WA this week – 10 years ago

Gas jostles with coal COAL was losing the competition with natural gas in Western Australia, according to projections made by Western Power, this week 10 years ago. Natural gas prices had fallen 48 per cent in real terms, while coal prices had fallen just 12 per cent, according to the figures. Completion of the North West Shelf pipeline to Kalgoorlie would enable miners in the goldfields to burn cheaper gas at their power stations. Another major coal customer, the BP refinery in Kwinana, was expected to be lost, with plans for gas to be used in a cogeneration scheme. The huge Scarborough gas prospect off the northwest coast of WA was to be tested within three months when the Esso-BHP partnership was expected to drill its first well. Exports of liquefied natural gas from WA were also expected to treble from 7.5 to about 20 million tonnes a year within 15 years, according to the Department of Resource Development. ERG signs $100m deal ELECTRONICS group ERG Australia, said it had signed a technology transfer agreement with Finnish telecommunications group Nokia worth over $100 million. ERG said the agreement would allow it to make Nokia’s third generation GSM technology base stations into the next century. The company said that under the agreement, third generation base stations would have a higher local content level than the second generation base station that was being manufactured by ERG. ERG said it was well placed to cope with the additional manufacturing, having doubled capacity with the completion of its new facility in Perth. Murrin Murrin on verge of development ANACONDA Nickel said it aimed to give its Murrin Murrin nickel project in WA the green light by early 1996. The company, now known as Minara Resources, said the project’s chances had been improved with the injection of a $5 million loan from Swiss-based Glencore International, to be used to fund final feasibility studies. Anaconda’s chief executive Andrew Forrest, now heading up Fortescue Metals Group, said metallurgical tests had indicated there was significant scope to lower operations costs and plant capital requirements. Hamersley’s strong performance Hamersley Iron, then a wholly-owned subsidiary of CRA, reported solid iron ore production of 22.38 million tonnes in the half year to June 30, 1995. The production figures put the company in line to exceed 1994 output of 45.46 million tonnes. Rio Tinto, which merged with CRA in 1995, recently signed as an equal partner to Hancock Prospecting in the Hope Downs project, which is expected to produce approximately 30 million tonnes a year for the companies.

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