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Queensland Resources Expo and Conference
The success of the inaugural Queensland Resources Expo and Conference (QREX) in Australia at the end of May has confirmed Central Queensland and its coal-rich Bowen Basin as a minerals and energy powerhouse for the Australian economy in the 21st century.
The bi-annual event brought together clean coal technologists and hosted the unveiling of revised coal industry funding for clean coal research and development expected to deliver $AU1 billion over the next 10 years.
The region is home to two advanced clean coal electricity generation proposals, including an oxyfuel initiative that has already attracted more than $AU100 million in government and industry funding.
Central Queensland’s administrative capital of Rockhampton is rapidly establishing itself as a focal point for coal technology development.
In the nearby Bowen Basin, 13 new mines with low sulphur and ash content coal are expected to open in the region in the next few months, adding to the10 new mines established over the past 12 months.
The region currently boasts 44 coal mines, 22 mineral mines, and 20 medium to large quarries now producing products worth $AU15 billion dollars annually, according to figures released by the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy.
Leading global efforts towards zero-emission coal and gas-fired power station technology, the Australian black coal industry, Federal and State Governments, universities and research institutions are positioning Australia to write a new chapter in its long history of scientific research and innovation.
Australia has a vested interest in supporting its export coal industry, with the country’s leading commodity export currently valued at $AU25 billion a year.
Multinational mining companies including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Peabody and Xstrata have significant investments in Australian export coalfields grouped along the country’s east coast from central Queensland to southern New South Wales.
Central Queensland’s emergence as a focal point for clean coal technology development fits well with its close links to the coal industry and the University of Central Queensland, along with broader community support from organisations such as Rockhampton City Council, Rockhampton Tourist and Business Information and Rockhampton Regional Development.
The inaugural QREX was convened to showcase the region’s contribution to clean coal technology and other applied water and resources research.
Coincidentally, Rockhampton is also the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, fishing and island hopping destinations as well as the capital of Australia’s cattle industry, making it an ideal international conference centre for miners wanting a break!
QREX highlighted the benefits of regional cooperation, as the local governments, the University of Central Queensland and many businesses in the region combined to create the new international conference and trade show. The region has already seen an 85 per cent increase in real estate prices, a dramatic increase in high-paid employment and significant increases in inter-state investments over the past 18 months.
More than 250 mining and government industry leaders converged for the QREX conference, Resourcing the Future, which addressed tough questions revolving around climate change and the long-term sustainability of the region’s resources sector.
Queensland Department of State Development Director Brad Carter said the conference was outstanding - a typical comment and a big call for those who travel the world attending such conferences.
"It was the best line up of speakers I have experienced at any conference I have ever attended. In particular, people from small to medium size mining companies said the conference would revolutionise the way they would manage their business for the future," he said.
The conference covered an enormous diversity from international leading-edge technology, to hard-nosed economic infrastructure development and build-and-construct issues.
Various major resource announcements coincided with the conference. Peak industry body, the Queensland Resources Council, used the conference to urge the adoption of a national carbon management plan to coordinate the long-term storage of carbon dioxide in geological formations.
Chief Executive Michael Roche also confirmed financial uncapping of the black coal industry’s voluntary COAL21 Fund to deliver an expected $1AU billion for carbon capture and storage demonstration projects over the next decade.
The COAL21 Fund - derived from a self-imposed levy - is believed to be the world’s largest whole-of-industry investment in combating climate change.
Queensland Centre for Low Emission Technology CEO and chair of the International Energy Agency’s Greenhouse Gas R&D Program, Dr Kelly Thambimuthu, led discussions on the options for achieving deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use.
Officially opening QREX, Queensland State Development Minister John Mickel emphasised the instant environmental advantage of using Australian coal in electricity production.
In countries with low quality coals, the use of Australian premium coal for power generation could reduce harmful emissions by up to 40 per cent. Combined with clean coal technology being pioneered in Australia, he said the world would be delivered tangible benefits sooner.
Other speakers included:
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