22 April 2010

Government asked to cut red tape for processing Australian skilled migrants to prevent skills shortage

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The South Australian mining industry is being hampered by Australian immigration laws to such an extent that multi-national companies are having problems transferring their own skilled workers from overseas.

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South Australia's mining industry faces a skills shortage if Australian immigration cannot become more flexible, industry leaders have said.

The news comes after fears were raised by Adelaide University that the mining skills shortage could prevent the expansion of Olympic Dam mine, the world’s fourth largest remaining copper deposit, fifth largest gold deposit and the largest uranium deposit in the world.

The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME)  has told the Federal Government it should be able to cut red tape in processing Australian visa applicants for specific positions.

"The immigration process should shift to an industry-driven model whereby industry provides Government with the current urgent skills requirements and Government Departments swiftly process paperwork to ensure that the least possible time passes before a skilled worker can be employed," SACOME director, skills, Antonia Mertiris said.

Oz Minerals, which operates the Prominent Hill mine in South Australia, has complained that Australian immigration is so inflexible that even when skilled workers are identified within a company they still can't be brought to the state.

Oz Minerals executive general manager Mick Wilkes complained that the shortage of mining engineers, geologists, geotechnical engineers could be eased by cutting red tape for inter-country transfers.

The Federal Government is currently investigating how to ease the looming skills crisis in the mining sector.

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