News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: BHP receives river clean-up deadline; Carbon tax, renewables targets hurting industry, says King; and Arrium considers more sales as high dollar, low commodity costs bite.

Staff Reporter

BHP receives river clean-up deadline

BHP Billiton has been given until the end of 2016 to stop most of the pollution discharged from one of its coal mines into the Georges River southwest of Sydney, a verdict that has split environmental groups, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority altered the pollution licence for BHP's West Cliff and North Cliff collieries, requiring the miner to cut the salinity and heavy metals released into Brennans Creek and the Georges River.

The EPA had found, using BHP's data, that downstream discharges had caused a biodiversity loss of 20% to 60% for macroinvertebrate species, such as the caddisfly, stonefly and mayfly.

“This is a very good outcome,” said Dr Ian Wright, an associate lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, who conducted independent research into the river's health.

“If there's a problem with this licence, [BHP] will have to fix it.”

Carbon tax, renewables targets hurting industry, says King

The boss of Origin Energy, one of the nation's largest energy providers, has called for a review of Australia’s renewables targets along with the carbon tax, which he said put the nation at an increasing competitive disadvantage , according to The Australian.

Speaking at a Macquarie conference in Sydney, Origin chief executive Grant King said that recent developments in Europe, where the carbon price to which Australia’s was linked had slumped, showed the continent was becoming increasingly aware it was becoming uncompetitive on energy costs and was “much less likely to propose higher carbon prices and renewable energy targets”

He said the US shale boom, which led to an abundance of cheap gas for manufacturers, was also affecting Europe's carbon price.

Arrium considers more sales as high dollar, low commodity costs bite

Mining and materials company Arrium said it was continuing to cut costs in its steel and recycling business and would consider asset sales, as it faced continued strain from a strong domestic currency and broadly weaker commodity prices, according to The Australian.

“Recent steel business performance [has been] impacted by the high Australian dollar and generally weak demand compared to historical averages, particularly in construction,” deputy managing director Andrew Roberts said in a slide presentation released to the Australian Securities Exchange.