Coal ships are lining up at Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay coal loading facilities near Mackay. Picture: Daryl Wright
Coal ships are lining up at Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay coal loading facilities near Mackay. Picture: Daryl Wright

New job every hour as mining boom verges

NO ONE is calling it a mining boom yet but it's starting to look like one.

Five years after the last mining boom fizzled and more than 20,000 people lost their jobs, another is looming as Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows the resources sector is employing one person every hour and investing almost $1 million every hour.

Coal and gas are hot commodities, according to Queensland Resources Council chief Ian Macfarlane.

"Commodity prices are holding up but it's not in the boom territory," he said.

"There was a construction boom that ended five years ago that increased the capacity and that's what we are seeing now."

While it may be short of a boom, confidence is picking up. In 2017-18, investment by resource companies in Queensland was $8.6 billion, or $23.6 million every day, and the sector created more than 8400 extra jobs in 12 months, the equivalent of one new job every hour, he said.

It is the first year there has been an increase in mining capital expenditure since 2013-14.

Lessons had been learnt from the last boom which relied heavily on fly-in, fly-out workforces, and some of the mining centres, such as Mac-kay, are benefiting from that with unemployment well below 5 per cent.

"There is a very real push to employ locally. The industry will manage it better this time,'' Mr Macfarlane said.

There are about 1400 vacancies in the Queensland mining sector and half of them are paying more than $100,000 a year.

A skills shortage in the industry is also occurring, brought about by the strong competition for engineering in the civil construction sector.

The good times are also shown in the queue of ships off the coal port of Dalrymple Bay, south of Mackay. More than 35 are in the queue, with wait times still stretching out to three weeks.

The Palaszczuk Government has also claimed credit for creating more than 160,000 jobs since 2015. It is forecasting 75,000 jobs for the next financial year.



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