Mining industry weary of demands

THE mining industry has called for the end of the cargo cult mentality that led to BHP Billiton paying out about $900 million to meet 1100 conditions imposed on its Caval Ridge coal mine in central Queensland.

The cost of doing business in Queensland is one of the highest priorities for the mining industry which has sacked about 5000 workers this year with another 108 going this week from Sumitomo and Vale’s Isaac Plains coal mine in central Queensland.

But Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the job losses and cost cutting appear to be over for now with a slight rebound in prices for coal and volumes picking up to levels not seen since July last year.

Mr Roche said cost blowouts were often caused by government agencies making demands on projects that were nothing to do with the mine’s impact.

“It got to the stage when a project landed in the Co-ordinator-General’s office the social impact people would call all the agencies and local government to see what they would like the project to contribute to enhance social infrastructure.

“The message from me is those days of a cargo cult where a new project can spend hundreds of millions of dollars of costs for impacts that are nothing to do with it are over.”

Just as Mr Roche was calling an end to the imposition Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney announced another $90 million of infrastructure for Moranbah through the BMA Caval Ridge social impact management plan.

“As the State Government proceeds with its ambitious agenda aimed at getting Queensland back on track, we want to ensure that people reap the rewards from major projects – not just the economic benefits but also through a range of social and community programs,” Mr Seeney said.

The package included $46 million towards the Moranbah Airport upgrade, $19.6 million for local infrastructure support for water, road and airport maintenance, $5 million over five years towards affordable accommodation, up to $5.5 million towards a Regional Youth and Community Services Centre and $2.8 million in programs such as day care.

Central Highlands Mayor Peter McGuire said calling it a cargo cult mentality was “well off the mark”. He said the council had a good relationship with big companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton’s joint venture, BMA.

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