There’s no denying the lustre of WA gold

RALLIES, records and awards seemed to dominate the news this week, despite a sprinkling of downturns, spills and collapses.

Australian markets continued to produce record highs and the dollar, gold and spot oil prices moved upward.

Gold companies attracted a lot of investor interest, Sons of Gwalia trading at just under $10 before some profit taking.

Hardman Resources produced the most spectacular rise, however, with a 170 per cent increase, after its offshore Mauritania oil and gas find.

But all this was before an announcement that the well would be plugged and abandoned, “as planned”, pending laboratory results.

Woodside Petroleum also benefited from the Mauritania find and another, between Victoria and Tasmania, setting it up to enter the eastern states domestic gas market.

BHP chairman Don Argus underscored the potential for the approved BHP-Billiton merger to change the profile of WA’s resources sector, confirming the deal would not preclude assets and interests talks with Western Mining Corporation or Woodside.

THREE WA companies boosted their profiles significantly by winning technology awards during the week.

Wavenet received acclaim for its wireless modem for handheld computers. Advanced Energy Systems won a newcomers’ award for solar powered products and Internet Business Corporation picked up awards for two e-commerce website designs.

Meanwhile, new biotech company PSivida debuted on the ASX, opening at 29.5 cents and trading as high as 34 cents.

Investors deserted Orbital Engine Corporation, however, wiping 10 cents from the share price after the company bravely forecast a second half financial year loss, despite royalties revenue and system sales growth. Orbital announced a rationalisation program to reduce costs by A$4 million.

The HIH collapse triggered an announcement from Summit Homes, saying it had 100 applications on hold while securing alternative indemnity insurance.

As a director of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Australian Securities and Investment Commission chairman, David Knott, has withdrawn from ASIC’s investigation of the collapse, arguably Australia’s most costly liquidation.

Aurora Gold has signed a Heads of Agreement with Austindo Resources Coroporation to retain gold and copper royalties when it relinquishes its interest in the Toka Tindung project, Indonesia.

IN agreement with a memorandum of understanding secured before it went into receivership, Joyce Corporation has finalised the sale of Joyce Healthcare to an undisclosed buyer for $9.5 million.

With the sale of the company’s Melbourne foam factory, Joyce debts will be reduced to the extent receivers will no longer be required.

MATRIX Metals has improved its outlook, also, reporting confirmation of a supply of electrostatic precipitator dust, which will boost cashflow and reduce operating costs, significantly altering the picture painted in the company’s March quarter report.

Concerned for its future, Wesfarmers subsidiary Sotico presented the State Government with a restructuring plan for the forest products industry, “to maintain a viable hardwood industry, more closely linked to furniture manufacturing”.

The plan included a proposal that the tab for all displaced worker support and redundancies be picked up by the government. Sotico said it would continue with its Pemberton sawmill on a reduced scale, but would review its other forest products operations.

MEANWHILE, the State Government awarded Geraldton company Western Boatbuilders the contract for a new 20 metre fisheries patrol vessel to monitor commercial and recreational fisheries.

NEW ANACONDA Nickel chairman Norman Fussell was busy, writing to shareholders in another move to ward off Anglo American’s desire to dump chief executive officer Andrew Forrest and four other board members at a meeting on May 31.

Mr Fussell said the company was in a position to become a major player in world markets.

“Anaconda Nickel has got to where it is today because it has a great team of people… I would like to be part of the team going forward,” he said.

Mr Fussell later revealed 98 per cent of proxy votes received thus far supported his view.

Meanwhile Mr Forrest, who also wrote to shareholders describing the Anglo move as “a nasty precedent”, said he was not trying to protect his job, despite recently securing a new and major friendly shareholder. “That is your decision. I am about protecting and enhancing the value of your investment,” he said.

IRON ore royalties queen Gina Rinehart was confirmed as Australia’s richest woman in Business Review Weekly’s Rich 200, while Kerry Stokes remained WA’s richest man, $75 million ahead of John Roberts.

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