FIFO SHOCK: 200 mine jobs fly north to Townsville jobless

Labour hire companies are
Labour hire companies are "expanding the net” to secure workers for Peak Downs and Saraji mines. Robert Rough

BHP Billiton has turned to Townsville to fill 200 jobs at Peak Downs and Saraji mines.

About 70 of the jobs are believed to have already gone to locals at Moranbah, but on the advice of labour hire contractors, the mining giant has turned to Townsville to fill the 200 fly-in, fly-out contract jobs.

A BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance spokesman said labour hire companies had struggled to fill vacancies from its Mackay workforce.

He denied the company was "cutting Mackay out" of the jobs market.

Labour hire companies were simply "expanding the net" for potential employees, the BMA spokesman said, and confirmed additional roles were still available for Mackay workers.

The additional labour hire roles aren't expected to affect existing permanent full-time employees.

The jobs are mostly for truck drivers and mobile plant operators and are likely to be for at least six to 12 months, but are not permanent.

The recruitment drive comes after the company posted massive production increases of more than 20% at both Peak Downs and Saraji mines in the past year.

Peak Downs has increased its coal production from 2487 kilotonnes to 3235 kilotonnes.

Saraji has increased from 2037 kilotonnes to 2545 kilotonnes.

It was also a record production quarter for the Peak Downs mine.

It is also believed BMA is working on a project that could involve building a conveyor belt built between Peak Downs and Caval Ridge mine sites.

The new jobs also follow a dramatic surge in the price of coal, which had dropped sharply from its highs late last year when it reached about $US310 a tonne.

It is now in the $US170-a-tonne range, which is still almost double what it was around mid-2016.

Topics:  bhp bma coal ian macfarlane jobs labour hire mackay peak downs saraji townsville

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