Newcrest Mining chief Sandeep Biswas focused on costs but won’t ‘burn the furniture’

Newcrest has not yet outlined a clear strategy for the revival of its struggling Lihir goldmine.Newcrest Mining managing director Sandeep Biswas insists his new improvement and optimisation agenda will not “burn the furniture” at the goldminer, despite demanding a renewed focus on cost reduction and productivity.

Mr Biswas introduced his new company-wide improvement plan, known as “edge”, to the market during a marathon day of investor briefings on Tuesday.

Having acknowledged Newcrest’s track record of failing to meet market guidance over recent years, Mr Biswas said “edge” would ensure the miner was maximising its assets and focusing on ways to reduce fixed costs across the business.

He said “edge” involved hundreds of small improvement programs across the company’s multiple assets, and, hinting at his time inside the Rio Tinto culture, Mr Biswas said the plan would create an “owner’s mindset” in the workforce.

“This is not a cost-out program and not about burning the furniture,” he said, in an apparent reference to maintaining a focus on growth through exploration and affordable, profitable development plans for new mines like Wafi-Golpu.

He pointed out that Newcrest still had a 30-person exploration team searching for new opportunities, despite the new era of lower gold prices.

While pleased by the pledge to avoid “burning the furniture”, most of the analysts who attended Tuesday’s six-hour investor briefing wished they could just get a better look at the furniture in the first place.

Mr Biswas had not yet outlined a clear strategy for the revival of the struggling Lihir mine in his first three months in charge of the company, and many were hoping the investor day would shed more light on the path toward resuming full-scale mining at the asset, which has done little more than process stockpiles in recent years.

Investors have been particularly focused on the timeline toward development of the Kapit deposit at Lihir, which is prospective but buried under the stockpiles.

But little guidance emerged on Tuesday, and even an ambition to ramp volumes through the Lihir processing plant to 12 million tonnes per annum carried an asterisk that suggested the target should not be taken as formal guidance.

“It is their No.2 asset but the one with the least clarity around it, there are a lot of moving parts around the operation and that heightens the uncertainty,” said CIMB analyst David Coates.

Investors were also hoping for guidance on the new development plan for the Wafi-Golpu joint venture in Papua New Guinea, and also for an indication of when Newcrest might return to paying dividends.

Mr Biswas indicated the Wafi-Golpu plan would be ready in 2015, and that debt repayments would be a bigger priority than resuming dividends, with dividends set to resume only “when it is prudent to do so”.

Mr Coates said the company-wide improvement program was a positive move, but the continuing lack of clarity was frustrating the market.

“There was not a lot of new information out of the day, people were not necessarily expecting a lot but I think we were hoping for more than the deflections we got,” he said.

Newcrest had an all-in cost of production of $864 per ounce during the September quarter, and received an average price for its product of $1393 per ounce.

Newcrest shares closed 4¢ higher at $10.

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Micro parties tipped to hold sway in NSW, Victoria

Expert: Election guru Antony Green told Fairfax Media that he expects five or six micro party candidates to be elected in Victoria. Photo: Jacky Ghossein Smaller parties, such as the Palmer United Party, will soon hold the balance of power in Victoria according to Antony Green and Glenn Druery. Photo: Rob Homer

Together they hold veto over every law passed in federal Parliament.

Now the micro parties are set to dominate Victoria and NSW too.

The ABC’s election expert Antony Green, and the so-called “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery, both predict minor parties, including Clive Palmer’s Palmer United, will hold the balance of power in Victoria after next month’s state election.

When NSW goes to the polls in March, it is expected that the Shooters and Fishers Party and Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats will retain their grip on the balance of power for another four-year term.

Mr Green told Fairfax Media he expects five or six micro party candidates to be elected in Victoria, ending the Coalition’s majority in the Legislative Council.

There are eight voting regions for the upper house in Victoria and he expects a micro candidate to challenge for the fifth and last seat in every region.

“If Labor wins the election they will not control the upper house and if the Coalition holds on there is only a small likelihood that they will,” he said.

Up to 23 parties are expected to contest the Victorian ballot –  compared with eight in 2010 – and the Country Alliance, Palmer United, the Sex Party, the Democratic Labour Party and the Shooters and Fishers are said to have the strongest chances of success.

Fairfax Media understands that the DLP – still reeling from the defection of its only senator, John Madigan, last month – has formed a preference swap alliance with the Australian Christians and hard-right Christian party Rise Up Australia to maximise their chances.

Mr Druery, who was dumped as chief of staff to Ricky Muir after getting the unknown Australian Motoring Enthusiast elected on preferences is once again leading the minor party alliance.

He said the general lack of affection for the mainstream parties witnessed at the last federal election would carry on into the state polls in NSW and Victoria.

“If they are disciplined and work together they are likely to have the balance of power in the upper house,” he said.

Mr Druery has forecast the Coalition to give up its majority position of 21 seats and drop to 14. He expects Labor to add one seat to 17 but it is likely to have to provide the Legislative Council president.

Under this scenario, if the Greens retain three seats and vote with Labor, an ALP government would still need the support of two crossbenchers to pass laws.

With a month until the Victorian election, 14 parties are registered, including PUP, Animal Justice and Voluntary Euthanasia.

Another nine are awaiting final registration. They include Rise Up, the Cyclists Party, No East West Link and the Basics Rock ‘N’ Roll Party whose founders include the music star Gotye.

In NSW, Mr Druery expects the Coalition to have 19 seats, Labor 13 and the Greens six, giving the Shooters and Fred Nile the power to break the deadlock.

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Western Sydney Wanderers set to play A-League match at Penrith’s Sportingbet Stadium

Wanderers fans have had plenty to cheer about of late. Photo: Brendan EspositoWestern Sydney Wanderers are set to bring an A-League game to the foot of the Blue Mountains by hosting Wellington Phoenix at the home of the Penrith Panthers.

On the day the Wanderers announced their Asian Champions League home leg will be played at Pirtek Stadium, Fairfax Media can reveal the club is close to agreeing to a deal to move an A-League fixture away from Parramatta for the first time in two years.

Wanderers approached the long-term tenants of the venue, the Panthers, hoping to bring their February 8 A-League match against  Phoenix to the ground. It would be the second home match held away from their traditional  ground.

The venue for the game against Wellington is listed as “to be confirmed”, but the club will likely bring A-League football to Penrith for the first time, where they can service up to 50per cent of their membership base  located in the far west of Sydney.

Their hosting of a game in Penrith will fuel debate surrounding the battle for stadium funding in Sydney’s western suburbs, with the  Panthers lobbying the state and federal government for major upgrades.

The Panthers are said to be enthusiastic about the approach from Wanderers as they are at loggerheads with the state government to provide funding for a new 35,000 roofed stadium to be built at their existing site as well as an overhaul of local sporting facilities, including a new aquatic centre. The Panthers have long wanted the support of the  Wanderers to strengthen their bidding credentials and even attempted to purchase the club from  Football Federation  Australia last year.

The Panthers group registered its  interest with the FFA in a bid to purchase a stake in the Wanderers around June 2013 in the hope of creating a joint sporting “super club” that would strengthen their application for funding for the building of a new stadium.  Their bid was knocked back by the FFA before the Wanderers were sold to a consortium led by Paul Lederer.

The Wanderers’ home at Parramatta will undergo renovations to increase capacity to more than 24,000, adding about 3000  seats at the  ends of the stadium.  The club’s administration hope  the capacity will be lifted to close to 30,000.

A recent funding announcement dashed hopes of a wrap-around-style second tier and roofing of the two shorter ends of the stadium which significantly improve capacity and create a better match-day atmosphere.

The Wanderers are co-tenants with NRL club Parramatta and together they lobbied the government to provide funding for  major  renovations of the venue, including an overhaul of corporate facilities, food and beverage outlets, parking, seating and   training facilities.

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Kyly Clarke launches blog to rival Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Goop’

Kyly Clarke has launched a new lifestyle blog called “Lyfestyled”.First Gwyneth gave us Goop, then Blake Lively provided Preserve and now Kyly Clarke has gone live with Lyfestyled, her new blog dedicated to teaching readers how to beautify “all aspects of your life”.

“At Lyfestyled we believe all aspects of your life should be beautiful. From your fitness routine to your fashion philosophy to you home decoration plan,” the mission statement reads.

The cricketing WAG is the latest in a long line of sporting spouses to publish a blog focused on fashion trends, diet tips and decorating ideas. This new project comes months after she and husband, Australian Cricket caption, Michael, purchased a five bedroom, six bathroom, $8.5 million home in Sydney’s leafy Vaucluse.

Kyly and Michael Clarke front row at Sydney Fashion Festival.

Clarke, who makes “beautiful living her daily practice”, launched the new website on Tuesday, which at first glance appeared to borrow its name from former Cleo editor Paula Joye’s website, Lifestyled. Joye, who now works as a fashion commentator with Channel Nine, has since rebranded her popular blog to “The Joye”.

Here’s how to live beautifully according to the 33-year-old model and hot favourite to win this season of Channel Seven’s Dancing With The Stars:

Shower after you work out

“Shower. Always shower. Cleaning the sweat off your body will prevent your pores from clogging up during the day. Additionally, you’ll feel much better for it. If you don’t have access to a shower, be certain to still wash your face with cold water,” is Clarke’s top tip for working out in the morning.

When in doubt paint something blue

“Blue is the favourite colour of all people,” is one of her top interior design tips for spring.

Buy coloured chairs

“Lyfestyled’s top way to incorporate coloured chairs into your home is around the dining table or as kitchen bar stools,” she writes in post titled “Colour By Chairs”.

Wear white

“This month’s focus is on preparing ourselves to enjoy what’s to come and make a smooth transition from our winter hibernation to our spring regeneration. One of LS’s top trend picks is white on white for spring. Simple, and effortlessly chic,” she writes.

Buy art

“It [artwork] can transform the character of your room and extend your own personality in it. For guests, this can make your home feel loved and lived in and a beautiful place to visit, turning your house into a home. Not all artwork is expensive, but sometimes finding affordable art can seem daunting,” she writes.

“Focus on emerging artists. They will eventually become the most sort [sic] after,” is her number one tip when considering investing in art for the home.

Want her fit physique? Do a Barre Attack class

“You will feel more confident about your body after a month of Barre attack, not to mention the number of compliments you will receive on your newly toned body,” she writes.

Eat quinoa, oats, Chia seeds, granola or Acai berries at breakfast

“Studies have shown how eating breakfast can improve memory and concentration levels. Best of all, it can make us happier as it improves mood and lowerd [sic] stress levels. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We like to think it should be taken seriously, and so should you!”

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Union helps 13 Woolworths workers become permanent

Thrilled: Jackie Dimovska is one of 12 people who will become permanent Woolworths employees. Photo: Daniel Munoz Thrilled: Jackie Dimovska is one of 12 people who will become permanent Woolworths employees. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Thrilled: Jackie Dimovska is one of 12 people who will become permanent Woolworths employees. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Thrilled: Jackie Dimovska is one of 12 people who will become permanent Woolworths employees. Photo: Daniel Munoz

When Jackie Dimovska and 12 other casual workers walk through the door of the supermarket warehouse that employs them on Monday, it will be as permanent employees.

Since starting work at the Woolworths supermarket warehouse in Yennora seven years ago, Ms Dimovska has been hoping her casual job would become permanent.

“I am thrilled to be permanent starting on Monday,” she said.

As a 45-year-old mother of three, Ms Dimovska is looking forward to having greater job security and certainty in her working hours and entitlements.

The National Union of Workers helped the 13 casual positions become permanent through a memorandum of understanding with the company.

Ms Dimovska said it would be easier to plan her holidays and family activities around her regular working hours.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions is preparing a submission to the Fair Work Commission to give more workers the right to become permanent employees.

It wants a clause introduced into modern awards allowing casuals to become permanent

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said his organisation was “vigorously opposed” to the unions’ casual employment claims because they were not in the interest of employers who depended on flexible workplaces.

A spokesman for Employment Minister Eric Abetz said: “We won’t be providing any commentary while there is currently a review being undertaken.”

John Buchanan, director of University of Sydney’s workplace research centre, said the ACTU claim was positive, but more needed to be done to prevent the deterioration of conditions for all workers.

He said the 20 per cent casualisation rate had settled, but the quality of permanent jobs had deteriorated.

“A permanent job now is not nearly as secure as it was 20 or 30 years ago,” he said.

“One of the reasons casual employment hasn’t increased is because of rising levels of involuntary part-time work.

“Casual workers do need protection. Employers are deeming their workforce to be casual so they can evade the labour entitlements that normally accrue.”

Professor Buchanan said the bigger question to be answered was how to achieve quality labour standards for the entire workforce, including permanent employees.

“I think the big challenge is how do you get forms of employment where you can get both flexibility and security,” he said.

“The best examples are ethical labour hire companies or better group training companies where you get continuity of employment and rights that go with that spread across employers.”

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