McAleese halts trading after Atlas Iron announces mine closures

The fall out of Atlas Iron’s decision to shut its mines continues, with transport contractor McAleese entering a trading halt.

Atlas Iron was a key contract for McAleese, which transports iron ore by truck from the Pilbara mines to Port Hedland.

SMH reports that McAleese had expected the contract with Atlas to make up around 40 per cent of its 2015 earnings.

Atlas has decided to shut its Pilbara mining operations as a result in the diving price of iron ore.

Mining and crushing will cease at its mines by the end of April.

As a result, McAleese said it needed to halt trading while its considers and reviews the operational and financial implications and various commercial scenarios that could eventuate as a result of Atlas’ decision.

McAleese said it expects the trading halt to remain in place for 10 days.

"McAleese Group has a strong and long-standing partnership with Atlas and will continue to work constructively with the Pilbara based miner as a priority to achieve outcomes in the interest of the company's people and business,” the company said.

The flow-on effect the mine closures will have was highlighted this morning with mining contractor MACA announcing its revenue guidance would be impacted by the lost contract.

The contract at Atlas' Abydos mine for both mining and crushing services generated between $4 million to $5 million per month for MACA.

In an ASX statement this morning, the company said as a consequence of the contract suspension its full-year revenue guidance for the 2015 financial year will be $600 million.

Hitachi becomes Australian Wenco distributor

Hitachi has become the official Australian distributor of Wenco International Mining Systems.

Wenco is currently operating in Australia at the Roy Hill iron ore mine and Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal mine.

It is also working with Hitachi in the manufacturer’s automated truck trials at the Meandu coal mine.

Now Hitachi will become the official distributor of the system throughout Australia, New Caledonia, PNG, and New Zealand.

It comes after Wenco’s entry into the Australian market via the acquisition of Brisbane-based Automated Positioning Systems.

The new distribution agreement includes operations, parts, and support, and brings Wenco’s fleet management systems together with Hitachi’s services and products.

“This is an important and strategic step in HCA’s market leadership by strengthening our total solution delivery and commitment to the mining sector,” Hitachi said in a company statement.

“This will underpin our future growth in the mining technology sector throughout the Pacific region,” HCA managing director David Harvey said.

“Our development team is also working at integrating existing in-field high precision guidance systems into the FMS product suit, providing options for future upgrades to a full fleet management systems,” he added.

M2M introduces new fleet management applications

The new dual-mode IDP-782 communications terminal from Orbcomm
subsidiary, SkyWave has been launched in Australia and New Zealand.

Introduced by M2M Connectivity, the new dual-mode IDP-782 communications
terminal equips fleet managers with a single device for both cellular and
satellite network coverage over the Inmarsat IsatData Pro network, allowing
them to stay connected to assets, sensors and people in the most cost-effective
way possible.

ORBCOMM’s Vice President of Marketing Sue Rutherford explains that the IDP-782
improves operations and increases safety without the added costs of roaming
charges for fleet managers. Whether it’s saving fuel, reducing capital
expenditures, or getting more from less, the IDP-782 provides fleet management
applications with the best data from assets moving in and out of cellular

The IDP-782 communications terminal provides configurable out-of-the-box
software for quick deployments as well as flexible architecture that supports
the development of custom applications for more complex solutions. All
applications leverage the most cost-effective network with automatic switching
capabilities between cellular coverage (HSPA or GPRS) and satellite coverage.

The IDP-782 also features an optional 2.5-hour backup battery option to
send GPS and other information when vehicle power is not available.

The feature-rich dual-mode IDP-782 communications terminal finds use in applications
involving transport vehicles by providing complete visibility and saving costs
without compromising tracking, text messaging, e-forms, and vehicle and cargo
monitoring ; vessels by allowing lower cost cellular connectivity for
near-shore communications and satellite service for guaranteed and reliable
offshore communications; and oil and gas by tracking vehicles travelling in and
out of remote areas, and through harsh climates.

The IDP-782 communications terminal also supports mining applications by
providing reliable, always-on backup satellite communications for easy collection
of location, telemetry, and sensor data in remote locations to protect valuable
heavy equipment and keep drivers safe with advanced driver behaviour monitoring
features; and SCADA monitoring and control, with the Modbus and sensor
capabilities of the terminal allowing fixed oil and gas equipment to be

Hexagon launches Hexagon Mining division

Hexagon has launched a mining focused division on the back of Africa’s Mining Indaba.

The new company will combine the mining capabilities of MineSight, Devex Mining, Leica Geosystems, and SAFEmine, and “will link mine planning, design, fleet and production management, optimisation, fatigue monitoring, and collision-avoidance systems for a comprehensive flow of data across all operations,” Hexagon said.

According to the company it will work in both surface and underground operations, with a focus on “integrating design, planning, and operations technologies for safer, more productive mines”.

“Productive mines recognize that technology is essential to their success. Companies will need to be smarter, safer, and quicker to respond to change. Their future depends on it,” explained Hexagon president Ola Rollen.

“Hexagon Mining recognises that a competitive edge depends on integrating, automating, and optimising critical workflows in the life of a mine. Efficiency, precision, accuracy, and safety are pivotal to those needs and paramount to improving any mine’s costs, productivity, and safety.”

EXCLUSIVE: Cost cutting at Rio Tinto to impact warehousing and supply

Rio Tinto’s iron ore business is set to engage in a series of heavy cost cutting measures, such as renegotiation of service and supply contracts and significant reductions in warehouse inventories.

An internal document leaked to Australian Mining this week showed Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Andrew Harding had outlined a series of cost cutting requirements, including an immediate hiring freeze,  which he said must be performed to maintain business success.

The document was distributed by email to members of management, and was read aloud to workers on all Rio Tinto iron ore sites in Western Australia.

The areas said to require urgent attention include:

  • Cost-outs and capital reductions that are significantly below the existing plan;
  • The renegotiation of significant service and supply contracts;
  • Reflecting market conditions for employees and labour related costs;
  • The extension of an immediate hiring freeze and review of organisational structures;
  • Revamping of the way we schedule maintenance – by intervals and task times;
  • A significant reduction in warehouse and stockpile inventories.

The new changes could result in a loss of jobs for staff involved in warehousing, inventory and procurement, as well as cancellation of supply chain and transport contracts.

Harding stressed that “the whole business will be called to contribute to this work, with a degree of urgency”.

The document also said that all site superintendents will be subject to quarterly reviews, which would help to identify “pinch points” in the business.

“These will cover safety, cost and productivity performance, as well as commitments for the forthcoming quarter,” Harding said.

“I do not intend that any of these actions, and the extra efforts required on safety, will compromise our objective of continuing to be the best iron ore company in the world.

“Indeed, I expect that they will actually ensure that we can continue to be ‘the best’.”

Harding said the agenda was a large one, but “not unmanageable”.

Australian Mining contacted Rio Tinto to discuss the details of these adjustments, however a spokesperson for Rio Tinto said no further details could be disclosed at this point, and made the following statement:

“We remain focused on maintaining our market competitiveness in very challenging industry conditions. For some time now our people have been pursuing cost and productivity improvements. We are constantly examining all parts of our business in order to remain strong and globally competitive.”

Recent rumours among staff on Rio Tinto sites around Western Australia suggest plans to cut the Australian iron ore workforce by 10 to 15 per cent, however Rio Tinto said these claims were incorrect.

Rio Tinto will release their Quarterly Report on Thursday evening, February 12.

Adani committed to rail corridor

Indian miner Adani has reiterated its commitment to building the Carmichael coal mine, undeterred by the prospect of a new Labor government in Queensland.

The change in government leaves the future of funding for a rail corridor to Abbott Point in doubt, as Labor has stated the project must be self-sustaining and will not commit public money to the project.

A spokesperson for Anastacia Palaszczuk’s office said the prospective premier’s position on infrastructure spending for the mine was “quite clear”.

“We’re not going to be funding that kind of thing, but we still support the project,” he said.

Last month shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt said the $450 million in funding for the rail corridor would only come from the sale of assets proposed by the Newman government, plans which Labor will be mandated to halt.

“Labor will not support a secret deal that involves giving a multi-national mining company hundreds of millions of dollars that have been sourced from a fire-sale of Queenslanders assets,” Pitt said.

“Queenslanders can rightly expect that those companies seeking to profit from the rail line would pay for it to be built.

“If projects of this scale require taxpayer investment in a rail line to get off the ground, then you’d have to question the commercial viability of the project in the first place.”

Adani CEO Jeyakumur Janakaraj said the result of the election will not affect financial decision making.

“The company will work with every partner and every government in ensuring these important projects proceed,” he said.

Janakaraj also said Adani's decision to proceed or not to proceed with the Carmichael investment was based solely on the cost basis of the project.

“Importantly, the mine at Carmichael, which lies at the heart of these projects, will be within the first quartile of the cost curve,” he said.

A spokesperson for Adani said the company welcomed the opportunity to work with the new premier to discuss the project which would generate “taxes and royalties that the Queensland Government needs to invest right back into frontline services in the state.”

Last week a report from The Australia Institute suggested the number of jobs to be created by four proposed Galilee Basin projects had been overestimated, and that the Carmichael project would ultimately create 3500 direct mining jobs, rather than 10,000 jobs as quoted by Adani and the Newman government.

Image: Couriermail


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Oils well that ends well

An Australian manufacturer of lubricants for the mining industry has been awarded a contract with O&K- Carraro that will see its products used in machines right across the sector.

O&K- Carraro, a leading manufacturer of transmissions, hydraulic drives, axles and gears, said it awarded Anglomoil the contract because of the ‘excellence’ of their products.

O&K is a member of Carraro Drive Tech, an 83-year-old German company that is represented across the Asia-Pacific region by Australian company Cram Fluid Power.

Cram Fluid Power founder Kevin Moore said Anglomoil lubricants are well-suited to the extreme operating conditions in final drives, slew drives, undercarriage components and drill rigs.

Moore said end users are frequently looking for Australian-made products that provide them with better quality because the high-value machines they’ll be helping to run include high ­capacity shovel loaders, slew drives, winch drives and a wide range of undercarriage driver systems.

Moore said his company also works closely with Anglomoil to providing solutions to customers with great results.

Anglomoil has supplied grease for use in heavy mining applications such as loaders and haul trucks and Cram has been supplying this grease to one of its heavy excavator fleets for nearly four years.

“During this time there have been no failures in their fleet,” Moore said.

“Prior to using the Anglomoil grease, they were experiencing a grease related failure rate of, on average, two per month. Cram supplied and manages this grease product in bulk 1.5 tonne bins. This is typical of the stories we are hearing from our mining companies.”

Cram now has operations in Wollongong, Newcastle, Singleton, Mackay and Perth so it can readily service the mining sector.

In other efficiency-related news, a new technology contract will ensure future fuel cost savings for Anglo American’s coal operations in Australia.

Canadian company Blutip Power Technologies will supply Anglo American with their Advanced Universal Controller (AUC) for coal haulage, after successful trials on Caterpillar 797, 793, 789 and 785 series haul trucks at the Dawson, Capcoal and Drayton mine last year.

Blutip president Chuck Knott said he was very proud to be working with Anglo American to help them achieve fuel effi­ciency objectives.

“We are committed to assisting Anglo American maximize their efficiency by allowing them to reduce the fuel consumed per tonne-hour across their fleets and by providing real time fuel management analytic tools,” he said.

The new AUC provides engine remapping that reduces fuel consumption while maintaining engine power output and other functionality of the original equipment provider’s electronic control unit.

Blutip said the improvement in Anglo American’s fuel efficiency through use of the new AUC would reduce particulate matter emissions, in turn helping Anglo American to reduce its carbon footprint.

The controllers provide data analytic tools for engine loading time distributions, GPS data and the capability to evaluate other fuel saving initiatives.

Bradken buyout falls through

A proposed acquisition of Bradken has collapsed as mining markets remain volatile.

Late last year a private equity consortium, consisting of Bain Capital and Pacific Equity Partners, made approaches for a takeover of the construction and engineering company.

The move, worth around $872 million, drove Bradken stock up 36.45 per cent in a single day. 

However the deal has now collapsed.

According to Bradken, following due diligence of the consortium and the development of a proposal “the recent volatility in global commodity and financing markets has impacted the consortium’s ability to obtain financing on terms acceptable to the consortium”.

“As a result, the consortium has now informed the Board that it is not in a position to make a binding proposal at this time.

“Consequently, Bradken and the consortium have ceased all discussions in relation to the proposal.”

Following this announcement Bradken has now focused on “a number of fast-payback Capex initiatives that are designed to increase EBITDA and overall margins on existing volumes”.

This includes the recent acquisition of a foundry in India and cost reduction activities.

Bradken also has a gloomy outlook ahead, stating that while it “remains well positioned to navigate through this volatility, there are no visible signs at this stage of a turnaround in the mining cycle”.

The manufacturer will announce its results in early February. 

Where are the female tradies?

Male domination of trades and trade courses in the automotive, construction, mining and energy sectors is entrenched above 95%, despite the substantial pay advantage compared to other trades such as hairdressing and hospitality.

In an effort to uncover why so few girls pursue the male-dominated trade careers, I set off to schools with my pink hard hat and voice recorder. At each school I visited I could count the number of female students doing a manual trade course on one hand.

Why are the trades male dominated?

The research interviews with secondary school students (mostly females) and educators revealed that the “blokey” image of the trades continues to put off girls: “They are for the boys who don’t do academic,” was a common message.

Just like students worldwide, those I interviewed said that most students are aiming for professional employment.

Male domination of the manual trades is persistent and resistant to change – unlike the professions and management where women are breaking through the glass ceiling.

Gender segregation of the trades is attributed to:

  • Gender essentialist views that women are innately better nurturers and service workers and men are adept at physical and problem-solving skills. These views have been perpetuated through popular culture (particularly toys, TV and books) and reinforced by parents, peers, teachers and employers; and
  • Past protection by employers and unionists, through industrial law, of the manual trades and higher pay for men.

At the four schools I visited, manual trade courses, trade experience and “try a trade” days were on offer to all students. But a staff member explained that due to cultural influences:

… stereotypes are set by year 10 and mostly girls wouldn’t even consider a trade.

Convention says females are hairdressers and childcare workers…

The higher rewards and female role models associated with professional employment have attracted women, and women are attaining high educational standards. Yet they are largely segregated in service professions in health and education.

The barriers to the manual trades have been crafted over many years and remain solid as a rock.

Why does this matter?

It matters to female students. They felt like they were missing out:

Why doesn’t Mr Y send us lots of emails about trades? We get lots of colourful stuff about uni.

I had no clue the wages were that different.

Young women who pursue a non-professional path risk a low-wage future in female-dominated trades like hairdressing. As soon as students walk out of the school gate into an apprenticeship, the males will start taking home about 20% more in their pay than their female peers.

It matters to industry. It is claimed higher female participation in the trades could reduce skills shortages and reduce business costs.

In 2014, the Minerals Council of Australia reported that national skills shortages unnecessarily raise costs and create a sub-optimal investment climate for the mining sector:

It is economically sound to expand the labour pool by tapping into under-represented groups such as female and indigenous workers.

This talk has to become action. Apprenticeships are declining in Australia, including the skills-shortage areas in the mining, energy and auto sectors. Industry has been drawing on skilled migrant workers through the 457 visa scheme.

What needs to be done?

Improved economic security through trades for girls is being tackled on two fronts: advocacy to improve wages in low-paid female-dominated trades and action to better inform girls about manual trades as a career option. A comprehensive range of recommendations on education and industry policy to encourage girls into male-dominated trades has just been launched by economic Security4Women.

…and males are builders, plumbers and electricians.

The female students in my research said more girls would do the manual trades:

  • if they knew more about the trades;
  • if more girls did the trades, making it less intimidating; and
  • if they weren’t made fun of.

They wanted more women in trades as role models to visit their schools:

Maybe if there were more workers coming to schools talking about what it’s like in industry […] we would wake up to ourselves.

They wanted media images of women in trades that they could relate to. Not like:

… in the movies you see a male plumber, fat, with their [sic] bum crack showing.

Not all, but some staff were aware that unless girls pursue maths to a high level in senior school, they can almost say goodbye to male-dominated careers like engineering and manual trades.

Staff wanted to do more to encourage girls. They expressed concern at the lack of time and resources in schools for career support and for building industry links.

It is reported that more boys are being inspired by celebrity chef role models to trade the electric drills for the food processors in hospitality. Perhaps these role models are the key to breaking down entrenched gender stereotypes for women in trades too.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the
original article.

Nova Nickel breaks new ground on Australia Day

Sirius Resources have commenced project development for the Nova nickel mine as of Australia Day.

Mining started on Monday, two and a half years from the announcement of the discovery, with the initial boxcut expected to take three months to complete.

The mining operations will be conducted by contractor Barminco under a three year contract valued at $129 million.

A number of key construction activities will also commence, including expansion of the exploration camp to a 200 person temporary construction camp which will house workers while the main accommodation village is built.

The permanent village will be completed by August 2015 at a cost of $23 million.

Construction and works on the aerodrome and access roads will begin this week.

The contractor which successfully tendered for engineering, procurement and construction of the processing plant will be announced in March.

Sirius managing director Mark Bennett said it was “fitting that such a significant milestone should fall on Australia Day for this world-class project”.

Bennett was commended last year for his sensitive approach to negotiating the native title agreement with the Ngadju people, traditional landowners of the Fraser Ranges.

Additional wildlife surveys were conducted voluntarily in conjunction with representatives of the Ngadju people to ensure potential impacts on fauna were negligible.

“It is also pleasing to continue involving local stakeholders such as the traditional owners and local pastoralists in the venture,” Bennett said.

“Our project management team have doen a great job getting Sirius to this point so smoothly, so quickly and with the benefit of significant savings.

“On behalf of all our shareholders and stakeholders I look forward to the project taking shape in a timely, responsible and above all a safe manner.”

Sirius identified a capital cost saving of $30 million on the original feasibility study estimate of $473 million, bringing the estimated cost down to $443 million, which includes a contingency cost of $22 million.

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