While there has been a bit of a drop off in mining of late, there is still plenty of activity that will support fly-in/fly-out operators, industry players say.
The changes in the resources industry has been described as a construction sunset and production sunrise. However, with a number of new projects still in the pipeline, there are many reasons to think activity will remain high in the period ahead.
“What we have seen come off is the frenzy of investment,” the general manager of aircraft charter company Adagold Jeff Eager said at the CAPA Australia Pacific aviation summit in Sydney on Wednesday.
“It is only the trajectory that has changed in our view. It is certainly going to come back.
“The world’s insatiable appetite for energy is going to make sure we dig everything up.”
The Adani mining project in Central Queensland, as well as BHP’s Olympic Dam at South Australia’s Roxby Downs, were just two projects that required huge movements of people into and out of remote centres.
Network Aviation chief executive Hugh Davin said all of the large iron ore miners in Australia were targeting record production rates.
“The strategy is to get their unit cost per tonne down by increasing volume,” Davin said.
“Yes there is a slowdown in the construction phase but this increase in virtually all of the large mining companies going for record production numbers – unheard of numbers before – is actually having a flow on effect into the air services demand.
“It is not quite a return to boom but it is a very healthy steady state and it is happening without a lot of fanfare.”
Cobham Aviation Services general manager of regional services Ryan Both said the current “pause” was an opportunity for fly-in/fly-out operators to go through a period of consolidation.
“In this period where we are in a bit of a pause there is a need for greater efficiency,” Both said.
QAL Services chief operating officer Craig Shaw said while coal seemed to be struggling a bit, gas was still booming.
“There is still plenty happening,” he said.
Shaw said there had been a dropoff in passengers at Mt Isa airport as mining construction was winding down, but there was still a steady flow of people going through the airport given production was underway.
QAL Services is part of Queensland Airports Ltd, the owner and operator of a number of regional airports in Queensland.