This year’s Queensland Mining & Engineering Exhibition (QME), to be held in Mackay from July 24-26, comes as the Central Queensland coal industry gears up for even more growth in the years to come. According to Paul Baker, exhibition director with QME organiser Reed Mining Events, a recent report from the federal government’s Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics (BREE), Mining Industry Major Projects-April 2012, shows that the industry’s boom conditions have a long way to run. “The BREE report outlines how, in addition to three coal mining projects completed in the Bowen Basin in the past six months, adding 8.3 Mt of production capacity, a further 11 Queensland coal projects are in advanced stages of development and are expected to be completed in the next two to three years,” he said. See IM’s World Coal report in the August 2012 issue.“On top of these, the Galilee Basin, west of the Bowen Basin, is just starting open up, with the Queensland government’s recent conditional approval for the $6.4 billion Alpha coal project, owned by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Coal. “This project also includes a 495 km railway line to Abbot Point near Bowen, north of Mackay.“Another major infrastructure project, now under construction, is the third phase of BHP Billiton’s $2.4 billion Hay Point coal terminal in Mackay, scheduled for completion in 2014.”Baker said the BREE report also identified a large number of other Central Queensland coal mine expansions and developments, along with associated infrastructure, that were not so advanced in planning and approvals that would put the Queensland coal industry on a strong footing for many years.“In this context, QME 2012 is ideally positioned as the premium showcase for the Central Queensland coal industry, providing a venue for suppliers of a wide range of products and services to get in front of decision-makers and decision-influencers from the region,” he said.“This year’s edition – the 10th QME since we started in 1993 – will have more than 650 exhibitors, up from just over 600 in 2010, and will be 20% larger in floor area.“It incorporates a revamped floor plan, making the show easier to get around, as well as a ‘covered’ open-air area in a large marquee so that many of our outside displays remain protected from the weather.“QME is an opportunity for visitors to source the latest products and services aimed at assisting their companies in boosting productivity and efficiency, improving safety and reducing costs,” Baker said.“It is also a great networking event, and a chance to catch up with colleagues, peers and friends in a trade-only, industry-specific event. This exhibition brings buyers and sellers together in a single location; we have numerous instances of exhibitors who have launched new products, or even new businesses, at QME in past years.“We have had suppliers of big-ticket capital equipment make direct sales at or following QME as a result of meeting the many decision-makers and decision-influencers who attend. We have had visitors come along with specific problems, issues or challenges, and find solutions to their needs. I am confident that this year will be no different,” he said.QME 2012 will also see the introduction of a range of “mining community” initiatives, designed to attract as wide a cross-section of the mining industry as possible.“We have a range of events and initiatives, aimed at ensuring we engage everyone who is involved in the mining industry, at all levels,” said Baker. These include:• Specific programs, including “crib session” networking and meeting sessions at the end of each day for “Frontline” miners• Miners’ Health Week in conjunction with the Mater Foundation, including free basic health checks, as well as presentations on health and lifestyle issues• Women in Mining Day which aims to celebrate the increasing role of women in mining – and to encourage greater participation from women who are considering careers in the industry• A careers and recruitment program through the QME Careers Centre that will bring together mining companies with people who are looking at careers and opportunities in mining• Advice and support for FIFO/DIDO miners and their families, with practical information sessions put on by Mining Family Matters.“Mining has really moved on from being a ‘men-only’ industry, and it has recognised that it needs to engage with people across the community – not only those currently involved, but those looking at job opportunities, and which will allow the industry to grow and prosper in years to come,” Baker said. “At the same time, we are also keen to encourage those already in the industry and working in frontline roles – who increasingly play an important part in influencing purchasing decisions – to come along to QME. It is a once-in-two-years opportunity for them to see at first hand the latest products, services and techniques that they are likely to be working with in the future. It’s also an opportunity for them to identify new products and services for their employers to consider – as well as give ‘hands-on’ feedback to exhibitors and suppliers.”Once again, this year’s edition of QME will include a two-day conference at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre on July 24-25 – following a highly successful conference as part of QME 2010.Baker said that with the theme of Productivity, Responsibility & Sustainability, this year’s conference had been designed as a landmark two-day forum focusing on the key issues central to the Queensland mining industry’s future success.“It will feature information and insights from leading experts, and is aimed at assisting mine company personnel and other stakeholders to develop strategies and methodologies to operate successfully in these booming, yet economically constrained times,” he said.Ian Leslie, well-known business and political journalist and corporate communicator and a member of the original 60 Minutes team, will chair the conference.Key speakers include Michael Roche, CEO of the Queensland Resources Council, and Andrew Cripps, Queensland’s new Minister for Natural Resources and Mines.“The 2012 QME Mining Industry Conference will have a strong focus on corporate responsibility and sustainability, with sessions covering the development of vibrant mining communities, workplace health, skills and well-being issues, indigenous employment opportunities, as well as case studies on environmental best practice in mining,” said Baker.Other sessions will include automation in mining, supporting SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in local communities, and planning better quality infrastructure for transporting resources from pits to ports.Registrations for the 2012 QME Conference are now open. Registration details, and the full conference program, are available at www.queenslandminingexpo.com.au by clicking on the CONFERENCE link at the top of the page.Following the two-day conference, on July 26, the Mackay Area Industry Network (MAIN) will hold a one-day Bowen Basin Safety Conference, also at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre.