Construction under way at Queensland Alumina Ltd.
Construction under way at Queensland Alumina Ltd. CONTRIBUTED by PAULETTE FLINT

Readers: QAL cut jobs before Christmas for profit not people

Readers have scorned a businessman's claim that "Gladstone would be nothing without QAL" and that the business community and governments should do more to support Rio Tinto, Queensland Alumina Limited's parent company. 

Discussion on social media became a chorus of disdain after we shared those comments from McCoskers civil construction company owner Bob McCosker, along with the news that Rio Tinto had announced a new bauxite mine and port in Cape York, which would help supply Gladstone's two alumina refineries.

Readers accused QAL of valuing profits over the community, pointing to recent cuts in staff and contractors.
 

The future of 2000 jobs in Gladstone's refineries appear to have been secured for the next four decades. But Bob...

Posted by The Observer on Friday, 27 November 2015

Here's what you said on Facebook:

Leah Jett Chynoweth-Tidy: A family member has just been laid off with not much notice as one of Rio's contractors amongst many people and just before Christmas why is this not being reported? Bravo Rio...bravo.

Craig Jenkins: Agree, QAL is very important to our community.

Jake Bryant: QAL told the companies to cut cost before Christmas, cutting numbers is what rio decided was easiest

Jamie Brown: Qal has just cut all contractors in half so they laid off around a hundred people this month just before xmas

Sandra Howe: I love the smell of QAL in the morning. ...... Not. When you can smell QAL at Callemondah or New Auckland then you have to wonder what and how much is getting pumped out of the stacks. When big business displays loyalty to the town they're in only then will they get it back. Don't pay lipservice or do propaganda (tax deductible) charity donations while bringing workers in from other areas.

Michael Kornbrekke: Bunch of whiners in the comments here.

Nance Feyen: Fifo killed Mount Isa...shops closed people left people sacked. People in dire trouble..Fifo to mines/industry that don't have town's beside them .......employ locals .. and bring back "Non online application for jobs"

Lisa Lette: Plenty of locals looking for work & more then likely missing out due to hiring fifo

Richard Johnson: Get rid of that outdated and decrepit pus producing smelly mess called a refinery

Gavin Stowers: The companies have never been for the local community. They are money making machines and nothing more. Government help would be better utilised in education and trades skills for small business rather than bulk fund mega corporates whose lion's share of profits go offshore.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: 

THE future of 2000 jobs in Gladstone's refineries appear to have been secured for the next four decades.

QAL RDA operations coordinator Mick Evans, McCoskers Contracting project manager Cameron Howard, McCoskers Contracting fabrication coordinator Hennie Viljoen, McCoskers Contracting scroller driver Kylie Parkhill and QAL environmental manager Ross Greenhalgh with the second scroller, which McCoskers Contracting designed, at Queensland Alumina Ltd's Boyne Island Residual Disposal Area, also known as the red mud dam. Photo Paul Braven / The Observer
QAL RDA operations coordinator Mick Evans, McCoskers Contracting project manager Cameron Howard, McCoskers Contracting fabrication coordinator Hennie Viljoen, McCoskers Contracting scroller driver Kylie Parkhill and QAL environmental manager Ross Greenhalgh with the second scroller, which McCoskers Contracting designed, at Queensland Alumina Ltd's Boyne Island Residual Disposal Area, also known as the red mud dam. Photo Paul Braven / The Observer Paul Braven

Rio Tinto yesterday announced a $2.6 billion new bauxite mine and port on Cape York - much of which will be sent to Gladstone's two alumina refineries.

Chief Sam Walsh said the new mine would ensure the long-term security of the Gladstone workforce.

"In addition to generating attractive returns, with mining costs in the first quartile of the industry cost curve, it will provide jobs and strengthen the economy for the people of Cape York and Queensland for many decades," he said.

"The project will initially deliver 22.8 million tonnes, of which 10 million tonnes will be exported with the balance being used in Gladstone in our two refineries.

"This is a good-news project not just for the Far North Queensland but it also assists in the longevity of the two refineries in Gladstone."

He said the mine was set to begin shipping bauxite in 2019 and operate for about 40 years, which would ensure Gladstone remained a bauxite-refining hub.

However, it doesn't mean Rio Tinto is planning to further expand its Yarwun alumina refinery.

QAL contractor Anthony Coleiro, from NDT testing firm QCS NDT, said the announcement of the new bauxite mine was probable security for his business.

"It's a bonus for us," he said. "There's always going to be a need for testing while the refineries operate, so to know that there's certainty of bauxite supply, especially with the way the aluminium industry is going at present, is great news."

McCoskers civil construction company owner Bob McCosker said he believed the move was viable because of the quality of bauxite up there but, he said, producing alumina at Queensland Alumina Refinery and Yarwun alumina was marginal in the current economic environment.

Bob McCosker
Bob McCosker Christopher Chan

Federal, state and local governments -- along with the people of Gladstone -- needed to help Rio Tinto's two Gladstone alumina refineries remain viable or the whole town would be nothing, he said.

His contracts with QAL and Yarwun make up about 20% of his business.

With China producing more than 50% of the world's commodity-grade aluminium, and the price of aluminium dropping to near where it was during the 2008-09 financial crisis, he said Rio Tinto have had to change how they operated.

This paper understands McCoskers and other contractors have had payments extended on their contracts to 60 days from 30.

Mr McCosker said that had affected his cashflow because he had to find cash to run the business for a full extra month but he was glad Rio Tinto was trying to make changes.

"Our job as locals, as business people, is to do as much as we can to support them," he said. "Without them we have nothing. Gladstone would be nothing."

He said every form of government needed to help and to send people in to address the business model in the current economic climate. "Every government needs to learn to take the foot off the throat of businesses," he said.

Gladstone Industry Leadership group head Patrick Hastings said the expansion news was a win for Gladstone. "Rio is looking towards the future with this I guess and that's a good strategy," he said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project was one of the biggest investments outside of the south-east corner "in many years". Mining Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said although bauxite was bucking the trend of the resources downturn, he wouldn't say how much the state would receive in royalties.



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