Prime Minster Tony Abbott said he supports the use of a 100 per cent FIFO workforce at BHP’s new Caval Ridge mine.
Speaking at the opening of the mine yesterday, Abbott said the financial aspects of the new coal mine meant it had to go with a wholly FIFO workforce, Daily Mercury reported.
"As I understand it, the economics of this mine worked with fly-in fly-out, they weren't going to work on a different basis and I want this mine to go ahead," Abbott said.
The use of a transient workforce has caused controversy in the surrounding town of Moranbah, with locals effectively locked out of the recruitment process.
The 500 workers at the mine were sourced from Brisbane and Cairns, with over 30,000 applications received for positions at both Caval Ridge and BHP’s other new mine in the region, Daunia.
When the new projects were first mooted back in 2010, it was widely hoped workers would come from the surrounding areas of Moranbah, Dysart, Mackay and Rockhampton.
Recently these towns have been rocked by the announcement that BHP would cut 700 jobs from its Queensland coal business.
Yesterday the CMFEU’s Stephen Smyth said he hoped Abbott would use his visit to the area to put pressure on BHP to hire from within local communities.
"It's an opportunity for the Prime Minister to actually see the poor state of affairs in these mining communities, not just with the issues of compulsory FIFO, but with the issues of casualisation and the industry generally," Smyth said.
"We're not against FIFO operations – we're against the compulsory approach which BMA have taken – it's about opportunity and choice for all workers."
However the PM said FIFO was an important workforce option available to miners.
"It's important to have arrangements which work for investors and to have arrangements which work with staff. FIFO works for some people, it works for some mines," Abbott said
Built at a cost of $3.9 billion, Caval Ridge will produce5.5 million tonnes of hard coking coal per year.
Abbott said the mine will contribute around $30 million a year to the local economy.