist’s message did not lift the mood.

”It could well be, in my view, that the commodities boom Australia has just experienced in the last 12 or so years is the last of its kind in human history unless unforeseen technological developments ordain otherwise,” he told Melbourne’s IMARC conference on November 10, 2015. Continue Reading →

Top ten biggest lithium mines in the world (Mining Technology – August 30, 2019)

Western Australia hosts five of the world’s biggest lithium mines, whose combined reserves exceed 475.24 million tonnes (Mt). Mining-technology ranks the top ten biggest lithium mines in the world, based on proven and probable reserves.

1. Sonora Lithium Project – 243.8Mt

The Sonora lithium project, located in Sonora, Mexico, is the biggest lithium deposit is being developed by a joint venture (JV) of Bacanora Minerals (30%) and Cadence Minerals (70%).

The mine is estimated to hold proven and probable reserves of 243.8Mt, containing 4.5Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). The bankable feasibility study for the project has been completed, which estimates a mine life of 19 years. Continue Reading →

Chinese-owned nickel plant spills waste into Papua New Guinea bay – by Melanie Burton and Tom Daly (Reuters U.S. – August 28, 2019)

MELBOURNE/BEIJING (Reuters) – Waste from a nickel plant in Papua New Guinea owned by Metallurgical Corporation of China spilled into the adjacent Basamuk Bay over the weekend, three sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Locals noticed red discharge clouding parts of the bay that is next to the Ramu Nickel plant in Madang, Papua New Guinea, a local indigenous person who took photographs of the spillage told Reuters. The man declined to be identified because of the topic’s sensitivity.

The head of Papua New Guinea’s Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) said that its officials, as well as those from PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), had put together a preliminary report on the incident. Continue Reading →

Spread between seaborne, port iron ore prices widens on shipment surge (Reuters U.K. – August 27, 2019)

BEIJING (Reuters) – The spread between seaborne iron ore heading to China and iron ore at China’s ports has widened to the highest in at least two years, following an increase in shipments from Australia and Brazil as disrupted mines gradually come back on track.

The average for the month of August so far of the price difference between seaborne iron ore with 62% iron content and supplies at Chinese ports was $9.42 a tonne as of Monday, S&P Global Platts data showed. That is the highest monthly average spread since the price reporting agency began publishing iron ore prices for China’s ports in August 2017.

The widening spread between seaborne iron ore prices and port prices indicates that more cargoes are underway and mills are wary to make offers given the uncertainties in macro-economy, said four sources with knowledge of the market. Continue Reading →

Mystery nickel buyer could bring First Quantum’s Ravensthorpe back online – by Brian Sylvester (Northern Miner – August 26, 2019)

Northern Miner

First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM; LSE: FQM) management says it could have a buyer for any nickel produced from a restart of the venerable Ravensthorpe nickel-cobalt mine at Bandalup Hill in Western Australia, but on a second-quarter earnings call, the company’s CEO, Philip Pascall, was intentionally vague about who that buyer might be.

Pascall cited increasing interest from a “not Congo source” that wants a “strategic source” of nickel. “We need it to be in production to be able to take advantage of that, but it’s profitable [at current nickel prices]. The cost to bring it back into production is very modest because of the work we’ve done sustaining it,” Pascall said.

After being peppered with several questions regarding Ravensthorpe from seemingly surprised analysts, Pascall said: “[The proposed buyer] would want to see it operating. The production levels … something over 20,000 tonnes for next year. But the actual start date at the moment is going to move up or down a month or two.” Continue Reading →