Australian miners fire locals and import foreigners

While big miners such as BHP (NYSE:BHP), Xstrata (LON:XTA) and Vale (NYSE:VALE) continue to slash jobs across its operations in Australia, some companies are hiring more foreign workers to carry out their resources projects, reports The Australian.

Despite the sector’s recent agreements with the federal government indicate overseas workers must be paid the same rate as Australian employees, the paper says —somehow— companies are saving on labour costs by importing employees.

"[Foreign workers] are disguised as specialists, but in reality they're basically doing the maintenance activities," told the media outlet Karsten Gustera, strategy and developments director of the mining services group Logicamms. The firm organises operational and regulatory work with well-known companies, such as Rio Tinto and Chevron.

Procedures were being put in place to streamline the process after Australia’s richest person and number two on the list of mining's billionaires, Gina Rinehart, was granted approval to use foreign workers.

Her company Hancock Prospecting is the only one so far that has signed an enterprise migration agreement (EMA) with the federal government.  It recently hired a national workforce services company to attract workers to its $9.5 billion Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara region.

Hampered of late by burdensome costs and ailing spot prices for commodities, Australian miners continue to let go long-term employees. The trend is being perceived as a clear sign of the downturn affecting Australia's resource sector.

The IMF contributed more dismal news Tuesday, trimming the country's growth forecast for 2013 to 3.0% from 3.5%.

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