Protestors promise to hit Aurizon’s bottom line

Environmental groups opposed to the development of coal mines in the Galilee Basin have vowed to target the hip pockets of the financial backers of projects, starting with rail firm Aurizon.

Civil society groups have long made it clear they are opposed to GVK's Alpha Coal project involving two coal mines in the Galilee Basin, a 495 km standard gauge railway line as well as the port facilities at Abbot Point.

Protester Ben Penning said the only way to stop the project is to hurt financial backers of the project ,including Aurizon, who are pushing for rail-port infrastructure, ABC reported.

"Once they make that formal there's a lot of money involved and it's going to be harder to pull them back, so we're going to focus on Aurizon and let them know that as an environment movement we're going to cost them lots of time and money through political action, so that has to come to their financial calculations," he said.

"We don't expect any government to stop what's going ahead, so we want to affect the economics of the situation."

In March, Aurizon and GVK announced a partnership that will see them build $6 billion worth of rail and port infrastructure for mining projects in Queensland.

Under the new deal the two companies will build a 500km rail line from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point, with Aurizon, formerly QR National, providing railway logistics and GVK providing financial backing.

The deal means Aurizon will take a 51 per cent share in Hancock Coal Infrastructure, which houses GVK Hancock's rail and port projects.

Many say the new network will help deliver access to the under-developed Galilee Basin, considered to be the new frontier in Queensland mining.

In July environmental groups sent Aurizon an open letter urging them to dump plans to buy GVK Hancock’s rail and port project, adding they will use any peaceful means necessary to stop the projects being built.

“The new rail and port proposals that Aurizon is considering buying equity in would be a disaster for the Great Barrier Reef and the climate” said Erland Howden, climate campaigner at Greenpeace.

“The new port will see massive dredging and many more ships passing through the Reef. And opening the Galilee Basin mines would see Australia making an even greater contribution to pushing global temperatures beyond safe levels”.

GVK coal managing director Paul Mulder has previously said his company is operating above the world’s best environmental benchmarks.

He said GVK spent $50 million for government-required environmental studies, using 250 scientists to ‘ensure the science, process and intended operations met those highest environmental standards’.

Company warns of extra trucks as mine trial begins

MMG will start a full-scale trial at its zinc mine in Queensland, warning residents near Cloncurry to expect increased traffic in the area.

The Dugald River Project is still a few years away from its first shipment of zinc, lead and silver concentrate, but for the next three months the company will trial the logistics of trucking the ore to its processing plants near Lawn Hill.

MMG spokeswoman Jillian D'urso says motorists should expect extra traffic on the roads during the trial, ABC reported.

"We're expecting up to about 25 extra road trains per day around from the Quamby area and up through to the Lawn Hill-Gregory Road … site," she said.

"We're moving about 100,000 tonnes – it'll take about three months once we've got enough stockpiled, we expect the trial itself of the ore going through the plant that is just to take a couple of days.

"We just ask that people take additional care when travelling on sections on the Burke Development Road near Quamby right through to the threeways and then along Lawn Hill-Gregory Road.

"We just encourage people to take a little bit of extra care and to make sure to drive slowly and we appreciate everyone's patience and cooperation as we move the ore between sites."

MMG was given approval to begin mining at site in August 2012.

Image: ibtimes.com

MMG warn of extra trucks as mine trial begins

MMG will start a full-scale trial at its zinc mine in Queensland, warning residents near Cloncurry to expect increased traffic in the area.

The Dugald River Project is still a few years away from its first shipment of zinc, lead and silver concentrate, but for the next three months the company will trial the logistics of trucking the ore to its processing plants near Lawn Hill.

MMG spokeswoman Jillian D'urso says motorists should expect extra traffic on the roads during the trial, ABC reported.

"We're expecting up to about 25 extra road trains per day around from the Quamby area and up through to the Lawn Hill-Gregory Road … site," she said.

"We're moving about 100,000 tonnes – it'll take about three months once we've got enough stockpiled, we expect the trial itself of the ore going through the plant that is just to take a couple of days.

"We just ask that people take additional care when travelling on sections on the Burke Development Road near Quamby right through to the threeways and then along Lawn Hill-Gregory Road.

"We just encourage people to take a little bit of extra care and to make sure to drive slowly and we appreciate everyone's patience and cooperation as we move the ore between sites."

MMG was given approval to begin mining at site in August 2012.

At the time an MMG spokesperson said the mine would produce 20 000 tonnes of zinc a year and 900 000 ounces of silver for approximately 23 years.

"It's one of the world's largest and highest grade lead, zinc and silver deposits,” she said.

The project capital costs are expected to be between US$1 to $1.25 billion.

Image: ibtimes.com

Joy Global sets up new remote access facility at University of Wollongong

Mining machinery manufacturer Joy Global has officially opened its first Australian remote access facility at the University of Wollongong's innovation campus.

The facility provides Joy Global with a direct data link to all of its longwall equipment at its customer's coal mine sites.

"A large video wall screens data from customer mine sites, enabling engineers to quickly review data, diagnose, and provide technical support," the company explained.

It is part of the manufacturer's new operations site, which officially opened in April earlier this year.

These new offices house Joy's sales, control & automation, safety & certification, smart services and longwall teams, as well as its new high-tech remote access facility.

It chose the university as it is close to miners such as Gujarat NRE and BHP Billiton Illawarra.

Brad Neilson, Joy Global Australasia's VP of Hard Rock Mining Systems, said it is looking to work closely with its customers as well as the university.

"At the Innovation Campus we have a beautiful, modern office environment for our team, Neilson said.  

"Its accessibility means we can easily demonstrate the benefits of having remote access to mine equipment to our customers, and we are in an excellent position to attract graduates.  We plan to increase our R&D collaboration with both our customers and the University of Wollongong, particularly given its research strengths in engineering, mining and information technology.

“While we are an engineering-based company, we’re part of a global team and are increasingly reliant on technology.  Our location on the Innovation Campus provides excellent access to high-speed data and network infrastructure, as well as a community of high-tech companies who we hope to collaborate with in the future."

Juniors join forces, addressing Pilbara infrastructure issues

Junior miners Brockman Mining and Flinders mines have signed a supply, infrastructure cooperation agreement in the Pilbara, saying they will work together on a transport solution that will get their product to market.

On Wednesday LMH reported Brockman had signed a three year agreement with Aurizon that will see the rail operator develop and operate rail and port infrastructure for the company’s two Pilbara iron ore projects.

Aurizon will operate all rail, rolling stock and related infrastructure required by the mine projects and develop port facilities.

The two deals add to the mounting battle over transport infrastructure in the Pilbara.

Brockman has previously attempted to gain access to Fortescue Metals Group’s railway using third party access laws but according to The West Australian the bid has been bogged down by Western Australia’s regulatory process, forcing the miner to look at alternatives.

But according to WA Premier Colin Barnett the fight over rail access is holding projects up more than government red tape.

Barnett has previously said resource companies fighting over sharing infrastructure is one of the biggest hurdles in keeping projects to time and on budget.

He said the Department of State Development spent more time dealing with disputes between resource companies than it did solving regulatory delays.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto’s railways in the region were built before WA introduced third party access laws.

Fortescue is attempting to sell down its stake in its railway, with some expecting Atlas Iron to negotiate a deal to access the infrastructure to accommodate the growth of its projects in the region.

Investors’ calls for Fortescue to reduce its $US10 billion debt are fuelling the company’s move to offload its minority interest in its port and rail assets which are expected to deliver $US3 billion to the company.

The sale, which was expected to be finalised by June 30, has been pushed to the September quarter.

When Brockman asked for access to its Pilbara rail line, the Fortescue owned TPI gave a floor cost of $73.4 million and a ceiling cost of $575.6 million.

Adding to the infrastructure debate in the region is Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill Holdings, proposing to build its own railway rather than purchase access to someone else’s.

Brockman CEO Russell Tipper said today’s memorandum of understanding with Flinders is a step forward.

"The potential aggregation of tonnages ensures a critical mass that could further enhance the economic viability of any proposed shared infrastructure solutions for junior iron ore miners in the Pilbara," he said.

Flinders executive chairman Robert Kennedy said while the deal is non-binding, its completion will benefit both companies.

"It is Flinders' intention to work with Brockman towards a binding terms sheet that aggregates the Flinders product with the Brockman product," he said in a statement.

Industrial action at Newcastle coal terminal

Workers have announced they will carry out strike action at New castle' Port Waratah Coal Services tonight.

Four hour work stoppages will start at 11pm tonight, and will stake place every night for the next week.

Maritime Union of Australia national assistant secretary Ian Bray explained that although PWCS and the union are close to an agreement "there remain a few unresolved issues that the workers consider important enough not to walk away from and, as a result, the workers are taking this protected industrial action".

“We emphasise again, however, that we seek to reach agreement on those unresolved matters because we, like PWCS, would welcome a return to getting on with the business of shipping coal to PWCS clients.”

Earlier this month workers held a two day strike, after failing to reach an agreement over ten months of long running disputes.

First Hope Downs ore leaves site

Hope Downs 4 in WA’s Pilbara region has achieved a significant milestone with the first iron ore leaving the mine.

The Hope Downs iron ore project, which is party mined under a 50:50 joint venture with Rio and Hancock Prospecting, won final approval to develop their $1.12 billion joint venture project in March.

Over the weekend, Gina Rinehart’s daughter Ginia took to the Hancock Prospecting website to announce the maiden train was being loaded with ore.

A photo posted on the notice board sheet of the site declared: "days to first ore on train – 1". She captioned the photo with the line "impending first load out of ore wagons for the new Hope Downs 4 mine".

The west.com reports the first trial load of Hope Downs 4 ore left by rail yesterday.

The new project forms part of Rio Tinto's plans to expand iron ore production in the Pilbara by 353 million tonnes per annum by 2015.

Rio has also flagged expansions at its Cape Lambert port and its Nammuldi mine as part of the expansions.

Earlier this year Rinehart said three deposits within the Hope Downs precinct – Baby Hope, Hope 2, and Hope 5 – were “convenient for early development”.

Image: abc.com

Decmil wins Roy Hill contracts

Decmil has been awarded $71 million worth of contracts for Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill iron ore mine.

The two contracts are for the design, civil engineering and construction of rail and port facilities for the miner, as well as the associated infrastructure.

Design has already begun with actual work expected to start in 2014., with onsite delivery subject to the mine obtaining financing.

Decmil described the one as a significant one for the company.

The Roy Hill rail non-process infrastructure buildings and associated services package is a $56.6 million contract for the design and construction of rail terminal buildings including a rolling stock workshop, wheel lathe building, loco washdown, warehouse and lay down areas, as well as other buildings.

The scope of works also includes specialist maintenance equipment, overhead gantry cranes, fuel/lube delivery systems and oily water treatment.

The Roy Hill port non-process infrastructure buildings is a $14.5 million contract for port landside facilities such as belt-splice workshops, storage and workshops areas with overhead cranes and external cold rooms, maintenance and welding bays, and a hydraulic clean room.

The total contract construction and EPC work onsite for the whole Roy Hill mine is expected to exceed $6 billion.

The win is a major one for a contractor as many companies wind down its outsourced work.

Earlier this week BHP took the axe to the workforce at its Peak Downs coal mine, cancelling a $260 million contract with Leightons to cut costs.

Union concerned over safety of BMA cars

The CFMEU has expressed concern about the safety of cars used on BMA mine sites in Queensland.

ABC News reports Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union health and safety representative Greg Dalliston said he was concerned that new standards reduced rollover protection.

 

All I've asked is that they show the standard that was on the vehicles before and the standard they've got now, the new standard, is equal to or better than what they had before and so far they can't show me that.”

 

Dalliston said while they accounted for only a small number of total accidents, one-in-five fatalities were from rollovers.

 

We've had 29 rollovers since January last year in mines in Queensland — 17 on coal mines and with the protective structures we've had in place, we've only had one person with some slight injuries,” he said.

 

Vehicle safety is an ongoing issue in the mining industry, and last year BMA said it was looking at introducing a five-star-only policy for vehicles on site.


 

Pollies unsure of $12bn port plans

Both sides of politics have expressed doubt over the viability of building a new $12 billion coal port south of Mackay, which is also opposed by environmentalists.

The Daily Mercury reports state Labor Member for Mackay Tim Mulherin said the Dudgeon Point Coal Terminal was reliant on unstable commodity prices.

 

It's uncertain times… the coal producer needs to have customers,” he said.

 

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen and LNP candidate for Capricornia Michelle Landry have also raised concerns about the project, but the development's proponent remains confident.

 

North Queensland Bulk Ports expects an environmental impact statement for the project by the end of the year, and has forecast construction to start sometime in 2014.

 

NQBP chief Brad Fish told the Daily Mercury while coal prices were currently at a low point, the market was expected to bounce back and new infrastructure needed to be in place to support the recovery.

 

If the demand were to pick up in five years time you need to get that project proceeding now,” he said.

 

Along with NQBT most QLD coal miners have forecast demand to improve in the short to medium term, but companies have also moved to sell off assets throughout the state's industry as costs rise and profit margins tighten.

 

Most recently Rio Tinto announced plans to sell several of its coal assets, including its interests in the Clermont and Blair Athol mines.

 

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