Orange mining’s new FIFO centre

The New South Wales central west is continuing on its mission to become a mining hub, with Orange labelled a new centre for fly-in, fly-out operations to Telfer in Western Australia.

On Mondays, Newcrest Mining flies local mining engineers to the Pilbara operation, and flies them home on Fridays.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting the decision to bypass Perth airport is a bid to ward against the intense company competition caused by the skills shortage crsis, where workers are poached from the city airport.

Orange is undergoing an expansion of the city, with improvements set for the local hospital and university, and rising house prices.

But while Orange is growing, it is not going to overshadow Dubbo, about two hours away, as the next service centre hub for the local mining region, according to Dubbo City Development Corporation General Manager Rorque Possan.

Possan told Australian Mining the location of Dubbo in amongst the mining activity means other surrounding towns can’t compete.
“If you look at our catchment area, we are a pure service centre,” he said.

“You can’t say that in Orange, and I’ll challenge anyone in Orange who says that because they are a service centre to the mines within probably 100-150 kilometres, we are a pure service centre to Lightning Ridge, Cobar, Bourke, Broken Hill.”

Millions of dollars have been invested in the mining industry throughout the region, but decision makers including were unanimous that fly-in, fly-out will play a very minute role in the development of the industry when Australian Mining visited the region last month.

“I don’t think there’ll be a lot of FIFO here,” Michael Sutherland, General Manager Alkane Resources said.

“If the Coborra project goes ahead that’s a very large project employing thousands of people.

“That’s only 80 kilometres from Dubbo so I would imagine they would run buses.

“Our Zirconia project is 25 k’s from town, the Tomingley is 50 k’s.

“I do not see any FIFO for those.

“Similarly for Nyngan and Cobar, they aren’t that far.

“The thing about FIFO is it is a last resort.”

With local labour the cornerstone of the new developments, the fly-in, fly-out work rumoured to be a major part of the employment base has also been refuted by Dubbo Mayor Alan Smith.

“I don’t see a need for fly-in fly out,” he told Australian Mining.

“They may play a small part in the growth, but I think we’ve got the capacity here to give people jobs and we should be doing that.”

“I don’t have a problem with the fly in fly out as a general practice, but I think they’ve been overused.

“I think we can do better.”

The options and opportunities for local people will be a key focus for mining development and expansion in the central west, providing job opportunities, benefits to the economy and improved services.

“Certainly in this region, I would see there’s opportunities there for job sharing,” Sutherland told Australian Mining.

“For example, our Tomingley gold project, we’re looking at running two weeks on, on week off.

“Potentially, one bloke could say ‘I’d like to work one week,’ the next door neighbour could work the other week, and they help each other out.

“That means they’ve got a week off and they’ve also got a week to work on their farm, so job sharing is a real opportunity.

“Just having that extra off-farm income makes it more sustainable.”

Image: Orange Ultra Filght



To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.