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Resource sector loses two champions

The Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche, in a statement today (17 Feb) acknowledged the contributions of former resources and energy Ministers and Shadow Ministers Ian MacFarlane and Gary Gray to Australia’s resource industries.

“The Queensland resources sector is coming to grips with the retirement announcements in successive days of two great industry champions in the Australian Parliament” Mr Roche said.

“Both former resources and energy Ministers and Shadow Ministers Ian MacFarlane and Gary Gray will be greatly missed. They brought to their roles a great depth of knowledge and affinity for the resources sector, along with a unique brand of bipartisanship”.

The Queensland Resources Council extended best wishes to both Ian MacFarlane and Gary Gray for their post-Parliamentary careers.

Breathing Space for Queensland Explorers Welcomed

Queensland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham, today (17 Feb) announced government will reduce by up to 50 percent, the expenditure that explorers are required to make under their minerals exploration permits.

The Queensland Resource Council (QRC) welcomed the announcement, stating that the Government’s initiative will provide much needed relief to mineral explorers across the state in places like Cape York, Mount Isa and operations west of Townsville and Cairns.

The QRC proposed that the announcement as an example of how government can partner with industry to provide incentive and some breathing space in tough times without providing a handout or subsidies. QRC also welcomes the fact that the Minister is investigating extending this policy to coal explorers whose circumstances are really no different to that of mineral explorers.

Geoscientist employment in Australia continues its slide to record lows

Employment prospects for Australia’s professional geoscientists declined further in the last quarter of 2015 according to the results of the latest quarterly survey by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG).

At 31 December 2015, the unemployment rate amongst Australian geoscientists was 18.7% and the under-employment rate was 23.4%. The combined unemployment and under-employment rate of 42.1% was the highest recorded since the AIG surveys commenced in mid-2009 (Figure 1).

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Figure 1.  Geoscientist unemployment and under-employment in Australia June 2009 – December 2015 

Less than 50% of self-employed geoscientists were able to secure more than one quarter of their desired workload, pointing to a real unemployment rate of 31.1%, also the highest rate recorded by the AIG surveys to date and more than 10% higher than at the peak of the Global Financial Crisis of 2009.

Geoscientist employment declined in every state, except NSW where it remained static, and Victoria where unemployment actually fell but under-employment increased. The greatest increase in unemployment was observed in Queensland, where unemployment and underemployment rates were more than 15% higher than those observed in September 2015, followed by South Australia (Figure 2, Figure 3).

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Figure 2.  Geoscientist unemployment and underemployment by State

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Figure 3.  Changes in geoscientist employment since the previous survey in September 2015

Well over 40% of unemployed and underemployed geoscientists have been out of work, or unable to secure their desired level of work for more than 12 months, pointing to a growing pool of long- term unemployed in Australian geoscience.

Almost 70% were not confident of regaining employment within the next 12 months and more than one in 20 indicated that they were turning their backs on their chosen profession due to the dire situation that has surrounded geoscientist employment in Australia for more than two and a half years.

Sentiment amongst geoscientists currently in employment varied.  Some 36% expressed confidence in maintaining their employment for the next 12 months, but 17% were not confident of retaining employment beyond the first quarter of 2016 (Figure 4).

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Figure 4.  Employment sentiment amongst Australian geoscientists

The survey questionnaire was changed for the most recent survey to collect information on employment conditions and how unemployed and under-employed geoscientists were coping with the extended downturn in employment opportunities facing their profession.

Unemployed and under-employed geoscientists were asked how they were coping with their current situation (Figure 5).

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Figure 5.  How Australia’s geoscientists are coping with unemployment and under-employment

Responses in the “Other” category included:

  • establishing new businesses to take advantage of an eventual upturn in Australia’s resource industries;
  • becoming a stay at home parent while their spouse worked;
  • living on superannuation or other savings;
  • reluctantly accepting early retirement;
  • working for free to maintain qualifications and broaden their experience;
  • leaving Australia to pursue opportunities overseas; and,
  • drafting case studies and papers for publication based on their experience.

The employment crisis has also had an impact on the fields in which Australian geoscientists are employed, with mineral exploration feeling the greatest impact (Figure 6).

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Figure 6.  Changes in fields of employment for Australian geoscientists 2014-2015

More than 87% of Australia’s geoscientists currently in employment work as full-time employees. Survey respondents were asked whether their conditions of employment, in terms of salary, associated benefits, hours of work etc., had improved, remained the same or deteriorated since September 2014.  Some 16% of respondents considered their employment conditions to have improved, 59% thought their conditions had remained the same, while the remainder reported that their conditions had deteriorated.  These results are considered encouraging from the point of view that the majority of employers are not seeking to use the difficult conditions facing Australia’s resource industries to reduce working conditions for their staff.

The survey received just over 800 responses, considered to be an excellent result that both provides a statistically robust sample of employment conditions and highlights the commitment of geoscientists to supporting their peers and profession.

AIG President, Mr Wayne Spilsbury, expressed disappointment but no surprise in the latest survey results. “It’s profoundly troubling to see so many highly qualified, experienced, committed professionals unable to apply their skills to contributing to Australia’s economic security,” Mr Spilsbury said.

“The situation in mineral and energy resource exploration is particularly troubling as the prolonged downturn in the sector is damaging Australia’s project development pipeline.

“The low levels of geoscientist employment reflect low levels of exploration activity, which means that we are not making discoveries to maintain Australia’s resource inventory – a scenario which now has the potential to create gaps in critical mineral supplies in coming years,” Mr Spilsbury said.

“Discoveries do not turn into mines overnight. “We’re not exploring now and the industry cannot be switched back on overnight, so we’re facing a real prospect into the latter half of the next decade of reduced development of new projects to support Australia’s economy and standard of living.

“We do applaud the Federal Government`s recent Exploration Development Incentive (EDI) programme, a creative use of tax deductions to stimulate increased investment in mineral exploration in Australia. “However, much of these funds will be spent in the long and non-productive process of securing access to land. “In some states, it can take a year or more once an exploration licence is granted to gain the necessary regulatory approvals to get boots on the ground for the simplest, non-ground-disturbing reconnaissance exploration, ” Mr Spilsbury said.

“Remember, when we talk about a geologist or geophysicist being unemployed in the exploration sector, we’re also talking about three or four other Australians not having an ancillary job. “We also cannot escape the fact that minerals are essential to our daily life, from generation of electricity by any means, to providing raw materials used to ensure our future economic and social well-being.

“Australian geoscientists working in exploration and mining are demonstrably the best in the world when it comes to optimising resource utilisation and ensuring that production proceeds in an environmentally sustainable and responsible manner,” Mr Spilsbury said. “We are renowned innovators whose skills are not being used to the benefit of Australia as a whole. “Look around you, if it wasn’t grown – it must have been mined.”

Edumine Course Calendar – H1 2016

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The AIG Edumine Campus provides members with access to a wide range of self-paced on-line courses and discounted access to instructor-led courses delivered as live webcasts.  

Geography means that these web casts may be at a challenging time of day for Australian participants but they are delivered in a manner which offers an opportunity to interact with both the presenter and other participants with diverse backgrounds and views, generating discussion that enhances course content and understanding of the topic.

Courses scheduled between February and May 2016 are available here.

More information about the AIG Edumine campus is available in the Education section of the website.

Some Edumine courses may be counted as credit towards a Certificate in Mining Studies offered by University of British Columbia and University of Arizona.  Course providers include:

  • University of British Columbia
  • Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources at University of Arizona
  • Imperial College London
  • Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University
  • Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia

Edumine is the provider of on-line courses to the CMS program.  The International Association of Continuing Educationand Training (IACET) has approved Edumine as a provider of continuing education and training.

These external study opportunities provide a means of completing recognised studies in a highly flexible manner.

35th IGC Abstract Deadline Extended to 29 Feb

IGCconferenceABSTRACT SUBMISSION DATE EXTENDED TO 29 FEBRUARY

The Scientific Programme Committee of the 35TH IGC invites authors to submit their abstracts.
The deadline for abstract submission has been extended: Monday 29 February at midnight, UTC/GMT +2 hours.

For details and submissions: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/211/Submit-an-Abstract

ANNOUNCING PLENARY SPEAKERS

Biennial AL DU TOIT MEMORIAL LECTURE
arranged through the Geological Society of South Africa.
Prof Chris Hawkesworth (University Of Bristol)

BREACHING THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN SCIENCE AND PROFESSION – AN IMPERATIVE FOR GEOSCIENCE IN THE SERVICE OF SOCIETY
Ms Ruth Allington
 (GWP Consultants)

AFRICA – HUMANS AND THE GLOBAL CLIMATE
Prof Bob Scholes
 (University Of The Witwatersrand)

MINING INDUSTRY AND SOCIETY – THE NEW CHALLENGING FRONTIER
Prof Michel Jebrak
 (University Of Quebec, Montreal)

AFRICA ALIVE CORRIDORS – A 4 BILLION YEAR GEOLOGICAL, BIOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL BIOGRAPHY OF AFRICA
Dr John Anderson
(Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)

DRILLING BENEATH THE HYPE – TECHNICAL CHALLENGES FOR THE EXPLORATION OF SHALE GAS
Prof Joe Cartwright 
(University Of Oxford)

GRAND CHALLENGES IN THE MINERAL LIFE CYCLE
Prof Thomas Graedel (Yale University)

DAMAGING EARTHQUAKES IN AFRICA – THEIR SEISMOTECTONIC BACKGROUND AND SEISMIC HAZARD IMPLICATIONS
Prof. Mustafa Meghraoui (Strasburg University)

WORKSHOPS BOOKING OPENS

Workshop and short course registration opened on 25 January 2016. Hosted over two days, immediately prior to start of the Congress (27-28 August 2016). 2-, 1- or halfday offerings may encompass, but will not be limited to, conference themes.

Booking for non-registered congress attendees will open 1 June.

For details and bookings: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/210/Professional-Development-Workshops-Short-Courses 

PUBLICATIONS

We will be launching the “Geoheritage of Africa” book comprising forty four chapters which aims to expose the wealth of geological heritage sites that could support Geotourism through recognition as Geosites or as part of Geoparks.

The book “Mineral Fields of Africa” comprising twenty four chapters will highlight the mineral resources of Africa. Half the conference papers will  be published in a special, 35TH IGC edition of the IUGS journal, Episodes. The remaining papers will be published as a special issue of the Geological Society of South Africa journal, South African Journal of Geology.

Queries: Genevieve Pearson

STAMPS

A special issue of ten stamps and two first day covers will be released by the South African Philatelic Bureau for the 35TH IGC. These stamps will feature the most impressive geological superlatives in South Africa and will commemorate the third IGC to be held on the African Continent.

FIELD TRIP BOOKING OPENS 15 FEBRUARY

For details: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/173/Field-Trips

CALL FOR GEOHOST APPLICATIONS

Do you need assistance to attend the 35TH IGC? Are you a young scientist? Have you applied for the GeoHost program?

For details and applications: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/41/GeoHost 

Application closes: 29 February 2016

REGISTRATION

Early Bird Registration is open until 1 June 2016.

Register here: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/60/Registration 

ACCOMPANYING PERSON BOOKING OPEN

We have an exciting selection of day tours for accompanying persons – all bookings must be booked via the conference website to qualify for these preferential tour rates. Registered delegates may book using their current profile.

Book here: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/60/Registration

ACCOMMODATION BOOKING OPEN

We have negotiated preferential rates for registered conference attendees – all bookings must be booked via Appointed Housing Agent to qualify for these reduced rates.

Book here: http://www.35igc.org/Accommodation

DAY TOURS BOOKING OPEN

We have negotiated preferential rates  for conference attendees – all bookings must  be booked via the conference website to qualify for these preferential tour rates. Registered delegates may book using their current profile.

Book here: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/216/Tours 

SPONSORSHIP PACKAGES

The Organizing Committee would like to extend to you an invitation to participate in the conference by sponsoring.

For details: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/45/Sponsors

Support here: https://www.allevents.co.za/ei/getdemo.ei?id=358&s=_4MG10LNEI

EXHIBITION & ADVERTISING

The Organising Committee of the 35TH International Geological Congress extends an invitation to you to participate in exhibiting at the congress.

For details: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/44/Exhibitors-Advertisers 

Book Here: https://allevents.eventsair.com/ExhibitionPortal/Account/Login?ReturnUrl=%2FExhibitionPortal%2F35igc%2Fexhibition

TRAVEL

Preferential rates for 35TH IGC delegates/exhibitors have been negotiated on South African Airways during travel dates 5 August to 30 September 2016 and Emirates Airline during travel dates 22 August 2016 to 9 September 2016.

On payment of your registration fees you will receive promotional codes for website booking.

Register here: http://www.35igc.org/Verso/60/Registration

GENERAL ENQUIRIES

Greg Botha
Secretary General

Danie Barnardo
Secretariat

Juanita van Wyk
Secretariat