Good afternoon company directors and execs and some of our long-serving staff. Welcome to our 30 years celebration.
It’s also a pleasure to warmly welcome representatives from our much-valued business partners
And this should be a celebration, in the USA records show, 70 percent of family companies fail within the second generation, I suspect in Australia there is not much difference.
As our dear Taddie knows, when I returned to HPPL, as exec chair, things sure weren’t looking as though we’d survive 30 years. Cheques were being written and left in drawers, so our very small accounting staff could say they’ve been written, but we had to wait til the quarterly royalty came in from Rio (just very small amounts back then), before cheques could actually be mailed.
And for years with the volcanoes of problems around us, I have not admitted this to you before, I felt as though my nose was only just above water level. But it wasn’t just me not having it easy in those early years, my staff didn’t see bonuses or for some years, even pay rises.
I recall going home each evening to my then minor children, knowing that everything was not ok, but not wanting them to be frightened by this. Perhaps I was guided by my father’s words, “everything will be on her shoulders.”
Perhaps in hindsight I should have let my older children know how very difficult things were, but then we had only recently lost my dad, and before that, my husband, their father, so I didn’t want to frighten them with how bad things actually were. Instead I saw it as my duty, for my children and for our company, that we delivered a way forward to save our company, and build it, no matter the at times seeming impossibility and overwhelming hurdles.
There were some erroneous reports our company was valued at around $75 million at that time, but this excluded the liability of Lygren acquired in my father’s time, and included the not developed, earning no income, 25 percent share of Rhodes Ridge, which the courts held the 1984 partnership agreement had superiority to the 1989 partnership agreement, the state agreement and our joint venture agreement, so we are stuck with that huge loss, which together with Lygren, clearly wiped out such value, hence no $75 million.
Tad in particular, also Terry and Richard, very sadly both deceased, saw their mates go far ahead of them with salary and bonuses, but they remained loyal to me. I will never forget this.
So, here we are together on my father’s birthday, celebrating the success for our private company, now the most successful private company in Australia’s history, but long may we remember our roots, and the hard work, obstacles overcome, huge risks, sacrifices and huge, magnificent loyalty that helped us get here today.
Tad jokes, he’s given his liver for the company! For decades a teetotaller myself, I think I can now share that sacrifice! We certainly have some good welcome drinks to share today, but wasn’t the Bannister Downs milk, that just won nation’s best milk, first time for a West Australian company, a different but delicious start to our get together!
You may have noticed Tad’s number plate, Tad’s corner, but what few would know, back then we couldn’t afford staff credit cards, and the staff to process, so we did it USA corporate style, you ran up company charges on your personal credit card and then had to argue for reimbursement for expenses you claimed were company expenses. Garry and Jabez, please note! I well recall an American exec running up bottled water in mini bars, the quantity used by this teetotaller was queried, and told, use tap water!
So Tad, at my request, flew over to Queensland, and then had to use his own personal credit card from then on, for his accommodation, cleaning, phone calls, meals, taxi fares, and even to access the Queensland mine department records. The tenement area he arranged we pick up, I named Tad’s corner. And his wife Margaret, named Tad’s cars!
Please join me in a company rousing round of applause for our Taddie!
Thanks to the revenue brought in from Tad’s and my years of endeavours with both the game changing Hope Downs, named in honour of my mother, now 4 major mines and more to come, and then the mega Roy, our company has been able to use this revenue and experience to build for the future. Not without risk, but now the polyhalite project in England is well underway, and will see HPPL receive generous royalties for more than 100 years, and probably longer than we receive from iron ore in the Pilbara.
Atlas, under earlier management was close to going down the gurgler, but is now a great contributor to our group under the outstanding leadership and dedication of our Sanjiv, who in an earlier life, won Australia’s coveted best national project director award, which with the outstanding effort he put in, he sure deserved, and quickly after that, became Roy’s acting COO, then board approved COO.
Please join me in an Atlas raising round of applause for Sanjiv, dare I say Sanjiv, that we hope can be heard all the way to Canada!
In less than the last 12 months HPPL has achieved 4 very important deals, firstly with our new partners, MRL, led by Chris Ellison. Well done Chris and both teams, thank goodness for SP3, which will greatly add to our future.
Then another deal in December, with the world’s largest steel maker, Baosteel, our wonderful partners Posco, and our friends at AMCI. Which together with Mulga Downs after approvals, will add to our tonnage.
Then, this year, with our wonderful Posco partners again, and despite gas prices rising, our successful joint takeover of Senex. We’re delighted to welcome Senex’s outstanding CEO to our expanding family, in addition to his drive and experience, he stepped in when Gerhard couldn’t, and represented me at the recent inauguration in South Korea of their new President. We hope to rapidly increase Senex production, eastern Australia, with coal fired power station closures, certainly needs this gas.
And another exciting deal, is about to be signed in a few days’ time, more to share with you then.
Of course, all this couldn’t be done without very hard work and long hours, taking up weekends, many late nights and foregoing public holidays, Tad and I know this well.
For Hope Downs we were a tiny team, basically, Tad, Terry and me, and overtime working PAs, and later with the financing, Jay too, but for more than 6 months, we didn’t get a weekend off, except Tad had just one weekend off in that time. First time he’d ever asked me for weekend time off, so I could hardly say no! Others we were dealing with had staff on their teams in the truckloads!
Now these four most recent deals were led by our own James Bond, or should I say, super Bond, leading our team who worked so hard on these. Garry, please may I ask you to stand, while we applaud you and our team members, now let’s ensure our applause reaches our partners overseas!
Before our Tad’s speech today, you’ll see on the screen some Roy milestones footage and much more. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words, and we’ve lots to highlight over 30 years, so please don’t forget to look at the screens.This is only the third time in 30 years that I’ve celebrated special company occasions at this private place, not including the many times we’ve had smaller dinners here for our partners and other project executives from overseas.
And of course, I wanted to make this historic occasion extra special to share with you, rather than just hold at a hotel, and boy have Kev and team, Talitha, Cian, Matt and more technical, John and Simon, Wayne and Shelley, been working very hard to make this possible. What an outstanding “event team”. Huge thank you to you all. Please join me in applause.
Now, just a few of us remember the first time in December 1992. I know Tad and I won’t forget, I actually went without sleep most of that week, but, parliament was extended a day, and we were able to get the “Iron Ore (Hope Downs) State Agreement” through parliament, so we had title and could commence exploration and studies work.
Despite the inexpensive wines that night, indeed the shortage of them, big smiles all around for our Chrissie dinner here to celebrate. Sure wish I could have had help from the “event team” I just mentioned! And for the next event too.
And then, our second company event, we held right here also on dad’s birthday, on June 10th, 1999, a lunch for 90 people to mark what would have been dad’s 90th birthday, and the renaming of part of the Hamersley ranges to the “Hancock Ranges” , in honour of dad’s and our ancestors’ north west contributions, and, the 20 year commemoration of the “Wake Up Australia flight” I’d arranged with the help of one rather stressed PA, Jen, for a chartered flight around Australia and its main resources for dad’s 70th birthday.
That unique 747 Qantas flight is showing on our screens, took me with Jen’s help 3 months to organise. I regret I haven’t had a spare 3 months since to organise a repeat, one day I hope! Wouldn’t that be exciting! The passengers had to sleep in sleeping bags, and the bathroom facilities, well, we’re much better off on our sites and offices! Now who would like to join us on that?!
Our co-host for those 2 rather memorable Wake Up Australia days, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, flew over for our lunch, and the then local airforce again helped us out, and we all enjoyed a fly past from the deck outside. Rather close by! Dad always said, our RAAF pilots were the best!
Now that around Australia’s resources flight I still believe has relevance today. Back then the “mining’s a dirty word,” hate our mining industry” cult had already started.
You all would know I started National Mining and Related Industries Day, some 10 years ago, to help remind Australians of the essential contribution our great industry makes to Australia. One good thing I’ve noticed from covid, if you can say there is anything good about covid, various sections of our mining industry, are better appreciated, as mining and its many related businesses, our great industry, especially iron ore, helped to support us all throughout covid.
As electricity and fuel bills rise, and our electricity becomes more unreliable, while green cult policies reign, maybe after experiencing these extra and damaging costs, unreliability and shortages, coal, gas and oil, even our abundant reserves of uranium, will be better understood, that they are essential too.
We’re already in record debt, some trillion dollars, and will face the consequences of that, so now isn’t the time to be handing out more taxpayers’ money to support financially unsustainable alternate electricity and fuel options.
You may note in that dreadful war against Ukraine, they haven’t been asking for solar panels, or green hydrogen, but oil. That terrible war has reminded us, or it should, that we must be self-reliant for our resources and fuel needs. And certainly strive to be more self-reliant for other critical needs like defence and medicines too.
In the rush to net zero policies, and their consequences, have we even considered that with our thousands of square kilometres of territorial ocean around Australia, our extensive forests, national parks, and sparsely populated and scarcely used interior, that we as a nation, are already at net zero?
In my view, clear thinking is crucially needed, our entire industry, including coal, uranium, oil and gas, has never been needed more. To accelerate production and revenue, government tape needs urgent slashing, as we need to support our government’s most important responsibility, to defend our nation.
Let’s encourage our governments to better understand, and let’s help those who do.
Please join me in a toast, please stand, and salute together our defence personnel, past and present, and other significant contributors to our country, each other, Hope and Lang Hancock, and the Hancock group and Roy.
I do hope you all really enjoy being together for our special 30 year lunch. Our company wouldn’t be where it is without the contribution of each of you. A company we can all be incredibly proud of, that had honourable beginnings, and was an honourable company during my mother’s long directorship, to one that very sadly changed, but after many struggles, we have become the most successful private company in Australia’s history, and one of the most successful private mining companies in the world. We have companies I hope each one of you can be very proud to be a part of. Our companies have earned multi awards and respect around the world. We can look back on our efforts and contribution truly with pride, and what a build we have established together for the future!