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Australia Mining Trends 2020: Coronavirus Impacts Resource Space

The Investing News Network takes a look at Australia mining trends for 2020, with a macro view of the issues that came to the fore.

Click here to read the previous Australia mining trends article.

When looking back at the main trends for mining in 2020, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is front and center for commodities and markets across the board.

For Australia, resources and energy exports are weathering the COVID-19 pandemic well, despite adverse impacts on a number of metals.

Overall, government data shows that resources and energy exports reached a record AU$290 billion from 2019 to 2020, supported by strong prices for gold and iron ore.

Here the Investing News Network (INN) recaps the main Australia mining trends in 2020.

Australia mining trends 2020: The year in perspective

The coronavirus pandemic started to spread around the world early in 2020, with China being the initial epicenter of the virus. Australia also had to fight the battle against the pandemic, taking actions and implementing policies to contain COVID-19.

“I think given the chaotic year we all had, and after an initial status quo in the first months of COVID-19, many were surprised with how resilient the sector is,” Paola Rojas of Synergy Resource Capital told INN.

“We had some definite lows (such as Altura Mining’s receivership), but the year overall ended in an unexpected high note,” she added.

One trend seen in the Australian market has been capital raisings for listed firms, which according to Rojas continued to gain momentum, with some reporting even doubling figures compared to 2019.

According to advisory firm BDO, cash inflows to Australia’s mineral and petroleum exploration sector surged by 51 percent to a two year high in the three months to September 30. Furthermore, 63 percent of the 642 explorers on the ASX managed to raise money through equity or debt during the period.

“Now, in the private company arena, things haven’t been as rosy,” Rojas explained. “They had to endure longer due diligence periods, particularly considering that site visits have become harder (if not impossible for some locations).”

Looking over at how commodities performed in 2020, the year was a two part tale — most markets plummeted in the first half of the year on the back of the pandemic’s impact, while the second half brought a recovery for many metals. In fact, gold hit an all-time high of above US$2,000 per ounce and copper surpassed the US$8,000 per tonne mark on the London Metal Exchange.

“Gold became certainly the leading lady of the 2020 movie, with copper following not far behind,” Rojas said. “Some amazing stories came to be — probably the frontrunner for me is Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN,OTCQB:CGMLF) with their world-class discovery at Julimar, near Perth, Western Australia.”

She added, “It doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, but when it does it makes everything right again … and that’s why we love this business.”

Australia mining trends 2020: Quarterly highlights

Here’s a look at some of the trends seen in Australian mining in 2020, quarter by quarter.

January to March: COVID-19 spreads

The first quarter of the year was marked by the coronavirus pandemic, which hit markets across the globe. Back in early days of 2020, US/China trade tensions and the coronavirus outbreak were weighing on world economic growth and industrial production, but growth was expected to rise slowly.

Prices for oil crashed, with base metals also receiving a hit as lockdowns and containment measures were put in place. Meanwhile, iron ore prices remained at high levels during the period on the back of supply disruptions seen in 2019.

April to June: Commodities outlook improves

“After 11 years of growth, the world is facing a COVID-19-induced downturn of a breadth and scale that now seems likely to be much larger than assumed (in March),” the Australian government’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) said back in June.

“The previous major global downturn — the global financial crisis — affected resource and energy commodities dramatically, but China’s infrastructure drive and a weaker Australian dollar helped provide Australia with a lifeline of sorts,” its statement continues.

As economic stimulus hopes started to increase, the outlook for commodities during the second half of 2020 was one of recovery. In fact, the OCE estimated that higher export volumes and a lower-than-expected Australian dollar would offset the impact of generally weaker prices.

July to September: Gold, iron ore make moves

During the June to September period, the world saw commodities continue to rebound, as China recovered and demand for metals from the Asian country increased. Iron ore prices hit a six year high, while gold also reached an all-time high surpassing the US$2,000 per ounce mark.

For Australia, the OCE believes resources and energy exports are likely to remain a major source of support to the economy as it recovers from the largest global contraction since World War II.

September to December: Vaccine hopes build

With the launch of vaccine rollouts around the world in the fourth quarter of the year, hopes of an economic recovery continued during the last few months of the year. Uncertainty still remains high, but the outlook for Australia’s resource sector is optimistic.

Another trend during the period was the escalation of trade tensions between China and Australia. Tensions began earlier in the year, after Canberra backed calls for an international investigation into the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic from China.

The Asian country imports 60 percent of iron ore from Australia, which is the world’s top producer. Coal exports to China could also suffer, while other products, including barley, sugar, red wine, timber and potentially copper, are being caught up in the disputes.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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There are many big Australian gold stocks, but these are the five top companies in the sector by market cap.

Australia is the fourth largest producer of gold worldwide, and this past year has brought ups and downs for the commodity. The precious metal hit its 2021 high point early on and fell soon after.

Lately, gold has been resting at a strong price of around US$1,800 per ounce, and it seems like it will exit the year that way. It may even be in for a serious price hike if inflationary pressures continue on their current trajectory.

Read on to learn more about Australia’s five top gold companies by market cap. All market cap and share price information was obtained on November 25, 2021, using TradingView's stock screener.


1. Newcrest Mining

Market cap: AU$19.54 billion; current share price: AU$24.14

Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) operates a portfolio of gold mines across Australia, Canada and Papua New Guinea. These include its New South Wales-based Cadia mine and its Western Australia-based Telfer and Havieron mines.

In November 2021, Newcrest agreed to purchase British Columbia-based Pretium Resources (TSX:PVG,NYSE:PVG) for C$3.5 billion, marking the company’s expansion into Western Canada.

2. Kirkland Lake Gold

Market cap: AU$14.57 billion; current share price: AU$54.99

Kirkland Lake Gold (ASX:KLA) has mining operations in Australia and Canada, both of which are low-risk, gold-rich countries. The company’s Fosterville mine is based in Victoria, Australia, and as of December 31, 2018, its mineral reserves stood at 2.7 million ounces. It produced 640,467 ounces in 2020.

In September 2021, Kirkland Lake Gold and Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM,NYSE:AEM), a Canadian gold miner, announced a “merger of equals." The new company will go by the name Agnico Eagle Mines, and the companies expect the transaction to close in late 2021 or early 2022.

3. AngloGold Ashanti

Market cap: AU$12.43 billion; current share price: AU$5.83

AngloGold Ashanti (ASX:AGG) is a global gold miner formed in 2004. It has two Australia-based operations, both of which are based in Western Australia’s northeastern goldfields: Sunrise Dam and Tropicana. Sunrise Dam is 100 percent owned, while Tropicana is 70 percent owned, with the remaining 30 percent owned by Regis Resources (ASX:RRL,OTC Pink:RGRNF). In 2020, these operations produced 554,000 ounces of gold.

In Q3 2021, AngloGold Ashanti reported total gold production of 613,000 ounces at a total cash cost of US$927 per ounce. This represents a 5 percent quarter-over-quarter increase in production, though a year-to-date decrease.

4. Northern Star Resources

Market cap: AU$11.39 billion; current share price: AU$9.66

Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) is an Australian gold-mining company with projects throughout Western Australia and North America at its Kalgoorlie, Yandal and Pogo production centres. In the 2021 fiscal year, Northern Star experienced a 40 percent revenue increase and a 10 percent cash earnings hike.

In late November 2021, Northern Star announced an agreement to buy Newmont Australia’s power business for US$95 million. The company paid US$25 million for the option to purchase this business, an opportunity it was given through its recent 50 percent acquisition of Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines.

5. Evolution Mining

Market cap: AU$7.53 billion; current share price: AU$4.12

Australian gold miner Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) has projects throughout New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, as well as in Ontario, Canada. Evolution Mining produced 680,788 ounces of gold in the 2021 fiscal year at an all-in sustaining cost of AU$1,215 per ounce.

In 2019, Evolution Mining became one of only two Australian gold companies to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (INDEXDJX:W1SGI). In 2020 and 2021, the company made several strategic acquisitions and divestments, including its high-value purchases of the Red Lake and the Kundana operations.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2018.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Isabel Armiento, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

What are the largest Australian copper companies? These five ASX copper stocks are the biggest on the exchange by market cap.

Last year, pandemic restrictions forced copper mines to shut down across the world, driving down global production and causing the 10 largest copper-mining companies to suffer dramatic losses.

But in 2021, copper hit an all-time high of US$10,700 per tonne, and stayed over US$9,000 for much of the year.

The three top copper-producing countries globally are Chile, Peru and China, with Australia coming in at number six. Still, there are plenty of untapped resources in the land down under, and Australia is making a name for itself as an up-and-coming producer of this important base metal.


Read on to learn more about the top five Australian copper companies on the ASX, ranked by market cap. All market cap and share price information was obtained on November 26, 2021, from TradingView.

1. BHP

Market cap: AU$192.56 billion; current share price: AU$38.03

BHP (ASX:BHP) is a top global producer of copper, nickel, potash, iron ore and metallurgical coal, with copper production centralised at its South Australia-based Olympic Dam mine.

The company, whose headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia, emphasises copper’s function in renewable energy systems and the metal’s critical role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Recently, BHP has focused its attention on its energy assets. In late November, the company merged its oil and gas portfolio with Woodside Petroleum, a deal that was originally struck in August of the same year. On the mineral side of its operations, BHP was looking to acquire Noront Resources (TSXV:NOT,OTC Pink:NOSOF), a Canada-based nickel, copper, chrome and platinum company, but decided not to match a superior offer.

2. OZ Minerals 

Market cap: AU$8.77 billion; current share price: AU$25.70

OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) is a South Australia-based copper-mining company founded in 2008. Its operations include the Carrapateena project, where construction was completed in 2019, and the upcoming Malu underground mine, which was commissioned in 2015.

In a November press release, OZ Minerals reported a year-to-date 5 percent increase in group ore reserve copper metal tonnes. In its third quarter results, the company reported guidance of between 120,000 and 145,000 tonnes of copper for the year.

3. Sandfire Resources

Market cap: AU$2.59 billion; current share price: AU$6.11

Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR) owns 7,189 square kilometres in the Bryah Basin region of Western Australia, including its DeGrussa and Monty operations. Both of these are 100 percent owned and produce copper and gold.

The company released its third quarter results in October, reporting total copper production of 15,946 tonnes. Sandfire expects output of between 64,000 and 68,000 tonnes of copper in 2022.

4. 29Metals

Market cap: AU$1.29 billion; current share price: AU$2.63

Australia-based mining company 29Metals (ASX:29M) has the Golden Grove mine in Western Australia and the Capricorn copper mine in Queensland, along with several promising new growth opportunities lined up. 29Metals focuses on copper production, though it also mines for zinc, gold and silver.

According to an October release from the company, production was weaker than expected at Golden Grove during the September quarter. However, the asset's quarter-on-quarter decline of about 10 percent was largely offset by a strong performance at Capricorn.

5. Copper Mountain Mining

Market cap: AU$804.96 million; current share price: AU$3.81

Copper Mountain Mining (ASX:C6C) is a Canadian and Australian copper miner, with its flagship Copper Mountain operation in British Columbia, Canada, and its Eva and Cameron copper projects in Queensland, Australia.

In the third quarter, Copper Mountain Mining reported total output of 22.4 million pounds of copper at its Copper Mountain mine, representing a 12.1 percent quarter-over-quarter decline in production. The company still reported positive cash flow, with strong construction and exploration gains made at its Eva and Cameron projects.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2018.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Isabel Armiento, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.