News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: demand for Rudd to cut green tape; OZ Minerals, Carlyle still in Rio’s Northparkes auction; and Ore shipments surge despite China concerns.

Staff Reporter

Demand for Rudd to cut green tape

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has urged Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to show he is serious about repairing relations with the business sector by honouring an abandoned Labor promise to streamline the environmental approval process for major projects, according to the Australian Financial Review.

O’Farrell made the request in a letter sent to the Prime Minister yesterday, the same day the Business Council of Australia’s leaders met Rudd and said so-called green tape was their most pressing concern.

In his letter, O’Farrell said NSW was committed to the new bilateral approval processes negotiated with each state last year through the Council of Australian Governments process, urging Rudd to put it back on the agenda and “to conclude an agreement as soon as possible”

“I was ready to sign the NSW approvals bilateral [agreement] at the COAG business advisory forum on December 6, 2010,’’ O’Farrell said.

OZ Minerals, Carlyle still in Rio’s Northparkes auction

Rio Tinto’s efforts to sell its interests in NSW-based copper-gold mine Northparkes are nearing the pointy end, with OZ Minerals and private equity firm The Carlyle Group said to be the frontrunners in the process, according to the Australian Financial Review.

MMG and Glencore Xstrata are also in the final furlong of the Macquarie Capital-run auction.

RBC Capital Markets has labelled Northparkes an “ideal purchase at the right price” for OZ Minerals, as it meets the company’s investment criteria.

Northparkes generated a $US144 million profit on $453 million revenue last year, and is expected to fetch at least $800 million.

Buying the mine would use up JPMorgan-advised OZ Minerals’ $660 million cash pile and more. One theory is that OZ could sell its 18.9% stake in Sandfire Resources to help fund the transaction.

Private equity firms such as Carlyle have been considering whether they want to start playing in the resources sector given the amount of assets for sale and the small number of buyers.

Ore shipments surge despite China concerns

If the mining boom has ended, someone forgot to tell the thousands of workers toiling away on the mines, railways and ports of the Pilbara, according to The Australian.

The world's largest bulk export port, Port Hedland, said yesterday it handled a record 288 million tonnes of iron ore last year as mining companies continued to boost their output, despite mounting concerns over weaker prices and China's economic slowdown.

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