Central Queensland cattleman Graeme Acton, pictured at Paradise Lagoons.
Central Queensland cattleman Graeme Acton, pictured at Paradise Lagoons. Sharyn O'Neill

Coal miner warned

AN Indian company planning to build the state's largest coalmine in Central Queensland says it will employ Australians before foreign workers.

The Adani Group has purchased Graeme Acton's Moray Downs cattle station, about 160km north-west of Clermont, to accommodate the mine and plans to build a new town to support its operations.

A spokesperson for the company denied it had applied to the Federal Government for special visas to fill jobs with overseas workers.

"We have always maintained that Adani Mining will exhaust all available work sources for projects within Australia before using overseas workers," an Adani spokesman said.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said one mining project had asked to use a temporary migration initiative called the Enterprise Migration Agreements to bring foreign workers to the country.

Projects must have a capital expenditure of $2 billion or more and a peak workforce of 1500 workers to be eligible for EMAs.

Mr Bowen said so far only one EMA had been submitted but he confirmed his department was in discussions with several other projects.

He declined to name the projects.

The Adani Group is also promising to build a new airstrip for fly-in, fly-out workers and new rail and port facilities in Queensland to help it export its coal, predominantly to India.

The construction of the project is expected to cost $6 billion.

Queensland's Mines Minister Stirling Hinchliffe warned the group's billionaire chief Gautam Adani the project must generate jobs for Queenslanders.

"I have given a very clear message to the companies involved, including Mr Adani directly, that we have a very high expectation about the role Queenslanders will play in these projects," Mr Hinchliffe said.

Meanwhile, responding to a question about the EMAs, Member for Capricornia Kirsten Livermore referred to comments made by Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday that Australia was heading into an era of opportunity for higher skilled jobs.

Ms Livermore said the Government's priority was to train and skill Australia's workforce to fill these new jobs.

"However, the National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce has found that the record level of investment in the resources sector is projected to lead to a shortage of 36,000 tradespeople by 2015, which EMAs will help to address.

"In light of this, the government will continue to consider how best to deal with this 36,000 shortfall and grow the workforce of tomorrow."

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