Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told State Parliament today the latest data showed jobs in the coal and exploration sectors had grown by more than 3000 in the six months to last November.
“Coal mining jobs are up 9 per cent to 22,000 and job growth is forecast to improve further with new operations like QCoal and JFE Steel’s Byerwen joint venture and resuming operations like Stanmore’s Isaac Plains,” she said.
“Investment in exploration has been climbing, with coal and metals exploration expenditure up by $33 million to $105 million over the six months to last November, driving an increase of 1500 jobs to 13,770.”
The Premier said bright spots were showing in the metals sector as well.
“Base metals prices have improved significantly after a tough 2015, with zinc prices rising 35 per cent and lead, by 32 per cent, over the six months to December.
“Employment fell slightly in the last six months of 2016, but should stabilise as stabilise as CuDeco’s Rocklands copper project ramps up.
“As well, Altona’s Cloncurry copper is moving closer to development, MMG’s Dugald River zinc project is on track and Rio Tinto’s $1.9 billion bauxite project, Amrun, is progressing and is scheduled to start production later this year,” she said.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said Queensland had potential to emerge as the global leader in bauxite trade with large reserves of good quality bauxite, with the rare earths of the Diamantina the next frontier.
“China’s bauxite demand growth is forecast to be significant over the next 15 years as its own domestic supply runs out,” Dr Lynham said.
“There’s real opportunity here for Queensland’s bauxite producers in the Far North, led by Rio Tinto’s $2.6 billion Amrun expansion on Cape York and several smaller bauxite projects in the pipeline.
“Resources recovery is positive news for jobs and businesses in regional Queensland, as we continue to diversify our economy into the future.”