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Intellectual Property in the Mining Industry

An article by Robynne Sanders in the May 2014 issue of “Explore”, global law firm DLA Piper’s mining industry newsletter, provides an interesting discussion of  measures being taken by companies to protect their intellectual property.  

For the past decade the mining boom has enabled those companies lucky enough to work in the industry to grow and prosper. With the resources sector tightening the focus has shifted to protecting that growth to ensure the continued profitability of mining companies and suppliers alike.

One mechanism by which companies are looking to protect their position is intellectual property rights, most notably patents and confidential information (know how).  Both are effective tools to ensure exclusive rights to technology and processes. For the owner, they enjoy market advantage as the sole provider of certain products or services or improved profitability as the result of their exclusive use of the best processes. This is clearly a huge advantage.

For these reasons many resources companies and suppliers consider intellectual property the new frontier of the mining sector. While it works for the owner, for those around them intellectual property can be, at best, a significant inconvenience, and at worst a serious threat to their business.

To find out more, download the May 2014 edition of Explore here.

Exploring the unique role interactions of workers in the mining industry

Dr Connor McShane and Ms Kate Kanakis are conducting a research project at James Cook University, Townsville, examining what life is like working in the mining industry.

Specifically, the researchers would like to ask you about what type of work you do and how your work roles interact with roles in your personal life. As an outcome of this project, the researchers aim to provide recommendations to industry and government about how to meet the challenges of the mining working environment.

If you agree to be involved in this research project, you will be invited to complete a questionnaire. The questionnaire is available online. The questionnaire should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Please note, that by completing the questionnaire you are providing your consent to participate in this study.

Taking part in this study is completely voluntary and you can stop taking part in the study at any time without explanation or prejudice.

If you know of others that might be interested in this study, can you please pass on this information or forward the survey link to them so they may complete the questionnaire or contact Dr McShane for more details.

Your responses will be anonymous. The data from the study will be used in research publications and conference presentations. You will not be identified in any way in these publications.

If you have any questions about the study, please contact Connar McShane.

Principal Investigator:

Dr Connar McShane, Department of Psychology, James Cook University
Email: connar.mcshane@jcu.edu.au

ResourcesQ Partnership Signed in Brisbane

Queensland resources sector has welcomed an agreement signed today with the Queensland government that takes a long-term view to develop the state’s minerals and energy wealth to its full potential.

ResourcesQ Signing

ResourcesQ is signed in Brisbane. From left are APPEA Chief Operating Officer Paul Fennelly, AMEC Regional Manager Bernie Hogan, QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche, Premier Campbell Newman and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps.

Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council Michael Roche said the signing of ResourcesQ, a 30-year vision for the sector, was an important blueprint for the sector’s future, particularly with its emphasis on global competitiveness.

A statement of intent between the Queensland Government, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC), the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), and the QRC was signed today.

‘The QRC acknowledges the work already under way by the Newman and Commonwealth governments to streamline the approvals process and cut red and green tape, but this agreement recognises the need for long-term and stable policy and legislation to attract investment in the sector,’ said Mr Roche.

‘What the resources sector doesn’t need is unexpected cost increases, such as increased royalties. Investment in the sector is by its nature long term, and changes to royalties affect the global competitiveness of resources operations, and reduce our attractiveness as a destination for resource investment.

‘We also don’t need an added impost on our inputs in the form of the federal government’s mooted changes to the diesel fuel tax credit scheme in tomorrow night’s budget.

‘However, I’m very pleased to see included in ResourcesQ measures to ensure that we have the skilled people we will require into the future.

‘I’m also gratified to see in the agreement an emphasis on properly informing the community about the sector’s importance to the economy, and regaining the confidence of the community in the government’s stringent environmental legislation.

‘As has been seen in our current television commercials on the Great Barrier Reef, there is a real need to push back on the misinformation being spread by an ever increasing bevy of anti-resource industry activists.

‘Also covered is the importance of demonstrating prospectivity through the provision of geological information, and actively pursuing investment to identify future resource deposits.’ Mr Roche said.

ResourcesQ is a Queensland Government initiative to drive growth and jobs in Queensland’s resources sector.

The initiative was formulated by the government to generate an economically strong, competitive, diverse and agile sector over the next 30 years. It’s about planning for the future to ensure we all prosper from Queensland’s resource wealth.

Throughout 2014, the government will work in partnership with the resources sector to develop a shared vision for Queensland’s resources over the next 30 years and an action plan to deliver that vision.

A long-term vision underlying the initiative is designed to:

  • position Queensland as the best state to do business in the resources sector
  • position the Queensland Government as modern and efficient, with an economic growth and development agenda
  • foster greater industry and investment confidence in Queensland
  • shape future government policy
  • ensure all Queenslanders prosper from resources now and in the future.

The initiative features innovative and strong formal partnership with peak bodies representing the industry, which will remove constraints and realise the benefits the resources sector offers to all Queenslanders, leading to the signing of an agreement with QRC, APPEA and AMEC in Brisbane yesterday.

Stakeholder input will be sought through a range of methods including targeted industry consultation.

Working alongside stakeholders

The ResourcesQ process includes the following key actions and engagement activities:

  • Foresight study — December 2013 to February 2014
  • Industry leaders’ workshop — February 2014
  • Partnership group — February 2014
  • Resources supply chain leaders’ workshop — 4 April 2014
  • Partnership agreement — May 2014
  • Regional stakeholder workshops — April to June 2014
  • Five regional stakeholder workshops will be held to discuss the proposed vision and the way forward from an ‘on-the-ground’ perspective. The first of these workshops was held in Mt Isa on 16 April. Other workshops will be held in Cairns, Gladstone, Roma and Emerald during May and June.
  • Public consultation — consultation on draft ResourcesQ vision and themes – June/July 2014
  • Partnership report launch — September 2014
  • Launch of the final partnership report which includes the 30-year vision and action plan in September.
ResourcesQ Timeline

ResourcesQ initiative timeline

ResourcesQ stakeholders

Queensland’s resources industry includes a large number of stakeholders from a broad range of sectors including:

  • resource exploration and development companies
  • peak industry bodies
  • resources sector workforce
  • suppliers to industry
  • regional and local communities
  • federal government
  • local government
  • agricultural and landholder groups
  • training organisations
  • traditional owners
  • research institutions
  • investors
  • public sector.

ResourcesQ will give industry the opportunity to guide the strategic direction for the resources sector. Businesses and other stakeholders, including resource communities, will be encouraged to contribute to the development of solutions that will ensure resources remains an economic pillar in Queensland for future generations.

More information

More information regarding the ResourcesQ initiative is available from:

Phone: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)

Email: ResourcesQ@dnrm.qld.gov.au

You can also sign up to a ResourcesQ newsletter or visit the ResourcesQ web page.

AIG learned of the ResourcesQ programme, somewhat by accident, through the Cairns stakeholder workshop being held this week.  While the initiative is one that many geoscientists would welcome, the promotion of the initiative amongst stakeholder groups appears to have gotten off to a very slow start, with little awareness of the initiative evident amongst Queensland geoscientists this week.  Hopefully we’ll see this situation change as the initiative gains momentum.

Andrew Waltho, 13 May 2014

Proposed Asia Pacific Stock Exchange (“APX”) Listing Rule Amendments and Guidance Notes

The Asia Pacific Stock Exchange (“APX”)  today (1 May 2014) published a consultation paper in relation to APX Listing Rule Amendments and Guidance Notes.

APX is issuing this Consultation Paper to facilitate public comment on its proposals to introduce the following:

  1. Guidance Note 3 – Continuous Disclosure;
  2. APX Listing Rules – Chapter 12A – Other Continuing Obligations for Oil & Gas Listees;
  3. APX Listing Rules – Chapter 12B – Other Continuing Obligations for Mining Listees;
  4. Guidance Note 5 – Reporting of Oil & Gas Listees;
  5. Guidance Note 6 – Reporting of Mining Listees;
  6. APX Listing Rules – Consequential rule amendments; and,
  7. A new Appendix 12-2 (Mining Exploration Listee and Oil & Gas Exploration Listee Quarterly Reporting) and amended Appendices 15-1 (Half Year Report) and 15-2 (Full Year Indicative Report).

The Consultation Documents are available on the APX website.

Consultation will end on Friday, 23rd May 2014.

For further information contact Simon O’Brien, Manager – Market Supervision, Asia Pacific Stock Exchange.

Use of Incidental Coal Seam Gas

The Queensland Government has released an industry White Paper to consult on proposed legislation covering the incidental use of coal seam gas associated with coal mining.

Industry has identified that the current restrictions on the use of incidental coal seam gas (ICSG) prevent more efficient use of this valuable resource. The use of ICSG by the holder of a coal mining lease has also been addressed by the industry White Paper. This is to provide for the use of ICSG by the holder of a coal mining lease where it overlaps a petroleum lease, subject to the mining lease holder satisfying the certain requirements under the new coal and CSG overlapping tenure framework.

Currently, section 318CN of the MRA limits the use of ICSG mined within the area of a mining lease for:

  • beneficial use for mining within the area of that mining lease;
  • transporting or storing within the area of that mining lease to allow it to be used beneficially; or;
  • giving it to an overlapping petroleum lease holder.

Under current section 318CO, where ICSG cannot be used beneficially and there is no overlapping petroleum lease (or the holder of an overlapping petroleum authority has rejected the gas), it may be flared or vented (subject to conditions).

The draft legislation proposes new uses of ICSG by the holder of a coal mining lease, not only when the new coal and CSG overlapping scheme has been satisfied, but also when there is not an overlapping petroleum authority. While in many cases, there is likely to be an overlapping petroleum authority, it is timely to consider both situations in light of the changes proposed under the White Paper.

The proposed changes also support the implementation of the ICSG principles of the White Paper in that ICSG may be commercialised by a mining lease holder after the requirements of the overlapping scheme for coal and CSG have been met.

Therefore, the following uses of ICSG by a coal miner are proposed (after first satisfying the overlapping scheme if required):

  • ICSG may be used beneficially within the area of the mining lease or on other mining operations held by the same holder. This may include uses such as power generation for equipment used for any mining or heating.
  • Transport ICSG from one or more mining leases across lease boundaries (including where leases are not contiguous). Any approvals under other applicable legislation would be first required e.g. pipeline licence under the P&G Act.
  • Store ICSG within the area of a mining lease or in the area of another mining operation to allow it to be used for any of the above purposes.
  • Commercialise ICSG by selling it to another party, as would be possible by a petroleum lease holder. This may include the sale of the gas to other mining or petroleum operations where it may be used beneficially.
  • ICSG may be transported to a central power generation facility. The electricity generated may be used beneficially or commercialised. Use or sale of electricity generated is only allowable if any necessary approvals are obtained under other applicable legislation e.g. Electricity Act 1994.
  • Flare or vent the gas if it is not commercially or technically feasible to use the ICSG beneficially or commercially.

It is not intended for the changes to directly authorise storage or transportation of ICSG on other resource authorities without any necessary approvals, unless that authority already expressly authorises the activity (e.g. another mining lease). For example, it is not intended that a holder of an exploration permit for coal could construct a pipeline to transport ICSG without necessary approvals under the P&G Act.

Allowing a coal miner to commercialise ICSG or use it beneficially within projects (after satisfying the coal and CSG overlapping scheme requirements if required) provides an opportunity for this genuine resource to be used rather than being flared or vented. The benefits of this proposal include the following:

  • protects economic benefits to the State and regional communities by supporting the viability of existing coal mines to reduce costs by finding more efficient uses of ICSG.
  • encourages future investment in the State by providing an environment for industry to develop lower cost coal production
  • provides environmental benefits through encouragement of greenhouse gas abatement schemes and the use of less greenhouse gas intensive power generation (using ICSG rather than sourcing electricity from coal fired power generation).

Please note that the proposals outlined in this article are a work in progress by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and have been released for consultation purposes.  Interested members should contact the Department to discuss the proposals or seek further information.

 

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