News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: high wages could affect safety, lawyer warns; Polish interest supports Australia’s plans for LNG sector; and Newcrest can fund itself, says CEO.

Lou Caruana

High wages could affect safety, lawyer warns

A growing imbalance between resource sector wages and commodity prices could compromise safety as mining companies shed staff to counteract financial losses, a leading Queensland industrial lawyer has warned, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

But the industry's peak state body is confident the “natural correction” in job numbers would not compromise the safety of workers.

Minter Ellison partner Dan Williams said commodity companies had been forced to shed staff as a cost-cutting measure because of “inflexibility” in the labour market that prevented wage cuts for workers hired during the boom.

Polish interest supports Australia’s plans for LNG sector

The Polish government said it would like to buy LNG from Australia to reduce its reliance on Russia, confirming the point that Australia’s gas industry is turning it into a global player, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Some experts estimate Australian LNG would cost about twice the price of Russian gas in Europe because of the cost of shipping it to the other side of the world, making sales unlikely.

Even if there were no direct sales, Polish officials overseeing energy policy hope that a surge of Australian gas exports could free up gas supplies from Qatar, Canada and possibly the US, giving Poland more leverage in price negotiations with Russia.

Newcrest can fund itself, says CEO

Newcrest Mining chief executive Sandeep Biswas says the $US100 million ($A114 million) used to pay off the gold miner’s debt was proof the company could get by without an equity raising, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The spectre of an equity raising has hung over Newcrest ever since the 2013 gold price slump cut into margins and raised concerns about the company’s debt level.

Newcrest has about $4.1 billion of debt on its balance sheet, pushing its gearing ratio to beyond 30%.

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