The room was packed at the Parmelia Hilton’s ballroom this morning to hear the CEO of Crosslands Resources speak on their Jack Hill project. After a short but sharp promotional video on the project, the floor was opened to questions and one could tell the thoughts that were on most people’s minds – China and OPR.
Through the process of question time it became evident that Crosslands, like BHP (as announced in today’s ‘the Australian’) is confident of long-term demand continuing in China. Macro-economic data for housing and growth projects in the Middle Kingdom will continue to demand Iron Ore, and according to Crosslands their 20-million-tonne p/a Magnetite Jack Hill expansion project will have a market. Crosslands is also focussing on capitalising on existing ‘proven’ technologies, and did not seem to be overly sure as to whether or not they will be looking at autonomous mining or mine optimisation as per Rio, FMG or BHP.
The question was raised about OPR’s chances of actually getting off the ground, which Crosslands’ Jack Hill project relies so desperately on to ship their ore to Northern Asia. It was to this question that Andrew Caruso, CEO of Crosslands Resources said that ‘it isn’t a matter of if, but of when’. He further went to explain that the business’ major stakeholder Mitsubishi is committed to ensure that OPR goes ahead.
Another key point of discussion from this meeting was the question about how Crosslands intends to staff its operations – totally FIFO. Quite close to Geraldton, and 90km from Meekathara, the operation has good relationships with local indigenous populations and employs indigenous people. However, how they are going to staff a 900-person FIFO operation in the current skills-short market is yet to be realised.
Whilst facing their own challenges and drawbacks, the attitude and confidence of Crosslands Resources this morning was refreshing to say the least. The idea that China is suddenly going to shut down all their mills and cease requiring Australian resources denies the fact that whilst some form of slow down is imminent, the country’s central government is still committed to 7.5% GDP growth this year.