Moura turning to ghost town

MINING families leaving in droves from the mining and agricultural town of Moura has the community fearing a domino effect on health and education resources, along with dwindling house prices.

Real estate agents, business owners and residents report rental property vacancies increasing, up to 100 houses up for sale and rumours of upto 18 people leaving town in one week.

There are also more than 60 vacant blocks of land owned by Anglo American, the company that owns and runs the Dawson Coal Mine, that lie dormant, while there is some activity on other blocks in the Dawson View Estate.

Anglo closed the Dawson North pit in March 2009, leaving 86 employees and 19 contractors without jobs.

However, the Central Telegraph reported in April that the company was investigating re-opening the pit.

After the closure in 2009, Anglo found a place for 43 of the 86 employees at other mining areas of the Dawson complex, Dawson South and Dawson Central.

The closure of the pit occurred during the global financial crisis and was not the only business in Moura affected.

The Moura Memorial Club also closed its doors last year and remains vacant.

Community members told The Observer there were two other issues that seemed to be having a domino effect on the community that already feels like a forgotten town in the Banana Shire.

The lack of long day care and the ongoing problems at the Moura Aquatic Centre were the most talked about issues raised by Moura residents. The only child care facility is open 8.30am to 12.30pm Monday to Friday and the aquatic centre’s 50m pool has been out of action for more than 12 months due to a leak and the smaller pool’s pump broke down last summer.

The State Government allocated $1 million for the Moura Aquatic Centre in January 2009 for an upgrade, including a heated pool, along with joint funding across many Bowen Basin communities, including Moura, for fulltime-equivalent jobs in childcare.

The town features one supermarket, cafes and shops, an 18-hole golf course, a bowling club, two accommodation facilities for tourists, a pub and a petrol outlet. Moura is a major cattle centre and also produces cotton and grain, as well as coal.

Moura Pharmacy owner Greg Smith said the closure of the pit resulted in confidence dwindling and people not knowing if they were going to have a pay cheque the next week.

There is a youth centre earmarked for Moura, along with an upgrade to the IGA Supermarket.

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