Experts have predicted the industry will continue to grow.
Experts have predicted the industry will continue to grow.

Resource industry employment reaches new heights

THE number of people employed full-time in Mackay's mining industry has reached a five-year high and has surpassed the highest point of employment during the last boom cycle.

Growth in the sector is not expected to slow down with industry experts predicting more people will be employed in the sector as jobs are rapidly created.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows 15,886 people are employed in the region's mining industry, this is marginally more than during the industry's peak in 2013.

QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said the resources sector was a "heavy lifter" for employment in regional economies.

The same ABS statistics show mining has been the greater Mackay region's biggest employer since the final quarter of 2006 when direct full-time employment in mining surpassed employment in retail, construction and the joint classification of agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Resource Industry Network general manager Adrienne Rourke said while the number of people employed was the same as during the boom, the industry's climate was not the same.

Employment in the industry has increased by 45 per cent since more than 5000 jobs were shed during the downturn.

Ms Rourke attributed the growth to small players like QCoal and Fitzroy Australia Resources coming to the table.

"There are a few more smaller players in the market," she said.

"The smaller ones will be in that mining number and they are employing people directly. That is where we are seeing a wider number of projects.

With a number of mines, like Adani's Carmichael project close to realisation, Ms Rourke said she expected more jobs to be created.

"If you look (at the industry) you have Whitehaven Coal's Winchester South project, you've got Pembroke Resources and then you have the Carmichael project, they're three totally new mines at least," she sat.

"Plus then you've got other mines looking at expansions."

She noted a number of older mines would cease operation in the next 10 years and push employees to other newer projects.

Modelling by the Australian Resource and Energy Group predicts the nation's mining industry will require about 21,000 new on-site operational employees by 2024 to cater for workforce demand.