EMA’s and mining jobs.
As we all know, the Roy Hill mine is well under way and Gina did not bring in the overseas workers due to the backlash and controversy over that decision. Circumstances have now changed in the mining sector, especially in Western Australia where the majority of existing iron ore mines have cut back the workforce owing to the declining price of iron ore per tonne, which stands at around the $60 a tonne mark.
Over the first few months of 2015, iron ore dipped to $48 a tonne, prompting drastic action from mining companies to control their costs.
In 2015, the influx of overseas workers on 457 visa is unheard of, especially in vast numbers of unskilled workers who flood the local market, putting our own workers out of the running to earn a good wage.
Roy Hill continues to be built and upon completion will not be in such a good position as it competes with the other iron ore mining companies operating in the WA Pilbara region. Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group are the big players in iron ore, so it will be interesting to see how the latter part of 2015 unfolds in the iron ore mining business in Australia.
Announcement that the first enterprise migration agreement (EMA) had been signed to bring 1700 skilled migrants into Australia over the next 3 years to work at Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill mine, was not favourably received by the general public.
The Roy Hill project is an iron ore mine. The deposit is one of the last of the large low phosphorous ore bodies in Australia and is located in the Pilbara, Western Australia, 105 kilometres north-east of Newman.
The project will consist of:
- Mining operations for 55Mtpa (mega tonnes per annum) hematite iron ore.
- Crushing, screening and processing.
- Stockpiling and loading.
- A 370km heavy-haul railway from the mine site to Port Hedland.
- A port facility at Port Hedland for receiving, stockpiling, screening.
- Exporting 55Mtpa (wet) of direct shipped hematite iron; and
- An automated operations centre in Perth.
What wasn`t explained properly was how and why these EMA`s are granted and just how many Aussie workers will benefit from this mining project.
Here are some facts which don`t get a lot of publicity:
- An EMA can only be granted to projects where capital expenditure is in excess of $2billion.
- The workforce for a project awarded an EMA must be greater than 1500 workers.
- Migrant workers brought in under an EMA must be paid Australian wages and provided the same working conditions as any other Australian worker.
- An employer bringing in migrant workers has an obligation to train at least an equal number of Australian workers.
- Skilled migrants are coming in on temporary work visas, not permanent residency visas.
The Australian government has constructed these agreements to benefit the Australian workforce for the long term, while ensuring the short-term needs of the mining projects under construction will be filled.
The facts on the Roy Hill agreement
While 1,700-1,800 skilled migrant workers will be brought into Australia during the construction phase of Roy Hill, the project will employ 8,000 people in total.
This means the vast majority of the workforce will be Australian.
In addition, Hancock Prospecting is obligated to train 2000 Australian workers in exchange for the short-term migration visas.
About 83% of the $10 billion budget for Roy Hill will be spent on Australian workers and on Australian manufactured, constructed or assembled goods.
The facts for Aussie workers into the future
Australia is suffering from a significant skills shortage in the mining industry right now whilst massive projects are ready for construction.
10,000 people in the country are currently in apprenticeship programs but these will take four years to complete.
Skilled migrants are required as a temporary skills injection for the short term to ensure jobs for 8,000 skilled Australians in the resource sector.