NSW Minerals Council chief Stephen Galilee has called Ulan, Moolarben and Wilpinjong coal mines the jewels in the crown of the state’s mining industry.
Galilee said despite the recent downturn in the industry the central-west region had quality resources that would see it through, Mudgee Guardian reported.
“Here in Mudgee you have three of the most productive coal mines in the state,” he said.
“Although there might be some challenges in the short-term there is a bright future.”
Visiting Mudgee this week as part of a state-wide tour, Galilee met with the regional council for talks around road and infrastructure upgrade concerns, as well as investment in skills and training.
Galilee said recent advertisements in local newspapers calling for apprenticeship applications in 2014 proved the sector was supporting growth in the region.
Galilee said part of the state-wide tour was to make sure he talked to locals about “issues on the ground”, and act as an advocate to ensure money generated by mining was being returned to regional communities.
He said direct investment by Minerals Council member companies contributed in supporting local and future miners through the NSW Mining Scholarships program.
“Participants receive $500 in year 11, $1000 in year 12 and a further $2000 in sponsorship if they successfully complete their first year of a minerals related tertiary course. Students are matched with a “mentor” from a local company, providing valuable contact with the industry,” Galilee said.
This year 25 students across western NSW are being supported by the Mineral Council’s member companies through $21,000 in funding, a third of which went to young women.
“The regions and communities that are doing well are those who are maximising their opportunities or reinvigorated themselves and that’s on display in Mudgee,” Galilee said.
“Mining still contributes greatly to Mudgee and the surrounding region, providing jobs and prosperity alongside other industries like tourism and agriculture.”
The three mines in the region provide direct employment of more than 3000 employees and contractors, while a mine’s spokesperson recently stated they have assisted council with contributions to infrastructure development that total more than $20million over the past five years.