Industry performance will continue to be driven by trends in the output and price of this industry’s key commodities.
Modest gains are anticipated for each year of the outlook period. Manganese production will remain the industry’s mainstay and revenue from its sales will continue to account for over three-quarters of industry revenue.
Manganese output is expected to stabilise at about 5 million tonnes, most of which will continue to be exported. No new major manganese mines are on the horizon, indicating that the current operations, Groote Eylandt and Woodie Woodie, will continue to provide the great bulk of output.
Manganese prices, which softened in the mid-2000s are expected to rise as the supply demand balance tightens and local producers will also gain a benefit from the expected fall in the value of the Australian dollar. Tantalum output is expected to remain at about its current level, although there is some uncertainty given that the only major Australian producer, Talison Minerals, is owned by a consortium of global investment funds. These firms will no doubt be seeking purchasers for the business.
Tantalum production is continuing on the basis of medium term supply contracts with Talison Mineral’s two major customers, H.C. Starck and Cabot Corporation.
Tin production is expected to expand over the outlook period, as the Collingwood Tin Project continues to produce high-grade ore and as other tin projects come on stream.
Metals X is completing a feasibility study into the extraction of tin from tailings (waste product from previous years’ mining) at Renison Bell.
Metals X has also rehabilitate and is in the process of restarting the Renison Bell mine, with output of about 500,000 tonnes expected once the process is complete.
Metals X also plans to integrate its Mt Bischoff tin project, located about 80 kilometres north of Renison, into the Renison Bell operation.
In September 2007, the Mt Bischoff project was still awaiting the statutory approvals required before mining can commence.
Mt Bischoff ore will be trucked to the Renison Tin Concentrator to be blended with feedstock from the Renison Bell Mine.
Despite these new tin projects, tin output is not expected to reach the levels of the early 2000s.
Tin prices are expected to edge down in US dollar terms, but a weaker exchange rate will provide a buffer for Australian producers.
Overall, the real industry revenue of the Metal Ore Mining nec industry is expected to rise at an annual average rate of about 2.9% during the outlook period, with value added increasing by about 3.2%.