Australian geoscientist employment survey

The latest Australian geoscientist employment survey is open for contributions.  2019 marks the tenth anniversary of this survey series.

2019 marks the tenth anniversary of AIG's Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey series.
2019 marks the tenth anniversary of AIG’s Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey series.

This latest instalment in the survey series will provide data on trends in geoscientist employment in Australia during the final quarter (October, November, December) of 2018. 

In the September quarter, the Australian geoscientists unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.3%, from 8.5% in the June quarter.  This was the lowest level in several years but coincided with a widely held perception that industry activity and employment opportunities had improved significantly.  The period covered by this survey is typically one of the busiest times in the Australian exploration field season, which makes the muted improvement in employment interesting.

Australian geoscientist employment - June 2009 to September 2018.
Australian geoscientist employment – June 2009 to September 2018.

The survey takes only two or three minutes to complete.  You do not need to be an AIG member to contribute.  No data that could personally identify respondents is collected.

Contributions to the survey are required from both employed and unemployed geoscientists to ensure the relevance of results.  Your completing the survey really helps to make a difference to the standing and knowledge of our profession.

The survey will be open for contributions until 1st February 2019, to allow for the summer holiday season in Australia.  Every contribution adds to the reliability of the survey results.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Professional Reciprocity recognised for geoscientists between Australia and the Philippines

The Professional Regulatory Board of Geology which operates under the Professional Regulation Commission of the Phillippines has recognised that reciprocity exists between geoscience bodies in Australia and the Philippines. 

Accordingly, Australian geoscientists are now able to take the Philippines geologist licensure examination.

The recognition of reciprocity between the two countries follows efforts by Scott Robson, an Australian geologist resident in the Philippines to be allowed to take the licensure examination.  Mr Robson has a BSc from Monash University and his professional standing in Australia was supported by letters provided by both AIG and AusIMM.  The Professional Regulatory Board of Geology recognised that Mr Robson’s degree was equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from a Philippines university and that reciprocity on the practice of geology exists between the two countries.

The ruling is seen as establishing the opportunity for other Australian geologists to undertake the Philippines geologist licensure examination in the future.

Get Ready for GDA2020

The Geocentric Datum of Australia 2020 (GDA2020) is a geocentric (earth-centred) coordinate reference system that is Australia’s new official national datum. GDA2020 will eventually supersede the GDA94 datum and older coordinate systems, such as Australian Geodetic Datum 1966 and 1984 (AGD66 and AGD84).

It is a ‘plate-fixed’ datum that is aligned with the 2014 realisation of the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (or ITRF2014). The “earth-fixed” ITRF is typically not regarded as a “datum” — rather it is the international standard reference framework to which national geocentric datums are aligned.

GDA2020 coordinates differ from GDA94 coordinates by approximately 1.5 to 1.8 metres and are more closely aligned with the reference frameworks used by modern GNSS – such as GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou.

Shifts between GDA 94 and GDA 2020

Approximate shift from GDA94 to GDA2020 locations across Australia

The standard map projection associated with GDA2020 is the Map Grid of Australia 2020 (MGA2020), a transverse Mercator projection that conforms to the internationally standardised Universal Transverse Mercator Grid system.

The changes are needed because national and global location information systems operate differently, and they are diverging. Australia’s national grid of latitude and longitude coordinates moves with the drift of the continent, like a giant net tied to known reference points on the landscape. Together, these reference points and latitude and longitude coordinates are known as a geodetic datum. Every country has its own datum, and the official Australian geodetic datum since 2000 has been  the Geocentric Datum of Australia 1994, or GDA94. The coordinates of features on our maps, such as roads, buildings and property boundaries, are all based on GDA94, and they do not change over time.

Australia’s national grid of latitude and longitude coordinates moves with the continent – where Australia goes GDA94 goes

There have been significant technology developments recently that provide ready access to accurate positioning systems. It is anticipated that the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) will be capable of providing positioning services with centimetre accuracy in real-time to the mass market on mobile devices. Given that data from GNSS is referenced to a global reference frame, specifically the International Terrestrial Reference Frame 2014 (ITRF2014), it is appropriate that the Australian datum is closely aligned to the same global reference frame.

There are a number of useful references available on-line from Geoscience Australia and the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping.  A search for GDA2020 will reveal a list of useful resources, including a series of informative fact sheets.

If you are in Brisbane, 30 October, the ASEG Queensland Branch meeting will feature a talk by  Matt Higgins, Manager of Geodesy and Positioning in the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy on the new datum.

New high-resolution satellite imagery viewing tool

NCI Australia, Australia’s national research computing service, and Geoscience Australia this week launched a new tool for viewing very-high resolution satellite imagery of Australia.

The viewer is part of a broader initiative involving  a group of Australian research infrastructure organisations to bring together a vast collection of previously incompatible geoscience datasets that scientists can use to improve our understanding of the Earth beneath us.

Lake Mackay and Lake Amadeus. Geoscience Australia, Copernicus EU, ESA Earth Observation and NCI Australia

These images of Lake Mackay (left) and Lake Amadeus (right) were captured by the Sentinel satellites whose data is now even easier to access through the new portal, SARA.

SARA provides free access to data from all Sentinel satellites for the South-East Asia and South Pacific region. The Sentinel missions are part of the Copernicus programme that is coordinated and managed by the European Commision. The data products are generated by the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. SARA is hosted at the National Computational Infrastructure and operated by the Regional Copernicus Data Hub consortium formed by Geoscience Australia, the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Queensland Department of Science Information Technology and Innovation, Western Australian Land Information Authority and the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation.  Portal users currently have access to more than 2,387,403 products.

Updated: The long term outlook for Australian gold

Long-term forecast of Australia’s mineral production and revenue The outlook for gold: 2017-2057

Report by MinEx Consulting: October 2017

Under the combined support and sponsorship of six government agencies (both State and Federal), three research organisations and three industry groups, including AIG, a landmark report has been published by MinEx Consulting looking at the forty-year outlook for the Australian gold industry. It forecasts the likely number of mines, production, revenues and employment out to 2057 for this vital sector of Australia’s economy.

In the past, most industry studies rarely look beyond ten years. The report’s author, Richard Schodde, says that “there are two good reasons for this; Firstly; the future is highly uncertain – and any single-line forecast is almost certain to be wrong. Secondly; most of these studies only looked at existing mines and possible new projects. This is fine for short- to medium-term forecasts but it ignores the important contribution of new discoveries for mine production in the longer-term.”

It goes without saying that every mine has a finite life (and will eventually close down); it also equally true that all mines were once a gleam in the eye of a geologist (i.e. it took someone to find them). Leaving out the discovery story results in an incomplete view on the long-term future of the mining industry.

As discussed below, nurturing exploration success is critical for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the mining industry.

MinEx Consulting’s approach to the task was via the following eight-step process:

  1. Embracing uncertainty and using a Monte Carlo approach to assess 1000 different possible scenarios of the future. This included generating a series of commodity price cycles that reflect what the industry has experienced in the past.
  2. Estimating future production from existing mines, adjusted for changes in the gold price, variability in operating performance and possible mine-life extensions.
  3. Assessing whether the future gold price scenario is sufficiently high enough to trigger the development of new mines on known projects.
  4. Using the price scenarios to predict likely future exploration expenditures. And from this,
  5. Estimating the likely number, size and quality of discoveries made over time.
  6. Determining the likelihood that a given discovery will be developed and, if so, incorporating a time-delay between discovery and development.
  7. Developing a model to estimate the likely production rate and mine life for these discoveries. From this, estimating their likely timing and contribution to future revenues and employment.
  8. Integrating together the results for existing mines, new projects and exploration success.

The report will be officially released next Monday, 16th October, 2017.

A media release outlining the study objectives and process is available here.  The study report is available here.