Top ten stories of the week

 Australian Mining looks at the stories which had you talking this week.

 1. Rio Tinto announces massive Pilbara expansion

The number one story of the week was Rio Tinto’s announcement of more than $3 billion in funding for the expansion of its Pilbara iron ore operations. The majority of the investment will be used to extend the life of its Nammuldi iron ore mine, with the site receiving a $2 billion boost.

A further $1.1 billion will be used on early works to expand the company’s Cape Lambert port and rail facilities. The announcement followed on the heels of BHP’s Port Hedland Outer Harbour approvals.


2. Workers won’t move to NT for mining jobs: MCA says

The Minerals Council of Australia came out this week and said while many are trying to get mining jobs, they just don’t want to move to the Northern Territory for them. A lot of the skilled workers that were needed found the relocation too difficult, or had better offered better positions. Minerals Council NT spokesperson Peter Stewart said companies were relying on fly-in-fly-out workers to fill gaps.


3. Underground fire forces miners into rescue chambers

Thirty miners had a lucky escape this week after a fire broke out in an underground gold mine in Central Victoria. The workers were forced into rescue chambers after a LHD’s hydraulic line burst and set fire to the mine. Two workers suffered smoke inhalation, but the rest, luckily, escape unharmed.


4. OZ awards Thiess billion dollar Prominent Hill contract

Thiess saw itself awarded a swathe of contracts this week, with the largest from OZ Minerals. The $1 billion mining contract extension will run over six years and see Thiess at Prominent Hill until 2019. According to Thiess, it is already carrying out planning, training and implementation of the ramp-up, which has required an expansion of the contract miner’s existing operation.


5. China bans Vale mega-ships           

China, in an unexpected move, has cracked down on something. This time, rather surprisingly, it was mining. The Chinese Government has effectively banned iron ore miner Vale’s mega-ships from using its ports – citing *ahem* ‘safety concerns’. Some experts have seen the move as a thinly disguised attempt to ban the vessels following pressure from Chinese ship owners, who have previously lobbied against Vale’s vessels, fearing they would give the company a monopoly over the iron ore and shipping industries.


6. BMA strike talks take a nasty turn

In one of the least surprising new stories to emerge this week, talks again broke down between unions and BMA in Queensland. Even more strikes are expected to occur next week as total overtime bans restart tomorrow across several BMA coal mines.

It comes as the joint venture company and the Single Bargaining Unit announce there will be no compromise on outstanding unresolved issues. Luckily, compromise has not yet had a chance to rear its head and ‘ruin’ a good strike.


7. Hinchliffe warns of mining job scams

One of the most commented upon stories this entire year has been Queensland mines minister Stirling Hinchliffe warning of mining job scams. Hinchliffe took the opportunity of the Queensland Work Exhibition to highlight the multitude of job scams that are running as people seek to get an ‘easy’ job in mining. "Shonky businesses are targeting jobseekers wanting to get a foot in the door in the mining industry," Hinchliffe said.

"We’re hearing about a number of businesses who are overstating the level of assistance they are able to offer jobseekers. The last thing we want to see are the hopes – or the hip pockets – of jobseekers being exploited by unscrupulous operators."

People had plenty to say about how they were ripped off or rorted by a job scam.


8. Strikes continue at BMA

Not too much here to be honest. A continuation of the ongoing strike action that is rife throughout BMA’s Bowen Basin operations.


9. Pike River explosion blamed on roof collapse

The royal commission in to the Pike River coal mine disaster believes it has finally uncovered what caused the tragedy. The explosion was reportedly caused by a roof collapse which expelled methane gas around the mine, which then ignited due to a spark from the electrical system after the water pumps were turned on. Daniel Duggan, who switched the pumps on and had no way of knowing what was about to occur, lost his brother in the accident. As more information comes out of the commission the mine looks dodgier all the time. The latest information shows that the mine’s underground safety refuge only had a fabric door, which would have had no chance of stopping toxic gases.


10. FMG looks beyond iron ore in South Australia

Australian success story Fortescue Metals Group is expanding its reach. With a reputation for finding and expanding upon massive iron ore bodies, the miner is now looking to diversify into South Australia – most likely to find another Prominent Hill. Worthy venture or fool’s errand?



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