As we go deeper into the end of the resources boom, which has provided an important source of fuel for the mining industry, some companies have managed to secure opportunities while others have succumbed to the difficulties of market growth and expansion. The common factors, underlying all industry trends at the moment are that businesses need to employ adaptable strategies and change methodologies to be able to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the markets, and costs need to be reduced drastically to improve profitability.
One of the areas that many companies of all sizes are moving towards is virtual offices, because providers like Regus allow foreign expansion and growth in a cost-effective and seamless manner. Some companies, especially multinationals, operate completely on this model while others may make allowances to work remotely for certain staff members or in specific circumstances. By taking administrative and communication issues into a virtual space companies are saving thousands in terms of their running costs and are adding hours onto productivity as employees are not as stressed or wasting as much time in the traffic every day.
An Anglo-Australian mining company has reported a $3 million loss for 2012 after it was forced to write down $14 billion from its aluminium operation and its coal acquisition in Mozambique. The loss follows a $5.8 million profit that was posted for 2011 after two of the company’s senior executives stepped down under the pressure and challenges demanded by the set-up of the Mozambique operation.
Revenue decreased by 40% to $16.5 billion and underlying earnings declined by 40% to reach $9.3 billion, owing to the drop in commodity prices. The company’s new chief executive officer also announced plans to reduce costs by $5.5 billion.
Another Anglo-Australian mining giant, the biggest employer in Nhulunbuy, has decided to keep its aluminium refinery open after it secured a ten year supply of natural gas which will be used as a substitute for fuel oil, something which is traditionally very expensive.
The refinery will continue to operate as it concludes its negotiations for the gas supply. The mining company is also in negotiation with federal government to build 600km of pipeline to transport the gas.
The company says the project is crucial on many levels: for the refinery, the community of Nhulunbuy and for the entire Northern Territory. The project is expected to increase the domestic gas market by double, improve the gas supply for the long term, create more opportunities and attract industry attention.
Currently the refinery has about 1500 employees in total, including those working on contract. The mining town of Nhulunbuy is home to approximately 3800 residents.
And as the business environment becomes more difficult for local businesses to navigate their way through, thought leaders claim that today’s professionals, specifically those with PhDs, are not equipped with practical, working knowledge to put their qualifications to good use outside of the tertiary environment.
Other key news for the business world includes the criticism that was launched at the structure and synergy of business programs and doctoral education, by a leading scientist. He said that students working towards their PhDs should receive practical, working knowledge along with industry-relevant experience in order to equip them with the professional skills and not just focus on academics.
He said that businesses needed to take a more active role in preparing students with the necessary skills for the working world. He said that more interaction with businesses was required in respect of work placements, fellowships and internships, co-supervisions and giving input on curricula.
Australia has among the fewest researchers employed in business in the world and part of the problem has been attributed to the perception that local universities do not prepare students adequately for the challenges they will encounter once they start working.