The first wave of new permanent employees have begun at Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal mine, near Boggabri, NSW.
The mine, which has faced constant opposition over the last two years, first put the call out for around 450 workers last month.
Despite a decision to stop clearing the Leard State Forest in winter, Whitehaven Coal said its $767 million project is nearly halfway complete, and on track to produce first coal in March 2015.
Whitehaven CEO Paul Flynn said the company agreed to halt its clearing activity amid concerns raised by members of the community, but said the move would not delay the construction of the mine.
Soon after the call for jobs went out approximately 1800 people applied, swamping the miner with applicants.
Now the first of several waves of several waves of new employees have started.
Paul Flynn, Whitehaven’s CEO, labelled it “an exciting milestone for Whitehaven Coal and the local community”.
“Welcoming the first new permanent employees to the Whitehaven team signals the start of operations on site working towards the first railing of coal in March 2015,” he said.
According to Whitehaven it will source around 75 per cent of workers from the local area.
Around 100 new employees will start work at Maules Creek between now and February, with subsequent recruitment programs to follow as the operation ramps up to initial production rates of six mtpa.
Once it is in full operation the site will employ 450 workers, and funnel around $40 million per year in to the community through local wages.
“This project is about much more than just building a mine. It’s about making a positive economic contribution to the local area over the long term; providing jobs, supporting local businesses, creating opportunities for Indigenous and Aboriginal Australians, and helping to ensure the viability of entire communities around,” Flynn said.