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News

Students from throughout Queensland are in Mount Isa this week for the Oresome Minds Camp run by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA), the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).

The students were meant to travel to the mining city earlier in the year, but a COVID-19 lockdown put paid to those plans.

The students have been working on projects with their Mount Isa Mines mentors virtually over the past 10 weeks, and will this week present them face-to-face and experience a taste of life as a resources professional. 

As well as discovering how science, technology engineering and maths (STEM) are used every day in the resources sector, the students are learning from their industry mentors about the different opportunities available to them.

“Our staff have been looking forward to demonstrating how teamwork, problem solving and communication are key skills needed for success in our sector,” Glencore Queensland Metals human resources group manager Clint Milner said.

“We hope that it will be a positive experience for the students and encourage them to consider careers in our sector, particularly engineering where we have a shortage of talent.”

QRC director skills and education Katrina-Lee Jones said it was important for students to be aware of the opportunities available in the sector with skills shortages, particularly in engineering and trades.

“It’s why we are currently running a social media campaign to encourage students to consider mining engineering,” she said.

Schools taking part are Spinifex State College, Good Shepherd Catholic College, Kelvin Grove State College, San Sisto College, Wavell State High School, Centenary State High School, and Nanango State High School. 

IMAGE: Aliesha Buckley taking a selfie with Mitch Thinee, Sam Howarth, and Calum Ingram during a 'getting to know you' photo scavenger hunt.

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A shortage of skilled workers is the No.1 threat to the future viability of Queensland’s resources sector, according to a survey of mining bosses.

The latest State of the Sector report shows a combination of COVID-related border restrictions, less skilled migration and interstate competition for workers has created a perfect storm of labour shortages at a time of continued growth across the sector.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said mining leaders had become increasingly concerned over the past 12 months about attracting and retaining enough skilled employees to support industry growth.

The issue had jumped from No.12 on the list to No.1 in the latest CEO sentiment survey, he said.

“The number of jobs in our sector in Queensland has increased by more than two-thirds over the past five years to reach a record high of almost 85,000 earlier this year,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“This growth in resources jobs, which has surged since COVID, is around six times the relative growth experienced across the rest of Queensland’s workforce over the same five-year period.

“Looking forward, jobs growth over the next five years is likely to continue due to increasing global demand for traditional resources like coal, base metals and gas plus the growing demand for new economy minerals such as cobalt, graphite, vanadium and rare earths which are being used to build everything from microchips to electric vehicles.”

“This demand will create a growing and increasingly diverse pipeline of jobs for Queenslanders, with the National Skills Commission projecting employment in our sector will grow by a further 8 percent to 2025.”

According to the latest SEEK employment data, there are currently more than 1300 resources jobs on offer in Queensland, with more than 70 per cent paying upwards of $100,000 per year.

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M Mining produced its first metallurgical coal from the Mavis Downs pit in Central Queensland over the weekend as prices for the commodity soared to new heights.

A joint venture of M Resources and Stanmore Resources (MetRes) acquired the mothballed Mavis Downs and Millennium site from Peabody Energy in July, with M Mining acting as joint venture manager and operator of the restarted mining activities.

“Since commencing operations in August with an innovative mine restart plan, this has been an important early production milestone for us,” M Mining owner and director Matt Latimore said.

“Achieving first coal so quickly is the result of a fantastic effort from our partners, suppliers, managers and workforce.”

First coal came the day after a new historic high of $US380/tonne for Australian hard coking coal.

The new owners of the Mavis Downs and Millennium site near Moranbah enlisted Coal Augering Services to kick off mining with auger production, to be followed by open-cut mining by the end of the year and underground mining in 2022.

Late last month M Mining awarded a $425 million contract to PIMS Group to provide the underground mining services.

The five-year contract is expected to spark up to 100 mine construction jobs and more than 125 direct full-­time mining jobs for the region.

“In the nine weeks since completion of the sale of Millennium mine, M Mining has established a strong operating team and issued $464 million in contracts for auger, auger support, open cut and underground,” Mr Latimore said

“Our work is underwriting the future growth of this operation, economic activity and local employment opportunities.

“Since announcing the acquisition of Millennium in April we have said that this will be a low-capital, fast-to-market asset, producing high-quality coal.”

Mr Latimore said the next key milestone for M Mining would be open-cut mining at Millennium by November this year.

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Renewable energy company Neoen has completed financial close for the $370 million Kaban Green Power Hub in Far North Queensland.

Civil works are already underway on the project after EPC contractor Vestas was provided with notice to proceed in May.

The project set to deliver more than 250 construction jobs and to generate 457 GWh of affordable clean energy each year from 2023.

It consists of a 157 MW wind farm located near Ravenshoe and a 320km transmission line upgrade of the North Queensland coastal circuit. 

The Kaban Green Power Hub was at the centre of a funding controversy in May when it emerged that Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt had vetoed a Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan arrangemnet for the project.

Neon said today its project costs were being met by a syndicate of five lenders, BNP Paribas, HSBC, MUFG, NAB and NORD/LB.

The Queensland Government has committed funding towards the transmission network upgrade which will support the wind farm and establish the Northern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

Neoen and Powerlink Queensland are partnering to upgrade the line between Cairns and Townsville, unlocking up to 500 MW of additional capacity for future projects.

“The Kaban Green Power Hub is pivotal to unlocking Queensland’s first Renewable Energy Zone,” Powerlink chief executive Paul Simshauser said.

“It forms part of $700 million worth of work Powerlink is delivering in North Queensland over the next five years.”

The project is underpinned by a 15-year capacity purchase agreement (CPA) with CleanCo, Queensland’s publicly owned clean energy company, for 100 per cent of the energy generated.

“The Kaban Green Power Hub project provides critical system strength support for North Queensland,” CleanCo Queensland chief executive officer Dr Maia Schweizer said.

“As an important part of CleanCo’s low emission generating portfolio, the renewable energy generated by this wind farm will allow us to offer affordable contracts to big energy users, translating to continued lower energy prices and increased competitiveness for Queensland businesses and communities.” 

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Air Freight Handling Services (AFHS) is calling for tenders for construction of a new distribution hub at Cairns International Airport.

The State Government is supporting the development of the new Regional Trade Distribution Centre (RTDC) with an investment of up to $10 million.

“Air Freight Handling Services (AFHS) is establishing a Regional Trade Distribution Centre (RTDC) in Cairns that will supercharge rapid airfreight access for agricultural producers, and aid Far North Queensland’s economic recovery,” Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said.

“We know that global appetites for Queensland’s world-class produce is growing, and this centre will make it much easier for our producers to export their produce faster and fresher.

“It will give Queensland producers easier access to export markets and that means more jobs for Queenslanders.”

The RTDC at Cairns International Airport will be the second export-focused centre of its kind, with the other at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport opened in late July.

AFHS managing director Barb Ford said the group was delighted for the project to now start becoming a reality.

“Our facility will feature state-of-the-art large cold and freezer rooms, and both temperature-controlled and ambient transit areas,” Ms Ford said.

“Advertising for local trades and sub-trades will start from Saturday 18 September, calling for local providers to get involved with this exciting project.”

Construction set to kick off on Cairns freight hub
Port of Mackay has recorded its biggest month of throughput ever, with more than 448,000 tonnes of cargo going through the port in August.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said it was the first time the port’s monthly trade figure had started with a ‘4’.

“Achieving a monthly output of 448,065 tonnes in August is a great result for the Mackay team, compared to 277,624 tonnes recorded in the same month last year,” she said.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said these trade volumes had provided a huge boost to the economy when it was needed most.

“Fuel throughput has been at record levels of the past two months, with the August figure of 173,479 tonnes well ahead of the comparative month last year (159,612 tonnes),” Mr Bailey said.

“Raw sugar exports set a new monthly record at 129,000 tonnes, outstripping last year’s August result of 101,895.

“Tonnages for other commodities were also up, including molasses and scrap metal. And for the first time in five years, August saw 44,00 tonnes of grain go through the port.”

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Mr Bailey said the state’s ports were preparing for the future, with two ground breaking agreements to export renewable energy recently signed off.

“In August we saw the Port of Hay Point, join Dalrymple Bay Infrastructure and international company ITOCHU in an agreement for hydrogen exports out of the Mackay facility.

“And now, the Port of Townsville and Ark Energy have signed an agreement to kickstart hydrogen production in the North.

“These transformative agreements will boost out economic development, create new jobs and substantially reduce our carbon emissions, backing Queensland exporters now and into the future.