Will mining industry lose its voice when the man called ‘Chainsaw’ walks away?

Ian “Chainsaw” Macfarlane has announced he will step down from his job as the head of the Queensland Resources Council at the of the year.

Jun 26, 2023, updated Jun 26, 2023
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane 
(Photo: QRC)

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane (Photo: QRC)

Macfarlane has led the organisation through one of its most turbulent times and has drawn criticism over his leadership, particularly in taking the industry into political waters through its campaign against the Greens at a state election. That also led to BHP suspending itself from the organisation.

Macfarlane took a more aggressive approach to the job than his predecessor Michael Roche but he was also coming from a political background following years as the Federal MP for Groome and a Minister in the Coalition Government.

His nickname of Chainsaw came from his gravelly voice, but also his no-nonsense approach.

But he has also had to fend off attacks against the industry over its environmental record and also deal with a State Government and an Opposition that have largely walked away from their once strong support for the coal sector. Last year Government also introduced a huge increase in coal royalties which effectively underwrote a Budget surplus.

Macfarlane is not retiring from business. He said he would continue as a director of Woodside, the CSIRO and SoMac as well as the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise and other organisations.

Macfarlane  said the resources sector was more important to Queensland than ever before.

“It is the basis of Queensland’s economic prosperity, ongoing jobs and our future success, and it’s worth standing up for,” he said.

“Over the past three years, our sector proved its importance to Queensland when resources companies quickly adapted to the challenges of Covid and were able to continue to operate and support the state economy.  This kept hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders in jobs and in business at a time other industries such as tourism were forced to shut down.”

He said the resources sector was undergoing a period of great transformation, as companies moved to decarbonise their operations as fast as the technology would allow.

“Our industry’s ability to continually innovate will see the mining and energy sector underpin jobs and the state economy well into the next century,” he said.

“Our determination to reduce our industry’s environmental impact will continue under new leadership at the QRC, along with an ongoing commitment to make our workplaces safer and more diverse and inclusive for all employees.”

QRC chair Brent Gunther said in Macfarlane’s seven-year term at the QRC the resource sector had added $509 billion to the Queensland economy and paid $31 billion in royalties.

He said the board paid tribute to Macfarlane’s leadership. A search would begin for a replacement.



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