Rockhampton builder Wayne Foster thinks there may be an improvement in the building industry in Central Queensland. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Rockhampton builder Wayne Foster thinks there may be an improvement in the building industry in Central Queensland. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

Finally, some good news emerging out of mining bust

THE effects of the mining downturn in Central Queensland are far from over, with new estimates forecasting how the region's construction industry is likely to recover.  

It's been a rocky year for the Fitzroy Region according to evidence and data director of Construction Skills Queensland Robert Sobyra.   

Mr Sobyra said the area, covering Rockhampton, Yeppoon, Gladstone and Emerald, had seen an economic downturn after a "period of astonishing growth" from the 2000s.  

In Rockhampton, this drop of about 2.5% to the year ending June 2015 has stalled employment and job growth.   

This was driven by the sharp decline of of mining, which fell faster and harder than in other states like Western Australia.  

"This mining collapse was really a catalyst to slow down this whole economy," Mr Sobyra said.  

"The good news is most of the pain of the mining collapse is in the rear-view mirror, so we're ready to get back onto a more normal business cycle."

Residential construction activity is predicted to climb steeply over the next two years, with a gap between supply and demand to fill according to Mr Sobyra.   

Mr Sobyra said between 2013 to 2015 housing construction slowed in the region, while the population continued to increase.   

"There's this pent-up demand that needs to be satisfied," he said.   

"There'll be a period of growth to build the houses an expanded population needs to survive.   

"It basically reflects the steepness of the drop between 2013 and 2015.   

"We expect population growth will continue on, although it's quite subdued across all of Queensland, including Gladstone and Rockhampton, at the moment.  

"That's the silver lining of it I suppose, we got the pain out of the way quickly and now we're back on a more even footing when it comes to residential building."  

In a reversing of this trend, Mr Sobyra said commercial activity was forecast to stay minimal after the region created an oversupply.  

"(The region) created so much commercial capacity in such a short period of time, there's going to be a period of probably three years or so where there's just so much capacity in the system that needs to get soaked up before you need to be building anything new in large volumes," he said.  

With the changes in the mining industry, it's hardly surprising Construction Skills Queensland expects engineering activity to continue its decline.   

Mr Sobyra said engineering activity took in mine building in the Fitzroy region, something which wouldn't reach another peak.   

"It's not going to start again," he said.   

"There might be one or two here or there, but really that big boom is over.  

"As a state and certainly as a region we need to get used to a more normal way of living without this massive mine building effort."  

Amongst the slumps, Mr Sobyra said the region's high intake of apprentices was proving positive.   

Although the number of roughly 3.5 apprentices for every 100 worker the region is just below the state average, Mr Sobyra said it was boding well for the region's bounce back from the slump.