The acting chief executive of the state-owned Cobbora Holding Company Steve Ireland is urging the community to make the most of an information session to be held in Wellington on May 15.
Cobbora is the large coal project which will be partly based in the Wellington local government area and Mr Ireland, the Mayor Anne Jones and State Member Andrew Gee believe there are employment and contractor opportunities for locals.
Mr Ireland said Wellington would be an ideal town for mine workers to come to live and educate their families.
“It is close enough for mine workers to travel to and from Cobbora to work,” he said. “In addition there will be opportunities for local businesses such as engineering works to get on board and serve the needs of the Cobbora mine.
“I believe the engineering workshop at the Correctional Centre has already produced equipment for one of the Mudgee mines,” he said.
The acting chief executive believes Wellington has strong prospects and the session will assist and inform the community.
“The session will be an informal presentation to allow members of the public to view information about the project at their leisure and to discuss elements of the project with our staff,” Mr Ireland said.
“Our aim is to provide interested community members and organisations with a good overview of the project and receive community feedback.
This feedback will be taken into account as we develop our planning application to the NSW government.”
Wellington mayor Anne Jones believes the town has the skills to be a major part of the large coal project.
“This will be an opportunity to not only learn about the mine but to find about job opportunities,” she said stressing that Council had attended all meetings involving the mine and talked with them about Wellington’s involvement.
“People can speak and approach Cobbora staff and talk about the potential jobs and shortly after lodge their CV’s,” the mayor said.
“We have another meeting which is a forum to discuss the jobs for the mine, scholarships, traineeships.
The forum which is a regional committee will also discuss matters like housing, health and education.
Cobbora Holding Company (CHC), is a NSW government-owned entity developing the Cobbora Coal Project. It will have specialist staff on hand to answer questions from local residents. The information session will be held at St Mary’s Catholic School Hall in Percy Street, Wellington, between 4pm and 8pm.
Mr Ireland said the Cobbora Coal Project was being built to supply 9.5 million tonnes of coal each year to major NSW power stations on long-term contracts.
“This is to ensure these power stations can continue to provide a secure supply of competitively priced electricity to NSW consumers.”
The State Member believes the mines in the Mudgee region are already offering promise for Wellington and believes Wellington can become a service town for Cobbora mine boosting the local economy and reducing unemployment.
“Wellington has a lot going for it,” Mr Gee said. “Cheaper real estate, natural beauty and a community spirit that’s hard to beat.
“Wellington is going to find itself at the geographic centre of mining activity in the Central West. It could find itself in the right place at the right time.
Cobbora says the mine construction is due to start mid 2013, with an average construction workforce of approximately 350, peaking at 550 people. Mine operations will start in 2015 with employment expected to peak at approximately 590 people during the mine’s 21-year life.
Mr Ireland said Cobbora Holding Company’s focus was ensuring local communities shared in the jobs and the economic benefits that the Project would bring.
“We want to support the community as a local employer, economic contributor and community partner.
“We will draw as many employees from the local region as possible, supporting them with on-the-job training, targeted external training, apprenticeships and cadetships.
“Our aim is to minimise the impact on existing local trades and their skilled labour pool and provide opportunities for school-leavers to remain in the local area.”
Mr Ireland said the project would utilise local industries and suppliers wherever possible and support those businesses to develop systems and specifications that may be particular to the mine.