COVID vaccine rollout to boost confidence in mining
Stimulus packages coming off the back of the worldwide vaccine rollout will inject a boost of confidence into the resources sector.
That is according to Resource Industry Network general manager Dean Kirkwood, who said there was much for the sector to look forward to in 2021.
Mr Kirkwood said coal prices had bounced back, with mine sites in the Bowen Basin now looking to ramp up production again.
"With the worldwide (COVID) vaccine rollout, on the back of that, governments are looking to stimulate their economies," he said.
"Once you start stimulating the economy, a lot of infrastructure gets built, infrastructure is built by steel and we need metallurgical coal to make steel.
"The outlook for the region within the METS sector is one of huge opportunity."
Even if vaccine programs are delayed, Mr Kirkwood said countries around the world would be starting to consider stimulus packages by the second half of this year.
He also said trade tensions with China had appeared to have a "minimal effect" on the Mackay region.
"It was always a bit of a 'wait and see' how it all pans out," he said.
"From our perspective, we have been unaffected by what's happening with China.
"It's just a case of manoeuvring to other partners what (coal) China did not accept."
Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert echoed the sentiment, saying there was still huge demand for the metallurgical coal produced in the Bowen Basin.
"That coal is needed to make steel and while people are building homes, while people are building factories, cars, even mobile phones - we are going to need that coal," Mrs Gilbert said.
What about mining jobs?
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth said there had been some job losses in the state's coal industry in recent months.
He said this had occurred where production had been affected because of the global economic uncertainty around COVID and trade with China.
But he noted this had been offset by new hiring activity.
"We are aware that there are currently many vacancies," Mr Smyth said.
"This is good news for coal workers and communities. However, we are concerned about the quality of new jobs being created.
"They are mostly contractor jobs which are highly casualised with no job security."
Mr Smyth said regional workers and communities needed the benefits of secure, direct employment from the mining companies profiting from the state's resources.
How can METS businesses take advantage of the positive outlook?
Resource Industry Network is advising businesses in the METS sector to be "digitally ready" for the changes coming this year.
Mr Kirkwood said the pandemic would continue to impact the way people do business, and the workforce needed to adapt to this.
"We obviously can't jump on planes and travel a lot. Even within Australia there's still border closures," he said.
"Having that concept of being digitally ready to sell over the internet, via Zoom, having those pitches ready - that's something our businesses have got to continue to adapt to.
"Diversification is something that we will continue to talk to members about and look at with members … looking at other opportunities in different sectors outside of coal."