A SURGE in coal prices and new mining projects have brought renewed confidence and hundreds of additional jobs to the Central Queensland mining industry.
Last week BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance announced the investment of US$204 million in the Caval Ridge Southern Circuit Capital growth project.
The 11km overland conveyor system, which will transport coal from Peak Downs Mine to the Coal Handling Preparation Plant at the nearby Caval Ridge Mine, will create 400 construction jobs and 200 ongoing operational roles.
BHP Billiton president operations, minerals Australia, Mike Henry said the project formed the missing link between the two mines, and would accelerate growth and productivity.
"We are committed to Queensland's Bowen Basin and this project creates new employment opportunities during construction and locks in ongoing operational roles,” he said.
"The investment flowing from the project will help support the local community and State economy after what has been a difficult time in the region.”
While it hasn't been clarified if the positions will be local or FIFO workers, a spokesperson for BMA said the contracts for the major civil construction works and structural and engineering works were "yet to be awarded.”
Bowen Basin Mining Club director Jodie Currie said there were "definitely green shoots in the industry.”
"The recent announcement of BMA's extension of Caval Ridge last week, plus several junior miners getting approvals for projects like Olive Downs has led to the regions being more positive on the outlook of the resources sector,” she said.
"Every industry has its ups and downs, but this year has definitely seen an increase in confidence for resources.
"As an industry, I think we're also getting better at communicating the vital importance of resources to Queensland's economy, which also makes a difference.
"To keep confidence rising, we need to be talking about why it's important for projects to progress forward, providing opportunities for businesses to grow and contribute to the industry and to the wider economy.”
Construction on BMA's Caval Ridge is scheduled to commence mid 2017 and will take 18 months to complete.
The final investment decision for Adani's Carmichael project also remains imminent.
Attendees at a Bowen Basin Mining Club luncheon in Moranbah were told the online supplier and jobs portals would be launched soon.
Bowen Basin Mining Club director Jodie Currie said Adani had "definitely shown a willingness to enter into genuine conversation with local business about procurement and supply chain solutions.”
"The impact that Adani will have on local business ultimately depends on the willingness of local business to engage with Adani and their major contractors,” she said.
"Of course, a new mine opening up always has flow-on effects to the economy, and this is no different.
"With Adani and Downer Group's commitment to regional content there will be plenty of opportunities, but the impact entirely depends on how business responds to those opportunities.”
Construction on Adani's Carmichael project is set to commence in the coming months, pending a final investment decision.
The employment market in the Emerald region also echoes the positive outlook at the moment.
WorkPac business centre manager Angela Blakemore said the organisation had seen a steady increase in demand from both local clients and with new projects.
"Skilled trades continue to be in high demand and locals can earn a good income,” Ms Blakemore said.
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