Posted February 21, 2013 14:12:01
Far north Queensland leaders say a new push to recruit fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers from the region is unlikely to create a local skills shortage.
The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) will recruit 250 fly-in, fly-out workers from the Cairns region for its new Daunia and Caval Ridge coal mines in the Bowen Basin.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning says the boost to the local economy outweighs his concerns about losing workers.
“In terms of attracting industry and diversification of the economy we’ve been out to lunch for a while,” he said.
“We’re back from lunch now.
“We’ll find the mining industry, because of the wages they pay, will attract people away but when men and women go to work on the mines they don’t intend to stay there for the rest of their lives.
“They’ll do two or three or four years there, they’ll get their back accounts nice and fat again and then they’ll come back to the coast again.”
Councillor Manning says there still are not enough job opportunities in the region.
“They don’t take people away forever,” he said.
“They go away, they’re away for awhile, they learn new skills, they come back and settle back into life on the coast, so I don’t see it as a great problem.
“The economy here hasn’t picked up pace yet. It’s starting to but it hasn’t picked up pace, so let’s just see what happens when we’re 12 months down the track.”
Meanwhile, BMA says salaries alone are expected to inject an estimated $40 million into the Cairns economy.
BMA asset president Stephen Dumble says the new workers will start at the mines in the second-half of the year.
“The company looked at Cairns because we’re looking to diversify where we draw our workforce from,” he said.
“We’ve said all along that fly-in, fly-out represents a good opportunity to spread the benefits of our growth and of our industry more broadly in the regions in Queensland and today’s announcement is a good recognition of that.”
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney says it is good news for the Cairns economy.
“It’s 250 salaries that will be spent here on all of the service industries,” he said.
“All of the small businesses here in Cairns will benefit from having an extra 250 families earning a good wage in the central Queensland coalfields.”
Jo Pyne from Tropical North Queensland TAFE says it is looking at ways to plug potential skill gaps.
“I’m confident that we’ll be able to work with local industry to provide the skills that we need,” she said.
“We’ll be able to cope with the demand, I mean this isn’t a huge number that we’re talking about locally but we do need to be working very closely with industry to make sure we … don’t lose the skills that we need to keep industry running here.”
She says the company is looking for experienced mine workers and newcomers to the industry.
“We have been talking to them over the last 18 months really wanting to be quite clear about what their skills needs are so we can make sure that the training we’re delivering is providing skills to people who are interested in finding work in the mining industry,” she said.Topics: mining-rural, mining-industry, activism-and-lobbying, community-development, regional, regional-development, work, cairns-4870, mackay-4740, rockhampton-4700