SHIFT MINER Monday 16th August 93rd Edition 2010
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M A G A Z I N E
CLEANSKINS ARE IN Mining opens up to green workers
SEVERAL up-and-coming mining projects in Queensland appear set to open their doors to untrained or “green” workers to fill their labour requirements. The employment information website, the Resource Channel, has been asked to carry out an online survey to determine the level of interest in fly in, fly out (FIFO) work from the south-east corner. “The most truly refreshing component of this is that companies are opening their doors to the highest number of entry level people I have ever seen,” said the director of the Resource Channel Jody Elliott. “I have been bleating on for some time for companies to offer more opportunities for people with no experience, and to make the process of applying for those positions more transparent.” While Ms Elliott won’t say which companies have commissioned the survey, she said they were highly reputable and hoped to make a final investment decision on the projects in the first half of next year. FIFO is not that common at Queensland mines, with most of the workforce either living nearby or commuting by car to homes in major regional centres. This survey is about gauging the level of interest from trainees, semi-skilled, female and indigenous participants - as well as those already in the industry - about FIFO opportunities.
Check out nt the local tale r’s in Shift Mine most eligible achelorette bachelor & b 9 comp! Page
Plus It’s not too late to enter yourself! » page 8 News Caval Ridge mine passes biggest hurdle » page 4 News Almost 130 serious mining accidents in July » page 5 Around Town Cocktail hour at Blackwater » page 10
Overcoming the dire engineering shortage » page 8
» continued page 4
Money Matters Interstate enquiry for industrial land » page 27
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0U$EERWWVH[WUHPHEHOLHIVZRXOGKXUWIDPLOLHV Page 2 - Shift Miner Magazine, 16th August 2010
Authorised by Chris Trevor MP. 76 Goondoon Street, Gladstone, Q, 4680. Printed by Cooper Mckenzie Marketing. Shop 4/93 Goondoon Street, Gladstone, Q, 4680. This material has been produced by Chris Trevor MP using his printing and communications enitilement. CMM8492CT.
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CONTENTS 93rd EDITION. 2010
who has been on the organising committee of Mouraâ€™s Coal & Country Fes-
23 MORISH MOROCCAN
It was refreshing to talk to someone who has a real passion for communities - and is doing something to help in their own backyard.
COAL & COUNTRY
est things about the festival was that people who had left Moura when the mine closed down, often came back to visit friends during festival time. Mouraâ€™s Coal & Country Festival
has now been running for 39 years - and is the only place youâ€™ll find a roof bolt-
What a great way to keep history
and tradition alive - and given the festivalâ€™s longevity and popularity itâ€™s likely to continue for many years to come. I hope so. Another community building event was held in Emerald recently. The Brian Rix Memorial Weekend is a two-day boating extravaganza whether youâ€™re into skiing or just ripping it up in your power boat. The weekend is held to commemorate the life of local boy Brian Rix, who died in a boating accident on the Fitzroy River 11 years ago. You can read more about both events in the pages of this edition.
ing and coal shovelling competition.
Numbers You REGULARS Numbers Numbers Can CountYou On** You 5 FIFO returns 16 * STUFF TO THE EDITOR
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Can Count OnCount On Flying rosters on the rise Can
6 Rail sale
Numbers You Can Count On
17 FRANK THE TANKâ€™S LOVE ADVICE
Miners up their QR bid
8 2QFHPDULQDWHGKHDWROLYHRLOLQ Dire straits DODUJHIU\SDQ$GGWKHFKLFNHQ
12 Political points Who gets your vote?
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19 FIVE MINUTE FICTION
Engineers in demand
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THIS week I spoke to Maureen Clancy,
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FROM THE EDITOR
CARTS N CLOWNS
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I N E
24 YOUR HEALTH
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Page 3 - Shift Miner Magazine, 16th August 2010
93rd EDITION. 2010
FROM PAGE 1
Green light for eager unskilled workers
“Rather than dictate roster and work arrangements they have gone to the market and asked what would be appealing and where the planes should leave from,” said Ms Elliott. “There is a huge population base in south-east Queensland this could potentially open up a whole new group of people who can’t currently get into the game.” They are looking at possible flights out
from the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and even northern New South Wales. Job seekers who complete the survey will have the option of submitting their contact details. If and when the projects are approved, survey respondents will be advised and invited to submit applications for job opportunities.
Ms Elliott says the willingness of new projects to take on trainees and semi-skilled workers made sense at a time when the skills shortage was intensifying. “I have said for some time that the industry could fill 30 per cent of its vacancies if it just accepted people without experience and were prepared to train them,” she said. “I would hope this move send a clear message and starts to set a benchmark for other projects.” Ms Elliott, who previously worked as a recruitment manager for BHP Billiton, said in the past there had been a lot of resistance to taking on inexperienced workers. “There was a lot of resistance because of the training costs and because people always need staff to start yesterday, so in that way experience helps.” “But these projects have more time to plan so I hope this becomes the norm.” Ms Elliott also predicted the skills shortage won’t hit the oil and gas sector as hard
as it will hit the construction industry. “The oil and gas companies have enough time to plan, it is constructing the next wave of projects that will cause problems.” “Building contractors don’t have much fat, and so it doesn’t make sense for them to put on apprentices if they only have guaranteed work for 18 months - they are just not going to do it.” She has suggested there needs to be a holistic approach to the problem, and potentially a cost sharing arrangement between the construction companies and the oil and gas companies to put on apprentices and trainees when and where they are needed. “Possibly workers could begin their apprenticeship on the construction site, and then move into operations when the mine is running.” “It’s those sort of solutions that need to be discussed and considered now.” Those interested in completing the survey can get online at www.theresourcechannel.com.au before the end of the month.
“The most truly refreshing component of this is that companies are opening their doors to the highest number of entry level people I have ever seen.”
Strict conditions for Caval Ridge THE state government has given the environmental tick to an enormous new coal mine, if it complies to a raft of strict operating contraints. BMA’s Caval Ridge mine has caused community concern in Moranbah, with some locals worried its close location to the town will create noise and dust problems. But Queensland’s Co-ordinator General has now ticked off on the mine’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - albeit with a number of conditions attached. Those include 16 air monitoring stations, a housing impact plan, extensive vegetation offsets and controls to guard against adverse weather conditions. Isaac mayor Cedric Marshall has welcomed the approval of the mine, which would create 1200 construction jobs and 500 ongoing jobs if it proceeds. But he said council will make sure all the conditions are met. “I think the standards for the approval for the Caval Ridge mine are a lot stricter than they have been on previous mining applications,” he said. Cr Marshall is right, with the Planning Minister confirming the Co-ordinator General’s conditions for the project are the most
Page 4 - Shift Miner Magazine, 16th August 2010
comprehensive and prescriptive for a coal mine in Queensland’s history. “The conditions set clear principles and procedures with respect to air quality monitoring, dust and water management, community consultation and mitigation of potential social impacts of the mine,” Mr Hinchliffe said. Cr Marshall said the town’s main concern has been the cumulative effect of all the mines on the community. “It’s not just the effect of one mine that we are worried about.” “We set up the cumulative impacts group, with representatives from the community, the unions, council and state government, and we will be monitoring the effects of mining so close to the town whether it be dust or otherwise.” He said there will be an independent group who will regularly check the dust monitors, and a set procedure is in place if at anytime quality standards are breached. If the new open cut mine proceeds, it will produce around 5.5 million tonnes of coking coal each year, for 30 years. Based on current prices, that means the value of the coal exported will be about $US30 billion.
93rd EDITION. 2010
FIFO work flies back into demand FAST NEWS IT WON’T be long before demand for workers will generate a lot more fly in fly out (FIFO) rosters in the Bowen Basin, according to a major recruitment agency. Last month, Stellar Recruitment opened its first regional office in Mackay so it could be closer to clients and job seekers in the Bowen Basin and the industrial hub of Paget. Heading up the office is Stellar’s senior consultant Mark Powell, who said there was a lot more FIFO work available before the global financial crisis. “I think once the economy stabilises we will see a lot more of it again,” he said. “But it all depends on when companies get to the stage where they can’t find people locally, then they will have to look to other areas.” The National Resource Sector Employment Taskforce recently released figures which show that 61,500 new jobs will be created in mining across Australia by 2015. But Mr Powell said, for now, employers are still looking for skilled workers. “I guess at this stage employers are still looking for people with mining industry experience - people with a trade certificate or who have worked on mining equipment.” “They are the ones we can help as an agency.” “But, as the market gets tighter and
tighter I’m guessing companies will have to look at introducing greener, less experienced people into the industry because they are only a certain number of skilled workers and it won’t be enough to fill the gaps.” “I am speaking to clients who have in excess of 20 to 30 positions to fill whether it be on a mine site, or an equipment manufacturing company.” “They need the experience and skills to hit the ground running.” He said the emerging LNG industry in the Surat Basin and Gladstone, as well as proposed mining projects further west in the Galilee Basin will only intensify demand. “The LNG industry will increase the skills shortage because a lot of those job categories are transferable - if you can work in the coal industry chances are you can work in oil and gas.” Mr Powell said companies needed to spent more money on training and fasttracking apprenticeships.
“Each mining company probably needs to invest in some of these less experienced people and train them up because that is the only way the industry is going to get any stronger.” Mr Powell said having a regional office meant more face-to-face meetings with clients and candidates; the company is also exploring the possibility of opening offices in Gladstone and Newcastle.
WOMEN IN GOVERNMENT
“I am speaking to clients who have in excess of 20 to 30 positions to fill whether it be on a mine site, or an equipment manufacturing company.”
lisions, including one case where a loader ran into a Toyota tray-back. The driver didn’t see the ute or respond to a proximity alarm. Overall, there were 129 accidents or near misses on mine sites last month. In one case, a driller’s offsider unscrewed the cap on a fuel tank to inspect the fuel level. He neglected to equalise the fuel tank to the fuel pod and the three-inch cam lock
The state government says it remains committed to turning Cloncurry into a solar town. Three years after a $7 million trial was announced, the government has so far only committed $900,000. The Energy Minister Stephen Robertson has admitted there are difficulties with the technology, but they are waiting on more information from the contractors. He said if it doesn’t stack up, the government will invest the remaining funding into another solar project for the town. .....................................................................
129 on site accidents in July LOSS of control of a vehicle was the biggest cause of accidents on mine sites in Queensland last month. There were 28 reported “loss of control” incidents in the latest safety statistics released by the mines department - that’s almost one accident each day. In one instance, a road train driver ran into a berm when he failed to correct on a left hand bend. Both trailers rolled and the driver received cuts to his forehead and a bruised shoulder. There were also 19 reported vehicle col-
STILL SUNNY IN CLONCURRY
burst off and hit him in the face. He was seriously injured. On another occasion a miner was working from an Eimco bucket while he was removing vent tube from the roof of an underground roadway. A section of the tube fell off, knocking him out of the bucket and onto the ground. The worker was knocked out. Overall, the number of incidents is slightly down from the previous month.
“The driver didn’t see the ute or respond to a proximity alarm.”
The Isaac regional council is hosting a women in local government conference next month. The two-day event starts on Thursday 9th September, and is completely free. It is open to anyone in local government, or who is inspiring to get into local government. For more information call the council on 4983 4700. .....................................................................
GOLFING FOR A CAUSE More than $4000 was raised for the Mater Foundation at the Mackay Area Industry Network (MAIN) golf day held recently at the Mackay Golf Club. The annual event, sponsored by Hail Creek Mine saw more than 90 attendees tee off in aid of prostate cancer. Member Services Coordinator, Renee Meares said that the day was a lot of fun and MAIN members are looking forward to next year’s event.
Page 5 - Shift Miner Magazine, 16th August 2010
93rd EDITION. 2010
Seasons behind coal price fall THE price of Australian thermal coal has fallen about five per cent in the past month, as northern hemisphere coal buyers assess their future need. The price is currently sitting at about $US91 per tonne. According to one industry source, it is not unusual for thermal coal prices to fall between the seasons, particularly when electricity companies are reassessing their coal stocks. For example, if Japan had a warmer than usual summer and, therefore, a high demand for air-conditioners, electricity companies might need to buy more coal to restock supplies for the winter months. The gentle fall from a historically high thermal coal price suggests there is still a very positive outlook for thermal coal. US coal producer James River Coal told Reuters that demand for electricity-generating coal is returning to the market. “Demand for thermal or steam coal has shown slow recovery from recession
levels as stockpiles at power generators remained stubbornly high, unlike metallurgical coal demand which shot up as China and India imported higher quantities,” the company said. “The thermal market in the United States is definitely coming back... we are seeing prompt demand.” “We are seeing people looking for coal for 2010, for the third and fourth quarter, that is something we could not have said during our call in February or May.”
Kingaroy groundwater cleared by five tests THE Queensland government last week lifted restrictions on the use of bore water near an underground coal gasification (UCG) plant at Kingaroy. Cougar Energy’s trial plant was shut down last month when traces of the dangerous chemicals toluene and benzene were found during routine on site groundwater tests. After five rounds of water quality testing, the ban on groundwater bores within a two kilometre radius of the site has now been lifted. The contamination scare has angered the local community, and the Sustainability Minister Kate Jones has thanked landholders for their patience. “The results have confirmed that there are no concerns with water quality in these local bores and they remain suitable for stock watering and other appropriate uses,” said Ms Jones. Underground water will continue to be monitored, and Cougar’s trial plant remains shut down until an environmental evalua-
tion has been carried out and put before an expert panel. “If the scientific panel is not satisfied that this new technology can resume without environmental harm, the pilot projects will not be given approval to continue,” said Ms Jones. Meanwhile the government has moved to ban petroleum compounds containing B-TEX chemicals from use in coal seam gas (CSG) “fraccing”. Fraccing involves pumping fluid at high pressure into a coal seam to fracture the seam and allow gas to flow readily into gas wells. Most wells do not require fraccing to date, only 5 per cent of those drilled in Queensland have needed the proceedure. The Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said the chemicals are not being currently used and he will write to all CSGcompanies advising them of the new regulations. He expects voluntary compliance until the changes become law.
“If the scientific panel is not satisfied that this new technology can resume without environmental harm, the pilot projects will not be given approval to continue.”
Political pressure applied to pumped QR bid The state government is being forced to seriously reconsider its planned float of Queensland Rail, with a consortium of coal miners raising its bid for the coal tracks to $5.2 billion. The 13 companies, who have joined together to form the Queensland Coal Industry Rail Group (QCIRG) along with the Australian Rail Track Corporation, are playing a high stakes game. Not only has the QCIRG raised its bid from the original $4.85 billion price tag first presented in May, but it is now insisting on a tight timetable to seal the deal. It’s believed the miners have told the
state government they will walk away from the deal if a diligence process is not started before the end of the federal election. The new bid presents a real dilemma for the Queensland government, and more specifically the man who’ll make the decision the Treasurer Andrew Fraser. The miner’s bid fundamentally changes the format of the sale the state government had in mind. The government wants to sell off QR National as an integrated rail network bundling together the track and the freight business, but the miners are only interested
in buying the coal tracks. A dicey stock exchange is also making the public float look less attractive, although a statement from the Treasurer said preparations for the IPO were continuing in accordance with the original timetable. But the Premier, Anna Bligh, who originally dismissed out of hand the miners’
offer, has made it clear the bid is now being seriously considered. “We are in the middle of intense and complex commercial discussions with these coal companies,” she said. “We are of course taking them seriously, respectfully and working through issues with them.”
“We are in the middle of intense and complex commercial discussions with these coal companies.”
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93rd EDITION. 2010
Old friends catch up at the Coal & Country MOURA doesn’t have an annual show, but it makes up for it with a Coal and Country Festival. Now in its 39th year, the festival has some drawcard events that you won’t see anywhere else in Queensland. “It’s a unique festival in the sense that we have a lot of mining concept attractions like the roof bolting and coal shovelling BEST IN SHOW: Moura’s Ross Clancy (pictured) and Jon Kelly have held the Queensland Roof Bolting Titles for the last two years
OLD TIMER: The children’s train ride was built many moons ago but still delights its passengers
“One of the beautiful things about the festival is that lot of people left when the mine closed but they always pick festival time to come back and visit.”
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