Michael Clarke wills his way to century as Australia passes 400

Scorecard \ As it happened
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Rarely has a stint of 25 balls to a single batsman seemed such an eternity. Yet it was exactly that for Michael Clarke, and his well-wishers back in Australia and around the world. Eventually, he got the run he needed to take him off 99 to arguably his grittiest Test century.

Australia’s captain and his heir apparent, Steve Smith, entrenched their team’s mighty position in the third Test in Cape Town by thwarting South Africa’s seamers with the second new ball and taking their team beyond 400 in the opening session of day two.

At lunch at Newlands the visitors were 4-434 after 114 overs, with Clarke on 137 and new number-six batsman Shane Watson on 21.

Australia maintained its record of conceding no more than a wicket in a session, with the departure of Smith for an aggressive 84, to end a fourth-wicket partnership of 184, the only breakthrough made by the Proteas. Across the session, which again featured only 26 overs, the visitors compiled 1-103.

The visitors resumed at 3-331, with Clarke on 92 and Smith on 50. The captain added seven runs from his first nine deliveries to reach 99, but was denied a comfortable progression to three figures by the unrelenting accuracy of seamer Kyle Abbott.

Initially the player most anxious for Clarke to reach his milestone was Smith, who was given a life on 50 at the non-striker’s end after his urge for a single that would have brought up his partner’s century was rejected, forcing a mid-pitch retreat.

A sign of Clarke’s composure throughout the period was his willingness to leave deliveries from Abbott, who was getting mild swing in each direction, on length as well as line that passed perilously close to his stumps.

The biggest disappointment for the Proteas was the contrast between the opening spells of Abbott and Vernon Philander. After day one their bowling coach Allan Donald had stressed the importance of seamers stepping up in the absence of Dale Steyn, who injured his hamstring on day one. While second-gamer Abbott rose to that challenge – his yielded only one run in six overs – senior bowler Vernon Philander conceded 39 runs in the same period. This included Smith stunning lifting a half-volley from the bowler ranked the world’s best high back over his head for six.

All but one of the 24 balls Clarke had been stuck on 99 for were delivered by Abbott. The 25th was a gentle half-volley from Philander that the Australia captain duly dispatched to the cover-point boundary to reach a richly deserved milestone.

Among Clarke’s 26 preceding Test centuries only two had taken longer to reach than the 215 balls in this match against South Africa: 218 against New Zealand in Adelaide in December 2008 and 219 against India in Delhi in October 2008.

With that burden of getting off 99 shed Clarke struck two more boundaries to end Philander’s over – and spell – to make it three boundaries in four deliveries.

It was not just the tepid bowling of Philander that Smith took a liking to. Just before Australia went to drinks without losing a wicket, with the second new ball then 20 overs old, the right-hander contemptuously lifted the menacing Morkel over extra-cover for six. On the other side of the break he superbly lifted Morkel just short of the long-on boundary with another crisp full-faced strike.

Smith missed out on being Australia’s third century-maker for the innings after he attempted to cut left-arm finger-spinner Dean Elgar off the back foot and chopped onto his stumps. The 84 runs he scored took him past 1000 runs since his recall to the Test team almost a year ago, and took the 24-year-old’s record since he pivotal Ashes century in Perth to 500 runs at 55.56.

Watson survived a first-ball leg-before referral against him, from Elgar, to got to lunch at 21 from just 19 balls, which included hoisting Elgar over the long-off boundary with the second-last ball before the break. While the timing of such a shot could normally be criticised, given the circumstance it seemed a warranted blow to a seemingly a South Africa line-up undoubtedly disheartened by the absence of its best bowler.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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No redundancy for disability workers 

THE state government does not intend to offer redundancy payments to disability sector workers who decline to move to the private sector under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
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STAFF ANGRY: Union delegate Michael Grant.

Legislation denying public servants the traditional redundancy payments offered during privatisations have stunned the union movement.

But the state government has defended the new laws, saying “the NDIS Enabling Act makes it possible for us to . . . plan for all aspects of transition to the NDIS over the next few years”.

In a series of questions and answers posted on the Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) website, the government acknowledges passing legislation “that enables it to forcibly transfer ADHC employees to the not-for-profit/for profit sectors, without compensation”.

Asked if anything similar had happened before, the government responded by saying there needed to be “continuity of support for ADHC clients . . . to ensure an experienced, skilled workforce is retained in the service system”.

Public Service Association organiser Paul James said government promises to maintain the conditions of transferring workers were likely to prove hollow.

“While the government says conditions cannot be varied ‘except in accordance with any applicable industrial law’, the private disability services are already pushing to have the relevant laws changed,” Mr James said.

The changes would affect more than 1000 staff at the Stockton Centre and another 13,000 or so people in other ADHC jobs set to go by 2018.

NSW Nurses Association Stockton delegate Michael Grant said Stockton Centre employees were “extremely angry”.

It was morally wrong for the government not to offer redundancy payments to those who did not want to transfer to the NDIS, especially if their existing jobs were no longer needed and they were being forced to retrain, he said.

The government was even denying that the ADHC changes were a privatisation.

“They’re saying a privatisation is where they sell a business to the private sector but because they are giving it away, it’s not a privatisation. That is a ridiculous statement.”

Redundancy would be one of the issues pushed by the unions at a consultative forum with the government in Sydney on Thursday.

Mr Grant said the nurses’ association was holding a public forum on the NDIS at Newcastle Panthers on Tuesday, March 11, at 6pm.

Mr James said this would be preceded by a members-only PSA meeting at the same venue at 4.30pm.

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Jets need a way to bring it home

MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Kew Jaliens is mobbed by teammates after opening the scoring. Picture: Getty Images SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 02: Kew Jaliens of the Jets celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal as Ante Covic of the Wanderers shows his frustration during the round 21 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Newcastle Jets at Parramatta Stadium on March 2, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 02: Kew Jaliens of the Jets celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal as Ante Covic of the Wanderers shows his frustration during the round 21 A-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Newcastle Jets at Parramatta Stadium on March 2, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Jets defeat Wanderers 2-0: photos

Jets give finals hope the kiss of life

NOW to do it at home.

Newcastle Jets produced their most disciplined performance of the season to dispose of a flat Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 at Pirtek Stadium last night and kiss life into their play-off hopes.

A goal in each half to Kew Jaliens (35th minute) and Adam Taggart (65th) – his 10th for the campaign – was enough to seal three points and move them within reach of the top six.

The win leapfrogged the Jets above the Melbourne Heart, who they host on Saturday, and two points adrift of sixth-placed Sydney FC.

“It was a win to stay in touch with the pack,” satisfied Jets coach Clayton Zane said.

“The players knew the importance.

“It wasn’t the most compete match in terms of what we are capable of but a very good reaction based on the performance last week.

“[Against Sydney] we lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Today we had that. We always looked like we had goals in us.

“A little bit of counter-attacking, and I guess that is the way we seem to get success away from home.”

The Jets are the only team in the league to beat the top three – Brisbane (twice), Wanderers and Adelaide – away from home.

Winning at Turton Road has been the issue.

Ten games have yielded 10 points from two wins, four draws and four losses, the worst record in the competition.

With four of the remaining six games at Hunter Stadium, it’s a statistic they need to fix and fast.

“I think it is a little bit of belief,” Zane said.

“Part of that is putting the ball in the back of the net.

“We need to use the result today to try and convince them that they can do it at home. It is still in our hands.”

The Jets entered the round-21 fixture in ninth place, five points behind Sydney FC.

They couldn’t afford to give the top six any more space and fielded their most attacking line-up of the season.

Joel Griffiths came in for his first start, Andrew Hoole returned on the left of midfield and Josh Mitchell was preferred over Taylor Regan to partner Jaliens at the back.

“I think the addition of Griffo and Hooley into the team, I wouldn’t say it gave us more football, but those two, in particular, were quite composed when they received the ball in wide areas,” Zane said.

“Taggs was always a threat on the counter-attack.

“Emile showed a bit of intuition.

“He realised there was a big hole in behind the striker and was smart enough to go and play there.”

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic made two changes from the 3-1 loss to Ulsan Hyundai in their opening Asian Champions League group game on Wednesday.

Drizzle added to an already heavy and slippery surface.

The usually vocal Wanderers supporters group, the Red and Black Block, stayed silent to protest against sanctions imposed after flares were lit during the ACL clash.

The lacklustre atmosphere flowed on to the team.

“From start to finish, we were very flat, which is uncharacteristic from us,” Popovic lamented.

“You hope they pick it up as the game goes on, but it just didn’t happen.

“The little things that we do very well – winning the first ball, winning the second ball – we struggled with that throughout the game and we lacked a bit of spark in possession.”

The Jets dictated the tempo early and opened the Wanderers on the break, only to be let down by the final ball.

Eventually, their enterprise paid dividends in the 35th minute, and Jaliens was the unlikely assassin.

Left unmarked at the back post, he met an inch-perfect cross from Hoole with a powerful header.

Taggart went close to doubling the lead on the hour when he ran on to a through ball from Heskey but was denied by a brilliant save from Ante Covic.

Covic could not do anything to stop the Jets striker five minutes later.

Collecting a ball over the top from Heskey, Taggart wriggled past Nikolai Topor-Stanley and fired a shot that deflected off the heel of Matthew Spiranovic and into the left corner.

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CPI pumps pensioners’ pay

THE federal government has announced a boost to pension payments to help 3.6 million pensioners keep pace with rising living costs.
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The increase will come into effect on March 20 and is aimed at helping pensioners keep up with the cost of living, the federal government says.

Federal Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews said the payment rise had been driven by the consumer price index increase of 1.9 per cent for the first six months to December 2013.

“The Coalition government is pleased to deliver increases to those on the age pension, disability support pension, carer payment and veterans’ income support,” Mr Andrews said yesterday.

He signalled another rise would occur in September to reflect growth in the CPI or the pensioner and beneficiary living cost index, whichever was higher.

Single age pensioners would receive an increase of $15.70 a fortnight, while age pensioner couples would receive an extra $23.80 a fortnight.

“This means total pension payments for people on the maximum rate will be $842.80 a fortnight for singles and $1270.60 a fortnight for couples,” Mr Andrews said.

One million allowance recipients would also benefit from a boost to income support payments such as Newstart and Parenting Payment as of March 20.

The announcement comes as the government is reportedly considering combining disability payments and payments to the unemployed into a single welfare payment.

Mr Andrews said the government needed to tackle welfare reform because the budget was in a dire position.

The federal opposition believed any move to combine the dole and disability pensions into a universal payment was just putting the boot into disabled people.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the government of persecuting people with disabilities and seeking to slash their incomes.

“They seem to believe that everyone on the disability pension is rorting the system,” he said.

“That isn’t true.”

The head of the government’s welfare review, Patrick McClure, recommended to the Howard government in 2000 that it create a single, unified payment for all welfare recipients with top- up amounts based on further need. AAP

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Super Rugby: Clyde Rathbone backs No.8 Tim Cree to make the grade for Brumbies

Two tries and a super-consistent start to the season with the ACT XV has Brumbies winger Clyde Rathbone believing Tim Cree deserves a spot on a Super Rugby roster.
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And while Cree had a cracking game in the ACT XV’s 32-23 loss to the Argentina Pampas at Duntroon on Sunday, Rathbone only lasted 40 minutes before succumbing to a persistent hamstring injury.

Cree shone at No.8 as the ACT pushed the Argentinian A team right up to the final whistle. It was only sealed when Pampas five-eighth Patricio Fernandez scored his second intercept try in the dying seconds.

Rathbone was one of several Brumbies to have a run for the ACT, along with Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Jordan Smiler, JP Smith and Stephan van der Walt.

”Timmy Cree had an outstanding game, played really, really well,” Rathbone said on Sunday.

”He trained with us through the pre-season. He’s a guy that should get an opportunity somewhere.”

Rathbone produced several heavy hits in the first half, but a hamstring problem ended his game early.

He wanted to get through a full 80 minutes to try and push for selection for the Brumbies’ trip to Wellington this week, but was hampered by a tendon problem that has preventing him from running flat out.

The 32-year-old felt it would only set him back for two or three weeks.

”I had a cortisone [injection] last week, [but it] didn’t seem to make a huge difference,” he said.

”I just can’t seem to get above 80 per cent without feeling it, so back to the drawing board on Monday and come up with a game plan.

”It’s not massively serious, but it’s concerning.

”It won’t be a long-term thing, but I’m making it worse by playing, not better.”

ARGENTINA PAMPAS 32 (Patricio Fernandez 2, Matias Alemanno tries, a penalty try; Fernandez, 2 pens, 3 cons) bt ACT XV 23 (Tim Cree 2, Matt Hawke, tries; Rodney Iona, con, 2 pens).

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Myer move to extend its retail options with FSS Retail

Myer may be preparing to launch a fresh acquisition spree for bolt-on fashion and house-ware brands after quietly setting up a corporate vehicle aimed at owning and operating free-standing retail stores.
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The move comes as Myer continues to entice upmarket rival David Jones into merger discussions to create a $3.2 billion department store behemoth that is pitched to help both chains slash their cost bases as well as better fend off incursions from the rush of foreign retailers setting up in Australia’s shopping centres and through dedicated online stores.

Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show that 12 days ago Myer established a new corporate entity, FSS Retail, believed to stand for ”Free Standing Stores”, which will potentially aggregate under the national retailer’s wings several new fashion outlets that operate outside Myer’s traditional department store format.

FSS Retail begins its corporate life with three directors; Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes, Myer’s chief financial officer, Mark Ashby, and its head of strategic planning, Greg Travers. Among his many roles, including being in charge of the office of the CEO, Mr Travers is responsible for reviewing and delivering new business opportunities for Myer.

FSS Retail is potentially being positioned to help Myer expand from its network of 67 department stores around the country by building free-standing stores that might be placed within shopping centres or along suburban retail strips.

It will also help Myer in its ambition to expand its portfolio of exclusive brands.

Last financial year Myer’s exclusive brands grew its sales by $40 million and now account for 20 per cent of the department store’s $3.1 billion in annual sales.

The retailer has set itself a target of 1 per cent growth in its Myer exclusive brand category over the next few years and the bulk of that is expected to come from acquiring new fashion labels that bring with them a portfolio of free-standing bricks-and-mortar stores.

In September Myer bought the 35 per cent of popular label sass & bide it didn’t already own for $30 million – adding to the $43 million it paid for its initial majority stake – handing it sass & bide’s portfolio of 25 free-standing stores in all mainland capital cities as well as New York and New Zealand.

In December last year senior Myer executive Megan Foster stepped down as boss of the sass & bide chain, returning to the department store fold to run its free-standing stores.

As yet Ms Foster, a one-time general manager of marketing for Myer and responsible for the $300 million redevelopment of its flagship Melbourne CBD store, is not a director of FSS Retail and it is unknown whether she will play any part in its development.

Meanwhile, further investor pressure is expected to weigh on the David Jones board this week to push its directors to begin merger negotiations with Myer. The pressure increased after Myer chairman Paul McClintock sent a letter to his counterpart at David Jones signalling some flexibility in a fusing of the two national department store chains.

The David Jones board at first rebuffed the Myer merger proposal, but late last month looked to have softened its stance, saying it would consider any proposal that was on terms that were in the best interests of its shareholders.

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Industry super funds are not all low-cost havens

It is simply untrue to assert that the funds managers of today face no risk. Yes, the money rolls in, and yes, the fees are raked out of our superannuation regardless of performance.
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But funds managers do face risks that their teachers, nurses and other working folk clientele could only contemplate. For one, there is the haunting spectre of sustaining a stain on one’s shirtfront while fine dining at an upmarket CBD nosherie.

Whether the greatest risk is posed by a splotch of ragu or of salsa alla marinara, who knows? It may even be truffle oil, or spillage from an oaky Barossa shiraz.

Lunching misadventures aside however, the risks are low and the fees inordinately high for the nation’s investment institutions. Having recently highlighted the racket that is retail funds – the vertically integrated big bank wrap platforms that dominate the investment landscape and trot off with roughly 2 per cent of our super every year – it is time to look at the industry funds.

The fees are lower, therefore the returns higher. The latest figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) show industry funds performed about 30 per cent better than retail over 10 years. It’s not that they are superior money managers, they just charge lower fees.

But get this: industry funds place billions of dollars to invest with the retail funds anyway. Rather than just plonking this wholesale money in index or ”passive” funds, a lot of it is awarded to active managers.

The irony is the active managers don’t do any better than passive, they just charge more.

The other point is the operating expenses of the industry funds are on the rise.

The largest manager, Australian Super, has seen administration and operating expenses rise from $103 million in 2006 when it managed $28 billion and had 1.3 million members, to $214 million. (It now manages $65 billion and has 2 million members). That’s a jump from $79 per member to $107 per member.

This tends to make a mockery of the case the industry funds put for their deregulation, that it would bring economies of scale; that is, more money, lower costs.

Transparency is also inadequate. Amid the glossy pictures of smiley happy people in its annual review there was a tiny mention of a $214 million cost for IT matters.

Botched IT projects and a big advertising spend are probably the two main culprits for increasing costs at the industry funds.

Even though they are apparently not-for-profit, they spend members’ funds to advertise and thereby expand their pools of money. It is ironic that the more money under management, the harder it is to outperform the market.

So there is some unnecessary empire building going on.

Further to poorly disclosed IT cost blowouts, Superpartners – the joint venture between AustralianSuper, HOSTPLUS, HESTA, MTAA and Cbus – experienced a $130 million blowout and three-year delay last year, according to The Australian Financial Review. This year it was a $250 million blowout and four-year delay.

The retirement funds – AustralianSuper, HOSTPLUS, HESTA, MTAA and Cbus – recorded their investment in IT systems as an injection of equity capital in Superpartners, not as an expense.

As for transparency, there is no standard to which to adhere. Taking a look at the HESTA annual report for instance, it shows most of the money in Australian and international equities resides with active fund managers.

It doesn’t break out active versus passive but passive would have to be less than 25 per cent since the only two domestic managers with any passive allocation are BlackRock and Industry Funds Management (the industry funds’ fund manager).

The report doesn’t provide any colour on the performance of the individual investment managers. Some of this information is available on the managers’ websites (typically the ones who have done well). For other managers, it is difficult to find performance data anywhere.

It is a good thing fees charged by the industry funds are far lower than their retail counterparts. But they have their shockers, too.

The Orwellianly renamed Progress Super Fund (it used to be the Bookmakers Superannuation Fund) lost 8.7 per cent a year over the past five years versus the median fund return of 3.2 per cent.

It ought to take a good look at its investment management mandate (with a stockbroker in Melbourne). Excessive fees of 2.9 per cent a year were charged for its ”balanced” option.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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John Singleton eyes Prime Media after board departure

Macquarie Radio Network director John Singleton has expressed interest in the regional TV company Prime Media, after Prime foreshadowed the departure of a chunk of its board following the surprise loss of its cornerstone investor.
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Mr Singleton told BusinessDay that he was ”very interested” in Prime Media, the regional affiliate of ratings leader Channel Seven, which might become a takeover target if media ownership laws are loosened to allow takeovers of regional free-to-air broadcasters by metro ones.

Prime Media’s chairman Paul Ramsay last week sold his 30 per cent stake – worth just under $100 million – to new and existing institutional shareholders, and flagged his departure and that of two other directors. It is unknown whether Mr Singleton owns any Prime shares.

Mr Singleton’s expression of interest comes after he and business partner Mark Carnegie dumped their small stake in Fairfax Media, owner of The Age, following a public stoush with the company over failed talks to merge their respective radio stations.

Talks about combining Macquarie Radio Network, which owns Sydney’s 2GB station, and Fairfax’s radio arm, owner of 3AW in Melbourne, have been going for about a decade, Mr Singleton said.

He and Mr Carnegie own 70 per cent of Macquarie Radio Network.

Documents lodged with the ASX show Gutenberg Investments – belonging to Mr Singleton and Mr Carnegie, plus major shareholder Gina Rinehart – has trimmed its stake by 0.15 per cent to just under 15 per cent of the company.

The trio’s stake was combined on legal advice, due to the friendship between Mrs Rinehart and Mr Singleton.

Mr Singleton and Mr Carnegie sold at 94¢ a share, a hefty profit on their one-year investment that was designed to deliver the radio merger.

Another major Fairfax shareholder, the fund manager Allan Gray, has trimmed its stake in Fairfax by 1 per cent to 10.4 per cent.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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H&M signs leases for major foray into Australian fashion

Melbourne’s GPO will become home to Sweden’s H&M. Photo: Paul HarrisSwedish fashion group H&M has arrived in the country and taken out a 10-year lease on a property at Eastern Creek, Sydney, being developed by Australand.
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The retailer has confirmed its first shops will open at the Macquarie Centre owned by AMP Capital Shopping Centres at North Ryde, Sydney, and the former GPO in Bourke Street, Melbourne, owned by superannuation fund, ISPT.

It was also speculated that the world’s second-largest fashion chain, after rival Zara, has signed a lease at the ISPT-owned 345 George Street, Sydney.

The property is leased to Bankwest and National Australia Bank, but in the medium term, it will be renovated to give H&M about 3000 square metres over three levels.

H&M’s Collection of Style has taken space in The Strand, Melbourne, which is next door to the former GPO in Elizabeth Street.

The lease comes as more international brands make Australia their new home.

US fashion store Forever 21 is opening its first store in Brisbane and its representatives have been in Sydney and Melbourne scouting for locations. Japanese group Uniqlo is opening in the Emporium Melbourne and is also looking at space at the Mid City Centre in Sydney.

At the 25-hectare Eastern Creek Business Centre, in the stage four development, H&M has signed the lease via a third-party logistics firm DB Schenker, at Kangaroo Close, incorporating 16,000 square metres. The average rent in the area is about $115 per square metre.

When completed, stage four will accommodate about 145,000 square metres with an end value in excess of $200 million.

Other tenants at the site at the intersection of the Westlink M7, M4 Western Motorway and Wallgrove Road, include OfficeMax Australia and Kuehne and Nagel.

In its half-year result, Australand’s chief executive, Bob Johnston, said vacancy rates were low and supply remained constrained for high-quality industrial and logistic properties.

According to CBRE’s fourth quarter, 2013 Australian industrial MarketView report, 13 major industrial transactions were completed, valued at more than $5 million, reaching a total of $1.56 billion – 49 per cent higher than during the same period in 2012.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Gold production hits a 10-year high

Making the grade: White gold prices are falling, output is rising. Photo: Warren HackshallGold output in Australia, the world’s second-biggest producer, climbed to the highest in a decade last year as miners increased processing of higher-grade ores, according to mining consultant Surbiton Associates.
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Production increased 18 metric tonnes to 273 tonnes in 2013 from a year earlier, the highest annual output since 2003, Melbourne-based Surbiton said. Output in the fourth quarter rose to 74 tonnes from 70 tonnes in the previous three months, the highest since the quarter ended June 2003, it said.

Gold fell 28 per cent in 2013, capping bullion’s worst year since 1981, as some investors lost faith in the metal as a store of value and investor holdings decreased. Bullion has rebounded this year as concern the US recovery may be losing momentum and turmoil in emerging markets boosts haven demand.

”Producers are responding to lower gold prices by treating less low-grade material and this results in higher output and reduced costs,” Surbiton director Sandra Close said in a statement.

”The downside in processing higher-grade ore is that some lower-grade material that was economic to treat at higher prices is no longer profitable.”

Gold will decline to $US1011 an ounce as the US Federal Reserve tapers monetary stimulus and the dollar strengthens, Westpac said recently. Goldman Sachs said it would drop to $US1050 by the end of the year.

US Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen said last week the central bank was ”open to reconsidering” the pace of scaling back asset purchases should the economy weaken. The Federal Open Market Committee, which next meets on March 18-19, announced a reduction to bond buying at each of its past two meetings.

Bloomberg

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