Posts Tagged ‘Wood Mackenzie’

Miners, Supply, and Cost Pressures

September 6, 2011 Comments off

“Building new mines is getting costlier, thanks to higher energy and wage bills as well as equipment shortages. Investing in new copper mines is 50% more expensive in real terms than the average since 1985, HSBC estimates. This acts as a brake on new growth projects. Tighter regulation also slows development; Anglo American estimates getting the right permits to set up a new mine in Australia takes three years now, compared with one year back in 2006.

Many analysts and investors, however, are well aware of the industry’s shortcomings already. Commodities consultant Brook Hunt says it discounts planned industry production growth by 25% for brownfield projects, and by 50% for totally new projects. For a key commodity like copper, it also discounts production forecasts by 5% per year to allow for strikes or poor weather.

Even so, it expects more aluminum, nickel, lead and zinc to be mined ion 2012 than will be consumed, with only the markets for lead and zinc falling into deficit thereafter. It expects the copper market to be in balance next year and surplus thereafter and the iron-ore market to approach balance by 2015.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, September 6 2011


  • All large miners report increasing costs, but the high commodity prices still help them to retain profit margins. Large projects are typically phased so that development costs can be controlled per phase.
  • In its latest annual results presentation BHP Billiton reported the increase of capital intensity of iron ore production (for BHP mainly in Western Australia). Costs per tonne of capacity currently are around $200, while pre-crisis costs were below $100 per annual tonne.


  • The issue of cost pressures will partly solve itself when demand falls and prices decrease: demand for labor and equipment will fall too, enabling cost cutting.
  • The difficulties of capacity increases is more fundamental: new projects have lower grades, are more remote and located in less stable areas politically, leading to both high costs and more effort required to set up a financially stable project.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser |

India in race to snap up coal assets

June 7, 2011 Comments off

“From the mining belts of Queensland, Australia, to East Kalimantan in Indonesia, Indian companies are racing to secure coal assets across the globe. Last year, Indian companies overtook those from China, Korea and Japan as the biggest Asian buyers of overseas coal assets. They were following their US counterparts in trying either to increase their exposure to coal at a time of high commodity prices or lock in fuel supplies for industries such as steelmaking.

Unable to guarantee access to supplies at home because of a mixture of bureaucracy, corruption, logistical and environmental issues, many Indian groups have been aggressively trying to buy assets in Indonesia and Australia. India signed $2.4bn of deals out of a global total of $16bn last year, according to Wood Mackenzie, the consultancy. Meanwhile, Indonesia’s coal association has said it expects India to surpass Japan as the leading buyer of the country’s coal.”

Source: Financial Times, June 6 2011


  • According to Ernst & Young’s analysis of M&A in the mining industry over 2010 India has risen to the 7th place worldwide with $5.5bln overall acquisitions in the industry. A large part of India’s acquisitions are aimed at coal mines and transportation infrastructure.
  • Most Indian acquirers of coal assets are private utility-linked companies, which are mainly interested in thermal or energy coal assets.


  • The gold-rush mentality of many new players and the resulting high premiums paid for coal assets will help the industry in India consolidate, as the more sophisticated players will soon outperform the players that pay too much for access to resources.
  • The Indian government is trying to mobilize state controlled companies to participate in the bidding for overseas coal assets. The creation of the ICVL consortium and the IPO of Coal India are aimed to create more coordination in government efforts.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser |