Mining blowout as wages start rising

Original article by Nick Evans
The Weekend Australian – Page: 21 & 32 : 16-Jan-21

There is growing concern about a wages blowout in Western Australia’s mining sector, as the continued strength of the iron ore price ignites speculation of a new resources boom. Fortescue Metals Group recently advised of a cost blowout at its Iron Bridge magnetite project, and other mining companies with projects under development in WA are also likely to experience cost pressures. Skills shortages and restrictions on hiring staff from interstate have also prompted mining companies to start poaching workers from their rivals and other sectors.

CORPORATES
FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED – ASX FMG

Price boom powers big iron’s profits

Original article by Sarah Turner, Jenny Wiggins
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 13 & 16 : 18-Jan-21

The spot price of iron ore peaked at $US172.36 a tonne during the week ended 15 January. Milford Asset Management’s William Curtayne says earnings forecasts for Australia’s major iron ore producers will need to be significantly upgraded if the price of the steel input remains at around $US165/tonne. Jason Teh of Vertium Asset Management also anticipates strong growth in dividend payouts at BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group, as well as the potential for special dividends and share buybacks. The surging price of iron ore will also boost federal government revenue.

CORPORATES
BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED – ASX FMG, MILFORD ASSET MANAGEMENT LIMITED, VERTIUM ASSET MANAGEMENT PTY LTD

NZ power discount saves Rio smelter

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 19 : 15-Jan-21

Rio Tinto has secured a new electricity supply deal with Meridian Energy that will allow its Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in New Zealand to remain open for another four years. Rio Tinto had announced in mid-2020 that the smelter would be shut down due to high electricity costs, but it will now remain operational until the end of 2024. However, the near-term future of Rio Tinto’s three aluminium smelters in Australia is still uncertain.

CORPORATES
RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, MERIDIAN ENERGY LIMITED – ASX MEZ

Fortescue mine hit by cost blowouts

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 15 & 19 : 15-Jan-21

Fortescue Metals Group advised in October that its Iron Bridge magnetite project in Western Australia was on budget. However, industry sources have suggested that the cost of the $US2.6bn ($3.4bn) project could potentially blow out by up to 25 per cent. Factors such as rising input costs and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on labour supply and wages are said to contributed to the likely cost blowout. Fortescue has previously advised of a cost blowout at its Eliwana iron ore mine.

CORPORATES
FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED – ASX FMG

WA to keep approving mines while new heritage laws in limbo

Original article by Brad Thompson
The Australian Financial Review – Page: Online : 12-Jan-21

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan says Rio Tinto’s destruction of ancient indigenous rock shelters at Juukan Gorge will continue to have repercussions across the mining sector. However, McGowan says his government will not accept any blame for delays in project approvals in the wake of the scandal, arguing that mining companies are now likely to be more cautious about approving projects. He adds that the state government will continue to approve mining projects under section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, and that new heritage laws will be a priority if it wins the election in March.

CORPORATES
RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, WESTERN AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PREMIER AND CABINET

Shipping industry baulks at extra fees at Port Hedland for iron ore – Australia’s most important export

Original article by Karen Michelmore
abc.net.au – Page: Online : 12-Jan-21

The Pilbara Ports Authority will introduce a $13,450 levy on all large iron ore shipments from Port Hedland, beginning on 1 March. The Western Australian government will use the levy to finance a buyback of up to 400 dust-affected homes in Port Hedland. The levy has been criticised by Shipping Australia CEO Melwyn Noronha, who says it is inappropriate for ship operators to be required to pay to address the dust problem. Ports Minister Alannah MacTiernan contends that similar levies have been used to recover costs in the past.

CORPORATES
PILBARA PORTS AUTHORITY, SHIPPING AUSTRALIA LIMITED, WESTERN AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF TRANSPORT

St Barbara in the PNG tent as $206m Simberi decision looms

Original article by Peter Ker
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 15 : 11-Jan-21

The mine life of St Barbara’s Simberi gold project in Papua New Guinea would be extended by about 11 years if a proposed $206m expansion proceeds. The gold miner’s board is slated to make a decision on the expansion in March, and CEO Craig Jetson is optimistic that the PNG government will approve the expansion. It would require changes to the mining permit for the Simberi project, at a time when the PNG government has been increasingly hostile toward foreign mining companies.

CORPORATES
ST BARBARA LIMITED – ASX SBM

Torrens Mining hits the ground running with buoyant listing

Original article by Cameron England
The Australian – Page: Online : 8-Jan-21

Shares in Torrens Mining closed at $0.295 on their first day of trading on the ASX on 7 January, having at one point risen by almost 50 per cent. The company has two gold projects in Victoria, a copper-gold prospect in Papua New Guinea, and the copper-cobalt ‘Elizabeth Creek’ project in South Australia, which is a joint venture with Coda Minerals. The project has a 159,000 tonne copper resource, and is located just 15 kilometres from BHP’s Oak Dam West copper discovery.

CORPORATES
TORRENS MINING LIMITED – ASX TRN, CODA MINERALS LIMITED – ASX COD, BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, OZ MINERALS LIMITED – ASX OZL

SolGold boss wants to end brawl with BHP, Newcrest

Original article by Peter Ker
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 13 & 16 : 6-Jan-21

SolGold MD Nick Mather says he wants to try to mend his strained relationship with BHP and Newcrest, which are SolGold’s two biggest shareholders. Both companies expressed concern during 2020 about his approach to governance and funding of SolGold, and he says he would like to create a more collaborative and constructive relationship with them in 2021. BHP and Newcrest are clearly not the only SolGold shareholders unhappy with Mather, with 44.7 per cent of its register voting against his re-election to the SolGold board at its AGM in mid-December.

CORPORATES
SOLGOLD PLC, BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, NEWCREST MINING LIMITED – ASX NCM

Copper minnow jumps on drill plans

Original article by Cameron England
The Australian – Page: 16 : 5-Jan-21

Shares in Argonaut Resources rose by 50 per cent on 4 July after it advised the South Australian government had granted it approval under the Aboriginal Heritage Act to commence work on its Murdie Project. Argonaut Resources plans to spend $2 million on a five-hole drilling program, with at least one hole to be drilled in sight of Oz Mineral’s billion-dollar Carrapateena mine; that mine was officially opened in 2020 and is expected to operate for at least 20 years.

CORPORATES
ARGONAUT RESOURCES NL – ASX ARE, OZ MINERALS LIMITED – ASX OZL