Australia Top Stories

Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis steps down, set to lead BT

He joins a growing list of chairmen who are leaving…

Strike at BHP’s Escondida mine takes toll on Chile’s copper output, GDP

The country’s copper output is predicted to have fallen by…

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New $1.5 billion nickel mine can start dumping waste in PNG ocean

Australia's Highlands Pacific and China Metallurgical Group can now power on their $1.5 billion Ramu nickel project in Papua New Guinea after a judge threw out the environmental challenge to the project's planned deep-sea disposal of tailings after an 18-month legal battle. Ramu is situated on Papua New Guinea's north-west coast and is completely built – annual production is estimated at more than 31,000 tonnes of nickel and 3,300 tonnes of cobalt for over 20 years.

Union power in Pilbara boosted by ruling

A landmark victory in the Federal Court looks set to give unions more power to bargain on behalf of workers at Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton iron ore operations in the Pilbara. The full bench of the court has ruled that a non-union collective agreement covering workers in Rio Tinto's operations was invalid. Yesterday's decision casts doubt on similar agreements at BHP and other operations in the mining region, involving thousands of workers.

Macarthur coal exports plunge amid due diligence

Macarthur Coal, the mining group that is the target of a $4.7 billion takeover bid by US energy company Peabody Energy and steel giant ArcelorMittal, has suffered a steep slide in sales a result of wet weather. Macarthur's sales in the June quarter tumbled 22.5%, with its annual sales down 26.5% to 3.9 million tonnes. Peabody and Arcelor have sweetened the deal following a couple of failed attempts in the past three years and is set to complete due diligence at the end of the week.

Strikes hit BHP, Anglo, De Beers and Xstrata across three continents

Bloomberg reports BHP workers in Chile voted Sunday to extend their strike at the world’s largest copper mine. Stoppages at BHP’s Australian coal operations may resume this week. Thirty thousand South African coal mine workers including Anglo American and Xstrata employees walked off the job Sunday and may be joined by 160,000 gold industry workers. Strikes that started over the weekend are impacting output from mines of diamond giant De Beers. Workers are seeking a larger slice as global producers report record earnings: Melbourne-based BHP, the world’s biggest mining company, is expected to report full-year profits of $22.5 billion next month, almost double 2010’s net income. Xstrata may report record 2011 profit of $7.3 billion and Anglo American $7.4 billion, estimates show.

Xstrata buys cattle farm for coal mine

A large Queensland pastoral farm used for wagyu cattle breeding is set to become a coal mine after Australian Agricultural Company (AAC) agreed to sell a property to mining company Xstrata. The global miner will pay $21.6 million cash for the 17,474-hectare Meteor Downs property without any cattle or machinery. Image is from Cyrille BERNIZET

BHP losing $28m a day in strike

The largest union at Chile's Escondida copper mine has voted to "indefinitely" extend a strike at the mine, which is controlled by BHP Billiton. Members of the 2350-strong Escondida Mine Workers Union No 1 "unanimously voted" to extend the work stoppage, which began on Thursday night and was initially planned to end 24 hours later at 8pm on Friday, union leader Jose Vidal said.