Queensland Resources Council chief Ian Macfarlane says the mining industry puts tens of millions of dollars into the Sunshine Coast economy. PHOTO: AAP Image, John Gass
Queensland Resources Council chief Ian Macfarlane says the mining industry puts tens of millions of dollars into the Sunshine Coast economy. PHOTO: AAP Image, John Gass

Mines avoid major hit, but FIFOs feel impact

THE region's large fly-in, fly-out workforce won't get out of the coronavirus pandemic unscathed, but it could have been much worse.

That's the view of Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane.

The former Federal Resources and Energy Minister and current Mooloolaba unit owner, who chairs the Mooloolaba and Spit Association, said in general the mines were "continuing quite strongly".

As of 2018-19 there were 384 people on the Sunshine Coast employed in the mining sector.

The industry has taken a hit during the pandemic, with the number of jobs in the mining sector down by 5 per cent from March 14 to May 2.

The figure was revealed in the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics release looking to capture the economic impacts of the health crisis.

Mr Macfarlane said there had been some downturn with the contracted workforce, but the impacts had not been as severe for the permanent mining workforce.

He said challenges had been posed to companies with regards to increased costs of social distancing measures and chartering flights, but overall the industry had been "really resilient in general" with exports holding up so far.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane. Picture: Jerad Williams
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane. Picture: Jerad Williams

Mr Macfarlane said the mining industry would be crucial to the state's financial recovery, as it employed more than 375,000 people directly and indirectly.

He said construction jobs in new mines could compensate for job losses in regions like the Coast, and workers may be able to shift out west for a period of 12 months or so to work on mines while local construction industries recovered.

National Institute of Economic and Industry Research 2019 also showed the mining industry added 210.7 million to the region's economy in 2018-19, an increase of $92.6 million from the 2013-14 levels of $118.1 million worth of value added.

Mr Macfarlane said there was currently 600-700 vacancies in the sector in Queensland at present, for jobs paying "north of $100,000 a year".

Mr Macfarlane said there had been concern about how the industry would be impacted and he hoped as part of the recovery that future mine approvals would be done "in reasonable time".

He said they weren't asking for shortcuts, just a fair process and fair assessments in reasonable time.

Mr Macfarlane said the industry put "tens of millions of dollars" into the Sunshine Coast economy from FIFO workers and suppliers based locally who built components for mines.

Without the industry, he said the region would have been hurting even more than it was already.

The State Government announced earlier this week it would roll out a $100 million Resources Community Infrastructure Fund over the next three years, as part of the coronavirus recovery.

The State Government committed $30 million towards the fund, with resources companies to contribute up to $70 million to the voluntary fund, which would be used for economic and social infrastructure across the state's resources communities.



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