Australian Gov't Says Mineral Price Boom Is Over

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) â¿¿ Australia's resources minister says the mineral price boom that has saved the country from recession has ended.

Martin Ferguson spoke Thursday after the world's biggest miner, BHP Billiton Ltd., announced it was delaying a massive $30 billion expansion of its Olympic Dam uranium and copper mine in southern Australia.

Ferguson told reporters: "The boom in commodity prices is over. No one can deny it."

Chinese demand for Australian iron ore, natural gas and coal has recently delivered Australia its best monthly trade surpluses in more than a century while keeping the country free of recession for 21 years. But prices have slumped due to the European debt crisis.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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