Blackstone Acquires the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project

Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX:BSX) is pleased to announce the Company has exercised the option to acquire a 90% interest in the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project in northern Vietnam.

Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX:BSX) is pleased to announce the Company has exercised the option to acquire a 90% interest in the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project in northern Vietnam. Blackstone has executed the binding option agreement to purchase AMR Nickel Limited’s 90% interest in the project as per the ASX announcement dated 8th May 2019.

Blackstone will issue 8.6 million shares to Ta Khoa Mining Limited as per the binding term sheet agreement of A$1 million of Blackstone Minerals shares based on the VWAP for the past 30 trading days. The consideration shares will be subject to shareholder approval under Listing Rule 7.1.

By exercising the option to acquire a 90% interest in the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project, Blackstone has now completed an important condition precedent of the binding share purchase agreement with EcoPro.

Blackstone Minerals’ Managing Director Scott Williamson commented:

“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project and welcome Steve Ennor and all of the team in Vietnam to the Blackstone group, we now look forward to the future of the Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project with our new partner EcoPro”.

Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project – Next Steps

Blackstone Minerals aims to deliver a maiden resource in Q3, focused initially on the disseminated sulfide (DSS) at Ban Phuc and continues to investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both massive sulfide veins (MSV) and DSS deposits. Blackstone Minerals has commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa. The scoping study, also to be announced in Q3, will provide details for joint venture partners to formalise the next stage of investment. Blackstone Minerals has commenced metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium-ion battery industry. In addition, Blackstone Minerals will investigate the potential to develop downstream processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a downstream nickel and cobalt product to supply Asia’s growing lithium-ion battery industry.

The Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project in Vietnam includes an existing modern nickel mine which has been under care and maintenance since 2016 due to falling nickel prices. Existing infrastructure includes an internationally designed 450ktpa processing plant. Previous project owners focused mining and exploration efforts primarily on the MSV at Ban Phuc. Blackstone Minerals plans to explore both MSV and DSS targets throughout the project, initially within a 5km radius of the existing processing facility. Blackstone Minerals will conduct further geophysics on the MSV and DSS targets and continue its maiden drilling campaign. Online readers can click here for footage taken at our Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project in January 2020.

Authorised by the Board of Blackstone Minerals Limited.

For more information, please contact:

Scott Williamson

Managing Director

+61 8 9425 5217

admin@blackstoneminerals.com.au

Nathan Ryan

Investor and Media Enquiries

+61 420 582 887

nathan.ryan@nwrcommunications.com.au

About Blackstone

Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX code: BSX) is developing the district scale Ta Khoa Project in Northern Vietnam where the company is drilling out the large-scale Ban Phuc Nickel-PGE deposit. The Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE Project has existing modern mine infrastructure built to International Standards including a 450ktpa processing plant and permitted mine facilities. Blackstone also owns a large land holding at the Gold Bridge project within the BC porphyry belt in British Columbia, Canada with large scale drill targets prospective for high grade gold– cobalt-copper mineralisation. In Australia, Blackstone is exploring for nickel and gold in the Eastern Goldfields and gold in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Blackstone has a board and management team with a proven track record of mineral discovery and corporate success.

Click here to connect with Blackstone Minerals Limited (ASX:BSX) for an Investor Presentation

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Exploring Southeast Asia’s Premier Nickel-Sulfide District

This Blackstone Minerals profile is part of a paid investor education campaign. *

Overview

Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX, OTC:BLSTF) is a leading battery and precious metals exploration and development company focused on the flagship Ta Khoa Nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) Sulfide Project, located 160 kilometers west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam.

The Ta Khoa district and Ban Phuc mine represents a rare opportunity to invest in a premier, infrastructure advantaged, district scale, nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) sulfide project, with a downstream nickel sulfate value add opportunity, located in an emerging hub for electric vehicle lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

Additional projects within Blackstone's high-calibre portfolio of nickel sulfide, copper-gold-cobalt and gold projects in North America and Australia are being advanced for drill testing or joint venture, including the BC project (cobalt-gold) in Canada and the Silver Swan South project (gold-nickel) in Western Australia.

blackstone pge project
Internationally-designed 450 kilo-tonnes per annum (ktpa) processing plant

Blackstone Minerals' Company Highlights

  • Ta Khoa has infrastructure advantages via the existing Ban Phuc mine and processing facilities, and access to low-cost, underutilised hydroelectricity and a trained labour force
  • Ban Phuc is one of 25 nickel sulfide prospects in the highly prospective Blackstone-controlled Ta Khoa Nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) district, Son La Province, Vietnam
  • Targeting Q2 2020 for the delivery of the initial Joint-Ore Reserves Committee compliant resource for the Ban Phuc disseminated Nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) deposit
  • Advancing an independent scoping study evaluating development options for the Ban Phuc bulk mineable disseminated deposit and adjacent high-grade Nickel PGE (copper-cobalt) prospects
  • The objective is to produce a high-value nickel sulfate product for the lithium-ion EV battery manufacturing hub being developed in the port city of Hai Phong, where leading manufacturing companies have existing large-scale electronics manufacturing facilities
  • Funding secured to deliver a maiden resource and scoping study for the Ban Phuc disseminated nickel sulfide deposit, with approximately AU$4.95 million in treasury and access to an additional AU$2 million through a Controlled Placement Agreement (CPA) with Acuity Capital

Blackstone Minerals' Key Projects

Blackstone's 90 percent-owned Ta Khoa Nickel-PGE project is located 160 kilometers west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam. It includes an existing modern nickel mine built to Australian Standards, currently under care and maintenance. The Ban Phuc nickel mine successfully operated as a mechanized underground nickel mine from 2013 to 2016.

Previous project owners invested more than US$136 million in capital and generated US$213 million in revenue during a three-and-a-half-year period of falling nickel prices. The project was placed into care and maintenance in mid-2016 during some of the lowest nickel prices in the past ten years.

Existing infrastructure associated with the project includes an internationally-designed 450ktpa processing plant connected to local hydro grid power with a fully-permitted tailings facility and a modern 250-person camp.

blackstone ta khoa aerial

Since commencing maiden drilling August 2019, Blackstone has made significant progress at Ta Khoa, drilling over 9,000 meters of diamond core in more than 47 holes into the Ban Phuc DSS deposit and the highly prospective King Cobra discovery zone.

An initial scoping study evaluating mining and processing options is well advanced, including potential in-country downstream processing to deliver high value nickel sulfate into Asia's rapidly expanding electric vehicle (EV) industry. The recently announced MOU with Asia's largest and the world's second largest, EV battery cathode manufacturer, Ecopro BM Co Limited represents a significant step toward making this a reality.

Blackstone's drilling of the Ban Phuc DSS to date includes the following significant results:

Drillhole From (m) To (m) Interval (m) Ni (%) Pt+Pd+Au (g/t)
BP19-02 106.6 124.4 17.8 1.00 0.74
incl. 106.6 114 7.4 1.36 1.10
BP19-03 56.5 102 45.5 1.20 0.35
BP19-06 101 128.7 27.7 0.88 0.74
incl. 108.5 122 13.5 1.12 0.91
BP19-08 140.6 170 29.4 1.00 0.60
incl. 140.6 146.9 6.3 1.22 1.03
BP19-09 107 118.95 12.0 1.46 1.09
incl. 108.2 117 8.8 1.70 1.28
BP19-10 136.9 170.2 33.3 0.80 0.37
incl. 137.5 152 14.5 1.31 0.65
BP19-07 310.9 375 64.4 0.52 0.20
incl. 310.9 327 15.6 1.08 0.58
BP19-11 109.4 161 51.5 0.50 0.22
incl. 116 124 8.0 1.09 0.66
BP19-14 215 321 106.0 0.45 0.20
BP19-22 79 108 29.0 0.60 0.39
incl. 81 94.4 13.4 0.82 0.72
BP19-23 173 224 51.0 0.71 0.43
incl. 187 203 15.7 1.48 1.14
BP19-29 32 91.8 59.8 1.29 0.29
incl. 49.1 63 13.9 2.25 0.54
Drilling underway at Ta Khoa, where four rigs are currently operational
Drilling underway at Ta Khoa, where four rigs are currently operational

King Cobra Discovery

Drilling at Blackstone's King Cobra discovery has delivered significant high-grade intersections, including 60 meters at 1.3 percent Nickel from 32 meters. It includes the first-ever intersection of massive sulfide vein and breccia styles of sulfide mineralisation within the Ban Phuc intrusion and may provide vectors towards the high grade 'feeder zone' mineralisation.

Plan View showing Ban Phuc DSS drill hole collar locations and King Cobra discovery zone
Plan View showing Ban Phuc DSS drill hole collar locations and King Cobra discovery zone (KCZ)
Cross Section 49850E showing the King Cobra discovery hole BP19-23 and BP19-34
Cross Section 49850E showing the King Cobra discovery hole BP19-23 and BP19-34 (See ASX announcement dated 20th January 2020 for full details)

Next Steps

Blackstone aims to deliver a maiden resource on the DSS at Ban Phuc over the coming months and investigate the potential to restart the existing Ban Phuc concentrator through focused exploration on both MSV and DSS deposits. Blackstone has commenced a scoping study on the downstream processing facility at Ta Khoa. The scoping study will provide detail for potential joint venture partners to formalise a binding agreement. Blackstone has commenced metallurgical testing on the Ban Phuc DSS deposit with an aim to develop a flow sheet for a product suitable for the lithium ion battery industry. In addition, Blackstone will investigate the potential to develop downstream processing infrastructure in Vietnam to produce a downstream nickel and cobalt product to supply Asia's growing lithium ion battery industry.

Core sample from Ta Khoa
Core sample from Ta Khoa

BC Copper-Gold-Cobalt Project

The BC Copper-Gold-Cobalt Project, formerly the Little Gem Project, is located 180 kilometers north of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Project was discovered in the 1930s by prospectors identifying a pink cobalt-bloom on weathered mineralisation that led to three adits being developed. A total of 1,268 m of drilling was completed from underground and detailed channel sampling was taken from the adits. Blackstone acquired the BC Project in October 2017 and has since completed an extensive maiden exploration program including drilling, geochemical and geophysical surveys, with the initial results indicating potential for the project to host a world class Cobalt Belt in British Columbia.

blackstone project map showing minerals

blackstone jewel project survey

With the discovery of copper-gold-cobalt mineralisation at Erebor during the 2018 field season returning grades up to 2.3 percent cobalt, 32 g/t gold, 1.6 percent copper and 1.1 percent nickel combined with the multiple large-scale IP anomalies indicating the potential source of the high grade mineralisation at Little Gem, Erebor, Jewel and Roxey, the Company continues to unlock the potential for multiple deposits in a region with geology analogous to the Bou-Azzer primary Cobalt district in Morocco (more than 50 deposits and over 75 years of Cobalt production). Regional targets continue to be generated from the data collected through prospecting and stream sediment sampling across the entire 48 strike kilometer of untested geology prospective for further primary cobalt and gold mineralisation. Blackstone is actively seeking joint venture partners for the BC Project.

Silver Swan South Gold-Nickel Project

The Silver Swan South Project is along trend of the massive nickel sulfide Silver Swan Deposit (pre-mining ore reserve of 655 kilo-tonnes at 9.5 percent nickel) and associated deposits (pre-mining resource of 10.4 Mt at 1.0 percent nickel), and only 8 kilometers northeast of the major Kanowna Belle Gold Mine (+5 Moz gold endowment).

blackstone silver swan project

Highlights of the Project include:

  • Blackstone's second phase aircore drilling program at Silver Swan South intersected gold mineralisation and extensive basement geochemical anomalism at the Black Eagle prospect with the following result: 10 meters at 3.2 g/t gold from 68 meters within 15 meters at 2.2 g/t gold from 64 meters to EOH
  • The above results have significantly upgraded the Black Eagle prospect and, when combined with previous reconnaissance results of 3 meters at 3.5g/t gold from 60 meters sees Black Eagle elevated to a priority drill target.
  • The Silver Swan South project is located 8 kilometers along strike and encompasses the interpreted extension of the Fitzroy Shear Zone which hosts the Kanowna Belle Gold Mine (+5 Moz gold endowment);
  • Aircore drilling will also target the Black Hawk prospect following up on an initial 3 meters at 2.6 g/t gold from 52 meters intersected in the first phase of drilling at Silver Swan South.

Blackstone's initial drilling at Silver Swan South was targeting both gold, hosted by structural targets along strike from the Kanowna Belle Gold Mine (+5 Moz gold endowment), and nickel sulfide mineralisation associated with ultramafic units along strike from the Silver Swan and Black Swan Nickel Mines (combined endowment 166 kilo tonnes nickel metal). The initial programs were designed to test for basement hosted mineralisation, using air core drilling, to improve definition of gold and base metal anomalism identified by previous reconnaissance style drilling.

Blackstone Minerals' Board and Management Team Management

Scott Williamson, Managing Director

Mining Engineer with a Commerce degree from the West Australian School of Mines and Curtin University, over 10 years of experience in technical and corporate roles in the mining and finance sectors.

Hamish Halliday, Non-Executive Chairman

Geologist with over 20 years of corporate and technical experience, founder of Adamus Resources Limited, an A$3M float which became a multi-million-ounce emerging gold producer.

Andrew Radonjic, Technical Director

Mine Geologist and Mineral Economist with over 25 years of experience with a focus on gold and nickel exploration, instrumental in three significant gold discoveries north of Kalgoorlie, Executive Director of Venture Minerals Limited and co-lead the discovery of the Mount Lindsay Tin-Tungsten-Magnetite deposits.

Steve Parsons, Non-Executive Director

Geologist with corporate and technical experience, a proven track record of mineral discoveries, corporate growth, international investor relations and creating shareholder wealth, founding MD of Gryphon Minerals Ltd which became an ASX 200 company with a multi-million-ounce gold discovery in West Africa.

Michael Naylor, Joint Company Secretary

A chartered accountant with over 20 years of experience in corporate advisory and public company management, previously an Executive Director and/or Company Secretary of two highly successful battery metal resource companies located in Australia and Canada. Executive Director and Company Secretary of Bellevue Gold Ltd (ASX:BGL) currently growing a multi-million-ounce gold discovery in WA.

Jamie Byrde – Joint Company Secretary

Chartered Accountant with over 14 years of experience in accounting, company secretarial and corporate advisory roles specializing in Financial Accounting and Reporting and Corporate Governance, currently the Company Secretary for Venture Minerals Limited and Alicanto Minerals Limited.

Dr. Stuart Owen – Exploration Manager

BSc & PhD in Geology with over 20 years of experience in mineral exploration, Senior Geologist in the team that discovered the Paulsens Mine (+1Moz) and as an Exploration Manager at Adamus discovered the Southern Ashanti Gold deposits (+2Moz) and at Venture discovered the Mt Lindsay TinTungsten-Magnetite deposits.

Andrew Strickland – Head of Project Development

Andrew Strickland will lead development of Ta Khoa. He is an experienced Study and Project Manager, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, University of WA MBA graduate, with undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy from Curtin and the West Australian School of Mines.

Previously, Andrew Strickland was Senior Study Manager for GR Engineering Services Limited, where he was responsible for delivering a series of Scoping and Feasibility Studies for Australian and international projects.

Andrew Strickland has a history of developing mining & metals projects across different commodities and jurisdictions as well as a broad understanding and experience in minerals processing, project management and corporate strategy.

Richard Kitchener – General Manager – Operations

As General Manager Operations, Richard Kitchener will lead, plan and execute all operational activity to ensure a smooth transition into production. Richard Kitchener was Mining and Geology Manager at Masan Group's Nui Phao Mine in Northern Vietnam for the past 10 years, responsible for the development of systems and procedures and negotiation of all contracts during the development and operation of the Nui Phao Mine.

Other previous roles include the position of General Manager Operations at Swan Gold Mining in Australia and General Manager of Operations at Ban Phuc Nickel Mines, Blackstone's now renamed Ta Khoa Project. Richard Kitchener holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Camborne School of Mines.

Steve Ennor – General Manager – Project Development

Steve Ennor, the General Manager Project Development, will manage the transition of the processing facilities from construction to operational readiness. Steve Ennor is a metallurgist with 30 years of experience in gold and base metals processing, including senior management and operational positions in Australia, Africa and South East Asia.

Steve Ennor commenced as the Ban Phuc Nickel Project Development Manager in 2010 and managed project development, plant design and construction into 2012 before transitioning to Metallurgy Manager.

Steve Ennor holds a Diploma in Metallurgy Engineering and is a member of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

Vũ Hồng Cấm Vân – General Manager – Commercial

Vũ Hồng Cấm Vân will act as General Manager Commercial and will be responsible for managing all business and financials, external affairs and communications in Vietnam relating to the Ta Khoa Project in conjunction with the General Manager Operations and General Manager Project Development.

Vũ Hồng Cấm Vân joined Ban Phuc Nickel Mines in 2006 and has successfully performed in several roles transitioning from senior environment officer to HSE & CSR manager and government affairs director.

Vũ Hồng Cấm Vân holds a BSc in Environment Management from the Ha Noi National University and MSc in Climate Change from the Ha Noi National University.

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BSX:AU

On 2 March 2021 the Australian Taxation Office issued Rio Tinto Limited with amended assessments related to the denial of interest deductions on an isolated borrowing used to pay an intragroup dividend in 2015. The borrowing was repaid in 2018. The ATO has today issued further assessments in relation to the same transaction levying penalties of A$352m and reducing the original interest assessment from A$47m to A$27m …

On 2 March 2021 the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) issued Rio Tinto Limited with amended assessments related to the denial of interest deductions on an isolated borrowing used to pay an intragroup dividend in 2015. The borrowing was repaid in 2018.

The ATO has today issued further assessments in relation to the same transaction levying penalties of A$352m (US$257.9m) and reducing the original interest assessment from A$47m to A$27m (US$19.8m).

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Ioneer Ltd is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture with Sibanye Stillwater Limited to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA . Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer …

Ioneer Ltd (“ioneer" or the “Company") (ASX: INR) is pleased to announce that the Company has reached an agreement to establish a joint venture (the " Joint Venture “) with Sibanye Stillwater Limited ( “Sibanye-Stillwater" ) to develop the flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project located in Nevada, USA (the “Project" ). Under the terms of the agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater will contribute US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture, with ioneer to maintain a 50% interest and retain operatorship. ioneer has also agreed to provide Sibanye-Stillwater with an option to participate in 50% of the North Basin 1 upon the election of Sibanye-Stillwater to contribute up to an additional US$50 million subject to certain terms and conditions.

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

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

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

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

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

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

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