No camps for new coal mine workers

Nick Jorss.
Nick Jorss.

A BRISBANE-based coal explorer/developer with intentions of operating an open-cut mine near Comet intends to shun the Bowen Basin’s controversial workers’ camps and put the majority of its permanent employees into bricks and mortar town housing.

Stanmore Coal managing director Nick Jorss hinted Emerald, Blackwater and Comet would be the winners with an influx of workers offered incentives to relocate nearer to the mine, which plans its first export shipment in 2015.

The Mackenzie River project, nestled between Ensham and Curragh mines and Aquila’s Washpool project, has an estimated workforce of 250-300 during operation.

“I can’t guarantee they will all be in town, but we need to have some sort of essential approach where we look at putting as many people in the town, and support that and assist with housing where we can and incentives for people where we can,” Mr Jorss said.

“We want to enhance the community where we can and not detract from it, that’s our main goal.

“We are very conscious of the fact camps can create issues and are a drag and an impost on communities without necessarily providing the benefits.

“We will look for a balanced approach, but where we can we will certainly look to house people in the community.”

In a presentation to Central Highlands’ councillors, company representatives revealed their preferred housing option.

Besieged by the prospect of more workers’ camps in Blackwater to cater for increased activity in the region, Mayor Peter Maguire said Stanmore’s approach was welcomed.

“It’s a different view to a lot of the others, and it is a refreshing view for the region and nice to hear some of these companies say their employment practice is to house workers in the region,” he said. “At this point, we don’t know if they’re intending to build in Blackwater or Emerald or it could be a combination, but at least they’re talking about supplying housing.”

Mr Jorss said the project had been dogged by weather delays but another round of drilling would be finished in June to continue proving up the resource.

Already, 99 mega tonnes of coking coal had been defined, along with 210Mt of export quality thermal coal at Stanmore’s other priority project, The Range, in the Surat Basin.

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