High costs kill Queensland mining exports
International mining company Freeport Indonesia has lifted the lid on why it has left Cairns after a 45-year relationship - and it is a wake-up call that must not be ignored.
The firm had used Cairns as the launching pad for the bulk of its imports to its Grasberg copper and gold mine in Indonesia before shutting down its Abbott St office on Friday.
A spokesman for the company explained the decision came down to costs - they were too high in Cairns compared to down south where were operations would be now consolidated.
"Late last year, the Australian operations of International Purveyors Inc announced it was relocating its administrative office and warehouse operations from Cairns to Brisbane to reduce the cost of operations and improve shipping efficiencies for PT Freeport Indonesia," he said.
The company confirmed the exit meant the loss of 25 full-time jobs in the Cairns region.
"We will be providing redundancy packages and outplacement assistance to eligible employees," he continued.
"This was a difficult decision, and was not a reflection of the quality of work of our employees.
"We are committed to working with those impacted to help ensure an easy transition."
Enterprise North executive director Kevin Byrne said the Cairns port needed significant investment in order to capitalise on emerging export opportunities in the Pacific including the redevelopment of the Manus Island naval base.
"Freeport can't see a way forward because there is no plan to improve infrastructure in Cairns," he said.
"It comes down to the shipping inefficiencies."
Freeport's shift out of Cairns will have repercussions well beyond the 25 direct employees now left to look for a job.
ABS figures show the company moved $176 million worth of goods weighing 12.3 million tonnes through the port in 2017-18, with much of the products coming from suppliers across Far North Queensland.