The mining ‘FIFO’ boom and its side-effects have been relentlessly studied over the past 10 years, so far without producing much clarity about solutions to problems such as social dislocation, unsustainable wage inflation and, for employers, high workforce turnover.
In Canada, NGOs have found an unlikely ally in their quest for transparency in the extractives industry: the mining companies themselves.
It seemed more than appropriate that African Mining Indaba's sustainability day kicked off with an impassioned keynote speech by archbishop Njogonkula Ndungane.
It is no longer sufficient for mining companies simply to operate within a region. Instead, they need to be welcomed and viewed as responsible partners and contributors to the sustainable development of the community.
INVESTING in exploration companies is hazardous enough without having to contend with the misrepresentation or under-representation of geological facts, but that is the all-too-common reality of life in the junior space, according Dr Chris Wilson, principal exploration geologist with leading consultancy, Exploration Alliance.
THE decade of seemingly unlimited project finance available to drive huge process plant designs and construction is at an end, as should be the bigger-is-better mantra in boardrooms, this week’s MetPlant 2013 conference in Perth heard.
TIM Hausler’s advice to people at companies thinking of joining the army of Australian firms successfully exporting mining expertise and technologies around the world: invest in good translators.
GPR Dehler recently interviewed five mining industry leaders on how companies should set and enact long-term agendas to deal with complexity: Nick Curtis (Lynas Corp), David Flanagan (Atlas Iron), Owen Hegarty (G-Resources, CST Mining, Tigers Realm Minerals and Coal) and Jake Klein (Evolution Mining). They highlighted four critical strategic areas on which mining companies – individually and as an industry – should focus. Here we look at the second strategic area, risk.
MORE than 1000 attendees is a big number for any mining forum but the fact that a horde this size descended on a recent Australian Securities Exchange event focused on new reporting compliance rules underscored the significance of the soon-to-be implemented changes.
GPR Dehler recently interviewed five mining industry leaders on how companies should set and enact long-term agendas to deal with complexity. They highlighted four critical strategic areas on which mining companies – individually and as an industry – should focus. Here we look at one of these strategic areas: connectivity.
THE move towards reporting all-up costs by gold miners is expected to spread to other miners in the wider metals complex, though quite why such an obvious development has taken so long to occur isn’t entirely clear.
A VAST reduction in the volume of regulatory paperwork is a significant positive to emerge from the epic bid to create uniform national mine safety laws in Australia. However, a legal expert in Western Australia says overall results of the process have been generally underwhelming.
THE barrage of studies and statistics emerging on mining’s fly-in, fly-out remote site work culture has, not surprisingly, glossed over personal FIFO experiences. One such personal account will be a feature of the upcoming AusIMM Open Pit Operators’ Conference in Perth, Western Australia.
RELYING on psychology to help improve the safety of people working in high risk environments is now commonplace. But does anybody really know why? When leaders of resource companies agree to pay millions of dollars for a program which claims that psychologists can change safety behaviours, do they really know what they are doing?
SINCE going live two months ago, human resource marketplace FIFObids has attracted more than 23,000 workers and 800-plus companies as word spreads through the mining industry “like wildfire”.
JULY 24 – INDONESIA is in danger of turning into a no-go zone for many Western resource companies and investors given the current case of Intrepid Mining and the ugly spectre of sovereign risk. But the question to really ponder for Western-based resource companies and investors is simply this – are there increased dangers that similar murky actions like these extend to other promising projects elsewhere around the globe?
MOST agree there is nothing more important than family. Yet it is the family relationship that often comes under the greatest pressure for many people working in the mining industry.
WITH a new fatigue code around the corner, New South Wales miners need to check they have policies and procedures in place to deal with road safety and fatigue in the workplace.
WORK hard, play hard. Young men in the mining industry are notorious for a partying lifestyle fuelled by a fly-in-fly-out roster and big dollars. With a new drug detected almost every week last year, testing alone simply doesn’t cut it anymore to keep drugs out of the workplace. Educator Paul Dillon says the mining industry should adopt a more holistic approach.
LAWYER David Davies has seen plenty of workers compensation, unfair dismissal and bullying and harassment cases cross his desk – many of them in the mining industry – but in the past 10 years he has seen the prevalence of mental illness as the root cause of these cases increase dramatically. While it’s too late for the cases by the time they get to his desk, Davies believes mine management can take responsibility and be pro-active to deal with mental illness and depression in the workplace.
THE mining industry at the small end of town can breathe a whole lot easier after the Australian Federal Budget handed down this week left the diesel fuel rebate intact. A different outcome could have been catastrophic.
IT’S estimated up to 10,000 workers are affected by a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse in the New South Wales minerals industry every year. That unsettling number is conservative given the male-dominated, fatigue prone and at times boringly repetitive tasks mining industry employees are often exposed to. Mental health expert Trevor Hazell speaks to HighGrade about what the mining industry can do about addressing mental health issues in the workplace.
WHILE the past two years has been about developing programs, the next few will be about ensuring outcomes at site level across a range of mine safety issues including fatigue, safety incentives and health management plans, according to newly appointed New South Wales Mine Safety Advisory Council chairman John Hannaford.
A SLAP to the bum, or a jest at a mate’s sexual orientation (real or not) is all in good fun right? While “pulling the piss” is part of the Australian psyche, it can cross the line into bullying in the workplace and there is nowhere more “matey” than the male dominated mine site.
FEBRUARY 21 - WHAT do an air force pilot, cabin crew member and dragline operator have in common? They are dead tired after working in 24/7 industries. Dr Graeme Peel, who over the past 38 years has worked in all three industries, offers unique insight into how the mining industry can chip away at the hardest occupational health and safety issue of them all – fatigue.
THE trend toward resource nationalisation that has taken hold across the globe is here to stay and miners need to get on board and embrace the limited opportunities that this trend brings or face a painful future, according to resource development guru, Brian Menell.
NOVEMBER 22: CRIMINAL charges laid against Peter Whittall this month over the Pike River disaster bring to the surface controversial industry issues around statutory responsibilities and duty of care.
NOVEMBER 15: PERTH’S domestic airport is bursting at the seams with fly-in, fly-out workers and many of them could be getting on a different plane before the end of the month. Those who aren’t might be “more engaged” within their workplace, though the author of that sentiment says FIFO is pretty much an anathema to the workforce engagement concept.
NEW South Wales is heading down the same road as Queensland’s strategic cropping land policy, but Palaris Queensland sustainability services general manager Terry Short believes there is a glimmer of hope the state won’t make the same mistakes as its northern cousin.
MINING companies are not known for their openness, but those with a closed door to their suppliers may be missing out on supply-efficiency gains.
GOVERNMENTS across the world are pushing for an increased piece of the commodities pie as mining with the nationalisation of the gold sector in Venezuela and growing support for nationalisation in South Africa currently under the spotlight. The key questions governments need to ask are: can nationalisation work and what is a fair stake for a government in a resources project during a commodities boom?
WHEN BC Iron managing director Mike Young appeared before a federal senate select committee hearing in the middle of last year, he described himself as a glass-half-full type of person. That optimism has certainly been tested since but Young remains expectant.
LIKE other advanced Western nations such as the US and those in Europe, Australia could squeeze the life out of its mining industry through over regulation, creating an environment where only the biggest and most profitable survive. This was among the observations made by three of Australia’s emerging mining houses when questioned about major issues facing the country’s resources sector at the recent Diggers & Dealers forum in Kalgoorlie.
TWO of the world’s largest mining houses – the publicly-listed BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto – have copped a fair bit of flak over the years for a string of alleged civil rights abuses across the globe. For one Western Australian group involved with indigenous education and training, however, their collective attitude towards social responsibility has been exemplary.
JUST before current Western Australian premier Colin Barnett announced back in late 1996 that the Oakajee River and its environs in WA’s Mid West would be the location for a deepwater harbour and adjoining industrial estate, a couple of reports came out suggesting the ambitious project was going to have some troubles.
CHANGES to Australian state occupational health and safety laws that could be introduced to Western Australia early next year have been designed to up the penalties for companies that don’t provide a safe working environment. But in reality, according to the legal team at DLA Piper, the new measures increase the liability for companies and individual directors to an alarming extent.
WHILE it might seem hard to believe, Australia’s minerals sector looks as if it will again suffer from a skills shortage as it moves into mark II of the mining boom.
If aspiring prime minister Tony Abbott was under the impression that the media had a strong interest in his thoughts regarding the Australian minerals sector, he may have to think again.
WITHIN its mostly negative review of the proposed mineral resources rent tax (MRRT), the Australian Federal senate select committee chosen to scrutinise new taxes threw down an interesting challenge to the Julia Gillard-led Labor Government should the impost be implemented during the middle of next year.
MARIUS Kloppers and other mining executives backing a carbon tax in Australia will no doubt be making less public, but no less substantial, contributions to groups such as the newly formed Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution to ensure the industry identifies ways to slash energy waste while it pays more for the power it does use (within Australia).
THE pendulum on land access and use for miners and explorers, the coal seam gas industry and farmers in Queensland continues to swing. A key question that has considerable relevance beyond the state’s borders is, will Queensland find the balance it needs to allow mining companies to thrive and the competing interests on land use to live harmoniously?
RIO Tinto has rolled out an innovative, science-based fatigue management program at its East Pilbara iron ore mine sites, designed to reduce safety incidents and, the hope is, to demonstrate that better-rested workers are not just less prone to accidents but are also more productive.
THE 1999 Northparkes disaster remains one of Australia’s worst recent mining tragedies after four men were killed when the block cave collapsed. According to Xstract Mining senior consultant Xavier Hill, the disaster was not just an example of technical failure but also of corporate memory loss costing lives.
POLYTECHNIC West’s new industry sponsored training facility in Pinjarra is not just a boon for mining companies in the Peel region of Western Australia, but also a model for how the industry can secure its own future by supporting education and training.
IT’S been a long time coming but New South Wales miners will finally have the same basic legal and human rights as the rest of the population under changes to the occupational health and safety laws in the state.
IAN Smith’s recent calls for the resources sector to significantly lift its game in a broad range of areas away from the technical aspects of exploration and mining drew plenty of positive reaction from a sector that knows it would like to do more but is battling away to maximise performance while the times are good.
THERE was little mention at the speakers’ lectern of the seminal Australian minerals education discussion paper, Back from the Brink, at this year’s AusIMM Underground Operators conference. Perhaps because the mining industry here and elsewhere only recently stepped back from a financial abyss which drew the ‘sustainability’ spotlight away from people and skills, and onto the receding figures of the world’s financial institutions.
THE Cadia Valley in New South Wales is the foundation of emerging gold giant Newcrest Mining’s production profile, and is central to its plans to build a project development and mine operating competency advantage over rivals in the years ahead.
THE earthquake and tsunami tragedy in Japan is far from over, with at least 10,000 people feared dead and the recovery effort only just beginning. The unfolding situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has so far only claimed one life but the situation remains extremely volatile. Longer term, the plant’s failure – even if resolved safely - could have damaging repercussions for the uranium industry.
IT MIGHT be good news for mining industry workers, but for mining companies the re-emergence of skill shortages is fast becoming a harsh reality.
FOR Fortescue Metals Group, it is no longer a case of show me the money but rather show me the workers as the company begins its ambitious expansion program for 2011, and beyond, as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton do the same.
WHEN Mick Storch kept seeing people getting hurt at work he took it personally. In a quest to discover what more he could do to improve mine safety he developed Mind Body Safety, a new approach to safety training that targets the way people think and learn.
FOR iron ore juniors, 2010 may have provided a better year in terms of iron ore pricing and access to funds from the market, but infrastructure issues remain as vexed as in previous years. For many hopefuls in the Pilbara, access to Fortescue Metals Group’s railway is looking like their only hope.
CURTIN University chancellor and former Australian Civil Engineer of the Year, Dr Jim Gill has urged miners to get better at selling the industry and suggested technology must be a key part of a new package on offer to various ‘stakeholders’.
CONCERNS about looming labour shortages continue to grow in Western Australia, one of the world epicentres of new mining and resources investment that is likely to draw in workers at an unprecedented rate over the next decade.
MORE than 1000 delegates attended this week’s International Mineral Processing Congress in Brisbane, Queensland. Santo Rizzuto, general manager mining and metals at Sinclair Knight Merz, and a veteran of 25 years in the industry, could have given the conference dinner audience plenty to consider in keeping with the event theme, ‘smarter processing for the future’. Instead he chose a different topic.
SKILLS shortages were back on the edge of the spotlight again this week, at Diggers & Dealers of all places, and yes they were right on the fringe. But the issue needs to take centre stage very soon, the global mining and metals leader of major accounting firm Ernst & Young, Mike Elliott, said.
THE apparent breakdown in negotiations between Rio Tinto and Iron Ore Holdings is not a good sign for other iron ore juniors hoping that third party railway access might some day, one day, enable them to run successful iron ore mining businesses. There are other signs on the horizon which are more promising, but most companies expect it will be a long haul.
THE crash of the Sundance Resources flight in Cameroon at the weekend has devastated the mining industry and the families of the six mining executives killed in the accident. It has also raised questions about aviation safety and standards for the resources industry, especially in places such as Africa. However, aviation experts contacted by HighGrade in the wake of the accident at the weekend believe the industry is, for the most part, managing the risks of flying, and with the introduction of a new safety standard for the mining sector should make aviation even safer.
IT ALMOST goes without saying that the proposed resources super profit tax is something from the worst nightmare of every mining executive. As one managing director of an emerging mining company told HighGrade, the general opinion of the industry is that treasurer Wayne Swan and prime minister Kevin Rudd are “f**ing morons”. But what would a fair tax regime for the Australian mining industry actually look like?
WITH the Federal Government and the mining industry taking up their positions as immoveable object and unstoppable force over the resources super profits tax, the folks at Goldman Sachs JBWere have pointed out that it doesn’t matter how elegant the economic theory behind the tax is: if the mining industry thinks it is damaging, then it will pursue opportunities elsewhere.
THE recent success of James Cameron’s Avatar has once again placed the social practices of the mining industry squarely in the global spotlight. Whilst Avatar revolutionised the film industry, the underlying plot relies on the classic storyline of good versus evil.
CORRUPTION is endemic in developing world economies, but it is an open question as to how much the mining industry is involved. However, the Stern Hu affair and BHP Billiton’s alleged Cambodian indiscretions suggest it is a genuine potential pitfall for companies operating in parts of Africa and Asia in particular.
THINGS are rotten in the state of Western Australia, if you believe the rumours circulating about an incipient move to raise mining royalties.
AS WESTERN Australia’s fledging uranium industry moves toward production, swinging public opinion towards the industry has never been more important as uranium hopefuls attempt to move into production. A cohort of Australian’s uranium players is touring a radiation safety expert around Australia with a view to challenging the orthodoxy of anti-uranium public opinion.
UPDATED mining legislation introduced in Indonesia early this year to keep up with the nation’s fresh zest for internal regional autonomy, and foreign investment, is proving a disappointment. As the deadline for implementation approaches a significant gap remains between the old and the new systems and there is genuine doubt over whether the changes will do anything to attract dollars from abroad.
LOY YANG Power chief executive Ian Nethercote took a different tack to Victorian resources minister Peter Batchelor – and most of his more timid northern state coal industry executive peers – in attacking the Australian Government’s delayed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) at this week’s Paydirt 2009 Resources Victoria Conference.
WE USUALLY ignore the friendly banter between the mining industry and organisations such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, but sometimes the boys and girls at the ACF just go that little bit too far.
JASON Stirbinskis, managing director of Central Asia Resources, was playing a straight bat to questions about his appointment as the first honorary consul of Kazakhstan in Western Australia. On reflection, we agree there’s nothing funny about retired movie characters anyway.
ROB Morrison says his hair didn’t go grey editing the first metal accounting code “how to” book, which sets out the means of implementing what is expected to be the global mining industry’s compendium to JORC and NI 43-101 resource reporting standards.
WHILE David Noort is not a sceptic, he does think the heat in a key debate about mining’s future has been turned up too high.
ONE of Australia’s great industry leaders, now 10 years into retirement, does not get bogged down in modern spin when describing what he sees as the monumental challenges still facing the industry in the communications arena.
TIMES change and many businesses are now at a point where running faster isn’t the best strategy any more. They need to improve in some other way, whether that improvement means slimming down, changing direction, or just thinking differently.
MINING executives delving into their frequent flyer points to save on overseas travel costs could just give Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Russia, Bolivia and the DRC a miss (many will anyway; some won’t), according to leading US-based mining consultancy Behre Dolbear, which has put out its 11th annual guide to global investment risk for exploration and mining companies. The investment climate in Argentina is also increasingly uninviting, it says, while somewhat surprisingly America’s “economic system” retains a big tick.
THE steel industry late last year was plagued with production cuts and questionable demand. Stimulus packages – past and on the horizon – were to have an unknown effect and the World Steel Organisation canned October’s six-monthly outlook because of “the uncertainty of the economic situation and rapid changes [in] the third quarter of 2008”. Now, six weeks into the New Year, things have changed (dare it be said, improved) and the steel industry is taking on direction once more.
THE top nine issues of 2009 for the mining sector as assessed by a major multinational investment bank raise more negatives than positives and highlight further risks for the sector.
DEC 1: INVESTORS torched by recent corporate failures in Australia’s junior mining sector might not have agreed with Michael Kiernan’s spirited defence of corporate governance standards and the need for company executives in the sector to over-sell projects and deals to a largely unappreciative local investment community.
RUDD and Wong stand defiantly on the edge of the Australian seashore to command the incoming carbon tide. The prime minister proffers aloft a copy of the Garnaut Report but its pages are being blown disconcertingly by a cooling breeze.
LOW productivity levels that contributed to the generally miserable investment returns of Australian miners in the 1980s and early 1990s are back and this time the fix might not be as straightforward as ejecting archaic work practices and buying bigger trucks and shovels.
IF THE unthinkable happens and the mining boom that will never end does in fact “recede, retract, recoil ...”, to borrow an Owen Hegarty euphemism, will a surfeit of partly trained workers create a massive after-party headache requiring painful social re-engineering? That is a question that has already been floated in Canada and, more recently, Australia.
HE’S been in the news again this week. While Clinton Wolf doesn’t court the level of media attention that Australian Aboriginal leaders such as Noel Pearson, Warren Mundine and others do, he has always been forthright with his views on the way forward for the country’s indigenous people. Now he realises that words will never be enough.
URANIUM explorers (and investors) hopeful of a change of government in Western Australia will still have a big hurdle, or more aptly a hole, to jump if some of them ever get a chance to convert their exploration licences to mine plans.
THERE has been much written in the media about the impact of skyrocketing labour and other input costs in mature metal mining markets. However, in this time of seemingly insatiable Chinese demand, high costs are not the concern; lost productivity is the concern.
WINDFALL taxes on resource companies have been mooted by US presidential candidate Barack Obama and, in different guises, in mining hot spots from Mongolia to the Congo. The idea was recently floated in Australia and it stirred up plenty of passion out in blog-land, though not initially within the mining industry. However, the industry did find its voice over a coal royalty hike in Queensland.
WHEN British Labour assumed office in 1997, one of its first acts was to impose a one-off ‘windfall profits tax’. The rationale was simple - the previous Conservative government had undervalued and under-regulated the utilities, and the owners had made far larger profits than could have been reasonably expected. In a single budget, the government raised £5.2 billion, helping to fund its welfare-to-work reforms.
OSCAR Wilde once remarked that he could resist anything except temptation. Unfortunately, recent events suggest that he is not alone.
A GENEROUS remuneration package and the odd pat on the back is not going to be sufficient to retain your young workers in a time where jobs are plentiful and the demands of employees are at an all time high.
WATCH out ahead! Citigroup has come up with 10 environmental and social “hits” that strategists in the mining sector should currently be cognisant-of. Gold, platinum, coal, aluminium and steel producers, in particular, have plenty to think about.
THE Australian federal election campaign is heating up. Coalition scaremongering threatens that the unions will cause industrial relations anarchy. But just how big an influence do unions have on the resources sector, and what'll be the likely industrial relations landscape if Labor wins the election?
SUPPLY side constraints on the development of new production capacity in the mining industry will continue to hamper expansion in 2008, according to senior executives at leading equipment manufacturers who are faced with their own worsening bottlenecks.
THE increasing pressures on oil reserves, coupled with the climate change movement, has led to greenhouse gas emissions and new fuel sources being among the main issues - possibly the main issue - for the 21st century. With myriad of clean options emerging such as renewables, carbon capture, nuclear power and fuel cells, it is both an exciting and confusing time.
HAVING helped establish Queensland as a leading Asia Pacific region training base for a fast-growing aviation sector, the state’s Department of Education, Training and the Arts (DETA) is now teaching miners how to fish more effectively in Queensland’s young talent pool.
MANY old mines are being targeted for redevelopment in the current boom, partly because they offer a cheaper path to production than greenfields exploration. At least they should. “Premature remediation” is burying such opportunities under unnecessary layers of bureaucratic red tape, and cost, according to AMC Consultants managing director Peter McCarthy.
NEW RIO Tinto and BHP Billiton chiefs Tom Albanese and Marius Kloppers will get an early test of their mettle as 2008 iron ore price negotiations progress to crunch stage. Australian producers, argues investment bank Merrill Lynch, are in a position to finally capitalise on their geographic proximity to the booming Asian market by making a united grab for the increasingly lucrative freight differential in iron ore prices being paid by major steel producers.
SOUTH African construction, engineering and mining contractor Murray & Roberts expects a range of simulated mine and construction settings, and machines, to help it train recruits three times faster than it could at job sites, at an expanded training academy near Carletonville on the West Rand.
QUEENSLAND appears to be leading the drive to alleviate the Australian mining industry’s difficulties in attracting and retaining more women and improve a gender imbalance that has become more pronounced as the skills shortage has bitten harder.
ARMAGEDDON Bob breezed into Australia last week with his take on nuclear proliferation, resource terrorism, and sure fire opportunities for hedge funds such as going long on oil futures and then torching the oil-rich Niger Delta.
WHILE there is now a major focus on lowering childcare costs and boosting the availability of facilities to enable more women to re-enter the mining sector workforce, the new Federal Government/Minerals Council of Australia report on attracting and retaining women in the industry highlights far more significant cultural and other barriers to large-scale participation of women in the male-dominated mine work environment.
WHERE are all the women making a fortune running exploration and mining companies, and mining services companies, during the resources boom? That question was raised again by the recent Business Review Weekly survey of Australia’s wealthiest public company executives.
A HISTORICALLY under-represented minority in the mining industry is only now on the verge of having a stronger collective voice. The group is not underpaid workers or disgruntled shareholders. It is expected to have a far bigger say in the future direction of the industry.
WHEN Coffey Mining managers gathered around a table early last year to discuss business opportunities and challenges it wasn’t long before skills shortages became a focal point. High demand from groups such as Coffey was part of the problem, says the company’s chief operations officer Dan O’Toole, so they decided they’d be a big part of the solution.
MICHAEL Scott is good at his job. Sixteen years ago, working as a human resource consultant, he recruited a secretary for a Queensland-based mining consulting firm. She is still with the company, now one of Australia’s fastest growing mining service SMEs. A year ago Scott joined the firm.
STUDENT and teacher shortages? What shortages? A new mining engineering course at Adelaide University in South Australia has attracted double the number of first-year students expected and will have a full staff contingent for the start of the program, according to its engineering department head.
A NEW education initiative in Western Australia’s booming north-west is aiming to get more qualified tradespeople out into the industry at an earlier age. Backed by resources majors Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Woodside Energy and Chevron Texaco, the $A23 million Australian Technical College Pilbara (ATCP) is expected to begin later this year with about 50 student enrolments.
MORE THAN a decade ago the former head of the University of New South Wales’ mining engineering school had a vision for a national strategy for educating Australia’s mining professionals. Watching now from the sidelines, Jim Galvin remains an avid supporter of the concept, which is finally at least partly taking shape.
THE incoming president of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy wants to galvanise the views and actions of the institute’s extended body of international members and their peers so that they become a more influential group at a time when there is a policy vacuum in Australia and elsewhere on vital issues such as education.
EMECO Holdings Ltd’s EUR6.4 million acquisition of the Euro Machinery businesses of Dutchman Harry Haverkotte may help the Australian earthmoving equipment hirer get business flowing through a new workshop and sales yard at the “front door to Europe”, but the real significance of its latest purchase is that it adds another vital link in a machinery procurement and distribution chain that is snaking around the world.
"STRUCTURAL adjustment" of Australia’s mining graduate salary levels, which has made engineering and other courses more attractive to secondary school leavers, is unlikely to be reversed in future, according to one of the country’s big universities. That is ultimately good news for the mining industry. On the flipside, demand is still outpacing supply, so there is no guarantee salaries will stay where they are.
OVER the past three years dry bulk charter markets have been characterised by unprecedented strength and volatility, driven by global commodity strength and by voracious Chinese demand for iron ore in particular.
LURING people into the driver’s seat of a $A3 million dump truck or $A150 million dragline with fatter salaries is increasingly only half the battle for mine operators. The major challenge is to maximise the return they’re getting on the investment in both people and machines.
A $A1.7 million project aimed at bringing a virtual coal mine into the classroom is expected to deliver to the industry significant safety training benefits and provide a focus for further development of world’s best practice simulator technology.
ONE commentator had it right: It’s cost, not price, you clowns. He was ruminating on the incessant badgering of visiting Barrick Gold Corporation chief Greg Wilkins by journalists looking for the latest meaningless quip on the direction of the gold price.
A FLEET of more than 30 draglines helps move 1.5 billion tonnes of dirt a year to uncover 52 million tonnes per annum of saleable coal – worth more than $A4 billion – at BHP Billiton-operated coal mines in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.
HEAT and over-inflation spell danger for users of large earthmover tyres. With prices for scarce supplies of the largest mine truck and wheel loader tyres hitting $A200,000, newcomers in the market are facing inflationary pressure on a key mine consumable that they may find unworkable.
THE FIRST Australian Standard covering the repair and maintenance of off-the-road (OTR) tyres used on earthmoving machinery is expected to be produced in draft form for public review by the first quarter of next year.
WE’LL get through it. That was the message on tyre shortages from a senior executive with the world’s largest supplier of mining equipment.
NEED a dump truck, hydraulic excavator or electric rope shovel? Get in the queue. Yes, the long one.
THE public perception of nuclear science and engineering and the nuclear industry is today, primarily shaped by radical greens, pseudo-science, nuclear-opponents, media hype, socio-political opportunists and the ever-haunting spectre of nuclear weapon explosions.
PETER Ellery, the unobtrusive, resolute former chief executive of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia, was a dedicated servant of the mining industry in that role for 13 years. Flamboyant Andrew Forrest, who built a giant nickel plant in the desert near Leonora in WA and is attempting to go one better with a multi-billion-dollar Pilbara iron ore venture, is a very different industry captain to Ellery.
THE debate on nuclear power and national energy policy is essential to the prosperity of the nation. This is why the decision by Kim Beazley to fight the next election on an anti-nuclear platform is so disappointing.
THE chief executive of high-flying new Australian uranium listing Toro Energy Ltd, Greg Hall, has told an investment conference in Adelaide the growing number of uranium explorers appearing on bourses in Australia, Canada and London will need to lift their output from 2010 to stem a major projected shortfall in yellowcake supply.
CHINA will utilise Australian expertise to improve its mine safety practices under a deal signed recently which will also open doors to stronger trade ties between the two countries.
WHEN the world’s second biggest coking coal exporter, Canada’s Elk Valley Coal, announced it was cutting back its 2006 production forecast by a hefty 14% in the middle of a price and volume bonanza for metallurgical coal producers, the news genuinely caught coal market analysts by surprise.
SOME mines cost $100 million to bring into production. That covers the process plant, the mobile equipment fleet, infrastructure and myriad development items. However, a large-scale coal mine might spend this much on one piece of earthmoving equipment: a dragline.