No more camps in Blackwater?
POPULATION report makes it hard to see more camps being built.
Sunday 19 June 2016
It might not need the effort of anti-camp lobby groups in Blackwater to stop another camp being built in the next decade.
The market might do the job for them.
According to a population report released this week, the number of FIFO and DIDO workers in and around Blackwater will remain unchanged for the next three years. Even if you take an optimistic view of the coal sector (and many don’t), the number of non-resident workers will only slightly increase over the next decade, possibly removing the economic incentive for anyone to build a new camp in the town.
The Queensland Government Statistician's Office compiles a report each year which looks at Non-Resident Worker Growth (NRWG) in the Bowen Basin by speaking with resource companies about the future, and looking at the sort of FIFO and DIDO workforce that could be reasonably expected if infrastructure and resource sector projects that are currently in the planning stage reach fruition.
While Blackwater’s growth is expected to be low, Barcaldine and the Isaac region are the theoretical hotspots for non-resident worker (FIFO and DIDO) population growth.
According to the QGSO on any particular day, there are currently about 15670 people working in the Bowen and Galilee Basin who drove or flew to work, which is down 4 percent on last year, and nearly 40% on 2012.
Under Series A, the QGSO looked at the expected change in the NRWP based only on the continued operation of existing resource projects and those that are definitely happening. Under those assumptions, the NRWP for the entire Bowen and Galilee Basins will fall to around 14,000 in the next 12 months and stay that way until 2022. In the Banana Shire, the NRWP will sit at around 770, in the Central Highlands about 3200, in the Isaac Region about 10,000, in the Whitsunday region about 400, and virtually none in Barcaldine.
Under Series B, which includes all of Series A plus those that have an EIS but no final investment decision has been made (like Adani’s Carmichael mine) the NRWP of Barcaldine rockets to more than 2000, the Whitsunday workforce nearly doubles, the Isaac region increases by 30%, while the Central Highlands population increases just very slightly to around 4000.
For the supremely optimistic, Series D which basically estimates the growth if every project on the drawing board makes it through to reality, there would be more than 18,000 people driving or flying to work in the Bowen and Galilee basins by 2018 and more than 21,000, by 2022 - most of them in the Northern Bowen Basin and Galilee.
However, the QGSO warns readers to be careful how they interpret the results.
“The Bowen Basin is Queensland’s major coal mining region, with 43 coal mines and one metalliferous mine operating or under construction as at March 2016,” they said.
“Users of these projections should note that there is a degree of uncertainty about the likelihood of these projects proceeding as assumed, and as such the projections should be regarded as being indicative scenarios rather than probabilistic predictions.
“QGSO does not advocate any of the projection series as being the most likely or favoured outcome.”
It’s also worth remembering, the actual number of people employed on FIFO and DIDO could be double the numbers quoted in the report because the count doesn’t recognise those not rostered at work that day. Also, the full number of people employed by the resource sector in the Bowen and Galilee Basin will be significantly larger when those permanently living and working there are added to the FIFO and DIDO workforce. By some estimates, this is as many as 70% of the total resource sector workforce in the Bowen Basin.