A 2023 Intergenerational Report recently released by the Federal Government has highlighted Australia’s potential mining sector benefits due to critical minerals demand. 

The report provides a comprehensive overview of the country’s economy for the next four decades. It predicts the economic outlook and government budget till 2062-63. It also emphasises the importance of addressing climate change and achieving net-zero emissions.

Overall, the news is good for miners. 

Australia is in a prime position to benefit from its abundant reserves of critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, and rare earth elements, which are crucial components in clean energy technologies. We also have the potential to generate green energy more affordably than many others due to our vast open spaces, wind, and sun. However, the report also warns that we can expect a decrease in coal demand. This is because trading partners are transitioning towards net-zero emissions, leaving a big hole in the economy.

All in all, however, Australian mining is expected to transform effectively as critical minerals become a crucial player in the global shift towards net zero. The report compares Australia’s vast reserves of critical minerals with traditional commodities like iron ore and bauxite (for Aluminium), highlighting the nation’s ability to leverage pre-existing mining knowledge and infrastructure.

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?


Fortescue Propose a New Iron Ore Venture and Rail Link

On August 21, Fortescue Metals Group submitted a proposal for approval for its new Nyidinghu iron ore mine and East Hamersley railway project. In turn, the WA EPA has opened the proposal for public comment.

Chichester Metals Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Fortescue Metals Group, aims to create the new iron ore mine about 80 kilometres northwest of Newman. 


The Nyidinghu Iron Ore Mine proposal includes the following:

  • Mining pits above and below the water table 
  • Ore processing from various sources 
  • Waste rock and tailings storage 
  • An aerodrome 
  • Groundwater abstraction 
  • Surplus water management 
  • Aquifer recharge and other supporting infrastructure. 


The submitted mining area covers a vast area of 92,301 hectares (ha) with a disturbance footprint of 12,365 ha. 

During operations, the proposal’s Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to reach up to 285,000 CO2 equivalence per annum (t CO2-e p/a). Scope 2 emissions are expected to hit up to 544,000 t CO2-e p/a. At the same time, Fortescue lodged a separate proposal to the EPA requesting to construct and operate the East Hamersley railway project.


According to the EPA: 

“The East Hamersley railway project includes communications and signalling infrastructure, an ore loading facility, groundwater abstraction and discharge, borrow pits and quarries, culverts, bridges, diversion drains, pump station, construction camp, landfills and wastewater treatment plants, and other supporting infrastructure.”

However, Fortescue’s current proposal doesn’t include transport, electricity, or the water pipeline infrastructure required to connect the proposal to existing operations. The proposed Nyidinghu mine will be connected to the current Fortescue railway line via the East Hamersley railway project. It will cover a development area of 31,507 ha with a disturbance footprint of 4,837 ha. 

The public consultation period for these projects will end on August 27th.


The Catholic Church Begins BHP Class Action over Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP)

A group of Bishops in Botswana, South Africa, and Eswatini, known as the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), has taken legal action against BHP over lung diseases contracted by former and current employees. 

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 17 workers, alleges that BHP, its subsidiary South32, and South African energy company Seriti failed to provide adequate training, equipment, and a safe working environmentThe workers have contracted coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease due to coal dust entering their lungs. The group alleges that the illnesses could have been prevented if measures were taken. 

The SACBC’s Commission for Justice and Peace filed the lawsuit. It argued that South32 breached its legal duties by not implementing statutorily mandated procedures and protections, resulting in the development of incurable lung diseases in the miners.


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