Mining News Top 5

ASPERMONT Managing Editor Michael Cairnduff compiles the five most viewed stories on to offer readers a brief of leading industry news from the past week.
Mining News Top 5 Mining News Top 5 Mining News Top 5 Mining News Top 5 Mining News Top 5


For those who want the full story, please follow the links at the bottom of each brief back to, where the associated coverage has been made directly available for your convenience.

Miners losing billions on ignored inefficiencies: PwC

MISINTERPRETATION of common productivity metrics could be costing the mining industry billions of dollars in lost earnings, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

PwC mining leader Jock O'Callaghan said the data normally used to measure productivity had led the industry to wrongly equate enhanced productivity with cost-cutting and increased volumes.

"The reliance on those measures sheds light on why productivity remains in the doldrums," O'Callaghan said.

"Boosting volumes and cutting costs are one part of the solution but by themselves will fail to deliver the big gains the industry needs and, in many cases, believes it is achieving.

"The fact is that a mine can both increase volumes and cut costs but still suffer lower productivity."

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West Pilbara gets interesting

THE takeovers of Aquila Resources and Iron Ore Holdings may trigger a flurry of development activity in the West Pilbara region.

Aquila Resources and AMCI's $A7.4 billion West Pilbara iron ore project, comprising a mine, rail and port, had stalled due to budget disputes when Aquila's major shareholder Baosteel teamed up with rail provider Aurizon Holdings for a $1.4 billion bid in May.

Baosteel expressed frustration over the project deadlock and pledged to develop the project quickly, fending off a rival bid from Mineral Resources in the process.

BC Iron managing director Morgan Ball told yesterday that the company was already in discussions with IOH when the Baosteel/Aurizon bid for Aquila became public.

"It certainly didn't discourage me - if anything it encouraged me that the West Pilbara was going to be a pretty interesting place in the next few years and having a seat at the table with a good resource and our own infrastructure solution puts you in a pretty strong position to consider all your options," he said.

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Oyu Tolgoi expansion on shaky ground

THE $US5.1 billion ($A5.5 billion) Oyu Tolgoi expansion looks increasingly uncertain as Rio Tinto and Turquoise Hill Resources remain in dispute with the Mongolian government.

The partners were hit with a $127 million tax claim in June from the Mongolian government and said no underground development would take place until the issue was resolved.

Turquoise Hill CEO Kay Priestly is in Mongolia this week holding talks with the Mongolian government and says the issue remains a priority.

Commitment letters from 15 banks for $4 billion in financing for the underground operation have been extended for a second time but are due to expire at the end of next month.

"There is active engagement to resolve the tax dispute and all parties are committed to working through the outstanding shareholder issues," Priestly said on a conference call yesterday.

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High number of juniors facing cash crunch

A HIGHER-than-usual number of junior miners have been questioned by the Australian Securities Exchange this week over their cash position.

Hill End Gold was quizzed by the ASX last quarter after having only $A36,000 cash at the end of March.

It was queried again when it reported cash of $54,000 at the end of June.

The company responded by saying it had raised $100,000 in early July and was working on finalising a proposed project sale to LionGold Corp for $2 million by the end of the month.

Brighton Mining Group is in a worse position, reporting cash of just $2000 at June 30, despite raising $221,250 during the quarter.

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Bougainville Copper stripped of licences

RIO Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper has been stripped of its mine lease and exploration licences following the transfer of Bougainville Island mining powers from the Papua New Guinean government to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The Bougainville Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Bill 2014 was passed in Bougainville Parliament on Friday, completing the drawdown of mining powers from the PNG government and leaving the company without its mining leases and licences.

Bougainville Copper previously warned the draft bill could "adversely affect" its mining rights.

The company had held a number of resource tenements in Bougainville, including a special mining lease, various leases for mining purposes and several exploration licences.

It had been eyeing a resumption of mining of the giant Panguna copper deposit after the mine was closed in 1989 following civil war and it spent the first half of this year focusing on the continued engagement of stakeholders with discussions directed towards a potential restart.

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