The resources industry in Australia is digging deep to support charities and organizations committed to helping bushfire-ravaged communities recover from what’s been a disastrous few months for the nation.
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has given a shout out to its members that have opened their wallets for the bushfire recovery, with BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) donating AU$2 million to the Australian Red Cross to support emergency relief efforts.
Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) has also given AU$1 million. Additionally, Orica (ASX:ORI) has given AU$1 million to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal and the NSW Rural Fire Service. The latter was also given AU$400,000, donated by Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM), to share with the Victorian Country Fire Authority.
Other MCA members like consultancies KPMG and EY have been giving leave to bushfire volunteers and making donations.
Another major company, South32 (ASX:S32), has donated AU$1 million overall.
“The continuing impact on people, communities and their land and livelihood is devastating and widespread across Australia,” said the MCA.
Donations have also rolled in from some of the big names in Australian business, with mining magnate Andrew Forrest — who is the chairman of Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) — donating AU$70 million to the bushfire recovery through his Minderoo Foundation, while mining heiress and Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart has also reportedly made a private donation.
The 2019/2020 Australian bushfire season has so far burned more than 10 million hectares of land across the country and 28 people have lost their lives, with blazes tearing through communities in every state. According to the NSW Rural Fire Service, the leadup to the season saw some of the worst conditions in living memory due to drought.
Besides the obvious environmental damage, which is so severe that there are estimates that billions of animals have perished and some species are likely to have become extinct, Moody’s Analytics has warned that the cost of the fires could easily surpass the Black Saturday Fires in 2009, when 173 people died and 450,000 hectares were burned. Those fires were estimated to cost AU$4.4 billion.
By comparison, the 2019/2020 fires have burned more than 20 times the amount of land, but fewer people have died. The fire season is only halfway over, however.
Impact on mining operations has not been reported to be significant, with only a few disruptions to operations due to road closures reported so far. Most of the mining operations in Australia are far from the major fires in the southeast of the country.
Even so, Independence Group (ASX:IGO) saw roads cut, stopping access to its Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine in Western Australia, while the Higginsville gold mine, operated by Westgold Resources (ASX:WGO), came under threat in late December, though no damage has been reported.
So far, no mining companies have reported any impacts to production or operations.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.