Underground mining in the Bowen Basin is expected to increase by 20 per cent in the next ten years according to Resource Industry Network director Mick Crowe.
Crowe predicted that as the area’s industry matured and shallow deposits continued to deplete, underground mining may become preferred to open cut.
This could also increase opportunities in the resource sector as mining underground is more labour intensive.
“Certainly, if you’re choosing a career in coal at the moment, there’s a lot more opportunity underground,” Crowe said, according to the Daily Mercury.
He also encouraged university mining graduates to do their inductions underground.
Brendan Donnelly, Central Queensland University discipline leader of mining and geoscience, said transferring from underground to open-cut mining was easier than from open-cut to underground, particularly due to underground’s heightened safety skills requirements, and the different skill sets needed for their equipment.
Michael Roche, Queensland Resource Council chief executive, said this move toward underground will provide new opportunities in the mining sector.
“There are companies that specialise in underground. The key technologies for underground are the long wall machines; Installing those, moving those, maintaining. That’s big business,” he said.
“We think the service sector in the Mackay region does have a strong future.”
This comes after a report by the CFMEU of more than 4000 job cuts in the Mackay region since 2012 due to the downturn in the sector. Despite these cuts, the region is awaiting the approval of two mining projects which will boost jobs in the region.