A MACHINERY hire website has warned that the sector could be at risk of depression if the Carmichael mine and rail project does not get up.
Online plant hire aggregator iSeekplant said many contractors using its site were banking on Indian company Adani's $16 billion project for work, before the Federal Court set aside the Federal Government approval.
The court found Environment Minister Greg Hunt had not properly considered advice about the mine's impacts on the ornamental snake and yakka skink.
The website said if the Galilee Basin project continued to struggle with approvals or financially, and businesses did not diversify, there could be a downturn in the machinery hire industry.
Queensland University of Technology's Dr Mark McGovern said in the face of falling demand for coal, lower coal prices and concerns about greenhouse gas emissions, the mine was looking like a "long shot".
The economics and finance senior lecturer said as time wore on, it would likely become more difficult for coal mines to get up and running.
And there are likely to be more delays in store for Adani, CQUniversity regional economic development Professor John Rolfe said.
He said over the next 10 years demand for coal would grow, but after that it was likely to decline.
iSeekplant's advice to contractors is to turn their focus to the $30 billion in residential, civil and agribusiness projects in the pipeline across the state.
The website narrowed down the development hotspots to Stanthorpe, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Cairns, Logan, Moreton Bay, Toowoomba and Townsville.
For regions relying on the economic benefits from the Carmichael project, Dr McGovern said they should also diversify.
He suggested central Queensland focus more on agriculture and tourism.
Dr McGovern said promises about jobs might have been exaggerated anyway and a potential free trade agreement would allow the possibility for more overseas workers and less Queenslanders to be employed.
To boost the resources sector, he suggested the State Government promote the quality of Queensland's coal internationally.
Dr McGovern said the government could consider implementing a tax on low quality coal to encourage more demand for cleaner coal, such as that available in the Galilee Basin.
His comments come amidst news the Commonwealth Bank is no longer a financial advisor on the Carmichael project.
An Adani spokesman said it terminated the mandate with the bank due to "concerns over ongoing delays to a now five year-long approvals process here in Australia".
"In the event the Commonwealth approvals framework is not further undermined by activists seeking to exploit legal loopholes, enabling the project and the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment it would bring to be delivered, Adani would happily work with the bank in future," the spokesman said.
Environmental groups have seized on reports Commonwealth pulled out of its role, despite Adani stating it made the decision.
A Commonwealth spokesman confirmed the bank's role had concluded, but said due to client confidentiality he could not comment further.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific climate and energy campaigner Nikola Casule described the project as not worth the paper it was written on.
"You have to wonder how many more things can go wrong for Carmichael before Adani chucks in the towel," Dr Casule.
"They now have no approval to operate, nobody to fund it and are sending their contractors home."
Australian Greens Deputy Leader Senator Larissa Waters said it was environmentally irresponsible to back Galilee Basin coal and it did not stack up economically.
"Eleven banks around the world have ruled out involvement in the Galilee Basin coal mines exporting through the reef," she said.
"With the US, China, Europe and India increasingly embracing renewables and the coal price in structural decline, pouring money into this dying industry doesn't make sense."
- APN NEWSDESK
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