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.


Fly-in, fly-out review to meet leaders in Mackay, Moranbah

A second review into fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) work practices in the mining industry will hold hearings in central Queensland this week.

Isaac regional council Mayor Anne Baker is part of a four-member panel looking at the use of the practice for mines which are located near a town.

The panel has already done interviews in Brisbane and will meet local representatives from councils, unions and businesses in Mackay today, and in Moranbah tomorrow.

Councillor Baker said so far the talks had been “robust”.

“What I can say is they have all been very open and there’s lots of information and we need to take all of the information on board and not pre-empt or form any position before we’ve got everything and we’ve met with all stakeholders and make an informed decision at the end,” she said.

Cr Baker said the discussions had been open and informative.

“From my perspective it’s very healthy for people to have different opinions and it’s just as healthy to be able to air those opinions and work towards formalising a healthy recommendation for everybody,” she said.

By Melissa Maddison

Forum backs call for ‘no more 100% FIFO’ into mines

IT’S about the people, the small mining communities, their struggling small businesses and the impact 100% FIFO is having on them and regional cities like Mackay.

Mirani MP Jim Pearce, as the new chairman of the State Government’s infrastructure, planning and natural resources committee that will begin investigating the issue, took strong interest in yesterday’s CFMEU Mackay forum to discuss the impact of mining companies operating 100% FIFO.

“It’s a privilege for mining companies to come in. It’s not a right. It’s about maximising returns and employment to the communities,” Mr Pearce said.

“In recent years mining companies simply put their head down and ignored the impacts they are having on local communities.

“I’ve been in the region over 30 years and never seen the regions in such a big mess, their communities. Collinsville is on its knees; Dysart, Moranbah in a terrible state. There are 3000 empty house across the Bowen Basin. Money people have invested and gone broke.”

Following the forum CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Steve Smyth said there was “broad agreement” that: compulsory 100% FIFO must end; workers at existing 100% FIFO operations must be given job security; FIFO workers should be given choice and incentives to move locally; and new jobs at existing 100% FIFO operations should be open to local workers

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams said pressure must be applied to the State Government to ban 100% FIFO at new mines but it was hard to “unscramble the egg” on existing mine operations.

End local jobs discrimination

TWO central Queensland Federal MPs have stepped up their campaign to ban 100% fly-in, fly-out and change government Fair Work laws.

Capricornia’s Michelle Landry and Dawson’s George Christensen say the practice is devastating local jobs and towns.

They have united to introduce a Private Members Bill to the floor of Parliament House in May that would make it illegal for companies to lock people out of jobs based on their home location.

It will seek to amend the Fair Work Act to prohibit discrimination against workers based on where they live.

Mr Christensen said FIFO job advertisements that declared “applicants must live within 100km of Brisbane Airport or Cairns” smacked of discrimination.

He said the Bill, if successful, would help end the practice on some coal mines where workers who lived locally in Moranbah, Dysart, Nebo and Mackay were locked out of applying for jobs because they did not live in Brisbane, Cairns or the Gold Coast where companies preferred to source FIFO staff.

“This Bill’s intention is to ensure that central Queenslanders can apply for central Queensland jobs in our coal mining sector,” Ms Landry said.

Breakthrough in the FIFO debate

FEDERAL Member for Dawson George Christensen confirmed BMA has held meetings with GS Engineering about recruiting Mackay region workers into 100% FIFO mines.

Mr Christensen met with BMA asset president Lucas Dow and BMA head of external affairs Vincent Cosgrove in Mackay to discuss changes to the 100% policy at both Daunia and Caval Ridge mines.

Mr Christensen said he was confident the company would adopt these changes in the “short to medium term”.

“They (BMA) see a real opportunity here for the local mining service sector to reengage,” he said.

“It’s a positive development for the community.”

Relaxation of the 100% FIFO could not come soon enough for Peter Finlay, who has lived in Moranbah for 34 years.

The anti-100% FIFO campaigner said the current policy was destroying his much loved community.

“We are not allowed to have jobs which are right on our doorstep,” he said.

“It has driven so many people out of town.

“We’re not against FIFO, we’re against compulsory FIFO.”

Mr Finlay said he would not rest until he saw results.

While BMA was not keen to confirm a relaxation of the policy, Mr Christensen said the ball was now in BMA’s court.

“With the 700 job losses which were announced recently, I think there is now a lot of ground to open up Daunia and Caval Ridge and allow local workers to get in a job application.”


Towns treated like mushrooms

THE Central Highlands have been left in the dark by mining companies.

After BMA announced that 700 positions would be cut from its seven Bowen Basin mines, Moranbah families and businesses are clambering to recover and adjust to the devastating news.

Moranbah Traders Association president Trehan Stenton said mining companies were happy to be well served by the region in the boom times but the lack of transparency made recovering for job cuts difficult.

“BMA are not giving any information about the nature of the workforce that will be cut,” Mr Stenton said.

“Mining companies need to engage with the community to at least work on a plan for the future.”

Mr Stenton said the state and federal governments needed to unlock funding to help local businesses transition from a reliance on the mining sector to industries such as service and agriculture. “We need short-term help for the wider community,” he said.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said the job cuts would devastate the region

“The majority of these job losses are coming from BMA’s residential mines in our region, which directly impacts our communities,” she said.

“With six BMA mines is Isaac, many of these job cuts will affect Isaac residents.”

Ms Baker said the cuts would significantly affect every aspect of the communities.

Moranbah, Clermont and Dysart are expected to the most economic damage, with the majority of mine workers under threat living in those towns.

Union representatives used the announcement to launch an attack on BHP Billiton.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union general secretary Andrew Vickers said the union was also seeking information about the jobs targeted in the cuts.

“BHP is demonstrating a horrifying disregard for jobs and for the future of central Queensland,” Mr Vickers said.

“BHP has profited enormously from central Queensland resources over many years, but they are showing their true colours as a ruthless multinational corporation.”

On Tuesday, BMA Asset President Lucas Dow said the “stubbornly” high Australian dollar and low coal price were drivers behind the review.

CFMEU urges Newman to be strong on anti-FIFO stance

The CFMEU have welcomed QLD premier Campbell Newman’s FIFO statements, but say he must back his words with action.

It comes after Newman stated on his twitter that his government is completely opposed to 100 per cent FIFO operations in the state.

This news has been welcomed by the CFMEU, which added that Newman must now stick to his word and take action to reverse existing compulsory FIFO arrangements.

CFMEU QLD district president Steve Smyth told Australian Mining “this is great news, as we’ve always been against both 100 per cent compulsory FIFO or 100 per cent compulsory community hiring, as we believe workers should have a choice”.

“We want Mr. Newman to now stick to his word and get BHP to lift its ban on locals applying for new jobs at its Daunia and Caval Ridge mine, and provide the current workforce the opportunity to live locally if they choose,” he said.

In an official statement Smyth went on to say that there are other mining operations currently refusing to hire locals as well, and this practice must be stamped out.

“The new Grosvenor mine operated by Anglo [American] is insisting its workforce commute to the site from hours away, even though it is only five kilometre from Moranbah.

“With large scale job losses in mining there are many skilled experienced mineworkers in Bowen Basin towns like Moranbah looking for work,” he said.

“They shouldn’t have to uproot their families and leave their communities in order to get around the ban on local employment.”

Commenting on the statments, BHP Billiton said its subsidiary “BMA has eight operating mines in the Bowen Basin and six of those have residential workforces”.

“BMA made a careful and considered decision to operate its newest mines, Caval Ridge and Daunia with remote workforce arrangements for a range of reasons, including the ability to source a diverse workforce and to share the economic benefits of employment in the mining industry more broadly across Queensland,” a spokesperson told Australian Mining.

“The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process that BMA is undertaking for the Red Hill Mining Lease project will enable and sustain mining activities within the Goonyella Riverside and Broadmeadow Mine complex, both of which are operations with residential workforces.  Whilst the company currently has no plans to proceed with the Red Hill Mine component of the EIS it remains an important future option for BMA.

“The workforce required for the sustaining mining activities associated with Goonyella Riverside and Broadmeadow mines would be residential. The Red Hill Mine option of the EIS proposes an up to 100 per cent remote workforce for both construction and operations. As stated in the Red Hill Mining Lease EIS the final workforce arrangements for the Goonyella Riverside Mine incremental expansion and the Red Hill Mine underground expansion option will be finalised once the project scope and timing has been committed to by the owners.

” We will continue to work with local communities to find solutions to continue to build local sustainability.  We have made an important contribution over many years.”

Anglo American were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

FIFO breakthrough means locals will still be able to apply

REMOVING the practice of 100% FIFO will allow Moranbah residents apply for up to 1500 jobs at the yet-to-be-approved BMA Red Hill mine.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker made the comments after Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the government did not support 100% fly-in, fly-out workforces.

“In the current economic climate, it’s more important than ever that people all over Queensland have the opportunity to apply for new mining jobs and make their own decisions as to where they live and work,” Cr Baker said.

Moranbah has been heavily impacted by the decision to have a 100% FIFO workforce at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Daunia and Caval Ridge mines.

Businesses have closed and the number of people in the town has dropped dramatically.

A decision will be made shortly by the independent Queensland Co-ordinator General on BMA’s operation at Red Hill mine. The operators have flagged using only fly-in, fly-out workers.

Cr Baker welcomed Mr Seeney’s decision.

“We have been working proactively for a long period of time with the State Government on the impact of 100% FIFO on our communities,” she said. “By returning choice, the State Government is supporting mining regions to grow sustainably, keep families together, and build stronger local and regional communities.”

On Wednesday Mr Seeney said he could not foresee any situation that required a third 100% FIFO workforce.

Cr Baker said complete FIFO removed regional resource towns’ ability for population renewal, regrowth and resilience.

“Forced 100% FIFO practices have heavily impacted our communities; our local workers and their families are unable to apply for jobs on their doorstep,” she said.

Cr Baker said she was happy there was a growing understanding of FIFO impacts.

Members stand together against 100% FIFO

FED UP with having to publicly spar with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney’s support of 100% fly-in, fly-out in mining towns, central Queensland MP Michelle Landry with Rockhampton LNP members are pushing to change party policy through the state conference next month.

The Capricornia MP stood with Dawson MP George Christensen and Flynn MP Ken O’Dowd in Federal Parliament on Monday to criticise state policy on 100% FIFO .

Two Moranbah mines owned by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance were given approval by the former Labor state government to recruit entirely from Brisbane and Cairns.

BMA blacklisted local applicants unless they would relocate from regional Queensland.

The company pushed for the recruitment deal at the height of the mining boom when it struggled to find local workers.

The policy was opposed by Campbell Newman while in Opposition but became policy once the LNP took power.

The criticism from Ms Landry earned bipartisan support in Canberra.

Perth Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said she “would be quite appalled to see 100% FIFO developments in the minerals and resource sector” in Western Australia.

“It is simply, in my view, not acceptable where those mines are located near towns – towns that could benefit from the infusion of activity,” she said.

Mr Christensen – whose electorate includes Mackay and the Whitsundays – said he knew of a Moranbah worker who now must fly to Brisbane each week so he could join the 100% FIFO workforce.

The worker is not able to visit his family until BMA flies him to Brisbane once his roster ends.

From Brisbane he flies back to Moranbah for his days off.

“I believe 100% fly-in, fly-out is a cancer,” Mr Christensen said.

Attempts to change state government policy by both federal and Queensland MPs have so far failed.

Mr Seeney has never wavered from his view that 100% FIFO gives workers a choice of where they live and work.

At the upcoming state conference, Rockhampton’s LNP branch and Ms Landry will put a motion to drop the “100%” from “100% FIFO”.

“A lot of those motions that go through our state convention become policy,” she said.

“I think it will get a fair bit of support.

“I obviously can’t tell the state government what to do, it’s a decision the party makes.

“We have to show them how much this is affected the people in these areas.”

FIFO petition attracts 1300 signatures

A PETITION demanding an end to 100% fly-in, fly-out workers and forced camp accommodation has attracted more than 1300 signatures.

The petition, which was started by Moranbah resident Peter Finlay on March 12, closed yesterday afternoon.
Its goal was to end the discriminatory practice of mining companies employing a 100% compulsory FIFO workforces and forcing those workers to live in mining camps rather than letting them choose their place of residence.
The petition said the practice resulted in increased unemployment in affected mining communities since workers were selected from outside of the region rather than from locally-based, skilled miners.
It said the need for workers’ camps and FIFO was accepted, however, the forced accommodation of workers in camps and 100% compulsory FIFO was not.
It said well documented and disturbing difficulties that workers suffered due to being forced to live in camps included mental health issues, alcohol abuse and obesity. To read more, visit http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au.

Sign the petition to fight the FIFO scourge

THE battleground is almost 1000km away, but Toowoomba councillor Chris Tait is preparing his war paint.

The solicitor-turned-politician is watching the fight between Central Queensland’s mining community and the State Government, all while keeping an eye on what it means for his region.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance won State Government permission to hire all 1000 staff for its Caval Ridge and Daunia coal mines from out-of-town, not from the nearby town of Moranbah.

According to both BMA and Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney this allows mining wealth to be more evenly distributed across the state.

It also gives the opportunity for those who live in areas with high unemployment to enjoy the benefits of mining wages, according to Mr Seeney.


The Warwick Daily News is campaigning against allowing companies and the State Government to exclude all local workers from even applying for these roles.

Moranbah businessman Peter Finlay has launched a formal petition against the government policy, which he believes has had a “massive effect” on the community.

Cr Tait said he and Mr Finlay would be on the same page, particularly with the proposed gas development in Toowoomba’s surrounding areas.

“If companies are taking resources out, they should be prepared to make some commitment to communities they operate in,” he said.

He said while Western Downs communities like Miles or Chinchilla would cop the worst of such a policy, there would be “some effect” on Toowoomba.

“If it is complete fly-in, fly-out, there is no community,” Cr Tait said.

“You need people in the town to participate in school, to support doctors so there is a viable medical facility.

“We cannot concentrate all of this on the coast, it has to be in communities where the coal is, where the gas is.”