Junior mining firm hiring 100% local

WITH pressure mounting on mines that hire exclusively fly-in, fly-out workers, a junior firm is hiring 100% local.

As BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, with its Daunia and Caval Ridge coal mines refusing jobs to those living in nearby Moranbah or in the greater Central Queensland region, New Emerald Coal is using an “employ local” policy.

NEC plans to restart mining at the mothballed Blair Athol mine by June 30, after buying it for $1 from multinational giants Rio Tinto last year.

Already it has recruited 120 workers from the surrounding towns of Clermont, Rockhampton and Mackay.

An NEC spokeswoman said it targeted local staff “to ensure that the community in which we operate benefits from employment opportunities if they have the necessary skill-set to fulfil the position”.

BMA employs about 4000 workers at its six mines who live in Central Queensland.

BMA restricted jobs at its two new mines to those in Cairns and south-east Queensland, forcing those desperate for work to relocate into these recruitment zones.

Previously, BMA has said using a “remote workforce” helped the company secure a more diverse set of workers.

The targeted approach is supported by the Queensland Government, with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney describing it as “spreading the wealth” of the resources industry.

Meanwhile, Federal MP George Christensen – who represents Mackay – has previously described the practice as a form of “geographic discrimination” which he said should be illegal.


QLD mining ghost towns predicted as workers on the move

A mining communities advocate has lashed out at the Queensland government, claiming a lack of support will see regional mining centres turn into “ghost towns” as workers leave to secure FIFO jobs.

Former state politician and Central Queensland Coal Communities advocate Jim Pearce claims mine workers are leaving regional towns at an alarming rate so they can be considered for work at the 100 per cent FIFO workforce at BMA’s Caval Ridge mine, Daily Mercury reported.

Pearce said the state and federal governments should “hang their heads in shame” for allowing BMA to opt for a wholly FIFO workforce at the mine and says people are leaving their homes and moving to different postcodes in the hope of securing work.

“This is the history of the industry in reverse,” he said.

“People used to move from the coast to the coal towns to have a job and a nice home and a great town to live in and now those vibrant populations will become ghost towns. Who would want to live in a community where they have a high risk of not being able to retain a job just because of the policies of the industry?”

BHP’s decision to use a 100 per cent FIFO workforce instead of hiring from inside the local Central Queensland community, enraged locals, the unions as well as the wider mining community at large early last year.

It was hoped that BHP would source the 1000 employees needed for the project from the surrounding areas of Moranbah, Dysart, Mackay and Rockhampton but instead workers will be flown in from Brisbane and Cairns.

President of the Moranbah Traders Association, Peter Finlay, has previously said local residents should have the opportunity to apply for jobs in their own community.

“It’s seven kilometres from the post office and if you want to work there you can’t have an address in Moranbah – how stupid is that?” he said.

Pearce agrees, describing BMA’s decision as “bad policy”.

“There’s a huge burden on infrastructure, roads and communities along the east coast and all this is adding to it,” he said.

“I think it’s about time the people of Queensland and people with some authority started to ask the questions why mining companies prefer to have FIFO ahead of a sustainable existing community. The reason is because they get tax concessions for constructing mining camps.”

Pearce called on the state and federal governments to take a serious look at the situation.

“Taxpayers, mining companies and the government have put a lot of money into building these mining communities; that’s why we need to use them.”

An enquiry into the effects of FIFO workforces on regional towns was released last year, making 21 recommendations including better resourcing communities under pressure from large FIFO workforces, removing tax benefits for companies using transient workforces, a study into the impact on communities and the development of a housing strategy.


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.

Mine’s $90m boost to town

MORANBAH will be given $90million in infrastructure as the $3.5billion Caval Ridge mine takes shape nearby.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s funds will upgrade Moranbah Airport, build accommodation villages, improve traffic management and redevelop the township’s aquatic centre.

Other community projects will also be included to benefit from the windfall.

The Queensland Co-ordinator-General approved BMA’s social impact management plan, which it was compelled to provide as part of Caval Ridge’s development.

Acting Premier Jeff Seeney said the programs ensured towns like Moranbah were not punished by major projects in the region. “In this instance, BMA will work with local and regional groups to mitigate potential social impacts and maximise the social benefits of the mine,” he said.

BMA will also build 160 dwellings and upgrade a further 185 in Moranbah.

Beyond its obligations to the Queensland Government, it will also donate $5million to build housing for lower-income workers not in the mining industry.

BMA will be reviewed annually by the Moranbah community to ensure its contributions are worthwhile and necessary.

In June Caval Ridge was described by BMA as being 48% built. Construction is expected to be finished in 2014.

Monadelphous Group wins $100 million Caval Ridge mine contract

Australian engineering company Monadelphous Group has won the $100 million contract to construct the coal handling plant for the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Caval Ridge mine project.

Monadelphous is set for an immediate start and expect to be completed by the end of 2013.

The contract is for the provision of civil, structural, mechanical, piping and electrical works for the coal handling plant, located south-east of Moranbah in Queensland.

Australian Mining reported BHP’s approval of the Caval Ridge project in November 2011, a project with a predicted mine life of more than 60 years producing approximately 5.5 million tonnes of hard coking coal annually.


Lend Lease Group : Lend Lease secures A$210m earthworks contract in Queensland

Lend Lease today announced it has secured a circa A$210 million contract to carry out bulk earthworks for the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Caval Ridge Mine project in central Queensland.

The contract will be delivered by Abigroup, part of Lend Lease’s Australian construction business. It covers the Southern Package of Bulk Earthworks for the infrastructure of the coal mine located in the Bowen Basin approximately 18km south east of Moranbah. The contract is predominantly earthworks, and includes a range of supporting infrastructure for the mine such as roads and drainage.

Lend Lease Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Mr Steve McCann, said the contract builds the Group’s growing presence in the central Queensland resource sector.

“We now have over A$400 million work in progress in this growth sector in Queensland,” said Mr McCann.

“This latest award illustrates the depth and capability of our infrastructure operations. The majority of specialist bulk earthworks plant will be supplied internally from Abigroup’s own construction plant fleet, one of the largest and most efficient in Australia.”

The Caval Ridge Mine development is part of a Queensland wide expansion of selected coal mines owned by BMA. The project is a 5.5Mtpa greenfield development of the mine in the north coupled with a 2.5 Mtpa expansion of the Peak Downs Mine to the south.



LNP approves Queensland mining projects

THE state government has approved two mining-related projects and advanced aims for new dam in central Queensland.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney today said the Coordinator-General had approved applications from mining companies to expand a north Queensland freight terminal and move a rail route used to transport coal through central Queensland.

Pacific National has won approval to expand its freight terminal at Stuart in south Townsville.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliances (BMA) is also able to proceed with proposed changes to a rail route from its Caval Ridge Coal Mine near Moranbah to the Queensland coast.

The Coordinator-General has also released the environmental impact statement for the proposed Nathan Dam on the Dawson River, north of Taroom, in the state’s southeast.

Mr Seeney says the dam would unlock the potential of the Surat and Bowen basin regions in southern and central Queensland.

“The project could create 425 jobs during its construction,” he said in a statement.

Mr Seeney says the LNP is delivering on a promise to drive economic growth and focus the Coordinator-General’s office on major projects.

The Coordinator-General said the expansion of Pacific National’s freight terminal was compatible with existing and future development in the area.

The change in rail route for BMA’s Caval Ridge mine provides a more direct route and reduces noise impacts on housing, the statement from the state government said.