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Queensland’s experience in managing the cyclic investment phases of resources projects puts it in a good position to manage any future upswing in resources activity, according to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).

QRC policy director Katie-Anne Mulder said the industry is seeing ‘very bullish’ outlooks emerge for critical minerals in particular and new resource opportunities like hydrogen.

"Servicing soaring global demand for high quality products is something Queensland’s resources sector has been through before, so we know it will involve a sustained period of investment in new production facilities,” Ms Mulder said.

“The construction of new plants will create many regional opportunities in the form of jobs, skills, training and local procurement, particularly in regional centres like Townsville, which are on the frontline to service and supply emerging industries such as hydrogen and critical minerals.”

QRC data shows Queensland’s resources sector supported 8,203 jobs and contributed $1.3 billion to Townsville’s economy over the 12 months to June 2020.

This includes 2,089 direct, full-time jobs which is up 13 per cent on the previous 12-month period, and 6,114 indirect full-time jobs supported across Townsville. 

Ms Mulder said one of Queensland’s hidden strengths is its previous experience in managing the regional surge of activity associated with a construction boom, which needs to be well managed to avoid the pitfalls that can come with it.

“We know booms place price pressures on trades, services and rural and residential real estate in regional centres and country towns, which rapidly deflates on project completion and can lead to financial and social distress,” she said.

‘This is something communities need to be well informed about, so they can put in place plans to manage it.”

Citing the $60 billion investment on Curtis Island off Gladstone early last decade which created a gas boom west of Brisbane, Ms Mulder said while all stakeholders did their best within their capacity to cope, community expectations proved difficult to manage.

“If you work in the resources sector , you understand it’s cyclical,” Ms Mulder said.

“You know that during construction there’s going to be a flurry of activity within that area, which then falls away once the operational phase is reached.

“I don’t think that message was communicated as well as it could have been to some western Queensland communities.

“The reality is that once the construction phase for these larger projects finishes, you’re going to see less workers in the area and everything else that comes with that,” she said.

“There’s not going to be as many people buying coffees and sausage rolls from the local bakery, staying in local hotels and all the other benefits new projects bring to regions during construction.”