Former Kingaroy resident, Queensland Grain Growers Association president and Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane has been chief executive of the QRC since 2016 (Photo: QRC)

September 21, 2021

The Queensland Resources Council says the shortage of skilled workers is the number one threat to the future viability of Queensland mining.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the QRC’s latest State of the Sector report showed a combination of COVID-related border restrictions, less skilled migration and interstate competition for workers had created a perfect storm of labour shortages in the resources industry at a time of continued growth across the sector.

He said the Minerals Council of Australia’s latest Commodity Demand Outlook 2030 report had forecast increased demand for key Queensland commodities out to 2030.

“This is supported by Queensland Treasury’s most recent forward estimates that show coal export volumes are predicted to rise by 23 per cent out to 2024-25,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Treasury is also anticipating a broadening of the resources sector due to increasing demand for Queensland’s critical minerals and rare earths used in the production of emerging technologies.”

Mr Macfarlane said mining leaders have become increasingly concerned over the past 12 months about attracting and retaining enough skilled employees to support industry growth, with the issue jumping from number 12 on the list to number one in the latest CEO sentiment survey.

“The number of jobs in our sector in Queensland has increased by more than two-thirds over the past five years to reach a record high of almost 85,000 earlier this year,” he said.

“This growth in resources jobs, which has surged since COVID, is around six times the relative growth experienced across the rest of Queensland’s workforce over the same five-year period.

“Looking forward, jobs growth over the next five years is likely to continue due to increasing global demand for traditional resources like coal, base metals and gas plus the growing demand for new economy minerals such as cobalt, graphite, vanadium and rare earths which are being used to build everything from microchips to electric vehicles.

“This demand will create a growing and increasingly diverse pipeline of jobs for Queenslanders, with the National Skills Commission projecting employment in our sector will grow by a further 8 per cent to 2025.”

According to the latest SEEK employment data, there are currently more than 1300 resources jobs available in Queensland, with more than 70 per cent paying upwards of $100,000 per year.

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