Boomtowns grow alongside sector

Peter Holt


LIKE Ballarat and Bendigo in the gold rush of the 1850s, what were previously quiet country towns are becoming Australia's new boom towns.

On the coast, regional centres like Gladstone and Newcastle are thriving thanks to the through-put of their ports and export facilities.

The growth and expansion of the resources and energy sector is growing the resident populations of these previously small country towns. As the populations grow, so too do the local facilities.

The Port of Gladstone is the fourth largest coal export facility in the world. Queensland Alumina Limited established its refinery in the city in 1963, which along with the port expansion launched an era of development that has yet to pass. Gladstone is home-base for many mine workers employed on a fly-in fly-out basis.

About 270km west of Rockhampton, Emerald is one of the larger communities in the Bowen Basin and centrally located to several major coal mining operations. BMA's Gregory Crinum open-cut and underground operations, 60km north east of Emerald, have been running since 1979.

The major city within the Hunter Region, Newcastle is home to the world's largest coal export facility. About 160km north of Sydney, Newcastle is a traditional area of heavy industry that has seen heavy investment on the back of the commodities boom.

Dalby is part of the Surat Basin, and sits about 210km west of Brisbane. As well as coal mining, Dalby is the centre of a rich agricultural area, known for production of wheat, cotton and sorghum, as well as livestock.

Also situated in the Surat Basin, Chinchilla is experiencing rapid growth thanks to the resources boom and the commissioning of the Kogan Creek Power Station, which consumes black coal mined from the Kogan Creek coal deposit - both the station and mine are owned by CS Energy. The adjoining Kogan Creek Solar Boost was officially launched in April last year.

Coal could be the next big thing in the Surat Basin, with Xstata Coal's Wandoan project given environmental approval in November 2010. The mine is expected to produce some 30 million tonnes of thermal coal annually, and employ around 850 people. Wandoan is about 400km north-west of Brisbane.

Moranbah services the Peak Downs Mine, Goonyella Riverside Mine, Broadmeadow Mine, Moranbah North Mine and several other smaller mines in the region. The growing town offers a diverse range of sporting and recreational facilities, to cater for the resident population of more than 8300 (2009 figures).

Topics:  employment mining resources

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