Westpac cuts lending to coal, oil and gas companies, Rio Tinto strikes landmark deal and PolyNovo appoints CEO

Westpac cuts lending coal oil gas companies WBC Rio Tinto iron ore deal PolyNovo PNV CEO Mineral Resources MIN Fortescue Metals Group FMG ASX
Westpac has followed other big banks’ emission reduction plans to restrict lending to oil and gas companies by 2030.

Australian banking giant Westpac (ASX: WBC) has announced plans to cut its lending to coal, oil and gas companies by nearly a quarter by 2030 in an effort to cut emissions.

The move follows National Australia Bank’s (ASX: NAB) intentions to implement a $2.4 billion cap on lending to oil and gas companies and the Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA), which also announced aims to slash emissions in half by 2030.

Westpac chief executive officer Peter King said the bank’s intentions are clear through its plans to join the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA).

“By releasing sector targets for 2030 in emissions-intensive industries, we’re setting clear markers and will help our customers transition,” he said.

The NZBA, conveyed by the United Nations, is a coalition of almost 100 banks, aligning lending and investment portfolios with net-zero emissions by 2050.

Westpac aims to reduce scope one, two, and three absolute-financed emissions by 23% in 2030 from companies involved in oil and gas exploration, extraction, or drilling.

In addition, the bank will stop dealing with companies with more than 5% of revenue coming directly from thermal coal mining by the same date.

Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) has struck a landmark deal to recommence work on the world’s largest untapped iron ore mine, Simandou in Guinea.

Rio has agreed to a railway and port infrastructure joint venture to support the development of the iron ore mine.

Due to political changes in Guinea and disputes over ownership and infrastructure between Rio, Guinea’s military government and Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS), efforts on the mine have stalled for years.

The Simandou mine has an unmatched potential production profile of up to 200 million tonnes per annum.

Rio executive Bold Baatar once labelled the mine as the “Rolls Royce” of iron ore, citing the potential of the site.

“It is also a very important moment for Guinea and for Guineans, for whom the project’s southern infrastructure corridor has the potential to bring significant benefits for regional economic development by leveraging international project and ESG (environment, social and governance) standards,” he said.

“We are most grateful to the government of Guinea and WCS for their collaboration and look forward to making the promise of Simandou a reality.”

Mineral Resources

Mineral Resources (ASX: MIN) has announced it has achieved record production for the 12 months to the end of June.

The Perth-based mining company didn’t quite reach its guidance figure, despite recording production volumes of 64Mt during the June quarter, which amounted to a record 274 million tonnes for FY22.

The company’s guidance range was between 275Mt and 290Mt.

For the June quarter, Mineral Resources shipped 4.7Mt of iron ore, which contributed to 19.2Mt in full-year shipments in FY22.

At its Mt Marion lithium project in Western Australia, the company shipped 141,000t of spodumene concentrate over the June quarter, reaching 442,000t for its full-year shipments.

PolyNovo

PolyNovo (ASX: PNV) has announced the appointment of Swami Raote as the company’s new chief executive officer.

Mr Raote spent 30 years at Johnson & Johnson, holding senior leadership positions in Indonesia, South East Asia, India, China, South Korea, and the United States.

PolyNovo chairman David Williams said Mr Raote’s past achievements made him the ideal candidate for the position.

“Swami has successfully run fully integrated businesses including research and development, regulatory, manufacturing, and sales and marketing,” he said.

“That experience along with hands-on experience in many geographies and markets will position PolyNovo for an exciting new era of growth, innovation, and operational excellence.”

Mr Raote said the new opportunity excites him, and he looks forward to sharing his wealth of experience in the new position.

“I bring to PolyNovo over three decades of extensive innovation and globalisation experience. I also bring regulatory relationships and know-how to lead the company into the new phase of accelerated growth and geographical expansion,” he said.

“PolyNovo has all the elements needed to build a truly global and very large Australian life sciences multinational along the lines of a number of other Australian success stories,” he added.

Atlas Arteria

Atlas Arteria (ASX: ALX) has announced talks involving a takeover deal from IFM Investors have ended, ceasing discussions which commenced back in June.

At the time, IFM acquired a near 15% stake in Atlas Arteria, citing it required more company information to aid in deciding whether to proceed with a non-binding indicative takeover proposal.

After three meetings on 17 June and 6 July and finally the most recent, 20 July, the decision was made to cease discussions.

“Following those meetings, IFM Investors confirms that IFM GIF is not presently in a position to meaningfully progress a proposal with ALX and has determined to cease discussions with ALX,” IFM said in a statement.

IFM hasn’t closed the door on future discussions with Atlas regarding the matter.

Fortescue Metals Group

Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) has reported a third consecutive year of record shipments, after recording a “strong” performance throughout the June quarter.

In the quarter, Fortescue’s iron ore shipments reached 49.5Mt, an increase of 6% on the March three-month period.

For the 2022 financial year, Fortescue’s record shipments totalled 189Mt.

Despite this, more expensive diesel prices and labour rates were contributors to direct production costs rising to $24.60 per wet metric tonnes over the June quarter, 9% higher than the previous quarter and 13% higher than the corresponding 2021 quarter.

Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said despite having its challenges, the company considers its results to be “excellent”.

“Despite industry-wide and global headwinds, Fortescue’s unique culture and values have delivered these exceptional results, and I am immensely proud of the performance of the team,” she said.

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