News Wrap

IN this morning’s News Wrap: Police investigate Rio Tinto Ranger mine over uranium contamination fears: Port Hedland timelines a positive for junior miners; and Teck to sell $A503M stake in Fortescue.

Lou Caruana

Uranium contamination fears at Rio mine see police investigate

Rio Tinto's relationship with an indigenous group in Kakadu National Park has taken “two steps backward” after a safety breach at the Ranger uranium mine, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Rio subsidiary that operates Ranger, Energy Resources of Australia, has confirmed that a vehicle used within the mine was taken out of controlled areas, sparking contamination fears among the nearby Mirrar people.

Police are investigating the incident, which took place without the consent of ERA management in the early hours of Sunday morning, and which some believe may be a breach of the company's authorisation to mine.

Port Hedland timelines a positive for junior miners

Junior iron ore miners Atlas Iron and Brockman Mining may welcome a concrete timeline from the Western Australian government to develop its allocation at Port Hedland, according to a researcher quoted by The Australian Financial Review.

WA Premier Colin Barnett yesterday confirmed negotiations with the Port Hedland Port Authority and North West Infrastructure – which includes Atlas and Brockman – on a timeline for the development of the two berths that were allocated in 2008, representing 50 million tonne a year.

Barnett said it would require a series of development timelines that, once finalised, must be met by NWI to maintain the capacity allocation.

It is understood the allocation includes a sunset clause that occurs in 2017. This clause may result in the allocation being redistributed if they fail to meet infrastructure development goals that are being finalised.

Teck to sell $503m stake in Fortescue

Canada’s Teck Resources is seeking buyers for its entire $503 million stake in Fortescue Metals Group, according to The Australian.

The Canadian miner is selling out at $5.50 a share, a 20c discount to Fortescue's closing price of $5.70 yesterday. Teck owns just under 3% of Fortescue. which it bought last year at an average of $4.69 a share.