Welcome to the New AIG Website

Welcome to the New AIG Website

The new web site went live on Tuesday night this week (18th March 2014).  

The site has been redeveloped from the ground-up.  The new web site is the first stage of an ambitious programme to deliver enhanced services to members that will culminate in the implementation of a new, secure, on-line membership information management system and electronic delivery of an expanded range of AIG publications, including AIG News.

The web site has been re-designed to provide improved, timely access to information regarding AIG activities and events throughout Australia.  The AIG Publications Committee, over several months, worked closely with Victorian web site development and graphic design firm MRGraphics to develop a visually appealing and easy to navigate web site that delivers information to AIG members. The MRGraphics team was led by Fiona Makin, the business owner, geologist and AIG Member, and the graphic design of the site is the work of Wency Luong, MRGraphics’ graphic designer.  The design of the site incorporates experience and feedback received from previous versions of the AIG web site which has been on-line for almost 10 years.

The appearance and navigation of the site has been greatly improved.  The latest news articles appear on the home page and previous posts are organised month by month in the News menu accessed directly from the home page.  Information regarding AIG and kindred society events has also been significantly enhanced.  An events calendar accessible from every page of the web site clearly shows what’s on and when.  The detailed listings for each event include a map of the event location and clearer descriptions of event details.  In a few weeks this will be expanded to provide on-line RSVP, registration and invoicing for events.

The news articles are now grouped by calendar month under the News menu.  The information bar at the right of the page provides access to each month’s archive and lists the keywords associated with the news items currently on the site.  The more common the keyword, the larger the text.  Check out the News for this month – quite a bit of content was added to the new site that didn’t appear on the old site as the changeover drew nearer, including analysis of the results of the latest employment survey.

Specialist portals for student and graduate members are currently being developed.  The content available through these portals will be added progressively over the next few weeks.

AIG Journal, the Institute’s on-line avenue for the publication of technical articles by members, has been reinvigorated as “Field Notes”.  The aim of this section of the web site is to provide a means for members to rapidly publish short, topical articles dealing with any aspects of professional and technical practice such as new geoscientific techniques, geological descriptions of interesting outcrops to mineral deposits, sampling and analytical methods, information geoscience, professional ethics ….. the diversity of content will reflect that of contributions.  “Field Notes” is intended to fill a gap in the current geoscience publication landscape and provide credible exposure of members’ skills and experience.

Implementation of a new, secure, Australian developed and supported membership system has commenced.  The system will provide the ability for members to maintain their personal data,  review all information held by AIG about themselves and subscribe to AIG newsletters and publications, including AIG News.

The web site will also provide access to an increasing range of presentations from AIG technical talks, seminars and conferences; and videos of AIG meetings which will also be available on AIG’s You Tube channel.

Visit the site regularly for updates, or follow progress via the AIG LinkedIn Group or like the AIG page on Facebook.  Let us know what you think of the new site and what else you’d like to see.

Exposure draft: Australian Guidelines for Estimation and Classification of Coal Resources

Exposure draft released for public comment.

An exposure draft of the Australian Guidelines for the estimation and classification of Coal Resources has been released for industry comment. The draft has been produced by a voluntary committee of industry representatives as a revision to the 2003 Edition of the Australian Coal Guidelines. A survey enabling interested people to make comments on the exposure draft will soon be available. If you work with Coal Resources, you are encouraged to take a look at the exposure draft.

In 1971, the first version of ‘the Coal Guidelines’ predecessor document was published. Since that time a number of updates have occurred. The last edition prepared by the Queensland Mining Council and Coalfields Geology Council of NSW was published in 2003.

In 2013 a committee was formed comprising industry professionals to review the Coal Guidelines in line with the release of the 2012 JORC Code. Represented by members of the Queensland Resources Council, Coalfields Geology Council of NSW, the Joint Ore Reserves Committee, various mining companies and consultancies, this group embarked on a review and preparation of a draft document which could be presented to the coal industry as the successor document to the 2003 Coal Guidelines.

The review committee recognised that over time and successive publications, similarities existed between parts of the JORC Code and Coal Guidelines. Likewise there was acknowledgment that conflicts had also developed.

The review committee decided that the successor document to the Coal Guidelines should enhance the JORC Code in relation to Coal rather than replicate aspects of or create conflict with the Code. The scope of this new guideline was to provide:

  • best practice guidance for estimating and classifying Coal Resources
  • recommndations for the determination of reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction of coal deposits
  • a variety of assessment tools that can be used for the estimation and classification of Coal Resources, rather than the sole application of maximum suggested distances between Points of Observation
  • a definition for Inventory Coal which is not defined in the JORC Code.

This exposure draft of the successor document, ‘Australian Guidelines for the Estimation and Classification of Coal Resources’ has now been released for public comment. The review committee is now seeking feedback from the industry on the document and its suitability to replace the 2003 edition of the Coal Guidelines.

To review the exposure draft, please click here.

In the coming weeks an online feedback and survey portal will be made available. The review committee is requesting individuals from the wider coal industry to review the document and via this portal comment on components of the existing draft and make suggested edits or additions. The review committee will also be seeking to determine if the intent of the draft as a replacement document has been met. Some questions will be asked to establish the demographics of respondents. Any personal details requested will be used for the sole purpose of this review and shall not be distributed to other parties. Contact with individuals may be made as a part of the review to obtain clarification on responses.

It is envisaged that upon closure of the feedback survey, collation and review of feedback submissions shall be made prior to the release of an approved successor document. The review committee would like to thank in advance participants providing feedback for this exposure draft and look forward to the publication of the 2014 edition of the Australian Guidelines for the Estimation and Classification of Coal Resources for use in conjunction with the JORC Code.

AIG is providing information regarding the review of the Coal Guidelines as a service to Members but is not directly involved  in the review.  

Australian Institute of Geoscientists Privacy Policy

Prepared 12 September, 2018 
Approved by Council 3 October 2018

The Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) ABN 22 002 266 659 recognises the importance of privacy protection and takes all practicable measures to ensure the privacy of any Personal Information provided to it for the conduct of AIG activities.

AIG treats personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act).  This Privacy Policy explains how we handle Personal Information relating to individuals, to meet the requirements of the Privacy Act.

1.  Definitions

In this Privacy Policy the expression “we“, “us” and “our” are a reference to AIG.  The expressions “you” and “your” refer to each individual whose Personal Information we may handle from time to time where we are required to comply with the Privacy Act in respect of such Personal Information.

Personal Information means information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable:

  • whether the information or opinion is true or not; and
  • whether the information or opinion is recorded in a material form or not.

Privacy Policy means this document as amended from time to time.

Sensitive Information means information or an opinion about an individual’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, membership of a political association, religious beliefs or affiliations, philosophical beliefs, membership of a professional or trade association, membership of a trade union, sexual orientation or practices or criminal record that is also personal information, health information, genetic information, biometric information or biometric templates.

Spam Act means the Spam Act 2003 (Cth). 

2.  What Information Do We Collect?

We only collect Personal Information to the extent that it is reasonably necessary for one or more of our functions or activities, which are generally described in this Privacy Policy.

The personal information we collect from you includes:

  • your name and contact details, such as your address, telephone number(s), email address(es);
  • country and state of residence;
  • AIG membership status;
  • information required to process your membership application or other orders;
  • where provided to us, your academic qualifications or employment details; and 
  • where provided to us, information required to facilitate payment of membership subscriptions, donations, conference and seminar registrations and purchases of AIG publications.

All payments made using online facilities provided by AIG are processed using a secure, external website provided by AIG’s bank.  AIG itself does not handle, collect, or store any of the financial or credit card details of anyone making payments through the website and takes no responsibility for the security of that information.

3.  How Do We Collect Your Personal Information?

Our preference is to collect your Personal Information directly from you, unless it is unreasonable or impractical to do so. 

Information will generally be collected from the following sources:

  • the membership application you fill in to join AIG;
  • any subsequent information you provide to keep your information current after joining AIG;
  • contributions to AIG surveys;
  • subscription to AIG online and email newsletters, including our “AIGeoscope” online newspaper; and
  • any information you provide to us at AIG related events, locations and functions.

4.  Why Do We Need Your Personal Information?

AIG may use and disclose your Personal Information for the primary purpose for which we collected it, such as:

  • to provide you with our products, services or business activities;
  • to assess your eligibility for membership; 
  • to verify your identity and membership status; 
  • to maintain contact with you on matters relevant to your membership of AIG; 
  • to provide you with information regarding AIG activities and business, events, products or services we offer; and
  • to facilitate online payment of membership dues, event registrations, publications and other products or services.

    We may also use and disclose your Personal Information for other purposes permitted or required by law, including reasonably related (or directly related, for Sensitive Information) secondary purposes that are within your reasonable expectations.

    If you do not provide us with the Personal Information, or you withdraw your consent for AIG to collect, use and disclose your personal information, we may be unable to provide our services to you.

    5.  Communication From Us

    We do not use Sensitive Information for marketing purposes. 

    We may use and disclose your Personal Information (other than Sensitive Information) to provide you with information on:

    • special offers, products and services offered by AIG; and
    • upcoming events and functions by AIG,

    where you have consented to us doing so.  All electronic messages will identify AIG.

    If at any time you no longer wish to receive direct marketing from us or do not want your information disclosed for direct marketing, you may unsubscribe using the link in each email message, using the newsletter subscription link on the AIG website home page, or by contacting us using the details below.

    Please note that even if you have requested not to receive further direct marketing communications, we may nevertheless continue to provide you with information about changes to our terms and conditions for the supply of our services or activities, and other factual information as permitted under the Privacy Act and Spam Act.

    6.  Will We Give Your Personal Information to Anyone Else?

    We will not sell, trade or transfer any of the Personal Information we collect to third parties, unless permitted or required to under the Privacy Act. 

    We may disclose Personal Information to third parties in the following circumstances:

    • where we need to provide your Personal Information for a specific legal purpose to our representatives, such as accountants, auditors or lawyers; or
    • where that third party is a contractor engaged to provide goods or services to us.  We strive to limit the information we give contractors to what they need to perform their services for us or provide products or services to you.

    Please note that AIG member’s names, membership grade, membership number and state of residence may be made publicly available through the AIG website for the sole purpose of confirming AIG membership.

    7.  How Do We Protect Personal Information?

    The security of your personal details on the AIG website will depend on both your actions and ours.  When you use the website, we require you to take specific measures to protect against unauthorised access, such as:

    • establishing a password for your personal profile;
    •  ensuring access codes given to you are secure;
    • trying to memorise your access codes; 
    • not telling anyone of your access codes; 
    • not keeping your computer and undisguised access codes together;
    • immediately telling us if you suspect the security of your access code(s) have been breached; and
    • immediately changing your access codes if any breach is suspected.

    8.  Where is Your Information Stored?

    We (and our subcontractors) may hold electronic records of your Personal Information using cloud technology or other electronic means, or in paper form.  These means of holding Personal Information may include offshore storage. 

    It is not practicable for us to specify in advance the location of every service provider with whom we deal and their locations.  However, typically AIG’s website and membership database is stored in Australia.  Email contact information used for the distribution of newsletters and information collected by AIG surveys is stored in the United States of America.  Information collected for our “AIGeoscope” web newspaper is stored in Switzerland.

    9.  Access, Correction and Further Information

    We will provide you with access to your Personal Information held by us unless we are permitted under the Privacy Act to refuse to provide you with such access.  Please contact us via the details below if you:

    • wish to have access to the Personal Information which we hold about you;
    • consider that the Personal Information which we hold about you is not accurate, complete or up to date; or
    • have a complaint or inquiry, or otherwise require further information on our Personal Information handling practices. 

    There is no charge for requesting access to your Personal Information but we may require you to meet our reasonable costs in actually providing you with access.

    We will use reasonable efforts to deal promptly with complaints and inquiries and, in any event, acknowledge your request within 30 days. 

    If you are not satisfied with how we manage your complaint, you may contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner at www.oaic.gov.au.

    10.  Changes to This Privacy Policy

    AIG reserves the right to change or update this Privacy Policy at any time, without prior notice. When we do, the revised Privacy Policy will be posted on the AIG website, www.aig.org.au. The effective date of the revised policy will be recorded in the updated Privacy Policy.

    You may obtain a copy of our current Privacy Policy from our website or by contacting us via the details provided in paragraph 11 (below).

    11. Further Information

    If you would like more information about this Privacy Policy or any other privacy related issue please contact AIG’s Executive Officer, who can be contacted using the following details:

    Ms Lynn Vigar
    AIG Executive Officer
    PO Box 576

    T: +61 2 9431 8662
    E: exec@aig.org.au 

    Productivity Commission Report into Mineral and Energy Resource Exploration Released

    The final report of the Productivity Commission‘s enquiry into Mineral and Energy Resource Exploration was sent to Government on 27 September 2013 and was released on 5 March 2014.

    The Australian Government asked the Commission to undertake a 12-month inquiry into the non-financial barriers to mineral and energy resource exploration.

    Specifically,  the Commission was asked to:

    • determine if there is evidence of unnecessary regulatory burden and if there is, make recommendations on how to reduce or eliminate these burdens;
    • examine the complexity and time frames of government approvals processes for exploration, and potential for delay due to appeals both within and across jurisdictions;
    • examine areas of duplication between and within Local, State, Territory and Commonwealth regulation that can be triggered throughout an exploration project;
    • examine costs of non-financial barriers (including regulatory and related costs);
    • consider options to improve the regulatory environment for exploration activities, having regard to regulatory objectives; and,
    • assess the impact of non-financial barriers on international competitiveness and economic performance of Australia’s exploration sector.

    The terms of reference included certain exclusions in relation to:

    • local, state, territory and Commonwealth taxation and fiscal policy;
    • the Government’s response to the Report of the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; and,
    • processes under the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993, the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 or state Indigenous land rights regimes

    The Commission consulted with all relevant state, territory and Commonwealth government agencies and other key stakeholders.

    A copy of the Commission’s report is available here.  Visit http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/resource-exploration for copies of the submissions to the enquiry and the transcripts of public hearings conducted by the Commission.

    2012 JORC Code Incorporated Into NZX Main Board Listing Rules

    Compliance with the 2012 JORC Code is now required of all NZX Main Board listed mining and resource companies.  NZX incorporated the 2012 JORC Code into the NZX Main Board Listing Rules on 1 January 2014.

    A copy of the notice sent to NZSX/NZDX listed companies notifying them of the change is available here.

    Exploration Development Incentive – Discussion Paper Released

    The Federal Government has just released a discussion paper on the Policy Design of the Exploration Development Incentive that will apply to mineral exploration from 1 July 2014 (the EDI is aimed at assisting junior explorers raise funds). The media release announcing the Discussion Paper is attached.

    There will be a period of consultation until 4 April and peak industry bodies and other interested parties are invited to make submissions. The discussion paper is available on the Treasury website.

    In a media release issued today (13 March 2014) The Hon. Ian Macfarlane MP (Minister for Industry) and Senator The Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO (Assistant Treasurer) stated that “Junior exploration companies will soon have access to an incentive for capital raising to help them make more mineral discoveries that are crucial to the resources sector and the broader Australian economy” and that the Australian Government was delivering on an election commitment for a scheme that would boost mineral exploration.

    “The future prosperity of the resources sector and the Australian economy is dependent on our ability to make new mineral discoveries and this scheme will provide an incentive for exploration,” Mr Macfarlane said.

    “It will provide investors with a refundable tax offset for ‘greenfields’ mineral exploration costs, which will give a significant boost to Australia’s junior explorers in their quest to uncover new mineral resources.”

    “The resources sector has long been one of the most important contributors to our economy. But for years under the Rudd/Gillard Governments it was burdened with new taxes, extra regulation and constant attacks from Labor which discouraged new investment,” Mr Macfarlane continued.

    “The Coalition understands that a vibrant resources sector creates jobs and supports local businesses in regional communities across Australia.”

    Senator Sinodinos added that the Government was acting to cut the red and green tape that has been stifling new investment.

    “We are determined to get the exploration industry back on its feet and this targeted programme will focus on small exploration companies,” Senator Sinodinos said.

    “The Exploration Development Incentive is another way the Government is working to get the economic fundamentals right and create an environment for investor confidence and growth.”

    There will be a period of consultation until 4 April during which time peak industry bodies and other interested parties are invited to make submissions.  Submissions should be sent to explorationincentive@treasury.gov.au.

    Australian Geoscientist Unemployment Soars

    Perth: 12 March 2014

    Unemployment amongst professional geoscientists in Australia is at the highest level recorded since this series of surveys by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) commenced in June 2009.

    At the end of December 2013, 18.7% of Australia’s geoscientists, geologists and geophysicists, working in diverse fields ranging from resources exploration to environmental remediation, groundwater resource management, teaching and research, were unemployed.

    Geoscientist unemployment in Australia reached 18.7% in December 2013

    A further 14.8% were underemployed: unable to secure their desired level of employment.  The combined unemployment and underemployment rate exceeds the level recorded at the peak of the global financial crisis in 2009 and represent a dramatic decline since employment levels peaked in December 2011.

    14.8% of Australian geoscientists are currently under-employed

    A disturbing result from the survey, apart from the level of unemployment itself, is that the under-employment rate actually fell in the three months between September and December 2013, suggesting that even part-time employment opportunities are drying up, resulting in increased unemployment.

    The latest AIG employment survey gathered information on the employment status of geoscientists at 31st December 2013 and the information was collected during January and February 2014.  More than 660 responses were received to the survey questionnaire, representing almost one in eight of Australia’s professional geoscientists.

    In the three months between September and December 2013, the greatest rise in unemployment was recorded in Western Australia where the rate increased from 15.2% to 19.6%.  In NSW the unemployment rate increased sharply from 7.7% to 13.3%, despite the previous September 2013 figures indicating the unemployment rate in that state was showing signs of improving.  Smaller increases were evident in South Australia (12.5% to 13.8%) and Victoria (5.0% to 5.6%).  Queensland appeared to defy the national trend with the unemployment rate remaining almost stable at 16.4% in December 2013 compared with 16.2% in September 2013, although this is arguably best described as a bad situation not getting any worse.

    Unemployment in Australia's "mining states"

    Unemployment in Australia’s “mining states”

    Almost 15% of survey respondents nationally who are currently unable to secure their desired level of employment indicated that this has been the case for more than 12 months.   A quarter of unemployed and underemployed respondents were seeking alternate employment outside the geoscience professions until conditions improve, and 9.1% were looking to leave the profession permanently.

    Some 46% of the unemployed and underemployed respondents saw little prospect of returning to work as geoscientists in the next 12 months.

    Only 42.2% of respondents currently in employment felt confident of retaining their job for more than 12 months while 17% believed that they were at imminent risk of becoming unemployed.

    The survey results showed that unemployment is affecting geoscientists at all levels of experience, from new graduates to professionals with more than 30 years experience in their field.

    Geoscientists at all levels of experience are affected by the current downturn in employment

    Geoscientists at all levels of experience are affected by the current downturn in employment

    More than half (51.8%) of the survey respondents currently work in Western Australia, followed by 27.2% in Queensland and 9.9% in NSW and ACT.

    More than 88 percent of geoscientists work in WA, Queensland and NSW/ACT

    The majority of the survey respondents (71.7%) work in mineral exploration, followed by 6.5% in metalliferous mining, and 6.5% in energy (coal, oil and gas) exploration.  Other respondents are involved in a diverse range of professional fields, encompassing engineering and environmental geoscience, water resource management, industrial minerals exploration and production, government geoscience and teaching.

    Mineral exploration is by far the largest employer of geoscientists in Australia

    Mineral exploration remains by far the largest employer of geoscientists in Australia

    “The extent of unemployment being experienced by Australian geoscientists defies the strategic importance of the resource industries to Australia’s economy” said AIG President, Kaylene Camuti.  “Exploration is crucial to the sustainability of our resource industries.”  “Cyclicity in geoscience employment has always been a feature of the industry, with exploration activity ebbing and flowing in line with trends in investment, but the extreme cyclicity currently being experienced in Australia is damaging the underlying productivity of our mineral resources industries and contributing to the erosion of Australia’s geoscience skills base” she said.

    “A mineral discovery now takes between 8 and 13 years to become a new mine that provides employment during construction and operations, both directly and more broadly through a multiplier effect, which is longer than the length between the employment troughs experienced by the sector.  “Each time a project is suspended, geological knowledge is lost which has a serious impact on productivity.  “We also face the prospect of losing years of knowledge and experience if geoscientists leave the profession, posing a serious risk to the sustainability of the Australian resources industry,” Ms Camuti said.

    “A frequently overlooked aspect of this problem is that many students are initially attracted into the geosciences through news and other information related to exploration and mining.  Through this initial exposure they become aware of the range of geoscience disciplines, the importance of geoscience to the Australian community, and the diversity of careers potentially available to talented graduates and scientists.  Each downturn in employment in exploration and mining makes it less likely that talented students will consider the profession, to the detriment of all sectors where geoscience skills and experience are essential” she said.

    “In 2013 the Federal Government committed to implementing an Exploration Development Incentive from 1st July this year, to help sustain investment in exploration and reduce the intensity of the troughs affecting the sector,” Ms Camuti said.  “We look forward to the introduction of the Incentive and urge the government to maintain the commitment to its implementation, particularly given the continuing deterioration in exploration activity, the potential short and long-term economic benefits that would stem from the Incentive, and the government’s stated commitment to improving the productivity of Australian industries. “The implementation of the Exploration Development Incentive is a critical element in the strategy to improve the productivity and the long term sustainability of Australia’s resource industries and ensure we maintain our world-class geoscience capabilities.”

    Book Review: Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics

    Book Review
    Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics, Fifth Edition

    Gordon C. Andrews
    Publisher Nelson Education Limited, Scarborough Ontario, Canada
    ISBN 13: 978-0-17-650990-3
    ISBN 10:0-17-650990-9

    I was somewhat surprised and pleased to be asked to review Gordon C. Andrews’s book “Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics” last November. It’s a book, sight unseen, I would not have considered to have been relevant to Australian geoscience, where is no requirement for professional licensure of geoscientists. Reading the book over the Christmas – New Year break, however, proved just how wrong pre-conceptions can be.

    The fifth edition of this book is a valuable reference for engineering and geoscience professionals globally. The latest edition, just released, refreshes a reference book that was first published in 2009 and has been a widely used reference by Canadian engineering and geoscience professionals in the decade since then.

    “Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics” is written as a comprehensive reference that provides a sound and well-presented reference on the structure, practice and ethics of the engineering and geoscience professions. Although written specifically for a Canadian audience, the subject matter is just as relevant to engineering and geoscience professionals in other countries. Ethics is a topic that spans borders and ethical principles and conduct are central to professional practice in any discipline.

    In Canada, the book is the recommended text for candidates preparing for the Professional Practice Examination (PPE) that must be successfully completed to obtain a licence to practice in most Canadian provinces and territories. Currently, professional engineers must be licenced in all Canadian provinces and territories while geoscientists must be licenced throughout Canada, apart from Yukon and Prince Edward Island.
    The author, Gordon C. Andrews, is professor emeritus of the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Dr Andrews is a licenced professional engineer (PEng) in Ontario and works as a teacher, researcher and advisor to industry. Dr Andrews is also a former member of the Academic Requirements Committee of Professional Engineers Ontario. The book benefits considerably from practical insight gained by Dr Andrews in these roles.

    Engineering and geoscience practice in Canada is regulated by provincial and territory boards. The requirement for formal licencing of geoscientists has only existed in Canada in relatively recent times. Provincial regulation of engineering as a profession commenced in the 1920s, but regulation of geoscience was introduced in Alberta in 1955 and has extended to all regions of Canada except Yukon and Prince Edward Island. Efforts to place engineering on the same professional footing as law and medicine in Canada commenced in 1887 with the first general meeting of the Canadian Society of Professional Engineers. Recognition of geoscience as a profession commenced with the establishment of the Geological Survey of Canada in 1842, and with the explicit definition of geosciences in the Engineering Act of Alberta in 1955, and the introduction of separate designations for geologists (P.Geol.) and geophysicists (P.Geophys.) in 1960 and 1966. Two important events, however, catalysed the professional licencing process: 

    1. the collapse of the Quebec Bridge over the St Lawrence River in 1907 followed by a second collapse in 1916 with together resulted in 88 fatalities; and,
    2. the Bre-X fraud of 1997, which is estimated to have resulted in losses by investors exceeding $6 billion.

    Provincial and territory governments regulate engineering and geoscience through an “Act” that establishes engineering and geoscience as professions and, in turn, creates an Association of Professional Engineers and/or Geoscientists which are the licencing bodies that set standards of professional practice, set the qualifications required for admission to the professions and discipline members who fail to meet these standards.

    The Associations also prevent the misuse of professional titles and prosecute illegal practice by unqualified individuals. Two not for profit organizations, Engineers Canada and Geoscientists Canada, assist the Associations by coordinating licencing policies and procedures across Canada. There are currently around 9,600 professionally licenced geoscientists, estimated to represent about 85% of geoscientists in Canada, a country of over 35.0 million people, in comparison to an estimated 8,000 geoscientists (estimated from Census data) amongst Australia’s 23.3 million inhabitants, suggesting that the geoscience sectors in simple terms have some similarities in respect of their significance to the local communities and economies of these countries.

    The book is divided into five sections:

    1. Professional licencing and regulation, which describes the licencing processes and requirements throughout Canada;
    2. Professional practice, which delves into concepts of professional practice; the need for engineers and geoscientists to work as part of multidisciplinary teams; the business of professional practice including a discussion of the roles of consultants; liability, standards and safety; liabilities and ethics problems associated with the use of computers; and fairness and equity in the professional workplace;
    3. Professional Ethics: an examination of the principles of ethics and justice; ethics concepts in employment, including conflicts of interest, union activities and dishonesty in employment;
    4. Environmental practice and ethics, which looks at the duty of engineering and geoscience professionals to protect the environment, the professional duty to report unethical behaviour, and the importance of sustainable development; and,
    5. Obtaining and maintaining professional status: most relevant to Canadian engineers and geoscientists but relevant to anyone interested in the importance of continued professional development, and how to maximise the benefits of professional and technical society membership.

    The discussion of concepts in each section of the book is enhanced through extensive reference to well selected and described case histories that examine actual events, many of them recent. The case histories graphically illustrate the consequences of unethical practice or pose realistic ethical problems and ask readers to consider appropriate courses of action and solutions. The book sets a number of assignments that are most relevant to PPE candidates but are highly thought provoking for other readers.

    The book’s content is further enhanced by a web site containing useful supporting information including additional case studies, assignments and references to Canadian legislation and the Codes of Ethics of many technical societies.

    The book is much more than a guide to assist readers to successfully complete the Canadian PPE. Dr Andrews has assembled a wealth of thought provoking background material that adds depth to the discussion of professional ethics and the practical application of ethical principles. Of particular interest were the definitions of engineering and geoscience embodied in laws governing licencing and professional practice and discussion of the ethical obligations of professionals. Geoscience is defined as “a science (largely observational) that uses the scientific method to investigate, map, model and predict the behaviour of Earth’s natural systems (in the past, present, and into the future), the actual behaviour of which the geoscientist absolutely cannot control”, attributed to Oliver Bonham, CEO of Geoscientists Canada, 2013. Dr Andrews uses the Webster’s dictionary definition of a profession to help set the scope of his discussion of ethical standards and practices: “A calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive preparation including instruction in skills and methods as well as in the scientific, historical or scholarly principles underlying such skills and methods, maintaining by force of organisation or concerned opinion high standards of achievement and conduct, and committing its members to continued study and to a kind of work which has for its prime purpose the rendering of a public service”. The relevance of the definitions of geoscience and engineering are constantly reinforced and referred to in the case studies and exercises presented throughout the book.

    Licencing of engineers and geoscientists in Canada requires at least four years of formal education and three to four years of relevant work experience before they can practice, which Dr Andrews points out, equals the preparation required in medicine or law. The Canadian requirement is also comparable with the requirements of professional institute membership (AIG or AusIMM) in Australia. The requirements for licencing in Canada are summarised as: education; experience; knowledge of local practices; language; good character, and knowledge of professional practice and ethics. These fundamental requirements are just as applicable outside Canada.

    Dr Andrews makes a number of significant and topical observations regarding the use of computer software for data management and analysis by both engineers and geoscientists and professional obligations pertaining to the reliability of decisions and recommendations stemming from software use. This is a very relevant topic affecting professional practice that arguably receives little attention. The critical importance of communication to engineering and geoscience professionals is also a recurring theme in the book, where it is seen as pivotal to career success and demonstration of technical ability. This is accompanied by an extensive discussion of the features and requirements of working as a professional, either as an employee or a self-employed professional, and the added requirements attached to working as a consultant.
    The requirements of the professional workplace and working environment are also given considerable attention, with Dr Andrews making a very valid point, that all engineering and geoscience professionals ultimately form part of a team which links back to the importance of professional communication mentioned previously.

    The role of professional societies receives attention in the fifth section of the book where Dr Andrews makes a case for active involvement in society activities in order to maximise the benefits and relevance of membership, many of which stem from engagement and exchange of information and ideas with peers.

    The book also addresses the ethics of several current issues, amongst them climate change, where the issues are discussed in terms of professional responsibilities to the community at large and the professional standards required of interactions with peers involving these issues.

    “Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience Practice and Ethics” is a thoroughly interesting and engaging book that deserves a place on any geoscience professionals’ bookshelf. The book raises the profile of the need for high standards of ethical practice in all professions in a very practical and effective manner.

    Andrew Waltho 
    30 January 2014