News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: Vale to use Brazilian real to compete with BHP, Rio; mining operations “to blame for lead contamination”; and geologists get creative as mining boom subsides.

Staff Reporter

Vale to use Brazilian real to compete with BHP, Rio

The world’s largest iron ore miner, Vale, is seeking to use the depreciating Brazilian currency to boost its competitiveness against BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto amid speculation of further Australian job cuts and fears of an oversupply of the steelmaking commodity, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The Brazilian real has hit a four-year low against the US dollar, which will aid Vale’s efforts to lower its cost of production, according to Vale ferrous and strategy executive director Jose Carlos Martins.

“The slowdown in China is negative, devaluation is positive because not only our costs in dollars will be reduced but also investments will be lower,” he said.

Brazil-based Vale is one of the world’s lowest-cost iron ore producers but BHP and Rio have a slight advantage due to the proximity of their Western Australian operations to China.

Mining operations “to blame for lead contamination”

A scientific study has linked the lead contamination of children in Mount Isa to the mining operations that run day and night on the edge of the Queensland town, according to The Australian.

Five years after the Queensland government found that 11% of Mount Isa children had elevated lead levels in their blood, the recent study has challenged mining giant Xstrata's claims that the contamination was caused by natural deposits of the mineral.

Geologists get creative as mining boom subsides

The next wave of resources projects in mineral-rich WA is at risk as miners and explorers hold onto cash and cut exploration budgets, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The fallout is being felt by professions tapped into the faltering resources sector hit by falling commodity prices, forcing many to find creative ways to find work and avoid making employees redundant.

Situated in the heart of WA’s mid-tier mining and exploration company headquarters, West Perth-based BM Geological Services cut a deal with a local cafe to advertise on coffee cups to gain the attention of the city’s mining fraternity.

BM Geological partner and principal geologist Ben Pollard said several companies that had ambitious exploration plans last year came back after Christmas in a more subdued fashion.