Showing posts with label regional economies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label regional economies. Show all posts

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

More than 60 per cent of businesses in Byron Bay are now relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat


The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July 2020:

In Byron Bay, sales of a $9.30 large green G-Force smoothie reveal how the COVID-19 wave has dumped on the NSW tourist town. 


In good times, with 2.4 million visitors a year ranging from backpackers to festival goers and others looking for yoga, surf and a healthy lifestyle, Byron can support six smoothie businesses. 

One of them, Sweet Byron, would sell 19 of these large green smoothies a day.   

Then coronavirus hit, forcing the closure of domestic and international borders. Byron's foreign visitors dried up, and its English language schools nearly emptied. 

 COVID-19 caused the cancellation of weddings and events such as the Writers Festival and the Splendour in the Grass misic festival, which usually provide a boost in the slow winter months. 

Ninety per cent of shops, hotels and restaurants in the town closed. When they reopened before school holidays, the streets were empty and Sweet Byron was lucky if it sold two Gforce Smoothies. 

Those students and backpackers who had remained headed north when the Queensland border re-opened earlier this month. 

More than 60 per cent of businesses in Byron are now relying on JobKeeper to stay afloat, according to a map by data analytics company Taylor Fry released last week

This is the most in any local government area in Australia and double the number in capital cities. 

Without JobKeeper Mika Cohen, the owner of the Sweet Byron smoothie shop, said his business wouldn't survive. 

Smoothie sales bounced back during the recent school holidays after coronavirus travel restrictions lifted and the town filled with families who followed the sun north. 

Mr Cohen was back to selling 8 Gforce Smoothies a day, still less than half the number he sold pre-COVID. 

With nearly all of Byron's economy tied to tourism, hospitality and the creative arts, Byron mayor Simon Richardson said the pandemic has delivered a "triple whammy". 

"It is really dangerous times for us," he said. 

Hotel bookings looked healthy for summer, but if the town doesn't get that "fattening" he feared it could "lurch into real danger". 

Hotel owner Christian Millett said Byron had been a stable market all year long, in the past. But after coronavirus shut down weddings and festivals, Mr Millett said he would not have been been able to justify keeping his doors open outside of school holidays if he wasn't receiving JobKeeper.....

Taylor Fry's analysis found smaller firms in retail, hospitality, manufacturing and construction sectors are especially dependent on JobKeeper to retain their staff...... 

When the tourism dried up, it affected the rest of the region with "all the pork and tomatoes, macadamia and the mueslis which aren't being bought".

Cr Richardson said there was a "false sense of affluence" associated with Byron because of its multimillion-dollar beach houses and movie-star residents like Chris Hemsworth. 

"For every $10 million house at Wattegos Beach there are 10 homes that are in some of the poorest areas in NSW," he said. 

Four areas in the LGA are among the most disadvantaged 20 per cent in Australia, and two are among the most affluent..... 

Rents are also high, and Cr Richardson said he has seen more people couch surfing after losing their jobs. A shopkeeper said his landlord wanted to restore rents to pre-COVID levels after providing discounts earlier: "In this time, we can't afford the full rent for the premises ... because there are 60 to 40 per cent fewer tourists." 

Taylor Fry's principal Alan Greenfield said without JobKeeper he was nervous about the future of regional tourist towns, especially if restrictions on travel continued. "If locals can't see a future where they live, they might be inclined to move away." 

Simon Westaway, the executive director of the Australian Tourism Industry Council, said the impact of COVID-19 on his 10,000 members had been "diabolical". Unlike other industries, it had been hard for tourist operators to "pivot" to other business. 

Even if people could travel, the impact of continuing uncertainty over jobs and rising mortgage stress – estimated to grow to $200 billion from $60 billon now – meant visitors were not necessarily buying the most expensive "smoothie". 

"You put all these figures together, and you go wowie kazowie, who is in a mindset to have a decent holiday? Let alone if you are allowed out [by governments]. " 

Although business was down now, surf school director and founder of Let's Go Surfing Brenda Miley said Byron was an aspirational place that will bounce back. "Everyone wants to go there. It is well worn trek from Bondi to Byron, and that all came together last school holidays." 

 She thinks it will be booked out next summer if government restrictions on travel aren't in place. "People who were planning to go skiing in Colorado or France are so happy to go to Byron and surf for a week or two," she said.

Percentage of NSW Northern Rivers Businesses relying on JobKeeper Payments by Local Government Area - as of 22 July 2020 

  • Byron 60.39%
  • Tweed 47.79%
  • Ballina 39.56%
  • Clarence Valley 34.52%
  • Lismore 35.05%
  • Richmond Valley 27.45%
  • Kyogle 21.3%

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Morrison & his hard right mates won't back down on slashing Australia Post mail services


Here is what Australia Post states it has been doing to keep letters and parcels moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.......

Eight extra freighter flights and 600 more casual staff employed to help speed up delivery, along with new and repurposed facilities.

With many retail businesses closing shopfronts in rural and regional areas due to the economic downturn leaving only their online store available to customers, Australia Post and its more than 2,000 post offices in these areas have become increasingly vital links in the supply chain.

So how did the Morrison Government respond to the increase in mail traffic?

It introduced new Australia Post regulations via Australian Postal Corporation (Performance Standards) Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Regulations 2020 and on the back of this decided to cut mail deliveries to every second day, stretch mail delivery times to between five and seven days, as well as abandoning priority mail.

What this means it that unless each postie can deliver two days worth of letters, small parcels and unsolicited mail during one working day, there will be a backlog of undelivered mail quietly mounting up at local mail distribution points - which would eventually blowout the time between posting and delivery to a matter of weeks.

The possibility also exists that by June next year mail delivery will be reduced even further, potentially causing delivery chaos.

Echo NetDaily, excerpt, 16 June 2020:

The Morrison Government voted eight times over two days to slash Australia Post deliveries. Yesterday Labor Leader Anthony Albanese moved to disallow the Prime Minister’s regulations which cut the frequency of postie delivery rounds, extend mail delivery times for millions of Australians and put the jobs of up to one in four posties and many others at risk.... 

The changes will affect everyone who relies on Australia Post Justine Elliot said these changes will affect everyone who relies on Australia Post. It will particularly affect the elderly in our region, who will be most disadvantaged by these cuts to mail delivery services. 

‘Many seniors are not on the internet and they instead rely on the mail for their letters, cards and bills and now, due to Government cuts, they’ll be waiting longer for important correspondence. The fact is the mail is often a lifeline for our seniors. 

‘People in our regional and rural communities still rely on the postal service more than many other types of services. Australia Post service standards are fundamental and for the benefit of all Australians. 

‘Under the Morrison Government’s plan, mail delivery across the North Coast will blow out from three business days to seven full days. These changes will slash the frequency of postie delivery rounds and put the jobs of up to one in four posties at risk. 

‘At a time of economic downturns across regional Australia, this Government is now slashing jobs and services......

One MP was particularly unimpressed.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Clarence Valley regional economy tops $2.13 billion in 2018-19


Clarence Valley Independent, 18 December 2019:




Clarence Valley is outperforming the rest of regional NSW, according to the latest gross regional product figures for the year ending June 30, 2019.
“Gross regional product (GRP) is the equivalent of gross domestic product (GDP), but for a smaller area,” the .idcommunity demographic resources update states on Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) website.
The CVC local government area’s GRP was $2,134m as of June 30, 2019.
The valley’s GRP grew by 3.1 per cent, which followed 1.3 per cent growth in 2018; whereas regional areas of NSW, overall, went backwards by 0.5 percent in both 2018 and 2019 – another national study, released this week by SGS Economics and Planning, rates GRP for the NSW regions as falling by 0.3 per cent......
In 2019 there were 18, 854 jobs in the valley, up by 3.1 per cent on 2018’s 18,288 jobs.
However, it is likely that the infrastructure builds in the valley have inflated that figure.....
Read the full article here.

The 2019-20 financial year may be a different story come end of June 2020, as bushfires have devastated much of the Clarence Valley's natural assets which attract a high number of visitors to the region and prolonged drought has bitten deeply, with the entire local government area impacted by drought & just over 88 per cent by intense drought as the year ends.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Tourism numbers in 2017 and 2018 on the NSW North Coast according to Tourism Research Australia


Pippi Beach, Yambaaustraliaswims.com.au

According to Tourism Research Australia in 2017 a total of 263,000 international tourists visited six of the seven local government areas in NSW Northern Rivers region, along with 6,145,000 visitors (including day trippers) from elsewhere in New South Wales and interstate.

Northern Rivers Local Government Tourism Profiles 2017:

Kyogle – no data
Note: Data is based on a four year average from 2014 to 2017.

The total tourism spend in the Northern Rivers region in 2014 to 2017 was est. $1.7 billion.

In the year ending September 2018 there was a total of 354,000 international tourists visiting the entire NSW North Coast - from just above Newcastle to the NSW-Qld border and taking in Hamilton Island.

These international tourists spent a total of $246 million with an average spend per person of $696.

According to media reports there were also 5,569,000 domestic visitors to the entire North Coast region in the same period.

An est 145,000 of all tourists were backpackers, who stayed a combined total of 1.48 million nights across the entire NSW North Coast in 2018.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Is the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government moving against Clarence River communities?



According to the state-owned corporation Port Authority of New South Wales, during the 2017-18 cruise season which commenced in October, international cruise ships will be visiting Sydney, Newcastle, Port Kembla and Eden.

On its website the Authority proudly announced an expectation of a bumper season – as other parts of the world buckle under the weight of the cruise ship industry’s agenda and start to say ‘no more’.

When cautionary tales like this are appearing…..

Traveller.com.au, 20 November 2017:

Venice is planning to divert massive cruise liners. Barcelona has cracked down on apartment rentals.

Both are at the forefront of efforts to get a grip on "overtourism", a phenomenon that is disrupting communities, imperiling cherished buildings and harming the experience of travellers and local residents alike……

The backlash has even given rise to slogans such as "Tourists go home" and "Tourists are terrorists".

"This is a wake-up call," Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the United Nations' World Tourism Organisation, told tourism ministers and industry executives last week at the World Travel Market in London.

Meanwhile Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (USA) and Carnival Corporation (USA) – the biggest cruise lines operating in Australian waters – are moving some of their passenger ships off the NSW list of scheduled stops and berthing then in Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore and China.

The cruise ship industry goes where its rapacious business model can be utilised most effectively and Australia has been the flavour of the month for a few seasons now, even if Sydney is losing its sheen.

Before this latest Martin Place brain snap Port of Yamba was the only open port in New South Wales that had not been targeted by cruise lines as a destination port. Perhaps in part because they realise that a barrier estuary – where the barrier is the remains of a once living indigenous woman turned to stone - and multiple deck cruise ships are as compatible as oil and water.

Now the NSW Berejiklian Government and, particularly the NSW National Party, want to include this small regional estuarine port in grand plans for increasing cruise ship traffic in the state. Even though, according to Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, by 2016 New South Wales had captured around 58 per cent of the total Australian cruise market annual dollar spend - that's not enough for those greedy politicians down south.

The government tells us these passenger ships will only be “smaller cruise vessels” but it is also considering building an international cruise terminal in the Clarence River estuary.

Now if one goes online and looks at the cruise ships currently operating on the Australian east coast what is immediately obvious is the dearth of "smaller" ocean-going passenger vessels which might enter the Clarence River safely.

There aren’t enough of them to bring the economic benefit NSW Minister for Maritime, Roads and Freight and MP for Oxley Melinda Pavey implies would flow into the Lower Clarence River along with these ships.

Currently the NSW Dept. of Transport is sending a React Future Transport 2058 van all over the state selling the Draft Future Transport Strategy 2058 and asking people to tell those manning this van what they would like to see happen with regard to local transport needs.

The van came to Grafton in the hinterland of the Clarence Valley on 27 November 2017 wanting to hear opinions on trains, buses, roads, cycleways and air travel, but carefully avoided mention of sea transport, cruise ships or a cruise terminal unless a local specifically asked.

This van is never coming to the Clarence Coast - residents will never see it in Maclean, Iluka or Yamba. Their opinions are being deliberately limited in this faux consultation.

So what is going on here?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the idea being canvassed by the Berejiklian Government that all three NSW designated regional ports should ideally be multi-purpose ports which include cargo shipping, cruise ships and naval facilities.

The state government's push to establish the cruise ship industry in the Clarence River estuary looks suspiciously like the first move to bring this about, as inevitably demands will come from the international cruise lines for significant dredging to occur from the river entrance and along main the navigation channel to ship berths.

If such dredging occurs then it is possible the Australian Navy will be encouraged to revisit its strategy for use of smaller coastal ports and, a Sydney-centric NSW Government will begin to insist more freight passes through the port despite the known strong opposition of the wider Clarence Valley community to an industrialised Clarence River estuary.

Now might be the time for Ms. Pavey to consider the possibility that, Oxley being a regional electorate bordering the Clarence electorate, may induce many increasingly concerned people in the Lower Clarence to pack a hamper, get in their car and drive down to Oxley for the day and campaign for whomever of her political rivals takes their fancy during the next state election.

At the very least many are likely to write to local papers in her electorate during the 2019 state election campaign informing them of her actions in Clarence.

These letters could start off by mentioning those troublesome smokestacks at WestConnex, her support of the foreign multinational miner Adani’s plans for a mega coal mine which will inevitably pollute the Great Barrier Reef if it goes ahead,  her failure to support road workers who built a section of the new Pacific Highway for her on zero pay for months (pay they are never likely to see), removing historic Windsor Bridge, the reaction of others to her bizarre transport strategy - before moving on to the mess she is about to make of the Clarence River estuary.

After all the Clarence Valley has a habit of standing up for the aesthetic, environmental, cultural, social and economic values that underpin community in this valley and the wider Northern Rivers region.

Just ask Metgasco, Australian Infrastructure Development or Malcolm Turnbull.

NOTE

The name of the culturally significant reef just outside the mouth of the Clarence River is variously spelt Dirragun and Dirrangun in various books and documents, so both spellings are used interchangeably in North Coast Voices posts.

Friday, 17 November 2017

It is being suggested to Lower Clarence communities that inviting the cruise ship industry into the Clarence River estuary will bring financial gain to their towns - but will it?


At this month’s ordinary monthly meeting Clarence Valley Council will be considering whether or not to give in principle support to the NSW Government’s proposal to designate the Port of Yamba as a cruise ship destination and possibly build a cruise ship terminal in the Clarence River estuary.

The Berejiklian Government appears to be presenting this proposal as a way to increase the annual regional income of the Clarence Valley. But is it and will it?

Nowhere have I found any mention of the business model employed by the global cruise ship industry. An industry which seeks to create demand through the judicious use of political donations and paid lobbyists.

According to  Professor Ross Klein, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research, Memorial University of Newfoundland; “Standing up to a cruise line can sometimes be difficult, especially given the industry’s generous contributions to political campaigns, their active lobbying efforts, and their degree of influence with mass media” [Klein, R. (2013) The Cruise Industry’s Business Model: Implications for Ports]

As an example, between 1997-2007 Cruise Line International Association spent US$10 million on lobbying the U.S Congress

In the first instance the business model used by cruise ship operators seeks to have passengers spend most of their money on-board the ship.

So many of the traditional services supplied on a cruise are no longer covered by the upfront cost of the fare and attract an additional charge per use.

Any land-based tours or shopping trips are organised by the cruise operator and not infrequently the cost is not absorbed by the cruise line so a fee for participation is paid by passengers directly to this shipping company.

The fee paid by the cruise operator to a land-based tour business contracted to supply the actual service usually ranges from as little as 10% up to an est. 50% of the fee paid by passengers.

Even when passengers leave the ship to wander around coastal zone towns you can bet that the cruise ship operator will have approached local businesses requesting a fee to include these businesses on a list of recommended shops/cafes/hotels/clubs - because that is part of the business model.


From state government a cruise line expects and often receives reduced harbour fees & charges and from state and local government it expects upgrades in infrastructure worth literally millions of dollars, without giving a firm guarantee that it will continue to use a particular port as a genuine destination rather than as a short "technical call".

What is worse is that once the cruise industry becomes established in a small port there is evidence to suggest that the regular incursion of up to 350 passengers at a time into coastal towns sees a decrease in the number of land-based tourists, who now see these towns as crowded and impersonal - no longer offering an intimate holiday experience.

It is these land-based tourists who fill Yamba and Iluka’s camping grounds, motels, hotels and holiday units and, are more likely to patronise the full range of dining/entertainment/sporting experiences on offer. So to see a significant proportion of them replaced by cruise passengers over time is not likely to compensate for the risk of economic loss during peak holiday periods in the Lower Clarence.

The first small cruise ship is due in Yamba on or about 24 October 2018 and this is it’s published itinerary: arrive during breakfast, disembark to visit “Flinders Well, Yamba Lighthouse, and the Yamba Historical Museum” or “alternatively walk in the nearby Iluka Nature Reserve”, return to ship for lunch and depart in the afternoon.

Now I'm no economist but even I know that this itinerary doesn’t exactly ring the till in a big way for businesses in Yamba or Iluka.

This cruise ship, which is a repeat offender when it comes to reef and coral damage, is probably coming in on the high tide but as it expects to leave in the afternoon it is not going out with maximum water depth under its keel  -  which should ring some alarm bells.

Through the prism of this industry business model the Port of Yamba will not be seen as a boutique destination but merely as one more excuse to extend the number of nights passengers spend on a floating hotel being milked by the hotelier for as much money as possible before they finally leave the cruise at a major city port.

What Australian lobbyists for the cruise industry are not telling the regional ports they are currently attempting to smoodge is that when it comes to Australian east coast cruise destinations Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne accounted for 65% of total passenger onshore visit days and 90% of the home port passenger onshore visit days. [Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)2016 & 2017]

Which means most of the spending money cruise ship passengers have in their wallets is more likely to be spent at large ports.

One cannot escape the suspicion that the health of the Clarence River estuary, existing coastal tourism revenue and safety of the Native Title reef Dirrangun are being placed at risk by this proposal, for what is essentially a dream of financial return for Lower Clarence communities rather than a solid reality.

Interested readers can find more information in the presentations included in the report of an international symposium held in 2013 which can be found at http://www.jbna.org/IS%20-%20Charleston-Report.pdf. For an idea of how many of these not-so-small cruise ships come into a regional harbour once berthing facilities are established see https://www.portauthoritynsw.com.au/port-of-eden/port-services-facilities/eden-cruise-schedule/.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Are the NSW Berejiklian Government & local Nationals preparing to trash the Clarence River Estuary?


If there’s one thing the NSW Nationals can be relied on to do it is to run with any short-sighted idea which involves the threat of environmental degradation and risk to regional water catchments.

Here we have them joining the Liberals in touting what appears to be a deal done in Sydney (with no genuine local community consultation) to bring international cruise ships into the environmentally sensitive Clarence River estuary – an act which would require a significant degree of initial and ongoing dredging to maintain access, with perhaps the partial dismantling of one of the internal training walls which were built to direct flood water flows.
Even cruise operators with smaller vessels will demand a guarantee of risk free access and some form of terminal – demands which would see existing local tourism along with commercial and recreational fishing disrupted and perhaps diminished.
It seems that Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has all but forgotten that just last year he was not in favour of the last attempt to co-opt the Lower Clarence River for the personal gain of outside financial interests.
Perhaps he needs reminding that ships that meet his specifications such as this one pictured below would still require estuary modification and shoreline development which is also unlikely to tick any of the social or environmental boxes he once thought important.
As the average small cruise ship would exceed length overall LOA 30 metres they would all require compulsory pilotage to and from the river entrance to their berth.

Local residents are aware that Mr. Gulaptis has been lobbying Clarence Valley Council on the matter of cruise ships having access to and use of the river estuary. Perhaps he might like to inform us all exactly on whose behalf he has been doing this lobbying? And declare if he is receiving some form of consideration or financial benefit from such lobbying?
The Daily Examiner, 25 October 2017:

THE FIRST cruise ship that could test the Port of Yamba's passenger facilities could arrive before the end of the year, says Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis.

"I've heard there could be a cruise ship coming this year,” Mr Gulaptis said.

But he was unsure of the any details of the size or type of vessel that could be coming.

Mr Gulaptis was with the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, yesterday when they announced Yamba and Coffs Harbour were being considered as potential international cruise ship terminals for the NSW Mid North Coast.

Mrs Pavey announced the start of investigations as part of the launch of the government's Future Transport 2056 strategy.

"This is a major step, with the need for a facility being recognised in the 10 to 20-year horizon, so early investigations can begin now,” Mrs Pavey said.

The new facility has the potential to link in with North Coast tourist hotspots and part of the process will look at how to integrate the proposed port with the wider area.

"The cruise industry is booming and is set to get bigger in coming years.

"A cruise terminal would give the region a share of that industry,” Mr Constance said.

Despite the minister's optimism, Mr Gulaptis said there were lot of obstacles to overcome.

"Just where passengers would embark and disembark is not known,” he said.

"Goodwood Island could handle the size of the vessels, but its facilities have been used for live cattle exports and it's well away from Yamba.

"The only other place I can think of is at the marina on the other side of the wall, where the fishing boats moor.”

He said any use of the river would need approval of its owners, the Yaegl People, and the ships could not impact the Dirrangun reef, which was sacred to them.

He said the vessels would be much smaller than the big cruise liners.

"I think the maximum draught at Yamba is about five metres, so that should limit the size of the vessels to no bigger than 5000 tonnes,” he said.

The prospect of cruising liners coming to Yamba alarmed environmentalists such as Iluka's Ian Gaillard, who was a vocal opponent of a proposal that emerged last year to build a megaport in the Clarence Estuary.

He said people may think cruise liners coming to Yamba could represent progress, but in reality, it would be a retrograde step.

"Cruise ships bring with them some of the worst excesses of modern life,” he said.

”The danger for the local populace is that once these things are established, they change the amenity of the place forever.”

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey is obviously confident that she and her cronies will be able to expand Port of Yamba by stealth.

Perhaps someone should remind her that Northern Rivers communities tend to jealously guard the existing aesthetic, environmental, cultural, social and economic values of their waterways and lands.

Like Chris Gulaptis, last year Cr. Jim Simmons was mindful of the environmental and cultural issues associated with dredging the entrance to the river and estuary.

Look at him now..... 

Clarence Valley’s new mayor Jim Simmons was quick to jump on board the idea to support Yamba and Grafton's tourist credentials. “Oh yeh, we’d give it  a go at Grafton.  We’ve got the best beaches up here and I think Coffs Harbour has had its fair share of things and it’s time other places got a go,” he says.

Friday, 29 September 2017

WA company with Chinese & UK backing announces a desire to mine near, extract water from and potentially pollute Clarence River catchment waters



The Daily Examiner, 29 September 2017, p.1:

JUST 35km north-west of Grafton is a block of private land with the potential to change the face of Clarence Valley’s industry as we know it.

Mt Gilmore, which lies between Fine Flower and The Gorge, has been revealed to be home to several deposits of high-grade cobalt.

Now Western Australia-based company Corazon Mining is trying to work out just how big that deposit is, and whether it’s worth mining.

On June 16 2016, Corazon announced it had secured the right to earn up to 80% of the Mount Gilmore Cobalt-Copper-Gold Project from private company Providence Gold and Minerals Pty Ltd.

Their project tenure included one granted Exploration Licence covering an area of approximately 25km by 15km, and over the past couple of months they have been drilling to in an effort to find precious metals.

Corazon managing director Brett Smith said so far, things were looking good.

“We’ve been saying that this is one of the highest- grade cobalt deposits in Australia, we just don’t know how big it is,” he said. “There was a lot of gold and copper prospecting there back in the late 1800s, early 1900s, and so it’s amazing where it’s located how little modern exploration has gone on there.”

The reason they have their eye on cobalt, rather than gold or copper, is that the element’s value has risen exponentially in recent years due to its use in lithium-ion batteries.

Mr Smith said demand from the battery sector had tripled in the past five years and was projected to double again by 2020.

It is most commonly used in smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles.

“Cobalt is the most expensive raw material used for building lithium-ion batteries, paying about $61,000 per tonne,” Mr Smith said.

“A lot of people have been exploring for cobalt in NSW but are looking at oxide deposits. Ours is a bit different in that it’s a sulphide deposit, and they are fairly rare to be cobalt dominant.

“It’s all in vogue at the moment so we’re pretty hopeful this can be used to produce cobalt salts for batteries.”

Mr Smith said the company was currently on its second drill program, which they hoped could be used to accurately determine the lay of the land.’

Exactly what mining exploration licence is this newspaper article talking about?

Well according to NSW Planning & Environment on 1 September 2017 it is  EL8379 granted to Mt Gilmore Resources Pty Ltd on 23 June 2015.

So who is Corazon  Mining Limited?

The company’s 2016-17 Annual Report states:

Corazon Mining Limited (ASX: CZN) (“the Company” or “Corazon”) is an Australian based company exploring and developing the Lynn Lake Nickel-Copper-Sulphide project in Canada and Mt Gilmore Cobalt-Copper-Gold project in Australia.

It has three main exploration projects -  the Lynn Lake and  Victory projects both in Manitoba Canada and the Mt Gilmore Project in NSW Australia.

This is the corporations current Board of Directors:

Clive Jones, Non-Executive Chairman - 4,235,330 fully paid ordinary shares, 5,000,000 options exercisable at $0.035 expiring 31 March 2020, total annual remuneration $154,607
Brett Smith, Executive Managing Director - 7,107,131 fully paid ordinary shares, 10,000,000 options exercisable at $0.035 expiring 31 March 2020, total annual remuneration $417,250
Adrian Byass, Non-Executive Director - 9,357,370 fully paid ordinary shares, 7,000,000 options exercisable at $0.035 expiring 31 March 2020, total annual remuneration $144,600
Jonathan Downes, Non-Executive Director - 11,154,512 fully paid Ordinary Shares, 5,000,000 options exercisable at $0.035 expiring 31 March 2020, total annual remuneration $190,557
Mark Qiu, Non-Executive Director (appointed 18 August 2017) - 1,269,300 fully paid ordinary shares, total annual remuneration unknown
Robert Orr is company secretary and Chief Financial Officer, shareholding unknown, total annual remuneration $114,360.

The last annual report indicated that the company share structure comprised 1,039,283,317 fully paid ordinary shares held by 2,135 individual shareholders and, 60,000,000 unquoted options are held by 10 individual option holders.


The largest options holders are Brett Smith with 10 million held and Zenix Nominees Pty Ltd with 20 million held.

On 1 December 2016 the Company announced the issue of 3,410,840 shares to key management personnel in lieu of cash-based salary. This strategy was implemented in order to conserve cash reserves for operational expenditure.

Corazon Mining appears to be operating at a loss and apparently paid no tax in 2016-17.

Corazon Mining Limited’s Purchase Agreement for the Mt Gilmore Cobalt-Copper-Gold joint venture project:

Under the terms of the agreement with Providence and subject to Corazon completing due diligence to its sole satisfaction on or before 30 June 2016, Corazon has the exclusive right to earn up to an 80% interest in the Project as follows:

Corazon can earn an initial 51% interest by:
* Issuing Providence 25 million Corazon Mining Limited shares
* Paying cash reimbursements of costs totalling $100,000
* Spending $200,000 on exploration within the first 12 months from the date of satisfaction of all conditions precedent (“Commencement Date).

Corazon can earn a further 29% interest (totalling 80%) by:
* Completing $2M  in exploration within 3 years of the Commencement Date
* Paying $150,000 in cash or shares upon the earlier of the commencement of the third year and Corazon spending a minimum of $500,000 on exploration
* Paying $250,000 in cash or shares upon earning 80% equity in the Project.

Corazon has the opportunity to extend this earn-in period by one year by paying $50,000 in cash or shares.

According to Corazon Mining;

The Project is located only 35km from the major centre of Grafton in north-eastern New South Wales. Project tenure includes one granted Exploration Licence (EL8379 – one year old), covering an area of approximately 25km by 15km……

On 22 August 2017 the Company issued 139,856,665 fully paid ordinary shares at an issue price of $0.014. The share issue was comprised of:
- an issue of 120,000,000 shares to Hanking Australia Investments Pty Ltd under a Subscription Agreement for a $1,680,000 investment in the Company;
- an issue of 7,356,665 to sophisticated investors to raise $102,993; and
- an issue of 12,500,000 shares to Providence Gold and Minerals Pty Ltd pursuant to the Company’s Earn-in Agreement with Providence in respect of the Mt Gilmore Project. Under this Agreement, Corazon has the exclusive right to earn up to an 80% interest in the Project. The shares have a total valuation of $175,000.

On the same date, the Company also issued 85,000,000 options to Hanking Australia Investments Pty Ltd following their investment in the Company. The options were issued with an exercise price of $0.03 and an expiry of 22 August 2019.

On 18 August 2017, Dr Mark Qiu of Hanking Australia Investments Pty Ltd was appointed to the Company’s Board of Directors.

China Hanking Holdings Limited, registered in the Cayman Islands and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is the parent company of Hanking Australia Investments Pty Ltd.

The second largest shareholder in Corazon Mining Limited is Crescent Nominees Limited, a private equity firm registered in Northern Ireland since 2014 and owned by venture capitalist Crescent Capital NI Limited.

As part of NSW Minerals Week Corazon Mining Limited had a booth at the 14th Sydney Resources Round-Up in May 2017 where interested geologists could view their sulphide core from the 2016 Cobalt Ridge drilling program. 

Area in which the proposed cobalt mine would be situated

Satellite image of Mount Gilmore (height 372m) situated just above the Clarence River system at The Gorge

It doesn’t take a genius to look at this image and see the potential for heavy rain episodes over Mt. Gilmore leading to surface water runoff into Clarence River tributaries.

So the first question is; what happens if Corozon Mining was granted a mining licence by the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government and one or more of its heavy metal contaminated holding ponds were breached during such a rain period? The potential exists for any such breaches to result in long-term contamination of surrounding soils and water courses, as well as higher sediment levels in surface waters.

Heavy metal and metalloid concentrations within stream-estuary sediments already occur naturally in NSW north-eastern coastal rivers and current Clarence River levels are also the result of historic mining in the upper catchment below the Dorrigo Plateau region.

This leads to a second question. Can a river system, which supplies drinking water to est.126,008 residents (Census 2016) along with water to farmers, graziers and commercial fishers in the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas, safely tolerate higher heavy metal and metalloid concentrations in that water? Communities relying on the Clarence river system might not be happy with the thought of any increase in localised or overall toxicity.

Given that mining is a thirsty business and water used in its extractive processes has to come from nearby surface/groundwater sources, there is a third question which immediately springs to mind. In the face of increasing impacts from climate change can we afford to have the environmental water flow in the Clarence River system compromised further?

Then there is the question of required associated infrastructure, including transport of ore via trucks and rail – need I say more?

One has to wonder when Clarence Valley Council was going to mention this proposed mining activity to residents and ratepayers because it is highly likely that this mining company or someone acting on its behalf has approached either the Mayor or council administration.