Smaller loss may not spare embattled Lytton refinery

Original article by Lachlan Moffet Gray
The Australian – Page: 19 : 15-Jan-21

Ampol will still undertake a review of its Lytton refinery in Brisbane, despite the facility posting a lower-than expected loss for 2020. The refinery’s loss for the calendar year was $20m lower than the consensus forecasts of analysts, at $145m on a replacement cost of sales operating profit basis. The refinery produced 3.469 billion litres of fuel during 2020, compared with 5.8 billion litres in 2019. Ampol has cautioned that the economic outlook in 2021 remains uncertain due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on demand for fuel.

CORPORATES
AMPOL LIMITED – ALD

Rise in failures a pointer to future

Original article by Patrick Commins
The Australian – Page: 17 : 15-Jan-21

Michael Fung of PwC and Sal Algeri from Deloitte expect the rate of business failures in Australia to be higher than usual in 2021. The federal government has wound back some of the COVID-19 support measures that helped businesses to stay afloat during the virus-induced economic downturn, while the JobKeeper scheme is slated to be phased out in March. Data from the Australian Securities & Investments Commission supports the view that a rise in insolvencies is likely; an average of 60 companies were placed in external administration in the final two weeks of 2020, compared with 13 during the same period in 2019.

CORPORATES
PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS AUSTRALIA (INTERNATIONAL) PTY LTD, DELOITTE TOUCHE TOHMATSU LIMITED, AUSTRALIAN SECURITIES AND INVESTMENTS COMMISSION

Emerging Asia’s appetite for coal may be fading

Original article by Elouise Fowler
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 : 15-Jan-21

A report from the Global Energy Monitor on future demand for thermal coal in Asia may have implications for one of Australia’s biggest sources of export revenue. The report concludes that developing nations in the region may build just 25 gigawatts of new coal-fired power stations in 2021, compared with the 125GW that was planned five years ago. Australia’s thermal coal exports to developing countries in Asia have increased significantly in recent years, offsetting a decline in demand from traditional buyers in the region as they adopt net zero emission targets.

CORPORATES
GLOBAL ENERGY MONITOR

Nearly four in five Australians working from home suffered from burnout last year

Original article by Matt Johnson
The New Daily – Page: Online : 15-Jan-21

An international study undertaken on behalf of work management app Asana has found that 77 per cent of Australians and New Zealanders experienced burnout while working from home in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This compares with 71 per cent of respondents globally. The study also found that working from home resulted in more employees putting in longer hours, yet productivity was negatively affected. Jim Stanford from the Centre for Future Work contends that working from home is not sustainable.

CORPORATES
ASANA, THE AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE LIMITED. CENTRE FOR FUTURE WORK

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

Back to work on Monday: Melbourne’s CBD revival can begin

Original article by Shannon Deery, John Dagge
Herald Sun – Page: 11 : 15-Jan-21

The Victorian government has advised that 50 per cent of private sector employees will be able to return to working in offices from 18 January, while 25 per cent of public sector workers will be permitted on-site. The government expects to further increase the capacity limits in late February, subject to public health advice. Meanwhile, office staff will no longer be required to wear face masks at work, but employers will have to keep a record of all workers and visitors who attend their premises for more than 15 minutes. Victoria has recorded an eight successive day with no new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases; there are 29 active cases across the state.

CORPORATES

Mining camps for overseas travellers

Original article by Michael McKenna
The Australian – Page: 5 : 15-Jan-21

The Queensland government has confirmed a proposal to house returning international travellers in remote mining camps due to growing concern about the high-contagious UK variant of COVID-19. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says this is a "rational option" given that the new variant is up to 70 per cent more infectious than the original strain. Palaszczuk intends to put the proposal to the upcoming meeting of the national cabinet on 22 January. Queensland has recorded four new cases of COVID-19 among people in hotel quarantine, and there are 27 active cases statewide.

CORPORATES
QUEENSLAND. DEPT OF THE PREMIER AND CABINET

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

Chaotic presidency doomed to end in disgrace

Original article by Cameron Stewart
The Australian – Page: 1 & 9 : 15-Jan-21

The US House of Representatives has voted 232-197 to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting insurrection. Ten members of the Republican Party voted in favour of impeachment, and Trump will now face a trial in the Senate. However, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the trial is unlikely to proceed before the inauguration of Joe Biden on 20 January. Trump could be barred from running for president again if he is convicted in the Senate. Meanwhile, a new poll shows that Trump’s approval rating has fallen to 34 per cent, while a record 63 per cent of voters now disapprove of his performance.

CORPORATES
UNITED STATES. EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, REPUBLICAN PARTY (UNITED STATES)

Frydenberg joins protest against media blocking

Original article by Miranda Ward
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 2 : 15-Jan-21

Google’s revelation that it has ‘experimented’ with changes to its search and news algorithm has attracted scrutiny from the federal government. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says digital platforms should be paying for news content rather than removing stories from Australian news publishers from its search results. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says this issue demonstrates the power imbalance between Google and traditional news publishers.

CORPORATES
GOOGLE INCORPORATED, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS