Australia: Australia approves first Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA) in midst of skills shortage in the resources sector


With a significant number of large mining and energy projects in development, many in isolated locations lacking community infrastructure and an accessible labour-supply, Australian project owners face significant challenges in sourcing skilled workers to construct, develop and operate projects. In this climate, the Australian Federal Government recently launched a controversial new scheme to allow workers from outside Australia to be brought in to work on 'significant' resources projects.

In May 2012, the Australian Federal Government announced a new temporary immigration initiative: Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs) aimed at addressing the skills shortage in the resources sector. EMAs can be negotiated between the project owner and Federal Government to allow for foreign workers to be employed on significant resources projects. The use of an EMA will allow the project owner certainty in terms of workforce planning and the ability to access overseas workers.

EMAs are applicable to 'significant' projects only

EMAs are only available for projects with a peak workforce of more than 1,500 people and capital expenditure of greater than AUD2 billion.

Requirement for comprehensive training plan

One of the requirements for EMA approval is the development of a compressive training plan to show how the project will invest in training or "up-skilling" to allow Australians to meet future skill-levels required in the resources sector. The training plan should include goals to measure training for the development of people with relevant skills in occupations where there are or expected to be shortages. The project owner must also include in the training plan commitments to reducing reliance on foreign labour over time and must demonstrate that the training strategies to be applied are commensurate with the number of workers from outside Australia used on the project. Other requirements for the detailed training plan include that it show how training targets will be enforced though the project owner's contracting model and monitored over the life of the EMA.

Efforts to recruit in Australia and the Federal Government 'Jobs Board'

The workforce participants allowed to come from outside Australia under an EMA must be supplementary to local Australian labour and the project employer must demonstrate "effective, genuine and ongoing local recruitment efforts". In late May 2012, the Federal Government announced a new Resources Sector Jobs Board to display job vacancies in the resources sector. The Jobs Board will allow Australian workers to apply for positions at projects with an EMA, while allowing EMA holders a facility to show they have made genuine attempts to source required labour from the Australian jobs market.

Terms and conditions of an EMA

Each EMA will contain the terms and conditions under which workers from outside Australia will be engaged on the resources project, including the relevant occupations, necessary qualifications of the foreign workers and required English language skills. The new arrangements will allow for sub-contractors on a project to adopt labour agreements under the terms of the EMA, which will allow the sub-contractors to sponsor workers under the EMA. Approval of the project owner/EMA holder is required for this sub-contractor participation.

457 visas required

Employees from outside Australia under an EMA will need to hold 457 visas and the employer - whether the project owner or sub-contractor signed-up under the EMA - will need to comply with the usual sponsorship requirements and workers will receive the usual protections under the Worker Protection Act 2009. For example, salaries must be in accordance with Australian market rates and conditions the same as for Australian employees working in the same location. Sub-contractors are required to satisfy the training benchmark requirements under the 457 visa programme, consistent with the specific training plan for the project, with the choice of paying 2% of payroll to a relevant industry training fund or investing 1% of payroll on training activities for the sub-contractor's own Australian employees.

The Roy Hill EMA and others to follow?

The first EMA was approved by the Federal Government in late May for Hancock Prospecting's AUD9.5 billion Roy Hill iron ore project located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Under the Roy Hill EMA, up to 1,715 workers - about 20% of estimated construction workforce - can be hired from overseas to work as temporary overseas workers on the project.

It has been widely reported in the Australian press that Chevron is currently negotiating the second EMA in respect of its AUD43billion Gorgon LNG project also in Western Australia and that other energy companies in the LNG sector are carefully considering the use of EMAs.

While mining and energy project proponents can clearly see the benefits of EMAs in helping to address the skills shortage in Australia, the introduction of EMAs has not been without controversy. Significant criticism has come from unions and some politicians with concerns ranging from: that workers for Australia's resource projects should be sourced from within Australia, particularly from areas of high unemployment; to comments about the potential exploitation of foreign workers and concerns about their welfare.

At the time of writing, the Australia Greens' Adam Brandt had put forward a Private Member's Bill for changes to the EMA scheme, including new conditions to require the employment of specified numbers of Australian residents from indigenous groups, people living near the project, people from regions with high rates of unemployment and people recently retrenched.

With the demand for skilled workers in the Australian resources and energy sector widely predicted to be ongoing, the use of EMAs is at least currently one option project owners can consider using.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.