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BHP Billiton has predicted Australia’s resources industry will need an extra 170,000 workers in the next five years.
BHP’s prediction is almost 60 per cent higher than previous Government forecasts.
They say the mining boom will create 90,000 continuing jobs by 2016, and demand for temporary construction workers will peak at 80,000 in 2014.
But a federal taskforce last year put the jobs figures at 61,500 mining jobs by 2015 and a construction workforce peak of 45,000.
Almost all of the job growth is forecast for the expanding coal, iron ore, and gas projects in Western Australia and Queensland.
Minister for Resources Martin Ferguson told Fairfax reporters the gap between the Government’s forecast and BHP’s might be explained by new investment approvals over the past year.
He said the problem of a skills shortage meant the economy was performing well.
“It’s not a bad problem to have as a government … but also one we have to manage because we’ve got to get the labour both domestically and internationally,” he said.
Rio Tinto said it expected to hire 6,000 people as part of a 50 per cent expansion in its WA iron ore projects.
The mining industry has previously backed the use of foreign labour in its projects, but said the Government also needed to spend more on mining-related university and training courses.
But Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said BHP was trying to use the jobs announcement to pressure the Government into designing job policies that suit the mining industry.
She said Australia should not focus on mining jobs at the expense of other sectors of the economy.
“BHP’s call for more mining-related university and training courses is misguided,” she said.
“The government should instead back more programs to develop training in renewable energy delivery and other paths to green the economy.”