Latest News

28 July | Emissions

Rio Tinto writes off $1.7bn on aluminium refineries; citing emissions scheme cost

Credit: Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Rio Tinto has written off A$1.7bn ($1.2bn) as losses and devaluation to its aluminium refineries in 2023 due to the mounting cost of Australia’s carbon emissions reduction scheme. Under the scheme, big carbon emitters like aluminium refineries must cut 30% of their present CO₂ emissions by 2030 or purchase carbon credits to offset them.   

In March this year, Rio Tinto said it required special allowances under the Albanese government’s carbon policy that would allow big emitters to reduce their footprint by 4.9% until 2030. Most of Rio Tinto’s emissions come from metal processing, while mining accounts for only 20% of the total emissions.  

Rio CEO Jakob Stausholm said Australia did not produce enough renewable energy to refine aluminium at a large scale. He observed that the long-term solution would be to provide reliable power “at a competitive price”.

9 August | Planning

Western Australia to scrap new Aboriginal heritage protection laws

Western Australia (WA) will overturn the law that aims to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage, designed to prevent a repeat of the destruction caused to the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge site. 

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act came into force on 1 July and faced widespread opposition by farmers and landowners. The landowners and farmers claim that the 2021 regulations were costly.   

“Every new farming activity that we undertook would require a new heritage survey,” CEO of WAFarmers Trevor Whittington told Reuters.   

WA’s premier Roger Cook said on Tuesday that the new law had proven too complex, and the state government will scrap it and restore and amend a 1972 law to ensure the protection of important sites.

26 July | Deep-sea mining

International Seabed Authority delays deep-sea mining to 2024

The UN-affiliated International Seabed Authority (ISA) has demanded that miners wait until at least next year to begin deep-sea mining. The announcement comes following tense discussions among ISA officials during talks held in Jamaica.  

The ISA ruled out any immediate permission for mining operations to begin as talks concluded. The body, however, maintained a legal loophole known as the two-year rule, which means that mining could begin from 2024.  

The ISA must “consider and provisionally approve” applications two years after they are submitted. A statement published by the ISA says that it will make a decision on how the two-year rules will be applied “as a priority” in its next meeting.

The 29th session of the council will take place in July 2024.

25 July | Environment

Newcrest slows mining at Cadia site after dust pollution warnings

Australian gold miner Newcrest has reduced underground mining rates at its Cadia gold and copper mine after the state’s environmental authority found it was producing “unacceptable” levels of dust. 

In June, the New South Wales Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered the company to take immediate action on the levels of dust pollution produced by its operations. The agency found the mine to be falling “well short” of its legal obligations to meet clean air standards. 

Tony Chappel, EPA chief executive officer, said in a statement at the time: “We require the mine to take all necessary steps to ensure dust emissions are significantly reduced and this may include a reduction in production.” He warned that if Newcrest does not demonstrate action, the EPA could suspend its operating licence, seek court orders or issue further directions. 

11 August | Planning

Indonesia arrests former mining minister for enabling illegal licensing

The Attorney General Office (AGO) of Indonesia has arrested the former director-general of the country’s Ministry of Mining and Coal over the alleged enabling of unlawful nickel mining in the country. 

Ridwan Djamaluddin is accused of having helped grant nickel ore licences to several groups of miners in 2021. These miners then used the given approvals to mine in areas outside of their concessions, costing the Indonesian Government Rp5.7trn ($375m) in lost revenue. 

This lost revenue came from alleged extraction across 157 hectares belonging to the country’s state nickel miner Aneka Tambang. The most prominent miner accused was PT Kabaena Kromit Pratama, which Djamaluddin is alleged to have met with to discuss the allowed nickel permit.