COVID-19 has shown up the strength of having mining communities.
There were dozens of hardrock mining towns in Queensland in the first decades of last century. Much of the recent demand for workers has been taken up by FIFO services.
Remaining mining towns can be named on one hand and include Mount Isa and Cloncurry.
Mount Isa Mayor Cr Danielle Slade won office last year on the eve of the pandemic last year.
The city and the mining industry generally had weathered the last nine months well, reporting no cases, said Cr Slade.
It showed the importance of discrete mining communities and good management she said.
“Exactly. So what happened during the lockdown is obviously flights stopped into Mount Isa and I know that a lot of the mines said basically if you stay in Mount Isa, you’ve got a job, but if you fly out, we don’t know when we’re going to see you again,” Cr Slade said.
“We had 155 house sales in three months. So, I believe there’re a lot of contractors and employees who may have been flying in, flying out, deciding to move their families here as they knew it was a safe place and also that there was a secure job.
“The locals always say if you get someone to live here for six months, there’s a chance that you’ll get them to live here for 10 years because it is a really great place.
“There’s a lot of community spirit. And it’s a really easy place to live. You’re only five minutes from everywhere. Still lots to do, lots of places to see and you are guaranteed employment.”
Mount Isa was an outlier in that it had benefited as a result of the pandemic, said Cr Slade.
“Prior to COVID, we had a lot of vacancies with rentals and a lot of houses for sale. Whereas now it’s actually quite difficult to get a rental property and houses have sold very well.
“So I think the challenge is for Mount Isa now is ensuring that anyone who wants to come live in Mount Isa, and there is a lot of jobs here, that they can get their hands on affordable housing. For our council that something we’re looking at.
“2021 is going to be looking at just making sure that we can get the doctors and teachers and medical staff just to move here and have access to quality affordable accommodation.”