Three mechanized boats which set sail for fishing from the Rameswaram fishing base were apprehended by the Sri Lankan navy in the late hours of Monday and were taken to Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka, the chief minister said. In her first letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after taking over as chief minister, J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday sought his personal intervention for the release of 14 Tamil Nadu fishermen who were arrested by Sri Lankan authorities on Monday night, the Times of India reported this evening.“I urge your immediate personal intervention in this issue and request you to direct the ministry of external affairs to take up the matter with the Sri Lankan authorities to secure the immediate release of the 14 fishermen who were apprehended on June 1 and their three fishing boats along with the 18 fishing boats which are already in the Sri Lankan custody,” she said. “I write with a deep sense of anguish that right at the beginning of the fishing season on June 1, after a 45 day fishing ban, 14 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, along with their three fishing boats, have been detained by the Sri Lankan navy,” said Jayalalithaa. “There are already 18 boats belonging to our fishermen in Sri Lankan custody. I would like to specifically point out that of the 80 boats impounded since June, 2014, 16 boats were completely ruined beyond recovery and could not be salvaged. Boats and fishing gear which are essential for the poor fishermen to earn their livelihood are deliberately not released by the Sri Lankan authorities while releasing the fishermen,” she said.
Australia is a major theme of International Mining’s forthcoming August issue. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in its Aussie Mine report, the Australian mid-tier mining sector had a spectacular 2006 by any measure. Aggregated market capitalisation increased by 81% for the 50 companies analysed. Confidence in the sector was high during the year ended 31 December 2006 and has continued in 2007. This has been fuelled by strong commodity prices and rising production levels. Share price increases have been dramatic for many companies and investors have been well rewarded for their faith in the mid-tier Australian mining industry.Revenues from operations for the 50 companies increased by more than 50%. This was a reflection of the across-the-board increase in commodity prices as well as increased production. Costs rose by almost the same proportion as revenues and this is a warning sign for all mining companies. Input prices, lead times and just about everything else needed by mining companies are rapidly increasing in price. These cost increases can be glossed over while commodity prices are increasing, but the key question is whether they can be sustainably removed if prices were to fall.The cash generated by the industry was substantial and was reinvested into mine developments and expansions. The aggregated balance sheet of the 50 companies is strong and there is still borrowing capacity. In total the top 50 companies hold over $3 billion of cash, almost enough to pay off all debt. Over $700 million was paid out as dividends. Interestingly, more than double this amount was raised as fresh capital. This reflects the desire of investors to be a part of the mid-tier mining sector.Exploration expenditure rose, but is not keeping pace with levels elsewhere in the world. This has already been the subject of extensive comment, and PwC’s analysis does not highlight any new trends. Whilst exploration expenditure does not guarantee success, its absence certainly guarantees no new deposits being discovered.In summary, all facets of PwC’s analysis point towards an exuberant mid-tier Australian mining sector. It is increasingly profitable, generates good cash flows, and has a strong balance sheet. Not surprisingly the stock market value is outperforming other sectors. In addition, trading conditions in the first three months of 2007 support a similar story.