Oct 12, 2020

Queensland and Palmer figure at Diggers & Dealers

Queensland and Palmer figure at Diggers & Dealers Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan was the keynote speaker.
  • by Ross Louthean

Day one of the annual Diggers & Dealers Forum in Kalgoorlie was restricted to West Australian attendees alone but there was a Queensland presence through the Century zinc mine and a virtual presentation by Evolution Mining’s chief executive Jake Klein.

Organisers of what is Australia’s biggest annual mining event told Industry Queensland that despite the COVID-19 restrictions which prevented interstate and international delegates from attending, there would be a total of 1750 attendees.

Century mine owner New Century Resources did not have a presentation berth but took a booth in the major, packed exhibition tent and had a presentation for delegates.

Patrick Walta, New Century Resources.

Also, managing director Patrick Walta patiently awaited during the session breaks to appear on an interstate computer link to answer any delegate questions.

The presentation showed the Century mine to be an established Top 10 zinc producer that had completed a milestone 50th shipment and was forecasting a “positive” EBITDA and operational cashflow for the September quarter.

The presentation said the company as the new owner had transformed the mine within three years through repurposing its world-class infrastructure.

The Lawn Hill mine, plant and camp was now Australia’s largest hydraulic mining facility, and life-of-mine had been extended from remnant in-situ deposits and ‘exploration upside.’

However, the international impact of COVID-19 had seen a large-scale disruption to 2020 production with a projected 10 per cent cut to global production. The company said Australia is the only zinc-producing country impacted by less then 5 per cent.

Chinese smelter annual raw material stocking for winter was typically starting in October, and Chinese domestic mines were considered to have limited capacity to increase production.

Material supply was severely impacted from Peru, Bolivia, South Africa, India, the US and Mexico.

Keynote speaker was Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan who painted the picture of WA being the mining strength of Australia with its mining and petroleum operations unabated during the height of the Covid virus in Australia.

He was, he said, the first WA Premier to give the keynote speech as the pre-arranged Oxford Don could not travel, and he drew laughter by pointing out he had achieved this first through imposing a ban on outsiders.

McGowan pointed to the tough decision that had to be used to keep out a serious problem – Clive Palmer.

That, he said, is the third time this week he had used that joke, so he was expecting three new writs.

In answer to a question from Industry Queensland, the Premier said the imbalance of GST returns to WA from 30 per cent of revenue up to 70 per cent had helped resolve a major debt issue for the State.

He said the Northern Territory gets $4 for every $1 GST return entitlement, while Queensland gets slightly under a dollar.

Western Australia last week declared a surplus of over $1 billion thanks largely to its iron ore and gold mining revenue, and Mr McGowan hopes the other States – likely to have large debts – don’t try to change the GST take to their favour.