Falling demand puts Singleton mining camp on backburner

A proposed mineworker’s camp in Singleton, New South Wales will only be built if new mine developments and expansions come online.

But if a recent court decision to repeal mining giant Rio Tinto’s Warkworth mine expansion plans, extensive job losses in the region, and reports a number of Hunter mines are up for sale, are anything to go by, the $101 million MAC group plan to build temporary accommodation in the Hunter Valley is likely to remain a pipe dream.

The MAC’s accommodation proposal in Singleton is designed to meet future peak demand for temporary accommodation, MAC managing director Peter McCann said.

“Currently, we are only proceeding with the planning approvals process and community consultations, in order to help get planning right for the future”, he said.

McCann explained that if the project were to go ahead it would transform Singleton into an economic hub servicing workers from Newcastle, the Central Coast, Sydney and the North Coast.

“Workers already commute to Singleton and the Hunter and it is anticipated the accommodation village could cater for an increase in demand if the local industry needed additional workers, helping spread the benefits around the state,” the company said in a statement.

MAC added that the proposed village would also help address fatigue and road safety issues associated with workers driving to work sites. 

But with the Hunter Valley in the midst of a mining downturn accommodation demand has fallen.

The company said that if these conditions continue “the village will not proceed”.

MAC has already been granted approval to build a mine workers camp in Muswellbrook but low demand has resulted in that project being put aside for the time being.

 “Our Singleton village would also not proceed unless there is a change in demand for accommodation”, McCann said.

He added that community issues raised in submissions would be considered going forward.

Last week concerned residents, politicians, and union representatives met to discuss the Singleton proposal.

Federal member for the Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon and northern district mining union secretary Grahame Kelly have both previously voiced opposition to the plan to build a 1500-room camp south of Singleton.

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