Minerals Council of Australia accuses unions of racism

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has condemned unions and other opponents, saying they are running a nonsensical "race-based" campaign.

At the end of May, Australia’s government gave Gina Rinehart’s, the world’s wealthiest woman, approval to bring 1,700 foreign workers to the Roy Hill project in the Pilbara.

In a statement, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, said that, while the community wanted to ensure that Australians had the first go at job opportunities presented by the mining boom, skilled migrants are critical to getting these projects off the ground.

The first ever decision, allowing mining companies the right to hire foreign workers, sparked heated arguments by critics, local unions and the mining community.

The West Australian reports that because of the approval, MCA has taken out full-page advertisements in national media to promote hiring temporary foreign workers in Aussie mines.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports full-page advertisements will run in most national newspapers, some circulating in Special Minister of State Gary Grey's marginal electorate, who has been targeted by unions over the plan.

The government has insisted that foreign workers are only to be recruited after genuine efforts to employ Australians first, and that visa holders engaged on the project receive the same wages and conditions as their Australian counterparts.

Major miners, such as Rio Tinto, have taken the bull by the horns and launched their own recruitment initiatives earlier this year. In April, for instance, Rio started an aggressive recruitment campaign to fill 6,000 vacancies across its 30 operations in Australia, the largest campaign of its kind in the country’s history.

What boom?

MINING.com published an article in January about the reasons why, before jumping on the next plane, mining professionals should take the mining jobs boom in Down Under with pinch of salt.