The flight of Galilee's golden goose

ENGINEERING circles are concerned that Australian mining professionals will miss out if the multibillion-dollar crop of Galilee Basin coal projects are designed overseas.
The flight of Galilee's golden goose The flight of Galilee's golden goose The flight of Galilee's golden goose The flight of Galilee's golden goose The flight of Galilee's golden goose

The Galilee Basin.

Blair Price

The recent federal environmental approval for Indian conglomerate Adani Group’s $16.5 billion Carmichael mine and rail project in this region is expected to create 6000 jobs but it is not being welcomed by all industry professionals.

Unemployed structural designer Chris Gifford, who had highly sought-after skills during the coal boom years, told the ABC that many skilled workers feared the Galilee Basin projects would be designed overseas.

“I’m not confident we're going to see many jobs,” he reportedly said.

"Brisbane was quite vibrant with mining work until the end of 2012."

Gifford revealed he was out of work since the coal industry slowed down.

"Engineering houses in Brisbane have shut down," he said.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies national policy manager Graham Short reportedly said that specialised miner workers were facing a growing unemployment problem.

"There's been ongoing concerns within the professional sector working with the mining industry," he told ABC.

"We've certainly had feedback from geologists that are unemployed," he said.

Chinese and Indian investment into large scale Galilee Basin projects has probably compounded fears that engineering-related jobs could go offshore – with both these countries having bigger and less expensive recruitment pools of engineers than Australia.

Indian conglomerate GVK’s joint venture with Hancock Coal has more than $10 billion of capital expenditure planned across the Kevin’s Corner project, Alpha and expansion option Alpha West projects in the Galilee Basin.

When combined, GVK Hancock’s three projects could create one of the largest coal mining operations in the world, holding total resources of 8 billion tonnes and peak capacity of about 80 million tonnes per annum.

Waratah Coal, led by Federal MP and entrepreneur Clive Palmer, has the vast $6.4 billion China First coal project in the region which has considerable Chinese backing.

Other big Galilee Basin coal projects include AMCI and Bandanna Energy’s South Galilee project and Vale’s Degulla project – although the Brazilian miner reportedly had this project on the market in mid-2013.