Far Northern mining: Industry tipped to shine in 2021

JOBSEEKERS hoping to bag a top-paying mining job in the new year can take heart from some growth in the northern Queensland sector.

Century Mine, located at Lawn Hill about 1000km southwest of Cairns, relies largely on fly-in, fly-out workers.

Miner New Century Resources is eyeing expansion opportunities in the near future which could translate into job prospects for Far North Queenslanders.

Information on job opportunities at the mine are expected to be announced in the first half of 2021, according to head of corporate affairs Shane Goodwin.

Bauxite ore being fed into crushers at Metro Mining's Bauxite Hills mine. Picture: Peter Carruthers
Bauxite ore being fed into crushers at Metro Mining's Bauxite Hills mine. Picture: Peter Carruthers

Mr Goodwin said the site had been largely unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the business hoped to extend the mine's operational life and potentially restart traditional operations there.

"Thanks to the bulk of our workforce being in northern Queensland and flying in and out of Cairns, our operations were able to continue largely unhindered," he said.

"The company's operations are remotely located in Queensland's northwest minerals province and include world-class infrastructure such as an onsite air strip that allowed our workforce to continue their activities without significant interference associated with the pandemic.

"In 2021 we're looking forward to continued financial success, after we announced our first profitable quarter of operations in September."

Right now, 18 vacancies are being advertised in the mining and resources sector on Seek.com, ranging from trade roles such as diesel fitters and boilermakers, to technical and even leadership roles, including a Vice President Operations position at South32's GEMCO mine in the Northern Territory offering a salary of more than $200,000.

Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Far North branch chairman Brett Duck said the sector had strong prospects.

"Exploration is strong, gold price is encouraging the development of gold mines such as the project at Ravenswood which has gone into production and is expanding, and Pajingo, south of Charter's Towers, which has been producing since 1988 and still has quite a few years left," he said.

Geologist and Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Far North branch chairman Brett Duck. Picture: Brendan Radke
Geologist and Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Far North branch chairman Brett Duck. Picture: Brendan Radke

Mr Duck said he knew of at least three northern Queensland mining projects trying to list on the ASX.

However, he believed the audacious $100b Project Iron Boomerang stood to be the biggest potential mining development, not just for Far North Queensland but for all of Australia.

The project, founded by Brisbane-based businessman Shane Condon, would involve the development of a cross-continental railway line connecting the iron ore fields in Pilbara in Western Australia with the Bowen Basin coal mines in north Queensland.

"(The project) will produce eight per cent of global steel, employ 75,000 people, and produce $23b in growth revenue," Mr Duck said.

"The scope of it will change everything, the economy, energy production, and the environment, by allowing us to produce our own steel."

According to Queensland Resources Council data, the resources sector contributed $960m to Far North Queensland's Gross Regional Product in the 2019-2020 financial year, three per cent of its total.

 

Offshore bauxite leading from Metro Mining's Bauxite Hills mine, 100kms north of Weipa. Picture: Supplied
Offshore bauxite leading from Metro Mining's Bauxite Hills mine, 100kms north of Weipa. Picture: Supplied

 

PLANNING A SMOOTH RETURN

A major Far North mining company is planning for a smooth return to operations after being forced to close early last year.

Metro Mining is advertising positions for its flagship Bauxite Hills Project.

Two jobs are currently advertised, a Mine Surveyor and a Production geologist, both on Seek.com.

The project located 95km north of Weipa closed two months earlier than normal in September last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the market leading to a major drop in global aluminium prices.

The closure resulted in over 200 mine workers being laid off.

Metro Mining spokesman Digby McLeay said the Bauxite Hills Mine project would reopen in April at the end of the wet season.

"Things in China slowed down, but our view is now that things are picking up again," he said.

"Every year we go into a wet season lockdown, which happened earlier last year, but as far as this year is concerned, things should be business as usual."

The company is expected to resume operations with its contacted delivery to Xinfa.

 

Originally published as Far Northern mining: Industry tipped to shine in 2021



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