A third of Queensland coal mines are operating at a loss, according to a report commissioned by the Queensland Resources Council.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche said the data backs up what industry leaders have been telling him over the past few months.
“While the cost curves and profitability analyses provide hard data on the state of our sector, the opinions of the industry leaders in Queensland – many of them veterans of thirty or more years – tell the story more starkly,” Mr Roche said.
“Despite production reaching its highest levels, we have lost 21,000 resource sector jobs in the past two years as a result of low commodity prices.
“We need governments – federal, state and local – to play their part in providing the sector some relief.”
We must ensure that policy and regulation supports existing operations, which last year was responsible for contributing $64.8 billion to Queensland’s economy, while providing one in every six jobs, Mr Roche said.
“Just because our sector is experiencing a downturn it is not time to sit on our hands as we must have a plan in place to preserve the maximum number of current resources jobs and be ready to take advantage of the upturn.
“We need to ensure that regulation doesn’t strangle potential projects that will help create jobs and increase revenue that will fill the void from the commodities slump.”
The QRC will be meeting with the Queensland government’s cabinet jobs committee to discuss a plan that will help to protect the current 60,000 resource sector jobs and the tens of thousands of jobs across the 24,000 businesses that support the industry.
Mr Roche called on the federal, state and local governments to “play their part”.
“Industry has been doing all the heavy lifting to try to survive this worst resources downturn in many decades, stripping billions of dollars of costs out of their businesses,” he said.
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Lock the Gate spokesperson Drew Hutton said it was absurd that the industry is “crying poor” after coming off the “greatest boom in recent history during which they made billions”.
“The industry is inherently cyclical and there is no case for industry relief. The industry should have been prepared for the inevitable downturn,” he said.
“All companies are meant to have financial provisions on their books to pay for mine rehabilitation. Having neglected investment in rehabilitation during the boom, now is the time to start drawing down on those provisions to make good on their commitments to environmental protection by investing in large scale rehabilitation. The best way to secure jobs in the sector is for companies to start drawing down on their rehabilitation deficit.”
Mr Hutton said the Government should audit the industry’s rehabilitation performance and start rigorously enforcing their environmental conditions. This combined with the company’s provisions should stimulate investment in regional Queensland in mine rehabilitation.
If the industry is serious about protecting jobs it should step up and draw down on the rehabilitation provisions which will keep people in work and start to address the massive mine rehabilitation deficit that exists in Queensland, he said.