Miners must use more local content if they want foreign workers, MP says

Illawarra MP Stephen Throsby has said miners should use more Australian made steel and equipment if they want to bring in foreign workers.

It is part of the wider local content push by the Australian Government to have more Australian manufactured goods and services on mine sites.

The Labor MP said however that there are worries the government isn't doing enough to ensure miners use locally made goods, according to the ABC.

He went on to say that currently miners simply have to publish Australian Industry Participation Plans, and that this is not working.

"They're not policed and I think we need to lift the bar a fair bit."

"I'd be very pleased to see an arrangement in place where there is a requirement for local content if these companies are sticking their hand up and asking to import workers to work on their sites."

Both Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill iron ore mine and Adani's coal mine have come under fire for looking to source foreign workers.

Jones said the granting of foreign worker approval should be balanced against local content levels.

"Local firms are currently getting around 10 to 12 per cent of the work. We think that doubling that would have every manufacturing and fabricating shop in the country more than full so there's a fair bit of leeway there."

However miners have defended themselves over local content rates, stating that the industry is already sourcing almost 90% of its goods and services from Australian companies, higher than the Federal Government’s record.

The industry claims hit back at Prime Minister Gillard’s threats that miners would lose tariff concessions unless they could prove local companies were given a fair chance to compete with foreign exports.

Minerals Council public affairs director Ben Mitchell said recent studies pointed to high levels of local content employed by mining companies.

"The data in the marketplace shows that mining is doing quite well," he said.

"A report produced for the steel industry shows that mining is buying about 88 per cent of goods and services locally."

He said the current local content level used by the mining industry was significantly higher than what the Government used for its projects, and the current controversy over the levels was suffering from a lack of information.

"The key point to make is 88 per cent local content based on historical averages is fairly high in comparative terms and that compares to around 69%t for government," he said.

"I think some facts injected into this debate would be helpful."