THE Newman Government has approved the $6.4 billion Alpha Coal Project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin owned by Indian conglomerate GVK and Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Coal.
QUEENSLAND’S newest coal mine will almost certainly need to rely on foreign workers to get through the construction phase of a project worth $10 billion.
Billionaire Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Coal and Indian company GVK yesterday won State Government approval for a mega coal mine near Alpha in central Queensland promising up to 4370 jobs at the peak of the mine-rail-port development.
The GVK-Hancock Coal project heralds the next stage of the mining boom, but they won’t rule out needing foreign workers.
The company said foreign workers would be a last resort, but the industry believes it is an inevitable consequence of the skills crisis that has meant there are thousands of skilled jobs left vacant in the industry.
Premier Campbell Newman said he was opposed to a foreign workforce, but the decision will be in the hands of the Federal Government which has been scrambling to hose down the controversy over its approval of 1700 foreign workers for Hancock’s Pilbara mine.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced mining companies will face two new levels of scrutiny by committees of Cabinet ministers and Labor backbenchers, including a Cabinet committee which will vet decisions by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.
GVK-Hancock was yesterday pointing to the benefits of the scheme, including sales from this one mine reaching an estimated $83.6 billion, while another five massive coal mines, including Clive Palmer’s China First, are lined up behind Alpha Coal to develop Galilee Basin.
“If we find there’s a problem, it will be good to have an enterprise migration agreement as an insurance policy,” GVK’s Sanjay Reddy said.
“There are already calls for help from Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler, who is worried the big influx may affect “a wonderful little place”, particularly the huge number of fly-in, fly-out workers living just a short drive from Alpha.”
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the project would produce significant economic benefits for the state and nation.
“There’ll be an estimated $11 billion boost to the economy during the mine’s three-year construction phase (of which) 80 per cent of that will be retained in Queensland,” he said.
“The new federal checks have concerned miners who argue they impose unnecessary red tape on visa deals.
Several Labor MPs, including Treasurer Wayne Swan, said constituents had complained they could not get a foot in the door for a job in the sector.