Conditions have improved mining businesses: RBA

Conditions have improved mining businesses: RBA
Conditions have improved mining businesses: RBA

Conditions have generally improved over the past six months for businesses in the resource-related sector, according to RBA’s Financial Stability Review 2017.

The rise in commodity prices since the beginning of 2016, particularly for iron ore, and the ongoing efforts of these businesses to cut costs and reduce debt, have led to a substantial increase in the aggregate earnings of listed resource-related corporations (Graph 2.12).

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Conditions have improved mining businesses: RBA

Many listed resource-related corporations have used some of their increased profits to pay down debts, resulting in a decline in the sector’s gearing and debt servicing ratios.

In line with these positive developments, resource-related corporations’ distance-to-default measures have increased over the past year (Graph 2.13).

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Conditions have improved mining businesses: RBA

Nevertheless, earnings have continued to weaken for mining services corporations as resource producers have focused on cost reduction.

As noted in previous Reviews, banks’ direct exposures to the mining sector have declined in recent years and now constitute only a little over 1 per cent of their total lending, though this figure excludes banks’ exposures to non-resource-related businesses operating in mining regions (Graph 2.14).

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Conditions have improved mining businesses: RBA

Conditions remain challenging for these businesses, given mining firms’ continued focus on cost containment, and some indicators of financial distress have picked up.

For instance, unincorporated business failure rates are elevated in Queensland and Western Australia (Graph 2.15).

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Conditions have improved mining businesses: RBA

If higher commodity prices were to fall or not translate into improved economic conditions in mining-exposed regions, business failure rates may pick up further.

Outside the mining-exposed states, businesses’ finances generally appear sound and indicators of stress are low.

Survey measures of business conditions are well above their historical averages; listed corporations’ distance-to- default measures have continued their trend improvement and earnings have been in line with previous years; failure rates are low; gearing remains around its historical average; and many businesses continue to benefit from the depreciation of the Australian dollar since 2013 (Graph 2.16).

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Conditions have improved mining businesses: RBA

The low interest rate environment has also made it easier for companies to meet their debt obligations by reducing debt-servicing costs (Graph 2.17).

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Conditions have improved mining businesses: RBA

Find the RBA's latest Financial Stability Review 2017 here.

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