New jobs boost

A BUOYANT resources sector could be just the tonic for the Fraser Coast's under-pressure unemployment rate.

Industry leader Peter Gregory believes two planned multi-billion dollar coal seam projects in the Surat and Bowen basins could stimulate this region's renowned manufacturing tradition and eat into the 9.3 per cent unemployment rate revealed last week.

“We see a huge opportunity to build supply chains with local suppliers to bring work back to the Fraser Coast,” he said.

Mr Gregory is the general manager of the Fraser Coast-based Australian Industry Engineering and Manufacturing Network whose members employ more than 10,000 people. Eighty per cent of members are from the manufacturing and engineering sector.

“It's a great way to possibly ease our unemployment,” he said.

“We see a great opportunity for Fraser Coast businesses to benefit from the growth and the work that will be required from the Gladstone and Roma areas.”

The proposals to pipe coal seam gas from around Roma to an LNG plant on Curtis Island, off Gladstone, were given a shot in the arm three days ago with conditional environmental approval given by the Federal Government.

Final decisions on the projects are expected before the end of the year.

The Queensland Resources Council estimated about 10,000 construction phase jobs and almost 2000 operational jobs would be created if the Gladstone Liquefied Natural Gas project and the Queensland Curtis LNG project went ahead.

Mr Gregory said engineering businesses in Gladstone could become so busy that they shared their work with businesses on the Fraser Coast and AIEMnet was already facilitating those types of links.

“Although we may lose some qualified people from the Fraser Coast there is a great chance that factories that might lose some people will put extra apprentices on and things like that,” he said.

He said ancillary workers would also be needed such as cooks, cleaners and housing construction workers.

The State Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation's economic policy and planning division general manager told a summit in Townsville that the Wide Bay Burnett was uniquely located to supply workers to the resources projects.

Paul Martyn said the region was so liveable, it might encourage skilled professionals to move to the area with their families.

Another mining project that could create future jobs is Australian Bauxite's Binjour project between Gayndah and Mundubbera.

The explorer revealed last week that the good-quality bauxite it had discovered could be processed into alumina at a low temperature and was in short supply globally.

“Bauxite at Binjour is unexpectedly extensive over a wide and diverse area, thus warranting surface mapping and a drilling strategy to delineate thicker, shallow, good-quality zones which may justify early development.”

Brisbane-based Northern Energy Corporation is also proposing to mine coking coal at an Aldershot site, near Maryborough, potentially creating 100 jobs.

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