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Analysis and Comment (136)

Mining has become an industrial actor central to many of the most compelling political and social debates of our time. AAP/Dan Peled

Anthropology exposes how miners shape our world and our views of it

Miners do much more than extract minerals and make profits. All over the world mining corporations are collaborating with governments, local populations and NGOs. Their logos, mottoes and CEOs seem to…
The facts about mining revenues and taxation in Australia aren’t as clear as they should be under global transparency benchmarks. AAP/Rebecca Le May

Why isn’t Australia signing up to mining revenue transparency?

It’s a far-from-perfect instrument of global governance. But as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) coalition celebrates its 12th birthday, it can point to steadily increasing membership…
Mining giant Rio Tinto, which has operated in Guinea for 50 years, has donated just US$100,000 to the UN Ebola fund. EPA/Ahmed Jallanzo

Mining companies must dig deep in the fight against Ebola

The current outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa shows no signs of halting. More than 4,500 people have died and many thousands more are infected. Despite the creation of a new United Nations mission…
Diamond geezers. Indians are taking Antwerp. Racineur

The rise and rise of Belgium’s Indian diamond dynasties

From the outside, Number 2 Hoveniersstraat Street in Antwerp is a nondescript office block. Only the clusters of businessmen speaking in Gujarati on their mobile phones or with each other, give any indication…
Children are particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of lead because their brains and bodies are still developing. Viacheslav Nikolaenko/Shutterstock

Toxic playgrounds: Broken Hill kids exposed to poisonous dust

In the shadows of Broken Hill’s rich mining history lies a legacy of contamination and regulatory failure that will likely outlive any benefits locals derive from mining. One in five children aged under…
A test pit for the Alpha Coal Mine proposed by GVK Hancock, which was successfully challenged in the Land Court. Such a challenge would not be allowed under Queensland’s new mining laws. Lock the Gate Alliance/Flickr

Mining coup in Queensland removes public objection rights

The Queensland government has recently removed long-standing public rights to object to mines. In shades of the Bjelke-Petersen era, Queensland mines minister Andrew Cripps made fundamental changes one…
Indigenous groups are concerned about proposed changes to the process for determining heritage sites in Western Australia, including the location of the Nyoongar Tent embassy. Allen Stewart/Newspix

Frustration rises over changes to the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act

In June, the Western Australian Government released draft amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. This is the legislation that determines what qualifies for heritage protection in the state – and…
Australia has a strategy for abandoned mines - but it needs implementing. Caveman/Flickr

What should we do with Australia’s 50,000 abandoned mines?

Wandering around Australia, you might want to watch your step — the country currently has more than 50,000 abandoned mines. Some represent a significant threat from contamination; others may pose safety…
Nailing down the sites of ancient volcanic eruptions could help identify mineral deposits. Ásgeir Kröyer/Flickr

Tracing the Earth’s hottest volcanoes from core to ore

Volcanic eruptions are as old as the planet itself. They inspire awe, curiosity and fear and demonstrate the dynamic internal activity of the Earth. However, the impact of modern volcanoes pales in comparison…
Tasmania’s alkaloid poppy industry was an Australian innovation success story - until it moved overseas. Glenn Schultes/Flickr

In Conversation: Australia needs tax breaks for innovation

Australian innovation has stagnated in the past 50 years, and could be reinvigorated by focusing on key areas, according to Donald Hector, President of the Royal Society of New South Wales in an interview…
Clive Palmer’s relationship with Chinese investors has seen better days. David Barbeler/AAP

Digging beneath China’s interest in Australian iron ore projects

The Australian iron ore industry is no place for the faint hearted. On April 11, Padbury Mining spectacularly announced billions in funding (reportedly backed by Chinese investors) to develop the Oakajee…
We live in a ‘wide brown land’ – but we need to figure out how to use it sustainably. Duncan Rawlinson

Groundbreaking earth sciences for a smart – and lucky – country

AUSTRALIA 2025: How will science address the challenges of the future? In collaboration with Australia’s chief scientist Ian Chubb, we’re asking how each science discipline will contribute to Australia…
Most innovations form in a network, with a mixture of local and global ingredients. Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

Four ways to boost Australian innovation

From the days of the gold rushes, to the banking and mining booms of the last 15 years, Australians have long worried that most of the world’s innovation was happening somewhere else. Did our good fortune…
Coral bleaching is one of the more obvious signs the Great Barrier Reef is in trouble. mattk1979/Flickr

Is Australia shooting itself in the foot with reef port expansions?

With the approval of dredging as part of the Abbot Point port expansion, Australia has given the green light to an increase in coal exports. While opposition to the plan has focused primarily on the effects…
Has the mining industry drowned out the arts in Western Australia? Not at all – the mines are fertile ground for storytellers. AAP Image/Rebecca Le May

Mining for stories: the boom-and-bust mining literature cycle

It is often difficult to ascertain how the location or culture that you live within is perceived by others, but travelling to other parts of Australia or indeed the world as a Western Australian it’s usually…
Wheat fields in central New South Wales. Sam Ilić/Flickr

Australian trade beats aid in boosting global food security

Should Australia aim to become Asia’s “food bowl”? How can we help farmers earn more for what they produce? And how can Australia best contribute to global food security? Those are some of the crucial…
Is mining part of Australia’s DNA? AAP

Mining: our love and fear

To a large extent, mining has made the Australian nation, but while aware of its importance many Australians are uncertain or hesitant about its respectability as an industry. ‘Boom’ illustrates and helps…
Debt; dollar; deficit - the mantra for this year, amid a turbulent political period. AAP

2013, the year that was: Business and Economy

Debt. Dollar. Deficits. Three little words so close to the hearts of our contributors in a year dominated by a critical federal election, a waning mining boom and continuing international turbulence. The…
The collapsed leach tank at the Ranger mine in Kakadu National Park. AAP/Supplied by Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation

Ranger’s toxic spill highlights the perils of self-regulation

The latest accident at the Ranger uranium mine is a timely reminder of the environmental risks of operating a heavy industry facility: especially a uranium mine on Indigenous land, surrounded by the World…
Workers fly in and out of mines like this one in the Pilbara, bringing financial security but anxiety to their local communities. AAP/Rebecca Le May

Fly-in fly-out worth the pain, for some: study

The high profile phenomenon of fly-in fly-out workers has gained widespread attention as a unique social phenomenon since the start of the mineral boom – and it has major implications for the well-being…
The reversal of ‘immunity laws’ surrounding Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi mine means former owner BHP could face claims on environmental damage. AAP Image/Lloyd Jones

Ok Tedi immunity gone, with implications beyond BHP

Remote Mount Fubilan, near the source of Papua New Guinea’s Tedi River, is once again the site of global controversy surrounding the Ok Tedi copper gold mine. Since the late 1980s, Ok Tedi has symbolised…
The mining boom is over but our political leaders have refused to acknowledge that bad times may be coming. Image from shutterstock.com

Election 2013 Issues: How we make our money

Welcome to the The Conversation’s Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles by leading experts in their field provide an in-depth look at the key policy challenges affecting Australia as…
Australian gold mines can yield as little as 1g of gold per tonne of rock – but X-rays can detect minuscule amounts of gold and save billions of dollars. Ben Cooper

Eureka! X-ray vision can find hidden gold

Globally, the minerals industry is operating in an increasingly challenging environment. Lower and more volatile metal prices, declining ore grades, increasing production costs, environmental pressures…
What is the future of Australian productivity and investment after the mining boom? AAP/Christian Sprogoe

After the boom: where will growth come from?

Where will jobs and growth come from after the mining boom? This is the fundamental question facing the next Australian government, whose success will depend to a great extent on how it addresses this…
The ground beneath our feet is full of riches. How do we make the most of them? Flickr/ginger_ninja

Election 2013 Issues: The ground beneath our feet

Welcome to the The Conversation Election 2013 State of the Nation essays. These articles by leading experts in their field provide an in-depth look at the key policy challenges affecting Australia as the…
Tarkine mines must now fund Tasmanian Devil conservation. But what about the rest of it? Flickr/Gopal Vijayaraghavan

Tasmania’s Tarkine needs a strategic plan

The Federal Government has now approved two mines for the Tarkine region of Tasmania, on condition that the mines fund conservation measures for Tasmanian Devils and other threatened species. The approvals…
Catch up on Q&A from 15 July.

FactCheck Q&A: towing back the boats and the mining tax

1. Julie Bishop: Australia has the right to return asylum seeker boats to Indonesia “We cannot escape from the fact that they are Indonesian boats with Indonesian crews from Indonesian ports. Of course…
How long does it take to get a mine approved in Australia? APH

FactCheck: does it take three years to get approval for a mine?

“Just to get the regulatory approvals [to start a mine] takes more than three years. Six years ago it took less than 12 months… Australian investors are fleeing this country to invest in more stable countries…
Australia enjoys a privileged relationship with most economies in the Asian region because of the integrated global value chain. Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

Increasing Australia’s edge through Asian value chains

Australia is facing increasingly stiff competition from developed economies all vying for a share of the growth pie in the East and South Asian region, where Australia has integrated its value chain activities…
It’s been decades since our last foray outside Earth’s orbit - but what’s next for humankind? P.O. Arnäs

Humanity’s next giant leap: our heritage in space is our future too

The United Nations’ Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is meeting in Vienna this week, and representatives of 74 countries will discuss, among other things, how to ensure space is maintained…
This Green and Golden Bell Frog is one of the few species to be successfully protected using offsets. Flickr/eyeweed

Can we offset biodiversity losses?

Clive Palmer’s China First Coal Project is entering the last stages of review for its proposed coal mine in Queensland’s Bimblebox Nature Refuge. As part of the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement…
Only 39% of mining companies believe the climate is changing; 13% have made plans to adapt. CSIRO

Mining companies are underprepared for climate change

Recent research suggests only a minority of mining companies are preparing for the biophysical impacts of climate change. Those that are preparing are going it alone: there is little collaboration on planning…
Amid global demand for rare earth minerals, there has been a strong interest in deep sea mining. Flickr\gnews

Is the next mining boom on the ocean floor?

Defence behemoth Lockheed Martin’s recent announcement of a venture into deep sea mining (DSM) reflects growing interest in exploiting virgin mining territory. In what is being described by some as a “deep…
The commercialisation of space is already underway. Rick Sternbach/Keck Institute for Space Studies

Buy, sell, lift-off: the global economy is going interplanetary

Harvesting space resources will raise living standards worldwide, without further damaging Earth. So how can those resources be tapped in a way that will produce a return on investment? That question may…
When it comes to the polls, FIFO workers are most likely to vote for the party which will support their industry. Wesfarmers

Western Australia election: FIFO vote

In Western Australia business is booming for the mining and resources sector. The number of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers employed in the state has increased over the last five years to more than 35,000…
Aburizal Bakrie and Nathaniel Rothschild have been engaged in a protracted battle for control over Indonesian mining giant Bumi plc. Flickr\I am Rudy

Duelling dynasties: Nat Rothschild is no king coal in the boardroom battle for Bumi

Last week saw a shareholders' meeting of the mining company Bumi plc in London. Shareholders meetings are hardly unusual events. But this was no ordinary shareholders meeting. It involved a major Indonesian…
Social Licences are seen as being earned by mining companies from the communities they operate in. AAP

Can you legislate a social licence to operate?

The concept of a ‘social licence to operate’ (SLO) is not new. It has been used widely in the mining and minerals industry for some 15 years where it has generally described the informal acceptance or…
Outgoing BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers shakes hands with his successor, Andrew Mackenzie. AAP

Change at the top: what next for BHP Billiton?

The board of BHP Billiton Limited today announced the retirement of chief executive officer and inside director Marius Kloppers. Dr Kloppers is a 20-year veteran of the company, serving 12 years as a senior…
Martin Ferguson, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan announced the MRRT in 2010 … but three ministers and three miners do not a policy make. AAP/Alan Porritt

In mining and governing, policy made on the fly is likely to flop

Most controversial public policy could be said to be made on the run, or at least amended on a brisk walk. So the revelations in Peter Martin’s recent article on the errors embedded in the Gillard government’s…
Allowing mining companies to help educate children is not without benefits, but it is problematic. Mining image from www.shutterstock.com

Mining young minds: the challenges of private interests and education

The recent partnership announced between Nucoal Mining and Narara Valley High School in NSW has drawn some divided reactions. The mining company says the aim of the new venture will be to improve the maths…
As investment in mining projects hits its peak, the Australian economy will undergo a transition to export-led economic growth. AAP

Tougher times ahead as the mining boom shifts gears

Various explanations have been offered for Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s decision to announce the date of the 2013 federal election almost eight months in advance. Most commentators, both those who applaud…
Governments, industry and communities must work together to address suicide risk factors for FIFO/DIDO workers. AAP/Bagus Indahono

Mining, fly-in, fly-out workers and the risk of suicide

Barely a week passes without media coverage of some aspect of the real or perceived impacts of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in drive-out (DIDO) work, especially in the mining sector. We hear about the…
Road traffic is a threat to Tasmania’s few health devils - increased truck traffic in the Tarkine won’t help. Rhys Allen

Tarkine mines could be last straw for Tasmanian devils

Just a week before Christmas, Environment Minister Tony Burke approved Shree Minerals’ mine near Temma in the Tarkine region of north-west Tasmania. Perhaps he hoped the announcement would get lost in…
Old methods of protest are looking distinctly shabby in the face of climate change. Now activists are making it harder for miners to do business. Paul Miller/AAP

ANZ imposter takes up new climate tactic

Yesterday an anti-coal activist, Jonathan Moylan issued a media release purportedly from the ANZ Bank withdrawing a $1.2 billion loan to Whitehaven Coal, which is developing a project in Maules Creek in…
Research is clear on the value of the Tarkine’s rainforest, but does it matter to human society? Rob Blakers

Tarkine a question of values: mines versus ancient rainforest

In Australia, we ride on the open cut mine’s back. In the island state of Tasmania, there is a medium size-class open cut mine (928 hectares) with 210 hectares of settling ponds, from which iron nodules…
Mining is a major regional activity - yet as we ready ourselves for the Asian century, very little research has been undertaken on other growth opportunities in these areas.

Where is regional Australia in our Asian Century future?

A stocktake of research conducted into regional development in Australia shows that we are failing to do sufficient research on opportunities for sustainable growth and prosperity in regional Australia…
Are the perceived risks of uranium mining real or outdated? RaeAllen

Modern-day mining: Queensland’s uranium re-launch

The Queensland State Government recently announced it would take up uranium mining again. The topic of uranium mining often raises concern about environmental risk. While past uranium mining in Queensland…
Aboriginal (Kija, Malnjin, Mirawoonga and Worla) cultural law holds that Argyle mine’s pink diamonds are scales of the female Baramundi creative Dreaming Being. Swamibu/Flickr

More than diamonds in the rough: resource struggles in the Kimberley

On Tuesday Lateline ran a story built around a report: “Developing the West Kimberley’s Resources” that the program breathlessly presented as a “secret plan” to industrialise the region, unlock its resources…
The US has taken action against the use of conflict minerals, but Australia is yet to follow suit. AAP

Australia needs to act on conflict minerals

Last month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), responsible for regulating capital markets, ruled in favour of laws prohibiting the use of “conflict minerals”. The new regulations have set…
The Queensland government is keen to remove as many barriers to development as possible. But at what cost to the state’s environment? AAP/Dave Hunt

Queensland’s big step back from environmental assessment

The defining characteristic of the Newman government’s environmental policy seems to be a Great Leap Backwards: an old-fashioned determination not to let environmental concerns get in the way of expanding…
James Price Point’s monsoon vine thickets are culturally and ecologically important, and undervalued in assessments of environmental impact. Artist and botanist Jeanne Brown

James Price Point: environmental significance ignored in failed impact assessment

The proposed Browse Liquefied Natural Gas Hub at James Price Point (known locally as Walmadany), 50km north of Broome, has created one of the most fiercely fought environmental and indigenous battles currently…
A long wait: Lonmin miners - involved in a bloody clash with police with killed 34 people - are arguing for a greater share of wealth that has steadily flowed into foreign economies, most recently China. AAP

China and the shadow of colonialism still looming over Africa

Graphic pictures of South African police firing at striking black workers protesting for a living wage at the Lonmin platinum mine last week is a tragic reminder of Africa’s neo-colonial past, that never…
Australia’s mining companies have intensified their exploration of resources in Indonesia, much to the detriment of local communities. Jeff Lewis

The Australian assault on Indonesia’s riches

Not satisfied with the abundance of our own natural resources, Australian mining companies have spread their interests across the region. Many of these ventures— Ok Tedi, Bougainville, Freeport-Grasberg…
There are economy-wide gains to be made from lowering the corporate tax rate, but businesses will need to make concessions of their own. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Subsidies are standing in the way of corporate tax reform

Yesterday, the government’s business tax working group released its discussion paper on possibilities for tax reform. The paper makes a case for a broader base and lower tax rate (the corporate tax is…
FIFO sex workers shouldn’t be blamed for rising rates of HIV and STIs. High heel image from www.shutterstock.com

Mining, sex work and STIs: why force a connection?

Can the mining boom be blamed for the rising rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in some states? The Australian Medical Association thinks so, with its Queensland president Dr Richard Kidd…
Australia’s unique manufacturing DNA - comprised of tens of thousands of small-to-medium enterprises - means that we must forge our own path to innovation. DNA Art Online

Finding a unique path for Australia’s manufacturing future

As the manufacturing landscape shifts in response to new economic and social pressures, Australia is looking for an answer to the question: What does the future look like for Australian manufacturing…
Technology and globalisation are dramatically transforming the workers and workplaces of the future.

The Future of Work

The modern workplace is constantly evolving. The water cooler and the 9-to-5 grind are quickly becoming relics of the past; what is in store for the future? The Conversation has been running a series…
Beware the hyperbole: Campbell Newman has vowed to axe the Wild Rivers legislation, but what’s the reality beneath the rhetoric? AAP/Alan Porritt

Overturn, axe and bury: the LNP and Queensland’s Wild Rivers Act

Those who follow the Wild Rivers debates in Queensland probably know better than to trust the headlines. When, in January 2010, Tony Abbott announced a federal intervention into the state’s environmental…
The goals of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative are laudable; but an excessive focus on transparency and accountability doesn’t always benefit developing host countries.

Is more transparency for big miners the answer for developing countries?

A developed country, rich in natural resources, with relatively open and accountable governance lends its support to a global transparency initiative – what does this mean for the world’s poor? It depends…
Quarries and quandaries: Australia’s natural splendour is a major source of income, yet it sits uncomfortably with mining’s spread. AAP/Fantasea Adventure Cruising

Mining and the environment: the future of Australia’s brand

Australia has built a strong global brand based on its iconic natural beauty. For example, the new Australia Tourism campaign, “There’s nothing like Australia”, features icons like the Kimberley, Uluru…
Coal’s toll? A Newcastle church cupola damaged in the 1989 earthquake serves as a memorial for the 13 people killed. Flickr/OZinOH

Earthquakes and mining - how humans create seismic activity

This week’s 5.3 magnitude earthquake that struck near Moe in Victoria’s brown-coal mining region of the La Trobe Valley brings to mind the 5.6 magnitude quake of 1989 in another coal-mining heartland…
Australia’s economy is in rude health - yet people’s fears of imminent economic disaster are not groundless. AAP

Grim faces as GDP booms: what is happening here?

A simple line graph of the share of mining investment in Australia’s GDP reveals the scale of what our economy is going through. It shows that mining investment is now twice as large relative to GDP as…
Does the Queensland Premier understand his own State’s mine approval process? AAP

Federal ‘green-tape’ myth for Alpha mine

The dispute between the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments over the approval of Gina Rinehart’s Alpha Coal Mine continues to escalate with the Prime Minister now backing her Environment Minister…
Newman’s campaign promises were key to endorsements from some Indigenous organisations, but there has since been little action. AAP

Whatever happened to Queensland’s Wild Rivers controversy?

As I wrote in March, whether the Wild Rivers Act was repealed or prolonged in the wake of the Queensland election, underlying issues concerning the future and politics of Cape York Peninsula would persist…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called on miners to accept that the resources they mine belong to the people. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Mining could invest in a future that belongs to all of us – education

Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered one of her strongest messages to the mining sector last night, telling mining bosses at a Minerals Industry dinner in Canberra that they don’t own Australia’s minerals…
An iron ore project in Western Australia similar to that proposed by Gina Rinehart at Roy Hill. AAP Image/Rebecca Le May

Enterprise Migration Agreements - why won’t Australians do the work?

The announcement that controversial mining billionaire Gina Rinehart is to use new Enterprise Migration Agreements to employ 1715 foreign construction workers on her $9.5 billion Roy Hill iron ore project…
Australia’s newly declared continental shelf may be as big as its land mass, but its not a stealth attack on Antarctica. AAP

Explainer: Australia’s extended continental shelf and Antarctica

Despite recent commentary in the media, Australia’s proclamation of its extended continental shelf does not represent new “claims” in Antarctica and does not contravene the Antarctic Treaty. With Australia…
Conservation doesn’t fare well once the miners move in. Kate Ausburn

Mining is digging the heart out of conservation covenants

Across Australia, landholders are signing conservation agreements or covenants to protect biodiversity on their property. These agreements, offered by state governments, create private protected areas…
Where there’s mineral wealth, people always follow. MGM

Lunar boom: we’ll soon be mining the moon

As history has repeatedly shown, where there are valuable minerals to be unearthed, adventurous humans will arrive in droves – even if it means battling extreme conditions and risking life and limb. So…
Children can be exposed to lead through through inhaling contaminated soil. Tom Woodward

How exposure to lead impacts human health

What is lead poisoning? It’s exposure to lead in a way that lands the metal into your body. There are two types of lead poisoning – acute and chronic. Acute poisoning will occur with higher exposures…
When we start building structures outside Earth, the raw materials will likely come from asteroids. Planetary Resources

Asteroid mining will happen … but Australia will miss the boom

There will be a future mining boom, as heralded in recent media stories. But this mining will take place in a location even more hostile than the Australian Outback – space. More specifically, the ore…
Australia has the resources – but the environmental cost could be huge. AAP/Purple Communications

To boom or not to boom? Mineral resources in the Asian Century

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Here, Dr Gavin Mudd considers the…
Australia’s mining boom is both a boon and a bane to our economic development.

Managing the mighty structural forces unleashed by the mining boom

Australia’s stark comparative advantage in mining is both a boon and a bane to our economic development. Investment in the mining industry as a share of Australia’s GDP has already reached unprecedented…
The Federal Government has fast-tracked applications by skilled US workers to fill trades gaps in Australia, citing the close relationship between the countries. But motives of employers pushing the scheme should examined critically. AAP

US workers get the nod … but what does this mean for the local workforce?

The Federal Government recently announced that it would use the 457 visa skilled migration program to fast-track the number of skilled workers applying from the United States. In defending this move, Federal…
Taxing mining: too high, and it discourages foreign capital inflow. But political lobbying can also mean it is set too low. AAP

Max Corden on taxing mining, tackling Dutch Disease and depreciating the dollar

The mining boom is making Australia potentially wealthier, but also creating problems because of the high exchange rate. What should government policies be? There are two issues, and it is very important…
The giants of mining are moving towards the unmanned extraction of the earth’s resources. AAP/EPA/Christian Sprogoe

Robots, red dust, and the future of mining towns

Automation and remote operation are set to transform Australian mining. It makes sense: automation can address labour shortages as the industry expands, reduce costs and improve productivity, health and…
With Alcoa reviewing its Geelong smelter, just what is the future for the aluminium industry? AAP

The solutions to Alcoa’s problems may lie in its backyard

The sight of molten metal pouring from a furnace has long been an iconic symbol of industrial might and wealth. In Australia, the metallurgical industries have provided long term jobs and wealth to many…
Former President Lula used Brazil’s commodities boom to secure the country’s future. AAP

A lesson for Australia in Brazil’s resources-driven economic miracle

Brazil has just passed the United Kingdom to become the sixth-largest economy in the world. Only a decade ago such news would have been written off as just another version of the old joke, “Brazil is the…
Paul Cleary’s book, Too Much Luck, highlights the many negative consequences of the mining boom. AAP

We are letting our resources luck turn to dust

Paul Cleary’s book Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia’s Future, is a timely appraisal of the dramatic economic and social impacts, as well as the political ramifications of the current resource…
How do we know whether replacing lost habitat with new habitat has worked? OZ in OH

Biodiversity offsets: solving the habitat-saving equation

Biodiversity offsets are touted as a new tool for protecting our natural environment. While they have the potential to deliver real gains, understanding the possible consequences of these polices over…
Paul Cleary’s book, Too Much Luck, paints a negative picture of Australia’s mining industry. AAP

Has the mining boom given us ‘too much luck’? Hardly

If Paul Cleary is to be believed in his recently published book, Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia’s Future, the resources boom is the worst thing that ever happened to Australia. He maintains…
Activists protest against Glencore by placing bottles of polluted water at its Swiss offices. AAP

The most powerful companies you’ve never heard of: Glencore

Welcome to “The most powerful companies you’ve never heard of” – an ongoing series from The Conversation that sheds light on big companies with low profiles. Today, The University of Western Australia’s…
Working to improve the performance of the resources sector is a challenging, yet important research focus. AFP/Christian Sprogoe/Rio Tinto

Research funding does not have to equal industry bias

There is common assumption that those of us who undertake applied research with the commercial world must be biased. This month the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI), which…
Despite strong export data, Australia’s trade relationship with China isn’t as developed as we think. AAP

Why Australia’s trade relationship with China remains at ground level

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the seventh part of our series, James Laurenceson looks at the challenges in doing business with China. The headline numbers surrounding Australia’s exports to China make for impressive…
Exporting uranium carries a risk not just in Australia, but all over the world. Mad House Photography

Expanding Olympic Dam: with great power comes great responsibility

The South Australian and Federal governments have approved another expansion at Olympic Dam. This expansion raises some very important questions about Australia’s role in the future of global energy and…
Is this the place for an antimony mine? I guess that depends what an antimony mine is… Karl Vernes

Rain, runoff and rare metals – the toxic threat to the Dorrigo Plateau

Hands up those who’ve heard of antimony. Now, keep them up if you can name its chemical symbol, list the world’s leading producers, or even name a single commercial product that contains the element. Most…
Making Australian miners more ethical could also make them more competitive. AAP

Sustainable mining: a vision for Australia to lead the world

Recent high prices for minerals have inspired a lot of companies and countries to start mining. But with a lead-time of up to five years for developing a mining operation, it is difficult to take advantage…
The Wieliczka salt mine in Poland is now a wedding venue. Nikonmania

From mine to wine: creative uses for old holes in the ground

Is it possible to have an ice-skating rink in an old mine? Or perhaps a wine and cheese cellar in a mine shaft? Or even a swimming pool in a processing plant? It isn’t just possible – it can be environmentally…
Dharawal National Park is safe from mining, but do we value biodiversity enough to spread protection? taffynorm/Flickr

No refuge: When a ‘protected area’ is not really protected

The New South Wales government last week said it would ban mining in the newly announced Dharawal National Park, an area where Illawara Coal was planning to extract up to $40 billion worth of black coal…
Insider trading detection in Australia has evolved, but ASIC still needs a win. AAP

Hanlong insider trading case will test ASIC’s resolve

Five senior executives of the Chinese-owned investor Hanlong Mining have had assets frozen after the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) launched an investigation into alleged insider…
Expansion is behind a transitory decline in the mining sector productivity growth: but what’s the picture for other sectors? AAP

Australia’s productivity: what is the true picture behind our lagging growth?

Official explanations of the deterioration in Australia’s productivity growth have tended to emphasise the especially sharp declines in three sectors – agriculture, mining, and utilities (such as electricity…
Don Argus’s focus on industrial relations overlooks the real issues behind slowing productivity growth. AAP

Don Argus blames IR for productivity slump - but are other factors at work?

Former BHP Billiton Chairman Don Argus has blamed inflexible industrial relations laws for Australia’s lagging productivity, describing the Gillard Government’s economic reform agenda as “lazy”. Argus…
Cate Blanchett is among the celebrities pressed into service to persuade us on political issues. AAP/WWF

Selling the political message: What makes a good advert?

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY: This afternoon, Andrew Hughes examines which recent political adverts have been a success, as part of The Conversation’s week-long series on how the media influences the way our…
Iron ore is now Australia’s biggest export. AFP/CHRISTIAN SPROGOE RIO TINTO

The Boom: Iron ore and Australia

Australia’s economic future lies underneath our feet. The island continent is blessed with a variety of natural resources but none as plentiful or important as iron ore. Iron is a common element in soils…
Are talkback radio hosts or Julia Gillard leading debate in areas like immigration and the mining tax? AAP

Immigration: does government or the media decide Australia’s policy?

The release of figures today showing a dramatic fall in immigration numbers prompts the question of whether certain sections of the media are influencing government policy. Are Australian politicians allowing…
Sharing the spoils: WA Premier Colin Barnett confers with Queensland’s Anna Bligh. AAP

Despite our patchwork economy, all states are sharing in the boom

The marked increase in international commodities prices and the accompanying rise in the value of the Australian dollar has led to popular concern about a two-speed or multi-speed economy, prompting the…
Mining companies are finally sharing the benefits with the native owners of the land. AFP/Christian Sprogoe/Rio Tinto

The Boom: Native owners or mining companies: who benefits?

Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas have, for the past five decades, experienced at close quarters the ill-effects of large scale mining, while receiving few of the benefits. From Cape York…
Sunset on the Kimberley coastline. Is the future of tourism in WA at risk from mining? AAP

Watching the sun set on tourism in the mining state

The West Australian government’s decision to reject a proposal to establish a coal mine near the Margaret River in the state’s south came after a drawn-out application and approval process that was anything…
Men are the economic winners from the current resources boom. flickr/robstephaustralia

The Boom: blokes are benefiting. What about women?

In a decision hailed as ground breaking Fair Work Australia has recently determined that gender is a key factor in women’s low pay. Essentially the argument is that workers in the female dominated community…
China can easily rouse its banks, but awakening its consumers will be tougher. AAP

Questioning Rudd’s version of ‘China 2.0’

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett’s bold claim on Friday that his state was looking “over the horizon” past Canberra to forge stronger links with China capped off a few weeks of strong rhetoric from…
The successful anti-mining tax campaign may cement Rinehart’s rich-list position. AAP

Spooking Labor was Rinehart’s smartest investment

Now that Gina Rinehart has more than doubled her fortune in one year to top the 2011 BRW Rich 200 list, she will no doubt see her contribution to last year’s $22 million campaign to stop Labor’s resources…
Australia has the world’s oldest continuously worked mine site. AAP

The Australian history we don’t know

There has been a massive revival of interest in Australian history in the last decade. Under Prime Minister John Howard, Australia’s military history, particularly the ANZACs, became little short of a…

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Is Colin Barnett a communist?

Western Australia is an interesting place. No, really! True, lots of students from Asia think Perth’s a bit ‘quiet’, but at least local politics is getting a bit more exciting. Indeed, our state premier…

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Research Briefs (12)

Oil sands create pollution

The pollution created from extracting and processing Canadian tar sands is comparable to a large power plant or a mid-size…