It has been another bumper year for Anglo-Australian mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto as the arm-wrestle over a hostile takeover bid intensifies.
Both companies are using exceptional profits, fuelled by China's insatiable demand for Australian resources, to press their respective claims in this long-running merger saga.
Rio Tinto has used its strong half-year results to bolster its defence against a multi-billion dollar offer from its powerful competitor.
But some analysts believe BHP's earnings could give it an advantage in the battle.
"One point is that BHP could benefit because its near-term profits are likely to be stronger than Rio's, which could work in BHP's favour...and create the impression that it is more successful," Angus Gluskie, an analyst with Sydney-based White Funds Management, told the BBC.
Supply and demand
The proposed takeover is being investigated by Australian and European regulators amid concerns that an amalgamation could see iron ore prices soar.
Some observers think that, in the long run, such a prospect is unlikely.
Nigel Stapleton, from the School of Economics at the University of New South Wales, predicts that over the next five to ten years the supply of commodities will start to catch up with demand as rivals to BHP and Rio continue to invest heavily.
"The market's going to move more into balance and that might take some of the present froth out of prices," he says.
"I would also note that there are some other significant producers, which are presently quite small but there is a lot of new investment going on so there are going to be in the next few years additional players.
"Clearly at the moment and, for the foreseeable future, they won't be as big as BHP or Rio but nonetheless over a period of time they'll be emerging as significant players."
Extra competition in Australia's mining industry could eventually push record prices down but the amount of iron ore and coal carved out of the red dust is likely to increase.
BHP's profits could well be squeezed but not for a while yet.
There is a feeling that the miner's earnings haven't peaked and still have some way to go, thanks to appetite from China and India.
The minerals bonanza has showered unparalleled wealth on many communities, especially in Western Australia's Pilbara region.
The largest town in this rugged part of the Australian continent is Port Hedland, which lies in the heart of BHP country.
There, the production of the iron ore that's helping to build modern China never stops.
There's a relentless traffic of freighters from Asia, which gobble up as much of this valuable mineral as Australia can extract.
House prices in Port Hedland, a sun-baked town 1300 km north of Perth, have risen tenfold in the past decade and many locals have cashed in.
"I think the people here think they have a golden goose," says real estate agent, Jan Ford.
Accommodation, though, is in short supply and the former immigration detention centre in Port Hedland has been pressed into service to provide workers with a place to stay.
The boom has a magnetic appeal and has prompted a massive movement of labour.
An army of Australians has turned its back on jobs in shearing sheds, on fruit farms or in the cities in favour of lucrative wages at the mines.
"People are obviously chasing the money in the mining sector," says Stewart Edward, a Scottish migrant from Blairgowrie in Perthshire who spent time working in the Pilbara as a trade union representative.
"They are very isolated areas and the cost of living is high," he explains. "You can easily get up to 45 degrees celsius during the day in summertime, so there are fairly extreme conditions."
"Being stuck in the middle of nowhere is very alien and different to the Scottish countryside that I was used to.
"It was very strange but it has its own beauty. When you see a little bit of rain coming into areas like the Pilbara it's quite spectacular."
The mining boom has brought a period of stunning economic opportunity to Australia.
These are golden years for the big miners, which both BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto believe will continue for decades to come.
6 months ago