5500 job applicants rules out foreign worker needs at Roy Hill mine

Officials at Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill project say a downturn in the construction industry has led to a surplus of skilled workers, with people on 457 visas no longer need to build the mine.

Speaking at the Global Iron Ore and Steel Forecast conference in Perth yesterday, Roy Hill chief executive Barry Fitzgerald said a critical skills shortage had eased, with the project’s contractors no longer needing to hire a big number of foreign workers.

Fitzgerald said more than 5500 people had applied to work at Roy Hill since December , with some positions attracting more than 600 applicants.

In 2012, the former Labor Federal Government gave Hancock Prospecting the ability to hire up to 1,700 foreign workers as part of an Enterprise Migration Act.

The move sparked fury among unions and workers alike, with the company stating at the time the agreement was necessary in order to get Roy Hill off the ground.

On an update on the mine’s development, Fitzgerald said $300 million had been poured into the project since February, with spending expected to rise in coming months, The West Australian reported.

However he refused to comment on when the project’s $7 billion debt package would be finalised, saying only discussions were "well progressed".

The Roy Hill project has awarded $3 billion worth of contracts for the development of the mine as it pushes to commence production in September 2015.

The project includes a new 55 million tonne per annum iron ore mine, 344 kilometres of railway and a new port at Port Hedland.

Roy Hill Holdings is 70 per cent-owned by Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting. Selling off 30 per cent of the project last year, the remainder is now owned by South Korea's Posco, Japan's Marubeni and Taiwan's China Steel Corporation.

Production at the site scheduled to commence in September 2015.

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