40,000 Workers Needed in Queensland

Queensland Coal Minning

As many as 40,000 more workers more workers will be needed in Queensland’s resource industry between now and 2020, a new report has found.

The report, Queensland Resource Sector State Growth, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, was commissioned by the Queensland Resources Council in an effort to identify long term planning issues relating to the state’s resources sector. Its findings are based on 66 planned construction projects between now and 2020 with a combined capital expenditure in excess of $142 billion.

The report finds that the long term outlook for the sector remains strong and that capital expenditure on such projects in 2011 will be almost double that achieved at any point prior to the global financial crisis (GFC).

“All available evidence points to the Queensland resources sector being on the cusp of unprecedented expansion” it says.

“Resource companies are regularly declaring their intentions to develop major projects throughout Queensland.   Port and rail expansions are routinely over subscribed to the extent that project proponents move straight into the next phase of development plans.”

The report is welcome news for the state’s construction industry as it reaffirms the strength of the long term outlook in resource construction and related infrastructure.

Australia Pacific LNG ProjectAlready, the state is benefiting from huge resource projects such as the Australia Pacific LNG Project. Equipment investment in the state is running above decade averages by 38%, according to the most recent State of the States report from stockbroking firm Commonwealth Securities. Overall construction activity, meanwhile, is running above average by 32.5%.

But the Deloitte report also warns of supply side constraints relating to labour, water and electricity. If all the 66 projects go ahead, the study says, the sector will require an additional 40,000 workers, over 5,000 MW of electricity and almost 200,000 ML of water.

Whilst the report says that water supply should be adequate to meet demand, the supply of electricity will be stretched, especially if investor uncertainly delays new generation projects.

In terms of labour, the report says that current labour market settings will not be sufficient to meet the requirements of the sector, especially in the fields of technicians and trades workers and machinery operators and drivers.

“Action is needed in the short rather than medium term to deliver solutions to expand the available labour force” the report says.

“If this does not occur, a lack of skilled labour is likely to be a major impediment to the expansion of Queensland‘s resources sector.”

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