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Mining Week 49/’11: Changes at the top

December 4, 2011 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Vanselow quits as BHP CFO
    • After 5 years as CFO of the world’s largest miner Alex Vanselow (Brazilian national) announced he will step down and look for a CEO position in the industry. Mr. Vanselow managed to get BHP through the economic downturn in great financial shape (helped by high commodity prices). His recent experience in acquisitions of Chesapeake assets and Petrohawk and the failed acquisitions of Rio Tinto, Potashcorp, and the failed Pilbara JV with Rio Tinto, make him an interesting candidate for any resources company looking to grow by M&A.
    • Sources: BHP Billiton Press Release; Financial Times; Wall Street Journal
  • Codelco and Anglo continue their copper fight
    • In a legal fight over the rights to the Anglo American Sur project Anglo’s lawyers blame Codelco and the Chilean government to act unfairly. Codelco holds an option to buy 49% of the project, but it is unclear whether that is only of Anglo’s stake or of the total project.
    • Sources: Financial Times; Anglo American Press Release; Codelco Press Releases
  • BHP Billiton gets out of diamonds
    • BHP Billiton announced it will review its options around its only diamond project: Ekati diamond mine in arctic Canada. Rio Tinto, which owns the nearby Diavik diamond mine, is the most likely buyer because of the synergistic potential and the lack of funds and abundance of capital spending needs of other large diamond miners.
    • Sources: BHP Billiton Press Release; Financial Times; MiningMx

Trends & Implications:

  • Mr. Vanselow will be an interesting candidate for global companies looking for a change of CEO. As Brazil’s Vale recently changed CEO and Petrobras’ Gabrielli de Azevedo is widely recognized as a strong CEO with work to do he will most likely look to head up a foreign player. The ideal period for a CEO is typically seen as 6-8 years: after that a new point of view and a new alignment with the personality needed for the phase of a company is often helpful. Taking a look at the top positions of the world’s largest miners at this moment, several CEO position changes can be expected over the coming years.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Mining Week 48/’11: Change in Brazil & Tax in Australia

November 27, 2011 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • Australia’s Mineral Resource Rent Tax approved by lower house
    • The new 30% tax on profits above A$75mln for coal and iron ore projects has been approved by the lower house and is now only to be approved by the senate. The tax has been debated for approx. 2 years. Initially proposed by Kevin Rudd, the former premier, the regime has been tuned down and now includes arrangements to stimulate and protect investments.
    • Sources: Wall Street Journal; Financial Times; Australian Treasury MRRT explanation
  • Vale appoints new CFO: Tito Martins
    • Tito Martins, Vale’s head of base metals, has been appointed as the new CFO of the company. Several executive management positions changed in the first major move of the new CEO to strengthen control. Mr. Martins was involved in the acquisition of Inco, which turned into Vale’s base metals division which was led by Mr. Ferreira.
    • The change of top management of Vale was started by appointing Murilo Ferreira CEO in the place of Roger Agnelli after the presidential elections in Brazil. One of the reasons of conflict between government and Vale was the building of a fleet of iron ore carriers in Asia rather than domestically. This fleet was in the news this week as Chinese ports are refusing to host them, trying to protect the interest of incumbent shipping lines.
    • Sources: Vale’s press release; Financial Times
  • Rio Tinto bids for uranium explorer

Trends & Implications:

  • The changes at Vale should prepare the company for further changes to the business environment for the major iron ore producers. The introduction of the MRRT mainly hits Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, but all three majors are figuring out how to react to increasing uncertainty about demand. Asian steel producers are pushing for adaptations to the recently changed pricing mechanisms, moving the pricing system to shorter term contracts. At the same time various Asian players are starting to buy iron ore assets in the price range of hundreds of millions to several billions of dollars; threatening the dominance of incumbents.
  • Rio Tinto is trying to buy into uranium at a moment where industry shares are depressed because of the nuclear disaster in Japan last year. The bid for Hathor signals Rio’s management still believes in the potential of the industry. The company says it accounts for 16% of the world’s uranium production from mines in Australia and Namibia.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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