Mackay Council conflicted over mining camp

A mining village for close to 1000 miners could be built at Ooralea if approved, but the Mackay Regional Council is in two minds over the application.

A new application for the mining village is the latest of three to be lodged with the council, and has caused some conflict in the region, the Daily Mercury reports.

According to the Council’s development service manager Peter Cardiff, while sections of the community actively oppose fly in fly out mining camps, the camps themselves may be a necessity.

Cardiff said the Council is unsure of whether it supports the self sustained mining camps, but recognizes that the villages fill a gap that currently can not be met by region’s housing market.

"For us to say we don’t want them is only ignoring the reality, so we’ve got to put them in the right locations," Cardiff said.

"We’re a bit different to the coal mines, because there are limited opportunities to put them on the work site.

"From a planning point of view, if you allowed one of these camps to establish out in the middle of nowhere and you had between 500 and 1000 people sleeping there, you’ve got the equivalent of a little town in the middle of nowhere. We need to think about where they get located, and it’s exactly the same issue our neighbouring councils are wrestling with."

FIFO camps saw massive opposition around Moranbah, as community groups fought against BMA’s plans for a 100% fly in fly out workforce at its Caval Ridge and Daunia coal mines.

Queensland politicians have also recently called for a new tax on FIFO miners.

The former Labor member for Fitzroy, who is currently making a push as the ALP candidate for Mirani, is calling for a $20 per miner per week tax for each FIFO worker.

"Only a fool would argue that thousands of commuting workers are not having a demoralising impact on the quality of life for permanent residents," Pearce said.

"We have to be creative in our thinking if we are to lift the coal towns out of the doldrums."

However, Pearce qualified that he did not want all miners to pay the tax, only FIFO and DIDO workers.

Pearce believes that the tax would raise about $20 million every year.

"My proposal every mining company, gas company, sub-contracting company, $20 per head per week for workers who commute to a mine or site for work who live in workers camps or rented accommodation in town and that the company has to be responsible."

He went on to say that mining companies will "whinge like a stuck pig, but that doesn’t concern me because we are in good times and it’s about time that some of the riches that are taken from the region are returned to the region".

The government recently carried out an inquiry into fly in fly out mining.


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