AGES highlights latest data, best prospects

Industry experts are set to gather in Alice Springs next week to attend the 17th Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar (AGES).

Northern Territory Mines and Energy Minister David Tollner said AGES presented an opportunity for industry to access the latest in fresh exploration ideas and geoscientific data on the NT’s minerals, oil and gas resources.

“AGES is an event that continues to grow in its reputation and importance as the key technical forum and networking event for the Territory’s exploration industry,” he said.

Key highlights for AGES 2016 include:

  • the release of the latest data and information on the highly prospective McArthur River Basin including the Beetaloo Sub-basin
  • new concepts on copper mineral systems in Central Australia
  • release of a joint Government-industry seismic survey over Tennant Creek
  • a technical workshop by CSIRO on the applied use of geophysical data for petroleum and minerals exploration
  • workshops on legislative frameworks for mineral and petroleum exploration

The program will also include technical presentations on recent exploration highlights from companies including Teck Australia, Santos, Newmont, Independence Group, Newmarket Gold, Origin Energy, KGL Resources and Emmerson Resources.

AGES will also present new geoscience results and concepts generated from the Territory Government’s largest exploration investment – the four-year, $23.8 million Creating Opportunities for Resource Exploration (CORE) initiative.

Delegates from around Australia and internationally will attend the AGES conference at the Alice Springs Convention Centre on March 15-16.

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Komatsu expands CQ services

Komatsu Australia has expanded its service and support operations in the Central Queensland region, adding two resident technicians in Clermont and one in Barcaldine along with increasing capabilities at its Emerald branch.

These increased capabilities have allowed the branch, which has been in operation for the past 10 years, to move to a full 24/7 operation.

Emerald branch manager Darryl Anderson said the expansion had been driven by customer demand, machine population in the region, and understanding the needs of customers.

“With our increased technician base, we have gained experience which allows us to work on a variety of makes and models,” he said.

“Our resident service technicians at Clermont and Barcaldine are complemented by increased capabilities at (Komatsu’s) Emerald branch – the primary service centre for the Bowen Basin mining industry.”

The expanded capabilities include:

  • - Installing new hydraulic cylinder benches, giving the ability to overhaul any size cylinder up to the largest mining equipment
  • - Additional autoelectricians, giving increased capacity to maintain and service all autoelectrical faults as well as airconditioning repairs on earthmoving equipment.
  • - Increased workshop capabilities, to maintain and overhaul machine components locally
  • - Bringing in a 100-tonne mobile track press.

Queensland Nickel staff laid off

Voluntary administrators FTI Consulting have laid off all staff at Queensland Nickel, effective tomorrow afternoon.

There were more than 500 staff left at the Yabulu facility north of Townsville following the first round of redundancies more than  month ago.

Last Monday ( March 7) the administrators received notice that Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd would replace Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd as the manager of the operations at the Yabulu refinery ‘with immediate effect’.

FTI said the staff could be re-employed by the new management company. Reports this afternoon indicated that was dependent on the new management company getting the appropriate licences to operate the refinery.

The decision to replace Queensland Nickel as joint venture manager was determined by the director of QNI Resources and QNI Metals, Clive Mensink.

As a result the administrators no longer had operational or management control of the Yabulu Refinery, FTI said in a statement.

“Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd, the newly appointed manager of the refinery, may offer current employees of Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd employment but the administrators are currently unaware of the terms or timing of those offers.

“The administrators have impressed on Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd the urgency of the situation and the need to quickly resolve the ongoing employment of staff. At this time the administrators are uncertain as to the status of future employment offers by Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd.

“The terminations of employment and uncertainty regarding the new offers is a deeply regrettable situation, although unavoidable given the administrators no longer have operational control of the refinery.”

Townsville Enterprise chair Kevin Gill called for the employees of Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd to be transferred immediately to the new company structure under Queensland Nickel Sales.

“Clive Palmer indicated at the start of the week that his intention was to ‘find a solution to secure the long-term operations of the Yabulu refinery and its workforce in the best interests of the Townsville economy’,” Mr Gill said.

“At the moment, over 500 employees are uncertain about their future and the future of a company that contributes over $1.3 billion to the local economy is in jeopardy.

“In the best interests of the families of the 500 workers, in the best interests of businesses that rely on this refinery and in the best interests of North Queensland – Queensland Nickel Sales must keep the doors open by offering employment contracts immediately.”

New face for regional development

The Australian Government has announced the appointment of Graeme Kanofski as the new chair of the Regional Development Australia (RDA) Committee Fitzroy and Central West until the end of 2017.

Regional Development Minister Fiona Nash said the appointment was good news for regional policy in Queensland and would greatly assist the Fitzroy and Central West RDA committee to continue to provide vital input to the Australian and Queensland governments and inform regional policy processes.

“Graeme’s many years of experience working with local government in Queensland will help the RDA Fitzroy and Central West committee work with the community to meet and resolve local challenges head-on,” she said.

“I would like to thank the former chair Kym Mobbs for his leadership and contribution to the development of the community through the work of the RDA Fitzroy and Central West.”

Regional Development Australia consists of a national network of 55 committees designed to focus on regional economic development and facilitate local projects that aim to make a difference in their local communities.

Information on the work currently being undertaken by RDA Fitzroy and Central West can be found at: by visiting their Facebook page

Aspiring engineer wins Qld women in resources award

Photo: International Women’s Day_QMEA Winner Tara Toshack


Aspiring environmental engineer and Dysart SHS student Tara Toshack has won the student award in the 11th annual Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) awards presented in Brisbane today. (8Mar16)

The 2016 Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) Student Ambassador was flown to Brisbane to collect her award by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.

‘I chose this nominated career path as I enjoy learning how science and its theory can be applied to real life situations, and then implementing this knowledge myself,’ said Ms Toshack.

‘I also have a great interest in the effect that different factors have on the environment, and the ways in which we can minimise and rehabilitate these impacts.’

Tara, who is also a member of Young Scientists of Australia, has written many published pieces on the importance of mentoring and supporting girls in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, which can lead to careers in the resources sector.

BMA Asset President Rag Udd said the organisation was proud to support the youth of Central Queensland in their growth and development towards careers in engineering and resources.

‘As one of Central Queensland’s largest employers, we are particularly proud to see a student from our region of operations excelling and seeking to apply her talents in a STEM profession,’ Mr Udd said.

QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche said the awards and breakfast, this year sponsored by Rio Tinto, celebrated and showcased the depth of female talent in Queensland’s resources sector.

‘The awards also provide industry ambassadors and mentors, particularly for women and students thinking about entering the resources field,’ Mr Roche said.

‘The long-term future of our sector relies on attracting and retaining the best people to keep us at the forefront of innovation as we compete in a global market.

‘A workforce with people from diverse backgrounds, including a better gender balance, is critical to supplying the workforce of the future.

‘The attendance of about 800 people across the state today at breakfasts to witness the presentation of these awards is a clear demonstration of our sector’s continued commitment to its goal of at least 20 percent women in non-traditional roles by 2020.’

The awards were presented by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Grace Grace, QRC President Stewart Butel and WIMARQ Chair Heather Parry.

* The QMEA is Australia’s largest and most successful industry/education schools partnership between the Queensland resources sector represented by the QRC and the Queensland Government.

Through its school-industry partnerships, the QMEA’s 35 schools around the state offer programs and experiences to broaden students’ and teachers’ knowledge of the sector and provide pathways for young people into resource sector related careers.

The full list of results:

Exceptional Woman in Qld

Winner: Cecile Wake, Growth Director QGC

Exceptional Young Woman in Qld Resources

Winner: Dannielle Dendle, Engineering Project Coordinator and Project Controls, BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance Peak Downs Mine

Outstanding Queensland Tradeswoman/Operator/Technician 

Winner: Marianne Finch Dragline/dozer operator BHP Billiton Mitubishi Alliance Saraji Mine

Gender Diversity Champion in Queensland Resources

Winner: Chai McConnnell Principal Consultant Advisian Pty Ltd (part of Worley Parsons Group)

Excellence in Diversity Programs and Performance
Winner: Aurizon

Exceptional QMEA Student in Queensland Resources
Winner: Tara Toshack Dysart SHS

Women join mine safety board in state first

(Left to Right): Board members include underground mining manager, Ravenswood operations David Mackay; Chief Inspector of Mines Phil Goode (Chair of the Board); Glencore Coal Assets director of operations, Queensland underground Darren Nicholls;  Senior Inspector of Mines Julie Devine; Grosvenor underground operations manager Brad Watson; Poitrel mine production manager Bryony Andrew; UQ Professor of Mining Engineering Brian White; Chief Inspector of Coal Mines Russell Albury; CFMEU industry safety and health representative Greg Dalliston and consultant-underground mine manager Mike Downs.

Two mining engineers have been appointed to the mining industry’s Board of Examiners.

And for the first time in Queensland, they are women.

State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said International Women’s Day was a good time to highlight the credentials of Julie Devine and Bryony Andrew.

“This is an historic first for Queensland but it’s also a vote of confidence in two women who have had impressive careers as mining industry professionals in a male-dominated industry,” Dr Lynham said.

“Women made up less than 15 per cent of the resources sector workforce in 2014 but industry bodies are optimistic about surpassing the 20 per cent mark by 2020.

“Both Ms Devine and Ms Andrew have extensive experience in the mining industry and will make a valuable contribution to the board, which assesses and examines applicants for safety positions and issues certificates of competency.”

The board determines the required qualifications and experience for workers to serve in key safety-critical positions in mines and quarries. All board members must hold a mining certificate of competency and have at least 10 years’ practical mining experience.

Ms Andrew is the manager of the Poitrel coal mine near Moranbah in Central Queensland. She has a background in mining engineering, with significant industry experience as a production manager and development manager.

Ms Devine has been a senior mines inspector with the Department of Natural Resources and Mines since 2009. Before that, she had a two-decade career as a mining engineer, mine manager and mines inspector in Queensland and Papua New Guinea.

With the Board of Examiners meeting again this week, Dr Lynham said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to increasing female representation on government boards and committees.

“Since July 2015, women’s representation on government boards has grown from 31 per cent to 37 percent in January 2016,” he said.

Townsville shipshape for trade growth

Container vessel Kota Nasrat has docked in Townsville for the first time as Mariana Express Lines continues to expand its Asia North Australia (ANA) service.

Mariana Express Lines started the ANA service between Asia, Townsville and Darwin in 2009 and the service quickly grew to include more ports.

Port of Townsville Limited (POTL) general manager trade and property Claudia Brumme-Smith said the addition of Kota Nasrat to the Townsville service demonstrated confidence in the future of the Port of Townsville and the growth outlook for northern Queensland.

“New ships servicing the route between Townsville and Asia mean North Queensland residents and businesses between Cairns and Mackay, as well as out to Mount Isa, can receive the products they need for everyday living and trade faster and more efficiently, without additional road or rail freight costs that apply when entering Australian ports further south,” Ms Brumme-Smith said.

“POTL and the stevedoring companies that operate in Townsville have made significant investments, and will continue to do so, to attract container trade for Northern Australia to Townsville.

“Increased berth capacity, improved container handling equipment and integrated transport solutions are key factors in ensuring that container services such as Mariana’s ANA continue to connect our region with the world.”

Built in 2008, the 21,000-tonne Kota Nasrat is the first Pacific International Lines (PIL) vessel to be phased into Mariana’s Australian service.


Businesswoman takes up the fight for formworkers

Ipswich entrepreneur Kaitlyn Moore has taken on Chinese manufacturers in the formwork business and is now leading the charge to give the Australian industry a stronger voice.

The owner and managing director of O’Connell Agencies registered the Formworkers Association of Australia (FAA) last year.

“After 14 years in the construction industry, I became somewhat of an agony aunt of the formworkers, who rang me and offloaded their difficulties and challenges they faced within the industry, in both construction and management,” she said.

“I came to establish the FAA by listening to the needs, wants and problems of my clients and deciding to do something about it.”

The association is aimed at formwork companies and supply business owners rather than the general workforce.

Ms Moore said she was still doing the groundwork to create an online presence for the association to help accelerate its growth.

“We are currently looking for members – people who have an interest in the formwork industry and think they could be part of this platform to voice concerns and advance standards in the industry,” she said.

Ms Moore said her business was going from strength to strength after establishing manufacturing facilities at a 1.3ha factory site in Ipswich about a year ago.

“That has allowed me to increase production and manufacture around the clock if necessary,” she said.

“I have been able to accept bigger projects and really expand.”

Her business manufactures circular, rectangular and square forms for concrete building columns as well as the accessories need for commercial formwork.

Ms Moore grew up in Oak Valley outside Townsville before moving to Ipswich aged 11 after her mum, who was a teacher, was transferred.

“It brought me closer to my dad, who owned his own formwork company in Brisbane, and I guess that’s where my passion for the construction industry began,” she said.

She said she had started operating O’Connell Agencies from her garage in 2002, distributing nails and silicone to jobsites in Brisbane.

“I learnt how to import products from China, so started to buy in bulk and then wholesale to national formwork supply companies,” she said.

“When importing from China became very popular and my competition increased, I looked towards manufacturing to secure my future.”

Ms Moore made the switch four years ago and was manufacturing PVC column forms at a smaller site in Tingalpa, Brisbane before establishing the Ipswich factory.

She said her business had grown to the point where she was using nine machines, employed 17 people and had a multimillion-dollar turnover.

“I would like to make a point about my wonderful team – I wouldn’t be here without the support of the people around me,” Ms Moore said.

Ms Moore was recognised in the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Queensland’s annual Crystal Vision Awards last year, taking out an award for diversity.



Palmer back at refinery helm

Clive Palmer has announced that the Yabulu refinery will remain open under a new joint venture manager, Queensland Nickel Sales, which he will head.

“The funding facility will be secured against assets outside of Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd which were not available to the voluntary administrators in the discharge of their duties as manager of the Yabulu refinery,” Mr Palmer said.

Queensland Nickel Sales would replace Queensland Nickel as the manager of the operations at Yabulu and associated Townsville Port facilities with immediate effect, he said.

Mr Palmer said Queensland Nickel Sales would offer all current employees of Queensland Nickel employment on the same terms and conditions as they were currently engaged.

“I have been working diligently for weeks to find a solution to secure the long-term operations of the Yabulu refinery and its workforce in the best interests of the Townsville economy,” Mr Palmer said.

“I have been harshly vilified with false allegations in respect of this matter. The Queensland government and the Treasurer Curtis Pitt have done nothing to protect the livelihoods of the people of North Queensland.”

Queensland Nickel went into voluntary administration in January after sacking 237 workers on the back of continued low nickel prices.

Mr Palmer told the ABC on Monday he would use $23 million of his own cash to back the replacement management company for the refinery.

Treasurer Curtis Pitt has called on Mr Palmer to detail the effects on workers and creditors of his new corporate arrangements for managing and operating the Yabulu nickel refinery.

“Administrators of Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd, FTI Consulting, have stated that the new arrangements put in place were outside the control of FTI,” Mr Pitt said.

“Mr Palmer needs to explain clearly what this new arrangement means for the existing entitlements of the refinery’s current employees, and what guarantees he can give them about their future employment security and their existing entitlements.

“The employees need clarity.

“Mr Palmer also needs to explain what impact the new arrangements may have on existing creditors including the 237 workers who have already been made redundant.”

The restructure needed to transparent to all concerned and to the wider North Queensland community, he said.

The State Government had been considering a request from the administrators for a $10 million loan guarantee.

But Mr Pitt said FTI had advised the Treasurer’s office that it would no longer seek a loan facility from the State Government.


Win for women in engineering

More than 700 female engineers are now registered with the Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland (BPEQ), a 30 per cent increase since this time last year.

BPEQ released the figures to coincide with International Women’s Day and Queensland Women’s Week, saying the growth came after BPEQ enacted and participated in several initiatives throughout 2015 with the aim of promoting engineering to women.

BPEQ registrar Kylie Mercer said the results were encouraging, but reiterated the need for BPEQ and the engineering profession to do more.

“In the last 12 months we have recorded a 30 per cent increase in the number of female RPEQs (registered professional engineers), while the overall number of RPEQs has grown at around 7 per cent,” Ms Mercer said.

“These figures are above growth trends in the broader profession and demonstrate BPEQ is achieving its objectives through different programs and initiatives.

“Another performance indicator is the number of female RPEQs standing as candidates for election to the Board; approximately 10 per cent of candidates are women.

“BPEQ recognises that much more needs to be done and in 2016 we will continue our partnerships with women in engineering groups at the Queensland University of Technology and University of Queensland, look to establish new partnerships in the profession and host workshops designed for women engineers.”