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Deals galore and exploration to boot: Australias gold mining sector continues to shine

Back in August the Australian gold price hit an all-time high of A$2,240 per ounce.

Since then, there has been a moderate correction as the gold price denominated in all major currencies has weakened. But as at the end of November, the Australian dollar gold price remains higher than its ever been in history with the exception of the preceding three months.

Put another way, its a great time to be Australian and in the gold mining business, in spite of the recent pullback.

And Australian companies, and companies with Australian assets, have understandably been making hay while the sun has been shining.

The headline grabbers of course, are the big transactions, like Saracens (ASX:SAR) acquisition of a 50% stake in the Big Pit at Kalgoorlie, Evolutions (ASX:EVN) move on Newmonts Red Lake operations in Canada, and St Barbaras (ASX:SBM) acquisition of the Touquoy mine.

But further down the value chain theres plenty happening too, and with a vim and vigour thats not being seen elsewhere..

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Back in August the Australian gold price hit an all-time high of A$2,240 per ounce.

Since then, there has been a moderate correction as the gold price denominated in all major currencies has weakened. But as at the end of November, the Australian dollar gold price remains higher than its ever been in history with the exception of the preceding three months.

Put another way, its a great time to be Australian and in the gold mining business, in spite of the recent pullback.

And Australian companies, and companies with Australian assets, have understandably been making hay while the sun has been shining.

The headline grabbers of course, are the big transactions, like Saracens (ASX:SAR) acquisition of a 50% stake in the Big Pit at Kalgoorlie, Evolutions (ASX:EVN) move on Newmonts Red Lake operations in Canada, and St Barbaras (ASX:SBM) acquisition of the Touquoy mine.

But further down the value chain theres plenty happening too, and with a vim and vigour thats not being seen elsewhere in the world, where investors and dealmakers dont have the benefit of near-record gold prices to underwrite their investments and transactions.

This week, for example, Alkane Resources (ASX:ALK) announced that it is raising up to A$54.8mln for exploration and development work at its Tomingley project in New South Wales, where production has recently transitioned from open pit to underground. The money raised will come in part from shareholders who are to be offered new shares at A$0.55 in a 1-for-8 rights issue, with directors on record as saying theyll take up their rights. It helps, of course, if you can get a A$20mln cornerstone investor, as Alkane has done, but it speaks too of the potential appetite in the local Australian investment community that another A$34.8mln is expected to be forthcoming from existing shareholders.

You can see why there might be such an appetite. Although shares in Alkane hit a five year high in October, they have pulled back a little bit since then, partly no doubt in response to the raise itself, and partly too because of the slightly weaker gold price. But on the whole, a company with a track record of production, but which can also demonstrate the potential for much more growth, looks like as good a bet as you can make in the gold space at the moment.

After all, with the gold price running so high, those with the ability actually to sell gold are the ones who are really going to be cashing in.

Not that the explorers arent getting a look in though. The staking rush thats occurred around the Paterson Range area of Western Australia is testament to the frenzy of interest amongst the explorers and, which is perhaps more notable, the major producers in getting their hands on the next generation of assets.

Greatland Gold PLC (LON:GGP) appears to be out ahead of the pack at the moment, having hit some extremely long mineralised intercepts at its Havieron project, and then subsequently managing to entice local champion Newcrest in to make much of the running. Newcrest is currently deploying six rigs and drilling hell for leather on the ground, by all accounts making Haveiron a serious contender to be its next big mine. Not far away in Paterson, other majors are also drilling, with juniors like Artemis Resources (ASX:ARV) also looking to get in on the action.

Meanwhile, across the country, Rockfire Resources (LON:ROCK) has also hit the headlines recently after revealing details of a 177 metre hit of gold grading at 0.5 grams per tonne. The company is confident its outlined a new gold system at its Plateau project, and is now waiting eagerly on the results of 13 more drill holes. Since that initial gold hit boosted Rockfires shares by upwards of 100%, it will be interesting to see what sort of effect the next tranche has.

Elsewhere, Riversgold Ltd (ASX:RGL) has streamlined its operations to become a pureplay gold company with a focus in Western Australia. Following a recent placement and rights issue, Riversgold will work to develop key projects such as the Kurnalpi project in the Kalgoorlie-BouldRead More – Source

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Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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