Barnett calls end of mining downturn

Australia’s mining downturn has bottomed out despite ongoing global markets volatility, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says.

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Mr Barnett said the Australian mining industry had successfully cut construction and operation costs in the face of lower commodities prices and added that the industry was at its lowest point in terms of world competitiveness.

“I’m either brave enough or silly enough to suggest that we’ve hit the bottom,” Mr Barnett told the Africa Downunder mining conference in Perth on Wednesday.

“Global markets are fragile but the fact that we’re seeing some greater stability in commodities, oil prices, gas prices, iron ore prices – I think we have probably hit the bottom.”

He said the next 12 months would be a period of some risk for mining companies but the industry would come through the current difficult period stronger and more robust.

Resolute Mining chief executive John Welborn was also upbeat about the future of Australian and African-focused miners.

“We heard from the premier that apparently commodity markets have bottomed so take that to the bank and move forward,” Mr Welborn told reporters on the sideline of the conference.

Mr Welborn, a former investment banker and Australian rugby union player, said now was a good time to look at exploration and merger and acquisition opportunities but the company’s number one focus would be its Syama operations in Mali and Ravenswood in Queensland.

“We’re always looking at opportunities and that’s why I find the mining space really exciting because there’s a never ending world of opportunity out there, particularly in Africa.”