HOPE: G&S Engineering fabrication supervisor Ashley Janson at the worksite after the Resource Industry Network shed meeting.
HOPE: G&S Engineering fabrication supervisor Ashley Janson at the worksite after the Resource Industry Network shed meeting. Zizi Averill

Coal workers welcome mine approval

AFTER eight years in the mining industry, Paget worker Ashley Janson says his survival depends on the approval of Adani's Carmichael coal mine.

He's more confident about the region's future after the Federal Government yesterday approved the Carmichael groundwater management plans, clearing the way for Adani's Galilee Basin coal mine.

The fabrication supervisor at G&S Engineering said the proposed mine would unlock a new era of infrastructure spending and jobs for Mackay, as a mining services hub.

He, like many in the region, can remember what happened when mining slowed.

Mr Janson was working in open cut mining, building buckets and servicing machinery on site in 2015 when Mackay felt the force of a significant resources slowdown.

Regional unemployment rates hit double figures and a mass exodus of workers hit the real estate market. Mr Janson chose to stay in Mackay, but the town he had known began to change.

"The morale in the town seemed to be impacted. You could tell there was a lot less money being spent," he said.

As resource servicing companies cut back on costs, and workers, Mr Janson said it was "pretty tough".

For a region where more than 10 per cent of the workforce was employed by the coal mining industry in 2016, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, he said the Carmichael mine's approval was "necessary to survive".

Mr Janson was among more than 100 people at a Resource Industry Network shed meeting yesterday.

RIN general manager Adrienne Rourke said the meetings were the start of the industry's fight for its future in the coming Federal election.

She said voters needed to be provided with "the facts about the impact of not creating new mines" including "the resulting effects on jobs now, jobs for our children and business sustainability".

Dawson MP George Christensen was greeted by a wolf whistle from someone at yesterday's shed meeting when he showed off his 'Support coal or sit in the dark' shirt.

Mr Christensen and resources minister Matt Canavan were decked out in pro-coal fashion when they met with more than a hundred Resource Industry Network members and workers at G &S Engineering's Paget site.

The two Federal politicians advocated strongly for the fast-tracking of the Adani mine which they said would be under threat from a Labor government.

Little did they know, federal environment minister Melissa Price would give the final Federal Government approval for the mine mere hours later.

This Adani mine victory comes as RIN has promised a more active involvement in political debates. Director Mick Crowe said it was time the region's coalfields stopped being a national minefield.

"What we desperately want to do is make sure our communities, our families and our futures, aren't the victims of a debate that isn't based on fact. We support transitions that encourage less emissions.

"We support cleaner environment. What we don't support is strategies that cut off the best coal in the world."

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