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Miners hope for foreign labour help as skills shortage continues

Friday, October 21st, 2022

As the skills shortage continues, large mining companies are hoping that foreign workers can help solve the problem.

As the skills shortage continues, large mining companies are hoping that foreign workers can help solve the problem.

Mining giants BHP and Whitehaven Coal have reported lower coal outputs over the past three months, while shipments through the Port of Newcastle were over 12 per cent lower in the past nine months.

Both miners have cited labour shortages, absenteeism, wet weather and planned maintenance for the disruption.

Whitehaven managing director Paul Flynn said there was no indication that labour availability was improving.

“It is not turning around in the way we would like it to,” he told investors this month.

“Trades are hard to find there is no doubt about that, so we are looking at different roster patterns and including fly-in fly-out arrangements.

“Even though we know the doors are open from our borders’ perspective, there is not the inflow of people we would expect from an expat perspective into the country.

“On that topic we are very much focusing on the higher skills areas in particular, offshore people coming in to fill many of the roles at a more senior, technical level across our mines.”

BHP’s chief operating officer Edgar Basto echoed this statement, saying that “expediting skilled migration” was one of the things needed to cure Australia’s labour shortage.

While a wetter than average season has also tampered production, Whitehaven said in August that it would moonlight as a property developer in the New South Wales Gunnedah basin to ease a housing shortage that was deterring prospective recruits.

The company also said it was preparing to transport workers to mine sites by helicopter if the flooding that has beset the region on multiple occasions over the past two years were to recur.

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