Factbox-Australian miners warn of labour shortage, higher costs

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FILE PHOTO: File Photo: A view of the BHP Billiton's Escondida, the world's biggest copper mine, in northern Chile, in Antofagasta

(Reuters) – Australian mining firms said a dearth of skilled labour hit output and warned of lower production in fiscal 2022 and 2023, while also grappling with a surge in costs.

Strict border restrictions in the mineral-rich Western Australia state were lifted in March this year, but rising COVID-19 cases in the country, due to Omicron variants, have led to increased absenteeism, leaving firms scrambling to find mine workers and train drivers.

Here is a round-up of what the miners have flagged:

BHP GROUP

The global miner warned that a tight labour market, supply-chain snags and inflationary pressures would continue through fiscal 2023, and reported a fourth-quarter iron ore output that missed estimates.

RIO TINTO

The Anglo-Australian mining giant warned pandemic-related labour shortages in Western Australia and rising inflation would hit its underlying earnings in the second half.

WHITEHAVEN COAL

The coal miner flagged that general labour shortages “remain a key challenge” for its operations, even though it posted a jump in fourth-quarter production and forecast record core earnings for the coming year.

YANCOAL AUSTRALIA

The coal miner cut its 2022 output forecast, signalling a hit from floods in New South Wales and pandemic-led labour shortages.

ALLKEM

The lithium miner expects lower ore output in fiscal 2023 due to a skilled labour crunch in Western Australia, although prices for the metal are expected to be higher in the current quarter.

SOUTH32

The diversified miner said adverse weather conditions and pandemic-led labour disruptions impacted its quarterly total coal production.

(Compiled by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Edited by Shounak Dasgupta)

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