ACCORDING to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), the resources sector added $74.3b to the State’s economy in 2018-2019 – and with new mining developments underway, the economy is set to grow even further in 2020 and beyond.

QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said the sector already supports more than 316,000 jobs across the state, earns 80pc of Queensland’s exports and generates more than $5b in royalties for the State Government.

“Queensland’s resources sector is now supporting one in every seven jobs, and one in every five dollars for Queensland’s economy,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“That means from Burleigh Heads to Brisbane and from Mackay to Mount Isa, the resources sector is powering local economies and employing local people.

“This year’s figures are up substantially on last year, with both overall jobs and total value added growing by 18pc.”

Mr Macfarlane said that almost every family in the State has a connection to the mining and resources sector, either through employment or the economic windfall mining operations provide to regional areas.

“We proudly support regional communities, including by providing extra economic value for farmers during drought, and earlier this year the resources sector answered the call for help as floods hit North Queensland,” he said.

“The economic data shows the resources sector supported almost 14,500 businesses and 1395 community organisations over the past year.

“While the resurgent coal price has delivered a budget benefit for Queenslanders, there is significant growth in the metals category, such as copper, zinc and bauxite, which is up 26pc this year and is now worth $11.7 billion to the state’s economy.”

There are strong prospects for even greater returns and more jobs as Queensland’s world-class North West Minerals Province is developed.

“The resources sector will continue to be a long-term partner for both rural and regional Queensland to deliver ongoing investment and jobs in the decades ahead,” he said.

Winchester South

The State Government is now progressing approvals on the $1b Winchester South coal project near Moranbah that will support another $1b of investment and 950 jobs.

The project’s environmental impact statement (EIS) was released during September and Whitehaven can now work towards a draft EIS for public consultation as part of the approvals process.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick said the project could extract up to eight million tonnes of product coal each year for about 30 years.

“That type of production would contribute significantly to both the local and state economy, boosting our exports and supporting communities in the region,” Mr Dick said.

“These terms of reference follow public consultation and will ensure potential impacts on the natural, social and economic environment are appropriately considered.

In Queensland, coal is worth around a billion dollars a week or $52.5b annually, directly employs 34,667 people and supports 226,887 indirect jobs.

Assistant State Development Minister and Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert, said the goal would be to employ staff from local towns in the region, including Moranbah, Dysart and Coppabella.

“The Queensland Government’s Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Act bans large resource projects like this from employing 100 per cent fly-in-fly-out workforces,” Ms Gilbert said.

If approved, it’s estimated construction of the project would commence in 2021, with the first extraction of coal proposed for 2023.

Image: Pembroke Resources

Olive Downs

Pembroke Resources’ $1b Olive Downs metallurgical coal mine 40km south east of Moranbah is also progressing towards approval, and will support 500 jobs during construction and 1000 once operational.

Mr Macfarlane said Pembroke Resources’ announcement that the project had received its Environmental Authority (EA) for the project was good news for Central Queenslanders.

“The finalisation of the EA is an important next step to bring this project closer to a reality,” he said.

“This is more good news for Queensland’s coal industry.”

The project is close to ports, and Mr Macfarlane said the high-quality coal it will produce highlights the wealth of opportunities Queensland can generate from the Bowen Basin.

“The Isaac region is a heartland for our resources sector, creating so much of the wealth that benefits our state,” he said.

This project will be another valuable addition to Queensland’s world-leading resources sector.”

Byerwen coal mine

A $1.76b joint venture between QCoal Group and JFE Steel, the Byerwen coal mine in the Bowen Basin is expected to produce 10mt of coking coal each year, 1000 jobs during construction and 500 operational roles – and it has already contributed to the local community.

“Mines are part of the local community and during both construction and operations QCoal Group has kept track of its local spending and employment,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Almost half of the spend during construction was in Queensland and in operations more than three quarters of the spend is in our state.”

More than half of the workers currently at the mine are from the Isaac, Whitsunday and Mackay regions.

“Each tonne of coal exported also delivers returns for all Queenslanders through royalty taxes that pay for schools, roads, hospitals and public transport,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The Byerwen coal mine has a potential life of more than 50 years, which means a long-term pipeline of jobs and investment in North and Central Queensland.”

Exploration in Far North Queensland

QRC is pushing for more investment in exploration in the State, stating it is the key to long term growth.

“Investment in minerals exploration in Queensland shows there is huge potential for our great resources state,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The most recent exploration data shows a 12pc increase in mineral expenditure compared to the same time last year.”

Since the same period last year, investment in gold exploration has increased from 62pc ($8.81m) to 80pc ($9.4m) while coal is up from 28pc ($8.4m) to 55pc ($13.5m).

Copper and selected base metals also experienced a rise in exploration investment in Queensland in the past year.

“Queensland is in the sweet spot to deliver more economic returns from resources, given our substantial mineral prospectively and a skilled workforce based in key regional centres alongside a network of supporting service industries,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The QRC is keen to work with the Queensland Government on new incentives for exploration and resources development to make the most of our opportunities.

“Ongoing investment in exploration is the first step in reaping returns through more jobs, more investment in regional communities and more royalties in the years ahead.”