Copper Stocks in South Australia

South Australia is the state to beat when it comes to copper — while it's home to only three operational copper mines, it sits on Australia's largest share of copper reserves.

The state of South Australia is home to the largest copper mine in the country Olympic Dam which is also the fourth largest copper deposit globally.

Olympic Dam, which is a polymetallic mine, is owned by BHP (ASX:BHP,LSE:BHP,NYSE:BHP), and produced about 171,000 tonnes of copper cathode in the 2019 to 2020 financial year. It's located within the Gawler Craton, which is described by the government of South Australia as one of the world's most significant deposits of copper, gold, silver and uranium.

South Australia is the state to beat when it comes to copper — while it's only home to three operational copper mines, it sits on Australia's largest share of copper reserves, accounting for 66 percent of the nation's reserves. Despite this high number, only 27 percent of Australian production is from South Australia.


Other operational mines are Prominent Hill and Carapateena, both owned by OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL,OTC Pink:OZMLF). Prominent Hill has shifted from open-pit to underground mining relatively recently, and is the company's premier copper producer, with 61,375 tonnes produced in the 2020 financial year.

The company's second South Australian mine, Carapateena, is located within the Gawler Craton, just like Prominent Hill and Olympic Dam. Carapateena is a smaller mine, but is newer and ramped up production through 2020 for total output of 27,623 tonnes. The mine only came online in the final quarter of 2019, and is expected to have a life of 20 years.

Beyond the producing mines, there are a number of exploration and development projects in the works, which means South Australia an attractive prospect for companies and investors.

Most copper deposits in the state are located underneath newer layers of rock, making extensive exploration a must. With the state already known to host 66 percent of Australia's copper reserves, it has a lot of potential.

The outlook for the state given the proven reserves and the number of development projects on the go is rosy. South Australia's government has long touted the strengths of its investment profile and its mineral wealth. According to the state government, South Australian copper grades are around 0.93 percent — higher than the global average of 0.65 percent, which continues to decline.

Copper stocks in South Australia

Besides the two companies with operational mines, there are a handful of explorers and developers at work in the state. Here's a look at copper companies with assets in South Australia; stocks are arranged in order of market cap from largest to smallest.

1. BHP

Market cap: AU$240.6 billion; current share price: AU$47.63

As the company sitting on the largest copper mine in Australia, it's a given that global mining company BHP is the premier company in the state. Olympic Dam is not BHP's largest copper-producing asset (contributing only 10 percent of the firm's 1.7 million tonnes produced in 2020), but it is the company's only Australian copper asset. BHP continues to plough money into the mine to realise its full potential, although it is also working on exploration further afield.

Speaking of exploration, efforts by BHP within Australia are focused on South Australia, with the Oak Dam project (near Olympic Dam) slated as a potential major asset for the company going forward.

2. OZ Minerals

Market cap: AU$8.4 billion; current share price: AU$25.01

OZ Minerals is focused on South Australia, with two operations copper-gold mines in the state. The company has another operational copper-gold mine in Brazil, where it also has ongoing exploration prospects, but South Australia is the jurisdiction that pulls in most of its income.

3. Rex Minerals (ASX:REX,OTC Pink:RXRLF)

Market cap: AU$110.9 million; current share price: AU$0.32

Rex Minerals is in the process of exploring the Hillside copper-gold project on the Yorke Peninsula. Besides Hillside, the company also has interests in Nevada.

In the most recent updated feasibility study, the company states that the Hillside copper-gold project has the potential to be a 13 year project producing 35,000 tonnes of copper per year. Hillside was discovered and drilled out by Rex Minerals, and it continues to work on moving it towards production, with funds from recent placements going towards pre-development.

4. Havilah Resources (ASX:HAV)

Market cap: AU$61.2 million; current share price: AU$0.22

Havilah Resources is a South Australia-focused company with multiple exploration projects on the go. Two of them — Kalkaroo and Mutaroo — are copper based, with Kalkaroo being the company's best prospect.

Kalkaroo is located to the far east of the state, up against the border with New South Wales. It has a JORC resource estimate of 1.1 million tonnes of copper. The project, should it reach production, is estimated to have annual copper output of 30,000 tonnes (along with 72,000 ounces of gold), with a 13 year mine life.

Towards the end of March 2021, the company lodged its final permitting documents for the West Kalkaroo gold project, which is a part of the larger Kalkaroo copper-gold project. Should everything go smoothly, the company estimates a three to four month assessment timeline with production estimated to begin in 2026.

5. Hillgrove Resources (ASX:HGO)

Market cap: AU$42 million; current share price AU$0.05

Hillgrove Resources is sitting on the Kanmantoo underground project. The copper mine in the south of South Australia is well located, near the capital city and major population centres, and exploration and development work over 2020 led to the company doubling the resource estimate for the project to 34,400 tonnes of copper metal. Kanmantoo was previously an open-pit mine for Hillgrove, but has not produced copper for many years. The company is also exploring around the mine.

For more on Australia's copper landscape, click the links below:

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.

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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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