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CFMEU report shines spotlight on mining camp conditions

Human factors mining accidents

Mining camp conditions have been highlighted in a new report by the CFMEU. The CFMEU says that ‘After a long day out on the mine site, workers are being forced to retreat to their dongas the size of a prison cell in a restrictive camp with no minimum standards around food, communications, cleanliness and fatigue management.’

The CFMEU released a report over the weekend looking at the conditions of Central Queensland mining camps, revealing shocking statistics and concerning issues.

The report takes an in-depth look at mining camps in Central Queensland, with Coppabella MAC camp, near Moranbah “setting the standard” with a pool, gym, ensuite and king single bed.


The Village, in Blackwater, was revealed to have some of the worst conditions, with rooms not much larger than a prison cell at 3.5m by 8m blocks, housing three rooms.

The report revealed 30 per cent of those living in camps in the Bowen Basin use a ‘hot bed’, meaning that someone else uses their room while they are on shift, and a majority (58 per cent) of commuting workers said that their current work arrangements caused stress.

The CFMEU is urging the Federal Government to use its tax white paper to review tax arrangements that benefit mining companies building temporary camp accommodation rather than investing in housing or allowing workers to live with family or rent in local communities.

“FIFO and temporary camp accommodation with decent standards and conditions have a place in the resources industry but it’s out of control,” said CFMEU Queensland District President Steve Smyth.

“The unrestrained growth of camps in mining regions has been fuelled by tax benefits for mining companies who choose itinerant workforces over local workforces.

“The result is that mine workers usually have no choice but to live in a camp controlled by their employer.

“Standards of accommodation, food, cleanliness and facilities vary wildly and workers have no freedom to engage with local communities, even when they have friends and family nearby.”

Safety was also a concern to commuting workers, with 80 per cent of commuting workers saying fatigue is a big issue in their workplace and 31 per cent don’t think safety is taken seriously by their employer.

“I have requested that they don’t put me in a room in the dark corner of the camp but sometimes they still do, and I don’t always feel safe walking in the dark,” a female miner was quoted in the report.

The report said one camp was so close to a sewerage system it had to be evacuated sometimes because of the smell.

Workers surveyed complained about unclean living conditions, unhealthy food, poor recreational facilities and excessive noise.

Some said they felt they were under constant surveillance because of the security cameras, room inspections and not being able to leave the camp.

The CFMEU wants to see an end to 100 per cent FIFO operations to allow workers to choose whether to stay in town or live locally with their families and wants mining camp conditions to have minimum standards for room sizes, heating and cooling, food and recreational facilities.

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