North Australia Digest – 17/10/12

The Australian
Energy Australia says the carbon tax is driving up operating costs while wholesale electricity prices are weak and demand for electricity is plunging. This follows Queensland’s Stanwell Corporations decision to withdraw two coal production units at a cost of 64 jobs only two weeks ago.
Following a meeting between several senior Australian and Indian business leaders, Lindsay Fox says the government’s decision to begin negotiations on uranium export to India could improve other relationships between the two countries, presenting ‘opportunities for Australia in food production as well as resources’.
Industry experts say dairy farmers will need to step up production to meet export demands as the global hunger for Australian cheese grows, particularly from China, Australia’s fastest growing cheese export market.
Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations in northern Western Australia remain resilient in the face of higher costs and growing uncertainty in export demand from China, as well as global volatility in iron ore price.
Roy Hill general manager of external affairs Darryl Hockey says the Queensland mine project is still on track despite ‘intricate and exhaustive’ processes. The project will create 2000 operational jobs for the life of the mine, which is forecast to be over 20 years.
The Australian Financial Review
ANZ chief executive Mike Smith says Australia stands to benefit greatly from Julia Gillard’s visit to India, not only by opening the door on uranium exports, but because of the potential for Australia to supply other resources and agriculture products to India’s growing economy.
The Australian Industry Group says Australia’s focus on producing natural gas for export risks digging a massive hole in the annual GDP and sending domestic users ‘to the wall’ due to rising costs.
Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson says that while the Australian mining boom represents the first wave of opportunity in the Asian century, the increase in demands for high-end agricultural exports also represents serious opportunity for Australia in the region as the number of middle class consumers in Asia is set to increase dramatically.
The Age
The age also reports on the potential impact of Julia Gillard’s visit to India to make an important breakthrough in the future economic relationship between the two countries.
The West Australian
The West Australian also reports on the increasing demand from Asia for high-end Australian agriculture products. However, WAFarmers president Dale Park says it may take years to overcome structural problems and inflated costs of production in Australia. No link.
The Courier Mail
The Courier Mail reports on the wave of job cuts that hit the coal industry as Ensham Resources made the decision to downsize operations in Queensland in terms of both personnel and production. Ensham Resources chief executive Peter Westerhuis says that federal and state government programs to introduce new taxes and raise existing ones will compound an already difficult situation. No link.