The Queensland coal industry is haemorrhaging under the strain of a high Australian dollar and an onerous regulatory regime that has led to the loss of up to 5000 jobs this year, according to the Queensland Resources Council.
The state’s coal mining regions are also expected to be hit hard as the coal industry generates more than half of every dollar spent on mining in Queensland, with the total in FY2012 reaching $18.9 billion.
“The largest contributor to the total direct expenditure of the resource sector in Queensland in 2011/12 was coal mining with approximately $19 billion, or 52.7 per cent of total spending, comprised of $3 billion in wages and salaries and $16 billion in voluntary community contributions and purchases of goods and services,” the report states.
“Compared to 2010/11, the level of direct spending by resource companies in Queensland increased significantly by 42.8%, due largely to a return to typical levels of output in 2011/12 following the significant downturn in production caused by the flood events and other natural disasters that occurred in 2010/11, along with a spike in capex driven by major projects undertaken by a number of coal, metaliferrous and CSG/LNG companies.”
In FY2012, the resources sector in Mackay region contributed $1.76 billion in wages and salaries to 14,076 direct full-time employees (including contractors) and $4.66 billion in voluntary community contributions and purchases of goods and services from employing local businesses (including contractors).
Coal accounted for more than 80% of the total spend by the mining industry in the Mackay region in 2011-12.
But QRC chief executive Michael Roche said rising production costs and the collapse in the coal price had exacerbated the employment problem, leaving suppliers and contractors having to discount their offerings to remain competitive.
“Based on public statements and information provided to QRC, we estimate the Queensland coal industry has been forced to shed between four and five thousand positions over the past few months,” he said.
“These losses have hit contractors the hardest and extend from the coalface to head office.”