AGL Energy plans to develop a 250 megawatt pumped hydro project at a copper mine in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills region by 2024 to boost storage for the state’s high renewable energy output. The agreement gives AGL the right to develop, own and operate the proposed facility at Hillgrove Resources’ 50-year old Kanmantoo copper mine after its owners first started studying the concept several years ago in the original hope of having a project up and running by 2021. The electricity giant will lodge a development application in 2020 and would buy the land required for the project from Hillgrove shortly after a final investment decision following the completion of processing at Kanmantoo. “If we proceed and the project is approved, it would be an important addition to our technology mix in South Australia, where we have significant wind and thermal generation,” AGL’s executive general manager of wholesale markets Richard Wrightson said.
Blackmores Limited (BKL):
Vitamin maker Blackmores has reported a 14.3 per cent fall in net profit for the first nine months of 2018-19, as the company continues to grapple with softening demand from its largest Asian market, China. Net profit attributable for the nine months to March 31 fell to $44.2 million, compared with $51.6 million in the same period a year ago. The vitamin maker said the implementation of the new China e-commerce law during the March quarter resulted in lower "daigou" sales to Chinese consumers through Australian retailers.
Cochlear Limited (COH):
Cochlear shares jumped by over 10 per cent on Tuesday after the hearing implant manufacturer said it was ready to bring an MRI-compatible device to market. Cochlear said its "Nucleus Profile Plus" series of implants were designed to withstand two of the most common frequencies for magnetic resonance imaging scans. The new implant will first be sold in Germany, with other European countries to follow in the coming months. The failure to launch an MRI compatible device before competitors Medel and Advanced Bionics meant that patients had been purchasing fewer Cochlear implants. This weighed on the company's sales and profits, as revealed at its February results. Cochlear chief executive Dig Howitt admitted at the time that customers had been persuaded to buy the more innovative models from his rivals. "The MRI issue has been very well marketed and had an effect on some [buyer] decisions" he said in February. Cochlear shares were trading 10.3 per cent higher to $177.88 in morning trading on Tuesday. The stock is flat over the past year, but is trading well below a 12-month high of $218.60 hit in September.
Lynas Corporation Ltd (LYC):
Rare earths miner Lynas Corp said it continued to engage in discussions with the Malaysian government to try to resolve the remaining issues related to the renewal of its operating licence in the country as it reported record production in the March quarter. "We have restated our commitment to Malaysia, to being a valuable contributor to the economy and to playing a vital role in supporting the development of Malaysia’s 4.0 Industries," the company said in a statement on Tuesday. "Following the successful implementation of the Lynas NEXT initiatives, the company is continuing work on a growth plan that could see production materially increase." It said no decisions had been made and an update would be provided in coming weeks. Lynas, which is being pursued by former Coles owner Wesfarmers with a potential $1.5 billion indicative offer, faces closure of its Malaysian operations by September if it cannot comply with new conditions introduced in December due to the environmental concerns. These currently include the removal of more than 450,000 tonnes of residues containing low-level radiation.
Rio Tinto Limited (RIO):
Rio Tinto will invest an extra $US302 million ($421 million) to develop its Resolution copper project in the US state of Arizona, as it looks to expands output to meet the lucrative market for new energy vehicles. The funds would be used to bankroll additional drilling, ore-body studies, infrastructure improvements and permitting activities, with the miner aiming to advance the project to the final stage of the permitting phase, it said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange. Resolution, owned 55 per cent by Rio and 45 per cent by BHP Group, is one of the "most significant undeveloped copper projects in the world", chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said. "The comprehensive permitting process is well under way, with the environmental impact study on track to be completed next year according to the regulators' schedule," he added.
Santos Ltd (STO):
Santos's 2019 exploration campaign in Western Australia has got off to a flying start, with the discovery of one of the largest columns of gas ever made on the North West Shelf in acreage secured through its $US2.15 billion takeover of Quadrant Energy. The 100 per cent-owned Corvus2 well found gas over a depth of 638 metres, signalling a larger-than-expected resource volume, while the gas also holds more valuable liquids than anticipated. Santos chief executive Kevin Gallagher described the result as "fantastic" and said it has opened up a number of new exploration opportunities in the area. "It is particularly exciting to have realised a higher liquids content and significantly bigger resource volume than we expected," Mr Gallagher said, adding that the gas could be connected into either the domestic gas plants at Devil Creek on the mainland coast or on Varanus Island, both now fully owned by Santos since the Quadrant acquisition. Testing at the well has put the depth of the column of gas that could be commercially produced at 245 metres. The gas is estimated to hold up to 10 barrels of condensates, a form of light oil, per million cubic feet of gas and has a carbon dioxide content of 7 per cent.