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November 19, 2010

High expectations for employment at new Bickham coal mine

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 7:31 am

The Hunter Valley Research Foundation (HVRF) has predicted the proposed Bickham coal mine could employ nearly three times as many full time staff as previously estimated.

The HVRF believes the 36 million tonne mine could create up to 386 jobs, of which 286 would be full time.

By comparison, the NSW Department of Planning had estimated the project would employ 100 full time and 200 part time workers.

The Foundation’s research also found the mine would deliver up to $3.7 billion into the Hunter region’s economy over its 25 year lifespan and generate at least $216.4 million in royalties.

The HVRF hopes the mine will provide a boost to the Upper Hunter area, which has saw its population decrease by 7.8% between 1996 and 2006.

In particular, the population of those within the working age bracket of 25 to 39 year olds fell by around 24%.

“The Bickham project could draw employees to the local area, particularly those in the working age population,” the HVRF said.

“It is expected that most employees will be male and new recruits that are likely to bring their families with them.”

Bickham Coal director John Richards welcomed the news, saying it would give hope to those in the Upper Hunter who want heavy industry and job opportunities to proceed.

“We have always said we will employ local people where possible, so it is good news that we may be able to create many more local jobs than first anticipated,” he said.
“At times it is difficult to keep count of how many people are contacting us to ask about job opportunities.

“We can only ask that people be patient as the planning process continues.”

Source: www.miningconstruction.org

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Indian mining firm to invest $500 million in NSW coal mines

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 7:11 am

Indian-owned mining firm Gujarat NRE Coking Coal has announced plans to invest $500 million in the expansion of its coal mines in New South Wales.

The company will invest up to $100 million this year, with the rest to be invested over the next four years.

Gujarat NRE owns and operates two underground coal mines in the Illawarra region. The company reinvigorated the local industry when it originally bought two mines that had ceased operations, and invested over $270 million to revive the mines, creating 450 new jobs over the years.

Chairman of Gujarat NRE Arun Kumar Jagatramka said, “The proposed expansion is expected to quadruple production capacity in the two mines and create an additional 150 jobs, including some apprenticeships, in the next five years.

“India is our primary export destination, and the demand for coking coal in India is expected to double over the next 10 years. This bodes well for the long-term future of our operations in Illawarra,” Mr Jagatramka said.

Gujarat NRE’s expansion plans include mine development, construction of access roads and purchase of services and equipment.

The mines, NRE No 1 Colliery and NRE Wongawilli Colliery, together produce about 1.3 million tonnes of coking coal a year. The expansion is expected to increase output to about 6 million tonnes a year by 2014-15.

Gujarat NRE Coking Coal is the subsidiary of India’s largest metallurgical coke producer, Gujarat NRE Coke Limited.

Mr Jagatramka said the company sources all technology, equipment and services for their local operations in Australia.

“We source conveyor products and diesel equipment for the mines from Valley Longwall International and One Steel provides the roof mesh for the mines. Some technology and services for our Indian operations are also sourced from Australia,” he said.

The company is active in the local community, recently providing a $1 million bank guarantee for the local basketball team, the Wollongong Hawks, to participate in the National Basketball League.

Gujarat NRE received support from Austrade, the Australian Government’s trade and investment development agency, and the New South Wales State Government to establish in Australia.

Austrade’s Senior Trade Commissioner for South Asia, Peter Linford welcomed Gujarat’s ongoing commitment and said that it was indicative of the growing interest from Indian investors in Australia.

“Already, Indian companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list such as Reliance Industries and State Bank of India have invested in Australia. Suzlon Energy, Aditya Birla Group, Mahindra & Mahindra, and leading global ICT players like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro also have a major presence here.

“India’s global foreign direct investment (FDI) increased almost six-fold from USD 2.9 billion in 2005 to USD17.4 billion in 2008, positioning India as a major player in global FDI outflow.

“More Indian firms are looking to expand operations globally, presenting significant opportunities in areas of traditional strength for Australia. Australian firms wanting to attract investment, and businesses which facilitate investment projects in Australia like banks and financial institutions, legal firms, consultancies, and other support services are the potential winners,” Mr Linford said.

Mr Jagatramka and Mr Linford will also speak at Austrade’s Winning Business in India and South Asia seminars (19 – 30 March).

Source: www.miningconstruction.org

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November 10, 2010

Opening up new open cuts

Filed under: business — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 6:48 am

While many predicted the threat of a heavy mining tax would stop, or at the very least slow the resources industry, clearly some were not listening.

Expanding its already massive coal arm, Rio Tinto has officially opened Australia’s newest open cut thermal coal mine at Clermont.

Construction on the mine and associated infrastructure started back in 2007, with the first shipment of coal delivered in May this year.

Holding a 190 million tonnes of coal, the mine has an expected life span of 17 years with production expected to peak at more than 12 million tonnes per year of export coal and 100 thousand tonnes for domestic use when the mine reaches capacity in 2013.

Rio’s global chief executive energy Doug Ritchie told the hundreds gathered at the opening of the mine that it was special for many reasons.

“It has five coal seams that are particularly thick, the Wolfgang seam is 35 metres thick on average and up to 100 metres in some places.”

With the seams located under a large volume of overburden, Rio built it’s only inpit crusher/conveyor system on site.

“This will reduce annual truck running costs by more than 35%,” Ritchie said.

While the majority of the mine’s coal can be crushed and sold directly for export markets such as Korea, Japan and Thailand, it also has a small coal processing plant that uses paste thickening technology.

Using this technology eliminated the need for a conventional tailings dam on site.

Now that the mine has officially opened, Clermont is aiming to continue to play a strong part in the local community’s future.

In 2009 alone, Clermont contributed more than $610 000 to community projects.

It is looking to replace the role of the neighbouring Rio Tinto Blair Athol Mine, where closure is currently planned for 2016.

The Blair Athol mine has been central to the region over the past 25 years and Clermont Mine will extend this into the future, Ritchie said.

Clermont will also send its processed coal along a newly constructed 13 kilometre conveyor to the older mine, using the existing equipment at Blair Athol for stockpiling and railing to port.

More than 10 000 applications were received during the mine’s recruitment drive, with people such as Clermont local Brad Perrin and Rebecca Chilcott finding jobs at the site.

Having worked at both Blair Athol and Clermont as well as growing up nearby, Brad Perrin had a unique perspective.

“Rio Tinto has built a good relationship with its near neighbours and done their utmost to minimise the impact on the area,” Perrin said.

Some of this minimisation includes the protection of endangered plant species found near the site.

The mine has entered into an agreement where it will sponsor University of Queensland research into one of Australia’s rarest plants, the Belyando Cobblers Peg, and how to best re-establish it.

It is also part of long running research into wild koala populations in the region.

Rebecca Chilcott found her new job, driving haul trucks and water carts daunting at first but says she has really enjoyed the challenge.

During construction, the mine won an Australian Mining Prospect Award for its proactive approach to hiring women.

Currently women make up 27% of the site’s workforce, well above the QLD state average of 11%.
The mine aims to have a total of 380 people employed when fully operational.

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Coal mine sexual dismissal upheld

Filed under: business — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 6:46 am

The dismissal of two miners for sexual harassment has been upheld by Fair Work Australia.

According to the ABC, miners Nathan Rollason and Jonathon Rowland were fired from the Austar coal mine in the Hunter Valley, after being accused of the workplace bullying of colleague Ben Donaldson as well as drinking on site.

This bullying reportedly included drawing genitals on Donaldson’s personal safety equipment, as well as Rollason regularly displaying his penis and openly masturbating in front of him.

Both Rollason and Rowland were also known to be drinking at the mine gate.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union said this practice of drinking at the gate was known to management and supervisors.

While Rollason and Rowland both denied the charges, the workplace tribunal upheld the view that the incidents took place. Anne Harrison, deputy president of the Tribunal, described the actions of the dismissed miners as reprehensible.

She went on to say there was no lack of procedural fairness or any mitigating factors that warranted the overturning of the dismissal.

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Northern Energy turns down New Hope bid

Filed under: business — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 6:45 am

Coal junior Northern Energy has rejected an “opportunistic” $193 million takeover bid from New Hope Coal.

The company’s board unanimously rejected the unsolicited offer, saying it materially undervalued its projects and growth potential.

In a statement, the board said the offer was highly opportunistic and had been timed to take advantage of a short-term share price weakness associated with the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) and delays in mine approvals.

“The board considers this offer inadequate,” the company’s chairman Dr Chris Rawlings said.

“This offer has come as the company is on track to begin coking coal production at Maryborough in 2012.

“We are also currently testing several expansion options at Maryborough and we will provide the market with these updates in due course.”

The board noted that the undeveloped Maryborough and Elimatta projects were high-quality growth assets with significant further value and said the company was well positioned for continued growth.

The board also said the new offer provided no improvement in value to the initial proposal rejected on 8 October.

However, New Hope chairman Robert Millner said the bid offered higher premiums than most takeovers, The Australian reports.

He said Northern Energy would need to spend more than $660 million to develop both the Maryborough and Elimatta projects.

"If our offer wasn’t there, the share price would be back to $1 or lower,” he said.

“We have got the expertise to develop the mine and we’ve got the cash to develop the mine.

"It is a very, very good premium."

New Hope has around $2 billion in cash and is looking for acquisitions, as evidenced in its unsuccessful bid for Macarthur Coal earlier this year.

The Northern Energy board is advising its shareholders to take no action in relation to the bid.

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QLD Government undecided on FIFO

Filed under: business — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 6:40 am

The Queensland Government has taken a step back on FIFO disputes, claiming it is up to regional councils and mining companies to work it out.

Following studies looking at the social and economic effects of fly in fly out workers on the State’s central west, concerns have been raised as the outcomes it will have upon smaller towns.

Many, like Barcaldine mayor Rob Chandler, are worried that the smaller communities may miss out on the economic benefits of the mining boom.

This issue has been particularly heated in Moranbah, where miner BMA had previously agreed to source at least 30% of its workforce from the local community, but instead pushed for a 100% FIFO workforce.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union regional spokesperson Steve Smyth said at the time that “whether it’s Moranbah this week or Collinsville the next or Blackwater or Tieri, the thing is if it happens in one place and it’s just allowed to happen without any people having the opportunity of choice, then it’s going to have a real detrimental affect on the Bowen Basin and other coalfields.”

In the most recent development, BMA has relocated 60 permanent mining supply chain jobs from Mackay to Brisbane.

Regional Economic Development Corporation chief executive Narelle Pearse commented on this move, saying that mining companies need to have a strong relationship with the locals.

However, Tom Rayner from the DEEDI said the QLD Government is still reviewing the findings of the studies.

“Historically where there is mining and development, there is some level of economic growth in most communities and the level of growth varies obviously,” Rayner said.

“Most small communities experience some growth, just at different levels.

"Where we can offer support but as such we have no fixed policy on fly-in and fly-out," he said.

This issue is particularly prevalent in West Australia’s Pilbara region, where the majority of FIFO mining occurs.

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New inspectors hit mines

Filed under: business — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 6:39 am

New mine inspectors are to hit the Hunter Valley to ensure coal mines are complying with safety conditions.

Planning minister Tony Kelly expects that they “will hit the ground running.

"They’ll be going out and meeting the companies straight away and making sure that they are adhering to the conditions of consent."

Based in Singleton, the three new officers will monitor whether State Government approvals for the mines have been followed, as well as carry out independent audits.

The public can report any concerns over mines to the Mining Compliance team via the Department of Environment’s complaints hotline.

The Department’s freecall number, 131555, was put forward as the first point for complaints.

Compliance team leader Scott Brooks said when complaints are not pollution specific, such as a plume of dust or a procedural complaint, then they will go and inspect the mine.

Despite the employment of these compliance inspectors, Kelly said that mines have changed their procedures to better meet the concerns of their communities.

“Mining companies over the last five to ten years have changed their attitudes,” Kelly said.

"Most of them for example restore and reclaim disused mines sites as they go and that has a big impact on dust for example."

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Miner moving out Moranbah

Filed under: business — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 6:38 am

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Residents of Queensland mining town Moranbah say a mining company is encouraging workers to move out of their homes.

Community spokesman Jim Pearce said that mining conglomerate Anglo-Coal has offered miners cash incentives of thousand of dollars to leave their homes.

Pearce said that while it has been difficult gaining information from the company, it is his understanding that some people are being offered up to $20 000 to move.

"I understand that that is more about finding accommodation for management of the mines and it just shows really short-term thinking of the mining companies in not considering the needs of the people that actually work at the coal face and cut the coal," he told the ABC.

While Anglo-Coal has confirmed that it is offering incentives for those considering alternative accommodation, it has not stated whether it has offered financial encouragement.

Greens oppose coal conversion

Filed under: business — Tags: — sbmzhcn @ 6:38 am

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The Greens are declaring it will oppose the conversion of coal into liquid in the Hunter Valley.

This follows questions to the NSW parliament regarding investigations into the Denman-Scone area from Greens senator Lee Rhiannon.

After Rhiannon uncovered a report from 1981 that outlined the area had suitable feedstock for coal liquefaction, she voiced her concern over what outcomes it may have.

"Where we’re worried, it can just further lock us into a dependence on coal power. That’s just bad news in terms of emissions, in terms of local environmental impact," she said.

The Greens will now push this issue into the Federal arena.

"We will continue to track this and actually look at it federally, because the study cost $3.6-million with both the Federal and State Governments paying.”

August 19, 2010

The Swiss construction industry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — sbmzhcn @ 2:48 am

The Swiss construction industry remains in the peak of health, according to a diagnosis conducted by Credit Suisse.

The bank’s construction index, released on Wednesday, climbed close to an all-time high for the third quarter of 2010, propelled by investments in the public sector and a housing market stimulated by low interest rates and continued immigration.

The index rose nine points from the previous quarter to 129 and increased by four points over the same quarter in 2009 following a downturn earlier in the year.

The index, based on 100 equalling construction business levels in 1996, reflects work on hand for construction companies in the three months from July to September.

Activity in the civil engineering sector was interrupted in the first quarter of this year by unseasonably cold weather.

But now it has rebounded with catch-up work and the delayed impact of government stimulus spending to counteract last year’s recession, Fredy Hasenmaile, Credit Suisse economic research specialist, told Swisster.

“At the moment civil engineering is at a very high level,” Hasenmaile said.

The sector expects to show an 11 percent growth in business for the third quarter.

Transportation infrastructure projects, such as the widening of the A-4 highway in Zug and the construction of a new underground train station in Zurich, plus a new rail line to Winterthur, are among the civil engineering projects under way.

Cantons, aided by the federal government, have been investing in infrastructure projects in the “agglomerations” designed to reduce traffic congestion, Hasenmaile said.

Geneva, for example, has been digging up its city centre for a new tram line and to replace underground utilities.

“It takes some time for these projects to be rolled out,” said Hasenmaile, who added that the civil engineering sector is volatile because demand from governments can be uneven, unlike that from the private sector.

With the recession over and pressure on governments to economize, the effects of the stimulus will wear off and that is expected to result in a downturn in such engineering projects.

However, the outlook for structural construction for residential, industrial and commercial projects continues to be promising.

“Residential construction promoters were hesitating a bit because of the crisis, but in the last one or two quarters they realized the demand was still there and now they are finding their optimism again,” Hasenmaile said.

New housing is being supported by continued immigration of expats seeking jobs in Switzerland.

Last year there was a net inflow of 70,000 immigrants to the country and this year Credit Suisse expects a further 60,000 newcomers.

“The wave of immigration is slower but it is still coming,” Hasenmaile said.

New home construction is buoyed by continued low interest rates, which are not expected to increase until next year, he said.

The ultimate result, he added, could be an “oversupply” in the new home market.

Commercial and industrial construction is still responding to the impact of the 2009 recession but Hasenmaile said there should be some “base-building” in the fourth quarter, reflecting the improved overall Swiss economy.

Credit Suisse’s construction index is issued quarterly in conjunction with the Swiss association of entrepreneurs.

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