November’s top stories: Olympic Dam extension and Myanmar earthquake

3 December 2012 (Last Updated December 3rd, 2012 18:30)

Myanmar and China witnessed mining disasters this month, while BHP Billiton secured an extension to expand the Olympic Dam and WA altered its tax legislation. Mining-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from November 2012.

November’s top stories: Olympic Dam extension and Myanmar earthquake

Toro Energy's mine

Mining region of Myanmar hit by 6.8 magnitude earthquake

"The gold-mining town of Thabeikyin was close to the epicentre of the quake."

An underdeveloped mining region in northern Myanmar was rocked by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake on 11 November, leaving at least 12 people dead.

The gold-mining town of Thabeikyin was close to the epicentre of the quake and reported three casualties, 35 injuries and damages to 102 homes, 21 religious buildings, 48 government offices and four schools.

A local administrative officer in Sintku Township told The Associated Press that six people had died in the area and another 11 were injured.

BHP Billiton secures extension to expand Olympic Dam

BHP Billiton secured a four-year extension

Also in November, mining major BHP Billiton secured a four-year extension to expand the Olympic Dam project.

The South Australian government had earlier demanded BHP proceed with its plans to extend the mine by next month or be forced to restart the approval process.

The miner now has until October 2016 to start work on the mine expansion, which was shelved due to a weak market.

Despite this latest development, BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers said on 13 November that the company could not guarantee the project would proceed.

Queensland Resources Council reports coal industry job losses

Queensland Resources Council (QRC)

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) reported that the region's coal industry has lost between 4,000 and 5,000 jobs during the last few months.

The huge loss of jobs was the direct result of falling coal prices against rising production costs, the council said.

QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche noted that the losses primarily affected contractors and extended from the coalface to head office.

Rising prices and falling margins were cited as the major causes of the turbulence in the industry, with other macro-economic factors playing their part.

Western Australia to alter mining tax legislation

Western Australia

The Western Australian government said it is considering alterations to legislation which allows mining companies to deduct royalties from their mining tax.

Until recently, mining companies were able to deduct all current and future royalties from their mining tax liability, but the government now wants to close the loophole.

A panel was commissioned to assess goods and services tax (GST) revenue distribution to the states and has recommended revisiting the treatment of royalties.

A final decision will be made once the panel's final report is published, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Coal mine accident kills 23 workers in China

"Four managers from the mine's operator Pannan Coal Exploitation were dismissed."

A gas explosion at the Xiangshui coal mine in Guizhou province of south-west China has killed 23 workers.

Eighteen workers were confirmed dead after the incident on 24 November, but rescuers said two days later that they had recovered the bodies of four missing miners. Five other miners were injured.

Following the tragedy, four managers from the mine's operator Pannan Coal Exploitation were dismissed, reported the China Daily.

According to local authorities, Pannan is required to compensate every miner killed in the accident with 1.04 million yuan ($166,000), the highest set for work-related deaths.

Toro Energy prepares to commence Wiluna uranium project

Toro Energy

Australian uranium company Toro Energy announced that it will soon commence operations at its 100%-owned Wiluna Uranium Project, Western Australia's first uranium mine.

Situated 30km from Wiluna, the project is an advanced uranium mine awaiting environmental approval from the Australian Federal Government.

The company expects final approvals this year and estimates 1.8mlbs of U3O8 output annually during the 14-year life of mine.

Russian Technologies to divest 45.42% stake in titanium firm

Titanium giant VSMPO-Avisma

State-owned Russian Technologies (Rostekhnologii) said it will divest a 45.42% stake in titanium giant VSMPO-Avisma for $970m.

Cyprus-based Nordcom, a joint venture between the management and Russia's Gazprombank, will purchase the stake in the titanium company for $187 a share.

Combined with Nordcom's earlier shareholding of 4.6% in the firm, the JV will own a 50.1% majority interest in VSMPO-Avisma.

Rostekhnologii will be left with a blocking stake of 25% plus one share, which allows the state corporation to veto decisions by the VSMPO board of directors.


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