News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s wrap: mining benefits go unsung; coal, iron miners’ troubles multiply; Canada proves a bright prospect for coalminers; China's inflation rises more than forecast in March; and shareholder unease as Qatar takes 5% of Xstrata.
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Hay Point Coal terminal. Courtesy BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.

Lou Caruana

Mining benefits go unsung

Most Australians agree the mining boom has been good for the country, while maintaining they have received little or no benefit, according to a Nielsen poll for The Australian Financial Review reports.

Those who believe they are better off are concentrated in the boom states of Western Australia and Queensland. Victorians and Tasmanians are the least grateful.

The poll found 85% of voters thought the mining boom was a good thing for Australia, including 73% of Green voters.

Coal, iron miners’ troubles multiply

Miners are poised to post weaker coking coal and iron ore sales figures in the March quarter on the back of December numbers as industrial action threatens further disruptions, according to export statistics compiled by the AFR.

But they will still record a strong improvement on the rain-sodden first quarter of 2011, the statistics from Australia’s largest bulk commodities ports show.

Sales at the Queensland coal export ports of Dalrymple Bay, Hay Point, Gladstone and Abbot Point were down 14% in the three months to the end of March against the December quarter, but up 24% year-on-year.

Overall, 36.8 million tonnes of coal was exported from those ports in the first quarter of this calendar year.

Canada proves a bright prospect for coalminers

Shale gas may be eating into coal demand in North America, but that's not slowing interest among Australian companies in growing coal exports from the continent to Asia, The Australian reports.

Atrum Coal aims to raise $10 million in an initial public offering on the Australian Securities Exchange toward the end of May.

China's inflation rises more than forecast in March

China's inflation accelerated more than forecast in March on a pickup in food prices, signalling that policy makers may exercise caution in adding stimulus to boost growth, the SMH reports.

Consumer prices rose 3.6% from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That was more than the median 3.4% estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 33 economists. Food-related costs gained 7.5%.

Shareholder unease as Qatar takes 5% of Xstrata

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund has made a £1.7 billion ($A2.6 billion) swoop on Xstrata, buying 5% of its shares before the mining group's planned £50 billion merger with Glencore, the SMH reports.

The move, which has angered some of Xstrata's shareholders, sees Qatar overtake Standard Life and Legal & General to become the third-biggest investor after Glencore (33.6%) and BlackRock (5.43%).