Key food-growing areas in Queensland will be protected immediately from mining and other development under an Australian-first policy.

Food bowls in parts of the Surat Basin in southern Queensland and the Emerald and Springsure region have been granted the highest level of protection as Strategic Cropping Land Protection Areas.

Environment Minister Kate Jones said the move, the first of its type in Australia, will ban mines that would make the land unusable for farming.

Brierty (ASX: BYL) has executed a four-year $185 million contract with Karara Mining for the hematite mining and associated services at the Karara Iron Ore Project in Western Australia.

Karara Mining is a joint venture between Gindalbie Metals (ASX: GBG) and Chinese steel producer AnSteel. Brierty is no longer in a trading halt on the release of today's announcement.

In February, Brierty had been named preferred contractor on Karara, and with contract terms now settled, the company has commenced delivery of mining services including drill and blast; load and haul; crushing and screening; road haulage and train loading.

Brierty is benefitting from an ongoing mining boom in Western Australia where infrastructure and land development investment has increased, particularly with Chinese interests in iron ore.

Peter McBain, chief executive officer of Brierty, said “the contract is a cornerstone mining project and provides Brierty with the ability to leverage additional opportunities from the development of the burgeoning Midwest region of Western Australia.”

Karara selected Brierty as contractor based on the strength of its team, service capability and professional approach. The project hosts a JORC Reserve of 977.5 million tonnes at 36.5% iron with an estimated concentrate of 1.027 billion tonnes at 68.6% iron. The Karara Project produces eight million tonnes per annum of high grade magnetite concentrate and has a 60 – year mine life. The joint venture also produces four million tonnes per annum of iron pellets at a new plant in China.

The project has the capacity to expand production to more than 30 million tonnes per annum for more than 30 years.

The company expects Direct Shipping Ore hematite deposits at the project to produce an initial level of two million tonnes per annum in 2012.

China’s steel production is set to expand by up to 25 per cent over the next five years, allaying fears of a drop in demand for iron ore despite a 0.76% drop in China’s steel industry profits, according to a report in The Australian.

A team of CSIRO Future Manufacturing Flagship scientists has won a major mining industry award for the invention of the highly sensitive magnetic field sensor, the technology that powers the LANDTEM mining exploration tool.

A new Research and Innovation Fund established by the Western Australian government with funding of $10 million in this year's budget will target miing, oil and gas as priority areas for support.

Proposed NSW legislation designed to ‘harmonize’ state and federal occupational health and safety law has passed the state’s parliament after the government compromised on a number of changes.

UK-based Veripos, a navigation and positioning company, is due to open its first Australian office  in Perth to provide sales and service to Australian and New Zealand customers.

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has released a report into the state of major development projects in the minerals and energy sector.

Chinese engineering firm CACS Corporation has been awarded Moly Mines’ Spinifex Ridge engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract.

South African coal giant Exxaro has made a $123 million bid for Territory Resources, out-bidding Hong Kong based Noble Group for control of the Northern Territory based mining iron ore mining group.

BHP Billiton has pulled out of its joint venture with junior minerals explorer Blackthorn Resources to develop the Mumbwa mine in Zambia.

BHP Billiton has become the latest mining giant to warn of an impending decline of coal production after the horror months in Queensland wiped 2% off the state’s economy.

A proposed resource royalty hike in Western Australia has sparked a spat between state and commonwealth governments, with Treasurer Wayne Swan threatening to withhold over $2 billion in Federal infrastructure investment.

Global gas and oil giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) has announced its decision to proceed with construction of its $10 billion Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) site off the coast of Western Australia.

The Minerals Council of Australia has outlined its proposal for a new carbon-pricing scheme to be rolled out in Australia,  labeling the current Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) as ‘flawed’ and ‘the wrong approach’.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has responded to the Federal Budget, saying that it "correctly recognises the importance of a strong and growing minerals sector to Australia’s economy and to Commonwealth revenues".

$3.4 billion is expected to be raised after Clive Parker floats the iron and coal export giant Resourcehouse on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the company’s initial public offering.

Cazaly Resources’ plan to export iron ore through the Port of Fremantle is in tatters after the Western Australian Transport Minister Tony Buswell and Fremantle MP Adele Carles moved to block the plan.

IMX Resources is due to start operations in Tanzania after acquiring its final drilling equipment.

The Senate Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee has called for submissions to its inquiry into the impact of mining of coal seam gas on the management of the Murray Darling Basin.

New South Wales mining company Gloucester Coal Ltd has entered an agreement with its largest shareholder, Noble, to acquire Noble’s wholly-owned coal mining company, Donaldson Coal Holdings Ltd.

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