Article – Mining bosses upbeat despite challenges

by 19 May 2014

8 May 2014
Andrew Duffy
Mining News

COMPETITION from overseas jurisdictions, industrial relations issues and rising costs top the list of concerns for Roy Hill Holdings, Atlas Iron and Northern Star Resources executives.

In a panel session at last night’s Mining & Engineering Western Australia dinner, executives said while attracting overseas capital was getting tougher, the long-term picture for Australia’s industry remained strong.

Northern Star CEO Bill Beament said Australia relied on overseas capital to fund its projects and demonstrating profitability for investors was vital in attracting new funds.

“They’re looking at making sure we can make money out of our assets in Australia and that’s where bit of structural change is happening across the whole sector as far as costs go,” he said.

“That’s right from the truck driver to the CEO and suppliers and service providers.”

Roy Hill director Ian Plimer said growth in developing countries was fuelling demand for resources but business and government needed to work on lowering costs to make sure local projects could compete with other parts of the world.

“If our costs are too high, the resources will come from west Africa, they’ll come from Brazil, they’ll come from somewhere else,” he said.“If we want to be in the long game then we have to keep our costs down.

“We are close in terms of shipping distances but cost is a worry and it’s always been a worry in Australia.”

In terms of rising costs Atlas Iron managing director Ken Brinsden said industrial relations remained a key sticking point and Atlas had tried to fly under the radar with construction of its projects.

“We’ve quite deliberately deployed a strategy that looks to work with second tier contractors for fear that we might end up one day working with a first tier contractor that’s exposed to an industrial relations regime that doesn’t suit the scale of our business,” he said.

Executives also saw the lack of exploration, impacted by rising costs and falling capital, as another key risk for the industry.

Overall the panel remained upbeat about the industry and its position.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers WA mining leader Justin Eve said demand was still strong for Australian resources.

“It’s really down to a bit a short-term pain for some long-term gain,” he said.

“I still see a lot of positive prospects.

“I think the challenge is going to be for some of the mid-caps in the short term but longer term, there’s a great demand story.”

Courtesy of Mining News

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