iQ Quarterly Contact us Become a member



How to save Queensland mining jobs

QUEENSLAND has the chance to shore up the 32,000 jobs that rely on mining and energy generation by digging up the ingredients for renewables, a report produced for the state’s biggest construction and infrastructure companies says.

The 2020 Major Projects Pipeline Report released yesterday by the Queensland Major Contractors Association and the Infrastructure Association of Queensland warns changing global attitudes and climate change represents a risk to the state’s biggest industries.

But it also says Queensland is “extremely well-placed to benefit from movements towards environmental sustainability and a zero-carbon economy”.

“Queensland can leverage from its own natural and comparative advantages in the green economy including its world leading solar resources, access to “next generation” commodities including copper, lead, zinc, silver, phosphate and rare earths to build new industries that will help drive down carbon emissions, and the development of new ‘green’ energy from renewable sources including hydrogen.

“Supporting the global effort to reduce emissions will benefit very important industry sectors to Queensland – tourism and agriculture – which are highly susceptible to climate change impacts.

“Increasing climate activism, both in Australia and globally, presents structural risks to traditional Queensland industries such as coal mining and fossil fuel power generation which directly provide employment to up to 32,000 Queenslanders, particularly in regional towns.”

Coal tips $4.2 billion a year into the Queensland Government coffers in royalties, the report says.

“While these industries will not shut down overnight – particularly given growing near term demand for coal in Asia – the medium to longer term risks are very real,” the report says.

“Fortunately, Queensland is well-placed to develop many more jobs in lower carbon emissions technologies (e.g. hydrogen, renewable generation, and metals and minerals for batteries) and industries such as tourism, education, manufacturing and agriculture.

“Environmental sustainability provides Queensland with a massive economic opportunity which is potentially far greater than the fossil fuel industry.”

IAQ chief executive Priscilla Radice said sustainability was in the front of minds after the run of floods and fire.

“Sustainability isn’t just about environmental matters it’s much broader – our economic sustainability is linked to diversity as this provides resilience. Queensland is faced with immense challenges as we transition to a low carbon world, but those challenges also provide extraordinary opportunities.”

The Queensland Mayor Projects Pipeline 2020 report shows significant projects such as Inland Rail, Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3, Cross River Rail, Brisbane Metro and upgrades to the M1, Bruce Highway and essential water infrastructure developments are all underway or close to starting, but private investment is badly lagging and with it the 6600 extra construction jobs riding on the megaprojects getting off the drawing board.

The report says there are 222 projects worth at least $50M each across the state, totalling $50.6B in the pipeline from 2019-20 to 2023-24.Of that, $27.4B is funded and ready to go but another $23.2B sit waiting for funding.

Dan Knowles, Future SEQ editor, Courier Mail