BHP Mitsubishi buys bigger trucks to boost coal output
BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) has bought larger trucks, improved shift changes and is focusing on planning, measurement and management to try to boost productivity at its Queensland coking coalmines in a weak market environment, according to the Australian Financial Review.
In a presentation to analysts yesterday, BMA asset president Stephen Dumble said improving productivity was key to the business. It moved 1.4 billion tonnes of material last year, more than four times the amount shifted by BHP’s iron ore business in Western Australia, as a result of higher strip ratios.
Dumble said pre-stripping remained the biggest bottleneck for the business because it was the highest cost contributor, with greater shovel utilisation the key to higher productivity.
Merrill Lynch analyst Peter O’Connor said he expected cash costs in BHP’s overall Queensland coal division to fall from $US152 a tonne last year to a range of $US110 to $US120 a tonne by 2015.
Miners granted access to Woomera test range
The federal government will ease access restrictions on the Woomera weapons test range to unlock an estimated $35 billion in untapped mineral resources, with legislation for the change unveiled on Thursday, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith told parliament that miners would have the right to enter the Woomera prohibited area, which covers 127,000 square kilometres in outback South Australia.
Defence would remain the prime user and existing rights, including those of traditional owners, would be maintained. A framework would be established that would provide industry with a level of certainty over Defence activity in the area.
Productivity Commission sounds alarm over mine decline
The Productivity Commission has called for regulation of the minerals exploration industry to be streamlined to help offset a serious decline in its productivity, according to The Australian.
A draft report from the commission found that the rate of new discoveries in Australia is falling in the face of rapidly rising expenditure.