BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's Daunia mine in Central Queensland.
BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's Daunia mine in Central Queensland.

Mayor calls BHP compensation threat 'scaremongering'

MINING giant BHP Billiton has been called out by the Isaac Regional Council mayor for 'scaremongering' following its threat to seek taxpayer compensation if changes to FIFO laws are enacted.

The multinational lashed out against proposed reforms set out by the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Bill, which will reduce the ability of companies to employ 100% FIFO workforces.

The aim of the State Government bill is to provide more employment and growth opportunities to communities neighbouring resource projects.

A public hearing regarding the bill will be held in Moranbah today.

As the bill would also have a retrospective element, BHP Billiton found the idea that they would be forced to change their business models at both their 100% FIFO Daunia and Caval Ridge mines "deeply disturbing”.

BHP Billiton Mistubishi Alliance asset president Rag Udd pointed out the company had already invested heavily in setting up these operations, including $200m on the Buffel Park accommodation village.

In a submission to the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Bill, he said they had also set up long-term aircraft and bus charter operations, and had implemented specific rosters, specifically for FIFO usage.

"This was incurred in good faith in the reliance of the conditions granted by the State,” Mr Udd said.

"If this government proceeds with this bill as it is currently drafted (impacting major resource projects approved after June 30, 2009) then we reserve our right to enter into discussions to achieve fair and reasonable compensation from the Sate, given the sunk costs incurred in good faith and in accordance with the approved conditions at these operations that would be wasted, plus the additional costs that would be incurred from having to address the changes.”

While Mr Udd said he acknowledged the State Government had a mandate to ban further 100% FIFO operations, he urged it to remove the retrospective elements of the bill, so it would only apply to future mines.

But ahead of the public hearing in her region today, Isaac Mayor Anne Baker said she would continue to strongly advocate for the bill, despite BHP's calls for compensation.

"It's very disappointing at this stage for a multinational company to be scaremongering rather than working together with the Queensland Government, Council and communities to come to an agreement that benefits all,” Cr Baker said.

"This is not an all or nothing conversation, BHP is being fatalistic and unrealistic in its assumption the bill will spell the end of its camp accommodation.”

She said there would continue to be a place for FIFO and mining camps in the mining industry, and the bill was simply about ensuring workers could choose where they lived.

While she commended the State Government for its commitment to regulating mining projects, she also believes the bill in its current form can be improved.

Isaac Regional Council had highlighted 14 key concerns and 16 changes for consideration in its submissions.

"Some of the concerns include the prevention of 100% FIFO only relating to future projects, anti-discrimination applying only to post 2009 projects, nearby communities only defined as 100km away and some projects requiring local residents to live in camps on site during their shift,” she said.

The Moranbah hearing will be held on Thursday from 2.30-4.30pm at the Moranbah Community Workers Club.

Another hearing will be held at Mackay from 9-11am at Mackay Grande Suites on Friday.

Aboriginal artist, political activist wins $50K art award

Aboriginal artist, political activist wins $50K art award

The Gold Award is one of the richest art prizes in Australia

CQ house destroyed in 'suspicious' fire

CQ house destroyed in 'suspicious' fire

Two police officers suffered smoke inhalation

SCAM: Drought-hit farmers targeted by fake hunters

SCAM: Drought-hit farmers targeted by fake hunters

Police say farmers have enough to worry about with drought

Local Partners