SURVEY: Skepticism Clouds Future of Australia's Mining Sector
Australia’s mining industry has been hit hard in recent years, riding a five-year low as disappointment and pessimism scours the sector.
According to industry executives and leaders surveyed in the latest Mining Business Outlook Report, 93 percent were not optimistic about their growth prospects for the next 12 months. The staggering proportion is up 50 percent compared to the previous year.
Plagued by tough market conditions, declining commodity prices and difficult regulatory environment, leaders in Australia’s mining sector believe the future is out of their control.
"We've got timid politicians who want to head off activists, NIMBYs, environmentalists across the country who, when you start talking about opening up a mine, get a lot of media coverage saying 'this is bad, this is evil, this is terrible',” says David Hand, managing director of report authors Newport Consulting.”
"Politicians have worked out there's no votes in opening a mine in 2014 so what they then do is placate their voters and the people they're concerned about, by saying 'we will make sure that the performance of this mine in terms of environment and safety and community involvement is as high as possible.
With confidence in Australia’s mining industry dwindling, 89 percent of leaders now say the country has lost its investment appeal.
Mining magnate Gina Rinehart said the high cost of doing business in Australia was driving some multinational companies to pursue overseas projects.
“Sadly, too many multinational companies, even Australian companies, are focusing and preferring to invest in overseas countries with lower costs,” said Rinehart.
“For instance, Rio Tinto, which has been in Australia for decades, and made most of its revenue from Australia, is now arranging multi-billions of dollars of investment for a major resource project with substantial infrastructure in Guinea in Africa.
“When that’s operating, it will bring billions of tons of ore on to the market to compete against Australia, and push down commodity prices. Too few seem to recognize the impact this will have when we are competing with lower-cost countries and how it will hurt Australia for decades.”
Mining Business Outlook Report surveyed over 60 executives of private and publicly listed mining companies.
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.