Mining major BHP Billiton has announced that 150 miners from the Mount Arthur coal mine in Australia will be made redundant in the next four months.


The proposed plans will affect full-time and contract workers in the production and maintenance departments.


BHP said the job cuts have been effected after a review and are necessary to help reduce costs and sustain the business in the longer term.


BHP Billiton's energy coal asset president Peter Sharpe said: "The Australian coal industry continues to experience difficult market conditions, including continuing low coal prices and a strong Australian dollar.


"We have made progress at Mount Arthur Coal in our efforts to reset our cost base, but regrettably, an additional 150 roles will be made redundant by the end of February 2015 as a result of further operational efficiencies."


NSW Minerals Council has, however, blamed the policies of New South Wales Government for the job losses in the state.


The council claims that the coal industry in the state is facing a difficult period due to a cyclical downturn in coal prices and claims that the industry has lost around 4,000 direct jobs in the last two years.


Mineral Council CEO Stephen Galilee said: "Dealing with these tough times is being made tougher due to New South Wales Government policies that include a broken planning system that refuses important projects like Drayton South that would protect and save Hunter jobs."

The largest foreign producer of gold in China Eldorado Gold is planning to sell its Chinese mines for $1.5bn.


China National Gold Group, the country's biggest producer of the commodity, is reportedly interested in the deal, as well as other companies including Zhaojin Mining Industry, Zijin Mining Group and Jiangxi Copper.


Eldorado has three operating mines in China with a production capacity of 300,000oz of gold a year, in addition to its projects in Turkey, Greece and Brazil.


Tanjianshan open pit mine in north-western China's Qinghai province and the White Mountain underground mine in the Jilin province close to the border with North Korea, are Eldorado Gold's assets in China.


TD Securities analysts Steven Green and Daryl Young are quoted by Bloomberg as saying that the $1.5bn price is highly attractive to buyers.


In February, Chinese private equity firm CDH Investments Fund Management expressed its approval to spend $40m for a 20% stake in Eldorado's Eastern Dragon project, which is situated near the Russian border.


CEO Paul Wright said that Eldorado aims to resume construction at the mine next summer after it expects to receive approval from the Chinese Government.

BHP Billiton has cancelled plans to sell its Nickel West business in Western Australia, as the company has failed to find a buyer willing to pay its price.


The decision follows a review by BHP on Nickel West, which included the Mt Keith, Cliffs and Leinster mines and the associated concentrators, the Kalgoorlie smelter, the Kambalda concentrator and the Kwinana refinery.


The review considered the potential sale of all or parts of the operation, and was prompted by an announcement in December 2013 to cease operations in the sub-level cave at Perseverance Underground mine due to safety concerns.


Nickel West Asset president Paul Harvey said: "The focus of Nickel West will remain on delivering safe and efficient production whilst pursuing every opportunity to maximise productivity, to reduce operating costs and increase free cashflow."


The company previously planned to shed its non-core assets and concentrate on its operations in four key businesses of coal, copper, iron ore and petroleum. BHP Billiton said it would seek other options to improve shareholder value.


In a statement the company said: "At this time, Nickel West will remain in the BHP Billiton portfolio as a non-core asset and the company will continue to operate the business to realise its full value.


Nickel West, which includes several mines and processing facilities, was planned to be sold to an investor or a rival nickel producer. According to reports, Glencore and China-based nickel mining company Jinchuan Group were prospective buyers for the business.

China has declared the deaths of 21 miners who had been trapped inside the collapsed Dongfang mine in Huainan City.


Confirmation has come two and half months after the accident ocurred in the eastern part of the country, when the search for the missing workers was concluded. The Dongfang mine incident death toll has risen to 27, reports Chinese news agency Xinhua.


A gas explosion on 19 August had trapped 39 workers in the underground shafts of the coal mine. Following the accident, a local news agency reported that 12 people managed to escape but six were declared dead.


Families of the missing miners have each received CNY910,000 ($14,841) in compensation.


The search for the mining workers was affected by the collapsed mine shafts and gas pockets, officials from the government stated.


Experts warned that continuing the search risked causing further explosions, so the missing persons have been assumed dead due to the underground conditions.


Though officially licensed, the 90,000t-a-year coal mine had been operating illegally at the time of explosion, as the Huainan municipal Government had issued production suspension orders as a flood precaution.

The South Australian Government is planning to increase the value of mineral and energy resource production to $10bn a year by 2017, creating 5,000 new jobs.


The government unveiled a resource production record of $7.5bn in 2013 to 2014.


South Australia Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis claimed that the new production record, which is up by $1.3bn on the previous financial year, is attributed to an increase of iron ore and petroleum production, and steady production of copper, gold and uranium.


Koutsantonis said:"We acknowledge the on-going challenges mineral explorers face from commodity prices to accessing global risk capital.


"But we recognise mining is a long-term venture and we will continue to take a long-term view in the development of our resource initiatives and policies."


To achieve its goals, the government plans to increase cumulative investment in exploration and appraisal to $430m in the South Australian Cooper-Eromanga basins.


Plans also include attracting an additional ten service firms with a presence in South Australia and diversifying 20 non-mineral and energy suppliers into the resources sector.


The government said it needs to assist BHP Billiton in reaching the initial stage of identifying the full potential of Olympic Dam via its start of construction of the heap leach demonstration trial.


It should also achieve $140m in exploration and appraisal investment within the South Australian Cooper-Eromanga basins.

Erdene Resource Development has begun resource definition drilling programme at its wholly owned Altan Nar gold-polymetallic project in the Tien Shan Gold Belt of south-west Mongolia.


The drill programme aims to establish a near-surface, National Instrument (NI) 43-101-compliant resource estimate at the two most advanced target areas within the 5.6km Altan Nar trend.


RungePincockMinarco will carry out the mineral resource estimate, including an initial review of existing data and current drill programme.


A total of $778,239 had been raised by the company in November by closing its non-brokered private placement and from the exercise of warrants.


Erdene president and CEO Peter Akerley said: "We believe the discovery at Altan Nar, with its high-grade zones, size potential and location, provides an opportunity with the flexibility to move rapidly towards a small-scale start-up and ultimately towards a very large gold, silver, zinc and lead development on the border with China.


"The current drilling and independent resource estimate is serving both of these routes, initially by establishing a high confidence open pitable resource which we can build development plans around, but also being demonstrative of the greater potential as it represents only a small portion of the project area.


"We are looking forward to a steady flow of drill results throughout the winter months as we advance this project towards its maiden resource estimate."


The resource drilling programme will target two heavily mineralised zones, Discovery Zone and Union North, which are expected to hold high-grade and near-surface mineralised systems.


Erdene plans to complete approximately 1,700m of drilling by mid-December, focusing on extending the high-grade, near-surface mineralised zones, and to provide sufficient data to calculate a NI 43-101-compliant mineral resource at both target areas that is amenable to open pit mining.

Rio Tinto and Sinosteel have signed a heads of agreement to advance negotiations for a second extension to the Channar Mining iron ore joint venture (JV) in Western Australia's Pilbara region.


The original Channar JV, which was signed in 1987, allowed for the production of 200 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore.


This rate was extended in 2010 by an additional 50Mt of iron ore.


Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said: "The Channar JV was a ground-breaking partnership formed in the early stages of the development of the Chinese steel industry.


"It's now one of China's longest running and most successful partnerships with Australia and a model for economic co-operation between our two countries.


"The signing demonstrates the commitment by Rio Tinto and Sinosteel to continue exploring opportunities that build on a mutually beneficial partnership that has developed over many years."


Rio Tinto owns a 60% stake in the JV and Sinosteel holds the remaining 40%.


Channar mine is located 60km south of Tom Price in the Pilbara region and sits in the Hamersley Group, which comprises Archaean and Proterozoic age rock formations. The mine is owned by the JV and operated by Rio Tinto, while Sinosteel has all production rights.


The firms will have to reach mutually acceptable terms on the new extension before the previous one expires, around 2016.


First ore was produced from Channar mine in January 1990 and full design capacity of 10Mt a year was accomplished in 1998.

Adani Enterprises $7bn coal mine, rail and port project in Queensland, Australia, has received a loan of up to $1bn from the State Bank of India (SBI), coinciding with the high-profile visit of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.


The trading and infrastructure conglomerate signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SBI for the Carmichael mine in Queensland, which has massive blocks of coal reserves untapped in the Galilee Basin. Adani is looking at a completion date of late 2017.


The state Government of Queensland has promised to commit short-term, minority stakes in rail and port infrastructure required to transport coal to the east coast.


Commenting on the development, Adani Mining CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj said: "We are bringing on-board valued partners in different facets of this integrated project, ensuring we will meet our guidance of first coal in 2017."


Although this new development in Carmichael mine project is being seen as a breath of fresh air from the five-and-a-half-year long slump in coal prices that has stalled rival projects, no final investment decision has been announced yet.


Adani is hopeful of securing funding from South Korea, and the company has already named POSCO Engineering & Construction as its preferred contractor to build the rail line.


Adani's funding approval comes at a time when bigger coal firms, such as BHP Billiton and Glencore, have shelved their major projects in the region due to mounting losses.


Indian rival GVK is also progressing very slowly on a huge coal mine in the Galilee Basin, the Alpha project, which is part-owned by Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart.

Mining companies in New South Wales have employed 1,967 fewer workers in 2013 to 2014 compared with the previous year, despite investing $13.6bn into the Australian state, according to a survey.


The latest Expenditure Survey conducted by NSW Minerals Council states that the 22 mining companies surveyed invested almost one billion more than the $12.8bn in the previous year.


During the period, $2.9bn was spent on wages for 21,516 full-time employees while $9.6bn was used for transactions with 8,202 local businesses, to make community contributions and payments to local government.


Hunter region emerged as the 'beating heart of the state's mining sector', and the report indicated that the region had attracted $5.9bn of investment, which is 43% of the direct expenditure in the NSW mining sector.


Sydney attracted $3.3bn of investment between 2013 and 2014, which is about 25% of the total amount for the state, the report said.


SW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said: "Most people don't realise that Sydney is a significant mining region, but the reality is that there are many suburbs of Sydney, particularly in Western Sydney, that benefit from mining.


Companies in the mining supply chain have fallen by 2,000 to 8,202, due to tough margins and business conditions.


Stephen Galilee said: "Lost mining jobs and fewer mining supply businesses show that when mining is hurting, the rest of the economy hurts too.


"Yet despite the tough times, our sector continues to be an essential pillar of regional economies across NSW, contributing 28% of gross regional product (GRP) in the Hunter, 14.4% in the Illawarra, and 12.1% in the Central West of NSW."

The Government of India is planning to issue mining licences through auctions in order to improve transparency in mineral resources allocation.


The government is seeking to amend an existing 57-year-old act and keep the draft amendments in the public domain until 10 December, to allow time for comments and suggestions.


According to the ministry, bulk minerals such as iron ore, limestone, manganese and bauxite, which are proposed to be notified, will account for at least 85% of the country's mineral production.


A combined prospecting-come-mining licence will be awarded through a competitive bidding process for non-notified minerals.


The successful bidder will undertake the exploration and prospecting work at their own risk and cost, and the bidders should pay either a production share or payment linked to the royalty.


India's central Government will set the terms and conditions for the auction process.


The new bill will focus on attracting private investment and latest technology, and eliminate delays in administration to allow expeditious and optimum development of the country's mineral resources.


It also proposes to establish a District Mineral Foundation in every district affected by mining, which will be funded by an additional levy related to the royalty yet to be decided by the Central Government.


In order to be a strong deterrent, the new bill seeks to make illegal mining a recognised offence. It also has a provision to allow state Governments to establish special courts for trial of offences under the Act, if necessary.

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