BHP Billiton has FIFO plans for Red Hill mine

COMMUNITIES could again be banned from applying for up to 3500 jobs as hulking coal miner BHP Billiton pushes to use thousands of workers on forced fly-in, fly-out arrangements to build then operate its proposed mine.

If approved by the Queensland Government, the Red Hill mine would require 2000 workers during construction and a further 1500 once operations started.

It would be the third BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance mine to bypass local labour, with BMA already staffing its Daunia and Caval Ridge coal mines with 1000 workers pulled entirely from Brisbane and Cairns.

Toowoomba councillor Chris Tait told APN such deals could set a precedent.

He said companies should make a commitment to the regions rather than risk hurting small towns.

"It would be the outlying communities where it would have such an impact," he said.

"Probably in the western downs, like Miles or Chinchilla."

Almost 1000 Queenslanders have now signed a formal petition against the practice.

A BMA spokeswoman said while there were "currently no plans" for BMA to develop Red Hill, it intended to use 100% fly-in, fly-out workers should it go ahead.

The company is focusing on expanding two adjacent mines, which do employ local workers.

Both the Queensland Government and BMA have said the forced FIFO allow mining wealth to be spread beyond the coal-rich areas of Central Queensland.

Most other coal mines operating in the region used a combination of local and flown-in labour.

The LNP state government is under pressure to not allow any new forced FIFO deals.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the decision to allow major projects to use 100% fly-in, fly-out workers was one for the "independent and rigorous" Coordinator-General Barry Broe.

Mr Broe considers major projects on a range of criteria set by the Queensland Government.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin said no Queenslander should be denied a job based on where they live.

"You have to have a policy that respects where people live and ensuring those communities at the coalface are sustainable in the longer term," he said.