Saturday, March 23, 2013
At around 12.54 minute mark on the audio Martin Ferguson is asked about James Price Point/Browse (Martin Ferguson resignation press conference)


  1. Council evicts 'shanty town' dwellers

    More than 20 Pilbara workers paying up to $350 a week to live in caravans and empty buses will be homeless tomorrow because of a council crackdown on illegal accommodation.

    Hundreds more could be forced on to the street as Port Hedland council adopts a zero tolerance to makeshift camp sites. Illegal shanty towns for mainly lower paid non-resources workers have emerged because of Port Hedland's high rents, which average $1600 a week.

    The council's shift comes as Port Hedland attempts to shake the tag of backward mining town to transform itself into a thriving Pilbara city of more than 50,000.

    Court action against two companies for not complying with local planning laws has begun and 15 other notices are believed to have been served on businesses this week.

    A report to the council this month said immediate action was needed to "change the mindset of offenders" or the council would face a losing battle against non-compliance.

    Builder Phil Geldard, his wife and two-year-old daughter, who live in a stripped bus, are in limbo. He was among 20 people told this week they had four days to find somewhere else to live because they could no longer stay at Hedland Bus Lines' Wedgefield property.

    "This isn't a normal town," Mr Geldard said. "Affordable accommodation is really hard to find. We've been shoved out into a housing system which is all out of proportion.

    "Where can you go? Every Tom, Dick and Harry now is knocking down the doors of the caravan parks."

    Mr Geldard said everyone was working and contributing to the town but there was nowhere to live.

    He spent six months making the bus comfortable but was more angry about the lack of time the council gave them. "They have left us destitute really," Mr Geldard said.

    Hedland Bus Lines manager Kath Edwards broke down after telling tenants their power would be shut off.

    She said she faced a $5000 a day fine for each illegal dwelling.

    Eddie Hintz, whose jobs include driving the school bus, said he would have to return to Queensland.
    Newlywed Jason Lakeland, also a bus company tenant, moved from Melbourne with his wife. "Not everyone has the good BHP job," he said.


    OPTICALLY-STIMULATED Luminescence (OSL) has confirmed the earliest datable human habitation at Lake Gregory, Kimberley.

    Geologist Dr Jim Bowler says the analysis, performed on quartz grains surrounding a stone core found at Lake Gregory in the south-eastern Kimberley, shows humans occupied the site 45–50,000 years ago.

    The stone core had been discarded by a Paleolithic tool-maker after removing several flakes.

    “It is nearly as old as any evidence, anywhere in Australia,” Dr Bowler says.

    Archaeologist Dr Mike Smith had previously dated desert occupation 35,000 years PB.

    Dr Bowler says radiocarbon dating was not used because it is not considered accurate for objects older than 40,000 years, and because almost all of the organic matter in the local soil is either oxidised or eaten by termites.

    He first became interested in Lake Gregory after finding evidence of very early human occupation at Lake Mungo in western Victoria.

    “[I thought] there must be other Mungos in Australia,” he says.

    “In the drier parts of the continent, people follow the water.

    “So as the environment changed from dry to wet or from wet to dry … people focussed on the shoreline of the lakes.”

    “Where we have evidence of big lakes with major changes in their climatic history, that was where we undertook a search [that] led us to … Lake Gregory.”


  2. This article by Peter Beattie is more about digging stuff up but it can just as easily be applied to LNG and to FLNG.

    Grey is right Australia needs these new technologies if our kids are to have jobs and that means kids in the Kimberley too.

    There was at last an article in the Broome Advertiser this week about the work already flowing from the Shell Prelude project.


    Mining services offer export, jobs bonanza

    by: Peter Beattie
    From: The Australian
    March 23, 2013 12:00AM

    MINING has been the backbone of Australia's sustained economic prosperity but our future jobs growth is not in the extraction of minerals; it is in the mining equipment, technology and services industry, which is also the future for Australian manufacturing.

    That sector is our most important future industry yet we spend more money supporting the struggling motor vehicle industry. The mining services sector represents more than 5 per cent of total national employment and is a significantly larger employer than extractive mining.

    The mining industry directly employs 200,000 Australians while the mining services sector employs more than 500,000 people. Indeed our mining industry is not sustainable unless it is underpinned by a strong domestic mining services sector.

    Mining services also employs more members of local communities than the mines, which is an important way of sharing the benefits of mining with regional communities. As a result, there is a growing number of indigenous companies in the resources sector.


    Australia is the second-largest global exporter of mining products and services after the US. The sector consists of more than 1200 companies of which about 500 are exporters, responsible for the annual export of more than $15 billion worth of mining technology, equipment and services, representing 3.3 per cent of Australia's total goods and services exports.

    Why are our mining services so valued? Australian suppliers, especially of mining technologies and services, are adaptable and flexible offering solutions for mining efficiency, reliability, safety and importantly, environmental sustainability.

    In addition, those Australian firms wanting to participate in the resources sector have needed to improve their performance to be competitive and the services industry has responded.

    Importantly, this is the sector that will solve the future problems and challenges confronting the mining industry.


    One of the reasons our mining services sector is so effective is the investment by government and industry in research and development, estimated to be $4bn a year. This has made Australia a leader in mining innovation.

    If this sector is to continue to grow, we need to maintain this expenditure in real terms and when possible increase it. One thing we can't do is reduce it; that would be totally irresponsible.

    Many of the new technologies that are developed come out of the small and medium-sized business sector. This means more small to medium-sized businesses need to team with universities and researchers and large international corporations to develop and commercialise their ideas.

    For example, with more than 30,000 closed mines across Australia, we have to stay at the forefront of best practice in mine closure, environmental remediation and monitoring and sell this technology to the world.

    The blunt reality is that unless we have an innovation obsession committed to unprecedented levels of investment in research and development in our industries of the future, particularly mining services, our children will inherit a lower standard of living.

    Regardless of who wins the next federal election, there needs to be bipartisan support for a long-term commitment to research and development funding and an aggressive strategy to support our companies entering new and existing markets; Australian jobs depend on it.


    (he goes on to say how this innovation must not become a victim of politics)

    1. Gary Gray.25/3/13

      .....Meanwhile, he has reiterated his keenness for floating LNG (FLNG) processing technology.

      West Australian Premier Colin Barnett wants gas from Woodside's Browse Basin assets processed at an onshore plant north of Broome because it would be better for local jobs.

      Mr Gray said FLNG had the benefit of reduced capital costs and lower environmental risks.

      "I have said that I believe that FLNG brings a unique capability and solution to the development of offshore oil and gas resources," Mr Gray said.

      "They were observations that I made several weeks ago. They remain very firmly my view, but as a decision maker on these issues, I will ensure that the advice that I receive from my department is thoughtful, is considered appropriately, and I don't intend to be pre-empting any of those decisions."

      Local jobs were important, but the focus should be beyond the project construction phase, he said.

      "Given that we're talking about investments in capital infrastructure that will work for two or three decades, it's very important that we get those decisions right and understand the long-term sustainable jobs that will come out of the operation of mining and extractive industries, not so much out of the short-term construction side."

  3. As the mining boom slows and there is a need for other industries the East coast gas giants do not want to supply the energy for these companies to compete.

    Instead they want it to all go overseas.
    A situation the now defunct Martin Ferguson supported.


    Reserve gas policy 'may end in court'

    ORIGIN Energy chairman Kevin McCann has warned that imposing a reservation policy to set aside a share of gas for the domestic market retrospectively could result in a legal challenge, as other business leaders stressed the importance of low-cost energy to support the economy as the mining boom tapers off.

    Mr McCann also warned that a move to force gas players to set aside production for local industries could have a significant long-term broader impact. He highlighted a lack of exploration in India, where a reservation policy was in place.


    (WA has a reserve gas policy)


    It came as Wesfarmers chairman Bob Every said it was critical to install the right policies and undertake an all-encompassing reform of tax and industrial relations to ensure sustainable growth in non-resource sectors or risk "difficult times" ahead.

    Origin is one of three groups building $60 billion worth of plants at Gladstone in Queensland to process coal-seam gas and export it as liquefied natural gas to customers in China, South Korea and Japan.

    Mr McCann said that reserving gas for domestic consumption smacked of protectionism and could face a "constitutional challenge".


    He said companies might look to invest in more projects in the US thanks to the abundance of cheap gas unleashed by the shale gas revolution. "All that's going to happen is investment will find places where you can get better outcomes," he said.


    Other business leaders highlighted the debate about energy security and pricing for consumers and industry following double-digit rises in retail gas prices.

    Mr Every said he was "really concerned" about the hollowing out of non-resource sectors as some industries became uncompetitive, driven partly by the loss of low-cost energy.


    Rebecca McGrath, a company director and former senior executive at BP, said: "We really need to have a manufacturing industry, we need to have some value-add industries and most of those of scale require reasonably priced energy. We really need to have certainty about access to competitively priced energy."


    The government's energy white paper last year argued for the industry to focus on exports and against domestic reservation, with Australia on the way to becoming the biggest gas exporter by 2017 and gas overtaking iron ore as the biggest export.

    Ian Macfarlane, the former Howard government energy minister, said last year that a limited reservation policy would be part of any future conservative government's policy, paving the way for gas companies to be forced to set aside part of new gas discoveries for the local market.

    Mr Every said there had been too much reliance on the resources sector.


    1. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has admitted that its gas reserve projections are based on optimistic supply assumptions, raising the prospect that Australia's looming domestic gas shortage could be more severe than forecast, according to The Australian.

      The market advisory body has conceded that its projections do not take into account the growing resistance among farmers and landowners to grant gas companies access to their lands, limiting companies' ability to tap reserves.

      "Reserve estimates do not consider landholder access issues,” a spokeswoman for AEMO said, according to The Australian. "Reserve projections consider that reserve development will occur maintaining a 15-year reserves-to-production ratio, where production is allocated on a least-cost basis.”

      The activist group Lock the Gate has said that as many as 40 per cent of landholders in southeast Queensland have refused gas companies' access to their lands, the newspaper noted.

      In December the AEMO issued a report foreshadowing a continued rise in domestic gas prices on the east coast because liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports were set to jump.

      The lack of domestic supply has caused industry users of gas to see their gas costs jump more than 100 per cent in the past year. Prices are expected to climb higher, though the extent of the looming jump in prices is difficult to predict.

      To add to the uncertainty, coal-seam gas companies preparing to target export markets have refused to reveal how much gas they have available for the domestic market

  4. Wayne Swan is always going on about the 100 or 200 billion pipeline of investments - but Africa is way ahead and about to overtake Australia for LNG as well.


    Treaty void hinders $150bn push to beat a path into Africa


    THE $150 billion push by Australian companies into Africa is being hindered by the failure of successive federal governments to pursue bilateral investment treaties, with Australian groups being burdened by higher costs and carrying fewer legal protections than their Chinese rivals.

    Legal experts told The Weekend Australian that Australia's one and only African bilateral investment treaty -- with Egypt -- was in stark contrast to the dozens secured across the continent to date by China.

    The treaties help ensure companies will be treated fairly and compensated appropriately in the event of disputes and expropriations, and help provide assurances to financiers and investors about potential sovereign risks.

    Robert Edel, a partner at law firm DLA Piper who specialises in the resources industry, said the comparative dearth of investment treaties involving Australia was particularly apparent in Africa. "(The treaties) underpin the massive investment that China has made all across Africa. Australia's got one, and it means (Australian companies) don't have the same layer of protection as their competitors from China," Mr Edel said. "It's something that should be closely looked at."


    Mr Edel said that, at a time when securing funding for resources developments had become increasingly difficult, an absence of bilateral investment treaties could make it even harder for Australian companies to get their projects off the ground.

    "They're things that banks like to see," he said. "Where they really cut in is getting the investment up at all; they help promote investment because they give the banks, which are all risk-averse and worry about nationalisation, an added assurance."

    King & Wood Mallesons partner Max Bonnell said Australia was "behind and going backwards" on the issue of bilateral investment treaties, with the country's 23 treaties dwarfed by the estimated 130 secured by China and the 100 or so held by The Netherlands.


    While the investment treaties secured to date by Australia have covered much of Asia, including China, India, Indonesia, The Philippines and Papua New Guinea, other treaties secured made little sense.

    "Some of the treaties Australia does have are quite frankly bizarre," he said.

    "We have treaties with Lithuania and Romania, which are countries that simply don't attract any discernible level of international investment."


    Australian firms have become increasingly involved in Africa's mining sector in recent years, backing projects in an array of commodities in almost every corner of a continent.

    A study by Deloitte recently found that companies worth $150bn out of Western Australia alone were working on projects in Africa. That figure excludes the significant investments made in Africa by mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.