SPEAKING OUT: Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow and Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow address media earlier this year saying there is a bright future for coal mining.
SPEAKING OUT: Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow and Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow address media earlier this year saying there is a bright future for coal mining. Leighton Smith

Rocky's bold ambition for the Galilee Basin

Mayor's Desk

By Margaret Strelow, Mayor of Rockhampton Region

OUR ambition is to be to the Galilee Basin what Mackay is to the Bowen Basin.

There has been a lot of discussion and clearly a lot of interest in the progress of the Carmichael Mine since Adani received their approvals eight weeks ago.

Given the extended delays that Adani has experienced, it's no surprise that they had people on the ground fairly quickly after their approval was finally given.

But they have also made it clear that they are developing the mine for the long term, taking into account all of the proper processes for such a significant undertaking.

The Carmichael Mine has some of the most experienced mining executives in Australia at its helm and they are going about their work in a professional and orderly way.

There are about 100 people on site at the moment engaged in early construction work.

And Adani have recently advertised for a cohort of plant operators under one of their contractors who will do the next stage of construction.

This cohort of approximately 50 will be bussed to site from Townsville. Their particular task will take three to six months.

Much as we wish it wasn't so, while land transport is still being used, it is simply quicker to get to site from Townsville (around 170km closer than Rockhampton).

In the meantime, the contractor has agreed to cover the cost of airfares for any Rockhampton people who wish to be a part of this group.

I would encourage Rockhampton people who are keen for work on this project to apply.

Once the mine moves to the next stage of mine construction and development, where the bulk of the jobs will be required, there will be FIFO flights leaving from both Rockhampton and Townsville.

There is currently an airport strip which is capable of landing smaller planes.

If we return to Council's original airport deal with Adani, you may recall that it was predicated on the original size of the mine (which is nearly three times the size currently being built).

We were to build an airstrip capable of landing normal size passenger planes.

Our deal also assumed a set number of jobs during construction (1100) and then 625 ongoing direct jobs specifically for us for 30 years.

No money has changed hands, and Adani has made it clear that it does not require funding from Federal, State or Local Government to construct the mine and rail.

We are still very open to a deal around the airport but it will depend on the number of long term jobs and a return to Ratepayers through airport fees. And yes, in the circumstance where we pay money in exchange for local jobs we will clearly be counting, keeping and publishing a record of the jobs!

Adani have begun work on their 10MT per annum mine and Adani CEO Lucas Dow is on record as saying that the mine will require 1500 direct jobs during ramp up of construction.

Adani have been very clear that Townsville and Rockhampton will be its primary workforce hubs, meaning those jobs are for Townsville and Rockhampton. This is nothing to be sneezed at!

Locals who apply for these jobs are clearly going to get priority.

The State Government is working hard on retraining programs and reskilling programs to assist as well.

And where a job is offered to someone who doesn't already live in either Townsville or Rockhampton, then we have a set of offerings to help them make their choice.

Our parcel of incentives includes vouchers to help with school uniforms or sporting club fees as well as free parking for a three month period at the airport.

(The incentives are only available to people who live further than 200km away from Rockhampton at the moment.)

Separately, those who choose to relocate to Rockhampton will be eligible for the Housing Construction Grant which is currently on offer to locals, providing they lodge the application early enough to be one of the first 200.

And there will be indirect jobs as well. It's always hard to see the indirect jobs at the outset of new jobs into an area, but we know what it feels like when jobs leave.

We certainly felt the change when the Yeppen overpass work ended and we lost those pay packets in our local economy.

Separately, there are opportunities for servicing and maintenance work at Adani's Carmichael Mine. These work packages are being advertised regularly.

If we are to step up and service the Galilee Basin in the same way that Mackay services the Bowen Basin, then we really need to take up every opportunity that comes our way.