Mine puts more stress on businesses

“GOOD morning and welcome to Hancock Prospecting’s Alpha Coal Project. How may I help you today?”

That will be the voice of the lowest-paid Hancock employee at the Alpha coalmine, a switchboard operators on a staggering $65,000 a year, courtesy of Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart.

Pushing paperwork as one of the 62 proposed general administration staff, technicians or clerks will earn a pay packet of $85,000 annually.

If you’re on the blast crew, then life truly is one, bringing home $154,344 a year on a 12-hour continuous roster.

Add $666 to your pocket if you’re one of 43 shift supervisors at a mega open-cut mine in the Galilee Basin producing 30 million tonnes a year of thermal coal for export through Abbot Point.

Hancock is aiming for an 80 per cent fly-in, fly-out; 20 per cent bus-in, bus-out; drive-in, drive-out workforce to staff its proposed $7.5-billion mine 60kms north-west of the township of Alpha, population 416.

During the 24-month mine construction phase 1000 people will be recruited to the Hancock workforce, it was revealed in the company’s Environmental Impact Statement.

The project will have a peak workforce of 2400 including contractors, sourced mainly from the south-east corner, for the remaining 30-year life of the mine.

Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Rob Chandler is the first to admit he hasn’t read the EIS cover to cover, but, “you can bet London to a brick that Alpha and

Jericho are going to grow”.

“The role of council is to ensure that infrastructure is number one on the list in these communities,” he said.

His message to the Alpha community is simple.

“Stay strong and stay loud,” he said.

Central Highlands Regional Mayor Peter Maguire said the mine money on offer was going to add more stress to council and small businesses in the region.

“I don’t know how all those people out there are going to address the workplace issues they’re going to have because it’s going to be a real problem for everyone concerned and put further pressure on councils and small businesses,” he said.

“But we’d certainly be looking at the opportunity to attract more of the service industries to the Central Highlands region.”

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