DRIVING FORCE: Non-resident population growth in the Highlands from 2010–212 was due largely to mine expansions and post-flood reconstruction work, a State Government report says.
DRIVING FORCE: Non-resident population growth in the Highlands from 2010–212 was due largely to mine expansions and post-flood reconstruction work, a State Government report says. Contributed

Central Highlands out-of-town job numbers in decline

THE Central Highlands' FIFO and DIDO workforces are on the slide with the majority of 840 jobs lost in the mining sector in the past year.

New figures released by the State Government show non-resident worker numbers peaked in June last year at 5580, with the worst case scenario through to 2019 predicting the loss of 1160 jobs.

The best case scenario, factoring in Bandanna Energy's Springsure Creek and projected coal operations like Blackwater's Minyango project, as well as Wilton Coal, the Mackenzie, Teresa, Valeria, Washpool and Bluff tenements, would generate 1010 FIFO, DIDO opportunities.

"The region's non-resident population grew rapidly from 2010 to 2012, due largely to the construction workforces of mine expansions and from post-flood reconstruction work," the report said.

"As much as this workforce growth was temporary in nature, it is likely it will not be sustained in coming years and that the non-resident population peaked in 2012.

 

"Projections for the Central Highlands show the non-resident population is expected to fall to around 4740 by June 2013 and to be between 4310 and 4660 the following year. This decline reflects the completion of expansions at Curragh and Ensham mines, the closure of the Gregory mine, and announced scaling back of mining workforces."

 

Across the Bowen Basin, data shows the FIFO population more than doubled from June 2006, to reach 25,040 in mid-2012.

A number of resource projects and related developments either remaining dormant or going ahead will influence growth through to 2019.

"Balance against these potential growth influences, increasing production costs, declining coal prices and slowing demand from China and India have caused mining operators to focus closely on productivity improvements," the report said.

"Since June 2012, three Bowen Basin mines have ceased production (Gregory and Norwich Park) or permanently closed (Blair Athol) while several operators have announced restructures of their production and maintenance workforces.

"These changes will have implications for the future population of non-resident workers employed in the resource sector."

The Isaac Regional Council accounted for 68% of all FIFO, DIDO workers in the Bowen Basin.

Under government modelling, non-resident worker numbers could rise to 24,760 from 17,130 by 2019, or fall away to 14,920 depending on the go-ahead for the Carmichael and China First mines and rail components, and Arrow Energy's Bowen pipeline project.