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World-First Breakthrough Paves the Way for CO2 Emissions

World-First Breakthrough Paves the Way for CO2 Emissions

A world-first research breakthrough at the University of Newcastle has led to the development of technology that can turn carbon emissions into bricks and pavers.

Researchers at the university have been collaborating with chemical giant Orica and carbon innovation company GreenMag Group in exploring permanent and safe disposal methods of carbon dioxide.

The mineral carbonation technology copies and accelerates the earth’s method of sinking carbon in trapping and transforming the emissions into rock.

The pilot plan will be funded by the Mineral Carbonation International (MCi), who have pledged $9 million over a period of four years.

Chief executive of MCi, Marcus St John Dawe, says the plan paves the way for more environmentally sustainable ways of managing carbon.

“We could be making millions of tonnes of bricks and pavers which really could be green products for the future,” he said.

Chief executive of Orica, Ian Smith, says the technology will provide power stations throughout the world with the means to manage CO2 emissions more sustainably.

“So this would enable, not just us as a company, but all the coal fired power stations around the world to be retrofitted so they can capture their CO2 off-take,” he said

Smith says Orica has already implemented the technology at the Kooragang Island plant, where emissions from the plant are being captured and transformed.

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'Internally-cured' concrete toughens up the construction industry

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has contributed to concrete research within Indiana working to strengthen concrete by altering the way the concrete is made up.

'Internally-cured' technology changes the make-up before the mixing of concrete while still complying with the concrete standards.

As research is underway to better the strength, durability and life expectancy of the concrete other institutes have taken interest in the improvements and sponsored or contributed to the research project.

The increasing awareness of the project is providing more manpower and thus a faster result and finish to the project.

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Printing houses could revolutionise construction industry

Waiting months for your home to be built could one day be a thing of the past.

University of Southern California academic Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis claims that 3D printing will soon be used to ‘print’ structures and walls with a concrete-style material three times stronger than standard concrete in a process he terms ‘Contour Crafting’.

According to Professor Khoshnevis, printing concrete would be similar to the way a household 3D printer prints shapes out of plastic. A pool of raw material is layered into shapes by a print head, allowed to set, then another layer applied. According to the professor, building a house requires a much larger scale, but the basic principles remain the same.

In order to construct a house from printed concrete, a large scaffold would need to be positioned on rails on the construction site, while several massive print heads build the house from the ground up – layer upon layer. Plumbing and electrics can also be inserted by the system.

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Uranium mine ban lifted in Queensland

The ban on uranium mining in Queensland has been lifted, in a decision the state government says will have resounding financial benefits for the state.

Premier Campbell Newman announced the move last month, which will allow companies to mine and export the heavy metal, for the first time since 1989.

The lifting of the ban brings Queensland's resource sector into line with other states and territories in Australia and is expected to drive investment in the region.

Premier Newman told media: "It's been 30 years since there was uranium mining in this state, and in that time Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia have carved out successful uranium industries that deliver jobs and prosperity to their regions."

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Recyclable Road Base Linked To Asbestos

A benchmark recycling program in Western Australia that crushed construction waste into road base has been suspended amidst concerns asbestos fibres could be released.

The program allowed more than a million tonnes of the waste to be diverted from landfill a year in to the state’s roads, boosting WA’s low recycling record.

The program was repeatedly criticised by WA’s biggest waste management company, Eclipse Resources, because asbestos, which is indistinguishable from concrete, was in many older buildings being demolished.

Approximately 85,000 tonnes of waste was crushed for road base on at this site - the Great Eastern Highway upgrade before the program was suspended.

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Mining tax implemented amid criticism

Despite continued opposition from some industry groups, the 30 per cent minerals resource rent tax (MRRT) on the super profits of iron ore and coal companies came into effect over the weekend on July 1.

The tax impacts companies that mine coal, iron ore and petroleum and have an annual turnover of more than $75 million.

The government says the tax will generate funds that will be redistributed among Australian families to lessen the impact of the controversial carbon tax, which also came into effect over the weekend.

The government is expecting to generate $13.4 billion over the next four years from the tax.

This figure has spawned criticism from the Federal Opposition, private-sector economists and mining groups however, with a UBS Investment Bank report alleging the government will receive just 35 per cent of the revenue it expects from the MRRT over the next four years.

The report forecasts mining companies will pay just $4.78 billion over the next four years, against the Treasury’s estimate of $13.4 billion.

Fortescue Metals Group lodged a High Court challenge against the mining tax last week, claiming the tax preferences one state over another by restricting a state’s constitutional authority to encourage mining.

The hearing is expected before the end of the year.

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Federal Government Budget Released

Federal Government Budget Released

Wayne Swan’s fifth federal budget contained no more unpleasant surprises for Australia’s buoyant mining sector, but revenue forecasts form the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) were substantially downgraded from initial estimates.

The tax is to be introduced from July 1st 2012, will be levied on 30% of profits from the coal and iron ore mining in Australia on profit tested companies. Only companies with an annual profit of 75 million dollars or more will be affected by the tax. The federal government has estimated that 320 companies will generate revenue for the nation’s budget in the inaugural year of the MRRT.

The 2012-13 Federal Budget can be found in it’s entirety and in reduced formats and sections at the official national government website:

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WA Resources Sector $117 Billion Record in 2011

WA Resources Sector $117 Billion Record in 2011

In line with high expectations, the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum today reported a bumper sales record in 2011. Exceptionally high commodity prices and robust foreign demand delivered revenue of $107 billion across the year. 2011 merchandise exports across the nation were skewed 46% to WA, 20% to QLD, 15% to NSW and 8% to Victoria.

The state’s resource sector was driven largely by iron ore sales and supported by substantial petroleum and gold revenue. High commodity prices helped to offset the high Australian dollar which traded at an average US$1.03 across 2011.

The year was a record for Western Australia role within the national framework of exports on a number of counts. The state accounted for 46% of Australia’s $263 billion merchandise exports. Western Australia’s share of national mining capital expenditure rose 44% to $35.6 billion, which was 56% of the nation’s total.

The booming state generated 51% of national mineral prospecting and 71% of the country’s petroleum exploration.

Read more at the Dept. of Mines and Petroleum

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