SHIFT MINER The Queensland mining communityâ€™s best source of local news
Monday 12th September 120th Edition 2011
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GATES OPEN Breakthrough on water discharges THE rate of water being pumped from Bowen Basin mines flooded last December is expected to increase in the wake of a review into the rules governing water discharges. The review has relaxed some of the rules regarding the pumping of water out of pits and dams back into the Fitzroy catchment, and is a major breakthrough for many miners still struggling with flooded operations. The fear among miners was that even a modest wet season this year could cause more flooding, major operational stoppages, and even the possibility of large uncontrolled releases. The changes stem from a major review conducted by the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM). More than 80 per cent of the regionâ€™s coal mines were inundated during the December deluge and, since then, more 48 temporary permits or TEPs have been granted to pump out water. Despite the numbers, many mines are still holding huge volumes of water on site because - under the previous rules - they were not able to pump it back into the river catchment except at periods of high flow. That condition has now been overhauled. Now, the dewatering rules will vary depending on which part of the catchment each individual mine site is located. DERMâ€™s director of mines in central Queensland, Andrew Connor, said it was all to do with the cumulative impacts continued page 4 on the catchment.
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News Miners chip in for the CQ NRL bid Âť page 5 News Dangers in dredging? Âť page 6 News Miners Memorial Day in Mt Isa Âť page 12 Ladder Free training courses for women Âť page 10 Around Town A day at the fete Âť page 15
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CONTENTS 120th EDITION. 2011
24 STICKY FINGERS
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PEOPLE who know me would agree that, by nature, I am a polite person. I am a journalist, but I prefer to do my job in a civil fashion. I hold the perhaps old-fashioned view that you should try and get the answers to your questions in a polite and professional way. But this fortnight, I have had a gutful. For 10 days I tried to politely find out the changes that had resulted from a DERM review into the water discharge rules for mines. I was acting on a tip off, so I knew the review had wrapped up and that there were significant changes. But five days of emails and phone calls to the Ministerâ€™s office resulted in nothing. Eventually I was sent a press release that literally told me nothing except the review had taken place (no, really?) and that it did not represent a compromise on environmental protection. Well, given the changes had still not been made clear to me - I wondered how they could possibly represent a compromise on environmental protection. How can a government go straight to being on the defensive about information they have not even released?
When I queried this (because letâ€™s face it, if denial comes before fact there probably is a story in it) I was again hamstrung by my politeness - patiently waiting for my phone to ring or email to jump up with a response. Nothing. It was not until I threatened to run a story saying it seemed extremely dodgy that the state government was not releasing any information on the review that I finally had my request met. This time, with information and a rare interview with someone in a government department. There is no doubt the state government was not keen to have these details released because of the perception that the rules have been relaxed in favour of miners. But how is it that we have come to the point where the public canâ€™t be allowed to form its own opinions on factual information? The debate surrounding the big issues in mining has become so hysterical that there seems no middle ground for sensible discussion about big policy items. That said, it is not for the state government or its advisers - to try and deliberately conceal information that should be publicly available just to avoid a backlash.
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110 Campbell Street, Rockhampton. Page 3 - Shift Miner Magazine, 12th September 2011
120th EDITION. 2011
Live local all spin: mining union THE powerful mining union the CFMEU has turned on the Bligh government, over its approval of a 100 per cent fly-in fly-out mine in the Bowen Basin. CFMEU state secretary Jim Valery has accused the state government of spin doctoring the facts about the conditions set out for
BMA’s Caval Ridge mine near Moranbah. “The government tried to bury this story from scrutiny by releasing it late on Friday afternoon and to muddy the waters with false claims and tough talk about project conditions,” he said. “But really it’s a sell-out of titanic proportions.” The much anticipated decision by the Coordinator General will allow the mine to run on a 100 per cent FIFO workforce, as long as it builds 160 houses in Moranbah, and another 240 throughout the Bowen Basin. That has outraged the union, given 150 houses were already guaranteed in a prior approval, and the 240 to be built elsewhere are not directly linked to the Caval Ridge workforce. In his decision, the Coordinator General Ken Davies outlines that 80 per cent of BMA’s operational workforce should continue to live locally - as it historically has done. But all parties - the union, community groups, local government leaders and BMA - agree that the condition is not legally enforced by the document. Mr Valery said the state government had deliberately mislead the public - and he
labelled the decision arrogant and out of touch. “It’s clear this government just isn’t listening to regional leaders and communities,” he said. “Many communities feel they are banging their heads up against a wall of Bligh government spin, and frankly I think they have every reason to feel that way.” Meanwhile, a federal enquiry has been launched into the economic and social impact of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) rosters in mining. The hearings will be carried out by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia and chaired by the independent member for New England Tony Windsor. Submissions close on October 7, and more information is available from www. aph.gov.au/ra or by calling 02 6277 4162.
WHAT THEY SAID: “Many communities feel they are banging their heads up against a wall of Bligh government spin, and frankly I think they have every reason to feel that way.” Jim Valery, CFMEU state secretary “The government has been caught out falsely claiming it will require BMA to keep 80% of its employment residentially located in the Bowen Basin, across all its operations – this just simply isn’t true and they know it.” Kelly Vea Vea, Moranbah Action Group “They could build these houses in Emerald, how is that going to help Moranbah?” Peter Maguire, Central Highlands mayor “We are not convinced this means more housing, that’s what we want confirmed.” Cedric Marshall, Isaac mayor “The Coordinator General’s conditions are contained in Appendix 1 of his report. These are the only workforce conditions for the project.” BMA statement
“The government tried to bury this story from scrutiny by releasing it late on Friday afternoon and to muddy the waters with false claims and tough talk about project conditions.”
FROM PAGE 1
Rules governing dewatering relaxed “If you are in the upper catchment then you are less likely to have another mine contributing to the water quality as opposed to those in the lower catchment,” he told Shift Miner Magazine. Mines can now release water from site at times of high, medium and low flow - but the quantity of water allowed to be released will depend on its quality. “The simple principle is the better the quality of water the greater the amount that can be released,” said Mr Connor. Some mines have chosen to invest in treatment technology that will allow them
to decrease salinity levels. By linking quality to volume, Mr Connor said more companies would be encouraged to do the same. “This is not a new concept, and provides incentives to companies to improve the quality of water held on site.” Mr Connor said the changes allowed flexibility for the mines without risking the health of the Fitzroy catchment. “Absolutely this does not compromise on environmental standards,” he said. “While this new package is probably more complicated than the last, it provides a greater
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Page 4 - Shift Miner Magazine, 12th September 2011
level of flexibility for mines, and we have been able to achieve that because we now have a better base of information to work with.” Mr Connor said the department was currently in the process of amending the individual licence conditions of each mine. The Queensland Resources Council’s acting chief executive Greg Lane said mines could now start preparing for the next wet season. “While improvements to the system identified in the review are being final-
ised, the coal industry is looking at a range of ways to better manage site-bound water with a strong focus on treatment technologies,” said Mr Lane. “Meantime, a QRC-DERM sponsored consultancy to examine the feasibility of adopting a Hunter River-style salinity trading scheme is under way and workshops are being organised to ensure that everyone is prepared for the next major rainfall event in Queensland.”
“Absolutely this does not compromise on environmental standards.”
120th EDITION. 2011
Mining towns turn on state government THE Bligh government is under increasing attack from mining communities who say their concerns are being ignored. The Moranbah Action Group president Kelly Vea Vea said the state government had completely mislead communities and the media over its decision to allow Caval Ridge mine to proceed with a 100 per cent fly-in fly-out workforce. “If you scratch the surface of the Bligh government’s spin on this decision, they have sold out our communities and worst of all they have tried to mislead the public into thinking otherwise,” she said. Her comments have been reiterated by CFMEU state secretary Jim Valery, who launched an unprecedented attack on the Bligh government’s handling of the issue (see page 4).
Central Queensland mayors also say they are being left out of the loop when it comes to important decisions regarding mining and communities. “The recent decision to put a two kilometre “no mining” buffer around towns came completely out of the blue,” said Central Highlands mayor Peter Maguire. “We now have to put our submissions in but there is very little time.” “It’s the haste with which these decisions are made, and the absolute lack of consultation.” Political scientist at Griffith University Dr Paul Williams said the Bligh government’s handling of key mining issues was troubling for a government that was facing a caning at the next election. “It’s all bad news for the government,” he said.
“Consultation is a big issue for voters and in fact was responsible for the fall of the last Labor government in Queensland - the Goss government.”
“Consultation is a big issue for voters and in fact was responsible for the fall of the last Labor government in Queensland the Goss government.” Dr Williams said the Bligh government was almost certainly cutting its losses in regional Queensland. “The thing that underpins all of this is that Labor doesn’t have many votes to win in the regions anyway.” “There is going to be a massive swing at the next election and Labor is going to lose seats in the city and the bush, there will be very few safe seats.” “The thing that is interesting about the FIFO issue is that it extends beyond the region.” “When you combine it with the asset sales there is a ground swell among those left of centre who think that Labor has lost its way.” He said the coal seam gas debate was also difficult for the government - given the unlikely alliance that has been formed between farmers and the Greens. “Labor has to back investment, because it is all Queensland has.” “But it’s why you have seen Campbell Newman - quite cleverly - jump on board and remind Queenslanders that agriculture is important and that is going to damage Labor too.”
Miners throw $440K behind CQ NRL bid CENTRAL Queensland miners have joined the push for a CQ team in the NRL, putting up $440,000 to develop the local bid. BMA, the region’s biggest employer, has announced it will throw $250,000 towards the bid. It joins the Jellinbah Group, Cockatoo Coal, QR National and the Gladstone Ports Corporation, which have all contributed foundation funding. With that initial support in place, CQ NRL bid CEO Denis Keeffe said he is now in discussions with a consortium of mining companies about a longer term partnership. “The talks are very much at their embry-
onic stage and we are working through a process,” Mr Keefe said. “I can’t say too much, but they are very, very encouraging.” In regards to BMA’s $250,000 donation, BMA asset president Stephen Dumble said the funding is aimed at giving the bid team the opportunity to put a comprehensive proposal together. “Rugby league has a strong following in the region and coal is the largest industry in the region,” he said.
“BMA is pleased to be playing a role in helping bring the National Rugby League competition to our region.” “The bid proposal is an initial step but it is a critical step.” “Central Queensland will be competing against several other proposals and so our aim is to ensure the bid is as strong as possible to give the team its best chance.” If the bid is successful, a local NRL team is expected to bring in $150 million to the central Queensland economy each year.
“I can’t say too much, but they are very, very encouraging.”
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FAST NEWS Mining job expos Expos promoting resource sector jobs will be staged in Cairns, the Wide Bay-Burnett, the Sunshine and Gold Coasts and the Whitsundays next month. The Mining and Gas Jobs Expo in each centre will inform locals how they can enter the industry or provide more information on opportunities for those already employed in mining. An estimated 38,000 construction and operational jobs need to be filled in the state’s resource industry between now and 2015. Further information is available from www.skills. qld.gov.au/workforqueenslandjobsexpos.aspx or by calling 1800 773 048. .....................................................................
Cougar in court? Cougar Energy is considering legal action over the state government’s decision to close down its underground coal gasification pilot project in Kingaroy. The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has confirmed to the company that it stands by its original decision to shut down the site, after minute traces of dangerous chemicals were detected in groundwater monitoring bores. In a statement to the stock exchange, the company said it was now deciding whether to appeal the decision in the Queensland Land Court. .....................................................................
Wide load warning A DVD has been developed by central Queensland road accident group RAAG to raise awareness about wide loads on roads in the Bowen Basin. The DVD is ideal for prestart inductions, toolbox meetings and training companies to show the correct procedure when an escort vehicle is encountered. It will also be shown continuously at tourist information centres, and advertised in caravanning magazines. It will soon be available for download on the RAAG website. .....................................................................
New QR National grants QR National has announced the establishment of a fund targeted at grassroots community projects in regional and rural Australia. Eligible organisations will be able to seek up to $20,000 for specific community-based projects. Eligible charities and community groups can apply online at www.qrnational.com.au Applications for the first round will close at 5pm Monday 31 October.
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1300 LAURA DEAN | email@example.com | www.lauradean.com.au Page 5 - Shift Miner Magazine, 12th September 2011
120th EDITION. 2011
Marine deaths not linked to dredging: ports chief
THE Gladstone Ports chief says dugong and turtle deaths along the Queensland coast are not linked to major dredging works in the harbour. In the first eight months of the year there had been 130 turtle strandings, with 11 of those surviving, eight dugong deaths and
five dolphin deaths in the Gladstone area. This had caused alarm among local residents and environmentalists. However, CEO Leo Zussino said the assessment from both the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and DERM indicated the majority of deaths are related to the
impact of last summerâ€™s floods, including discharge and run-off, and extreme weather conditions which destroyed large tracts of the stateâ€™s seagrass beds. â€œWe have been advised by the Gladstone Area Water Board that the overflow from the Awoonga Dam this year pushed an estimated 1,093,760 megalitres of fresh water into the harbour,â€? Mr Zussino added. â€œThat is equivalent to over 220,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.â€? â€œAs well the Calliope River discharged significantly more water this summer than in previous years.â€? Across the state, 843 turtles have either been stranded or died along the coast so far this year. There have also been 129 dugong strandings and 31 dolphin deaths recorded. Some environment groups have linked the dredging to the marine deaths but Mr Zussino said this is not the case. â€œDespite claims the dredging project has impacted the marine life in the harbour, these works have not made an identified
impact in the harbour,â€? he said. â€œSince 1996 maintenance dredging of 100,000 cubic metres each year has occurred in the harbour with no identified impact on marine life.â€? Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers has called on State Environment Minister Vicky Darling to visit the region and address community concerns over the deaths. The deaths are the subject of an official Queensland Government Scientific Advisory Committee report. The Gladstone region is one of three hot spots in which an increased number of marine animal deaths has been reported, along with Moreton Bay and Cairns. Mr Zussino acknowledged the significant loss of marine life in the Gladstone area has been of concern to many residents and harbour users. The organisation also uses Curtis the Turtle as its corporate mascot. Since May more than 394,187 cubic metres of material has been removed from the harbour.
â€œThat is equivalent to over 220,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.â€?
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Page 6 - Shift Miner Magazine, 12th September 2011
PURCHASING mining and construction machines outside authorised dealerships is risky business, according to the peak industry group. The Construction and Mining Equipment Group CEO John Reid said there was a large â€œgrey marketâ€? for new, used and lowhour machines in Australia. But he has warned buying machines outside authorised channels can cause problems including no warranty, limit party availability and non-compliance with Australian safety and environmental standards. â€œWhether equipment buyers are purchasing direct from overseas over the internet, or at auction in Australia, itâ€™s important to be aware of potential issues before making their final decision,â€? Mr Reid said. â€œOriginal equipment manufacturers have a number of different machine specifications, depending on which market a particular machine is destined for.â€? He said owners of such machines hoping to work on major projects may also find their equipment wonâ€™t comply with head contractor and client requirements â€“ and therefore will no be allowed on site. â€œIncreasingly large contractors and government sector clients are insisting on the latest low-emission engines, and â€“ in the case
of excavators â€“ hose-burst protection and cabs with rollover protection systems, which have only started to appear in the past couple of years.â€? He said CMEIG is in the process of developing a checklist for end-users who are thinking of purchasing unused, as-new or low-hour machines, either from offshore or at local auctions. This checklist will outline important questions potential buyers should be asking before they go ahead and purchase or bid for a particular machine.
CHECKLIST FOR BUYERS: Make, model number, serial number and year of manufacture What is the claimed warranty on the machine, and is there supporting documentation? What is local parts availability for this particular machine (the serial number and year of manufacture can be used to request this information from the local distributor)? Will the local distributor provide warranty coverage? What safety equipment is fitted to the machine? If it is an excavator, does it have a ROPS cab, and if so, is there an OEM compliance plate? What emissions standard is the engine built to?
120th EDITION. 2011
Rail decision confirms major new coal province
QR Nationalâ€™s decision to invest nearly $1 billion in new rail infrastructure in the Bowen and Surat Basins is the final step in the opening up of one of Australiaâ€™s newest coal provinces.
The Wiggins Island Rail Project (WIRP) will see QR National undertake one of the biggest rail expansions in Australiaâ€™s history, and increase coal production from the southern Bowen Basin by 30 per cent.
It will also, for the first time, provide a major part of the infrastructure required to export coal out of the Surat Basin. A 13 kilometre rail loop will be built at Gladstone, as well as major track upgrades and duplications to the inland rail network that services planned and existing mines south-west of Gladstone. It will allow coal to be delivered to the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET), which is currently under construction. The decision by QR National to spend the money virtually guarantees the development of a suite of new coal mines, which have taken binding agreements to export coal through WICET. Most notable is Xstrataâ€™s Wandoan coal project which is currently engaged in court action with Friends of the Earth over their expansion plans at Wandoan. Among the other mines now almost certain to move forward are Bandanna Energyâ€™s so-called â€œGolden Triangleâ€? projects near Springsure, Cockatoo Coalâ€™s Baralaba
expansion, Wesfamers Curragh expansion and Aquila Resources Washpool coal project. The development of the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET) was delayed during the global financial crisis but the first stage should be built and exporting coal in two yearâ€™s time. Worley Parsons is the major contractor, and the ANZ Bank has been appointed to help organise finance. WICET will be built entirely through private company investment, with eight coal companies signing capacity commitment deeds (CCD) to pay for the cost depending on export volumes. Xstrata has taken 11 million tonnes of the portâ€™s capacity and, therefore, will spend the most on its construction. Bandanna Energy and Caledon Resources have reportedly signed up for 4 million tonnes of coal a year; Aquila Resources has taken 1.6 million tonnes; and the remainder is shared between Cockatoo Coal, Northern Energy, Wesfarmers and Yancoal.
â€œThe decision by QR National to spend the money virtually guarantees the development of a suite of new coal mines, which have taken binding agreements to export coal through WICET.â€?
Businesses battle GFC, floods and now growth BUSINESS confidence in the Central Highlands might be high, but cash flow is proving an issue for many small and medium businesses. The Central Highlands Development Corporation (CHDC) has launched a survey to gauge the economic impact of the floods on the region. â€œThis is about quantifying the extent of the impact to be able to lobby for increased resources that might be needed for the region,â€? said CHDC regional development manager Sherry Smith. â€œThis survey is for businesses across all sectors - farming, mining, retail, services -
whether you were impacted or not we are keen for your feedback.â€? A similar survey was carried out after the 2008 floods, and the CHDC hopes to make some useful comparisons. â€œThere has definitely been a cumulative impact on businesses, we have been through two floods, a GFC, a period of dramatic growth and a high demand for skilled workers as well as a national decline in the retail section so not surprisingly some of our businesses are struggling.â€? Ms Smith said the real impact has not been felt in terms of job security but in terms of cash flow.
â€œOne of the questions we ask is what resources have been used to assist your recovery,â€? she said. â€œWhether businesses have absorbed their losses, used personal savings or loans from family and friends, bank loans or government schemes.â€? â€œThe concern we have is that in the short term they might be OK, but the recovery could be more difficult in the long term.â€?
Ms Smith said some businesses had actually benefited from the floods. â€œOne survey weâ€™ve had back already said their business actually picked up 400 per cent because of the floods.â€? Businesses have until Friday 16 September to complete the survey, which can be found online at chdc.com.au For any questions please call the CHDC office on 4982 4386.
â€œThis is about quantifying the extent of the impact to be able to lobby for increased resources that might be needed for the region.â€?
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