Home' Australian Resources and Investment : September 2009 Contents 12 • SEPTEMBER 2009 • AUSTRALIAN RESOURCES & INVESTMENT
Whitehaven Coal (WHC) following Noble Group Ltd s stated intention to
increase its cash offer for GCL to $7 per share.
The merger would have created a $1.2 billion company holding
combined reserves of 190 million tonnes and resources of 922 million
tonnes, with saleable production of 4.5 million tonnes per year. Coal
exports from Newcastle, the world s larges coal export terminal, rose 8.9
per cent recently as port operations resumed after planned maintenance.
Aluminium prices averaged US$1,360 per tonne in the December
quarter, down 25.7% on the previous quarter. The fall continued a
precipitous fall initiated in July last year that saw the price decrease
from US$3,291.5 per tonne to a low of US$1,253.5 per tonne in
February this year. Prices seem to have bottomed and appear settled in
the US$1,600 per tonne range.
Copper prices fell a further 12% in the March quarter to average
US$3,471 per tonne. However the price has rebounded from the sub
US$3,000 per tonne level that it descended to in the latter part of
December and is now close to the US$5,000 per tonne mark. It is
believed that the increase in copper prices reflects stockpiling in China
which is unsustainable.
Lead prices averaged US$1,464 in the March quarter, down 7.4 per
cent on the previous quarter. The price reached a low of US$870 per
tonne in late December and has improved and now exceeds the
US$1,650 per tonne mark.
Nickel prices averaged US$10,529 in the March quarter, down 4.8%
on the previous quarter. BHP Billiton intends to place its open cut
Rocky s Reward nickel mine on care and maintenance. The decision was
made on the basis that the operation was high cost, stemming from
lower grade ore and a high strip ratio. BH Billiton said the closure
would have minimal effect on its Nickel West operations which produced
98,000 tonnes of nickel in 2008. The company said this would be due
to the drawing down of concentrate stocks and economical sources of
Mimncor Resources NL reported a spectacular drill intersection of 35
metres averaging 7.0% nickel below its Mariners mine near Kambalda.
The intersection has an estimated true width of 6.4 metres and was
drilled 180 metres beyond previously known limits of mineralisation. The
result follows recent intersections of 1.84 metres averaging 10.34%
nickel and 10.11 metres averaging 3.38% nickel.
Zinc prices averaged US$1,198 per tonne in the March quarter, down
just 1% on the previous quarter. The price appears to have found a
bottom around the US$1,100 per tonne mark and has since increased to
over US$1,500 per tonne.
Shareholders have approved OZ Minerals sale of assets to China
Minmetals Non-Ferrous Metals Company for a consideration of US$1,386
million. The assets consist of the company s interest in the Sepon
copper/gold mine in Laos, the Golden Grove zinc/copper/lead mine in
Western Australia, the Century zinc mine in Queensland, the Rosebery
zinc/lead/silver mine and the Avebury nickel mine in Tasmania, the
Dugald River zinc project in Queensland, the High Lake and Izok Lake
zinc projects in Canada plus exploration and development assets. OZ
Minerals will retain the Prominent Hill copper/gold asset and has
recently reached agreement to sell the Martabe copper/gold project in
Indonesia to Hong Kong listed China Sci-Tech Holdings Ltd for US$211
million in cash.
Independent market consultants Ux Consulting and TradeTech have
reported recent uranium sales at US$53 and US$52 per pound U3O8
respectively. According to Ux Consulting, Africa and Kazakhstan are
projected to account for 50% of the world s production or uranium by
2020 and 70% of production growth between now and then.
BHP Billiton has taken the first steps in gaining approval to
develop the Yeelirrie uranium deposit in Western Australia. The company
has submitted documents to the federal Environment Department
outlining plans to start development in two years and to begin mining
by 2014. The company plans to produce an average of 5,000 tonnes of
uranium a year for more than 30 years.
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