South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has officially opened the new Ankata underground copper-gold mine at Prominent Hill.
The $148 million project has been constructed over the last two years to target the high-grade deposit west of the existing open pit mine at Prominent Hill.
Mr Weatherill said OZ Minerals’ operation was an example of how companies can better share the benefits of the mining boom with the broader community.
“This new mine has added more than 150 jobs to its 1200-strong workforce and even more pleasing is that the employment opportunities have remained locally-focused, with about 80 per cent of the OZ Minerals’ workforce living in South Australia,” Mr Weatherill said.
“OZ Minerals has set such an example in these fields that I had the recent pleasure of presenting the company with the industry’s own award for excellence in Social Inclusion.
“Prominent Hill is a world-class copper and gold deposit and South Australia also has several other major approved projects under construction that in their own right will be significant drivers for investment, infrastructure, skills and new jobs.”
OZ Minerals Managing Director and CEO Terry Burgess said the commencement of the Ankata underground mine is a significant milestone for OZ Minerals and is a highly valuable addition to Prominent Hill.
Leading biomedical engineer Professor Karen Reynolds has been named South Australia’s Scientist of the Year for her outstanding research in her field.
Professor Reynolds received the accolade at the 2012 Science Excellence Awards, with State Science and Information Minister, Tom Kenyon, congratulating her for her extensive work.
“Professor Reynold’s research aims to improve the understanding, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of medical conditions with projects ranging from designing orthopaedic implants to virtual reality simulators for improved surgical training,” Mr Kenyon said.
“Her development of the ground-breaking Medical Device Partnering Program has brought together industry, clinical and research partners across the country to bring innovative bioengineering solutions to the market and for the benefit of patients,” Mr Kenyon said.
The awards saw 10 of the State’s top scientists share in $100,000, with Professor Reynolds taking home $20,000.
The full list of winners of awards are:
SA Scientist of the Year
Professor Karen Reynolds - Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Flinders University
PhD Research Excellence – Health and Medical Sciences
Dr Stephanie Reuter Lange, Clinical Research Fellow, University of South Australia
PhD Research Excellence – Life and Environmental Sciences
Dr Christopher Raymond, Research Fellow, University of South Australia
Early Career STEM Professional – Natural and Physical Sciences, engineering and Mathematics
Mr Steve Barone, Network Control Engineer, ETSA Utilities
Early Career STEM Professional – Health and Life Sciences
Dr John Landers, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Flinders Medical Centre
PhD Research Excellence – Physical Sciences, Engineering and Mathematics
Dr Cameron Shearer, Research Associate, Flinders University
Early Career STEM Educator – School Teaching
Ms Susan Gaardboe, Specialist Science Teacher and Teacher Facilitator, Westbourne Park Primary School
Early Career STEM Educator – Tertiary Teaching
Dr Femke Buisman-Pijlman, Lecturer Addiction Studies, Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, The University of Adelaide
South Australian Early Career Researcher – SA Tall Poppy of the Year
Dr Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, Analytical Chemistry/ Archaeological Science (Aboriginal history), Flinders University
The Queensland Government has held the first Moreton Bay Rail Link industry briefing, attracting over 300 business representatives to hear from State Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson.
Mr Emerson took the opportunity to outline the State Government’s plan to release the Request for Proposals to industry on August 24.
“The level of interest from the construction industry ensures there’ll be healthy competition between the proponents,” Mr Emerson said.
“The Request for Proposals will involve companies submitting options for the design and construction of the project.
“It’s an opportunity for companies to show that they have the innovation and capability to build and design a project of this size and complexity.”
The briefing comes after the State Government conducted an internal review of the project, finding that the Department of Transport and Main Roads was best placed to roll out the project rather than split responsibility with Queensland Rail.
The State Government said the decision would ensure that Queensland Rail would continue to concentrate its efforts on maintaining the rail network and running passenger services while allowing the private sector to deliver the project.
Mr Emerson said that after proposals have been received, three or four proponents will be selected to investigate the best value for money, design and construction for the project.
The $1.147 billion project is being jointly funded by a $742 million Federal investment, while the State Government is contributing $300 million and Moreton Bay Regional Council contributing the remaining $105 million.
The South Australian Government has announced $20,000 in scholarship funding is now available for those working to better the working conditions of women throughout the state.
The funding, under the Augusta Zadow Scholarship, will see $10,000 awarded to two researchwers who assist with OHS improvements undertaken by, or for, the benefit of women in South Australia.
The Scholarship is named in honour of Augusta Zadow, who became the first female Inspector of Factories in South Australia. Her work is considered crucial in securing better conditions for employees in factories, particularly for women and children.
More information is available here
The South Australian Government has announced the appointment of Anne Gale as the state’s next Commissioner for Equal Opportunity.
Acting Attorney-General Patrick Conlon welcomed Ms Gale’s appointment, saying her wealth of experience in work with the disadvantaged will stand her in good stead.
“Ms Gale’s leadership skills - gained through significant experience in senior and executive roles - willserve her well in her new role,” Mr Conlon said.
“Her strong strategic and analytic abilities, as well as her compassion and innate sense of fairness, will also make her an outstanding Commissioner.
“South Australia can expect total dedication to advancing equal opportunity and combating discrimination.”
Before being appointed Deputy Commissioner for Consumer Affairs in 2009, Ms Gale was Deputy Chief Executive of the Department for Families and Communities.
From 2005, Ms Gale was Executive Director of the Office for the Ageing, where she was responsible for implementing the SA Ageing Plan - Improving with Age.
The appointment was made following a merit-based selection process involving a strong field of candidates. Ms Gale replaces Anne Burgess who has been Acting Commissioner, and will take up the five-year term on 17 September.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced it will not oppose Qube Logistics’ acquisition of Macarthur Intermodal Shipping Terminal (MIST).
Qube first announced the move to acquire MIST in June, in a bid to significantly increase its rail and warehousing operations.
The $95 million deal will see Qube expand its fleet to around 80 locomotives and an estimated 800 wagons.
Qube has announced it expects the deal to be formally completed on 22 August.
The Western Australian Government has released the latest State Priority Occupation List, showing that engineers, nurses and childcare workers are among the most sought-after employees.
“Of the 339 occupations identified, more than 70 per cent are managers, professionals, technicians and trade workers, underscoring the need for high-level skills and training in the WA workforce,” State Minister for Training and Workforce Development Murray Cowper said.
“Each occupation is ranked as a State Priority 1, State Priority 2 or an Industry Training Council-identified priority, with nurses, engineers and childcare workers among those jobs currently experiencing peak demand.”
The list was developed through input with industry stakeholders via the State Training Council network, combined with data assembled using key economic and labour market indicators.
Assessment for inclusion on the State Priority Occupation List follows a range of criteria, such as the skill level required to perform the job, educational pathways available for training, as well as the impact of the occupation upon industry or the State economy.
The Minister said it was critical that the State Government planned for the future to ensure employment and training opportunities were maximised and future skills shortages minimised.
“With billions of dollars in projects either under way or under consideration, it is essential the Government has up-to-date information to guide its workforce planning decisions,” he said.
“The State Priority Occupation List helps us maximise training and employment opportunities for all West Australians so we have the right skills, at the right time, now and into the future.”
The full list is available here
The Victorian Government has announced $10.6 million in funding to boost research that will accelerate productivity growth in the grains industry by developing superior varieties and management practices best suited for local conditions.
State Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh, said the Government will commit the funding from this year’s State Budget over a four year period.
"As a result of this funding commitment, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will undertake new research, development and an extension to significantly enhance the productivity of the grains sector," Mr Walsh said.
"Our researchers will develop new grains germplasm to underpin the breeding of varieties better suited to local conditions, superior agronomic packages for cereals, oilseeds and pulses and new soil management options for local production systems.
"DPI research to improve soil resilience will deliver tools to help make soils more conducive to sustainable productivity growth.
"DPI will also focus research on production in high rainfall zones and develop new extension, training and network programs to build the capacity of growers across the state."
The new research targeting productivity in the grains sector is a key element in the Growing Food and Fibre initiative – the Coalition Government's $61.4 million commitment to agriculture.
The Western Australian Government has launched a new initiative that will offer engineering program for school students that will be housed at the $63 million Governor Stirling Senior High School in Midland from 2013.
The Approved Specialist Program in Engineering partners Governor Stirling Senior High School with Leighton Contractors to deliver a five-year sponsorship agreement.
The agreement will provide student scholarships and ensure ready access to industry knowledge and opportunities for practical experience.
State Minister for Education Peter Collier said with more than 30,000* new jobs forecast over the next three years in the mining, construction, professional and technical services sectors, secondary schools played a vital role in getting young people ready for industry.
“The scholarships provided by Leighton Contractors as part of this sponsorship will help students with their studies and target high academic achievers, girls and indigenous students wanting to pursue university qualifications and careers in engineering,” he said.
“There will also be traineeships for students wanting to pursue vocational and trade pathways, which is an area I want to ensure more secondary schools are preparing students for.
“I believe our schools should be preparing all students with a qualification on graduation, not simply focusing on being a pathway to university for those who want to pursue tertiary studies.”
The school has also teamed up with The University of Western Australia to access academic and curriculum expertise.
“The Approved Specialist Program in Engineering has all the right ingredients for success - the backing and support of a major construction company, the expertise of one of the world’s top 100 universities and a state-of-the-art public school campus.”
The Queensland Government has called for more community-based environmental groups to apply for grants available to rehabilitate their local environment.
State Environment and Heritage Protection Minister, Andrew Powell, urged more groups that supply for the first round of the Everyone’s Environment grants.
The State Government will provide $12 million over the next three years for groups to tackle local conservation issues, with the second and third rounds of grants being made available in 2013 and 2014.
“Only weeks remain until applications close for the first round of these grants on 28 September.
“Individual grants between $2,000 and $100,000 are available for projects like tree-planting and restoring land, water quality improvement, land and waterway clean-ups, and monitoring pollutants in streams,” Mr Powell said.
Mr Powell said grants were open to community service organisations such as parents and citizens’ groups, Landcare, Coastcare, Bushcare, Rivercare and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups.
The Federal Government has announced the launch of the Australian Medicare Local Alliance, the body charged with ensuring a more effective and cohesive network of Medicare Locals.
Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, said that the alliance will play a key role in ensuring Medicare Locals function effectively and efficiently.
“Medicare Locals will improve the coordination and integration of primary health care in local communities, addressing service gaps and making it easier for patients to navigate their local healthcare system,” she said.
“As the body responsible for supporting Medicare Locals at the national level, the new Australian Medicare Local Alliance will assume a key leadership role in primary health care.”
Nationally, 61 Medicare Locals have been established to identify gaps in primary health care services at the local level, especially for high need and underserviced groups, and to better target services to respond to those gaps.
The Australian Government has committed a total of $493 million from 2010-11 to 2012-14 for the establishment and operation of Medicare Locals. It will also be the primary funder of the Australian Medicare Local Alliance.
The Federal Government has released the Ten of the Best Research Projects 2012 paper, showcasing the work of some of the finest medical researchers in the country.
“From new and innovative approaches to helping bridge the gap between the health of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their non-Indigenous counterparts or new ways of better caring for premature babies, Australian researchers are involved in groundbreaking research that is improving the health of our community,” Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek said.
“Ten of the Best Research Projects 2012 features NHMRC-funded researchers who are leading the way in finding innovative solutions to some of our nation’s greatest health challenges.
The ten projects range from Professor Glenn Marshall and his team’s work on new treatments for childhood cancers, including the deadly neuroblastoma, to the extensive contributions made by Professor Keryn Williams and her team in the area of corneal grafts – effectively, giving the gift of sight.
“These projects were picked for Ten of the Best on the basis of the strength of the science and significance of outcomes,” NHMRC CEO Professor Anderson said.
“Four of the ten research teams have had their work translated into new health policy and practice that is improving the lives of Australians and people around the world.”
NHMRC Ten of the Best (2012) Research Summaries
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Professor Katrina Allen
NHMRC Career Development Fellowship
$274,961 (2006 – 2010)
The research conducted by Professor Allen and her team has broken new ground on more accurate ways of identifying food allergies in children. In applying these new methods, the true prevalence of child food allergies has been revealed.
University of Melbourne
Professor Lorena Brown
NHMRC Project Grant
$513,717 (2008 – 2010)
Professor Brown and her team’s research into the H5N1 influenza virus uncovered a flu inhibitor in saliva that prevents the virus from travelling to the lungs and having potentially fatal effects. This research, conducted in animal models, will now be tested in humans.
Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
Professor Mark Febbraio
NHMRC Project Grant
$467,720 (2008 – 2010)
This research is showing promising applications in the form of a new treatment for Type 2 diabetes and another for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The answer, which Professor Febbraio and his team are exploring, appears to lie in the activation of a particular heat stress protein in muscle tissue.
Professor Richard Harding
NHMRC Program Grant
$8,381,821 (2006 – 2010)
Professor Harding and his team are working to improve the health outcomes of preterm babies. In particular, they are interested in how best to support the function of preterm babies’ lungs. The team have already found that lowering levels of oxygen administered enables gas pressure to be maintained in the lungs while reducing unwanted side effects associated with higher levels.
University of Melbourne
Professor Marshall Lightowlers
NHMRC Research Fellowship
$739,574 (2006 – 2010)
Professor Lightowlers and his team have produced vaccines for two potentially fatal parasitic diseases: neurocysticercosis and hydatid. The team are now working to improve one of the vaccines so it can be delivered in one dose instead of two – an important goal given these diseases affects some of the poorest countries in the world.
Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Park Campus
Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing
Dr Dina LoGiudice
NHMRC Strategic Award
$1,081,062 (2007 – 2010)
This research has produced a culturally appropriate tool for assessing dementia in older Indigenous Australians. The next steps for Dr LoGiudice and her team include developing appropriate models of care for this cohort, living in remote Indigenous communities, and ways of preventing the disease.
Children's Cancer Institute Australia
Sydney Children's Hospital
Professor Glenn Marshall
NHMRC Program Grant
$5,029,092 (2006 – 2010)
Professor Marshall and his team have been working together for 20 years on improving treatments for childhood cancer. Focusing specifically on a deadly embryonal cancer, neuroblastoma, they have already identified a number of different strategies that are now undergoing clinical trials.
Professor Richard Osborne
NHMRC Career Development Fellowship
$462,290 (2006 – 2010)
Addressing inequalities in the health care system is what drives Professor Osborne and his team. They developed a new model that better prioritises those on waiting lists for hip and joint replacements which has been implemented in all Victorian public hospitals – with the rest of Australia to come.
Institute for Molecular Bioscience
Professor Brandon Wainwright
NHMRC Project Grant
$521,961 (2008 – 2010)
Research by Professor Wainwright and his team indicates that by manipulating a genetic pathway that is behind skin cancer, skin cells can either be replenished or become cancerous. Next steps include proving that the cells generated through this manipulation are true stem cells and can repair and regenerate skin.
Professor Keryn Williams
NHMRC Research Fellowship
$739,574 (2006 – 2010)
For nearly 30 years, Professor Williams and her team have been helping to give the gift of sight to thousands of Australians. The team discovered that immunological rejection was the most common cause of corneal graft failure. Separately, their work has led to a dramatic cut in waiting times for a corneal graft.
The Federal Government has welcomed Colin Neave’s formal appointment as the Commonwealth Ombudsman, following months of having the position vacant following Allan Asher’s resignation late last year.
Federal Minister for the Public Service and Integrity Gary Gray welcomed Mr Neave’s appointment, saying his ‘impeccable record in senior leadership’ will ensure continual improvement in the public sector.
“The Office of Ombudsman is a critical part of our system of government accountability,” Mr Gray said.
“It plays a key role in ensuring that Australians receive the public service that they deserve.”
Mr Neave is currently President of the Administrative Review Council, Vice Chair of the Australian Press Council, Chairperson of the Legal Services Board of Victoria and Chairman of the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2005 for service to public administration and to the banking and finance industry, particularly through dispute resolution.
Mr Neave’s appointment is for a period of five years commencing on 17 September 2012.
The New South Wales Government has announced its intention to revamp the state’s ICT procurement policy following the release of the long-awaited Commission of Audit.
Despite only a handful of the 132 key recommendations of the report relating to the ICT sector, it found that its expenditure in procurement, which hit $993 last year, significantly outweighs its related revenue.
The Commission argued that the current in-house management of ICT is ‘very dated’ in the face of rapidly changing technology and service availability.
The report found that in excess of $100 million in savings a year could be made through reforming the procurement process in areas of projects and services, computer procurement and telecommunications.
The Commission concluded that moving to a commercial procurement model and developing a ‘more mature environment that offers better services’ could significantly reduce procurement costs.
The mining sector’s continual growth is producing significant flow-on benefits for the country’s information and communication technology sector, according to a new report released by IDC.
According to the Resources ICT Market Forecast and Analysis 2011 to 2015 report, resource sector spending on ICT topped $2.51 billion in the 2011-12 financial year, representing 6 per cent of the ICT sector’s total activity.
"The resource industry has been growing rapidly over the past few years and, despite the uncertain global outlook, it looks set to continue its growth. However, this brings new challenges, such as escalating costs, which companies are increasingly looking to technology to offset," says Emilie Ditton, research manager, Vertical Markets.
And the future looks bright for the ICT sector’s profitability in the resources sector, with Ms Ditton saying that related profits are only expected to increase.
"IDC predicts Australian resources spending on ICT will increase from A$2,421.7 million in 2010 to A$2,911.5 million, realising an above-average CAGR of 3.8% between 2010 and 2015. Opportunities for IT vendors in the resource sector will be in supporting the drive for productivity and organisational effectiveness, and specifically on the deployment of mobile applications, remote application delivery, business intelligence/predictive analytics, and cloud computing."
The full report can be bought here
The Victorian Government has outlined more funding under its flagship $55 million infrastructure investment aimed at reducing road trauma on the state’s roads.
Premier Ted Baillieu announced more funding upgrades throughout the state, brining the total number of funded projects to 80 as part of the Transport Accident Commission’s Safer Roads Infrastructure Program (SRIP).
“In recent weeks, Victorians may have seen a number of road safety projects announced in their community. These projects are part of a $55 million investment state-wide," Mr Baillieu said.
"Approximately $31 million has been allocated to improve intersection safety, while $24 million will be spent on works to reduce the incidence and severity of head-on and run-off-road crashes."
The $55 million SRIP program will also benefit dozens of roads across Victoria, including a major boost to improving safety in Melbourne's western suburbs.
Major works include a $5.8 million upgrade of Derrimut/Hopkins Road between Tarneit and Rockbank, a $5.5 million run-off-road project on the Melton Highway, and $1.3 million of safety improvements for Somerton Road, Greenvale.
Australian mobile app platform biNu has secured a $2 million funding round from Google Chairman Eric Smith’s venture company as well as other key investors from both the US and Australia.
Since launching early last year, biNu has attracted four million monthly users for its system, which brings iPhone-like experiences to low-end smartphones and feature phones.
biNu’s system provides fast and affordable access to apps for users across the world, particularly targeting emerging markets where phones often represent the only internet enabled device, and frequently represent the user’s first access to the internet.
“As publishers, content owners and social companies race into emerging markets looking for growth, mobile devices and mobile networks simply can’t keep up. biNu set out to give the 4 or 5 billion people who don’t have top end smartphones or reliable high bandwidth cellular networks a great mobile internet experience,” biNu co-founder and CEO Gour Lentell said.
A new report released by the Australia Institute has warned that the country risks significantly underestimating its contribution to global climate change if it fails to adequately measure fugitive emissions from coal seam gas wellheads.
The institute found that while concerns have been raised about the direct environmental impact of CSG practices, particularly that of fracking on the water supply, little research had been done into the broad effects of CSG extraction.
Gas is increasingly being seen by some as a 'bridging fuel' in the fight against climate change, yet because we don't accurately measure the amount of leakage at wellheads we have no way of knowing if we're actually reducing our emissions by switching from coal to coal seam gas,” Australia Institute’s Senior Economist Matt Grudnoff said.
"What's worse is that we could inadvertently be making it harder for the world to limit the warming effect of climate change below the environmental tipping point of two degrees."
The report recommends allocating funding from the $200 million the government has put aside from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax towards measuring fugitive emissions.
Another consequence of underestimating fugitive emissions from CSG is that it blunts the impact of the carbon price as firms will not be paying the tax on all of their emissions. An extra 62 million tonnes over three years is equivalent to giving CSG companies more than $1.5 billion the report found.
"If emissions from coal seam gas are significantly lower than actual emissions then there is no incentive for CSG producers to introduce world's best practice. This means Australian taxpayers are effectively subsidising this industry to be inefficient," said Mr Grudnoff.
The report can be found here
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has announced it has commenced the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey in its history, aimed at improving knowledge of the health issues affecting this group of Australians.
This survey will expand on the 2004-05 survey by increasing the number of participants by 30%, collecting new information on exercise, diet (including bush foods) and measures of cholesterol, blood glucose and iron.
For the first time, the ABS will directly measure obesity and blood pressure levels, as well as nutritional status and chronic disease. By combining the self-reported information together with the biomedical samples, a more complete picture of the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be available. Importantly this will give us some information about the level of undiagnosed conditions, such as diabetes.
While the biomedical component of the survey is voluntary, our survey champion Cathy Freeman encourages people to get involved as: ‘you will be helping your family, your community, and future generations to live longer healthier lives’.
The survey will be conducted over 2012-13 across the country in cities and remote communities to create evidence to measure progress in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and contributing to Closing the Gap in life expectancy.
The first survey results will be released in September 2013 and will be used by a wide range of Aboriginal organisations, health researchers, public health advocates, government, clinicians and community health organisations.
Gas giant Santos has confirmed that the planned Moomba 191 dedicated shale well is commercially viable and will soon begin production of the country’s first dedicated shale well.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill welcomed the announcement, describing it as a major milestone for the unconventional gas industry in the state.
“Unconventional gas has always been regarded as something that would happen in the future but this discovery will lead to unconventional gas being used in households around the state as early as next year,” Mr Weatherill said.
“This discovery adds momentum for unconventional gas exploration and development in the South Australian Cooper Basin.
“Through the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy, South Australia has been leading the nation in this field for a long time and we are now well-positioned to capitalize on the huge potential of this resource.
“This is just the sort of outcome contemplated by South Australia’s Roadmap for Unconventional Gas Projects.”
State Minister for Resources and Energy, Tom Koutsantonis, said the announcement was the first step to delivering hundreds of millions, and possible billions, of investment dollars to the State.
The Queensland Government has announced applications for $60 million in funding under the first round of the Royalties for Regions program will open in September.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Jeff Seeney, said that the 14 eligible councils have until early October to lodge their Expression of Interest applications.
“Of the $495 million being invested across the State over the next four years, $60 million will be available in 2012/13,” Mr Seeney said.
“This is about reinvesting a share of royalties to help build new and improved community, road and floodplain security infrastructure and the first round of funding will focus on critical or urgent infrastructure projects,” he said.
“The Royalties for the Regions program will also help local government and communities manage the impacts of rapid growth in the resource sector”
The Royalties for the Regions framework is made up of three funding streams:
- Resource Community Building Fund – to deliver improved community infrastructure such as education and health facilities, community centres and sporting facilities ($170 million over four years)
- Roads to Resources – to enhance the safety, connectivity and capacity of roads servicing resource communities ($285 million over four years)
- Floodplain Security Scheme – to build levees, flood bypasses, flood mitigation dams, flood retention basins and other key projects to protect Queensland communities from flooding. ($40 million over four years, with $40 million funding to be sought from the Commonwealth and $20 million from local governments)
Funding applications will go through a two-stage competitive assessment process. Eligible regional councils will submit an Expression of Interest (stage one), with successful Expressions of Interest proceeding to a full business case (stage two).
Mr Seeney said eligible councils would be notified of successful projects in February 2013.