China data continues to disappoint
A preliminary gauge of nationwide manufacturing activity in China has unexpectedly fallen to an 8-month low, fueling speculation the nation may need to turn to stimulus to reach its annual economic growth target of 7.5 per cent in 2014. HSBC and Markit reports China’s PMI fell to 48.1 in March, down from expectations of a rebound to 48.7 and remaining under 50 which indicates contraction.
Macquarie Group’s take on iron ore
Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG)
Global Head of Economics, Richard Gibbs sees the price of iron ore between $US110 - $US120 per tonne this year and discusses the impact China has had on the steel making commodity:
“The breakdown to nearly $US100 a tonne was I think a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to some fairly arbitrary policy measures in China against those inefficient and polluting steel mills. But, it remains to be seen what China does in the broader scheme of things, if it picks on other sectors as we move forward in relation to cleaning up the environmental consequences of industrialisation.”
Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill hits funding milestone
Australia’s Big Four Banks are among a series of overseas institutions who have helped Gina Rinehart secure $US7.2 billion of funding for her Roy Hill iron ore mine in West Australia’s Pilbara region. Roy Hill CEO Barry Fitzgerald says the package is the largest ever project financing for the development of a land-based project world-wide. The Roy Hill project is 70 per cent controlled by Gina Rinehart's company, Hancock Prospecting with the remaining interest owned by South Korean steel giant Posco and Japanese steelmaker Marubeni.
Miners teaming up for joint ventures
Discovery Metals Limited (ASX:DML)
jumped after inking a joint venture agreement for its Dikoloti nickel project in Botswana. Under the deal Discovery and its current Japanese JV partner will allow Botswana’s BCL Limited to earn a 51 per cent interest in the project. BCL will only gain the Dikoloti stake if it is able to convert the prospecting licence into a mining licence applicable under Botswana law.
OM Holdings Limited (ASX:OMH)
has formed a joint venture with a Malaysian company named Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI). Menteri Besar is an arm of a state government of Perak in Malaysia who will focus on the exploration, mining and processing of high grade quartzite deposits in the stake of Perak in Malaysia.
Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (ASX:GGG)
has inked a landmark Memorandum of Understanding with rare earth specialist China Non-Ferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd (NFC). Both companies plan to form a fully integrated global rare earths supply chain to create a powerful force in global rare earth supply.
Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO)
has awarded Southern Cross Electrical Engineer Limited (ASX:SXE)
two contracts worth more than $10 million. Under the contracts Southern Cross will perform replacement and refurbishment of electrical equipment on Rio Tinto’s Electrical Infrastructure Replacement program in Western Australia.
Red Mountain Mining Limited (ASX:RMX)
claims its scoping study results confirm a low cost, early payback gold project. The gold explorer says the study has shown the viability of mining and processing existing gold resources at the Batangas project in the Philippines. The company will now undertake a definitive feasibility study expected to be finished by the end of this year.
Production milestones for energy majors
Santos Limited (ASX:STO)
has increased its gas output in Indonesia ahead of schedule. The oil and gas producer says it achieved first gas from its Peluang project offshore East Java. The milestone was reached on budget and is Santos’ fourth operated asset in South East Asia.
Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG)
says drilling operations are beginning to restart at its Australia Pacific LNG Project in central Queensland. The news comes after the energy giant suspended coal seam gas drilling at 12 rig sites due to an asbestos scare earlier in the month.