Asian countries face policy uncertainty, resource nationalism in mining: Fitch report

Rising geopolitical tensions and pressures to the global economy will continue to evoke volatility in commodity markets, heightening risks to metal demand and prices, Fitch Solutions’ newest report on key Asia mining themes finds.

The Asian mining landscape will continue to benefit from the availability of high-grade resources and low labour costs, although key countries will grapple with policy uncertainty, resource nationalism and environmental protection, the analyst says.

Indonesia’s policy uncertainty and resource nationalism will rumble on, Fitch forecasts, with the new nickel ore export ban taking effect from January 2020.

Mongolia will continue to register the fastest mining industry value growth in Asia with high-grade reserves of gold, copper and coal, and a strong pipeline of large projects, the report reads.

Stricter environmental standards in Asia will continue to hurt miners, Fitch forecasts, especially in the coal and metal smelting sectors, by increasing compliance costs and delaying project development.

China will remain an overarching risk generator in metals markets, Fitch maintains. Chinese macroeconomic policy will continue to attempt to cushion domestic industries from the effects of a serious trade conflict with the US and a general slowing of the economy. Although the US and China appear to be currently in a more conciliatory mode regarding the trade war and there are some prospects of a trade deal, Fitch believes a meaningful trade deal is unlikely to be reached before the next US Presidential elections in late 2020.

Fitch forecasts that Australia will spearhead the global as well as Asian miners’ race to utilise technology in order to cut costs, enhance efficiency and increase mine safety due to the country’s availability of strong network connectivity, power, highly skilled labour and government support. The mining landscape is in the age of technological disruption today, where players are at the crossroads between a traditional past and a transformative future that is sustainable.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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