North Australia Digest – 2/10/12

Here is a digest of today’s major stories that impact North Australia:
The Australian
There is mounting pressure on the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates as the economies of China and Japan, Australia’s two major trading partners, show further signs of  slowing.
The latest figures out of China are worrying for Australian mining companies. Chinese manufacturing faces a seventh consecutive quarter of contraction. The biggest problem facing the industry is the continuing malaise in the export sector where growth has slowed dramatically due to poor economic conditions in Europe.
Santos, one of Australia’s key oil and gas companies, is set to expand its footprint in the Northern Territory with a $150 million joint venture with the exploration group Central Petroleum.
The Australian Financial Review
The head of engineering group Coffey Inter-national, John Douglas, has warned that Australian mining companies are prioritising investment in Africa at the expense of domestic investment. “One of the good things and the bad things that is happening in Australia is the flight of Australian mining money offshore . . . people have more projects offshore and fewer projects onshore,” Mr Douglas said.
The Australian steel maker and miner Arrium, formerly known as OneSteel, has been urged to accept a takeover bid which could deliver a $1 billion-plus financial life line to the struggling industry. The bid, led by Korean and Singaporean investors, has been welcomed by the New South Wales and South Australian governments, industry and the federal opposition.
Labor government advisor and economist Ross Garnaut has warned of a prolonged economic downturn in Australia on the back of slowing Chinese growth.
The AFR’s editorial focuses on Australia’s changing relationship with China, its biggest trading partner. With economic integration between the two countries expected to intensify in coming years, the editorial contends that Australian political leaders need to take more care managing the political relationship.
The Australian steel industry is suffering under the pressures of a high Australian dollar, excess global production capacity and slowing global demand. “The Australian steel industry probably hasn’t ever faced such tough times,” says Ian Cairns, industry development manager at the Australian Steel Institute.
The Age
A major potash project in Canada has leapt ahead of major Australian mining projects in BHP’s order of preferences, new documents released by the company show.
The West Australian
The High Court has upheld an appeal by Andrew Forrest and Fortescue Metals against a Federal Court decision they misled investors in 2004.
The Courier Mail
Two years of industrial action at BHP Billiton’s six central Queensland coalmines is set to end in coming months. Miners are  expected to accept an offer from the company’s joint venture BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance. The industrial action has cost Queensland tax payers around $60 million in lost coal royalties.

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