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Major mining company BHP has suspended its Queensland Resources Council (QRC) membership over election advertising specifically targeting the Greens.

The company said it had expressed its opposition to this advertising approach and had formally requested that it be withdrawn. But this had not occurred.

It follows the QRC urging Queenslanders not to support the Greens party this October 31, and to preference them last.

Origin has also advised the QRC of its intention to suspend membership.

“Origin values the policy advocacy of the QRC, however the campaign around the Queensland election oversteps a clear boundary between policy and politics and we do not endorse this activity,” a spokeswoman said.

BHP said the QRC had over many years made important contributions to policy debates, however the current campaign was not consistent with that contribution. “BHP has been left with no choice but to suspend its membership with immediate effect,” the company said.

South32 is also among the major mining companies to formally raise its concerns with the QRC.

QRC Board president Brent Gunther said today the Board had considered the issue of an anti-Greens campaign carefully before deciding to proceed.

“This campaign is consistent with campaigns previously run by other mining organisations in other states,” he said.

“The QRC has made a decision in relation to the anti-jobs policies of the Greens that is in the best interests of Queensland mining and gas members, and the 372,000 people and 14,400 businesses who rely on the resources sector for their livelihoods.

“The resources industry will continue to support the economy and jobs of Queenslanders despite the Greens wanting to shut the industry down. The current situation is so dire the QRC has to stand up for its industry, particularly people in regional areas.”

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility welcomed BHP’s suspension of its QRC membership and called on more to do the same.

“Despite telling its shareholders for three years that suspension of membership of any industry association was simply not workable, BHP has done just that with the Queensland Resources Council,” ACCR director of climate and environment DanielGocher said.

“Ahead of the NSW State election last year, the NSW Minerals Council distributed anti-Greens material. Clearly, BHP is no longer comfortable with interfering in elections.

“We welcome this move and encourage BHP to look at its other lobbying associations which have been placing a handbrake on climate action in Australia – notably the Minerals Council of Australia and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.”

Great Northern Minerals says drilling results are continuing to point to a significant gold system at its Big Rush project south of Greenvale in North Queensland.

The historical mine site is part of the Golden Ant group of projects the Perth-based company acquired in August 2019, which also includes the former Camel Creek and Golden Cup gold mines.

Today Great Northern Minerals released results from 1m individual resplits from a recent drilling campaign confirming high grades and significant widths over 900m of strike length.

A deeper drilling program is planned this month to further test the zones at depth.

“The one metre results have confirmed the potential for very high grades to extend to significant vertical depth, particularly underneath the central pit,” managing director Cameron McLean said.

“Results from underneath the northern pit are pointing to excellent further potential in this area and the planned deeper diamond drilling program which is about to commence is designed to test for extension of the higher grade gold results.

“Anomalous gold mineralisation at Big Rush is now documented to occur over at least 1km of strike, with additional strike extension apparent.”

The State Government has taken another step to back the $1.7 billion CopperString 2.0 project, with an agreement to underwrite additional development costs as it heads towards its proposed 2021 construction start date.

The high-voltage 1100km transmission line is expected to support more than 750 jobs during construction and will help further open up the North West Minerals Province.

Across North Queensland the project has the potential to deliver another 3500 jobs and an additional $154 billion in minerals production out to 2050.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the North West had more than half a trillion dollars in critical new economy minerals needed for batteries and renewables.

“I don’t just want to see these new economy minerals mined in Queensland, I want to see the batteries made here as well because that means more stable full-time manufacturing jobs,” she said.

“This exciting CopperString 2.0 project offers hundreds of jobs in construction and will support potentially thousands of jobs through new economic development. 

“Lower electricity costs in this region will support mining and minerals processing jobs for decades to come.”

Under the implementation agreement completed with the proponent CooperString last week, the government will underwrite additional multi-million-dollar development costs, including completing the environmental impact study presently underway.

It was announced during a visit to Mount Isa, where Ms Palaszczuk also highlighted the role of recent State support in assisting the ongoing operations of the Glencore Mount Isa copper smelter, as well as the Townsville copper refinery and manufacturer Incitec Pivot.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the latest agreement would take CopperString through to a final investment decision and potential construction commencement in mid-2021.

It follows a commitment in May for a $14.8 million injection to nudge the CopperString 2.0 power project towards lift-off as part of the State’s COVID-19 fightback measures and a commitment of $1.18 million last year to help the proponents develop their business case.

CopperString director Joseph O’Brien said the Government’s financial support to date had allowed the project to continue investing in preconstruction works, with businesses and employees engaged across North Queensland and in Brisbane.

“The signing of the agreement is a critical commitment from the Queensland Government to the project, and a valuable confidence boost for the minerals and clean-energy projects looking to utilise the CopperString network between Townsville and Mount Isa,” he said.

CopperString is also expected to announce in coming days that it has signed Development Support Agreements with five foundation customers to continue work through the development phase: Dugald River mine operator MMG, manufacturer Incitec Pivot, Glencore’s Queensland Metals, New Century Resources and Chinova Resources.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the progress of CopperString 2.0 was part of the Resources Industry Recovery Agenda presented to the Government by QRC-AMEC in June.

Mr Macfarlane said the Queensland Government’s announcement of an implementation agreement followed the Australian Government’s commitment in its Budget last night to provide funding to progress a final investment decision for the project.

Rockfire Resources says it is receiving encouraging results from a six-hole drill program at its Plateau gold project in North Queensland.

Results from the second drill hole of the series have been received (hole BPL038), returning the largest gold intersection so far at Plateau, with mineralisation over the entire sampled interval of 341.3m at 0.2 g/t gold.

It included intervals of high-grade gold, including 0.7m at 10.8 g/t gold at 341.3m.

Plateau is within the company’s Lighthouse tenement area about 50km south-east of Charters Towers.

“The very long intervals of gold mineralisation, the abundance of sulphides, higher-grade gold intervals and the very strong alteration continue to encourage our team and indicate potential for a high-grade gold source still to be discovered,” chief executive officer David Price said.

“Large gold deposits are seldom found in the first few rounds of drilling. It pleases me to see such long intervals of gold still being encountered within this large mineralising system, and management therefore remains confident of intersecting a high-grade source.

“These encouraging results demonstrate that higher grade gold is being encountered at levels around 350m from surface.

“Owing to a change in the dip of the breccia contact from almost vertical, to a moderate-steep dip to the north, the anticipated target depth of 400m – 500m depth, as determined by the Mt Wright model, remains untested at the location of BPL038.”

Rockfire Resources said core samples from the remaining exploration drilling had been delivered to the laboratory.
Early works will start before the end of the year on a $380 million wind farm in Far North Queensland, creating 150 jobs, thanks to a sales deal with publicly-owned CleanCo.

Neoen Energy would build the Kaban Green Power Hub near Ravenshoe, 80 kilometres south-west of Cairns now that CleanCo had agreed to buy 110 MW of the wind farm’s output, said Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham.

“Queensland has an economic plan for post-COVID recovery and affordable, reliable energy supply underpins that plan,” Dr Lynham said.

“That plan includes supporting emerging industries like renewable energy because that supports jobs.”

“This project is proceeding because the power purchase agreement with CleanCo has given Neoen certainty.”

This 157 MW wind farm will mean 150 construction jobs as well as revenue for local farmers hosting the turbines, said Member for Barron River Craig Crawford.

The agreement underscored the deepening involvement in the state’s clean energy transition, said Neoen Australia’s managing director Louis de Sambucy

“We are proud to be supporting Queensland’s progress towards its ambitious target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, “ Mr Sambucy said.

The project will also provide diversified revenue to local farmers hosting the turbines and will see Neoen establish an annual $50,000 Community Benefit Fund for local community-building initiatives over the duration of the project’s life.

First generation is expected in 2023 and the project will generate enough energy to power about 95,900 Queensland homes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged to invest about $1.5 billion over the next four years in a Modern Manufacturing Strategy to make Australian manufacturers more competitive, resilient and able to scale up.  

“The COVID crisis opens a new chapter for Australian manufacturing as a revitalised source of high-wage jobs, valuable exports and national income,” Mr Morrison said.  

“Our Modern Manufacturing Strategy is at the heart of our JobMaker plan. It starts with creating a stable and competitive business environment to grow all parts of our manufacturing sector, but it does not end there.

“It will play to Australia’s strengths, improve collaboration and commercialisation, and create a sector that is modern, dynamic and highly skilled.

“Through this strategy, we are determined to ensure government, industry and the research and education sectors are all working in the one direction to build scale in our manufacturing sector.” 

The centrepiece of the strategy is the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI), which will see the Government strategically invest in projects that help manufacturers to scale up and create jobs.  

The Federal Government said MMI would support projects within six national priority areas:  

  • Resources technology and critical minerals processing
  • Food and beverage
  • Medical products
  • Recycling and clean energy
  • Defence
  • Space 
Industry will be engaged to co-design tailored road maps for each of the priority sectors to set clear goals over the next two, five and 10 years. investment.

The strategy will also address the competitiveness of individual manufacturers in priority sectors, with a $52.8 million expansion of the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund. A $107.2 million Supply Chain Resilience Initiative will support projects that address an identified supply chain vulnerability.

Major role for mining and METS sector

The Minerals Council of Australia expects the contribution of mining to manufacturing jobs and innovation to expand under the Modern Manufacturing Fund outlined today.

“Building on Australia’s strong comparative advantage, Australian mining and the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector already support one in 10 Australian jobs, mostly in regional areas,” chief executive officer Tania Constable said.

“Expanding the networks of local suppliers and supporting the commercialisation of inventions will create further job opportunities.

“The METS sector is an unsung champion of Australian manufacturing, with three-quarters of METS companies building and selling into mining along with other sectors of the economy.

“Further development of Australia’s critical minerals capability will also serve to expand manufacturing across the entire economy.

“Along with proposed changes to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and lower energy costs, significant new investment in mining, processing new materials and manufacturing is now a stronger prospect, enabling the manufacturing of lithium, graphite and a range of high performance metals for use in Australia.”