Rusal takes legal action against Rio Tinto, Santos meets resistance over gas project and Crown on verge of Sydney launch

Rusal Rio Tinto Mirvac Crown Sydney CWN Brambles BXB Mirvac MGR Santos STO WDS Woodside Energy BHP ASX
In response to Russian sanctions, Rio Tinto took complete control of Queensland Alumina Ltd, which is held under joint venture with Rusal.

Russian company Rusal has taken legal action against Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) to take back access to its share of alumina produced under a joint venture at a Queensland refinery.

Rio Tinto owns 80% of Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) in Gladstone, and Rusal the other 20%.

Rusal’s lawsuit challenges the wide-ranging sanctions the Australian Government implemented in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including against two Russian oligarchs with links to QAL.

In April, Rio Tinto stepped in and took complete control of QAL, removing Rusal from any governance and cutting its access to the refinery’s alumina output.

Rio Tinto’s move at QAL came shortly after it erased all ties with Russian businesses over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rusal’s Australian unit, Alumina and Bauxite Company said the circumstances calling on Rio Tinto to step in and take control did not exist and its actions resulted in a breach of obligations.

The subsidiary asked the federal court to restore its rights at QAL and urged there will be no breach of sanctions if it can continue its business there.

Brambles

Brambles (ASX: BXB) has announced its commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 – bringing its deadline forward by 10 years.

Brambles chief sustainability officer Juan José Freijo said global warming is one of the greatest challenges and stronger action needs to be implemented.

“Adopting science-based targets and bringing the net-zero deadline forward by 10 years accelerates our mission to build a regenerative supply chain,” he said.

“By delivering on our net zero ambition and beyond, we will continue to be a sustainability global leader building the supply chains the world needs for the future,” he said.

The company’s pledge to a 1.5°C climate future was a key motivator towards its five-year sustainability targets published in 2020.

By pledging to align with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, Brambles was already targeting net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest.

“Brambles has a track record of reducing emissions through its circular business model, a range of innovative initiatives and its past achievements,” Mr Freijo added.

“These targets are an important next step in a journey that we started years ago.”

Mirvac

Mirvac Group (ASX: MGR) has secured approval for a $700-million 56ha carbon-neutral industrial estate in Kemps Creek in New South Wales.

The 56ha Aspect Industrial Estate is located west of Sydney and is the first site approved under the new planning regime for the $2.6-billion Mamre Road precinct.

During construction, more than 500 jobs are expected to be created, along with 1,200 jobs during development.

The estate will house 247,000sq m of flexible, functional and sustainable warehouse and office space.

Rooftop solar systems, translucent roof sheeting, LED lighting, rainwater harvesting and smart metering will be used to create a building aimed at achieving a 5-star Green Star rating.

About 63% of the estate is already pre-leased, with premium brand tenants including Lineage, CEVA Logistics and Winning Group.

Winning Group will acquire 66,000sq m to use for a distribution centre, its largest in Australia, while Lineage will have a 36,000sq m cold storage facility where it aims to address fresh food supply chain issues.

CEVA Logistics also plans to lease 33,000sq m.

Western Sydney minister Stuart Ayres said the precinct was vital in bringing investment into Sydney and creating jobs.

“The precinct is a significant step forward in securing western Sydney’s future as a global hub for logistics and advanced manufacturing,” Ayres said.

Construction is set to commence in the next few weeks.

Santos

Traditional owners residing in the Northern Territory’s remote Tiwi Islands have launched Federal Court action on Australian oil and gas giant Santos (ASX: STO) in an effort to stop the development of a multi-billion-dollar gas project off the coast of Darwin.

Santos signed its $4.7 billion Barossa offshore development last year, which involves a pipeline from a gas field in the Timor Sea to an existing LNG facility on Darwin Harbour.

Traditional owners are alleging Santos and the Federal Government failed to ensure they were properly consulted about the project’s potential risks to their marine environment, dreaming story tracks and animals.

Senior Munupi Tiwi traditional owner and law man Dennis Murphy Tipakalippa is worried about well drilling, concerned that any possible spill of condensate oil could damage flatback and olive ridley turtle nesting areas and habitat in the surrounding areas.

“If it’s going to affect our marine areas, our bush tucker then what else our kids going to eat, our future generation?”

This isn’t the first time the Tiwi traditional owners have tried to halt the development, after failing last month to get a South Korean court to rule loans for the development be put on hold.

The Barossa project has been considered one of the biggest projects in the Australian oil and gas sector for nearly 10 years.

Santos expects the project will help extend the life of the Darwin LNG processing plant by 20 years.

Gas production is expected to begin in 2025, with the project to create an estimated 600 jobs during construction as well as 350 ongoing jobs in Darwin over the next two decades.

Santos said it has plans and measures in place to minimise climate changing emissions from the project by using carbon capture and storage.

Woodside Energy

After Woodside Energy’s (ASX: WDS) $63 billion merger with BHP’s (ASX: BHP) oil and gas division was completed last week, the combined giant is now turning its focus to looking towards the next batch of major projects.

Woodside’s chief financial officer Graham Tiver said BHP’s oil assets in the Gulf of Mexico will strengthen Woodside’s growth opportunities, as large long-term LNG and pipeline gas projects, and new energy opportunities will compete for capital.

“We have a capital allocation framework which has the desired rates of return from our three business pillars – oil, LNG and gas, and new energies,” he said.

“It’s a clear framework in terms of how we look at our different business opportunities.”

Two opportunities presented for the company are Trion in the Gulf of Mexico and Calypso in Trinidad and Tobago, both acquired from BHP.

“Trion is a large oil opportunity, it’s at a high level from what we’ve seen so far, the reservoir looks good, long life, quick returns, it will fit into our capital allocation framework but what we need to understand is the above-ground risk being the understanding of relationships with Pemex and the government.”

As for Calypso, it’s at an early stage, however ultimately it provides exposure to the Atlantic LNG market, according to Mr Tiver.

Crown

Crown Resorts (ASX: CWN) is reportedly on the verge of launching casino operations, with the search for new staff underway for its $2.2 billion Sydney development.

Crown Sydney may be set to open its casino almost 18 months after non-gaming facilities welcomed its first customers, as the NSW cabinet this week will consider an agreement between Crown and the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA).

It’s being reported the licence would be for an initial two years and could be transferred to The Blackstone Group on the basis it completes the anticipated $8.9 billion acquisition of Crown.

The acquisition was approved by Crown’s shareholders and is currently awaiting regulatory approvals.

A Crown spokesperson said the company will continue “to work closely with [ILGA] and welcomes any decision allowing gaming to commence in Sydney.”

This news comes as Crown previously planned to open the casino towards the end of 2020, but the launch was delayed due to the outcome of the Bergin inquiry into the company’s suitability.

As the inquiry found Crown unsuitable, the entity was offered the opportunity to return to suitability by working closely with ILGA to address a number of concerns.

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