Iron ore wars: Andrew Forrest fights back
As the battle over iron ore wages on, mining billionaire Andrew Forrest is fighting back.
The Fortescue Metals Group chairman has now launched an all-out war on Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, urging Australians to “standup” and bombard local MP’s and question if they should be operating in Australia.
“Write, email or ring your local MP. Be clear in your views. Ask the government to consider the multinationals’ license to operate in Australia if they don’t market Australian iron ore responsibly for all Australians.”
Forrest, which recently accused Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton of saturating the iron ore market, also revealed he is now being forced to lay off more than 100 workers a day in his own company. Last week, Forrest said the company's decision to scrap a family-friendly fly-in, fly-out roster was "personally devastating".
“As the person who founded the company it is heartbreaking, and yet my pain is nothing compared to the suffering of all those people now suddenly in unemployment queues,” said Forrest.
“However what is really galling is that the price has fallen off a cliff not just because of international forces beyond our control but because of the words and actions of companies, particularly London-based multinationals, who mine and export our iron ore.”
Iron ore, Australia’s biggest export, has plummeted in recent months. According to Forrest, for every dollar lost the economy loses $800 million and the government loses $300 million in company tax revenue.
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"When multinationals pursue business strategies which flood the market in a last-man-standing race to the bottom, we don't have free markets. Australians own the iron ore.”
“I call Rio’s attitude callous disregard of Australia,” Forrest said.
“It is these sorts of threatening statements that are causing the iron ore price to collapse and damaging the Australian economy.”
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.