Dawson MP George Christensen tours Mackay Conveyor Equipment's Paget workshop with managing director Jason Kelly.
Dawson MP George Christensen tours Mackay Conveyor Equipment's Paget workshop with managing director Jason Kelly.

Coal price lifts confidence as Paget hiring turns permanent

AN example of growing optimism in mining and associated industries, Mackay Conveyor Equipment in Paget has put on three new permanent staff in the last two months.

Managing director Jason Kelly said the company also plans to transition three of its casual staff over to full-time positions in coming weeks.

"There's been a good increase in enquiries (from companies), but the difference between this year and last year is there's actually work at the end of it," he said.

"And while we're not winning every tender we go for, someone certainly is, which is a positive thing for the area.

"I think there's a fair bit of activity on the mine sites, guys moving from one site to another, and they usually do that because there's better conditions or pay rates at different sites.

"The competition for the good people is starting to increase. Most of them will be on contract."

Mr Kelly said more companies will be hiring now that coal prices have hit a five year high, particularly in part-time and contract positions.

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"The businesses doing well have understood this is the new norm (industry ups-and-downs)," he said.

"They're probably positioning themselves to better manage those peaks.

"We've put on three permanent people in the last two months, but we're bracing ourselves because I'm confident things will pick up.

"There's definitely some green shoots, with the enquiry rate and the maintenance work, which may have been neglected when the money just wasn't there."

Mr Kelly believes the morale in mining and associated industries has been boosted since the start of the financial year and he expects the positive vibes to continue.

The Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham agreed.

He's adamant confidence has been returning to the resources sector, leading to steady job creation.

"Green shoots are continuing to appear in Queensland as our resources sector rebuilds, attracting economic investment to our regions and creating jobs for Queenslanders," he said.

"This reflects a global confidence returning, and a global push for development in the resources sector. 

"For instance, the spot price today for premium Australian coking coal reached $US310 - around $413 a tonne."

Dr Lynham added positive returns for coal miners will "likely translate in more job security for Queensland's resource sector workforce, including the rehiring of staff".

"It will also mean a stabilising and improvement in the balance sheets for resource companies that were struggling under difficult economic conditions," he said.

When Resource Industry Network chairman Tony Caruso spoke to the Mercury on Sunday he expressed similar sentiment.

In fact, Mr Caruso believes demand for skilled labour in the mining industry is now outpacing supply.