Mining apprenticeships in Emerald are on encouraging and stable ground with the official opening of a 20-year extension to Rio Tinto Coal Australia’s Kestrel Mine.
The life extension program underscores a long-term commitment to Queensland from the country’s coal mining industry, according to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).
The Kestrel extension comes just a month after the official opening of the Daunia mine and “sends a clear message to the world’s steel makers that Queensland remains the go-to province for quality coking coal,” said QRC Acting Chief Executive Greg Lane.
He continued, saying the unveiling of two major export coking coal investments over the past six weeks come in spite of the current coal price downturn.
“Today’s opening also says to some 500 employees, contractors and surrounding resource communities that there’s plenty of life in an industry that has been the state’s economic engine room for most of the past 60 years,” he said.
The Kestrel Mine holds an estimated 122 million tonnes of coal and employs almost 400 people, who keep the mine operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With an life extension through to 2033, those 400 jobs have been guaranteed for years to come.
In response to the continued security of these jobs, Mr Lane said “Rio Tinto Coal Australia is to be congratulated on this commitment.”
In addition to the Kestrel extension, the new Daunia open-cut mine will export 4.5 million tonnes of coking coal per year and employs approximately 450 people.
Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said that “almost half the 450 people working at Daunia were recruited from the Cairns and Brisbane regions with an emphasis on attracting women and indigenous people to the coal industry”.
The two official openings for these mines over the past 6 weeks have secured a bright future for mining apprenticeships in Queensland, and further development announcements continue to improve employment opportunities.
Mr Lane said “the next phase in Queensland’s proud coal mining history – the opening of the Galilee Basin – is waiting to be written with the overwhelming support of Queenslanders.”