QLD concerned about mining skills shortage

Queensland is the latest state to discuss concerns about the massive shortage of skilled workers in the mining industry, with thermal coal production expected to triple 2009/10 figures, reaching 237 million tonnes per annum.

Last month, it was predicted the peak of the skills shortage will not be realised until 2020.

By that time in Queensland, the increase in production will bring in $20.9 billion and, and coking coal production is expected to reach 207 million tonnes per year, totalling about $30 billion.

“Looking forward 10 years to 2019/20, the landscape is likely to look much different,” Queensland Resource Council chief executive Michael Roche told the Queensland Petroleum Exploration Association.

“We estimate that at 2009/10 prices, the sector’s value of production could rise by as much as 150 per cent.”

However, to make these predictions a reality, 45 000 construction jobs in research projects and an additional 62 000 mining jobs will need to be filled.

“Government has estimated that nationally we’ll need 36 000 more tradespeople, 1700 engineers, and 3000 geoscientists than what we can expect under normal labour supply conditions,” he said.

Thousands of liquefied natural gas (LNG) jobs will also need to be filled.

“The QRC is looking to governments for some innovative policy solutions to address the problem.

“The QRC is calling for continued streamlining of our national skilled migration arrangements and a relaxation of project approval conditions in relation to fly-in, fly-out.”

Mining companies suffered at the hands of Mother Nature’s recent battering, and Roche said the impacts of the Queensland floods will be even more difficult for the state’s mining industry to recover from than first thought.

“Companies are expecting the flood recovery to make it all the harder to find suitably qualified tradespeople and engineers,” he said.

Predictions of the impact of the floods were originally expected to around a 15 million tonne per annum loss in coal production, costing $2.5 million.

A loss of $200 million in royalties in 2010/11 was also predicted.

But the forecast by the QRC now indicates double the original figures – 30 million tonnes per annum, a $5 million loss in production and a $400 million loss in royalties – would be a low impact.

Yesterday the Gillard government announced it was considering a plan to allow 20 000 extra skilled migrants to work in Australia.

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