BHP Billiton on the need for economic reform in Australia
Economic reform in Australia is vital to securing the country's mining industry and general future prosperity, mining giant BHP Billiton has said.
Speaking at the Melbourne Mining Club, BHP Billiton President Operations, Minerals Australia, Mike Henry said shared responsibility for reform was required to help successfully transition after a long period of investment in resources projects.
“As a nation we have stepped up and met the challenges and opportunities that come with competing in a fast-paced, global economy,” he said.
“Government and business can share credit for Australia’s economic success, but we also share the responsibility for securing Australia’s future prosperity.
“Our industry has a role in continuing to make the case for reform, and needs to continue to engage with all stakeholders to help achieve the changes that will make us and the nation more competitive.”
Mr Henry outlined a number of key areas for reform to ensure the social and economic gains of the past decade were sustained.
“This means continuing to work internationally to bring down barriers to trade and making the tax system simpler, to attract ongoing investment,” he said.
Mr Henry also spoke about the need to reform the workplace relations framework in a way that supports safe productivity and enables workplaces to be more flexible and innovative.
“The current legislation operates in a way that isn’t always as balanced as it needs to be. It is a factor in constraining innovation and limits the creation of workplaces that have the flexibility to be productive and truly competitive in global markets,” he said.
“We have proposed changes that are moderate and targeted. They are intended to help us be competitive, and in doing so would protect jobs.”
Building on his theme of reform, Mr Henry spoke about the Company’s drive to sustain competitiveness and growth.
“We have streamlined our functions and brought our operating assets together geographically in a way that will enable a sharper focus and accelerated deployment of best practices, including the more rapid adoption of new technologies,” he said.
“It is through innovation in technology and in the way we work that we will lift ourselves to the next level of performance.”
Mr Henry also reinforced that mining was still fundamentally important to the Australian economy despite a period of intense investment in new resource projects coming to an end.
“There is no other single sector that contributes as much to the Australian economy,” he said.
“Our industry employs more than 230,000 people in Australia with many more benefiting indirectly.
“The resources sector contributes 8 per cent to GDP and accounts for more than half of our merchandise exports. Earnings from resource and energy exports was almost $150 billion in the financial year 2015.”
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.