The Monthly Mining News Roundup - March

31 March 2020

Australia's resources sector continues to expand with increased employment to nearly 250,000 jobs

The Liberal and National Government has rejoiced in a successful 12 months of commitment to the national resources statement. The statement presents a long-term plan for the future of Australia's resource sector. "Since the release of the resources statement, Australia's resources sector has continued to expand and employment in our resources industries has increased to nearly 250,000 jobs, Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt said. 

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Exploration budgets in the Australian mining industry has risen by 15%

Exploration budgets in the Australian mining industry have risen by 15 per cent to a seven-year high last year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The budget increased for the third consecutive year from 2018 to 2019 by almost $US200 million ($306 million) to $US1.53 billion. Western Australia maintained its 63 per cent share of Australia's total budget year on year, with a 15 per cent (or $US122 million) climb on 2018. 

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Curragh expansion plan well underway

The accelerated expansion plan targets increased saleable production of 15 million tonnes by 2023 with incremental production growth of 2Mt by 2023 from the Queensland mine. "Infrastructure contracts relating to rail and near-term port capacity that underpin the expansion plans are in place and a long-term port solution post 2022 is currently being negotiated with WICET and the representative shippers," Coronado said. "The capital program to improve the train load out performance and related coal handling and preparation plant capital works is advancing, with detailed construction and procurement activities to commence in the near term."

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Australian universities among world's best mining schools

Australia has dominated the Top Universities ranking of mining schools, with five schools appearing in the top 10 rankings. While the United States’ Colorado School of Mines snagged the top spot, Australia occupied the rest of the top five, with Curtin University, University of Western Australia, University of New South Wales and University of Queensland respectively. Monash University was ranked at seventh and Australia had further representation in the top 50; the University of Melbourne (16th), University of Wollongong (24th), University of Adelaide and University of Newcastle sitting equal 30th.

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Anglo American providing eight new entry-level trainee underground coal miner roles for women

Anglo American is taking steps to improve female representation in underground mine technician roles, with its Balancing the Team program at the Moranbah North mine in Queensland. The program has opened eight new entry-level trainee underground coal miner roles for women, with no prior experience necessary to boost recruitment of women in coal mining. Anglo American metallurgical coal business chief executive officer Tyler Mitchelson congratulated the Moranbah North team for its efforts to improve gender diversity in the company.

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Autonomous excavators now onsite across the Surat Basin

Autonomous excavators have been put to work digging pipeline trenches across Queensland’s Surat Basin. Resource and construction firm MPC Kinetic is claiming it as an Australian first. The move follows a successful trial in late 2019, which saw a 30-tonne excavator operate fully autonomously through an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Guidance System developed by U.S. technology startup Built Robotics.

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Queensland to set up new safety body for miners

The Queensland Parliament has passed legislaton to set up an independent health and safety body for workers in the resources sector. The legislation, passed by state Parliament on Tuesday, puts into action the Queensland government's Resources Safety and Health Queensland Bill 2019 - based on the recommendations of the Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis (CWP) select committee. 

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Queensland resources sector in strong position to maintain production and employment

A survey of Queensland's resources leaders taken before the impacts of COVID-19 started to unfold found the sector was in a good standing to create an economic buffer in 2020. Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the State of the Sector report gave hope to the Queensland economy with the sector in a strong position to maintain production and employment. 

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