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OZ Minerals boss holds the line

Sat August 18, 2012 1:08am

Terry Burgess vows not to be panicked into a change of strategy.

OZ MINERALS boss Terry Burgess has expressed ''major concern'' and ''great disappointment'' at the 10 per cent share slump that struck his company this week, but vowed not to be panicked into a change of strategy.

Mr Burgess made the comments while focusing on a different type of decline yesterday: the formal opening of OZ Minerals' new Ankata underground project in South Australia.

The $148 million shaft connects to OZ Minerals' existing open pit at Prominent Hill and runs one kilometre west towards the Ankata copper and gold deposit.

The project is one of several measures under way to extend the life of the Prominent Hill precinct, which is expected to ends its run before OZ's next mine begins at nearby Carrapateena about 2020.

But therein lies some of OZ's challenges: the open pit at Prominent Hill is becoming more expensive to mine, and Mr Burgess said rising costs were likely to be one of the motivations behind this week's sell-down from $8.01 to below $7.20.

The introduction of more family-friendly rosters for OZ's mine site workforce has also pushed up costs, but Mr Burgess defended that spending, saying it was a net gain for the company to retain skilled and experienced employees and avoid high turnover rates.

''We see those as investments in the operation and we look forward to the returns out of those investments in the coming months and years,'' he said.

Mr Burgess said the company took a disciplined approach at all times and would not be spooked by nervous investors.

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