Monday, August 29, 2011

Why Freaten Our Profits?

The campain against the Federal Government's planned Carbon Tax continues with the latest add showing "ordinary Aussies" asking "Why threaten our jobs?" and directing you to their website. If you wait till the end you'll see the ad is paid for by the Australian Trade and Industry Alliance, who, after a little digging, are made up of:

The group is composed of organisations such as the Minerals Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce, the Australian Coal Association, and the Plastics and Chemical Industries Association.

In other words the fossil fuels lobby is whinging again.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nathan Tinkler Slams Coal Mining Rehab.

From the "credit where credit is due" files, in the September edition of Australian Longwall Magazine coal mining magnate Nathan Tinkler slams the poor standard of rehab in NSW coal mines and also lets fly at jockeys and the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group. Looks like I've found a mining magnate I might have some time for.

pint with Nathan Tinkler

Thursday, 25 August 2011

ASTON Resources founder Nathan Tinkler talks with Australian Longwall magazine editor Lou Caruana about coal mining, Maules Creek, NRL, horses and mine managers.

Nathan Tinkler.

Published in the September 2011 Australian Longwall Magazine

Australian Longwall: Would you say owning a coal mine is a passion, like owning a thoroughbred horse or a champion NRL team?
Nathan Tinkler: It is absolutely a business. If you don’t operate these things seriously they have the potential to bite you hard.

AL: What are the similarities and differences?
NT: All need to be operated and taken seriously but thankfully there are no jockeys in the coal business. You don’t want to do all that work and preparation into producing coal and then hand it over to a 50kg man with a chip on his shoulder who is getting paid regardless of the result he delivers.

AL: How do you think NSW shapes up as a coal mining state compared to Queensland?
NT: NSW is behind. Everyone seems to think they can impose new taxes and royalties but mention any change of legislation to bring the mining act into 2011 and it just seems too big a task.

The current land use debate in the Hunter Valley between agriculture and mining will not resolve anything.

The issues with mining in the Hunter Valley directly tie to rehabilitation and the distinct lack of it by all mining companies. Some of those pits have been open for 50 years and have not been rehabilitated.

It is unacceptable and we now have 50 metre high moonscapes between Singleton and Scone 80km), and Singleton and Denman (70km).

For all the hype in the media we are not actually producing much more coal in NSW than we were 10 years ago. Our social, community and environmental issues in the Hunter Valley are driven from the cumulative impact of overburden removal over tens of decades.

So while coal production has not increased greatly there has been a hell of a lot of overburden removed and piled high over agricultural land. That land is not useable until that overburden is put back in the hole.

Plantings with grass seed is not rehabilitation. These companies are not being made to deal with their obligations and legislation needs to change to deal with it.

The US went through this a decade ago and got a stronger and more social and community minded industry for it.

All mining towns get these days is overburden stacked 50m high around them and 1000 bed camps! Is it any wonder it is becoming impossible to advance new projects?

These are largely mining communities but that does not mean they need to be reminded of it every time they get in a car. The Hunter Valley is being ruined by a lack of governance on rehabilitation and miners are showing little to no social or community awareness in this regard while the dust and health impacts continue to accumulate.

AL: Do you think the Gunnedah Basin could develop into the new Hunter Valley?
NT: I believe it can and it is important that it is not allowed to become the eyesore that the Hunter Valley has become.

AL: Have you spent much time underground in longwall coal mines?
NT: No I haven’t. YouTube is about the limit of my experience with longwall mining.

AL: What steps remain before Aston Resources’ Maules Creek gets into production?
NT: Aston is still working its way through the complex maze of permitting and infrastructure.
While I believe they are making solid progress on this it is hard to believe we are a developed country with the speed things move.

I don’t think anyone has been employed in the Department of Planning for 20 years and NSW now officially has no path for approvals for major projects.

AL: Are you encouraged by Australian Rail Track Corporation’s recent decision to commit $284 million to link the Gunnedah Basin to the port of Newcastle through the Liverpool Ranges?
NT: I am. I just wish they would get on with it. While the money is committed there is a reluctance to spend it. There is still not enough forward planning.

The infrastructure planning in NSW is such that by the time approval is given it is already insufficient and outdated.

The challenge is to not let the Gunnedah Basin become caught up in that archaic planning. Plan for the future, let’s move forward and not close off opportunity.

We really do approach these things like a third world country.

AL: Do you think the big coal players have too much port capacity at Newcastle’s Port Waratah?
NT: Before NCIG [Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group] every producer or newcomer was basically asking Coal and Allied and Xstrata shareholders to build them port access. Hence it never gets done.

How PWCS [Port Waratah Coal Services] can be called an open facility is beyond me. Coal and Allied do not have a strong record of production.

I think they were after 30Mt in 2004 and that is still a milestone. Xstrata can deliver the tonnes but I am not sure they have the asset base to deliver the tonnes forecast.

NCIG is hardly any better. It is currently a myth of a coal port producing very little coal. The silence around the production levels is deafening. On top of that it gives Newcastle a black eye with a new single lane bridge linking half a million people to their local airport!

Well done NCIG – it was a good way to piss off the community.

While all the producers exporting through NCIG are waiting to get port access perhaps they could rehabilitate some of their mines?

AL: What about Abbot Point? Does that look like a worthy investment? Or is that going to be too expensive?
NT: Obviously too expensive, someone paid more. Good luck to them

AL: What’s harder, finding a good mine manager or finding a good NRL coach?
NT: Mine manager by a long way. Too many are spoilt from working with cost profiles and overheads that breed incompetence.

Our mining industry is being consolidated and that means most are being developed in large organisations where accountability is something that exists only in head office where the orders are handed down.

The old style mine manager, who was a respected member of the community and took pride in providing his staff and employees with sustainable employment opportunities, is now most often a foreigner who lives there for 18 months.

He does not want to know anyone, spends more time at head office, focuses on his own bonus and getting into the next department or senior management.

Obviously rehabilitation is not in those bonus arrangements in the Hunter Valley. Very hard to find one that has actually built anything or made a difference to an asset. But they are out there!

AL: Who’s your tip for this year’s NRL grand final winner? OK, if you’re going to say the Newcastle Knights, who will they be playing?
NT: Would love to say Newcastle but we don’t seem to be able to put 80 minutes together at the moment. Our injuries are a concern.

St George are a well drilled outfit and just wear you down, they give you nothingand have some great senior players and promising young players to give them depth. They can take a couple of injuries and still be there.

AL: Do you like to have a bet on the track or would you prefer the local TAB?
NT: I am a Pick 6 and quaddie fan at the TAB.

AL: Will any of your horses be racing in this year’s Melbourne Cup?
NT: Fingers crossed. I don’t have any qualified at this stage so will have to win one of the lead ups. Galizani would be my best chance at this stage.

And apparently this in my 100th post on here and they said I'd never make it (well ok, they said nothing at all really). Happy centenary post to me, happy centenary post to me....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What's wrong with this pic?

Had an invite to a mining rehab conference turn up in my email today, one look at the front page was enough to tell me there's still a lot of clueless people in the industry, why else would this one get past?

Did you see what the problems are?

Ok, I'll tell you, firstly that land there has never been mined, check the trees and topography, the trees have been there for decades, secondly they've only planted Eucalypts, no understory, and finally they've planted them too close together a few years and they'll reach lock up stage and just sit there doing nothing.

Not exactly best practice there, other photos in the brochure were little better.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Phelps talks sense, but it doesn't last.

The Hon Dr Peter "McBain' Phelps is at it again, he starts off talking sense:

I am saying that speed limits are a simplistic solution. They are an arbitrary figure that provides a point above which motorists can be charged for speeding. That is despite the 105-kilometre-an-hour paradox that I explained earlier. On one stretch of road travelling at 105 kilometres an hour is safe and on another it is completely unsafe. That is a demonstration of the ridiculous arbitrariness of speed limits. If members opposite were serious about this issue, they would have increased the scope and range of offences such as driving in a manner dangerous, negligent driving, reckless driving and so on. We would not need speed limits; we could have advisory speed limits. We would then rely upon the good judgement of highway patrol officers to ascertain whether it is safe to drive at 120 kilometres an hour along a dead straight stretch of road on a Saturday morning in dry conditions. That would be the sensible thing to do.

But don't worry, the meds soon wear off and he's back to normal:

......I am told that red light cameras are now also speed cameras.

Dr John Kaye: Are they a socialist plot as well?

The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS: They are a Bolshevist menace. They are designed to control traffic and individuals on our roads. They are normally programmed by some central planner who will tell motorists when they can come and when they can go.

The Hon. Duncan Gay: Please tell the House that I have no plans to remove traffic lights.

The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS: The Minister informs me that he has no plans to remove traffic lights. Traffic light signalling is often irrelevant to road conditions, but what they say goes. Their operation is based on hypothetical models that determine that at a certain time and place there should be a certain amount of traffic and the red light should be activated. That is a Bolshevist mindset writ large. How many times have members been driving on a straight, open stretch of road with clear lines of sight for miles only to be confronted by a red light when wanting to make a right-hand turn? That happens much too often. The answer is roundabouts. Roundabouts represent freedom; roundabouts represent liberty; roundabouts represent democracy at its finest. They involve the great cost-benefit analysis and the fabulous Marshallian demand and supply analysis. One asks oneself, "Do I stay or do I go? There is an oncoming truck. Can I squeeze through in time? Must I slow down and stop or can I whiz through in time?" Such a system is entirely dependent upon traffic conditions and individual judgement. Of course, the Bolshevists hate individual judgement.

And this is why Canberra is such a paradise.

The rise of the Billy Tea Party?

Anyone who's been to one of those Australiana theme parks knows that the "proper" way to make billy tea (for those who don't know a "billy" is a pot for boiling water on over a campfire, most properly an empty tin with a loop of wire over the top for a handle) is to boil up the water, throw in a handfull of tea leaves and swing the thing up and over your head (without the water falling out and scalding yourself) to settle the tea leaves. That's apparently the proper way.

Despite quite a bit of time spent in the bush and yarning with plenty of old timers I've never met anyone (apart from soon to be burnt city slickers and over enthusiastic schoolkids) who actually used that method, stirring with a stick or tapping the billy a couple of times with a stick or knife being the preferred method (though mostly it's done with teabags these days).

And hot on the heels of the frightening US Tea Party movement, stirred up by that vacillating idiot Tony Abbot and the crybabies of the mining industry, scared and angry people are loading up their trucks and busses and cars all over the country to converge on Canberra to winge about, well, here's a couple of examples:

Calls last month by Federal Green’s leader, Senator Bob Brown, for an independent inquiry into Australian media ownership and regulations, sparked Mr Pattel’s protest plans amid concerns the inquiry could restrict freedom of speech and other democratic principles.

“I was under some pressure to organise a protest and was holding back but when the Green’s overstepped the mark I was compelled to act,” Mr Pattel said.

“Freedom of speech is sacrosanct to the democratic principles of our country.

“Once we’ve lost that; what have we got?”

A politician calls for an enquiry and you decide to protest? Given that one of the owners of much of our media is a foreigner and his company has been implicated in some fairly dodgy behaviour (phone tapping, corruption etc) overseas then wouldn't it be a good idea to look at who owns what and encourage a diversity of views? Rather than restricting freedom of speech Brown's call seeks to preserve it (and the Greens do have a good record on this kind of thing).

Ok, let's look at another one:

''The first was reading the 340-page Clean Energy Bill 2011 [the federal carbon tax bill], and the other 12 bills to which it is attached.

''The words 'global warming' are not mentioned........

Let's look at the proposed Act, being lazy and just using the word search function, they're right that "global warming" isn't mentioned however by my count "Climate Change" is mentioned sixty six times. Obviously they put the wrong words into the search function.

So, one's protesting to protect Rupert Murdoch's fortune and another is protesting because they didn't plug the right words into the search function.