Golden glow to continue

As 2010 draws to a close and the mining world ponders what 2011 has in store, gold seems certain to retain its glow, at least in the short to medium term.
Since the start of 2008, just before the GFC, gold has stood tall above most other major asset classes, appreciating by 67% while equity markets, are still in negative territory. Copper has challenged, being up 35% but another precious metal, silver, has won the race and is up by 96%.
At the end of 2010 gold continues to set new records and recently set a new high of US$1423.75 an ounce. Overall, the gold price is up 11% in the last three months, and in the last 12 months it is up by 24%. Silver has soared 64% in the same period.

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Coal M&A activity shifts to US

The vast majority of recent M&A activity in the coal sector has been focused on Australia and Indonesia owing to the increasing energy needs of China and India as well as the need for further industry consolidation.

However, analysis by Wood Mackenzie indicates a global shift in activity towards the US.

Analysis shows the total number of deals completed this year is comparable to the previous 12 months; however the disclosed acquisition spend is down 16% from 2009 levels - at US$10.9 billion.

Wood Mackenzie head of coal supply research Gero Farruggio says the vast majority of M&A activity has been focused in Australia and Indonesia. There has been 27 deals in 2010 to date, compared to 25 in 2009, with single asset transactions accounting for 15 deals - up 50% on 2009 levels.

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Uranium outlook very bright

Supply being unable to keep pace with increasing demand represents good news for uranium producers and explorers owing to strengthening prices.

Demand shows no signs of slowing as many countries look for cleaner energy alternatives while the continuing urbanization of China and India means the need for more energy in these countries.

Nuclear power is seen by many as a solution to both these demand factors and the result is tremendous growth in the nuclear power industry.

Uranium prices have been somewhat slow to recover from the Global Financial Crisis which also saw a dramatic decrease in uranium exploration. The flow-on effect has been a shortage of uranium and this shortfall is unlikely to be met in the short term.

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Government must listen to industry

Now that the Australian Federal Government’s Policy Transition Group (PTG) has finalized face-to-face discussions with the mining industry about implementation arrangements for the proposed new mining tax, it is important that the industry’s concerns are addressed by the nation’s power brokers.

The PTG has held consultation sessions in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney in recent weeks and has received a large number of written submissions on the technical design issues associated with implementation of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) and the extended Petroleum Resource Rent Tax.

With the information gathered, the PTG is now considering the submissions and consultations before providing a final report to the Federal Treasurer by the end of the year.

There is no doubt that these discussions and consultations with the whole industry should have occurred much earlier in the peace, before the Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT) and the subsequent MRRT were placed into the public arena.

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John Miller, Editor

John Miller, Editor, The ASIA Miner
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Editor, ASIA Miner and Australian Editor, E&MJ
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Based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, John Miller has been working as a mining journalist for The ASIA Miner for the past seven years, focusing on mining developments throughout Asia and Australia. He was promoted to editor, The ASIA Miner, during July 2010, is editor of Coal Age Indonesia and has responsibility for E&MJ Australian coverage. John has more than 30 years experience as a journalist. He is also an author with more than five historical books published and a biography published. He has also served his community as a city Councillor and was mayor of Orange from 2002 to 2004.