150 locals not FIFO workers to benefit from Stanmore plan

FIRST in line for the 150 jobs created at a new Stanmore Coal mine will be workers from Moranbah and Mackay.

On Wednesday news broke that the Isaac Plains coal mine 6km east of Moranbah would reopen in February.

Gladstone-based Golding Contractors was awarded its contract late Wednesday afternoon and principal mining engineer Dylan Pieters said it would look to employ “those living closest to the mine”.

“To get a mining contract in this current market is a really good thing,” Mr Pieters said.

“We want to employ people where the mine is at and we’ve already started advertising some of the positions.”

But he said the bulk of the new jobs would be advertised soon, through seek.com and the company website.

Stanmore Coal’s managing director Nick Jorss said the company would not employ FIFO workers “because it did not suit the business model”, particularly with the mine on track to be one of the world’s lowest-cost metallurgical coal mines.

He planned to reduce the cost of production for each tonne of coal by around 35% compared to the mine’s previous performance.

Buying the mine for just $1 in July was a major cost-saving but Mr Jorss said it would also change its operation method.

“The model is definitely changing,” Mr Jorss said.

“We are changing the method and maximising the amount of dragline.

“Moving overburden with dragline reduces costs.”

More than $7 million in royalties, in addition to state and federal government taxes, would flow back to the state.

After the mine reopens in February Mr Jorss said the first coal shipments should leave in April, en route to Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

He hoped the mine would have a 10-year lifespan.

During that time it would set aside $32 million for the rehabilitation of the mine site.


Stanmore Coal to reopen Isaac Plains mine near Moranbah despite resources downturn

The Mayor of the Isaac Regional Council says she hopes the reopening of a Bowen Basin coal mine will be a catalyst for other mining companies across central Queensland.

Stanmore Coal said it would reopen the Isaac Plains mine near Moranbah, that was closed by the previous owners in 2014.

The company said it would employ 150 workers through contracting firm Golding, when the mine reopens next February, half the workforce in place when it closed.

Mayor Anne Baker said it was unusual for mines to open during a downturn.

“Coal mines don’t generally open when you’re in the middle of a downturn, so this is certainly an encouraging step forward and potentially a catalyst for change of how history has been when we’ve seen a company like Stanmore Coal have the confidence to restart production at Isaac Plains,” she said.

She said the mine would bring flow-on benefits to local workers, contractors and suppliers.

“What they’ve made very clear to us is that the people in the local area and the regional area will have the opportunity to apply for these jobs,” she said.

“With that brings people residing in your community, support for your local businesses and at the current climate and the times that we’ve been experiencing, it’s very good news for Isaac council.”

Low-cost approach

Stanmore managing director Nick Jorss said it had implemented a low-cost approach to the operation.

“I think it’s going to stay tough for a while but in the longer term it will recover.”

Nick Jorss

“No we’re confident. I mean we’ve spent a year getting to this point, doing the numbers, working with the mining contractor, spent five months working with Golding to get to this point and the award,” he said.

“So we’re confident we’ve got a low cost base and we’ll get through this period.”

He said the fundamentals for coking coal were very good.

“Coking coal is a very scarce resource. The steel-making industry is not going anywhere and some of the best coking coal in the world is being consumed at a rapid pace,” he said.

“So people need cars, people need coal for all sorts of things, so absolutely, we’re very positive about [the] coking coal outlook.

“I think it’s going to stay tough for a while but in the longer term it will recover.”

‘Great synergies’ for coal company

The Queensland Resources Council’s chief executive, Michael Roche, said Stanmore had improved the mine’s efficiency.

“The company’s had a very close look at this asset and have worked out a way to make money from mining there and the company also has some other coal deposits nearby,” he said.

“So there are great synergies out of this operation for Stanmore Coal, so I think we will see more good news coming out of Stanmore Coal over the next year or so.”

By Harriet Tatham, Melissa Maddison and Paul Robinson


Bargain Isaac Plains coal mine returns with 150 jobs

A MORANBAH coal mine bought for $1 earlier this year will soon provide job opportunities for 150 local workers.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said she met with Isaac Plains coal mine owner Stanmore Coal on Tuesday when they announced a scheduled opening in February 2016.

While she would not say if the mine had totally ruled out all elements of a fly-in, fly-out workforce, she was given “absolute confidence local people will be able to apply and work there”.

“It’s going to be open to everyone,” Cr Baker said.

“They never mentioned FIFO. There are 150 positions and everyone is welcome to apply.”

The mayor hailed the project, 6km east of Moranbah, as a boost for industry, local workers and the community.

Moranbah Bakery owner Steve Hanvey said if local workers really were prioritised for the jobs the project would be a “beaut thing for the town”.

“My partner was doing deliveries the other day and at the petrol station she saw five families packed up to leave town,” Mr Hanvey said.

“We need support and we’ve had a lot of doom and gloom for a long time.

“I have all 10 of my fingers crossed and my arms crossed that these jobs will go ahead and there will be more to come.”

The Moranbah resident of 24 years said it wouldn’t just be the workers who benefited but the whole community.

The mine was open-cut and Cr Baker said “real time air quality monitoring” would be in place for Moranbah residents.

Stanmore Coal bought Isaac Plains Mine from Vale and Sumitomo in July for $1, more than a year after about 300 jobs were lost when production halted in 2014.

After a program of exploration and refurbishment, Stanmore Coal will begin mining activities following government approvals.


Mackay : The Queensland city tipped best place to buy a home

Mackay has been tipped as the best spot to buy a house in Queensland say property leaders as the beachside city shows signs of rising from the bottom of the property cycle.

LJ Hooker principal Brett Greensill said Mackay’s property cycle was clearly on the rise after a downturn, making it the ideal time for buyers.

“House prices in Mackay have come down in recent years and have now stabilised at the bottom of the market, with great potential to start to rise in the near future,” Mr Greensill said.

“I advise home buyers to look for regions that are just rising from the bottom of the cycle, and Mackay is definitely in that position at the moment.

“The housing affordability in Mackay coupled with the current record low interest rates makes for perfect buying.”

He said the recent mining downturn which saw masses of job losses in the region and spikes in vacancy rates, was not a cause for concern.

“The mining downturn has downturned,” Mr Greensill said. “And the mining sector has stabilised.”

Mackay Professionals principal Trevor Chapman said buyers were already taking advantage of Mackay’s bottomed out market.

“The bottom price is really hot at the moment – and it’s always the bottom of the market that moves first; we’re seeing that happen already in Mackay,” Mr Chapman said.

He said the bottom of the market is sitting at around $200,000, but it will not last long.

“All of my low stock is going, and it’s all from local buyers,” he said.

He said investors, however, have not appeared to catch on.

“Investors should be here already,” he said.

“We’re going to see them come in once the prices show signs of rising.”

Current high vacancy rates in Mackay could be a factor in why investors have been reluctant to enter the market.

Mackay’s Gardian real estate principal Eric Rickman said 20 to 30 per cent of buyers are coming from the south east corner of the state, which were mostly owner occupiers.

“Maybe the high vacancy rates are worrying investors – but we do have buyers from the south, they just aren’t all investors,” he said.

He said November was his best month for sales to date.

“In November we experienced our best month since we opened two and a half years ago,” Mr Rickman said.

“The market is on the up.”