Mining investment surges

Resources Corner

Resources and mining companies dominating the headlines this past week include Lynas securing a temporary operating licence for its rare earths refinery in Malaysia, Energy Resources of Australia completes its yearly assessment of reserves and resources for its Ranger and Jabiluka mines, BHP Billiton approves $US917 million in pre-commitment funding, Linc Energy secures a new line of credit worth $120 million and Arc Exploration’s Indonesian joint venture partner‘s licence is revoked.

Lynas Corp secures licence for LAMP
Lynas Corporation Limited (ASX:LYC) has secured a temporary operating licence for its rare earths refinery in Malaysia, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP). The licence, valid for two years, has been granted from Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and contains a number of conditions including payment of $US50 million to the government as a financial guarantee. If the rare earths developer complies with all requirements of the current licence it may be issued a permanent operating licence.

Lynas Executive Chairman Nicholas Curtis said, “The AELB’s decision comes after a thorough and extensive review by the Malaysian Government regulatory authorities. Lynas respects the Government’s processes and the regulator’s decision. Lynas recognises its responsibility to the community to operate the plant in a safe and sustainable manner”.

Last month Lynas advised it expects first feed to kiln and first production will occur in the second quarter of this year.

Resources News
Deloitte Access Economics has reported the investment pipeline has grown to more than $900 billion in the December quarter despite global uncertainty. Mining projects account for 46 per cent of all investment projects committed or under construction. Inpex’s gas works in Darwin and Origin Energy Ltd’s (ASX:ORG) LNG project at Gladstone have helped boost planned works. 29 works were added in the three months to December.

The World Trade Organisation has ruled that China violated global trading rules by curbing exports of raw materials. The EU Trade Commission Karel De Gucht said China must now comply with the ruling by removing export restrictions quickly. But Australian analysts have said China would likely find other ways to limit exports beyond the control of the WTO. The ruling leaves open a loophole for export quotas that may still be imposed for environmental reasons.

ERA reserves and resources
Energy Resources of Australia Limited (ASX:ERA), one of the largest uranium producers in the world, has completed its yearly assessment of reserves and resources for its Ranger and Jabiluka mines. The ore reserves and mineral resources for Jabiluka are unchanged at 67,700 tonnes and 73,940 tonnes of contained uranium oxide respectively. Reserves for the Ranger project area decreased by 16,364 tonnes of contained uranium oxide to 13,484 tonnes because of downward adjustments, depletion by processing, reconciliation adjustments and reclassification of ore reserves and mineral resources. Mineral resources increased by 7,642 tonnes to 117,246 tonnes of contained uranium oxide because of reclassification.

BHP advances Port Hedland development
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP, LON:BLT, NYSE:BHP) has approved $US917 million in pre-commitment funding for infrastructure related to its Western Australian iron ore operations. BHP’s share is $US779 million and will be put to constructing a 100 million tonne per annum outer harbour facility at Port Hedland. The early works funding comes just one week after the project secured environmental approvals from the state government. The approved funding now enables BHP to progress feasibility studies. The project is expected to be reviewed for full approval in the fourth quarter of this year.

Linc secures credit
Linc Energy Limited (ASX:LNC) has secured a new line of credit worth $120 million. The facility is available for one year and was secured through an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, a New York based company with more than $US40 billion under management. Linc will use the credit to fund its general operations throughout 2012. The company says the interest cost of the facility over the full period is about seven per cent over the one month bank bill swap bid margin rate.

Arc shares slump as licence revoked
Arc Exploration Limited (ASX:ARX) has informed the market its Indonesian joint venture partner has had its licence revoked. Arc and Sumber Mineral Nusantara hit the headlines at the end of last year after the death of two anti-mining demonstrators in Indonesia, after which the miner suspended its operations. Arc advises further demonstrations have resulted in Sumber Mineral’s exploration licence being revoked due to civil disturbances and security issues. Both JV partners believe they were in full compliance with all licence requirements at the time the licence was revoked and are currently reviewing alternatives open to it.

Melissa Beaumont Lee

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