NSW Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation

NSW DRE LogoThe Division of  Resources and Energy (DRE), part of the Department of Industry, Resources and Energy in New South Wales, is currently reviewing its Guidelines for Community Consultation Requirements for Exploration and the associated community consultation reporting information.

One of the conditions on titles is that title holders must undertake community consultation according to the guidelines set out by the DRE.

A draft of the new Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation is now available for public comment.

The draft Code:

  • requires community consultation to be adequate, inclusive and appropriate, and be undertaken in an open and accountable way
    provides detailed requirements relating to the development of a community consultation strategy
  • requires the type and scale of consultation to correspond with the activity impact level (an assessment tool is provided to determine the impact level)
  • incorporates detailed guidelines on the minimum requirements for the Annual Community Consultation Report (these are also supported by Community Consultation Plan provisions which outline the content of a plan, and its benefit in informing the annual reporting requirements).

The draft Code will apply to all titles (coal, minerals and petroleum) issued after the publication of the Code, through an amended condition of title.  The community consultation conditions on minerals titles will be amended to be consistent with those for coal and petroleum.

The public are invited to submit their feedback on the draft Exploration Code of Practice: Community Consultation.  Information on how to lodge submissions is available from the DRE web site.  Submissions received before the 30 November, 2015 will be considered in the finalisation of the draft Code.


Geophysics for the Mineral Exploration Geoscientist

Geophysics explorationThe NSW Branches of AIG, GSA and ASEG are presenting a two day short course by Prof. Mike Dennith Geophysics for the Mineral Exploration Geoscientist based on 2014 book of same name.

This two day course provides a state-of-the-art overview of geophysical exploration methods without recourse to complex mathematical descriptions.   It includes descriptions of all the main geophysical methods used in mineral exploration, including gravity, magnetic, electrical, electromagnetic methods.   Course participants are guided through the basic physical phenomena, the acquisition and processing of geophysical data, to the creation of subsurface models and their geological interpretation.

The course:

  1. Explains the cutting-edge current practice in exploration and mining geophysics for the discovery of ‘blind’ mineral deposits.
  2. Gives a practical guide to data acquisition, processing, and accurate interpretation of geophysical datasets.
  3. Includes presentation and analysis of petrophysical data, giving key information on the physical properties of rocks.
  4. Emphasises extraction of maximum geological information from geophysical data, providing explanations of data modelling, and common interpretation pitfalls.
  5. Provides examples from all the main types of mineral deposit around the world.

16 CPD HoursThe course will target practising geoscientists, most likely to be in first ten years of practice, who have had limited exposure to formal education in the application of exploration geophysics, and are keen to build their understanding of this important field of modern mineral discovery technologies in the challenging terrains of Australia, especially where thick sedimentary cover precludes systematic geological mapping and geochemical sampling.

The course will be held in The Barbarian Room, Level 3, The Rugby Club, Rugby Place, off 31 Pitt Street, Sydney, 16-17 February, 2016.

Registration information coming soon.

No signs of improvement in Geoscientist employment

No Signs of Improvement in Latest Australian Geoscientist Employment Survey Results:

  • Lowest employment levels observed since mid-2009 (when these surveys commenced)
  • Employment in mineral exploration has crashed in the past six months
  • Combined unemployment and underemployment rate hits 35.1%

Employment prospects for professional geoscientists in Australia further deteriorated in the first six months of 2015 according to results released today from the latest Australian Geoscientist Employment survey conducted this month by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG). 

Even worse are indications in the survey data of just how severely the prolonged downturn in employment prospects for geoscientists is now starting to bite and contributing to serious erosion of Australia’s geoscience capabilities.

At the end of June 2015:

  • The unemployment rate amongst professional geoscientists in Australia was 15.2%, down marginally on the 15.5% recorded at the end of December 2015.
  • Underemployment (the proportion of self-employed geoscientists unable to secure their desired level of work) jumped to 19.9% – a 3% increase in the six months since the last survey.

Unemployment June 2015


Of the geoscientists describing themselves as being self-employed in the survey, more than 36% were unable to secure more than 10% of their desired workload, pointing to an actual unemployment rate of 22.6%, an increase of 1.2% in the six months since December 2014.

The outcome of these results is a combined unemployment and underemployment rate amongst professional geoscientists in Australia of 35.1% – the highest level recorded since this series of surveys by AIG commenced in June 2009 and well above the 31.3% recorded at the peak of the global financial crisis in September 2009.

No state is considered to have fared better than another in respect of geoscientist employment and underemployment, with combined unemployment and underemployment rates of about 30% or more across the country.

State Unemployment


The combined unemployment and underemployment rate in mineral exploration specifically was highest in South Australia at 39.3% of geoscientists employed or seeking work in that sector.  This rate was 38% in the Northern Territory,  35% in Queensland, 33% in Western Australia, 30% in NSW and 29% in Victoria.  Too few responses were received from Tasmania for valid analysis of the situation affecting that state.

Amongst unemployed and underemployed respondents:

  • 17% lost employment in the three months between 31st March and 30th June.
  • 35% reported being unemployed for 12 months or more.
  • 63% of unemployed and underemployed geoscientists saw little prospect of regaining employment within the coming 12 months.
  • The proportion of geoscientists considering leaving the profession permanently almost doubled to 4.5% – the highest level recorded in this series of surveys.

Of those in employment, 43% were confident of retaining their positions for the next 12 months.

Marked changes in areas of employment for geoscientists are evident in the survey results.

field changes



The dramatic fall in employment in mineral exploration across Australia is seen as verifying AIG’s warnings, based on previous survey results, of a looming crisis in the mineral exploration sector.  Metalliferous mining, usually a relatively stable employment area, also declined.

Apparent growth in employment in energy resource (oil, gas and coal) exploration and production is a welcome surprise considering the uncertainty and low prices affecting the sector.

AIG members responsible for compiling and interpreting the survey results expressed real concerns regarding the apparent shift in where Australian geoscientists are employed.  “The decline in mineral exploration employment is real,” according to Mr Andrew Waltho, an AIG Council member and past President of the Institute.  “What is most concerning though is that the increase in other sectors isn’t an indication of increased opportunities, but instead due to their representation being increased due to mineral exploration’s decline”.  “In effect, they may have become a relatively larger piece of a much smaller pie, which would be a really serious prospect for Australian geoscience” Mr Waltho said.

“Some 626 people, about one in 12 of Australia’s geoscientists, responded to the survey.  “Having 35% of a profession struggling to secure work over a period of several years must have an impact.” Mr Waltho said.  “This is borne out by the number of respondents indicating that they are seeking permanent work outside their chosen profession increasing every time AIG runs an instalment in this survey series.”

AIG President, Mr Wayne Splisbury, expressed profound concern for the Institute’s members and their families affected by the prolonged downturn in employment prospects.

“Geoscientists are aware of the cyclic nature of geoscientific employment which, in Australia, reflects upswings and downturns in the fate of Australia’s minerals and resource industries.  The current downturn, however, is without precedent in the memories of Australian geoscience professionals.

“What’s particularly disconcerting is that loss of employment opportunities in minerals exploration is really starting to bite, not just in terms of the level of exploration activity, but in what this means for a whole range of things.  This includes:

  • An erosion of the pipeline of projects needed to maintain the viability of Australia’s resource industries,
  • The loss of corporate memory which contributes directly to industry productivity,
  • A deterioration in our ability to innovate and develop improved exploration and mining technologies that promote productivity and growth, and improve peoples’ lives in many ways, and
  • A loss of our ability to mentor and develop the next generation of Australian geoscientists.”

Mr Spilsbury also said “Federal and State Government initiatives to promote exploration need to be given a chance to be proven to be effective in arresting the decline in exploration activity evident in Australia for the past three years.”

“We need solid, well targeted actions to improve the attractiveness of exploration investment and enable companies to use that investment productively, rather than negotiating an ever-deepening mire of red tape in relation to securing access to land for exploration in particular.”

The new financial year, for example, provides companies with their first opportunity to submit Exploration Development Incentive claims for eligible greenfields exploration.  For these schemes to be truly successful, companies need to be able to explore in the first place and that requires effective, fair and equitable access to land.  These measures deserve bipartisan support.  The mining industry plays a large role in Australia’s economy and its success plays a big role in maintaining the standard of living of all Australians.

“There are also a discussion needed on extending to self-employed geoscientists those tax provisions that specifically cater for the needs of groups that consistently face cyclical, irregular employment.”

A PDF version of this article is available here.

17th August 2015

New England Orogen: Geology, Tectonics and Economics

A one day seminar and accompanying three day field conference from 5th June 2015.

The New England Orogen, the most eastern part of the Australian continent is a fertile section of New South Wales and Queensland for a variety of mineral deposits, varying from base and precious metals to building stones and industrial minerals. Significant advances in the understanding of the Orogen have been made in recent times and the seminar aims to present an up to date review of the knowledge.

Seminar speakers have been drawn from a variety of industry, government, academic and consulting organisations to provide information exchange and raise awareness of geoscientists interested in the region.

The seminar will be followed by a three day Field Conference to the southern Queensland and northern NSW parts of the New England Orogen, highlighting the metallic and industrial minerals occurrence in the area.

The seminar program, including full registration details is available here. Registration closed now.

24 CPD HoursThe one day seminar will be followed by a three-day field conference departing Brisbane at 8:00 am on Saturday, 6th June and returning at approximately 6:00 pm on Monday 8th June.  Transport will be by bus departing from the Roma Street Transit Centre, Brisbane. The field conference is restricted to 29 participants. Registrations will close 29 May or when all places have been booked.

Please Note:

  • Participants are required to provide their own high vis vests, hard hats, safety glasses and boots.
  • Prices include accommodation and meals (except Sunday evening meal).
  • Accommodation is limited, we have booked accommodation on a twin share basis for 36 people available on a first come first serve basis.

The Field Conference programme and registration information is available here. Registration is closed now.


The New England Orogen – geology, granites and tectonic setting

  • Cec Murray, Geological Survey of QLD (ret)
    “The geological development of the New England Orogen”
  • Derek Hoy, University of Queensland
    “Tectonics of the New England Orogen: trench migration, oroclinal bending, formation of sedimentary basins, and fault reactivation”
  • Phil Blevin, Geological Survey of NSW
    “Granites, volcanics and related mineral systems of the southern New England Orogen.”

Geochemistry applications in the New England Orogen

  • Joseph Tang, Geological Survey of QLD
    “Geochemical evolution of granites in northern New England Orogen and their tectonic implications ”
  • Ned Howard, Evolution Mining Limited
    “Geochemistry and Hydrothermal Alteration at the Mount Rawdon Gold Deposit
  • Josh Leigh, ActivEX Limited
    “Coalstoun and Booubyjan – Porphyry Copper-Gold deposits, their structural setting and geochemistry”

Mineralisation styles of the northern and central New England Orogen

  • Neil Wilkins, Aus Tin Mining Ltd and iron Ridge Resources Ltd
    “Nickel Copper Gold Cobalt deposits in the northern NEO – an update”
  • Martin I’Ons, Consultant
    “Copper – Molybdenum porphyry mineralisation near Monto in the northern New England Orogen ”
  • Davina Halloran
    “Overview of the Twins Hills Silver deposit, Texas – southern New England Orogen”

Intrusive related mineralisation styles of the southern New England Orogen

  • Neil Wilkins, Aus Tin Mining
    “Taronga Tin developments, northern New South Wales.”
  • Adrian Day, Asiatic Gems Pty Ltd
    “Intrusive related mineralisation at Warroo and Crystal Peak, Stanthorpe district.”
  • Liam Fromyhr, White Rock Minerals limited
    “Refining the mineralisation models and metal potential at Mt Carrington, New England NSW”

Yilgarn Retrospective

What we learned from the highly successful period of exploration 1950 to 1999, with implications for the challenges of the future.

The Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) and sponsors are pleased to announce the Yilgarn Retrospective, a two-day symposium to be held in Perth on March 30-31, 2015.

Yilgarn Claim Post

The Yilgarn Craton (Western Australia) in the second half of the 20th century witnessed a transformative period in the resources industry which included the discovery and successful exploitation of a new deposit type (komatiite-hosted nickel sulphide), a massive boom in exploration and mining of Archaean lode gold, and developments in a number of other commodities. The Yilgarn has a world-class endowment in nickel, gold, bauxite and tantalum, and significant iron ore, uranium and copper-lead-zinc– silver deposits. By 1999, twenty million tonnes of nickel were identified, and the gold inventory rose in 20 years from 4 million ounces to 100 million ounces, despite the mining of about 100 million ounces over the same period. Nickel production reached 170,000 tonnes per annum and gold production was ~6.5 million ounces per annum. Western Australia was converted from a small economy based on agriculture to the world’s mining powerhouse. These commercial successes spawned research yielding new deposit models, a new appreciation of the regolith that blankets the Yilgarn and the tools to work beneath that regolith. This two- day symposium will look at the who, why and how of this momentous era 1950 to 1999. The meeting will review the importance of what we have learned from this highly successful period, with implications to the challenges of the future, and be an acknowledgement of the achievements of teams and individuals, some of whom are no longer with us.

The Yilgarn Craton is the large southern part of Western Australia including the gold mines from Norseman, Kalgoorlie to Wiluna, Meekatharra and Boddington, nickel from Ravensthorpe to Kambalda and Leinster, bauxite (aluminum) ores in the Darling Range, copper-zinc at Golden Grove, tantalum at Greenbushes, iron ore at Koolyanobbing, and uranium at Yeelirrie.

WA Exports

This meeting brings together a remarkable group of players from industry, academia and government who contributed to the success of this era. Speakers with an industry focus include Roy Woodall, Jeff Gresham, Ron Manners, Neil Phillips, Dennis Gee, Colin Agnew, John Chappell and Jim Ross, those with a government focus Tim Griffin, Phil Playford, John Bunting, Ray Smith, Megan Clark and Stephen Wyche, prospector Clive Daw, consultants Tom Bateman, Jack Hallberg and David Isles, and from academia Mike Lesher, Simon Wilde, Neal McNaughton, Ray Binns and David Groves. Speakers will look at what mattered most to shape the discovery record, and address the question of how to apply these concepts to ensure future exploration success.

Attending the conference?  You can download a copy of the abstracts volume here.  The volume is password protected – delegates will be sent the password with their registration confirmation.