AUTOMATION: BMA has revealed it will rollout driverless vehicle technology over the next two years at the Goonyella Riverside mine site. Picture: Christian Sprogoe Photography
AUTOMATION: BMA has revealed it will rollout driverless vehicle technology over the next two years at the Goonyella Riverside mine site. Picture: Christian Sprogoe Photography

BMA fends off automated truck criticism from Labor MPs

It is nearing a month since BHP Mitsubishi Australia ­announced a 86-strong fleet of driverless trucks would be rolled out to the Goonyella Riverside mine in the Bowen Basin.

Despite multiple ­assurances that no jobs would be lost, echoing calls continue from a band of sceptical state and federal Labor representatives.

BMA have maintained there will be no forced employee redundancies at Goonyella Riverside as a result of the decision to introduce autonomous trucks to the mine. A spokesman said 50 new full-time permanent roles would be created on site in CQ.

Longwall mining at North Goonyella mine 160km west of Mackay in Queensland's Bowen Basin. Mining. Coal.
Longwall mining at North Goonyella mine 160km west of Mackay in Queensland's Bowen Basin. Mining. Coal.

This was among the assurances that satisfied Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham in the days following the announcement.

However, Queensland Senator Anthony Chisholm expressed his belief to the senate that the automated jobs would be moved to the southeast.

"These jobs belong in regional Queensland, not Brisbane. Any automation hub should be set up in mining towns like Moranbah or Dysart or in regional cities like Rockhampton, Mackay or Townsville," he said.

But in the days following the announcement and multiple time since, BMA assured this would not be the case.

"We will build a new automation control room on site and confirm that no existing roles will move to Brisbane," a BMA spokesman said.

Minister for Natural Resources Anthony Lynham and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke.
Minister for Natural Resources Anthony Lynham and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke.

Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke took shots at the company's use of fly-in, fly-out, and labour hire work claiming the miner would "have a fight on their hands" if it continued to do so.

BMA were not able to provide figures on fly-in fly-out workers or labour hire but in late July, BMA Asset President James palmer spoke about BMA's plans to create a more permanent employment at the Bowen Basin club.

"We've heard the strong calls from our workforce - and indeed the communities where we operate - to reduce long-term labour hire and create more permanent employment," he said.

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert Photo: Emma Murray
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert Photo: Emma Murray

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert was concerned BMA's operations would emulate that of the iron ore operations in Western Australia where automated fleets in the Pilbara are operated from Perth - 1600km away.

Townsville MP Scott Stewart. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Townsville MP Scott Stewart. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Townsville MP Scott Stewart wanted to set a precedent for any future automation operations to be houses in Regional Queensland.

"The automation hubs that service mines in central and northern Queensland belong in this part of the world, not the southeast corner," he said.

BMA expects the fleet to be operational by late 2021.

"By the time these trucks are operating autonomously … there will be the same number of permanent workers at the mine as there are now," the spokesman said.



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