The New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has announced a broad investigation into hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Dr Wright announced that the initial scoping work would be stepped up into an official investigation, saying that preliminary work indicated a need for close examination of the issue.

“The work that has been done by my office thus far shows a substantive case for an official investigation under the Environment Act,” Dr Wright said.

Around 3,500 miners at BHP’s central Queensland mines have walked off the job after enterprise bargaining talks broke down last Wednesday.

The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA) has discussed concerns over the impacts on coal mining and coal seam gas extraction on local communities at a meeting of 13 northern NSW councils.

Australia has been named as the top investment country for mining and resources, remaining unchanged at 57 points, five above Canada, the closest contender.

Construction giant John Holland has been awarded the contract to design and construct the Esperance Port Access Corridor Project for Main Roads Western Australia.

Legislation amending the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act)to establish an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development has been referred for inquiry to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications.

The South Australian Government has signed up to the Federal Government’s National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining agreement, becoming the third state to agree to ‘tougher regulations for future coal seam gas and large coal mining projects’.

A constitutional challenge to the new Federal mining tax by mining magnate Mr Andrew Forrest is highly likely to fail, according to Charles Sturt University (CSU) constitutional law expert.

CSIRO has launched the Organic Geochemistry of Mineral Systems Cluster to bring geochemistry researchers together from across the globe to investigate the organic and inorganic geochemistry of minerals.

A study by the Colorado School of public health has shown that pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may contribute to acute and chronic health problems for those living near natural gas drilling sites.

A report published by the Climate Institute shows Australia is more dependent on high polluting technology than it was two decades ago, with the country being the only G20 member nation to go backwards on its low-carbon competitiveness since 1995 according to the Global Climate Leadership Review 2012.

The Federal Government has approved an extension at the existing Springvale Mine north of Lithgow in New South Wales, with Environment Minister Tony Burke announcing over 30 conditions to ensure environmental protection.

The Federal Government has announced that impacts on the Great Barrier Reef will be considered in the assessment of whether or not Rio Tinto Weipa proposed South of Embley Bauxite Mine and Port Development can progress under national environment law.

The Northern Territory has announced it has recorded over $200 million in minerals exploring investment, a record for the territory.

The Federal and Western Australian governments have announced the commencement of work on the $120 Esperance port works.

A 50:50 joint venture between John Holland and Macmahon Holdings has been awarded the $340 million site development civil works contract by the JKC Joint Venture (JGC Corporation, KBR, Chiyoda Corporation) for the onshore facilities of the Ichthys LNG Project near Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Toll Energy has announced work has begun on a $45 million transport and storage contract as part of coal seam gas explorer GQC’s Queensland Curtis Liquefied Natural Gas (GCLNG) project.

The Federal Government has released draft legislation that will cut company tax from 30 per cent to 29 per cent. For the 2013-14 income year.

The University of New South Wales  has established a new professorial chair in geotechnical engineering, building on its partnership with global mining company Rio Tinto  (Northparkes Mines).


Professor Graham Davies, Dean of Engineering at UNSW said the partnership will enable the university develop a world-leading research, teaching and training effort in the field of underground mining and block caving.


Block caving is a large-scale underground mining method suitable for accessing low-grade ore bodies such as copper, which often exist as massive, near-vertical areas of mineralisation. 


Mine access tunnels are excavated to the base of the mineral deposit, where an extraction level is created to access the ore.  


Following initial blasting to trigger the caving process, the rock mass then caves downwards to the extraction level and breaks up naturally under gravity and the effects of rock stress. From here it is collected and hauled to the surface for processing. 


Research will explore how different ore bodies respond to block caving, and will develop improved design and prediction methodologies.


“This partnership recognises the importance of geotechnical engineering as a core element for successful and safe underground mining,” says Professor Bruce Hebblewhite, Head of the UNSW School of Mining.


“This is the lowest-cost underground mining method available and is growing rapidly around the world… and there is a significant shortage of people with skills in these areas,” says Professor Hebblewhite. 


Northparkes Mines – a gold and copper mine in central western NSW – was Australia’s first block cave mine and has more than 15 years experience working with the technology. 


Northparkes Mines has supported several undergraduate scholarships within the UNSW School of Mining and also regularly hosts UNSW students to visit the site for educational field trips.


An international search is now underway to fill the position.

The Australian Government has awarded a $1.9 million grant to National ICT Australia (NICTA) Ltd's  $5 million project to provide enhanced data for targeted geothermal exploration as part of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) Emerging Renewables Program.

The value of Australia’s resources and energy exports in 2011 increased by 15 per cent from the previous year to a record $190 billion, according to the Resources and Energy Statistics December quarter 2011 report released today by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE).

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