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Sixty two people have received offers to commence apprenticeships with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) in 2020.

BMA asset president James Palmer said the number of apprenticeships being offered to Central Queenslanders was the highest in several years.

“We want our workforce to reflect the communities in which we operate, so it’s pleasing to be able to build on that with our diverse apprenticeship intake next year.” he said.

“We see these apprentices as the future of our business, and for us to continue being an important part of the local community, we need to support it.”

Offers are being made to applicants from across the region including 13 people from Moranbah, five from Rockhampton, four from Dysart, four from Blackwater, four from Emerald, 15 from the greater Mackay area and a further eight from greater Central and Northern Queensland.

The new cohort includes 23 females (37 per cent) and 10 Indigenous Australians (16 per cent).

They will embark on four-year apprenticeships across a range of trades, including electricians, mechanics, diesel fitters, auto-electricians and boilermakers.

The new apprentices will gather in Moranbah in early 2020 for a formal welcome to the organisation and induction program.


Australian Mines will sharpen its focus on its $1.4 billion Sconi project in 2020, with plans to close an office in New South Wales as it continues to pursue the North Queensland development.

Managing director and chief executive officer Benjamin Bell issued a business update in the lead-up to the company’s November 19 AGM.

“The primary focus for Australian Mines during the 2020 financial year will be securing a binding offtake agreement and project finance for the Sconi project,” he said.

“Our priorities for the development of Sconi in FY2020 include pre-construction work on shared-used infrastructure and further investment in the local communities in North Queensland.

“Regular liaison with representatives of the Queensland Government will be continued to maximise the benefits of Sconi having ‘Prescribed Project’ status, which will facilitate the smooth and methodical development of the mine site.”

Mr Bell said the company’s Flemington project in New South Wales had the potential to host a nationally important cobalt resource.

However, following completion of a drilling campaign last month, Australian Mines does not plan further work there in the 2020 calendar year as it advances Sconi.

“A recognition of the focus on our North Queensland operations is the closure of our regional office in Parkes in New South Wales in 2020, ” Mr Bell said.

He said Australian Mines was confident the successful development of Sconi would position it at the forefront of the battery materials industry and allow the company to take advantage of the global demand for nickel and cobalt.

“Despite some short-term headwinds in the battery metals sector, Australian Mines is committed to the EV (electric vehicle) sector and its anticipated growth over the medium and longer term,” he said.

Mr Bell said the release of the Sconi Bankable Feasibility Study last financial year clearly demonstrated the commercial case for developing what was a Tier 1 cobalt, nickel and scandium asset. 

Sconi centre stage in 2020
The first five-star hotel built in Brisbane for more than 20 years, a committee member for Women in Construction FNQ, and the Yeppoon Lagoon were among the winners at this year’s Master Builders Queensland Housing & Construction Awards.

Its efforts on the W Hotel and Brisbane Quarter project saw Multiplex Constructions awarded not only Project of the Year but also the Tourism and Leisure Facilities over $10 million and Excellence in Workplace Health & Safety categories.

Sunshine Coast-based Braeden Constructions was the other big winner of the night, with the Cooroy Mountain Residence taking home three awards – the House of the Year, Individual Home over $2 million and Best Residential Bathroom.

Regional Queenslanders taking home major awards included Apprentice of the Year Chris McKenzie (JRZ Homes – Wide Bay Burnett region), Rising Star Boyd Hall (BT Builders -Central Queensland), and winner in the Women in Building category – Annette Sommerville (Prime Constructions – Far North Queensland.

Regional Queensland projects recognised in the construction categories included FKG for for CQ’s Whitsunday Foodservice facility (Industrial Building up to $5 million), and Janke Constructions for East Toowoomba Skin Cancer Clinic ( Refurbishment/Renovation up to $750,000).

Woollam Constructions was honoured for its work on the Yeppoon Lagoon (in the Community Service Facilities category), Field Construct for the Quicksilver Dive Centre in FNQ ( Retail Facilities up to $5 million), Hutchinson Builders for Empire Theatre Refurbishment Stage 1 and 2 in Toowoomba ( Tourism and Leisure Facilities up to $10 million).

Awards honour cream of Qld’s construction crop
Master Builders’ chief executive officer Grant Galvin applauded all the winners across the 58 categories.

“This year’s awards celebrate the best of the best, featuring quality craftsmanship and innovative solutions to overcome obstacles during the building projects,” Mr Galvin said.

“From exquisite hotels, extensive shopping centres, leisure facilities to luxurious residences, contemporary designs and affordable luxury, this year’s winners have shaped our Queensland towns and communities. They are a true recognition of what our industry can do.

“The high calibre of entries shows our members are continuing to push the boundaries, provide sustainable solutions and produce quality projects.

“It’s humbling that even after 30 years, the Housing & Construction Awards continue to be the pinnacle achievement sought-after by the state’s top builders and tradespeople.”

Click HERE for full lists of awards in the housing and construction categories

A setback for Genex Power has sparked fears over the future of the NAIF loan approved for the $700 million Kidston pumped storage hydro project.

Labor Senator for Queensland Murray Watt said the renewable energy project’s $610 million Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility loan – the largest ticked off under NAIF so far – was now under a cloud.

It came after electricity retailer EnergyAustralia dashed Genex’s hopes of reaching financial close on the project this quarter.

EA advised Genex last week that it ‘would not be in a position to reach a positive investment decision on the basis of the long-term energy agreement as outlined in the Term Sheet‘.

The Kidston Stage 2 Pumped Storage Hydro Project (K2-Hydro), is part of a proposed $1 billion renewable energy hub based at the former Kidston gold mine south-west of Cairns.

Other elements include the operating 50MW Stage 1 Solar Project (KS1), a multi-staged integrated solar project of up to 270MW (K2-Solar), and the Kidston Stage 3 wind project of up to 150MW.

Hundreds of jobs on the line

More than 500 jobs are expected to be be created during the construction of the pumped hydro project.

Senator Watt, the opposition spokesman for Northern Australia, said Labor was highly supportive of the Genex pumped hydro project.

“It would create hundreds of jobs in North Queensland, and would provide large amounts of cheap, renewable energy to local industry,” he said.

“We are, however, extremely concerned about the status of this $610 million NAIF loan.”

Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said today that NAIF would continue to engage with the proponents ‘to support this important piece of energy infrastructure’.

“This is a matter for Genex. It is not uncommon for large commercial projects to experience delays in development,” he said.

A report in the Financial Review speculated that the State Government’s renewable energy company CleanCo may become involved.

Queensland Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the government was in discussions with Genex about the future of the project.

“I note media speculation about Queensland’s Government-owned energy generator becoming involved with the project. All of Queensland’s government-owned corporations, including CleanCo, are required to operate in a commercial manner,” he said.

Dr Lynham said inconsistent Federal energy policy was clearly hampering investment in the renewable energy sector.

Home-straight hurdle for Genex

The final step to lock in funding and commence construction of K2-Hydro was the conversion of the non-binding term sheet with EnergyAustralia into a binding agreement.

As recently as October 28, Genex had said it expected to achieve that step this quarter.

The setback on that front follows a string of major achievements for the project this year including the NAIF approval of a $610 million concessional loan and the announcement in September that Powerlink would build a $132 million transmission line to link the $1 billion Kidston renewables hub to the electricity grid.

In an announcement to the market last week Genex said it no longer expected to reach financial close on the project in 2019.

“Accordingly, Genex anticipates that the NAIF concessional loan offer and the J-Power share subscription agreement will both lapse at or prior to December 2019 (unless extended),” the company stated.

“Genex will continue to work with EA and its other financiers and counterparts, including NAIF and J-Power, to restructure the financing for the transaction to ensure an positive investment decision can be reached and financial close can be achieved.

“This is now anticipated to occur in 2020.”

Funding setback for NQ pumped storage hydro project
Ethical sourcing, meeting climate change goals and creating an inclusive workforce are not only right, they are good for business, according to BHP group procurement officer Sundeep Singh. 

Mr Singh told the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne that prioritising these principles across its entire supply chain was critical for the mining giant’s business operations.

Good principles are good for business, says BHP boss

On the issue of climate change, Mr Singh highlighted the company’s world-first tender earlier this year for LNG-powered vessels for its maritime transport operations as it works towards a goal of net-zero operational emissions by 2050.

“If shipping were a country it would be the sixth-largest emitter of CO2 in the world, with more emissions than Germany or Canada,” Mr Singh said. 

When it comes to ethical sourcing, Mr Singh said that BHP was continually reviewing and assessing its supply chain, applying the framework established through its own Human Rights Centre of Excellence and Global Contract Management System. 

“No-one wants to work with unethical suppliers. Having high-risk partners is ultimately expensive for everyone and represents significant exposures. Human Rights violations are the furthest anyone could possibly be from shared value,” he said.

“Through the system, we know that 96 per cent of our direct suppliers are concentrated in 10 countries. 

According to Verisk Maplecroft’s Modern Slavery Index 2019, only two per cent are based in high-risk countries. 

“We then work with a third-party auditor to conduct reviews across a range of labour conditions, including wage and working hours, workplace health and safety issues, environmental conditions and the frameworks in place to manage these risks,” Mr Singh said.

The company set itself a goal in 2016 to be gender-balanced by 2025. Three years ago, women made up 17.6 per cent of its workforce. Today, that number has climbed to 24.5 per cent.

Mr Singh said BHP was working hard with like-minded employment agencies to meet their targets – and the shift was paying substantial dividends.  

Data collected by BHP shows that more inclusive and diverse teams outperform other teams on safety, productivity and culture. 

Examples include a drop of as much as 67 per cent in injury rates and 11 per cent better adherence to schedule.
Trading in Consolidated Tin Mines shares has recommenced after the Far North Queensland miner was relisted by the ASX.

CSD managing director Ralph De Lacey described the reinstatement to official quotation as a great achievement for the company and for its directors.

Consolidated tin Mine back on the bourse

“This is a major part of the company’s long-term plan to develop the company’s significant asset holding and to have these assets recognised and transparently valued by the market,” he said.

“In parallel to the re-listing process, the company’s operations have been developing two projects, the new Mount Garnet Deeps underground mine project, which is adjacent to the Mount Garnet processing plant, and the re-establishment of the Dry River South mine at the Surveyor Project, 150km south of Mount Garnet . 

“Both these mines are now nearing steady state production.”

Consolidated Tin securities had been suspended from official quotation since June 2016.

Recapitalisation has included securing loan facilities totalling $40 million through property firm Cyan Stone and two private equity placements that raised almost $24 million.