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Mining & Resources

Mining boss: Iron ore boom not over

6 Sep 2013, by Informa Insights

Mining engineering and the resources sector in general are likely to continue being of central importance to the Australian economy.

But have mining profits peaked? Well, according to Morgan Ball, managing director of BC Iron, the resources boom is still in full swing.

Speaking to Sue Lannin of the ABC, he said his organisation continues to have marked success in the iron ore industry based on strong demand from China.

“We’ve had two excellent months with a strong iron ore price against a softening Australian dollar,” he explained.

“So our free cash-flow is as good as it’s ever been.”

He pointed to iron ore prices hitting US$140 a tonne, which creates an Australian dollar revenue amount of around $155 to $160 a tonne.

“If they were constant for the rest of this financial year, they’d be record profits for us,” Mr Ball said.

Last month, BC Iron announced year-on-year profits are up 41 per cent to $71.4 million.

Tom Price, global commodities analyst at Swiss banking company UBS, said his organisation believes iron ore prices will plummet to below US$100 a tonne by the end of this year, but they will rebound.

“The price signal boom might be over but the trade flows, which have expanded enormously over the last decade thanks to China, I think they’re going to stay roughly where they are at the moment … for the next five to ten years,” he said.

Leadership skills are likely to become an even more valuable commodity in many mining companies, with some experts claiming cutting costs is now extremely important.

Anna Littleboy, research director for mineral futures at CSIRO, said a national strategy is important, as well as a focus on more technology.

However, she argued that talk of the mining boom being over is premature.

There is always the impression that when the boom is over that everything will wind down immediately, she said, but this is not the case and demand for natural resources will remain high for the foreseeable future.


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