Business and Finance

  • Rio Tinto

    Rio Tinto increases focus on driving mine-to-market value

    Rio Tinto has reinforced its focus on driving value across the business from mine to market with the appointment of Simon Trott as chief commercial officer (CCO). In this newly created role, Simon will report t... more
  • financial

    Complex range of problems causing financial difficulty in WA

    Financial counsellors across Western Australia have identified a range of financial challenges faced by their clients living in the state, a new report from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and Financi... more
  • jobs

    How to prepare for jobs that don’t exist yet

    Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are changing existing roles and creating new jobs in ways we cannot always predict, so how can we prepare for jobs that don’t even exist yet? According to recruitin... more
  • coal seam gas

    Reviewing coal seam gas compensation due to a material change in circumstances

    The Land Court of Queensland recently delivered its decision in the matter of Nothdurft & Anor v QGC Pty Limited & Ors [2017] QLC 41. The case is significant because it is the first time the Court has r... more

China unlikely to ban fossil-fuel cars within 20 years

New energy vehicles (NEVs), which will substitute conventional vehicles, are expected to be increasingly popular in China, but the government's existing goal to increase the market share of NEVs to 20% by 2025, from 1.8% in 2016, will not be easily achievable according to Fitch Ratings. This is because government subsidies for NEVs are due to end after 2020 and bottlenecks in battery technology and charging infrastructure are likely to constrain widespread adoption of NEVs in the private sector. Mr. Xin Guobin, the Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology, said at a recent forum that the Chinese regulators have started to study a timetable to end production and sales of conventional internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicles. Fitch views this as the Chinese government's response to the ambitious timetables set by other countries. In 2016, the Netherlands and Germany anno... more

A fracking ban and moratorium implemented

Minister for Mines Bill Johnston has announced that the WA State Government has implemented a ban on hydraulic fracturing for unconventional gas for all existing and future petroleum titles in the South-West, Peel and Perth metropolitan regions in Western Australia (Fracking Ban Area). In addition, the Minister formally confirmed a moratorium on fracking throughout the rest of Western Australia pending an independent scientific inquiry into the potential impact of fracking outside of the Fracking Ban Area. The terms of reference of the inquiry include: identifying environmental, health, agricultural, heritage and community impacts associated with the process of hydraulic fracture stimulation in Western Australia, noting that impacts may vary in accordance with the location of the activity; using credible scientific and historical evidence to assess the level of risk associa... more

New legislation to stimulate Victorian renewables sector

The Victorian Government has recently announced the legislating of the Victorian renewable energy target and Australia's largest renewable energy auction scheme to date. These announcements follow other policy reforms initiated by the Victorian Government including the Climate Change Act 2017, Take2 Pledge, and the recently released renewable energy action plan. Victorian renewable energy target In June 2016, the Victorian Government announced renewable energy targets for generation of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025 of Victoria's electricity requirements (the VRET). On 23 August 2017, the Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Bill 2017 (Vic) (RE Bill) was introduced into the Victorian Parliament with the aim of giving legislative force to the Government's commitments to the VRET and if passed, will be the first time such targets have been reflected in state legisla... more

High Court decision could render some WA mining leases invalid

The recent High Court Forrest & Forrest Pty Ltd v Wilson [2017] HCA 30 case has cast doubt on the validity of certain Western Australian mining leases. The key issue in the case was whether the failure to lodge a mineralisation report, at the time of the application for a mining lease under the Mining Act 1978 (WA), deprived the Mining Warden of jurisdiction to make a recommendation to the Minister for Mines in relation to the grant of the mining lease. It was submitted by Forrest & Forrest that, if such jurisdiction was lacking, any mining lease subsequently granted would be invalid. Relevant background On 28 July 2011, Yarri Mining Pty Ltd and Onslow Resources Ltd lodged applications for two mining leases. No mineralisation report was lodged contemporaneously with these applications as required by section 74(1)(ca) of the Act. Several months after the applications were... more

FCAS rule changes increase competition in the energy market

Changes to the technical rules around how the electricity system is operated could lead to lower prices for customers. In short, the rule changes will promote greater competition in the market for frequency control ancillary services, or FCAS. For the electricity network to function correctly supply and demand must be balanced constantly. One element of this is controlling the frequency of the electricity in the network so that it remains within guidelines. AEMO is responsible for controlling frequency in the electricity network, and does this by purchasing FCAS from organisations that are registered with it. When the frequency in the network is too low electricity generation is increased or demand on the system is reduced (for instance a factory might reduce its electricity usage temporarily). When the frequency is too high, generation is reduced. AEMO pays for these services, and... more

Coal miners in NSW hit with large fine for pollution

A coal mining company has been fined $1.05 million by the NSW Land and Environment Court (Court) for the overflow of slurry which escaped into a watercourse and travelled into the Blue Mountains National Park.1 The penalty was imposed in addition to clean up costs of over $2 million, as well as legal and prosecutor costs. The case serves as a reminder that, despite the best clean-up efforts, large fines may still be issued to polluters to act as a deterrent. Background Clarence Colliery Pty Ltd (Clarence Colliery) operates a coal mine in the Blue Mountains. On or around 2 July 2015, coal fines slurry which was being pumped into a holding cell overflowed the perimeter wall and escaped into an unnamed watercourse, travelling 10.3 km downstream into the neighbouring Blue Mountains National Park. Clarence Colliery was charged with two offences: negligently causing a substan... more

Forging new law in insolvency

One of the harbingers of the end of the mining boom in Western Australia was the collapse of the Forge Group in early 2014. Forge Group Ltd (Forge) and the companies associated with it were substantial players in the mining services sector. Towards the end of 2013 Forge went into an extended trading halt arising from concerns about its ability to meet debt covenants. In early 2014 the company announced that it had reached a deal with its bank, ANZ, which would "solve the liquidity issues and strengthen Forge Group's balance sheet". But when voluntary administrators were appointed a few weeks later, on 11 February 2014, they found 1200 trade creditors owed a total of nearly $50 million; 1600 employees owed $15.5 million in employment entitlements; and secured creditors owed over half a billion dollars, the main one being ANZ, which appointed receivers and managers to the companies on t... more

Rebranding in the energy market

A number of energy giants have recently undergone corporate rebranding exercises. The motivations of these powerhouses often vary, from unifying a group after a series of mergers and acquisitions, to repairing reputational damage, to just aligning with a new corporate vision. Tesla dropped "Motors" from its branding in 2016 to promote its clean energy solutions offering, and AGL Australia recently launched a new logo as part of a wider digitalisation strategy designed to emphasise sustainability and digitalisation. Whatever their objective, when rebranding organisations will have to navigate numerous challenges along the way, many of which if not carefully managed can cause irreversible damage to both the new and incumbent brands. Organisations looking to rebrand should complete a risk analysis and establish a comprehensive rebranding road map at an early stage, accounting for the ... more

Land Court orders QGC to pay $35,000 in compensation to landholder

The Land Court has handed down its first decision on an application that allowed a gas field development to proceed on private land without the landholders' agreement. QGC wanted access to an unimproved property south of Chinchilla to drill six gas production wells. On the uncontradicted evidence of QGC's valuer, the Land Court ordered the payment of $35,000 in compensation and imposed conditions to regulate the parties' future relationship. Most unfortunately, the landholders were not represented at the hearing and did not tender any evidence. The decision creates an undesirable precedent and reminds landholders of the need to engage carefully in the resources-friendly land access regime that exists in Queensland. The law Queensland's resources legislation is premised on the principle that the extraction of resources including gas by private companies is to be encouraged to gene... more

Investment in Australian startups hits a near-record

Australian venture capital (VC) invested in Australia hit a near-record $230 million, according to Venture Pulse Q2 2017 — the quarterly global VC trends report published by KPMG. The number of deals, at 36, was marginally up on the last quarter (25), when $90.66 million of VC investment was recorded. Corporate venture financing in the quarter exceeded $100 million. Amanda Price, Head of KPMG Australia High Growth Ventures commented: “This quarter’s data shows that investment in Australian startups is growing significantly – with fewer but larger deals. This indicated a maturation in our startup ecosystem, with more early-stage ventures achieveing success and seeking funds to super charge their growth, often in international markets.” “Founders are seeing increasing interest from corporates, media and government in Australia and this reflects the fact that VC funds raised... more

BHP achieves production records

BHP has achieved production records at Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO), Spence and two Queensland Coal mines. BHP Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Mackenzie said BHP has stepped up to unlock low-cost latent capacity and achieve strong productivity gains across their tier one assets. Improved productivity led to record annual production at Western Australia Iron Ore, Spence and two Queensland Coal mines while production guidance was achieved by Petroleum and Western Australia Iron Ore. Copper production is expected to rebound strongly in the 2018 financial year with the commissioning of the Escondida Water Supply project and ramp-up of the Los Colorados Extension project during the September 2017 quarter to enable utilisation of Escondida’s three concentrators. In Petroleum, the recently approved Mad Dog phase 2 project will extend low-risk oil volumes as supply tightens wh... more